Ikirun Robbery And The Osun Airport

By Gbolahan Yusuf

It is currently, highly unlikely that any gang will try to raid a bank in the state of Osun; at least for the foreseeable future. The basis of this supposition is the big blow that was dealt to a gang that attempted just last week, to rob banks along Ekoeinde Road in Ikirun, the headquarters of Ifelodun local government area. More often than not, these heinous activities are carried out successfully often coming at the cost of human lives and properties, and in this case, it had looked like normal business until reinforcements in the form of tanks secured for the police by the state government arrived. Two of the gang were reported killed, with another four arrested having had their firepower rendered ineffective. And so in one full swoop, Osun sent a clear note to robbers. Stay off.

The confidence of the security operatives who stood against these robbers must be commended and their act encouraged but another side to the story that must be told is the empowerment of these security forces by the equipment secured by the state government which helped make the foiling of this incidence, a success. This is because it resonates the view that our security operatives can post better results in crime fighting if better equipped. But it is also because when these equipment, worth N1.3bn, were procured by the state government in 2014, it generated hues and cries from political opponents, and misled citizens who labelled it wasteful spending with some saying the state was not much of a security risk to warrant such. There are other things to do with money, some posited, comfortably ignoring that the major essence of any government is the security of its people.

Governor Aregbesola, being one not to cow to unhealthy criticisms, had gone on to procure the equipment that last week must have marked Osun as a red zone for prospective robbers. It is with this in mind that my mind raced to recent happenings as regards the ongoing construction of the MKO Abiola Airport in Ido-Osun in a joint venture between the state government and the federal government. The airport has continued to generate criticism from left, right, centre as a result of the nationwide financial crisis that has left Osun unable to meet recurrent expenditure demands. To many, if you cannot pay salaries, how dare you build an airport?

While the governor has gotten many sticks for another social investment, many ignore however that the project was actually hatched and its approval secured by previous governments. When Governor Aregbesola took over, it is to his credit that the plan was changed so as to make the airport a cargo maintenance hub, which will be the first of its kind in West Africa, furnished with hangars and the government reportedly has signed agreements with two hanger operators in a move to ensure that Osun becomes the destination for aircrafts seeking maintenance and repairs. Clearly, the idea for Aregbesola was maybe we can make this investment but let us make sure it will be a money-spinning one for us.

It is however understandable that in a state where doctors are on strike and workers on half salary, many turn deaf ears to such projects. But in closing our ears, are we focusing on the problem rather than the solution? It is already established that oil prices have fallen so bad and federal allocations have dropped to abysmal levels, so much so that if the state were to decide to pay all salaries as at due, the state will be left with nothing for capital spending. That is what we as a people, are demanding for labour, but if the state really spends all on salaries, it will still owe some and with the continuous reduction of oil price and revenue, more and more will be owed and at what cost? Security, industrialization, and all other aspects of the state requiring capital expenditure will be forgotten. In truth, if we go down this route, the state will run into extinction faster than we think.

What we should be asking the Osun State government right now to do, is to diversify its earnings, by investing in money-yielding ventures, not prescribing the death pill of simply spending its entire budget on recurrent needs. No government does that. We must demand that Osun, and other financially challenged states show us how they are investing to make sure that this dark cloud presently hovering over their accounts will disperse, sooner or later. In such a demand, lies the solution.

And if we look at it this way, Osun is already making inroads. What that airport will do to the revenue of the state has been conveniently ignored for so long that I think we might be missing the point. As with when the security equipment were procured for police in the state, this looks like a proactive step. The state did not wait for it to be attacked and many killed before spending on those equipment, it acted to prevent occurrences, with the future in mind. Same way, while the airport project does not appear pleasing now, it definitely holds great prospect for the future. It is projects like these that will ensure that in the next four years, we don’t find ourselves criticizing whoever takes over from Aregbesola for not being able to pay salaries also.

For one, it would have been easy for Aregbesola to ignore this important project for now and divert funds to paying more salaries, as this would mean him saving his name but the insistence of the governor to proceed with it shows a man who is ready to be hated for the next governor to be loved. As long as Osun does not go extinct from salary paying alone.

It is very tough to defend salaries not being paid and the government must find a way to ensure that their investments start paying off for salary obligations to be met but the prospect of renewed efforts to increase cocoa production (Cocoa Omoluabi), and the opening up of the state to increased investments,  and export via an airport, and the potential revenue stream from having the only aircraft maintenance facility in the West African region leaves a lot to look forward to in the state of Osun. They may not all come to fruition under Ogbeni Aregbesola but if they end up turning Osun into a mega state sooner or later, then just like those who had criticised the security expenses but turned around to praise the governor after seeing the fruits last week, maybe we will look back and commend Aregbesola for seeing what many of us are currently not seeing, or outrightly refusing to see. I have often heard that, trying times are not the times to stop trying and it is inspiring to see the government of the state of Osun act it out. May their efforts come to fruition.

Gbolahan Yusuf

[email protected]



Boko Haram: It’s About Human Lives, Not Territories By Ahmad Salkida

Nigeria has been known with a rather disturbing attitude of placing a deplorable value on the lives of her citizens. It seems to run in the veins of successive administrations. And none has been more disturbing than the inclination to celebrate the much hyped technical defeat of Boko Haram over and above the continual massacre of defenceless citizens in the war ravaged North East Nigeria as well as in camps holding numerous distressed internally displaced persons, IDPs.

Yes, ‘Boko Haram or the ‘Islamic’ State West Africa Provence (ISWAP) as they preffered to be called, may no longer lash out and hold territories’ as it used to do in the recent past, but this should not be the imaginary straw Nigerian officials should proudly hold unto to make public celebrations of having ‘technically defeated” the group. For sure, the group still operates, and kills at will almost as freely as it can get in these areas. Is it the priority of government to protect deserted territories from being reoccupied by Boko Haram or, end further massacres and sufferings visited on civilian populations in the region? If the two are one and the same, then, Nigeria and the rest of the West African countries confronted with the Boko Haram conundrum are years from celebrating any victory.

Apparently, Boko Haram’s priority is not to spare the lives of the people in the communities they overrun in the Lake Chad area. They have come to realise the hard way that, it is rather implausible to enforce their model of the ‘Sharia’ as against those of the kaffirs, which is what they allege has become the scene of the larger Nigerian society, so why is government officials focusing on the diminished expanse of territories under the group as an indication of a war won and settled?

Anyone that says Boko Haram is holding any territory or having a field day in Borno state, like the now ruffled Senator Baba Kaka Garbai, suddenly becomes the enemy of the ‘all is well’ Buhari’s government. What is more tolerable to say nowadays in Nigeria is; ‘Boko Haram is on the run and can only attack soft targets’ (as if the hapless Nigerians in those so called soft targets could never attract the pre-emptive security cover of their government). This official line seems more acceptable because the value Nigeria place on the lives of citizens is one of the lowest in the world. One can imagine how citizens waiting for help to come from government in besieged communities will feel if they hear from their president on radio saying ‘there is NOT a single territory occupied by Boko Haram.’

Yet, what is most worrying in several parts of the region plagued by war, as much the brutal massacres of Boko Haram, is the escalating cases of starvation. Entire communities have been exposed to a lack of essential medicines, food and water, and are therefore dying of starvation. We have alarming cases of gross human tragedies right before our very eyes in the North East. For many, there are no livelihoods, there is a complete blockade of the area by military authorities, an area that is poor even before the war. Many, in these besieged communities, especially those that can’t escape to the internally displaced camps either depend on Boko Haram for food or do the unimaginable just to survive. Women and girls sadly, are driven to prostitution merely to be able to bring a meal to their dependants or selves.

In the recent past, we dwell on a one sided analysis of bombing and gun attacks in a multiple sided tragedy. We are not paying attention to increasing cases of starvation, even in areas fully under government control. Sadly, some are still celebrating Boko Haram inability to control large territories and have started talking about rebuilding the region. My take in respect of rebuilding the North East is that we cannot rebuild, if we are unable to save those whose lives are hanging on the precipice.

The debate over Boko Haram’s vanishing territories, instead of a focus on saving lives, seems to have forgotten that, the group only declared their first territorial control in the sixth year of their terror onslaught. In those five years before their territorial control, the violence and bloodletting activities were no less revolting. So why are many Nigerians using Boko Haram’s failure to hold large territories in their eight years as the yardstick to measure their end? A nation that values the lives of her citizens will only celebrate or go to sleep only when none of its citizens is under the daily threat of an enemy’s invasion by any group, be it Boko Haram, cattle rustlers or any other violent groups.

Even the international community is also untroubled when bomb after bomb blasts kill and maim hundreds in Nigeria because never was there time; Nigeria’s President cancelled his trip or officials of government cancelled meetings with diplomats to attend to emergencies or disasters in the domestic front. Apparently life is so cheap, where Boko Haram operates.

The army has also done very little to improve its relationship with the civilian population, with continuing cases of high-handedness by the military. Independent voices are continually being stifled or bullied into silence. Security forces also play down the level of human sufferings and worse of all cover ups on the deaths of soldiers that have sacrificed their lives for their country.

Many informed observers were, however, delighted when the Nigerian government saw reason and made a U-turn from relocating hundreds of thousands of people to their communities from IDP camps across the country. The ill informed initial plan was for no other reason other than to prove that it had defeated Boko Haram. In fact, Boko Haram is as deadly today as it can ever be. This time around, thousands of them are not in their caliphate that is known to all, they have dispersed to the most unlikely places developing cells and creating new platforms to launch surprise attacks, whether on soft targets or not. It remains the responsibility of government to ensure that the lives of every Nigerian deserve sanctuary at the best.

Salkida is a freelance journalist and a conflict analyst.

This article first appeared here.

Re: A Prayer For Ogbeni Rauf Aregbesola, The Impatient Reformer

By Kikiowo Ileowo

In my few years of sojourn on earth, I have encountered diverse kind of people; but of all humans, Nigerians stand out!

Nigerians are a special breed of people. Our ability to stay satisfied with underdevelopment and even crucify those who dare change the status quo is unprecedented.

I read with amusement, an article put together by a citizen who heads an ‘organization’ calling for Renaissance in Ijesaland. Though the entire write-up betrays the very thing Renaissance stands for, I will try my best to analyze some of the issues raised in Oluwatomilola Boyinde’s piece titled, A Prayer For Ogbeni Rauf Aregbesola, The Impatient Reformer, published in The Cable online newspaper.

Though, I tried to identify some of the issues Boyinde raised, a large part of the article though laced with fine English, lacks a fair grasp and depth of the real issues facing the state of Osun.

Osun Salary

I will start by stating that Boyinde’s introduction was accurate, but at some point, he veered off reason and logic, dealing only in the realm of clairvoyance and Hocus Pocus that has kept  our people living the life of 1900s in the 21st century.

That Aregbesola started “with a steering mission, one deeply rooted in the vision of our heroes past; people-driven governance, reminiscent of the Chief Obafemi Awolowo and Chief Bola Ige eras” is not in doubt, however unknown to Boyinde, Ogbeni remains focused in that path, despite genuine economic reasons to abandon ship.

In the mindset of many Nigerians, it is more than okay for a governor to pay salaries of civil servants for eight years; I bet that is optimum performance for many. In fact, before leaving office, public office holders who can do this consecutively during their tenures are showered with numerous award of performance, excellence, merit, distinction and other nonsensical appellations to massage their ego. We must refuse this narrative.

It saddens my heart that in a time when the world is moving at tremendous speed beyond technological advancement into sustainability, a citizen in Osun is clamouring the society craws out of the 19th century.

The Martin Luther Kings and many other reformers of this world, refused to accept the status quo, they stood radically for what they believed in, though it was against the norm of their time.

Aregbesola leads a unique government in Osun, a government impatient with backwardness, poverty and under-development. 8 years is too short to be ‘patient’ about reforming a state considered one of the most backward in Nigeria prior to 2010. The state needed a leap and that is what the administration of Ogbeni Rauf Aregbesola rendered.

Boyinde in accusing Ogbeni of financial impropriety; ignored facts that are publicly available, dwelling only on fiction authored by the opposition to discredit a performing, but financially challenged government.

What are the facts?

The state of Osun has an over bloated civil service.

World over, no one sees government completely as a business entity, hence, the reason many in the Osun civil service haven’t being sack – in fact, no politician will dare touch this special breed of workers. Anyways, I see the Civil service in Nigeria as a Social Protection Scheme used for Cash Transfer to a privileged few.

With all due respects to professionals who are in the system, many others who are in the civil service have no business in government business. The proper thing would have been to sack over 60% of government workers, and save the state a huge cost.

I find it absurd for a segment of people not up to 1% of the entire state population; gulp more than 80% of revenue that accrue to the remaining 99%. It is unfair on other citizens and such is the case across states in the country.

Osun Government Expenditure Vs Impact

But despite this, Ogbeni’s Osun has paid its civil servants till date. In fact, the December salary was paid two weeks ago, days after the federal government shared the December 2015 allocation. Contrary to the wrong information in Boyinde’s piece, Osun Pays it’s Salaries.

This is the story of Osun many in the rank of Boyinde don’t want you to hear, while states like Ondo, Imo among others, still owe upward of 3-6 months salaries.

People Don’t Argue With Results!

In the game of football, you don’t rest your best players when you need goals the most. You encourage them to deliver results. Aregbesola despite the cash crunch continue to feed over 250,000 pupils in public schools daily. 3000 caterers have been empowered through Aregbe’s O-Meals programme alone, this excludes other citizens employed in the supply chain.

State of Osun O'MEAL Staff Feeding the Pupils
State of Osun O’MEAL Staff Feeding the Pupils

The O’Meals programme consumes 250, 000 eggs, 15, 000 chickens and 15 cattle heads on a weekly basis. This is about the protein contents. I am not talking about the carbohydrate content which sees 250, 000 loaves of bread also consumed by pupils on a weekly basis. And, as at today, the feeding is still ongoing. Little wonder school enrollment took a 25% leap in the space of 3 Years.

What’s More?

Old schools across the state have virtually turned to construction sites due to the reconstruction and upgrade of most of them. As at the last count, 22 elementary schools, 18 middle schools, and 10 high schools are at various stages of completion. These are projects embarked upon in the last two years alone. They do not include several elementary schools that have already been commissioned across the state.

Governor Aregbesola speaking during commissioning of Wole Soyinka High School, Ejigbo
Governor Aregbesola speaking during commissioning of Wole Soyinka High School, Ejigbo

According to the National Bureau of Statistics, Unemployment dropped from 12.4% to 3% in 3 years.

It is no joke that Vice-President Yemi Osinbajo, recently declared that Osun is one of the states with lowest in poverty in Nigeria.

“The indication (in Osun) is that because there is a lot of investment on the people, poverty has been reduced and that is what we (the Federal Government) are trying to achieve in Nigeria,” Osinbajo said.

Osun, out of the 36 states, has the lowest rate of unemployed people, particularly among her teeming youths, due to the determination of Ogbeni’s administration to banish poverty and unemployment among its people.

Around 1o kilometers of roads have also been constructed in each local government in the state of Osun. I can go on and on reeling the achievement of Ogbeni Rauf Aregbesola, but maybe some other time.

Shows some of the 21 selected roads (26.40km) in Osogbo Township in the State of Osun newly commissioned by Governor Rauf Aregbesola on Monday 28-04-2014
Shows some of the 21 selected roads (26.40km) in Osogbo Township in the State of Osun newly commissioned by Governor Rauf Aregbesola on Monday 28-04-2014
Shows some of the 21 selected roads (26.40km) in Osogbo Township in the State of Osun newly commissioned by Governor Rauf Aregbesola on Monday 28-04-2014
Shows some of the 21 selected roads (26.40km) in Osogbo Township in the State of Osun newly commissioned by Governor Rauf Aregbesola on Monday 28-04-2014

Osun is working with the World Bank and French Development Agency to fund the construction of 500km rural roads across the State. One of only 6 states being partnered on this. Osun’s rural road maintenance practice has been singled as a model for these 6 states and the Nation.

Conclusion – Osun, A Bright Future Ahead

Boyinde’s paradoxical article is what happens when citizens who ought to know better reduce a governor to a man elected to pay salaries for 8 years.

Equating Osun’s policy of promoting its cultural assets and freedom to Ogbeni abandoning his God, is nothing short of crass ignorance and deliberate wickedness. The Ogbeni I know does not joke with his God. He prays five times a day as a devout Muslim, and has continually allowed other religious beliefs to flourish around him.

Aside this mundane talk on religion, Osun’s Internal Revenue Service is being revamped for effective service, with a monthly target of N5billion in the next few months. The state itself is determined to be self-reliant on its agricultural assets and solid mineral resources.

I won’t be surprised if the state of Osun no longer relies on allocation from the federal government when Ogbeni is handing over come 2018.

This is Osun under Aregbesola. Osun may be financially challenged, but it is not a failed state. Osun still meets its going concern with the internal revenue it generates monthly.

The (social) media in Lagos may be unhappy with Ogbeni’s unusual style of governance or dressing, but that does not make Osun unviable or make the citizens hate their governor. On a recent trip to few local governments in Osun, I was shocked at the  people’s instinctive show of  love for Ogbeni. Testimonies abound on how he has transformed their lives. One wonder what is it that endear them to him this much even in these difficult times. It appears his commitment and Investments in the Human Infrastructure, School Feeding, Education  is unrivalled in the States history.

No government before him has brought so many economic opportunities and development for the people. When he leaves in 2018, he will be leaving a very big shoes for his successor to fill.

Governor State of Osun, Ogbeni Rauf Aregbesola in a White attire (2nd right); his Deputy Mrs Titi Laoye-Tomori (right); the Project Manager, Engr Ajibola Obakin (left). During the inspection of the on going Construction of Seventh day Adventist High School Ede on Sunday 31-1-2016Governor State of Osun, Ogbeni Rauf Aregbesola in a White attire (2nd right); his Deputy Mrs Titi Laoye-Tomori (right); the Project Manager, Engr Ajibola Obakin (left). During the inspection of the on going Construction of Seventh day Adventist High School Ede on Sunday 31-1-2016

Aregbesola And Challenges Of Development In Osun

By Lanre Aminu

Becoming governor was not, for Rauf Aregbesola, the fulfillment of an ambition. It was for him, the beginning of a mission: a mission to transform his beloved state, Osun to its Eldorado. Prior to his assumption of office on November 27, 2010, the scandalous performance of successive governments, with the rare exception of Akande administration is better imagined than real.

As a result of poor governance by successive governments and the inherent institutionalized corrupt tendencies of public office holders, the state Infrastructural facilities were in a state of terrible decay and needing urgent attention and rehabilitation.

The level of rot, particularly, the degree of moral decadence he met on ground was totally unacceptable to him. Consequently, he embarked on far –reaching reforms to make the state measure up to the standard of what a modern state should be and put it on the path of irreversible posterity.

The arrested development of the state a result of the maladministration of his immediate predecessor in office explains why Aregbesola was in a hurry to develop the 25 year old state when he came on board in 2010, and was consequently spending up to 80 percent of the state’s resources on capital projects.

Corrupt public officials and beneficiaries of the old order were not happy with him because, after devoting such a humongous sum to the execution of capital projects, there is little or nothing to steal couple with the fact that he also blocked all areas of leakages. The foregoing made him unpopular amongst the elites and thieving public officials who have being feasting like vultures on the meager resources of the state. But to the commoners, the toiling masses and the vulnerable who are in the majority, the anti-corruption and attitudinal change crusade of Aregbesola is a welcome development. In any existing economic or political system, there are those who would naturally oppose the emergence of ideas formulated towards endowing a progressive society. These are those that have been recently uncovered and referred to as a “cabal” opposed to the provision of the people of the state of Osun with the right kind of leadership as symbolized in the pragmatic and quality style of Ogbeni Rauf Aregbesola. They are practically those who have gone to town, a section of the traditional media and the internet with wild, despicable allegations and malicious propaganda to paint Ogbeni Aregbesola in bad light, cause mischief, misinform and disrupt the existing good relationship between Aregbesola and the appreciative people of Osun.

Like Winston Churchill, ogbeni might be vilified for his principled position, but no one can fault the altruistic and patriotic motivations for his actions. Like the saying goes, “Diamond are forever”. Changing global reality in our new world is making leaders that have vision look like narrow minded, satanic, heartless and wicked leaders while making those without vision look like saints. Before this intervention, I had watched with a sense of bewilderment, the unrelenting smear campaign against Aregbesola administration and his person unleashed by corrupt politicians founded newspapers and their hirelings.

It is as if Osun is the only state in Nigeria owing its workers salary arrears due to dwindling allocation from the federation account occasioned by misappropriation of funds that suppose to go into federation account for joint sharing by the three tiers of government, no thanks to Jonathan led PDP led Federal government and the down ward slide of the global price of oil, the main stay of our economy.

I think it is a piece of ignorance when one refuses to acknowledge anything good one’s enemy has done right. It is patently clear that there is a calculated attempt by Aregbesola’s political enemies to rubbish his 5 year reign. The opposition, a section of the media on its payroll and the “lynch mob” have found an opportunity in the current economic recession affecting the whole world to vent their spleen for the sole purpose of transferring away the pressure and attention from the uncomplimentary activities of their days in power, that is partly responsible for our present economic woes towards an “ideal scapegoat”.

Apparently, blackmail, unpopular advocacy, false, wild, mendacious and ill-intentioned allegations are the only known tool to them to further their campaign of calumny and primarily justify their inordinate desire to rubbish the unprecedented landmark achievements of the Rauf Aregbesola phenomenon.

A candid assessment of the performance of Aregbesola in his first three years in power which has attracted widespread commendation and applause, both locally and internationally, can best be described as nothing but superlative.

In just three years, Aregbesola has been able to prove that something good can, indeed come out of Nazareth. He has pulled Osun from the backwaters of underdevelopment, illiteracy, ignorance and disease, to a state that is on irreversible path to prosperity. Holistically, we should start by underlying the various freedoms we enjoy as citizens.

A throw back from the days of yore and of gore. We are comparatively freer. Only those in a state of collective amnesia, take this aspect of governance for granted. To realize his vision, the governor had, on assuming office, initiated a strategy of building up reserve of funds with which it could leverage for the projects it has planned to do.

The innovative approach adopted by Rauf Aregbesola led government at the most excruciating period of the state is worthy of emulation by any well meaning government the world over. His government did two things that nobody thought he could do. By November, 2010, when it assumed office, the state borrowed a whopping N1 billion to pay salaries. That was the same time it starts recruiting 20,000 OYES members! It was that same period that the state paid bonus to its workers. The abiding question is: How did the “magician”,Aregbesola did it? By March of the following year, to be precise, March, 2011, ogbeni had restructured the state finances that the state was no longer in any precarious condition.

The state has stopped borrowing money to pay salaries on the 25th of every month yet,it never failed to pay N200 million monthly allowance to OYES volunteers. In less than three years of his first four year- tenure, chroniclers of history would establish Aregbesola’s massive interventions in hitherto rotten and neglected sectors such as education, environment, agriculture, infrastructure, tourism, health and security. From better –developed education system, to well- equipped hospitals, to empowered people; to policies geared towards empowerment, poverty alleviation and a social security programme that protects the vulnerable.

The vulnerable are the old who cannot earn any more money, the young and old who cannot get healing, the children too poor to afford books and food at schools, the disenfranchised business person who cannot get seed money to pursue his/her dream s of breaking away from poverty. They are the people whom Abraham Lincoln referred to as the reason for government. Those that need help to survive. The state of Osun’s present experience in the spheres of infrastructure and human capital development worthy of commendation when compared to what the administration of Ogbeni Rauf Aregbesola met on ground and how he has been able to transform Osun, in less than 3 years, the current economic recession affecting the whole world, notwithstanding.

Aregbesola has so far demonstrated that, with great determination, Osun state could become the envy of many and the pride of her citizens at home and in the Diaspora. Not a few will agree with this commentator that Osun state infrastructural facilities, though yet to be completed due to the economic meltdown, is the symbolic representation of Aregbesola’s government resolve to eradicate the decadence of the past and link the state and subsequently, the people with the future. So far so well for the state of the living God! Without doubt, Aregbesola’s efforts at re positioning the state of Osun have not gone unnoticed.

The World Bank in conjunction with 14 states in Nigeria have replicated the OYES initiative in those states. Ogbeni was invited to address the UK parliament on the Schools Feeding Programme and the tablet of knowledge, “opon Imo”. Even the Buhari led APC Federal Government has incorporated some of his programme, especially the School Feeding Programme and the N5000 stipend for the unemployed graduates into his manifesto.

No doubt, Rauf is a man of uncommon brilliance, boundless vision, incredible sagacity, humane passion, selfless discipline, unmatchable genius and a realist, who is at the same time innovative. He was born a genuine transformation head and he live up to his iconic image. Aregbesola has within three years in office pioneered changes geared towards the achievement, improvement and sustenance of good quality of life for the citizens of the state.

Fellow of Nigeria Society of Engineers (FNSE), Aregbesola has within so short a time in office demonstrated that where there is a will, there is always a way. A man of immense responsibilities to himself, his society and the world as a whole, he is down- to- earth, with creative determination, delightful coherence and comforting commitment suitable for any leadership position.

Surely, the good that Aregbesola has started in Osun state, though, temporarily hinder by the current economic recession, will outlast him; it will live long after he will have passed. So since he meant well for the state, he deserves the support of people, not lack of it. In this historic battle of repositioning the state, he needs to be encouraged, not scared. And since this battle is collective, not personal, he deserves solidarity, not brickbats. Without mincing words, Aregbesola and his team has so far demonstrated that they are ever “ready to march into the new frontier”.

So, with “greater determination and strong commitment” in their approaches, there is no doubt Osun state is “set to join the league of develop economies.” And the Promised Land will be easier accessed than ever imagined. May God save us from ourselves!

Aminu is the National Coordinator, Oodua Youth for Good Governance


This article was first published in InfoTrust

National Assembly And Citizens’ Participation In Budget Process

By Sanni Onogu
Senate President, Dr. Abubakar Bukola Saraki on Wednesday February 10, 2016 took his pledge to make the 8th National Assembly open, inclusive, transparent and accountable a notch higher, when he opened the gates of the legislature to Civil Society Organizations (CSOs) and the labour to ventilate their thoughts, make observations and voice their recommendations on how best to ensure that the 2016 budget truly reflects the will and aspiration of Nigerians.

Saraki had in his inaugural speech on his election as Senate President and Chairman of the National Assembly on June 9, 2015, said the present National Assembly would do things differently. “It will no longer be business as usual,” he said. He promised to ensure that the change agenda of the present administration is reflected in every undertaking of the National Assembly.

Towards the realization of this objective,  the Senate and House of Representatives respectively prepared and adopted a people-centred legislative agenda as a guiding light to make the members stay true and focussed on their stated objectives. It was also meant to make the National Assembly a body that truly encapsulate the wishes and concerns of the ordinary Nigerian. As a way of making the process of law making, oversight and advocacy truly participatory, Saraki utilised every opportunity to engage Nigerians. One instance of such engagement os the use of Twitter and other new media platforms  on a daily basis to inform, educate, explain the rationale for certain actions of the National Assembly and above all. to respond in real time to the genuine concerns of the people. Beside, he had also ensured that the debates of the Senate at plenary are  streamed live to Nigerians, who equally take advantage of the social media to make their contributions, ask questions and voice their concerns.

However, last Wednesday, January 10, 2015, On hand to receive the representatives of the over 100 CSOs to the National Assembly were  Saraki,  Chairman, Senate Committee on Diaspora and Civil Society Organizations, Senator Rose Okoh, Deputy Senate Leader, Senator Ibn Na’Allah, Chairman, Senate Committee on National Planning and Economic Affairs, Senator Rabiu Musa Kwankwaso; Chairman Senate Committee on Health, Senator Lanre Tejuosho; Senator Olamilekan Adeola; Chairman, Senate Committee on Finance, Senator John Owan, Chairman, House Committee on Civil Society Organizations and Development Partners, Hon. Peter Akpatason, who represented the Speaker of the House of Representatives and other other members of the House. Some of the CSOs that participated in the interactive session included: PLAC, CENCOJ, BudgIT, HOMEF, ActionAid, CODE, EiE Nigeria, FEPAR, BMGF, NNNGO, Oxfam, ONE Campaign, OSIWA, YIAGA, NDI, CSR in Action, among others.

The interactive session with CSOs which has been hailed both in Nigeria and in the international community as “historic and unprecedented”, according to the Chairman, Senate Committee on Diaspora and Civil Society Organizations, Senator Okoh, was meant to ensure citizen’s participation in the decision making process in the legislature, especially on the 2016 Appropriation Bill now being considered by the federal legislature, Senator Okoh in her welcome address during the programme said: “Through your capacities of reach, advocacy and data collection, your contribution to this document (2016 budget) will not only enhance our mandate of appropriation for government, but also ensure that there is citizen participation in the decision making process of government at this crucial level.”

Saraki in his remarks at the event, noted that the country has come a long way since its return to democracy in 1999. Undoubtedly, according to him, the road had been full of challenges. Consequently, he said, the task of members of the 8th National Assembly, as representatives of the people in government “is to work towards the actualization of a more effective federal system of governance.” He lamented that a cursory look at the budgets of the past 16 years showed that “ineffective implementation and abandonment of projects have caused excessive wastages that have negatively buckled the Nigerian economy.” He told the CSOs that in response to the unacceptable trend, the 8th National Assembly has stepped up its oversight functions to ensure that funds duly appropriated are spent ‘how’, ‘where’ and on ‘what’ they were earmarked for.

He further hinted that since economic diversification is crucial to the success of the nation’s economy, the National Assembly is working to enact laws that will “boost internally generated revenues by plugging the loopholes that exist in our system, and encouraging the small and medium-scale business owners in our communities.” He commended the over CSOs that participated in the interactive session for making themselves available while acknowledging  that the National Assembly counts on the input of all Nigerians to move the country to the next level in her democratic journey. “We know that the work ahead of us is necessary. We also know that the road ahead of us will be lined with challenges. However, we also know that we cannot do this alone. We need all hands on deck for this one,” Saraki said. He added that the session was meant to aggregate the wishes of Nigerians concerning governance and to address the concerns of Nigerians who had often criticized the operations of the National Assembly as being opaque, which they contended often tends to various forms of corrupt activities. On the purpose of inviting the CSOs by the National Assembly, Saraki said it was in response to citizen’s concerns and public expectations. “The 8th National Assembly through this platform and the various others that we have set up online, will continue to be accessible to you. We will work tirelessly to address your concerns’ after all, we are only here because of you,” he said.

Furthermore, the Senate President said the maiden interactive session between the National Assembly and CSOs on the 2016 budget was convened to allow both members of parliament and the CSOs to “explore new angles, consider fresh opinions and weigh new suggestions on the reasonable changes that need to be made, and on the best way to forge ahead with the 2016 appropriation process. This is not only an opportunity for you to air your views, it is also a window that has presented itself that will allow all of us to work together to pass a budget that we can all be proud of. Therefore, I urge you all to feel free to point out your genuine concerns about the budget. Know that your relevant input is crucial towards ensuring the efficiency and effectiveness of the National Assembly to pass a document that we can all be proud of. When the civil society of a nation is strong, loud and empowered – we are all better off for it. When the civil society is a part of the process – with seats of their own at the decision-making table – governments become more responsive and accountable,” he said.

After the tone for the novel engagement had been set with the above remarks, it was time for the CSOs to bring to the table their observations aimed at making the 2016 budget a realistic and implementable document. During the session that lasted for about four hours, the 2016 budget was subjected to independent and intense scrutiny and analyses by the CSOs following which they made observations and recommendations to assist the National Assembly in their role of exposing corruption and ensuring that the funds appropriated were not only realistic but that the budget is faithfully implemented in totality in the interest of the people.

The Executive Director of Centre for Global Solutions and Sustainable Development, Adebowale Adeniyi, in the executive summary he wrote on behalf of the CSOs that partook in the event, noted that the exchange was “indeed a great session, first of its kind, and a great demonstration of inclusivity and participatory governance in Nigeria by the National Assembly.” He said the CSOs had discovered that from time immemorial, budgets in Nigeria have been an up-bottom approach which is against the democratic principle and practice world-wide. “We recommended that henceforth, budget in Nigeria should be a bottom-up approach, open, transparent, all inclusive and participatory, especially at the formation stage, even at implementation and evaluation stages. That is: everybody must have a voice in it.”

Adeniyi said that the need to establish an open, inclusive and participatory budget formation is not negotiable and cannot be over emphasized. “We applaud the effort by the National Assembly towards the determination to ensuring increased participation in the process that govern our activities especially the drive towards ensuring the efficiency and effectiveness of the Senate to pass a document that we all can be proud of.” Globally, according to him, there is a growing government involvement of CSOs in budgeting “and in Nigeria, we have begun the process with this interaction with the Senate. We appreciate the partnership hands extended to us by the National Assembly towards formally institutionalizing the CSO-Legislative relationships. As CSO, we shall continue to engage the government in constructive and intellectual ways in ensuring that things are done in the right manner, especially in conformity with the international best practice,” he said.

He further declared that the CSOs who attended the event were satisfied that the National Assembly has taken it upon itself by doing the needful in ensuring that the remaining process of the budget is now open, inclusive and participatory. “We hereby applaud the opportunity given to us by the National Assembly in opening partnership channel with us the CSOs, recognizing us as important and critical elements or components to good governance and democracy at large. Also trusting our input and seeing us as voice to the voiceless and the intermediary between the government and the governed,” he said.

On his part, the Senate President pledged that the observations and inputs on the 2016 budget made by the CSOs at the session would form part of the report of the National Assembly Committees on Civil Society Organizations to the Committees on Appropriation for onward submission to Senate and House of Representatives in plenary. He called on the CSOs and Nigerians to continue to support the National Assembly, as it strives to “acquire and execute critical and suitable programs that are highly beneficial to every citizen of this nation. Everyone here will agree: we have come here today with the determination and resolve to ensure increased citizen participation in the processes that govern our activities here at the legislature. Today’s session on the 2016 Budget is the first of these series of engagements – but I assure you all – it will not be the last. As my colleagues and I have stated on multiple platforms, on previous occasions, and at various events: the National Assembly is actively working towards repositioning its efforts. These steps – though not as complete as some of you may want; and these endeavours – which may not be as perfect as all of us may wish for – are fully intended to ensure that this National Assembly works for and on behalf of every Nigerian, and for the present and future successes of our collective ‘Nigerian Project.’ These sessions might be baby steps to some, but know that little steps are the beginnings of greater outcomes that lead to the positive change that Nigerians voted for at the polls,” he said.

Onogu is the Chief Press Secretary to the Senate President.

Goodluck Jonathan In The Hall Of Shame

By Usama Dandare

Imagine those times when words actually fails you, and you shake your head several times to know if you are dreaming or still awake, you shake again to ascertain your former disappointment, yet, you was disappointed. Then you wonder, how comes this is happening? How did humans get to this level, when we put material stuffs above reality. Absolutely this has nothing to do with politics, but rather a society that decides to honor a man who ruined the future of the most promising black country on earth and plundered its goodwill, a man who spent six years in office destroying every institution possible to please his selfish interest, a man who funded violence and encouraged ethno-religious division when it served his purpose, a man who defended corruption with all his might and rewards corrupt practices. Suddenly he is being hailed as a courageous person and a hero today. This is not just a national shame, but a shame on humanity.

Former President Goodluck Ebele Jonathan of Nigeria – the “ineffectual buffoon” (apologies to the Economist Magazine) – has since loosing election embarked on a dubious mission to steal legacy and rewrite history, he’s seen roaming from one end of the world to another gawking for honours simply for the simple act of conceding an election he clearly lost and possibly for rubbishing the hard earned patrimony of his fatherland.

Still fresh in our memories is Jonathan politics of rascalities; his many failed promises; how he soaked the hands of the military in the murky waters of dirty politics; how he deliberately punished some sections of the country but pretended to be their best friend; how he tore the entire country into two religious camps; his reign of corruption, terror, impunity and nepotism.
Goodluck Jonathan, the erstwhile president of Nigeria was around this time last year juggling up for what was widely regarded as Nigeria’s most tense election ever where he opted for a do-or-die way back to power, having squandered away the unprecedented goodwill on whose crest he comfortably rode to victory in the 2011 general elections.

Having forecasted an imminent defeat, he resorted to buying support and cheap endorsements from traditional rulers, women groups, youth associations, opinion leaders, political leaders, elder statesmen, security forces, religious groups, militias, musicians, media and even street thugs. And at same time bullying and intimidating the opposition, their associates, activists, opposition sympathizers and supporters, and even electoral officials; in a move clearly showing how unpopular he had became after wasting six years in power. But despite deploying all the resources possible and going extra-miles to rig himself back to power, Jonathan was monumentally rejected and became the first incumbent president to lose a presidential elections in Nigeria. And to launder his self-tarnished image, Jonathan immediately placed a dubious phone call congratulating the opposition candidate and now incumbent president Muhammadu Buhari and at same time conceding defeat. An action albeit commendable but enormously deceitful.

Weeks after leaving office, the true picture of Jonathan’s irresponsible stewardship began coming to the fore with daily revelations of mind-boggling litany of abnormalities under his sheer recklessness. Not only did Jonathan presided over a practically non-existing government, but a government characterized by unending corruption and impunity; a regime where plundering of the commonwealth and contempt for the rule of law was officially legalized, and a regime where criminals are meritoriously celebrated with honours and state pardon. No money was spared, even repatriated funds looted by previous presidents got looted again on the orders of Jonathan. While Jonathan was busy sharing to his cronies and political associates the money budgeted for arms purchase for the military to fight Boko Haram, a disastrous war raged in the north-east resulting to the lost of thousands if not millions of innocents souls and also thousands of ill-equipped soldiers while millions turned refugees in their own country.

But despite all these mass destructions and monumental mismanagement under his regime of recklessness. Instead of sliding back to Otuoke and reflect on the national shame and international disgrace he brought to his fatherland, Jonathan has sought to continue insulting our collective psyche and further upgrading his sheer cluelessness by masquerading round the world parading himself as a man worthy of honour.

Every now and then, we are regaled with photos of him receiving awards from some unaccredited and amorphic groups simply for conceding defeat in an election he clearly lost. Perhaps enclaved in an euphoric elucidation, Jonathan is deluded into believing that his forced concession was truly worthy of a Nobel Peace prize, and even going further to claim greatness and heroism as deceived by many of his brainless worshipers.

I wait to see how a Nobel Laureate will emerge in a man who publicly bribed traditional rulers and ethnic militias to win elections, a man who only decided to fight Boko Haram after forecasting an imminent election defeat and an irresponsible impostor who wholeheartedly refused to be responsible for a country when given the chance to do so but now he wants to take-on world responsibility when he cannot. A Nobel who believe and still insist stealing is not corruption. A Nobel laureate indeed!

It beats my imagination to see Jonathan going round the world telling people how he intends to make the world a better place after woefully failing to secure his country as a president, he’s shamelessly trying to portray himself as someone capable of transforming the world when all human developmental indexes monumentally decreased under his Transformation Agenda despite the huge financial revenue gained during his reign, courtesy of booming oil prices at that time. How on earth will Jonathan suggest he wants to work for peace after hobnobbing with ethnic militia and condemned criminals while in power and looked away when his supporters rained all sorts of terror and violent attacks against the opposition? He now wants to work for world prosperity after squandering all his country’s wealth and reducing the nation to rubbish.

That Jonathan has resorted to dance this shameless dance while the country is still in premature rejuvenation from his reckless and corrupt leadership is clearly substantiating the fact that he is nugatory, harebrained, illogical, absurd and vagrant. Rather than tendering an unreserved apology asking Nigerians to forgive him for bastardizing their country and their only symbol of pride, Jonathan has chosen to live in self-denial and continue to deceive himself by thinking he was a great leader who left behind real legacies after fully knowing he left non. Conceding defeat in an election he glaringly lost does not in anyway bestow greatness nor deserves honour, neither does it makes him a hero in anybody’s book.

Fearful of the inevitable retributions of his pro-capitalist and viciously anti-masses government, Jonathan and his handlers hope to use these arrangée awards to rehabilitate his battered image in the eyes of the world. At a time when President Buhari is being praise vociferously in the global arena for his gargantuan efforts in righting the wrongs done by previous administrations and a time when the west is commendably helping in repatriating billions of Dollars stolen under Jonathan’s merciless and anti-democratic stewardship, some frivolous and unaccredited groups in the west are making Jonathan look foolish with unrighteous and dubious awards.
Nonetheless, awarding these kinda indecorous awards will not only portray the awarders as fraudulent but will go a long way to solidify the beliefs that those awarding these awards are mostly undemocrats who are running some deceptive vissionless groups to award their own pockets also. Otherwise, how could a genuine pro-democratic group honour a leader who believes and still insists stealing directly from taxpayers’ wealth is not corruption? An accidental leader under whose leadership corruption and impunity got authoritatively legalized, a leader whose litany of mismanagements nearly shutdown a whole country after spending five years in hibernation mode. Indeed, honours are not to be given, they are to be earned. And now that all the “awards” that can be bought have been bought and presented at some depressing locations in America and Europe. What is next?

As Nigeria persist to heal from the blatant rape on its treasury and outrageous pen robbery supervised by the shoeless Jonathan, his true legacies in office continues to unfold: they are legacies of gross irresponsibility, inhumanity, monumental corruption, sheer arrogance, impunity, absurdity, ethnic-religious division, destruction, incompetence, desecration of sacred values, wickedness, sheer devilishness and above all legacies of blatant lies. While his self-apportioned legacies will only exist in his deluded elucidation, that of his brainless worshipers and those international fraudsters paid to honour him.

Instead of mocking himself and Nigerians across the world begging for cheap recognition, Jonathan should spare us from this shameless dance of his by sliding back to Otueke and allow us to overcome the misfortunes he and his cohorts brought to our dear nation, only if he knows anything called shame but if he has no shame, we (Nigerians) are ashamed on his behalf. I am ashamed to have had a clueless and unfit leader like him! #Neveragain

Usama Dandare, a social commentator write from Sokoto. Contact him via email at [email protected] or follow him on twitter @osadaby

Nigeria’s Economy: Awakening The Snoring Giant

By Adekoya Boladale

On January 28th, 2016 Channels Television aired a community programme where a man in Benin, Edo State with little education and has never left the shores of Nigeria was able to build an operational unmanned aerial vehicle(UAV), commonly known as drone, without any special training using everyday tools and parts within his environment. This is just one in the tones of unsung stories of innovations and creativity Nigerians have been producing for decades. While these talents go to waste, we spend billions of dollars yearly procuring the same innovations produced by foreign firms.

A friend said to me over the weekend “If Mark Zuckerberg were a Nigerian and he created Facebook in a garage somewhere in Lagos or Ogun state, the innovation would not pass the four walls of his house.” And he is right;Nigerians would still not have used ‘Whatsapp’ if it was developed by a Nigerian, we prefer ‘Uber’ to ‘Easy Taxi’ ‘Amazon’ to ‘Konga’, unfortunately for us, days such as these are over.

Nigeria is dying and it is only a matter of months before our economy collapse, saying we are in austere times is merely playing it mildly, when a country of over 160 million people produce nothing but depend on the production of other countries to meet daily needs, it does not only portray such country as unserious and lazy but also as incapable of self-sufficiency and independence.

The narrative of ‘Nigerians should embrace made in Nigeria products’ is a cliché that will never work. It is high time government at all levels declare a state of emergency on importation. Nigerians should not be persuaded to buy made in Nigeria products, Nigerians should be forced to buy made in Nigeria products. We are way passed seeking for patriotism, what we should be seeking for now is survival. There is no other way out of this, it is either we patronize local products or Nigeria dies.

The recent Central Bank of Nigeria’s list of banned items is a right step in the right direction but rather too little. Our condition requires a radical approach and as such, the list deserves expansion to all imported goods, products and services with exception to raw materials, machinery and industrial equipment.

The days of medical tourism should stop. Yes, our hospitals may not be one of the best in world but they are not doing badly either. The unnecessarily gallivanting of Nigerians abroad for medical checkups makes mockery of our status. This is not to say banks should not make forex available for specialized operations or severe medical conditions, those are different ball game entirely. But if you live in Nigeria, eat our local foods, breath our air and cannot trust any of the A-list hospitals with ordinary medical checkups then you have over stayed your welcome, please relocate.

I think it is time we ban importation of mobile phones, computers, cars, electronics and related gadgets. If truly Nigeria is a huge market for Toyota, Samsung, Tecno, LG and likes, then it is high time they invest in our economy; it is high time we have Samsung Nigeria, Toyota Nigeria, Tecno Nigeria and co. International brandsand companies must move beyond opening sales outlets in Nigeria or signing sales contract with Nigerian companies, they must start building manufacturing –not mere assembling- plants in Nigeria. We can no longer continue wasting our hard-earned money (apologies to looters) to improve foreign economy while ours wreck. You want to sell to Nigerians?

Come to Nigeria!

The importance of our Technical colleges cannot be overemphasized. Government must draw up a workabletemplate for Nigeria industrial revolution. Our country has a huge volume of an untapped innovative brains wasting away in banking halls and government parastatals as a result of desperation to make ends meet. Our Polytechnics and Technical Colleges should not be a face saving haven for people who could not get admission into universities but an institution where innovative and creative minds are trained and pushed to take over the world. Nigeria needs to model the frame works of Polytechnics and Technical Colleges into something more sophisticated than the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT).

It is time for a Nigeria identity, brands forged in the fires of Ladipo, Aba, Nnewi, OwodeOnirin, Agbara. We need brands that will compete side by side with the Louis Vuitton, Adidas, Nike and others. All these can only be possible when we develop our local talents, train, motivate and encourage the dreams and madness of ourcountrymen and women; for it is out of madness that the greatest innovations in the world are made.

But all these will be useless if government policies do not encourage such. The federal government must create an enabling environment for investors to come into the country. The days of unnecessary bureaucracy and bottleneck approach it is known for must come to an end. While it is important that every investor pay a premium for certification before commencing business operations, it won’t cost us anything to overlook such fees in exchange for a more beneficial future. Lands and tax waivers are also essential to encourage companies investing in an unknown terrain all for the greater good.

Finally, we will be wasting our time talking about economy, the survival of Nigeria and development of local productions if we do not have a sensible and well implementable Labour law. Currently, Nigeria has one of the cheapest labour in the world. While we may want to run a capitalist economy it should not interpret to erasingcommon sense and natural justice.

The corporate slavery re-christened ‘contract staff’ should be looked into as a matter of urgency. There is nothing cool in being a slave in one’s country all in the pursuit of happiness. Most acclaimed employed Nigerians today are contract staff earning way less than the effort and energy they put in to work.

The National Assembly must enact a labour law that represents and protect Nigerian workers first before any other. Companies must be made to sign an undertaking to not only ensure that 80% of their workforces are Nigerians but also draw up a training blueprint that will enable Nigerians possess the right skills to take over from expatriates in the next three to five years.

Boladale is on twitter @adekoyabee

Amendment Of Procurement Act: Using Made In Nigeria To Jumpstart The Economy

By Bamikole Omishore

With the continuous fall in the value of the Naira against other currencies in the world market, it is gradually becoming imperative for Nigerians to come to the realization that it is time to focus on patronizing locally manufactured products. It has indeed dawned on many of us that the economy will not improve except we take pride and ownership in made in Nigeria goods and services.

The National Assembly under the leadership of Dr. Abubakar Bukola Saraki has however been working assiduously in this respect as the Senate moves to ensure the amendment of the Procurement Act and give legislative backing to the expansion of the responsibilities of the Bureau of Public Procurement. Above all, the body language of thought-leaders across the board will shift positively towards ensuring the much needed political will to encourage local production and consumption of goods.

In particular, the recent visit of the President of the Senate to the Made – In – Aba Trade fair held in Abuja, and the recent online discussions regarding #BuyNaijaToGrowTheNaira have kicked off the opening of a new vista in the way the use and patronage of locally manufactured goods are seen. Prior to this awareness, the average Nigerian viewed Kereksuk Rice from Nasarawa, Igbemo Rice from Ekiti State and the Nasco Corn Flakes from Plateau State as substandard in comparison with the Thai Rice or Kellogg’s Corn Flakes. This narrative is about to change.

The United States Buy American Act of 1933 remains a benchmark to follow for the Nigerian government in its efforts to strengthen our local industries via the basic economic forces of demand and supply. The new Procurement Laws which the Senate under Dr. Bukola Saraki foresees will guarantee more productive conditions for the local manufacturing industries, while also tackling unemployment and bringing back the pride of Nigerians in their locally produced goods – amidst competition from foreign products.

The amendment of the Public Procurement Act of 2007, as stated by Dr. Bukola Saraki, will make it obligatory for Ministries, Departments and Agencies of the Federal Government to first consider and patronize Nigerian products before their foreign alternatives. The passage of the revised Law which will change the key word from “may” to “shall” will make it mandatory for government agencies to patronize Made in Nigeria products when available. This alteration, once signed into law, will have ripple effects on the manufacturing industry, as it will assure local manufacturers of a ready and sure market for their products.

While all these efforts are ongoing, the leadership of the Senate has also assured the Nigerian public that it will work with domestic manufacturers and producers to ensure that their products are up to par with foreign competitors, by the proper legislative oversight of agencies mandated to ensure the standards and qualities of products.

Nigerian products must have comparative advantage. Made in Nigeria goods should no longer produce adulterated or substandard versions of foreign alternatives because the market is available. Also, it is high time we pumped the very best into our markets to ensure overall consumer satisfaction and building confidence in the Nigerian brands. The Senate will also ensure that effective laws are in place to ensure that the Manufacturers Association of Nigeria and the Standards Organization of Nigeria will also have to renew their commitment to ensuring high standards in this respect.

The State Houses of Assembly should also toe the line of the National Assembly in ensuring that enabling laws are put in place to jump start both the Nigerian Economy and inspire the growth and development of their state and local industries. For active citizens like myself, a new Procurement Law will mean value for money, economic efficiency, and national confidence – especially in the use of public funds and of course, improved reliance in the government procurement process.

It is worthy of note, that is also well positioned to key into promoting the use of Made in Nigeria With his appointment of tested-hands like Minister of Power, Works and Housing, Babatunde Fashola, President Buhari has also shown that he is committed to ensuring that our infrastructural networks in Nigeria are improved. These strides, once fully implemented, would help increase the business productivity of producers, and create more accessible channels for goods to criss-cross the federation.

As the Naira continues to depreciate and the federal government continues to increase the number of items that will not be able to access forex, it is my hope that these strides by the Saraki-led Senate will motivate Nigerians to look inward to see how we can produce goods that we will otherwise have imported.

Bamikole Omishore is the Special Assistant on New Media to President of the Senate Tweets with @MrBanksOmishore

VP Osinbajo: Presidential Acting Capacity Or Ornamental Exercise? By Samuel Ogundipe

When the State House released a statement announcing a temporary transfer of power from the President Buhari to his vice, Yemi Osinbajo, because the President was embarking on a short vacation, my initial expectation was that activities within the Villa would become unusually heavy while the vacation lasted, especially at the VP Wing.

Characteristically, the President operates a moderate schedule vis-à-vis his appointments: He receives foreign leaders, top diplomats and governors. And these people don’t come every day.
Buhari’s multi-destination trip that took him from Abeokuta to France and eventually U.K. had left most Villa staff with little to do. He began the trip on Monday, February 1, shortly after receiving the Italian Prime Minister and he was expected back to Abuja by the weekend of February 6, only for us to receive the news that he’d be proceeding on a short vacation.

Since the VP had already departed for Lagos at the time the news broke, my assumption was that by Monday many politicians would besiege the acting president’s office, especially those who had hitherto been denied access to the President himself. We’ve been hearing that some politicians were grumbling over the fact that they hadn’t been given unfettered access to Buhari, so I thought they’d use the 6-day window to get presidential assent via Osinbajo, who’s widely considered to be more lenient.

But I was quickly put on notice about the fact that the acting president’s timetable may not turn out as I thought. A source within the VP’s office told me that Friday evening that Osinbajo’s schedule for his 6 days as acting Nigerian leader would remain largely unchanged buttressing the prevalent speculation that the acting president would probably not really ‘act’ as president.

Since the start of the year, the Vice President’s schedule is largely concentrated on economic and social welfare issues. Since economic and social policies of the administration are coordinated from his office, the VP spends the better part of his typical workday receiving top public and private sector players and local and international NGOs. The vice president’s activities throughout his acting tenure mirrored this.

Resuming to work for the first time since his announcement on Monday morning, the VP started his day by receiving officials from Nigerian Extractive Industries Transparency Initiative, NEITI. The delegation was led by the immediate-past Executive Secretary of the organisation and now Minister of State for Budget and National Planning, Ms. Zainab Ahmed.

Shortly afterwards, Osinbajo welcomed representatives from Nigeria Leadership Initiative, NLI, and Nigerian Institute of Legislative Studies, NILS. The NLI was led by Minister of Industry, Trade and Investments, Dr. Okey Enelamah; while Senator Muhammed Ubali Shitu coordinated the delegates from NILS.

On Tuesday, Senator Ali Ndume and the Executive Director of UNAIDS were the guests of the VP.

On Wednesday, Osinbajo commiserated with the victims of Dikwa IDP camp where the dreaded Boko Haram sect struck the day before. This is perhaps the only silver lining in the scepticism that clouded Osinbajo’s role, statements of consolation and condemnation of a tragedy usually emanate from the President’s office.

Buhari returned to the country on Wednesday night, and when he resumed work on Thursday, he received his counterpart from Germany, Joachim Gauck, who’d been in the country since Wednesday on a 5-day tour. Buhari also organised a state dinner for Mr. Gauck and his entourage in the State House on Thursday night. On Friday the governor of Zamfara State walked in and went straight to see Buhari, as if it wasn’t clear enough to us before that the landlord has returned.

As an acting president, could Osinbajo have been able to receive a foreign leader, dispatched the military on an a mission or sign a bill into an act? Constitutionally, yes. That’s why, unlike many, I don’t believe what happened last week was ornamental. The 6-day tenure is just too short to exercise raw presidential powers. However, my perennial assumption that the President’s presence could help predict the caliber of visitors to expect at the State House seems to have been confirmed by the development of the past week.

Did I see a pouched rat in the afternoon?

A Yoruba parlance says no one sees a pouched rat in the afternoon. Because of its internal activities, this particular species of African rats doesn’t roam during the day unless there’s a genuine reason. Dr. Chidi Odinkalu’s visit to the Villa on Monday arouse my curiosity.

The Chairman of the National Human Rights Commission was part of the NLI delegation to the State House. The official statement released by the Vice President’s office shortly after their meeting said they came to discuss the plight of Boko Haram victims in the Northeast. Highly consequential. Notwithstanding, given his personality, I expected him to bring up the matter he’d been preoccupied with lately: the deadly confrontation between Shia Muslims, who were in a procession and the convoy of the Chief of Army Staff in Zaria last December.

Monday’s visit was Odinkalu’s first to the Villa since the Zaria tragedy. I asked him why he hadn’t turned up much earlier, considering how vocal he’d been about the matter in the media, and the fearless rights advocate told me he became indisposed in London shortly after his father passed away on Christmas Eve. Soon as I was done commiserating with him, Odinkalu quipped: “Sam, I know you have a question.” Indeed, even though President Buhari has said he awaits the outcome of a panel of inquiry set up by Governor Nasir El-Rufai before taking further steps about the matter, I, nonetheless, asked Odinkalu if he’s being approached as a mediator between the Shia community on one side and the FG and Kaduna State Government on the other, “this country is our own and we look forward to seeing an acceptable outcome of all investigations into the massacre in Zaria,” he said.

This Opinion article was first published in Sahara Reporters

Osun’s Strategy Against Unemployment

By Ayo Akinola and Bola Akande

The National Bureau of Statistics (NBS) revealed that no fewer than 5.3 million youths are jobless, while 1.8 million graduates enter the labour market every year. This figure could be a conservative estimate of the actual number of unemployed youths in the country, going by previous statistics released by NBS, which put the number of jobless Nigerians at 20.3 million.

The above is a reflection of previous governments’ inability to design policies that will create more jobs, or provide enabling environment that could encourage both individuals and the private sector to expand employment opportunities without let or hindrance.

It is in line with the above that the Osun State Government established an office known as Osun Job Centre. This is in pursuance of a key component of Governor Rauf Adesoji Aregbesola-led administration’s Six Point Integral Action Plan which is banishment of unemployment from the state. The Job Centre is established as a State Government-funded one-stop employment agency with desk offices located at each of the 30 local government areas.

The Centre will act as a facilitator between job seekers and employers by providing employment information and services to a wide range of people, from the unemployed looking for employment, the underemployed looking for better jobs, to employers advertising job openings. It is aimed at eradicating barriers to employment by promoting education, training and business enterprise. It will contribute to the personal development of the labour force through the creation of opportunities for their productive engagement and utilisation.

The centre provides employment service tools such as an infrastructure for the business community to post its skills needs as well as in-house computers with free access to the internet.

To provide a venue where job seekers can meet and network with representatives of prospective employers from diverse sectors of the economic with the possibility of securing employment.

However, the private sector also has a role to play in creating employment, as experience has shown that government alone cannot provide all the needed jobs.  Unemployed persons will also have to start working towards self-employment, through which they may even provide jobs for others.

Unemployment and poverty have become serious problems that all levels of government must tackle with sincerity of purpose to keep the nation’s youths productively engaged and out of avoidable trouble.

These efforts by Osun government are worthy of emulation by other states of the federation. Governor Aregbesola once declared that Osun, out of the 36 states, has the lowest rate of unemployed people, particularly among her teeming youths, due to the determination of his administration to banish poverty and unemployment among its people.

This new move at establishing a job centre is just one of them. These efforts were recently corroborated by Vice-President Yemi Osinbajo, when he declared that Osun is one of the states with lowest in poverty.

“The indication (in Osun) is that because there is a lot of investment on the people, poverty has been reduced and that is what we (the Federal Government) are trying to achieve in Nigeria,” Osinbajo said.

Aregbesola was quoted as saying: “The development of micro and small businesses forms a core component of our poverty alleviation and economic empowerment strategy.

“This is part of our six-point integral action plan that, among others, seeks to banish poverty, unemployment and hunger.

“We have designed programmes aimed at unlocking our people’s creativity and genuinely set them on the path of self-employment and self-reliance.

“I am certain that our people are hard-working and would at all time take pride in working to earn a decent living.

“With the numerous programmes we are implementing, we are on the road to change the fortune of our state and lives of our people for better.

“Many of these programmes such as OYES, O’REAP, O’YESTECH, O’MEALs, O’Schools, O’Beef and O’BOPS, among others, have offered many of our youths self-reliant job opportunities.”

  • Ayo Akinola, is a publisher and media consultant based in Lagos and Bola Akande is a former commissioner for Human Resources and Capacity Building, Osun State

Who Is A Feminist?…….A Misandrist?

By Christian Okwori

In original definition, feminists are group of women who insist on and fight for fair treatment for women and the girl child especially with respect to natural peculiarities (uniqueness) without doing so at the detriment of their male counterparts. Real feminist will fight for equal right to education, inheritance, social recognition, and reward for hard work for the girl child as is for the male. They don’t support the male child or men being unfairly treated neither do they seek to turn women to men but respect the natural comparative uniqueness and advantages of each sex. That is feminism and some men who are empathetic to this cause actually belong to the feminist movement to balance out the naturally patriarchal nature of the human society.

It beats my imagination and moral sense of justice to see this noble pursuit turned in the head by Nigerians both male and female…Yes, the Nigerian brand of feminism like in everything else under the sun.

The Nigerian feminist is usually any woman who is bitter or nurses extreme hatred for the menfolk. Expectedly, they are mostly those who have lost out in the ‘game of love’ or who were unfortunate to date the dogs among men. Their joining the ranks of feminists is clearly for one purpose-to get back at all men because all men are devils. Feminism is in this country primarily a mask worn by misandrists. In fact feminism is something cast out of bitterness. Feminism in Nigeria is an euphemism for misandry. Their anthem is simple:

All men are the same,

All men are devils

Do you still wonder why Nigerian culture still treats the girl child badly despite how long feminism has been existing in Nigeria? The self-professed champions of feminism are busy hating men who aren’t even aware of them or have forgotten their transactions outrightly. The feminists mostly recruit women and young girls who are heartbroken or jilted by their lovers, husbands, or boyfriends this they begin by forming pity party to ‘console’ the prospective member on social media or in person.  The women who have brought positive outlook on the girl child and are making the biggest positive impacts in influencing even our most barbaric anti-women cultures for good are not feminists namely; Prof.  Dora Akunyili†, Prof Grace Alele Williams, Mrs. Funmilayo Ransom-Kuti, Mrs. Tutu Adeleke, Gen. Ronke Kale, and the many successful but humble female corporate champions and giants from all walks of life etc. This is time for people to know the difference between feminists and non-feminists in this country.

The men folks too have their faults, some men detest equality with women even in areas where they are clearly not better or even less in productivity than such women. Many regimental minded and lazy men see any determined, vocal, daring, rich, or resolute woman as feminist who is out to ridicule them. They just can’t imagine being placed together in equal ranking with women or worse still being made to work under one. They hate to see women heading men or being confident before them. They wouldn’t hesistate to quote the Holy Bible or Qoran out of context to cow a woman to slavish submission. Some of these men can be found among professors, clergies, and (sadly) law enforcement agents. Such folks need urgent mental reset. Cultural and religious bigotry of any sort now belong in the past.  Finally, it’s good to add that our beautiful culture must not be thrown into extinction with the changing world but should rather be modified and preserved especially in the richest areas of festivals, food, costume, language, greetings, courtesy etc. The aspect of treating any clan or dialect or sex as second class must be jettisoned. We now live in a flat world of equal opportunity for all.

As a word of counsel, heartbroken people are advised to confide in only trusted people usually elderly friends with high moral standing who will guide them back to a life of fullness and joy. The fact that there are a few bad people out there doesn’t mean the majority aren’t good. Keep good companies and follow your instinct when choosing a partner without ever betraying your intuition. When everything points to you that a person is perfect but your instinct says otherwise, please don’t move an inch.