THE TRAVAILS AND SUFFERINGS OF SICK NIGERIANS WHO ARE NOT AS ‘LUCKY’ AS BUHARI !

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ARUKAINO UMUKORO writes on how Nigerians are groaning under the poor state of public healthcare in Nigeria, while the country’s President, Muhammadu Buhari, can afford several weeks of medical vacation abroad

When Joe Memeh was diagnosed with cancer last year, President Muhammadu Buhari was just about to travel abroad on a 10-day vacation to get medical treatment for an ear infection.

However, unlike Buhari, Memeh, a retired naval officer who was 76 at the time of the diagnosis, could not afford to travel abroad for treatment.

His family took him to a government hospital in Lagos, Nigeria’s commercial capital. First, they took him to the General Hospital, Igando, then to the Lagos State University Teaching Hospital, Ikeja; where he was referred again to the Military Hospital, Yaba; and then to the Federal Medical Centre, Ebute Meta and finally, to the Lagos University Teaching Hospital.

Memeh’s son, Buwa, said it was depressing whenever he remembered his father’s travails.

He said at each hospital, health workers gave a list of reasons why he could not be treated. “The common thing with all the hospitals was that he was not allowed to come down from the car. They were prompt in bringing up their problems – It was either there was no bed space at all or they did not have available medical personnel because they were on strike. And their only remedy was a referral.

“In LUTH, the nurses were on strike. It was a doctor who came to see us and told us there was no need wasting our time. In LASUTH, they didn’t even allow him to come down from the car when they told him there was no bed space. We were asked to go even when I volunteered to bring a bed,” Buwa told SUNDAY PUNCH.

At LUTH, they were told that, since there was no bed space available, they could admit him in a private wing which the younger Memeh said would have cost the family about N2m.

Confused and frustrated, Memeh’s family rushed him from the hospital to a private clinic. However, the doctors said they could not handle the case, and referred him back to the same government hospitals where there were no bed spaces or nurses available. “They said the best place for him to be treated was the teaching hospital,” Buwa recollected, with pain in his eyes.

With no other option, Joe Memeh was taken home, and a day later, at 1pm, he died, depressed and a broken man.

“My dad was a brilliant and educated person. In my car, when we left the hospital, he shook his head and cried. He said to me, ‘I realise what Chinua Achebe meant when he said, There was a country. Indeed, my son, you can now understand what he meant; these are part of the reasons.’ I was driving, but I could feel the pain he was going through,” Buwa said.

Buhari has travelled abroad for medical treatment for four times since 2015. The last trip, which ended on Friday, saw him spending 49 days in the United Kingdom.

“I have rested as much as humanly possible. I have received, I think, the best of treatment I could receive,” Buhari said on Friday to a meeting with some governors of the ruling All Progressives Congress.

But for the Memehs, a year on, there has been no cheer. They are still dealing with the pain of losing a father they believed could have been saved if the country had quality healthcare facilities.

“Our President had an ordinary ear infection and he travelled out of the country. My dad had a more severe ailment, cancer. I feel bad that my dad couldn’t get any proper healthcare. It is painful because one cannot compare ear infection and cancer. My dad needed to stabilise his health, at least he would have had more time on earth. It is only in this part of the world that leaders enjoy first class treatment but the citizens don’t, it is really frustrating. If you have not been in that situation, you would not understand how it feels. Now this is what lots of Nigerians suffer, but if I were not a victim, I wouldn’t have known. In Nigeria, one cannot rely on the government.”

Nigerians die daily from lack of health care services

A businessman, Wale Ogunjimi, in his 30s, said he had since given up hope in the country’s health system following a recent experience.

“I had a serious ear infection and because I couldn’t afford to go to a private hospital. I was directed to the General Hospital in Ikorodu, Lagos State, for treatment. I ended up waiting for about nine hours just to see the doctor because there were so many people being attended to at the time for different ailments.”

Ogunjimi said he would have died if he had been battling a more serious ailment. “Many people go through pains just to see doctors and nurses at general hospitals. I was lucky. Some people with more serious ailments had to come back the next day to see a doctor or nurse because there was none to attend to them that day.

“Two weeks ago, an 11-year-old in my area died of malaria because he could not get treatment on time at the general hospital. There are so many cases like that. If our president can travel for an ordinary ear infection, that means there is no hope for the common man like us,” Ogunjimi said.

It is commonplace to see patients and family members waiting or sleeping outside the wards in many of the country’s general hospitals due to lack of bed space, medical personnel or facilities for proper treatment. Those who cannot afford private healthcare are left to fate, and thousands have died due to lack of proper health care in Nigeria’s government hospitals. In some teaching hospitals, patients with critical illnesses have had to bear the agony of rescheduled surgeries due to lack of essential medical supplies and facilities.

This is the reason Kingsley Ezeamalu believes the country’s poor health system, and not cancer, killed his sister, 39-year-old Uju Okafor.

In 2014, Okafor had three cancerous lumps removed from her breasts. A year later, she had a mastectomy at a private clinic in Surulere, Lagos, which was followed by a six-course chemotherapy.

However, the end unravelled for Okafor when it was time for her post-mastectomy radiotherapy. There was no radiotherapy machine at the Nnamdi Azikiwe Teaching Hospital, Nnewi, in Anambra State, where she worked. At the neighbouring Enugu State Teaching Hospital, the only machine they had, had broken down.

She was faced with the same stark reality at the teaching hospitals in Benin, Edo State, and the National Hospital, Abuja, the Federal Capital Territory.

“For eight months, she travelled around the country in search of equipment for her chemotherapy. She travelled to Lagos in May last year when she was told that the once faulty radiotherapy equipment in LUTH had become operational again. But the equipment broke down some days later before it got to her turn,” Kingsley said.

Sadly, it was too late for Okafor when she was eventually taken to a private hospital in the state where they had the machine. She died a few weeks later in May. She left behind a distraught husband and a son.

“Maybe she would have survived if there were radiotherapy machines in these teaching hospitals,” Ezeamalu said.

There are only seven radiotherapy machines for a country with over 170 million people. Only two of them are functional.

It is the same for many other ailments, with little or no facilities readily available to treat them in the country’s public hospitals.

The Nnamdi Azikiwe University Teaching Hospital, Nnewi, with a yearly budget of N167m or about four per cent of the N3.87bn capital allocation for State House Medical Centre, Aso Villa, Abuja, the official home of the Presidency, is one of the country’s tertiary hospitals in need of urgent funding.

“My cousin who had a car accident last year was taken to the teaching hospital for treatment, but because they place was overcrowded, they couldn’t attend to him on time, we had to wait for several hours. He died as a result of lack of healthcare,” said Francis Amadi, who noted that many in the hospital were abandoned by the hospital staff when their cases could not be handled.

The immediate past president, Nigerian Association of Resident Doctors, Dr. Mohammed Askira, told SUNDAY PUNCH that the country’s dysfunctional public healthcare system had caused preventable deaths.

“I have several instances of deaths from poor or unavailable healthcare. I am going to give you one prominent one. A former minister of state for labour and employment and his family could not be saved after their car had an accident on one of the busiest highways in Nigeria. He was travelling between Abuja and Kaduna expressway.

“Unfortunately, this man and some of his family members could have been saved if between Abuja, from Zuba to Kaduna, there were one or two functional healthcare facilities that attend to accident and other medical emergencies. But we lack manpower and facilities to attend to emergencies. The truth is, the healthcare system in Nigeria is pathetic and we are running a grossly dysfunctional system.”

A medical doctor, Kingsley Ekwuazi, noted that poverty, lack of facilities in public hospitals and well-trained medical personnel in the public health system were major clogs in the country’s health sector.

“Ordinary Nigerians die every day because they cannot afford or access quality healthcare services.  I know of a woman who gave birth and was referred to a general hospital. She had renal failure and died later because she could not afford dialysis. Most government hospitals now charge for health services, unlike before, where most of these services used to be free,” he said.

Statistics that shame a nation

In October last year, the Minister of State for Health, Dr.Osagie Ehanire, said Nigeria was spending over $1bn annually on medical treatment, noting that the Federal Government was committed to improving health facilities nationwide to stem the tide.

But that tide may take a while to abate as millions of Nigerians groan under the burden of a lack of or poor health care system.

Nigerians reportedly spend at least $3bn (over N1trn) annually on medical tourism annually. An Indian doctor, who did not want to be named for fear of victimisation by his employers in his home country and in Nigeria, told SUNDAY PUNCH that the Indian government makes about $100m from Nigeria alone as a result of medical tourism.

“Half of that sum is spent on treating top Nigerian public officials in India, from top civil servants to your lawmakers. Some of them just come to Indian hospitals for simple medical check-up that can be easily done in Nigerian hospitals. If the right structures are put in place in Nigerian hospitals, from facilities to skilled/trained personnel, at least half of the medical tourism money will stay in Nigeria,” the Indian doctor added.

The US, Germany, Dubai in the United Arab Emirates and India are the top four destinations for medical tourism by Nigerians, the doctor said.

Also, statistics from the World Health Organisation show that about 2,400 children under the age of five and almost 200 women of childbearing age die daily due to ineffective health services.

“Every year, 100,000s of children below the age of five die because of malaria and complications of malaria, while 824 women die per every 100,000 live births in Nigeria. It is terrible,” said Askira.

Nigeria has the highest rates of maternal and child deaths after India, and accounts for about 10 per cent of under-five deaths globally.

Just recently, the Federal Government allocated N3.87bn to the State House Medical Centre, Aso Villa, Abuja, a sum that is more than the total capital budget of the country’s 16 Federal Government teaching hospital, which are usually under-staffed, overcrowded and lacking in major facilities for routine healthcare services and medical emergencies.

Experts have said the Aso Villa medical centre’s budget of N3.87bn would have built at least 76 PHCs in many rural communities in Nigeria.

For a country of over 170 million people, there are not enough Primary Health Care centres in 36 states across the country. In addition, most of them are in various state of disrepair or abandonment.

Recently, the Minister of Health, Prof. Isaac Adewole, said the Federal Government hopes to achieve a target of 10,000 revitalised PHCs nationwide.

A litany of foreign medical trips: Buhari, Yar’Adua, Jonathan, others

In April 2016, the Federal Government said that it would not provide funds for any government official to travel abroad for medical treatment unless the case could not be handled in Nigeria.

However, economic analysts say the Federal Government has reportedly spent billions of naira of taxpayers’ money on these medical trips abroad.

In November 2009, the late President Umaru Yar ’Adua was hospitalised for about five months in Saudi Arabia for an undisclosed ailment. Nigerians were, however, kept in the dark until Yar ‘Adua died in May, 2010 and it was revealed that he had been battling a heart condition.

His then Vice President, Goodluck Jonathan, who took over the reins of power following Yar ‘Adua’s death, was then elected in 2011 as President. In 2014, Nigeria’s then First Lady, Patience Jonathan, was reportedly flown to Germany from Abuja for surgery for an undisclosed ailment. On her return, after several subtle denials from the presidency, Dame Patience, speaking during the farewell service in honour of the Jonathans’ at Aso Villa chapel on May 17, 2016, said she had gone for major operations during the re-election campaign of her husband, Goodluck Jonathan. “I almost died,” she reportedly said.

The wife of former President Olusegun Obasanjo, Stella, died in a Spanish hospital, following a liposuction procedure that went awry.

Similarly, several of Nigeria’s former presidents and top politicians have gone abroad for medical treatments.

Aside from the presidents and their spouses, key government officials, including some state governors, have also embraced foreign hospitals for routine check-ups and medical treatments.

In September 2015, former Akwa Ibom State Governor and now Senate Minority Leader, Godswill Akpabio, travelled to the UK after sustaining injuries in a car crash in Abuja, the Federal Capital Territory.

This was despite the construction of standard specialist hospital in Uyo, Akwa Ibom State capital by the former governor, in his time.

The former governor, during the opening of the hospital, had said the health facility, which reportedly cost about N30bn of taxpayers money to build, would dissuade Nigerians from travelling abroad for medical treatment because the expertise is now available in the state.

A faulty health system, national budget

The Nigerian health system operates along a three-tier system – primary health care at the local government level, secondary health care at state level and tertiary health care at federal level. However, primary health care, which was designed as the cornerstone of Nigeria’s health policy and is the first point of contact for most Nigerians within the healthcare system, has been neglected for decades.

Teaching hospitals in Nigeria are overcrowded because the other levels of healthcare in the country – primary and secondary healthcare – are not functional or available, said Prof. Kayode Osagbemi, of the University of Ilorin Teaching Hospital, Kwara State.

“If the PHCs are not well grounded, funded and well supervised, people would naturally boycott them and go to the teaching hospitals. But these teaching hospitals cannot concentrate on complications, research and training because of these drawbacks; we don’t have enough consultant specialists, and the ones that are available do not have a functional system to work with. So, these teaching hospitals handle other cases that should have been taken care of by the PHCs and secondary health centres because their levels are not near optimum.”

Osagbemi noted that the major causes of death in Nigeria are malaria, measles, malnutrition and other infections, and pregnancy-related or childbirth-related cases.

The exodus of Nigerian doctors to other climes for greener pastures is also a major headache for the public health system in Nigeria. According to the Vice President, Commonwealth Medical Association, Dr. Osahon Enabulele, who is also a former President of the Nigerian Medical Association, there are about 3,000 Nigerian-trained doctors in the UK and about 5,000 in the United States.

Nigeria’s annual health budget, compared to other African countries, is abysmally poor, Askira added.

Osagbemi also noted that Nigeria’s annual health budget is usually below the 15 per cent recommended by the World Health Organisation.

The country’s health budget has been on the decrease since 2011. In 2013, only 5.6 per cent was allocated for the health sector.

Askira said this was a major factor contributing to the poor state of healthcare in the country.

He said, “If you compare with most other countries in Africa, Nigeria is the one with the poorest budgetary allocation for the health sector. In 2017, about 4.1 per cent of the national budget was budgeted for the health sector, which is in contravention of the Abuja Declaration of 2001 that says 15 per cent of the country’s annual budgetary allocation should go to the health sector.  If the health sector is not adequately funded, there would be problems. For any country to have sustainable development, it must critically fund three sectors: health, education and security. In Nigeria it is very poor.”

Nigeria’s 2017 budget is N7.298tn, with N304bn provided for the health sector. The per capita value of the 2017 health budget is about N1,700, an amount not enough for the effective treatment of malaria. Less than five per cent of the country’s combined (federal and state governments) budget of about N13.5tn is to be spent on public health in 2017.

Askira said thousands of Nigerians die daily because the Federal Government had failed to provide the citizens with  quality and affordable healthcare.

“Effective, affordable healthcare is not available to Nigerians because the primary healthcare is neglected, secondary health care is in tatters, and the tertiary tier has no adequate facilities or motivated manpower because salaries are not well paid and on time,” he said.

SaintAugustine Adula Odey

AHEAD CAMEROON 2016 FINAL: FALCONS GET HOSTILE RECEPTION IN YAOUNDE !

BY JUDITH NWABIA

NIGERIA’S Super Falcons after a near crash on the trip to Yaounde for Saturday’s final received a hostile re- ception on their arrival against hosts Cameroon.

Falcons earned their ticket to the final of the 2016 AWCON after beat- ing South Africa 1 – 0 in their semi- final duel on Tuesday. It will now be a battle between the cup holders and hosts when Nigeria face Cameroon in the last battle for the cup.

The country’s senior women ar- rived in batches to a noisy and hostile welcome in Cameroon’s capital. A team official expressed disappoint- ment at the flight frustration suffered moving to Yaounde on Wednesday after a tiring game against South Africa on Tuesday.

“Honestly, it was a terrible experience and we are disap- pointed. The environment was hostile and the LOC mapped out plans to frustrate us,” an official told goal.com.

“They communicated our schedule to us which stated departure for 9am from Douala airport, we left Buea at 5.30am and the players couldn’t sleep after a stressful match-day.

“They abandoned us at the airport and we waited for about six hours before the first batch could travel by air. The most shocking moment was how hostile the Cameroonians were at the airport.

“The second batch later traveled by road after a technical is- sue with the aircraft, we board- ed and the flight started smoking. We had to run for our lives and traveled by road to Yaounde, we are disappointed.

“Nigerians shouldn’t panic, we are aware of the antics and the plans to frustrate the group. How- ever, this is the moment we need our High Commission and the Federation to give us adequate support. It will be a col- lective effort to conquer the hosts and we are determined to win.”

A Super Falcons player who spoke on anonymity, lamented the hostile reception by the hosts’ city dwellers, insisting they are more determined than ever to retain the title.

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SaintAugustine Adula Odey

A BIG FOR NOTHING COUNTRY !

Fola Ojo

Nigeria is still reeling from a stranglehold of smothering economic recession. Nigerians are panting for breath under the clubbing, drubbing and slogging of financial difficulties. This Giant of Africa remains an emaciating elephant in the forest of despair and pervasive malaise.  There seems to be no realistic, conceivable or visible end in sight to the grotesque and vile picture of the state of our nation.

A few hours ago, former President Olusegun Obasanjo weighed in on the troubling times in a lecture: “…No administration can nor should be comfortable with the excruciating pain of debilitating and crushing economy. Businesses are closing, jobs are being lost and people are suffering. I know that President Buhari has always expressed concern for the plight of the common people but that concern must be translated to workable and result-oriented socio-economic policies and programmes that will turn the economy around at the shortest time possible…” Obasanjo spoke the minds of many home and abroad.

That resources are scanty has never been Nigeria’s problem. We have them in abundance. The IMF came out last October in an undeterred and audacious posture declaring the country as the biggest economy in all of Africa. It shoved Nigeria ahead of South Africa and Egypt as the biggest and the best on the continent. Latest estimates put Nigeria’s GDP at $415.08bn, from $493.83bn at the end of 2015. South Africa’s GDP at $280.36bn, from $314.73bn in 2015.

The affirmation surely ought to make President Muhammadu Buhari and his men shuffle around in some celebratory dance steps.  In a season when sweetening news is rare, they must be tendering some butterflies in their stomachs because of this. The IMF’s declaration is by all means a free supply of munitions for this government to rev up with more fire assuring us that Nigeria’s tomorrow will be better than today.

Nigeria is the most populous nation in Africa with a population close to 180 million people.  The 2014 rebase move of the government concluded that the country’s GDP was under-regarded in the 1990s. The move thus allotted a GDP of $454bn for 2012; and $510bn for 2013 firming up Nigeria’s lead over South Africa. There is a credible economic postulation now going around that by year 2030, the consumer arm of Nigeria will grow to be about 273 million in population, more than the population of France and Germany lumped together. The postulation also suggests that growth spurt will hit four sectors of the Nigerian economy thereby hiking the GDP by an additional $500bn! Wow! Nigeria with a GDP of almost $1tn?

But what are the tectonic effects of these bandied figures on the lives of ordinary Nigerians in Yenagoa and Yaba? How do you convince ordinary citizens that these aren’t mere numbers thrown around by some cohort elitists who are fooling the majority? What is big in an economy that cannot fulfil big dreams? What is big in an economy where big ideas have become lost in the confab of cabals? What is big in an economy that shrivels its youths and muffles its women? The IMF and a few Nigerians in leadership are perceived as nothing more than massive global deception machines that spew out figures not in sync with day-to-day reality occurrences in the nook and cranny of Nigeria. Yes; the economy is the biggest; so also are citizens’ plights and pothers.

On the one hand, the IMF tags us the biggest, on the other, the World Bank classifies Nigeria as one of the five extremely poor nations of the world.  Nigeria’s poverty rate is pegged at 33.1 per cent.  Almost 100 million people live on less than $1 a day, and 92 per cent on less than two dollars a day. Almost 62 per cent of households in Nigeria consider themselves to be poor while life expectancy remains low and is estimated to have decreased from 47 years in 1990 to 40 years. An economy that cannot put food on the table is BIG FOR NOTHING!

Nigerians will never read from the IMF poetry and instruction manual until life changes for the common man.

Health, health care and general living conditions in Nigeria are poor, and the basic daily needs of the people are still not met. Major roads are hazardous, minor ones are sick and sickening; electricity supply is mega below level; food is scanty and drinking water is laced with millions of diseased entities. And yet Nigeria is the biggest in Africa? When a man’s Physiological needs of food and water are deprived, his inner beings strive to meet those needs by every means necessary. In a country like Big-Economy Nigeria where 120 million people are categorised hungry, that nation is BIG FOR NOTHING!

Let’s assess a tiny speck of the Nigerian educational sector. Education indicators are poor nationwide. The sum of almost N370bn for education in the 2016 budget.  Nigeria’s literacy rate is estimated at 61 per cent with a large number of out-of-school children and young adults with limited literacy and numeracy skills who have little hope of ever joining the formal workforce. Eighty per cent of primary age children never attended school in Borno State, for example. This compares with less than three per cent in most southern zones. Former Vice-President Abubakar Atiku recently declared that students in his privately-owned university are smarter and more intelligent than PhD holders from Nigerian public universities. Forty million Nigerian youths are unemployed; and 80 per cent of Nigerian graduates are unemployable. There are 1,252,913 students in Nigerian public universities, 43 per cent female; 57 per cent male. Nigerian hostel facilities are overcrowded, the lavatories are overstretched, laundry facilities are horrendous; and sanitation is an eyesore.

In a few of the universities, female students take their early morning bath in the open because showers are either non-existent or in poor condition. There is no university in Nigeria that’s able to accommodate more than 35 per cent of its students. Laundries and common rooms in many have been converted into rooms where students live in an open-prison style. Hostel rooms designated for five students are occupied by20. And school administrators who are nothing but landlords of concentration camps continue to extort students charging commercial rates for school dormitories.  It thus informs why students are susceptible to cultism, rape, violence, prostitution and other vices. In some of the Nigerian universities, students sit on bare floors to attend lectures. And Nigeria is the biggest economy in Africa!

There is no doubt that the nation is blessed with good hands. We are like the biblical Moses who did not know the power he held in his hands. The solutions to our many problems are in-house. Unfortunately, politics, colluding with corrupt practices and ethnic shenanigans are strangling the country. Fools rule over the wise; and the wise are beholden to nincompoops who have no clue what needs be done. We have Nigerians inside and outside of the country who can be brought together to fashion a get-out method from these troubles that refuse to end.

My definition of good governance is the ability of an elected official to both FIND and FIX nagging problems in a system.  It is also the ability of an elected official not to compound identified problems if he cannot fix them. An elected official is the Chief Troubleshooter in any given territory they oversee. They must be a solver of problems, not a creator of more endless pain.

SaintAugustine Adula Odey

NIGERIA AT 56: A TWISTED JOURNEY TO NATIONHOOD

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When the curtain fell on colonial administration in Nigeria some 56 years ago, the expectations of a great and prosperous Nigeria were high. 56 years down the line, OMONU YAX-NELSON examines what has been described as the country’s twisted journey to nationhood.

The lowering of the Union Jack, the British flag, which represented oppression and the hoisting of the green-white-green, the Nigerian flag by Capt. David Ejoor of the Nigerian Army became the symbol of freedom and liberty. The late anti-apartheid icon, Nelson Mandela once said, “There is no greater joy than farming new wishes and seeing them gratified”.

That wish for self-determination became a reality for Nigeria on October 1, 1960, exactly 56 years today. Standing on the tripod of three regions, North, South-west and South-east, expectations were very high that, with the oppressors out of the way, the glory days had arrived.

These expectations propelled patriots like late Pa Benedict Odiase of the Nigerian Police Band to compose the national anthem, which reads in part: “To serve with heart and might.” 56 years down-the-line, rightly or wrongly, the prospects of those sky-touching expectations are becoming dimer, glimmer and slimmer.

Though, political commentators have said the club of the founding fathers of the nation, Dr. Nnamdi Benjamin Azikiwe from South-east, Chief Obafemi Jeremiah Awolowo from South-west and the duo of Ahmadu Bello and Abubakar Tafawa Balewa from the North did their best to lay solid foundation for Nigeria.

This assertion was predicated on the healthy competition that powered development in their time. Socially, economically and politically, they were able to set the wheel of development in the three initial regions of Nigeria running. The three premier universities we have in Nigeria, Ahmadu Bello in Zaria, OAU in Ile-Ife and university of Nigeria in Nsukka was as a result of their desire for rapid transformation.

They were able to leverage on the competitive advantage of their zones to accelerate socio-economic development. The North had grains and groundnut pyramids for export, the South-east became a hub for oil palm and mining activities while the South-west took advantage of its topography to become the largest cocoa exporter, out of which it was able to build a 25 story cocoa house still standing in Ibadan and the establishment of the first television station in Africa.

However, since the collapse of the first republic, there has been a steady decline in Nigeria’s leadership capital. The character and quality of post-independence leadership that exploited, almost entirely, an agrarian economy to lay foundation for a prosperous Nigeria, have virtually dwindled to a vanishing point, except for some exceptions.

Today, there seems to be loss of meaning and essence to leadership engagement in Nigeria, unlike the patriotic, energised and selfless first republic leaders. The post-independence leaders knew in clear-cut terms what the purpose of political power and leadership is which is to provide the needed examples and point the way for individuals and groups to realise their individual and collective objectives.

For instance, Sir Ahmadu Bello, the first Premier of northern Nigeria, accomplished giant strides from the largely agrarian economy. In a bid to bridge the gap in human development, not only did the region witness widespread establishment of secondary schools, his administration introduced adult education in 1957. By 1957, the primary school enrolment in the region had reached 205,769 pupils.

To accelerate economic growth in the region, Sir Ahmadu Bello, established the Northern regional development corporation (NRDC), which later became the northern Nigeria development corporation (NNDC), and the bank of the north, now, unity bank. To solve the challenge of information dissemination, he established the Broadcasting Company of Northern Nigeria (BCNN) and the Nigeria citizen newspapers which was renamed, new Nigeria newspaper.

The North was less developed economically than the South, and Bello argued that it was necessary for the North to catch up with the South for the sake of national unity. He travelled constantly across the north, meeting people and listening to their concerns. Because of the multiplicity of the ethnic and religious configuration of the North, the Sardauna did everything to encourage religious and ethnic harmony.

In appreciation of the need for an all-round harmony, the Premier, in a Christmas message in 1959, said, “Here in Northern Nigeria, we have people of different races, tribes and religions who are knit together by common history, common interest and common ideas, the things that unite us are stronger than the things that divide us. I always remind people of our firmly rooted policy of religious tolerance. We have no intention of favouring one religion at the expense of another. Subject to the overriding need to preserve law and order, it is our determination that everyone should have absolute liberty to practice his belief according to the dictates of his conscience”.

Sir Ahmadu Bello was acknowledged to have built a formidable civil service for Northern Nigeria. In Eastern Nigeria, Dr. Nnamdi Azikwe was in power as Premier from 1954 to 1960, while Dr. Michael Okpara was in power from 1960 to 1966 as Premier.

With revenue, only limited to palm oil, coal and limestone, Azikiwe and Okpara were able to transform all areas of Eastern Nigeria. Elitist projects such as airports, fleets of aircrafts and large entourage with exotic cars is what is in vogue in the midst of huge unemployment, stricken poverty and diseases nowadays. A culture despicably detested by our pioneer leaders.

To accelerate economic development in the region, two banks were established: African continental bank and Cooperative bank of Eastern Nigeria. The east had the first industrial development plan in Africa. As a mark of leadership ingenuity, almost all Eastern townships/cities had designed within them, an industrial zone: Aba factory road, Umuahia factory road, Calabar factory road, Enugu and Port-Harcourt had industrial free zones – the Emene industrial lay out and the Trans-Amadi industrial lay-out. In the same vein, Owerri, had an industrial layout, so did onitsha etc. Owerri, aba and Port Harcourt were already designed in what was called “a three city nexus”

The administration of chief obafemi awolowo in the west was reckoned for pace setter projects in the first republic. Awolowo himself was variously described as restless and a workaholic. To ensure that the people were empowered to take their destinies in their own hands, Awolowo offered free and compulsory primary education in the west.

In justifying his declaration of free education, Awo said, “In order to attain to the goals of economic freedom and prosperity, Nigeria must do certain things as a matter of urgency and priority. It must provide free education (at all levels) and free health facilities for the mass of its citizens.”

The declaration of free education in the Western region accelerated school enrolment in 1956 by 11.1 per cent. The number of primary school intake rose from 42, 952 in 1953 to 1, 037, 388 by 1959. Between 1955 and 1956, the number rose from 457,000 pupils to 811,000. The number of secondary schools also rose in tandem from 46 to 139 during the same period.

According to Hon Idoko Ejumale, “if the first republic leaders could do much without oil money, what is hindering the leadership at our various states from tapping into the massive resources that lie under the ground in Nigeria?”

Despite the socio-economic strides of that era, it was not all rosy. Public affairs analysts have said the political class was not able to get their arts right due to some inherent contradictions.

These contradictions have been explained variously as the glim understanding of each other before the independence was granted. Some have claimed that the colonial powers deliberately planted a prejudice among the leaders of the first republic.

For instance, they said, between 1914, when the south and northern protectorates were amalgamated and 1947, the leaders and people from the two sides never met. The administrative transfer of personnel between the two sides, which would have created understanding between the north and south were ‘deliberately’ ignored by the colonialists.

Despite the eventual collapse of the first republic on January 15, 1966, analysts have acknowledged the phenomenal landmarks of the first republic leaders. The military coup that overthrew the first republic did much to compound the already existing mutual mistrust. The military government that came up as aftermath of the coup could not really find its rhythm because of lack of understanding of the mood of the time.

The JTU Ironsi’s six months government could not survive the ripples from the introduction of decree 34, as another military government took over power in 29 July. Political book makers have consistently argued that, the intension of decree 34 was genuine but was misunderstood.  It has also being noted that by seven years into independence, the deep seated animosity between the ethnics that constituted Nigeria’s architecture had degenerated.

The agitation for self-determination was on the rise. Lt Col Emeka Odumegwu Ojukwu will not take it anymore. He initiated a succession plan. On the other hand, ‘go on with one Nigeria’, as the head of state, General Yakubu Gowon’s name implied then, could not accept a divided Nigeria.

This set the stage for needless, bitter and bloody 30 months of civil war between 1967 and 1971, at the end of which Gen  Gowon declared it was a ‘no victor, no vanquished’ adventure. A 3R’s —reconciliation, reconstruction and rehabilitation-programme was launched by Gowon to heal the wounds of the civil war.

With the broken promises of a return to democracy by Gowon, Gen Murtala Ramat Mohammed overthrew Gowon’s government, when he was in far-away Kampala, Uganda for Organisation of African Unity (now AU) meeting. He immediately set-out a four years transition to civil rule programme and muted the idea of a change from the parliamentary democracy of the first republic to the American-styled presidential democracy.

Political pundits questioned this decision because it was not the parliamentary system that was the problem in the first republic. The problem was with the actors. Despite gruesome assassination, on February 13, 1976, of Murtala, (exactly 200 days in power) in a coup, his Chief of Staff, Gen Olusegun Obasanjo, followed through the transition programme, culminating in a presidential democracy on the 1st October, 1979.

The quick note from public affairs analysts at the time was that the almost 13 years of military rule has severely weakened the architecture of the Nigeria Nation. Another thing the 13 years military rule did to Nnigeria was the balkanization of the country into 36 states and 774 local governments arrangements. Analysts have blamed the current system for the inability of states in Nigeria to be self-sustaining. It has been argued that, the military would have left Nigeria on the viable regional structure.

The return to civil rule in the second republic, it was thought, would help to correct the military alterations. However, four years into the second republic, the expectations of Nigerians began to dim. Analysts said, the military class saw that, the civilians were not yet ready for governance.

They predicated this judgment on the massive corruption, intolerance of opposition. Even the 1983 election ended in a fiasco. Once more, the country was thrown into another military junta, headed by the current President, Muhammadu Buhari on December 31, 1983. With accusations and counter accusations, the military class kept at each other’s throat, producing Gen Ibrahim Babangida, Chief Ernest Shonekon, Gen Sani Abacha and Gen Abdulsalami Abubakar.

With the return to democracy in 1999, it was thought that another journey to Nigeria’s nationhood had begun. Political observers have argued that the 17 years of the democratic rule in the third republic have really delivered the expectations of Nigerians. The believe is that a lot has been achieved, especially, the successful relocation of the Federal Capital Territory to its current location. But on the average they say, it is not yet uhuru.

Some have argued that the behaviours of the political class in the fourth republic has not changed significantly from the first, second and third republics. They opine that Nigerians were better fed, forty years ago. They also cite the deplorable quality of education in the country. The roads are death traps, they submitted. The economy, they say is still dependent on oil. Statistics/poverty index are not palatable and crime is on the increase.

The question that has consistently agitated the minds of Nigerians is why is the nation going round in circle? In a recent exclusive interview with leadership, an elder statesman, Alhaji Bamanga Tukur identified three ‘diseases’ that has been the bane of the making of the Nigerian nation; “ethnicity, tribalism and religion.”

According to tukur, these three have consistently constituted sources of tension among Nigerians. “It has stifled our development for years because they create suspicion.” He asserted further that, “if a Hausa-Fulani man is in power, there will be problem because others will say he is not for us. If you put a Yoruba there, there would be gang up from other ethnic groups. It is the same case if an Igbo becomes the president.”

The first take from the assessments of the president of African Business Round table is that, something is ‘fundamentally’ not right with Nigeria. And, those contradictions can be readily explained from the stand point of the way we treat and see ourselves.

Public affairs commentators are unanimous on the effect of ethnic, tribal and religious sentiments on Nigeria’s journey to nationhood. Another thing analysts are also unanimous on is the fact that, the same is deeper and more indelible than the ‘Nigerianess’ in us.

The order sealing the amalgamation of Nigeria was signed on November 13, 1913 in London by the trio of King’s most excellent majesty, Earl Spencer, Lord Stamfordham and Lord Emmoff on behalf of the government of united kingdom of Britain and Ireland and took-off effectively on January 1, 1914.

Regardless of the push and pull, a ‘Titanic nation’ was formed. Remember Titanic? The British passenger liner that sank in North Atlantic Ocean in the early morning of April 15, 1912, after colliding with an iceberg during her maiden voyage from Southampton, United Kingdom to New York city, US.

Meanwhile, the ill-fated cruise liner was named titanic because of its exceptionally great strength, size, force and power. Similarly, Nigeria is likened here to the ill-fated British cruise liner because of her capacity, power, great size, force and enormous human and material resource and yet faced with monumental development challenges.

Nigeria has all it takes to become a true giant. A brief overview of the country’s supposed greatness goes thus: firstly, Nigeria’s population is estimated to be about 170million, making the country the most populous in Africa and the single most populous black nation-state in the world. Population it must be noted is a significant factor in socio-economic development.

Given its abundance in human and natural resources, Nigeria is potentially Africa’s rallying point and largest economy. Every year, the country produces over 300,000 graduates of tertiary institutions, has the sixth largest gas reserve in the world and is the 8th largest oil producer.

Nigeria has abundant but largely untapped mineral resources comprising gold, columbite, bitumen, iron, ore, coal, limestone, etc., and has 60% of her arable land lying fallow. Nigeria also has millions of its citizens in diaspora –an estimated 100,000 Nigerian medical doctors and scientists abroad.

Secondly, Nigerians are noted for their love for formal education, which is the bedrock of rapid development and it is therefore not surprising that we have the largest number of universities in Africa, 131 as at last count and still counting.

Nigeria has over 53 publicly owned and 78 privately run universities. This figure is exclusion of the numerous federal, state and privately owned monothenics, polytechnics and colleges of education that spread across the land.

In the same token, the revered American civil rights leader, Jesse Jackson said, “…the nation nigeria is too rich for her citizens to be poor.” This line of thought gave impetus to the widely held believe within and outside Africa that the ‘burden’ (destiny) of the African continent lies on Nigeria’s shoulder.

Indeed, Nigeria gracefully bore the burden, as was evident in her peace efforts in the congo in the 60’s: Liberia, Somalia and Sierra-Leone in the 90s and also most recently, South Sudan and Mali, not to talk of Nigeria’s giant efforts at annihilating the dreaded apartheid system in South Africa, in the 60s, 70s, 80s and 90s.

#Nigeria’s Independence
#PoliticsNigeria
#PrayforNigeria

SaintAugustine Adula Odey

CROSS RIVER STATE: A People United, A Future Assured.

Cross River State is situated in the southeastern corner of Nigeria as part of the country’s South-South Geopolitical Zone. The state is named after the Cross River. It covers an area totaling 21,481 square kilometers.

The state has many centres of attraction, prominent among which are the Obudu(Cattle Ranch) Mountain Resort and
Tinapa Resort.

The State is known as the People’s Paradise. In the 2006 Population and Housing Census, Cross
River state is made up of 1,471,967 males and 1,421,021 females.

Historically, the state was one of Nigeria’s earliest ports, which began even before the colonial period. In fact, CALABAR its capital, was the first capital of Southern Nigeria.
The Cross River State, as part of the Nigerian Federation, was first created in 1967. The state was then called the South-Easten State, and it was made up of CALABAR, OGOJA, UYO AND ANNANG provinces.

The name  Southeastern State was changed in 1976 to CROSS RIVER STATE following the decision to name states of the Nigerian Federation after physical features like rivers.

In 1987, UYO and ANNANG provinces became the creation of what is now AKWA IBOM STATE. Cross River State was then left with seven LGAs. Today, it has eighteen LGAs with.
1.Abi
2.Akampka
3.Akpabuyo
4.Bekwara
5.BOKI
6.Bakassi
7.Biase
8.Calabar South
9.Calabar Municipal
10.Etung
11.Ikom
12.Ogoja
13.Obudu
14.Obubra
15.Obanliku
16.Odukpani
17. Yakurr
18. Yala

The contemporary Ogoja people has over prayed, worked and long for a state as an old provine to no avail?
Several factors responsible…a discourse for another day!
The Monkey
The work
The Baboon
The chop
Business & politics
The bane of our society!
Successive administration tried to pacify by enthronement of
Monkey Work
Monkey Chop!

The old Ogoja province made of what is now Northern Senatorial District of the present day CROSS RIVER STATE with the following LGAs:

1.Bekwara
2.Obudu
3.Obanliku
4.Ogoja
5.Yala

The North of the state has Produced the incumbent governor of Cross River State from Obudu Local Government Area in the Amiable person of 
Senator
Profesor
&
Governor,
His Excellency
Benedict Ayade
The Executive Governor &
Chief Security Officer of
Cross River State.

Now that he runs an inclusive administration he has been faced with diverse opposition, negative criticism in the face of slim resources from the national allocation accruing to the state, pause and ponder the depletion of the state by the ceding away of Bakassi and the lost of 65 oil well to Akwam Ibom state a former province (Uyo/Annang)of old Cross River State and realize we all have to unite to forge a common goal and support Cross River State and the Ayede’s administration as the state and Nigeria at large braces up in overcoming the economic hardship strangulating the citizenry.

“The meaning of life is to find your gift. This purpose of life is to give it a way”
– Pablo Picasso
…. The north political administration of the state personified in the person of GovAyade in an age of the worst economic recession in the known record of the state and or any other state in the history of Nigeria’s political space and time with tall visions and dreams like Joseph a major character alluding to the Bible as evidence of an age long battle with dream killers and oppose R’s of people with great dream !
Like
#JosephSucceeded
#AYADESUCCESSsURE
#TEAMAYADEWORKING
#CROSSRIVERSTATEMOVINGFORWARD

All great inventions or achievements started with a dream.
Progress is a result of seeing and believing in something that wasn’t there before.
But the dream was!

Today we have electricity, airplanes, little mega computers we call “phone”. We even went to the moon. There were so many inventions prior to the inventions we are having today. Someone had that dream and believed that it was possible. Step stones again in order to be where we are today. If one of those dreams had not been lived something might be missing
…..
Yes, we are individuals but we are not lone warriors that’s why the inclusive administration in Cross River State.

We are all connected.
What one does, affects someone else and how they reacts, affects others again, and so on and on…
Endless ripples!
What I want to say is that every manifested dream is an inspiration for others.

Only when I add my step stone someone else can step on it get inspired and s/he adds the next step stone.

Every little step stone is necessary.

Perhaps it is the important connection between two meaningful spots.

Think about:

#CROSSRIVERSTATE
#DEEP SEA PORT
#SUPERHIGHWAY

If we believe in our dreams and make it an effort to realize them we encourage someone else to do the same.

Let’s trigger ripples of lived dreams in order to support that, as many dreams as possible can come true.
What is the foundation of it?

Love and understanding – first for ourselves and as a consequence for everyone else.
We have to become united as a family and work out positive ideas and ideals in getting our collective future and the future our generations unborn assured and secured.

Living our dreams brings healing to the world.

Because dreams are coming from the soul and the soul is unconditional loving wisdom.

Joseph’s dream in the Christian Holy Writ was
Opposed,
Castigated,
Enslaved,
Slandered,
Imprisoned &
Abandoned

Yet Joseph’s dream wasn’t crushed
He stood tall believing his dream

Like the similitude of
#GovAYADE
#SignatureProjects
#SUPERHIGHWAY &
#DEEPSEAPORT

Every manifested dream is an inspiration for others.
What is your dream for
#CROSSRIVERSTATEDEVELOPTMENT?

SaintAugustine Adula Odey
(A Social Media Strategist)
Blogs @
https://augustineodey.wordpress.com
Contact:
augustineodey90@gmail.com
austine721@yahoo.com
Tel:
+234 812 4712 511
+234 814 228 5740

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SaintAugustine Adula Odey

GOVERNOR AYADE’S SUPER HIGHWAY & DEEP-SEA PORT LIKE JFK AMBITIOUS GOAL OF LANDING MAN SAFELY ON THE MOON!

On May 25, 1961, President John F. Kennedy announced before a
special joint session of Congress the dramatic and ambitious goal
of sending an American safely to the Moon before the end of the
decade. A number of political factors affected Kennedy’s decision
and the timing of it. In general, Kennedy felt great pressure to
have the United States “catch up to and overtake” the Soviet
Union in the “space race.” Four years after the Sputnik shock of
1957, the cosmonaut Yuri Gagarin had become the first human in
space on April 12, 1961, greatly embarrassing the U.S. While Alan
Shepard became the first American in space on May 5, he only
flew on a short suborbital flight instead of orbiting the Earth, as
Gagarin had done. In addition, the Bay of Pigs fiasco in mid-April
put unquantifiable pressure on Kennedy. He wanted to announce
a program that the U.S. had a strong chance at achieving before
the Soviet Union. After consulting with Vice President Johnson,
NASA Administrator James Webb, and other officials, he
concluded that landing an American on the Moon would be a very
challenging technological feat, but an area of space exploration
in which the U.S. actually had a potential lead. Thus the cold war
is the primary contextual lens through which many historians
now view Kennedy’s speech.
The decision involved much consideration before making it public,
as well as enormous human efforts and expenditures to make
what became Project Apollo a reality by 1969. Only the
construction of the Panama Canal in modern peacetime and the
Manhattan Project in war were comparable in scope. NASA’s
overall human spaceflight efforts were guided by Kennedy’s
speech; Projects Mercury (at least in its latter stages), Gemini,
and Apollo were designed to execute Kennedy’s goal. His goal was
achieved on July 20, 1969, when Apollo 11 commander Neil
Armstrong stepped off the Lunar Module’s ladder and onto the
Moon’s surface.

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Governor Ben Ayade of Cross River State is a man of vision, foresight, with the technical and digital know-how saddle with the responsibility of leading the state to paradise.
So far he’s doing so well in restoration of peace and the provision of conducive environment that allows economic, social, political and other business activities to thrive for the good of Cross River State, the investors and the Nation Nigeria at large, making the state and nation to Proudly beat her chest as having the best tourism destination in sub Sahara.

We are familiar with the economic race we face!
We know the loss we have incurred as a people!!
We believe in never giving up!!!
We together can make it with GovAyade.

We call on all well meaning Nigerians to support both morally, support in prayers and in being positive minded toward this lofty projects!

Remember that the Americans were pessimistic about JFK landing one of them on the Moon. It came to pass, now a record in the indelible world history.
Those opposed to JKF I hope later joined in the celebration of JKF success that was invariably their very own success! #SupportGovAyadeSupperHighway
#SupportGovAyadeDeepSeaPort
#GovAyade
#TrailblazerUnstoppable

SaintAugustine Adula Odey

NIGER DELTA AVENGERS STRIKES AGAIN BLOWS UP NNPC, NPDC, CHEVRON OIL FACILITIES JULY 5, 2016.

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Notorious militant group in the oil rich Niger Delta
region, the Niger Delta Avengers on Monday night
continued with its resumed hostilities by blowing up
two trunk lines belonging to the Nigerian National
Petroleum Corporation, in Batan Community, Warri
South West Council Area of Delta State.
Two other manifolds operated by the Nigerian
Petroleum Development Company in the area were
also destroyed by the militant group, even as an oil
well operated by Chevron Nigeria Limited at
Makaraba village of Gbaramatu Kingdom was
attacked last night.
The attacks were said to be carried out at about
10.35pm and 11.20pm, yesterday night.
Information of these attacks was posted on the groups facebook page it would be recalled that the twitter account operated by the group was recently suspended by twitter

SaintAugustine Adula Odey

FULL TEXT OF PMB SPEECH ON DEMOCRACY DAY.

(The statement was published by the presidential media aide Femi Adesina. Read the full speech below:)

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“My compatriots, It is one year today since our administration came into office. It has been a year of triumph, consolidation, pains and achievements. By age, instinct and experience, my preference is to look forward, to prepare for the challenges that lie ahead and rededicate the administration to the task of fixing Nigeria. But I believe we can also learn from the obstacles we have overcome and the progress we made thus far, to help strengthen the plans that we have in place to put Nigeria back on the path of progress. We affirm our belief in democracy as the form of government that best assures the active participation and actual benefit of the people. Despite the many years of hardship and disappointment the people of this nation have proved inherently good, industrious tolerant, patient and generous. The past years have witnessed huge flows of oil revenues. From 2010 average oil prices were $100 per barrel. But economic and security conditions were deteriorating. We campaigned and won the election on the platform of restoring security, tackling corruption and restructuring the economy. on our arrival, the oil price had collapsed to as low as $30 per barrel and we found nothing had been kept for the rainy day. Oil prices have been declining since 2014 but due to the neglect of the past, the country was not equipped to halt the economy from declining.

The infrastructure, notably rail, power, roads were in a decrepit state. all the four refineries were in a state of disrepair, the pipelines and depots neglected. Huge debts owed to contractors and suppliers had accumulated. twenty-seven states could not pay salaries for months. in the north-east, Boko Haram had captured 14 local governments, driven the local authorities out, hoisted their flags. Elsewhere, insecurity was palpable; corruption and impunity were the order of the day. In short, we inherited a state near collapse. On the economic front, all oil dependent countries, Nigeria included, have been struggling since the drop in prices. many oil rich states have had to take tough decisions similar to what we are doing. The world, Nigeria included has been dealing with the effects of three significant and simultaneous global shocks starting in 2014: A 70% drop in oil prices. Global growth slowdown. Normalization of monetary policy by the United States federal reserve. Our problems as a government are like that of a farmer who in a good season harvests ten bags of produce. The proceeds enable him to get by for rest of the year. However, this year he could only manage 3 bags from his farm. He must now think of other ways to make ends meet. From day one, we purposely set out to correct our condition, to change Nigeria. We reinforced and galvanized our armed forces with new leadership and resources. We marshaled our neighbours in a joint task force to tackle and defeat Boko Haram. By the end of December 2015, all but pockets and remnants had been routed by our gallant armed forces. Our immediate focus is for a gradual and safe return of internally displaced persons in safety and dignity and for the resumption of normalcy in the lives of people living in these areas. EFCC was given the freedom to pursue corrupt officials and the judiciary was alerted on what Nigerians expect of them in the fight against corruption. On the economy, in particular foreign exchange and fuel shortages, our plan is to save foreign exchange by fast tracking repair of the refineries and producing most of our fuel requirements at home. And by growing more food in Nigeria, mainly rice, wheat and sugar we will save billions of dollars in foreign exchange and drastically reduce our food import bill.

We resolved to keep the Naira steady, as in the past, devaluation had done dreadful harm to the Nigerian economy. Furthermore, I supported the monetary authority’s decision to ensure alignment between monetary policy and fiscal policy. We shall keep a close look on how the recent measures affect the Naira and the economy. But we cannot get away from the fact that a strong currency is predicated on a strong economy.

And a strong economy pre-supposes an industrial productive base and a steady export market. The measures we must take, may lead to hardships. The problems Nigerians have faced over the last year have been many and varied. But the real challenge for this government has been reconstructing the spine of the Nigerian state. The last twelve months have been spent collaborating with all arms of government to revive our institutions so that they are more efficient and fit for purpose: That means a bureaucracy better able to develop and deliver policy That means an independent judiciary, above suspicion and able to defend citizen’s rights and dispense justice equitably. That means a legislature that actually legislates effectively and Above all; that means political parties and politicians committed to serving the nigerian people rather than themselves. These are the pillars of the state on which democracy can take root and thrive. But only if they are strong and incorruptible. Accordingly, we are working very hard to introduce some vital structural reforms in the way we conduct government business and lay a solid foundation on which we can build enduring change. An important first step has been to get our housekeeping right. So we have reduced the extravagant spending of the past. We started boldly with the treasury single account, stopping the leakages in public expenditure. We then identified forty-three thousand ghost workers through the Integrated Payroll and Personnel Information system. That represents pay packets totalling N4.2 billion stolen every month.  In addition, we will save Twenty-Three Billion  Naira per annum from official travelling and sitting allowances alone. Furthermore, the efficiency unit will cut costs and eliminate duplications in ministries and departments. Every little saving helps. The reduction in the number of ministries and work on restructuring and rationalization of the MDAs is well underway. When this work is complete we will have a leaner, more efficient public service that is fit for the purpose of changing nigeria for the good and for good. As well as making savings, we have changed the way public money is spent. In all my years as a public servant, I have never come across the practice of padding budgets. I am glad to tell you now we not only have a budget, but more importantly, we have a budget process that is more transparent, more inclusive and more closely tied to our development priorities than in the recent past. 30% of the expenditure in this budget is devoted to capital items. Furthermore, we are projecting non-oil revenues to surpass proceeds from oil. Some critics have described the budget exercise as clumsy. Perhaps. But it was an example of consensus building, which is integral to democratic government. In the end we resolved our differences. READ ALSO: Buhari makes striking confession about EFCC operations We have, therefore, delivered significant milestones on security, corruption and the economy. In respect of the economy, I would like to directly address you on the very painful but inevitable decisions we had to make in the last few weeks specifically on the pump price of fuel and the more flexible exchange rate policy announced by the central bank. It is even more painful for me that a major producer of crude oil with four refineries that once exported refined products is today having to import all of its domestic needs. This is what corruption and mismanagement has done to us and that is why we must fight these ills. As part of the foundation of the new economy we have had to reform how fuel prices had traditionally been fixed. This step was taken only after protracted consideration of its pros and cons. After comprehensive investigation my advisers and I concluded that the mechanism was unsustainable. We are also engaged in making recoveries of stolen assets some of which are in different jurisdictions. The processes of recovery can be tedious and time consuming, but today I can confirm that thus far: significant amount of assets have been recovered. A considerable portion of these are at different stages of recovery. Full details of the status and categories of the assets will now be published by the Ministry of Information and updated periodically. When forfeiture formalities are completed these monies will be credited to the treasury and be openly and transparently used in funding developmental projects and the public will be informed. On the Niger Delta, we are committed to implementing the United Nations Environment Programme report and are advancing clean-up operations. I believe the way forward is to take a sustainable approach to address the issues that affect the delta communities. Re-engineering the amnesty programmes is an example of this. The recent spate of attacks by militants disrupting oil and power installations will not distract us from engaging leaders in the region in addressing Niger Delta problems. If the militants and vandals are testing our resolve, they are much mistaken. We shall apprehend the perpetrators and their sponsors and bring them to justice. The policy measures and actions taken so far are not to be seen as some experiment in governance. We are fully aware that those vested interests who have held Nigeria back for so long will not give up without a fight. They will sow divisions, sponsor vile press criticisms at home and abroad, incite the public in an effort to create chaos rather than relinquish the vice-like grip they have held on Nigeria. The economic misfortune we are experiencing in the shape of very low oil prices has provided us with an opportunity to restructure our economy and diversify. We are in the process of promoting agriculture, livestocks, exploiting our solid mineral resources and expanding our industrial and manufacturing base. That way, we will import less and make the social investments necessary to allow us to produce a large and skilled workforce. Central Bank of Nigeria will offer more fiscal incentives for business that prove capable of manufacturing products that are internationally competitive. We remain committed to reforming the regulatory framework, for investors by improving the ease of doing business in Nigeria. Meanwhile, the first steps along the path of self-sufficiency in rice, wheat and sugar – big users of our scarce foreign exchange – have been taken. The Labour Intensive Farming Enterprise  will boost the economy and ensure inclusive growth in long neglected communities. Special intervention funds through the Bank of Agriculture will provide targeted support. Concerns remain about rising cost of foods such as maize, rice, millet, beans and gari. Farmers tell me that they are worried about the cost of fertilizers, pesticides and the absence of extension services. The federal and state governments are on the same page in tackling these hurdles in our efforts at increased food production and ultimately food security. I would like to take this opportunity to express my appreciation for the increasing role that our women are playing in revitalizing the agricultural sector. Modern farming is still hard and heavy work and I salute our Nigerian women in sharing this burden. In this respect I am very pleased to announce that the government will shortly be launching the national women’s empowerment fund, which I have approved to provide N1.6 billion in micro-finance loans to women across the nation to assist in rehabilitating the economies of rural communities, particularly those impacted by the insurgency and conflict. READ ALSO: Has Buhari failed Nigeria already? With respect to solid minerals, the minister has produced a roadmap where we will work closely with the world bank and major international investors to ensure through best practices and due diligence that we choose the right partners. Illegal mining remains a problem and we have set up a special security team to protect our assets. Special measures will be in place to protect miners in their work environment. For too long, ours has been a society that neglects the poor and victimises the weak. A society that promotes profit and growth over development and freedom. A society that fails to recognize that, to quote the distinguished economist Amartya Sen “ poverty is not just lack of money. It is not having the capability to realize one’s full potential as a human being.” So, today, I am happy to formally  launch, by far the most ambitious social protection programme in our history. A programme that both seeks to start the process of lifting many from poverty, while at the same time creating the opportunity for people to fend for themselves. In this regard, Five Hundred Billion Naira has been appropriated in the 2016 budget for social intervention programmes in five key areas. We are committed to providing job creation opportunities for five hundred thousand teachers and one hundred thousand artisans across the nation. 5.5 million children are to be provided with nutritious meals through our school feeding programme to improve learning outcomes, as well as enrolment and completion rates. The conditional cash transfer scheme will provide financial support for up to one million vulnerable beneficiaries, and complement the enterprise programme – which will target up to one million market women; four hundred and sixty thousand artisans; and two hundred thousand agricultural workers, nationwide. Finally, through the education grant scheme, we will encourage students studying sciences, technology, engineering and maths, and lay a foundation for human capital development for the next generation. I would like to pay a special tribute to our gallant men and women of the armed forces who are in harm’s way so that the rest of us can live and go about our business in safety. Their work is almost done. The nation owes them a debt of gratitude. Abroad, we want to assure our neighbours, friends and development partners that Nigeria is firmly committed to democratic principles. We are ready partners in combating terrorism, cyber crimes, control of communicable diseases and protection of the environment. Following on the Paris Agreement, COP 21, we are fully committed to halting and reversing desertification. Elsewhere, we will intensify efforts to tackle erosion, ocean surge, flooding and oil spillage which I referred to earlier by implementing the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) report. We are grateful to the international community notably France, the US, UK and China for their quick response in helping to tackle the recent Ebola outbreak in our sub-region. We also acknowledge the humanity shown by the Italian and German governments in the treatment of boat people, many fleeing from our sub-region because of lack of economic opportunity. We thank all our partners especially several countries in the EU. READ ALSO: One year in office: PMB lists achievements as military rescue 11,595 B’Haram captives We appreciate the valuable work that the UN agencies, particularly UNICEF, ICRC, the World Food Program have been doing. We must also appreciate the World Bank, the Gates Foundation, the Global Fund and Educate A Child of Qatar for the excellent work in our health, education and other sectors. Fellow citizens let me end on a happy note. To the delight of all, two of the abducted Chibok girls have regained their freedom. During the last one year, not a single day passed without my agonizing about these girls. Our efforts have centred around negotiations to free them safely from their mindless captors. We are still pursuing that course. Their safety is of paramount concern to me and I am sure to most Nigerians. I am very worried about the conditions those still captured might be in. Today I re-affirm our commitment to rescuing our girls. We will never stop until we bring them home safely. As I said before, no girl should be put through the brutality of forced marriage and every Nigerian girl has the right to an education and a life choice. I thank you and appeal to you to continue supporting the government’s efforts to fix Nigeria.”

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SaintAugustine Adula Odey

JESUS ALWAYS HAS TIME FOR YOU

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Revelation 1:8
“I am…the Beginning and the End,” says the Lord, “who is and who was and who is to come, the Almighty.”
Ever been too busy to get something done, and then find out
that it’s too late when you finally get down to it? As human
beings, we live our lives constrained by time. But Jesus, the one
who created time, is not time-bound. He always has time for each
one of us!
Even in His earthly ministry, in His limited form as Man, He always
had time to minister to people. Consider a typical day in His
ministry: When a severely demon-possessed man cried out from
the tombs of a distant region, He had time to sail all the way from
Galilee to the country of the Gadarenes to save that lonely,
tormented man. On the way there, He had time to respond to the
cries of His disciples when a fierce storm arose. He awoke from a
much-deserved sleep and calmed the storm for them.
After He saved the demonized man and returned to Galilee,
another man, Jairus, came to him for help. Jairus’ 12-year-old
daughter was dying and he begged Jesus to come to his house to
heal her. Jesus agreed—He had time. But on His way there, a
woman with a 12-year bleeding condition secretly touched the
hem of His garment and received her healing. Though Jairus’
daughter was in the throes of death, Jesus had time to find out
who had touched Him, just so that He could minister to that
person.
While Jesus was ministering to the woman, He received a death
report concerning Jairus’ daughter. Now, in the natural, Jesus
was “too late”. Yet, He did not consider it a waste of time to
encourage Jairus, “Do not be afraid; only believe, and she will be
made well.” (Luke 8:49–50) He wasn’t troubled or harried. He
took time to go to Jairus’ house and He raised the little damsel
from the dead.
My friend, this same loving Jesus always has time for you, His
beloved. He hears your cries, cares about the little and big things
that bother you, and will come and save you. Even when He is
“busy”, He has time to stop and minister to you. Even when it
seems “too late”, He will still see to it that you get your miracle!
Thought For The Day
Jesus, who is not bound by time, always has time for each one of
us!
#BeEncouraged
#BelieveAndHaveFaith

SaintAugustine Adula Odey

NIGER DELTA AVENGERS LIST OWNERS OF OIL BLOCS & ISSUE NEW THREAT!

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– The new militant group, Niger Delta Avengers have threatened to permanently shut down oil blocs allegedly belonging to some northerners
– The group listed Atiku Abubukar, Theophilus Danjuma and others as owners of oil blocs in the Niger Delta region
– The militants are proud of shutting down 50 per cent of crude production in the country without taking innocent lives.
– According to the avengers, their agitation was more organised than that of the likes of ex-militant leader, Tompolo and others.
Niger Delta Avengers have issued a new threat to former vice president, Alhaji Atiku Abubakar, ex-Minister of Defence, General Theophilus Danjuma, ex-Minister of Petroleum, Alhaji Riwalnu Lukman and other northerners and south-westerners who own oil blocs to shut down their operations.
The avengers on Thursday, May 12, gave them a two-week ultimatum to evacuate the workers from the locations or have them blown up.
“It will be bloody. So, just shut down your operations and leave,” the Niger Delta Avengers threatened.

This was contained in a statement forwarded to Vanguard by the group’s spokesperson, Col Mudoch Agbinibo.

The statement read: “ If at the end of the ultimatum and you still operating. We will blow up all the locations. It will be bloody. So, just shut down your operations and leave .”

The militant group listed the oil blocs allegedly owned by Atiku and others as follows:

1– Apo Well awarded to Sapetro Oil owned by Gen Theophilus Y Danjuma. Apo field is capable of producing 300,000 barrels per day and crude reserve of 500 million barrels.
2– OML 110 Obe oil field owed by Alhaji Mai Daribe, Cavendish Petroleum with an estimated 500 million barrel of crude oil.
3– Akpo condensate field awarded to Sapetro Oil owned by Gen Theophilus Damjuma.
4– OML 112 and OML 117 awarded to AMNI International Petroleum Development Company owned by Colonel Sanni Bello, son-in-law to former Head of State. Gen Abdulsalami Abubakar.
5– OML 115 also known as Oldwok field and Ebok field awarded to Alhaji Mohammed Indimi, in-law to former Head of State, Gen. Ibrahim Babangida.
6– OML 215 awarded to and operated by Nor East Petroleum Limited owned by one Alhali Saleh Mohammed Gambo. The field is worth $100 billion after tax.
7– OML 108 awarded to Express Petroleum Company owned by Alhaji Aminu Dantata. This field is worth $128 billion.
9– OML 113 allocated to Yinka Folawiyo Petroleum Limited owned by Alhaji W. I. Folawiyo. Net worth is $150 billion.
10– Prince Nasiru Ado Bayero cousin to the Emir of Kano, Lamido Sanisu, owns ASUOKPU/UMUTU marginal oil fields. It is worth $110 billion.
11– Inter is owned by Atiku Abubakar, Yara dua and Ado Bayero has a substantial stakes in the oil and gas exploration in the Niger Delta of Nigeria.
12– AMNI International Petroleum Company owns OML 112 and OML 117. Former Minister of Petroleum and OPEC Chairman, Rilwanu Lukman, has major stakes in AMNI International Petroleum Company.
13– OML 67 is operated Afren Plc. Rilwanu lukman also has a major stakes and the field worth $180 billion dollars.
14– OPL 245 is awarded to Malabu Oil and Gas owned by Dan Etete. It is worth $50 billion.
15– OPL 289 and OPL 233 were awarded to Cleanwater Consortium; the two fields are worth $200 billion. Former Governor Peter Odili of River state, Obasanjo and Sultan of Sokoto has major Stake.
16– OPL 288 was awarded to focus Energy Senator Andy Uba, Obasanjo, and Gen Theophilus Y Danjuma are the major stakeholders. The field is worth $70 billion.
17– OPL 291 awarded to Starcrest Energy Nigeria Limited owned by Emeka Offor. The field is worth $100 billion dollars.
18– Mike Adenuga’s Conoil controls and operates six oil blocs and exports about 500,000 barrels of crude oil daily. These 6 oil blocs are worth $500 billion.

The NDA expressed satisfaction that it succeeded in shutting down 50 per cent of crude production, congratulating its strike team for doing a good job without taking any innocent life or that of the Nigeria military.
  APC also begging Niger Delta avengers.
The militant group attacked those who have been calling them names and criticizing them.
“Our criticizer from other part of the country, we do not have anything to tell you because you clearly do not know how life is in the region. To our criticizers from the region, we want you to know you are all cowards and afraid to stand for your people ,” the avengers said.
The group also faulted ex-militant leader, Tompolo who has dissociated himself from them, saying their agitation was more civilized than his.
“The Niger Delta Avengers is more concerned with people of Niger Delta unlike you (ex-agitations) that were into kidnapping, killing of Nigeria soldiers, sea piracy, vessel and tanker hijacking. However, we were able to carry out all our operations without killing a fly. We have sophisticated arms far better than what you use to have during your kidnapping days ,” the avengers added.
Within a few weeks of their emergence, the Niger Delta Avengers have become a force to reckon with. They have blown up major oil installations in the Niger Delta region in recent weeks.
The militants listed some conditions that should be met by President Muhammadu Buhari’s government before peace can be returned in the Niger Delta, pledging to “crumble the economy” if its demands are not met.
The south east caucus of the All Progressives Congress (APC) appealed to the militants to allow peace reign in the interest of the nation and also give Buhari time to meet their demands.
#PoliticsAndSecurity

SaintAugustine Adula Odey