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Challenges Before President Jonathan

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There is no gainsaying  the fact that President Goodluck Jonathan is one of the most educated persons to occupy the nation’s seat of power. Interestingly, President Jonathan is also credited with a wealth of knowledge in governance which none of his predecessors had, having served as deputy  Governor and Governor in Bayelsa State.

President Jonathan  also served as Nigeria’s vice president, acting president and now serving as president. Jonathan’s towering credentials, many are optimistic that the good times are around the corner. The followership and number of votes garnered by the president during the 2011 general election were indicative of the confidence  reposed in him. 

However, the test of leadership does not consist in the wealth of knowledge alone especially when it comes to steering the ship of state  in Nigeria’s stormy politics.

Following the electoral victory, one would have thought that the populace would be supportive of the policy and programmes of the incumbent government. Pathetically. President Jonathan misjudged the highly volatile Nigerian electorate as he removed the fuel subsidy. The President received his first shocker when organised labour slammed an industrial  action to armtwist him to revert to the status quo ante. The protracted negotiations  brought in its wake a plethora of sufferings. The commoner were worst hit by the spiral inflation that was the order of the day. The truce between labour and the federal government helped to assuage the suffering of the people.

The Federal government promised to use the proceeds of the increase in fuel pump price to maintain infrastructural facilities and a committee was inaugurated  for the reinvestment of the fund.

Nevertheless, the nation is yet to see the result of such reinvestment. The strike must have sent a signal to the federal government that the people of the Nigerian nation could not be taken for granted.

President  Jonathan witnessed  an upsurge of Boko Haram activities. The bestialities, horrors, breakdown of law and order brought hopelessness and put the country on a precipice. These acts of terrorism  worsened Nigeria’s international relations. The explosion of locally  made bombs  in Churches, public centres  police stations made everybody a target. Nobody could and acertain the object of Boko Haram.

There was no peace in the north and Abuja, the nation’s federal capital territory was not free from menace of the sect.

Only recently that terrorism in the north subsided and Nigerians were beginning to have  a sigh of relief when the Niger River began to overflow its bank. The River Niger is quite a long one almost running through the length of Nigeria. No wonder Nigeria  simply means Niger area.

Today, the talk is no longer about  Boko Haram, its all about containing the flooding occasioned by the overflow of the Niger. Even the Boko Haram is vulnerable to flooding. The over flow of  the Niger started from the north where thousands of people had been rendered homeless and properties worth millions of naira were destroyed.

Again, the flood moved to Anambra state where it wreaked havoc. The  flooding in Kogi, Anambra Rivers, Bayelsa and Delta States are horrifying.

In Rivers State, the entire Egi clan consisting of more than 10 communities have been sacked. Residents of these communities have been  displaced and their means of livelihood destroyed. In Ogba/Egbema/Ndoni Local Government  area, their  agrarian life has been destroyed. These flood victims have become destitute living at the benevolence of others. Oil firms operating in Omoku, headquarters of Ogba/Egbema/Ndoni LGA have shutdown on the interim to allow the flood subside. There are indications that the flooding has not abated. Many communities that were hitherto not flooded are gradually being flooded.

In Rivers State, Ahoada and Abua areas are experiencing the flood. Before the Rivers State government intervened, traders had used the excuse of destruction of farmlands occasioned by  flood to hike the prices of foodstuff in the state.

Garri, the staple food of the people was sold for N4,500 a basin as a result of the flooding. But  before the flood, a basin was sold for  N2,000 in Port Harcourt. The intervention of Governor Chibuike Amaechi has helped to assuage the pains of the people.

More than anything else, the present hiking of foodstuff in the state foreshadows  the imminent famine that would ravage the country as a result of destruction of farmlands.

Again, FG has been put on its toes as  the President  visits flooded states and communities. The Federal Government has been sending relief  to the  flood victims and there is no  indication  that the flood is abating.

Unfortunately, President Goodluck Jonathan became President when he is expected to clean the Augean stable. Clearing the Augean stable does not seem an easy task. Years of misrule  of the  military have put the country on a precipice: there are limited  employment for  over youths, infrastructural delay and widespread corruption.

As it is, the President is not only confronted with crises   originating from human  persons but natural disasters  as well. In terms of the terrorist acts of Boko Haram, the President  can reach a truce with the perpetrators but  what truce can be reached with nature.

The conspiracy of nature and nurture against the  regime of our  dear president  has put a frontal  challenge before him, which he must endeavour to surmount and put his deteractors to shame.

On the other hand, if the President capitulates to those distractions then the end of our nation state looms large.

 

John Enyie

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Opinion

Agriculture As Alternative Economic Hub

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In the face of current economic challenges in the country, there have been calls among stakeholders for the diversification of the economy from its oil-based monolithic status.
Since the discovery of oil in Nigeria in 1956 and the oil boom in the 1970s, oil has dominated the economy of the country. Nigeria presently operates a monolithic economy with over 95 per cent dependence on oil. Oil accounts for more than 90 per cent of the country’s export, 25 per cent of Gross Domestic Products (GDP) and 80 per cent of government total revenues.
Consequently, this has led to substantial instability in the country’s economy, a concurrent decline in other economic sectors, and the collapse of infrastructure and social services.
Worthy of attention is the fact that oil is gradually losing its relevance as the major driver of the economy globally due to discoveries like solar energy and other alternative energy sources for vehicles and various uses. Solar energy, for instance, evolved to become one of the most cost effective and efficient sources of energy.
These developments have affected the prices of oil in the international market. The U.S Energy Information Administration (EIA) has predicted that between now and 2022, solar energy and other renewables will account for the majority of new power.
Before the discovery of oil, Nigeria’s major economic earnings was agriculture, but the advent of oil led to the neglect of the obvious potentials in agriculture. Agriculture has suffered from years of mismanagement, inconsistent and poorly conceived government policies, and lack of basic infrastructure. Still, the sector forms about 42 per cent GDP and two thirds of employment.
Agriculture provides a significant fraction (approximately 10%) of non-oil growth. Poultry and cocoa are just two areas where production is not keeping pace with domestic or international demand. Fishery also has great potentials but is poorly managed.
It is no secret that Nigeria is blessed with arable land and resources for agriculture and there is no tropical agricultural crop known to man that cannot be grown in Nigeria.
Agricultural development, in order to be enhanced, should be based on the concept of comparative advantage of the North, South, East.
The North occupies 70 per cent of Nigeria’s land mass, giving it a comparative advantage in terms of agriculture, raw materials and livestock . A large chunk of the North is arable and supportive of year – round food production. With a transition from subsistence to mechanized agriculture, northern Nigeria alone can produce enough food to feed the whole of Africa.
The South is blessed with abundant water resources, adequate rainfall, numerous rivers and ponds to enhance aquaculture. Aquaculture has been the world’s fastest growing food production sector for nearly two decades. The contribution of fish farming and fisheries to the nation’s economy is very significant in terms of employment, income generation, poverty alleviation, foreign exchange earnings and provision of raw materials for animal feed industry.
The Eastern part of the country is also not left out as it is a major source of palm oil production. In the 1950s, Nigeria held centre stage as one of the largest producers and exporters of palm oil, accounting for more than four per cent of the country’s independence from British colonial rule in 1960. Palm oil contributed 82 per cent of national export revenue.
Having considered all these, it is imperative that all parts of Nigeria should be made to embrace agriculture. Government should mobilise people from every region and give incentives.
The Green Revolution introduced by the Shagari administration in the 80s should be revived. The programme was intended to ensure self-sufficiency in food production and introduce modern technology into the Nigerian agriculture sector largely through the introduction of modern imputs such as high yielding varieties of seeds, fertilizers and tractors. This should be re-enacted.
There should be proper sensitisation and mobilisation of the rural areas to be actively engaged in agro-based activities and the provision of loans and incentives for real farmers. These funds should be monitored to ensure that they are not hijacked and diverted by portfolio-carrying farmers.
Currently, Nigeria wastes a staggering 1.3 trillion on food imports, virtually one third of the annual budgets. Therefore, government should reduce the rate of importation of food and invest this money in agricultural development. All stakeholders must be sincere to ensure that agricultural revolution in Nigeria is not politicised.
It is obvious that with the phasing out of oil in the global scene, the economic future of Nigeria can only be secured through massive investment in agriculture. Agriculture is the most reliable way to sustainable development and economic advancement. It covers all aspects of human activities and also serves as the basis of humanity. Therefore, Nigeria should give it a first place by developing and exploiting the sector.
Enebechi is a student of Abia State University, Uturu.

 

Esther Enebechi

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Opinion

Nigeria’s Security And Tech-Driven Policing

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Problems such as inappropriate policing, poor orientation and lack of proactive/preventive measures, have made the Nigeria Police to perform generally below the expected deliverables. Thus, Nigeria’s rank in the world, as presented by the Global Terrorism Index of 2018, reveals a dire need for more action by initiating a purposeful technology-driven policing and workable security strategies in combating terrorists’ deadly activities, as well as other crimes and criminalities.
On another hand, the inability of the federal government through its security apparatus, to overcome insurgency with its available technical know-how, apparently calls for a new approach in the country’s effort at fighting insecurity. An approach that will be founded on credible intelligence gathering, acquisition of modern technology, capacity building, and interagency collaboration.
Just a week ago, twenty-four hours after an attack on Kukoki village in Shiroro Local Government Area of Niger State, bandits again sacked three more communities in Rafi Local Government Area on Tuesday evening. It was gathered that the heavily armed bandits which rode motorcycles numbering about 30 and carrying three people each, ransacked the three communities, forcing them to run to Kagara,the headquarters of Rafi Local Government Area.
According to an eye witness account, “As at 6:45pm on Tuesday, an exodus of escapees from the three villages numbering hundreds had opened four camps in Kagara. More worrisome is the fact that these embattled communities are walled round with security presence, yet the Niger State Police Commissioner, Adamu Usman, could say that “the police are reviewing the security architecture of communities in the hinterland because it appears they are prone to this type of security breach.”
Yesterday, the public woke up to yet another heart-wrecking news. This time, bandits sacked 17 villages in Igabi Local Government Area of Kaduna State. According to the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN), the displaced persons, numbering about 2,000, are taking refuge at LEA Birnin Yero Primary School.
The list is endless. No day passes without an attack on helpless Nigerians in their on land, like a people left alone to rot in their fate. Regrettably, billions of naira are voted on yearly basis for the security of Nigerians, a situation that has not only subjected the populace to fear and trauma, but to economic hardship as people fear daily to go about their legitimate life activities.
The faulty security architecture of the country, has made imperative the need for a technology-driven policing. It will not only enable law-enforcement agencies to be proactive, but will also be quite useful in predicting potential crimes rather than being reactive. It is in the light of this realization, that the recent gesture demonstrated by the United States Of America (USA) to Nigeria is commendable.
The US pledge to always support the Nigerian government in her war against terrorism, became quite visible in her donation of two Mobile Radiation Detection System (vehicles) MDS, with associated equipment, spare parts and maintenance kits to the Explosives Ordinance Disposal (EOD) of the Nigeria Police. This, the Senior Adviser to the US Department of Energy /National Nuclear Security, Mr Bryceon Shulman, said was done to enhance Nigeria’s Nuclear Security Detection Architecture.
These modern equipment, which will go a long way in assisting the Police in the detection of illegally-acquired improvised explosives, couldn’t have been more timely any other time than now that the nation appears quite exhausted in its approach at curtailing the menace of terrorism, security threat and other dastard acts.
Luckily, Mr Bryceon Shulman said that the US government has sent a team of trainers to train and retrain some EOD officers on ways to handle the equipment, an offer the US has made at no cost. It is hoped that it will offer participants the ability to operate and maintain the MDS and associated hand-held equipment.
As a matter of necessity, participants must see this training as a great privilege to acquire more technical knowledge in radiation detection in line with global best practices. According to the Inspector-General of Police, Mohammed Adamu, the training will improve the capacity of the police, in conformity with her statutory responsibility for crime prevention and detection.
However, our US partners have demonstrated an enormous concern at Nigeria’s most challenging moment. Her provision of security apparatus, backed up with human resources to impact the knowledge on the modus operandi of the gadgets, is an absolute expression of a willingness to see Nigeria succeed.
It is therefore left with the Nigeria Police to either justify the effort of the US government, or rubbish it. Recall that few years back, Nigeria Police were equipped with some detective security gadgets and close circuit cameras at some designated check points within state capitals to facilitate their work.
How many of those exclusively important gadgets are still functional today, is a question only the police can answer. Insinuations were rife of how disappointed the officers were with the gadgets which presence deprived them of the usual extortive tendency.
But one thing is sure, the gesture is geared towards strengthening our capability to deter, detect and investigate smuggling of nuclear and radioactive sources /materials thereby combating threats associated with nuclear terrorism/crime.
It is only an effective use of these equipment and the subsequent utilization of the knowledge that will be acquired from the important training that can guarantee a total deterrent of people from accessing radioactive material that can be used to perpetrate heinous crimes; and prevent exportation of radioactive materials as scrap metals.
In the light of the need to detect and identify illegally-imported or transported materials at international entry/exit points of the country, deter terrorists and other criminal elements from accessing materials that can be used to perpetrate heinous crimes, and enhance security at major public events against improvised nuclear device, radiological dispersal device, radiological exposure device, and other nuclear security threats, it is important we lay emphasis on maximum utilization of the gadgets donated by the US government.

 

Sylvia ThankGod-Amadi

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Opinion

Before Youths Are Consumed

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It has become expedient for all Nigerians to be subjected to mandatory periodic drug tests, given the high crime rate and the pervasive killings across the land. Honestly, how this proposition can be accomplished remains unclear at the moment.
From time to time Nigeria is rudely reminded that there are issues concerning the mental and psychological state of a good number of citizens, especially youths, in relation to illegal drug consumption. The most recent reminder were the incidents of 1st January 2018 when daredevil cultists and herdsmen effectuated widespread killings in different parts of the country including Rivers State.
Drug use and abuse are obvious reasons why many youths have taken to heinous crimes. Hard drugs are the source of dangerous crimes and health problems in our society today. Because of their regular abuse, drug-related incarceration has increased in the country’s prisons.
What is drug abuse? It is the deliberate use of chemical substances for reasons other than their intended medical purposes which results in physical, mental, emotional or social impairment of the user. In other words, drug abuse can happen when they are used illegitimately.
Why are many Nigerian youths taking to massive drug consumption as a way of life? There are two primary reasons for it. These are peer group influence and depression. Another reason for the huge drug intake is ignorance. Many drug addicts believe they need hard drugs to feel good. So, they are taken as routine medicines.
That is why the fight against the plague has to be intensified before our youths are consumed. The National Agency for Food, Drug Administration and Control (NAFDAC) and the National Drug Law Enforcement Agency (NDLEA) have to be up and doing in this legendary battle by preventing the sale of pernicious drugs in the country.
Both agencies must ensure that dangerous drugs like codeine, tramadol, diazepam etc. are only sold upon presentation of doctor’s prescription to prevent their abuse. Punitive measures have to be instituted against erring medical doctors in this regard.
It is hard for anyone to dispute the expansive deglutition of hard drugs in Nigeria, especially in the northern part of the country. For instance, recently released statistics indicate that about three million codeine are consumed in Kano and Jigawa States annually.
The situation is so awful that some residents of the Internally Displaced Persons (IDP) camp in North East are involved in this misconduct. While girls take dangerous cough mixtures and other drugs with codeine to get ‘high’, boys use cocaine, heroine and Indian hemp.
Indian hemp is the most frequently expended drug perhaps because it is home-grown and so easily accessible. It is also cheap. Because of its effect in mood alterations, poor and uneducated youths have found ally in it to their detriment.
Precarious drugs are ingested in virtually all sections of the country. For example, between October and November last year, officials of the NDLEA, Bayelsa State Command, arrested 77 illicit drug suspects. The command says tramadol, codeine and diazepam were among drugs absorbed by youths in the state.
Youths who are into drug abuse have to be educated on their effects more so when it has been established that reckless use of hard drugs can destroy kidneys and make the victims vulnerable to cancer. It also leads to increase in crime rate, mental disorder, child abuse, domestic violence, rape as well as homelessness and poverty.
For these reasons, access to illicit drugs must be restricted. Unrestricted access to drugs and poor regulatory framework are part of the reasons for the astronomical increase in their unauthorised use. Governments and law enforcement agencies in the country must obviate this.
Additionally, the existence of many unregistered and illegal medicine outlets and open drug markets all over the country make it easier for Nigerians to source some of these drugs without prescription.
The recurring hazard of drug misuse and abuse is taking unprecedented toll on the health of consumers. What the development requires is immediate erection of rehabilitation centers across the country to assist in quick rehabilitation of drug addicts.
To check this trend, governments and all stakeholders must collaborate and design ways to prevent access to dangerous substances. Also, drug regulation must be made stronger to thwart distribution chains. Open drug markets in major cities have to be identified and dismantled as well.
Nigerians should be properly enlightened on the dangers of hard drugs and be made to purchase drugs with prescription from only registered pharmacies as is the case in civilised climes. NAFDAC and NDLEA have so much to do in this regard. They have to synergise to stem the wanton abuse of drugs that promote high crime rate currently experienced in the country.

 

Arnold Alalibo

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