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Developing Nigeria’s Fishing Industry

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The southern part of Nigeria is situated in the
Atlantic Ocean. Nigeria is largely divided by two major rivers: Rivers Niger and Benue.  There are so many rivers and creeks in Nigeria which also boost fish production. Fish is a major source of protein to the body of man. Many years ago the predominant peasant fishermen engaged in serious fishing activities to make fishes available to the people. And in Rivers State, fishermen were known to be active having selected fishing settlements for the fishing business.
The fishermen who used canoes and fishing nets were comfortable in the activity as the business was lucrative. About three decades ago there was no much emphasis on deep sea fishing as the activity was taking place in creeks and rivers. It is worthy to note that the fishermen in those days did not use engine boats to do fishing as it is practiced today. They engaged in the business using canoes and paddles. The tedious fishing activities coupled with polluted water in the river have made fishing business discouraging to the youths.
In the 80s and 90s, Oyorokoto, a fishing settlement in Andoni Local Government Area, was known to be the busiest fishing settlement in West Africa. People from far and near, especially the Ibo traders, patronized the fishermen. There was access to fish across the nation. They were used to prepare so many delicacies. Many years ago when ice-fish was introduced into Nigerian market, there was panic. Many Nigerians saw ice fish as a taboo then.
While there was decline in fish production, ice fish was seriously penetrating the market. The crude implement used in fishing business had made some fishermen to abandon the occupation as they cannot afford trawlers, and modern and sophisticated fishing equipment. The local fisherman found it difficult to purchase trawlers as it is expensive beyond their reach. The level of decline in local fish production is heartbreaking as there is no sustainability. Fishing business which should be coordinated by the Ministry of Agriculture has not received substantial support from the government at various levels in the country. Indeed, there is no improvement and sustainability of the sector. Today, Nigerians eat more ice fish as never before.
It is pertinent to note that since the introduction of stockfish to Nigerian market there has never been a decline. Stockfish which is imported from Norway has never become scarce in Nigeria. Today, in every important meal stockfish is not lacking, while Geisha and Sardine have not ceased from being imported. This is because fishing activities have declined in Nigeria.
Undoubtedly, oil exploration and exploitation activities have caused grave damage to the rivers as fishes are no longer produced maximally due to polluted water. The environmental damage has made the ecosystem un-conducive to fishes to survive especially when there is a serious oil spillage in the river. As a result of pollution in the rivers, fishes have gone into deep waters. The fishermen are finding it difficult to engage in deep fishing with canoes. The sustainability of the business is not all about rearing fingerlings.  It goes beyond that to engaging in sophisticated fishing business. Hence, it is time to resuscitate fishing business in Nigeria. There are countless creeks and rivers in Nigeria yet fishing business is not gaining ground.
The Ministry of Agriculture as a matter of fact, should encourage fishermen while budgetary provision should be made for the improvement of the sector. Governments at various levels should support fishermen to improve and sustain the sector as it will give room to employment. The Atlantic Ocean is lying waste as there are not enough trawlers for fishing,especially by the people who inhabit the Niger Delta region.
In Japan, Norway, China and America etc., fishermen are known to be rich; but in Nigeria they are poor. In Norway, fishermen engage in deep sea fishing and export stockfish to every part of the world, especially Nigeria. The fishing sector is not flourishing as it ought to. The sector is definitely on the downward trend and something urgent should be done by the government to improve it.
Mechanized fishing is what is obtainable today globally and must be supported and improved upon by the federal, state and local governments. Nigerians need subsidy in fishing business for fishermen to acquire trawlers to improve the business. Nigerians need fishes to build their protein intake therefore fishing activities should be improved upon by the government. Truly, the time has come for that.  The government should support fishermen with fishing equipment. This will help a long way in improving the occupation in Nigeria.
Ogwuonuonu writes from Port Harcourt.

 

Frank Ogwuonuonu

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Opinion

Buhari And Fifth Columnists

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According to Wikipedia, a fifth columnist is “any group of people who undermine a larger group from within, usually in favour of an enemy group or nation. The activities of a fifth columnist can be overt or clandestine. Forces gathered in secret can mobilise openly to assist an external attack. Clandestine fifth column activities can involve acts of sabotage, disinformation, or espionage executed within defense lines by secret sympathisers with an external force.”
Literarily, it refers to persons who willfully constitute clogs in the wheel of progress within the system for no justifiable cause. Simply put, self-centered persons who allow selfish interests to override public interests. It doesn’t matter heights attained, greed and acrimony will always manifest either patently or latently in their actions.
President Muhammadu Buhari must not allow some politicians constitute clogs in the wheel of his progress knowing that masses confidence on him is at stake. Election is over. This is the time to be strict and focused for service delivery to earn accolades after exit from politics in 2023. Those that preferred conceited interests and ambitions to public interest should be laid off. Second term in office by Nigeria’s Constitution precedes retirement. But the retirement; fulfilled, glorious or otherwise will be determined by some dynamics.
In the Oath of Allegiance in the 1999 Constitution, Federal Republic of Nigeria for public officeholders, it provides for recitation, “….I will discharge my duties to the best of my ability, faithfully, and in accordance to with the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria and the law, and always in the interest of the sovereignty, integrity, solidarity, well-being and prosperity of the Federal Republic of Nigeria…..; I will not allow my personal interest to influence my official conduct or official decisions ……; I will do right to all manner of people, according to law, without fear or favour, affection or ill-will …….”.
These are the social contracts by which anyone; from president down to a commissioner can take up any official responsibility from the Constitution. Unfortunately, whilst the drafters of the Constitution took it seriously, politicians take it as mere recitals or formality. A pity, indeed!
The major challenge facing the country is insecurity which has perceptibly given President Buhari sleepless nights. Economy may never boom as targeted until insecurity is dealt with. The twosome (security and economy) go hand-in-hand. And any government that failed to prioritize them is cruising toward abysmal failures.
Unfortunately, scores of citizens that devotedly enrolled in a government institution – National Open University of Nigeria (NOUN) – and graduated since 2013 have been subjected to redundancy and idleness; roaming the streets without vocations by designs of some privileged persons in government. What a contradiction?
How could scores of citizens be kept in such a tight corner for years with all manner of gimmicks, forgetting that the victims have a right to live a comfortable life? How many of the conspirators or schemers can stay without remunerations to justify the years the innocent victimised students have stayed without jobs? And finally, what have the schemers gained from the obnoxious ploys?
Pondering on the unending ugly dramas regarding the admission of NOUN law graduates who had been encumbered from proceeding for their vocational training in the Nigerian Law School for no crimes committed can only make any patriotic persons weep deeply for the nation. The commonest question that must come to mind is; can the country freely move forward with such actors as public officeholders?
The most horrible challenge any government can face is harboring fifth columnists who pursue selfish agenda distinct from the government they constitute. This is, indeed, unfortunate. Lack of continuity, unity of purpose and open-mindedness in government is the major task in governance. Any system where personal interests are placed above public interests will collapse.
The Minister of Education, Mallam Adamu Adamu’s efforts on the protracted NOUN/Law School crisis have often met a brick wall. Adversaries within, they say, are the worst enemies. And President Buhari must be mindful of such characters as they can sabotage other government policies mutely. Like corruption, if the government does not deal with fifth columnists within, they will deal with the government.
Anywhere a principal and subordinates pursue different interests is doomed to fail. No doubt, NOUN/Law School crisis was inherited from two previous administrations, but President Buhari must give these oppressed students the anticipated relief. According to Simone de Beauvoir, “All oppression creates a state of war”. And the time to avert it is now.
It is bizarre for a unique innovation which the federal government adopted from developing nations and established with public funds to be subjected to hostility and the pull-down syndrome instead of being strengthened to stand. How could human beings willfully and joyfully cripple their fellow citizens?
Anyway, a fulfilled and glorious retirement after serving the nation is only tenable by remarkable accomplishments and, therefore, any detractors within the system should be discharged in the best interest. Thus, let the needful be done.
Umegboro is a public affairs analyst.

 

By: Carl Umegboro

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Opinion

As Another Femicide Lurks …

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November 25, 2019, may have come and gone, yet its echoes continue to resound in the global environment. At the United Nations (UN), the annual 16 Days campaign, which commences from the 25th day of November, through December 10, mobilizes not only the governments and public alike, it is also enthroning an atmosphere of hope and bright future, devoid of violence against women.
Although the theme of this year’s UN commemoration, “Orange the World: Generation Equality Stands against Rape!” strictly highlights the need to end the “rape culture” that is entrenched in our society, we must not forget that its focal point is on outright elimination of gender-based violence (GBV) or violence against women and girls (VAWG),which has become a global pandemic . Whether in situations of conflict, peace, or in our homes, rape is a fraction of Violence against women which study has revealed, affects 1 in 3 women in their lifetime.
Like rape which started gradually and suddenly became a terror that has sniffed away sleep from the eyes of the mighty, as both adult and young females are daily exposed to its menace irrespective of their locations, femicide; the killing of women, is soon becoming another dimension of violence against women which the world government and the society at large need to nib in the bud before it becomes a bug.
While the world was yet urging actions to end violence against women, on November 25, Rivers State was agog with the news of the corpse of a young lady discovered in a well of water at Rumuosi in Obio/Akpo Local Government Area of the State.
The young lady, simply identified as Miss Charity Ohaka, was allegedly murdered and her body thrown into a well by unknown persons.The body of the lady who until her death was said to be a popular money lender in the area was discovered in the well few days after she went missing.
This is in addition to an inexplicable killing of the Kogi People’s Democratic Party (PDP)’s women leader; Salome Acheju Abuh, right in her house, and the brutal attack unleashed on the Social Democratic Party (SDP)’s gubernatorial flagbearer, Barrister Natasha Akpoti, in Lokoja, the state capital before the recent gubernatorial election held in the Confluence State.
Of course we cannot be said to have forgotten so soon, the serial killer story that has been on the news for the past few months. For reasons of killing women and girls in hotels in Nigeria, hotel owners in PortHarcourt are now under statutory obligation to install closed- circuit television (CCTV) in their respective hotels, to be able to track the activities of killers.
Jean-Luc Mounier, a French journalist and research engineer, quoting a non governmental organisation, Féminicides par compagnons ou ex, (Femicides committed by partners or exes) reports that as at September 7, a total of 102 women have been killed in France since the beginning of this year.
For this reason, more than 250 anti-femicide posters were posted in the streets of Paris since the end of August. A peculiar feature of this new trend of violence against women as is observed in France, is that it is mostly perpetrated by victims’ partners or spouses.The names of these women — and dozens of other victims — have been meticulously recorded on the cobblestoned wall of Jardin Denfert, a convent-turned-art collective in Paris’s 14th Arrondissement (district) on the French capital’s Left Bank.
Jean reports that since August 30, dozens of women gather there every afternoon in a bid to engage people with France’s femicide problem. Women who want to pay homage to the victims had launched the campaign to”make passers-by and public authorities react”.
Ofcourse, the action of these women has actually paid off. Rebecca Amsellem, a women’s rights activist, penultimate Monday, spoke to France 24 about measures the French government had announced to step up fight against the scourge of domestic abuse. Yet, the NGO reitetates that “Since the government announced its plans to tackle domestic violence on July 6 and the measures having been put in place on September 3, 26 women have been killed.
Despite worldwide mobilizations led by survivors and activists in recent years through movements, violence, especially the ones perpetrated against women continues to be normalized and embedded in our social environments. From the trivializing of rape, victim-blaming, the objectification of women’s bodies in movies or TV, the glamorization of violence in ads, or the constant use of misogynistic language, Violence against women and girls has attracted undue prominence across the globe.
France’s share of this world’s ugly cake differs from the experiences of other countries in this regard and so is the various governments’ attitude towards its arrest.
How about men that had poured hot water or acid on their spouses as sheer expression of misogyny. The ones that use hot pressing iron on patners or female house maids as punitive measure for minor offenses. The list is inexhaustive. Many of these acts go unnoticed and undocumented especially the ones that didn’t culminate to death and the victims were expected to raise alarm. Their lack of courage to speak out for fear of further victimization and public’s stigmatization have not helped matters.
It is not only devastating for survivors of violence and their families, but also entails significant social and economic costs. In some countries, violence against women is estimated to cost up to 3.7% of their GDP – more than double what most governments spend on education.
It knows no social or economic boundaries and affects women and girls of all socio-economic backgrounds. Thus, this issue needs to be addressed in both developing and developed countries. Failure to address this issue would entail a significant cost for the future.
Numerous studies have shown that children growing up with violence are more likely to become survivors themselves or perpetrators of violence in the future.
We may not all be activists, or share the same opinions on other issues, but we can be united in the battle against GBV. It’s an issue that touches all of us, it could happen to anyone; to you, or someone close to you. We all have a role to play. It is petinent that we all be part of the efforts to end all forms of violence against women. This femicide must stop.

 

By: Sylvia ThankGod-Amadi

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Opinion

Rivers’ Brotherhood Revisited

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Excesses are the uncountable number of syndromes in any governmental sector which can render it to ruin. The White men say that “excess of everything is diabolical or bad”. This philosophical statement seems to be directed at Rivers indigenes and their governments from 1967 till date.
Congratulations to the maiden Governor of the state, King Alfred Diete-Spiff, a Bayelsan who set the pace for others to emulate through the policy of rehabilitation, reconstruction and reconciliation. Also, I thank the present Governor of the state, Chief Nyesom Wike, for his wisdom in applying the realistic political philosophy to move the state to its present level.
From here, I am appealing to all our leaders in Rivers State to combine the past history with the present and endeavour to create room for adjustments. Rivers State is the Treasure Base of the Nation, but the indigenes are hardly benefitting from the material and physical wealth of the state. It is manipulated by the non-indigenes due to no cooperation among Rivers people. Even though there are cultural differences among the indigenes, languages and tribal sentiments, such must be controlled as is done in other states of the federation.
Rivers State is used as a ‘scape goat’ and becomes victim of circumstance. When such is not practised by other neighbouring states, then why Rivers State only?
Truly speaking and as recounted, the different sectors of the Rivers economy are controlled by the non-indigenes. For instance, at the Civil Service Secretariat in Port Harcourt, some non indigenes claim to be Ikwerres whose language align with Igbo and continue to occupy paramount positions. Such is not happening in our neighbouring states. Evaluating the data of the working population, only 10% of the citizens are amongst the working class. As a writer, I went to the Schools Board of Imo State in Owerri, and was not granted the privilege to go in, being a Rivers indigene. Understanding them was not easy for me. They used their language power (Igbo) so that I would not understand them. In Rivers State, everything is accessible to strangers and they transact business anywhere without limitation. This has continued in the state for a long time.
Rivers indigenes are now treated as strangers and remain alienated from their natural resources. They are now like slaves in their land, looking beggarly and poverty-stricken. No leader wants to hear the hue and cry his people.
Does it mean that Rivers State should always consider others, while neighbouring states cannot consider Rivers people when it is their turn to recruit? If others fail to consider employing Rivers indigenes,why then should Rivers State do hers differently? The neigbouring states use language and cultural differences to wave off all others, and to abide strictly on recruiting their indigenes. Are Rivers leaders invoked to consider non-indigenes leaving out some of their equally qualified indigenes?
What is happening in Rivers State can be likened to the border impasse between Nigeria and her contiguous West African neighbours. For far too long, Nigeria has acted as a big brother to these neighbours at the expense of her economy. In return, she has benefitted very little (if anything).
Rivers State has always accommodated applications from indigenes of other states in Nigeria during job recruitments and contract awards. This is not to suggest that she lacks sufficient number of her own indigenes who are qualified and willing to undertake such duties. It is understandably in the spirit of brotherhood.
But what treatment do Rivers indigenes get elsewhere? Discrimination, intimidation, nepotism, exploitation and outright robbery. It is extremely difficult to identify any Rivers name in the payroll of any of her neighbouring states. To be sure, a few years ago when some South East States attempted to purge their civil services of non-indigenous workers, Rivers State was hardly affected because no Rivers man or woman got pay- rolled in the said states.
Now, there is news of the recruitment of another set of workers in the Rivers State University (RSU), Port Harcourt, leading to the setting up of RSU Employment Committee by the state governor. The mistake of the past should not repeat itself. Consideration must be given to the indigenes first before we can think of non-indigenes. Also, Rivers leaders in public and private positions of responsibility should begin to reconcile and relate well with each other. There should be no political antagonism amongst the ordinary citizens and the elites.
We must sink our social, political and cultural acrimonies for the purpose of establishing good goals and objectives to fulfill the dreams of the founding fathers of this esteemed state.
Only through this realization can we build a virile state ready to curtail the strangers who sabotage the economic development of our state. I was chanced to witness the off-shore work by a certain indigenous oil firm in early 2003. While there, I discovered that all the key positions were held by non-indigenes, while the mean ones were left for Rivers men. No Rivers indigene was granted full rights like enjoying the benefits of an ideal citizen.
A Rivers man is a stranger in his land, and the time has come to put an end to this unreasonable tolerance. The Rivers elites should have constant meetings at youth and elite levels of our rural and urban communities where proper resolutions can be taken on issues affecting the Rivers economy, pointing out reasonable suggestions and the way forward.
We cannot continue to feel that, due to our multi-cultural and language differences, there is no way out. Rome was not built in a day. A single tree cannot make a forest. Both the Rivers indigenes at home and abroad should have a sober reflection on issues affecting the state of our economy.
Anor is a Port Harcourt-based social analyst.

 

By: Christian Anor

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