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IT was past 1pm on 31st December, 2013. I boarded a bus from Rumuosi junction, heading to Rumuokoro, when approaching Obiri-Ikwerre, a stone-throw from AIM Plaza, the building that houses Wazobia and Nigeria Info FMs, when a female co-passenger raised alarm, pointing towards a gory scene, at the other side of the East-West road. A middle-aged woman was frantically and literally crawling on her knees, trying to flag down motorists, to help an accident victim, who lay prostrate on a motorcycle, in a pool of his own blood. The driver of the bus drove into a filling station, beside the road, not out of sympathy for the accident victim, but to refill his tank! I jumped down from the bus and dashed across the road, joining the middle-aged woman, who happened to be a medical doctor, and had witnessed a bus driver knocking down the motorcyclist and bolting away without a pang of conscience. 

The doctor was heading towards UNIPORT, in her small car, that was filled with household property, for she was moving-house, as she explained to me later. When she ran into the accident, as an angel trained to save lives, she made a u-turn and took charge of the life-threatening occasion. I started shouting on people around the accident scene, who turned themselves into complacent spectators, so that we could at least carry the victim down from the motorcycle where he was bleeding profusely. Two men reluctantly joined me, among whom was a TIMARIV officer, whose outpost is beside the road where the accident occurred.

  We laid the victim on his back. He was in bad shape; so many people took him to be as good as dead. Now, to rescue him, we sought the understanding of public-spirited motorists, plying to and from the ever-busy East-West road. Nigerian motorists felt comfortable driving past their fellow citizen at the point of death, only stealing criminal glances at his heart-rending blood-soaked body, and speeding on.  The middle-aged woman, who I later found out is Dr Awopeju, a consultant hematologist, UPTH, was almost getting frustrated in her bid to save this one precious life. And UPTH is about five minutes drive from the accident scene, under normal circumstances. She was pleading, and I was cursing, as the victim was bleeding more. All pleas and curses met deaf ears!

   Suddenly, a female motorist pulled her mini-van over, on recognising Dr Awopeju. That was the timely and miraculous help that salvaged the dangerous stiuation. It was also more miraculous, because the female volunteer is herself a well-respected and senior medical doctor. Her name is Dr Cookey, a cardiologist and the CMD of Haven Clinics, situated between Obiri-ikwerre fly-0ver and Jephthah Secondary School, East-West road, Port-Harcourt. She donated her vehicle, time, professional essence and money to the mission. We managed  to carry the victim into her vehicle. She requested that the TIMARIV officer accompany her to the Teaching Hospital, at least for security purposes; but the Rivers State traffic officer vamoosed into thin air. I jumped into the van, holding the victim, and encouraged the angel of light to drive on. Immediately we arrived the UPTH, like lightening, she swung into action, and everybody was at her beck and call.

 Oh, the glory of a worthy woman: an angel on rescue mission, exuding precision, exigency, love, compassion, mercy. Within the twinkle of an eye, she had secured a card for the victim. The patient was wheeled into the theater for emergency care. She appealed to me to stay behind, and see how I could make contacts with the patient’s relations, or anybody for that matter, that might know the man. She dropped some money with me to use in running around. I dashed into the theater where male-nurse Ifeanyi Nwakwo and one Dr Osendu battled to save the patient’s life. Miraculously, he was alive, but in excruciating pain, fighting for dear life. At that time of the day, the morning shift had almost left and the afternoon section was trickling in; so there was shortage of manpower. The medics readily converted me into an auxiliary nurse.

  I located his handset which was coded. A good Nigerian brought a similar phone, and we transferred his double sims to the one donated, and about 40 minutes later, a call came on. It was a female friend of the patient. She is a nurse, and  informed us that the patient was a mobile policeman. And much later, another call came, which finally brought his colleagues. The doctors and nurses on afternoon duty arrived, and the theater became a beehive of activity. They medical team dexterously attended to the man and  he is doing very well,  to the glory of God.

  Dr Awopeju later arrived and encouraged the medical team, in no small way. I sincerely hope that as you read this piece, you will remember Dr Cookey and Dr Awopeju, and their ilk, in your prayers and meditations. They are the angels of light, purity, love, humanness, sagacity, sacrifice, selflessness, equality, liberty, philanthropy, and more; they embody humanity’s future, as we walk the portals of life. The police should change their attitude towards those who are willing to help others in rescuable predicament. My major worry is  that the basic equipment, facilities and drugs to compliment an efficient, passionate and hard-working team of professional care-givers are lacking in a University Teaching Hospital of that magnitude.

 Ohaegbulam wrote in via This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

Wednesday, 15 January 2014 01:00
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NIGERIANS are worried about one major thing and that is job creation. The citizenry expect 2014 to be a year of focus on the critical challenges of job creation. Those in government have also grown to accept this reality.

While presenting the 2014 budget before the joint session of the National Assembly recently, President Goodluck Jonathan, who was represented by the Minister of Finance, Dr Ngozi Okonjo Iweala, did promise that the proposal would be a budget for jobs and inclusive growth. He assured that the Federal Government would continue to pursue programmes which would promote the creation of jobs in the private sector for citizens.

Taking a look at what obtained in the past, it is evident that an imbalance was created and that tilted towards geometrically prospering just a few in the country, leaving the greater percentage of the population in squalor. It is in line with the need for a paradigm shift that the current administration deserves commendation for proposing, through the 2014 budget, to bridge the gap by boldly focusing on job creation and working out a mechanism targeted at reinforcing direct government intervention through programmes such as Nagropreneurs, YouWiN, Graduate Internship Scheme, and the SURE-P Community Services programme.

In order to give more impetus to the job creation drive and ensure continued implementation this year, the current administration, in the budget, created ample windows for supporting creation of jobs by the private sector. In the 2014 budget, government made a commitment that its job-creation interventionist initiatives including Nagropreneurs, YouWiN, Graduate Internship Scheme, and the SURE-P Community Services programme would be allocated estimated subsidy savings of N180 billion this year. It equally made a commitment that the fund would be augmented by the projected 2013 unspent balance of N56.05 billion, bringing the total to N236.05 billion. This, no doubt, raises the hope of positive result in the area of job creation this year.

As an extension of the government’s commitment to job creation in the fiscal year, it is gladdening to note that provision was made to strengthen and improve job creation capacity of about 17 million registered small and medium enterprises in the country, which currently employ over 32 million Nigerians. In addition, it is gratifying to note that the budget promises a stronger focus on implementing the Nigeria Enterprise Development Programme (NEDEP) to address the needs of small businesses in the country. By this, the government looks at helping SMEs with access to affordable finance, business development services, and youth training.

On the other hand, the budget targets stronger implementation of new CET policies to support emerging industries. This includes intensification of investment promotion efforts abroad to ensure that the biggest and best companies from around the world are brought to invest in the country. In the power sector, the Federal Government made adequate provision to continue to implement the Power Roadmap and consolidate transformation of the sector. It considers stepping up investments in power transmission to ensure that power generated is properly evacuated and distributed and, through that, strengthen the regulation of the sector as well as closely monitor electricity delivery to surpass the current 18 hours per day.

In the budget, government proposed to spend N101.85 billion on the power sector, made a commitment to complete the privatisation of the NIPP projects, accelerate work on the nation’s gas pipeline infrastructure and also accelerate investment in hydro-electric power and clean energy, even as it monitors the effects of climate change on the economy. Heavy investment in the sector is undoubtedly paramount and would only bring further reprieve to Nigerians who are already observing improvements in hours of power supply as some cities are currently receiving about 16-18 hours of electricity daily with an ultimate target of reaching 24 hours of power supply nationwide. Similarly, increasing investments in transmission to ensure that power generated is properly evacuated and distributed is part of what the 2014 sectoral component on power seeks to achieve and this is quite commendable.

In the agricultural sector and in order to sustain the country’s ongoing agricultural transformation, the 2014 budget made provision for further investments in the sector with a target to provide input subsidies to five million farmers nationwide using the e-wallet system. The budget took into cognisance advancing the recently-launched self-employment initiative under theYouth Employment in Agriculture Programm (YEAP) called Nagropreneur programme estimated to develop over 750,000 youth commercial farmers by 2015.

Salihu sent this piece from Kaduna

Wednesday, 15 January 2014 01:00
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SOME of a politician’s qualities are natural, while some are as a result of external influences. Promising politicians’ qualities are often backed by skills, experiences, intelligence, integrity, with instincts -all combined together to achieve their goals. First and foremost, the best qualities of a politician are honesty, fear of God, and love. A faithful and effective politician is trustworthy and reliable. He must capture the essence of truth, display sincerity, candour, and practise what he preaches. He makes decisions and accepts responsibility for his actions and his words. The same is true in his dealing with his people. He makes promises and keeps those promises. He is somebody that people may rely upon, loving people with all his heart, might, mind, soul and striving to help them as a true mark of responsible politician.

Moreover, a fake politician will, after taking the oath of office with the Holy Book and lousy thanksgiving services, use their power as an end in itself, rather than for public good, making them indifferent to the progress of their citizens. A good politician becomes the image of his Creator. A good and responsible politician will give high regard for morality, with no tendencies for corruption. The greatest strength of good politician is deriving joy in serving people and not to steal tax payers’ money. They know that a fulfilling and meaningful life is created through service to others. To be an effective politician, your followers must have trust in you. And the very best way for a politician to build trust is to display good sense of character and qualities composed of values, beliefs, traits and skills.

Another important quality of a good politician is integrity and technical skills to handle challenging assignments, fiscal matters, policies, plans, projects, ideas, and initiate solutions to problems. Integrity is consistency of action, methods, measures, values, principles, expectations and outcomes. It is doing what is right, both legally and morally, at all times even when no one is looking. Since politicians play very significant roles in the administrative processes, especially having hands in thousands of important laws and policies to their communities and country, they should be well-educated, modest, with experience in social welfare, or should have done some good work for the society. A politician should have a thorough knowledge and up-to-date information about the constituency where he is going to contest an election.

Sir Winston Churchill, a famous British politician who served as Prime Minister twice (1940-45) and (1951-55) once said that “a politician must have the ability to foretell what is going to happen tomorrow, next week, next month, and next year. And to have the ability afterwards to explain why it didn’t happen”. Hence, a political career is meant for people of high integrity and additional skills to achieve results and finding better ways of making life better for the people they represent. Politics is not meant for dropped-outs, area fathers, thugs, assassins, criminals, illiterate god-fathers, inept, dubious and corrupt politicians. These persons, apart from being greedy, don’t know the importance of education and can never invest properly in it.

Good governance, transparency and accountability will elude states and nations where the above mentioned set of people find themselves in the corridors of power.

An incompetent and irresponsible politician will make people to hang around his house like bees to honey, and feed them with amala, tuwo or eba just for days. He prefers to give out expensive gifts, donations and bribes from tax-payers’ money to win elections. An achiever will not need to do such things to win elections or people to their side in all ramifications. That is why you will hear people saying “Politics is a bad game of deceit and hatred”, “Politics is a do or die affair”, “Politics is a dirty business”, “Politicians are very sick people” and so on. It is those politicians of limited merits and capabilities that are bad and not politics. They cannot do more than their moral and intellectual capacity. A true democratic government is the best concept for the growth of any nation. A good politician enriches lives and feeds many people, not making them to become beggars, touts, kidnappers, armed-robbers and fraudsters.

A good politician should be of a disciplined personality with selfless service to make life better for his people. This should be reflected in the community where he lives in all ramifications.

Discipline is necessary for an orderly society and political life: without it, the social life would become miserable. Selfless service is putting the welfare of the people you’re representing before your own. Churchill described it as “the first of all human qualities because it is the quality which guarantees all others”. A good politician firmly believes in taking care and maintaining the community of his people. He believes that community service is about giving back. According to Theodore Roosevelt, “the most successful politician is he who says what the people are thinking most often in the loudest voice”. A person or politician who is with criminal background, or any links with criminals or whose allegations on corruption have not been cleared by the law court should be disqualified from participating in elections.

Responsibility and party loyalty is another quality of responsible politician in a democratic state. A transparent politician is nearer to his people and meeting them to understand their problems. Only fake politicians are seen by voters when an election is near or change parties as footballers change clubs.

Akande is a road traffic safety consultant based in Spain

Tuesday, 14 January 2014 01:00
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AS a practising journalist, I owe it a lawful duty to inform the general public that they should be extra careful whenever the need arises to purchase any product, for personal or household use. The phrase ‘Customer is King’ works when you are yet to patronise the dubious sellers. Immediately money exchanges hands, whatever the status/condition of what you purchased or the degree of your patronage, it becomes your own liability, because they always leave you to lick your wound. They will care less about your plight, consequent upon the product sold to you. They change their countenance and language and treat you worse than a beggar. Against this backdrop, I advise would-be customers: look before you leap.

Precisely on Thursday 7th February, 2013, I went to purchase my dream wheel-Nissan Pathfinder Jeep Off Road series, at a depot at the Sawmill area within the Ilorin metropolis. I was attracted to the vehicle at the stand immediately, as the dealer confirmed it good. Being an auto novice, I swallowed the bait hook, line and sinker. My further undoing was payment cash down, otherwise I wouldn’t have found myself in the present predicament. Another mistake I made was that I ignored candid advice from friends to go to Cotonou for a good selection.

Considering the stress involved cum Customs and paper palaver, I decided to patronise a dealer in Ilorin, to avoid the perceived stress. How wrong I was.

In less than one month, I started encountering problems with the gear, with the ‘service engine soon’ signal remaining conspicuous on the dashboard despite all the servicing carried out on the vehicle after purchase. There was no way I could immediately reach the dealer, no thanks to the absence of phone number on the invoice as well as the receipts issued to me. When I observed that the gear problem persisted and the vehicle was consuming much money, I had to personally call on the dealer who I was fortunate to meet after about three attempts.

He then asked his mechanic to examine the vehicle. The mechanic in turn informed me that it was a gear problem and the gear must be changed completely to make the vehicle function effectively, as the one on it had gone bad.

The dealer rubbed salt in my wound by simply telling me that I would be responsible for the repair of the vehicle, as it had already been sold out to me. I imagined how a vehicle purchased within six months could break down completely with a major problem of gear, without my bashing the jeep in whatever form. I concluded that I bought the vehicle with the problem. I felt cheated and decided to involve the Kwara State Motor Dealers Association, who summoned the dealer and I for a meeting sometime in October, 2013. The association sympathised with me and asked the dealer to give me N100,000 to augment the money for the gear which I was told would cost me N500,000. The dealer contested this, arguing that after all a day old baby dies, let alone a vehicle. He cited the examples of a reputable pharmacist along Surulere, in Ilorin here and a former Special Assistant in the state, who had similar experiences from the purchase made from him and were responsible for the purchase of another gear without involving him, asking why mine should be different.

I then began to wonder what many customers must have gone through, for patronising such a dealer. At the end of the day, the man eventually asked me to pick up my cheque on 15th October, 2013 at the association’s secretariat, located on Umaru Saro Road, Ilorin, a pledge he is yet to redeem till today, despite the intervention of his association. He later apologised to me, adding that changing the gear completely was the best solution to the problem. It was then it dawned on me that the man was aware of the gear problem ab initio.

Well, that was my experience and predicament of late. The same goes to all other areas of transactions, such as that of electrical appliances or whatever gadget you may wish to purchase, for home use. Shine your eyes and insist on documented six-month guarantee. They may want to fool you with the ideas of warrantee, which is against the rules guiding the activities of Standards Organisation of Nigeria of six months’ guarantee on whatever new products purchased. As a matter of fact, SON is currently handling a matter for me now, in that aspect. It is also advisable you do a part payment on certain purchases and pay the balance after proper delivery and certification, to get value for your money. That way, they will treat you like a king and respect your opinion.

Anything short of this, honestly, you are ‘on your own’, especially for those who intend to buy on hire purchase, for commercial use. You will find yourself in a perpetual debt because they have been smart enough to indicate on the receipt that the goods once bought “are not returnable” or that they “take no responsibility of accepting returned goods.’ Mind you, they will never tell you this before issuing receipts, but when you eventually encounter problems with your purchase, it is then they become your lecturer on purchase and supply courses.

I wish to call on members of the state Houses of Assembly to come to the aid of the general public by legislating that used cars within the shores of a state, must be put in proper condition before displaying such vehicles for sale, in order not to jeopardize the lives of unsuspected potential buyers. In the same vein, I implore SON to also intensify efforts to further sensitize the public on their rights as to what to be considered when engaging in purchases as well as powers and rights of consumers, to avoid being hoodwinked into buying liabilities. Buyers please beware before going into any transaction.

Oladipo is a Communication Officer based in Ilorin

 

Tuesday, 14 January 2014 01:00
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In Nigeria the year 2013 ended with a loud bang provided by the exchange of correspondence among former President Olusegun Obasanjo(OBJ}, his daughter, Dr. Iyabo Obasanjo, and President Goodluck Jonathan(GEJ). The unprecedented trilogy of open letters - OBJ to GEJ, Iyabo to her father, and GEJ to OBJ - predictably provoked much discussion, comments and reactions which are still on-going. This contribution to the dialogue examines some outstanding matters arising.

OBJ fired the first salvo with a scathing open letter to GEJ. He began the letter with a list of ten reasons which led him to write the letter. Prominent among them was the complaint that “none of the four or more letters that I have written to you in the past two years or so has elicited an acknowledgement or any response”. In reply to this specific charge GEJ stated: “You will recall that all the letters were brought to me by hand. Although both of us discussed some of the issues in those letters, I had not, before now, seen the need for any formal reply since, to me, they contained advice from a former President to a serving President”.

It is difficult to fault GEJ on this point because in his letter OBJ claimed “You (GEJ) put me third after God and your parents among those that have impacted most on your life”. It is possible that OBJ had concluded that GEJ is incorrigible. If that is the case, the consequential question is whether an open letter was the best or sole option available to OBJ, especially as he claimed to have been motivated by concerns for the best interests of Nigeria. Could he and did he, for example, solicit the support of former Heads of State other than the two military gentlemen he mentioned in his letter?

In the letter, OBJ admonished GEJ that “For five capacities in which you find yourself, you must hold yourself most significantly responsibe for what happens or fails to happen in Nigeria...”.He listed the five positions in order as “-leadership of the ruling party, headship of the Federal Government or national government, Commander-in-Chief of the Military, Chief Security Officer of the nation, and the political leader of the country”. It is very instructive that OBJ put leadership of the PDP first - ahead of GEJ’s positions/responsibilities as President, Commander- in-Chief, and Chief Security Officer. This is not a Freudian slip.

Rather it is a true reflection of OBJ’s order of priorities. This view is buttressed by the fact that about two-thirds of his letter is devoted to the implosion of the PDP, the alleged role of GEJ in the causation of that crisis, and suggestions for repairing the breech. It is clear that OBJ’s overriding concern is the survival of the PDP, and he affirms that the best interests of Nigeria are indivisible from the best interests of the PDP. Most Nigerians would disagree with that position; they would assert that the PDP has been, and remains, a major disaster rather than a blessing for the country.

OBJ drew the attention of GEJ to several national problems including corruption, insecurity and oil stealing. In particular he stated that corruption had “reached the level of impunity”, and warned that “corruption and injustice are fertile breeding ground for terrorism and political instability”. He emphasised that GEJ would not be able to deal with the problem unless he was prepared to “name, shame, prosecute and stoutly fight against corruption”. He accused GEJ of “ethnic factionalism”; he expressed concern about “allegations of keeping over 1000 people on political watch list...training snipers and other armed personnel secretly and clandestinely acquiring weapons to match for political purposes like Abacha...”. In his response, GEJ denied the ‘allegations’; he claimed that he inherited the problems of corruption and insecurity which he was doing his best to tackle. His response is clearly unsatisfactory because both corruption and insecurity have undoubtedly worsened in quality and scale under his watch. Corruption has become more endemic and pervasive, and is being practiced with unprecedented impunity. Whereas the public perception during the regime of OBJ was that the EFCC was being manipulated and was selective in the discharge of its responsibilities, that anti- corruption agency has become comatose under GEJ, and has publicly complained of lack of funds to do its work.

For OBJ, the greatest ‘sin’ committed by GEJ is his “deceit and deception” on whether he would seek or not run for re-election in 2015. OBJ dealt with this matter at length and, in the process, reproduced a lengthy part of a speech he delivered at the finale of GEJ’s campaign in 2011.

OBJ’s outburst on this issue provoked laughter and a feeling of deja vue in this writer. It seemed that the teacher was upset because his student was becoming more adept at trickery than his teacher! Iyabo got it right when, in her letter to her father, she stated: “It is therefore outrageous that you accuse the current President of a similar two-facedness that you yourself used against the people of the country”. At this point, one should dismiss as denial or wishful thinking the erroneous claims that Iyabo did not write the letter under reference. The deep hurt and pain felt by a young woman who loves and has been repeatedly disappointed by her father and country are clearly evident in that letter which could not have been written by any other person.

His 2011 speech which OBJ reproduced contained a most historic revelation which is worth quoting in full.  “On two occasions, I have had opportunity to work for my successors to the government of Nigeria. On both occasions, I never took the easy and destabilising route of ethnic, regional or religious consideration, rather I took the enduring route of national, uniting and stabilising route. I worked for both President Shagari and President Yar’ Adua to succeed me not just because they are Moslems, Northerners or Hausa-Fulani, but because they could strengthen the unity, stability and democracy in Nigeria. We incurred the displeasure of ethnic chauvinists for doing what was right for the country. That is in the nature of burden of leadership. A leader must lead, no matter whose ox is gored”.

That voluntary admission and confession is serious and of national importance. Among other things, it compels a review of the basis for the national and international respect and defference which OBJ has enjoyed hitherto. He was accorded the status of an eminent statesman because he was perceived to be a military ruler who voluntarily relinqued power to civilians through a democratic process. It is now necessary to examine whether he relinqued power voluntarily or democratically. In 1979 he was executing a political program and time- table established by General Murtala Mohammed. Could OBJ have deviated from that program which had the blessing of the military and the political leaders ofthe North? Could he, in addition, have successfully confronted the combined political clout of Chief Obafemi Awolowo and Dr. Nnamdi Azikiwe? Could he have survived any attempt to hang on to power?

Undoubtedly he deserves commendation for enlightened self-interest; he merits a pat on the back similar to that given to a child who obeys an instruction not to touch the lighted end of a cigarette! There can be no claim of a voluntary hand-over in 2007. OBJ used every trick available to him in order to serve a third term in office. In the end he was defeated by smart parliamentary maneuvers in the Senate during the presidency of Senator (Ken) Nnamani.

On the two occasions, OBJ’s style of handing-over was anything but democratic. In 1979, it featured the curious timing of the appointment of a substantive Chief Justice, strange legal definition of 12 2/3 states, and a split judgment of the Supreme Court which the court said should not be quoted as a precedent.

The 2007 elections which ushered Yar’ Adua into power were widely condemned nationally and internationally, and Yar’ Adua himself said publicly that they were flawed.

OBJ is undoubtedly a unique Nigerian. He stands out as the one person to whom providence has granted the most number of opportunities to do good for Nigeria. History will judge that he made poor use of the opportunities. As Iyabo stated in her letter, he has been behaving as if Nigeria is his personal property, and has arrogated to himself the sole right to determine and execute what is best for the country. Extreme narcissism and megalomania, coupled with delusions of grandeur, usually lead to self destruction. OBJ should ponder this - before it is too late.

Olabode writes in from Ibadan.

Monday, 13 January 2014 00:00
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THE first half of the 1970s marked the beginning of religious fanaticism in the country. The traditional ideas of Christianity and Islam began to change. The change in the two religions was as a result of certain ideas which crept into the country through Nigerians who were returning to the country and who had been exposed to more radical ideas about their religions. These Nigerians were known as S.U. Christians and Islamic brothers and sisters. This movement was fortified by University students who no doubt became more and more fanatical as the years went by.

By 1978, that movement in the two religions had become influential in the Nigerian society to such an extent that the Federal Government was made to believe that the social ills that arose at that time, including corruption, originated from the civil service. Therefore in 1978, the Federal Military Government at that time issued a statement to the effect that all civil servants should renounce their membership of secret societies by swearing to affidavits in courts.

In 1978, I was working as a Medical Officer of Health for Egbado South Local Government Area of Ogun State and I was also based at the Health Centre, Ilaro as a medical officer. When the announcement was made, I foresaw the repercussion of the action by the federal government that it would not yield any good dividend. This is because it was going to be difficult to determine who actually left the secret societies among the so-called elites and middle class people who had become very influential in the Nigerian society. The rest of the story is known to all of us.

There are a number of suggestions I would like to make in order to end religious crises in Nigeria. First I wish to suggest that the fundamental rights of all Nigerians to worship God be guaranteed. It is obvious that there are three main religions in this country namely, Christianity, Islam and traditional religion. At the community level, especially in the rural areas of this country where at least 70 per cent of Nigerians live in villages and hamlets, these three religions co-exist.Even in the same household, one would find members from these different religions. However, by the time you get to the local government, state and federal levels, traditional religion is no longer recognised. Hence traditional religionists are forced to either claim to be Christians or Muslims. The traditional religionist has therefore become deprived of his right of religion as a citizen of Nigeria. This situation is bound to create a crisis.

The effect of these fanaticism that crept into our religions has now resulted in the situation we find ourselves. The cults in both religions grew stronger and stronger over the years, slowly but surely. The result of this development is that people became more and more interested in religion as a money-making venture. Nigerians were busy making money and smiling to the bank in the name of God. Even the traditional religion was not left out. The truth of the matter was that civil servants who thought they were in secret societies went to court and swore that they were no longer in such societies. Unfortunately, many of such civil servants mistook their socio-cultural organisations which had sustained their communities for secret societies. But the truth is that the real cultists who had masqueraded under Christian and Islamic organisations did not renounce their membership. By 1980, the first violent Islamic religious uprising erupted as Maitasine sect uprising. Subsequent religious uprisings became more and more violent until the present Boko Haram crisis.

From what I have stated above, it is necessary to understand the stand of Boko Haram members. This group of Islamists has no doubt witnessed the gradual deterioration in the quality of the practice of their religion. They observed that people who were involved in this bastardisation were educated people who benefited from western education. They would like their religion to be kept pure and honorable. Unfortunately, those behind the desecration of Islam (as well as Christianity and traditional religions) were Pastors, Alfas and Alhajis. Even these clerics made a foray to become babalawos who could not keep the tenets of the traditional religion. Hence the country started witnessing, false pastors, false alfas and false babalawos. The babalawos were becoming more daring, making charms, magic and amulets for criminals who could go on escapades to raid banks and houses with sophisticated weapons. Security increasingly became a thing to be desired in the country. Security was what we took for granted in the 1950s and 1960s.

Secondly, it is obvious also that Nigerians who were forced to be either Christians or Muslims would still go back to their communities at weekends or during other times to practice their traditional religion. This is what is called ATAVISM. Hence such people are neither purely Christians nor traditionalists. They cannot be pure Muslims nor traditionalists also. In their religious obligations therefore they become confused and that will definitely affect their spiritual life, so to say.

Is it any wonder therefore that the Nigerian spirituality is impure and I wonder whether or not God hears our prayers? The truth therefore is that Nigerians became neither pure Christians nor pure Muslims nor pure traditionalists.

We need to learn from other countries that are currently on the verge of development. India, Brazil, Malaysia, Japan, China and South Africa are countries who are currently growing fast. These countries are able to grow because they recognised all the rights of their people to contribute to the development of their nation. Coming closer home, Ghana recognises the three religions in the country. During state functions including independence celebrations, priests from all the three religions take part in offering prayers to God for peace and tranquility in the country.

Professor Awoyemi teaches in the Department of Epidemiology and Community Health, University of Ilorin.

Monday, 13 January 2014 00:00
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Since its creation on October 1, 1996, Ekiti State has struggled to develop at the pace envisaged by its founding fathers who toiled to deliver a state that could compete with its peers in the Nigerian federation.

The challenges of bad governance, low allocations from the Federation Account, poor internally generated revenue, huge debt burden and poor infrastructure slowed down its pace of development.

Rigged governorship elections of 2003, 2007 and 2009 further compounded the ills afflicting the state which lost its bearing owing to self-inflicted woes and legitimacy crisis.

One clear reality was the need for a well-prepared and a visionary leader with a solid blueprint to transform the fortunes of the state from a backwater state to a frontline state that its citizens would be proud of.

The Court of Appeal judgment of 15 October, 2010 which enthroned Dr. Kayode Fayemi as the governor of Ekiti State, marked the turning point in the history of the Land of Honour.

Taking his oath of office before a mammoth crowd the following day (16th October, 2010), Fayemi promised to use his eight-point agenda as a catalyst for the transformation of the state.

Having prepared the agenda before seeking the nomination of his party as governorship candidate and subsequently as the governor, Fayemi had prepared himself for the serious task of governance and hit the ground running after being sworn in.

The third anniversary of the Fayemi administration which ran for about four weeks of commissioning of landmark projects offered Nigerians opportunity to believe that good governance is still possible in the country.

It was a celebration of excellence in leadership and good example of transparency, probity, accountability which are scarce commodities in governance in Nigeria. To run a state which places 35th on the nation’s revenue ladder out of 36 states is no mean feat.

Fayemi has slowly but decisively tackled the multifarious problems plaguing Ekiti and has successfully pulled the state out of abyss of underdevelopment, poverty, want, hunger and poor infrastructure.

With over 1,000 capital projects already executed into the third year of his regime, Fayemi is already on the home stretch to securing the gubernatorial crown for the second time. He has virtually touched all the components of his eight-point agenda, otherwise known as Roadmap to Ekiti Recovery. These include Governance, Infrastructural Development, Modernising Agriculture, Education and Human Capital Development, Health Care Services, Industrial Development, Tourism Development and Environmental Sustainability and Gender Equality and Empowerment.

Three years down the line, Ekiti people now have every cause to smile for having the man they truly voted for as the captain of the ship of the state.

Fayemi is a goal getter and has scored so many goals of positive change in Ekiti state with construction and rehabilitation of roads, schools, hospitals, markets, drainages, streetlights and other public infrastructure.

As the top striker leading a winning team, Fayemi has scored many firsts and would be remembered for the populist policies and projects executed by his administration which have improved the standard of living of the people of the state.

The governor is the first state chief executive to publish his assets as a mark of his belief in transparency, probity and accountability.

The law only prescribes declaration of assets by public servants but Fayemi went a step further by publishing his assets in the major newspapers in the country in his resolve to lead by example.

Fayemi’s Social Security Scheme for the Aged, in which registered elderly citizens are paid from the government coffers, is the first of its kind in the West African sub-region. Beneficiaries of the scheme in Ekiti are receiving N5,000 every month and it is no surprise that three other states-Anambra, Bayelsa, and Osun-have adopted the scheme to take care of their elderly citizens.

Fayemi pioneered distribution of laptops to students and teachers of government-owned secondary schools in Nigeria under his administration’s e-school project.

The administration’s Youth Commercial Agriculture Development (Y-CAD) is the first policy to be executed by any government since the creation of the state to make youths the centrepiece of food security.

The budget making process has been revolutionized by Fayemi who adopts village square and town hall meetings in receiving inputs from the people of the grassroots to formulate the fiscal policy framework.

Through the novel initiative which is first of its kind in the country, each community is asked to submit its three most important needs to be incorporated into the budget which makes all communities in the state to have at least one project to be executed through the instrumentality of the state budget.

By this, Fayemi has displayed an uncommon leadership quality by allowing the locals to have their say on what they want government to execute for them rather than sitting down in the state capital and deciding for the people.

It is not a surprise that Ekiti has witnessed unprecedented transformation under the leadership of Fayemi in all the sectors covered by his administration’s eight-point agenda.

Ogunmola writes from Ado-Ekiti

Sunday, 12 January 2014 00:00
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The Lord will guide you and protect you through this year and beyond. He will make His face to shine upon you. Your feet shall not slip and neither shall you suffer want. You shall live long and prosper and your joy shall be full. You shall not be cut short because long life is your portion. The Lord shall give you the fat of the land and a place of honour in the land. You shall increase. The Lord shall enlarge your coast and he shall exalt your horn.

The seductions and evil of this world will not overwhelm you, neither will they consume you. The Lord shall guide you in all your ways and deliver you from the hands of the wicked one and his agents. You shall rise up to greater heights than you can possibly imagine. You shall not suffer shame or defeat.

Before your very eyes you shall see the recompense of the wicked and those that seek your hurt and wish you to go astray. You will excel in your work and studies and the Lord will grant you joy everlasting. Because you have honoured Him in all your ways your days will be long and His blessing shall never depart from you.

The love of God and His grace and mercy shall walk with you all the days of your life and His angels shall guard you jealously both night and day. May God bless and keep you now and always and may this year and beyond be great in your life and in your family. You are simply wonderful; a great blessing from a great God. You will never be ashamed but rather like a well-watered garden, you will be fruitful and productive.

You will flourish forever and neither shall your leaves ever wither. Your pockets shall never run dry for the Lord will grant you plenty and He will cause rivers to flow through your desert places.

His precious anointing and Holy Spirit shall never depart from you and his peace and favour shall cover you all the days of your life. I soak your body, spirit and soul in the precious blood of the sprinkling; the blood of the Holy One of Israel, the lion of the tribe of Judah, Jesus Christ of Nazareth and son of the Living God.

I commit you into the hands and power of the God of heaven and into the presence and power of He who came down as God incarnate in the flesh. May the deep mysteries of His precious blood speak for you at the gates and fight for you in every circumstance touching and concerning your life.

Go forth into the world and the New Year boldly with your head held up high knowing who you are and knowing that you serve a mighty God. Because of him you are safe and sound and you cannot be defeated. Because of Him, everything that you set your hands to do that is in accordance with His will, shall meet with good success.

Give Him the praise and glory in all things and remember always that he loves you more than life itself. God bless and keep you and all that is yours now and always. We serve a mighty God, so go forth into the world in His strength and in His power. Take dominion and conquer, be courageous and be strong and most important of all be thankful and be happy: for in the end he makes all things beautiful. Faithful, mighty and true, that is His name.

However you may feel today, whether happy or sad or whether hopeful or fearful, always remember this: that our future and fate as a nation will not be determined by anyone, any group of people, any party or any government. It will not be eclipsed, marred, moulded or forged in the darkness of deceit or in the tunnels of misfortune.

Evil and heartless men shall not have their way forever in our country. Even though our night may be dark, long and seemingly endless, the beautiful rays of the bright morning sun shall surely come and with it bring light, comfort, joy and everlasting peace. One day our ship of state shall not be steered by cruel, unfeeling, uncaring and insensitive hearts but by the God of Heaven and by He alone.

One day, not too far from now, our land shall be free and our soil shall breathe life again. On that day the summer flowers will blossom and the sound of gentle laughter shall fill the air.

Therein lies our hope for a better tomorrow and there lies our path to honour, prosperity and greatness unimaginable. Our destiny and hope lies in God’s sure hands and not in the hands of mere mortals. In all things, both good and bad, we must give thanks to Him alone and we must have faith in Him and none other.

He is worthy to be praised. He is faithful and true. He will not forget us. He will not forsake us. He will not deny us. He will not abandon us. He is our shield and our glory: He is the lifter of our heads. As long as He wills it, we are one nation, indivisible, unbreakable and undividable under God.

We may have many differences amongst ourselves but whichever side of the great divide that each and every one of us stands or falls, we are, every single one of us, first and foremost, proud sons and daughters of mother Nigeria and our faith, our loyalty, our hearts and our very souls must live for and pledge loyalty to the sacred soil of Nigeria: they must testify to the power, the wisdom, the beauty and the grace of our numerous nationalities and our wonderful people.

God bless Nigeria! God save Nigeria! God defend Nigeria! God deliver Nigeria!  Happy New Year and may God be with you and yours now and always.

Fani-Kayode is a former  Minister of Aviation.

Sunday, 12 January 2014 00:00
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BRIEF: This is the generation flux, the millennials who graduated from college to meet unavailable jobs. Following the track of Steve Jobs and co, we are faced with a “grey collar” job destiny. This piece is to encourage young entrepreneurs as we forge ahead in the harsh corporate-creative world. In any corner of the world you find yourself, just look around: you are likely to see an advert. It may be a sign board, neon sign or poster looking towards the road or staring at you. They all have something to say. Most times, they are asking you to choose a product or persuade you to buy something. How strong is the voice from that advert or how depicting is the picture? Potent enough to make you opt for what they’re advertising? Always put yourself in that shoe if you want to win customers to your product.

Look up , try to notice the girl walking towards you in the opposite direction. Perhaps when she gets closer, she may be wearing a custom-made top with the inscriptions of a company or say, a brand. Is she another sign board? Just don’t be surprised the day you come across a new church sign board branded by a company. Adverts are everywhere now and they run via several channels. The world today is flooded with ad campaigns and product placements. It is a global village and everybody is marketing something whether they are conscious of it or not, including you. However, despite the huge amounts spent on ads and packaging, most businesses are not getting the proportional returns. You should be surprised to know that despite averaging over 3 billion dollars per annum on advertising, General Motors still went down with the economic crunch. Bill Gates was quoted to have made an insightful remark about General Motors . “If GM had kept up with technology like computer industry has, we would all be driving Dollar 25 cars that got 1000 MPG”, he said.

“Is advertising not meant to improve and strengthen business?” you may want to ask. But adverts without putting other things in order can as well pass for noise.  It is not enough to shout yourself into the market square. Is it for the right reasons? Adverts don’t need noise to register in the mind of consumers. Deliver on brand promises and you will be their choice.

Sincerely, the rate of ad exposures to people is alarming, there are dozens of brand to choose from, most of which have sub-standard quality. But how do we differentiate even now that ads thrive on puffery to influence Purchase Intention (PI)? Brand promise and trust over time come to the rescue here. The promise must be conveyed in soft, modest and value-driven appeal.

The era of ad campaigns like “We are the soul and body of entertainment”, “The best pizza money can buy”, etc, seems to have overstayed its welcome. Now, advertising should have altruistic approach and ad messages should be essentially subliminal. People prefer soft appeals to bragging. In fact, companies need to focus more on quality service delivery and then carve out captions from the user, client or customer experience.(i.e seeing things from the user perspective.)

 As Kathy Heasley puts it: “A brand is two words: the ‘promise’ you telegraph , and the ‘experience’ you deliver.” Then when your company ad runs, it serves as a voice to the feelings and experience that customers have after using your products. That registers better in a customer’s mind. And it can help better to figure out cognitive dissonance.

Standing out without bragging pays off in all ramifications: you are not under pressure to live up to what you have claimed. In fact, the radar shifts to your customers—the ones who keep you in business. They ‘re patronising you, not because they like your face or company logo but because you fulfil a need or solve a problem.That is what your operations, ad campaigns, marketing and research should focus more on and wait for the awards, customer base expansion and equity worth to declare you as the best.

Robert Kiyosaki, citing the US SEAL who gained popularity after killing Osama Bin-laden as an example, expressed the justification that the best brands, over time, have been the ones who don’t make noise but rather become more concerned about creating more value for its customers/clients.  In the end, they have success to prove their excellence. Hear what Steve Jobs said about his company, Apple. “We do not say anything about future products. We work on them in secret, then we announce them.”

Back home, when MTN first came to Nigeria, it started with “The better connection” later to “the best connection” and now it is “Everywhere you go”. Perhaps it took time for it to realise that most people choose the network with a coverage in their area. In a town or community which MTN’s network covered, there were a lot of MTN customers. Same for other networks too. 

A couple of weeks back, we were in a village in Delta (Ofagbe) where  MTN has no coverage, the major network providers there were Airtel and Glo. My colleagues who were hitherto MTN addicts gladly queued to collect and register for a free Airtel sim card. Thus, changing environment may as well mean changing network. You hear people hold conversations like “Glo is the only good network in my new area so I changed my line”. So when people opt for a network at the expense of the other or load credit on a particular sim rather the other, it is because of the quality of service experienced.

Rex is into Integrated Marketing with Kreed Communications Ltd.

Friday, 10 January 2014 00:00
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ON April 25,2005, My boss then, Chief Ufot Ekaette, Secretary to the Government of the Federation, summoned me to his office and asked me to announce the appointment of  Professor Charles Soludo as the new Governor of Central Bank. I then asked him whether he had the Curriculum Vitae of Professor Soludo so as to firm up my Press release.

“Eric, go to the Villa and ask Oby,” he directed. The Oby he was referring at that time was Mrs Oby Ezekwesili, who was Special Assistant on Budget Monitoring and Price Intelligence to President Olusegun Obasanjo but reporting directly to Mr. Steve Orosanye, then Permanent Secretary to the State House.The thought that came to me after leaving the office of Chief  Ekaette  was  how easy  it was then to become the Governor of the CBN without having led a big organisation. To me, the Governor of the CBN is a very powerful, potent, forcible and puissant office holder in that he, among others, determines our present and future. A man who has the power to devalue our currency, determine the interest rates equally has the power to  devalue our lives and I thought the appointment for that office deserved very serious attention and screening. At the time of the appointment, Charles Soludo was the Economic Adviser to President Obasanjo and the Chief Executive of the National Planning Commission.

Although an outstanding economist, Professor Soludo never rose to head any bank before the appointment. The way Central Bank Governors are appointed in Nigeria is a little bit interesting. But after reading the Chronicle by Mr Dada-Stephen on how Central Bank Governors are appointed in Nigeria, I concluded that something was wrong and should be corrected by the present President.

The first indigenous Governor, Alhaji Aminu Mai-Borno (1919-1970), taught English at Yola Middle school from 1942-1946. After he graduated from Bristol University where he studied Economics in 1957, he returned to Nigeria and served with the Northern Nigeria Public Service as an Administrative Officer. He became the first indigenous Governor of the CBN in 1963 to succeed Roy Pentelow Fenton, a Briton who served from July 24, 1958- July 24, 1963.

Dr Clement Nyong Isong (1920-2000), an Annang man from the present Akwa-Ibom, succeeded Mai- Borno. He had his Ph.d. from Harvard University. He was Economics teacher at the University of Ibadan and worked as an adviser at the International Monetary Fund before being appointed as the CBN Governor on August 15, 1967 and retired on September 22, 1975.

The same Isong was elected governor of Cross Rivers State in 1979 and served his full term for four years before losing election in 1983. I was present at his burial in June 2000 in Akwa Ibom.

Alhaji Adamu Ciroma succeeded Clement Isong and served from September 24, 1975 to June 28, 1977. He obtained a Bachelors of Arts Degree in History the University of Ibadan.  Chief Olatunde Olabode Vincent (1925-2012) succeeded Adamu Ciroma and served from June 28, 1977 to June 28, 1982. Before the appointment, he was a Vice President at the Africa Development Bank, Abidjan, Cote D’Ivoire between 1966 and 1973. He too was succeeded by Alhaji Abdul Kadir Ahmed who served from June 27, 1982- September 30, 1993. For eleven years, Alhaji Abdul Kadir was the longest serving Governor of the CBN. Ahmed was born on the 31st October, 1940 in Jama’are, Bauchi State. He graduated from South West London College in 1972 after a stint at the University of Ife in 1961. Dr. Paul Agbayi Ogwuma from Abayi in Imo State succeeded Abdulkadir on October 1, 1993 to May 29th, 1999. Dr. Ogwuma was a retired Managing Director of Union Bank. He was succeeded by Chief Oladele Sanusi on May 29, 1999.

Alhaji Lamido Sanusi, the present Governor, took over on June 3, 2009 and all other things being equal, he should proceed on terminal leave in March.  So far, only three bank Chief Executives have become Governor of Central bank. They are Chief Joseph Oladele Sanusi from Ogbagi Akoko in Ondo State, who was Managing Director of First Bank, Dr. Ogwuma, who was Former Managing Director of Union Bank and Alhaji Lamido Sanusi Lamido, who was former Managing Director of First Bank.

A lot has been said on Sanusi and he himself has said a lot. Of all the Governors of Central Bank, he is the most controversial. And now that his tenure is almost over, we should ask ourselves, what the qualifications to be Governor of the CBN are. The prerogatives lie with the President and only the President knows who should be the next Governor. Because of the sensitivity in relevant circles, I think the President should seek for somebody of quality and the appointment should be based strictly on merit irrespective of geo-political considerations.

We need a candidate with experience in both commercial and central banking and also a deep knowledge in Economics. The office in consideration needs a cool headed banker and an economist who will not turn the office to a television studio and who will have the confidence of operators in the economics and financial sectors globally. This year is definitely a campaign year and a lot will depend on who occupies that office.The economy needs a bold proactive measure unlike the way the political class is mismanaging the country.
 
Teniola, a former Director at the Presidency, stays in Lagos

Friday, 10 January 2014 00:00
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