Uduaghan: The Man Gearing For Niger Delta Development By Julius Akpovire Enyeh

There are politicians and there are politicians. In Delta State, they also abound in different shades and characters, so much so that if awards were to be doled out today, there would be a lot of pretenders amongst them as far as the development of the Big Heart State is concerned. Inversely, a few contenders would line up for the awards based on their selfless contributions which have made the state worthy of being counted among the ‘big’ states.

The immediate-past governor of Delta State, Dr. Emmanuel Eweta Uduaghan, is arguably one of the most successful politicians the Niger Delta have produced in recent times. His influence and popularity were not earned through a walk in the park, rather by the dint of his determination to make his people happy. His story is a very loaded one, his development efforts also extended to the Niger Delta region even though he was the governor of a state. He was deeply involved in negotiations with Niger Delta agitators and militants alike which let to peace in the region. Of course, where there is peace, there is development.

If one counts every infrastructure dotted all over the state, a greater percentage of them would definitely bear his finger of approval.

That is the lot of a man who was trusted enough by the former governor of the state, Chief James Onanefe Ibori, a big fish in all ramifications, to wear his big shoes as the governor of the state after the former had governed for eight years.

A medical doctor by profession, Dr. Uduaghan set the sail of healthcare revolution in the state when he took over. Deltans will not forget Uduaghan in a hurry for instituting a special project to finance medical assistance to them. To date, the sum of N1.4 billion has been expended on the project and it has been worth the while.

He also embarked on health programmes as the Free Under-Five health programme where all the children within the age bracket of 0-5 years were taken care of irrespective of the ailment. The Free Maternal Health programme which enabled government hospitals attend to pregnant and expectant mothers from conception to the period of delivery free of charge remains in their memory till date. It was once reported that the antenatal care unit of each hospital was recording up to 200 to 400 attendants on daily basis. The hospitals were made to handle serious advocacy issues on care during pregnancy aimed at reducing maternal and infant mortality.

On the Free Rural Health Scheme programme, the government of Delta State under Uguaghan attended to the rural people in all parts of the state, treating various health needs of the people irrespective of the nature of the ailment free of charge. The scheme cut across all ages and sexes as issues bordering on fibroid, hyenia, partial blindness and other sundry health challenges were tackled by health care professionals.

This magnanimous gesture of his government brought succour to people who ordinarily would not have been able to access the needed medical attention.

If Uduaghan did well in health care delivery, he scored higher in the educational sector. Aside from ensuring the fees of all students sitting for the secondary school final examinations were paid full, a policy he underpinned by the observation that some students even after going through the free school programme, were unable to pay the fees required before they could sit for NECO and WASC examinations, he blazed the trail with the state government’s First Class Scholarship Scheme under which indigenes of the state, paternally or maternally, who made first class in any university were offered an annual N5 million scholarship to study for higher degrees up to PhD anywhere in the world. In four years, his government provided scholarships to 1,760 students in different categories. His government also approved scholarship for 792 students in all the categories and inaugurated the Delta Education Marshall (Edu Marshall) to eradicate ‘street culture’ and pave way for ‘learning culture’

Fully aware of his target in the education sector Uduaghan had said the huge investment in education had a lot to do with the ‘Delta Beyond Oil’ initiative of his administration. For anything to succeed, he had said, the bedrock is education, and one cannot be talking about ‘Delta Beyond Oil’ the populace was not educated. Under Uduaghan, primary and secondary schools witnessed a new lease of life in the state with the construction or rehabilitation of over 200 primary and secondary schools.

There is no argument that Dr. Uduaghan achieved so much in the area of infrastructure, housing scheme, roads construction, street lights and provision of modern transport facilities and hospitals, a phenomenon which has made Delta catapult into an enviable state.

What has, however baffled a lot of political watchers within the country and beyond, was why an achiever like Dr. Uduaghan went into hibernation after serving out a meritorious gubernatorial period despite pressure from his people when a lot of his under-achieving colleagues found themselves in the chambers of the National Assembly Complex, Abuja. When he addressed pressmen recently, the Itsekiri-born politician answered the question. He had said he took that option in the interest of peace in the state.

Delta South Senatorial District boasts of equally great minds like the ex-governor, one which is the incumbent senator who has represented the senatorial district through four terms of four years each.

By 2019, the senator, James Manager would have served a total of 16 years in the house. In 2015, when he indicated his intention to return to the senate, the ex-governor had rested his ambition to pave way for Mr. Manager to continue. Now, the pressure has again mounted on Dr. Uduaghan to gun for the senatorial seat and he has said he is ready. Surprisingly, support has poured in from the whole Delta South and beyond.

According to Dr. Uduaghan, his senatorial ambition is born out of his desire to pursue quality legislation that will lead to the end of crisis and development in the Niger Delta region.

In his words: “I’m not going to the Senate because am Itsekiri. My aspiration is not ethnic but knowledge and capacity based.”

“We need to look at laws that’ll improve income accruing to oil-bearing communities. There should be a law that compels every company operating in the Niger Delta region to contribute a percentage to the host communities. This is done in Arizona and the Netherlands. Ours, here, should not be an exception.”

“And to ensure a near absolute peace and security in the Niger Delta, local youths should be engaged to assist security men in intelligence gathering; through this, we’ll be able to reduce a lot of criminal activities in the creeks.” Uduaghan noted.

As the 2019 elections draw closer and closer, all eyes are on the man with excellent track records who thinks, sleeps and wakes up with the peace and development of the Niger Delta in his mind.

In Defence Of The Nigerian Medical Professional By Sayo Aluko

“…But then, according to the Medical and Dental Council of Nigeria, we have approximately 35,000 practicing doctors in the country. Which means, it’s 1 doctor to 5,200 people in Nigeria, which further means an average Nigerian Doctor works almost 10 times more than expected, 10 times more than his/her colleagues in saner climes… “…the body holding data on doctors in the UK, says that 5,250 Nigerian doctors were working in the UK as at April 25, 2018. Checking the same data today, May 13, 2018, that number has grown to 5,273 – that is an alarming increase of 23 emigrant doctors in 17 days….”

Last year, my 7-month old son was sick. A good friend had introduced us to a kind pediatric Doctor who owned a private practice somewhere in town. He doubled as a Senior Registrar at the University College Hospital (UCH), Ibadan.

The day came to meet up with this Doctor, and he was by obligation at work in UCH – we had to go meet him there and not at his private practice as hoped.

Well, we saw hell.

The Doctor ordered a Malaria Parasite (MP) test and a Full Blood Count (FBC) for our son. Let me just say myself and his mother weren’t thinking aright right there that day – because, somehow, we made the unthinkable mistake of approaching the UCH Laboratory for these tests. Five freaking hours later, we were still waiting for the results. Yes, 5 hours, you read right.

I can’t remember the number of times I went back to that Lab that day asking and asking “what’s up, how far?”, only to be served an unproductive and lukewarm response. I also can’t remember the last time I was that vexed to stupor – waiting in pain, waiting in vain.

We finally received sense, drove out of UCH to a private lab just across its second gate, and paid 100% more (₦3000) than what we paid to the UCH lab for the same procedure(s); in barely 25-30 minutes, we were done and headed back with results of the tests.

The Doctor provided consult, and as we headed out, I bumped on some activity at the Emergency Unit of the hospital that added more flux to my vexation.

Three accidents victims, all bathed in blood and apparent writhe, were brought (not rushed) to receive emergent treatment at that supposed Emergency unit. The first Nurse came out strutting and laughing tiresomely off a banter she was having with a male colleague, who on his part, was sifting through some rack of files inside.

I shouted twice, “E se kia now! E se kia! ” [Hurry!]

Whether I was heard or not, I still can’t say till today; because, it was as if I just bellowed into thin air, they did not flinch.

Picture the pace of a snail in reverse, that was the nonchalant pace these guys, three nurses and a Doctor, were using to render deemergent treatment at a supposed Emergency Unit. No urgency, no passion, no drive, and no Hippocratic appetite in sight.

At that point my vexation had morphed into indignation, and I chose to just walk away from that scene before I burst into a fit. It was a hell of a day.

All my indignation was clearly directed at the poor services I experienced and witnessed, and also directed at the people behind it (laboratory guys, the nurses, the doctors and the admin of the hospital).
But, later that fateful day, after rechanneling my anger into deeper thought about the whole UCH experience and also a thought about the big picture, I reckoned that the anger I felt and expressed was misdirected.

I reckoned without doubt, that the average Nigerian Medical professional is also a victim; that, they too are victims of a crushed system, victims of the listless lull largely existent in Nigeria’s healthcare system. They are not the ones I should direct my indignation towards.

Dear reader, the average Nigerian medical professional encounters our national decay on a daily basis and at a very close personal and professional range. And, sadly, a lot of compromise in effort and output definitely stems from this.

Either partly or fully, that frustration that you see, that inhumane tendency, that poor service, that lack of drive, passion and urgency, that apathy you complain about, all have valid roots in the agelong crack in the system.

They are overworked, fatigued, underpaid, sometimes unpaid, discouraged, and most unfairly, de-skilled.

As an example, I know for fact, that apart from the overworking, the worst thing you will do to any Medical Doctor who is primed by oath to save lives, is to drown him/her in a swathe of theory, and thereby de-skill and “de-teach” them, albeit in a supposed “Teaching hospital”.

This above, is a modest way to describe the unbelievable and unbearable theoretic torture most Resident doctors face in UCH and in most, if not all of our teaching hospitals across the country.

Last week, I visited a couple of my Doctor friends who work inside UCH, and all those indignant feelings from my experience months ago came back to me while we talked. Two of them are junior residents, and the other one, a final year student who could have graduated by the end of this present month if they weren’t on strike.

They wailed endlessly about the substandard and anachronistic work environment they are forced to put up with as Doctors.

“Sayo, I sought residency here because I felt UCH was the best. But, bòbó, imagine that they don’t even have IVF equipment in their OB-GYN. All we do in a supposed residency program is theory, theory, and more theory”, one of them said.

“They have only one malfunctional MRI machine Sayo. A machine that’s supposed to give you a clearer image for better diagnosis, gives you the opposite”, another moaned.

“Sayo, in another 5 years, maybe only CHEWS* will remain to dispense Healthcare in Nigeria”, she echoed.

“See, me, I’m already saving money for my PLAB, I can’t wait to finish and leave here. It’s like we are being trained to kill lives, not save lives”, chanted the one in his final year.

Well, you should know, that almost every Nigerian Doctor or medical professional you meet has at least one personal tale of woe along their professional journeys, that brews from the substandard and neanderthal nature of medical practice in Nigeria; surgeries by candle light, a litany of preventable mortalities, NEPA ‘showing up’ at bad times, getting stuck to antique techniques, etc.

As at the time of writing this piece, the UCH, Nigeria’s premier teaching hospital, is dry and competes with the graveyard in decibels of silence. Almost every arm of activity therein is on industrial strike. The Provost of the college and the medical students too are at an impasse regarding a sudden hike in fees.

So, for some weeks now, it’s been ‘no treating, no teaching’ at the “iconic” teaching hospital.

A dirge of emptiness, empty beds, empty drug shelves, empty hands, empty labs, empty, empty, empty, rings into your consciousness as you walk round the hospital, and sadly, this is not sensationalizing it. I wish I were.

The way it is today, if Queen Elizabeth visits UCH now, instead of being unable to recognize the edifice she commissioned years ago due to graded levels of improvement over the years, she’ll have perfect nostalgia [SELAH].

The way it is today, a sick Nigerian stands a better chance to be correctly and promptly diagnosed and treated by watching some episodes of Grey’s Anatomy drama series, than inside a government hospital in Nigeria.

The way it is today, the best Nigerian Doctor is the one whose guess-work game is exponential. Guess work.

In all, most Nigerian Medical professionals are just tired to the marrow. They are just tired. And yes, they are fleeing in droves to better and befitting pastures.

According to AfricaCheck.org, Nigeria loses an average of 12 Medical Doctors to the UK alone every WEEK!

The UK General Medical Council, the body holding data on doctors in the UK, says that 5,250 Nigerian doctors were working in the UK as at April 25, 2018. Checking the same data today, May 13, 2018, that number has grown to 5,273 – that is an alarming increase of 23 emigrant doctors in 17 days.

This efflux of hands to the UK alone. That means more figures when other countries are considered.

Actually, a survey conducted in August 2017 by a Nigerian Polling organization, NOIPolls, in partnership with Nigeria Health Watch, revealed that about 9 out of every 10 (88 percent) medical doctors in Nigeria, from final year students to Consultants, are actively and currently seeking work opportunities abroad. This figure includes my three Doctor friends I mentioned above.

In fact, at the time when this poll was conducted, many Nigerian doctors were (and many more are) registered to write foreign medical exams such as PLAB for the UK (30 percent), USMLE for the United States (30 percent), MCCE for Canada (15 percent), AMC for Australia (15 percent) and DHA for Dubai (10 percent) amongst others.

In addition, the World Health Organization (WHO) recommendation puts the ideal doctor-patient ratio at 1 to 600. National Population Commission (NPC) projects our current population to be about 182 million at a 3.5% growth rate from the 2006 census. This means we need about 303,333 medical doctors now, and at least 10,605 new doctors annually to join the workforce in order to fit that WHO recommendation, like some other countries who don’t have a quarter of Nigeria’s potential. I mean, if a country like Libya can meet up….

But then, according to the Medical and Dental Council of Nigeria, we have approximately 35,000 practicing doctors in the country. Which means, it’s 1 doctor to 5,200 people in Nigeria, which further means an average Nigerian Doctor works almost 10 times more than expected, 10 times more than his/her colleagues in saner climes.

It’s all sickening maths,…these figures.

While we were talking, my Doctor friends told me one of the stories that keeps fueling their acquired lack of faith in Nigeria and their resolve to leave soon.

Over a year ago, they said the Minister of Health, Professor Issac Adewole, who is a product of UCH himself and who is also the immediate-past Vice Chancellor of the University of Ibadan, was around on a working visit. My friends said they were “moved” by the way the Minister spoke, especially after promising that his office will “promptly” facilitate the procurement of modern facilities into the hospital and even an IVF equipment to their department. But, while they (new residents at the time) were clapping for the Minister, to their surprise, their senior colleagues seemed totally uninterested in the Minister’s talk and promises. They later asked why, and were told that their uninterest stems from the fact that they’ve heard many of such promises from government officials without any fulfillment.

Almost a year and half later, the senior colleagues remain right, my friends clapped for nothing, because nothing has happened indeed. And that point, I even asked, “must promises be made before a government realizes a need to perform an obligation in the first place?”

This is the saddening situation of things in Nigeria’s health sector at the moment, also how it has always been.

And now, if you raise convictions against the present government that they haven’t “CHANGEd” anything in true effect as promised, and that they should allow Sai Baba to retire in order to pave way for something new and braver, Buharideens will call me names and say hogwash like, “errr, people like you don’t understand how government works, errr, 16 years of….”

16 years kee you dia!

In this era, the Minister of Health oversaw the “rehabilitation” of the President’s son in Germany after suffering a head injury from a biking spree; the President himself just came back from his umpteenth foreign medical checkups against the gradient of his words; he’s back to be ushered into a party congress that will cement his reelection bid, a party congress reported to gulp a six(6) Billion Naira contribution from APC Governors.

It is obvious that the political elite in our country just seems deliberately blinded to the consequences of our failed health sector, as no sane person should be able to understand why a UCH for example, just like any other Nigerian tertiary or general health institution, can be not only substandard in setup and output, but also rendered totally useless for weeks!!

Among many endless things that 6 billion Naira will do to change the fortunes of medicare and medicarers in Nigeria, it will setup complete IVF equipment in 20 of our 22 teaching hospitals as an example, or buy 10 MRI machines spread across them. But, then, according to vuvuzelas of CHANGE, the underpaid and frustrated Nigerian Medical professional can’t “understand how government works”.

Yes, they can’t, and today, I rise in their defence, choosing to totally understand their desire to fly away in order to learn better and earn better, as against staying here to moan whenever and yearn forever.

PS: Oh! I forgot to tell you that we eventually got my son’s test results from the UCH Laboratory that day, some 7 hours later; the FBC was inconclusive. No kidding.

What Happened To “We the People”? By Femi Aribisala

There is a cliché often repeated by all and sundry in Nigeria, in spite of the fact that it has little or no bearing with reality. This says: “Police is your friend.” I have a feeling that the police came up with this adage because of the popular perception that they are the enemy of the people. Rather than address the reality of widespread police misconduct, it was decided to present instead this tomfoolery of fictitious police friendship.

But no matter what you think about Nigerians, we cannot be deemed to be gullible. We may suffer fools gladly but we are not fools. Therefore, “we the people” of Nigeria certainly do not subscribe to the deceit of “police is your friend.” Nigerian policemen are not friendly. They cannot be our friends when their primary preoccupation is the extortion of money from “we the people” at every possible opportunity.

Enemy Governments

But then what about the government? Can it be said in Nigeria that “Government is your friend?” Absolutely not! It is no big secret in Nigeria that the government is the enemy, and not the friend, of “we the people.” Government is an instrument by which “we the people” are robbed, intimidated and controlled by a privileged few.

Serious governments everywhere understand that small business is the engine of national economic growth. Therefore, they bend over backwards to encourage and promote business. Not in Nigeria. In Nigeria, the job of the government has been to harass, intimidate and extort money from businesses. I have been running businesses in Lagos in the past 30 years. At every juncture, the government has been an albatross around my neck.

Government in Nigeria is a captivity of the rich and the powerful. This is partly a by-product of our long stint with military government. The military seize power and hold it by force. They only have regard for the military and not for “we the people.” Their authority derives from their monopoly of violence, and from the capacity to cow “we the people” into submission.

Therefore, we have a constitution in Nigeria that does not derive from “we the people,” but from “they the military.” Constitutional impositions of the military are then cast in stone, making them near impossible for “we the people” to repeal.

Democratic Dictatorship

Our more recent excursion into democratic governance has been no different. As a matter of fact, it has merely entailed a metamorphosis between military politicians and civilian politicians. The tendency has been for the military to remove their uniforms and then continue to govern in civilian clothes under the guise of democracy.

Nigerian democracy itself is bogus, defined by the manipulation of votes by strategically-placed individuals. As a result, “we the people” have become essentially irrelevant to Nigerian governments. There is little or no electoral repercussion to bad government in Nigeria. When “we the people” appeal to our leadership, they have been known to tell us to “go and die.”

A government can achieve precious little in its lifespan of four years in office. Nevertheless, at election time, its spokesmen will proclaim that it will still win the election by a landslide. When the results are announced, few express surprise when it is declared the winner by a moon slide. Elections then have only served to confirm the irrelevance of “we the people” in our so-called democratic processes.

Abraham Lincoln defined American democracy as government of the people, by the people, for the people. But what we have in Nigeria is government of the government, by the government, for the government.

When are we going to realise that if our governments are not truly for “we the people,” even the rich will not be allowed to enjoy their riches in peace and quiet? If we refuse to obey the dictates of “we the people,” Nigeria will remain in its current deformity of stunted development.

2019 Elections

In less than a year, we shall be going again to the polls. But you would not know this by the activities of our governments today. “We the people” are not being courted with policies that add value to our lives. Bill Gates came all the way from America to tell our leaders that government is no longer about projects and highfalutin statistics: Government is about “we the people.” But our governments would not be moved.

Consider this. The Lagos State government decided to introduce an astronomical increase in its land use tax. This blatant contempt for “we the people” found eloquent expression, not in the government’s first year in office, but in the very year it is gearing up to renew its mandate at the polls.

Such audacity would be politically suicidal in true democracies. But not in Nigeria. In Nigeria, “we the people” don’t determine the winners of elections: “they the government” do.

Sharp Practices

For the last three years, I have paid N360,000 as land use tax to Lagos State for a property in Victoria Island. But suddenly this March, 2018, I was served a bill of N2,600,000 for the same property. That is an increase of over 600 percent. Please tell me: Who does that?

Furthermore, I was given only a one-month grace period to come up with this financial bombshell. Then the government put a gun to my head and cocked it. I was told one-month lateness would double the amount as a penalty. Two month’s lateness would treble it.

Does this sound like a government that cares for my vote? Certainly not! It sounds like a government that has already won the election by a moon slide.

When this impertinence resulted in widespread public uproar and demonstrations, the government decided to be magnanimous. It announced a 50 percent reduction of the charges. That means instead of N2,600,000, my bill would now be N1,300,000; an increase of over 250 percent. The government then expects me to be extremely grateful for this generosity and to say a big “thank you” to the governor.

Let me tell you the trick here. If you want to increase the land use charge by an outrageous 250 percent, you first do so by 600 percent. When “we the people” scream in protest, you then reduce it to 250 percent and demand gratitude from your captives for your magnanimity.

Daylight Robbery

This government by extortion, robbery and intimidation does not end there. We woke up one morning to discover that the fee for the Lekki-Lagos toll-gate has been increased by over 65 percent. No discussion: No reprieve. Instead of providing potable water for “we the people,” the government has come up with a policy for taxing people who have boreholes. Imagine that!

I also received a bill from my local government that I am now to pay N240,000 per annum for car parking in front of my house. They estimated that the space could take six cars. For each space, I was then billed N40,000.

Taking a page out of the government’s extortion playbook, fraudsters and conmen have joined the fray. I got another bill that says I am to pay N200,000 per annum for radio and television license. Surely, I can buy both a radio and television for less than half that amount.

If we do not address the education deficit of “we the people,” Nigeria will remain backward while African countries like Rwanda and Botswana forge ahead. If our governments don’t succumb to the will of “we the people,” there will be no Nigeria down the road, but a number of fragmented and balkanised mini-states in the disintegration tradition of Yugoslavia…

I have also been known to receive a bill for having a generator. Rather than provide adequate electricity, which would preclude the need for a generator, I was asked to pay a tax for environmental protection against the fumes of my generator. Don’t be surprised if, in the determination to milk us dry, “we the people” are soon charged even for the air we breathe.

This list goes on. Within three years, my electricity company raised my tariff by 1,236 percent; from N11,000 monthly to N147,000. Not to be left out, the banks have come up with all sorts of hidden charges designed to hemorrhage our bank balances. Soon, “we the people” may have to pay a toll for walking on the street. Indeed, because Folorunso Alakija is putting up an edifice in Ikoyi, the authorities have informed those in the neighbourhood that the road will be closed to “we the people” for the next few years.

Lagos State Employment Trust Fund (LSETF)

In the context of these sharp practices, imagine my surprise when I heard that Governor Ambode of Lagos State has established a Lagos State Employment Trust Fund (LSETF). In this, a whopping N25 billion has ostensibly been earmarked for the support of small businesses in the state through the provision of staff-employment generating loans to the maximum tune of N5 million each over three years.

Does this really mean we finally have a government that pays more than lip-service to the needs of “we the people?” I needed to find out for myself.

My wife and I own Nouveau Schools, an international school in Victoria Island with a population of 100 children. A N5,000,000 LSETF loan would enable us to boost the business by employing more nannies and handlers, in conformity with the stated objectives of the scheme. I put in my application and waited patiently to be surprised by this new departure in Nigerian democratic governance. No such luck!

It is now 18 months since I applied for the LSETF loan. At first, I received nary a word; not even an acknowledgment. Then for months on end, they claimed the website was being refurbished and everything closed down. Then they said my application was being processed and the board would soon contact me. How does it take 18 months to process an application?

When I raised the matter with a Lagos State official, he decided to level with me in an uncharacteristic moment of candour. Yes, he said, the government budgeted N25 billion for the scheme. But the money has been shared among the timber and calibre of Lagos State, who simply use it as an avenue to funnel funds to their friends and relatives. So much for “we the people” again.

Time Running Out

When and how are we going to get out of this cul-de-sac? When are we going to realise that if our governments are not truly for “we the people,” even the rich will not be allowed to enjoy their riches in peace and quiet? If we refuse to obey the dictates of “we the people,” Nigeria will remain in its current deformity of stunted development.

If we do not address the education deficit of “we the people,” Nigeria will remain backward while African countries like Rwanda and Botswana forge ahead. If our governments don’t succumb to the will of “we the people,” there will be no Nigeria down the road, but a number of fragmented and balkanised mini-states in the disintegration tradition of Yugoslavia and the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics.

The Nigerian leadership are latter-day Bourbons. They are hard of hearing and hard of learning. They self-sabotage even their best intentions.

Senate Vs. IGP, By Dele Agekameh

A tug of war currently ensues between two disreputable ‘opponents’ on the national stage. On one end is the Senate, puffed by ego and shameless self-importance, and on the other end is the incompetent head of an under-performing police force haunted by the shadows of his many misadventures. The bone of contention is something as trifling as an invitation, a mere formality in today’s government. The casualties of this clash of egos have been the rule of law and simple logic, but there’s no telling what more may fall in this absurd wrangling.

Ibrahim Idris, the Inspector General of Police (IGP), had earlier generated controversy late in 2017 when he reluctantly appeared before the Senate with his lawyer and a written statement, refusing to speak with the senators on that occasion. This time, he has sent a deputy and the Senate is not buying it. Even with all the cries within the Senate about the IGP’s flouting of the rule of law that has now led to him being labelled an “enemy of democracy”, the upper legislative house continues to expose the limits of its powers, thereby showcasing a characteristic lack of understanding of its own functions.

In the purely legal consideration of this issue, a key provision of the federal Constitution is vital. Section 88(1) of the Constitution grants both legislative houses the power to direct investigation into “(a) any matter or thing with respect to which it has power to make laws, and (b) the conduct of affairs of any person, authority, ministry or government department charged, or intended to be charged, with the duty of or responsibility for – (i) executing or administering laws enacted by the National Assembly, and (ii) disbursing or administering monies appropriated or to be appropriated by the National Assembly”.

A lone reading of this provision would give legitimacy to the decision of the Senate to issue indiscriminate invitations to any member or part of the government or civil service without qualification, so far as some Act of the National Assembly covers the duties and functions of that person or department. However, as is common with laws, there is an important caveat inputted in the Constitution which serves as a qualification of what would have ordinarily stood as wide powers of summons and investigation that the Senate now claims to have.

Section 88 (2) of the Constitution provides that the National Assembly’s powers under Section 88(1) are exercisable only for the purpose of enabling it to “(a) make laws with respect to any matter within its legislative competence and correct any defects in existing laws; and (b) expose corruption, inefficiency or waste in the execution or administration of laws within its legislative competence and in the disbursement and administration of funds appropriated by it”.

As far as is evident in this case, the lawmakers are interested in general queries about the security situation in the country and a very specific enquiry about a judicial matter concerning the prosecution of Mr. Melaye, a member of the house, which is beyond the purview of their powers and adds or removes nothing to any extant laws made by the National Assembly.

A joint reading of the two provisions provides clearer insight into the intention of the draftsmen of the Constitution. Section 88(2) effectively ties the National Assembly’s power of summons and investigation to matters relating to the creation, amendment or administration of laws, which is the primary objective of the legislative houses. No part of the provisions permits the National Assembly to roam from its primary duty. It stands to reason then that in extending an invitation to any person based on constitutionally provided power, as has been reproduced here, the lawmakers ought to properly tie that invitation to specific laws whose mal-administration or inadequacies have occasioned such an invitation. As far as is evident in this case, the lawmakers are interested in general queries about the security situation in the country and a very specific enquiry about a judicial matter concerning the prosecution of Mr. Melaye, a member of the house, which is beyond the purview of their powers and adds or removes nothing to any extant laws made by the National Assembly.

In the widest consideration of the power of the Senate to summon the IGP in this case, Section 88 (2) (b) may be argued as providing enough ground to summon the IGP, particularly to expose “inefficiency” in police duties across the country. However, this would be likened to a performance review by the Senate of an appointee of the president. In the most robust political systems, this will not be unheard of, especially when there are present problems facing the country. The problem here is that, an invitation coming after a somewhat vindictive arrest of one of the senators already suggests suspicious motives.

The fact that the IGP needs a performance appraisal and needs to answer queries about his handling of the police force since he took control is immutable. His watch has been spotted with incompetence and a similar lack of understanding of his role. The police force has made little to no input in fighting the myriad security concerns currently facing the country, choosing instead to dabble in local politics and pacifying its puppeteers. The IGP’s ego has increased too, in all the time he has been able to keep his job while delivering little – he has threatened to withdraw police protection of lawmakers and other VIPs in the past, no doubt for a selfish end.

In any case, the controversy about the IGP’s invitation by the Senate underscores the politics of ignorance and ego that has plagued the country in all these years. If government functionaries cannot separate matters of pure politics from logical and effective governance, then we are bound to go around in circles for the foreseeable future.

The police force is in serious need of reform or at least a shakedown of leadership, but the Senate is not exerting pressure where it ought to be exerted. The president alone has the power of removal of the IGP and this includes the power to launch any serious query of the IGP.

On the one hand, the Senate could have received the IGP’s representative if their true motive was to gather information about the security situation in the country. On the other hand, the IGP need not have been so dismissive of the Senate invitation, if for nothing else, but to show respect for the Nigerian people and his duty to them. That we have to witness this back and forth by the Senate and the IGP while the country is burning is unacceptable. The IGP clearly is in the wrong job, but sadly, the members of the Senate may be too.

Right now, there is no right side in the ensuing duel. Both parties are wrong in their decision-making on this issue, and they have been wrong about a great number of things even before this present drama. What is more, the only authority that may perhaps have the power to end the useless debacle and restore some sanity has been characteristically silent. Such silence emboldens the likes of IGP Idris in their wrongdoing and almost legitimises every misstep made.

The police force is in serious need of reform or at least a shakedown of leadership, but the Senate is not exerting pressure where it ought to be exerted. The president alone has the power of removal of the IGP and this includes the power to launch any serious query of the IGP. The senators ought instead to contemplate laws that will make it easier to exert this pressure rather than chasing shadows by inviting every government appointee that crosses them the wrong way. The poor politics of the National Assembly members has led to continued humiliation of the house through the continuance of people like Ibrahim Magu in their positions. It appears that the lawmakers are yet to learn any lessons from past occurrences.

For lawmakers, Nigeria’s legislators are very ignorant of the law and its purposes. Perhaps the people should think of electing more legally astute lawmakers and less of career politicians, whose self-interest is their major driving force. The Senate is presently populated by ex-governors and indeed is headed by one. This may be why the Senate tends to step out of its core function of law-making. As for the IGP, his lack of respect for his duty as the top police officer in the country may best be handled by relieving him of the burden of that duty. Either ways, there is food for thought for the president and the electorate in the ensuing drama

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JOHESU’s Strike And Needless Loss Of Lives By Tayo Ogunbiyi

I was not unaware of the Joint Health Sector Union (JOHESU) members’ indefinite industrial action which commenced nationwide on April 18, but did not really give it much consideration as it was viewed as one of the usual national brouhahas that will somehow fizzle out with time. After all, ours is a nation of many troubles and overtime we have become used to coping with troubles.

Unknowingly, I was to be caught in the whole JOHESU’s commotion through a colleague who was hospitalized at the Lagos State University Teaching Hospital, LASUTH. I was, indeed, highly elated when I paid him a visit at the hospital and discovered that he was stabilizing quite well. Though, he was still under observation, he was in high spirit.

However, things took a dramatic turn with the commencement of on-going JOHESU’s strike which effectively ensured he no longer have unhindered access to medical attention. It did not take long before his condition began to deteriorate; thereby making a mess of initial gains recorded in his recovery process. Presently, his condition calls for speedy divine intervention.

As if that was not enough, one of my colleagues recently lost a dear brother who was shot at close range by dastardly armed robbers. He was allegedly rejected by private medical facilities on the account of police report and was referred to a public medical facility where he could not be attended on account of on-going JOHESU’s strike action. Having lost so much blood in the process, he eventually gave up the ghost and thus ended the dreams of a promising young man.

Though the JOHESU’s imbroglio is strictly between the union and the Federal Government (FG), reports across the country, however, indicate that other tiers of governments (State and Local Governments) have already joined in the strike. For instance, in Lagos State, health workers have joined the JOHESU strike in solidarity with their federal counterparts. Accordingly, reports had it that at LASUTH and other General Hospitals across the State health workers were not at their duty posts and only skeletal services were offered by the consultants and resident doctors available.

It will be recalled that JOHESU embarked on a nationwide strike last September to protest among other issues, salaries adjustments, promotion arrears and improved work environment for its members. The negotiation started in 2009 which later resulted in an agreement in 2012 and 2014 between the union and the FG. Now, the main grouse of JOHESU is that the FG has refused to honour the agreement it had with it. JOHESU has gone ahead to accuse the FG of gross bias since it had honoured similar agreement with members of the Nigerian Medical Association, NMA.

Thus, now, JOHESU is fighting on two fronts as it is engaging the FG on one hand and the NMA on the other hand. JOHESU leaders have particularly accused NMA of frustrating efforts geared towards the implementation of its agreement with the FG. It needs to be stressed that the NMA had repeatedly declared its opposition to many of the demands made by JOHESU, describing them as objectionable. The NMA is explicitly opposed to salary harmonization; one of the important agreements which the FG reached with JOHESU, insisting that doctors cannot be on sane same salary scale as other health workers.

In the midst of all these hullabaloos, JOHESU has also singled out the Ministers of Health, Prof. Isaac Adewole as well as Labour and Employment counterpart, Senator Chris Ngige, as the biggest culprit in the alleged scheme to frustrate efforts of the health workers to get fair treatment. The two men have, however, vehemently described this allegation as ‘spurious, unfounded and baseless’.

Meanwhile, hapless Nigerians, such as my colleague, who are critically in need of prompt healthcare, are, as usual, at the receiving end of this pointless entanglement. In an increasingly piercing economic season, hapless compatriots have had to cope with the extra financial burden on medical bills. From the way things are, the only way out is for the people to opt for private hospitals which, for obvious reasons, very few patents can really afford. According to reports, there is already an upsurge in the number of casualties across the country. This is rather unnecessary as it is quite avoidable.

Therefore, there is need for the striking JOHESU members to thread softly in the interest of the people as the country cannot afford to go through another needless circle of pains and anguish that usually accompany industrial action in the health sector. The avoidable anguish experienced whenever the health sector is faced with industrial unrest is needless.

Lives that are wasted when health workers embark on strike cannot be restored. JOHESU members should, thus, be wholly concerned about the need to save human lives. Hence, it is imperative that they exercise sufficient restrain in resorting to strike each time they have issues with government. In as much as it is their constitutional right to embark on industrial action, the sacredness of life and the delicate nature of the work they do should always be above every other consideration.

Health workers are wonderful people, no doubt, but so also are teachers, sportsmen, journalists, engineers, lawyers, Inland Revenue officers, surveyors, accountants, auditors and other professionals who toil endlessly to ensure that we have livable society. No doubt, agitation for wage increase is a legitimate universal practice; but the overall interest of the people should always be given utmost priority. One is at a loss as to why JOHESU is dragging States and Local Government chapters into a matter that is strictly between it and the FG. In Lagos State, for instance, it is not on record that the State Government has industrial dispute with the State’s local JOHESU. Is it, therefore, not morally wrong that the State JOHESU is actively involved in the on-going strike?

Nevertheless, the FG and other key stakeholders need to urgently step up efforts to mitigate in the current imbroglio before it cripples the country’s health sector. Our health system is already weak and allowing the strike to continue will only make things worse. Since the well-being of the citizenry is universally a fundamental responsibility of government, the FG should muster the sufficient political will that is required to end the current strike. We need a system that cares for the citizenry as they need to be healthy in order to contribute meaningfully to nation building.

There is no gainsaying that the ongoing strike in the health sector raises questions on the exact state of our public health system. There is, thus, need for JOHESU and the FG to urgently reach an agreement, to prevent avoidable casualties. The way forward for industrial harmony in the health sector is for all stake holders to be ready to make necessary concessions, at least for the sake of the people.

2019: The Final Battle Of The Generals By Lasisi Olagunju

When crocodiles eat their own eggs, let frogs run and run. Because of the 2019 elections, an intra-class war is currently raging among a special breed of Nigerians. I call their exclusive enclave the Generals Club.  These are a lucky set of army officers who either staged the counter-coup of July 1966 or benefitted from it. That was a coup that forever changed the fortune of Nigeria and its inhabitants. The young officers came, seized and squeezed Nigeria into their suffocating cubicle. They came and became our permanent landlords. They built all the good things; they also enthroned all the bad things. Today’s loud demands for restructuring is a rejection of these gentlemen’s conundrum.

The Generals fighting this 2019 war are ruthless. They very rarely take prisoners of their victims. From 29th to 31st July, 1966, the ones their bullets missed, they buried alive in very deep graves.  They were young, dazzling and ambitious. Flamboyant and immensely courageous, they took great risks and reaped bountifully. With daredevil thuds, they put their feet on the blood of friends and foes to jump to stardom. They did what they did in 1966 and have since refused to let go of Nigeria. When they got their Operational Order that eerie night in July 1966 and started distributing weapons, they did not know they were in for a long haul. The civil war came, they killed and earned greater reputations and more epaulettes.

They are so daring they put rhyme and rhythm into their operations. The first act was on July 29,1966. Exactly nine years after, on July 29, 1975, they consolidated their hold, sacking their Commander-in-Chief. In 1979 they handed over to civilians; they did same twenty years after in 1999. The year 2019 is another 20 years, we look forward to what they have for us. They are encouraged to go on because we have offered them no resistance. Our reaction to their everything, good and bad, has been to lie supine and take them as they come. And they must be very amused at our hopeless indolence. They have their fingers on every pie of Nigeria. They hold the yam and the knife and have never hesitated to cut off any impudent finger that touched their pie uninvited.

Old soldiers don’t die, they fade away. Many of them, like neon lights, have faded away. The ones living and kicking are the everlasting lords of the land.  One of them is our president, Muhammadu Buhari. Another is his friend, Ibrahim Babangida.  There is also billionaire retired General Yakubu Danjuma. There was Shehu Musa Yar’Adua, Major-General. This one was described by Andrew Young as “handsome, humble, charismatic.” He died in the cell of one of them, Sani Abacha. Their leader was Murtala Mohammed, who didn’t live long. He died at 38, a four-star General and Head of State. Murtala was mercurial, courageous and tempestuous. Bola Ige described him (in his early days) as “the Captain who drove about (Ibadan) in his car and would point his gun at any taxi-driver whom he considered undisciplined.”  There was the “textbook commander,” General Mohammed Shuwa. His Commander-in-Chief said he was “an exceptionally good commander.” Shuwa fought wars and didn’t die in battle. But he fell at home, a few years ago, at the hands of Boko Haram.

Then there is the big boss, General Olusegun Obasanjo, who has refused to age and fade. Obasanjo was Murtala’s senior in the army but became his second-in-command after they dethroned their boss, Yakubu Gowon. When Col. B.S. Dimka took down Murtala, the lot fell on Obasanjo to govern Nigeria in February 1976, a few days to his 39th birthday. Obasanjo and his class lived their lives fully in their prime, holding their destinies in the cusp of their palms. More than fifty years after their first coming and forty years after retirement, the living among them are still not tired; they still cook and serve us to themselves.

Politicians have started their 2019 wars. The Generals are laughing at amateurs firing live ammo at party congresses. Let the bloody civilians break heads and blast bones. That is their problem, the living will bury the dead. The problem of the Generals is how to keep their country. Nigeria is theirs to keep for their tribe. And they always have their way. They must always give us a president. They did in the past; they will next year. In very difficult times, they put forward any of their stock to hold the reins. In 1999 they made their boss our president. In 2015, they made one of them our president. In 2019, head or tail, it will be their show. They matter in these matters and you ignore them to your sorrow. When coups were fashionable, their nod made a difference on D-Day. Ask Dimka; ask Gideon Orkar. Now that coups have run out of fashion and democracy is the way to paradise, they have quickly rebranded. They have become the keepers of the gate of democracy.

We run to them for solutions even when they are the problem. Among them we pick messiahs, integrity and navigators. They were one solid bloc in 2015 and we had only one choice. Today, they are in factions, both sides deadly. That makes the coming polls very foreboding. Crocodiles will use their own eggs for supper; fish will eat fish for dinner. Let fragile crabs crawl away from the brewing battle.

Watch out for them. They insist they are patriots. Even when their leopard eats buffalo’s calf, they say it is for public good. But what have they done with Nigeria? In thought and sayings they claim they love Nigeria. Its unity is non-negotiable, they would say. Finicky monkey does not like the shape of his baby’s eyes; he adjusted and readjusted the eyes – then pushed them into sockets of ugliness. The Generals are the monkey. Between Gowon, Murtala, Obasanjo and their boys, Nigeria ceased to exist as a federation. They seized what belonged to the regions and gave the centre. They took the University of Ife; took the Western Nigeria Television, the Western Nigeria Broadcasting Service. They seized the Daily Times, seized New Nigeria newspapers. They changed the currency; introduced a National Pledge and gave us a new National Anthem. Their boys, Buhari, Babangida and Sani Abacha, completed the rout. Till date, we are still singing their songs. North, East and West, they closed  every window Nigeria had for ventilation. They said it was out of their love for Nigeria. They still say so.

We look up to them for the choices we make. They know they are the messiahs. One of them insists he is contesting next year. The band leaders are saying they would give us a better choice. Head or tail, the story is about them and their taste. Even if you won’t vote, you still can’t escape their grip. Beyond the big ones we know, there are their boys and the boys of their boys everywhere. The exclusive club has members in unusual places. You can’t understand them. They overlap in actions and designs. Every race is theirs to win. They are concentric in operations. There are several ones seemingly minding their businesses. There is Sani Bello, ADC to Aguiyi Ironsi, now retired Colonel. Bello is quiet but deeply involved in telecoms, oil and gas, power sector, construction, etcetera, etcetera. Sani Bello belongs to no political party but his son is the current Niger State governor. General Gado Nasko, 77 years old, is a quiet farmer in Nasko village in Niger State. Like Bello, he also belongs to no political party but, in the last election, his son was the opponent of the current Niger State governor.  You see, head or tail, they win. There are others quietly controlling our affairs. Read their stories.

But these men did not become our husbands by carrying shoes for politicians. They were not like today’s overgrown boys who chase out judges for unknown causes. The Generals, in their youth, had self-esteem and went for their game. They paid their dues. They were no eaters of leftovers. Up till today, if they desire the food in your plate, they won’t beg; they’ll shake the table. That explains why there is no boardroom that is a boardroom without their fingerprints. They are men of power and money and good sense. Jointly and severally, they are the face of the class which has made and broken Nigeria since its debut. They did great and horrible things in equal measure. They broke Nigeria from four regions to 36 states. They built Abuja from a jungle; they built the Third Mainland Bridge in Lagos; they gave Nigeria Kainji Hydro Power Plant and, later, Egbin Thermal Station. Remember, they also created this Nigeria of anything goes. They are Nigeria in its present good and bad forms.

Watch closely the coming battle of the Generals. They don’t fight and lose. When they fight, their opponents must fall. Now, they are at war and we are taking sides. Where witches are fighting, should an invalid go there to interlope? They are lining us up for their fight. We are all on the queue, abusing, even shooting at one another. Did you not watch the viral video of a party’s thugs in Port Harcourt last week? Those yelling at, shooting and locking up a high court complex in Rivers, how old were they?  Were they older than our Generals when they rose and pocketed our country?

What should our own be in all these? Ours should be a quiet push to make this tug the Generals’ very last battle. None of them retired after age 50 – but they still rule. Indeed, one of them was in the army for just 19 years; and he retired a three-star General with pockets of gold. Think. Instead of burdening your destiny with inheriting their enemies, why not wake up and cast off your chains?

Now, the elections are here. The Generals’ crocodiles appear set to eat their own eggs. It is a familiar treat for them. But I fear for frogs who don’t have fathers and are dabbling in these waters of wile and guile. When the big men started life, their solemn vow was to live by the sword and die by the sword. They swore to fight and die on land, at sea and in the air. They trained hard to keep their heads while others lose theirs. And the street of Nigeria is littered with skulls of their victims.

But today, they fight. They are feuding over the next presidential election, not for you but for their clan. Ailing and flailing Buhari wants another term; his comrades-at-arms are saying enough, he must go back home and play with his grandkids. They are one and the same. We must assist both sides to make 2019 their last outing. Only then can we sit back and sit down to count our losses and pick the broken bits and pieces. But before then, we must see the coming war of the warlords as portentous. Already, the drummer is asking who owns the farm between the two tenacious claimers. Is it the wilds rabbit or the farmer’s trap? We will soon know that we have no share in this house of the Generals. Let us continue our walk of ignorance slowly and surely into the bowels of 2019. But let that year be the year of retirement of the Generals.

APC’s Primary And Congress Of Armageddon By Tunde Odesola

Ekiti is a land of dubious contradictions. It is landlocked, yet one of its monikers is Fountain of Knowledge. Ekiti is the land of disturbing opposites; it’s the home of the beauty and the beast, the lamb and the tiger, black and white, violence and peace, arrogance and humility, absurdity swallowing reason, warm and cold spring, Fayose and Fayemi. Unlike the people of Badagry, Calabar, Warri and Port Harcourt, the Ekiti weren’t among the first set of Nigerians to behold the white man.

But, on the cusp of present-day curious reality, Ekiti rose to become the most western-education enamoured state in the federation, minting the largest number of academics in the country. How did Ekiti arrive at the pinnacle of this phenomenal glory? Science has established a link between yam consumption and twin births. But science hasn’t established a nexus between yam consumption and proficiency in academics though pounded yam remains the staple food of Ekiti people.

Ekiti derived its name from its hilly topography, which yielded to the expedition led by Olofin, a prominent son of Oduduwa, the fabled progenitor of the Yoruba, during a peregrination to discover an abode away from Ile-Ife, the Source – which was becoming congested, according to the Yoruba creation story.

In awe of the immeasurable beauty of Ekiti’s innumerable hills, Olofin and his band of earliest settlers named the newfound land Ile Olokiti, meaning: Land of Hills. Ile Olokiti, according to legend, is today the metamorphosis of Ile Ekiti. In Yoruba, ‘okiti’ is another word for ‘tumble,’ hence the idea of height and descent still subsists in its meaning. Another nickname of Ekiti is “Land of Honour and Integrity”. However, recent political happenings in the state show that honour and integrity last week took flight through Ado, the state capital. Ekiti, no doubt, is a bitter metaphor of the Nigerian state.

Generally, Ekiti people are seen as headstrong, rugged, inflexible, iron-willed, accommodating, hardworking and perseverant. I need to be very careful with my choice of words here; my in-laws will read this article. The Ekiti, like their Ondo State neighbour, and partly, the Ijesa of Osun, are believed to be the most volatile people in Yoruba land. I’m Ijesa, so, no innuendo intended.

Former President Olusegun Obasanjo threw statesmanship to the dogs in 2007 when he described the fast-approaching general election of the time a do-or-die affair. The 2007 election lived up to the billing of the President, who rather than protect the sanctity of democracy and the election, chose to expose the country to bloodletting by promoting violence. The 2007 general election turned out to be one of the bloodiest elections in the history of the country as no fewer than 50 persons were killed in the ensuing violence with casualties littering Osun, Rivers, Ondo, Lagos, Delta, Kogi, Kwara, Anambra and Edo states.

During the bloody election, the then Action Congress of Nigeria put up a strong challenge against the hegemony of Obasanjo’s Peoples Democratic Party at the state level, as states like Osun, Edo and Ondo were prised away from the vice-like claw of the PDP by the armada deployed by a former Governor of Lagos State, Asiwaju Bola Tinubu.

In the 2011 governorship election, Oyo and Ekiti states also fell to the ACN as the influence of the PDP significantly waned against the well-run media machinery of the Lagos-gingered opposition party. Caught in the web of self-inflicted immolation begotten by avarice, insensitivity, vanity and arrogance, a drowning PDP flailed at straws as it was swept away by the currents of rivers Osun, Ogun, Owena and Ogunpa into the Lagos lagoon. Lagos thus lived up to its name which means a lake in Portuguese, serving as spring for motivation and action against the PDP. The achievements of the Babatunde Fashola-led APC administration in the state became a standard of measurement for all state administrations in the country and a poster for alternative governance.

So, tired of the corruption and cluelessness of the Goodluck Jonathan-led PDP administration, Nigerians massively voted incumbent President Muhammadu Buhari in 2015, and also obliterated the vestiges of the PDP in the South-West, Kwara, Kogi and 15 other states. Hope of a new dawn had come, Nigerians happily thought. Buhari will fight corruption and insecurity. He will make the lame walk and the blind see. But three years in the saddle, corruption is still hale and hearty, insecurity is as fit as a fiddle but change was dead on arrival. Despite all this, pro-Buhari supporters blindly want Nigerians to believe that corruption got a black eye from the President’s combination of jabs, hooks and uppercuts just as insecurity suffered a spinal-cord injury following his karate kicks.

But the Ekiti governorship primary and state congresses of the APC across the federation put the lie to any security claims by the Buhari government. In Rivers State, the APC youths chased out judges, workers and litigants from the state High Court, Port Harcourt, on Friday, when the supporters of the Senator representing River South-East district, Magnus Abe, clashed with the supporters of the Minister of Transportation, Rotimi Amaechi. The supporters of Abe had stormed the court to seek an injunction restraining the Amaechi faction from holding local government congress of the party on Saturday.

Online video of the desecration of the court showed a party under the siege of political fiends. The sound of non-stop gunshots in the video was reminiscent of the last days of Saddam Hussein in Iraq. In Kaduna State, Governor Nasir el-Rufai had to declare a curfew to curb violence likely to arise from the party’s congress. In Imo, suspected hoodlums set the APC secretariat in Owerri, the state capital, ablaze on Friday. The state’s party chairman, Hilary Eke, said the hoodlums attacked the secretariat “just to frustrate the LGA congress of the party on Saturday”. In Agege, a Lagos suburb, one person reportedly lost his life during the Ifako-Ijaiye Local Government Area congress of the ruining, sorry, ruling party, on Saturday, just as gunfight marred the two parallel congresses held in the Owan Local Government Area of Edo, on Saturday. Two parallel congresses were also held in Kwara, Ondo, Ebonyi, Kogi, Bayelsa and Adamawa states where factional political leaders affirmed their various congresses as the authentic. The APC’s story of woes continued in Oyo, where a teenage girl was killed on the heels of the state congress in the Ibadan-North Local Government Area on Saturday.

Stating the obvious, Tinubu, a national leader of the APC, said the crises that characterised the congresses were orchestrated by wayward party members seeking to impose their will on the majority. He said, “The problems came from those who sought to pollute the exercise by either strong or surreptitious imposition.” For me, the bloodletting and violence which greeted the APC congresses underscores the sad reality that the Nigerian politician seeks elective posts only for his personal benefits.

Unlike the peaceful Ekiti PDP governorship primary which produced Governor Ayodele Fayose’s protégé and Deputy Governor, Kolapo Olusola-Eleka, as candidate, the Ekiti APC governorship primary was a show of shame. The first governorship primary of the party held penultimate week ended in a fiasco as disgruntled party members openly smashed ballot boxes and trampled on ballot papers. If it was the PDP primary that went awry, the Inspector General of Police, Ibrahim Idris, might have threatened Fayose with arrest while the almighty media machinery of the APC would have snacked what remained of the PDP’s goodwill.

It is rather ironic that the APC, which calls itself a party of progressives, hasn’t come out to apologise to Nigerians for the insanity that attended its governorship primary in Ekiti and the congresses across the country. If bloodletting and violence are symptomatic of insecurity and insecurity was a cardinal point in the manifesto that shot President Buhari into power, then failure was the hallmark of the APC’s congressional attempt at enshrining internal democracy. The APC must find other words for corruption, change and contradiction.

Drug And Substance Abuse: Tramadol And Codeine Addiction

Before the advent of orthodox medicine, our fathers were adept in the use of roots and herbs in the treatment of all manners of illnesses that afflicted them.

With the advent of modern medicine, drugs which were made from natural substances started to fade out and replaced with chemical elements.

Majority of the drugs we consume these days were made from chemicals which if used without control would lead to serious addiction.

No one would say the government has not been waging a highly successful war against drug abuse, especially the hard ones which include narcotics, but what about the abuse of drugs that are meant to perform certain healing functions.

This is the war that the government is not winning and this is the silent war that is killing off a young and vibrant generation of Nigerians. The government must act now before it gets too late.

Recently, the British Broadcasting Corporation [BBC] News Africa documentary titled: “Sweet Sweet Codeine exposed a whole lot of what is happening in the underground distribution of everyday Biolin and Codeine based cough syrup.

To the ordinary Nigerian, we just use this drug whenever the need arises and afterwards, discard the remnant and go about our normal lives but to some, it is a source of ‘getting high’ and being ‘on top’ of the world.

Among the category of these drugs that have been so abused is the painkiller Tramadol, which ordinarily is supposed to be administered under controlled situation but which is often abused by Nigerians mostly of the northern extraction who engage in manual labour works. Reason for this is to boost their depleted energy after a hard day’s manual labour job.

Funny enough, our everyday paracetamol tablet is the most abused Over-The-Counter [OTC] drug in Nigeria. I have seen cases of people who take this drug every day before sleeping with the excuse that it will replenish their spent energy and also of friends who instead of taking two [2] tablets would rather take three [3].

Their excuse is that the two [2] tablets does not function effectively in their system. Talk of drug abuse being perpetuated ignorantly.

Back to the BBC documentary, before viewing the clip, the social media had been buzzing with different headline of how the Federal Government has stopped the production of Codeine-based cough syrups and the documentary which not even on a Nigerian television channel but a Ghanaian network channel exposed the shady underground business of a hitherto harmless drug used on children in the management of cough.

Of particular interest was the fact that, this problem was centered around a particular geographical zone of the country, the Northwest comprising of both Kano and Jigawa states.

It didn’t matter the religion or ethnic colouration to it. The drugs were majorly manufactured in Lagos and Ilorin in Kwara State and being shipped to these Northern states for onward consumption.

The opening line of the documentary was particularly catchy. Young Nigerians being chained to the ground like madmen with flies buzzing around them which meant they must have defecated and urinated on themselves.

These drugs are not made to be sold without the prescription of a medical doctor from a hospital or if to be purchased in a pharmaceutical store, it must be with the signature of a Pharmacist.

Notwithstanding these laws, in the every thriving underground business of illegal drug peddling, these drugs are bought in huge quantities with the connivance of these pharmacists and sales representatives of these pharmaceutical companies.

Addicted youths pour out these codeine based syrups into cups, some even add cubed iced blocks to it and drink all in one fell swoop. In most cases, these youths hold gigs where nothing else would be served as refreshment other than cough syrups and I just stop to wonder, cough syrup?

I take this cough syrup whenever I have serious cough and atimes one of the side effects is that it makes me to sleep, especially Benylin. After doing a bit of research, I learnt that the sleep effect that I experienced was a result of the base ingredient: codeine and biolin and in unusually high doses, I may end up behaving out of control.

The result is that like any other drugs that if misused, it can lead to terrible and devastating side effects, they start behaving erratically until the codeine leaves the body system. The withdrawal symptoms could equally be dangerous as these addicts are a danger to themselves and any other person within their surroundings.

This type of war would be a very difficult one to win. The reason is that we still have a culture of doing things with impunity. This is a country where some youths gather up a cocktail of drugs and swallow them all. This is a country where people go to pharmaceutical outlets and purchase drugs without a doctor’s prescription and without a pharmacists approving of such a purchase. This is a country where a visit to most motor parks, mechanic garages, traditional festival venues and so on, will show peddlers selling drugs of different types and shades.

This is a country where drug peddlers openly sell their drugs in vehicles and unsuspecting buyers purchase same and use, based on the advice of these peddlers who don’t even know the basics about those drugs and how the body would react to it.

With the ban on the further production and consumption of codeine based cough syrups, in line with the Federal Minister of Health directive, this fight is a broad one and should involve all the stakeholders, including the National Agency for Foods Drugs Administration and Control [NAFDAC], National Drug Law Enforcement Agency [NDLEA], Standard Organization of Nigeria [SON], Nigerian Medical Association[NMA], Pharmacists Council of Nigeria [PCN], Nigerian Union of Journalists [NUJ], Nigerian Bar Association [NBA], Nigerian Police, Christian Association of Nigeria [CAN], Supreme Council for Islamic Affairs in Nigeria and a host of others.


{Truth Of The Matter With AYEKOOTO} Marketing Business: Competition And Rejection, Twin Necessity For Growth


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Marketing is the lifeblood of businesses. Pundits have even observed that human life itself is marketing life. How? They opine that we daily market ourselves in various ways most times without us knowing. Right from the time we prepare to step out of our homes, we are mindful of how we dress, the type of perfume we choose or do not choose to use, how we are perceived by people in the neighborhood, colleagues and bosses in our offices and so on. These are said to be part of self-marketing because our actions and outlooks are what people use in rating us.

If we care about these things and know that our social rating depends on them, then we are consciously engaging in marketing ourselves to the outside world.

Same goes for businesses. Serious business marketing starts from the stage of conception of the business itself. When we take into consideration the potential consumers in the design of product quality and content as well as pricing, we are engaged in marketing function because we’ve taken the consumer into account. If these are not done, then the business is dead on arrival.

In the field, marketers are oftentimes scared of two variables: Competition from rival products and companies and Rejection from prospects.

But thoroughbred marketers ought not to be scared of any of these. Life itself is competition, without which everything becomes meaningless. In fact, it is competition that puts us constantly on our toes, not to be too relaxed. Competition from other brands and companies makes us improve on our product, services and processes including pricing and marketing strategy. If this is the case, then we are bound to soar higher because we will keep on improving first to outdo our competitors and to also be in the market by satisfying the needs of the consumers or prospects. What we then have is top-of-the range products and services.

How to outdo the competition: the most outstanding strategy to be ahead of our competitors is to have what is called a Unique Selling Proposition or Unique Selling Point, commonly abbreviated as USP.

What is USP? The Unique Selling Point or Proposition is that thing that differentiates your product or service from all others. All products and services inherently must have it. It is that thing you propose to your prospect, as making you different or better than others. Smart manufactures and service providers are aware of this and so they hit the market, first time, with this proposition or selling point. Take for example, the Glo hit the market to rattle other existing GSM service providers with per-second billing. This was a unique selling point that made GLO outdo others. Glo continues to invent new USPs and continues to dominate the market especially the data segment. Same goes for modern musical systems that come with Bluetooth. So, to handle competition effectively and be on the lead, your product or service must have or constantly come up with a unique selling point with which you will always put yourself ahead of competitors or the competition. Most times, we panic when competitors come to challenge our market dominance but there’s no need for panic. The solution is simply to invent something, or put up a promise which puts you ahead of them. It could even be in your pricing: better price than your competitors’. This is surely what makes China products and Glo data more preferable to others.

The other phenomenon which scares the marketer to the marrows is Rejection. Even in life, no one wants to be rejected. We all make proposals to the prospects with the high hope of getting the business, especially when we think we’ve done our homework in product design, content and sales pitch. It is natural to melt and get dejected when the client we have put our hopes on so much refuses to buy. This is commonly called Rejection in marketing. But, really, Rejection is an inevitable part of marketing. Marketing gurus agree that rejection is inevitable. There’s no way you will propose to scores of prospects and get hundred percent acceptance which results into actual purchases. Life itself does not give us that privilege. You are bound to be “rejected” at some point, no matter how good your product and price are, even at near-zero pricing. So, if and when this happens, what is the next thing to do? Instead of coiling into your shells in regret, be intelligent enough to find out what exactly the prospect wants in respect of the product or services and pricing. Go back and redesign your product or service and prices to suit the prospects’ expectation. Note that the only reason why your product/service isn’t accepted to purchase level is nothing other than the fact that you’ve not met their expectations. If you can take the rejection in good faith and look inward and go back to meet their expectations, you’ll be shocked that you’ll turn sales adversity to sales prosperity.


Asthma: Experts Harp On Effective Management


As the whole world celebrates the World Asthma Day [WAD] 2018, a day which comes up on every first Tuesday in the month of May, physicians have maintained that in order to properly manage the genetic disorder, sufferers should make adequate use of medications, inhalers and stoppage of drug overdose.

They also maintained that being a chronic disease, management is mainly through the use of medications and also a change in lifestyle.

Speaking on the background of the year 2018 WAD theme: “Never Too Early, Never Too Late: It’s Always The Right Time To Address Airways Disease”, Dr. Atilola Adeleke , a family Medicine Physician with the Ladoke Akintola University Teaching Hospital, [LTH], Osogbo, stated that the problem facing the management of the disease condition is multifaceted.

According to him, “It involves the patients, health care providers, as well as the availability of health care facilities.

“Lack of resources in terms of procurement of drugs; inappropriate diagnosis on the side of health care providers although not common and lack of adequate follow up in our health care centres are some of the issues”.

In proffering a way out, the physician counseled that the solution was early presentation and compliance on the part of the patients.

“Appropriate diagnosis and good follow up on the part of physicians and provision of basic equipment at our hospitals as well as subsidy on some of the drugs for the patients are solutions”, he added.

Adeleke stressed that Asthma is a deadly disease which should not be handled with kid gloves in case an emergency presents itself.

“Any Asthma patient who has come down with an attack should take his or her medication, most likely an inhaler and should report to the nearest health facility for treatment”.

Another physician, Dr. Alatise noted that Asthma is an emergency which has several challenges arising as it is being managed, saying, first, the population lacked the information on how to approach and prevent future attacks and also to recognize acute asthmatic symptoms and carry out basic home care.

Dr. Alatise also revealed that most health facilities lack basic emergency kits and medications and even oxygen for first aid and resuscitation might not be available.

He charged doctors, nurses and other health care workers on the need to routinely update their knowledge on acute asthma management protocol.

“The information is readily known in other climes. Health professionals, television and radio stations need to do more in the area of awareness creation”.

Tolulope Babatope, an Asthma patient who spoke with OSUN DEFENDER, revealed that it had been tough coping with the condition but because she had been complying with the advice of her physician, whenever she experienced attack, she always used her medications.

“When I was first diagnosed of the condition, I was in primary school and in order to modify my lifestyle, I was given a list of things not to do and foods not to eat. It was not easy at first but as time went on and because I wanted a change in my health status, I had to adhere to it.

“The Asthma is still there and I still experience attacks occasionally but the attack is not as dangerous as that of a patient who has not been faithful with their medication”.

Nigeria’s Difficult Path To Long Lasting Peace With Boko Haram By Lai Mohammed

“What will make you a soldier of Allah”, declared Mohammed Yusuf, is “a disavowal of every form of unbelief”. Among the founder of Boko Haram’s heresies stood democracy and the Constitution. It was 2009. The agitation for an Islamic state in the northeast of Nigeria had begun.

Then, the prospect seemed implausible. Yet by the time President Muhammadu Buhari was inaugurated in 2015, the group occupied an area three times the size of Lebanon.

Today, an “Islamic state” once again seems remote: Boko Haram, and by extension, the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL), has been routed from the 24 local areas in Nigeria they used to administer. Bolstered by international assistance, the Nigerian army has led this regional fight against terrorism. But in pursuit of a final peace, the government – whom I serve as minister of information and chief spokesperson – shall also look beyond military measures.

An army presence in civilian communities cannot be a long-term solution. It would be an indirect win for terrorists, whose sustenance flows from others’ fear. Instead, normality shall be reclaimed in demilitarised villages, towns and cities, with citizens going about their daily lives free from apprehension.

This is not to discredit the achievements of the army, but to recognise its domain in a democratic society. For without security, there can be little guarantee of justice, human rights and the pursuit of happiness. A professional and responsive military are their essential lynchpin.

As US President Donald Trump stated – standing side by side with President Buhari in the White House Rose Garden on April 30 – Nigeria has been the critical force in Boko Haram’s decline in West Africa. For our part, the government profoundly appreciates American assistance, not only in terms of training and military equipment, but also in the humanitarian crisis the insurgency has caused.

In finding courage to press forward, we must remember from where we have come. Under Boko Haram, the infamous black flag of religious totalitarianism flew; schools were shut down or “reformed” to suit the terrorists’ purposes; roads were impassable due to the threat of capture or death.

Now the imprint of occupation is being washed away. Boko Haram has been degraded and life has returned to Maiduguri (the region’s capital). Schools have reopened. Bars and nightclubs resound with chatter and music. And the local premier league team can once again play matches in their home stadium. These are achievements on which we must now build.

And with these gains, the government has a chance to overturn the economic marginalisation that gave Boko Haram an audience. Only last month, the administration and a General Electric-led consortium signed an agreement to begin revamping Nigeria’s dilapidated rail network – of which Maiduguri to Port Harcourt forms one of its two main lines. This shall bring jobs and opportunity to the region, increase trade between the north and south, and ensure the bounty of the nation is shared by all. No longer shall the vulnerable be seduced by false solutions to their hardship.

At the same time, all channels remain open to end the final remnants of violence. The administration holds out its hand for negotiations with Boko Haram. Even amnesty for rebel fighters, if certain conditions are met, must remain a possibility.

Already, former insurgents who have voluntary surrendered, and deemed not a threat, have been rehabilitated and reintroduced into society. Indeed, some will be guilty of crimes. But Nigeria remains a place where a second chance is granted to those who cast out the poison of their indoctrination. The government is giving these Boko Haram members a way out.

That this may be morally repugnant to some is understandable. Barbarism is difficult to encounter and allow to walk free. Sometimes, though, the past must kneel before the future. From the IRA in Ireland to FARC in Columbia, this is what conflict resolution around the globe has taught us. We cannot change what has happened, only what is yet to come.

Present-day Borno state, the former heart of the insurgency, speaks to this purpose. Despite Boko Haram no longer controlling any local government areas, isolated attacks still occur. Fighters emerge from hideouts deep in the forest of Lake Chad to strike. Innocent Muslims, Christians and schoolchildren are often the targets of these acts of cowardice and desperation. Liberation of territory and degradation of the enemy is not enough. We must stop every incident.

However, nowhere in the world can these types of attacks be indefinitely prevented, unless the group in question surrender. Terror can strike anywhere. Sadly, the streets of London, Paris and New York, nations whose security capacities outstrip that of my nation, bear testimony to this truth. In Nigeria, we remain vigilant to intercept and prevent these assaults. But a final guarantor of peace will be Boko Haram’s formal renunciation of violence in both speech and deed.

The road ahead is long. However, the seeds of peace are being planted on which justice, freedom and prosperity can grow. Options must remain open to bring a total cessation of hostilities. For only then can the things we hold dear in life flourish.