Connect with us

Opinion

Lessons  From Kenyans’ Mass Protest 

Published

on

The electronic and print  media are awash with the well – coordinated non violent mass protest of the “common” citizens of Kenya against “Financial Bill”-proposing a new upwardly reviewed tax regime and the  country’s president’s proposal to buy a new official aircraft besides the one in use. In a swift reaction, the people took to the streets to protest the government’s decision which came at a time majority of the people of that country wallow in an orgy of poverty and squalor. Government’s action, the people viewed, was not only an affront on their sensibility but a display of flagrant callousness and impunity to the plight of the people. The protest resulted in the Kenyan Government recanting its planned obnoxious tax review and presidential jet purchase. It seems to me that bad governance is contagious. Africa, especially the sub-Saharan countries, including Nigeria have been fraught with the perennial challenge of dismal leadership.
Africa’s problem is a function of bad leadership. How could one explain the situation where abject poverty is the second nature of a people and yet the government is averse to popular economic policies but  neck-deep in spending the peoples’ resources on frivolities without considering the people whose resources they suppose hold in trust.Two things are phenomenally noteworthy in  that East African country’s mass  protest ; Consciousness of the people to the fact that they are the owners  of power. And the resultant withdrawal of the planned unpopular policies by Kenyan Government which lend credibility to the saying that power is the prerogative of the people. It is not saying a new thing that government exists for the people because the legitimacy of government is derived from the people. Therefore, every government must be people -centered and people -oriented.
The functionality of the government stems from the existence and acceptance of the people. Kudos to the Kenyan Government for acting immediately on good conscience by withdrawing the obnoxious policies that triggered the protest.The “Commoners” of Kenya deserve commendation by taking their destiny in their hands to demand the recant of the policies. No doubt, freedom is not free, it requires sacrifice, it costs something worthwhile. The Kenyans have lived out Karl Marx’s maxim that the consciousness of oppression is the harbinger and precursor to freedom.  According to Marx, “It is only when the people are conscious of the fact that they are oppressed can they rise to  unmake the instruments that make the oppression possible”. But consciousness alone is not enough to midwife a change, being proactive to dislodge the instrument  of oppression, is the force that activates consciousness.
The madness of shooting indiscriminately, arresting , victimising protesters common in Sub-Sahara African countries are alien to the Government of Kenya, -a plus for the government. Placing Nigeria closely alongside Kenya, it is evident that though the level of docility is alarming and unprecedented in Nigeria, the philosophy that “Nigeria is not worth dying for” seems to be the greatest undoing of the poverty-ridden masses in the country. Multi-ethnicism,  religion  and abysmal poverty level are daunting challenges militating against a united and vociferous protest. Above all,  the lack of integrity and respect for value system have also allowed oppression to thrive unchallenged. The startling revelations of alleged outrageous looting, siphoning of public funds and corrupt practices  in the Ministry of Humanitarian Affairs and Poverty Alleviation under the  former minister of the Ministry, Betta Edu, and the protests by her kinsmen and youths for her reinstatement attest to the fact that Nigeria is incurably sick and is tottering on the brink of collapse if nothing is done to save the country.
Recall that on Wednesday, January 10, 2024 the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) squeezed several top civil servants connected to  financial impropriety the ministry is enmeshed in. Earlier, the Independent Corrupt Practices and Other Related Offences Commission (ICPC), had recovered about N50 billion from the Ministry of Humanitarian Affairs and Poverty Alleviation. The money which was allegedly in a conduit to private accounts, was reportedly recovered by the Independent Corrupt Practices and Other Related Offences Commission between July and August 2023 and paid into the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN). According to reports, the money which was meant for vulnerable people during the tenure of the former minister of the Ministry of Humanitarian Affairs, Sadiya Umar-Farouq, was intercepted during a fruitless effort to transfer it into private bank accounts and recovered by the Independent Corrupt Practices and Other Related Offences Commission under its former chairman, Bolaji Owasanoye.
Nigeria is not a poor country yet millions are living in hunger, abject poverty and avoidable misery. What an irony! Nigeria, Africa’s largest economy and most populous nation is naturally endowed with 44 mineral resources, found in 500 geographical locations in commercial quantity. According to Nigeria’s former Minister for Mines and Steel Development, Olamiekan Adegbite, the mineral resources include: baryte, kaolin, gymsium, feldspar, limestone, coal, bitumen, lignite, uranium, gold, cassiterite, columbite, iron ore, lead, zinc, copper, granite, laterite, sapphire, tourmaline, emerald, topaz, amethyst, gamer, etc. Nigeria has a vast uncultivated arable land even as its geographical area is approximately 923, 769 sq km (356,669 sq ml).”This clearly demonstrates the wide mineral spectrum we are endowed with which offers limitless opportunities along the value-chain, for job creation, revenue growth.
“Nigeria  provides one of the highest rates of return because its minerals are closer to the surface”, Adegbite said. Therefore, poverty in Nigeria is not the consequences of lack of resources and manpower but inequality, misappropriation, outright embezzlement, barefaced corruption that is systemic and normative in leaders and  public institutions. Although, Nigeria is ranked as the economic giant of Africa, the most populous country in Africa and the sixth in the world with a population conservatively put at 200 million people,  the country has the second highest population of impoverished people in the world. According to the World Poverty Clock 2023, Nigeria has the awful distinction of being the World Capital of Poverty with about 84 million people living in extreme poverty today. The National Bureau of Statistics (NBS) data also revealed that a total of 133 million people in Nigeria are classed as multi-dimensionally poor.
Unemployment is a major challenge in the country. About 33 percent of the labour force are unable to find a job at the prevailing wage rate. About 63 percent of the population were poor because of lack of access to health, education, employment, and security. Nigeria Economic Summit Group (NESG) speculated that unemployment rate will increase to 37 percent in 2023. The implications, therefore, is increase in unemployment will translate to increase in the poverty rate. The World Bank, a Washington-based and a multi-lateral development institution,  in its macro-poverty outlook for Nigeria for April 2023 projected that 13 million Nigerians will fall below the National Poverty line by 2025. It further stated that the removal of subsidy on petroleum products without palliatives will result to 101 million people being poor in Nigeria. Statistics also show that “in 2023 nearly 12 percent of the world population of extreme poverty lived in Nigeria considering poverty threshold at 1.90 US dollars a day”.
Taking a cursory look at the Nigerian Development Update (NDU), the World Bank said “four million Nigerians were pushed into poverty  between January and June 2023 and 7.1 million more will join if the removal of subsidy is not adequately managed.” These startling revelations paint a grim and bleak future for the socio-economic life of the people. The alarming poverty rate in the country is a conspiracy of several factors, including corruption. In January, 2023 the global anti-corruption watchdog, Transparency International, in its annual corruption prospect index which ranks the perceived level of public sector corruption across 180 countries in the world, says Nigeria ranked 150 among 180 in the index. Conversely, Nigeria is the 30th most corrupt nation in the ranking. It is also the capital of unemployment in the world.  Truth be told: a Government that is corruption-ridden lacks the capacity to build a vibrant economy that will provide employment for the teeming unemployed population. So crime and criminality become inevitable.
Corruption seems to be the second nature of Nigeria as a nation which is why Late Gani Fawehenmi, “Senior Advocate for the Masses” worried by the outrageous corruption level of the repressive regime of a Nigeria’s late Head of State, once said, “If there is a place called hell, the hottest part of it should be reserved for Abacha”. Fawehenmi was of the view that corruption is worse than prostitution. According to him, while prostitution destroys the person who indulges in it, corruption destroys a whole nation.  At the root of Nigerians’ poverty is the corruption cankerworm. Nigeria is not a poor country yet millions are living in hunger and abject poverty. The government can close the yawning inequality gap and increasing poverty level.  There are several cases of corruption in Nigeria that have been swept under the carpet. The case of misappropriation and embezzlement of pension funds is one of such ugly cases that stare the Federal Government’s anti-corruption agencies and the judiciary on the face. Looters of public treasury or funds are the real enemies of Nigeria. They are the cogs in the wheels of Nigeria’s   development  so they should not be allowed to go scot-free.

Igbiki Benibo

Continue Reading

Opinion

 Learning From China’s Educational System

Published

on

As the world grapples with the complexities of the 21st century, it is essential to recognise the distinction between education and learning. While often used interchangeably, these terms have distinct meanings that impact our approach to personal and professional development. Education refers to the formal instruction and certification process, typically within a school or university setting. It provides a foundation in various subjects and disciplines, preparing students for future careers. Learning, on the other hand, encompasses the broader process of acquiring knowledge, skills, and values throughout one’s life. It extends far beyond the classroom, incorporating experiences, challenges, and opportunities that shape our perspectives and abilities.
The primary goal of education is to equip students with the necessary credentials and knowledge to enter the workforce. In contrast, learning focuses on personal growth, self-improvement, and adaptability in an ever-changing world. Education provides a solid foundation, but learning is what truly empowers individuals to thrive. It enables us to develop new skills, explore innovative ideas, and navigate complex challenges. Unfortunately, many individuals confuse education with learning, assuming that a degree or certification guarantees success. However, the reality is that learning is a lifelong journey, requiring continuous effort and dedication.
To truly succeed, we must embrace a culture of learning, fostering curiosity, creativity, and critical thinking. This involves seeking out new experiences, asking questions, and embracing challenges as opportunities for growth.In today’s fast-paced, technology-driven world, learning is more essential than ever. It enables us to stay adaptable, innovative, and relevant, unlocking our full potential and driving progress.As we move forward, it is crucial to recognise the difference between education and learning. By prioritising learning as a lifelong pursuit, we can unlock our true potential and create a brighter future for ourselves and generations to come.While education provides a foundation, learning is the key to unlocking our full potential. China’s remarkable rise to global prominence offers a compelling case study. Her unimaginable economic growth and technological advancements are often attributed to its emphasis on education. However, a closer examination reveals that the country’s true strength lies in its culture of learning.
It is no gainsaying the fact that  education is highly valued in China, and the gaokao (national college entrance examination) is a high-stakes test that determines one’s academic and professional trajectory, yet, it is the informal learning processes that occur outside the classroom that have driven China’s innovation and progress. From a young age, Chinese students are encouraged to engage in extracurricular activities, such as music, art, and sports, which foster creativity, critical thinking, and problem-solving skills. These skills are essential for success in a rapidly changing world. Moreover, China’s cultural heritage places a strong emphasis on self-cultivation and lifelong learning. The concept of “xuéxí” (learning) is deeply ingrained in Chinese philosophy, emphasising personal growth and development throughout one’s life.The Chinese government has also invested heavily in vocational training and adult education programmes, recognising that learning is a continuous process that extends far beyond formal education
. In contrast, Nigeria’s education system is such that  focuses  on rote memorisation over critical thinking. Nigeria’s curriculum prioritizes core subjects like mathematics, English, and science, but often neglects essential skills like creativity, problem-solving, and emotional intelligence even as it  faces  numerous challenges, including inadequate funding and outdated curricula.One major bane of  Nigeria’s education system has been the  placement of a high premium on certification and paper qualifications, often at the expense of genuine learning and skill acquisition, instead of a  curriculum designed to foster innovation, creativity, and adaptability, with a strong emphasis on science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) education where students are encouraged to explore, experiment, and learn from failure. Nigerian students are rather discouraged from taking risks or challenging authority.
Moreover, China’s education system is constantly evolving, with a focus on lifelong learning and continuous skill acquisition, whereas Nigeria’s education system has remained largely static, with few opportunities for professional development or skill upgrading. While both China and Nigeria face unique challenges in their education systems, China’s emphasis on learning, innovation, and skill acquisition has positioned it for success in the 21st century. Nigeria, on the other hand, must urgently reform its education system to prioritise learning over certification, creativity over memorisation, and skills acquisition over mere paper qualifications. Like China, Nigeria’s education system needs to prioritise social-emotional learning, including skills like empathy, self-awareness, and conflict resolution, which are essential for success in the modern world. Truth be said, while education provides a solid foundation, it is learning that truly empowers individuals and societies to thrive.
Navigating  the complexities of the 21st century, truly requires learning from China’s example to  prioritise learning as a lifelong pursuit. By learning from China’s example, Nigeria can unlock the potential of its youth and leapfrog its way to economic prosperity and global relevance.The future belongs to those who learn, adapt, and innovate – let us choose the path of wisdom.

By: Sylvia ThankGod-Amadi

Continue Reading

Opinion

The Ministry Of Livestock Development

Published

on

From the reactions of the populace since the announcement of the creation of the Federal Ministry of Livestock Development on Tuesday by President Bola Tinubu, it is obvious that many people did not see that coming.
In February this year, the federal government had announced its resolution to implement the Stephen Oronsaye report that called for a leaner government by merging some agencies and scrapping some others. The president was widely applauded for that decision which many believe will reduce cost of governance and save money to tackle pressing challenges in the country.
The kick-off of this was still being awaited when the announcement for the creation of another ministry came. By this development we now have 46 ministries, the highest in the history of the country.
Apparently, President Tinubu, just like many other well-meaning, patriotic Nigerians is disturbed about the state of the nation’s economy and the unabating insecurity in the land. As a way of tackling these challenges he, on September 15th, 2023, approved the establishment of the Presidential Committee dedicated to the reform of the livestock industry and the provision of long-term solutions to recurring clashes between herders and farmers in the country.
The establishment of the Ministry of Livestock Development was part of the recommendations of the National Livestock Reforms Committee. Part of the 21 recommendations submitted to the president include: “This agenda should include the establishment and resuscitation of grazing reserves as suggested by many experts and well-meaning Nigerians and other methods of land utilisation.
“Create the Ministry of Livestock Resources in line with practice in many other West African countries. In the alternative, Federal and State Governments should expand the scope of existing Departments of Livestock Production to address the broader needs of the industry,” among others.
The livestock industry is a vital component of any economy, contributing significantly to various economic and social aspects. Two agriculturists were on a national radio on Wednesday and spoke expansively about these benefits which include: job creation, increase to the Gross Domestic Product (GDP) and foreign exchange earning through the exports of livestock and livestock products such as meat, dairy, wool and leather.
The livestock industry creates millions of jobs directly in farming, processing, and distribution, and indirectly in related sectors like feed production, veterinary services, and marketing. It provides livelihoods for rural populations, helping to reduce poverty and improve the quality of life in rural areas.
According to them, a well-funded livestock industry supports the growth of agro-processing sectors, such as meat packing, dairy processing, and leather manufacturing, adding value to raw products and creating additional economic activity.
It stimulates the development of supply chains, including logistics, packaging, and retail, contributing to broader economic growth. It enhances economic resilience by diversifying the agricultural sector and providing a buffer against crop failures or other agricultural shocks and many more.
Some other agriculturists have also opined that the livestock industry in Nigeria is currently underdeveloped and that by the creation of the ministry of livestock development will open up the industry which will be a huge money spinner for Nigeria.
While their points are quite logical, it must be stated that these can still be achieved without the creation of a new ministry. There is the department of livestock in the ministry of agriculture both at the federal and state levels. Why not empower them to do the job? The National Livestock Reforms Committee even recommended the expansion of the scope of existing Departments of Livestock Production by both federal and state governments to address the needs of the industry.
Why not take that option instead of creating a new ministry with all the attendant costs at a period the citizens are faced with severe hardship and no food to eat? If adequate concern is given to the various departments of livestock as the new ministry will most likely receive, they will function effectively and the best results will be achieved.
Why do we like changing nomenclature all the time and achieving the same result or even nothing? For instance, what has the Ministry of the Niger Delta Development achieved that is different from that of the NDDC since it was created? Since Limited was added to the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC) thereby making it (NNPCL), what changes have we seen?
To get Nigeria on the right footing has nothing to do with duplication of ministries or agencies. It has to do with the determination of the leader to do the right thing, appointing the right people to the right positions, irrespective of the tribe, religion or political affiliations. If the Ministry of Livestock Development was created to appease a certain section of the country in order to secure their votes in 2027, as being insinuated by some people, then it is very unfortunate. Former President Goodluck Jonathan built Almajiri schools as a political strategy. Did that make him win the election?
The president should discard this selfish idea if he has it at the back of his mind and focus on repositioning this country through good policies and exemplary leadership and he will naturally have the support of Nigerians during the next election. He should begin to fulfil all the promises he made to the citizens like the launching of about 2,700 Compressed Natural Gas, CNG-powered buses and tricycles before May 29, 2024, making our local refineries functional and many more.
Nigerians are skeptical that the new Ministry of Livestock Development is merely a political gimmick that will go the way of many other “political projects” in the past and that it is another way of compensating some party loyalists. Tinubu therefore has to prove the skeptics wrong by ensuring that only the right, qualified people are employed in the ministry. Square pegs must be put in square holes.
There should be a holistic look at the challenges facing the agriculture sector which is largely responsible for the food shortage the country is grappling with currently. The issue of insecurity must be handled headlong to enable farmers go back to their farms. Attention must also be paid to irrigation, provision of fertiliser at subsidised rates to ensure adequate food supply at all seasons. Whatever needs to be done to guarantee surplus food supply in the country should be done so that the people will have food to eat. Livestock is important but let us have food to eat first.
It is also important that the relevant agencies should embark on sensitisation and education of the populace on the functions and scope of the new ministry. The notion that livestock is all about cows and dairy production can be destructive and must be corrected. Every part of the country is involved in one form of livestock or another – piggery, goat rearing, fishery, snail rearing and many more. They should all be carried along.
In summary, the livestock industry is integral to economic development, providing essential contributions to employment, food security, industrial growth, and social well-being. Investing in and supporting this sector is crucial for fostering sustainable and inclusive economic growth. But it must be done in the proper manner and with sincerity of purpose.

Calista Ezeaku

Continue Reading

Opinion

Understanding What Marriage Is

Published

on

Marriage is a timeless institution that has been the foundation of human society for centuries. Yet, in today’s evolving world, its essence and significance are often misunderstood. As we navigate the complexities of love, commitment, and relationships, it is essential to revisit the true meaning of marriage and its enduring importance in our lives. At its core, marriage is a sacred union between two individuals, transcending mere romance or legal contract. It is a lifelong commitment to build a life together, fostering growth, trust and unconditional love. Marriage is a journey of mutual support, understanding, and compromise, where two souls become one.
Beyond the vows and ceremonies, marriage represents: Unwavering commitment: A promise to stand by each other through life’s triumphs and tribulations. Emotional intimacy: A deep understanding and acceptance of each other’s thoughts, feelings, and desires.Trust and loyalty: Unshakeable faith in each other’s words and actions. Shared values and goals: A united vision for a life built on common principles and aspirations. Family and legacy: The foundation of a family unit, creating a lasting impact on future generations. Personal growth: A catalyst for individual development, encouraging self-improvement and selflessness. Social and cultural significance: A celebration of love and unity, strengthening social bonds and community ties.
If I may ask, Do you understand a newly wedded man is called groom and the woman called bride? A friend of mine got tired of his wife just about six months after wedding. He complained bitterly to me about her and told me that he has concluded to break up with her; he went on to say that he was sure that he made a mistake. I did not respond immediately because I knew I must tell him the right thing, so I went home. And that is what birthed this message. Many men have broken up with their wives because they ended up not being the wife that they have dreamt of. They have forgotten that their wedding day was when the man was commissioned for the new task.
Nobody calls the woman wife on her wedding day but bride, because it is the man that will groom his bride to become the wife. That is why the man is called ‘bridegroom or groom’ and the word grooming has to do with patiently nurturing, teaching, tending and helping someone to become what he or she should be. It is therefore believed that a man that takes a woman to the altar of marriage is mature enough to patiently groom his bride to become the wife. The man is not supposed to just expect the bride to automatically become the wife, she must be groomed. It is clear that many of us men had unnecessary expectations when we were getting married.
Yes, we want some magic to happen to our wives, we want them to become what we have had in mind about who we want our wives to be; not considering the fact that the woman does not know what is in your mind except you teach her. Our expectations are often too unrealistic, because we do not remember that change takes time and we can only expect something from someone that knows what we want. So, before you think of breaking up, have you groomed her? Have you given her time to understand you? Hope you realise that a turtle will never become a hawk? God often brings people that are opposites of each other together in marriage so they can help each other in their place of weaknesses. If your wife is weak where you are weak, then where will you get the strength that is needed?
The problem with many of us is that we do not accept people before attempting to change them. Of course, our wives are not from our backgrounds, so it will take time for them to adjust. Stop trying to change her: accept her, love her, teach her and be patient with her; that is what grooming is all about. She is going to be your wife but she is your bride now, so groom her. Stop complaining about her, she may be a turtle and you a hawk, she cannot fly so be patient with her. I do not believe that your marriage can not work, be patient and allow God to help you. The term “groom” for a husband-to-be or a newlywed husband has its roots in history and tradition.
In the past, a “groom” referred to a servant or attendant responsible for taking care of horses. Over time, the term evolved to describe a man who was “grooming” himself for marriage, preparing to take on the responsibilities of a husband. In the 15th century, the term “groom” became synonymous with “bridegroom,” emphasising the man’s role in preparing for and supporting his bride. The word “groom” also connoted a sense of refinement, elegance, and polish, much like a well-groomed horse.Today, the term “groom” is a romantic and endearing way to refer to a husband or fiancé, symbolising his commitment to care for, support, and cherish his partner, much like a groom would tend to his horses.
So, in essence, a husband is called a groom because he is seen as the one who prepares himself to care for and support his bride, much like a groom would prepare and care for his horses. In a world where relationships are increasingly complex, remembering the true essence of marriage is crucial. By embracing its timeless values and principles, we can nurture stronger, more meaningful relationships, building a foundation for a lifetime of love, happiness, and fulfilment. Let us cherish and honour the sacred institution of marriage, recognising its profound impact on our lives and society. Marriage is not just a union between two individuals but a celebration of love, commitment, and the human spirit.

Sylvia ThankGod-Amadi

Continue Reading

Trending