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60 Years In The Tinderbox?

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As Nigeria marks its Diamond Jubilee Independence Anniversary, The Tide takes a look at various sectors of the nation’s economy. Since the outbreak of the Covid-19 pandemic, the nation’s economy has nose-dived more than ever before and masses subjected to abject poverty, hunger, deprivation and hyperinflation. The manufacturing sector seems to be the worst hit as stakeholders say they have been set back 60 years to pre-Independence level. Excerpts.
The Chairman, Manufacturers Association of Nigeria (MAN), Rivers State, Senator Adawari Michael Pepple, noted that in the past there were manufacturing concerns in almost all the major cities in their multiple numbers in the country.
Pepple lamented that those manufacturing concerns have either gone moribund or no longer in existence.
According to him, ’’Trans-Amadi used to be a bubbling hub for manufacturing, there were so many companies doing one thing or the other, but at the moment, we really do not have such a presence, all the companies have folded up, so effectively we have set ourselves back to pre-Independence level, it is unfortunate”.
He attributed the development to the lack of will on the part of government to place priority on manufacturing as a major source of employment.
The senator observed that the cost of power, which is 75 per cent of the cost of manufacturing has never been made available, saying that the situation had placed the manufacturing sector at a disadvantage.
He regretted that the future is bleak stating that Nigeria is at a loss as to what to do in post Covid-19 era, since government was still coming up with policies that were taking a way the capacity of local buyers to buy what little that was being manufactured through the increase of petrol pump price and electricity tariff.
On her part, a financial expert, Mrs Ekimini Gbole-Nwikina, said the aspiration of Nigeria using the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN), was for Nigeria to attain financial independence.
Gbole-Nwikina recalled that prior to this time, the financial sector suffered so much as a result of failed banks due to poor governance, management style and cash based transactions.
She said these structures became the rallying point of the nation’s economy, “and the outcome was a strong and stable banking system where we now raised 25 solid banks from existing 89 banks, single digit inflation rate, debt reduction and exit from Paris Club, capital market explosion, liberation of foreign exchange market, among others”.
Gbole-Nwikina, lamented, however, that the country was yet to attain financial independence due to the many challenges that still plague the sector.
According to her, “poor governance, poor state of infrastructure, poor human capital development, low interest rate on savings and difficulty in accessing credit facility for SMEs remain the bane of Nigeria’s quest for financial independence”.
On the security architecture of the nation since 1960 when Nigeria gained independence, a peace building practitioner in Rivers State, Mr Cosmas Ndinee, noted that Nigeria has been challenged security wise, saying that a child born at independence would already be a grandparent by now and that in it is self goes with a lot of responsibility.
Ndinee, who is also the coordinator, Search for Common Ground, a non-governmental organisation in Rivers State, stated that Nigeria had not taken on much of this responsibility, particularly as it concerns corruption, pointing out that, “whenever corruption is so strong in a nation, you never can expect anything fine because the players would not handle things in the desired manner”.
He maintained that corruption remain the bane of peace, security and development in the nation stressing, “it is this corruption that has arisen to series of insurgencies, militancy, affecting the security architecture of the country”.
Sadly, he said, this development has resulted in the exit of investors and liquidation of some businesses, thereby creating unemployment, loss of jobs with an increased level of hardship and poverty in the country.
On the way forward, he said security was pivotal in the development of any nation, which he stated must be addressed by calling to the drawing table all the players especially those who feel excluded from the scheme of things and bring the nation to a peaceful position free from violence.
The Chairman of Inter-Party Advisory Council (IPAC), Nsirim Emmanuel Chima said Nigeria is yet to have true Independence and Democratic system that will work in accordance with our cultures.
According to him, Nigeria is still under neo- colonialism of the Western countries, where the nation system is being detected and determined by the influence of the Western countries.
“This Nigeria as country is yet to be a true independence nation, as Independence country, we are still going to abroad for Medical trip, we are also going to abroad for quality education, we are blessed with natural resources and human resources yet we still importing fuels, we supply electricity to other countries, yet Nigeria always have black out every moment, at 60th since Independence our refineries are not in perfect order.
“Nigeria at 60 is a failure and major factors responsible are corruption and bad leadership, if only we will be honest to ourselves and shunned corruption in our system we will move the nation to an enviable height”, Chima said.
Also speaking, former Auditor General in Rivers State and former State House of Assembly member, Chief Bob Frederick, said the only way Nigeria will achieved it desire development is to erased corruption from the governing system.
He said though Nigeria is a negotiated country that needs restructuring but that restructuring with corruption ravaging almost every sector, cannot move Nigeria to any level.
Those who also blamed corruption and bad leadership for the woes of the country were the Special Adviser to Rivers State Governor on NDDC, Barrister Erastus Awortu, and a Medical Doctor and National Chairman of Medical and Health Workers Association of Nigeria, Dr Biobelemoye J. Josiah.
Awortu said Nigeria need practical rule of law and not academic one.
Awortu, who is also a lawyer, said Nigeria must move higher, if the government at the centre would shun party politics and tackle corruption irrespective of party affiliation.
On his part, Josiah said the entire nation system needs to be restructuring, arguing that true democracy is the solution to the nation’s problems.
An Electrical Engineer, Mr Godwin Ekanem said, “Nigeria is a blessed country, and nobody in Nigeria should be suffering because everyone is in a good position to make wealth. Tourists should be happy to come and invest in the country and not the reverse. Those countries our big men and leaders travel to for pleasures and medical treatments are not as rich as our country Nigeria.
He said this Africans are not coming to invest, rather to tie the embezzled fund and keep in the bank there: Too bad for our leaders and for our dear country.”
A retired public servant, Mr Olali Seigha said, “This country can never be better so long as there is nepotism, tribalism, among others.
“This country is so divided in a way that there is no way that we can improve, except there is a division.
“If we can divide without a war, then its better, so the northerners and Southerners go their separate ways that is the only thing that can improve this country, otherwise there is no way somebody is 60 years like our country, Nigeria and is still very backward”.
Lecturer and author, Dr. Priye Elechi Amadi said, Nigeria needs to create new values.
“We are always learning and where we are now is a total conglomeration of what we have been” she said.
She challenged leaders to begin to set right priorities and such could make the country come out from the rot it’s now.
“So, we should be growing at this point with technology wise by improving our digital skills and move with the world”, she added.
Amadi, who is also the chairperson of the Reading Association of Nigeria, expressed optimism about Nigeria’s future, “Yes, we are 60 good and fine, and life can begin at 60. I am not losing hope in this country.”
For former Caretaker Committee Chairman of Opobo/Nkoro Local Government Area, Sir Boma Brown, the creation of Nigeria was the beginning of the woes for the people.
He submitted that Nigeria was a creation of British commercial and Colonial interest, recalling that even Sir James Roberston, the last Governor General of Nigeria admitted that the South and North had no similarities.
In the light of this, Brown called for deconstruction and restructuring, “If we restructure then we can move ahead.”
The Opobo-born politician maintained that unless there is a total reorganisation of the polity, Nigeria will remain stagnant.
“Our current political ideology is defective because it’s driven by ethnic and religious bias making it difficult to grow.”
Brown also recommended the need to see all groups as equal, “a system that views other ethnic group as superior to others cannot move forward.”
An activist and social critic, Mr. Ethelbert Agam, has stated that at 60, Nigeria is no longer a child, because a man at that age would have done who is expected of him or be regarded as a failure.
Agam averred that the county has come a long way and could have performed better than she does at the moment.
He observed that the country has fared too badly though, but blamed our snail-pace progress on most of nation’s greedy leaders (past and present) who cornered the wealth of the county to themselves.
According to him, “We need a social analysis to ascertain how we manage to fine ourselves in this unjustifiable socio-economic malady. We need to ask ourselves some questions.”
Also speaking, a trader at Watt market, Calabar, Mrs. Jennet Azu, said that Nigeria has come of age, but quickly note our politician dampened the spirit of Nigerians with their failed promises.
“We do not want anything from them rather than good road network to enable us carry our products from rural area to urban cities, may be water and electricity.
“They will come with their sweet talk during campaigns, as soon as they get into office, they forget the masses,” she lamented.
On his part, a road side mechanic, Mr. Dominic Etim, noted that Nigeria could have been better than it is now if some of our leaders have human feelings and stop the capital flight, but rather use our God given wealth to develop the country for the overall benefit of all.
The Coordinator, Western Zone, National Association of Government Approved Freight Forwarders (NAGAFF), Dr Fred Ajuzie: “Government need to support customs to drive the revenue profile. We want to see a situation whereby scanners are available to boost trade facilitation and encourage import and export.
“Lack of scanners has affected their operations. The maritime sector since the nation’s Independence. Firstly, port concession has failed because when Nigerian ports Authority was in charge of the ports, you will agree with me that things were a bit okay.
“However, since the ports were concessions to private investors things have been static”.
Market woman, Rose Afolabi said, “The government should show us human face. We are suffering so much in this country. The cost of living is high. Our government should provide us with good roads, electricity, and drinking water, nothing we need than that. If they like, let them pocket our money”.

 

By: Tonye Nria-Dappa, Enoch Epelle, John Bibor, Susan Serekara-Nwikhana, Kevin Nengia (Port Harcourt), Friday Nwagbara (Calabar), Canice Amadi (Enugu), Nkpemenyie Mcdominic (Lagos) & Nneka Amaechi-Nnadi (Abuja).

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FG Adopts Innovative Approach To Fund Climate Change Mitigation

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The Federal Government has adopted innovative approach, including carbon tax, to fund the mitigation of the impact of climate change in the country.
The Director-General, National Council on Climate Change, Dr SalisuDahiru, disclosed this to newsmen in Lagos.
Dahiru spoke on the sidelines of a technical workshop on Agro Climate Resilience in Semi-Arid Landscapes (ACReSAL) project, yesterday.
Dahiru said that President MuhammaduBuhari, in creating the council, adopted an innovative approach because the council was going to be the main vehicle that would drive his climate change policy and agenda.
“So, he decided to adopt an innovative approach that will provide sufficient funding and in a timely manner.
“This is to ensure that the council is able to operate, function and discharge responsibilities with little hindrance.
“So, two things are associated with the funding; the major funding source will be the budget.
“But within the Act establishing the council, there is going to be the introduction of Carbon Tax,” Dahiru said.
The DG said that carbon tax was done all over the world because of the grave existential threat of climate change.
“If we do not deal with climate change, climate change will deal with all of us.
“So, this carbon tax will have to come in because that’s the only way that we can clean up our environment and refresh the air,” Dahiru said.
He said that there would be the establishment of a climate change fund, where the government, the private sector and development partners would make contributions.
Dahiru said that another way the council hoped to raise fund was through the establishment of a Redd Plus registry.
“We can demonstrate through the Redd Plus programme, which is called reducing emissions from deforestation and forest degradation.
“If we show that we are no longer cutting down the forests, that we are conserving the forest, then, we will be eligible to be paid carbon credits.
“This is calculated based on how much emissions we have prevented from going to the atmosphere as a result of conserving the forest that will also be fed into the funding of the activities of the council.
“And then we will also have this support from the International Organisation for Climate Change.
He said “we are able to do clean projects; projects that will add to our ability to fulfill our obligations under the nationally determined contributions to climate change mitigation in the world”.
“Then development partners under the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) will provide additional support to the country,” Dahiru said.

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Nigeria Losses 400,000 Barrels Daily To Oil Theft, FG Laments

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The Minister of State for Petroleum Resources, Chief Timipre Sylva, has affirmed that the country loses 400,000 barrels of crude daily via oil theft.
Sylva stated this when he paid a courtesy visit to the Imo State Governor, Senator Hope Uzodinma, at the Government House, Owerri.
He described the development as a “national emergency”.
Sylva regretted that the nation had fallen short of OPEC daily quota, from 1.8million barrels to 1.4million barrels, due to crude theft.
The minister warned that such a huge economic loss was capable of crippling the nation’s economy if not given the seriousness it deserved.
He expressed concern that the menace had persisted, in spite of the efforts by the federal and state governments to arrest it.
Sylva said the problem of crude theft could not be handled in Abuja alone.
“It is a national emergency because the theft has grown wings and reached a very bad crescendo.
“This is because the thefts are taking place in the communities that host the oil pipelines.
“As a result, it has become necessary to involve the stakeholders, especially the host communities.
“And because of the height and orchestrated nature of the menace, Nigeria could not take the advantage and opportunities that abound in the gas production.
“This is because no investor would want to invest where there is incessant insecurity and vandalism of the infrastructure,” he said.
The minister, therefore, appealed to the stakeholders to collaborate to solve the problem.

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We’ve Disbursed N100bn To Pharmaceutical Manufacturers, Buhari Boasts

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President Muhammadu Buhari has said that the Federal Government has disbursed a total of N100billion to indigenous pharmaceutical manufacturers and healthcare investors as loans to expand their capital base and boost local production of medicines and medical consumables.
Buhari said this, yesterday, while receiving the new executive members of the Nigerian Medical Association (NMA) at the Presidential Villa in Abuja.
The president said the loan was extended through the Central Bank of Nigeria’s support to the private pharmaceutical sector.
He added that the Health Sector Reform Committee chaired by Vice-President, Prof Yemi Osinbajo, was currently exploring models for revitalising the nation’s healthcare system, in ways that improve quality of care and the benefit package to care providers.
On brain drain in the health sector, the president said he has directed the Minister of Health, Dr Osagie Ehanire, to look into ways of turning “brain drain” to “brain gain” by engaging top Nigerian medical experts in the Diaspora in knowledge and skills repatriation.
He urged the NMA and other stakeholders in the health sector to support initiatives by the Federal Government and work with the committees set up to chart a fast track to a health system that best meets the needs of Nigerians in the 21st Century.
The president also commended the association, which is the umbrella body of all medical practitioners in Nigeria, for consistently choosing peaceful resolution of differences on matters pertinent to the National health system.
“I commend our medical professionals for their contribution to Nigeria’s exemplary management of the COVID-19 pandemic, the control of malaria, HIV and Tuberculosis, and other feats also achieved by Nigerian doctors in the Diaspora.
“Our response to COVID-19 pandemic has been praised internationally and your members are key parts of this success.
“I recall that in the last quarter of 2021, the immediate past NMA Executives visited me and presented recommendations for the health sector, which included, the review and amendment of NHIS Act; upgrading and equipping existing health institutions; loans to fund hospital equipment; the repeal and re-enactment of the Medical and Dental Practitioners’ Act; and Appeal for more funding for the four newly established Universities of Medical Sciences.
“I am pleased to inform you that most of these recommendations have been addressed, whilst further action is being taken to study those involving cross-cutting administrative processes with legal implications,” Buhari was quoted as saying in a statement issued, yesterday by the Special Adviser to the President on Media and Publicity, Femi Adesina.
Buhari further congratulated former NMA President, Dr.Osahon Enabulele, on his emergence as the president-elect of the World Medical Association, the first Nigerian to hold the position.
While wishing him a successful tenure, the president expressed hope that Enabulele would use his position to support improvement in health care delivery in Nigeria and lower income countries.üÿ
He also wished the new executive members of NMA a successful tenure, urging them to earnestly continue to serve as arbiters of peace and progress.
The Minister of Health, Dr OsagieEhanire, who led the medical practitioners to the meeting, affirmed that the doctors have been good partners with his ministry, helping to regulate the health profession as well as stressing quality service delivery.
In his remarks, the NMA President, Dr Uche Rowland Ojinmah, said the new National Officers Committee (NOC) was elected on May 21, 2022.
Ojinmah commended Buhari for his “steadfast war against corruption, assent to the National Health Insurance Authority (NHIA) Act which will improve the health indices of our nation, the constitution of the Health Reform Committee under Vice President YemiOsinbajo, and the various infrastructural projects embarked upon by the Buhari administration.”
He, however, enjoined the president to ensure full and appropriate implementation of the NHIA Act, provision of “adequate work equipment, conducive work environment and necessary budget support”, as well as elongation of the retirement age for medical consultants to 70 years and 65 years for non-consultant doctors and other healthcare workers.
Others include implementation of the hazard allowance circularised in December 2021 with the arrears as well as the setting up of a Health Bank.
The NMA president also requested a representation of the Federal Government at the inauguration of Enabulele in Berlin, Germany, later in the year.

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