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Open Letter To Goodluck Jonathan (I)

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I admire and salute your courage to withstand the
mounting pressure on you for some time now to declare stand on the forthcoming 2015 general elections. By this impassive act you’ve proved to political sycophants that you are no push-over and of no simple estimation. You’ve rendered their insidious political permutations redundant and places same in abeyance. Let me also appreciate your sincere intention to render governance delivery to Nigerians who voted you into office in 2011 with great enthusiasm and expectations.
I also hope that you would welcome and appreciate a sincere and frank expression of mind, and a conveyance of the total mind of common Nigerians on your administration. Your Excellency Sir, common Nigerians here refer to the majority group of Nigerians that depends totally on public facilities for their entire welfare and whose powers form the authority class but usually find themselves in constant frustration and lamentation of dashed hopes and expectations of good welfare in the face of hyper affluence of the authority class from the corporate wealth of the nation, the real voting class in elections, the real power owners but the perpetual suffering group.
Since your position is one of intense pressure there is every tendency that a lot of salient issues, beyond sycophancy, may elude your imperative attention and you might wish that some one had drawn your attention to them. It is borne out of this consideration that this humble letter is written.
Yes your Excellency Sir, your silence so far on 2015 gives the impression that you are seriously bearing your mind on a lot of national issues and measuring your journey so far regarding the axiom that “one good turn deserves another”. So before you speak on 2015, I would like you to note the fact that in 2011, you were the next political figure after late Moshood Kasimowo Abiola, popularly called MKO, of cherished memory, to occupy the enthusiastic hearts of Nigerians who clearly demonstrated same in a massive turn-out in the elections.
Both of you are the political figures in Nigeria so far that Nigerians ever believed, trusted and strongly, anchored upon their corporate hope and expectations.
If you recall the spirit of Nigerians in 2011 national voters registration exercise and the subsequent general elections that brought you to power again, you would be restless in Aso Rock as to how to very satisfactorily serve Nigerians in adequate appreciation of this corporate faith, confidence and trust so enthusiastically demonstrated in a political leader in this country. The turn-out for that national voters registration exercise was massive and impressive. Massive because those who confessed that they had never before registered and voted, or had in many years not participated in the exercises, turned up. Impressive because never in the history of Nigeria’s national exercise had Nigerians exhibited such sincere spirit of patriotism and cooperation.
Recall also how the common Nigerians voluntarily carted with joy their generating sets, tables, chairs etc, to the voters registration centres and spiritedly battled to forestall the threatening failure of the exercise by the Direct Data Capture (DDC) machines that refused to function properly at the commencement of the exercise, by providing mythelated spirits, cotton wool, water, detergents, etc, to clean fingers to aid easy capture. Your Excellency Sir, all this was done because of your individual person.
In my Jonathan’s Presidential Candidacy Reawakens National Patriotism published in the National Point Newspaper of March 21, 2011, p20, I presented a graphic picture of this unique spirit of commitment of Nigerians in a national exercise, of an old woman at one of the registration centres in Port Harcourt, who bluntly refused to live her seat for another person after the data capture machine consecutively failed to capture her finger prints.
Considering the passionate plea to her by the registration officers to stay aside a while for another person as a plot to rig Jonathan out of the election said, in vehement reaction, “Una no want mek I vote Jonathan wey God bring mek im come helep poor people?”. She later felt comfortable and left the seat after being well convinced that the exercise wasn’t Jonathan’s election proper yet to come.
Again, recall the common Nigerians unique spirit of commitment on the day of the presidential election. As early as 7am they had all formed up at their different registration centres and would not live until after the counting of votes, Jonathan was rigged out.
This was a unique corporate resolve to ensure that all was well for your person in that election. This was also a unique corporate demonstration of faith, trust and confidence in a political leader.
Your Excellency Sir, in 2011, you were the most appreciated president ever in re-election exercise in this country. The common Nigerians hoped and trusted that the elusive governance delivery of age-long would finally come to pass in your continued administration since the then just ended two years of completing late President Yar’ Adua’s tenure was considered not long enough for obvious achievements in your short leadership.
The tempo and euphoria of your Excellency’s re-election soared higher and higher as the hope and expectations of the arrival of the common Nigerians era kindled through out 2011. But while the manifestation of this dream was faithfully awaited, you dashed this nascent hope, faith and trust in a public leader by thanking common Nigerians for your re-election in your removal of fuel subsidy on  1st January, 2012 against all popular voices.
Ukutumoren, a public affairs analyst, writes from Port Harcourt.

Open Letter To Goodluck Jonathan (II)
Ukutumoren E. Ukutumoren
In reaction to Nigerians cries and lamentations on this, you haphazardly rolled out vehicles on public display for distribution to states nationwide, to cushion the effect of the subsidy removal. These vehicles soon disappeared from sight before states could receive them. Since then, the common Nigerians had been greatly hit by increasing high cost of living occasioned by this fuel subsidy removal. As if that was not enough, you soon against increased the electricity tariff in the country against all popular voices who cautioned that if the power tariff increase was at all necessary that should be only after the hitherto dismal power supply situation had improved and after the prepaid meters had been available to every household in the country.
Again you promptly assured Nigerians that the prepaid meters had already arrived the country and soon every household would have them.
So before you speak on 2015, your Excellency Sir, know that up till the moment of this letter, common Nigerians are continually sending save our souls (sos) message cries to who cares, about the gross and constant exploitations by power operators nationwide through incredible, unjustified and fraudulent electricity bills in the face of dismal services and their cries for prepaid meters, which you had promised, are yet to reach you.
In January 2012 during Nigerians stiff reaction to your removal of fuel subsidy you commented that the strong reaction of Nigerians to that policy was due to the fact that previous governments had deceived them. That sincerely, the subsidy gained would be used to repair the existing refmeries to full capacity utilization and new ones built to end fuel importation. Through this you would, amongst other things, build and equip new hospitals, thus creating business and employment opportunities and also improve health care delivery. Your Excellency Sir, before you speak, please note that common Nigerians are still expectant of these and are asking and would continue to ask about the states of the old refmeries and the number of new ones built and why Nigeria is still importing fuel, and unemployment level. Imagine also the fate of these Nigerians to learn that you would rather want to sell out the said refmeries whose fate brought them the present excruciating suffering. This constitutes nothing other than a grand deceit by a leadership.
Corruption has been identified as the bane of Nigeria’s corporate progress. You appreciated this fact and promised to fight it to at least the barest minimum. Common Nigerians so believed you. Unfortunately, your action in this direction is nothing to write home about and your administration is widely seen as the worst in corruption with the dangling rope of the EFCC fmding the necks of some of your indicted ministers.
This national cankerworm pervades all nooks and cranies of the country. Private sectors not excluded. Product manufacturers flood the markets with inferior products. Product containers and sachets contain increasingly lesser quantities of core products and weights against the declared specifications.
The church leaders become insidious champions, wining ‘medals’ in immorality, dubiousness, marriage breakings, family disunity and psychic manipulations. All this unabated. Before you speak, Your Excellency, note that common Nigerians feel so disappointed in your corruption fight and very uncomfortable with the frequent news of missing billions of dollars from the federation account in your administration; and the whole dwindling state of values in the country.
You also promised a functional power supply and they strongly believed you but up to this moment the state of power supply nationwide is no far departure from the immediate dismal past and is characterised by outrageous and fictitious charges that prompt the current save our souls (SOS) message cries nationwide from consumers and the end is not in sight.
Nigeria is the richest nation in West Africa or Africa and has spent so much trillions of Naira on fruitless power supply over the decades. Common Nigerians are no longer happy with the present state of power supply and see no reason why Nigeria after spending so much could not have functional power by now.
You further promised common Nigerians affordable housing as cost of cement would not exceed one thousand naira (1,000.00) in your tenure. But today only the authority class can afford the cost of building materials in the country.
The basic expectations of the masses from any leadership are safety of live and property, good roads, electricity, supply portable water, and health care! These still remain grossly elusive to them. But the degree of loss of lives and properties coupled with the colossal trillions of naira expended so far on the current insecurity challenges, to no abate, is unprecedented in the history of democratic leadership of this country and the common igerians are very uncomfortable with the inability of the leadership to contain the situation due to delayed and inadequate action.
So before you speak: on 2015, your Excellency Sir, please note that the afore stated are the agitating issues in the core minds .of common Nigerians and do not constitute a condusive atmosphere for the breath of fresh air which you promised them in 2011. They are more uncomfortable also when they count that by 2015 you would have spent six (6) and eight (8) years consecutively in the Executive Presidency of this nation and all they have is explanatory achievements for this long Executive Presidential tenancy. In fact, the enthusiasm that greeted your presidential candidacy and election in 2011 has really gone.
Finally, Your Excellency, you acknowledged the fact that you are the most criticized and condemned democratic president so far in this country. This is very true Sir. But your reaction that you would be the most praised and appreciated president at the end of tenure in 2015 rekindled the hope and expectations of common Nigerians. Your Excellency Sir, I believe you could be if only you can successfully midwife the National Conference by
subjecting its report to a referendum, and give Nigerians the age-long elusive Funtional Power Supply.
Ukutumoren, a publisc affairs analyst, writes from Port Harcourt.

 

Ukutumoren E. Ukutumoren

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Opinion

Jumping The Gun

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It is a cheering news, to wit: “Nigeria Set To Begin Export Of Vehicle Parts, Heavy-Duty Metals” – ref. The Tide: Wednesday, Sept. 8, 2021. Zeetin, a Nigerian precision engineering company, whose Managing Director is Azibaola Robert, told Nigerians that his company signed an export Memorandum of Understanding with a Turkish-American Company, JMT Ltd, to export Zeetin’s products to other countries. Robert told us that: “this is the first time a Nigerian engineering and manufacturing company will start exporting heavy-duty metal products, spares to the international market”.
Any patriotic Nigerian would be glad to hear such news, rather than something saddening such as acts of banditry and brigandage. With the export of Zeetin vehicle parts and heavy-duty metals, “overall, Nigeria will be the ultimate beneficiary”. Hopefully, JMT Limited, while taking the responsibility of exporting and marketing Zeetin products, would have satisfied itself that the products are of international standards. It would not be enough for a precision engineering company to manufacture products, but there is also an additional responsibility of quality assurance.
Manufacturers Association of Nigeria (MAN) would obviously have satisfied itself that Zeetin products are of international standards. Therefore, credit must go to an indigenous Zeetin precision engineering company for being the first to export heavy-duty metal products and we hope that it would be a proud beginning; not Ajaokuta Steel!
Common stages involved in every project, including precision engineering works, would cover risk analysis, project design, implementation and then monitoring and evaluation. Purposes of monitoring and evaluation include getting factual and comprehensive feedback with regards to the performance of products sent out into the market. For manufacturing companies, lots of resources are spent on the feedback process, to ensure customer satisfaction and product sustainability. Complaints from customers and users are taken seriously so that corrections and improvements can be made.
At a seminar in the School of Oriental and African Studies, London, a long time ago, some useful facts emerged with regards to the common reactions of developing countries, to criticisms. Monitoring and evaluation process would obviously involve pointing out lapses calling for correction and improved strengthening. The emphasis was that criticism should not be seen as acts of aggression or hostility, but as opportunity for corrections and improvements. It takes maturity and a big heart to learn from scathing criticism.
With regards to product quality, developing countries, including Nigeria, have been known to have some lingering lapses, despite improved diligence. When there were talks in the recent times about Nigeria going to manufacture cars and aircraft, a former Nigerian diplomat swore that he, nor any of his grand children, would travel by such vehicle. Be it a joke or reality, his remark represents the attitude of many Nigerians towards local products. It is not always a question of ability or absence of it, but something else, quality included.
At the aforementioned seminar in the London school, there was a comment about “jumping the gun”, being a reference to an attitude of setting out long before the dawn. There is usually a difference between having an ability, and having the readiness to apply it, at the most appropriate time. Jumping the gun would mean embarking on a mission before one is ready enough to do so. Such haste may arise from vanity or some other weakness. It may not be wrong to take some risks or announce some breakthrough, but let it not be for “show” purposes.
In the management of development process, what is known as felt-need theory includes the practice of addressing needs and necessities according to the order of priority. Priority rating of a need would include the level of threat posed and the number of people involved. Commonsense understanding and assessment of a priority would mean “doing first thing first”. As First-Aid instructors would say. If threat to life is involved, then life-saving measures would be more appropriate priority than spending time in arguments while situation gets worse. You don’t go after rats while a house is on fire!
There was a time, a few years ago, when products packaged and exported from Nigeria were rejected abroad on the ground of not meeting international standards. Such products were not vehicle parts or heavy-duty metals. A major complaint about Nigerian-made products has always pointed towards “finishing and packaging”, which carry the tag of “poorly done”. There have been complaints that Nigerians rarely take serious pains to give a “good finishing” to what they produce. Products carry signatures of their origins and producers!
The endeavours and exploits of Zeetin have been used in this article as a means to examine what real progress means. That there are differences among individuals, nations, cultures and races, count as blessings and assets, rather than liabilities. Real progress shows in the development and advancement of what is indigenous to a people, rather than in copying and adopting foreign things, including engineering technology. Such progress begins with development of a right sense of beauty, not as a caricature but as an infallible signpost for knowing what exhibits harmony and creates joy. Beauty, Harmony, Joy!
People often strive in vain, and motivated by vanity, to copy and adopt what is not indigenous to their culture. Much time and resources are spent on wanting to follow the train of fashion, while efforts are rarely made to identify and develop indigenous talents. Obviously, every distinct group of people have unique endowments, peculiar to them, serving as their contribution to collective humanity. Harmony arises where differences in kind give their best to build up the whole through complementarily. Wherever one endeavour complements another, harmony arises.
Rather than be rooted in our native soil, culture and peculiar endowments, we copy and reproduce what is alien and borrowed from those we consider better. Such lifestyle of imitation is a major drawback for Nigeria. We progress better by being rooted in what we truly are and then build up from the grassroots; not by borrowing, copying or imitating what others had developed. From engineering works, to governance and health issues, there are indigenous and local content components that can give added values, if we Don’t Jump the Gun.

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

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Cursory Look At Nigeria’s Challenges

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Insecurity and bad economy in Nigeria have reached alarming proportions rearing their ugly heads in various facets of our national life. Lives are lost on daily basis, population depleted, businesses in comatose, investment are nose-diving, multinationals closing shop and vacating the country, unemployment soaring and the populace in fear.
On May 29, 2015, General Muhammadu Buhari (rtd) was sworn in as President of Nigeria. The administration promised to urgently tackle several challenges that have hindered economic prosperity, sustainable security and overall national development in Nigeria. In terms of human resources, Nigeria is among the first 20 developed countries of the world. It is Africa’s largest oil-producing country. With a population of over 200 million, it is, no doubt, the largest market in Africa.
But the security and economic fortunes have been dwindling due to vagaries in the global price of crude oil. The country has been caught in-between affluence and affliction. Nigeria’s political leadership is a major factor why she has been reduced to a giant with clay feet. Buhari came to national limelight in 1983 when he became military Head of State after a successful coup d’état that overthrew civilian President Shehu Shagari on December 31, 1983. He ruled Nigeria from January 1984 until August 1985, before his regime was also toppled by another coup. His reign is ever remembered for a vigorous anti-corruption war, but tainted by human rights abuses.
Buhari contested in the presidential elections of 2003, 2007 and 2011, but lost to the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) candidates. In the 2003, he was the presidential candidate of the All Nigeria Peoples Party (ANPP) and lost to incumbent President Olusegun Obasanjo. In 2007, he contested again on the ticket of the same party, but was beaten by PDP’s Umaru Yar’Adua who scored 26,638,063 against Buhari’s 6,605,299. In March 2010, the retired General left ANPP and formed the Congress for Progressive Change (CPC) contesting as its presidential candidate during the 2011 presidential poll, which he lost to President Goodluck Jonathan of PDP.
In that election, Buhari secured 12,214,853 votes against the President Goodluck Jonathan’s who secured 22,495,187. In 2014, the All Progressives Congress (APC) nominated Buhari to stand as its presidential candidate in the 2015 presidential election. The APC was merger of the All Progressives Grand Alliance (APGA), Action Congress of Nigeria (ACN), ANPP and CPC.
Buhari subsequently emerged victorious in the March 28, 2015 poll, defeating incumbent President Jonathan of PDP. He polled 15,416,221 votes against Jonathan’s 12,853,162 votes in an election that was keenly contested. On May 29, 2015, General Muhammadu Buhari was sworn in as president. Having ascended to the office he once occupied as a military officer, his administration was expected to urgently tackle several challenges that have bedeviled Nigeria over the last three decades. Insecurity, bad economy and corruption were the greatest challenges facing the new administrations since the return to democracy in 1999.
Traditional security threats such as violent conflicts, militancy, armed robbery and kidnapping have assumed worrisome dimensions in Nigeria. Evolving threats such as insurgency and terrorism have further complicated the situation. Outbreak of violent conflicts has become a major characteristic of insecurity in Nigeria. It is estimated that Nigeria has witnessed over 3,000 violent ethno-religious, communal and political conflicts of varying intensity and magnitude. Clashes between farmers and pastoralists have resulted in the death of about 4,732 persons between 1998 and 2014. The spate of violent crimes has become alarming.
In all of this the Presidency appears not to be doing enough, raising suspicions that Buhari is reluctant to take action since the herdsmen are mainly of his Fulani tribe. Even the swiftness with which Aso Rock Villa reacts to any condemnation of destructions caused by herders in the Middle Belt and southern parts of the country helps to fuel this suspicion.
Of course, the President’s insistence to recover gazetted grazing routes in the country lends further credence to the arguments of those who have maintained that he is deliberately keeping quiet and allowing his herder kinsmen to ride roughshod over every other section of the country. At best, all Buhari had ever ventured was that those who had complained about the destructions caused by open grazing should learn to tolerate the migrant herders and their cattle.
And on the economic front, the Buhari administration has a myriad of challenges to tackle which include but not limited to pervasive poverty, rising unemployment, epileptic power supply, fuel crisis and declining economy. Pervasive poverty and massive unemployment are serious economic challenges facing Nigeria. Both have maintained a rising trend over the years. Poverty rates remain high in Nigeria, particularly in rural areas. It is estimated that 101million out of Nigeria’s population of about 200 million live in extreme poverty.
And of the 99 million Nigerians suffering from extreme poverty, most are young people denied employment opportunities. However, as of 2015, the unemployment rate in Nigeria reached an all-time high of 20 percent with a youth unemployment rate as high as 50 per cent. These young Nigerians fell prey to recruitment by such groups as Boko Haram.
The problem of poverty and unemployment in Nigeria results from inconsistent policies, misappropriation of funds meant for empowerment schemes and increasing de-industrialisation and collapse of small businesses due to lack of venture capital and poor power supply.
Foreign industrial firms that once operated in this country have since relocated to other African countries like Ghana and South Africa which can boast of better operating environments. The oil multinationals that not only employed Nigerians and paid them very well have also relocated their key operations to offshore platforms in order to escape the increasingly restive Nigerian youth. This has led to staff downsizing across companies.
Achugo wrote from Eastern Polytechnic, Port Harcourt.

By: Godstime Achugo

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Opinion

Avoiding Brain-Drain In Medicare

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The industrial action embarked upon by resident doctors in Nigeria has lasted for several weeks. A few months ago, the Nigerian Medical Association (NMA) was alleged to be demanding certain allowances, including that of COVID-19 inducement allowance.
The Federal Minister of Labour and Productivity, Dr Chris Ngige, the NMA and other stakeholders shifted grounds on the issues and came to a resolution which made them go back to work. This time around, the authorities concerned should also come together, sort out the problems concerning the medical practitioners so that the nation’s healthcare system is taken care of.
There is the fear that if they are not treated well, some of them may travel abroad for greener pastures. A situation where well-trained medical doctors will be leaving for other countries because the Nigerian system does not bother about them, should be avoided.  Not just the doctors, nurses too should be taken care of as more of their services are needed in our public hospitals.
Although other professions are affected but that of medicare is more important as it deals with health. Health, they say, is wealth. A situation where a senior doctor may want to leave the country with his former students who have grown on the job for several years, to other countries because of the system in Nigeria calls for concern.
Those who may be wishing to leave should be patriotic. We are aware that many countries of the world like Canada, Australia, Germany, South Africa, to mention but a few, are seeking the services of Nigerian trained medical personnel. But it should be noted that their services are also needed in their country. As Nigerians, they need to be trusted to make some sacrifices as far as their services are concerned.
Some years back, when resident doctors embarked on strike in some of the states, there were threats of “No work, no pay”, their colleagues in other states voluntarily contributed and made funds available to them. 
They should not be poor, but such calibre of persons should not be as it will be degrading. If they lack money as a result of non-payment of salaries and allowances, as punishment for industrial action, they have families and loved ones to cater for. Those who are leaving Nigeria for other climes may not be unpatriotic but need the kind of wages that are commensurate with the jobs they perform.
Researches have shown that brain-drain in Nigeria started in the early ’90s. One worrisome issue is that there are persons who at one time or the other have belonged to these associations before being at the helm of affairs. You discover that there will still be series of industrial action under their watch. So you begin to wonder whether these anomalies cannot be corrected as they are in charge.
Some persons have argued that Nigeria’s education system is poor. How come the nation’s medical graduates are good to the extent that other countries seek their services? I know that Nigeria has well-trained medical personnel who studied at home and can compete favourably at the international level.
Recently, I had an experience with some of our medical doctors, specifically in a female ward in one of our public hospitals; I was amazed at the way they were analysing health issues about women and prescribing the right drugs for the various ailments.
I began to wonder why anybody will say that we are nowhere. The truth is that we have qualified medical doctors. I think the problem is how to attend to their needs. If medical practitioners are asking for, let’s say, COVID-19 hazard allowance, they should be given so they don’t contract the virus.
The stress of a medical personnel attending to so many patients may not be easy, even at nights. When you visit the hospitals, one will not be in doubt that those groups of people deserve better working condition.
Nigerian medical doctors should be patriotic no matter their grievances, bearing in mind that “home is home”. The understanding between the indigenous medical personnel may not be the same as that of foreign medical team. Although there are some whose expertise are higher and left their countries of origin to render one assistance or the other in Nigeria.
There are also Nigerian trained medical doctors based overseas who, after taking a look at the situation in Nigeria, once in a while come home to render healthcare services. That’s a show of patriotism. 
Education of a medical doctor in Nigeria is very expensive. In fact, securing admission to study medicine in the university does not come easy. So it’s like, “handle with care”.  
While the Federal Government may need to look into the demands of resident doctors, NMA as a way of being patriotic, should shift ground during negotiation.  
Brain-drain may not serve Nigeria well so they should not allow some of the best hands to leave.  More so, you cannot tell whether they will return or not.  All hands must be on deck because this is a period of pandemic.  
Here in Rivers State, hospitals have been equipped with facilities of international standard which our medical personnel are competent to handle. The University of Port Harcourt Teaching Hospital (UPTH) and Rivers State University Teaching Hospital (RSUTH) have been equipped by both the federal and state governments. Spirited individuals and organisations have also donated facilities to those hospitals. The Military Hospital in Port Harcourt has also been equipped for anybody’s comfort.  
In fact, the gigantic Mother and Child Hospital built by the Nyesom Wike administration is a testimony that healthcare system has been boosted. I think it is for the right medical personnel to man those facilities.  
If our medical doctors are adequately taken care of, they will not leave the country for any reason. If you think any country is better than Nigeria, such place was not developed in a day. Whatever infrastructure you have overseas was developed over the years.

By: Eunice Choko-Kayode

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