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Editorial

Task Before Ebube Agu

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As if jolted by the audacious and dare-devil armed attack on the headquarters of the Police Command
and the Owerri Custodial Centre in the Imo State capital in which about 50 vehicles were burnt and 1,844 inmates set free, the South-East Governors of Dave Umahi (Ebonyi), Okezie Ikpeazu (Abia), Hope Uzodinma (Imo), Willie Obiano (Anambra) and Emmanuel Ugwuanyi (Enugu) convoked a security summit in Owerri on April 11, 2021. At the end of the meeting, Dave Umahi, chairman of the South-East Governors’ Forum, announced the birth of a regional security outfit code named Ebube Agu with a mandate to coordinate security activities in synergy with extant security agencies to ensure adequate protection of lives and property of the people of the region.
According to Umahi, the five South-East States condemned in the strongest terms activities of terrorists and bandits within the region and resolved to put up a stiff counter force against criminal elements with a view to ridding the region of all forms of banditry and terrorism. He said “the political leadership in the South-East has resolved to bring together all the arsenals at the command, as a united zone, to fight and flush out criminals and terrorists from the zone”.
Fast forward to Sunday, April 25, 2021, the governors, excepting those of Imo and Anambra who were represented by their deputies, with notable figures like the Obi of Onitsha, Igwe Alfred Achebe; Archbishop of Enugu Ecclesiastical Province, Anglican Communion, Rev. Emmanuel Chukwuma; former Governor of old Anambra State, Chief Jim Nwobodo; elder statesman, Emmanuel Iwuanyanwu, among others, converged in Enugu, capital of Enugu State, and designated headquarters of Ebube Agu, to further the cause of the newly formed security organisation in the wake of diverse reactions, some very caustics, that had greeted their earlier proclamation. At the end of this meeting, the governors disclosed that a legal framework for Ebube Agu had been set in motion while an Advisory Board for the outfit had also been set up with its structure and operational modalities agreed upon.
“The Attorneys General and Commissioners of Justice of the South-East states have been directed to work with the Joint Security Committee to come up with the amendment of the existing state laws to reflect the new Ebube Agu outfit,” they said, adding that the President-General of Ohanaeze Ndigbo, Prof. George Obiozor, had been directed to within 10 days set up a Peace and Reconciliation Committee and a Strategy and Welfare Committee to “engage our people for the peace and security of our people, especially those who are being unfairly treated.” They declared that “the meeting is in support of restructuring, the setting up of State Police and other national issues as discussed in the last National Executive Council meeting”.
Even though The Tide thinks that Ebube Agu should have come much earlier, it is a development that is welcome and should be embraced, encouraged, supported and assisted by not only all the good people of the South-East region, but also every patriotic, peace-loving and well-meaning citizen of Nigeria that is interested in seeing the country as a united, stable, peaceful and progressive nation.
With armed killer herdsmen still on the prowl and terrorists and bandits of all shades taking their murderous trade to all parts of the country with little hindrance, it behoves on the governors of the South-East, and indeed every responsible and responsive government at all levels to leverage on everything within their control to ensure optimum security of lives and property in their jurisdiction. Of course, it will amount to a bare-faced shameless abdication of responsibility and a most dangerous precedent to allow a separatist group like the proscribed Indigenous People of Biafra (IPOB) and its Eastern Security Network (ESN) or any other none-state actors in any part of the country seize the initiative of providing security services for the people.
If the worsening home grown terrorism and insurgency tendencies in the South-East region that have taken the worrisome dimension of indiscriminate burning down of police stations and killing of policemen and other security operatives must be halted, the governors of the region must make haste in ensuring that Ebube Agu becomes operational without delay. In addition, the outfit should be adequately funded and appropriately equipped to contain the existential threat that IPOB’s ESN represent, while warding off external aggressors and invaders like the armed herdsmen and other violent criminals. In this regard, leaders of the region must resist the tendency to be divided by political interests. The governors must discountenance party affiliations while the political class in general must consider the security of the lives of the people far more important than their individual or sectional political ambitions in their attitude towards Ebube Agu. The traditional institution and the community leaders must rally round and take ownership of the initiative in order to make it achieve set objectives.
The Federal Government on its part should not withhold every needed assistance and support to make Ebube Agu succeed. To begin with, all the security agencies should be directed to work closely with the new organisation in training, equipping and exchange of intelligence so that it can effectively fill in the gaps that exist in the overall security architecture in the region and the country at large.
Going forward, we urge the governors and political leadership of the South-South geo-political region to spring into action in birthing its own formation in the similitude of Amotekun in the South-West and Ebube Agu in the South-East without further delay. There is already palpable fear among the people of the region that except something is done quickly, the criminal elements that are being hounded around the region and the country in general, may pour into the zone. This must not be allowed to happen. A stitch in time, they say, saves nine. The time to act is now as otherwise strange occurrences like the brutal attack of security personnel by unidentified armed groups at their duty posts are already being recorded in parts of the region.
Finally, we think that the Federal Government must give attention to the issues of restructuring the country, devolution of powers and the creation of state police with all the urgency that it deserves. If the country must come out of its present travails and save itself the trauma of protracted and generalised armed protest, the process of national dialogue must begin immediately.

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Editorial

Whither Nigeria’s Democracy?

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It will be precisely 28 years tomorrow when a historic presidential election was held and its outcome criminally overturned by a savage government. Former Military President Ibrahim Babangida’s decision to annul the poll particularly had sinister, dehumanising and macabre political motives. However, the emerging national battle for liberty produced an incredibly defective Constitution, which returned the country to civil rule on May 29, 1999.
What eventually resulted in the recognition of June 12 by the President, Muhammadu Buhari, as the annual Democracy Day was the commitment of Nigerians to the ideals of that day. The day is also to commemorate the 1993 general election when the Nigerian people, across ethnic, religious and demographic fault lines, invested their hopes in freedom in Moshood Abiola, the winner of the poll and the supreme sacrifice he paid in his quest to reclaim his victory. 
But almost three decades after, rather than broad revelries, misery still dissipates throughout the land as Nigerians face the painful reality that the democratic pledge of liberty and the pursuit of prosperity have been soured terribly by visionless leadership, a warped Constitution and a complacent citizenry. Instead of the solemn declaration of democracy, the people paid dearly for the lethal combination that has merely delivered a civil rule with all its attendant declines.
Today, Nigeria is an empirical exhibit of a failed state. Nigerians are now realising the hard way that entrenching democracy goes beyond outward adornment of periodic elections, the presence of legislature and other extremely chaotic symbols of government. Democracy has become a mere covering for a few to seize power and public treasury when the institutions fails to achieve the real democratic goals of personal, political and economic liberty and the pursuit of the greatest good for the greatest number.
More than two decades of the civil rule charade, it is numbingly sad that a majority of Nigerians do not discern their lives to be better. Corruption still defines governance, as well as poverty, inequality, economic loss, inefficiency, public and private sector dysfunction, poor infrastructure, failed economic and political systems, impunity, injustice, organised crime, terrorism and diminished state capacity. 
Corruption has become the new normal as public frustration and cynicism pervade the land. The fundamental elements of democracy — rule of law, social justice, citizens’ participation, responsible political parties, active free press, independent parliament and judiciary, in nominal existence, are similarly under the onslaught. Secessionist agitations are getting robust. If democracy truly thrives in the country, why do we have all these crises? 
Our progress can only be measured by how far the country has gone in attaining these key elements of democracy. Sadly, for the past 28 years, it has been difficult to deepen these basic values because the executive arm is incompetent, the legislature pathetically weak and the judiciary dangerously yielded. The three, of course, share a common DNA — corruption. Despots have been parading themselves as democrats and their common enemy is free speech.
The visionless Buhari regime is also trying to intimidate the media into docility. The regime is planning to criminalise “hate speech,” under a law that may require mass surveillance and close monitoring of social media. Yet, it is acknowledged in free societies that what counts as offensive is subjective, so “hate speech” laws can be elastic tools for criminalising dissent.
One of the good things about the commemoration of Democracy Day in the country is that it should ideally cause a deep, national reflection on where we are coming from, the journey so far, and a re-energised commitment to stay the course. 
Democracy Day is not just another public holiday or an opportunity for ceremonies with vacuous speeches. It is a serious business. It is the best test we can give ourselves to determine how deeply rooted we are or how far we have strayed from upholding the fundamental doctrines of respect for the rule of law, free press, and respect for human rights.
The day should also be a gauge to measure the level of maturity of our political process in the conduct of free, fair and credible elections, and the quality of our civic engagements. How do we know if we have made progress? By asking questions. And if by doing so, it is clear that we have not, the question, then is: what are we celebrating?
This year’s Democracy Day is another opportunity to reaffirm an unbending commitment to governance that holds the rule of law in the highest esteem and prioritises the right of every citizen. It must also be a time to hold conversations on the kind of leadership that can unite the diverse peoples of Nigeria in the days ahead. 
We cannot over-emphasise the power of visionary leadership in fostering strong democratic doctrines in Nigeria. That is the only way progress can be made on our democratic journey and we can once again be a shining example to the rest of the world. If that is not the purpose of the day, then what exactly are we celebrating?

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Editorial

Governance And Peer Review Mechanism

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The Nigerian governance structure is predicated on the principle of federalism. The implication is that there are other levels of governance in Nigeria that make up the federation. Government at the Centre exercises exclusive list in certain areas of governance and enjoys concurrency with state Government in others. In principle there should be a residual list of governance items, but this does not exist in actual practice as the local government administration is yet to enjoy full autonomy.
The various state Governments exercise concurrent list of governance items with the federal government in such areas as Education, Road infrastructure, Health, Environment and others.In the area of security, the constitutional provision which states that the business of Government is the protection of lives and propertyof citizens applies to all the levels of Government.However, the convoluted nature of governance structure where the federal government is in control of too many governance items has made the management of security architecture by the states very difficult, but not impossible. Governors who are described as the chief security officers of their states, cannot not have full control of the Armed forces and police. For example the commissioners of police take instructions from the Centre, precisely from the Inspector General of Police.
The states and local Government areas are the closest government to the people. This gives the states gargantuan responsibilities and challenges. The states owe their citizens more responsibilities than the federal Government but have limited resources and powers to accomplish them despite their potentials in natural resources and revenue generation. Unfortunately, the states are held down by the absence of Fiscal Federalism in the Nigerian Federation.
These challenges and more have affected and afflicted development in the states in the areas of infrastructural development, poverty alleviation, environmental control, security and human capital development.Some commentators are of the opinion that the impoverishment of the states by the federal government is partly responsible for the spread of insecurity, growing agitations and secessionists tendencies in Nigeria.
Peer Review Mechanism can be a major tool which the states can use to alleviate their burden. It is in consonance with the local aphorism that problems shared are problems solved. Peer review mechanism can be referred to as self-assessment for good governance by peers in similar enterprise.
For example, peer review mechanism is an instrument of Governance among African States tagged the African Peer Review Mechanism (APRM) .It is a mutually agreed instrument which member states of African union acceded to as a”self-monitoring mechanism”. This self-assessment is to encourage conformity with regards to political, economic and corporate governance values among member states. It is important to observe that the African union Agenda 2063 and sustainable Development Goals 2030 have been monitored and evaluated by AU members through Peer Review Mechanism instruments.
Simply put peer review is the evaluation of values by one or more people with similar competencies. Governors of states who are saddled with governance challenges can go into self-assessment of their governance capacity by looking at what other governors have done in their states, evaluate and copy for the development of their own states.It could also be a source of motivation for good governance.
Peer Review Mechanism is not a copy and paste mechanism, it should be a positive way of avoiding the pitfalls of a particular governance style while evaluating and copying what is good.Peer Review Mechanism as an instrument of governance in Nigeria has very fertile pedestal. Different regions in Nigeria have platforms where their Governors gather to foster social, political and economic integration. These groupings are envisioned to rub minds on development issues in their various states. In the south-south there is the BRACED.There are others including the South East Governors forum, South West Governors forum and the various Governors fora of political parties as well as the southern Governors forum recently convoked.Governors in these groupings can pick up models of development from their colleagues after thorough evolution of such projects on how they can impact meaningfully and add values to their constituents. For example, the south East Governors can copy models of development from Ebonyi State where the Governor has defined Governance through infrastructural development and little bits of what other Governors are doing.
Governor NyesonWike stands tall in the south-south. There are so much the Governors of south-south and indeed Nigerian Governors can learn, from him, especially his prowess in prudent management of Resources, Revenue Generation and infrastructural development, particularly in the area of Road infrastructure, tertiary education and Health. The sign posts in these areas of development are models that can be copied by sister states.
Also, Lagos state as the center of excellence and industrial development has a lot of exemplary blue prints and projects execution that other states in the west and even the country at large can copy. It only requires a proper study and evaluation.So many states in Nigeria picked the traffic control model of Lagos state in their LASMA scheme. This is a good example of peer review in the right direction. Recently the Nigerian Guild of Editors went to kano for their Bienal convention and one of the highlights of their trip was the inspection of projects embarked upon by the kano state Government in the last six years.
What stood out in all the projects executed by Governor Ganduje is the security infrastructure. The entire state capital is covered with CCTV Cameras that monitor every movement in and around the metropolis. This model in security architecture can be copied by the states in the North especially in the North East to stem the tide of insurgency and banditry in the region. This is what Peer Review Mechanism entails.
Let the Governors exchange ideas and rub minds to move their state forward in the realm of development.

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Editorial

Education: Dangers Of Early Start

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There are worries these days about the way parents are sending their kids to school earlier than it was many years ago; for example, a situation where children of six and nine months are sent to creche and day care centres all in the name of starting them early.
Although some parents whose schedules are tight say they have no choice than to do so since getting a house help or nanny has a lot of implications for the child and the family. But aside that, some people feel that the benefit of sending their children to school so early will help them secure job early. And the issue of starting life early. 
So many years ago, children of school age were not allowed to start school until their hands could cross from one part of their ear to another. That was the yardstick used to ascertain whether one could start school or not.
It is important that our wards acquire education early but their lives should not be put to danger because we want them to finish school early. The truth is that parents are pushing their children into school these days as if there is competition among families and friends. This is not healthy enough for our young ones.
I don’t understand why a child of 12 years should be in Senior Secondary Two (SS2). It means that the child will be a graduate at age 13 or 14 in SS3.  This should be discouraged by government and private school operators.  
Which university will admit a student of 14 or 15 years when universities insist that they must be 16-years old before being admitted? I’ve seen a child who performed well both in SSCE and UTME but was denied admission by one of our universities because he was below 16 years.
That is a welcome development. Maturity is one of the factors in the teaching and learning process. We should not send our children to school earlier than it should be. No matter how intelligent a child is, he should not be allowed to jump any class. School managers should resist parents who may want their children to jump from one class to another.
Even if a child scores Excellent in all subjects in a particular class, that child should be allowed to touch all the classes, complete primary 6 of lower basic. That will make a significant impact on that child. Years back, many of us started secondary school at the age of 12 and 13 and never lost anything, as we finished at 17, 18 and 19 before seeking admission into the university.
Back in secondary school, some students were already 20 years and never bothered being in the same class with younger persons. There are children who are exceptionally good but that does not mean a child should be sent to school prematurely. That child may suffer inferiority complex in the midst of seniors. 
Children should be allowed to move with their peers. This will give them a sense of belonging among peers. When a child begins to nurse the problem of inferiority complex, he will certainly experience withdrawal syndrome. Peer group pressure becomes a problem on the child.
Those are some of the challenges resulting from keeping younger persons among the older ones. We are not in danger so we should not put our children into such uncomfortable scenario. Nowadays, children are getting into school at tender age as parents dictate. There are things children are supposed to learn as kids at a particular level and when they jump such level and get to a point where parents want them to be, one day, those children will definitely feel it and the significance of the level will manifest.
Children should be allowed to enjoy whatever thing they are meant to enjoy at every level. No level of a child’s development should be ignored. Every stage of development is important, no matter how intelligent that child may be. Stakeholders know why every curriculum is prepared in a way to suit every child. So, parents should allow children to enjoy every stage in their lives.
A teacher once told me that children below 10 years who find themselves in secondary school do not concentrate in class.  They find it difficult to concentrate, no matter what the teacher does.
Parents deny their kids parental care.  Sometimes in schools, parents abandon their wards at the mercy of minders after school hours, up to 6:00pm.  Whereas they should have gone home earlier to prepare for the next day. Even at home, they are left in the hands of house helps and nannies while parents are busy looking for money. Children are denied parental care and are not getting full maturity because of these factors.
Another reason for this rush by parents is pride. A parent may be boasting that his child is either in ABC school and representing the whole world while another person’s child is at home or one “inferior” school.
Children who are pushed into school prematurely do not sustain it most times. Students of 15 and 16 years old going into university can suffer depression according to research. Researches have also shown that they (younger ones) risk the problem of mental health more than their older classmates.
In the case of creche and day care centres, the idea is not really to acquire education; yet, parents decide to keep their babies so that they can go about their daily businesses. It is true they need money to cater for their households.
Teaching and learning process begins with the parents. No matter how tight our schedules may be, we must take care of our kids. Parents must devote time to nurture and teach their children many things that they cannot be done in classroom. We should not rush them through life all in a bid to acquire education early.
It is worrisome that parents rush their children to school while they cannot speak and understand their languages and dialects. One of the guidelines in the National Policy in Education is that children should be taught in their mother tongue at home while they learn foreign language in school.
The Policy also stipulates that every child at the basic level should be taught the language of the place of residence. I’m not sure school managers are obeying this instruction and parents do not do a follow-up.
Parents rush their children to school while they do not understand their environment, culture and tradition of theirs and others. Although few schools devote little time to mark cultural day for the kids. It is good that people start school early and graduate at 20, 21 and maybe get a job at 23 and 24 as some employers will indicate.
There was a period when students secured admission between the ages of 22 and 23 years as a result of either delay in obtaining credits in their choice of disciplines and high scores in UTME.  They still graduate at 27 and 28 before proceeding for national youth service.

By: Eunice Choko-Kayode

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