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Imperative Of Transcendent Minds

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Jason Osai

The ability of rational thought is not an all-comers game; it  requires stretching the mind beyond the reaches of general precepts and the usual perceptions that anchor lesser minds on mundane issues such as materialism, ethnicity or the neurotic preoccupation with the preposterous and idiotic matter of searching for the face of the Unknowable through the jaded and ossified creeds of institutional religion; the transcendent mind is neither Jew, Buddhist, Traditionalist, Christian nor Moslem. Transcendence of the mind, in this regard, implies the ability to see beyond the tiny little pictures and philosophies that constitute divisive hedgerows in humanity; the transcendent mind sees and savors the essence of the larger picture. In management and administration, transcendence requires embracing the concept of formalistic impersonality and being conscious of halo effect. In political leadership, transcendence calls for objectivity, sensitivity and decisiveness devoid of sentiments, sectionalism and all the other isms that create divisions and cause disaffection and conflict in human society. This piece focuses on the decisions and actions of two governors (one from the South and the other from the North), the averments of a consultant physician of Fulani extraction and a foremost Traditional Ruler from the North.

In very unequivocal terms, Governor Nyesom Wike of Rivers State declined to provide land for RUGA arguing that the land he has is earmarked for agriculture. Couching his position in comical cynicism, Wike offered to give the Federal Government access to the seawaters of Rivers State for them to pipe water to RUGA settlements in the North just as they piped oil and gas there; this is an obvious reaction to the violence and insecurity perpetrated by herdsmen in the State in recent times and an eloquent expression of the resolve to protect Rivers people; that it was not a campaign speech demonstrated its patriotic root. In what seems a volte-face from the patriotism expressed in regard the RUGA uproar, Governor Wike appointed HRH Justice Sidi Bage Mohammed 1, JSC Rtd CON, Emir of Lafian Barebari and Chairman Nasarawa State Council of Chiefs, as Chancellor of Rivers State University. While the first decision painted a picture of vanguard of the people of Rivers State, the nationalist in Wike crystalized from the later decision; taken together, the two decisions clearly indicate a desire to maintain the corporate existence of Nigeria as a nation without compromising the interest and safety of Rivers people; they attest to the objectivity of Governor Wike and transcendence above interparty, interreligious and ethnocentric bickering.

On Nija.com Legit (July 16, 2019), Jerrywright Ukwu reports that Governor Alhaji Yahaya Bello of Kogi State broke a twenty-eight year old jinx by building a chapel in Government House, Lokoja; said Governor Bello: “Religion is a matter of faith, of belief, not evidence, and if we do not have respect for the beliefs of others, it’s to our detriment, since a lack of respect diminishes us as human beings. So, I am shocked as to why my predecessors never bothered to build a chapel for Christians even when there is a mosque here.” Stating that “Religion is a matter of faith, of belief, not evidence” indicates that Governor Bello realizes that religion is imaginary and based on conjectural anecdotes and narratives. Again, to have said that “if we do not have respect for the beliefs of others, it’s to our detriment, since a lack of respect diminishes us as human beings” indicates that Bello is a Moslem in the true sense of Islam being a religion of peace; this means that he is beyond the fanaticism of extremism as instigated by some radical Moslem clerics. These eloquently speak to the transcendence of his mind, which reflects the desire for harmony in humanity.

Reacting to the RUGA palaver, Dr. Nura Alkali, a Fulani and consultant physician at Ahmadu Bello University, Zaria, opined that “only the blind will insist on living a 17th Century life in 2018. Fifty years ago, humans conquered space to land on the moon. Others decoded DNA, which advanced the science of animal breeding to levels never before imagined in history. But we still have people pursuing an impossible nomadic lifestyle to raise cattle.” This is a lamentation of a way of life that belongs in the distant past of Nigeria.

Reacting to the economically debilitating and pervading social insecurity and the biting undercurrents of ethnocentrism in Nigeria, HRH Sanusi Lamido Sanusi, Emir of Kano and a Fulani, wrote thus: “After the First World War (WWI), the victors treated Germany with the same contempt Nigeria is treating Igbo. Two decades [after the WWI], there was a Second World War (WWII), far costlier than the first. Germany was again defeated, but this time, they won a more honorable peace. Our present political leaders have no sense of history.  There is a new Igbo man, who was not born in 1966 and neither knows nor cares about Nzeogwu and Ojukwu. There are Igbo men on the streets who were never Biafrans. They were born Nigerian; are Nigerians but suffer because of actions of earlier generations. They will soon decide that it is better to fight their own war, and maybe find an honorable peace, than to remain in this contemptible state in perpetuity. The Northern Bourgeoisie and the Yoruba Bourgeoisie have exacted their pound of flesh from the Igbo. For one Sardauna, one Tafawa Balewa, one Akintola and one Okotie-Eboh, hundreds of thousands have died and suffered. If this issue is not addressed immediately, no conference will solve Nigeria’s problems.” This clearly indicates fervent patriotism, strong sense of history and the realization of the fact that history has the uncanny capacity of being repeated by those who fail to learn its lessons. Sanusi’s averment transcends the wrangling amongst the major ethnic groups and myriad of minority groups across the Nigerian ethno-cultural space, where virulent ethnocentric vituperations and disintegrative nationalism are the order of the day and constitute the new norm.

Until the process of selecting leadership in Nigeria encourages and accommodates the emergence of patriotic, objective and decisive people in public office, the nagging issue of rudderlessness and lackluster performance in the public sector will persist to the detriment of the Nigerian society. Here, it is a collective responsibility; both the leader and the led share in the phenomenon. As the saying goes “a people deserve the leadership they get.”

Osai is a lecturer in Rivers State University, Port Harcourt.

Politics

Of Governance And Clamour For Unicameral NASS

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Although the heavy cost of maintaining Nigeria’s 469 federal lawmakers has always been a source of concern, “sitting politicians’’ have joined in the campaign for the reduction of the number of federal legislators.
In fact, one of the converts even suggested the scrapping of the Senate, as according to him, it is the House of Representatives that represents.
The converts: Gov. Kayode Fayemi of Ekiti; Sen. Rochas Okorocha, former governor of Imo and Chief Osita Chidoka, former Minister of Aviation, made their suggestions at different fora.
Chidoka who advocates for a unicameral legislature, made the suggestion after President Muhammadu Buhari presented the 2020 budget.
“In Nigeria, we need a unicameral legislature with six members each from the 36 states and two members from FCT.
“The legislature with 218 members will be less than 50 per cent of current members and term limit of three terms.
“The 2020 budget for the National Assembly (NASS) is N125bn, higher than the combined budget of Education N48 billion (excluding UBEC and TETFUND), Health N46 billion and Social Investment N30 billion.
“Reducing National Assembly members by half will provide over N60 billion annually for the social sector, that will be 600 billion over 10 years.”
Chidoka said the new National Assembly would be both efficient and economical.
He described the budget of N125 billion for the National Assembly as “hugely extravagant,” in an economy adjudged to have over 100 million poor people with gross infrastructure deficit.
The former Minister of Aviation said that funds saved from the contraction would be available for investment on policies and projects that would serve the common interest of the greater number of the population.
On his part, Fayemi advocated for the scrapping of the Senate in order to save cost and reduce financial burden on the government.
He also advocated for the adoption of Stephen Orosaye’s report which recommended the merging of federal government’s agencies that perform similar functions.
Fayemi said the type of legislative system that would be more productive for Nigeria in this current economic situation is a unicameral legislature.
“As it stands, the country’s legislative arm consisting of 109 Senate members and a 360-member House of Representatives, on yearly basis gulps millions of Naira.
“We do need to look at the size of government in Nigeria, and I am an advocate for a unicameral legislature.
“What we really need is the House of Representatives because that is what represents.
“You have three senators from little Ekiti and you have three senators from Lagos State, I guess the principle is not proportionality, but that if you are a state, you get it automatically.
“But I think that we can do away with that. There are several things that we can do away within the government,” he said.
Okorocha, the immediate past governor of Imo, now the Senator representing Imo West, on his part called for the reduction in the number of federal lawmakers representing a state.
He suggested that a Senator and three members of House of Representatives should represent each state.
“I want one senator and three House of Representatives members per state, which will cut expenses.
“A Senator and three House of Representatives members can do what many have been doing.’’
He said that the reduction in the number of representatives from the states would help cut cost and ensure effective representation.
While advocating for ways to cut cost and ensure effective representation, Okorocha said he would sponsor a bill that would seek for the reduction of the number of Senators and House of Representatives members for each state.
The Conference of Nigeria Political Parties (CNPP), has endorsed the suggestions for the reduction of the number of federal lawmakers.
The CNPP via a statement from its Secretary-General, Willy Ezugwu, said Okorocha spoke the truth concerning the need to reduce cost of running the National Assembly.
“The former governor simply told Nigerians the truth when he said what three Senators from a state can do; one lawmaker is capable of handling the same.
“Like Sen. Okorocha asked, what is too sacrosanct that Senators and House of Representatives members are doing that only a Senator per state can not do?’’
Also, two professors of political science at the University of Nigeria Nsukka (UNN), Jonah Onuoha and Aloysius Okolie, agreed with the advocates for unicameral legislature, which they reiterated would reduce the cost of governance.
Onuoha, who is the Head,  Department of Political Science, said bicameral legislative system is not cost effective, especially in a country like Nigeria, where federal lawmakers receive bogus salaries and allowances.
“It takes huge amount of money to maintain bicameral legislative system, especially in a country like Nigeria where federal lawmakers receive bogus salaries and allowances monthly.
“Bicameral legislative system is not only costly but delays legislative processes of passing bill into law, since the bill will pass through the two chambers.’’
Onuoha, who is also the Director of American Studies in UNN, urged the country to adopt unicameral legislative system as it is cost effective.
“If the country settles for unicameral, the extra money it could have spent in paying salaries, allowances and maintaining the two  chambers which runs into billions can be used to carry out capital projects,” he said.
He said if the country insisted on running bicameral legislative system, the number of lawmakers should be reduced.
Okolie in his contribution said that it was as result of bicameral legislative system that every year the budgetary allocation to the National Assembly had remained the highest.
“I subscribe to opinions in some quarters that the country should adopt unicameral legislative system as it will reduce the cost of running government as well as quicken legislative processes.
“The country is spending much to pay salaries, allowances and maintaining the two chambers — 109 Senators and 360-members of House of Representatives,’’ he said.
Okolie, former Chairman, Academic Staff Union of Universities, UNN branch, also said that as part of measures to reduce cost of running the government, the country should return to the regional structure.
“If we have one federal parliament and one regional parliament in each of the six geo-political zones, it will go a long way in cutting down cost of running the government,” Okolie said.
However, a legal practitioner, Mr Dele Igbinedion, said that people should not clamour for unicameral legislature just for cutting cost, adding that the issue is not whether or not a bicameral legislature is good or bad.
“I believe the bicameral system should remain because it has been proven to be sustainable and necessary. The process of law making is a very serious business which cannot start and end within a short time.
“The problem with the unicameral system which we have at the state level is that a bill can be introduced and passed the same day and sent to the governor for assent.
“This is not the case in the National Assembly; the two chambers must meet and possibly form a joint committee to look at the bill before sending it for presidential assent.
“The rigorous process a piece of legislation has to pass through forms part of the beauty of democracy.
“I think Nigerians should stop looking at the legislature each time there is a slight challenge and asking if we really need that arm of government.
“The judiciary often doesn’t respond to executive excesses, except there is a case it initiates, but in the legislature, a member can raise it as a matter of urgent public importance, national importance or ethics and privileges, and the attention of the parliament can be brought to it.’’
Apparently, Igbinedion was surmising that many state assemblies have become rubber stamps because the governors could easily “conquer’’ them, because it is only a single chamber.
Stakeholders say that unicameral and bicameral legislature have their advantages, but the country should settle for an option that cuts costs and wastages.
Ukoh writes for News Agency of Nigeria(NAN).

 

Obike Ukoh

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Dickson Dismisses APC Candidates As Militants, Terrorists

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The Bayelsa State Governor, Hon Seriake Dickson, has described the the All Progressives Congress (APC), joint ticket of Lyon/Degi for the November 16 Governorship election in the state, as a representation of militancy, terrorism, cultism and criminality.
He emphasized that the APC government after five years at the centre has done nothing in the state but to promote violence in different communities, adding that the consequences of losing election to the APC in the state will be dare to imagine.
Dickson made the revelation during the official inauguration of the gubernatorial campaign teams and secretariat on Tuesday, in Yenagoa.
He said, “Consider what would happen if things were to happen otherwise, none of you will spend a week in Bayelsa State. APC is presenting a ticket of militancy, terrorism, cultism and criminality, it’s going to be a government of criminals and cultist.”
Democracy in Bayelsa State can never turn to a government of militancy and criminals.
As we are formally inaugurating the campaigns, we will also launch “Operation wind APC in Bayelsa.”
“The consequence are too dare to imagine, people will be scared to visit the state , even indigenes will be scared to visit their communities.
“If we don’t take this elections seriously, by 17th the day after the election we should be ready to leave the state. This election is not about the candidate or even me but about the future of our state and our children.
“In 2015, when I was contesting, I saw more than the defection we are seeing today but let me assure us of victory. And don’t be perturbed but that doesn’t mean that we are happy as party leaders are decamping but victory will be ours at the end.”

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Okowa Inaugurates 42-Member State Advisory Council

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Governor Ifeanyi Okowa of Delta State yesterday inaugurated a 42-member State Advisory and Peace Building Council with a charge on the members to sustain and deepen the peaceful atmosphere in the state.
The council has  Prof. Sam Oyovbaire, former Minister of Information, as Chairman.
Okowa named former state Deputy Governors – Chief Benjamin Elue and Prof. Amos Utuama – and Prince Sam Obi, Chief Chris Agbobu, Alawei Brodrick Bozimo, Brig.-Gen. B. Demeyeibo (rtd), Chief Mike Adiotomre and Chief Ignatius Agidi as members.
Other members included Chief Patrick Egone, Mr John Nwagimeje, Sen. Stella Omu, Mr Paul Enebeli, Sen. Patrick Osakwe, Dr.(Mrs) F. Nwaeze, Prof. E.C. Nwanze, Dr Pius Sinebe, Chief Joseph Ejigba, Chief Eddie Sorhue and Chief (Mrs) Esther Uduehi.
Also, Chief E.D. Oborfukoro, Chief Robert Ejifoma, Pa. John Edah, Chief Roland Oritsejafor, Chief E. E. Ebimani, Chief Judith Enamuotor, Rev. Gideon Oyibo, Mr Joseph Ikhena, Chief Denis Etaluku, Prof. Sam. Ukala, Chief Jonathan Uyeri and Chief Samuel Okoro are members.
Other members are Mrs Felicia Ajagu, Mrs Theodora Giwa-Amu, Mrs Felicia Sani, Rev. Oke Akokotu, Elder Ayo Odonmeta, Chief Emmanuel Okumagba, Rear Adm. Mike Onah (rtd), Chief Magaret Unukegwo, Mrs. Grace Boyo and Rt. Rev. Justus Mogekwu.
According to the governor, the inauguration is part of the State Government’s effort to further strengthen the wheel of governance in the state.
“As a way of tapping from the wealth of experience of our people, it is necessary to reconstitute the Delta State Advisory and Peace Building Council through the appointment of these men and women of tested integrity and exemplary character.
“Let me reiterate that the appointment of the members of the council is not based on any political consideration whatsoever,” he said.
He charged the council to bring their experiences to bear on their function and create environment to deepen the peace between the state executive and other arms of government.
Okowa charged the council ensure harmony between Delta government and the Federal Government and other international bodies.
He called on the citizens to give the council the needed support and corporation to succeed while thanking the members for accepting to serve.
“I urge all of you to bring your wealth of experience to bear on this appointment,” Okowa said.
Responding on behalf of the council, Oyovbaire thanked the governor for the appointment and pledged their resolve to deliver on the assignment.
Also in an interview, Rev. Mogekwu said the appointment was a call to service, adding that the council would not betray the confidence reposed on it to sustain and deepen the peaceful atmosphere in the state.

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