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Towards Maintaining Our Institutions

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Nigeria is a sovereign nation and all hands must be on deck to maintain its sovereignty. To achieve this, a number of infrastructural developement must be put in place. The ideology of sovereignty of any nation is to make things possible for the citizens. Since Independence till date there has been slow pace of development in the country. This is as a result of nonchalant attitude of the leaders in government and some citizens when projects are awarded for execution. Often times, when it comes to solving problems for the masses what you hear is that there is no political will to enforce the policy. One wonders the kind of political will our leaders need before things are put in place. The deposit of mineral resources in the land of Nigeria is a good omen for national development.
The education sector has been drifting from its original aims and objectives. This is because the system is no longer meeting the expectations of the nation. In any sovereign nation, education is the door way of achieving purposeful development. Through research works in education, other sectors are managed effectively and efficiently. The falling standard of education caused by neglect of the sector has caused emigration of Nigerian students to neighbouring nations, thereby, denying our educational institutions funds to upgrade their facilities. Today, most of the leaders and well-to-do in Nigeria send their children and wards to Ghana, the US and the UK for university education.
It is true that no nation is an island. But that does not mean we should abandon our country for foreign facilities.
Indeed, the power or energy sector is one of the sectors begging for massive improvement and upgrading of facilities. The federal government has said so much about improvement of power in the country. Yet no meaningful achievement has been recorded. And if the government is ready to improve power in Nigeria, there is no need for the federal government to budget for generators for Aso Rock or government buildings. That is suspicious! In Nigeria, generators have taken over the power sector. And so each time generators are mentioned in the budget there is need for doubt. Over the years, Nigerians have been complaining of poor power supply in the country. And to many the cry against epileptic electricity supply is waste of time. All the processing and manufacturing industries use electricity from generators to power their machines. But in some countries of the world there is constant supply for decades. No wonder some companies are relocating to neighboring countries where electricity supply is relatively constant. Recently, there was bidding for electricity facilities in the country. There is no need for further delay in ensuring efficiency in the power sector. Therefore, power should not be toyed with, if Nigeria wants to be one of the biggest economies in the world. Everyone needs electricity in Nigeria.
Nigerians enjoy pot holes-free roads in UK, the US and other nations of the world. But when road projects are awarded to some of them to construct as it is done in foreign nations, some siphon the funds or use poor quality materials to construct roads in the country. Today our federal roads are begging for reconstruction and rehabilitation, because they are very bad. And those who do the shoddy jobs are applauded and more multimillion projects are awarded to them to continue the bad jobs. Something has to be done to stop the ugly trend of events in the country. Because the roads are bad, motorists take the opportunity to charge commuters heavily. This also has led to high cost of commodities and has weakened the purchasing power of many Nigerians . Indeed, most of the staple foods we eat in the country are imported from foreign nations. For instance, Nigeria depends on imported rice till date when there are arable lands for rice farming in the country. Abakaliki rice is still under peasant farming system till today because government has not taken any proactive measure to improve rice farming in the country. There is need for concerted effort by all to change the state of things in the country.
Health for all has been a long time slogan which no one wants to sing or recite again because of the inability of the government to deliver health services to the people. It is still very sad to hear that Nigerians can only get better medical treatment abroad. Why? Nigeria has the resources that could make her health system the best in the world. Today, cancer screening machine is rare to come by in the country. Few months ago there was outbreak of Lassa fever in some states of the nation. And it was a difficult task to get treatment, because the machine to screen a victim’s blood sample is only in Benin. And it was reported that Lassa fever was first noticed before independence of our dear nation.
Indeed, today we fund foreign health systems and they keep on growing faster than ours. Almost every government functionary receives his or her medical check-up abroad. That is why our health sector is dying even when we have professionals to make it work. It is high time our leaders pondered anew to change some things. The national and state assemblies should enact laws that should make the government to improve its facilities. Over dependence on foreign institutions when we need to improve and develop the ones we have is a serious threat to democracy. Therefore, there is need for government at all levels to embark on an aggressive campaign on infrastructural development in the nation. Nigerians can enjoy the best if there is honesty and selfless service to humanity.

 

By: Frank Ogwuonuonu

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Opinion

Mass Communication As Unbundled

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With the recent happenings in Nigeria’s education sector, the Nigerian Universities Commission (NUC) cannot be said to be living below its vision of being a dynamic regulatory agency acting as a catalyst for positive change and innovation for the delivery of quality university education in Nigeria.
Created in Nigeria, to enable the attainment of stable and crisis-free university system, work with Nigerian universities to achieve full accreditation status for, at least, 80% of the academic programmes, NUC was also to initiate and promote proficiency in the use of ICT for service delivery within the commission and the Nigerian university system, as well as upgrade and maintain physical facilities in the Nigerian university system for delivery of quality university education.
However, while the commission is still on a mandate to foster partnership between the Nigerian university system and the private sector, the need to match Nigerian university graduate output with national manpower needs, seems to have gained top priority in its scheme of things.
This is evident on the recent visible reforms in the country’s tertiary education which have birthed the federal government’s approval of the establishment and immediate take-off of six new federal colleges of education in each of the geo-political zones in the country, as well as the unbundling of mass communication programme in Nigerian universities
This resolve, which experts have applauded and described as a step in a right direction, is the commission’s way of guiding Nigerian universities to be in line with 21st Century requirements; most importantly, the establishment of additional colleges of education.
More institutions for teacher education will not only increase the number of quality teachers in the country, it would create more job opportunities for Nigerians, and also improve standard of education. Of course, with an improved teacher education, the system is sure to turn out products that can compete globally with their counterparts.
The unbundling of mass communication programme in Nigerian universities into seven separate degree programmes, thereby, making Mass Communication to be a full faculty, happens to be another landmark achievement.
The seven new programmes or departments to be domiciled in a Faculty, School or College of Communication and Media Studies are: Journalism & Media Studies, Public Relations, Advertising, Broadcasting, Film & Multi-Media Studies, Development Communication Studies, Information & Media Studies.
Recall that the executive secretary of the commission, Professor Abubakar Adamu Rasheed, on assumption of office in 2018, said during a workshop in Abuja on the proposed Higher Education Reform and Africa Centres of Excellence (ACE), that getting it right at the higher education level would proffer solutions to the socio-economic and political problems facing the country.
Needless to argue, the original mass communication degree curriculum was too packed, didn’t have much on visual images and films, not even much attention was given to development communications. Above all, it has become obsolete and so cannot accommodate the new developments in the media trends, particularly the changing landscape of politics and economy.
The unbundling, no doubt, would allow lecturers to go into the newsroom to practice and journalists to go into the classroom to teach. By the segmentation, one can be allowed to focus on skill cultivation. In the long run, it is hoped that the practical will be balanced with the theory.
This inveriably makes the university more responsive to the dynamics of the labour market by ensuring that the right curriculum is put in place to ensure that quality graduates are turned out at the end of the day to meet the demand of industries.
By so doing, the university community moves from theoretical to the practical aspect of science and technology thereby increasing graduate employability skills.
From the foregoing, graduates of a media studies bachelor’s degree programme would be prepared for both traditional and non-traditional media careers. Some graduates will find work as news journalists, film editors and communication specialists. Other job titles might include public relations specialist, advertising account manager, marketing analyst, newsroom coordinator, broadcast journalist, photojournalist and a range of other exciting career options.

 

Sylvia ThankGod-Amadi

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Opinion

For Lagos To Work Again

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As the Centre of Excellence, Lagos in southwest arguably did backslide from its position in 2015 where the then governor, Babatunde Raji Fashola (SAN), impressively left the state. Without a doubt, Fashola’s exploits during his tenure compellingly fetched his portfolios in President Muhammadu Buhari’s administration as trinity minister immediately after handing over to his successor, Akinwunmi Ambode.
During Fashola’s tenure, residents were overwhelmed to such an extent of enthusiastically paying taxes owing to convictions that the state was synchronizing with his slogan Eko o ni baje.
No doubt, gigantic projects particularly some necessary overhead bridges to address traffic situations alongside inner roads constructed by Ambode’s administration are commendable. However, the state honestly didn’t sustain the momentum from Fashola’s administration. For example, scores of roads in the state are presently eyesores to an extent that some motorists now pack and use commercial buses.
Disgustingly, the state metamorphosed to refuse dump arena after Fashola’s exit. Ambode’s first gaffe was the cancellation of monthly environmental sanitation exercise in place which restricted movement for merely three hours on last Saturdays, without any alternative scheme to address sanitation. That alone is abysmal error. Ambode’s government had anchored its action on a court judgment that declared the exercise unlawful and an infringement to freedom of movement enshrined in the 1999 Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria.
Strangely, the state government without wasting time comfortably adopted the verdict despite the critical implications particularly hygiene that is sufficient to set aside the judgment. Reports show that the state government appealed but was practically unserious by not filing their brief. To restrict movements for such a reasonable time in a month for health reasons cannot fall within the context of infringement to peoples’ movements. There is a doctrine of necessity for remedying lacunas. For example, under national security, movements are always restricted during general elections as well as presidential movements despite Sections 35, 38 and 40 of the Constitution.
Logically, if there is a right to life which can be indirectly threatened by dangerous sicknesses resulting from unhealthy environments, arguably, a public policy to prevent such hazards within a reasonable time aptly cannot amount to infringement of right to movement. The World Health Organization (WHO) report shows that one-fourth of deaths across the globe are attributed to unhealthy environments. Besides, every society grows and presently, governments shouldn’t responsibly leave general hygiene to citizens’ discretions.
Another critical issue is bad roads. In fact, those that shuttle from Badagry axis to the Island are completely cut-off due to bad roads. Not even officials of Lagos State Traffic Management Authority (LASTMA) are on sight in these critical areas. The stresses motorists and commuters go through daily are better imagined than experienced. To describe the people as isolated or forsaken is no hyperbole. All these are convincingly traceable to not adopting continuum in government accordingly. Had Ambode conscientiously continued with his predecessors’ policies with constructive modifications as Fashola did after succeeding Asiwaju Bola Tinubu, believably, Lagos will be ahead of where Fashola left it.
Thus, these episodes present big lessons to the present governor, Babajide Sanwo-Olu. The new administration thus, faces critical tasks to put the state back to shape. The situation requires state of emergency principally on refuse disposal, roads rehabilitation and traffic management. Similarly, the rate of area boys’ excesses in Lagos roads grew exceedingly during Ambode’s tenure than it was when he took the mantle of office from Fashola. These areas must be critically addressed.
Now, over to the federal government; the high population in Lagos is undeniably worrisome. Imagine if the military junta of General Ibrahim Babangida didn’t thoughtfully relocate the federal capital to Abuja, how would the federal government effectively be operating from Lagos including presidential movements alongside the great workforce?
In a nutshell, the seaport calls for a state of emergency and transcends temporary decongestion. Sensibly, having a functional seaport only in Lagos is a big blunder. There’s urgent need to spread out the seaports to other geopolitical zones. If not, the trailers-parking, traffic crisis in Lagos roads and excessive population may never be subdued no matter the efforts deployed.
For example, by the present poor arrangement, indisputably, all clearing and forwarding agents, haulage workers in the country alongside their families are all resident in Lagos; likewise their trailers and trucks in numbers. These numbers alone are in high and sufficient to create catastrophe let alone other seaport-related businesses. By decentralizing the seaport, other zones will instantly pick up economically as scores of people will relocate to other areas and operate through other seaports; thereby drastically depopulate Lagos to be a standard and viable state. Beyond that, job opportunities will abound in all those new areas.
Typically, in any system where economic activities are concentrated in one direction, the congestion being experienced in Lagos environs must follow. Same for unemployment ratio as too many people would be queuing for few employment opportunities. But if decentralized, job opportunity will multiply correspondingly to a number of seaports and government agencies alone will likewise absorb a good number across all their operational stations. Thus, while the palliative measures by the governments are estimable, the ultimate panacea remains to decentralize the seaport.
Umegboro, a public affairs analyst, wrote from Abuja.

 

Carl Umegboro

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Opinion

The Love For Make-Believe And Unnecessary Propaganda

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Despite the danger posed by Coronavirus, it has
become the source of make-believe and unnecessary propaganda for the ruling party and her associates. Rather than take direct measures to check the escalation of the ailment, all you see are people struggling to enjoy bragging rights.
The truth is that the nation must find a common ground to prevent Coronavirus from spreading. Let’s be truthful to ourselves, there are no facilities to treat the disease in Nigeria.
If the developed countries, with their facilities and medical proficiency, are working hard to check the spread of Coronavirus, then that is simply the way to go for now.
Those who post pictures of bags of rice, tin- tomatoes, groundnut oil, hospital beds and tents as the ultimate are merely enjoying ephemeral benefits. The only medicine for now is to protect the population.
If very stringent measures were taken after the index case by those posting pictures of bags of rice and hospital beds in tents, we wouldn’t be in this difficult position as a country.
For a population of about 15 million people, how many would be accommodated in those tents for treatment if there is an explosion of infection? How many persons got the bags of rice or tin-tomatoes displayed on social media? How many communities got relief materials from those basking on social media and claiming high grounds in the face of national danger?
These guys are yet to understand the drawbacks of propaganda after they foisted on us a national disadvantage in 2015.
This world of make-believe adds no advantage to the country. Imagine some activists singing the praise of a governor who presides over a displaced persons state sustained by relief materials. In such a state, relief materials and tragedy are part of daily life. If the said governor donates relief materials in an IDPs camp, they want the rest of us to lose sleep.
Aside the unnecessary propaganda of relief materials and tents is the politics of donation, purchase of tents and federal grants.
It is shocking that other states were not considered in the first tranche of grant by the Federal Government. If it is said that Lagos, as the most impacted state, deserves N10 billion then all other states deserve some form of direct intervention from the Federal Government. If any grant comes out, then it is an afterthought. It was not on the drawing board.
If under this deadly threat of Coronavirus political consideration still holds sway, then you understand what states like Rivers State suffer. They have no representatives at the Federal decision-making point. Forget the grandstanding and namedropping.
That brings me to the issue of donations as support for the fight against Coronavirus. Some APC members argue that Rivers State Government shouldn’t solicit funds. But Lagos State can get contributions and have banks develop Isolation Centres for them.
Even the Federal Government has requested for donations to assist it tackle Coronavirus. The fight against Coronavirus is a joint task for the public and private sectors.
That these guys continue to play the Ostrich is one of the reasons Nigeria remains grounded. How on earth do they think that what is good for Lagos State should be denied Rivers State? It is even more disappointing that those who promote this anti-Rivers agenda are either Rivers indigenes or those who do business or live in the state.
They throw up all manners of explanations to justify the exclusion of Rivers State from such interventions and support. They blame the victim. They insult the Rivers State Governor.
In fact, if you want to grow in the APC, you must prove your capacity by insulting Governor Wike. Find avenues to highlight your capacity to be unreasonable at all times.
All the banks and some corporate bodies are rushing to expend resources in Lagos, with no presence in other states of the Federation where they get revenue. In a state like Rivers State, all major banks and corporations have countless branches and operational facilities where they generate funds.
With the Presidential address, Governor Wike has been vindicated for taking very profound steps to protect Rivers people. Agreed, the steps are tough, but it is for the good of Rivers people. Nothing is perfect, but steps must be taken to check the spread of Coronavirus.
Several other states have emulated Governor Wike by shutting their boundaries to visitors. With the Federal Government taking it a notch higher for FCT, Lagos and Ogun States, those who eke out a living by insulting Governor Wike will continue to have sleepless nights.
A man of vision is a man of conviction. A leader who has the interest of Rivers State at heart, Governor Wike, acted when others were too scared to make a decision.
This fight to save Nigeria is beyond make-believe and unnecessary propaganda. We have only one duty: to ensure that our country defeats Coronavirus. Any other game of “notice-me” should be disregarded.
Nwakaudu is Special Assistant to the Rivers State Governor on Electronic Media

 

Simeon Nwakaudu

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