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We Must Clean Up Port Harcourt City



Hon. Osima Ginah




On the 30th of last month, Hon. Osima Ginah, Rivers State Commissioner for Urban Development was the guest of The Tide Roundtable, a weekly personality interview progamme of the Editorial Department, Rivers State Newspaper Corporation. Many know him as Mr. “Demolition” Why?.

He pulls down illegal structures and enforces urban renewal progammes of the state government. According to him, the law has been there since 2003, but what we are doing is to put them into practice.

He fielded questions on what illegal structures are, compensation payments to owners of demolished structures, water front , issues on aborigines amongst others.

Excerpts. Read on.

How would you want people to know you?

My name, Barrister Osima Ginah.  I was born 44 years ago, precisely 1st January 1965.  I attended St Michael’s State School, Angulama where I had my First School Leaving Certificate in 1978.  I then proceeded to Kalabari National College (KNC), Buguma between 1980 and 1985.  I worked briefly in 1986 and later taught in private schools until I got a job in National Population Commission where I worked for about 10 years.  I proceeded to the College of Arts and Science, Port Harcourt where I did my IJMB there in 1993-94 and in 1994-95, I was admitted to read Law in Rivers State University of Science and Technology (RSUST), Port Harcourt where I graduated in 1994 with LLB (Hon.).  I then proceeded to Nigerian Law School, Abuja and finished in 2002

I came and worked briefly with Late Dr Marshall Harry as his personal assistant for some few months.  In a view to practise my profession, I left Dr Harry and worked for about three years with a private chamber.  I started there in 2001 to 2003.  In 2004, I established my own office called Ibinabo Chambers at No. 9 Station Road Port Harcourt where I practised law for some time.

I believe I have an inner call to higher service to serve the public, so I indicated my interest to contest for Rivers State House of Assembly in Constituency II in Asari Toru Local Government Area.  Then I was a pioneer member of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) where I indicated my interest to contest for the House of Assembly seat, I really moved well and campaigned, but few weeks to the primaries I got information that my name had been removed from the register.  What would I be doing there?  Obviously it means that I will fail the primaries.  As a man, I took a bold decision and moved out of the party.  I resigned formally as a party member.  I sent my resignation letter to my Ward chairman who  acknowledged it, then I moved out of PDP to Action Congress (AC).  I continued my struggle to capture the seat but unfortunately, I lost the primaries. But as a determined politician I never gave up.  I fought harder.  It came to a stage I realised that politics is like sports.  If you don’t win, then you have to support whoever won the election.  So I supported my party to go into that election.  Unfortunately too we lost the election.  We lost the House of Assembly not only in my constituency but in the entire state and the governorship seat as well to PDP.  But we believe it was a stolen mandate, so we went to court.

At the time of fighting that battle, I became a useful instrument to my party.  My party was not buoyant.  It could not have paid so much millions to lawyers and so the responsibility was given to me to handle all the House of Assembly, National Assembly cases and the governorship petitions which I handled without kobo.

I was not paid.  It was still service to my party.  I enjoyed it.  I fought the battle, had so many challenges, threats to my life and inducement of money and property from the then government which I refused. But it came to a point when the Supreme Court gave the judgement and where Amaechi became a governor.  We looked at our strategy and I advised our governorship candidate that we don’t need to fight God-sent that we will not have a case.  And too we believe that we have so much to contribute and if we have genuine intention for the people of Rivers State then we can join Amaechi to contribute our quota.  And so at that point, we voluntarily withdrew our case from the Appeal Tribunal and that created opportunity for me to serve in government.    And I was called upon after some months to become a commissioner.  And my ministry, the Ministry of Urban Development was created; it was carved out of the Ministry of Housing and Urban Development in December 2007.

And on the 4th of April 2008, I was called upon and sworn in as the pioneer commissioner in-charge of the Ministry of Urban Development to drive the urban renewal, planning and development policy of the state vis-a-vis the vision of Governor Chibuike Rotimi Amaechi.

Are you still single and searching?

No, no, no!  Like I said, I’m about 44 years and ten months and in 2001 precisely on 11th August I got married to a pretty lady who happened to be the last child, first daughter, only daughter of her parents, then she was Elijah Tiger, now Mrs. Osima Ginah.  We have two beautiful girls who look like their daddy and mummy.

And during my service as a private practitioner, I was also elected member of Nigerian Bar Association, Port Harcourt branch.  I was the pioneer assistant secretary of the branch.  I also served in various capacities at the bar.  I was a member of Human Rights Committee.  I was a member of Inter-Governmental and Legislative Committee and it actually gave me opportunity to serve.  These offices gave me a lot of experiences on whatever I am doing.

While in secondary school, I was a Prefect.  I was the Assistant House Prefect of the Wilberforce House and that gave me first test of leadership.  At that time, the Deputy Governor was the Senior Prefect of the school so the challenges of managing students particularly in hostels in my own House gave me experience in leadership.

In my community, the Angulama Community which I called the ancient town of the Kalabari Kingdom, a community where no one knows how it came to be.  Most of us in that community believed that we came down from heaven.  Our history has it that we just found ourselves there.  You know most communities there in Kalabari came from one point or the other but our community was kept by God and we found ourselves there.  We have no history of where we came from other than that place.  We were the first settlers and every other person came to meet us there.  And the language spoken by the Kalabari people is the original language of the Angulama people.  And I was a member of the Community Development Committee (CDC); once an Assistant Secretary to the CDC, Secretary of the CDC and Secretary of my community.  Up to the time of becoming a commissioner, I was the immediate past secretary of my community.  I also served in other capacities, I was the past president, Kalabari National College, KNC Buguma, 1985 set, now the president emeritus of the Kalabari National College (KNC) Old Boys Association world wide.  That’s a big responsibility on my part.  I was also the immediate past Secretary-General of the Committee of Friends Kalabari, highly responsible intellectuals of the Kalabari Kingdom.  In these various capacities that I served, I think I learnt to fit into the public service as a commissioner.

As pioneer Commissioner of the Rivers State Ministry of Urban Development, can you give us insight of what has happened in the ministry since you came on board?

Well, the Ministry of Urban Development is a ministry created as part of the vision of His Excellency, Rt. Hon. Chibuike Rotimi Amaechi for a desired change of the face of the city of Port Harcourt and the urban cities in Rivers State.  Before the creation of the ministry and my appointment you find out that Port Harcourt has almost turned to a garbage city.  A city where Rivers people could no longer be proud of and His Excellency saw the vision that there is need for urban renewal, there is need for development control and there is need for physical planning.  And in search for a man who he believes will key into the vision and implement that policy and here I find myself.

Like I said, presently I am a member of Action Congress, we call ourselves “Be Bold Action”, we believe that the responsibility given to us is also akin to our slogan.  When I came in as the pioneer commissioner incharge of that ministry I was the only person that was different from that ministry, there has not been new appointment other than the ministerial structure; the Permanent Secretary, Director, administration Director Finance and Director PRS.  All other departments as far as we are there are inherited.  So we looked at the vision of His Excellency, in order to implement and key into that vision we found that there has already been an existing law which is called Rivers State Physical Planning and Development Law, 2003.  The law was made when the governor was a Speaker at the Rivers State House of Assembly.

The law was designed first, it abrogated all the existing laws on physical planning, development control in Rivers State and gave the responsibility of physical planning and development control to the state government, vis-à-vis the Ministry of Urban Development.

Then as a lawyer, I studied the law and now decided to move into the field.  First, our approach is that we must clean up the city.  We looked at the city and found out that over time, the government’s inability to control development, the city has been developed, a lot of illegal structures have come up and people developed without recourse to government for approval.  The ministry has responsibility to give approval for physical and structural development.  Any form of development on land must as a matter of law be approved by the Ministry of Urban Development.  Before now, it was the Department of Urban Development in the Ministry of Housing and Urban Development.  Like I said, the ministry was created in December 2007 and you have this law in 2003 so when it was a department, it was that department in the ministry that would give approvals before you put anything on the land.  So we have the responsibility to monitor every development on land, we have the responsibility to plan and implement the physical planning of the state.  We have the responsibility to carry out urban renewal of the state.  Now, before the present government came on board, these responsibilities of the Ministry or the Department of Urban Development, over time showed government inability or government not having the political will to embark upon this exercise which caused the inhabitants of the state to carry out development without control and that gave rise to shanties. That gave rise to congestions, illegal structures and that gave rise to stores coming out and blocking the right of ways.

So we looked at it and said, one of the first things to do is to clean up the city of the illegal structures.  You will agree with me that Port Harcourt is a planned city.  The colonial masters, when they came in the first time, they came in, they planned the city, although Port Harcourt has now extended beyond what we know as Port Harcourt.  Now we have the Port Harcourt City Local Government Council.  We have the Obio/Akpor.  You will all agree with me that all the areas covered by Port Harcourt City Local Government were planned.  Diobu was planned.  Ogbunabali was planned; GRA Phase I and 2 were all planned.  We have up to GRA Phase 8, Amadi Flat, Town and Borikiri were all planned areas.

So we looked at the plan and said okay we have in some areas established fence lines.  If you build outside the fence line, your property becomes illegal structure.  But don’t forget that we also have situations where government because of favouritism has aided some persons to build where they are not supposed to build.  Some areas that are sanitary lanes, government has given Certificate of Occupancy (C of O) for people to build in such areas where they are not supposed to build.  And the law said once a structure is declared illegal structure, you demolish and government will not pay compensation. But where government has aided such person since you have Certificate of Occupancy to build in such areas where you are not supposed to build; equitable principle demands that you have to pay compensation.  So we mapped out our strategies, looked at the plan, looked at the law and moved to the field.  There and then, we started demolishing illegal structures.  You can now stand from one end of the street and see the other end of the street because of the openings.  Depending on the plan you have 3,4,5 metres or 10 metres away from the edge of the road some from the centre spread of the road.  Now all those that protrude outside their fence line were all demolished as illegal structures.  Now some areas of sanitary lanes that were built where they are not supposed to build we also demolished them. But where there are claims and judgment or approval we never hesitated by recommending for payment of compensation because it is His Excellency’s prerogative but not without exercising judicially and judiciously.  What I mean by judicially and judiciously is that it must be in accordance with the provisions of the law.

To be continued

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Human Capital Development …Panacea For Poverty Reduction In Nigeria



Experts have over time emphasised the relationship between Human Capital Development (HCD), poverty reduction and good standard of living. They view human capital development in the light of increasing the number of persons who have skills, education and experience that are required for the economic growth and development of a nation. They also view it as a people -focused plan of action aimed at providing knowledge, skills and productivity for the development of a nation. The World Bank in its publication, “The-Human-Capital-Project-in-Sub-Saharan-Africa-Stories-of-Progress”, states that “Human capital, which is the sum of a population’s health, skills, knowledge, and experience, accounts for the largest share of countries’ wealth globally. “It allows everyone to reach their full potential and is increasingly becoming recognised as a primary driver of a nation’s economic growth.”
The World Bank in analysing how countries have fared with regard to HCD, stated that based on a new index, countries in Sub-Saharan Africa saw major reductions in under-five mortality between 1990 and 2015. It however, stated that “the number of children who die under the age of five mostly from avoidable causes such as complications related to respiratory infections, diarrhea, or malaria, is still high at about 2.9 million every year. “Countries such as Somalia, Chad, Central African Republic, Sierra Leone, Mali, and Nigeria have child mortality rate above 100 deaths per 1,000 live births, one of the highest in the world.” Also, according to the World Bank, Nigeria ranked 152 in the 2018 Human Capital Index (HCI). In furtherance of Nigeria’s poor rating, the World Bank 2020 HCI indicates that, “a child born in Nigeria just before the pandemic will be 36 per cent as productive when she grows up as she could be if she enjoyed complete education and full health.
“This is lower than the average for the Sub-Saharan African region (40 per cent) and Lower Middle Income countries (48 per cent).
Nigeria’s poor rating is corroborated by the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organisation (UNESCO), global data on out-of-school children, which indicated in 2022 that Nigeria has about 20 million out-of-school children. In the same vein, the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) said a new global maternal mortality report showed that 82,000 women in Nigeria die from pregnancy and childbirth-related cases annually. Part of the fallout of the Nigeria’s poor Human Capital Index unfortunately is the current surge in human capital export popularly called “Japa”, which has led to huge manpower gap in various sectors of the Nigerian economy. This capital export, which has seen doctors, nurses, teachers and other professionals leaving the shores of the country in droves, has also led to shortage of skilled manpower. This development has further affected critical sectors of the economy that are key to measuring the level of human capital development like the health and education sectors.
To find lasting solution to the problem of poor HCI, the World Development Report (WDR) 2019 stated that “investing in human capital must be a priority for governments in order for workers to build the skills in demand in the labour market. It further stated that, “governments need to enhance social protection and extend it to all people in society irrespective of the terms on which they work.” To fund these investments in human capital and social protection, the report offers some suggestions as to how governments can mobilise additional revenues by increasing tax base. In view of this reality and as part of efforts to change the narrative, the National Economic Council in March 2018, inaugurated the Human Capital Development (HCD) Programme in Nigeria. The programme is designed in recognition of the critical role human capital development plays in addressing poverty and ensuring sustainable economic growth. It is also aimed at increasing investments in the Nigerian people, thereby improving Nigeria’s human capital development indices.
The immediate past Vice President of Nigeria, Prof. Yemi Osinbajo, at a Peer Review meeting recently held for HCD State Focal Persons under the programme, said, Nigeria must accord attention to HCD to drive the desired economic growth. He emphasised that human capital development plays a critical role in addressing poverty and ensuring participatory and sustainable economic growth. The former vice president urged the focal persons not to relent in sensitising state governments to ensure the impacts of the programme were felt at the grassroots. “We have since inception made tremendous strides in the implementation of the programme at the national and sub national levels. “Notable achievements included the inauguration of the national HCD strategy, constitution of state HCD councils and technical working groups. “Others are the development of national HCD communication strategy and the organisation of regional HCD conferences as well as strategic partnerships and alliances being forged across several stakeholders’ groups,’’ he said. Osinbajo expressed optimism that the successes achieved so far would provide the needed confidence in implementing the third phase of the programme successfully.
“As we begin the third phase of the programme implementation, the objectives of this programme will be met and the 2030 HCD target will be achieved in all, across the three thematic areas (level of education, standard of living and health of humans).“This phase is crucial to national success as it would be taking HCD to the grassroots where change is most needed and advocacy critical in where the programme is adopted,’’ he said. Osinbajo said that the third phase includes the inauguration of the community-based demonstration of the HCD programme in its simplest form. He said that successes recorded could be replicated across various communities in each local government area across Nigeria. Also speaking, the Coordinator, Core Working Group, HCD in Nigeria, Ms. Yosola Akinbi, said that critical areas of the implementation and management of the programme must happen at the grassroots. While noting that HCD was the software of any development, Akinbi said “we must build a country where the skills will be retained.”
In the same vein, some of the focal persons during their state presentations, said that the core of the HCD drive was the empowerment of youths to have the capacity and skills needed in creating or seeking employment. A participant from Akwa Ibom, Mr. Isaac Uduak, narrated how Akwa Ibom State Government under the former governor, Emmanuel Udom, took labour force participation seriously through its industrialisation policy that leveraged a Public Private Partnership (PPP) to revolutionise industries in Africa. “The average Nigerian will agree that policy formulation has never been a problem, implementation is usually the challenge. “The administration of Governor Emmanuel Udom understood this and went beyond mere policy implementation to ensuring the effective execution of its industrialisation policies in creating wealth for its people,’’ Uduak said.
The Nasarawa State Focal Person, Mrs. Habiba Suleiman, said that the programme in the state was concentrating on youth development. According to her, the Nasarawa State Government through the HCD Office with OXFAM in Nigeria as funding partners had trained youths in courses such as Team Building, Work Ethics and Business Model Canvas. “Others are Problem Solving, Presentation Skills, Telephone Etiquette, Customer Service among others,’’ she said.
In the account of the Adamawa State delegate, Mr. Amos Nuhu, the state under the programme built the capacity of 1, 000 health workers while improving the utilisation of child health and nutrition. “In addition, we have 10 skills acquisition centres and we are providing technical knowledge to improve efficiency for Small and Medium Enterprises (SMEs) in shoes and bags making. “More so, the state has its priorities in education through training and retraining of teachers as well as operating free education at the basic level,’’ Nuhu said.
Meanwhile, working in line with the vision to develop human capital in the country, the immediate past governor of Delta State, Ifeanyi Okowa, had also pledged the state’s commitment to developing the human capital crucial in the growth of industries. He said, “we will work with the entire Nigeria to ensure that we develop the human capital which is needed for the growth of industries. Analysts have opined that the new leadership of the states and the nation should give prior attention to the issue of Human Capital Development, take the works of their predecessors in this regard to higher level and initiate some projects and programmes, where they are lacking, so that more Nigerians will be equipped to contribute to the development of their states and the country at large.
They said that leaders across the three tiers of government should play down on amassing public funds for themselves and generations yet unborn and rather use these monies to rebuild the various sectors of the nation’s economy so that Nigeria will be a better place to live in.

By: Calista Ezeaku

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That Drowning Dino Melaye’s Outburst Against Wike



Spewing from the cesspit of imaginary invincibility and bubbling with the arrogance of ignorance and like a nattering nitwit, in his usual juvenile fulminations, verbal diarrhea and audacious mendacity, the silver-tongued Dino Melaye who has been hovering around the skylines of political failures threw a java with such intensity as to make a gravy silence impossible. He was casting aspersions in a most vile and vituperative language and in such depraved light to a man who has been adjudged as a metaphor for promises made and kept, a performance personified, a manifesto copied, a social contract executed and in the legal profession, a life bencher.

Amongst his counterparts “Mr. Project” and further embellished as “Mr. Quality Project”. In the Northern political hemisphere “Sarki Yarki” a sobriquet for political warlord. The man at the center of Dino’s tantrums is Governor Nyesom Wike of Rivers state.
Dino granted an interview with the ambassadors of the fourth realm estate in his bid to play to the gallery but ended up reaffirming the invigorating words of Dr. Burns that “it is better to keep silent and be thought a fool than to speak and remove all doubts”. In that verbal show of shame, he admitted that Governor Wike supported him in hard currency and otherwise in 2019 in his fruitless political journey to captain the ship of Lugard House because Governor Wike saw capacity and competence in him, but today he has withdrawn his support to show Wike’s unstable character. Wrong Dino! Even the Bible said that Satan was perfect in all things until iniquity was found in him – Ezekiel 28:15. Yes! Dino failed to tell the world that Governor Wike later discovered that he was a native cymbal loud in noise but empty in content which translated him to be a very bad political investment.

Who in his right senses will reinvest in an unprofitable venture? He listed out Governor Wike’s failed political investments in Sandi Olu of Cross River, Albert in Akwa Ibom but mischievously and surreptitiously omitted Dino Melaye of Kogi state. What an incomplete trinity! What a despicable irony of intellectual hypocrisy. Little wonder with his nine acclaimed degrees, a former member of the House of Representatives, a two-time senator and a former aid to the president of the federal republic of Nigeria, the good people of Kogi state saw the word “meretricious” in Dino, meaning: seemingly attractive but without value, and they did not hesitate to throw his vaulting ambition to the trash bin in 2019. Instead of Dino to go back to the drawing board, have a sober reflection and reinvent himself and reintegrate himself to the society, he is busy with a matchet clearing shrubs and bushes for his political Golgotha. That was where Governor Wike was drawing his allusions from when he posited that it is not about presenting a candidate but a candidate that can win election.

It is on record that Dino Melaye is reputed for his hollow mindedness in dishing out noxious vituperations, venomous invectives and narrow parochial attack on elders and champions in giant strides and track records in Nigerian political firmament to foist his voice on unwilling audience. He did that to former President Goodluck Jonathan, to the (president elect) Bola Ahmed Tinubu and now to Governor Wike. Many Nigerians are wondering the efficacious potency of Peter Orubebe’s serum on Dino by his toutish, disgusting display of dishonor at the Abuja collation center in his failed attempt to disrupt the 2023 general election process. Today, Goodluck Jonathan is much celebrated as an ambassador of peace. Political events have shown that a Tinubu in the wheelbarrow is more competent than Dino’s preferred presidential candidate. Governor Wike’s preferred successor has emerged as the Governor-elect of Rivers state. Ayu has been shown the way out. Tambuwal has summersaulted from the highest rung of respect. Sanwo Olu made it in Lagos state. The unsuccessful G-5 Governors have realized that they were the architect of their own fate. They lit the candle and allowed it to burn with the unfortunate end. In political investment like other business investments, you win some and loose some.

Again, Dino Melaye threatened to open his can of worms and maggots on Governor Wike and by extension would make a skit, sing and release album on him. He forgot he was addressing a character and personality that is not too docile to dare. Governor Wike is not perturbed because he has gained freedom from fear tailored by the likes of Dino because Wike is ever ready to face him in any style of the macabre dance that may arise from such conspiracy of cheap blackmail. Worse still, in Dino’s unscrupulous attempt to throw dust on intellectuality, he ended up loading a full cartridge riffle and started shooting himself on the leg by accusing Governor Wike of stealing Rivers state money. Is the intellectually mobile fine boy Dino telling the world that he was actually cladded to look boisterous and attractive to gain acceptability and credibility from Kogi state people with Rivers state stolen money? Is Dino guilty of receiving stolen money? It then follows that if events are properly evaluated, the psychotic disorderliness, mental fatigue and problem upstairs was a direct result obtained from Dino’s personal medical physician.

The self-obfuscating Dino prided himself of being more qualified to be a Governor than Governor Wike. He further asserted that “the territory which Governor Wike is trying to practice is his own primary constituency”. One wonders the logic in such utterance. Has Dino Melaye ever tasted Executive power? Governor Wike is brandished with an unquestionable and robust political pedigree and personality spanning from a two-term Local Government Chairman, Chief of Staff to former Governor Rotimi Amaechi, Minister for state Education, Supervisory Minister of State and by May 29th 2023 he would’ve concluded his two-term tenure as Governor of Rivers state. If the linguistic summersault is anything to go by, who is laboring to practice in the other’s primary constituency? A sheer case of “if you want to talk, don’t drink. And if you drink, don’t talk”.

As a party chieftain in PDP, Governor Wike has been as consistent and constant as the Nothern star, yet political prostitutes like Dino Melaye had the temerity to use such foul language as zero-integrity character on Governor Wike. As someone grounded in Yoruba language, Dino Melaye chose to identify himself with a pariah status and a tag identification of treacherous people (gbegboron) when he said “my primary business is other people’s businesses”. This invariably includes knowing the type of clothes people wear, knowing the time the speaker of the House of Representatives arrives, knowing who was smiling, frowning, when a bill was mentioned in the Senate, who called him and how many times. This is the height of pettiness. See him at his lowest ebb, shame!
Let us burst Dino Melaye’s bubble as to whether Governor Wike is preparing to leave the Brick House come May 29th 2023. Governor Wike is the only Governor in Rivers state who has chosen to leave the government house two years before the expiration of his tenure and has been receiving all manner of political candidates cutting across political divides in his own residence. And he is not intellectually impotent as not to know his last day in office, he also reiterated these facts in his address at the dinner party held in his honor for receiving the Award for Infrastructural delivery by President Muhammadu Buhari.

Cynics may cheer and congratulate Dino for his pyrrhic victory at the just concluded PDP primaries in Kogi state but one is tempted to add that there are some victories that are worse than defeat. Dino by his earlier vituperation have succeeded in turning the incumbent Governor against himself, the president elect who he has been derogating in a most uncharitable manner during PDP campaign rallies and now to the political juggernauts in PDP. All political amoury is now let loose against Dino Melaye. If one is given the option to choose between laughing first and to laugh last, one would rather opt to laugh last.

By: Nkem Oputa

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May 29: Where Next Nigeria?



Now, Nigeria is without form and void. Darkness covers the face of the deep and the unquiet Spirit is hovering over the land. Africa’s most populous country is at a fresh dangerous crossroads. At the beginning when darkness covered the earth, God said: ‘’Let there be Light,’’ and there was light. Now, Nigeria needs a leader who will command light to outshine the country’s darkness and exorcise the unquiet spirit. Once a country returns to factory-reset mode or Hobbes’s state of nature: Optimism, Peace and Hope disappear, none of our important human needs is reliably realizable in such a milieu.
Indeed, the perfect storm is already gathering, killer herdsmen have since cut short their vacation, they visited an IDP camp in Benue state and massacred over 128 internally displaced people mostly pregnant women and children recently, before zooming off to Sokoto, they had a stopover in Kaduna where reckless kidnapping and killings took place. The DSS came out publicly to declare that the State of the Union is fragile as some VIPs are scheming for something strange to the constitution, threatening that the price of holding the May 29th change of baton event amounts to the death of democracy! Those calling for an interim government seem to be suffering from amnesia, I believe. How productive and stable was Nigeria in 1993 under Chief Ernest Shonekan as Head of ING? Even though protest is part of democracy but due to our peculiarities, unbridled protests at this perilous time can snowball into an uncontrollable disaster. Political protests in a nation-state can bring about a positive change or in some cases, revolution: France, Russia, and Sri Lanka as case studies. However, in a fragile heterogeneous society like Nigeria, political protests often lead to civil war: Ivory Coast, Syria, Rwanda and Fiji as case studies. The youths are fragmented along the nation’s fault lines, which is why the elites must be circumspect in their utterances. Somalia began like this before it became a failed state bereft of a central authority. The court remains the last hope of all aggrieved politicians.
No doubt, Nigerians are hurting for various reasons, how long can we run away from discussing the Nigeria Question?  To achieve a peaceful, prosperous and stable Nigeria (PPSN), we need to balance the national equation by either allowing: (a) credible, free and fair elections, or (b) equitable sharing of power among the nationalities, regions and religions in an unadulterated federation, (America model) or (C) considerable autonomy for each nationality in a loose confederation, (Switzerland spec) or (d) self-determination through a referendum for nationalities that desire to exit the union (Czechoslovakia option). Therefore, PPSN= A or B. But where A & B are unavailable or impossible, C or D may become inevitable.
Nigeria faces four possibilities today: Breakout, Breakeven, Bronze or Breakdown. Differently put, Nigeria can become a Gold Medallist (i.e. become Great) or a Silver Medallist (i.e. Good) or Bronze Medallist (3rd world) or Grounded (failed State, CKD- Completely Knocked Down) depending on the choices we make today. To achieve a breakout requires abundant decentralization with a new people’s constitution that contains a referendum clause. This will put an end to the do-or-die struggle for power at the Centre, reduce corruption and wastage, and enthrone accountability and healthy competition among the federating regions. There is no heterogeneous society anywhere or at any time in history that is governed centrally the way Nigeria is, that escaped circular crises, retrogression and eventual disintegration. The lifespan of severely mismanaged countries is about 70 years! The early bird civilization, Europe, fought themselves to a standstill for 100 years before they embraced restructuring, which begot relative peace and unprecedented prosperity. China, South Korea, Singapore, Norway, UAE etc. are new gold medalists.
The second possibility is breakeven (Silver medal). Through a comprehensive reconstruction of the economy’s architecture, running a lean government (e.g. sales of all government assets starting with NNPC, etc. This will reduce corruption by 80% as governance would depend solely on an effective taxation regime. Square pegs would go inside square holes when the government exits the business. Businesses in Scandinavian countries pay up to 50% tax on net profit which enables them to build an egalitarian society with the lowest crime rate in the world. Thailand, India, Turkey etc. are silver medalists.
To win the bronze medal, Nigeria needs to strengthen her institutions, deepen the rule of law, modernize her infrastructure and build harmonious bridges across various nationalities and boost productivity, tame corruption. Rwanda,  Bulgaria, and Indonesia are some examples bronze medalists.
The fourth possibility is CKDN – Completely Knocked Down Nigeria, i.e.  Breakdown/ Grounded, enmeshed in unwinnable, forever war. Failed states like Lebanon, Syria, Yemen, Iraq, Venezuela (with the world’s highest oil reserves of over 300 billion barrels) Somalia, Afghanistan etc. behaved like an ostrich for too long, ignoring the signals, sound and odour of disintegration. America’s CIA had strongly warned Nigeria in 2015 about CKDN! The incoming administration should, instead of continuing to administer “pain-killer drugs”, go for a “pain-remover surgical operation”! Nigeria’s vital organs (liver, kidney, eyes, lung and heart) are all too weak and failing, pumping Nigeria with more ‘’Panadol’’ or ‘Panadol Extra’ will ultimately lead to stroke. Nigeria should be wheeled immediately to the emergency theatre for a ‘’pain-remover surgical operation’’.
*Lessons from Breakout Nations*!
All breakout nations got four variables right simultaneously: workable structure, sound strategy, competent leadership, and ethically ‘’born-again’’ population. Nigeria’s emphasis has been largely on strategy: visions 2000, 2010, and 2020, the 7-point agenda of YarAdua, the Transformation agenda of Jonathan and the 63-point agenda of the Buhari administration- ignoring the other three variables. The result has been repeated failures and frustrations. There is also the Leadership illusion, i.e. that all Nigeria needs to become a gold medallist is just one ‘Messiah’. No. For any country to win a gold medal, those four variables must be present.
Nigeria cannot be great without a Cultural Revolution, i.e. national rebirth coupled with structural reforms. Everyone seems unhappy about Nigeria’s stunted growth, pointing accusing fingers. The university dons who practice sex for marks, the media empire who built their wealth on blackmail and cash-for-awards, the spare parts importers who import substandard spare parts from China that cause road accidents and deaths, the Pharmacists that import fake drugs from India leading to an outbreak of diabetes and kidney failures, the businessmen who became rich on fraudulent fuel subsidy and kick back on tax weavers, the Pastors and Imams who use offerings and tithes and gifts meant for the general wellbeing of their members and the society to buy private jets and marry 4 wives, the Yahoo Yahoo! Youths, the corrupt civil servants who pocket 80% of the contract sum as kick-backs, the artisans and market women who abuse customers trust, the disabled people on the road who help criminals hide their guns and the terrorists among us are all complaining about the sorry situation Nigeria without first removing the log in their own eyes. Before their respective cultural revolutions, life was short, brutish and nasty in both China and South Korea. We urgently need to have a conversation on national rebirth as a people.
*10 +1 Commandments for the President-elect*
1 Thou shall not remove the remaining fuel subsidy until you have substantially removed the youth’s pains.
2 There is an urgent need to embark on the following 7Rs: reconciliation, recalibration, rebirth, re-education, re-industrialization, re-construction and rebranding.
Remember that Czar Nicholas 11 (1868- 1918) crowned in 1894 was the last Russian emperor. He was stubborn and underestimated the hunger and anger of the Russians after WW1, he ignored the signals and sounds of the hopelessness of Russians by refusing to carry out necessary and quick economic reforms that would bring abundance and hope to his people. Thus Nicholas 11 was forced to abdicate on March 15th, 1817, through popular uprising and on July 17th, 1918, Emperor Nicholas and his entire family and their closest associates were gruesomely murdered, and their remains soaked with acid and burnt, thus ending the 300-year-old Romanov’s dynasty rule.
3 Thou shall not fill your Cabinet with recycled, corrupt political jobbers.
Allow those ‘’flying CVs’’ to remain in the air forever. Those who can make Nigeria a peak performer and Gold medalist are already too busy to be flying their CVs around. Getting them would only be through headhunting and serious persuasion. Those corrupt, recycled characters lobbying to serve have little or nothing to offer since Nigeria became the world’s poverty capital under their watch, they don’t deserve a second chance.
4 Thou shall prioritize meritocracy. Nothing is wrong in advertising certain critical cabinet positions such as Ministers of Finance, Education, ICT, Solid Minerals and Petroleum
5 Thou shall not appoint yourself as Petroleum Minister. Presidents OBJ and PMB did it, they both failed.
Of all the OPEC countries, Nigeria is the only one that does oil business at a loss. Nigeria has the lowest per capita income and weakest national currency among the major oil exporting countries. Prosperity is a rule among OPEC countries except Nigeria. In 45 years, Nigeria recorded profits only in two years but it was  *rat profits* For instance, Saudi Arabia posted a whopping profit of $161 billion in 2022.Norway (average sales of 1.2mbd) has in her Sovereign Wealth a gargantuan sum of $1.3Trillion, and in 2020 during C-19 when Nigerians were severely hurting and hungry, Norway realised the sum of $180billion profit from her oil investments dividends in technology companies. Here is a simple example of  national insanity: Nigeria’s total profits from her sales of oil in 45 years were N287 billion in 2020 and N674 billion in 2021 i.e. N961 billion or $1.2billion (@N750:$1) gross. The total money in the Nigeria Sovereign Investment Authority (NSIA) is about N1.02 Trillion (i.e. $1.2 billion vs Norway’s $1.3 trillion, less than 1% of Norway’s Sovereign wealth.
The advertisement for the position of Petroleum Minister should read: *Nigeria needs a person who can bring the cost of sales and profit per barrel of crude oil exploration and processing to be at par or close to that of Norway, Saudi Arabia or UAE, plus or minus 20% environmental exigencies* What is wrong with headhunting Norway’s Minister of Petroleum and Energy (Terje Aasland) as the next Nigeria’s Minister of Petroleum, under a management contract of 90:10 profit sharing in favour of Nigeria? He made about $90 billion selling 1.2mbd for Norway in 2022. After all, we have people from the Niger Republic holding sensitive public offices in Nigeria. Conversely, we have had Nigerians as Ministers of Economy in Togo and Justice in the Gambia. And Nigerians are holding sensitive cabinet positions in America and the UK.
6 Thou shall create two new Ministries: Ministry of Future to be headed by a Nigeria prodigy, likely under 30 years of age. Two, the Ministry of Renewable Energy. The future would be dominated by Space innovations and Artificial Intelligence (Ai). The bus is already moving, our youths cannot afford to be bus conductors, they should be in the front seat of the 4.0 revolution. Furthermore, the market value of the renewable energy business is forecast to be more than $ 2 trillion by 2030, whereas oil has less than 40 years before it becomes satchet water.
7 Thou shall abolish the office of *Aso Rock CABAL* because it is unconstitutional and anti people.The ‘’cabal’’ engineered the annulment of the June 12, 1993 election according to IBB. GEJ’s Cabal made him clueless. PMB’s Cabal held him, hostage, in the Villa according to PMB’s wife, Aisha Buhari. Allowing your closest political and business associates, the Vice President or your wife or son or daughter to form a new cabal is like signing an irrevocable MoU with failure, because the ‘’Cabal’’ is not on record for positive contributions.
8 Foreign Policy: thou shall not drag Nigeria into the China-America-Russia supremacy battle. There is a window of commercial opportunity worth $250 billion in the energy sector that has opened up in Europe as a result of the Russia-Ukraine war which the incoming administration can harvest. The geopolitics sands are shifting but smart nations like Israel are playing it safe: Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu is smartly cutting deals with Russia’ Putin, China Xi and America’s Biden simultaneously without dropping any of the 3 balls for the overall benefits of his people.
9 Thou shall not waste the Globalization crisis: There is a gradual sunset on globalization: Japan is relocating most of its factories from China to Japan. America is building a new semiconductor factory in Arizona, as I write, to reduce its vulnerability in Asia which controls 70% of the global semiconductor output, Germany is looking inward for its energy needs etc. Today, Regionalization and nationalism are coming back as valedictory services are being held for Globalisation, even in her home country, America. Nigeria should optimize the AfCFTA opportunities, as most of what Nigeria needs to succeed can be found inside her ‘’Sokoto’’, why travel to Sokoto?10 Global hunger crisis is real: thou shall prioritize food security from day one: an empty sack cannot stand. Globally, 10% of the population has little or nothing to eat and 70% of them are in Africa. About 133 million Nigerians are living below the poverty line. However, there is zero chance of solving the food crisis in Nigeria without first addressing the security challenges posed by the Fulani herdsmen. The Vice President’s (Shettima) first task should be to head the ANTI-TERRORISM TASK FORCE (ATTF) that will end terrorism in Nigeria within your first 100 days in office.
10+1: Thou shall not complain: likely, you would soon lose two vital things: sleep and smiles! As you peruse Aso Rock’s ‘’top secret’’ books, which would most likely be like a horror movie with stomach-churning violence. Every country has ‘’classified information’’ meant for the C-in-C eyes only. My intellectual guess is that the horror movie would contain scary graphic details of Nigeria’s deplorable basket of trouble, e.g. the high debt profile, NNPC woes and possible bankruptcy of Nigeria within months, not years, the implication of a 40% youth unemployment rate, list of untouchable VIPS behind oil bunkering and political terrorism. The reason behind the dubious CBN complicated naira exchange rates and those profiteering from it, details of irrevocable agreements to service with China and the West. There will also be pressure from the World Bank and America on the removal of the remaining fuel subsidy, caustic antagonism from different quarters for different reasons and how to fulfil the election IoUs which you gave to different power blocks, etc., etc.
Poverty and pains have no equilibrium, therefore, the situation can even get worse with the possibility of a cascading crisis within the first 100 days, as it happened in 1999 when OBJ took over and in 2011 with GEJ. Nonetheless, be strong, courageous, and audacious. Thou shall not complain, for thou waited, toiled and prayed for 30 years, now is your hour, seize the moment.
To fix Nigeria is like cooking stones for dinner, the water and the fire dry up quickly, yet the stones remain uncooked and squeezing water out of the stone becomes impracticable! The statistics is scary but true: 30% of the past ‘’Nigeria’s chef’’ expired suddenly or got violently killed on duty, another 30% were forcefully and unceremoniously disgraced out of the kitchen while the reaming 40% are still baffled (some incapacitated) till today asking ‘’what went wrong, how and why did I fail’’. It is like a zero-sum game for Nigeria’s chef. Worse still, the outgoing administration has used the last political ‘’LIFELINE’’. The youths are tired of the Aso-Rock sermon of *dinner-not-ready, they want DINNER NOW*!
In all this, there is hope, transforming a complex country is not rocket science, it is doable. In recent world history, three outstanding leaders found themselves in similar situations and seized the moment, and against all odds, squeezed the water out of stones. However, the three didn’t loot the treasury and didn’t allow their associates to loot. Indeed, they killed their kleptomaniac associates. They practiced meritocracy. My favourite books in my library are Ben Gurion, the man who created Israel, The Story of Singapore by Lee Kuan Yew and Deng Xiaoping and The Transformation of China. Unarguably, Gurion, LKY and Deng were nothing short of miracle workers. Can we replicate what happened in China, Singapore and Israel in Nigeria? Yes.
*Pathway to Silver or Bronze Medals*
Smart nations are run the way Apple or Google run their businesses. There are five questions which smart transformative CEOs ask when trying to make an Elephant dance. Nigeria needs to ask those five questions as well. One, what is left on the table that Nigeria can grab quickly and use as a stepping stone, or make better- X+1?
Two, what is coming next on the horizon that we can enjoy the “first-mover advantage”? Three, what capability as a nation do we have?
Four, what capabilities do we need?
Five, how do we get there from here? All smart nations (South Korea, India, Singapore, Taiwan, Malaysia, Israel, UAE, Sweden, Norway, Germany etc. without exception built their respective successes on those five pillars.
Indian elites took a bet on software as a business (the first India Institute of Technology- IIT, was established in 1951, in Kharagpur). Today, Indians in the diaspora remit over $100 billion yearly back home and most of the global technology companies are run by Indians. Taiwan bet on chip making and established the world’s first semiconductor foundry, TSMC in 1987. Today, no Taiwan, no civilization! South Korea’s economy runs on five legs: electronics, telecommunications, automobile manufacturing, shipbuilding and steel. Today, Samsung Electronics alone contributes about 17% to the GDP of South Korea, realizing $246 billion in 2022, i.e. more than five times Nigeria’s yearly oil revenue. China zeroed in on building competence in the Global Supply Chain. Within 30 years, China went from zero to hero. Of the 100 countries I have studied in the last 10 years, the Thailand model fascinated me greatly. Thailand with about 70,000 villages, set up what is called ‘’ONE TOMBON, ONE PRODUCT’’, with a beautiful slogan- ‘Local Wisdom, Goes Global’. Each village (Tombon) has a product (based on their cultural and environmental competitive advantage) that they focus on and each village builds an ecosystem for backward and forward integration around it. Nigeria can start with the 774 local government councils: *One Council, One Product*- *OCOP*.  For instance, the Benin people are the world’s best of all time in Bronze making, we need to build a Bronze making industry ecosystem there in, for export. This can fetch over $1billon yearly income.
*Questions & Answers for Nigeria*
1 What is left?
Answer: There are four major revolutions on going as I write: Electric Vehicles Revolution, (EVR),  Space innovations, 4.0 skills, and Global Food crisis affecting 800 million hungry people worldwide. Those four problems constitute the new opportunities.
2 What’s next?
Answer:  Space commercialization, Defence innovations, Artificial intelligence solutions, Medical breakthrough in incurable diseases, Climate change solutions, currencies innovations.
3 What capabilities does Nigeria have: robust population of 220million with 52% youths, 40% arable land, a huge diaspora population, Dangote, and about 270 types of mineral and natural resources (only Chinese know the exact numbers, locations, and quantities and quality- I am not exaggerating!), Atlantic Ocean, Sambisa Forest, Lagos, AfCFTA, abundant sun and favorable climate, Diverse nationalities, untapped Africa market, etc.
4 What capabilities do we need?
Answer:  rebirth, recalibration, elite consensus, re-industrialization, youth employment, infrastructural modernization, technology solutions to combat desert encroachment in the North and purposeful leadership, etc.
5 How do we get there from here?
Answer: Electrical vehicles are the future, by 2030, Europe will stop the production of vehicles using gasoline. By 2032, 75% of American vehicles will be EVs. Interestingly,Nigeria is one of the few countries in the world that has all the eight mineral resources required to build a complete ecosystem for EV manufacturing: Cobalt in Kano, Lithium, Nickel, Cooper, Graphite, Zinc, Manganese and Rare Earths. They are all available in Kaduna, Nasarawa, Kogi, Plateau, Benue, Borno, Adamawa, Kebbi, Cross Rivers Katsina and Ekiti.
There will be an unusual quantum leap in EVs businesses.
Nigeria should build a new ‘’renewable energy hub’’ that will employ over a million youths within the next two years through private initiatives. The leading global battery supplier, CATL which controls 34% of the world’s EV batteries should be invited to site its factory in Nigeria for the European market fulfilment. Nigeria is closer to Europe than China. And instead of the crude ways Chinese employ currently to steal some of there mineral resources that is the source of unending communal crisis in some part of Nigeria, let us sit down with the Chinese to stop the *Monkey Business* and let us do a clean and proper win- win EVs related businesses, going forward.
The global electric car market was valued at $229b in 2021 and is projected to reach $700 billion in 2030 growing at 17.30% yearly.
Another one million youths can be absorbed and become gainfully employed through innovative and customized JAPA INITIATIVES plus the New Business Process Outsourcing package (NBPO), using the instrumentality of 4.0 industrial revolutions solutions and skills. From NBPO, Nigeria can begin to earn up to $ 50 billion in inflows from June 2024 I.e. *delicious food is ready within 12 months* The Philippines is number two globally in BPO, and India is number one. Nigeria can be number three: *the youths are ready when the government is ready*  There is no better sector to invest in the $800 million World Bank grant than NBPO (RoI is massive and fast, with no competition). Concomitantly, Nigeria would need to create two new banks: Nigeria Start-Ups Bank (NSB) and Nigeria Diaspora Bank (NDB). The existing banking solutions are not enough to harvest the emerging massive opportunities in the ongoing professional demographics shifts.
To fix another one million unemployed youths, the 800 million hungry population worldwide need food, food, and food. Using the latest precision agricultural technology, Nigeria’s Middle Belt can feed half of the world’s hungry people profitably, when and if the heads men killings stop.
We also need to get Dangote Refinery up and running since yesterday to conserve 70% of our dollars  spent on fuel importation.
Even if the federal government has to take additional 20% equity (but transparently valued this time around), the risk is worth taking. The Dangote ecosystem would take about 500,000 Nigerians out of poverty including market women selling table water and nuts to the staff of the refinery. Dangote must work and walk, NOW!
All said Nigeria can fix 5 million youths in quality, high-paying jobs within the next 24 months, generate a fresh $50 billion revenue inflow from innovative programs aiming at assisting the naira gain a full erection and reflate the economy. Before the C-19 pandemic, one company in Taiwan had about 0ne million employees (5% of the population) on its payroll. Just one company! In 2022, Walmart had about 2.3 million employees and realized a revenue of $ 600 billion. Nigeria’s environment should be made fertile for mega businesses to germinate and thrive,  where the likes of Foxconn and Walmart would be replicated here
Africa has been anxiously waiting for the Elephant (Nigeria) in the room to arise and dance, likewise the entire black race. Nigeria cannot afford to continue to move in circles like the Barber’s chair. Nations perish for lack of three things: knowledge, vision and political will. Everything is possible, including winning a GOLD, Silver, Bronz or CKD medals, depending on the choices we make today!
Going forward, let us reason, talk and choose wisely, for all we have is this tiny but fantastically blessed 923,768 sq. km piece of land in the Cosmos filled with milk and honey, sugar, chess and butter plus! Paradoxically, Nigerians scarcely cherish their own country. While globally, Nigerians are viewed pitiably, secretly, however, our land is the envy of all- no competition. None. Honest!

By: Tim Akano
Akano writes from Abuja.

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