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Simple Agenda Promises A Secure Edo With Novel Social Packages

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Don Osehobo Ofure

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Mr. Godwin Obaseki as Edo State governor sits on a security vote of N900million monthly (N10.8billion Annually), according to the Wikipedia. It is one of the highest security votes by States in Nigeria. Yet for many residents and even visitors passing by the state, Mr. Godwin Obaseki should be blamed for the very high level of insecurity the state is experiencing today. The state of insecurity is visible, as all parts of the state including the capital, Benin City, Edo north and Edo Central are deeply affected.

Although, relevant sections of the Constitution recognize the Nigeria Police Force as the agency responsible for the provision of security in the states of the federation, Edo is one of many states in the country which can set up organizations to complement the efforts of the police and ensure safety of lives and properties.

After almost three years in office and following public outcry over the spate of violent crimes ravaging the state, Mr. Obaseki said that the government he heads has created new state security architecture he called ‘Operation Wabaizighan’. He said the idea will complement the efforts of the regular police force in the area of combating kidnapping, cult killings, armed robbery, as well as herdsmen/farmers clashes. The organization was designed to be funded under the State Security Trust Fund, with the state government committing N2 billion as seed fund in 2019.

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He had listed the components of the architecture to include 50 special security cars fitted with modern communication and security gadgets, 30 Toyota Hilux patrol vans, 30 patrol motor bikes and three Armored Personnel Carriers APC, three ambulances, Integrated Command and Control Centre and five special security check points, to be manned at all the entry and exit points in the state. Others he said are Special Patrol Units (land and waterways); Integrated Electronic City Surveillance Unit, Establishment of a Special Force unit/anti-kidnapping squad, establishment of K-9 unit, establishment of paramedics unit, establishment of the Public Works Volunteers (PUWOV) scheme with 3000 trained and kitted workforce and a community police radio network.

READ ALSO: OPINION: Interrogating The Simple Agenda, Erosion And Flooding In Edo

There are also indications that Mr. Obaseki was privy to a strategic document titled, “Contemporary security challenges facing Edo state, Nigeria”, authored by A.B. Jatto et al. In the paper released, the authors undertook an analysis of Nigerian security issues specifically evaluating Edo State, deriving from structured deliberations around the issue of security challenges in Edo State held in London in 2015 involving key stakeholders.

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In their findings they said that the State faces serious security challenges arising from natural disasters and climate change, and the rise of sea levels resulting in floods and erosion. In the economic sphere, they said Edo state experiences high unemployment rate due to the absence of key industries and lack of investment and inappropriate models of education. In addition they also identified as an immediate concern, is herdsmen, whilst political security has remained unabated due to the rising numbers of political assassinations in the state. The paper advanced a number of recommendations to address many of these problems, none of which has been applied by Mr. Obaseki.

Many residents of Edo state insist however that it is the responsibility of a responsible government everywhere in the world to protect the lives and property of all its citizens, irrespective of age, faith, sex or vocation, lamenting the state of insecurity in the state. They say Edo people are not safe in their homes and they no longer sleep with their two eyes closed. Their conclusion is that it is a misnomer to hear, daily news of violent crimes, sometimes in broad day light by youths, who should be gainfully employed to help build Edo state. Their verdict, Obaseki has failed!

Worried by the trend, some residents and communities across Edo state have resorted to self-help to check insecurity. From Edo South, citizens have expressed concerns that their relatives abroad even before Covid19 stopped visiting home since Obaseki took office in 2016. They blame the unabated kidnapping, cult-related killings and rape in Edo, is alarming. They repeatedly called on the state government and security agents to intensify efforts at solving the problems to no avail. As one respondent said, “We are concerned about this insecurity, because of the fact that our children living abroad who would love to travel with their parents to Benin City, to experience or fraternize with their relatives and friends are increasingly discouraged”.

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READ ALSO: OPINION: Obasa Allegations Should Worry Buhari, Tinubu

It’s the same story in Edo Central where citizens formed a Vigilante to help protect against destruction of lives and properties, farmlands, cash crops and other legitimate means of livelihood in various communities in the locality. They rationalized the vigilance group and said it will be involved in community policing and assisting security agencies to ensure the safety of lives and properties in the area. They also said they will be collaborating with security agencies to address incessant killings, kidnappings, assassinations, armed banditry, raping and destruction of lives and property in the area.

The All Progressive Congress (APC) governorship candidate in Edo State, Pastor Osagie Ize-Iyamu, has a plan to address the insecurity in Edo state, so citizens can sleep with their two eyes closed and news of violent crimes will be left for the past. He has said that even with the huge sum Mr. Obaseki receives monthly, he, “…has not been able to show commitment to security funding. Every month, the governor collects over N600 million as security vote and gives the police N5 million, not even enough to fuel vehicles”.

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He says when he gets elected as Edo state Governor in September; his government will show sincerity in combating crime and make adequate investments in technology to combat crime. This is because Security and Social welfare is the first plank of his covenant with Edo people, he calls SIMPLE AGENDA. The other part is Social Welfare. There is no doubt that the potentials of Edo state are huge in terms of its ability to attract tourists, investments and quality jobs but the current security situation in the state makes the realization of these potentials unrealistic and unattainable.

Many in Diaspora have demonstrated willingness to come home and invest their skills and material resources for the state’s development, given proper incentives, but unfortunately, the current level of insecurity in the state makes the realization of its full economic potentials a pipe dream. In cases where some of the few some braved the odds and came home to explore some investment opportunities, they have fallen victims to either abduction or other violent crimes. But all that will change under the coming APC government led by Pastor Osagie Ize-Iyamu. The government will provide an enabling environment for Edo people so that they can channel investments back to the state.

READ ALSO: OPINION: Captain Hosa’s Open Letter Illuminates The Tyranny Of Edo’s Reprobate Governor By John Mayaki 
Pastor Osagie Ize-Iyamu’s plan for securing lives and properties in Edo is a global best practice approach to security delivery, involving all stakeholders in our communities and the use of well-trained and motivated personnel, empowered with cutting edge technology for combating crime, will be adopted to make Edolites sleep with their two eyes closed once again. It will feature a new security architecture that is intelligence-driven, and an integrated state security system that collects information with relevant data from all security agencies and is able to analyze and use it to identify security threats and take appropriate and timely action to deal with them proactively and decisively. Best practice decision making procedures will also be put in place to enhance the rapid response of the security outfit to emerging threats without the usual bureaucratic delays.

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The Simple Agenda’s other panacea to finding a lasting and effective solution to the security challenge in Edo, is the important role of the individual and the community. The fears people have about reporting crime because of their personal safety as they do not trust that the people they are reporting to may be complicit in the crime, will be eliminated. In this regard, a functional emergency system as part of the security architecture in the State with an emergency system like 911 will be put in the state. This will be achieved by the relevant state and telecommunication companies, working together.

The Simple Agenda also promise adequate provision of materials and institutional support for the Police and other security agencies in the state, including but not limited to operational vehicles and trucks as well as ultra-modern communication crime-detection and crime-prevention equipment such as the tracking device to detect the location of kidnappers and their hapless victims.

On the Edo State Security Trust Fund, Pastor Osagie Ize-Iyamu will overhaul it in a manner that it will be function as a special purpose vehicle to mobilize adequate funding for security agencies on a sustainable basis. And it plans the Community policing Program involving Neighborhood watch and Vigilante groups in rural and urban areas. Under this plan the state government will partner with all Edo state traditional rulers, village heads, school authorities, civil society and religious organizations in the quest to find a pragmatic and lasting solution to insecurity because safety of lives and property is an ingredient for the state to move forward.

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READ ALSO: Opinion:Soyinka’s Wisdom Cures Buhari’s Impotence
On Social Welfare, it draws from the Universal Declaration of Human Rights which Article 22 says that as a member of any society, citizens have the right to Social Security. Social Security has been described as any government scheme that provides monetary or other forms of assistance to people with an inadequate or no income. The article adds that citizens are also entitled to its realization, through deliberate government effort and in accordance with the resources of each state.  This is to ensure that he/she enjoys the economic, social and cultural rights indispensable for human dignity and the free development of their personality.

Globally, Social security proponents argue that the society in which a person live should help them to develop and to make the most of all the advantages (culture, work, social welfare) which are offered to them. In more sublime climes, Social security also refer to the action programs of the state intended to promote the welfare of the population through assistance measures guaranteeing access to sufficient resources for food, water and shelter and to promote health and well-being for the population at large and potentially vulnerable segments such as children, widows, persons with disability, the elderly, the sick and the unemployed.

This is what the All Progressives Congress (APC) candidate in the Edo governorship election, Pastor Osagie Ize-Iyamu has in mind for Edo state in his Manifesto of Hope called Simple Agenda, which he has promised to, implement, when he gets elected as State governor. As a matter of fact under the very difficult conditions Covid19 imposed on the world, including Edo state such as limitations of movements, loss of jobs, hunger and shortage of food, water and access to healthcare, Pastor Ize-Iyamu earlier this year gave Edo people a glimpse of what to expect with his Social Security Scheme. This was when he unfolded palliatives for vulnerable people across Edo state in the wake of the pandemic. With the lockdown due to restriction of movement of persons across the state as part of measures to reduce the spread of the dreaded Corona virus, he said he acted because of a compelling need to do so.

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Covid19 Information, Education and Communication, IEC materials were put on TV and Radio as jingles, in addition to enlightenment leaflets, handbills and flyers sponsored by Pastor Ize-Iyamu, his wife, Professor Idia and their friends. In addition, they distributed Lorry loads of branded Hand Sanitizers and followed it up with foodstuff like Beans, Rice, Salt Garri and even water to the most vulnerable across the 192 wards in the 18 local government areas that make up Edo State. Pastor Ize-Iyamu had made public two emergency phone numbers as help lines for people in dire need of food and water within the state but could not come out. He took the palliative to their homes. The initial target of 4000 families was exceeded, so much that that an uncountable number of families in every part of the state, in every ward and unit became beneficiaries.

It is against this backdrop that Pastor Ize-Iyamu’s plan is to develop a comprehensive Social Security Scheme that will make social welfare programs work for all citizens can be understood. To actualize this he plans to establish a data bank where every resident of Edo State will be allotted a personalized life-time Social Security Number. With this, government will have ready information to enable it plan and provide the social security for children, widows, persons with disability, the elderly, the sick and the unemployed. And as a deliberate state policy to protect vulnerable persons from discrimination and exploitation, the coming Edo state government led by Pastor Ize-Iyamu hopes to facilitate the enactment of appropriate legislation as well implement initiatives to this effect.

Pastor Osagie Ize-Iyamu’s Simple Agenda, also plans the establishment of Social welfare offices to handle matrimonial problems and help resolve them through family counseling and mediating services.  These will be set up for each of the three senatorial districts across Edo state and backed with the relevant enabling legislation. His policies  will  protect  widows  and  children  of  the  deceased  from harmful traditional practices,  harassment  and  intimidation are also in this lofty package.  Also relevant  provisions  will  be  made  to  ensure  that  widows and children  in Edo state have easier access to the Estate,  retirement benefits, pension and other assets of their deceased husbands or parents as the case maybe.

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A vigorous and proper enlightenment campaign of the provisions of the Child Protection Law of Edo state is also on the cards of the Social Welfare policy of the APC candidate. This will be pursued as a vital step against Child Labor and its twin evil, Child Abuse; not only to discourage its violation but to ensure its enforcement. And for a man who has high regard for Senior citizens like pensioners, who have served the state in various capacities as civil servants, Pastor Ize-Iyamu’s concern for their welfare can be better imagined. This is why his template for the care of pensioners is one of a kind.

READ ALSO: OPINION: Captain Hosa’s Open Letter Illuminates The Tyranny Of Edo’s Reprobate Governor By John Mayaki 
Lastly, with a growing population of the qualified but unemployed, especially restive youths, and the failed promise by the current government to create 200,000 jobs since 2016, the Simple Agenda’s solution can better be appreciated. With the creation of the  Edo State Employment Bureau (ESEB), responsible for identifying the unemployed and employable in Edo state, and capturing them in a database with their qualifications, the Bureau should be able to make available and at convenient notices, opportunities for employment.

Ofure Osehobo is the Edo APC Media Council Scribe on Traditional Media in Benin City.

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Opinion

OPINION: Between The Content Of Our Character And The Colour Of Our Currency

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By Suyi Ayodele

There was a Second Republic politician, a stark illiterate, who played a prominent role in helping a particular government to power. He was duly compensated with the post of a commissioner in the Ministry of Local Government and Chieftaincy Affairs. As time went by, the man had irreconcilable issues with the appointing authority, the governor, and he was fired. The commissioner boasted that nobody would ever occupy the office he left. Nobody took the boast of an illiterate seriously. The governor went ahead and appointed a replacement. When the sacked commissioner heard about the appointment, he approached the new appointee and said: “Bùòdá, èyin ni wón gbé s’íbè. Aso tí ìpìn bá bó sílè kò sí baba eranko tó lò wo láíláí” (Elderly one, you are the one appointed. Whichever cloth the insect, ìpìn, puts off, no other animal will ever wear it). But before the new man assumed duty, the government changed every piece of furniture in the office, changed the rug and repainted. They knew that the immediate commissioner was very versed in metaphysics. The former man laughed it off. He waited like the old vulture he was. The new appointee was sworn in and moved to the office. Then the unexpected happened. The new man collapsed and was rushed out. When contacted, the sacked commissioner said he was shocked at the ignorance of the government, which went about changing the office paints and the furniture. He intoned that whether the furniture was changed a million times and the walls painted as many times as possible, the curse he placed was on the nomenclature of that office. The government got wiser thereafter and never appointed anyone into that ministry until the government ended its tenure.

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Ìkórè (harvest) season used to be the liveliest period of our Anglican Communion in the days of yore. We always looked forward to those colourful celebrations. The healthy competition among the various egbé (groups) in the church was infectious. The womenfolk were the most colourful. My late mother belonged to the Egbé Ìgbàlàyemì (Salvation Befits Me) group. Women younger than her were grouped into Egbé ÌwàbíOlórun (Character like of God). There were other groups, fighting for the Àsíá (plaque). Those women could sing. Most of their songs then were philosophical as they were didactic- speaking to morals, ethos and the dignity of humanity. One of such songs speaks to our discourse today. I crave your indulgence to render the lyrics in its native form. It goes thus: Ùwà l’ènìyàn – Character is the man/Hójé hùnkàn pàtàkì – It is of great value/ Olori Egbé yá múra súwá o – Leader of our group, pay attention to your character.

The women of my mother’s epoch (1927-2006) knew that character is of great value. At any given opportunity, they impressed on their leaders that they would need good character to be able to steer the ship of the groups to the shore of glory (ibùdó ògo). So, they constantly encouraged their Ìyá Egbés to be mindful of their character. Character is the man. What wisdom!

FROM THE AUTHOR: OPINION: Adamu’s Lamentation Equals Buhari’s Failure

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The educationists, who designed our curricula for our early education, were equally wise. They included in the learning processes of those days, ethical orientation programmes that ensured that before we started our classes, we were made to affirm the place of good character above academic excellence. We called it “Àkósórì” (rote learning). Most of the “Àkósórì” were poems written by the best of that era in children’s literature, Joseph Folahan Odunjo, popularly known as J .F. Odunjo. As we assembled to pray and listen to the daily instructions from the headmaster, we would recite one Àkósórì or the other. One of such recitations has its first clause as: “Tojú ìwà re òré mi” (Take care of your character, my friend). The recitation says money, beauty and education without character is nothing.

For wrote another poem in his Alawiye Series, titled, “Ise Logun ise” (Work is the antidote for poverty). He emphasises the need to be self-dependent and rely on one’s efforts and cut off entitlement mentality. The import of the messages in all the poems is about good character. If any man, and by extension, a nation or a people must make any progress, the character of such a man or people must be above board. No nation without leaders of good character can make any progress. You may change the policy directions as many times as you can, without a change in character for positive dispositions, nothing will change. These are the lessons we were taught in those good old days. The question now is: How many of our leaders still remember those messages? How many are applying them in the running of the nation?
On October 26, 2022, the Governor of the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN), Godwin Emefiele, announced that our currency, the Naira, in 200, 500 and 1000 denominations would be redesigned. The CBN top shot said that one of the principal factors responsible for the policy is the issue of hoarding of the banknotes by some Nigerians. Like edible commodities, some Nigerians are in the habit of hoarding the nation’s banknotes. According to Emefiele, over 80 per cent of the currency in circulation was outside the vaults of the commercial banks. He gave a worrisome figure. Of the total sum of N3.2 trillion printed Nigerian currency in circulation, as at September this year, a huge sum of N2.73 trillion was in the hands of individuals, outside the vaults of the various banks. What the CBN Governor was saying in the usual government diplomatic parlance is that some greedy Nigerians are in possession of over 80 percent of our entire money in circulation.

I was privileged to be taught elementary Economics in secondary school by two brilliant minds; Messrs Alebiosu in Form Four, and Fabamise in Form Five. These two gentlemen, if they were to explain the scenario painted by Emefiele, would simply say: because such a huge amount of our currency are outside the banking halls, where the banks could lend them to investors, our economic development is halted and where there are no companies and cottage industries, the unemployment rates will be high. Alebiosu and Fabamise would then swear that should that be the case, poverty, a very crushing one, would be the lot of the people. Simple Economics! That is exactly what we are experiencing in the country today. The CBN boss said that to arrest the situation, we would have to redesign our currency notes from the N200 denomination to the highest, which is the N1000 note. Then, measures were put in place to ensure that those hoarding the Naira notes would not be able to deposit them in large figures. I will not bother with all those measures for just one simple reason: those who have the capacity to hoard 80 percent of our money in circulation also have the capacity to frustrate any measure aimed at getting at them.

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Why would anyone, for instance, bury say, N1 billion in a hole in his bedroom? What sort of human beings would mop up over 80 percent of a nation’s money in circulation and keep that to themselves while poverty walks the streets of Nigeria in three piece suits? The answer is, again, character. Only a man of character, and good character for that matter, would realise that a wealthy man among millions of poor relations is the poorest of all men. Character alone would teach a man that appropriating a communal purse for personal use is tantamount to pure madness.

That is why, on a personal level, I find Emefiele’s policy of redesigning the Naira as not only inappropriate, but highly ridiculous. I will leave economists and financial experts to deal with the issues of the implications of the policy on the nation’s economy. I will equally not bother myself with the negative effects many of the aforementioned experts said it would bring to bear on our already comatose economy. My point here is: how long, after the redesigning, will it take the same hawks to mop up the newly introduced notes and hoard them the same way they did to the ones Emefiele and the voodoo economists of the Muhammadu Buhari administration are planning to change from December 15, 2022 to January 31, 2023? How do you redesign a currency without a corresponding redesigning of the character of the players in the nation’s economy? It is amusing, you know. The policy reminds me of the story of a Second Republic politician told above.

Rather than changing the colours of our Naira notes like a chameleon, Nigeria needs to change the characters of the money bags, the politicians, the businessmen and women, who get tax reliefs without any corresponding effects on the lives of the average citizens. When the government gives the monopoly of virtually every commodity to an individual, such a government ought to go a step further to check how much such commodities cost in the Nigerian markets. When a multi billionaire gets tax relief for many years, we need to ask him what he is spending the extra money on. Is it on what is beneficial to the mass of the people or what? We need to put a punitive system in place such that once we discover a huge amount of money on someone’s farm; such an individual is heavily punished.

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FROM THE AUTHOR: OPINION: Emilokan, Famine And Mother Killers

If it is true that a few Nigerians are hoarding over 80 percent of our Naira notes, we need to ask ourselves questions. For instance, how many of our past governors have been indicted for financial infractions? How many billions of naira have we traced to them? Where did they invest the money? How many of them are in jail houses for such infractions? Was it not recently that the same government, which promised to fight corruption, granted amnesty to former Governors Joshua Dariye and Jolly Nyame of  Plateau and Taraba States, respectively? These were individuals jailed for helping themselves to their states’ funds and before they could finish their terms, they were set free. What message is the government passing to the current and future hawks occupying leadership positions in the country? Is it our currency and its colours that should change or our orientation as a people? I can go on and on. For me, I think the issue of currency hoarding goes beyond changing the colours of the Naira notes. What Nigeria needs, and what it lacks in a very devastating magnitude, is the ethical orientation that would make such hideous practice a condemnable act, punishable by the laws of the land. What we need is a strong institution that punishes infractions like currency hoarding or currency decimation. A country which promotes, worships and rewards rogues like Nigeria does can change the colours of its banknotes as many times as it wishes; without a change in the character of those running roughshod over the affairs of the country, the currency redesigning becomes another hollow ritual! Like we say in my Ekiti dialect:  hi a luffecti – it will have no effect. The exercise is like a woman who changes her husband without changing her character, she will still come back to the same old problem.

Suyi Ayodele is a senior journalist, South-South/South-East editor, Nigerian Tribune, and a columnist with the same paper.

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OPINION: Adamu’s Lamentation Equals Buhari’s Failure

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By Suyi Ayodele

Lord Henry Peter Brougham lived between September 19, 1778 and May 7, 1868. As a British statesman, Brougham was involved in the transformation of Great Britain. He participated actively in the birth of the 1832 Reform Act and the 1833 Slave Abolition Act. His greatest weapon in abolishing slavery was education. His most memorable quote: “Education makes a people easy to lead but difficult to drive, easy to govern but difficult to enslave”, remains evergreen. He followed his principle about the invaluable importance of education all through his political careers. The greatest of his achievements was the establishment of the University College London. He later became Rector, University of Edinburgh and also established the Society for the Diffusion of Useful Knowledge. That is how good leaders transform the lives of their people. But not so with Adamu Adamu and the government he serves as Minister of Education.

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Adamu’s Wikipedia entry says: “He is a polyglot and speaks Hausa, English, Persian, Arabic and French”. That is where the beauty of his personage ends. He has been in government as a minister in charge of the nation’s education for almost eight years now. In government and governance, Adamu Adamu is a monumental failure. He admitted that himself on Thursday, November 3, 2022. He spoke at the 66th Meeting of the National Council on Education (NCE), which was held in Abuja. Most media platforms that reported the event had similar and fascinating headlines; “I have failed – Education Minister Adamu Regrets Not Ending Out-of-School Children Crisis”, the platforms reported. We are in the season of elections. Adamu’s ruling APC is seeking a revalidation of the mandates Nigerians gave to it in 2015 and 2019. Like the witches of old confessed their atrocities at the village square, Adamu was out on Thursday to confess his abysmal performance in the Ministry of Education, where he has ruined everything noble and ideal about that sector.

FROM THE AUTHOR: OPINION: Emilokan, Famine And Mother Killers

When you look at Adamu and his confession of failure, one cannot divorce him from his appointing authority, General Muhammadu Buhari. The elders say no one can cut the thumb into two and conclude that the head is not a relation of the neck. What the Buhari-led administration cannot destroy does not exist. Or, better still, what the Buhari-led administration has not destroyed since the Daura retired General came to Aso Rock Villa in 2015 does not exist. Fights against corruption and insecurity, which Buhari and his promoters anchored the Daura General’s quest for the presidency on, have since gone to the dogs. Name any segment of Nigeria’s national life that is still standing under the administration; you will find none! Many Nigerians believe that the latest medical tourism of Buhari to London at the wake of the migration of diplomats from Abuja, was his own stylish way of japaing! The arguments were so strong that one could hardly fault them. On a personal note, I don’t want to believe that Buhari ran away to London so that he would not be around when the security threat advisories issued by the USA, the UK, Canada and other sane countries become a reality. There is an old Ekiti folk song that makes nonsense of such a venture, to wit: ” “Ò dàrán Sule ò sà rí’Bádán, Íbádán he hi tì’rán hó mó bo hàlè ko yà júyá re” – he committed a crime and ran to Ibadan; Ibadan does not obliterate crimes; return home and face the consequences of your action. As much as I don’t believe the theory of Buhari japa, one cannot but question the wisdom in the timing of the medical trip, especially, when the president was not in any life-threatening medical condition. But how are we sure of that? Has Buhari ever told us what ails him since he has been spending our patrimony on his unending medical jamboree? Yeah, only on one occasion. He once told us that his ears were aching such that he could not fly to Lagos from Abuja for an official assignment. And, in all honesty, the president behaves very much like someone whose auditory canal has a perennial problem akin to what my mother tongue calls “eti ndun e” – your ears are paining you (transliteration). Don’t let us bother about the full semiotic implications of that clause in my mother tongue; lest we are accused of being uncharitable to the exalted office of the president.

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But I digress! Let us return to Adamu and his lamentations. The minister, who once walked out on Nigerian students on a live TV interaction, said that he noticed that with almost seven years in the saddle as the Minister of Education, he is the longest serving minister in that ministry. That is highly commendable. Buhari has retained him in that position not because of Adamu’s sterling performances, but because the appointing authority does not appear to have put any measure in place to estimate the performances of his appointees. In a cabinet where the man in charge is truly in charge, an Adamu Adamu would not have lasted six months. So it is not shocking that the man came to openly admit that he had failed. According to him, his priority while coming to the office was to solve the problem of out-of-school children. Amend that to read: “not-in-school children”. Seven years down the line, Adamu’s scorecard reads: “Seven years ago, when I became Minister, I made it (out-of-school-children challenge) my priority and up till this moment, it is my priority. I recently received a phone call from one of our elders where he informed me that I am now the longest-serving Minister of Education. I didn’t know and I didn’t really care because the only thing that worried me was that I came into office with the resolve to remove out-of-school children and I have failed so for seven years. I have been unable to do this”. That is another novel happening in the Buhari regime; where a student will score himself F9 and will still be retained as the Head Boy!

Adamu is from Bauchi State. The United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organisation (UNESCO), recently released its data on out-of-school-children. According to the report as published by most media in Nigeria on August 26, 2022, Bauchi State has the highest number of 1,239,759 out-of-school children. The records are there in the archives of the Ministry of Education, where Adamu holds sway as the tormentor-in-chief of the Academic Staff Union of Universities, ASUU, and other allied unions in our universities. It is also not an irony that Katsina State, the home state of General Buhari, follows Bauchi State with 781,500 out-of-school children amongst the educationally-disadvantaged states of the North. In performance, using all indices, Adamu and Buhari are dizygotic twins! One can now see why Buhari has not noticed that Adamu has been a non-performing minister in his cabinet. When an administration has the penchant to reward failure with political patronage like the Buhari administration does, an Adamu will be in that cabinet for its entire lifespan! Why should anybody be worried about Buhari again? A man who steps on his own white garment will not blink an eyelid before he sets another man’s babariga on fire! Little wonder that while the entire country is shouting itself hoarse about the insecurity and mindless bloodletting in the country, Buhari sits in his parlour drinking fura da nunu, picking his teeth while crossing his legs.

But Adamu should not be delusional that he has only failed in the primary education segment. The Bauchi-born “polyglot” (of what use?) should equally know that he has taken our educational architecture back to the Stone Age. While we will concede to him the garland of the longest serving minister of education, we will also like to add to his laurels, the trophy for scoring a hat trick as the only minister of education who has succeeded in keeping our children out of their campuses for nine months in 2022 and eight months in 2022. Yet, we are still on the verge of another ASUU strike! Why Adamu and Buhari have decided to attack education in such a vicious manner requires our collective enquiry.

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President Goodluck Ebele Jonathan, a clear postulant in esoteric matters, thought he could pacify the wizards of the North by taking their out-of-school-children off the streets. He established 165 Almajiri schools all over the northern zone. When the agents of change kicked him out of power and handed over the leash to Buhari, the first thing the new administration did in 2015 was to discontinue the Almajiri schools’ programme. No explanation was given. One can only hazard a guess. The most probable cause is the lazy argument that the Almajiri phenomenon is a religious thing- an argument that flies in the face of logic when one considers the fact that the elites of the north have their children in choice schools outside the shores of Nigeria.

If indeed Almajiri is all about the Islamic religion, how come that Prophet Mohammed (pbuh) remains one of the most educated prophets in history. If Almajiri is about religion, is the north of Adamu and Buhari more Islamic than Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirate, UAE or Qatar? In the UNICEF report of June 2022, the world body listed the number of out-of-school-children in Saudi Arabia to be 177, 254 (2020); UAE, 947 (2020) and Qatar, 2, 947 (2019). But in Adamu’s Bauchi, the figure is 1,239,759 and Buhari’s Katsina State records 781,500. The ‘two gentlemen’ go to Mecca for the holy pilgrimage. Then you wonder what they learn from the holy land! In Qatar for example, an Education City spanning 12 kilometres was established to house multiple educational and research institutes. This is how one website describes the city: “Education City, our flagship initiative, is a pretty unique place. During just one short walk—or tram ride—around campus, you could be visiting an Ivy League university, cross the street to browse one of the region’s largest libraries, and then attend an open-mic at the neighboring university behind it”. Check how many Nigerian leaders go to these Arab countries for holidays and you will be tempted to wish them ill luck in their next voyage!

As we speak, due to the lack of fidelity on the part of the current government and its congenital tendencies to always break its own truces, our children will soon be back home as another strike action looms. Following the injunction secured by the government against the eight-month old strike action by ASUU, and the intervention of the Speaker of the House of Representatives, Femi Gbajabiamila, the university lecturers called off the strike on the understanding that 50 percent of their withheld salaries would be paid immediately and the balance spread over months. What did the government do after the lecturers honoured their own side of the bargain? Rather than pay the agreed percentage of the withheld salaries, the Ministry of Labour and Employment advised the government to pay a “pro-rata” salary to the university’s teachers. Olajide Oshundun, the Public Relations Officer for the ministry, while justifying the government’s betrayal of its own cause, said that the lecturers “were paid pro-rata according to the number of days they worked in October. You cannot pay them for work not done. Everybody’s hands are tied”. Crass arrogance. But a more cerebral body, the Committee of Vice-Chancellors of Nigerian Universities (CVCNU) has faulted that, warning that the Federal Government cannot apply for no work, no pay policy to the university lecturers. Professor Yakubu Ochefu, CVCNU Secretary General, reminded the government that the lecturers reluctantly suspended their eight month-strike on the basis of “trust” and urged the government not to play pranks on the intelligence of the lecturers. You ask me: Ochefu can as well take his counsel to the Marines. This government is not just deaf and dumb; it finds it difficult to comprehend any logic. What will follow Chris Ngige’s “pro-rata” salary for ASUU members is pregnant, nursing a set of triplets and at the same time asking for conjugal benevolence from the husband!

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Already, the University of Jos chapter of ASUU has set the ball rolling. On Friday last week, the UNIJOS ASUU asked all its members to stay at home until their withheld salaries are paid. Professor Lazarus Maigoro, the branch chairman of ASUU who issued the directive in UNIJOS said: “In view of the bottleneck placed by Ngige towards paying our members the backlog of our salaries, the congress of ASUU, University of Jos met today 4th November, 2022 and resolved to stay at home, though not on strike until the backlog of the withheld salaries are paid. For the avoidance of doubt, our members are back to work, willing and ready to work but are unable to work. Based on the revised academic calendar for the 2020/2021 session approved by the senate of the university, lectures should have started already but the challenge of lack of payment of salaries has constrained our members from going to the classroom to teach. What this implies is that the students who have resumed already will have to wait indefinitely while we wait for our withheld salaries to be paid to us, unfortunately, the struggle continues”. Game! ASUU, as I was penning this, had called its NEC meeting to review the whole issue. It is now clear, even to the blind that Adamu has not only failed in his “priority” of putting an end to the growing out-of-school-children in Nigeria, he has equally succeeded in making our university undergraduates become not-in-school-children! May posterity judge between us and our leaders of this epoch!

Suyi Ayodele is a senior journalist, South-South/South-East Editor, Nigerian Tribune and columnist with the same paper.

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Opinion

Naira Redesign: A Misplaced Priority [OPINION]

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By Richard Asoge

In a special press briefing in the Federal Capital City, Abuja, on Wednesday, 26th October 2022, Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) Governor, Godwin Emefiele declared the intention of the monetary policy authority to redesign the paper currency of N200, N500 and N1,000. Emefiele justified the need for such to control volume of currency in circulation, curb counterfeit currency, decapacitate kidnappers over ransom collection and as well fight wars of terrorism. All these are sound reasons but coming at wrong time.

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It is no doubt that the volume of money in circulation has increased more than double from N1.46trillion as at December 2015 to N3.23trillion as at September 2022. The increase came without corresponding increase in production of goods and services. Then, inflation is not unexpected as we have in the country today. Even, the blind see the effect.

Which institution, in the first instance, is mainly responsible for money creation if not CBN? Was the CBN not thinking through the effect of N1.55trillion illusion money created through Ways and Means within the first four months of year 2022 to cover revenue shortfall? In one of my published articles, I disagreed with the CBN hiding under Ways and Means to create money as if it were ‘Santa Clause’.

The logistics and cost involved in redesigning N200, N500 and N1,000 currencies at this time when Federal Government is struggling with high fiscal deficit of N10.78trillion for year 2023 call for serious concern. As President of Federal Republic of Nigeria, Olusegun Obasanjo introduced N200, N500 and N1,000 banknotes in November 2000, April 2001 and October 2005 respectively in addition to the existing lower denominations. Of course, most of the advance countries change or redesign their currencies within ten years to lower the risk of counterfeit banknotes but they don’t do it during economic crisis.

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Increasing the Monetary Policy Rate (MPR) three consecutive times in the year to arrest the spate of inflation is good. In Septembe MPR was moved up by 150 basis points from 14 percent to the current position of 15.5 percent. This is huge upward movement but the effect has not really been felt as far as inflation reduction is concern. The reason may not be unconnected to the large volume of money outside banking system as alluded to by the CBN boss in his briefing. Increasing the rate further may have devastating effects on small and medium size businesses as cost of credit may be suicidal to them. So, there is need to apply other measures but not necessarily going straight for currency redesigning.

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Putting all measures in place for stability in the foreign exchange rate would go a long way at resolving economic crisis and thereafter crown it with currency redesign. The way the announcement came and the time gap for the implementation put more pressure on already pressurized naira in the foreign exchange market. Infact, within the first three days of the announcement, exchange rate moved from average of N720 to N780 per US dollar in the parallel market. Manufacturers, Consumers, Businessmen and other users are gradually losing confidence in the local currency hence the rush for the foreign currencies. Building confidence in what and how we do things in Nigeria and hoping to get better tends to reduce the rate at which naira depreciates in international market. This is where individual or group of individual has one role or the other to play. Having confidence in the little things been produced within the country will have positive trickle effects in the currency, otherwise, redesign of naira again and again may not really bring the desired results.

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Nigeria belongs to all of us. Your support and loyalty in what you do and that of mine, brings the best out.

Richard Asoge
Clappahouse Analytics, Ibadan.
chards001@gmail.com

O8081492614.

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