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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 Tomfoolery of RIVLEAF

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There indeed seems to be no end, as far as nay sayers are concerned, in the quest to frustrate the efforts being made by the Rivers State Government to ensure that the spread of the coronavirus in Rivers State is reasonably checked.
On a daily basis, this becomes more apparent to the chagrin of genuinely concerned people of the State.
Although it is not a surprise that RIVLEAF, supposedly a pressure group has always announced itself as a purveyor of ill-contrived negative information, its latest attempt to dismiss a genuine alarm raised by the Rivers State Government regarding a foreseen build-up to a declaration of State of emergency in the State, has further exposed the membership of the organisation as persons with cowardly and sychophantic intentions.
At a time like this, when the whole world is still baffled over the COVID-19 pandemic, which has not only exposed even the hitherto world super powers in all spheres of their existence, but has so made it clear that everyone must be involved in order to check the pandemic, all RIVLEAF has to offer is an attempt to discredit the world acclaimed efforts of the Rivers State

Government under the leadership of Governor Nyesom Wike to ensure that the coronavirus does not get to the stage of Community transmission in the State.
It is indeed an irony of faith, that people who say they’re a pressure group do not actually know what it means to be a pressure group. They do not know, for instance, that one key role of a pressure group in the development of a society is to provide specialised and expert information to the government and explain government policies to the understanding and benefit of the general public. Thus they are an important link between the government and the people.
This explains their choice of caption, “Governor Wike Needs Help”, and the fact that rather than address in cogent terms the issue at stake, all they could do is to seek to raise irrelevant issues to cause rife between the President and the Governor, and with his Deputy.
What is really “funny and disturbing” about a clear statement that there is “a plan to declare a state of emergency in Rivers State? And, rather than categorically state what makes it funny and disturbing, all Onyeche Nnatah Peters could say is that Governor Wike “boasted that he was beyond the reproach of the Federal Government and, could do and undo as he so wishes”.
This statement in itself is a confirmation of the Governor’s proclamation of a plot to declare a state of emergency in the State, for reasons that have to do with Wike being seen as somebody who must be dealt with. The question is, for what reason?.
The most clear answer to this question is that from the point he started preparing to be the Governor of Rivers State, through his first tenure, and about a year into his second tenure, Governor Nyesom Ezenwo Wike had had to accept the peculiarities of Rivers State in the present State of affairs in the country, and had adjusted to the point of being able to provide good governance to Rivers people as minimally as possible in the face of unrelenting and determined efforts to frustrate him.
This is why every step of governance he has taken has turned out to be timely, and lauded in the given circumstance it is taken by all well-meaning public globally, especially as it relates to the COVID-19 pandemic, which the world knows is a new virus, hence decisions to combat it are mostly taken based on the exigencies of the moment. This is, of course, knowing the peculiarity of the virus as it relates to Nigeria, and Rivers State in healthcare delivery.
To say the least, Governor Wike has been setting the pace in steps taken to contain the coronavirus across Nigeria: amongst others, he was the first to set up an Interministarial COVID-19 Committee, the first to set up a palliatives committee, first to declare border lockdown, etc.
Even in the face of clear attempts to sabotage his efforts, Wike had been undeterred towards ensuring that the State does not get to Community transmission of the virus as is the case with some States. Beyond this determination to give good and transparent leadership to a people who understand his every step, and so are fully behind him, what else can the likes of RIVLEAF blame Wike of?
If the membership of RIVLEAF are truly of Rivers origin, and have the State at heart, they should be in a better position to appreciate the kind of development the State has recorded in the last five years.
Therefore, seeking to forment trouble where there’s none, such as between the Governor and his Deputy, Dr Ipalibo Harry-Banigo, is a wasteful venture. This is because Rivers people have come to know what the interest of RIVLEAF is, and it has nothing to do with the overall interest of Rivers people.
Soibi Max-Alalibo
SA on Media to the Hon Commissioner for Information and Communications
Rivers State
May 21, 2020.
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Opinion

Dakuku Should Stop Playing To The Gallery

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Sociologists have what they call “Looking Glass Theory”. The crux of this theory is that people are prone to naming others, or something, by what they truly are, or what they have in store as experience.
For someone whose dream to be governor had been scuttled severally because of his unpopularity ,one can easily understand where Dakuku Peterside is coming from.
In his veiled attempt to be one of those who “came out openly to oppose Governor Nyesom Wike” at this point in time he exposed himself as a political toddler.
 All over the world today, well-meaning people are joining hands with their governments to check the spread of the pandemic.
Unfortunately, it is in this context that Dr Dakuku Peterside has displayed his lack of knowledge of the key ingredients of governance at crisis periods.
The need for law and order at all times, more so in crisis periods as the COVID-19 pandemic has instituted globally, compels governments  to take painful but necessary actions to save lives.
Thank God Dakuku Peterside supports “the Governor to ensure that the state is free from Coronavirus”, but how he expects this to come to fruition if people disobey directives put in place at will, raises a huge question mark.
In the light of  his latest condemnation of the Governor’s order to demolish two hotels found to have flouted a lockdown directive, Dakuku has again displayed his penchant for grandstanding.
Maybe he should learn some lessons from the role played by the  Minister of State for Petroleum, Timipre Sylva who attracted Federal presence  to Bayelsa State during this period eventhough he belonged to the opposition in home State.
Dakuku’s stance in the face of an affront on an Executive Order which resulted in the demolition of two hotels in Eleme yesterday, without  considering the true circumstances that led to the demolition questions his citizenship as a Rivers son.
He should know what it means  to attack people authorised to perform legitimate duties under an  Executive Order.  Dakuku would not have declared genuine people-oriented actions by Governor Wike as “destructive” if he was well informed.
Rivers people are not foolish enough not to know that but for the stringent proactive measures put in place to check the spread of the virus by Governor Wike, the State would have entered community transmission like some other States in the Country.
Dakuku Peterside should therefore desist from the temptation of endangering the lives of the people he pontificates to care for, knowing that every act has its day of reckoning.
Soibi Max-Alalibo,
SA on Media to the Hon Commissioner
Ministry of Information and Communications
Rivers State.
May 11, 2020
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Opinion

Austin Tam-George: An Intellectual Prostitute Let Loose

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Austin Tam-George has consistently been biting the finger that fed him because he is an intellectual prostitute.
He looks for every available opportunity to lampoon Governor Nyesom Wike in order to impress his paymasters as a paid hack without conscience.
Someone like Austin Tam-George does not have the moral standing to discuss governance because his tenure as Commissioner for Information in Rivers State was a monumental failure.
A man who used his first month in office as Commissioner to throw 2O Rivers indigenes who were earning a living in the Ministry as casual workers into the unemployment market surely loves Rivers State.
Perhaps Austin Tam-George’s patriotism also led him to seize the monthly imprests meant for Departments in the Ministry.
Maybe he should explain to Rivers people and the those he is serving why a Commissioner should arm twist Heads of Parastatals under him to make monthly returns to quench his voracious appetite for money.
Was it not his kinsman in one of the parastatals that engaged him in a verbal warfare along William Jumbo Street in Port Harcourt that helped to tame his unquenchable taste for money?
His grouse with Governor Wike is because the over inflated and bogus proposals he made under the guise of upgrading the State Media Houses without recourse to the Bureau for Public Procurement were turned down by the governor who insisted on due process.
Austin Tam-George was quoted as saying that he will never forgive Governor Wike for not allowing him dupe the government.
The likes of Austin Tam-George are always available for the highest bidder that is why his recent outburst should not be taken seriously.
When he was looting the money generated by parastatals under him he never remembered United Nations and European Union.
As the proverbial dog that eats the bone hung on his neck, he milked the media houses dry before he was sacked from the State Executive Council.
He should know that the record of monies siphoned from the Media houses are still in the archives and will be released if he dares to make any more noise.
If Governor Wike did not retain him in his cabinet because he lacked character is it enough to look for any slightest opportunity to impugn his integrity?
Those who live in glass houses should not throw stones. A word is enough for the wise.
Paulinus Nsirim, Commissioner for Information and Communications, Rivers State
May 11,2020.
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