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2019: The Prospects, Expectations

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Just as everything with a beginning also has an end, 2018 faded away last Monday. Amongst numerous feelings attached to the outgone year, many a Nigerian would describe it as a year of tension and ambiguous direction with virtually no clues as to how better 2019 would turn out.
Expectedly, however, and depending on the divide, Nigerians, cut across such lines as party, religion, ethnicity, etc. would disagree and agree over how successful and developed or otherwise Nigeria had been, not only in 2018, but in the last three years plus.
While this is normal of political inclinations, it is also normal for politicians to also not accept clear failures in governance. Whether such failure is deliberately instituted out of selfish actions and or inactions, or out of ignorance in what constitutes governance, is usually not important.
In the same vein, it is normal for politicians to always claim to be doing what is right for the polity, even when their actions glaringly state otherwise. But, of course, there can hardly be anything normal in a people failing to truly assess how governance affects them and seek to make deliberate adjustments for the better.
This is what 2019, which crept into life on Tuesday, means for Nigeria as the citizenry seek to enthrone new leadership in all segments of governance, with particular focus on the Presidency in February 2019.
Former Lagos State Governor and All Progressives Congress (APC) national stalwart, Asiwaju Bola Tinubu, no doubt toed this line in his New Year message to Nigerians when he said “The nation is on the verge of an election to determine our collective fate. We can either choose to continue forward or return to the old ways that held us back for so long. Just as 2018 must turn into 2019, we must also continue to move forward.
“We must enter the New Year and see it as a new day for Nigeria. Thus, I ask you to perform your civic duty to vote with utmost faith, responsibility and the best interest of the country at heart”.
The question is what constitutes “the best interest of the country?”
Knowing that politicians, particularly their Nigerian versions, can never accept their flaws and faults, it has become an intrinsic tradition to always weigh what amounts to the interests of a country from the perspectives of those affected by the actions and inactions of those in government, especially people or organisations respected by the standard of given societies.
Former President Olusegun Obasanjo, who falls under this fold, in February 2018, served as a forerunner to what can unarguably be the heart beat of the Nigerian populace regarding how they had fared under the present administration, as well as what is required of Nigerians in 2019, regarding what is good for them.
According to him, “like all countries, Nigeria has many challenges. That, by itself, is not what we should worry about. What should matter is how, when and with what instruments we address or fail to address these challenges or create more problems”.
Obasanjo, who noted this while declaring his membership of the Coalition for Nigeria Movement (CNM) in his home in Abeokuta, stated that government under Buhari took nation-building for granted, because it had lost faith with giving continued attention to every citizen, and hence ceased to give a considerable segment of the citizenry a feeling of belonging and a stake in their country.
An example, the former President said, is that while the “Federal Character Principle”, as espoused in the Nigerian constitution, serves as guide to the leadership “to search for competent holders of major offices to be distributed within the entire nation”, in order to avoid concentration of power in a few ethnic hands or geographical places, government under President Muhammadu Buhari had reneged on this principle in appointing leadership of the security apparatus of Nigeria.”
The result of this, according to Obasanjo, was that the spate of violence, criminality, organised crime, insurgency and terrorism did not “receive sufficient proactive ameliorative responses through transformational leadership – a determined leadership that brings cohesion and wholesomeness to the polity”.
In the face of high-powered insecurity, there can hardly be development, no matter what reasons are given, or what level of evasiveness is instituted.
The implication of Obasanjo’s concerns were that a key cause of the failure of the present Buhari-led government is that there had not been an inclusive and popular participation in governance in pursuit of the country’s genuine political, economic, and overall social life.
On its part, the Coalition of United Political Parties described 2018 as a year when poverty, job loss and impunity were promoted by the present administration.
The coalition, through its first national spokesperson, Imo Ugochinyere, said the current report by The World Poverty Clock shows that Nigeria has overtaken India as the country with the most extreme poor people in the world. India has a population seven times larger than Nigeria’s.
In more practical terms, the implication of this is that about 86.9 million Nigerians now live in extreme poverty. This number represents nearly 50% of its estimated 180 million populations. The expectation is that as Nigeria faces a major population boom, it will become the world’s third largest country by 2050. What this portends for the country will better be imagined.
In the face of the fore-going, what may amount to succour came as President Buhari’s new year message on Monday, that elections in 2019 will not be a “do-or-die-affair”.
“Elections need not be do-or-die affair, and we should not approach that eventuality in a democracy with trepidation and mortal fear. Happily, a large number of presidential candidates have committed to peace and peace we shall have,” the President said.
The snag in Mr. President’s declaration can however be seen when placed side-by-side with the highly encumbered issue of his refusal to assent to the 2018 Electoral Act, which seeks to further institute free and fair elections in Nigeria, an improvement from 2015.
This makes more sense considering that ahead of the 2015 general elections, Nigeria’s democratic process got a notable boost following the introduction of electoral reform that saw, for the first time, the defeat of an incumbent President.
Why further improvement to the electoral process should not be encouraged at this stage of Nigeria’s hyped development can hardly be for the interest of the people, knowing that year in, year out, what Nigerians have wanted has not changed: provision of basic amenities by their elected officials, infrastructural development across board, ensuring a favourable business environment and adequate security, regular power supply, etc.
It has still not changed, and those who come into power have always known this. The problem has always been how they (the supposed people’s representatives) hope to give the people these basic needs.
Achieving these basic needs, among others, without making it look so unnecessarily herculean is what Nigerians want in 2019, however small such achievement may be. If a government therefore, does not show any commitment to this, the government has no business in governance.

 

Soibi Max-Alalibo

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Presidency Lists Beneficiaries Of External Borrowing Plan

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The Presidency has said that a total of 15 projects, spread across the six geo-political zones of the country, are to be financed with more than $4 billion from multilateral institutions, under the 2018-2021 medium-term (rolling) external borrowing plan.
President Muhammadu Buhari had requested the Senate to approve sovereign loans of $4.054 billion and €710 million as well as grant components of $125 million for the proposed projects.
According to the letter by the President, the sovereign loans will be sourced from the World Bank, French Development Agency (AFD), China-Exim Bank, International Fund for Agricultural Development (IFAD), Credit Suisse Group and Standard Chartered/China Export and Credit (SINOSURE).
The President’s request to the Senate listed 15 proposed pipeline projects, the objectives, the implementation period, benefiting States, as well as the implementing Ministries, Departments and Agencies (MDAs).
A statement by the Senior Special Assistant to the President on Media and Publicity, Mallam Garba Shehu said a breakdown of the ‘‘Addendum to the Proposed Pipeline Projects for the 2018-2021 Medium Term (rolling) External Borrowing Plan,’’ shows that the World Bank is expected to finance seven projects including the $125 million grant for ‘‘Better Education Services Delivery for All’’.
According to the statement, the Global Partnership for Education grant is expected to increase equitable access for out-of-school children and improve literacy in focus states.
It further stated that the grant, which will be implemented by the Federal Ministry of Education and the Universal Basic Education Commission (UBEC), will strengthen accountability for results in basic Education in Katsina, Oyo and Adamawa States.
Other projects to be financed by the World Bank are, the State Fiscal, Transparency, Accountability and Sustainability Programme for Results as well as the Agro-Processing, Productivity, Enhancement and Livelihood Improvement Support Project.
The statement said, “The benefiting States for the agro-processing project are, Kogi, Kaduna, Kano, Cross River, Enugu and Lagos with the Federal Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development as the implementing ministry.
“The objective of the project is to enhance agricultural productivity of small and medium scale farmers and improve value addition along priority value chains in the participating states.
“Similarly, the World Bank is also financing the Nigeria Sustainable Water Supply, Sanitation and Hygiene (WASH) project in Delta, Ekiti, Gombe, Kaduna, Katsina, Imo and Plateau States, for the next five years.
“The project, when completed, is expected to improve rural water supply, sanitation and hygiene nationwide towards achieving Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) for water supply and sanitation by 2030.
“Under the external borrowing plan, the World Bank-supported projects also include Nigeria’s Covid-19 Preparedness and Response Project (COPREP), under the supervision of the Federal Ministry of Health and Nigeria Centre for Disease Control (NCDC).
“The project, which has an implementation period of 5 years, will respond to threats posed by Covid-19 through the procurement of vaccines.
“Furthermore, no fewer than 29 states are listed as beneficiaries of the Agro-Climatic Resilience in Arid Zone Landscape project, which is expected to reduce natural resource management conflicts in dry and semi-arid ecosystems in Nigeria.
“The benefiting states for the project to be co-financed by World Bank and European Investment Bank (EIB) are Akwa Ibom, Borno, Oyo, Sokoto, Kano, Katsina, Edo, Plateau, Abia, Nasarawa, Delta, Niger, Gombe, Imo, Enugu, Kogi, Anambra, Niger, Ebonyi, Cross River, Ondo, Kaduna, Kebbi, Jigawa, Bauchi, Ekiti, Ogun, Benue, Yobe and Kwara.”
Continuing, it said, “The World Bank is also funding the Livestock Productivity and Resilience project in no fewer than 19 states and the federal capital territory (FCT).
“The China EXIM Bank is expected to finance the construction of the branch line of Apapa-Tin Can Island Port, under the Lagos-Ibadan Railway modernisation project.
“The French Development Agency will finance two projects, which include the National Digital Identity Management project and the Kaduna Bus Rapid Transport Project.
“The digital identity project will be co- financed with World Bank and EIB.
“The Value Chain Development Programme to be financed by IFAD and implemented in Anambra, Benue, Ebonyi, Niger, Ogun, Taraba, Nasarawa, Enugu and Kogi States will empower 100,000 farmers, including over 6,000 and 3,000 processors and traders respectively.
“The loan facility to be provided by European ECA/KfW/IPEX/APC will be spent on the construction of the Standard Gauge Rail (SGR) linking Nigeria with the Niger Republic from Kano-Katsina-Daura-Jibiya-Maradi with a branch to Dutse.
“The specific project title, Kano-Maradi SGR with a branch to Dutse, has an implementation period of 30 months and will be implemented by the Federal Ministry of Transport.
“The Chinese African Development Fund through the Bank of China is expected to provide a loan facility of $325 million for the establishment of three power and renewable energy projects including solar cells production facility Phase 1 & II , electric power transformer production, Plants 1, II, III and high voltage testing laboratory.

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Fintiri Commences Work On PDP Nat’l Convention

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The Chairman of the National Convention Planning Committee of Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), Rt. Hon. Ahmadu Fintiri, has commenced work.
Fintiri, who is also the Adamawa State Governor, assumed his new office at the PDP headquarters in Abuja, on Saturday, with a pledge to ensure a smooth convention for the party.
Fintiri’s Press Secretary, Humwashi Wonosikou, said in a statement that Fintiri had hit the ground running towards ensuring a flawless convention for the main opposition party.
According to him, he assumed duty at the PDP Legacy House Abuja, which is to serve as the secretariat of the Convention Committee.
He said the 2021 convention organising committee chairman expressed satisfaction with the state of facilities at the Legacy House and reiterated the determination of his committee to deliver a process that would produce an acceptable National Working Committee to lead the party to victory in 2023.
The Convention Committee, which has Bayelsa State Governor, Senator Douye Diri, as deputy chairman, was inaugurated on Friday.
The National Executive Committee (NEC) of the PDP had earlier, on September 9, 2021, announced Fintiri as the party’s convention planning committee chairman, with Oyo State Governor, Mr Seyi Makinde as Secretary.

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2023: Group Warns Against Corruptible Candidates

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The Centre for Anti-Corruption and Open Leadership (CACOL) in Collaboration with the Civil Society Legislative Advocacy Centre (CISLAC) has taken its ongoing voter education to Epe, Lagos State, in the move to ensure a free and fair election in 2023.
The anti-graft group, in a statement made available to newsmen on Saturday, said that it had organised a one-day consultative meeting with residents of Epe division during which it warned them to guard their votes jealously in the 2023 elections and ensure that corruptible candidates would not be voted into power.
Presenting a paper titled, ‘Prioritising Anti-Corruption And Accountability Issues During The Upcoming 2023 General Elections In Lagos State’ at the chamber of Epe Local Government Area, CACOL chairman, Comrade Debo Adeniran, lamented that corruption had flourished so much in Nigeria and eaten deep into the country’s economy, hence the hardship and sufferings in the land. 
He said the solution that Nigerian citizens could proffer to the menace was to ensure that frontline contestants for the office of the Governor and State House of Assembly would be to articulate their anti-corruption stance and plans to tackle corruption, improve transparency and citizens’ involvement and other governance challenges.
Adeniran said since the Nigerian constitution did not permit independent candidates to run for elective offices, the voters should vote for the political party, whose candidates would be accountable, transparent and genuinely fight corruption.
He condemned the rate at which lawlessness had been thriving in the country generally due to high levels of corruption.
He lamented the high level of youth’s involvement in cybercrime, popularly known as Yahoo-Yahoo, even as he described as worrisome the situation where many parents had been seeing the crime as legitimate work, noting that such parents encouraged and supported their children to succeed in the illegal work.
Adeniran maintained that if care was not taken, the soonest, corruption would be viewed and accepted as a normal way of life, and the future generation might not see anything bad in corruption.
He opined that the negative effects of that would destroy things far beyond the current hardship being experienced across the country.
Mr Adeniran also frowned at the rate at which kidnapping was fast becoming a money-making venture in Nigeria.
He pointed out that both the rich and the poor had become vulnerable to kidnapping, because some  people kidnapped for ritual or to harvest organs, or to get the ransom and some others kidnapped for fun.
He said if the poor had known before now that they would be victims of kidnapping when the rich were the only targets, they would have taken necessary steps to end the illicit act.
He advised the people to be proactive in fighting corruption, stressing, “You need to take community action against anyone who wants to use your own lives to over-fatten his own.
“You have the right to demand your entitlements from your representatives in government. If you don’t speak against their reckless spending and corruptible acts now, they will eat up all your entitlements with theirs. Your power is your vote and by voting them into offices, you have given them all their needs.
“It is, therefore, their duty to serve you well; and not embezzle our general wealth.”
The CACOL chairman advised that in order not to be incorruptible, everyone must acquire skill as means of legitimate livelihood, explaining that since no religious book taught and encouraged people to get involved in corruption, it must be shunned by all Nigerians.

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