Showing posts from August, 2014

THE GROWING MISERY INDEX OF NIGERIANS AND THE SEARCH FOR GOVERNMENT Nigerians readily point out what Governments ought to do which they are not doing. Indeed, virtually every problem in Nigeria is blamed on the government. And for many Nigerians, the government to be blamed often is the Federal government. Many are oblivious of the other tiers of government, especially the local governments. It is as if the local governments have no responsibilities or may be the people have come to expect little from them. The many years of over centralization fostered on the Nation by the military now makes most Nigerians think and act as if the Federal government is the only government in Nigeria. The 1999 Constitution sustains this misnomer by granting the Federal government a long exclusive list and the freedom to dabble into every other matter, some of which should better be left with the traditional councils in the states. This has led many Nigerians to allow the local and State governments get away with With 'blue murder' while holding only the federal government to account,even if feebly. While it is justifiable to blame government for poor infrastructure, poor education, poor healthcare, high unemployment, high insecurity, and even for hunger, corruption and traffic hold ups, it is beginning to look to me that this is an orchestrated ploy by some Nigerians to take a permanent flight from being held responsible for our individual and group conducts. In the first place, the governments we blame so frequently for failing us are run by Nigerians. Indeed the irony is that some of those who blame government for everything are in government themselves! Sometimes, it looks like that there is a mystery man called 'government'. But no, government is no mystery man, but a collection of persons who are first citizens and who run the government on behalf of and for the good of all the citizens. For convenience, they are grouped into the EXECUTIVE, LEGISLATURE AND JUDICIARY. And that includes politicians, civil servants, public servants, professionals and non professionals of all cadres and categories; from cleaners,security men and permanent secretaries to ministers; from legislative aids to the House Speaker and Senate President; from the court bailiff to the Policeman, to the Registrar and to the Supreme Court Judge; from the gatemen to the Director Generals of Parastatals and Agencies, they are all constituent parts of the government, agents of the State. And that's why they are paid from the tax payers money.Every action, each one of them takes or omits to take reflects on the effectiveness or in effectiveness of the government they are part of. But it looks to me that this realization does not exist sufficiently. Some how, you get the impression that the President or the State Governor alone is the government and everybody else is either the governed, observer, bystander, supporter,complainant or critic. Perhaps this may explain why there is a woeful failure of the"government " to satisfy the expectations of Nigerians. It is practically impossible for only the President to satisfy the 170 million Nigerians or the Governor to satisfy all the over 12 million people in Lagos for example. Everywhere you go,you meet people who work in the government institutions who act as if they care very little about the success or citizen perception of the government they serve in. When you complain about the poor service you are getting,the same people who are part or agents of the government turn around to blame the 'government', absolving themselves of any blame and often the complaining citizen seems to either agree or empathize with the government employee that the problem is with the mystery ' Mr Government ' Early this year, I wanted to make a trip to the United Kingdom and applied for the UK Visa. Few days after submitting my visa application, I received a call from the British Embassy that there was no space left in my passport to affix the visa. I quickly collected my passport and ran to the passport office in Ikoyi Lagos to get a new one. It took me six visits to the passport office over a period of six weeks to collect a new passport.Reasons ranged from missing file to long queues, mismatch of finger prints, the absence of the engineer and late approval from Abuja. It was an ordeal. Mean while I missed the trip to the Uk and was almost missing a trip to the USA because my subsisting US visa was in my old passport which had been 'quarantined' in the passport office. At the end of this rigmarole I was still expected to show 'gratitude' In August last year, I went to renew my driving license and I was told to fill out forms and make payments. Thereafter I was asked to come back one year after in July this year at the FRSC camp in Ojodu, Lagos for what they called 'capture'. I wondered why it would take a year to come for the 'capture'. I was told that many people were on the queue and their 'capture' equipments were few. I was told that a photocopy of my form on which the July date had been written would serve as my temporary driving license until that date. I shook my head and left. On the assigned date and at the stipulated time of 7am, I arrived. First, it took a lot of pleading to let me drive in through the gate. With one year scheduling, I had expected few people but was shocked by the large crowd milling around the place. I moved from place to place and after several hours when I arrived in front of the 'capture' machine, I was told that my name had not dropped. 'From where ?' I asked. I made three other visits over a period of five weeks, because either, my name was still traveling from wherever to the 'capture' machine, or because there was no 'network' to capture me. I finally got another temporary driving license. And so I will have to return to Ojodu in 60 days when it expires or wait to be called to come and collect the permanent driving license when it is ready and who knows how many more trips that will take, because I saw People who had been called to come and collect, and they came, only to be told that the license was not yet ready. I do not know of any other country in the World where citizens are subjected to this kind of torture just to obtain a driving license. When my son-in-law heard my story, he sympathized with me because he went through an 'agent' and got his with ease! I suffered the same fate in trying to renew my plate numbers as demanded by FRSC. I have completed my registration for the National Identity card at a special unit set up by the National Identity Commission at an interaction in Lagos. I was given a temporary National Identity card. I do not know when I will get the permanent one. Now I have been asked by the Central bank to go to my bank and obtain another Universal identity card. I do not know how many trips I will have to make to obtain a temporary card before I struggle to get the permanent one. I will still go for my voters card and do biometrics and for my Pension, another set of biometrics and identity card. How many Identity cards is a normal law-abiding Nigerian expected to carry?.Why the National identity card can not suffice for all these is what I am asking. I am searching for Mr Government to ask him, because that is what I am asked to do. Can't these government agencies and officers who are asking for these many identity cards share information ? Or is it the fault of Mr government ? Why do we relish in making life difficult for fellow Nigerian citizens and then blame government. Any where Nigerians are to receive service from a government agency, the story of misery and denigration of human dignity is repeated. Who is government? What can be the problem? Is it a matter of lack of a compelling vision, or lack of motivation, or lack of empowerment or plain lack of commitment. What ever it is, I believe that something must be done urgently and in a holistic manner to remedy this anomaly which is creating a lot of problem for the citizens in Nigeria. The unnecessary suffering to which Nigerians are subjected to at every point can not continue this way. What is worse is that the pains intensify when people are doing their best to obey the laws and be responsible citizens. This backlash may seem to promote deviant behavior or corner cutting. Some are 'compelled' to 'settle' police on the highway than go through the torture of trying to get a driving license. All those who are part of government at all levels will need to undergo a fresh orientation to make them understand that point, that a chain is as strong as its weakest link. That Government is not about a single person but a chain of persons who deliver service to the Citizens and that the best President or best Governor will achieve little if all other parties are not playing their roles with the same efficiency and consistency. The leaders of our Governments must therefore take appropriate initiatives on building this consciousness in all persons in government. For empowerment and motivation, the leaders must ensure proper skilling up and motivation of all those involved in the governance process. The right persons must be put in the right positions to ensure the integrity of the chain.For commitment,the leaders must demand evidence of performance down the line. This must be measured and rewarded so that the unskilled for the assignment, the unprepared and the indolent are weeded from the system, so that the impact of good governance can be felt by citizens leading to improved quality of life and the reduction of the misery index. It seems this is perhaps the most critical responsibility of the leaders of the different tiers and arms of government and may actually be the differentiating characteristic of the effective government leaders. Sitting at the capital and hoping that all the 'beautiful' policies, projects and programmes are yielding the desired result will not do. If those who are part of government are blaming the government,one can then understand why some other Nigerians make a past time of blaming government for every problem. If the gutter overflows, it is the government that must be blamed and nothing to do with the citizens who throw pure water satchets and sundry rubbish into the gutter. When the road is blocked, it is the government and nothing to do with the indiscipline of citizen drivers who refuse to give way to each other. In those Countries that we admire and aspire to be like, most Citizens regulate themselves and accept responsibilities for the good order of the society, thus allowing the regulatory enforcement agencies to effectively contain the few deviants. If everybody is a deviant, no government can effectively manage public order. That is my point and it does not in any way absolve the government in power from its statutory responsibilities. There is a role for the government and there is a role for the citizen. Any dereliction on either side will create problems for the society, just as we are having,Period. Mazi Sam Ohuabunwa OFR

TAKE AWAY POLITICS AND THIS COUNTRY CAN DO MUCH MUCH BETTER When you meet Nigerians at International fora, it is amazing how they hold their own and shine bright like many stars. Meet the same bunch at home and they are extinguished or go into the hibernation mode. In academia, literature , Sports and Entertainment Nigerians are doing extraordinarily well in the globe today, most of it by private or individual efforts. Even in Peace keeping, Nigerian Soldiers and Policemen are winning awards. But bring them home, they are either abusing human rights or collecting 'egunje' on the highway:"Chairman, your boys are loyal" Look at the brilliance of our athletics team at the recent commonwealth games. You were proud to be a Nigerian. Nobody cared where double-gold medalist Okagbure came from or which Geo- political zone he represented, Most Nigerians( if not all and certainly excluding the Boko haram insurgents) cheered her and rejoiced at her accomplishments. But look at what is happening in the National Foot ball Federation(NFF). Aminu Maigari removed! Maigari back! Maigari impeached! Maigari back! Somebody should be ashamed. If no body is ashamed, I take it upon my self to be ashamed on behalf of Nigeria. Twice we introduced divisive politics and twice FIFA shot us down and for us it is business as usual. I thank God for global institutions that are resistant to our penchant for impunity and tendency to corrupt. If you check our sports history as a nation,it will be apparent that anytime we did well in international competitions, be it in football or in Athletics, our football or Sports associations operated with minimum political interventions. The World Health Organization( WHO), the United Nations, the United States of Nigeria and the US Centre for disease control(CDC) have all applauded Nigeria for apparently halting the advance of the Ebola Virus Disease( EVD) in a manner that was uncharacteristic. When the demonic virus arrived our airport in Lagos, the World held its breath in their hands. Nigeria where nothing is said to work, with dilapidated health care system and a very large poor population, how could they handle this virulent and highly contagious disease?. Hitherto, this is a Nation, where what is easy in other Climes, becomes difficult and convulated. So many people including Nigerians became frightened that we were in for a terrible time of travail and affliction. They expected cataclysm. Infact, I am told of a Nigerian who was out of the country when Mr Sawyer came visiting with his load of Ebola Virus. He decided he was not coming back until the epidemic subsided. He asked his workers to stop coming to work including his domestic staff, drivers and security men. That was the level of apprehension. The apprehension escalated when some of the Nigerian infected patients began to die and many more became sick. But Nigeria has been able to contain the disease. The 12 or so infected cases were primary contacts with the index case, and though we have lost 5 but God saved the other 7. What is more, nearly all the primary and secondary contacts were reached and put on observation,many of which have been discharged as being virus free. The kind of cooperation shown between the Federal Ministry of Health and the Lagos state government was unparalleled . The Federal government mobilized resourçes and International support and provided the kind of leadership and responsiveness that is scarce in our Nation. The speed with which the !agos State built a new Isolation ward was unmatched even with Lagos standards. It was so heartwarming to see the Federal Minister of Health in the company of the Lagos State Commissioner and other official on both sides address the press everyday, sometimes twice a day. I have seen epidemics and disasters in our Nation, but I have never seen the level of proactiveness and responsiveness shown by our government officials as I have seen in this case of EVD management. What is more, the level of rapport and information sharing between Lagos government and the Federal government has been astonishing. The Federal government is said to have sent 200 million naira to Lagos State government in support of the State government's praise worthy efforts.President Jonathan's leadership on this matter was on the mark and the speed with which 1.9 billion naira was released showed that Government can work when there is the will. You will not believe that it is the same Lagos that refused Federal SURE-P branded buses to run in Lagos or that is in constant dispute with the Federal government over the Ports and Apapa roads. Some thing changed here. POLITICS was taken away! And what mattered was the life of Nigerians. There was an overriding need to halt the carnage and nothing else mattered. It was not important who took the credit or who did what. There was apparent unanimity of vision and that drove actions at both the Federal and State levels. This commonality of vision and the minimization of politics to my mind was the critical success factor. That this was achieved with the Nigerian Medical Association( NMA) still on strike into the Second month makes the accomplishment more phenomenol. We must all express our unqualified appreciation to the volunteers ( local and international) who have put their lives at risk to help contain the EVD. The professionalism of the First Foundation Hospital and the heroic efforts of the Healthcare team must be recognized and fully rewarded. The names of the medical and nursing personnel who gave their lives in the effort to deal with this invasion must be put in our National Hall of fame. I am of the firm conviction that the War against Boko Haram has been less than successful essentially, because we have failed to take politics away from the campaign. The Frontier states of Borno,Yobe and Adamawa have continued to mix politics with the war. The Arewa Consultative forum( ACF), the Northern Elders forum( NEF) have continued to play politics with the Boko Haram insurgency. Some of these groups have even suggested that Boko Haram was brought to the North by the Federal government or President Jonathan to weaken the North and make it easy for Jonathan to return to Power for a second term. What a preposterous accusation! The mixing of politics with serious National security matter also led the federal government to initially think that the abduction of the CHIBOK girls was a ruse and indeed a political ploy. And whether we like to admit it or not, this must have sub optimized initial military and rescue responses. Lagos government is run by an opposition party, but I believe that the enlightened leadership of the State realized that dealing a deadly blow on Ebola required the combined weight of the Federal and the State governments and rightly decided to take politics away and allowed maximum professional interaction to prevail. The result is what we have seen. It could always be better. But in my opinion, this is as good as it can be or has ever been! There may be arguments as to which is worse between Ebola Virus Disease and Boko Haram Insurgency. But if we can achieve the success we have attained with the EVD in such a spectacular way, then it is possible that we can achieve similar feat with the more deadly( in my opinion ) Boko Haram. The first key success factor must be to remove politics from this National security issue. It is doable and I pray we do it today! Mazi Sam Ohuabunwa OFR


    A few days ago, faced with a rapidly advancing invasion of Ebola epidemic into our territory, the Nigerian Government authorities sent a request to the United States Centre for Diseases Control ( CDC) to send us some of the experimental drug that is claimed to be helpful in managing this 'latest' disease that the world has seen. Though the disease has been known in Africa for the last several years, it had not attracted serious international attention until this year. So far, the drug Zmapp has only been given to two human beings- American health workers who caught the Ebola virus while treating patients afflicted with the disease in Sierra leone. Until a week or so ago, the drug had only been tested in monkeys and had neither been approved for human subject trials nor for marketing until these Americans- good Samaritans fell sick and in the absence of any other viable alternative, in the face of imminent death, the victims agreed to try the "untested" drugs
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There is a popular saying that what goes up must come down. Another says that what a man sows he will reap. And another, says what you gain in the straight you lose in the bend. And yet another says that if you defecate on the road on your way to the market,on your way back you will be greeted by flies. Unfortunately, many of our Political Leaders seem not to learn anything from these age long lessons from the sage. And that's why, rather than accept the consequences of their indiscretion, they are either startled by them or look for some one else to blame. A couple of months ago as I was incensed by the gale of defections mainly from the PDP to the APC. In one fell swoop, five PDP governors defected to APC, followed by hordes of members of the House of Representatives whose Speaker cheerfully announced the defections on the floor of the house apparently completing the 'simple' process of changing parties in the National Assembly. In a blink of an eye, the APC became th


For more than six months, the Association of Senior Staff Union of Universities infamously called ASUU embarked on a needless strike that lasted longer than its usual biennial rumpus. Nearly an entire academic session was wasted. I severely criticized the wanton economic waste and disruption of academic calendar of Nigerian students. I argued that ASUU had misused the instrument of Strikes to the point that it had become counterproductive, even for them. I thought that it had become infradig and demeaning for academicians to use the same method over many years to solve the same problem and still hoped for different outcomes. My take was that ASUU has perpetually used the instrument of strikes as a blackmail weapon to force their employers to "agree" to what they neither have the resources nor the willingness to implement . The Federal Government would 'agree' just to get the pressure off their backs and avoid political backlash and in the process buy some time. A yea