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Any Option For Power Privatisation?

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There are several indices currently calling on the Federal Government to quickly revoke the said Privatization Policy of the Power Sector.
First, is the persistent power outage. The steady increase in demand for electric power without its equivalent supply has resulted in a consistent power failure. Currently, more  communities and cities are lamenting such persistent power outage
With a population approximated at 180 million people, according to the National Bureau of Statistics, obsolete KVA lines traversing several kilometers, as well as old and ill-maintained equipment are still used. It is, therefore, not out of place that the constant breakdown of such overused equipment; poor maintenance culture and a huge managerial inefficiency are already waging war against some top beneficiaries of the said privatization policy.
While they remained adamant at depriving the public of electric power and losing investors on a daily basis, couple with their failure to offer adequate electricity supply for both local businesses as well as domestic consumption, the cry  of most small and medium-scale business owners could play out in the current debate against the so-called privatization agreement.
Secondly, investors who have benefitted from the said privatization policy appeared to have failed woefully in keeping to the agreement that gave rise to their services. Since the formation of the Nigerian Electricity Regulatory Commission (NERC), the independent regulatory agency,  as provided in the Electric Power Sector Reform Act (2005) were assigned with the task of  issuing licences to individuals who were ready to operate within clearly stipulated terms, as well as operating guidelines.
Owners of the distribution companies who keyed into the  terms and conditions that gave rise to such  public services were to be guided by their integrity, honesty and responsibility. Not only were they expected to meet the growing demand of Nigerians in the area of power distributions, but also to ensure that all conditions necessary for a smooth flow of their relationship with the public were satisfied.
But today, the reverse appears to be the case. One would wonder if the shortcomings in their service should be attributed to  the Federal Government failing to keep its own side of the agreement or, if the blame should now be shared between them and the public.
But sad enough, the key private players in the power sector appear not to be responsive to the outcry of the public; but  seem to have  remained  rather incurably addicted to persistent power outage; constant disagreement between their workers and the end consumers while they continue to offer dissatisfied services to individuals, corporate organizations and public ventures.
Again, several years have witnessed their inability to address, not only the high monthly electricity bills, but also the decree of fluctuations involved in the bills. Industrial and domestic consumers have continued to lament the persistent hike witnessed in their monthly electricity bills.
In this regard, their actions appear to have eaten up the primary aim of privatization, and the aim of providing for more efficiency and alleviate the electricity burden on the poor consumers appears to have been woefully defeated. Even in some quarters where individuals from  some electricity distribution offices would still present some monthly electric bills to innocent consumers who have witnessed total blackout all through the said month, the agony and plight of such end-consumers appear to have received less publicity in the media.
Another area of concern is the high cost of meters as well as the process and several barriers one must suffer in order to get a meter. The chances of procuring a meter and having them installed should be re-examined since the electricity meters are responsible for reading and establishing the billing circle and it’s used to quantify the precise amount of energy consumed within a specific period of time.
Yet, key players in the sectors appear inactive in their responsibility of allocating and installing these meters on request. Since 2013 when the private sector took over part of the task of supplying meters to the final consumers, the huge metering gap seems not to have been narrowed.
This has resulted in the inability of the sector to regulate between the consumption rate and the exact amount the suppliers of electricity would need in order to remain in business.
Persistent public views have proved that the so-called giants of power distribution have remained reluctant in measuring the actual electricity consumption per kilowatt hour. Consequently, in some quarters, individuals have continued to witness huge electricity bills on monthly basis.
Despite several legislation aimed at averting this hurtful trends, end-users have continued to suffer wrongly since they have not truly been liberated from this huge plight.
Today, it appears that the problems facing the power sector has worsen than it was before the privatization policy was initiated, and individuals who have been so quiet and patient are now calling for a total overhauling of the said privatization policy.
Now that their failure is greater than what they themselves could imagine, and the innocent eyes of meaningful individuals, organizations, corporate bodies and public functions can now  see through, one would want to ask whether the present administration should be more proactive and forceful at reviewing and revoking the Privatization Agreement on Power Distribution, or remain indifferent?
James wrote from Port Harcourt.

 

John James

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Opinion

Who Is A Patriot?

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The Oxford Dictionary defines a patriot as someone who vigorously supports his country and is prepared to defend it against enemies or detractors. A patriot is he, who is interested in the unity, progress and development of the country and will not keep quiet and watch things go wrong in the country. On the other hand, the National Ethics and Integrity Policy refers to patriotism as love of one’s country and willingness to defend it. This means, that one who truly loves the country should be ready to fight or speak up against corruption, tribalism, nepotism, injustice, selfishness, lack of productivity in the public service, marginalisation in the public and private sectors, poor governance and other dysfunctional attitudes of Nigerians, both the leaders and the led, which are destroying the nation.
This topic has become important because of the way the word “patriot” is being branded lately in our society. Some people now regard anyone who criticises the government or the leaders as being unpatriotic. Citizens asking questions of their leaders is interpreted as unpatriotic. You call government’s attention to the on-going industrial action by members of the Academic Staff Union of Universities (ASUU), which has kept the students of public universities at home for almost half a year, and someone terms you “unpatriotic”. Two days ago, someone called during a radio programme, complaining of the hike in airfares and the difficulties the citizens are facing in moving from place to place – bad roads, kidnappings and killings on the road. As a matter of fact, he said he just returned from Kaduna to Abuja on road and needed to go and check his blood pressure because of the soaked tension and fear he was in throughout the journey. Behold, he could hardly finish talking when another person called, accusing him of being unpatriotic and creating unnecessary tension in the land.
Any report that puts the government in bad light on account of its numerous failures is frowned at and the reporter is seen as being anti-government and unpatriotic. The Minister of Information and Culture, Lai Mohammed, displayed a similar attitude  last week when he threatened that the federal government will sanction Trust TV, a television owned by Media Trust Group, and the BBC over their stories on bandits in the North. The minister termed the separate documentaries, by the two media organisations, which exposed the activities of the gangs making life difficult for Nigerians, as glorification of terrorism and banditry in Nigeria. And the media he called “oxygen that terrorists and bandits use to breathe”.
For Mohammed and his fellow regime apologists or rather “patriots”, helpless Nigerians, the victims of insecurity, economic hardship, misrule that have become the lot of the country for several years,  should not even groan. Everybody should pretend that all is well. Everyone should join him in telling foreign investors to discountenance the reports on insecurity in Nigeria and come and invest their money in the country, even when he knows that the lives of these investors may be at stake. Is Lai telling the media to  turn the other way when they see things going wrong in the country, when they see the citizens being slaughtered daily like chickens, so they will be good, patriotic citizens.?
Mohammed Lai’s “patriotic”Nigerians are those who never condemn the evil ways of their principals and associates. They are bystanders to the anomalies in the land, always call white black. If you have them on any social platform, the platform will continually be in turmoil because they are ever ready to lash out on any one who criticises their principal and their preferred political party. They do not want to engage and possibly allow triumph of superior argument, opinions and facts. Neither do they want their official propaganda lines to be questioned.
Someone should please call these “patriots” to order,   tell them that they are far from being true patriots because a true patriot does not consider his personal comfort and wellbeing above the good of the generality of the people. A true patriot defends the nation against misrule, high cost of governance, insensitivity of those in authority to the plights of the citizens. A patriot worth his salt will not be comfortable when a few selfish, elected politicians at local, state and federal levels are pushing our fatherland to the cliff, and are bent on tripping it over in 2023. A true patriot considers any bystander, who watches the Nigerian ship sinking without doing anything as a traitor. He calls a spade a spade and does not support evil for a pot of porridge.
It is therefore high time we did something to salvage the current poor state of the nation. We may all not be the president, governors, lawmakers or what have you. but at least, we can quit condoning, supporting the flawed leadership in the country. The truth is that we have no other country than Nigeria. Yes, some may have dual citizenship but definitely, there is no country like your country of origin. So, if we fold our hands and watch the country sink, we shall all bear the brunt. Someone recently wrote concerning the insecurity in the country, “If you think they are not here, that’s a gaffe. And if you price your personal comfort at your “dinning table”, amidst the frustration and impoverishing of many, and above societal wellbeing, too selfish, too bad”.
Another general election is around the corner, will you rather sit on the fence and allow others to decide the future of the country or you will prepare to participate in the election? Sacrifice your time, comfort and if possible, your resources to see to the emergence of the right persons at all levels of government, who mean well for the country and are ready to pay the price to make Nigeria a better nation. That is the mark of a true patriotic citizen. In the words of an American Political Activist, Thomas Paine, “ The duty of a true patriot is to protect his country from its government”. And for the government and its threat on the media organisations, the comment of the renowned Islamic cleric, Sheikh Ahmad Gumi, is very instructive. He said “FG’s attempt in trying to find a scapegoat to justify its glaring failure after wasting over $16 billion in the last seven years without any commensurate result on security and efforts to blackmail certain media organisations for their patriotism in reporting the crisis is unfortunate and should be resisted by all responsible media organisations.
“When a Commander-in-Chief rewards failure with ambassadorial appointments in a system and a society that records increased attacks, when security agencies cannot even protect Abuja and especially when the Guards Brigade cannot even protect themselves not to talk of the President, then why blame the media for such failure and ineptitude for reporting it?” What Nigerians need now is urgent solutions to the numerous problems in the country, not insincerity, falsehood and covering up of obvious truths and unending blame games. Patriotism is not demanded of the led alone. The leaders should also show that they love the country by displaying a high level of integrity, honesty and sincerity in handling the affairs of the nation.

By: Calista Ezeaku

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Opinion

Idiom Of The Rejected Stone

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This article is dedicated to the memory of one of the best intelligence officers that Nigeria ever had; whose cold blooded murder by his friends facilitated the death of General Aguiyi Ironsi. For refusing to be an accomplice in a plot to kill his boss, that young man died, telling his treacherous colleagues that: “Dead bones shall rise again and the rejected stone shall…” He did not complete the sentence before he was shot dead by those he ate and drank with not long ago. It is 56 years ago that this tale took place.
The treacherous deed was not done by Fulani herdsmen or terrorists, neither would the whole story of how a patriotic adventure of 1966, was turned into an ignominy, be known. Rather, the genesis of “unknown gun men” began with the installation of a hit squad by fifth-columnists who would eat with you in the day, but attack you at night. The death of General Aguiyi Ironsi, like that of Mamman Vatsa, may be attributed to destiny, but in the Nigerian context, the hand of treachery as an instrument of power, would not be ruled out.
It is gladdening that a few of those who allowed themselves to be deceived by ill-disposed foreign advisers are still alive today, to talk about ethnic cleansing and Islamisation agenda. The idiom about dead bone rising again and a rejected stone becoming a cornerstone, was used for the purpose of mockery by federal soldiers during the Nigerian Civil War. Fleeing persons had to be shot and burnt and then asked to rise again!
It is a pity that those who knew the possible consequences of their actions between July and December, 1966, succeeded in preventing public inquires into their dark deeds. Emphasis had to be focused elsewhere, rather than the issues which gave rise to vexations. That singular intrigue or shenanigans of evading issues of relevance, in favour of chasing irrelevances, has been a major feature of Nigerian politics. It was a part of the inheritance or legacy from master-strategists of past military era. Nigerians should be weary of that strategy by now, and know what it is meant to cover up.
In Shakespeare’s ‘All’s Well That End Well’ we have much to learn, namely: “Often expectation fails, and most oft there where most it promises; and oft it hits where hope is coldest and despair most fits”. Is there any wise person who would not agree that “Our remedies often in ourselves do lie, which we ascribe to heaven”? Religion is such a volatile issue in Nigeria, yet we fail to know that “You go so much backward when you fight”. More so when we fight over time-limited and irrelevant issues, but ignore vital ones. We blunt the sword, hitting wrong targets!
When we are told that “The merit of service is seldom attributed to the true and exact performer”, should that not remind us that politics is a system of cryptocracy? Someone described cryptocracy as a voodoo system of management of public affairs, where bamboozlement, treachery and deceit are the orders of the day. You rarely know who is calling the shots or pulling the trigger!
Rarely would Nigerians or history know the three treacherous gun men who killed their unyielding colleague, to make it possible for General Aguiyi Ironsi to be killed. Neither would the full and true story of what transpired then be known, but what should be of relevance here is the idiom of the rejected stone which can become a vital cornerstone. That young intelligence officer, not more than 26 years of age, neither had a wife nor a child, but his last and uncompleted message can be a lesson for Nigeria.
Much of what is happening in Nigeria currently can be traced to the shenanigans and treachery connected with the aftermath of the January 15, 1966 military coup. Hitherto, the worst victims of the tragedy are the Igbo-speaking groups of Nigerians, neither would how “the Igbo-man became the fall guy” in the whole episode, become known. For the benefit of the naïve ones who rarely know the truth, it was considered expedient to “Portray the Ibo-man as the spoiler of Nigeria”. The person who made that statement was a hired consultant, now late. But the prejudice lives on. Scapegoat!
Nigerian leaders may continue to shy away from creating a forum for honest dialogue and restructuring agenda, yet, a voice of oracle predicted in July 1966 that “Salvation Comes from the East”. Those who knew about that prediction were bitter and would not want to admit that there was such a prediction. Rather, everything was done, and consultants hired to see that the “East remains in darkness”. That sad agendum should be brought to an end, neither should it be denied.
Without revealing what may be termed as “hate speech”, what is being said here is coming from a “seeing one”, a patriotic senior citizen. When the conscience of the three gun men who killed their colleague for wanting to save General Aguiyi Ironsi, began to trouble them, one of them said: “by the way, he was an Ibo man”. Was it a crime to be an Ibo man? Plots and conspiracies are parts of the strategies of power hustling, and the issue of “custody of power” has been a vital project in Nigeria. May that project not plunge Nigeria into more serious disasters. Truly, power belongs to God!
Let us not shy away from the hidden truth that the politics of oil and gas has been at the heart of the Nigerian political economy, whose intrigues fuel the intractable crises in Nigeria. Has anyone denied the fact that over 80 per cent of oil blocks allocations are in the hands of certain groups of Nigerians? One activist, Uthman Umar Sokoto, in a trending video film can afford to tell Nigerians that the oil and gas resources in Nigeria are under the total control of the Fulanis. Has anything been done by security agencies to verify or curtail the claims of Uthman Umar Sokoto?
Idiom of the rejected stone should be seen as a reminder that human institutions and power are not always the final arbiters or determinants of what happens on earth or any nation. An old monk of Kempis would say that: “Man proposes but God disposes”. From activities of a cabal in the Presidency, to terrorists and bandits, surprises usually come from sources we rarely expect.

By: Bright Amirize

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

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Opinion

Hauling Propaganda For Rivers APC Corpses

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I have read David Oguzierem’s hollow tale of agony in yet another attempt at smearing the reputation and political integrity of Governor Nyesom Wike and the outstanding pedigree of Sir Siminalayi Fubara, the gubernatorial candidate of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) in Rivers State.
Rather than writing with facts, he has descended into hauling unproven allegations and peddling tell-tale falsehoods as the common gossip and propagandist that he is. My view on the matter is that fools, often detesting the truth, constantly wallow in ignorance, no matter the effort to educate them to the contrary.
From his assertions, it is obvious he is truly ignorant of how government operates and how government offices function. Although it is incumbent on him to prove his allegation of the breaching of official protocol, the onus is on us to school him a bit on the facts.
Despite the coming into law of the Freedom of Information Act (FoIA, 2011), the Official Secret Act still holds sway in the public service. So, as an integral part of the test of integrity, every civil servant who desires career  growth,  subscribes to it. It therefore becomes part of the routine ethical conduct to secure government information, especially when one is already rising to the pinnacle of one’s career. This explains why gossips, backbiters, fraudsters and flippant characters hardly rise to such sensitive positions of leadership.
So, no government entrusts sensitive positions such as cashier, assistant to the Accountant-General, Director of Finance and Administration or Accountant-General to unserious and unstable characters. It is certain that Emperor Amaechi also knew this and never doubted the competence and professional capacity of Amaopu Siminalayi Fubara while he served as Cashier and later Assistant to the Accountant-General during his tenure as governor.
To therefore insinuate or allege such service misdemeanor against Sir Siminalayi Fubara is far beyond laughable and wicked. Perhaps, David has forgotten that Gov. Wike was part and parcel of Emperor Amaechi’s first tenure as Chief of Staff in Government House and that he is quite abreast with the transactional procedures of Amaechi. Would he, therefore, need anybody to leak any document to him?
If we agree, but not conceding to David’s delusion on the imaginary leakage of official documents, he has technically indicted his masters, Emperor Amaechi and Tonye Cole, to have engaged in unholy acts, thus confirming all their humongous looting of the state treasury and appropriating the state’s assets to themselves in a criminal manner. What exactly does he take Rivers people for?
David, while asserting that Fubara is not a known politician in the state, in the same breadth proceeds to allege Fubara’s leaking of official information to the opposition PDP during Amaechi’s tenure. I then ask: “In what capacity”? And at what time did he and his masters realise that Siminalayi Fubara was leaking official information to the opposition and what was their immediate reaction? Was their discovery or complaint an after-thought?
It is pertinent to inform David and his masters that in Nigeria of today, the career path of a civil servant becomes political even from the position of Director; as the individual would be critically observed and evaluated before ascending to the next level. That observation and evaluation subsequently lead to appointment as Permanent Secretary.
So, Siminalayi Fubara has been in grassroots politics for a long while from the background. He is very much abreast with the state to the point that he cannot call any local government Isiokpo Local Government as his principal Tonye Cole did recently during a condolence visit to Isiokpo in  Ikwerre Local Government Area. Before David reads me out of context, there is nothing wrong for any civil servant to participate in politics in Nigeria as already cleared by the Supreme Court pronouncement in the case of Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) v Balarabe Musa &Ors (2003) 10 WRN 1.
May I also inform David that before 2022, Amaopu Sim Fubara took charge as the leader of PDP in Opobo/Nkoro LGA with great followership that has culminated in depleting the APC to the tatters in that local government. In 2021, when PDP held its Elective National Convention that saw the emergence of Dr Iyorcha Ayu as National Chairman  and others, SimFubara was conspicuously there as one of the delegates. That has further put David’s challenge to lie.
Talking about grassroots and imposition, who then is Tonye Cole in Rivers politics before 2019 and even now? In reality, can David prove that Tonye Cole emerged as a very formidable politician in APC amongst other political heavyweights that contested in the party?
Can David tell Rivers people that Tonye Cole is not an imposition by Emperor Amaechi? Then, let him ask his masters why all the political heavyweights are leaving Rivers APC in droves. He knows the truth, but would continue to live in self denial and in pretence.
Tonye Cole is an alien and a stranger to Rivers politics. I am very sure he does not know his APC unit leader; simply because he is not on ground. If he is, why the slip of calling an LGA Isiokpo Local Government. Is there anything like that? He is an imposition of Emperor Amaechi for the business of coveting Rivers assets and patrimony for their self-aggrandizement. Nothing more, nothing less! He is a complete political neophyte who does not even know his roots properly.
Now, David should know that it is in public space that Emperor Amaechi and Tonye Cole are on trial for criminal diversion of state resources and assets. But it becomes amusing for David to chant ignorantly that an individual can withdraw N117 billion across the counter, which he knows is absolutely impossible. To garnish his propaganda, he said further that such sum was also withdrawn without approval. Does he expect people to believe such tall-tales? We certainly know that David is drumming for the corpses who are bent on capturing Rivers state, but God will disappoint them.
My candid advice to David is to focus on marketing and selling his candidate to Rivers people, rather than resorting to futile campaign of calumny. The more he tries, the more he opens up a can of worms in his camp. Instead of promoting negative propaganda, let him tell Rivers people what Tonye Cole will do differently in Rivers State. A word, they say, is enough for the wise.

Onyedi, deputy media assistant to Rivers State PDP Governorship Candidate, writes from Port Harcourt.

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