Balarabe: Unreserved Truth Of APC’s Wares Of Hardship To Nigerians

By Odimegwu Onwumere

“Balarabe Musa is one of Nigeria’s brightest stars of integrity and sterling principles. The octogenarian has lived to his reputation by avoiding any conduct associated with corruption and dishonour. Even Musa’s worst enemies and critics cannot dispute his remarkable reputation for integrity and selfless service to the people.” – Muhammadu Buhari

At 81, Abdulkadir Balarabe Musa who is regarded as a left-wing Nigerian politician, elected Governor of Kaduna State, during the Nigerian Second Republic, has remained an outspoken loyalist to the downtrodden, hapless and defocused Nigerians, who are enduring charlatanic governance under the All Progressives Congress (APC)-led government of Nigeria. Musa who probably would not have owned a house of his own if not that he took a loan about 40 years ago of which he balanced recently, has spoken truth to the mendacious APC government.

Musa, the National Chairman of Peoples Redemption Party, PRP, with an undamaged acumen not always known of persons of his age, news has it that while speaking at the 54th National Executive Committee of the party in Kaduna on December 12 2017, had the following words for the retrogressed and aberration known as APC: “The economy remains comatose, and in some sectors, particularly in industry and commerce, it is even getting worse. Monetary and fiscal management have continued to lack coherence and consistency, or even predictability and strategic planning.

“Unemployment, particularly among the youths, who constitute the bulk of our population, has assumed critical proportions and is now, for all practical purposes, a national emergency. Yet, this APC administration, which rode to power on the back of false promises to this generation of hapless young men and women, seems to have no answers to this ticking time bomb beyond slogans such as N-Power.

“In the name of an anti-corruption campaign, the government has been consistently assaulting Due Process and the Rule of Law. Court orders are flagrantly disobeyed by the very institutions that should enforce them. Basic democratic rights are being cynically abused.

“While talking glibly about fighting corruption, the government shamelessly looks askance where corruption is exposed within its own very ranks, closets and cocoons. APC, both at the centre and the states it controls, has proved that it has little or nothing else to provide Nigerians other than further mass impoverishment, frustration and hardship.”

While the Major General Muhammadu-led APC government has shown that it lags the tenets of positive leadership in the points raised above by Musa but with a PhD in propaganda, you wonder what is then an impeachable offense that a president should commit before he is shown the exit door in the office. T

The governened are enduring untoward hardship as they are experiencing under the government of Buhari in the name of democracy.

Musa has shown that he is not and cannot be like the Senate leader, Ali Ndume (APC, Borno South), who on July 25 2016, said in an interview that Buhari cannot be impeached, because he has not been faithful to any impeachable offence. In the same month of that year, the Nigerian House of Representatives corroborated what the Senate had said through Ndume.

Chief Whip of the House, Alhassan Doguwa was the garrulous ‘speaker’ for the lower chamber. Whereas the Senate and House of Reps exonerated the president of impeachment, it is still fresh in our hearts that the DSS was unashamedly above board in its excesses in this government, Army, Police, Fulani herdsmen and Boko haram were also defiantly everywhere in this government.

Remember that the Nigerian Police was rated the worst in the world few weeks ago, according to World Internal Security and Police Index International, WISPI. But apart from the fact that Nigerians are roasting under Buhari and some persons were saying that he had not committed an impeachable offense, the retention of the (il)legal Chairman, Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC), Ibrahim Magu, upon the rejection of Magu by the Senate, had been said is one impeachable offense.

We should not even remember the brain behind Maina’s return. According to Reno Omokri, the author of Facts Versus Fiction: The True Story of the Jonathan Years: Chibok, 2015 and Other Conspiracies, “This is even as the Attorney General of the Federation, Abubakar Malami had already revealed that he “acted in the public’s interest” in initiating the process for Maina’s return.” The $25 billion Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC) fiddle which is regarded by opinion leaders as “the biggest scam ever in the history of Nigeria since 1914 to date” could also have been “in public interest”.

Omokri, about five months ago, said that the former President Goodluck Jonathan made mistakes, but Buhari is a mistake. Omokri is not far from the truth. Buhari is not just a mistake but a failure in governance that many of us shouted about during his emergence as APC’s presidential candidate in the 2015, that he will finally not prove critics wrong.

Taking to Twitter of the lies of the Buhari government, Omokri wrote that before the APC came into power, Babatunde Raji Fashola, SAN, and currently the Federal Minister of Power, Works and Housing and was Lagos State Governor from May 29, 2007 to May 29, 2015, had in 2014 promised stable electricity, if only the People’s Democratic Party (PDP) is voted out.

“However, he is now blaming Jonathan, for reducing electricity tariff. Buhari will do well moving @tundefashola from being in charge of generating power for Nigeria to being in charge of generating excuses for govt,” Omokri mocked them. “The main difference between GEJ/PDP and PMB/APC is that @GEJonathan made his mistakes as President while @MBuhari is a mistake as President. The major difference between the PDP and the APC is that whereas the PDP had some confirmed liars as members, the APC is itself a lie!”

Against that influence, Buhari spent the vital parts of his first year in office junketing around the world without a cabinet. Buhari stayed in the office without a cabinet knowing or unknowing that the different states depend on the Federation Account to survive. Buhari had a view that he was preparing for the best for the country, oblivious that his action was for the worse. Six months without a functional cabinet of ministers, ambassadors and so on, were enough to damage the country’s economy than just recession. And here we are!

However, speaking in an interview on April 2 2017, Senator Femi Okurounmu, regarded as a die-hard Awoist, said that the president might be impeached, on the appointment of the Magu, if he refuses to follow the constitution. In the words of Okurounmu, “There are two issues involved here. If the Senate rejects Magu and the president allows him to act, that is an impeachable offence. If our legislature is up to the task, if our lawmakers know their rights and they are men of honour, that is enough to impeach the president.”

Hmmm. Hardly is anyone talking on the hyper-kept secret of the health condition of Buhari since January 19 2017, we read then in the news that he sent a letter to the senate in respect of this. The senate did not see him, but saw the letter. Since then, Nigeria has been sick as their president is sick.

It is the odious of governments that Buhari is heading that pushed Musa to weep that at 81, he is not yet fulfilled, while fielding questions to journalists on October 27 2017. It is this type of nuisance called democracy under Buhari that made Musa to regret the 57 years of Independence from the rapacious British colonial masters. He said, “At 81, I will say I feel great and I thank God for everything. But, I am not completely fulfilled because we are yet to have the country of our dreams. We are yet to have a country where there is equity and respect for rights and dignity of all citizens. We are yet to have a country where the governed are good followers and leaders think first about the people and not the other way round. I desire a better Nigeria where everyone will feel the impact of governance that is my birthday wish for the country.’’

Nevertheless, when this government expires someday, the remaining of us who were not killed by the Buhari hunger policies would remember Balarabe Musa as a man who spoke truth to power, when some others chickened out. We would remember Musa that it was his un-daunting courage for the elements of integrity that made Buhari to describe him as a “man of unassailable integrity and untainted record of public service” in a tribute to Musa on the occasion of his 81st birthday anniversary this year.

If Buhari apologists think they can keep the health of the president a secret, they cannot keep the fact that Nigerians are hungry under Buhari a secret; they cannot keep the killing and marauding Fulani herdsmen a secret, and many other deliberate abuses here and there under the Buhari-led APC government. These are the hardships being offered to Nigerians by the APC government, which Abdulkadir Balarabe Musa was not happy about.

Odimegwu Onwumere is a Poet, Writer and Media Consultant based in Rivers State. Tel: +2348032552855. Email: apoet_25@yahoo.com

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Wike: Rivers APC Fighting A Lost Battle Over Assumed Jonathan’s Comment

By Odimegwu Onwumere

A great man or group is not destroyed, defeated or deterred by the past. But this is not the same with the All Progressives Congress (APC) in Rivers State since it lost the much hyped 2015 gubernatorial elections in the state, of which it had anticipated would be in its favour. Since then, this defeated political party in Rivers has been clattering clandestinely irritating songs of destruction, defeat, and determent in order to cite the public against Governor Nyesom Ezebunwo Wike.

{Wike During 2015 Rivers Guber Campaign}

Only those with discerning spirit would understand the depth of self-political damage the Rivers APC has been going through, yet it does not want to own up. This branch of the bungling political party at the federal level that has stranded Nigerians today with its hoodwinking ‘change’ mantra has been biting anything on its way like a wounded dangerous snake on the run. This glaring ham-fisted political party in Rivers has been sounding like a derailed one that has lost focus but still wants people’s attention with irrelevance it has been dishing out against Wike.

The Rivers APC recently made a remark against Governor Wike and former President Goodluck Jonathan. The remark has however shown that the APC in Rivers State is either ashamed to accept the trampled of its life that Governor Wike gave to it as the then Peoples Democratic Party’s (PDP) governorship candidate in the 2015 gubernatorial election in the state. The APC barefacedly accused Jonathan while he was of late commissioning the Nkpogu Bridge in Port Harcourt, as part of the second year anniversary of the Wike administration, saying that he imposed Wike as governor on Rivers State as against the wish of the residents.

On the contrary, this is fictitious and blatantly nuisance oozing out from the abandoned and proud APC that came with ‘change’ mantra at the federal level but has held Nigerians and the entire world spellbound with misleading and counter-misleading features not expected of a sound democracy. The APC if perchance had won the Rivers guber elections, would have plunged the state into inglorious affairs just as its parent body is doing at Abuja, the seat of power, with mis-governance and turning democracy into a hoax. It was the Rivers APC Chairman, Chief (Dr.) Davies Ibiamu Ikanya who replayed what he heard that Jonathan said at the event in the media. Nevertheless, some of us who know Ikanya and had related with him on a personal ground, would attest to the fact that he was a gentleman, soft-spoken and a self-acclaimed cleric. Then again, his stance politically, saying that the Jonathan’s comment has exposed the APC’s somewhat earlier stand that the residents of the state didn’t vote for Wike, makes him (Ikanya) a scriptwriter against the wish and application of the Supreme Court of the country that acknowledged Wike governor of the state against all odds that the APC wanted Wike out as governor.

{Amaechi and Jonathan}

We could remember that before the January 27 2016 victory of Wike at the Supreme Court, the Ikanyas had on May 30 2015, when the matter was still at the lower Court, saying, “We remain confident that the Election Petition Tribunal will do the needful and sack him (Wike) accordingly in view of the materials submitted to them, in view of the immorality associated with his occupation of the Government House and in view of the outcry of the people of Rivers State that he does not have their mandate to serve as their governor.” But the Supreme Court on that faithful of January 27 2016 judgment sent the Ikanyas packing with the statement pointing out that Wike was denied fair hearing at the Appeal Court, which had on December 16 2015 affirmed the judgment of the Rivers Governorship Election Tribunal against Wike. With this, it’s not surprising that the Rivers APC celebrates shame the same way divorce makes headline in the recent times. If not, Ikanya would have lacked the locus standi to accuse Jonathan (only that Ikanya was acting on emotions) and note that upon his accusations that Jonathan made Wike governor against Rivers residents’ wish, yet, Wike won the Rivers APC in the APC-controlled Rivers State under the ex-Governor Chibuike Amaechi government, Wike won in the APC-controlled Supreme Court and, Wike won in the APC-controlled Federal Government of Nigeria.

If Ikanya was insinuating that Jonathan apparently used the federal might during the Rivers guber elections for the emergence of Wike as governor, is the Rivers APC which Amaechi is the leader and Ikanya, the chairman, not ashamed that it could not oust Wike in the APC-controlled River State under Amaechi then and now, under the APC controlled Federal Government? If Wike had won at the Supreme Court in a PDP-led federal government, Ikanya would have been saying that Jonathan influenced the court. All the same, before 2014 that Wike and Amaechi had fallen out, the later who was Chairman of Nigeria Governors’ Forum had vowed that Wike would not be governor.

Amaechi even swore with the matrix, “Over my dead body”. Amaechi gave his preposterous defense, saying that Wike who was then the Supervising Minister for Education and he, belonged to the same ethnic group. Yet, Wike defeated Amaechi upon the swank and upon that Amaechi was Governor of Rivers State. Therefore, Ikanya should stop saying that Wike has become a disaster since “Jonathan made Wike governor”. Maybe, Ikanya wanted us to note that with the political precedence between Wike and Amaechi in the state, the former has become indestructible, upon all the perceived plots by the Amaechis to outsmart Wike. But if Ikanya meant ‘disaster’ in the true meaning of the word, we shall come to that.

The truth is that APC is dead in Rivers, a hard truth that the Ikanyas are finding hard to accept hence their extraneous tantrums against Wike. Well, before Ikanya would paint Wike black, let’s take a little retrospection on Amaechi whom Ikanya would at all cost defend as a saint when he reigned as Governor of Rivers State and now. Amaechi ruled Rivers State with unprecedented unedited words and flagrant exposition of his rascality laced with his un-anticipation of becoming who he is today given his once desolate and inconvenient family background. If at all Wike has become a disaster in the state, his would never surpass Amaechi’s, who brashly took the then PDP’s flag from the then acting National Chairman of the party, Dr. Bello Mohammed, to contest in the April 26 2011 guber elections, under controversial circumstances.

When the All Progressive Grand Alliance (APGA) in Rivers State was crying that the April 9 2011 National Assembly (NASS) elections in the state were marred by massive electoral fraud, and called for the cancellation, Amaechi and the likes of Ikanya were dancing alanta against the crying party. The Amaechi’s ‘disaster’ continued as his men were declared winners of all the elective positions in that year. In the 2011 elections in Rivers State, Amaechi saw the then Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) Chairman, Professor Attahiru Jega as a good man whereas no one listened to the APGA that was shouting that Amaechi was playing the Kangaroo in the politics. Tamunosisi Gogo Jaja, running mate to Sir Celestine Omehia, Rivers State APGA’s gubernatorial candidate in 2011, addressed newsmen and was disappointed by what was called ‘peaceful elections’ in Rivers State, by INEC and Amaechi.

Ikanya should remember that Amaechi and Jega refused to investigate the Rivers 2011 elections, even when Gogo Jaja said that it was saddening to say that electoral irregularities took place in Anambra Central Senatorial Zone, Bayelsa and Delta States, compared to what played in Rivers State. And Jega investigated these mentioned places, without Rivers State.

Ikanya should also remember that Mr. Jerry Godfry and Mr. Precious Barido, who were the state chairman and secretary of the APGA complained in a statement both of them signed of police brutality and criminal intimidation by Amaechi-led government officials during the elections, even as Jaja insisted that the April 9 2011 NASS election showed that the then Amaechi-led Rivers PDP had the highest rigging propensity in the country. Yet, Amaechi continued with his alanta dance ignoring whoever.

What else is the meaning of ‘disaster’ under Amaechi as governor? Ikanya should remember that the INEC said in that 2011 that Amaechi polled 1,178, 529 votes to ‘defeat’ his opponents in the gubernatorial election. The candidate of the APGA, Celestine Omehia came ‘second’ with 112,528, while the ACN, Abiye Sekibo ‘got’ 60,240. Declaring the ‘results’ in Port Harcourt, the Returning Officer in the state, who’s also the Vice Chancellor of the University of Port Harcourt, Professor Joseph (Ajienka), said that 1,401,464 votes were cast, 141,4064 were valid and 27,995 were rejected.

Yours Truly had written after Wike won the 2015 guber elections, saying that: Even though that Wike may not be a better option for Rivers State, it behooves on all residents of Rivers State to advise Amaechi to cover his face in disgrace and stop crying foul. Amaechi is no longer dancing alanta because he feels that someone who knows the game better than he had thought he knew has outsmart him and took the trophy.

{Davies Ikanya}

If the ‘disaster’ that Ikanya meant was about criminal gangs we hear of their activities in some parts of the state, we might revisit how they operated in the state under Amaechi as governor. The truth is that Amaechi as governor, whom some of us supported and criticized, lost touch with residents of Rivers State and became the Lord of Manor that must be venerated and worshiped. Wike nonetheless saw this in 2014 and had to buy the minds of the residents while addressing newsmen during the commissioning of his Governorship campaign office in Port Harcourt, and the APC in the state was afraid to present a guber candidate because of Wike. Although Wike defeated all the governorship aspirants at the PDP primaries in November 29, 2014 through a controversial means. But all of that have been quashed by the Supreme Court. The Ikanyas have shown that they do not respect the Supreme Court, when they continue to say that Jonathan imposed Wike on Rivers State as against the residents wish.

Odimegwu Onwumere is the Coordinator, Concerned Non-Indigenes In Rivers State (CONIRIV). Tel: +2348057778358. Email: apoet_25@yahoo.com

Investing in local vaccines

By Odimegwu Onwumere

Ahead of 2016 conference of Anglophone Africa Peer Review Workshop on sustainable immunization financing in Abuja, the Executive Director, National Primary Health Care Development Agency, Dr. Ado Muhammed says Nigeria needs about $284 million to accomplish the expected goal in immunization.

{From left, MJR Gen. Buhari}
{From left, MJR Gen. Buhari}

Worried by the lack of local vaccine content in the country, the Director-General, National Biotechnology Development Agency (NABDA), Professor Lucy Ogbadu weeps bitterly in Abuja on March 11 2016 over what she sees as Nigeria’s failure to produce vaccines against typhoid and other killer diseases, knowing that, according to her, the good thing about vaccine production is that the same plant can be en suited with different apparatuses to go into to numerous vaccine productions. Hence, she wants to find out the reason owing to the fact that the country was producing vaccines many years ago, but no more. She is bewildered that not a single human vaccine is produced right now in Nigeria.

“This cannot continue, it has fallen within our mandate to act and make sure that the country goes back to producing vaccine” she harangues. “So, we have approached Cuba for this knowing that eight out of the 11 vaccines that are involved in the national immunization programmes in Cuba are produced in Cuba. Even with her third world country status, Cuba has gone far and nothing stops Nigeria from following suit.”

However, in 2012, the then President Goodluck Jonathan had approved the local production of vaccines with the take-off of Biovaccines Nigeria Limited, a joint venture company between Federal government and May & Baker Nigeria Plc, as part of the commitment towards ensuring constant availability of routine vaccines in the country. Media briefing on regeneration of the Federal government Joint Venture initiative with May & Baker Nigeria Plc on local Vaccine production held in Lagos.

“Our job is to revive that entity using our knowledge, expertise and resources to produce and distribute vaccines in Nigeria once again and consequently end the era of 100 per cent dependence on foreign vaccine producers to immunize our citizens against vaccine preventable diseases that ravage our society,” MD/CEO, May & Baker Nigeria Pic, Pharm. Nnamdi Okafor said.

Ogbadu is of the view that aside, Cuba also has a technology of polyvalent vaccine production. She says this means that pair of vaccine can be coalesced into one, therefore saving the receiver-person the suffering of taking several thrusts. She is mindful that with polyvalent vaccine development, one poke of vaccine, different vaccines can be met at the same time.

“Our major priority now is to commence local vaccines production as soon as possible. The Biovaccines business plan is being reviewed and will be presented to the Board as soon the latter is constituted. We plan to commence construction of a new vaccine plant at the new site in Ota, Ogun State with a view to starting production of Yellow Fever vaccines within 18 months,” Okafor added.

Seeking for ways

When Bauchi State was imbued with foreign snakes that got into the country through the massive flooding that enveloped 22 States of the country in 2012, which were noticed in Yuli village river by natives, the government through the Chairperson of Presidential sub-committee on Flood Relief and Rehabilitation, Professor Dora Akunyili (now late), sought for innovative approaches to delivery of vaccines. Samples of the snakes would be taken to establish the type of anti-venom vaccines for them.

“By going into local vaccine production, Nigeria will be putting the health security of her citizens in Nigerian hands. Immunization is a national health security issue. No country can afford to leave the health security of her citizens in the hands of foreign organisations.

“The venture would also save Nigeria substantial savings in foreign exchange and logistics costs of vaccine importation. Currently, the Federal Government spends over N6 billion to import vaccines every year, excluding what is imported by states and local governments,” Okafor said.

Looking for novel approach to help locals get vaccines when in such a situation, leaders on the continent converged on February 29 2016 to invest in local and regional ability for the manufacture of vital vaccines, being that immunization is identified as the best way to prevent diseases.

Dr Patrick Uduje, a Physician at Graceland Hospital, Lagos, said during 2015 World Immunization Week, “Studies show that vaccine preventable diseases are a major contributor to child morbidity and mortality especially in the Sub-Saharan Africa and Nigeria in particular.”

Losses to lack of vaccine

The United Nations Children Fund, UNICEF, clamoured that the country loses about 2,300 under-five year olds every single day with 22 per cent of these deaths caused by vaccine-preventable diseases. Given that, professionals admonished the need for parents to make sure that everything possible is done to enable infants who naturally inherit certain antibodies from their mothers, to begin to build theirs from say six months, when the antibiotics they gain begin to wane.

“The WHO’s statistics reveal that annually, vaccines prevent more than 2.5 million child deaths globally, especially from deaths which could have been prevented through immunization,” Uduje said.

It is knowledgeable that children are prone to diseases such as poliomyelitis, measles, diphtheria, serotype b infection, hepatitis, meningitis, mumps, pertussis, rebella, tetanus, tuberculosis, yellow fever, ad nauseam. Upon the government’s quest to save the environment from preventable deaths, some persons are wont to denying their wards contact with any form of vaccination for the fear that the authorities use the approach to establish heinous practices; some mothers even forget the date they ought to go for immunization of their kids.

“These vaccine preventable diseases account for 17 per cent of global total under-five mortality per year and 22 per cent of child mortality in Nigeria.

“This means that the appropriate deployment of relevant vaccines would significantly reduce mortality and that is why we appeal to parents to immunize their children and wards,’’ Uduje added.

The assemblage of the African leaders with the theme thus, ‘Universal Access to Immunization as a cornerstone for health and development’, made at the African Union (AU) headquarters, Ethiopia, geared towards increasing domestic financial investments in countries across the continent for the conveyance of schedule immunization vaccines in order to regularize Gross National Income for the availability of vaccines through inexpensive and impartial prices to all African countries.

The highlight of this was that if there were local contents of vaccines, the outbreak of the Meningitis C strain in decades that has killed 800 of 12 000 people infected in Nigeria and neighbouring Niger would not have been recorded, while international health officials fought to find Meningitis C vaccines to quell the outbreak from spreading. The World Health Organisation, WHO, showed anxiety that the cases have been rising since 2013. Manufacturers said that they could not produce stockpile five million doses of Meningococcal C conjugate (MenC) vaccine made from a small part of the Meningococcal bacteria, which were demanded by health officials to fight the menace.

“The Bacilli Calmette Guerin (BCG) is administered to a child at birth or as soon as possible after birth. The Oral Polio Vaccine (OPV) is given at birth and also at six, 10, and 14 weeks of age. OPV can also be received any other time, especially during the immunization weeks. Pentavalent vaccine is a combination of five vaccines-in-one that prevents diphtheria, tetanus, whooping cough, hepatitis b and haemophilus influenza type b, all through a single dose. The vaccine replaced the Diphtheria, Pertusis, Tetanus (DPT) vaccine which is given at six, 10, and 14 weeks of age. Vitamin A is given at nine months and 15 months of age. The introduction of Pentavalent vaccine is expected to prevent nearly 400,000 cases of haemophilus influenza type B , with about 27,000 lives saved annually in Nigeria,’’ said Dr Temi Adekunle, Paediatrician, St. Rapheal’s Clinic, during 2015 World Immunization.

The Delta State Government in 2012 partnered with Pfizer Pharmaceuticals to immunize 2000 internally displaced children between the ages of 2-5 at various camps in the state, when pneumonia wanted to ravage the state. Nigeria battled to produce PCV13 vaccines through the state ministry of Health to vaccinate the children at the relief camps across the state. The then Delta State Governor Emmanuel Udiaghan highlighted that vaccine immunization as well as environmental care were the very means to fight antibiotic resistant pneumonia disease.

Consultant Paediatrician, Dr Olajide Ojo, said, “To lessen the awful rate of pneumococcal infections, which kill 17 children every hour in the country especially among low income earners, Nigerians must espouse improved hygienic lifestyles and increase vaccine intake for their children.”

Odimegwu Onwumere is a Rivers State based poet, writer and consultant. He won in the digital category, Nordica Media Merit Awards 2016, Lagos; and the International Award for Excellence in Journalism 2016, Geneva. Tel: +2348057778358. Email: apoet_25@yahoo.com

Road-map To Achieve Drinking Water

By Odimegwu Onwumere

 

“Achieving the water global goal would have multiple benefits, including laying the foundations for food and energy security, sustainable urbanisation, and ultimately, climate security.”

– UN secretary general Ban Ki-moon said on January 21 2016.

{Photo: From Internet}
{Photo: From Internet}

Then President Goodluck Jonathan was worried in 2011 that many Nigerians had no access to drinking water.

Jonathan was apprehensive that in accord with the Millennium Development Goals (MDG), 75 percent of Nigerians were supposed to have access to safe drinking water by 2015.

Madam Sarah Ochekpe, then minister of water resources, buttressed that Nigeria was on track to attain the 75 percent target.

The MDG office figuring representation, said, $2.5 billion (about N375 billion) was needed to meet the country’s water and sanitation targets between 2011 and 2015.

Government noted that an additional N200 billion was vital to provide bonus development in Dams with hydropower elements amongst others.

Water and sanitation quandaries were among the chief problems that were besetting Nigeria.

The United Nations said that over 340,000 workers died every year because of inadequate water supply and sanitation; 1.5 billion people were employed in water-related sectors.

The international body added that, that was due to quantity and the quality of water direct impact on workers’ lives and health.

The body believed that the livelihoods of many workers such as fishermen depend on the quality of the freshwater.

The World Health Organisation (WHO) and the United Nations Children’s Emergency Fund (UNICEF) Joint Monitoring Programme (JMP) for water and sanitation opined that it was going to take Nigeria 28 years for this target for drinking and freshwater to be met.

The opinion was hinged on lackadaisical experiences gotten in the leadership of the country as had been exhibited in the past. The JMP reports showed that an increase of about 11 percent in access to improved water supply in Nigeria was experienced between 1990 and 2010 and less than 58 percent of population had access to potable water.

The UN JMP was nervous that the country could only attain its set goal of 75 percent coverage by 2015, increasing by 17 percentage points within the next three years (which elapsed in 2015).

Launching Of Water Road-map

Upset by the prediction made by the UN, the Federal Government (FG) of Nigeria in January 2011 launched a water road-map that described the country’s readiness for water resources between 2011 and 2025.

“The plan includes the promises that 75 percent of Nigerians will have access to potable water by 2015, and 90 percent by 2020. They include drilling one motorized borehole in each of the 109 Senatorial Districts, rehabilitating 1,000 dysfunctional hand pump boreholes in 18 states, supplying and installing 10 special water treatment plants, and completing all abandoned urban/semi-urban water supply projects,” according to the water road-map.

Juanita During, Head of Policy, Advocacy and Partnership at the African Centre for Water and Sanitation, described the government’s funding approach as “unpredictable and poorly targeted” following the launch of the roadmap.

The acting country representative for WaterAid during the time, Timeyin Uwejamomere said that the country had a shortfall and that shortfall was giving the country the feeling that it would take another 28 years to make that shortfall and it had only three years to go.

Uwejamomere, however, opened up to say that the country had some issues of “legislation, structure, finance, planning and attitudes” but being issues that the country could control.

There were abandoned water projects in the past of which was captured in the words of Ochekpe, saying, the Ministry of Water Resources was focusing on completion of abandoned water projects and repairs of basic infrastructure such as hand pumps and motorized boreholes.

At a point, the World Bank task team leader for community-based and urban development in Nigeria, Hassan Kida was telling the water resource ministry that Nigeria had “a long way to go” to reach her water goals.

“In several meetings we’ve had with the ministry of water resources, I tell them that you still have a lot of work to do in the sense that nobody knows what is happening there in the field. Putting in the infrastructure is not a big deal but managing the infrastructure that is the biggest deal,” Kida said.

Headship of UN Water

A World Bank study accounted that it costs N150 on the ordinary to generate a litre of clean drinking water in Nigeria, yet consumers in some states were billed as little as N25 for 1000 liters of potable water.

It was observed that the government was affording a gigantic subsidy, but consumers were supremely unacquainted.

During the Water Day 2016 with the theme “Better Water, Better Jobs”, the Director General of International Labour Organisation (ILO), Mr. Guy Ryder was on the board of global wakefulness as the Chairman of UN-Water for the year’s celebration.

The United Nations General Assembly in 1993 selected March 22 as the first World Water Day; a day to build in the people’s consciousness about water.

The Day was first officially wished-for in Agenda 21 of the 1992 United Nations Conference on Environment and Development in Rio de Janeiro.

The News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) reported that €44.75 Million (N9 billion) had been signed by the European Union and UNICEF for Health, Water Supply and Sanitation Projects in Plateau, Ekiti, Adamawa and Kebbi States.

“The European Union (EU) and UNICEF have signed a five-year contribution agreement for a Rural Water and Sanitation Project in Plateau, Ekiti and Adamawa States worth €14.75 million (about N3 billion) as well as a four-year contribution agreement worth €30 million (about N6.75 billion) to scale up improvement in Maternal, Newborn and Child Health in Kebbi and Adamawa states. This is a follow up to the corresponding Financing Agreements signed on 30 April 2013 between the Government of Nigeria and European Union to strengthen their collaborative partnership and development agenda,” the report said.

Ryder was of the conviction that water is work that requires workers for its safe and clean delivery and at the same time, it can create work and improve conditions of work; even though he intoned that there is no life without water and the fact that contact to water bolsters all cracks to accomplish sustainable development was unquestionable.

In the words of Ryder, “What is not so often said is that the availability and sustainable management of water has a clear and direct link with the creation of quality jobs. World Water Day provides a unique opportunity to highlight this relationship, under the 2016 theme ‘Water and jobs.”

The ILO chieftain added, “Almost half of the world’s workers, 1.5 billion, work in water related sectors and nearly all jobs depend on water and those that ensure its safe delivery.

“Water can contribute to a greener economy and sustainable development. But for this to happen, we need more workers that are qualified to realize the potential of new, green technologies. And we need those workers to have decent work that provides dignity, equality, safety and a fair income.”

UN Emergencies

ILO had sponsored and financed the National Action Plan on Employment Creation 2009-2020, to stem the excessive unemployment/underemployment situation in Nigeria.

By January 2016, the UN secretary general Ban Ki-moon convened an emergency pane of heads of state to speed a political answer to the world’s increasing scarcity of water.

At a special session of the World Economic Forum’s annual meeting in Davos, Ki-moon, who announced the formation of the panel alongside the president of the World Bank, Jim Yong Kim, said, “Water is a precious resource, crucial to realising the sustainable development goals, which at their heart aim to eradicate poverty. The new panel can help motivate the action we need to turn ideas into reality.”

The panel which was said would meet regularly between now and 2018, according to the UN, would be chaired by the presidents of Mexico and Mauritius, Enrique Peña Nieto and Ameenah Gurib-Fakim.

“We are already seeing elements of water scarcity coming through – not just because of climate change, but [because of] over-abstraction. We are seeing stress points – social tensions or conflicts over a lack of access to water,” said Dominic Waughray, head of public-private partnerships at the World Economic Forum.

The Head of Programme, Oxfam in Nigeria, Mr. Constant Tchona said during the 2016 water day, that 112 million people are without access to improved sanitation.

Concluding the Rural Water Supply and Sanitation Programme of WSSSRP-I and Support to Reforming Institutions (SRIP II) in July 2011 and December 2012 respectively, the European Union scaffolded the Nigerian Government’s efforts in Water Supply and Sanitation Sector Reform Programme (WSSSRP), building sturdy establishments and schemes for successful and maintainable services delivery in the Water, Sanitation and Hygiene (WASH) segment.

UN Campaigns

By 2014, WaterAid welcomed a UN campaign championed by UN Deputy Secretary General Jan Eliasson to end the practice of open defecation, saying that over one billion people around the world ease themselves “in bushes, in fields or at the sides of roads or railway tracks for lack of even a basic, shared pit in the ground.”

The campaign which was expected to last till 2015, the WHO/UNICEF JMP figures pointed-toward that about 122 million Nigerians did not have access to enhanced sanitation and astounding 39 million (23 per cent of the population) practice open defecation.

“It is time for a drastic change to the status quo. It is hard to believe that in this day and age, people must still risk their health and dignity for the lack of a basic toilet.

“It’s even more difficult for girls and women who risk danger and harassment every time they go in search of a private place to relieve themselves.

“Safe water and basic sanitation has to be a top priority in effectively tackling extreme poverty. We call upon our leaders to take action,” said Dr. Michael Ojo, Country Representative of WaterAid Nigeria, 2014.

Nigeria’s Minister of Environment, Amina Mohammed, who was appointed as the new Chair of the Water Supply and Sanitation Collaborative Council (WSSCC), a United Nations body devoted to the sanitation and hygiene of people in vulnerable communities, with the appointment becoming effective from April 5, 2016, said, “By improving sanitation and hygiene at scale in sub-Saharan Africa, South and Southeast Asia, in particular, the Council is playing an important role in improving education and health, and in empowering women. I am proud to Chair an organization that understands that equality and universality must go hand-in-hand towards achieving a sustainable development agenda.”

UN With State Governors

On August 23 2015, the UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon was in Abuja, where he met state Governors to ginger them to play a “fundamental role” in determining the future of Nigeria.

“You have the resources and the power to help the people of Nigeria realize the tremendous promise of this great country – on education, on health care, on women’s empowerment, on climate change, on governance, institution-building, security and on rights across the board,” stated Ban.

He pointed out that the UN Member States agreed on a new financing for development plan and on the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development, which the latter was to be properly approved by world leaders in New York, September 2015, while governments would meet in Paris by December. The UN’s agenda was “of the people, for the people, and by the people” that will leave no one last.

Funding Environmental Facility

In 2009, the UNDP had launched and funded the Global Environment Facility (GEF), GEF-SGP implemented on behalf of the GEF partnership through the support of the National Steering Committee (NSC).

GEF-SGP Nigeria supported non-governmental and community-based organizations in Nigeria to protect the environment while generating sustainable livelihoods for the poor and marginalized in developing countries.

The programme was executed by the United Nations Office for Project Services (UNOPS), with presence in over 25 states and more than 110 community based projects.

GEF crucial areas include; Biodiversity, Climate change, International Waters, Land Degradation and persistent Organic Pollutants. Within the period, over 150,000 poor rural dwellers, (65% women and 35% men) benefitted directly from SGP intervention.

There was a report suggesting, “50% of beneficiary communities have either never experienced or benefitted from any development support or participated in such a way as allowed by SGP. Over 10 SGP projects have been up-scaled/replicated.”

On the menu of the report: Biodiversity, “Over 500 indigenous plant species are currently being conserved. Supported establishment of Community Forest Management Committees and capacity building for forest protection and to enhance indigenous knowledge of biodiversity and revive interest in traditional medicinal values of plants species.

“In-situ conservation of the critically endangered Sclater Guenon monkey (Cercopithecus sclater), endemic to southern Nigeria and internationally rated No. 4 in the 2006 IUCN global Red Data list of endangered species of fauna. Protection and restoration of over 1,000,306 and 10,000 hectares of land respectively.”

UN Applauding Nigeria

By May 2014, the UN applauded Nigeria’s water sector, and pledged more support. The commendation was contained in a letter of appreciation signed by the UN Deputy Secretary General and forwarded to the then Minister of Water Resources, Sarah Ochekpe, as part of the outcome of Eliasson’s visit to Nigeria in March 2014, where they discussed issues relating to water and sanitation.

Eliasson said: “My visit confirmed the great strides forward that the Government of Nigeria, not least through the Federal Ministry of Water Resources, is making towards ensuring access to clean water and adequate sanitation in the country. I commend your dedication as Minister of Water Resources, and reaffirm the continued support of the United Nations in your work.

“Nigeria continues to demonstrate its pivotal role for both the development and the security agenda in Africa. The Secretary- General and I look forward to continuing our dialogue with you and your Government as we work together to achieve our common objectives.”

Odimegwu Onwumere is a Rivers State based poet, writer and consultant and winner, in the digital category, Nordica Media Merit Awards 2016. Tel: +2348057778358. Email: apoet_25@yahoo.com

 

Hatred for Jonathan, ethnic bigotry, mendacity mar Buhari’s fight against Boko Haram

By Odimegwu Onwumere

On assumption of office on May 29 2015, Major General Muhammadu Buhari who was declared winner of that year’s presidential election by the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) on the platform of the All Progressives Congress (APC) against the incumbent President Goodluck Jonathan of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) as at the time, showed-off that insurgency in the North-east Nigeria would be history by December of that year.

It was a statement taken by many Nigerians with a pitch of the salt owing to Buhari’s stance against the Jonathan administration (with the view that the fight against the sect was a fight against the North). The Jonathan government was headlong in fighting the terrorists to standstill.

However, in what Buhari took as criticism against the Jonathan government, on June 2 2013, he told the world as a “Guest of the Week” – a Hausa programme of the Kaduna-based Liberty Radio – that the pronouncement by Jonathan and subsequent declaration of State of Emergency in Adamawa, Borno and Yobe States and the following military offensive against the Boko Haram Islamic sect, was a fight against the North.

Buhari was visibly angry that splinter militia groups in the Niger Delta Area, where Jonathan comes from, were never dealt with by the military, as the Jonathan government was dealing with the Boko Haram sect.

Buhari’s traitorous comments in defense of Boko Haram

Buhari said at the time that what is responsible for the security situation in the country was caused by the activities of Niger Delta militants. Adding that every Nigerian that is familiar with what happened knows this. He further said that the Niger Delta militants started it all.

“What happened is that the governors of the Niger Delta region at that time wanted to win their elections, so they recruited the youths and gave them guns and bullets and used them against their opponents to win elections by force,” Buhari said.

He said it was after the elections that the boys were asked to bring back the guns and they refused; hence the governors as at the time stopped the allowance that was being given to the youths by the governors.

“The youths resorted to kidnapping oil workers and were collecting dollars as ransom. Now a boy of 18 to 20 years was getting about $500 in a week, why will he go to school and spend 20 years to study and then come back and get employed by government to be paid N100,000 a month; that is if he is lucky to get employment? So kidnapping became very rampant in the south-south and the south-east. They kidnapped people and were collecting money,” Buhari fumed.

Buhari defends Boko Haram

Buhari believed that the leader of Boko Haram, Mohammed Yusuf, was not supposed to be killed when he was arrested by soldiers and handed over to the police.

“The appropriate thing to do, according to the law, was for the police to carry out investigations and charge him to court for prosecution, but they killed him, his in-law was killed, they went and demolished their houses. Because of that, his supporters resorted to what they are doing today,” Buhari said.

{Inset: Buhari and Jonathan}
{Inset: Buhari and Jonathan}

He added that in the case of the Niger Delta militants, the late President Umaru Musa Yar’Adua granted amnesty to the members unlike the Boko Haram members.

“They (Niger Delta militants) were trained in some skills and were given employment, but the ones in the north are being killed and their houses demolished. They are different issues, what brought this? It is injustice,” he said.

Did Buhari lie that there was no Military crackdown against the Niger Delta Militants?

Scores of the militants in the Niger Delta were killed when the Nigeria’s military launched a crackdown in the area in 2008-2009.

Wikipedia reported, “In August 2008, the Nigerian government launched a massive military crackdown on militants in the Niger Delta. They patrolled waters and hunted for militants, searched all civilian boats for weapons, and raided numerous militant hideouts.

On May 15, 2009, a military operation undertaken by a Joint Task Force (JTF) began against Movement for the Emancipation of the Niger Delta (MEND) militants operating in the Niger Delta region.

“It came in response to the kidnapping of Nigerian soldiers and foreign sailors in the Delta region. Thousands of Nigerians have fled their villages and hundreds of people may be dead because of the offensive.”

Buhari continues to blame Jonathan for the 2015 deadline

“Despite the December deadline he had earlier given the military to end terrorism in the affected part of the country, Buhari admitted that the country might not win the war completely by the end of the month,” The Punch of December 28, 2015 reported, in the headline, “Jonathan’s govt provoked soldiers into mutiny —Buhari”.

Hear Buhari, “We investigated and discovered how funds that were penciled down for arms procurement were diverted and shared by government officials who served the last administration. The government at that time sent the soldiers to the battlefield without arms and ammunition to prosecute the war. That was what led some of them to mutiny. They were arrested and detained because of this.”

Did Jonathan procure weapons to fight Boko Haram?

Jonathan said on 27th January 2016, during a programme titled, ‘Focus on Africa’ aired on an international news and current affairs television channel based in Paris, France 24.

When Jonathan was asked to speak in particular on whether he was sure his administration laid the foundation for the fight against the insurgents, Jonathan said, “Of course, you know the new government is working hard and I believe they are still using the equipment we procured.”

Buhari calls Nigerian soldiers impotent; blames US for abetting Boko Haram

Speaking at the United States Institute for Peace (USIP), in July 2015, Buhari blamed the US Leahy Law as “aided and abetted” the campaign of bloodletting by Boko Haram.

His words, “In the face of abduction of innocent school girls from their hostels, indiscriminate bombings of civilians in markets and places of worship, our forces have remained largely impotent because they do not possess the appropriate weapons and technology, which they could have had, had the so-called human rights violations not been an obstacle.

“Unwittingly, and I dare say, unintentionally, the application of the Leahy law amendment by the US government has aided and abetted the Boko Haram terrorist group in the prosecution of its extremist ideology and hate, the indiscriminate killings and maiming of civilians, in raping of women and girls, and in their other heinous crimes.”

Despite having open pity for Boko Haram Buhari still deceives Nigerians

Despite having open pity for Boko Haram members during the Jonathan government, Buhari assured Nigerians that the Multinational Joint Task Force of the Lake Chad Commission would defeat the insurgents by the end of 2015.

He made this pronouncement on August 2 2015, while on a one-day visit to Cotonou in his honour, as the special guest of honour, by the President of Benin Republic, Boni Yayi, at the 55th independence anniversary.

“I assure you that we will defeat Boko Haram by the end of this year,” Buhari said, while commending Yayi for increasing the number of Benin troops to 800 for the MNJTF.

Buhari complicates self

Since Buhari made the statement that his government would defeat the insurgents by the end of 2015, the terrorists have not stopped their dastardly act of destroying lives and property in the affected North-east of the country; and Buhari is not near winning the sect.

On January 31 2016, the overpowered Buhari said Boko Haram terrorists were so fraught to embarrass his government, while at the same time saying in a statement issued by Malam Garba Shehu, his senior special assistant for media and publicity that “the insurgents had suffered immensely from the sustained bombardments of their camps and hide outs by the Nigerian military and had resorted to using desperate measures to gain cheap media attention.”

This is the same Buhari who frowned at Jonathan’s military offensive against the Boko Haram!

While reacting to the wave of suicide bombings in Chibok market, Dalori Internally Displaced Person’s (IDP) camp in Borno State and the Gombi market in Adamawa State, Buhari swaggered that he had bombarded the sect’s camps and sundry; something that the Jonathan government did and Buhari added ethnic colouration to it.

Buhari apparently accepted that he has not defeated Boko Haram by the end of 2015 and he pleaded to Nigerians, saying, “I urge all citizens wherever they live to own the war against terror and to be part of the fight because it is the only way we can finish the remaining work that needs to be done to make our country safe again”.

Buhari’s mendacity continues on Boko Haram

In the earlier statement, Buhari had opined that instead of killing the Boko Haram members, they ought to have been treated fairly and given amnesty.

But in faraway New Delhi, India, for the Third India-Africa Forum Summit, on October 30 2015, Buhari grossly turned away and gave reasons why to crush the insurgents would be better than negotiate with them.

“We want to get them (the 250 kidnapped Chibok girls taken away by the insurgents in 2014) back safe to their parents. But we are not sure of a credible leadership that is prepared to talk yet about Chibok girls,” he told the New Delhi Television (NDTV).

He also told the NDTV that the terrorists are on the retreat, saying, “They are on the retreat. If you go to the front, you will find out that they no longer occupy the areas in the North East they once did.”

Yet, he reiterated, blaming that the “war in Libya was pushing Islamic State fighters into Nigeria, filling the ranks of Boko Haram.”

“A lot of trained people have returned to their bases in Nigeria and are finding their way back to strengthen Boko Haram,” he said.

Buhari was in support of Amnesty for Boko Haram during Jonathan govt

Buhari who is today invariably not in support of amnesty for Boko Haram members was in support of the idea in 2013, during the Jonathan government.

He made this disclosure on April 10 2013, as the CPC presidential candidate, while addressing pressmen in Abeokuta, Ogun State, on his way to Ikenne to pay condolence to the Yeye Odua, Chief (Mrs) HID Awolowo on the death of her son, Chief Oluwole Awolowo.

Buhari who was accompanied by the party’s vice presidential candidate in 2011 election, Pastor Tunde Bakare, the former House of Representatives Speaker, Aminu Bello Masari and CPC National Chairman, Prince Tony Momoh, said that whatever would bring peace to Nigeria must be pursued.

“It is good that they have set up a committee on amnesty. I have not seen the terms of reference, but it is a right step in a right direction. This is not the first time amnesty would be given to a violent group. You remember it happened in the time of Yar’Adua when he gave amnesty to militants, but whatever would bring us peace as a society, we should do it,” Buhari stated.

Conclusion: Buhari’s fight against Boko Haram is suspicious and paper fight

According to a report credited to Reuters on September 8, 2015, “In spite of President Buhari’s reassuring words, a spike in violence by Boko Haram militants in northeast Nigeria has forced almost 800,000 people to flee their homes since June and over 17, 000 lives pummeled and thousands of houses and property destroyed.”

On February 6 2016, during a condolence visit to Dalori village where 65 persons were reportedly killed (weekend before last by the insurgents), Senator Baba Kaka Garbai, senator representing Borno Central in the National Assembly and a member of the All Progressives Congress (APC), told newsmen that Boko Haram still occupies half of Borno of the Northeast, which Buhari had been boastful that the sect had been confined to the Sambisa forest – the terrorists known camp.

“I feel highly demoralised, devastated in the sense that this is the village we visited during the election and they were going about their normal business. The activities that were ongoing were like confidence building.

“They actually got the signal a few days before the attack that the insurgents were likely to attack them, they reported this to the constituted authorities but nothing was done to provide security for residents and their belongings.

“It is very important and more so that this place is porous, so there could be attacks from any direction. It is a wrong assumption that most of the local governments in Borno have been recaptured from Boko Haram.

“In reality, this is not true in the sense… From my count, only three local governments are fully liberated, while 21 local governments remain partially occupied by insurgents – that is, there is still some level of Boko Haram occupation side by side the military or some other constituted authority,” Senator Garbai said.

Odimegwu Onwumere is a Poet/Writer; he writes from Rivers State. (apoet_25@yahoo.com). Tel: +2348057778358.

Nightmare called Enugu/ Port Harcourt Expressway

By Odimegwu Onwumere

It is unmistakably secure to walk through the den of the Islamic sect called Boko Haram than drive on most roads in the South-East and South-South, especially on the Enugu/Port Harcourt Expressway.

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Many motorists have constantly related their bad ordeals while plying the pit-of-hell. Apart from Okigwe and Umuahia, Umuahia and Isiala Ngwa South, and Aba/Imo River Bridge at the boundary with Abia and Rivers States where the Expressway has conspicuously damaged, it is a nightmare travelling on the Expressway along Umuebulu Junction near Oyigbo Local Government Area, Rivers State.

On October 8 2014, this reporter took the picture of a truck carrying goods suspected to be tomatoes and pepper that fell on the road the Federal Government had in 2012 said it had awarded contract for the modernization. The red motor in the picture had its bumper removed by a spot that has worsened at the Umuebulu Junction.

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These are infinitesimal tales of woes by motorists compared to the number of vehicles that get spoilt by the worsened highway per day, whereas the road was supposed to be so relevant. It used to be the economic hub for both the government and individuals to convey their services from one place to another.

One bystander who did not give her name while filing this report said, “It is appalling that this road remains thus considering the fact that President Goodluck Jonathan is from the region where the road is situated.”

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Many wondered if the people of South-South and South-East would vote for Mr. President in 2015 owing to his palpable aborted promise in 2011 that he would rebuild the road if voted into power.

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(Report and Photos by Odimegwu Onwumere, Rivers State. Tel: +2348032552855).