Houses collapse in Nigeria without a gap of time leaving many killed and others with degrees of injuries, and government policies on this are better not imagined let alone hoped on, ODIMEGWU ONWUMERE writes
Building collapse has become a frequent occurrence in Nigeria with authorities paying lip service to arrest the situation. There had never been stringent punitive measures and policies that could spur building engineers and regulatory bodies to wake up from their aged-long slumber. The successive governments in Nigeria are best known for setting up Commission of Inquiry to look into the root cause of the collapse, which dies immediately it’s set up. Statement that could follow such make-believe commission would be, “Federal and state agencies are investigating the cause of the collapse of the building”.
Such lackadaisical policies that the Nigerian Government operates had held it back not to prod into action and demolish a three storey building housing a school, at Itafaji, Lagos Island that was marked for demolition since 2014, till it killed over 20 pupils on March 23 2019, with over 100 trapped. Moved by the tragedy, the Lagos State Building Control Agency (LASBCA), a regulatory body in the state where the incident occurred, stirred to demolish 180 affected buildings around the area. The body barefacedly traded blame that they would not understand why property owners were unconcern to bring down their marked houses, having been served notice to do so, dating back to 2013.
It did not meet the eyes why authorities could not go after such building having found them ineffective. On Monday, March 25 2019, barely two weeks for the bubbles of the collapsed school building to settle, a two-storey edifice collapsed in the middle of the day at the same Lagos Island. Another side to the story was that no one died given that occupants of the building had noticed its junk nature and exited their apartments. This building had also, been marked for demolition by the Lagos State building control agency, few days before it collapsed.
While no death was recorded in the two-storey building collapse, no fewer than 34 people were killed on 8 March 2016, when a five-storey building under construction in Lekki District, Lagos, collapsed. Death was also the fate of 115 people, when a guesthouse that was situated inside the Synagogue Church Of All Nations (SCOAN) property in Ikotun-Egbe, Lagos State, collapsed on 12 September 2014. It was noted that the National Emergency Management Agency (NAMA), supposedly withheld information pertaining to the incident but this singular act, earned them condemnation from the citizens.
Without a doubt, junk houses sprinkle Nigeria but they are majorly in Lagos, the country’s former seat of power. This trend of building collapse started happening like every day event, after the country got its independence from Britain in 1960. Notwithstanding, reports from the authorities suggested that many of the buildings exceeded the number of allowed floors, but property owners connived with corrupt government officials and exceeded approved plan. Some government agencies like the Nigeria Building And Road Research Institute (NBBRI), the Council for the Regulation of Engineering in Nigeria (COREN), and the Building Collapse Prevention Guild (BCPG), had warned against inadequacies in building construction.
Odimegwu Onwumere writes from Rivers State. He founded ooreporters.com
Nigerian political terrain is taking a new dimension with propaganda and lies being hyped by politicians as February elections are on the way.
The purpose for this is to lure electorate to vote their candidates.
There were incidences where one political party cajoled the other for the rationale of marketing their party to the masses and vis-à-vis.
Whereas in marketing, marketers use authentic proof to convince their prospective buyers, this is not the case with politicians.
Politicians advertise their political parties/candidates with the sole aim of selling their idea to the people which invariable is not what is on their mind.
Their type of propaganda is misleading. What is known as political propaganda in the civilised climes is not obtainable in Nigerian politics.
In the civilised world, propaganda is not a blackmail campaign to misinform the electorates. Propaganda is formed through psychology to woo the emotions of the people. And this is done by the use of descriptions, catchphrase and rarely, use of discriminatory statements.
Sadly, the objectivity politicians use propaganda in Nigeria is to hide truth from the governed. The irony is that politicians succeed in this even when a large proportion of the media is not owned by them. Even where few of them own some media houses, they are not solely for the purpose of politics. It calls for sober reflection how they succeed to sell their propaganda.
It is invariably disappointing that politicians use propaganda but can’t sieve rumours from it. Hence, they create negative impression about themselves. They forgot that this is democracy where people were expected to be civil. They rather operate like soldiers in the war-front who use propaganda to invigorate hope in the combatants against their rival.
Since they say that anything in war is fair and just, soldiers can raise flags branding their enemies as children killers or heinous things that are against rule of war. This shouldn’t be of democrats!
This concept of soldiers in the war-front is without a doubt what Nigerian politicians have been towing; behaving like drug galvanized soldiers in war.
Without a doubt, politicians, corporations, non-profits in civilised countries use something very close to propaganda to market their aim, different from the blatant lies that deafen ears that emanate from Nigerian politicians.
It is therefore time that these politicians stopped using propaganda because Nigerians are wiser today. They should understand that derogatory name-calling used in the politics here, instead it would spur the electorates, it brings negative consequences on politicians.
Such a year with Major General Muhammadu Buhari struggling to define governance nearly four years in govt.
Within this period, Nigerians have baked ashes for bread, drank tears for tea. The only thing that keeps majority moving is Faith or Hope. Many are throttling with blind Faith or Hope.
However, I understood that man moves in two directions: Upwards or Downwards. It all depends on choice. Thinking is an individual thing. Therefore, we must move upwards without Buhari and leave him downwards. He is a Discourager.
But my Chi is not a Discourager, as s/he has done it for me by adding another year in my life. My happiness today is that within these years I have stayed on earth, I have seen the bandage of lies in all nooks and crannies falling and Seekers having a field day with conviction, not indoctrination.
Things are now examined objectively and many being cleaned of their mental cobweb planted in them by the very elements and merchants of untruths. Many have awakened to carry a spark of truth, not religious poison of ONLY BELIEVE, DO NOT QUESTION.
I’ve seen men and women surmounting the many years of confusion.
Nevertheless, if there is any new religion that we, Ndigbo, are forming, that religion is Truth. We are advancing spiritually with this, as it was in the days of our forebears, leaving behind fanatics who are best at using ready-made opinions handed them from generation to generation through compulsion, and not conviction.
We must continue to use the ingrained qualities given to us by nature which dogmas have made to lie fallow in many. Let us not turn off the candle of genuine faith we have lit which can only shine through conviction, not compulsion.
My year today is BEYOND RELIGION AND CULTURE. I thank my parents for seeing me through life. My siblings are adored in this treatise as everyone is expected to meet his resurrection day, not in death which has been a sellout lie by religious fanatics, but while alive.
I’m happy today, because my life is a thanksgiving. Yours can as well be only if you can know thyself.
Odimegwu Onwumere’s Birthday message, December 28 2018. Email: email@example.com
“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: firstname.lastname@example.org
Farmers and Fulani herdsmen crises linger as a chief problem to the development of agriculture among local farmers in Nigeria. Odimegwu Onwumere uncovers that as a result of this, hundreds of thousands of lives, billions of Naira worth of property and farm produce are lost to the clashes, and the authorities seem not stoical in applying lasting restrictive measures against the nuisance
“When we talk to the Fulani herdsmen over the gratuitous destruction of our crops by their cows, they would point guns and arrows at us. And this is why we hardly question them in our farms, because we do not want to die.”
Those were the words of Mrs. Nkechinyere Nwosu, the wife of the Ekwu I of Umuekwune-Ohoro, Igbo-Etche, Etche Local Government Area (LGA) of Rivers State, while leading the women of the community in a peaceful protest recently, to the palace of the monarch to register their plight in the hands of Fulani herdsmen and correspondingly call on Governor Nyesom Wike of the State, not to tarry in saving them and their crops.
Known as nomads from the northern part of Nigeria traversing towns and villages in the southern part of the county with their cattle for the purpose of grazing, some school of thoughts were of the scrutiny that the Fulani herdsmen resorted to violence, when rustlers started making a career of rustling their cows. Investigations by this writer, conversely, showed that the incessant reports by the herdsmen to the authorities in the hands of rustlers, which were attended to with wave of the back hand, pushed them to be carrying arms, not minding that illegal possession of arms is outlawed in Nigeria.
According to a source that would prefer to remain anonymous, “The herdsmen have reportedly encountered cattle rustlers as they move from place to place and made complaints to the relevant authorities who fail to investigate the issue, hence their purported reason for carrying arms about.”
The source further tinted, “During their journey, they frequently trespass farmlands owned by locals in their host communities, destroying crops and valuables. Attempts by farmers to prevent them from causing havoc are met with stiff and violent resistance.
“Most times, the farmers are overpowered, injured and killed, while others are evicted from their homes. Sometimes, the herdsmen are accused of taking these opportunities to steal, rape, raze houses and kill innocent members of the communities they pass through.”
Against this backdrop, a former Military Head of State, Abdulsalami Abubakar, at a forum organised by Search for Common Ground, Nigeria, in collaboration with Abdulsalami Abubakar Institute for Peace and Sustainable Development on October 30, 2017, said that Nigeria loses 13.7 billion dollars annually as a result of farmers-herdsmen conflicts in Benue, Kaduna, Nassarawa and Plateau States.
Farmers And Their Ordeals
While some women and men farmers who have encountered Fulani herdsmen in Igbo-Etche have stories of alleged rape, killing, destruction of their crops meted out to them to tell, the senator representing Nasarawa West Constituency in the National Assembly, Senator Abdullahi Adamu equally noted in a public presentation, saying that disputes between famers and herdsmen typically arise from disagreement over the use of possessions such as farmland, grazing areas and water.
A former Secretary to the Government of the Federation (SGF), Chief Olu Falae experienced this “disagreement over the use of possessions” when he was abducted by some Fulani herdsmen during his 77th Birthday on September 21, 2015, at his Ilado farm in Akure North Local Government Area of Ondo State. Sources said that until the conviction of the abductors in April 2017 in the persons of Abubakar Auta, Bello Jannu, Umaru Ibrahim, Masahudu Muhammed, Idris Lawal and two others, Falae was released after paying N5m ransom four days after his abduction. Farmers in Igbo-Etche nonetheless believe that the herdsmen have ulterior motive, because they prefer their cows feeding on crops than grass. This, however, has led to incessant complaints by the villagers.
Cry Of Farmers Across The Country
Across the country, farmers have been lamenting the deadly stumbles-upon with Fulani herdsmen in their farms. Many of the farmers weep about the sorrowful attacks the Fulani herdsmen have made as a career against them.
For example, in Ogun and Oyo communities, especially in Yewa North Local Government Area of Ogun State, there has been heightened tension for over 12 years, when herdsmen numbering nearly one thousand started using the Eggua boundary every December to April for grazing.
In most cases, the herdsmen authoritatively venture into homes of their host communities and open the barns to feed the cows with maize, yam, cassava and others found in the barns. Like the women of Igbo-Etche, if the inhabitants of Ogun and Oyo communities ask questions, the herdsmen would pull out their guns and cause troubles.
School Farms Not Left Out
Then-again, just in September 2017, the Vice Chancellor, Adekunle Ajasin University, Akungba Akoko, Ondo State, Prof. Igbekele Ajibefun lamented what he described as illegal moves by the Fulani herdsmen in grazing their cattle in the institution’s farm sites.
Ajibefun disclosed this while speaking at a security forum organized by the “Ondo State Police Command to interact with stakeholders including security agencies, heads of institutions, royal fathers, religious leaders, artisans, students, farmers, cattle rearers, hunters and other concerned persons and groups, in Akoko South West Local Government area of the State.”
In his words, “We are aware that the issue of security is very complex. And because we don’t want to make it more complex, we have been trying to manage our experience with Fulani herdsmen each time they intrude on our campus.
“It is a very bad situation the way they invade our farm and destroy the place. I would like to appeal to our security agencies to come to the aid of the university by finding a lasting solution to the problem.”
Heads Roll For Cows To Feed
Reason for this is not farfetched: In some views, the Fulani herdsmen when interviewed have said that they’d no option than making sure that their cows feed.
The outcome of this is in the statistics provided by the Institute for Economics and Peace, saying, “1,229 people were killed in 2014, up from 63 in 2013 and Benue State seems to be the hardest hit in the farmers and Fulani herdsmen conflicts in recent times.
“Barely five days to the end of Governor Gabriel Suswam’s administration in May 2015, over 100 farmers and their family members were reportedly massacred in villages and refugee camps located in the Ukura, Per, Gafa and Tse-Gusa local government areas of the state.”
It was further noted that in July 2015, “Suspected herdsmen attacked Adeke, a community on the outskirts of the state capital, Makurdi. Last December, six persons were killed at Idele village in the Oju local government area. A reprisal attack by youths in the community saw three Fulani herdsmen killed and beheaded.”
Counting Of Damages Continues
In some localities like Asa, Agon-Ojodun, Ayetoro, Ogunpa, Kodera and Igbonla, the locals said that they have been sacked in many occasions by the herdsmen when they resisted them feeding their cows with their farm produce.
From Ayete, a lethargic town in Ibarapa North Local Government Area, Oyo State, to the 10 local government areas in Oke-Ogun, the story is the same. In many occasions, the authorities’ interventions have yielded little or no result.
The House of Representatives had encouraged all stakeholders to an open hearing in order to tackle what it once illustrated as “incessant clashes between herdsmen, farmers and their host communities’’.
However, explorations revealed that just in February 2016, “40 more people were killed (as a result of a clash between herdsmen and farmers in Benue State); about 2,000 were displaced and not less than 100 were seriously injured.”
The source added, “Most recently, more than 92 Nigerians were massacred by suspected Fulani herdsmen in Benue and Niger states. Also, before this time, there have been reported attacks by the Fulani Herdsmen in southern states of the country, including Enugu, Ekiti and Ondo States.”
Calling Herdsmen To Leave
There is a belief that some farmers in some communities across the country have said that they do not want the herdsmen in their communities. This, though, has generated some rebuttals suggesting that since every Nigerian has a right to reside in any part of the country without prejudice, the call against Fulani herdsmen is uncalled for.
According to a source that would not want the name mentioned, “The solution is not for the herdsmen to leave the communities. There are a lot of political intrigues attached to the development and some people create mischief out of it.”
The source enthused that some elements want to create an impression that the clashes between herdsmen and farmers are prevalent in the present administration forgetting that from time immemorial, before democracy, herdsmen and farmers have been fighting.
Among All Odds
Some communities and their traditional rulers are not sleeping on their oars in making sure that agriculture is boosted in the country, no matter the over $13.7b that have been reported lost to farmers and herdsmen conflicts yearly.
The Otaru of Auchi, Alhaji Aliru H. Momoh, Etsako West Local Government Area of Edo, even with the fears of farmers and herdsmen clashes, braced up on Sunday, June 18 2017, to advise all the 25 village heads in the kingdom to influence their wards, to embrace farming. In the highlight of this, Momoh motivated that his traditional council had donated 5,000 hectares of land: Being their support to the federal government agricultural project, in order to revolutionise agriculture.
According to the monarch, “We have allocated some hectares of land to the Federal Government for the planting of cashew, cassava, maize and groundnut, and we are expecting them to come and inspect the land.’’
Checks revealed that over 200 women have been encouraged in Auchi to go back to agriculture in the tone of N5 million. According to Momoh, “Because of the Fulani herdsmen issue, we gave out some money to farmers to ease them of the threat of Fulani herdsmen who threaten them in the farm.”
In making sure that the stalemate between farmers and herdsmen are resolved across the country, the Minister of Agriculture and Rural Development Audu Ogbeh had assured that some States, which included Plateau, Kaduna, Kano, Gombe, Katsina, Taraba, Niger, Adamawa, Jigawa, Sokoto and the FCT, among others, had provided hectares of land for the business of ranches to control clashes between farmers and herdsmen in their States.
According to the Honourable Minister, “The way forward is to strive to attain self-sufficiency in animal protein by checking constant exposure of our cows to long distance trekking in search of pasture which affects their productivity.
“This administration has therefore set out to establish ranches to be planted with high quality improved tropical grass and legume species. We shall provide irrigation for all year commercial fodder production to enhance settlement of pastoralist and ensure cattle, sheep and goat improvement through an expanded breeding programme that would use artificial insemination.’’
But Dr Mohammed Ahmed, a former Chief Executive Officer of the National Veterinary Research Institute, Vom, Plateau, was afraid that a typical Fulani herdsman wouldn’t accept the initiative.
According to him, “Ranches are capital intensive; government must ensure that there is enough water and all-year-round grass for grazing. The herdsmen must also be encouraged to cut grass in the rainy season and store same for use during the dry season in addition to being educated on how to manage limited space.
“I am not sure that the typical Fulani man in Nigeria will happily embrace a ranch, but with the current realities, settling them in one place is the best way out, especially if they can have what they want where they are settled.’’
While government has taken a move for ranches, Alhaji Sale Bayeri, the spokesman of Miyetti Allah Cattle Breeders’ Association of Nigeria (MACBAN) in Plateau, the sunshade body of the Fulani herdsmen, said, “The herdsmen will not accept ranches; we shall prefer to explore our traditional grazing routes/reserves.”
That was contained in a media chat last year with MACBAN’s National Legal Adviser, Mohammed Bello Tukur, saying, “stakeholders should rather demarcate routes and cattle resting points with support from technical and financial partners.”
According to the source, “MACBAN rejects the setting up of ranches and supports the establishment of grazing reserves; we want government to create a ministry of livestock development to ease the establishment of the reserves.’’
Local Farmers Must Be Included In Ranches
Some farmers nevertheless said that if government wants the scheme to succeed, local farmers must be included.
In the views of Sen. Jerry Useini representing Plateau South, “We just woke up and heard that cattle ranches will be established in parts of Plateau. Such decision cannot be popular because no one was consulted and neither was any wide enlightenment carried out.’’
This was even as Governor Simon Lalong of Plateau said, “No human policy or plan can be perfect, but we want those with reservations about the ranches to suggest something better. It is not enough to just oppose what is being worked out since what we are doing is in the interest of peace.’’
According to Mr. Timothy Golu representing Pankshin/Kanke/Kanam in the House of Representatives, “Ranches are far better than grazing reserves if we are to check incessant clashes between farmers and herdsmen, but we must be able to listen to what the ordinary farmers feel about what is being worked out.
“We must carry the farmers and traditional rulers along in carving out the affected areas. We must carefully work out and ensure payment of compensations; otherwise we shall only be breeding another recipe for even worse crises.”
Against this influence, the Minister of Interior, retired Lt.-Gen. Abdulrahman Dambazau was of the view that herdsmen and farmers’ gridlocks are a threat to national peace.
According to him, “The effect of this conflict has been loss of life, dislocation of people and communities and the disruption of socio economic activity. Even more importantly, it is a threat to the integrity and peaceful co-existence of the Nigerian state. The objective, therefore, is to identify any laws and regulations that impact on the conflict; this will in turn inform the design of a definitive policy intervention.”
On the contrary, the authorities have done little or nothing to arrest the farmers and herdsmen standoffs. Once more, the standoffs have infused fears into the women and men farmers in the areas to attend to their farms, thereby causing a setback to their agricultural productivities. This is due to unyielding peace agreements that some states have signed in respect to farmers and Fulani herdsmen conflicts. There’re also the rejected cattle ranches proposed by the Major General Muhammadu Buhari government.
However, for Governor Samuel Ortom of Benue, “The ranches remain the generally acceptable practice and will serve as the permanent solution to the unending clashes between the herdsmen and farmers.’’
I was youthful when the military took over the political affairs in Nigeria on December 31, 1983, lasting till 1998. Killing of civilians and hounding of activists that were opposed to the whims and caprices of the military, were the first impression that I had about politics, likewise many of my ilk. Nothing more!
Many Nigerians fled the country for their dear lives. I saw a country that was moving backward, yet preaching to us pubescent as the leaders of tomorrow. I saw radical elders who did not blink before their wards in showcasing their political impoliteness, whereas young people were involving in political conflicts.
Some sane minds were afraid that we the youth then were erroneously influenced; saying that what influences a person build up his or her future. Those in this line of thought were worried that we the youth were learning radicalism from the military and there might not be respectability and rule of law in the country, even if the much touted democracy was finally achieved.
Upon democracy in 1999, I’m among the many Nigerian adults today that are asking for who destroyed the country economically, socially and politically, especially between 1999 and 2016 that we attained democracy. I’m among the adults who are dropping patriotism to question reality: The country has not moved forward from where the military left it.
The writer in me has propelled me to ask many questions in my articles pertaining to mis-governance in our country, but the answers I have gotten are not what we collectively bargained. One may think that our country is Iraq in 2002. I see cynics everywhere, not by their making, but the hardship in the country has caused some persons’ neurons. People are going gaga. Most times, I have to go miles to charge my phone with electricity generating sets in the houses of those who can afford buying fuel at the exorbitant price of N145 a litre. Electricity supply in the country is seen by the authorities as luxury, not a necessity. No one is talking about government water. The roads are sorry tales.
I’m aghast that scarcity of fuel, kerosene and diesel is endemic in a country that is characterized among the 10 producers of crude oil in the world. Police are on their part collecting tips on the road, transport fare is on the increase, people are being sacked from their jobs everyday and there are no job opportunities in sight. The present government that promised change during its party’s electioneering campaigns in 2015 and was embraced by Nigerians in the Diaspora as well as the international community, is giving excuses like governments before it, why it cannot reform and transform Nigeria over two years it mounted the saddle of leadership.
The resultant of this is the hunger I see written on people’s faces in the name of democracy, more than it was in the military era. Functional education, hospital, road, and every dividends of democracy are all mirage. Yet, politicians are joining politics everyday to make money. Service to the people is not in their agenda.
There is insecurity everywhere. One wakes up every morning to note from news some hundreds of innocent people that have been killed either by insurgents that have taken killing as an occupation in the northern part of the country or Fulani herdsmen from the north massacring numbers in the south for the purpose that their cows must graze in the south. Kidnapping is rife and issues of judiciary and corruption are on the increase.
These heinous acts without doubt are the extension of what we learned from the military and today, our leadership (as leaders of tomorrow then) is not in moving the country forward, but in extending what we learned from the military that has left us poor.
The Federal Government is recently, politically proposing a grazing bill in all the 36 states of the federation for northern cattle owners. But the southerners are objecting the agenda. They are saying that they do not see how that will translate to national development, but owners of the cows who are supposed to man how their cows are fed.
Against this backdrop, politics has made some of our people who returned from overseas to feel that they are ‘repatriates’ or tourists, because of the sordid conditions they left many years ago, have not been solved when they returned, many years after.
Every year, we clamour for change. But change has remained elusive, not minding that the project of our country should be taken seriously. The economic system is down and citizens are scampering for safety without hope.
Observers say that more than 70 per cent of the citizens are very poor. Just on July 17 2016, the Deputy President Yemi Osibanjo affirmed this in the national broadsheets, saying that 110 million Nigerians are poor; whereas the population of the country was estimated at 170 million. Imagine!
Like many of my ilk today, who were not born in 1960 when Nigeria got her independence from the British colonialists, everything is moving backward 55 years after. Our country has not learned from the woes of the past. It keeps taking backward movement and repeating the same old things that have not made us develop like the so-called developed countries of America and Britain.
A large population of our countrymen and women believe that the country has been backward due to the charlatanic approach of the political class. Against this influence, I’m thinking if there is a correlation between politics and corruption. Everyone is saying that our political elites are severely corrupt and pay just lip service to national issues that should matter.
It was politics, like in our country, that compelled the Arab Spring of 2011 that saw to the ouster of Libyan revolutionary, politician, and political theorist Muammar Muhammad Abu Minyar al-Gaddafi, commonly known as Colonel Gaddafi.
Our leaders are yet to learn from the political conflict of the Middle East in late 2010. From Tunisia, it spread all over the region in 2011, all-through Egypt, Bahrain, Yemen, Libya and Syria.
Born June 7, 1942, al-Gaddafi was politically killed on October 20, 2011. It was the same politics that saw to the death of the fifth President of Iraq, Saddam Hussein Abd al-Majid al-Tikriti. What killed al-Gaddafi was what I saw in 1990s when youth-spawned political upheaval brushed the former Soviet coalition like East Germany, Georgia, Lithuania, Kyrgyzstan, and Serbia.
Across the world, politics has destroyed many conditions that include social ecology, basic resources, social networks, safety and security. Hussein was killed by a kangaroo judgment on December 30, 2006. Born on April 28, 1937, he served in his ability from 16 July 1979 until 9 April 2003.
We saw Bosnia in the 1990s, when young people did not understand the political situation around them and that borne emotional and shared scars of ill-treatment. The youths moved for violent struggles for the social good.
That was coming after the Palestinian first intifada of the late 1980s and early 1990s. In Syria, this is the fifth year that youths have engaged in politically-motivated war, ignited by a display of foreign intrusions on the side of government and Free Syrian Army.
More than 300,000 people have been killed and millions driven from their homes in this war regarded today as the world’s bloodiest civil war. Look at the ruins created by politics in Sudan. I still remember the Nimery’s notorious September Laws in 1983, which ushered in Sudan’s route headed for Sharia Law and the equally villainous Article 152 that bullies pants-wearing females with whips amid prejudiced sentences and shrewdness.
There is politically-motivated madness in our country and this has made a lot of people to mind their businesses and, they are naive. We have been experiencing crackdowns on opposition political parties and their members.
The authorities think that the laws they enact would shape our lives, but while we most often embrace social path and decorum, the authorities don’t. Today, liberals in the Americas are calling for political fairness, while the conservatives wink. Our backwardness as Nigerians would have been averted if politicians think that politics is related to the entire masses, not only to them. Politics is life.
Imagine where government decisions that were supposed to affect the generality of the people just affect only a few opportunists. Politicians have turned politics to where people take their destinies into their hands.
Nevertheless, no matter the shoddy sides of politics to people, the world will still have Martin Luther King Jrs., who will take a position that is neither safe, nor politic, nor popular, to challenge the atrocities of politicians against their people, because conscience, not politics, tells them it is right.
We will continue to have Theodore Roosevelts, who will tell the world that in politics, it is not oppositions that count, but those unsung heroes who fight, whose faces are marred by dust and sweat and blood; who strive valiantly; who err, who come short again and again, because there is no effort without error and shortcoming; but who do actually strive to do the deeds; who know great enthusiasms, the great devotions; who spend themselves in a worthy cause; who at the best know in the end the triumph of high achievement, and who at the worst, if they fail, at least fail while daring greatly, so that their place shall never be with those cold and timid souls who neither know victory nor defeat.
Odimegwu Onwumere writes from Rivers State. Tel: +2348032552855. Email: email@example.com
In this report, Odimegwu Onwumere writes that meningitis and other vaccine-avertable diseases have become somewhat a recurring decimal in Nigeria and in some countries of sub-Saharan Africa that include Senegal, Niger, Chad, Benin, Mali, Burkina Faso which make-up ‘Meningitis Belt’ due to poor innovative approach to delivery of vaccines
By April 17 2017, Nigeria lost about 800 lives and had 8,000 cases of Cerebro Spinal Meningitis, CSM, in six states of Katsina, Kebbi, Zamfara, Niger, Sokoto and Yobe due to embarrassing vaccine approach, informed the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN). Since 1996, there are data showing that meningitis and other vaccine-avertable diseases have killed thousands of people in Nigeria and by extension, in some sub-Saharan African countries of Senegal, Niger, Chad, Benin, Mali, Burkina Faso which make-up ‘Meningitis Belt’ due to poor delivery of vaccines.
Checks reveal that no fewer than 11,000 people were killed by meningitis alone in Nigeria in 1996 and by 2009, 600 people died. Like a recurring decimal, this dangerous disease that science says is “caused by viral or bacterial infection, and marked by intense headache and fever, sensitivity to light, and muscular rigidity and most affected age group is 5-14 years of age” impinged on approximately 10,000 people in 2015, and exterminated over 1,000 people in Nigeria.
The world is embarrassed by the outdated vaccine delivery systems in the country, because Nigeria prefers to buy vaccines from the international market instead of set up vaccines manufacturing plants for local consummations. The highlight of this is that records show that Nigeria only delivered (1.3m vaccine doses for a country that has a population of over 180m people) during the recent impasse. These vaccines, according to media reports, about 800,000 doses were mostly ordered from United Kingdom. Yet, according to Dr. Seth Berkley, CEO of Gavi, the Vaccine Alliance, “Too many children still lack access to lifesaving vaccines because of outdated and inefficient supply chains.”
Dr. Berkley was of the belief, saying, “There is need to drive change and deliver comprehensive improvements now, countries won’t have the systems in place to protect the next generation of children, particularly the most vulnerable.”
The Nigerian Medical Association (NMA) was caught up in vaccines and immunisation ruckuses in July 2013. The then President of the association, Dr. Osahon Enabulele frowned that the Federal Government (FG) failed to curtail the sprinting of hepatitis in the country due to its overdependence on foreign delivery of vaccines. At the occasion of the 2013 World Hepatitis Day, Enabulele said, “Hepatitis virus A, B, C, D and E were accountable for the millions of death in the country, because they caused sensitive and unremitting infections and inflammation of the liver, the government did not bellyache.”
If the country had been vaccines conscious, these deaths could not have occurred. In the light of this, the World Health Organization (WHO) in one of its reports, held, “Vaccines prevent an estimated 2 to 3 million deaths every year, but an additional 1.5 million deaths could be avoided if global immunisation coverage improves.”
The international body supposed that in 2015, an estimated 19.4 million infants worldwide did not receive routine immunisations. What that suggests is that Nigeria, which includes the countries of the world, is awful in the way she sees to vaccines and how they are handled. The hullabaloo is that this oil rich country prefers to order vaccines from the Americas and Europe during outbreaks, whereas in the advanced world, such methodology of delivery of vaccines has been regarded as outdated and compromising that put the lives of people in danger.
The argument is that health and immunisation are not regarded with the attention they needed in Nigeria. According to news, “President Muhammadu Buhari submitted a budget of eight billion naira for the funding of routine immunisation and polio eradication. But the budget that came back from the National Assembly was cut by about 50 per cent. There is need for the legislature to understand the intricacies of immunisation financing and support fulfillment of the government of Nigeria’s commitment to sustainable immunisation at all levels.”
Dr. Aminu Magashi-Garba, Lead Project Director of the Routine Immunisation Sector of the Partnership for Advocacy in Child and Family, who is also Coordinator of the Africa Health Budget Network was befuddled in the above commentary on April 22 2016 in Lagos, when he succinctly declared that the budgetary allocation for routine immunisation including eradication of poliomyelitis was slashed by the National Assembly during its review and passage of the 2016 budget. This could have formed the view by Dr. Matshidiso Moeti, the WHO regional director for Africa.
Dr. Moeti said, “We must act to close the global immunisation gap. Achieving the Global Vaccine Action Plan goal of universal access to immunization by 2020 would benefit the health of millions of Africans.” This is given that pundits have said that the best ways to save lives of children, condense cost of healthcare and give the children the prospect to live up to their aptitude is through immunisation.
But according to Magashi-Garba, the cut in the budget meant, “We are going to have shortage of vaccine procurement this year and early next year if enough funds are not available for the vaccines to be procured completely. This also poses a problem because the funding was tied to two international commitments and it will also create a serious challenge in the sector in ensuring that all eligible children are immunised.”
Unlike Nigeria, most countries are “implementing changes and adopting new technologies like solar ‘direct drive’ refrigerators and redesigning delivery systems.” Against this influence, Steve Davis, president and CEO of PATH, sounded in the following comments as if he had Nigeria at heart, “There are too many places in the world where vaccines are still not reaching the people who need them most. We need to apply the same ambitious investments to vaccine delivery as we apply to vaccine development.”
In the advanced world, the innovative approaches are being put in place to help augment vaccine ease-of-use and publicity. But Nigeria is still gasping for the air on where to source for vaccines during emergencies. Hear Dr. Robin Nandy, principal advisor and chief of immunisation at UNICEF, “Expanding the use of freeze alarms and rigorous temperature monitoring is critical to ensuring that all children have access to potent, lifesaving vaccines. In the long-term, we must work toward the development of products that can better withstand temperature variations.”
However, the WHO has been concerned that 1.5 million children that include Nigerians who are yet to receive life-saving vaccines they need, do not have access. Hence, April each year is mapped out by the international body to create this attention. But on May 25 2017, at an award ceremony on health innovation given to Alma Sana, a non-governmental organisation (NGO) at the Transcorp Hilton Hotel, Abuja, the NGO introduced a bracelet that was launched by Glaxosmithkline.
The bracelet was said to be worn on the leg or wrist of infants to remind mothers the type of vaccines they have given their children and the time they need new vaccines. While speaking at the rite, wife of the Senate President and founder of Wellbeing Foundation Africa, Toyin Saraki, believed, “We need to work towards adapting a vaccine dependable Nigeria. One of the problems faced with vaccinations is most mothers forget to take their children for immunisation and this bracelet is supposed to help tackle that issue since the bracelet will be on the child from first vaccination till the age of one.”
While the bracelet is believed to “deal with the problem of timeliness, completion of vaccine doses and that of wider coverage to know the extent immunization has been covered in a locality.” According to Dr. Jean Marie Okwo-Bele, director of WHO Department of Immunization, Vaccines, and Biologicals, in commenting on a study, “For too many countries, it is nearly impossible to collect and harness data to forecast vaccine requirements and deliver vaccines when and where they’re needed. But there are innovations such as electronic data systems that are being piloted and scaled up in developing countries that could and should be more widely adopted.”
Last year, Dr. Orin Levine, the director of vaccine delivery at the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation suggested four innovative ways of vaccines delivery during the world vaccine week. Inter alia, Dr. Levine said that first, for vaccines to be safe and effective; they need to be kept cold, hence the invention of Sure Chill refrigerator, which is said to be using “hydro and solar power to keep vaccines cold for days without energy and are being used in more than 30 countries and have become an important tool in humanitarian response efforts when distributing vaccines for cholera or measles can be especially critical.”
In spite of this, Dr. Levine added, “Immunisation is one of our biggest public health success stories, but safe, effective vaccines don’t deliver themselves. With consistent, visible support from national and local leaders, every community can have 21st Century systems that reliably deliver lifesaving vaccines to everyone who needs them.”
Odimegwu Onwumere is an award-winning journalist based in Rivers State, Nigeria. He contributed this piece via: firstname.lastname@example.org