Today, as the world celebrates the dawn of the year 2018, The Tide joins millions of well-meaning people in wishing Nigerians a happy and prosperous New Year.
We do not do this just for our voice to be heard in repetition of the ritualistic platitude echoed at this time of the year. Rather, we do so as an expression of our earnest desire that Nigerians get a better deal than the harsh socio-economic conditions they endured in 2017.
Without mincing words, 2017 was tumultuous for all categories of Nigerians: civil servants, pensioners, business men, traders, unemployed youths and even multinationals operating in the country.
President Muhammadu Buhari himself acknowledged this fact while receiving a delegation of residents of the Federal Capital Territory, Abuja on Christmas homage at the Presidential Villa, Abuja, last week. He described 2017 as “a tumultuous year” for him as a person and “a tough year for Nigeria”, but expressed the hope that 2018 “will be a much more prosperous one” youths and even multinationals operating in the country.
President Muhammadu Buhari himself acknowledged this fact while receiving a delegation of residents of the Federal Capital Territory, Abuja on Christmas homage at the Presidential Villa, Abuja, last week. He described 2017 as “a tumultuous year” for him as a person and “a tough year for Nigeria”, but expressed the hope that 2018 “will be a much more prosperous one”.
This is the hope The Tide shares and the prayer we offer that the Nigerian economy which went into recession and crawled back, with about four million jobs lost only last year, will be stronger on its path to recovery, this year. In tandem with this, we hope for a better budget performance as the less than 20 per cent performance last year could not stem job losses and induce employment.
We hope that this year, the economy will not only fully come out of recession, but its impact will be felt by Nigerians through affordable price level of goods and services, and citizens’ ability to gainfully engage in economic activities. There is no gainsaying the fact that as more citizens are usefully engaged, the lower will be the crime rate in the country.
We acknowledge the gains made in the fight against insurgency in the North East and other civil disturbances that border on the core of our corporate existence as a country. We, however, hope that the monster of Boko Haram will finally be decapitated, the remaining Chibok girls rescued and the salient issues surrounding agitations by Niger Delta militants and Indigenous People of Biafra (IPOB) addressed in a manner to forestall any resurgence.
This year, we hope that the Federal Government will take a strong initiative to stem the crisis in the petroleum industry, especially as it concerns modular refineries which have capacity to end crude theft and its attendant consequences to the environment.
Even as the Federal Government points to some level of achievements in the agricultural sector last year, it must decisively deal with such menaces as the marauding herdsmen and the horrible state of corollary infrastructure such as roads across the country for the benefits to percolate to the people.
We demand from governments at all levels, more commitment to the business of governance. While we expect the Federal Government to stop the blame game and assume responsibility for giving Nigerians a better lease of life, we do not expect excuses from any state or local government for non-payment of salaries and pensions.
Of course, Nigerians expect a raise in wage of the working class in the country as their current earnings have long ago been swallowed up by the prevailing economic realities. Indeed, this is one area government cannot afford to disappoint the people in order to demonstrate its concern for the welfare and well-being of the citizenry.
Furthermore, this year, the Federal Government needs to demonstrate the effectiveness of its anti-corruption crusade by the results it posts as against mere rhetorics. The government must rise above partisan politics in the prosecution of its war against corruption by ensuring that not just the erring opposition leaders but also all culpable government functionaries, agents and members of the ruling party are brought to book. In the same vein, government needs to come out clean and clear with the recovery of looted funds.
2018 is as well a preparatory year for general elections in 2019 as it is an election year for Osun and Ekiti States. The Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) should leverage on its commendable achievements in the Anambra guber polls, last year, and ensure a better performance in the governorship elections in the two aforementioned states. Indeed, the electoral body needs to conclude all planning and preparations, and demonstrate its readiness to conduct free, fair and credible general elections, next year.
While The Tide applauds the National Assembly for an above average performance, especially in carrying out its oversight functions, last year, we cannot but urge the legislators to work out better ways of engaging with the executive in order to avoid needless and costly face-offs and grandstanding that often rub off on the image of the government and the welfare of the masses they represent.
The judiciary, on its part, should continue with the house cleaning exercise it began last year, demonstrate itself as truly independent and show beyond doubt that it is the last hope of the common man by dispensing justice without fear, favour or ill will. Nigerians are eager to see that the special courts to try corruption cases see the light of day, as this will give needed impetus to the campaign against corruption.
Being a preparatory year to general elections, we expect to see increased political activities in 2018, but we must caution the opposition against recklessness and warn the ruling party not to give in to the temptation of clamping down on dissenting voices, as well as shun other forms of arbitrary use of power that are capable of plunging the country into some kind of political crisis.
As we advise governments at all levels not to take the patience and understanding of Nigerians for granted in the New Year, we also urge the citizenry to, within the ambit of the law, keep their leaders on their toes. We expect 2018 to be a year when Nigerians are constitutionally more forceful in agitating for dividends of good governance and refusing to settle for crumbs.
The Press, on its part, must be seen to be carrying out its constitutional mandate of holding government accountable to the people in good conscience at all times. Balanced, fair and responsible journalism practice must be the hallmark of media content in order to achieve a harmonious, stable and strong society.
For Nigerians to be happy and prosperous in 2018, they must individually and collectively commit to putting the interest of the nation above any other considerations; the rule of law must be allowed to prevail; justice and equity must form the basis of decision and actions in public service; there must be adequate reward for hard work; while government policies, programmes and actions must be deliberately targeted at meaningfully engaging the teeming workforce.
These and many more are our expectations in 2018.
Once again, we wish all Nigerians a happy and prosperous New Year.
Leveraging Nigeria’s 5G Policy
Technology is a meaningful part of human life or existence and this is true for a fact in Nigeria.
Africa’s giant is one of the technological hotspots across the African continent and makes great use of digital resources to prosper. A technology leap that many Nigerians are anxiously awaiting is the deployment of 5G.
Nigerians were exhilarated when the Minister of Communications and Digital Economy, Isa Pantami, announced that the Federal Executive Council (FEC) had approved the Fifth Generation Network, also known as 5G for Nigeria. Pantami said that the council, in ratifying the 5G, took cognizance of the report of the International Telecommunications Union (ITU) and the World Health Organisation (WHO) that pronounced it safe to human health.
Assuring the safety of Nigerians, the minister said that the radioactivity of the network was lower than that of the 4G currently in use. He revealed that the deployment of the plan would be implemented in phases between now and 2025 and listed the benefits of the policy to include higher data rate, fuller capacity, lower latency, job opportunities and necessary assistance to the security agencies in localities where the high-quality frequency was lacking.
What is 5G? Very simply put, this is the next generation of mobile broadband. A real step up from the current 4G networks, it guarantees to be of great benefit to personal and business activities. 5G is the acronym for the Fifth Generation of wireless communications. Experts assert that it is an advancement on the previous 3G and 4G that can provide much faster connectivity and speed up technologies like the Internet of Things (IoT) and Artificial Intelligence (AI).
Oddly enough, Nigeria was the first African country to test 5G but was not able to implement it. However, South Africa was the first to apply it, using Vodacom and MTN in 2019. Kenya came in second place last April when the network was run, utilising Nokia and Huawei simultaneously. Although 5G is still not widely available, more and more African countries are embarking on testing. Telecommunications in Morocco, Egypt, Gabon, Uganda and Lesotho are carrying out preliminary conduction tests. Even in this case, it may take longer to adopt the technology as a whole.
According to some connoisseurs in information technology, when the 5G network becomes heart and soul operational across the country, it should equally convey a boost to businesses, especially as they are increasingly going online in the modern age, and taking advantage of digital channels to prosper. Of course, this can be noticed in the way Nigerian companies use online marketing to boost brand awareness or sell their products worldwide through digital platforms and websites. An effective 5G network is expected to help Nigerian businesses work faster, more flexibly and more productively.
However, despite the pontifical benefits, controversies, theories and myths have consistently stood in the way of the Federal Government’s declaration to roll out the Fifth Generation network in the country. There are apprehensions as to the likely harmful impact of the latest technology to the country, with some quarters citing cybersecurity and privacy threats, while others have referred to possible health-related predicaments from electromagnetic radiation and other negative impacts on the environment. Those concerns must be dealt with as the technology becomes operational in Nigeria.
Other claims still deal with health risks since the launch of 5G in China and its deployment in several other countries. They are Covid-19 vaccines contain 5G microchips; that 5G release is used to cover up the Covid-19 pandemic; and that 5G causes headaches, migraines, and dizziness and even cancer. In addition, it is believed to suppress the immune system and increase the risk of SARS-CoV-2, which causes Covid-19.
Nigeria’s National Security Adviser (NSA), Major-General Babagana Monguno (rtd), also raised critical national security concerns and caution regarding the introduction of the Fifth Generation (5G) network. Monguno spoke at the Senate investigative hearing on the current state of the 5G network in Nigeria and its technological impact on citizens, where he posited that if misplaced and left in the wrong hands, it could pose a threat to national security.
Many countries are finding it difficult to deploy the technology mainly because of the challenges and myths characterising it as well as its introduction. Similarly, Nigeria has its obstacles that have impeded the execution of the technology in the country. That was acknowledged by Pantami as one reason for the seemingly late take-off of the policy.
But those who should know better have come out invincibly to debunk the misgivings. The United Kingdom government recently issued perhaps the strongest rebuttal of these figments of the fertile imagination of some self-styled scientists. “There is absolutely no credible evidence of a link between 5G and Coronavirus; inaccurate information was being spread online about 5G”, the UK’s Department of Digital, Culture, Media, and Sport (DCMS) noted.
Though the reservations against the network are not scientifically proven, they must not be disparaged as there is a need for constant enlightenment to instil credence in Nigerians about the safety of the 5G technology. Enlightenment has to be intensified to encourage broader endorsement of the policy. Nobody should be held execrable for the pervasive misconception of robotics. When the origin of both the Covid-19 pandemic and the 5G technology is examined, it may easily be understood why people inter-relate them.
Notwithstanding the disinclinations, we believe the perks derivable from effectual 5G network deployment far outweigh the handicaps. Therefore, the Nigerian government should proceed with the declaration of information technology and telecommunications as vital infrastructure to facilitate the broadband strategy. Governments at all levels must also enhance their efforts to incorporate information technology with its potential to facilitate governance and deracinate corruption in the country.
The exhaustive adoption of information technology and migration of state operations from manual to digital will certainly ensure that the country conforms to the benchmark of government operations in the 21st century. 5G remains the best technology available; therefore, adopting it now is more suitable for the country to avoid playing catch-up later, which would be more exorbitant to bear up under.
Not Only RIWAMA
The enormous task being undertaken round-the-clock by the Rivers State Waste Management Agency (RIWAMA) would be better appreciated by those who can still recall the putrefying heaps of refuse in Port Harcourt streets and on road medians immediately before and after the exit of the erstwhile administration in the state.
About six weeks to May 29, 2015, refuse disposal in some parts of the state capital and its environs had been conducted in a slapdash manner as waste contractors insisted on the payment of their several months’ outstanding arrears before the approaching handover date. Meanwhile, the state’s monthly accruals from the federation account had suffered a free fall from an average of N25 billion to less than N10 billion, making it difficult for the state to pay workers, pensioners, service providers and also fund ongoing projects.
In any case, Governor Nyesom Wike had, on assumption of office, appointed the then state chairman of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) and owner of Go Round Football Club, Bro Felix Obuah, as the sole administrator of RIWAMA. He also approved the immediate payment of all the outstanding arrears owed waste disposal contractors as to enable them go back to work.
In no time, the sanitary condition of Port Harcourt and environs was restored. Service coverage was even extended from the previous five local governments of Port Harcourt, Obio/Akpor and sections of Ikwerre, Eleme and Etche to include parts of Oyigbo and Okrika, with oversight function to the others. Not quite long after, the Agency acquired additional waste bins, leading to the creation of more receptacles. Of course, this will also mean that more money had to be voted for the expanded coverage.
The refuse disposal period of between 6:00 pm to 6:00 am inherited from the previous administration was altered to last from 6:00 pm to 12:00 midnight, ostensibly to enable waste contractors conclude their refuse evacuations before the break of day.
The success of these and several other good initiatives of the new management was always undermined by the poor sanitary habits of some residents who still dumped their trash indiscriminately, sometimes pouring such into the drainages and natural water channels. Others included street traders and waste scavengers who already are notorious agents of dispersion. But of all these, the most disturbing habit was that of emptying household waste onto well-lit road medians where such eyesores were made even more visible at night.
It was once reported that the previous administration in the state had made it mandatory for refuse contractors to acquire waste compactor vehicles. But it was also obvious that those who complied with the order simply procured equipment that were imported mostly from some Eastern European junk yards and whose spare parts production had long been discontinued. Refuse evacuation has continued to suffer hiccups as these rickety trucks break down every so often while making their nocturnal rounds.
Waste management is no mean task. Even Governor Wike acknowledged this some years ago when he said: “The issue of waste is worrisome even in Nigeria.
“So far, my administration has ordered more than 20,000 waste bins to enhance proper waste collection and disposal within the metropolis and its environs.
“I am reiterating my administration’s readiness to rid the state capital and its environs of waste. We need all residents’ cooperation to restore Port Harcourt to its Garden City status. We will clamp down on street trading to boost sanitation in Port Harcourt metropolis and environs…”
Not long after this, the state chief executive raised a special task force on street trading and illegal motor parks which he placed directly under his watch.
For a while, things appeared to have improved, especially with the dislodgement of traders from the median at Creek Road Market and several other notorious points; including Education Bus Stop, Rumuokoro, Garrison, Rumuola, Bori Camp, Oil Mill Market and Ikoku. That was until reports of brazen harassment, bribery, extortion and dangerous weapons possession became rife and eventually led to the disbandment of the body. Though, it has since been reconstituted under a new leadership which also appears to have taken off well.
Perhaps, based on his observation of the deteriorating sanitary condition of the state, the governor had recently voiced out his displeasure while threatening to disband the state’s waste management authority if in the next seven days he did not see an improvement in service delivery. In apparent response to this, Obuah had threatened to sack any waste contractor who did not tidy up his operational area within 48 hours.
As a way of reducing the effect of sudden failure of contractors’ equipment, the Agency had, early last year, unveiled two refuse compactor trucks for its rapid response operations. It also announced its expectation of five more of such trucks. At the event, the RIWAMA boss was said to have attempted an appraisal of his organisation.
“I want to say without an iota of doubt that RIWAMA has achieved over 85 per cent cleanness of Rivers State even though that is not enough because we want to achieve 100 per cent.
“But with these two disposal trucks in our fleet, I am assuring the good people of the state that we are heading towards achieving 99.9 per cent,” Obuah announced.
Governor Wike may have caught RIWAMA napping at some points while pursuing the government’s objective of restoring the former glory of Port Harcourt but, like His Excellency once noted, citizens’ cooperation is also key. Therefore, let us individually and collectively do all we can to assist our waste managers improve the city’s looks and, by extension, our health.
And who said there will be no reward, maybe a shawarma for RIWAMA if the Agency achieves its rather lofty performance target before May 29, 2023? This is on a lighter side, anyway.
By: Ibelema Jumbo
For A Greater Rivers Utd FC
About a fortnight ago, the Rivers State Government announced that one of the state-sponsored football
teams, Rivers United Football Club, Port Harcourt, would thenceforth, be under the Office of the state Governor, Chief Nyesom Wike. In addition, the governor appointed his Special Adviser on Real Madrid Football Academy, Barrister Christopher Green, as the sole administrator of the club.
Rivers United FC, the flagship of football club in the state and fondly called the ‘Pride of Rivers’, and campaigning in the top flight of the Nigeria Professional Football League (NPFL), transmuted from the structures of Sharks and Dolphins FCs in 2016, barely a year after Governor Wike came into power in the state.
Since becoming the amalgam of the former two heavyweight sides of the state, the current administration has tried to transform the club into one of the leading lights in club football in the country. In fact, the club has enjoyed unprecedented patronage, especially motivation, support and prompt payment of emoluments from the government. Governor Wike has severally demonstrated his willingness to ensure that the club lacked nothing in the bid to win and bring laurels to the state and beyond.
Only recently, the club joined the exclusive list of very few football clubs in the country that have enjoyed the luxury of travelling for domestic matches in ultra modern air-conditioned and branded luxury buses, a gesture that was also extended to their sister club, Rivers Angels FC. Unfortunately, Rivers United seems not to have reciprocated the immeasurable commitment, passion and magnanimity which the government under Governor Wike has showered without let on them.
The club under its former identities, even under less patronage, had tried to hold their own in the domestic scene, winning the league in 1999 as Eagle Cement, and in 2004 and 2011 as Dolphins Football Club, while also lifting the FA/Federation Cup trophies on four occasions in 2001, 2004, 2006 and 2007.
These victories, however, seem to have become a distant memory, which has made it desirable and pertinent for the club under its current identity to earn and celebrate glory imminently, if only to bring joy to the sports loving people of Rivers State and as effective recompense for the investment of Governor Wike on the club.
After failing to make the cut in the CAF Confederations Cup competition last season, losing on penalties in the last qualifying stage to Enyimba International FC in a derby match up, Rivers United is back on the continent, campaigning in the nascent 2021 CAF Champions League season, a step up from last year’s competition.
That is why The Tide believes that the decision to place the club under the Office of the Governor could not have come at a better time. More so, the appointment of Barrister Christopher Green, a versatile and experienced sports technocrat, would help drive the club to achieving their potentials.
It is expected, therefore, that, with the development, the club would enjoy closer supervision and response time from the governor. Also, the apparent proximity to their Number One fan and supporter would certainly galvanise the team and officials into going the extra mile.
Having an impeccable sports enthusiast as a Chief Supporter, one who truly understands the dynamics of sports, particularly football, has become an added impetus for not only Rivers United but the whole sector in the state. Indeed, Governor Wike has proven to be a sports apostle par excellence.
It is on record that his commitment to excellence, willingness to invest in sports development and promotion, and readiness to reward achievers in every sector, particularly sports men and women, are second to none. No wonder he was found a worthy recipient of the prestigious Power of Sports – Africa (PoS –Africa) award by the Association of International Sports Press (AIPs) in 2019. The establishment of Real Madrid Football Academy, Port Harcourt is also a testimony of Governor Wike’s commitment to the round leather game.
We are gladdened that this new move would be a tonic to the club, and some of the red tape that, perhaps, had slowed down delivery to the club and reaction to matters that affect them would now be a thing of the past.
For the players, technical crew and backroom staff of Rivers United FC, now is the time for a re-wakening: they must be ready to give their all for success. The opportunity to rise and achieve glory via the total support of the governor should not be allowed to yield naught. Rather, now is the time to take up the challenge and work hard. Nothing should be allowed to distract them from the tasks facing them both in domestic competitions and the continental scene. The yearnings of the teeming football loving Rivers people and the current administration must be fulfilled. In fact, the club should look up to the performance of some clubs in the top European Leagues which do not settle for second best owing to the quality of support they get from their benefactors.
Furthermore, we expect the new sole administrator to hit the ground running by reaching out and exchanging notes with the Sports Ministry under which the club has been all the while. He must be open to new ideas while bringing his wealth of experience to bear on the new assignment.
Interestingly, in his first outing, Rivers United achieved a rare away victory in the first leg preliminary round of the 2021 CAF Champions League game against Young Africans FC of Tanzania. Last Sunday at the Adokiye Amiesimaka Stadium, Port Harcourt, Rivers United did the double over Young Africans, again, edging them out via a lone goal. With the victory, Rivers United qualified for the next stage of the competition, where they must survive Al Hilal of Sudan to make the money spinning group stage of Champions League. All hands, therefore, must be on deck to ensure that the club builds on the morale and confidence boosting performance towards achieving the ultimate goal.
Rivers United, with the goodwill and backing of Governor Wike, should not only gird their loins and go for glory in all fronts, now is the time for a sustained dominance of national competitions and beyond, beginning with this season’s League and Cup and CAF Champions League glory. That is the only way to justify the humongous investment the governor has made to reposition the club for greater heights, and amass the much-needed laurels for the government and people of Rivers State, and indeed, Nigerians.
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