Political Office Holders As Servants of the People

The basis for true civilization is the respect for law and order. Due process and the rule of law, features prominently in the lexicon of societies all over the world.

Indeed, unstable power supply, lack of good roads, declining standard of education, unreliable health care delivery, high unemployment rate and insecurity are just some of the challenges threatening  the diminishing  hopes of Nigerians, who before this time, had high expectations.

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The myriad of challenges persist because the political class are in short  supply of Democrats, who possess finesse and are willing to embrace the culture of Democracy and the rule of law.

At a point in time in Nigeria’s history, the incumbent President, Muhammadu Buhari was the Presidential candidate of the All Nigeria Peoples Party(ANPP), while a former Vice President, Atiku Abubakar was the standard bearer of the Action Congress(AC). The stake holders of the coalition are now singing different tunes.

Indeed, constitutional Democracy is a vital tool for a stable united Nigeria, with emphasis on unity in diversity.

This line of thought recommends that the  of leaders of each ethnic group should have  a basic willingness to engage in cooperative efforts with the leaders of other segments in a spirit of moderation and compromise, while still retaining the support and loyalty of their own followers.

The commitment of leaders of all ethnic segments to the continued unity of the country becomes crucial and debatable.

Without doubt unity is synonymous with the safety of lives and property, in a workers’ friendly environment. With this in mind, it would not be wrong to call for the restructuring of the Nigeria Police Force by Government and at the same time, it is high time workers restructured their trade unions for better results.

In the present dispensation, a major characteristic of governance at all tiers, is the constant abuse of power.

Sadly, over the years, the servant leadership ideology has failed to take root in the country’s national life, with political and public office holders as prominent actors.

However, Nigerians are hoping that sometime very soon, political and public office holders will reconsider their present positions, and become servants of the people. Maybe.

About Attitude                                           About Behaviour

 

 

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Restructuring : Is the People’s Welfare the Issue ?

In 1998, the Igbo socio-cultural organization, Ohaneze Ndigbo restructured, 12 months after the structure became the platform to campaign for Igbo Presidency.

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In 2004,  the socio-cultural organization restructured, even though  the general elections came up in 2007, and Nigerians  were of the opinion that the Presidency of Nigeria was for  all Nigerians. Their argument was hinged  on the fact that no section of the country was excluded from aspiring to become the number one  citizen.

Indeed, there has never been and there is  still not any  constitutional law  that stated that a particular  tribe  cannot vie for the position of President.

Interestingly, Ohaneze is a South East  Geo-Political zone based organization, which seeks to project the image of the Igbos and the  rest of Nigeria in  general.

Although at a particular point in time, the organization was accused of been elitist, its  objective  according to a cross section  of  members is to  ensure that the ordinary  man  in the street  is  a member.

The members  argue that anybody who  is  Igbo or  of Igbo  extraction, within  Igboland or in diaspora, should be considered as a member of Ohaneze. Such individuals, according to them  can attend meetings without a  third party making  introduction.

”You can come to Ohaneze meeting without anybody introducing you. If  there is need to introduce yourself, you get up and tell them who you are”, they stated.

In an interview session with a Lagos based news magazine in 2004, the then President of the Anambra chapter of Ohaneze, Dozie Ikedife, insisted that restructuring was on course, irrespective of any presidential election.

”If it happens that no  Igbo man is installed  as President this  time around, Ohaneze will still play  its role to ensure that a President is installed  in this  country and that things move peacefully with a sense of  equity, fair play, justice and enhancement of the sense of  belonging  for  all”, Ikedife had declared.

Since no  tribe or ethnic  group has been excluded from Nigeria, the debate about who occupys the  number one seat in 2019 and other election dates, should be for  all and sundry. Perhaps.

The Significance of the Argungun Festival

The Argungun festival  made its debut in 1934, that year, Sultan Hasan Dan Muazu Ahmedu visited Kebbi kingdom and the festival was organized in his honour.

The festival’s significance stems from its role in ensuring peace between the former Sokoto caliphate and the Kebbi kingdom.

The festival featured men and boys, who compete, to catch the largest fish, which was afterwards presented to the Sultan. Ever since, the festival has become an annual event, held between February and March.

Over the years, the festival has attracted people from all walks of life, who travel from far and wide, to watch land and water events, from arts, crafts, music, traditional dancing to bicycle, Donkey and Carmel racing. In addition, wild duck hunts, swimming and diving competitions and horse races featured prominently.

The four day cultural event, involved thousands of fishermen, carrying traditional nets and gourds. The sound of a gunshot, signified the commencement of the competition. The fishermen move towards the well stocked  Matan Fada river and leap into the water. They are expected to catch the biggest fish in one hour. Those who triumph are rewarded accordingly.

Of note, is the fact that the festival  has been a source of unity  and peace among the people. For centuries, the empires had fought battles, which only ceased with the arrival of the British.

Initially, the festival allowed the participation of women, but since it was in conflict with  the Islamic Sharia law, it was stopped.

In this dispensation. the psyche of Nigerians has been adversely affected  by the agitations of ethnic groups,  this is not  good for development. What obtains today,  are Ethnic summits, organized to push forward sectional positions on a wide range of issues.

The task of reversing this ugly trend does not dwell in issuing public statements and making frequent broadcasts, but in practically and positively impacting on the lives of the people, who now have a very different impression of governance.

 

 

 

The Responsibilities of Governance

Nigerians have for several years now, embarked on the journey to promote a  just and equitable society without encouraging results.

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This is regardless of the countless number of prominent citizens, who belong to the private and public sectors, including the civil society community, at home and in diaspora.

Sadly, most of the innovative ideas and policy options of Government have failed to serve as spring board for the country’s social, political and economic emancipation from the vicious circle of underdevelopment.

Of note, is the fact that  Nigeria is yet to attain the status of a free, dynamic and knowledge based economy, this is just as there are no genuine signs  of commitment to fairness, equity and justice.

This is a fall out  of bad or improper governance  at all levels of Government.  Decisions and policies of Government are powered by self centered ideals and greed.

Most political office holders lack ideology and principles to recommend a soothing cure for the country’s ailments, this is convincingly reflected in the very weak economic and political reforms, which are without doubt not the compass of a new world order.

The myriad of problems confronting the country justifies the need for transparent and incorruptible institutions to decisively address pressing issues which have taken a political  turn.

Those institutions which were put in place  before now, might not have achieved the desired  results, regardless of the resources that were dissipated in the process.

The major questions on the lips of most Nigerians include, who has the responsibilities for policy formulation and governance under the present dispensation ? Is it the state or does it rest  on the exploitative hands of  private individuals  ?  These questions continue to attract  debate among the citizenry.

 

Is The Monitoring of Revenue Allocation to Local Government Act 2005 Dead ?

The Local Government is  the third tier of Government, created to ensure  governance reaches the  most remote village in Nigeria.

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Sadly, this purpose has, in the present time, not been achieved, if happenings at the Local Government councils  are  anything  to go by.

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Of worry, is the fact that some  state  Governments still went ahead  to  create Local Council Development Areas(LCDA) despite the negative financial realities of the present time.

In some of the  states, having LCDAs, the LCDAs carry out their functions in rented shops in shopping complexes.

In 2005, the then President, Chief Olusegun Obasanjo signed into law the Monitoring of Revenue Allocation to Local Government Act 2005.

Indeed, the major challenge of Local Governments in the country revolves on the lack of funds.  Several factors are responsible  for the absence of positive impact  of the funds on the people, disbursed  to the Local Governments. Among these factors are illegal deductions from Local Government allocations by state  Governments and mismanagement by those  at the  helm of affairs at this level of Government.

The 1999 constitution  makes provision for the establishment of  a State/Local  Government Joint Account, this  is where money for Local Government councils from both the  Federal  and State tiers of Government are  lodged, for onward disbursement to the third tier of Government. State Governments are statutorily required to pay  10 percent of their Internally Generated  Revenue(IGR) into that account, this is in addition to the money from the federation account to the councils.

But it  is doubtful, if states have religiously, fulfilled the requirement  of the payment of  10 percent, into the State/Local Government Joint Account, worse still state Governors deep their hands into the  funds paid in by the Federal Government.

The Monitoring of Revenue and Allocation  to Local Government Act 2005, outlaws any organ, authority or official of the  state to ”altar, deduct or re-allocate funds paid into the State/Local Government Joint Accounts.

The subject of debate among Nigerians, is the whereabouts of this act which was signed into law by a democratically elected Government.

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Education and Economic Recession : The Nigerian Experience

The rate of school drop outs in Nigeria is on the increase, while the standard of education at all levels has fallen drastically.

Banditry, cultism, gangsterism  and examination malpractice are now common place in  most educational institutions. Of concern, is the dearth of qualified  Teachers and basic infrastructure   at all levels, just as mushroom educational outfits  have taken over.Major cities and suburbs are home to a room, two rooms and three bedroom schools, with people wondering  how these schools secured Government approval. A sizable  number of state Governments now rely on these schools to compliment their efforts in the education sector.

Indeed, over crowding, poor working conditions for Teachers and poor sanitation have resulted in the  poor quality of teaching  and the turn out of half baked products.

The proliferation of  continuing education centres, also known as to cater for the tutorial colleges, deficiencies of the regular educational institutions has not helped matters.

These colleges perfect  various methods of examination malpractices, including  bribing of  examination officials, to obtain desired  results.

The  physical outlook of average student,  is a good reflection of the rot i the system, such a student if not observed carefully could be mistaken for a motor park tout or a street urchin.

Under normal conditions, wherein governance revolves on  accountability, education is an instrument of change and a means for accelerated  development. But this is only possible when education is available, relevant, accessible and affordable  to everyone, who is willing and ready.

To address he perennial problems confronting the education sector, Government should go extra mile to create an enabling environment for teaching and learning, comparable to what obtains in advanced countries.

In addition, Government should embark on regular supervision,monitoring and evaluation  of the entire system of education, while ensuring a rich curricula, that is diversified, to emphasize integrated skills development at the should basic  educational level.

In conclusion, leaders  facilitate attitudinal change, by laying good examples for the  people to follow.

 

 

 

An Health System To Watch

Poor infrastructure and equipment which are inadequate and gradually becoming obsolete characterize Government owned hospitals.

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Despite this fact, fees charged at the hospitals are cut throat, even as the prevalence of diseases has become the order of the day.

Several states are presently contending with the outbreak of meningitis.

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Incessant industrial action by medical and health workers, declining productivity and corruption are stumbling blocks in the health system in Nigeria, which is a suggestion that Government attaches little importance to the health status of Nigerians.

The major discussion among most Nigerians include how Government can increase the life expectancy of citizens, by ensuring high and substantial levels of immunization against all vaccine preventable diseases.

With the access to primary health care hinged on substantial Government support still the issue, the eradication, control and prevention of epidemic diseases remains a mirage.

Happenings around the country and the sight of helpless patients, who are left to their fate, calls for concern and worry.

Health professionals are not in the right frame of mind to give their best, as a result of poor remuneration and working conditions. Government remains unshaken, despite the rising number of deaths recorded at the various hospitals on a daily basis.

Nigerians, up till this moment, do not know the cornerstone of the health policy of the present administration in the country, even though a well bred and well educated scholar, is at the helm of  affairs in the health Ministry.

These days, most Nigerians are  taking every precaution not to migrate from their present status to that of an hospital patient, however, should in case  the inevitable happen, such people take solace in traditional medicine.

Is this good, for a country, endowed with an impressive  combination of human and natural resources ? Definitely not, but the praise singers still live in ”fantasy Island”.

Culture and Tourism in a Lawless Society

The Culture and Tourism sector has remained a great potential source  of revenue for several years, even though this potential is still undeveloped.

Revenue generation and employment opportunities have not been encouraging, while foreign  exchange earnings has been nothing to write home about., this is regardless of the huge amount of money set aside for the sector annually.

Several factors are responsible for the pitiable situation in the sector. These include poor and inadequate infrastructure, political, social and economical impediments.

Also, the  nonchalant attitude of Government towards Culture and Tourism, the absence of law and order in most communities in the country coupled with the less attractive incentives to woo private investors has made this sector’s potential to generate the much needed revenue a mirage.

Of worry, is the fact that most tourist centres have been converted to abodes for hoodlums, kidnappers and ritualists, while the law enforcement agencies are helpless on how best to approach the situation.The dangerous looks of those, who, daily throng these centres would definitely not attract tourists.

Indeed, a existence of a society, where law and order prevails, is a major prerequisite to boost activities in this sector.

In addition, a re branding of the country’s image is essential, as a step towards convincing prospective investors that the status quo is no longer the situation.

A common sight at a tourist centre, is that of an homeless miscreant, relaxing and keeping himself busy with outlawed substances.

Without doubt, the positive response of other sectors, such as that in charge of the environment is of great importance. Culture and Tourism can only thrive in a clean, decent and epidemic free environment.

Presently, most tourist attractions in the country are in a very bad state and are in need of total overhaul and rehabilitation.

Lastly, funds presently been pumped into projects that are not viable should be set aside to revamp the ‘sickly’ Culture and Tourism sector.

The Nigeria Customs Service : A Potential Non-Oil Revenue Earner

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The appointment of a career officer as the Comptroller-General of the Nigeria Customs Service(NCS) would have, indeed, prevented the avoidable intrigues,manoeuvre, backstabbing  and mudslinging that has characterized the relationship between the Senate and the NCS.

However, considerations outside globally accepted prerequisites, by the present administration, were instrumental in arriving at the status quo.

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There are six Geo-Political zones in the country, the North East, North West, North Central, South East, South West and South South, representing the diverse ethnic and tribal groupings.

These groupings are, all the time, desirous to be given a sense of belonging. Unfortunately, this has not been the  case for several years.

The history of the Nigeria Customs  is closely followed by grumblings of lack of sense of belonging by tribal groupings, since it was established in 1819.

 Indeed, from 1964 to the present time, Ayodele Dina, who was Chairman, Board of Customs and Excise, South(1964) and Oyebode Oyeleye, who was Director, Department of Customs and Excise, South(1976) were from the South West, while H.E Duke, father of a one time Governor of Cross River state, Donald Duke was the only individual from the South South, appointed as Chairman, Board of Customs and Excise, South in 1968.

In 2009, when Bernard Nwadialo, who is from the South East was appointed Comptroller-General, South, the three man committee constituted by the then Presidency, to oversee the operations of the Customs made Nwadialo’s position ceremonial. The committee was empowered by the Nigeria Customs Service Board.

Sadly, today, the NCS is still contending with how best to carry out its mandate  of jerking up the country’s revenue base from the non-oil sector and effectively checkmating the activities of smugglers at the nation’s borders.

Not long ago, men of the NCS  chased a truck load of smuggled products into the Sango market, in Ibadan, Nigeria. The smugglers mobilized jobless youths in and around the market to battle the Customs men, who stayed action, on realizing the danger that was lurking. When they also noticed that the Police were not in any way sure, if security of lives and property would be guaranteed, they withdrew.

However, an official of the  Public Relations office of the Customs Osun/ Oyo Command insisted that the invasion of the market was backed by section 147 of the Nigeria Customs Management act.

Curiously, factories which are  predominantly owned by expatriates, are having field day, stock piling products, majorly on the contraband list of the NCS, with impunity.

This has brought to the fore the fact that ”some animals are more equal than others”. Most especially when the Special Protection Unit(SPU)  of a law enforcement agency guarantees the safety of the lives and property of their paymasters, while Nigerians daily go to sleep, with one eye closed.

Of note, is the fact that a worrisome number of innocent lives  have been lost, due to the presence of men of the NCS, in areas, not among the porous borders of the country.

Indeed, Nigerians have great doubts, if at all there are ongoing reforms targeted at raising the standard of operational efficiency and effectiveness of the service and achieving 48 hours cargo clearance in the Nigerian ports.

The major issues weighing down the NCS have been in the public domain for several years, without any concrete efforts aimed at addressing same. Rather time and energy are being dissipated on peculiar interests, which without doubt  goes beyond public good.

The Nigerian Environment and Its Myriads of Challenges

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Deteriorating services by organizations in the Environment sector via obsolete equipment is a major problem, Nigerians have been contending with for several years.

In addition, low and inferior quality  waste management equipment, environmentally unfriendly technology and below average waste management and land use practices, have all contributed to make major cities in Nigeria, filthy.

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Even though, refuse generation is on the increase in cities and towns, Government at all levels have not been proactive in the areas of waste reduction, recycling and reuse.

Indeed, citizens expect Government to demonstrate it commitment to protect the ozone  layer.

The expectations of Nigerians include to experience  visible steps by Government in securing a conducive environment for good health and well being and the conservation and  conversion and of the environment and natural resources for the  overall good of the present and unborn generations, among several others. But it is not the expectation of the citizens that Governments at the state level would stoop so low, as to mobilize party  loyalists from other states, who are criminal elements, to deliberately dump refuse in the premises of house owners, as obtains at the Olorunsogo, Molete area of Ibadan, Oyo state.

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Sadly, if happenings in different states of the Federation is anything to go by, it is doubtful if there is a national policy on Environment.

There might not be  in existence time-bound programmes on solid waste management and sanitation, industrial pollution, afforestation and reforestation, conservation of biodiversity and wild life, in most states.

How effective  and successful the private sector participation in environmental sanitation issues have been, is left for state  Governments that have involved  private individuals, in this all important sector, to determine.

In most cities and towns, citizens  are not ready to listen to private  refuse contractors, since the contractors lack the will power to enforce  environmental sanitation laws.

The order of the day in several states, is revenue generation, rather than the effective implementation of  town planning  measures  and better  town planning practices. The construction of Petrol stations in residential areas is a common place in a sizable number of cities and  towns.

Of worry, is the use of obsolete technology, equipment and vehicles by those involved in Public Private Partnerships in some states.

Interestingly, Government at all levels have carefully avoided any form of assistance  to industries to change to ozone-friendly production process, because these industries are at the mercy of Government, when it comes to taxation.

However, with the myriad  of problems weighing down the Nigerian environment   such as drought and desertification, wind, sheet  and gully erosion, coastal and marine erosion, flood, uncontrolled logging and tree felling, inappropriate agricultural practices, uncontrolled use  of aggro-chemicals, loss of aesthetic  value, damage  to marine and wildlife, stack fumes and unregulated and grossly excessive automotive and related exhausts, among others, it is  the hope that Government will adopt worth the while measures to address the worrisome  situation in the Environment sector.