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The Farakhan Tale

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Once upon a time, one Alhaji Louis Farakhan, leader of the Nation of Islam in the United States of America, visited Nigeria on a “fact-finding tour”. The purpose was to enable him and his co-pilgrims have an unbiased assessment of the actual situations in Nigeria, so that they could correct the distortions being sponsored by Western media. That was during the era of a military macho-man called General Sani Abacha.
Like The Canterbury Tales of many centuries ago, The Farakhan Tale had to do with pilgrimage, fact-finding tour and sharing of ideas about the state of affairs on religious, political, social and other issues that needed to be put in proper perspectives. Like Martin Luther King Jnr, Louis Farakhan led a civil rights march of black Americans over human right abuses in America. He had been on global lime-light as a Black-American activist and Islamic Macho-man.
The Farakhan Tale has little to do with Louis Farakhan personally as an individual, but it illustrates the practice of self-appointed foreign messiahs, peace-makers, negotiators and bridge-builders coming to Nigeria to mediate in national crises. These foreign friends and negotiators who come during turbulent times can hardly be said to have the interest of Nigeria at heart, more than Nigerians themselves. They give awards and praises to Nigerian leaders.
Those who really know the mind-set and attitude of the Western World towards Nigeria would hardly doubt the fact that the country is rarely taken seriously. It was a surprise that Bill Gate was able to tell Nigerian government some truth, recently, without resorting to diplomacy or flattery. Not many individuals or countries would emphasise the truth that human capital development is an issue that ranks higher than structural projects. Human capital development puts emphasis on ethical orientation, vocational skills for citizens and exemplary leadership, as national policies. Nigerian leaders are known to cherish flatteries and get jittery over criticisms.
Foreigners have been known to come to Nigeria to say and do things which would hardly be tolerated in their own countries. Some experts, humanists, adventurers or tourists, after a few days’ visits to African countries sometimes claim to have a better understanding of the culture and challenges of Africans than the indigenes themselves. Many go home to write books and reports which they offer to the people and leaders for adoption and implementation. Africans have served enough as guinea pigs!
The Farakhan Tale is a tale of how developing countries ignore what is indigenous to them, fail to identify and encourage or utilize available talents and abilities in their citizens, but go for foreign values and advice. Imitating and copying what is foreign cannot uplift or advance any nation. People can only develop and progress through upward improvement of what they already possess, and not by adopting what is borrowed or foreign to them.
It is evident that Nigeria’s current predicaments and instability can be traced to the shenanigans of our colonial masters and later-day foreign friends and advisers. The practice of looking outside rather than inward for means of addressing local challenges often result in institutionalizing mediocrity as a national culture. The history and failure of the Ajaokuta project should teach us some lessons. Foreigners are not always what they appear.
Why must we de-value and under-rate ourselves and trample upon what is within us? Although Louis Farakhan denied that his visit to Nigeria was sponsored, he and his team left Nigeria with swollen pockets. Nigerians who raised issues over the Farakhan affair were seen as enemies rather than patriots. Since then Nigerian leaders have not stopped spending money on image laundering, foreign travels, wooing of foreign investors, etc.
Unless we want to continue to play the ostrich, Nigeria’s challenges and predicaments must and can be addressed by Nigerians themselves, even without help from foreign experts. From wooing foreign friends and investors, to travelling to foreign countries for medical vacation or inviting foreign marabouts, we can do better investing on our human capital. Where local talents and abilities are undermined through a patronage system and where sinecure holders receive N13.5 million monthly as “running cost”, there can hardly evolve a zeal among citizens to serve Nigeria with patriotism, loyalty and commitment.
Nigerians are weary of various forms of deceit under the guise of patriotism and serving the interest of the masses. We must strive to evolve a culture of service and sacrifice. A part of the Farakhan Tale played out in the recent Boko-Haram terrorist affair where foreign negotiators probably made some lucrative business. National security is an important affair, and Nigerians would be happier, more patriotic and feel safer if their leaders can deal with them with more sincerity and honesty. We must not de-value ourselves, which can include image-laundering.
Dr. Amirize is a retired lecturer at the Rivers State University, Port Harcourt.

Bright Amirize

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Opinion

Should Power Privatisation Be Revoked?

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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?

 

John James

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Ekweremadu: Significance Of Nuremberg

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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.

 

Bright Amirize

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Opinion

Agric Literacy In Secondary Schools

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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.

 

Sylvia ThankGod-Amadi

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