Different write-ups attract different readers. While some people prefer light-hearted articles that relax the mind, other persons that are often described as ‘serious’ readers are hardly interested in storylines. Rather, they want the point to be quickly but logically made. What such persons tend to overlook however, is the ease with which stories enhance the quality and opinions being made by writers. Indeed, stories can help readers to easily comprehend the issues in focus in a write-up. This is why today’s article is softened with a few stories on prosperity and vanity.
Democracy is acclaimed worldwide as the best form of government but its features appear rather easy to bastardize. In a democracy, power is said to belong to the people and that they exercise it through a government that is made up of a group of persons selected by the people.
Last month, Joe my cousin, who is always frightened of the Military called me on phone to warn me never again to offend, in his words, “dangerous persons and institutions like the Army”. His call came one day after I delivered a rather combative paper at a military conference in Lagos. He sternly asked me: what do you know about security that makes you think you can publicly criticize the Army? While agreeing that I know just a little about warfare, I opined that professionalism in military operations is a different subject from public perception of what the Army does or chooses not to do.
The July 14, 2012 Governorship elections in Edo State, were reportedly overwhelmingly won by the incumbent Governor, Comrade Adams Oshiomhole. According to the election results, the Governor won in all the 18 Local Government Areas of the State.
There are 2 main enviable professions in Nigeria – Law and Medicine. It is only a lawyer for instance, that can serve as Attorney General and Minister of Justice. The same is true of the position of Commissioner for Justice in a State. However, lawyers can be Ministers and Commissioners of other sectors – Education, Foreign Affairs and Commerce etc.
One question which a committee I once belonged to could not find an answer for was why every Chairman of our electoral bodies of old was always booted out of office. For example, Professor Eme Awa who was appointed to Chair the Commission in 1987 was holding a crucial meeting with electoral commissioners when a radio announcement removed him from office barely a year later.
Until a few months ago, the topical issue in my State – Edo – usually centred on the beautification of major towns in the State. The story-line appears to have changed as a new topic has since taken over. These days, the matter of the moment is the directive of the State Government to teachers to produce their primary school certificates.
In the last one month, I have been far more excited about being a citizen of Nigeria than before. Thanks to President Goodluck Jonathan who is set to organize the building of one model city in the country. According to the President, the new city will be better than Abuja and it will not experience power outages. It is this announcement that has lifted my spirit high.
When a Nigerian University bestows honorary degrees on certain persons, the recipients need not meet any academic requirement. Some of them may be elementary school drop-outs or tradesmen like carpenters, sometimes described as ‘furniture makers’.
On Monday February 18, 2013,the federal Ministry of Water Resources organized a Presidential Summit in Abuja. The event was well attended as it attracted the nation’s number one citizen and a host of other dignitaries described on the occasion as stakeholders.
On Monday February 25, 2013, some students of the Nasarawa State University, Keffi were killed by armed men suspected to be soldiers. The dead were some Nigerians including students who were on a public demonstration against continued lack of water in the town. No one knows how many people actually died.
The last time I spoke with my brother, Joe on phone, he wondered how my weekly column is always able to follow with ease, the ‘goings-on’ in Nigeria when I am hardly in the country these days. What my brother did not immediately appreciate is that people abroad do not need to spend too much time searching for Nigerian events or indeed what the details are. A few minutes of “browsing” will expose the typical issues and because Nigerian matters take the same pattern all the time, any analyst can easily fill in whatever gaps there are.
The issue of the moment in our clime is obviously the coming together of opposition political parties to wrestle power from the dominant ruling party- the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP). The activities of the opposition in this respect have been many and perhaps exceedingly loud.
The inability of government to persuade the people to embrace its policies is not new in Nigeria. During the Babangida days, the then Minister of Information, Prince Tony Momoh thought he could redress the situation through what became known as ‘letter to my countrymen’- a write-up by the Minister to his fellow citizens to change their perception of government.
One vital aspect of Nigeria’s public affairs that is not transparently part of the transformation agenda of government is health care delivery. No one in authority appears to be genuinely interested in it. Indeed, not much happens even in the basic area of primary health care because the local government councils to which the subject is assigned merely pocket the little that their state governors allow them to have of their monthly allocations.
In 1999, the military organized an election for the return of democracy to Nigeria. Whether the election was free and fair did not quite matter because everyone, having become tired of dictatorship, accepted its outcome so as to prevent the military from finding an excuse to stay-put in the political terrain.
Last week, the Chairman of the Senate Committee on Federal Character and Inter-governmental Affairs, Senator Dahiru Kuta publicly asserted that civil service jobs in Nigeria now go to those who can bribe their way through. Senator Kuta named 3 federal bodies involved in the reprehensible act.
Many years to come, Nigerians would come across many things in honour of one of their predecessors -Andrew Owoye Azazi- a citizen who served in the Nigerian Army and like some others rose to the pinnacle of his career. If Nkpogu Road in Port Harcourt ends up a dualized road and not like some of our other roads where construction works go on without end, future Nigerians would wonder how it became Azazi Road.
On Friday December 28, 2012, the Kogi State Governor, Captain Idris Wada was seriously injured in an auto crash. The accident reportedly occurred at Emi Woro village in Ajaokuta Local Government Area of the state when one of the tyres of the governor’s official car, unexpectedly burst in motion. Wada’s aide-de-camp (ADC), Idris Muhammed, an Assistant Superintendent of Police (ASP), lost his life in the crash.
Early in the year, this columnist and 5 of his friends set out to determine the best of our 36 Governors in year 2012. Each of us was to follow the activities of 6 Governors. The assignment ended a few days ago with a few complexities. First, we found a common public feeling that to describe any Governor as the best for the year would not be well received.
In a typical Nigerian State, whatever the Governor says is law. “His Excellency has said” is sufficient to get everyone from Deputy Governor to the lowest paid civil servant in the State to perform a particular act no matter how irrational the act may be. The same is true of the President at the national level. This aspect of sycophancy used to occur more among public officers who are anxious to either retain their positions or to attract more favours.
In November 2009, the Nigerian Senate, speaking through Senator Ayogu Eze, suggested that most of the projects earmarked in the budget were not implemented “because Civil Servants in Ministries, Departments and Agencies (MDAs) lack the capacity to implement the budgets and appropriations they ask for every year”.
One of the reasons why so much goes wrong in our public offices is because a public officer can hardly disagree with a person in authority let alone to challenge the ‘high-ups’ on any wrong doing. As a result, Nigerian authorities are often told not what is on ground but what they want to hear or what would please them.
Section 147(1) of the 1999 Constitution of Nigeria provides for the appointment of Federal Ministers while Section 192(1) does same for the appointment of State Commissioners. The objective is to enable the Head of the Executive branch of government to appoint some citizens to assist him in the onerous task of governance.
In December 2011, the Kaduna State Commissioner for Information and Home Affairs, Saidu Adamu, allegedly disclosed to the National Daily in Kaduna that more than 18,000 teachers in the State who possessed fake certificates had been sacked.
It is no longer news that Barrack Obama is back to the White House for his second term as President of the United States of America. His eventful first term no doubt paved the way for the feat. In earnest, the man’s vision, passion and general demeanour present him as a person who can win an election any day.
One of the topical issues of the previous week was the refusal of Justice Mariam Aloma-Mukhtar, the Chief Justice of Nigeria (CJN) to swear-in one of the newly appointed Justices of the Court of Appeal. The CJN reportedly based her decision on a petition alleging that the Judge concerned, Justice Jumbo-Ofo did not deserve the appointment on the grounds of State of origin. Many commentators especially politicians have loudly and publicly chastised the CJN for the decision. I disagree with them and commend the CJN for living up to her hard earned reputation.
Today’s article was originally intended for publication last week but was for sensitivity sake, shelved because of the plane crash involving Governor Danbaba Suntai of Taraba State. Thank God the Governor and his entire entourage survived and are now receiving medical attention. But is it not too early now to put up the same article?
Each time Nigerians grumble over the failure of successive governments to provide them with electricity, government officials are quick at pointing out that Nigerians are impatient adding that ours is a nation seeking to enjoy within a few years in existence what the developed countries got after hundreds of years.