By Olowogboyega Oyebade
Are you familiar with the Solar System, the system of the Sun and the objects that orbit it, either directly or indirectly? Do you know that the largest objects around the sun are the nine planets, with the dwarf planets and small Solar System bodies? Do you know that studies showed that the Solar System was formed about 4.6 billion years ago possibly in the Garden of Eden or possibly not? Do you know that other planets to the sun include: Mercury, Venus, Earth, Mars, Jupiter, Saturn, Uranus, Neptune and Pluto, the hottest being Mercury and the coldest Pluto? Do you know that education conquers space for man? Do you know that all the developed nations of the world are showing the vital signs that they have conquered the world with their education? Do you know that the vital signs shown by our country still count us as part of the ignorant renegades in terms of education? Can we join President Biden to say “ Nothing is beyond the realm of possibility”? You care? Come along, please.
Have you heard the news? Do you know that the NASA Perseverance rover safely landed on Mars after its 470733120 km journey from Earth as reported on Thursday 18th February, 2021? Do you know that the rover has been on a nearly 482803200 km journey since it left Earth more than 6 months ago? Do you know that Perseverance and her teams lived up to expectation, overcoming the challenges of the journey’s final stages during a pandemic? Steve Jurczyk cuts in: “This landing is one of those pivotal moments for NASA, the United States, and space exploration globally — when we know we are on the cusp of discovery and sharpening our pencils, so to speak, to rewrite the textbooks. The Mars 2020 Perseverance mission embodies our nation’s spirit of persevering even in the most challenging of situations, inspiring, and advancing science and exploration. The mission itself personifies the human ideal of persevering toward the future and will help us prepare for human exploration of the Red Planet in the 2030s.”
Expectedly, can you believe that President Joe Biden called Jurczyk and said, “Congratulations, man!” Do you know that Biden also tweeted about the landing, saying: “Congratulations to NASA and everyone whose hard work made Perseverance’s historic landing possible. Today proved once again that with the power of science and American ingenuity, nothing is beyond the realm of possibility.” Do you know that Perseverance is full of firsts, including the search for signs of ancient life on Mars, the first helicopter fly on another planet, the first recordings of sound on the red planet, the most sophisticated rover NASA has built to date that has a packed agenda for the next few years? Do you know that the rover will explore Jezero Crater, the site of an ancient lake that existed 3.9 billion years ago, and search for microfossils in the rocks and soil there to see the possibility of getting new mineral resources? Do you know that follow-up missions will return samples of this site collected by Perseverance to Earth by the 2030s? Do you know that along for the ride with Perseverance is an experiment to fly a helicopter, called Ingenuity, on another planet for the first time? The voice of Thomas Zurbuchen, associate administrator for NASA’s Science Mission Directorate cuts in: “Because of today’s exciting events, the first pristine samples froym carefully documented locations on another planet are another step closer to being returned to Earth. Perseverance is the first step in bringing back rock and regolith from Mars. We don’t know what these pristine samples from Mars will tell us. But what they could tell us is monumental — including that life might have once existed beyond Earth. Every time we do a launch or we do a landing, we get two plans. One plan is the one we want to do, and then there’s that second plan.”
The voice of Mike Watkins, director for JPL , while explaining the initial assignment after the landing of the rover, cuts in: “There is something special about the first few days, because we have just landed a representative of the planet Earth on a place on Mars that no one has ever been to.” Do you know that Perseverance is NASA’s ninth landing on Mars and the agency’s fifth rover? In order to land, do you know that it had to go through the infamous “seven minutes of terror”? What does this mean? Do you know that the one-way time it takes for radio signals to travel from Earth to Mars is about 11 minutes, which means that the “seven minutes of terror” refers to the seven minutes it took for the spacecraft to land on Mars without any help or intervention from NASA teams on Earth? Do you know that in the journey of life as individuals or as a nation, we have our “seven minutes of terror” too when we have to confront our problems frontally by ourselves? When is your “seven minutes of terror” coming in service, home, among friends and in politics?
Do you know that this rover is the heaviest NASA has ever attempted to land, weighing over a metric ton? Do you know that Perseverance targets a 45 km wide ancient lake bed and river delta, the most challenging site yet for a NASA spacecraft landing on Mars? Do you know that Perseverance will do things no rover has ever attempted on Mars to pave the possible way for humanity to conquer it? The voice of MiMi Aung cuts in: “The Ingenuity team will be on the edge of our seats with the Perseverance team on landing day. We can’t wait until the rover and the helicopter are both safely on the surface of Mars and ready for action.” Do you know that Perseverance will search for evidence of ancient life and study Mars’ climate and geology and collect samples that will eventually be returned to Earth by the 2030s? The voice of Ken Farley, project scientist for Mars 2020, in a statement, cuts in: “Perseverance’s sophisticated science instruments will not only help in the hunt for fossilized microbial life, but also expand our knowledge of Martian geology and its past, present, and future.”
Are you a Nigerian Professor of Science or Engineering or Technology? Where is our own Perseverance Rover? When is it flying to Mars? Do you know that the American scientists from where we copied our constitution, sent rover to space during the gloom of the COVID-19 pandemic in 2020, a period when all Nigerian universities were closed down as a result of the one year long industrial action and the fear of the pandemic? As soon as ASUU members returned to work, do you know that the SSANU and NASU resumed theirs, thus holding tertiary education to ransom, possibly for another year? Can you now see how our road to space is painted with colourful strike actions, thus aborting the definition given to education by Varle when he says: “Education is a companion which no misfortune can depress, no crime can destroy and no despotism can enslave. At home, a friend. Abroad, an ambassador. In the society, an ornament. Without it, what is man? A splendid slave, a reasoning savage.”
Do you know that we have missed the road at the bend of insecurity? Are you not horror-filled as we witness young boys and girls kidnapped from their schools as soft targets of unprovoked aggression, held down at gun-points in various forests that are beyond the quality reach of science and technology in Nigeria and beyond the capacity of the mighty army of a country having the largest concentration of black people on the planet called Earth? Allah Akbar! Are you aware that on Wednesday 17th February, 2021, students and teachers were abducted from a school in Niger state? Do you know that schools have become regular targets for militant groups in Nigeria as well as criminal gangs foisting on us collective ignorance? Do you know that the attack took place at the Government Science College in the town of Kagara in Niger State where over 40 people were kidnapped, including at least 26 students? Do you know that at least one student was killed in the attack? Do you know that President Buhari condemned the attack as the voice of Garba Shehu, cuts in: “The President has directed the Armed Forces and Police, to ensure immediate and safe return of all the captives. The President urged security forces “to do all that can be done to bring an end to this saga, and avoid such cowardly attacks on schools in the future.”
Do you know that the Nigerian army said in a statement that it has mobilized troops to pursue the abductors and the Inspector General of Police said his force was working with the Department of State Security to reinforce security in the area? Do you know that till now Saturday 20th February,2021, the children are still with their captors? Are you aware that while Al Jazeera on Friday 19th February, 2021 reported that negotiations were under way between Nigerian officials and the armed gang that kidnapped them, the Minister of Information, Lai Mohammed stated on Saturday 20th February, 2021 on Channels Television that no ransom would be paid by the Federal Government? In another development on the matter, do you know that on Friday 19th February, 2021, Shiek Dr Abubakar Gumi advocated for general amnesty for all the bandits as a way out of this peculiar mess? Do you know that Bogoalavaky must have developed nausea as he sees us changing the aims of education to torture, violence, rape and death for our coming generation as we refuse infect with virus his coded aims of education which states: “The aim of education is to make students live rich and significant lives, develop colourful and harmonious personality, enjoy to the utmost the glory of being happy, accept suffering associated with dignity and profit and encourage others to live this superior life.”
Have you read the poem titled: “Lest we should be the last” by Kwesi Brew?” Do you know that we need to race round the gifted children to give us fast traction to civilization as each time we fail in this sacred duty, the price doubles? Can you recall that in 2012, a young medical doctor, Dr. Dayo Olakulehin, a graduate of Unilag Medical School, narrated his moment of ingenuity during his house-man-ship while he was on duty one night at the Olikoye Ransome Kuti Children Emergency Ward, Lagos University Teaching Hospital, LUTH, Idi Araba, Lagos where he got an urge to design and build a portable, battery-powered ventilator specifically to assist unconscious patients breathe? Do you know that Dr. Dayo Olakulehin demonstrated his innovative invention, the D-Box , a portable battery operated ventilator, during a public presentation in Lagos strengthening the belief that such a medical device that could potentially save millions of lives of patients worldwide was based on the personal experience he had.? As a medic, do you know that he noticed that many patients in respiratory failure requiring ventilator support are unable to access it for reasons of cost and availability? His voice cuts in: “I had manually ventilated a 5-year-old boy for four hours and at about 2am, I fell asleep, only to be awakened by the boy’s father. If the child had continued without ventilation for longer than four minutes, it could have resulted in irreversible brain damage. This experience was common among hospital staff at LUTH and other medical facilities. It was after one of such incidents the idea for an alternative ventilation method came to my mind. And the D-Box was born. I knew having the idea was not sufficient, I needed to find a way to make it a reality. I knew nothing about business, patenting or developing innovations. I went online looking for help, and I found a course on Healthcare innovation and entrepreneurship. This course taught me how to develop a patent. I approached a number of medical device companies and found out it was a lot easier to sell a product than to sell an idea. I literally sat on the idea for three years trying to take the next vital step until I met Mr. Kunle Soriyan and Thelma Ekiyor of Afrigrants. This led to the founding of Ligand Corp and shifted my paradigm from focusing on one product to creating a company that drives medical innovation, particularly among young Nigerians. As the CEO of LigandCorp, the search for a prototype developer began and while in Canada, a collaboration was formed with Inertia, an engineering and design company. that committed to partnering with LigandCorp and worked hard to get the prototype ready.“
Can you see that his great idea was developed here in Nigeria but fertilized in Canada? With billions of Naira declared by our banks as profits, with trillions of Naira in the kitty as unclaimed dividends, do you know that the idea was proto-typed in Canada as this country kills innovations? As we speak, do you know that Nigeria is now spending billions of Naira to import this machine for COVID-19 patients from other nations, including South Africa? Do you know that we have to reform education in line with modern realities? Do you know that China rules the world in Gross Domestic Product? Do you know that China exports everything to other countries and maintains self-sufficiency in everything? How has it achieved this feat? Do you know that China uses its mother-tongue as the language of instruction at all levels of its education? Do you know that corruption attracts death penalty in China? Do you know that the use of mother-tongue has complex implications for identity, communication, social integration, education and development? Can you believe that greater opportunities inherent in traditions, memory, unique modes of thinking and expression which are intrinsic to ensuring a better future, are equally lost when mother tongue is discouraged? Can you believe that studies show that every two weeks a language disappears taking with it an entire cultural and intellectual heritage? Do you know that at least 43% of the estimated 6000 languages spoken in the world are endangered? Can you believe that only a few hundred languages have genuinely been given a place in education systems and the public domain, and less than a hundred are used in the digital world? Can you believe that studies have shown that cognitive development as well as intellectual development is comparatively faster in those who are fluent in their mother tongue? Do you know that the use of mother tongue in China, Japan, Germany and some other developed nations accounts for their rapid development? Do you know that Bab Fafunwa’s experiment in Obafemi Awolowo University was equally a success?
Do you know that the Sustainable Development Goals focus on leaving no one behind? Do you know that languages and multilingualism can advance inclusion and development? Do you know that we need inclusion in education for recovery in the context of COVID-19 pandemic as a contribution to the UN International Decade of Indigenous Languages (2022-2032) for which UNESCO is the lead agency? Do you know that it was against this background the International Mother Language Day is observed every year to promote linguistic and cultural diversity and multilingualism? Do you know that 21 February was declared to be the International Mother Language Day by UNESCO in 1999 and it has been observed throughout the world since 21 February 2000? Do you know that the declaration came up in tribute to the Language Movement done by the Bangladeshis (then the East Pakistanis)? You know the history? Come along.
Are you aware that Pakistan was created from India in 1947? Do you know that at its creation, it had two geographically separate parts: East Pakistan (currently known as Bangladesh) and West Pakistan (currently known as Pakistan)? Do you know that the two parts were very different to each other in sense of culture, language and religions? Do you know that in 1948, the then Government of Pakistan declared Urdu to be the sole national language of Pakistan even though Bengali or Bangla was spoken by the majority of people combining East Pakistan (now Bangladesh) and West Pakistan (now Pakistan)? Can you believe that the East Pakistan people protested, since the majority of the population was from East Pakistan and their mother language was Bangla? Do you know that they demanded Bangla to be at least one of the national languages, in addition to Urdu? Do you know that the demand was raised first by Dhirendranath Datta from East Pakistan on 23 February 1948, in the constituent Assembly of Pakistan? Can you believe that to demolish the protest, the government of Pakistan outlawed public meeting and rallies? Do you know that as usual, the students of the University of Dhaka, with the support of the general public, arranged massive rallies and meetings? Can you believe that on 21st February 1952, police opened fire on rallies where Salam, Barkat, Rafiq, Jabbar and Shafiur died, with hundreds of others injured, thus started a rare incident in history, where people sacrificed their lives for their mother tongue?
Do you know that since then Bangladeshis celebrate the International Mother Language Day as one of their tragic days and they visit the Shaheed Minar, a monument built in memory of the martyrs and its replicas to express their deep sorrow, respect and gratefulness to them? Do you know that International Mother Language Day is a national holiday in Bangladesh? Do you know that the resolution was suggested by Rafiqul Islam and Abdus Salam, Bengalis living in Vancouver, Canada when they wrote a letter to Kofi Annan on 9 January 1998 asking him to take a step for saving the world’s languages from extinction by declaring an International Mother Language Day and to be commemorated on 21 February to mark the 1952 killings in Dhaka during the Language Movement” 21st February – The International Mother Language Day”? Do you know that on 16th May, 2007 the United Nations General Assembly in its resolution A/RES/61/266 called upon Member States “to promote the preservation and protection of all languages used by peoples of the world”? Do you know that the theme of the 2021 International Mother Language Day is: “Fostering multilingualism for inclusion in education and society”? Do you know that the time has come for Nigeria to promote the use of mother tongue for instructions in our schools to promote inclusion, reduce the number of out of school children and promoting traditional vocations in our communities? Do you know that this is the only way to go to space? Today, as a country, we cannot stand on our legs in the provision of essential things. Are you aware that the French President Emmanuel Macron on Thursday 18th February, 2021 called for 3 to 5 percent of the European and U.S. vaccine supply to be sent to developing countries including Nigeria as an act of morality and mercy? According to him, do you know that Russia and China (countries using their mother tongue for education) are offering developing countries, whose vaccination campaigns have barely begun, cheaper vaccines while African countries were made to pay exorbitant prices for Western junks, thus allowing Russia and China to promote their own vaccines? Do you know that Russia has approved the third vaccine while China has approved the second vaccine for COVID-19 translating into billions of Dollars for them? Do you know that Nigerians are waiting for God to intervene by miracle? Do you know that French President Macron said it was crucial for pharmaceutical groups making vaccines to transfer technology abroad to accelerate global vaccine production to save millions of Nigerians and other African countries the risk of untimely death? His voice cuts in: “It’s an unprecedented acceleration of global inequality and it’s politically unsustainable too because it’s paving the way for a war of influence over vaccines. It won’t change our vaccination campaigns, but each country should set aside a small number of the doses very fast, so that people on the ground see it happening. It’s not about vaccine diplomacy, it’s not a power game — it’s a matter of public health.”
Are you one of the officers working in the Ministry of Agriculture including Veterinary Services? Do you know that you carry a heavy burden of moral and professional guilt when you certify as healthy agricultural produce that are not fit for consumption? Did you hear that recently, Nigeria was embarrassed in Europe over the recent rejection of Nigerian beans by the European Union that the beans were unfit for human consumption? Do you know that these beans that failed to meet international food certification standards were the best quality beans sold to Nigerians for consumption in our local markets? Have you not seen serious escalation of renal diseases among the populace? Can you recall that in 2016 the NAFDAC spokesperson, Abubakar Jimoh, while speaking with the NAN, disclosed that European Union (EU) rejected 24 exported food products from Nigeria in 2016 for failing to meet standards? Do you know that the five major products were groundnut, palm oil, sesame seed and beans? According to NAFDAC, groundnut was rejected because it contained aflatoxin, which made the quality substandard, “the exported palm oil did not scale through the EU’s test because it also contained a colouring agent that was carcinogenic, beans was banned by EU sometime ago for the same reason? According to him, do you know that most of the products that were exported out were not certified by the agency and the Nigeria Agricultural Quarantine Services at the ports? Do you know that nothing is beyond the realm of possibility? The statement of NAFDAC cuts in: “NAFDAC and other regulatory agencies of the government are working round the clock to ensure that when the ban is lifted, we can then begin to export more agricultural products to EU.”
Have you heard the news? Do you know that on Thursday 4th February, 2021, exactly five years after, Nigeria’s hope of importing dry cowpea (beans) to the European Union countries was again dashed as a result of the failure of our agricultural produce to pass certification done by the European Union? Can you recall that the EU had in 2018 extended the ban on importation of dry beans from Nigeria until June 2019 owing to the continuous presence of the pesticide? Can you believe that the Nigeria Agricultural Quarantine Service (NAQS), the country’s produce regulator, had earlier assured farmers and other stakeholders that the country was working hard to ensure the ban is lifted in 2021? Do you know that a recent document from the EU has announced an extension of the ban, claiming that Nigeria failed to implement the union’s food safety action plan submitted in 2018? Do you know that the ban on our dry beans by the European Union (EU) will subsist till 2022? Why? According to the EU Food Safety Authority, do you know that banned Nigerian beans contained between 0.3mg per kg and 4.6mg per kg of dichlorvos, a pesticide, when the maximum acceptable residue limit is 0.01 mg per kg? Do you know that dichlorvos is considered to be highly toxic and can cause difficulty in breathing, diarrhoea, vomiting, convulsions and dizziness among others? Do you know that experts say like many organo-phosphate (OP) insecticides, it also inhibits the enzyme cholinesterase, which results in disruption to the nervous and muscular systems? Do you know that some experts also claimed that some farmers and middlemen use sniper, another deadly chemical, to preserve their beans and it is a known fact that most of the beans in the country are preserved with chemicals that are dangerous to human health? Do you know that food scientists list the consequences of consuming foods preserved with sniper and other harmful chemicals to include gastro-intestinal health issues, brain and other internal tissue damage, blood poisoning, food poisoning, cancer and could also lead to death? Despite the outbreak of cancer in the country, do you know that there are only 3 public radiotherapy centres in Nigeria? What is the implication of the ban? Do you know that Nigeria is losing billions of naira to the continued ban on the country’s beans since 2015 by the EU farmers, traders as well as the government could no longer make much money from the beans value chain because of the ban? Do you know that nothing is beyond the realm of possibility?
Have you heard the news? Do you know that on Thursday 18th February, 2021, the Federal Government inaugurated the Inter-Ministerial Technical Committee on Zero Reject of Agricultural Commodities and Produce/Non-Oil Exports from Nigeria as a move to ensure the standardisation of Nigeria’s agricultural produce and its acceptance by the international community? Do you know that the Minister of Agriculture and Rural Development, Sabo Nanono, who inaugurated the committee in Abuja, said it was time for Nigeria to avoid the embarrassment caused by the rejection of its agricultural produce by strengthening its regulatory and inspection authorities and make them live up to their mandates? His voice cuts in:
“Our desire for standard agricultural products and non-oil exports means there will be vigorous pursuit of investment in quality control and standardisation. As we pursue this, my ministry, in collaboration with relevant stakeholders, is committed not only to food security, but wholesome foods of high quality acceptable for local consumption and export. Do not also forget that whatever is being rejected elsewhere could be what we are consuming locally, therefore putting our health into jeopardy by not paying attention to quality assurance. The areas of handling our fresh produce, cold storage and post-harvest loss management are also major concerns if we must improve our export.”
Are you aware that to improve the quality of our exports, we must retool Nigerian Export Promotion Council, a Council established through the promulgation of the Export Incentives and Miscellaneous Provisions Act CAP E19 Laws of the Federation, 2004? Do you know that the Council is the leading Federal Government Agency charged with the responsibility of promoting non-oil export in Nigeria to diversify away from oil and build a formidable economy? Do you know that the functions of the Council include: promote the development and diversification of Nigeria’s export trade, spearhead the creation of appropriate export incentives, co-ordinate and monitor export promotion activities, collect and disseminate information on products available for export, provide technical assistance to local exporters in such areas as export procedures and documentation, transportation, financing, marketing techniques, quality control, export packaging, costing and pricing, publicity and in other similar areas, organize and plan the participation of Nigeria in trade fairs and exhibitions, administer grants and other benefits related to export promotion and development to mention but a few? Can you recall that on 14th January, 2021, the Minister of Industry, Trade and Investment, Otunba Niyi Adebayo inaugurated an 11-Man Steering Committee for the implementation of the Export Expansion Facility Programme (EEFP) under the National Economic Sustainability Plan? Do you know that the EEFP aims to protect export businesses from the effects of the COVID-19 pandemic, safeguard jobs and de-risk the economy from shocks like COVID and its primary goal is to increase Nigeria’s export capacity in the near term and its export volumes in the medium term? Can you recall that the Federal Government would spend an estimated N2.3 trillion to fund the National Economic Sustainability Plan, but N50 Billion has been earmarked for Export Expansion Facility programme to focus on driving economic growth through exports? According to the Minister, do you know that the facility is targeted at providing support to exporters particularly Micro, Small and Medium Entrepreneurs (MSMEs)? His statement cuts in: “Export growth is at the centre of our strategy for diversifying Nigeria’s sources of foreign exchange and reducing the vulnerability of the economy to external shocks. We have witnessed time and again, the devastating impact that events outside our control can have on our livelihoods due to our reliance on a primary source of foreign exchange”.
Do you know that the Steering Committee has the responsibilities to: Ensure the programme is implemented for the benefit of its intended beneficiaries; approve the Programme Implementation Plan and Budget and ensure the Programme is implemented on time? Do you know that the Executive Director/CEO of Nigerian Export Promotion Council (NEPC) Mr. Olusegun Awolowo commended the Federal Government for approving the Facility pointing out that monetary stimulus package as provided in the Facility will significantly help in reviving not only the SMEs, but also big corporations in the non-oil export sector that have been negatively impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic, particularly with the official takeoff of the African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA) in January, 2021? Do you know that the type of weird embarrassments we are getting from the dismal standard of our non-oil exports will not stop until we get the issue of our inter-agency collaboration right in Nigeria? Do you know that when a new programme is to be implemented, funding should be part of the eco-system? Do you know that on Friday 19th February, 2021, the Secretary of the just inaugurated Steering Committee on the implementation of the N50 billion Export Expansion Facility Programmes (EEFP), Mr. Segun Awolowo disclosed that the EEFP is to execute 16 programmes under its workstreams namely: capacity building, financing, market development, infrastructure and institutional strengthening? According to Awolowo, do you know that the EEF funds fall within the context of the Export Incentives and Miscellaneous provisions Act CAP E19 Laws of the Federation, 2004? Do you know that the Act stipulates that the funds especially (Export Development Fund and Export Adjustment Scheme Fund), shall be used to provide financial assistance to exporting companies to cover their expenses in respect of export promotion activities? Do you know that this fund will not amount to much if we are exporting thrash that will be rejected eventually? Do you know that Ministries of Agriculture, Commerce, Industries and NAFDAC should synergise to save us the embarrassment of the rejection of our agricultural produce in Europe?
Have you heard the news? Do you know that the Executive Director/CEO of the Nigerian Export Promotion Council, NEPC, Mr. Segun Awolowo on Friday 19th February, 2021 assured that given the steps being taken to improve the non-oil exports, Nigeria will exit its dependence on crude oil revenue in the next 10 years? According to him, do you know that in the next decade, Nigeria can get $30 billion in terms of non oil export not withstanding the effect of the current COVID-19 pandemic? His statement cuts in:
“But more importantly, we must just continue, we must increase production and productivity all across the two sectors that the zero oil plan is postulating for the country and then we get out of it. We cannot run an economy that 90 percent of our earnings is from crude oil. It is just not working and that is what we are seeing through out the years when we went into first recession when the world oil prices stood worldwide. We need to move again from just raw materials, we need to look at the entire value chain and that is where you create jobs and that is where you earn more money. So ten years time frame we are looking at to get to $30 billion but we must be consistent, we must invest more in the non oil sector than looking for oil.”
Do you know that if we get education right, we shall always fix other problems? Do you know that violence in our midst is a product of ignorance plaguing millions of Nigerians? And what is the cost? Do you know that we pay compensation heavily for this transgression? Are you aware that the National Economic Council (NEC) presided over by Vice President Yemi Osinbajo,on Thursday 18th February, 2021 agreed that State governments should compensate victims of farmers/herders crises, who have lost livelihoods? Do you know that the Council also resolved that States should incorporate non-indigenous/minority residents into local security initiatives to ensure adequate representation? Do you know that the Council also encouraged States to promote the modernisation of livestock farming and that Governors should tell their citizens that there are criminals among the herders, but law-abiding citizens should be protected?
Do you know that we shall remain poorer by insecurity? Have you heard the news? Are you aware that on Thursday 18th February, 2021, Nigeria Governors Forum (NGF) said it will dedicate portions of the excess crude account, natural resource development fund and the economic stabilisation fund to provide support for the procurement of necessary military equipment to address the insecurity challenges in the country? Do you know there has been a surge in kidnapping, banditry and other crimes across the country in recent weeks? Can you recall that on Wednesday, 17th February, 2021, gunmen stormed Government Science College (GSC) Kagara, Niger state, and abducted 27 schoolchildren? Barely 24 hours later, do you know that some communities in Gurmana, Shiroro local government area of Niger state, were attacked by gunmen? Do you know that Dr Kayode Fayemi, chairman of the forum and Ekiti governor, announced the decisions reached by the governors after an emergency meeting held at the banquet hall of the State House? Do you know that he hinted that governors have provided financial support to victims of conflicts in some states and the governors are committed to the protection of lives and property in their various States? Can you see how funds that could have been used for infrastructure going for purchase of weapons to deter bandits? Do you know that the governors warned against ethnic profiling of crimes, saying that the consequence of such act had been disastrous for some countries? Are you aware that Dr Feyemi hinted that the governors also reviewed the National Livestock Transformation Plan and have adopted the modern approach to livestock management? His voice cuts: “Our meeting also reviewed the challenges of resourcing for our military institutions. We welcome the appointment of new services chiefs and we are supportive of the work they promised to do. We hope a new security architecture will emerge from this new leadership. On our part, we are prepared to support the dedication of portions of the Excess Crude Account and the Natural Resource Development Fund and the Economic Stabilization Fund to providing the necessary equipment for the military and other security institutions to address immediately the impunity associated with all of the crimes and criminality that we have highlighted in this briefing. In this wise, we have also expressed our interest in strengthening our judicial system so that they can accelerate access to justice for victims of crime and criminality in the country. Governors are irrevocably committed to the protection of lives and property in our states and we are full of sympathy with those who have lost lives and property. The governors forum has gone ahead to provide some financial support to victims of the conflicts experienced in Uyo and Ogun states where our delegation visited over the last week. Nigerian governors also are very clear that crime and criminality should be comprehensively prosecuted wherever they may occur without ethnic, religious or any other coloration. Governors are totally opposed to ethnic profiling of crime. Knowing what has transpired in other parts of the world, whether we are talking of the way youths were profiles in Germany leading to the world war, or we talking of the way Tutsis were profiled leading to the genocide experienced in Rwanda, we do not believe that crimes are associated with particular ethnic group. And to that extent, we unreservedly condemn any attempt to profile any ethnic group on account of a particular crime. Because it the view of all the governors in Nigeria that the traditional approach to grazing is no longer sustainable and that modern approach to livestock management need to be put in place and governors feel strongly that the strengthening of the National Livestock Transformation Plan would be a good place to start this comprehensive revisiting of the livestock management arrangement.”
Are you aware that we are not of one opinion on who a bandit is and the legality or otherwise of his campaign? Are you aware that on Thursday 18th February, 2021 after meeting with President Buhari at the Presidential Villa, Abuja, the Governor of Zamfara State, Bello Matawalle, said that not all bandits who terrorise parts of the state and other neighbouring states are criminals? Do you know that he explained that most of the bandits take up arms due to the injustice meted on them by some members of the society? Can you believe that hundreds of persons have been killed or kidnapped by the bandits in Zamfara, Katsina, Sokoto, Niger, Kaduna and Nasarawa States in recent years? Do you know that contrary to the claims by the Governor, there have been suspicions that the criminality is a fallout of the artisanal mining of gold, lead and other mineral resources in those areas? Can you believe that despite the attacks on innocent citizens, Mr Matawalle has repeatedly called on the federal government to grant amnesty to repentant bandits? While explaining the reasons for the attacks, do you know that Mr Matawalle said those saddled with the responsibility of protecting the community sometimes rustle their cattle and destroy their livelihood and that since they have nobody to speak to, they resort to violence? His voice cuts in: “Not all of them are criminals. If you investigate what is happening, and what made them to take the laws into their hands, some of them, sometimes were cheated by so-called the vigilante group. They normally go to their settlements and destroy property and take their animals. They did not have anyone to speak with, so sometimes, they go for revenge. When the vigilante group attacks them, they go for reprisals. That is exactly what happened. Some of them are living in settlements close to villages or towns. When there are military operations, the military will go and destroy their property and animals. They are angry with such actions sometimes. If you are talking to them, you can understand where they are coming from and their problems. It is important for us as leaders to sit down with them and understand what is the genesis. You can’t just conclude that this person is a criminal. You have to listen to him. What led him to go into such activities? It is not all Fulanis that are criminals. Some are good citizens, but due to some circumstances, they subscribed to such criminality but when we had the information, we called their leaders and sat with them, they told us their grudges and we sorted out the way the communities and the Fulanis can resolve their issues without any serious crisis. In my state, I am constructing RUGA for them, like a settlement that can contain some of them because sincerely speaking, if we allow them going around from one place to another, we cannot find a solution to this issue. So the only thing the governors should do and we are discussing that is to contain them in one place. Like a Fulani from Zamfara should not migrate to another neighbouring state. How are we going to do that? This is something that needs a lot of resources because you will have to create something that can engage them. You have to provide social amenities for them. Like the RUGA that we are doing, we have many amenities like school, hospital, veterinary clinic, market and even mini stadium.
If we allow them to migrate from one place to another, that is where the problem is. I believe that very soon, the Nigeria Governors Forum will discuss that so that we can be able to know what action all the governors should take to contain them in one place.”
Do you know that nothing is beyond the real of possibility if we pursue Social Justice? Do you know that various private workplaces are reducing employment? Do you know that this is the time to promote social protection? Are you aware that the International Labour Organization unanimously adopted the ILO Declaration on Social Justice for a Fair Globalization on 10 June 2008? Do you know that the General Assembly recognizes that social development and social justice are indispensable for the achievement and maintenance of peace and security within and among nations and that, in turn, social development and social justice cannot be attained in the absence of peace and security, or in the absence of respect for all human rights and fundamental freedoms? Do you know that on 26th November 2007, the General Assembly declared that, starting from the sixty-third session of the General Assembly, 20 February will be celebrated annually as the World Day of Social Justice? Do you know that social justice assigns rights and duties in the institutions of society, which enables people to receive the basic benefits and burdens of cooperation with the relevant institutions which often include taxation, social insurance, public health, public school, public services, labor law and regulation of markets, to ensure fair distribution of wealth, and equal opportunity? Do you know that as we mark the day, we must ask: How are we promoting social justice?
Hurray! Are you aware that on Friday 9th February, 2021, it was announced that the Nigeria’s Gross Domestic Product (GDP) grew by 0.11% (year-on-year) in real terms in the fourth quarter of 2020, representing the first positive quarterly growth in the last three quarters as contained in the Nigerian Gross Domestic Product report, published by the National Bureau of Statistics (NBS)? According to the report, do you know that the growth was largely driven by positive growth recorded in the information and communication sector (15.9%) and agriculture (3.42%)? Do you know that the positive growth in real GDP indicates that the Nigerian economy has recovered from the pandemic-induced recession which disrupted economic activities in most part of 2020 as the economy posted real GDP growth of 0.11% in the fourth quarter of the year, suggesting that the economy is exiting the covid induced recession? Do you know that as the raining season is coming up, there is the need to encourage our farmers more to boost food sufficiency to save our foreign exchange from high food import receipts? Do you know that it will not be a bad idea if we can copy Ghana in its programme of “One Community, One Dam”?
Whaoh! Are you a sports enthusiast? Are you aware that on Thursday 18th February, 2021, inspite of the two draws secured by the Super Eagles during the recent FIFA windows following 1-1 score-line with Ukraine and the high profile friendly match against Brazil over two weeks ago, Nigeria still dropped by one spot in the latest ranking released by the World Soccer ruling body? According to the FIFA report, do you know that Nigeria is now in 35th position as against 34th it placed in last month’s ranking and the nation garnered 1,481 points as against 1482 recorded in September? Do you know that in spite of the drop, Nigeria still occupies the third spot in Africa behind Senegal and Tunisia who are placed 20th and 29th with 1,546 and 1,495 points, respectively? Do you know that as we are dropping in FIFA-ranking in football, we are also descending to the narrow prism of a failed State? Do you know that we must reverse the trend by preaching peace with the right education, skill and attitude? We seize this medium once again to congratulate Governor Adegboyega Oyetola on the flag-off of the Olaiya Fly-Over done on Thursday 18th February, 2021. Your sagacity to embark on the project using alternative project financing model simply demonstrates that nothing is beyond the realm of possibility for a clear visionary leader like you. President Biden on Perseverance Rover cuts in again: “Congratulations …to everyone whose hard work made Perseverance’s historic landing possible. Today proved once again that with the power of science and .. ingenuity, nothing is beyond the realm of possibility.”
God bless Osun! God bless Nigeria!