In an age in which a number of states in the federation are building and maintaining their airports, including “poor Jigawa” why does the former Vice President think that building airports in states that have no airports is the right thing to do? I vehemently disagree. Instead, the Atiku team should privatise or sell off all airports in Nigeria except four to interested parties with the states where there are located having the first right of refusal.
The four are Lagos, Abuja, Port Harcourt and Kano airports, which should be modernised, and technology driven. You cannot see and behold the airports in Singapore, Paris (the modernised Charles d Gaulle airport) or the new Turkish airport in Istanbul and not wish one of such for your country. I also think that decentralising the management of the ports and leaving NPA as a regulating organ is the way to go or think in an age of restructuring and decentralisation.
There is no section I find as confusing as that of the Niger Delta, more because of the confusion in the document. In one breath, the document speaks of relocating the Niger Delta Ministry to the region so that it could be closer to stakeholders and in another breath contemplates merging the ministry with the NDDC. I do not think any of these and the “firm commitment to implementing the Niger Delta master-plan” are the real answers to the motley collection of problems facing the Niger Delta especially the South-South, but the document would appear to reinforce not just the general attitude towards the Niger Delta but the lack of or general refusal of Nigerians to understand the problems of the region.
Since the 1940/50s the region, which over the years has become the cash cow of the nation has been demanding for fairness and development. Let me make it as simply as I can, if successive Federal Governments had completed the NLGNs, including the Brass NLGN, built dual carriage freeways linking all the states of the Niger Delta region, developed about four seaports, built or engineered the building of more oil and gas facilities or infrastructure, encourage agriculture and education, the narratives of the region and the nation would have been different.
The region by now would be growing like Lagos. The Atiku team may therefore wish to rethink its strategy on the Niger Delta as I am confident that the commitment to incentivizing those interested in building modular refineries in the north to process crude oil from the Republics of Niger and Chad while there is no such firm commitment for the Niger Delta where there is abundance of oil and gas could be a source of potential disagreement and anger in the Niger Delta. Frankly, I see no difference between this and what the APC Buhari administration has been trying to do for three years with no remarkable success.
Oh, by the way if the focus is to make the NDDC effective, efficient and accountable, then stop appointing politicians as managing directors or as board members as they all see the NDDC as stepping stones to state mansions or to the National Assembly. The Atiku team may wish to ask for the document on the Niger Delta Energy Corridor, designed to host all oil and gas installations and runs from Calabar to Lagos. There is also the Lagos- Calabar railway which has been on the rail master plan which has been deliberately neglected. Just do a few of these and see how the region would respond.
Going through the whole document, you experience the same concerns indicating that more work is still required if the dream is to be realised. In a country where it is reported that over 60% of academic work by both lecturers and students is plagiarized, where facilities are poor, classrooms overcrowded, the quality of staff is low or poor, products of the universities unemployable and where among other problems, public universities have become graveyards of uncompleted or abandoned projects and unable to attract expatriate lecturers, that not enough attention was paid to our universities.
There is so much to be done to achieve the dream of quality education where our situation is precarious nor to health, which is becoming increasingly expensive and public health institutions decrepit. Our education and health sectors would benefit from some extensive reforms but special attention should be paid to the training and retaining of teachers at all levels and health workers to acquire modern skills and competences. Our nurses if you have been to some hospitals of recent have lost the caring touch of Florence Nightingale, the founder of modern nursing.
Any reform of the public service must also take into consideration why previous reforms failed. The new set of reformists must learn to be humble and not run down or talk down on civil servants to promote themselves. Above all, they should know that for any reform to be sustainable, it needs champions from the inside not outside. Even corruption can be addressed without the hypocrisy and grandstanding we have witnessed in recent times. Atiku’s reform of the EFCC may wish to consider not making the leadership an all police affairs.
Finally, it is clear the Atiku presidency will be friendlier to business and we are likely to return to the refrain of the OBJ era about the private sector being the engine of growth or to the Jonathan era of agriculture being business. This should be balanced by government playing its role as a catalyst, a stimulator that also protects the people. The welfare of the people must not be sacrificed on the altar of market forces. That’s why the Atiku campaign cannot and must not maintain any splendid silence in the NEMA scandal, the crisis in the NHIS and the labour demand for a new minimum wage.
That said, it’s a document worth reading, if for nothing else, it offers us the opportunity to engage a presidential candidate and help him reshape his dream for us.
Ambassador Keshi wrote from Lagos.
Man Video-calling His Girlfriend gets Crushed by a Car
On Wednesday, a 26-year-old man, Olajide Asade, was crushed to death by a commercial car, while he was making a video call to his girlfriend at the Adedero village on the Abeokuta-Siun-Sagamu Expressway.
The accident involved a Honda Odyssey car with number plate AAA 589 FV, which was conveying crates of eggs.
It was gathered that the deceased was reportedly making a video call to his girlfriend while crossing the road when the accident occurred.
An eyewitness told our correspondent that the deceased and his brother boarded a car from the Kuto motor park in Abeokuta, but the vehicle developed a mechanical fault on the road.
The eyewitness said while the other passengers were standing by the roadside waiting for the driver to repair the vehicle, the deceased reportedly concentrated on the video call.
The deceased’s brother, Azeez, said they were both travelling to their mother’s residence in the Ajah area of Lagos State.
Azeez confirmed that his brother had been making a video call to his girlfriend since they took off from Kuto in Abeokuta.
He added that they left their apartment at Ijoga in Abeokuta very early in the morning to embark on the journey.
Azeez maintained that the driver of the car, who hit Olajide, was on a normal speed.
The driver, whose car hit the deceased, Bolaji Balogun, said Olajide was the one who bumped into his vehicle.
Balogun, an employee of an agro firm, said he was going to the Obasanjo Farm to purchase crates of eggs for his company.
The driver stated that the deceased had already got to the front of his car before he could apply the brake.
Confirming the crash, the Public Relations Officer of the Traffic Compliance and Enforcement Corps, Babatunde Akinbiyi, said there were two male occupants in the vehicle that killed Olajide.
He stated, “There is a road diversion along the Abeokuta-Siun-Sagamu interchange due to the ongoing reconstruction; the deceased probably assumed it would be better and safer for him to cross to the other side, where road reconstruction is ongoing.
“The man, while crossing back to the other side of the road, was making a video call and was oblivious to the fact that a vehicle was coming from the Sagamu end to Abeokuta.
“The vehicle, a Honda Odyssey, hit him and he died on the spot.
“His corpse has been deposited in the morgue of the General Hospital, Ijaiye, Abeokuta, while the driver of the Honda Odyssey and the vehicle are now at the state Motor Traffic Division, Ibara, Abeokuta.”
60 Northern Travellers Intercepted in a Cow-filled Truck at Lagos-Ibadan Expressway
On Monday, several security outfits intercepted about 60 men hiding in a Lagos-bound truck filled with cows at the Berger end of the Lagos-Ibadan Expressway.
It was gathered that the travellers, who reportedly came from Zamfara and neighbouring states, were heading for the Agege area of Lagos.
It was learnt that some of the men jumped down from the truck and fled on sighting the personnel of the Lagos State Task Force on Environmental Sanitation and Special Offences (Enforcement Unit), the Rapid Respond Squad, Nigeria Security and Civil Defence Corps, Lagos State Neighbourhood Safety Corps, Vehicle Inspection Officers and the Ogun State Traffic Compliance and Enforcement Corps at the boundary between both states.
The security personnel, however, denied them access into the state and turned them back.
The motor boy, who accompanied the truck from Zamfara State, Kabiru Haruna, said the cows were meant to be delivered to an abattoir in Agege and expressed surprise that the security agents stopped them.
He said, “We left Zamfara around 6 pm on Sunday, but not all of us here are from Zamfara State. Some are from Sokoto, Kano and Kebbi states. I am the motor boy for the truck, and I followed it from Zamfara down to where we are currently.
“We want to deliver the cows to an abattoir in Agege. I can’t really say the exact time we were stopped because I did not take note of the time. I don’t know why we were stopped.”
The truck driver was asked to go back to the point of take off after most of the fleeing men had regrouped at the pin-down point in Berger.
Confirming the incident to one of our correspondents, the state Police Public Relations Officer, Bala Elkana, said the men could not be allowed into the state.
He stated, “Forty-two men from Zamfara State hid in a truck and were intercepted at the Berger end of the expressway. The law is very clear; if you’re escorting a vehicle conveying food items, you must not be more than seven, but these people violated the law, and they were turned back.
“We have been searching all vehicles and all food items thoroughly to be sure that nobody is being smuggled into the state and this has helped us. We have sent the truck back; it cannot come into the state.”
Ebonyi Man Whips 11-year-old Neighbour to Death
On Tuesday, an Ogbonnaya Daniel was arrested by the Ebonyi state police for killing the 11-year-old daughter of his co-tenant, Miss Ukamaka Nwuzor.
The state Police Public Relations Officer, Mrs. Loveth Odah, stated this in a statement in Abakaliki on Tuesday.
Odah said the matter was reported to the command’s ‘B’ Division, Kpirikpiri, Abakaliki by the deceased’s father, Peter Nwuzor.
She said following the beating, the victim was taken to the Alex Ekweme Federal Teaching Hospital Abakaliki (AE-FETHA) for treatment where she was confirmed dead.
Odah said the suspect had been arrested and an investigation was ongoing after which he would be charged to court.
The statement read, “On May 2, 2020, at 2.15 pm, one Peter Nwuzor of Omege Avenue, Abakaliki, reported at ‘B’ Division Kpirikpiri, that by 9am of the same date, his co-tenant at the address mentioned above, one Ogbonna Daniel, aged 28, a native of Asaga in Arochukwu Local Government Area of Abia State, beat up his daughter Ukamaka Nwuzor, aged 11, to a coma.
“Following the report, police detectives immediately visited the scene of the incident. The victim was rushed to the A-E Federal Teaching Hospital, Abakaliki (AE-FETHA I) for medical treatment, but was later confirmed dead by the medical practitioner on duty. The corpse was deposited at the same hospital mortuary for preservation and autopsy.
“Preliminary investigation revealed that the suspect is a next-door neighbour of the deceased’s family and there was an altercation that the deceased (Ukamaka) poured unclean water near the suspect’s apartment. As a result, he descended on her, beat her to a coma, which led to her death.”
Imam arrested for Flouting Ban on Gatherings in Delta
The Imam of Ekakpamre, Mohammad Young Okotie was on Friday arrested by Delta state police officers for defying the ban on gatherings.
The Imam had defied the stay-at-home and social distancing order of the state government and led hundreds of Islamic faithful in congregational Jum’at service.
The incident happened on Friday, April 23 at Otu-Jeremi in Ughelli South Local Government Area of the state.
“Imam Okotie led hundreds of Muslim faithful, and held Jumat service at the Ekakpamre Central Mosque in Ughelli South Local Government Area, thereby violating the prohibition on gatherings in the state,” a source told our correspondent.
When contacted, the State Police Public Relations Officer, Onome Onowakpoyeya, confirmed the arrest.
He said, “The Imam was arrested about 11 am on Friday, May 1, 2020.
“He is currently held at the Otu-Jeremi Police Station for possible prosecution according to the laws of the land.
“The State Commissioner of Police, Hafiz Mohammed-Inuwa, had ordered his arrest a few days ago.”
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