The presidential candidate of the All Progressives Congress (APC), President Muhamadu Buhari and those of some other political parties, last Tuesday signed a peace accord pledging to eschew violence either by acts or utterances both by themselves and their supporters before, during and after the 2019 general elections.
Similarly, the candidate of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), Alhaji Atiku Abubakar, who was conspicuously absent at the Tuesday event, on Wednesday went to the Abuja office of the National Peace Committee to sign the document, thereby laying to rest speculations that he never wanted such commitment. The candidate of Allied Congress Party of Nigeria (ACPN), Obiageli Ezekwesili, who also did not attend the ceremony on Tuesday also signed the peace accord on Wednesday.
That was a laudable effort by the Peace Committee. If there is anything the nation needs in abundance before, during and after the next general elections, it is peace. The tension being created all over the country because of the elections is uncalled for. The bad blood being generated, the enmity being created among fellow Nigerians, particularly on the social media is very alarming. Sometimes one wonders if those involved in all these hateful acts remember that there is life after 2019 elections. We have seen people call one another all kinds of unprintable names all in defence or in support of their preferred candidates. Such altercations sometimes lead to fighting, destruction and killing.
So, it is good that the presidential candidates have committed “to run issue-based campaigns at national, state and local government levels; in this, we pledge to” refrain from campaigns that will involve religious incitement, ethnic or tribal profiling, both by ourselves and by all agents acting in our names”; “to refrain from making or causing to make in our names or that of our party, any public statements, pronouncements, declarations or speeches that have the capacity to incite any form of violence before, during and after the elections”; “to forcefully and publicly speak out against provocative utterances and oppose all acts of electoral violence, whether perpetrated by supporters and/or opponents.”
It is hoped that this will curtail the rancor and bitterness in the political space and make the political campaigns fun as they used to be in the past. It is also the hope of many Nigerians that the candidates and their parties, especially the ruling party, will adhere strictly to part of the agreement which states, “to support all the institutions of government, including INEC and security agencies, to act and be seen to act with impartiality”
This has become necessary because of the activities of the electoral body and the security agencies in the past elections where many believed they were merely doing the biddings of the political party in power. If possible, as many have suggested, INEC and the security agencies should also be made to sign an agreement, pledging to be impartial in the discharge of their duties during the next elections.
There should be no intimidation of voters and aiding of members of certain political parties to rig and commit other impunities on election days.
The fear in many quarters, however, is that despite the beautiful accord, some of the candidates and their supporters and even the security operatives will not be deterred from their unpleasant acts and utterances as there is hardly any punishment for such wrong doings. So the National Peace Committee should not stop at making the candidates sign the peace accord but should ensure that whoever acts contrary to the agreement does not go unpunished. Most importantly, the committee, in collaboration with the National Orientation Agency and other relevant agencies and organizations should sensitize the masses on the dangers of election violence.
Again, as Atiku, Ezekwesili and many other people have advised, in addition to signing the peace accord, the President should rescind his decision on the Electoral Act Amendment Bill and ensure that he assents to it as that is the only way Nigerians will be convinced that he is ready for free and fair elections next year.
Sincerely, having listened to the opinions of many Nigerians, including legal practitioners, law makers, journalists and others on the contentious issue of the Electoral Act Amendment Bill, one is convinced if signed into law, it will improve our electoral system. It will eliminate the cases of underage voting that had always characterised voting in Nigeria; ensure the use of card readers thereby making our elections more credible and acceptable. We should move forward like other developed and developing nations instead of continuing in our primitive way and expect things to change for the better.
So, if President Buhari has the interest of the nation at heart and if he is not afraid of a credible process in 2019 general polls as he always claims, he should sign the Electoral Act Amendment Bill into law, forgetting all the unsalable reasons he gave for not assenting to it. Acting on the contrary will mean endangering the nation’s hard-earned democracy.
By: Calista Ezeaku.
Should Power Privatisation Be Revoked?
There are several indices currently calling on the Federal Government to quickly revoke the said Privatization Policy of the Power Sector.
First is the persistent power outage. The steady increase in demand for electric power without its equivalent supply has resulted in a consistent power failure. Currently, more communities and cities are lamenting such persistent power outage
With a population approximated at 180 million people, according to the National Bureau of Statistics, obsolete KVA lines traversing several kilometers, as well as old and ill-maintained equipment are still used. It is therefore not out of place that the constant breakdown of such overused equipment; poor maintenance culture and a huge managerial inefficiency are already waging war against some top beneficiaries of the said privatization policy.
While they remained adamant at depriving the public of electric power and losing investors on a daily basis, couple with their failure to offer adequate electricity supply for both local businesses as well as domestic consumption, the cry of most small and medium-scale business owners could play out in the current debate against the so-called privatization agreement.
Secondly, investors who have benefitted from the said privatization policy appeared to have failed woefully in keeping to the agreement that gave rise to their services. Since the formation of the Nigerian Electricity Regulatory Commission (NERC), The Independent Regulatory Agency, as provided in the Electric Power Sector Reform Act (2005) were assigned with the task of issuing licences to individuals who were ready to operate within clearly stipulated terms, as well as operating guidelines.
Owners of the distribution companies who keyed into the terms and conditions that gave rise to such public services were to be guided by their integrity, honesty and responsibility. Not only were they expected to meet the growing demand of Nigerians in the area of power distributions, but also to ensure that all conditions necessary for a smooth flow of their relationship with the public were satisfied.
But today, the reverse appears to be the case. One would wonder if the shortcomings in their service should be attributed to the Federal Government failing to keep its own side of the agreement or, if the blame should now be shared between them and the public.
But sad enough, the key private players in the Power Sector appear not to be responsive to the outcry of the public; but seem to have remained rather incurably addicted to persistent power outage; constant disagreement between their workers and the end consumers while they continue to offer dissatisfied services to individuals, corporate organizations and public ventures.
Again, several years have witnessed their inability to address not only the high monthly electricity bills, but also the decree of fluctuations involved in the bills. Industrial and domestic consumers have continued to lament the persistent hike witnessed in their monthly electricity bills.
In this regard, their actions appear to have eaten up the primary aim of privatization, and the aim of providing for more efficiency and alleviate the electricity burden on the poor consumers appears to have been woefully defeated. Even in some quarters where individuals from some Electricity Distribution offices would still present some monthly electric bills to innocent consumers who have witnessed total blackout all through the said month, the agony and plight of such end-consumers appear to have received less publicity in the media.
Another area of concern is the high cost of meters as well as the process and several barriers one must suffer in order to get a meter. The chances of procuring a meter and having them installed should be re-examined since the electricity meters are responsible for reading and establishing the billing circle and it’s used to quantify the precise amount of energy consumed within a specific period of time.
Yet, key players in the sectors appear inactive in their responsibility of allocating and installing these meters on request. Since 2013 when the private sector took over part of the task of supplying meters to the final consumers, the huge metering gap seems not to have been narrowed.
This has resulted in the inability of the sector to regulate between the consumption rate and the exact amount the suppliers of electricity would need in order to remain in business.
Persistent public views have proved that the so-called giants of power distribution have remained reluctant in measuring the actual electricity consumption per kilowatt hour. Consequently, in some quarters, individuals have continued to witness huge electricity bills on monthly basis.
Despite several legislation aimed at averting this hurtful trends, end-users have continued to suffer wrongly since they have not truly been liberated from this huge plight.
Today, it appears that the problems facing the Power Sector has worsen than it was before the Privatization Policy was initiated, and individuals who have been so quiet and patient are now calling for a total overhauling of the said Privatization Policy.
Now that their failure is greater than what they themselves could imagine, and the innocent eyes of meaningful individuals, organizations, corporate bodies and public functions can now see through, one would want to ask whether the present administration should be more proactive and forceful at reviewing and revoking the Privatization Agreement on Power Distribution, or remain indifferent?
Ekweremadu: Significance Of Nuremberg
Students of history will recall that what started in Sarajevo ended, after many years of tumult, in Nuremberg. Thus came a slogan that action brings a reaction. Sarajevo was associated with the murder of Archduke Ferdinand, and Nuremberg with the trial (1945-6) of military leaders and war criminals by the International Military Tribunal, in Germany. The 1st and 2nd World Wars provide us with great lessons of far-reaching significance.
The Tide newspaper of Monday, August 19, 2019, carried some news about “the assault, physical attack and disrespectful actions of some Igbos against Senator Ike Ekweremadu in Nuremberg, Germany …” Without going into the possible causes of the incident in Germany, both immediate and remote, it would be needful to recall that in November 2018, Ekweremadu was attacked in his Abuja residence by some criminals described by the police as burglars. Being an expert in unarmed combat, Ekweremadu was able to defeat the intruders and had one of them arrested. We wait to hear what happened to the burglars.
The relevant issue here is that the attacks on Ekeremadu in the past few years, both in Nigeria and Germany, are symbolic, going far beyond his person. In November 1966, in a private conversation with a German on the crisis in Nigeria then, there was a suggestion that “the Ibo group has merely been singled out as the ‘Fall Guy’…” The deeper significance of that statement about the “fall guy” became clearer as events unfolded more and more, and continued to unfold after the Nigerian Civil War in 1970. The story goes beyond Igbo people.
Whatever that “fall guy” may mean to anyone, within the Nigerian political calculation, the possibility may include a “scapegoat” among other speculations. For a German to speculate far back in 1966 that “the Ibo group has merely been singled out as the fall guy”, can also mean that the 2019 Nuremberg show goes beyond Senator Ekweremadu as an individual. If we take the Sarajevo/Nuremberg connection as a peg, we can speculate that what began in Nigeria, January 15, 1966, is yet to close its cycle of cause and effect.
What is important, within this perspective of speculation, is to remove the “scapegoat” tag from the neck of “the Ibo group”, singled out as the fall guy, arising from what happened, January 15, 1966. It was quite gladdening that the former Governor of the Central Bank of Nigeria, now Emir of Kano, Alhaji Sanusi, said it publicly that Igbo people had paid adequate penalties for the audacity of their brothers in the military coup of January 1966. Re-integrate them!
Expectedly, many people would not agree with the speculation that what happened January 1966 was an “Igbo Coup” with intent to “dominate”, yet many Nigerians were carried away by that propaganda. It is needful to point out that the “Ibo or Igbo coup for domination purpose” was cooked up and spread out largely by some foreigners in Nigeria, some of them British.
With the propaganda of “Igbo coup and domination ambition” there was another counter or revenge coup which resulted in the brutal and mass slaughter of many soldiers and civilians from the Southern parts of Nigeria. The claim or anger was that “for spilling the blood of a high Fulani Emir, Ibos must die in large numbers.” It was a mass hysteria arising from clever propaganda. It was considered expedient to create a scapegoat in order to divert attention away from those who destroyed Nigeria, 1960-1966. Similar strategy is still in vogue currently.
The significance of Nuremberg lies in the fact that an International Military Tribunal tried some people for war crimes, 145-6, in Germany. In the case of Nigeria, nobody was tried for the Ist military coup of 1966, the counter or revenge coup of July 1966, the mass slaughter of Southern Nigerians in the North, and the atrocities of the Nigerian Civil War. King John once said: “I repent: There is no sure foundation set on blood, no certain life achieved by others’ death”. Those who kill must contend with blood!
Maybe it was expedient to declare a “no victor, no vanquished” posture at the end of the Nigeria Civil War, resulting in no one being tried for war crimes. But truly the opportunity to bring to public knowledge what happened during the dark era (1966-1970) was lost. A later-day peace and reconciliation effort in which late Justice Chukwudifu Oputa was involved, was a mere after thought, which did not achieve any significant result. But something more significant was covered up and a posture of magnanimity and sanctimony taken.
That a section of the Nigerian nation was short-changed (to say the least) was not an issue serious enough to address with honesty and good faith. The euphoria of a successful end of war of rebellion drowned the need to revisit the brutal and senseless, organized slaughter of “Igbo people” in Northern Nigeria after July 1966, culminating in “Biafra” becoming a possible solution. The euphoria of one Nigeria after a rebellion drowned the injustice involved in Decree No. 51 of 1969 which transferred the oil and gas assets of the Niger Delta people to become common Nigerian assets.
Those embarked on another propaganda that there is nothing to restructure in the Nigerian polity except our minds should remember that the Nuremberg Trials provided Germany an opportunity to state its case and make some claims even in defeat. Those who are interested in history should look back at what culminated in the Ist and 2nd World Wars, especially the scrambles for and partitioning of Africa by the nations of Europe.
Is it not an irony that Berlin which hosted the meetings of the partitioning process later became a divided city, with the Berlin Walls? The Igbo man as a fall guy or as a scapegoat is an irony that must be addressed sooner or later, before we have another Nuremberg show of hostility. On the side of my old friend, Ike Ekeremadu, please, there is a need for caution. Just lie low, a bit.
Dr. Amirize is a retired lecturer, Rivers State University, Port Harcourt.
Agric Literacy In Secondary Schools
All over the world, educational institutions are known mainly as a platform used directly or indirectly to influence the general life of a person. The government, in most cases, through the school, plans and leads the study of experience, and also contributes to the continuous growth of an individual through the systematic reconstruction of knowledge and experience.
Haven known knowledge as a dynamic and functional element, there is every need to have it constantly reconstructed, especially in accordance with the change of time.
This is why in various spheres of life, interested parties always prefer using education to solve issues that limit social orientation and thinking. Harry Smorenberg, the founder and chairman of the World Summit on the Fight Against Corruption, realized this for which he said that “teaching financial literacy as a subject in schools helped other countries increase access to financial products and services.”
With the place of financial literacy in promoting financial participation, consumer protection and financial stability, Smorenberg advised Nigeria to teach financial literacy in schools. He believed that such idea would allow students to better understand financial planning, the importance of preparing household budget, managing cash flows and distributing assets to achieve financial goals.
However, Smorenberg is not alone in his thought. Tanner and Tanner (Tanner and Tanner, 1980) in their “curriculum” Development: Theory and Practice”, also recognized the role of the school in systematically building knowledge and experience, unlike the role of other institutions.
If the thought postulated by these educators and others like them is anything to go by, then it is enough to say that education is very useful to the society, and therefore, should be accepted and embraced by Nigerian leaders as a platform through which a faster sensitisation of the theory and practice of agriculture among the Nigerian citizenry could be achieved.
Therefore, if Nigeria is really interested in the development of agriculture as an alternative source of income, it follows that from the junior secondary level, emphasis should be placed on driving programmes aimed at promoting the understanding and knowledge necessary for the synthesis, analysis and transmission of basic information about agriculture to students, producers, consumers and the general public.
It is expected that such programmes will focus on helping teachers and other stakeholders to effectively incorporate agricultural information into subjects taught or studied for public and private purposes in order to better understand the impact of agriculture on society.
The writer is thus concerned about the aspect of agricultural literacy that acquaints and farmiliarises students or individuals with the knowledge and understanding of not only the concepts of health and the environment, but also their history, current economic and social significance for the people of Nigeria.
In this case, the knowledge of the production, processing and domestication of food and fiber, as well as international marketing through the school will ultimately lead to informed citizens of our great country who, in turn, will play an important role in the development and implementation of policies able to maintain competitive agro-industrial enterprises.
By this, young people with knowledge and understanding of nutrition system and fibers will naturally be able to synthesize, analyze and communicate basic information about agriculture, such as the production of plants and animal products, its processing, economic effect, social significance, marketing and distribution, etc.
Therefore, making agricultural literacy compulsory from the level of primary education through secondary education, regardless of the intended course of study, undoubtedly will have a significant impact on the rehabilitation and development of Nigeria’s difficult economy.
That is why Gbamanga (2000) advised students to plan the programme as necessary, to examine and interpret the nature of the society in relation to its basic stable values and the areas in which it changes, when choosing content.
While Nigeria is currently talking, preaching and dreaming about agriculture, individuals must be encouraged to take advantage of the opportunity provided by the prevailing economic crisis in the country to get involved in agriculture. It is advisable that every child be subjected to compulsory agricultural knowledge in school.
The recovery of Nigeria from the impact of fallen crude oil prices will certainly not be sudden. In fact, there is a need for an orderly organization of a series of courses and support activities aimed at helping young Nigerians to rediscover themselves in the field of agriculture.
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