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Infrastructural Deficit And LG Councils

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On this column, I wrote about spreading the joy, spreading the joy of infrastructural development to all the local government areas of the state.
The catalogue of events for that week noted that the inauguration of projects which began late last year, has revealed that those who maintain that Governor Wike only executes projects in the two local government areas in the State Capital, Port Harcourt, suffer from what Frantz Fanon had referred to as cognitive dissonance.
Governor Wike has presented enough evidence to convince his critics that democratic dividends are for every L.G.A in the State. However, Frantz Fanon had observed that … “when people hold a core belief that is very strong” and that when they are presented with evidence that works against that belief, the new evidence cannot be accepted …”
These infrastructures that are spread all over the state will be enjoyed by the real people at the grassroots, that is what matters. The conviction of those who rationalize their belief and seek to protect it while ignoring or denying the obvious is insignificant.
The state wide inauguration of projects has made valid revelations of the place of local government councils in infrastructural developments of the grassroots.
The Governor of Rivers State has made it clear that the local government administration should be a partner in the development of the state. The Governor is right. The declaration of the governor which has gone viral point to this reality.
He had declared thus; “ I cannot be suffering like this going around commissioning projects and you don’t have any one to commission …”
“You say you are Governor’s boy ….. something is wrong with you …”. The state chief executive has stated the obvious, something is wrong with local government administration in Rivers State.
How else can one explain a scenario where any form of infrastructural inauguration in the L.G.As must be by either the state or Federal Government. Previous administrations in the state up to the present have taken the burden of primary education, Primary Health as well as sanitation, off the shoulders of the L.G.As.
The expectation is that the Local Government Councils would be able to leverage on this relief and take up their responsibilities in the construction of streets, drains, rural sanitation and other affordable projects to improve on the life and wellbeing of the grassroots.
Local government administration has undergone different reforms right from the colonial times. The most remarkable in recent memory is the 1976 reforms, which introduced the Unified Local Government system in Nigeria.
Though it created 304 local government councils, it paved the way for the governance structure of the 774 councils which repositioned it for grassroots administration and political participation among the three tiers of government.
The 1999 Constitution brought more reforms which aligned the local council administration with the presidential system.
The councils have both the executive and legislative arms with a leadership structure that is similar to that of the Federal and State Government.
Funding of local government councils have remained a contentious issue. Suffice it to say that the councils are expected to generate revenue through sources that are within their jurisdictions such as fines, rates, and taxes.
The councils also enjoy allocation of funds from the Federal Government Account. The Contentious Joint Allocation Account as defined by the law is not problematic in Rivers State at present. The Rivers State Government respect their boundaries on the issue.
What is rather problematic is the way the councils spend their allocations and Internally Generated Revenue.
The core functions of local government administration which include pre-primary, primary and adult education, primary health care delivery, town planning, roads, transport and waste management have suffered set back, because of lethargy on the part of the operators, especially some of the chairmen.
Some of the local councils, cannot even pay salaries. Most of the operatives of local administration in the state only engage in eye service projects, such as painting of their secretariats and at best buying official vehicles for councilors and supervisory councilors.
Many councils don’t have befitting markets in their localities and where such markets exist, they are kept in unsanitary state and miserably in a state of rot.
Internal roads or streets are either nonexistent or in a poor state of decay.
Most communities suffer flooding during the rains because of the sad state of drainage in the communities. When such drains exist, they are glorified gutters that are a filled with silt.
Some of these communities have urban and semi urban status. The councils wait for the State government to come and construct these facilities. This is the case of Bori, Ahoada, Omoku, Elele, Choba and Ngo to mention but a few.
The people of Omerelu in Ikwerre Local Government recently went into a frenzy of jubilation when the governor promised to construct their internal roads which never existed.
The sad state of affairs in the urban and semi urban communities in the local government areas of the state is the failure of the relevant local council institutions to regulate development structures.
Houses are built haphazardly without planning. The outcome is that the communities outside the state capital are developing into big slums.
Land speculators in these communities especially in areas close to the Greater Port Harcourt axis are taking advantage of lack of proper urban control regulations by local councils. They build without respect to best practices in town planning and development.

 

By: Bon Woke

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Hypocrisy In Intelligence Service

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Intelligence service generally is characterised by secrecy, anonymity and discreet operations, for the sake of the safety and security of those involved in such duty. In the present era of sophisticated electronic and information technology, that field of activity has become an awesome profession, where dabblers and charlatans do more harm than good. Both in the public and private domains of operation, intelligence professionals are supposed to be people of high integrity, committed to truth as motivating principle. They are purveyors of truth.
Be it for research purposes or political service delivery, intelligence work is not meant to be an instrument for dark and unethical projects. Since it demands a high level of intellectual sagacity, those engaged in intelligence service are easily sucked into the vortex of the realm of illusion and errors, serving dark purposes. The deeper anyone explores the realm of errors via intellectual channel, the deeper one gets into dangerous waters. To come back to normalcy thereafter, has its price and demands deliverance.
For those who would have the inclination and resources to dig into relevant details and statistics, there are shocking records about the number of people in need of psychiatric help. They are largely people who had applied their intellectual acumen in activities that pander to base and unethical human propensities. Unfortunately, many of such persons are ranked as shining stars in public services, pandering to vanity and pride.
It is unethical for any public servant holding a high position to tell the world, even in a joke, that a federal government has no duty to protect citizens from “bandits”. It is even more unethical and also suspicious for ruthless, armed criminals to be given the label of bandits, rather than call them by the true name of what they are. Among various groups of people engaged in intelligence work are those who gather and disseminate information for public consumption. Is it ethical for a high public official to distort truth for political purposes?
Hypocrisy is defined as “a way of behaving in which you pretend to have better moral principles than you actually do”. Since Intelligence service goes beyond spying or gathering vital information with intent to undermine the well-being of persons or nations, according as one is paid, information officers are included. Similarly, researchers, private investigators, security operatives, journalists and other professionals in the vast field of communications and information technology, also come in the category of intelligence service. The difference lies in job description, field of specialisation, employer, etc.
Obviously, level of training, equipment at the disposal of the personnel, schedule of duty as well as the beat of service, would differ widely among intelligence practitioners. Those serving state agencies may have additional specific training and orientation according to prescribed needs. But what we find quite common is the possibility of politicisation of intelligence operations, including a tendency of deliberate disinformation, mis-information and outride policy of mendocracy.
Mendocracy, like cryptocracy, is a deliberate strategy of installing a propaganda machine in the polity with intent to teleguide the information sold out to the public. During a war situation such strategy is usually widespread, with Nazi Germany serving as a ready example. Expectedly, every system of mendocracy soon runs aground, as the masses soon become aware of the deliberate bamboozlement. To restore confidences of the masses can become quite difficult.
In a democratic governance, liberal communications ideology rules, characterized by adherence to professionalism, rule of law and respect for truth and facts, open for verification. Partisan ideology can also be foisted into a democratic system by political, religious and other authoritarian groups. We see in Nigeria, currently, attempts by some clever extremist groups to float and inject partisan ideology into a secular polity. One of such is the issue of Sharia law, propagated and foisted under various mechanisms.
Part of the hypocrisy in intelligence service delivery includes the privatisation of the intelligence and security organs of state, under partisan ideology. This cannot inspire mass support and confidence under a democratic and secular polity. Way back in 2000, Dare Babarinsa told Nigerians that “The Fulani ruling class, rootless and without any cohesive political ideology or nationalist cultural interest, has clung to Islam as a political weapon”. The issue at stake is not religion but power and the future of the Nigerian state. Game of subterfuge or bluster would not help!
What has been going on in Nigerian politics includes the pursuit of sectional agenda through some clever means. Those who have recognised this devious strategy should speak up before the situation gets worse. For a section of the country to mix religion with politics in a secular state demands that this issue be resolved boldly and honestly. What is Boko Haram if not a religious ideology seeking to reject Western education and culture, with Sharia world view providing a better alternative!
It is hypocrisy to pursue such agenda using the services of state security and intelligence agencies. To politicise the services of such agencies is to deprive them of their professional code of practice which includes non-partisanship. When salt loses its value or “saltness” it becomes fit to be trampled underfoot. Same goes for a “Presidency” which devalues its status and exultation. The bond of unity among security operatives gets undermined.
What is happening currently globally provides opportunities for individuals and nations to recognise how they stand inwardly in terms of deficiencies and hypocrisies prevailing everywhere. Vanity provides the snare that leads to a fall. The craft of intelligence operations can lose its awe and glory when it serves as a sectional weapon rather than the purveyor of truth. The value of information lies in its factual accuracy after objective and balanced analysis before dishing it out as an instrument of human upbuilding. Similarly, the value of intelligence service delivery lies in its reliability and accuracy, not as a partisan tool.

By: Bright Amirize

Dr Amirize is a retired lecturer from the Rivers State University, Port Harcourt.

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Flooding And Environmental Sustainability

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Last week, on the 27th of May, 2021, the people of Rivers State celebrated the 54th anniversary of the creation of Rivers State. The state has achieved so much in terms of infrastructure and human capital development. It has achieved good governance and not so much good governance in some dispensations. The present dispensation has given the people more hope to celebrate the dividends of statehood.
However, the common failure of many societies across the globe is the failure to conquer their environment as God commanded. What we see is the ravaging of the environment which has made it more vulnerable to environmental disasters, which include flooding and desertification. Rivers State has 60 percent of its 10,500 square miles and beyond covered by water, and large areas of mangrove and rainforest. Its flora and fauna are of enormous natural resources. The struggle to sustain this God-given environment has been a great task.
The Niger Delta environment has endemic challenges which require scientific and deliberate consciousness of the inhabitants to mitigate. It also requires immediate solutions as the people in the region who are ravaged by flooding cannot wait for medium and long term plans to mature. There is the need to start from what can be dealt with immediately to provide shelter to the people, what can give the people safe home, on dry lands in the face of drowning floods. Enough consciousness has been created to the world at large by the United Nations.
On the 5th day of December, 1972, the United Nations General Assembly through Resolution 2997 in Stockholm, Sweden created the World Environment Day celebration to sensitise all member-nations on the need to ensure environmental safety and sustainability. The environment is the only human habitation known to man. This will remain the case until the superpowers find another solar system habitable.

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Trust Deficit And Governance

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Trust deficit has come to be a common refrain in the polity used to explain lack of trust in government pronouncements and programmes. Its foundation is rooted in political party soap box promises and manifestoes that are never kept. Sir Walter Scott (1808) wrote “Oh, what a tangled web we leave, when first we practice to deceive”.
Reflecting on this truism, it is clear that those who prevaricate in their speech or actions cannot be trusted. Their social capital budget will be fraught with deficit.
They are persons or institutions whose words or actions are of double standards.
They who betray the common trust, thrust upon them by Nigerians are many and varied.
If trust in Nigeria were a national budget, it’s deficit profile would be more than 90 per cent.
We often hear social commentators in Nigeria say, “you can’t trust anybody in power”. This may be in the context of Frayed political relationships among and between those in power and the people they govern. It is about mutual distrust.
It is important to state that trust is a two way traffic; those who govern must be trusted and the governed must trust the system for it to work and generate positive impact.
Stephen Covey placed trust as an important ingredient in any relationship, be it political, social or economic, when he said “Trust is the glue of life. It’s the most essential ingredient in effective communication. It is the fundamental principle that holds all relationships.
Sadly, the political ecosystem in Nigeria has eroded these values. Can Nigerians as a people continue to dwell on the pessimism expressed by William Shakespear when he said “Don’t trust the person who has broken faith once”?
Will this perception not create a web of complex social relations and a complexity of failures and retrogression in the polity, if strictly adhered to? What can a people do without trust?
Frank Grane a social Psychologist gave an ambivalent view when he said “you may be deceived if you trust too much, but you will live in torment unless you trust enough”. Trust deficit simply refers to a degree of lack of trust.
The term deficit in this context implies that there is trust but not enough trust because of broken promises in the system. People now choose who and what to trust.
In political relations which talks about social contract, huge promises are made to the people. The people on their part often bask in the euphoria of expectations, which are broken. So they make choices or effect a change of leadership based on those expectations.
Lady Gaga on trust, said “Trust is a mirror, you can fix it, if its broken, but you can still see the crack in that …reflection”. This explicates the danger in trust deficit in a polity where a people are afraid to trust in their government and functionaries.When trust deficit becomes systemic, it becomes a dangerous phenomenon in governance.
How can a people trust the harvest unless they see it sown.
There is trust deficit in police relations with the people of Nigeria.
Bail is free means bail is not free. Police is your friend means police is your enemy. Election will be free and fair means it will be rigged.
Boko Haram has become inevitable and the military cannot contend with it. When the spokesman of the Federal Government of Nigeria says “I do not lie”, many evidence will point to the contrary; he lies most of the time. The promise of Federal Government to mend the East West road has beccome an unending wait and only when MEND strikes that a portion will be white washed with alsphat. The Military Prevarication on the Lekki Toll Gate debacle is a source of distrust. How can a civilized group claim that no one died in that protest?
Poor ethnic relations in Nigeria is another source of distrust. An Ijaw man does not believe that an Hausa Fulani man at the helm of affairs can protect his interest.
In a similar view an Igbo man can hardly accept that a Yoruba politician is out to protect his political interest.
Among the minorities the story is the same, mutual distrust prevails. Political distrust among the ethnic groups in Nigeria is rooted in the nature of the colonial administration where the country stood on a tripod of centrifugal polity.
There were three regions in Nigeria. The East was dominated by the Igbo, West Yoruba and North Hausa Fulani. Unfortunately every region/ethnic group was inclined to fight for their interest rather than national interest. The interest of the minorities are also not taken into consideration.
Bad governance and military coups have further created distrust in the system where the struggle to govern by different geographical regions took over the merits of democratic values.
Class distrust has heightened as a result of growing poverty in Nigeria.
This has even take a demographic dimension. The youths do not believe that the class of persons they refer to as ancestors because of their age can governor this country well any longer.
This mutual distrust can also be seen in the stereotyping of youths as a bunch of irresponsibles. The fallacies above are unfortunate, because age has nothing to do with leadership. This type of distrust is retrogressive.
The growing spate of infrastructural deficit is a function of distrust and a result of rivalry among groups and the political class. A leader emerges and concentrates in the development of his clime rather than spreading the joy. He does so with the conviction that if he does not do it the next leader will abandon his people.
When trust and sincerity of purpose exist, true spirit of governance will unfold to allow development take a foothold in Nigeria. Many believe that restructuring will mitigate mutual distrust in Nigeria.

 

By: Bon Woke

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