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NIS Tragedy: Should Moro, Paradang Be Sacked?

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It was tragedy in many states in the country penultunate
Saturday as 19 job seekers who participated in the Nigeria Immigration Recruitment exercise died in the stampede that ensued at overcrowded venues of the exercise.
Following the unfortunate incident, the Nigeria Labour Congress, youths and some prominent Nigerians have called for the sack of the Minister of Interior, Comrade Abba Moro and the Comptroller General of Immigration, David Paradang despite President Goodluck Jonathan’s compensation for families of the deceased  applicants and the hospitalised victims.
Our Chief Correspondent, Calista Ezeaku and photographer, Dele Obinna, sought the views of Port Harcourt residents on the burning issue: Hon. Samuel Yorkum (Insurance Consultant).
My advice is that people should be careful how they respond to any job advertisement especially this political era. Politicians are not reliable, especially when it comes to dealing with the public because they can do anything to get that position. I will advice job seekers to be careful. When they go for any job interview and see a very large crowd, they should withdraw  from the exercise.
The president has tried to compensate the families that lost their loved ones in that stampede although that cannot bring back life. We should give him kudos for doing that but then; the applicants are to be blamed for that tragedy. When you see a large crowd in any public gathering, you should watch and be careful because if you don’t get that job, another job opportunity will come out tomorrow. You should have trust in God in whatever you are doing. When your body tells you this thing is risky, you should withdraw. But people do” gree-die,” it’s either do or die, I must be employed.
If God will give you employment, you wouldn’t suffer for it.
I think the recruitment exercise should have been handled with better tactics.
However, nobody is perfect. So I don’t think the Minister of Interior, Abba Moro and the Comptroller-General of Immigration should be sacked because of the unfortunate incident. If the incident happened because of their mistakes, any other person can make it tomorrow; does that mean people will be sacked, sacked and sacked?
So these people should not be punished but they should go back home and carry out thorough investigation on how to carry out hitch-free exercises in future.
Mr. Solomon Kalu  (Applicant)
I took part in the recruitment exercise here in Port Harcourt. I sustained an injury that day. The crowd there was unimaginable. This is because there are no job opportunities in this country. The youths are wasting. It is very painful after going to school, you come out there is no job. So what happened that day was a very sad experience; lives were lost, many people were injured. It is good that the President had decided to compensate the families of those that died in the stampede. It is very painful that after sending your children to school, after investing so much, you will lose them out of some people’s negligence of their duties. And I think that Saturday’s incident should be investigated and anybody found culpable should be punished appropriately. Abba Moro and Paragang should not necessarily be sacked. There should be laid down procedures on how to conduct similar exercise in future. People that have degree, HND, OND, FSLC, WAEC certificates should have been taken to different venues instead of squeezing everybody in one place. The crowd was more than the capacity of the stadium. All the seats were occupied and people were asked to sit on the grass and write exams. Things are not done that way. There should be procedures of doing things. They should give us back the N1,000.00 we paid. I even borrowed that money and I had to pay transport fare to the bank to pay it. It is so painful that they had to extort money from jobless people. It’s very unfair.
Mr. Moses Freeman (Consultant)
The stampede is a wrong signal for the nation. It shows that leaders in Nigeria have no plans for the youths. If we are saying that youths are leaders of tomorrow, there should be a transition plan. What we are seeing today is a situation where those in authority refuse to plan. Ordinarily, in the 21st century, we are in, there is nothing wrong in this computer age to organise a test through computer arrangement. Majority of graduates today are exposed to computer, so why gathering them in a stadium, an open place to write exam. It is very wrong. I condemn it. And that is why I am equally in support o those agitating that the Comptroller General of Immigration, Paradang and the Minister of Interior, Abba Moro should be removed from their offices for lack of planning. In planning and management, you put into consideration how you get things done without much problems. This is not the first time such unfortunate incident is happening. This is the second time. So it should be discouraged. And if they are removed that will create opportunity for Nigerians to know that the leadership of Jonathan is responsive to the problems of the youths in the country.
The compensation given by Mr. President is as a result of the laxity of those in government. It is very wrong. Is it because somebody is dead in a family that you can now give employment to them? It is only a useless father who refuses to plan for the children. There is no transition plan in this country and that is the problem we have. Many people within the corridors of power today were in government from the age of twenty. Some of them refuse to allow the youths of today to have a place in government and that is the problem. The youths of today feel they are not stakeholders in this present democracy.
There should be a revolution. Not the type that will take gun or anything. It is a resolution that square pegs in round holes should be removed. Those who lack understanding of strategic planning and management of things around the country should be removed. So the youths of this country should now know that they have no stake in this country. They should sit up, plan and seek a way forward for themselves through a revolution of organised minds. The problem within the youths again is ignorance. They don’t even know their left from their right. If not, they were supposed to even reject in the first place, coming to write an examination in an open place in this modern world.
And I want to add that the money collected from the applicants should be refunded for purposes of transparency. And if possible, government should pay them more for suffering them. The emotional trauma they passed through is enough reason for government to pay. There is enough money in this country to go round. If somebody can spend N10 billion to maintain a chartered plane, a minister in this country, that N10 billion is enough for all those that participated in that exercise for suffering them as a nation.

Gloria Princewill (Business woman)
It’s very sad after investing on a child to have him die in such way. The government is supposed to provide jobs for the youths instead of asking all applicants to come to one particular venue for recruitment exercise only for them to have this kind of problem. It’s a sad thing. Even if the persons responsible for the unfortunate incident are sacked, the people that died have died. It’s for us to put our heads together to think of a better plan on how to tackle unemployment in the country. They should also think of better ways to organise this type of programme in future. Government should empower the youth through skill acquisition and others.
They don’t need to wait until tragedy like this happens before giving people job. Is it only when people died in circumstances like this that they wake up from their slumber? These are things they are supposed to have done before now. The ministers and what have you are just there to keep themselves good. They don’t think about the poor people. They should sit down and think of what to do because every year people are coming out from school, what are they going to do? They are just employing the people they know. Man know man is just too much in this Nigeria. That is what is killing us. You cannot find their children in that kind of place.

Mr. Jaja Gift (Civil Servant)
The way the recruitment exercise was conducted was not supposed to be. I agree that a lot of people blame the government and all that. Be that as it may be, you see, we have to be very clear about the issue. Corruption is the basic of our struggle today in Nigeria. I’m surprised that a parastatal like the Nigeria Immigration Service would conduct such an interview in a open place. This is my first time of experiencing such situation. I have been in this state when Air Force and other parastatals were conducting similar recruitment exercise. There were days for school Certificate, OND, HND, Degree holders. And when you know that your certificate falls on so, so so, day, you go. I have not seen a situation where you gather thousands of persons in one place for a test. It is surprising. I don’t even understand what is going on.
We talk about corruption. I think it is now the government has to sit up to look into the issue because I see no reason why N1,000 should be collected from each applicant, for what? I don’t understand what it means.
The president has tried by compensating the families of the dead and the hospitalised victims but it is not enough. Must somebody die before you know the situation on ground? Must somebody die before you know that this person needed this? Look at poverty all over the country and few individuals are somewhere sucking even the poor masses who have nothing doing. If it was all well in Nigeria, would we have such crowd for just an interview? And how many persons do they want?
The Minister of Interior and the Comptroller-General of Immigration should be punished. If sack is the appropriate punishment, fine. The government knows what to do to them. Government should go into details and find out why a government form should be sold to a job seeker who borrowed money to come for an interview. It is not only Moro and Paradang that should be punished. All the key officers in Immigration should be called to order and punished. They should all be brought to book. All the people that benefitted from the exploit should be brought to book.

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Opinion

Consequences Of High Bride Price

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Bride price is payment made by a groom or his kin to the family of the bride in order to ratify a marriage.  It is paid by the family of the groom to their future in-laws at the start of the marriage usually in cash and materials.
Bride price in Nigeria varies from one ethnic group to another.  What obtains as bride price in Rivers State may be different from Kogi State in terms of cash and materials required by the bride’s family. Although there are a few similarities in the list of items to be provided by the groom in Nigeria. 
It also varies from family to family. Some families collect as low as N5,000 while others collect as high as N1,000,000.
There are criticisms that this African tradition of paying bride price to the bride’s family before marriage degrades a woman by putting a required monetary value on a wife.But those who support the tradition uphold it as a cherished cultural and religious symbol of marriage.
Some families see bride price as symbolic, hence they ask for less. I have seen a situation where the mother of the bride collected N30,000 and later gave it back to the couple, asking them to put it in their bank account so that it will serve as a “starter pack”. This shows that she wasn’t really giving her out for money.
In our local setting, a marriage is recognised only when bride price and gift items have been presented to the bride’s family.  It is important because it validates marriage to give a woman respectable status in the society as a wife.
The importance of bride price can never be over-emphasised. It is one of the highest honours confirming a bride’s value and womanhood, giving a husband the full rights to the economic and reproductive powers of his wife. It is an honour bestowed on the parents that their daughter is getting married.
I see nothing wrong in payment of bride price but in recent time, the issue of high bride price seems to be competitive among families whose daughters are ripe for marriage.It is alarming and heart-breaking how newly-wedded couples end up paying debts years after marriage. When demanding for high bride price, some parents do not realise the fact that the yet-to-be couple will plan for church and court (Registry). The Registry requires little token. Although, the clergy will not ask, but the couple need to settle one or two things in church. 
More worrisome is the fact that some parents demand a live cow from an in-law as if the lady is to be exchanged. I know of a culture where cow must be provided to her kinsmen by the surviving husband or children before a late woman must be buried. The claim is that the man didn’t complete the marriage rites before the death if the woman. This is just to extort money from the late woman’s children.
A young man was mandated to pay about N2million to the wife’s kins after losing her during child birth, simply because he never completed marriage rites. What about the welfare of the surviving child?
A situation where a basin of fish that costs over N200,000 must be presented in the name of bride price for a traditional marriage to be contracted gave me concern. 
A father also demanded about N1million as dowry for his daughter. For Christ’s sake, no amount of money collected as bride price can pay all the expenses from birth to University level of a lady as this is the dream of greater percentage of our parents nowadays. No amount of money can buy a woman. “Her value is inestimable”.
High bride price can cause disharmony between husband and his in-laws. A young man was lamenting that after his marriage, his in-laws can never be allowed into his family. This is as a result of whatever high bride price they would have charged.
High bride price can cause a man to exhibit violent behaviours when he remembers how much he paid. He gets angry at every little thing the wife does which can lead to domestic violence. The implication is that the woman will suffer in silence with the fear that the man may demand for the high bride price if she leaves the marriage.
Income from her job or personal business is seen by the man as his. She is being denied freedom on using her income and often leads to a situation where the husband must be consulted before any monetary transaction in the family. This leads to hostile marital environment and can destabilise the marriage.
Man dominates the woman in terms of decision-making. The woman has little say or nothing when issues come up in the home. He can say: “Don’t talk, I paid heavily”.
One of the consequences of high bride price is that if perhaps divorce occurs, the bride and the family, according to customary norms, have to return the dowry. If the dowry were very expensive to the tune of N1million, they may not be able to pay back.
High bride price encourages gender inequality. It reduces the power and prestige of the woman with the perception that she was paid for.
High bride price leads to poverty. A couple may have been forced to incur debts in the course of marriage. These are young men and women who are starting life perhaps after graduation and have not made enough savings. Paying back debts incurred during weddings for two to three years should be discouraged.
For many young men, withdrawal syndrome sets in when they remember that they have to provide as much as N1million to marry a wife. You see someone going to marry at the age 50 because he didn’t have enough.  Even the ladies are also affected here. Some men get scared of going into such families or ethnic groups for marriage.  When will they train their children? 
No matter the status of the groom, minimal amount should be fixed for dowry to avoid certain consequences in future. Family of the bride should take cognizance of the fact that their daughter deserves some comfort in her new home.
It is high time the traditional institutions worked through their subjects in the various communities to create awareness on the dangers of high bride price in our society. 
Community heads who are saddled with the responsibility of marriage functions and rites should be advised to cut down some of the items and reduce the costs of available ones.
I call on local government councils to work with traditional rulers, community and family heads as well as women leaders to come out with minimum and maximum amount of money and other items needed as bride price and dowry. 
It should be domesticated in the by-laws of the local councils across Nigeria.

By: Eunice Choko-Kayode

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Opinion

Away With Open Grazing

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

By: Ibelema Jumbo

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Opinion

Short, Sharp, Shock-Treatment

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

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

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