With just months to the 2015 general elections, there still remains a huge gulf between what the parties have in stock for the voting public and what they hope to address. if elected.
Instead, the political climate has been avoidably charged with inflammatory remarks, vain criticism and sometimes highly personalised bad-mouthing.
In the past many months, virtually every issue of national concern has been politicised with hardly any room for a consensus. From the growing insurgency, to the fluctuating fortunes of the nation’s economy, what Nigerians have so far heard and seen are name-calling and blames.
In fact, no day passes without one leader or another from the dominant political parties questioning the other’s patriotism, sincerity of purpose and indeed competence to tackle a problem without any effort to tell Nigerian how differently they hope to tackle the nation’s many maladies.
Now, perhaps is time to tell the parties and their leaders what Nigerians want to know, hear and accept as facts necessary to turn things around for the better. In the case of the ruling party, we expect to know what they hope to sustain and what they hope to do differently if re-elected, while the opposing parties should tell Nigerians how they hope to address the issues, which they consider disturbing.
Let’s consider some of the defining issues in next year’s elections.
State of Insecurity
From a ‘bomb, kill and die’ terrorist’s style insurgency, the Boko Haram has grown to become a full-fledged army with an expansionist tendency. They are now intent on not only wasting human lives but also bent on annexing Nigerian territories, hoist flags and even rename won-territories.
The ruling party says it is equipping the Nigerian troops and forming transnational coalitions to combat the terrorists, knowing that the Boko Haram group moves from one country to another. Army Chief Godwin Minimah also said efforts were made to boost the morale of troops and that they are better equipped and more nationalist-minded to confront the enemy.
Minimah listed troops’ victories in Damaturu, Mubi, Kutiga among others as a reflection of the new spirit of combat-readiness, and involving the civilian populace.
We expect other parties to say what they hope to do differently and more effectively to end the insurgency once and for all.
They should get to the root of the problem and state for sure, what informed the insurgency and how they hope to end it finally.
Falling Price of Crude Oil
From well over 100 dollar per barrel last year, the price of crude is heading far lower than 70 dollar per barrel. For this reason, Federal Ministry of Finance sources are requesting to peg the benchmark for crude at N65 dollars, in the 2015 budget.
With Nigeria’s near total dependence on oil, with no reasonable investment in refining and producing by-products from crude, the global fall in the price of crude is easily felt here in Nigeria than elsewhere.
In announcing what seems fresh austerity measures, the Minister of Finance and Co-ordinating Minister of the Economy Dr. Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala last week said, the ruling government plans to eliminate wastes in government, avoid duplications, and plug all loop holes of drain, while, announcing welfare measures for the most vulnerable lot of the societal chain-like pregnant women, children and the aged.
Are these measures enough? When some states cannot even pay workers’ salaries as at when due or pay at all. When infrastructural development in some states have been halted on account of poor proceeds?
What will other parties do differently to ensure that falling price of crude does not define our national growth and progress. Specifically, what will the parties do in the short, middle and long terms to re-jig the nation’s economy?
Poverty and illiteracy Eradication
In spite of favourable comments by globally renowned financial experts about the positive health of the Nigerian economy and the amount of foreign investments it attracted recently, poverty and illiteracy remain a serious issue.
Available statistics show that more than 60 percent of the Nigerian population are illiterate and live below the poverty level.
What will the parties do to address this issue, beyond occasional provision of rice, beans, wrappers and other provisions for selected women? Nigerians expect a programme that identifies the most vulnerable, more vulnerable and vulnerable groups, list their various needs and articulate measures that would frontally address peculiarities of each group.
More importantly, Nigerians expect an economic management style which success can be measured by the impact it makes on the many poor.
Nothing can be more frustrating to indigent parents than borrowing fortunes to see their children and wards through University education only for such graduates to remain liabilities to the same families that expect them to be bread-winners.
The ruling government claims it has provided more than three million jobs and nearly 30 million in the informal sector through special programmes.
Nigerians will like to know what other political parties will do differently that will bring the country back to the years when even school certificate holders were sought after for job placements.
Nigerians want to know what special programmes will be put in place to address the problem in the short, medium and long terms.
Years ago, industries formed the bulk of employers of labour and helped to reduce the people’s appetite for foreign goods. Over time largely due to the oil boom, investments in industries became less profitable while key players blamed the nose dire on challenges ranging from poor infrastructure and cost of raw materials.
The situation got to a point when many government-owned companies closed down after huge public investments. With some of such enterprises now privatized, not much has come by way of employment creation.
Nigerians would like to know the political partys’ programmes on industrialization and manufacturing what plans, if there are, should be expected to encourage a revolution in the industrial and manufacturing sector.
Health and Education
One of the principal responsibilities any government owes the people are functional health and basic education. Is the state of Health and Education, today what it should be? Or can it be better?
We expect political parties to tell Nigerians what plans they have to better both sectors. Most importantly, what plans they have to address the abysmal failures in the West African School Certificate Examinations (WASCE) and the Joint Admission Matriculation Board (JAMB) examinations.
Failure to get admission into a university, fresh from post-primary school, is a major National problem. This is because, the age-bracket of such children makes them most vulnerable and to not be engaged for a full year, waiting to re-write same exams can be very frustrating.
Therefore, what plan can be put in place to reduce, if not eliminate failures in those examinations and ensure university education for the children?
The Niger Delta Question
Even with the falling oil prices, the country still relies on proceeds from oil sourced from the oil producing Niger Delta. The protest and later militancy which erupted in the area, during the Yar’Adua Presidency resulted in the amnesty programme and creation of the Niger Delta Ministry. But what positive changes are there to ensure non-resurgence of militancy in the Niger Delta?
Being the main provider of foreign revenue, the Niger Delta still occupies a vital fulcrum of our national survival.
So, what plans do political parties have for the zone, beyond oil? Will the Niger Delta be abandoned when oil finally dries up? What plans are there to give the area some measure of hope in years beyond oil and gas?
My Agony is that the elections are barely months away, yet all, Nigerians have witnessed are abuses, bad mouthing, campaigns of calumny and hate messages. That is not what Nigerians deserve.
We’ve Spent N9bn To Upgrade RSUTH, Wike Confirms
The Rivers State Governor, Chief Nyesom Wike, says his administration has spent N9billion in upgrading structures and installation of new equipment at the Rivers State University Teaching Hospital (RSUTH).
He said the fact that 40 per cent of the 2021 budget of the state is dedicated to provision of quality healthcare delivery was a further demonstration of the priority placed on the sector.
Wike made the explanation at the foundation laying ceremony for the construction of a Renal Centre at RSUTH, last Friday.
The governor said he made promise to Rivers people that the best would be provided to them in all sectors of the society within his capability because of the mandate they gave to him.
“As we came on here, I just looked around and I see the changes in this teaching hospital. I can say that we have put not less than N9billion in this teaching hospital.
“If you look at the budget, the health sector alone, what it’s taking from the Rivers State Government is not less than 40 percent of the 2021 budget.”
Speaking further, Wike said the state government cannot afford to implement free medical service programme in the present economic circumstance.
While dismissing the request for a subvention for RSUTH, Wike, however, commended the chief medical director and his team for their commitment to turnaround the fortunes of RSUTH.
“I have never seen anywhere that health services can be totally free. They’re telling me that people who come here can’t pay. I have never declared that this state is going to take over the health fees of anybody.”
Also speaking, the former Minister of Transport, Dr. Abiye Sekibo, who performed the flag-off, noted that Wike’s achievements in the health sector in particular, surpass what former governors of the state had done.
Sekibo said that the governor has given equal attention to every section of the health sector by providing complete health infrastructure that was positioning the state as a medical tourism destination in Nigeria.
Earlier, the Rivers State Commissioner for Health, Prof Princewill Chike, lauded Governor Nyesom Wike for his interest in the health of Rivers people.
He noted that the renal centre, when completed, would become another landmark development project in the health sector that would handle and manage all kidney-related ailments.
In his remarks, the Chief Medical Director of the Rivers State University Teaching Hospital, Dr. Friday Aaron, commended Wike for approving the renal centre.
Aaron explained that chronic kidney disease was a major burden globally with estimated 14 million cases in Nigeria.
According to him, over 240,000 of these cases require renal replacement therapy in the form of dialysis and renal transplant.
The CMD said the building that would house the centre was expected to be completed in six months and consists of two floors.
The ground floor, according to him, would house the haemodialysis unit with eight haemodialysis machines.
He further explained that the first floor of the centre would house the surgical component where most of the sophisticated equipment for kidney transplant would be installed.
Aaron said Wike has released the funds required to build, equip the centre as well as for the training of personnel locally and internationally.
Power Generation Falls 23% To 3,172MW
Power supply in Nigeria has failed to improve on last week’s performance, as it fell by 22.9 per cent from peak generation of 4,115Megawatts on Saturday to 3,172.20MW as at 5pm, yesterday, latest data from the System Operator has shown.
According to the data, most power plants were operating far below capacity due to gas shortage with Olorunsogo Power Plant 335MW capacity; and Sapele Power Plant, 450MW capacity; completely out.
Egbin was generating at 746MW; Omoku 37.20; Omotosho (NIPP) at 105MW; while Afam was generating at 80MW.
The data showed that on the average power generation in the past seven days were 4,120.9MW on Sunday, June 6; 4,249.4 on Monday, June 7; 4,000.9MW on Tuesday, June 8; 3,720.7 on Wednesday, June 9; 3,517 on Thursday, June 10; 3,765MW on Friday, June 11; and 4,115MW on Saturday, June 12.
The International Oil Companies (IOCs), had last warned that despite Nigeria’s huge gas reserves a lot needs to be done to attract investment to the sector to develop gas reserves to boost power generation in the country.
Speaking at the just concluded Nigeria International Petroleum Summit, the Chair, Shell Companies in Nigeria/MD SPDC, Osagie Okunbor, said with 203trillion Cubic Feet of gas reserves, what was needed in the country is to deliver projects that would produce the gas.
“The challenge is not just growing the reserves but in producing these reserves for the benefits of our country. Essentially growing the reserves and delivering on the production is a function of two or three elements.
“I like to see infrastructure that is required for the development of these resources at two levels. Soft infrastructure is often the one that is more important than and that is the one that is actually drives most of what you see at site.”
“Soft infrastructure refers to the enabling environment and nothing pleases me as much seeing both the Senate President and the speaker of the house give very firm commitments about trying to pass the PIB this month.
“That is probably the big one of the enabling environment to provide the kind of stability we also need all sorts of other issues we need to that we have discussed severally in terms of sanctity of contract, stable policies and collaboration and I think we are well on our way there”, he added.
Wike, Pride Of Nigeria’s Democracy, NUJ Affirms
The Nigeria Union of Journalists (NUJ) has described Rivers State Governor, Chief Nyesom Wike, as an exhibit of pride to democracy in Nigeria.
The NUJ also noted that Wike has redefined governance through demonstration of democracy in action with his service to Rivers people.
The National leadership, the 36 State Executives, and the FCT, including members of the NUJ across the country made the assertion in Port Harcourt during the inspection tour led by the Rivers State Commissioner for Information and Communications, Pastor Paulinus Nsirim of both completed and ongoing projects being undertaken by the governor in the state.
The National President of the NUJ, Chief Chris Isiguzo, said the 1999 Constitution bestows on the media the responsibility to hold governments accountable to the people.
Isiguzo posited that having placed the projects side-by-side with the expectations of the populace, it was obvious that the governor’s investment in critical infrastructure would remain lifelong empowerment tools for the people.
”We were at the Mother and Child Hospital. We took time to look at the facilities there. That can easily be said to be first of its kind in the country.
”At the much-talked about Real Madrid Football Academy, where they are going to train the young ones, we saw that they have good facilities. At the moment, they have also offered admission to 140 pupils.
”That’s also to catch-them-young, and I want to believe that by the time this kind of resources is continuously invested in sports development in Nigeria, it’s just a matter of time, it will gain its pride of place in sporting world.”
On her part, the National President of Nigeria Association of Women Journalists (NAWOJ), Mrs Ladi Bala said that the projects she had seen were entirely unique, unprecedented and very uncommon in the country.
According to Bala, the Emmanuel Chinwenwo Aguma Judges’ Quarters stand out as first of its kind in Nigeria, with its serene ambiance that would translate into enhancing the productivity of judges of Rivers origin.
”I believe that democracy is at work in Rivers State, and, for Rivers people, I want to congratulate them, and to say, this is the true reflection of what democracy should be across board.
”I want to call on other governors across the country to borrow a leaf from what the governor of Rivers State is doing. Wike is working, and we are very proud of what we have seen here”, she added.
In his reaction, the National Internal Auditor of NUJ, Muhammad Tukur, stated that Wike was a committed leader with the vision of uplifting the standard of life of his people.
Tukur, who expressed gratitude to Wike for his support to the NUJ National Conference in Port Harcourt, said that his show of love for journalists confirms his commitment to the welfare of the people.
On his part, Chairman of Oyo State Council of the NUJ, Comrade Ismail Ademola Babalola, asserted that the Mother and Child Hospital, and the Real Madrid Football Academy were part of projects Governor Wike was using to secure a productive future for the youths of the state because they meet global standard.
Also speaking, the Vice President of NUJ North Central Zone, Chief Wilson Bako, commended the quality of the various roads and flyover bridges constructed in the Port Harcourt metropolis to make the city tourists’ destination of choice.
In the same vein, the Vice Chairman of NUJ in Jigawa State, Comrade Larai Musa, said she has confirmed all that the news media had carried about Wike and his projects’ mantra, and asserted that it was leaders like him that were needed at the national level.
Also, Comrade Ikechukwu Ordu of Enugu State Council of the NUJ noted the need for other political leaders to emulate Wike in providing dividends of democracy to Rivers people and changing the fortunes of his state.
Also from the Enugu State Council of the NUJ, Comrade Ugochukwu Chukwudieke, said she was completely overwhelmed by what Wike has done in constructing the Okoro-Nu-Odo Flyover Bridge, Rumuogba Flyover Bridge, and Rebisi Flyover Bridge delivered within one year.
Chukwudieke also praised the quality of work on the Rumuola Flyover Bridge, Ogbun-nu-Abali Flyover Bridge, GRA Junction Flyover Bridge, and the Orochiri-Wurukwo flyover project at Waterlines Junction by Aba Road.
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