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Nigeria @ 57: What The People Say

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Exactly 57 years ago, the colonial rule of the Great Britain in Nigeria came to an end after years of struggle by some of our past heroes.
As always, today October 1, the country marks the anniversary of the great event.
But how has the country fared in these past 57 years? What can the citizens say about Nigeria at 57? Our Deputy Editor (Features), Calista Ezeaku sought answers to these questions from some Port Harcourt residents.
Excerpt:

Barr Emeka Onyeka: It is really good we are celebrating. It is really good we’ve come this far, but it is not yet an Eldorado. I think it calls for more of sober reflection than bonfire in the sense that it is really a good time for us to do a stock keeping, checking ourselves from 1960 till date, so far, how far? What have we done? What have we achieved? Are we making progress? Are we actually on a steady decline?
So for me, it’s neither here nor there.
Sincerely,  I don’t think this is a time to merry, given the present condition of the country. What really calls for rolling out of the drum is the happy mood of the people. When a greater number of the people are hungry, what are we rolling out the drum for? By doing so you will be irritating them. You will be angering them and if you don’t take time, the anger might translate to action. I think what we need to do is for us to check ourselves, look at our people, which is the primary responsibility of the leaders and know wether the leaders have actually been fair to the citizens.
There are so many things that we have not gotten right in the past 57 years. The first one is fairness. Sincerely, people are not treated fairly.  I believe strongly that people should be treated fairly. Our resources should be distributed fairly. You know that fairness is justice. Appointment of individuals or groups to government positions should be done fairly to reflect the true federalism that we claim to have in practice. A situation where you see people in leadership acting with some sectional colouration, does not augur well for the nation.
Going forward,  for me I think it is a wonderful opportunity that we are one. I strongly believe that we should remain one. Being one is of great advantage.The greater advantage is there when everybody is treated fairly.
What I recommend is this, irrespective of where the president or  even the governor comes from, he should see every citizen of the nation or his state as one and the same and treat them as their children.  When you start treating some of the children as outsiders, naturally, you can never be fair to them. The President and the Governors should treat their subjects better than they are doing at the moment.
The strike and agitations that have been going on in the country for sometime now are anger in action. They are anger demonstrated, animosity displayed. People are not happy for one thing or the other.
You see a situation where those at the federal level are spending money as if others simply escorted them to the nation,  without having any stake in the nation called Nigeria. I mean it is annoying! Every person feels so bad. The workers are not paid adequately, and those who are elected to serve us are taking all and at the end of the day, we are all going to the same market. So how do you think the workers will feel? Naturally they will feel bad. The resources are not fairly distributed. Naturally the people, especially those from whose areas the resources are being generated, will feel bad.
So as a person, I strongly support restructuring. True federalism is what will make people sit up.

Mr Monday Johnson – Driver:
What I can say about Nigeria at 57 is that things are not moving on well in the country.  There is bad leadership.  Just look at the roads we ply here in Rivers State,  they are bad . The  East/West road is very bad. There is hardship every where.
Our hope is that with the Independence day celebration, there should be some positive changes.
We will be very happy if they can fix the roads and make life better for us.  Government should invest  in the education sector and also the health sector so that the poor people will have reasons to rejoice.

Miss Mercy Kaneh- Young School Leaver:
Nigeria today is a very difficult place to live in. Cost of living is so high, business is not flurishing. I help my elder sister with her business and I know how hard it is for her to sell her goods and even make profit. Look at me, I’m supposed to be in a higher institution but because of economic  hardship I couldn’t go. So we want a change in this country.  I want better leadership that will make things easy for the people.

Mr Franklyn Obiene –  Public Servant/ Youth Leader:
There are many good reasons why we should celebrate Nigeria at 57. Because it is Nigeria’s birthday, because we are alive, because we are a united country, we should celebrate. But the growing insecurity in the country is a big concern. People are no longer free to move around because of fear of the police, militants or political party fanatics. In other parts of the country, we have the IPOB challenge, the boko haram and other agitating groups. All these create tension in the country and make people feel unsafe.
So let government think of measures to tackle the problem of insecurity and what is making people to agitate. Let our leaders lead us well and then the people will follow.
They said, they are fighting corruption abi? Let them do it without fear or favour. Any corrupt person, no matter how highly placed, should be fished out and brought to book. Let government at various levels empower the youth.  It is said that the future of any country is in the youth but I don’t see any attention being given to these future leaders.
Every administration that comes on board will tell you they will do this and that for the youth but at the end of the day, nothing is done. The situation still remains the same. Let them empower the youth, please.

Mr Salisu Musa – Businessman:
We thank God for keeping us alive to celebrate Nigeria at 57.  For me, l like as the country is now. The fighting has reduced. The tribalism issues are coming down. In Rivers State here, our roads are better. As Federal Government dey fight corruption, l like am. Government should create job opportunities for the people.
Many companies are laying off their staff, that  is not good. Government should build industries that will employ the jobless people. They should equip public hospitals.  Before now, they use to give us free drugs at the hospitals. Today, there is nothing like that anymore.

Mrs Ngozi Amadi – Teacher:

The country has come a long way. Struggling with challenges ranging from insurgency, militancy, Ebola, corruption and others.
A country where leaders have emerged with the sole motive of enriching their pockets and saving for their generations unborn. Being the most populous country in Africa coupled with the instigations from outside and within the continent, to mention but a few.
Regardless of these numerous challenges, Nigeria has remained integrated. Nigeria is a great country, I am proud to be a Nigerian. My advice to fellow Nigerians is to come together and let’s fight all appearances of corruption at all levels and make this country an envy to the rest of the world.

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Pipelines Vandalism: NPDC Adopts Modern Technology To Monitor Facilities

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The Nigeria Petroleum Development Company (NPDC)/ND Western OML 34 Asset Management Team (AMT) says it has commenced the use of modern technology for effective monitoring of its facilities.
The company’s Manager in charge of Government, Community Relations and Security, Mr Sheidu Aiguedo, made the assertion at a media briefing in Warri.
Aiguedo decried the persistent attacks on the company’s facilities by miscreants, saying the company had lost several billions of naira to their illegal activities.
“We are employing the use of technology to enhance our monitoring capacity,” he said.
Aiguedo said activities of the oil thieves had caused serious disaster, adding that the company would continue to intensify awareness to its host communities on the dangers inherent in pipelines vandalism.
“The oil bunkerers are destroying our facilities, and their activities are also destroying the environment,” he said.
Aiguedo urged the Federal Government to apply “prevention, protection and prosecution” approaches as ways of curtailing oil theft in Delta.
He also advised the government to establish and increase its presence in the oil communities with a view to reducing theft in the area.

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Nigeria Has Really Favoured Lebanese Firms, Investors -Group

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The Lebanese Nigeria Initiatives (LNI) in Nigeria yesterday said that the country had over the past decades been a nation of blessings to Lebanese companies and investors.
LNI’s Secretary, Mr Ali Safiyyedine, made the disclosure in Lagos at a news conference to announce the organisation’s launch of its first Scholarships and Endowment Fund for young Nigerians.
Safiyyedine said that the organisation had opened an endowment fund in American University of Beirut for young Nigerians as a way of giving back to Nigeria.
“We would forever be grateful to Nigeria for what she had over these years done for us Lebanese.
“And as a way of giving back to this great country, we at LNI have decided to open an endowment fund for young Nigerians in American University of Beirut that will continue even after we are gone.
“So, we have after many interviews and tests, selected the first Nigerian, Mr Olubando Ajibola, as the distinguished young man embarking on this journey for his MBA in the American University of Beirut,” he said.
Safiyyedine said that the organisation came up with the initiative to enable Nigerians study in the university for their Post Graduate degree and come back to contribute to the development of their country.
The Consul General of Lebanon in Lagos, Mr Elias Nicolas, said that the gesture was a further demonstration of the Lebanese interest in the development of Nigerians.
According to him, the Lebanese community are always delighted in contributing to Nigeria’s economic and social development.
“We are very pleased to launch the LNI scholarship and endowment fund for Nigerians today. This will further strengthen our long existing friendly relations in the years ahead.
“The Lebanese community has always conceived itself as part of the social fabric of its host country, and this fund is another sign of its commitment to the educational upliftment of young Nigerians.
“I warmly congratulate the huge effort of LNI’s Chairman, Mr Faisal El-khalil and members of the board of trustees for this laudable initiative.
“Let me also congratulate Olubando Ajibola as the first Nigerian selected for this scholarship programme. We hope you will be an ambassador for promoting our two countries values and interest during your study,” he said.
Mr Olubando Ajibola, a graduate of Petroleum and Gas Engineering from the University of Lagos, commended LNI and its board of trustees for selecting him as the first Nigerian beneficiary of the fund.
Ajibola said he would focus his MBA study on data collection analysis that would help enhance business development in Nigeria in the future.

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Photographers Decry Effects Of Smartphones On Their Business

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Some photographers in Enugu State have cried out against the negative effects of smartphones and social media on their business.
Some of the photographers who spoke during the World Photography Day, yesterday, said they were doing other businesses to make ends meet.
They said that though they were proud to be photographers, they noted that the advent of smartphones and social media had affected their business negatively.
According to them, the business of photography is dwindling as most people prefer to use their phones to take pictures, especially ‘selfies’.
One of the photographers at University of Nigeria, Enugu Campus, Mr Moses Onyeneke, said; “I am proud to be a photographer but the advent of smartphones and social media have dealt a big blow to our business.
“People prefer using their smartphones to take photographs and post on social media instead of going to a photo studio.
“They don’t value hard copy photos anymore but it is the best, it lasts longer and can be used for remembrance purposes.
“Passport photographs are making waves more because people need it for various official engagements,’’ he said.
Another photographer, Mrs Lizzy Achuagu, decried the low patronage of still photographs, adding that before the advent of smartphones, she finished rolls of films in two days.
“People book you for their social occasions but these days, very few people need our service.
“In a month, you can be making more than N30,000 depending on the occasions you cover, but now, hardly do you make N10,000,” she said.
Some smartphones users that reacted to the celebration of the World Photography Day said that the use of hard copy photos was outdated.
They preferred using their smartphones because it was less expensive and stress-free when compared to using a photographer.
They noted that even when they used a photographer to take photos, they preferred to collect the soft copies rather than the hard copies.
One of the smartphone users, Mr Ugochukwu Okeke, said that using smartphones to take pictures was better, as it was faster and could be posted to the world at the press of a button.
“It can be used to send message immediately than hard copy photograph. It was seven to 10 years ago when smartphones were not really common that hard copies were valuable.

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