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State Of The Nigerian Economy

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Nigeria is the most populous country in West Africa with an
estimated population of about 137,253,133 million people that b elong to more
than 250 ethnic groups. Nigeria came into being in October 1, 1960, when she
declared her Independence from the British rule.

As the country marks her 52nd Independence Anniversary
today, it becomes necessary to x-ray the state of her economy in order to determine
her growth and development rate.

The economy of a country speaks volumes about the well being
of such a country. In the case of Nigeria at 52, we will look at the state of
her economy in relation to her investment profile, jobs creation efforts, the fate
of the manufacturing sector and the quality of her local content.

Nigerian Investment, Promotion Council (NIPC) has worked
tirelessly to raise the investment profile of the country to make it attractive
for the foreigners seeking to partner with Nigeria in one business or the
other.

At the 12th meeting of the Honourary International Investors
Council (HIIC) at the Presidential Villa on Thursday July 5th 2012, President
Goodluck Jonathan commended the council for its unrelenting efforts to raise
Nigeria’s investment profile and also make the country a preferred investment
destination.

The President is quoted as saying “We are steadily building
up our Excess Crude Account and our Foreign Reserves. We are also on the verge
of launching the Sovereign  Wealth
Fund.”  He also  made the council know that the government’s
transformation agenda is about turning Nigeria’s huge potential into
developmental realities.

Nigeria, however, operates a market economy that is
dominated by crude oil exports with the revenue earnings accounting for about
90 per cent of foreign exchange and 65 per cent of budgetary revenues. Nigeria
ranks the 12th largest producer of petroleum in the world and the 8th largest
exporter and founding members of OPEC.

The country also export cocoa, palm oil, groundnuts, cotton,
timber and rubber, though there are opportunities for the exploitation and
export of natural gas, limestone, coal, tin, gold, silver, lead-zinc, glass
sand, iron-ore among others.

Nigeria according to statistics, offer a large market in
sub-Saharan Africa with a population of about 120 million people, with a market
potential that also stretches into the growing West African Sub-region.

The government has also created a favourable climate for
business and industrial venture. Administrative and bureaucratic procedures
have been greatly streamlined as policies and programmes that guarantee a free
market economy has been put in place.

Tremendous investment opportunities also exists in other
natural resources like agricultural sector products which include groundnuts,
coconut, citrus fruits, maize, millet, cassava, yams and even leather and
textile.

In the midst of this robust investment opportunities in the
country, one of the greatest challenges of the nation at 52 has been the problem
of unemployment. This problem has resulted to anti-social vices, ranging from
militancy, Boko Haram, prostitution, armed robbery among other societal ills.

Successive administrations always have the agenda of
eradication of unemployment in the society, but the problem has persisted till
now.

The leadership of President Jonathan thought it wise to
fight against the menace through encouragement and involvement of the private
sector which he alleged will have multiplier effect on the economy.

“The present administration is committed to creating jobs
for Nigerians. And jobs can be created through direct employment by government
and her parastatals and agencies, but we believe that a more sustainable
approach to job creation, is encouraging the private sector. “And to do that,
we need to build young entrepreneurs who will be able to employ five or more
people and that multiplier effect will give us more job opportunities than even
government expanding the parastatals that will make them less productive. That is
one of the cardinal points of youths enterprise with innovative in Nigeria
(YouWin), “ President Jonathan said in one of the YouWin inaugurations.

Under the phase, 1,200 women (entrepreneurs) would receive
between N1m and N10m over the next 12 to 18 months.

Federal Government also has kick-started the provision of
370,000 jobs across Nigeria through Federal Government Community Service Scheme
held in Yola.

The Minister of Finance and Coordinating Minister of the
Economy, Mrs Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala said the project is under the Subsidy
Reinvestment and Empowerment Programme (SURE-P). Each state is expected to have
10,000 job with each participant getting N10,000 monthly.

The President has also appealed to International development
partners and private sector to support his government’s effort to create jobs
for the youths.

Job opportunities also exist in the  oil and gas sector using the local content
policy. Government has passed a local content law which says that Nigerian
indigenously formed oil company must have nothing  less than 40 per cent stake in the oil
industry so as to enable citizens to have access to their money.

Experts think that the operation of cartel in the oil
industry is affecting the job opportunities that abound in this sector, hence,
the need for whatever efforts made by stakeholders in the quest to reduce or
eliminate unemployment in the country to be backed by government through the
enforcement of the constitutional instrument of the Local Content Policy Act.

The problem is that vacancies and related openings that
exist annually at the various levels and in different capacities in the oil
companies that are meant for Nigerians are not given to them as a result of
lack of specialised certification and prerequisite training.

The Managing Director of Backlang  Technical Development Company, Dr. Chudi
Egbunike, who was a former executive member of the American Welding Society
said the implication is that the deficiencies in knowledge, training, exposure
and certification will now expose foreigners to the jobs, especially those from
India, China, Philipines and Lebanon.

He said that the way out is to create massive employment
opportunities for Nigerians and open up the sector for more of the Local
Content Act to be effective, especially in the area of getting more employment
openings for Nigerians by exposing them to specialise trainings and
certification.

The quality of Nigeria Local Content also affected by
pricing policy, bidding practices and cost factors, where NAPIMS directive to
the operating partners said all contracts should be awarded to the lowest
bidder’s price.

This encourages non-professionals to under-cut prices in
order to win a contract that cannot be executed at the bidded prices which
causes Nigeria to end up paying more for their wells for a rework.

Petroleum Technology of Nigeria (PETAN) suggest that the
only way forward to successfully implement the Local Content Policy is to build
local capacity where stakeholder must review the current bidding pricing and
award strategies.

Meanwhile, the country and its leadership has been trying to
also exploit the non oil sector in order to avoid the country’s over dependence
on the oil sector and to expand the economic base of the nation. Government has
also pursued economic reforms marked by the privatisation and deregulation
which seek to transfer state ownership of institutions to the private sector,
so as to engender efficiency in the productive sector.

At 52 Nigerian manufacturing sector has not made any
impressive mark or contribution to the Gross Domestic Product (GDP). As at 2011
the manufacturing sector’s contribution to GDP according to The National Bureau
of Statistics is less than 5 per cent, 4.1 per cent in 2010.

The efforts of past and present administrations to boost the
sector through various policies has not yielded the desired results.

The inability to effectively control the allocation of
import licenses and foreign exchange to have also largely aggravated the pace
of industrial decline.

Manufacturing sector has refused to respond to critical
structural transformation necessary for it to play a leading role in economic
growth and development.

Bureau Statistics pegged the issues affecting the sector to
inadequate infrastructure, shortage of skilled manpower, poor linkage of
industrial sub-sectors, over dependence on the external sector for raw
materials and capital goods which were discovered in 1970s.

In 2012, most of these problems still persist like
infrastructural decay, lack of steady power supply, insecurity and economic
instability.

The fate of the sector thereby lie in the solution to the
challenges facing the sector, especially inadequate infrastructure and power
supply. There is also the need for consistent and persistent efforts to be made
by government to check the importation of goods that can be produced locally.

If the words of the President is anything to go by, the
manufacturing sector need to poise for competitive production at competitive
prices.

President Jonathan said “We are vigorously pursuing the
implementation of our road map on power sector reforms.

“We must, therefore, begin to upgrade our production
technologies to save energy and produce quality goods at very competitive
prices in tune with modern global practices.”

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Sale-Of-State Syndrome

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Not many Nigerian elite became aware when Nigerian politics became a gangsterist affair and what accounted for that peculiar feature, and whose interest such development was meant to serve. Similarly, not many Nigerians had an opportunity to read an online posting by The Times, April 9, 2008. Its title was: The New Scramble for Africa Begins: Modern Imperialism on the Resource-Rich Continent will be less Benign than old Colonialism. Its author was one Matthew Parris, making reference to “Black gangster governments” emerging under the guise of democracy.
It is quite unfortunate that the docile and myopic nature of the Nigerian masses should be exploited to such an extent that people can be induced to sell and enslave themselves. For example, how many people took note or reflected on the following statement of a governor: “Anything that will promote the interest of Rivers State is what I will do. You can be my sister state, if you want to take what belongs to Rivers State, I will not agree. I will not sell Rivers State”. (The Tide 25/11/19 – page 39).
With reference to the controversies over the recent elections in Bayelsa and Kogi States, there was a phone call from a Kenyan research fellows, saying that what is happening in Nigeria is “not an exclusively Nigerian affair”. He did not want to go for. Knowing him for his level of articulateness and deep degree of perception, it was not difficult to grasp the message of the Kenyan diplomat.
Commenting on the same recent elections in Bayelsa and Kogi States, the PDP National Publicity Secretary, Mr. Kola Ologbondiyan, made statements that Nigerians should think about seriously. He said “President Buhari by now ought to have summoned his service chiefs and ordered a presidential investigation into the violence and observed infractions in the elections, including the deployment of a police helicopter to teargas voters”. He went on to add that “it is clear that he is more interested in the survival of the APC than the survival of democracy”.
The aforementioned online posting of April 19, 2008, did talk about “raping” of African countries by self-interested Asian or Western powers” who sponsor “Black gangster governments”. While such foreign powers do not need to administer or visit the territory, the strategy is to “buy your own gang” and “give it support munitions, bribes and protection to keep the roads and airports open”. What is the vital issue at stake? Matthew Parris said it is oil!
The fact that allocation of oil blocks in Nigeria is shrouded in secrecy and chicanery also goes with the fact that those given such allocations merely become rent collectors. Without the technical wherewithal, they sell the allocations to foreign partners, who should rightly be called buccaneers perhaps, these foreign buccaneers or middlemen, are those who “buy and sponsor Black gangster governments”, for their own business purposes.
The perennial state of instability, insecurity, corruption and social injustices involved in a “do-or-die” system of politics and governance, may not be unconnected with the Matthew Parris theory of “Black gangster governments”. If that is not the case, then why is democracy being subverted and undermined under the guise of election? Why are the security and armed forces involved in the way they are in electoral process?
While there are many glib talks and explanations about the unstable state of developing countries, not much is known about foreign influences fuelling such state of instability. If no other fact can be pointed out, the issue of arms proliferation can suffice to support the theory of foreign collaboration.
Common weapons used by heartless economic interests to maintain the status quo include arms, money, power, intimidation, violence, corruption, poverty, mendacity, hypocrisy etc.
Unfortunately, members of the security and armed forces, wittingly or unwittingly become participants or partners in this sad mission. It is a well-known fact that global capitalism operates at its worst in the oil and gas sector, of which Nigeria is a playing field. When the military handed over power to civilian politicians in 1999, details of the constitution were not made open.
The fact that elected members of the National Assembly were showered with lots of money as allowances and benefits, was meant to provide a safe landing for the military and their collaborators. It is also a fact that a major part of oil block allocations was done by the military and more in favour of their collaborators. Therefore, there is a close relationship between oil politics and the military, such that who holds power matters a lot.
We cannot deny the fact that it takes gangsterism to subvert and dethrone a democracy in such a nasty way that elections can become a warfare. Why are voters being intimidated, bought over with money or burnt alive because of what party they belong? Obviously, there is more to the gangsterist nature of Nigerian politics than what meets the4 eyes.
Not only voters are being subjected to anti-democratic assaults, but efforts are being deliberately made to expand and consolidate power, just like PDP once boasted that it would remain in power for 50 years without being dislodged. Is that democracy?

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Basic Education: Using PR To Address Challenges

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It is a privilege to talk with Public Relations Officers of the Universal Basic Education Commission (UBEC) and the State Universal Basic Education Boards (SUBEBs) from all over the country.  This National Training session is very important because it has the capacity to enhance the quality of basic education in the country.
It is instructive that the 2019 Public Relations Training is holding in Rivers State. This is because Rivers State is the centre of rapid development in the country. Therefore, the gathering of basic education public relations officers means that they will directly interact with the development process of Rivers State.
I take this opportunity to welcome you to Rivers State, the home of Mr. Projects, Nigeria’s Best Performing Governor. You must have noticed that Rivers is a huge construction site.
UBEC And SUBEBs Public Relations Officers Are Important
Public Relations Officers of UBEC and SUBEBs are key players in the quest to resolving the out- of-school children challenge facing the country.  Fundamentally,  proactive information dissemination to convince parents to allow their children access basic education is important.  This is in view of the fact that basic education is free.
•This entails effective use of traditional and new media. However, each public relations officer must use the right media that will be most effective for his state. But in view of the strata of society being targeted, I suggest local broadcast media and the new media. For the broadcast media, messages should be sent across to parents through indigenous languages.
In cases where finance is available, the public relations officers should work with the Local Government Education Authorities (LGEA) to engage in direct outreach programmes, which will involve meeting religious leaders, community-based groups, women groups and comparative groups in the drive to attract children to school.
•Retention Of Kids In School
Even when the out-of-school children are attracted to school, the next challenge is to retain them in their classes. Here again, public relations officers of UBEC and SUBEBs remain critical partners with other stakeholders.
I believe that the PR Departments of UBEC and SUBEBs should be strengthened to provide positive information on the beautiful things that happen in schools – the improving quality of learning, the free feeding programme (where it exists) and the advantages of good education.
PR personnel must not allow purveyors of negative information discourage children from going to school and giving parents reasons why children should not go to school.  Such negative information comes from sensationalism.  If there is a challenge at a public school, these negative information traders blow it out of proportion.
While we seek better educational facilities, we must always seek intelligent and honest ways of promoting the public basic education system. You can achieve this by promoting outstanding teachers and very brilliant pupils in different schools across different states.
•Advocacy To Attract Stakeholder Participation In Basic Education Across Communities
We have all agreed that government alone cannot drive basic education.  There are limited resources with competing needs. We are also aware that several schools across the country that require attention cannot be reached by the Federal and State Governments.
This is where the participation of community stakeholders is vital.  Public relations officers in different states working with other SUBEB and LGEA officials should identify privileged Nigerians in different communities and prevail on them to invest in basic education schools.
There are privileged Nigerians who can build classroom blocks, boreholes, writing materials, classroom furniture and feeding for children.  These investments ought to be done in line with the capacity of the investing stakeholders.
For the investing stakeholders, they would have their names crested on the areas of their investments.  In addition, UBEC and SUBEB should also initiate awards and halls of fame to recognize these stakeholders and encourage others to key in.
•Education Remains The Key To National Revival
As public relations practitioners, always bear in mind that you are at the most important rung of the developmental ladder of the country. This means that you must remain dedicated.
As it stands today, education is the only way for the country to commence its journey to greatness. In this march to greatness, education plays a key role and the basic education sector is even more important.  That is why public relations officers of UBEC and SUBEBs must engage the process and all stakeholders to ensure that our people appreciate the importance of basic education.
•Education Beyond Politics
As we work to develop the basic education sector, we must bear in mind that education is beyond politics.  Every Nigerian child, irrespective of the political leaning of his/her parents, should be able to access education
Therefore, public relations officers working for UBEC and SUBEBs must place the society above political considerations.  If they do this, they will earn the confidence of parents and improve the enrollment figures in our public basic schools.
Building Networks To Achieve Collective Goals
This is why this meeting should be applauded.  Beyond the training that PR personnel will get is the opportunity to interact and build networks for the development of the basic education sector.
Though the challenges faced may differ from state to state, public relations officials have the platform to peer review and compare notes. This way, they can tap into diverse experiences and better their operational capacity. In the long run, the country stands to benefit. The basic education sector would be enriched and our country would naturally be on the path to growth.
Nwakaudu is the Special Assistant to the Rivers State Governor on Electronic Media. He made the above remarks at the 2019 PR Training for UBEC and SUBEB Public Relations Officers from the 36 States and FCT in Port Harcourt, yesterday.

 

By: Simeon Nwakaudu

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Tribute To The Nigeria Police Band

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One of the most interesting legacies inherited by the Nigeria Police force from the British is the Magnificent Police Band which was established in 1966. Located in the vast premises of the old Southern Police College, Ikeja, it was created by some British officers serving in Nigeria, with its Director of Music trained at the Royal School of Music in London. Its first Director was Major I. Boyle, a charismatic lover of music.
The Director of Music of the Police Band was said to have wept when he last conducted the orchestra before leaving Nigeria. The memory of that emotional experience probably left a lasting legacy which still gives enthusiasm and pride to the police band. The story may be different now but today that arm of the police is still quite strong.
The Police School of music recruits annually musically talented youths between the age of 16 and 19 and trains them over a period of time ranging from three to five years. The music syllabus of the school includes the general theories of the music, ranging from composition, audition and voice training etc, to literature studies and skills and principle in musical performance and conducting.
Martial music, marching, parade and other musical acrobatics feature in the area of the training programme. The students also take some academic courses which include two international languages, usually English and French, or any other language plus English. The degree of rigorous training which the students, undergo is quite spectacular, commendable and amazing.
In addition to the scope and variety of courses which the students undergo during their training programme, they are also expected to pass a music examination conducted by the Associated Board of Royal School of music before they become fully enlisted in the police force. The rate of drop-out has been quite high but that has not forced the school to reduce its standard rather, more and more youths queue up in large members during recruitment exercises.
Although a previous knowledge of music is not a criterion for entry into the police school of music, there is an aptitude test to determine musical potential and talent. Those with previous musical knowledge complete the course earlier than those who do not possess such knowledge.
The Police Band Performance and entertains in Public during important national and international occasions. As a part of its public relations programme, the band allows any individual or organization that can afford the cost, to hire its services, for private use. Heads of educational institutions with interest in music one also allowed the privilege of asking for visiting music instructors, provided that such institution is located within its catchment area. This is one way to promote music.
Apart from the central base or headquarters of the Police School of music, the Nigeria Police also has a local band in each state police command. The activities of such local band even though on a minor scale, include the supply of musical entertainment in the officers’ mess or during passing out parade and other ceremonies. The Rotary Club International is a close friend of the police band, as collaborators in fund-raising or other humanitarian activities.
There is a very commendable collaboration between the Nigeria Police Band and its military counter part. Apart from occasional exchange or secondment of personnel between the Police and Army School of music, there is a collaboration in curriculum innovation and up-date. The Army School of Music, though based in Kaduna, has other out-posts or branches, also with a Director of music.
The difference between the Police and Army School of Music is that the Army is responsible for training of other musicians for other arms of the defence forces, especially buglers. What prevented late Fella Ransome Kuti from enlisting in the Army School of Music was his style of dressing during an interview. The Army and Police Band can be quite colourful and amazing when they perform in public.
There was a time when the police Band had a close understanding with Nigerian Television orchestra, then headed by Dr Adams Fiberesima, in the promotion of music in Nigeria. A musical composition by Dr Adams Fiberesima titled “Opu Jaja” had featured in the performances of the London Philharmonic Orchestra and in the United states of America where the piece also won a great deal of approval.
The evolution of music in Nigeria as an adermic discipline owes much to the Nigeria police Band as well as the Nigeria Television and radio network. Apart from organising a body of music-makers and music-lovers, they also participated in the organization of musical competitions and fund raising activities. Now music education is gaining an increasing popularity in the country.
Is it not praise worthy to see a family where a 13-year-old girl plays a piano, with father and mother on a saxophone and violin respectively, forming a mini-family orchestra? There are a few such Nigerian homes, one such being that of a retired officer of the Police Band.
The Rivers State Council for Arts and Culture used to organise talent-hunt and Promote inter-school musical competition. Maybe immediate problem on prepotent need is how to find daily bread in a harsh economy.

The Port Harcourt Musical Society should also be seen as promoting music education.
The value or impart of music does not lie in the beer-parlour variation but in the aesthetic experience. Music can also convey pleas and warnings to teachers and lawless people. This Police Band does so in some clever ways, but not always in public. At state funerals it’s fantastic what the Police band can do.

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