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The Unkept Promises

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Time was when keeping your word held special significance. People took great pride in being of good character. Personal integrity was valued. It was a period when good moral was instilled in children at very early age and was viewed as instrumental in achieving success.
Today, not many care about these values. Lying, dishonesty, insincerity are the order of the day. People make promises and do not bother to keep them. Yes, we all fail to keep our promises sometimes, but some of us seem to have a problem keeping most of their promises. Politicians fall under this category.
Every politician knows that the key to winning election is to make great promises. During campaigns, they promise to cure the ills of society including fighting corruption, developing all the sectors, guaranteeing the security of the lives of the citizens and many more. At all levels of government – local, state, federal, the story is the same.
There is no need detailing the many broken campaign promises in the history of Nigeria. However, permit me to mention two of such promises by the current administration. Here they are: “We intend for instance, to bring back our National Carrier, the Nigerian Airways. We shall do this by bringing all the aircraft in the presidential fleet into the Nigerian Airways and within a year increase the fleet into about 20” – Muhammadu Buhari (Feb 2015, while addressing Nigerians in UK);
Another one: “A serious government will fix power problem in six months” – Babatunde Raji Fashola (Nov 12, 2014).
There are many more of such promises.
The big questions are, have these promises been fulfilled? We are almost three years into the life of the current administration where incidentally, Fashola is the Minister for Power, Works and Housing. Can it really be said that power issues in the country have been fixed or is this government “not a serious one”?
Just four days ago, Nigeria was ranked the 2017 second worst electricity supply nation in the world. According to a report released by Spectator Index, of the 137 countries examined in the report, Yemen ranked the worst electricity supply nation in 2017, followed by Nigeria, Haiti, Lebanon and Malawi.
Is it not baffling that despite all the huge resources invested in the power sector every year by both current and previous administrations, power supply in the country keeps getting worse? Even the privatization of the power sector has not brought any succour. All we hear are claims upon claims of significant progress in the power sector, yet the reality on ground says otherwise.
An African Progress Report recently disclosed that more than 90 million Nigerians have no access to electricity. It says, out of this non-electrified population, 17 million people live in the urban centers, while 73 million live in rural areas. How do we expect our economy to grow in this circumstance?
Electricity is pivotal to the development of any nation, but when almost half of the population have no access to electricity, how can the economy thrive? People rely on power generating sets for their commercial and domestic power supply which is even now becoming out of reach for many Nigerians.
Affirming the decay nature of the nation’s power sector, President Muhammadu Buhari, in his inaugural speech on May 29, 2015, said: “No single cause can be identified to explain Nigerian’s poor economic performance over the years than the power situation. It is a national shame that an economy of 180 million generates only 4,000 megawatts and distributes even less.
“Continuous tinkering with the structures of power supply and distribution and close to 20 billion dollars expended since 1999 has only brought darkness, frustration, misery and resignation among Nigerians.
“We will not allow this to go on; careful studies are under way during this transition to identify the quickest, safest and most cost-effective way  to bring light and relief to Nigerians.’’
Almost three years down the road, Nigerians are still waiting.
Meanwhile the promise to revive the Nigeria Airways has remained only on the pages of the newspapers. No action whatsoever has been seen to be taken in that direction nor has reasonable attention been paid to the aviation sector of the economy.
Not too long ago, two Nigerian airports – Murtala Muhammed International Airport, Lagos and Port Harcourt International Airport, Omagwa, were ranked among the worst airports in the world. Observers have said that going by the poor state of infrastructure in these and other airports in the country, the poor customer relation of most airport staff and the filthy environment, they couldn’t have expected a better result.
In the education sector, health and virtually all the sectors, the situation is the same – poor attention. Let us not go to the issue of insecurity particularly cattle herdsmen menace which seems to have overwhelmed those in authority. Many Nigerians are killed almost daily by the herders, yet, no concrete step has been taken to punish the offenders or find an agreeable permanent solution to the crisis. Meanwhile, Nigerians were promised adequate protection of their lives and properties.
Therefore, one thinks it is high time our leaders matched their words with action. The poor rankings of Nigerian universities, Nigerian Police and others are indications that the government should do much more than it is doing. Let us begin to see the fulfillment of all the lofty promises. Yes, we know that sometimes, after making promises, there could be unforeseen circumstances posing a challenge to their fulfillment, but let us see some efforts towards keeping these words.
Another election year is approaching and politicians have started making another round of empty promises. While members of the opposition parties are promising heaven and earth if they are voted into power, those of the ruling parties are making more promises even when they have not kept the ones they made three year ago. Let us not be swayed by the politicians’ antics and be carried away by mass delusion of inflated expectations. We should rather be able to read in-between the lines and elect the best candidates who will genuinely work for the good of the country and the citizens not those that will renege on their promises and leave the people to suffer and die of hardship.

 

Calista Ezeaku

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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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Opinion

Abuses Of Indemnifying Provisions

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Like in insurance brokerage, indemnifying provisions are promises made to pay persons whose insured possessions get damaged, lost or stolen, some money covering the value of such property. There is also life insurance, especially for persons whose activities or occupations involve some risks. These are common practices meant to foster confidence and reduce security risks in the affairs of life.
There are situations where people who take such insurance policies abuse the provisions, with intent to cheat the insurance companies. People have been known to fake their own death or deliberately destroy insured possessions, with the intention to defraud and abuse provisions of the insurance policy. There is hardly any possession of value that cannot be insured neither are abuses of indemnifying provisions limited to insurance brokerage alone.
We have heard quite a lot about repentant and de-radicalised “bandits” surrendering to military authorities in some parts of the country. There have been several questions and mixed feelings among Nigerians concerning such turnaround gambits, especially in view of the harms already done to the nation. When and how such bandits took up arms against the society have remained controversial, neither are many Nigerians aware of their demands and causes of the brawl. More importantly are the questions of sponsorship and procurement of arms with which the bandits have pursued their aggression against the society.
Apart from the issue of nomenclature, activities of bandits in Nigeria have been quite terrifying and traumatic to many people and communities. Also, to compare activities of the bandits with those of the Niger Delta militants would be a faulty reasoning. The militant Movement for the Emancipation of the Niger Delta (MEND) from unfair economic policies, with regards to the oil and gas politics, had definite and clear demands. That the Niger Delta militants were granted amnesty was because the Nigerian economy would collapse if such step was not taken.
The bandits and their various allies did not engage in banditry to protect the gold deposits in the soil of Zamfara State from unfair exploitation. Neither did activities of the bandits stop with hooliganism and brigandage, common with banditry. There are records about farming communities being terrorised and farmlands being destroyed by unknown bandits, as well as women being raped in their farms. Worshippers had been murdered in places of worship by marauding herdsmen that no one would identify or arrest.
The clamour for Sharia law across Nigeria took a clever guise which thinking Nigerians would not fail to recognise, of which cattle is playing the pioneering role. When a former President, Chief Olusegun Obasanjo, gave an alert about Fulanisation and Islamisation agenda, not many Nigerians took him seriously. Similarly, Dr Obediah Mailafia raised same concern. Now add these concerns to the Federal Government’s preoccupation with current agenda of farm estates across Nigeria, then any one can see the shape of things to come. Is it not obvious that some groups have some hidden agenda?
The concept of indemnity includes the fact that individual human beings, groups as well as nations are usually given several opportunities to correct deficiencies, negligences and imbalances. This derives from the fact that life on Earth is a learning process, whereby imperfect humans strive continuously to learn and improve for the better. We find in the upbringing of children that parents do not destroy or maim children because of childish infractions. Rather, parents reprimand, penalise and spur erring children to do better, which also includes exemplary leadership.
Even when children, like any other individuals, become recalcitrant and obdurate, there is always the expectation that bitter experiences provide some opportunities for remedial outcomes. This is why it is said that experience is the best teacher. Individuals and nations have been known to be recalcitrant and obdurate, wanting to push issues beyond safe limits of tolerance. Unfortunately, humans not only abuse the opportunities available, but also make unreasonable demands, where they can intimidate others without facing serious challenges. If No to Ruga, then take farm estate!
Thus, there is this human peculiarity of giving in to personal weaknesses, whereby evil continues to grow because of continuous toleration of weaknesses. Personal weaknesses, both in the average individual and in leaders, constitute vital points through which any individual or leader can be destroyed. Not quite the weakness itself, but having to indulge in it without a determined effort to stop it, counts as the danger. Weakness is indeed a present danger.
From whatever perspectives that abuses can be defined, they include indulgence or tolerance of personal weaknesses, to the extent that they become present danger to others. Smoking of cigarettes, for example, is not only dangerous to the smoker, but also to other people who inhale the smoke. So, a problem posed by personal weakness goes beyond the victim whose indulgent lifestyle spreads a peculiar virus.
One of the challenges which we must contend with in Nigeria is the culture or habit of indulgence, or continuous toleration of what we consider minor wrongs. Great harms usually grow from minor beginnings, when they are not checked early or nipped on the bud. What accounts for current acts of banditry can be traced to the attitude taken towards previous acts of brigandage and lawlessness. Political officer seekers explored and also exploited existing weaknesses to enthrone a culture of tolerating and ignoring minor wrongs, through throwing their political weight to protect wrong doers, for self interest.
The message for Nigeria is that we are currently reaping the sad harvests of previous sowings. More so, we grossly abused indemnifying opportunities we had in the past. What we call Nemesis provides several indemnifying opportunities before it strikes. When a petty thief takes too much for the owner to know, what happens is that the long-suffering owner sets secret snares to catch the thief when he does not expect. There is always a day for the thief who abuses several indemnifying provisions. Dr Mailafia is right to warn that Nigeria may soon become ungovernable! Watch out!

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

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Opinion

Texas Of Icy Trauma

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I had earlier stated in this column that even with all the hoopla about the United States of America being a very lovely dwelling place on Earth, her geography still comprises a tale of some deadly weather vagaries.
Depending on which part of the vast subcontinent one looks at, disaster can come from a severe snowstorm, tornado, hurricane, earthquake or wildfire. While snow and wildfire can be associated with particular seasons of the year, the rest are very likely to occur at any moment and on any day. The good thing, though, is that nearly all can be predicted by the relevant agencies of government with alerts posted in advance and emergency preparations made. Of course, things work pretty well over there – quite unlike they do here.
However, climate change seems to be testing the skills of geographers and their weather instruments. In the US, the government had since signed up to the Paris protocol on climate but that was until the outgone administration of President Donald Trump elected to pull the nation out of the deal. Luckily, his successor, President Joe Biden, is pushing to take God’s Own Country back to the comity of nations on global warming.
No doubt, Trump’s action must have angered the likes of Sen. Al Gore, a former vice president and the Democratic Party’s presidential candidate in 2000, who has garnered global acclaim on account of his effort to promote a sustainable green culture in the world.
It is already obvious that the erstwhile Republican president never reckoned with the fact that states in southern US which had hitherto served as hibernation grounds for people from the snowy northern and central regions are now beginning to experience blizzards of their own. Texas, Louisiana, Mississippi, Tennessee, North Carolina, South Carolina, Georgia and Florida are among states in this region.
Until recently, snowfall in the region had reportedly been mostly mild and incident-free. Whereas the winter season became evident in the north from late November, its effect was rarely felt in these southern states until January. So also did it recede fast, sometimes beginning from late February. But last winter was of an entirely different species. Not only were there reports of strong winds and snowstorms, the ice also manifested an unprecedented staying strength. The case of Texas was made particularly more pathetic because of its energy systems collapse which left many families without electricity, gas or even coal to heat their homes.
Texas is said to operate about 15,000 wind turbines aimed at providing electricity while also promoting green energy; but at the onset of the cold snap, ice on the rotor blades had reduced the speed of more than half of them; thereby hampering their collective power generation capability. More than four million Texans were said to be without electricity for much of the period. And the state obtains a quarter of its electricity from these turbines.
Gas pipes and water supply lines were also reported to have been frozen by the extreme weather condition. Those who still had running taps were advised to boil their water before use as water treatment plants lacked electricity to function. Some of the unlucky ones simply collected snow from outside their homes to melt for water. Believe me, it was said to be that bad in America’s Lone Star State. Close friends and relatives living in Texas and Georgia called to confirm this to me.
The deadly storm which was said to have begun on February 13, had endured for five days. And while it lasted, temperatures plummeted to as low as zero degree Fahrenheit; resulting in the closure of schools and some hospitals. A number of popular roads were also closed due to the unprecedented build-up of snow. People, especially the more vulnerable children and the elderly, were mostly wrapped in layers of heavy clothing and restrained indoors for much of the day. Food became scarce as grocery stores quickly ran out of stock with anxiety over the arrival of any fresh supplies. Even the delivery of COVID-19 vaccines was hampered.
Residents who could not stand the frightening scenario and had the means reportedly left for nearby Central American countries; including Texas Republican senator and former presidential aspirant, Ted Cruz, who was berated by the American press for going on vacation at a sunny beach resort in Cancun, Mexico when his state’s voters were battling with freezing conditions made worse by food and utility shortages. As at July, the total tally of casualties across Texas was put at 210. I want to believe that Texans have now shaken off their trauma and are fully braced for the start of the next winter season this November.
The big lesson here is that while nations are making attempts to embrace renewable energy, they should not be in a haste to jettison fossil fuels. It would have been worse if not that Texas had a strategic reserve of refined petroleum products to serve as a stop-gap measure at the time the wind turbines packed up. It is even said that officials in New York, Massachusetts, Connecticut and some other Northeast US states have suddenly become sceptical of their ongoing development of wind turbines following the Texas experience.
For the people of Mexico, the events in Texas can only suggest one thing – severe winter is just a matter of years, if not months. Climate change is real. But rather than being checked by the increasing global heat, snowstorms are fast reaching for the tropics. For Nigeria, who said we’re unlikely to witness icy weather sooner than later?
Howbeit, some experts have opined that, considering its huge investment in wind turbines, Texas officials should have equipped such facilities with heaters and anti-freeze fluids as is the case in some parts of Alaska and Canada which experience equally harsh but longer winter seasons.
Much of Texas already lies in America’s Tornado Alley. Its major southern towns of Houston, Corpus Christi and Beaumont are often battered by tropical winds from the Gulf of Mexico. The oil-rich state is also known to be earthquake prone. And now it has joined the infamous club of deadly snowstorm states. Haba, Texas!

By: Ibelema Jumbo

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