Category Archives: Politics & Policy

Good governance actions, from Lion Building to the LGA headquarters of Enugu North, South & East.

‘Northern education crisis is self-inflicted’

Super Permanent Secretary, AHMED JODA, concludes that Northern education crisis is self-inflicted after 60 years of playing catch up.

Open Letter To The Federal Minister Of Education

Ahmed Joda
Ahmed Joda

Ahmed Joda OFR, CON, CFR is a Nigerian administrator who rose through the administrative cadre of the Northern regional government and then the federal civil service to retire as Permanent Secretary, Ministry of Industries

I read on one of the social media platforms an open letter to Malam Adamu Adamu, the Honorable Minister of Education by our Ambassador in Mexico, to which I think I should make a contribution that may interest the minister in addressing the issues at stake.

In February 1971, almost 50 years ago, I became the Permanent Secretary Federal Ministry of Education. When I entered the office, I found two files on the table. One was the handing over note by the departed Permanent Secretary, the other was a very thick file that contained four sets of documents: the first was a report from the Federal Scholarship Board describing the processes that led to the selection and recommendation of awards of the Federal Scholarships and Bursaries for the 19171/72 Academic Year. The second was the full list of the names of the successful candidates and third, the Council Memorandum by the Federal Minister of Education recommending  the Federal Executive Council to approve the list and the fourth, the Council Conclusion giving its approval.

All that was required of me was to sign for the public announcement of the awards for that academic year. Even if I was of the mind to go through the three thousand names on the list, I could not have changed anything because all the necessary processes had been complied with and the highest authority in the land had approved.

The awards were duly published and all hell was let loose. In 1971, the Federation of Nigeria had 12 states; the six northern states and six southern states. There were 3000 awards. These were shared about 2,750 to the six southern states and 250 to the six northern states. When further analyzed, more than 500 went to the two North Central states of Kwara and Benue Plateau. No one analyzed what the figures for the two main religions were.

There was an angry outburst at the “lopsidedness of the Award” for the North. The anger was targeted at me personally, because I was the Permanent Secretary who signed the “Release Document” and because as a northerner just having “crossed the Carter Bridge and drank the lagoon water”, I had forgotten my roots. The governors, the Kaduna press and radio were unanimous in calling for my immediate removal.

While I was trying to understand the situation I had found myself in, I received a midnight call from the Head of State who asked me whether I had been reading the northern press and listening to their radio. And whether I had any satisfactory explanation to give.

At that point I realized that although the attacks were directed at me personally, any response must be the government’s response and must be based on all the available facts. I requested 48 hours to prepare the response.

Within those hours, the facts were gathered and subjected to detailed analysis. The conclusions were inescapable. The defunct government of Northern Nigeria and the successor governments of the six Northern states bear the full responsibility for what they were now complaining about. Not the Federal Government of Nigeria.

Why is this so? Because of the following:

  1. Under the Constitution of Nigeria, Primary and Secondary Education including Teachers education is the responsibility of the Regional/State Governments NOT that of the Federal Government. It is also not a responsibility that is shared between the two tiers. The class of students in consideration are candidates who have completed their secondary education
  2. Only those who apply in response to invitation to apply for Federal Government scholarships and who qualify can be considered. In some of the Northern states only very few applications were received. The official explanation was that newspapers did not circulate in the North generally and that, in any case most northern students either did not have access to newspapers or did not have the reading culture of newspapers

These points were obviously not taken into account by the board. In subsequent years, action was taken to remedy the situation, but it did not lead to increased numbers of applications from the northern states. The reason given was that the northern governments’ scholarships were more attractive than the federal ones.

The federal offer to northern students who receive federal awards, for them to accept the federal awards, accept the federal allowance and receive the difference from their states, was rejected.

This incident led the Federal Ministry of Education to undertake a critical examination of the educational imbalance in the country. It was recognised that it was a time bomb, which must be quickly defused.

While the political and social implications of the education crisis could be foreseen, it was difficult for most to appreciate that it is not an issue that has a political solution. It is an issue that is determined by the natural development of the human being.  That it is the physical and mental development of the human child that we are dealing with.

The child must be born. He must attain the school going age of six years. He must spend six years in primary school, six years in secondary school and at least four years in the University etc. This time period cannot be compressed.

At this time in 1971, Lagos State was enrolling nearly 100% in primary schools, the Mid West was recording about 90%, the West well over 60% while the North West, North East and Kano were enrolling less than 5%. It would take at least two decades to draw parallel and draw level for the whole country. But account must also be taken of the fact that the more educationally advanced states would not be standing still. They would be galloping forward.

Taking all these factors into account the Federal Ministry of Education made far reaching recommendations to prepare for a giant leap forward in the development of education for the whole country.

First, it was decided that immediate steps be taken to expand the teacher training effort. A crash programme for teacher training was initiated using expanded facilities in Teacher Training Colleges around the country.

Three Advanced Teacher Training Colleges were to be immediately set-up. Three polytechnics were also established. Grants in Aid were approved and disbursed to all secondary schools, which ran Sixth Form Classes and the Colleges of Preliminary Studies run by the Ahmadu Bello University campuses in Zaria and Kano.

The federal government also approved special grants to expand all existing State Secondary Schools in the six Northern States.
On top of all of the above, the federal government with the assistance and collaboration of UNESCO and the involvement of all the five existing universities in Nigeria, embarked on the ambitious project of introducing Universal Primary Education beginning 1st January 1976 that would ensure education of every Nigerian child born after the official end of the Nigerian Civil War in January 1970.

Addressing the education crisis

I have gone over the history of the education crisis from 1971 when I became involved to today in order for us to understand where we are coming from. The figures in the Open Letter to Adamu Adamu have similarities to the situation I found in 1971. I do not know what level of studies these awards were. But the distribution is somewhat similar, suggesting that the situation now remains somewhat the same to that of 1971.

We need to relate these figures to what we know to be the education crisis in Nigeria today. In about 2012, former President Goodluck Jonathan lamented that there were 10 million out of school children in Nigeria. Obviously meaning that these out of school children are in Northern Nigeria. He set out to build Almajiri Schools in the belief that that would address the situation.

His successor, President Muhammadu Buhari has been quoted as saying that the figure of out of school children in the country is now 12 million, meaning the figure has grown and is likely to continue to grow.

I know that from 1973, funds for the preparation for the UPE were being paid to every state in the country not only for building the schools that would be needed but the expansion of teacher training facilities and the provision of teaching materials.

After the elections that brought President Obasanjo, the Universal Basic Education was introduced and money was being transferred to every state of the federation. It is now 20 years since the introduction of the UBE Programme and that much money has been expanded.

We must ask the question, where are those millions of out of school children to be found? Obviously in Northern Nigeria! We have been spending money in the belief that we are providing education for every one of the children we bear for 50 years without making progress.

Who is to account for what has been happening and is continuing to happen? Surely the fault lies with us. And by us I mean us in Northern Nigeria. Both the leaders and the led.
Ahmed Joda, an elder statesman and former Permanent Secretary in the Federal Ministry of Education, writes from Yola, Adamawa State.

Why Buhari proposed 4 Supreme Court Justices from North

  • …role of Politics in SC appointments
  • …appoints 4 new Justices
  • …Buhari’s emerging Supreme Court

Enugu Metro checks show that politics, not nepotism, influenced yesterday’s approval of four Supreme Court Justices by President Buhari.

The four justices approved by the President in yesterday 14 August appointments are replacements for justices that left the Court.

Before the appointments, the court had only 12 of its 16-member Justices left to sit.

Buhari’s new appointees are Mohammed Garba(North West), Tijani Abubakar(North East), Abdu Aboki(North West), and Mohammed M. Saulawa(North West).

The four justices that they are replacing are Kumai Akaahs(North-West), Amiru Sanusi(North-West), Paul Adamu Galunje(North-East), and Sidi Dauda Bage(North-Central).

Except for Justice Bage who left the Court to become Emir of Lafia, the other three retired on reaching mandatory age of 70 years.

Some Nigerian newspaper headlines had suggested nepotism in the appointments, because all are from the northern part of the country.

Politics May Have Played a Part

Politics may have played a part as the President had four different names waiting for approval as Supreme Court Justices

The Nigerian Judicial Council (NJC) had in October 2019 recommended four Justices for approval to move to the Supreme Court.

They include Justices Adamu Jauro (North-East); Emmanuel Agim (South-South); C. Oseji, (South-South) and Helen Ogunwumiju, (South-West).

The list was ignored by the President, forcing NJC to consider and forward a different set of names this time.

All current Justices of the Supreme Court are appointees of politicians in this Third Republic.

President Olusegun appointed the current Chief Justice, Tanko Muhammad.

Goodluck Jonathan appointed eight Justices – Rhodes-Vivour, Ngwuta, Odili, Ariwoola, Datijo Muhammad, Kekere-Ekun, Inyang Okoro, and Centus Nweze.

With his approval of four new justices, President Buhari has so far appointed a total of seven justices – all of them from the North.

The Court now has Justices from North Central(2), North East(3), North West(4), South East(2), South South (2) and South West(3).

 12006Ibrahim Tanko MuhammadChief JusticeMale67North East
 22010Bode Rhodes-VivourAssociateMale69South West
 32011Nwali Sylvester NgwutaAssociateMale69South East
 42011Mary Ukaego Peter-OdiliAssociateFemale68South South
 52011Olukayode AriwoolaAssociateMale62South West
 62012Musa Datijo MuhammadAssociateMale67North Central
 72013Kudirat M. O. Kekere-EkunAssociateFemale62South West
 82013John Inyang OkoroAssociateMale61South South
 92014Chima Centus NwezeAssociateMale62South East
 102016Amina Adamu AugieAssociateFemale67North West
 112016Ejembi EkoAssociateMale68North Central
 122018Uwani Musa Aba AjiAssociateFemale64North East
 132020Mohammed GarbaAssociateMale62North West
 142020Tijani AbubakarAssociateMale?North East
 152020Abdu AbokiAssociateMale?North West
 162020Mohammed M. SaulawaAssociateMale?North West

Buhari’s Supreme Court in the Making

President Muhammadu Buhari will have appointed 11 of the 16-member Supreme Court Justices when he leaves office in 2023,

Yesterday’s approval means that he has now appointed seven Justices, and has an opportunity to appoint four more.

The four will replace Justices Bode Rhodes-Vivour (South West) and Nwali Sylvester Ngwuta(South East) who will both retire in 2021

In 2022, he will appoint two more as Justices Mary Odili, and Ejembi Eko, will both retire.

By next year, 2021, he will beat President Jonathan’s record of eight Supreme Court appointments.

Chief Justice Tanko Muhammad will outlast President Buhari and will also swear in a new President in 2023 before retiring.

He will retire in December 2023.

Today, Buhari is one appointee short of President Jonathan’s eight Supreme Court appointments before the former President  left in 2015.

However, Buahari’s successor will appoint even more – all remaining 12 Justices currently sitting who are set to retire after 2023.

Facts Behind Anambra’s Covid-19 Reported Cases

Information Commissioner provides facts behind Anambra’s reported Covid-19 cases as an outcome of expanded community outreach.


C. Don Adinuba

It is important to pass on this message to our people (that) preventing the spread of the coronavirus pandemic is far better than managing the cases by experts.

Some people, relying on the latest figures from the Nigeria Centre for Disease Control (NCDC), consider very high the reported dramatic increase in the number of Covid-19 infections in the state which. A lot of people have innocently assumed that as many as 20 persons were infected in Anambra state in one day, fearing that the situation in the state is worsening rapidly. The true situation is far from the impressions some have as a result of the figure.

There is no dramatic increase in the number of COVID-19 infections in the state. The 20 cases reported by the NCDC on Thursday 9 July 2020 were based on samples taken in over three weeks across the state. Some of the samples were even taken outside Anambra State, but were ascribed to our state because the people tested chose, for different reasons, to identify with the state. Only seven out of about 100 samples tested at Chukwuemeka Odumegwu-Ojukwu Teaching Hospital, Awka, turned out positive. Therefore, the COVID-19 prognosis of our state is still good, one of the very best in the country. It is also important to bear in mind that many of the 20 reported cases came from Nnamdi Azikiwe Teaching Hospital, Nnewi, which most unfortunately lost one of its key officers to reported complications arising out of COVID-19. His contacts in the medical college, teaching hospital, his private hospital, family and community have been traced comprehensively.

Facts Behind Anambra’s Covid-19 Reported Cases

The relatively low positive results which Anambra State has been getting, despite the fact that a large number of our people travel extensively to all parts of the world for business and other legitimate pursuits and the fact that we have some of the largest open-air markets in West Africa patronized daily by millions of people from West Africa and beyond, show that many of our people have embraced our relentless message on COVID-19. It is reassuring that the state has the capacity to manage cases should there be a spike. Apart from having teams of accomplished doctors, nurses, pharmacists, lab scientists, ward cleaners and ambulance who play vital roles in the COVID-19 case management value chain.  There are 600 beds in different protective care units in our state, otherwise known as isolation centres. The facility at the Onitsha General Hospital, with 58 beds, is the first centre in Nigeria to meet World Health Organization (WHO) standards.

Still, we should not rest on our laurels. The disease, which is highly contagious, is far from over in our state. In fact, we expect a spike in infections soon. With the commissioning of the Mega Laboratory at Chukwuemeka Odumegwu-Ojukwu University Teaching Hospital, Awka, capable of testing 470 samples for COVID-19 simultaneously, there is bound to be a rise in detection of infections. What is more, with the aggressive community search just initiated by the Governor Willie Obiano administration which saw the government set up a COVID-19 Task Force in each of the 326 wards in the state so as to reach the grassroots in a radical manner, there is likely to be an increase in discovery of positive cases.

We, therefore, have a responsibility to continue to guide our people to imbibe the habit of wearing face masks any time they come out in public, and wear them appropriately by covering their nostrils and mouths always, as opposed to the current practice where people wear the face coving on the chin and jaw. We also need to encourage our people to wash their hands for at least 20 seconds with running water and soaps and sanitizers. In addition, we have to observe social distancing by keeping away from people by at least six feet.

The Anambra State government has recently started a campaign on ways to boost our immunity as part of the strategy to fight COVID-19. Our system needs plenty of vegetables like bitter leaf (onugbu) and pumpkin (ugu) and fruits like lemons, oranges, avocados, and the likes, which are available in large quantities throughout the state and beyond in the rainy season and which are now selling at affordable prices. Our system needs things like Vitamin C, Vitamin D and Zinc for fortification. They are affordable.

It is important to pass on this message to our people in different ways. Preventing the spread of the coronavirus pandemic is far better than managing the cases by experts who have, in spite of all odds, demonstrated inspiring confidence, dedication and competence. History will be kind to them. Anambra State has in the last few years become exemplary in a lot of ways. The leadership has shown the light, and the people are finding the way. Each of us has to continue to make Anambra  remain the safest state in Nigeria.

C. Don Adinuba is the Commissioner for Information & Public Enlightenment and a member of the Anambra State Task Force on COVID-19.

Facts Behind Anambra’s Covid-19 Reported Cases

Umahi rejigs Ebonyi State Cabinet

Chief of Staff to the Ebonyi State Government, Dr. Emmanuel Offor Okorie has been quietly redeployed in a surprise reshuffle that swept away commissioners in many powerful ministries.

Apart from the Chief of Staff, other commissioners touched by the redeployment to different portfolios include those of Finance, Land, Environment, and Commerce and Industry.

The role call of affected commissioners, advisers and permanent secretaries include the following:

  • Dr. Elizabeth Agwu, Permanent Secretary at the Universal Basic Education Board (UBEB) has been moved to Government House in acting capacity as Chief of Staff.
  • Dr. Okorie moves from being Chief of Staff Government House to the Chairmanship of EBBC Governing Board.
  • Mrs Chinwe Okah moved from the Ministry of Budget and Planning to Market Development and Management.
  • Prof. Ogbonnaya Chukwu moves from the ministry of Finance and Economic Development to Commerce and Industry.
  • Chief Moses Oshibe moves from the ministry of Lands and Survey to the Ministry of Rice mills Development.
  • Hon. Barr. Orji Uchenna Orji moves from the Ministry of Information and State Orientation/ Acting Commission Human Capital Development and Monitoring to Ministry of Information and State and Orientation.
  • Chief Emmanuel Uguru moves from the ministry of Environment to that of Lands and Survey and,
  • Comrade Jonah Egba moves as Commissioner for Solid Minerals Development Communities to the Ministry of Environment.
  • Also affected is Chief Donatus Njoku who moves from the Ministry of Commerce and Industry to that of Solid Minerals Development Communities.
  • Mrs Mojitude Ekuma former Special Adviser (Finance) is now Acting Accountant General while her colleague Mr. Emeka C. Nwankwo, hitherto Adviser ICT will combine the role as SA Finance and ICT.
  • Mrs Chinyelu Udoku moves as SA-Women Affairs Central to SA-Capital City.
  • Princess Francisca Okeke moves from SA-Women Affairs(South) to SA-Market(Lot1).
  • Mr Emeka Kerian Ofoke moves as SA-Media to SA-Market(Lot 2).
  • Mr Chukwuma S. Ofoke moves as SA-Housing to SA-Market (Lot 3).
  • Mr Philip Eworo moves as SA- Pulverisation plant to SA-Market( Lot 4).
  • Mrs Nwakaego Nworie moves as Executive Assistant to the Governor to SA-Market (Lot 5).
  • Mrs Christiana O. Ukwuta moves as Accountant-General to Permanent Secretary, UBEB and Internal Revenue Service.
  • Mr Moses O. Agama moves as Permanent Secretary, Ministry of Finance and Economic Development to Permanent Secretary, Ministry of Finance and Economic Development in charge of Accounts, Salaries, Pensions and Returns.
  • Mrs Patricia Okiri moves from Permanent Secretary, Ministry of Budget and Planning to Permanent Secretary, Ministry of Finance in charge of Budget, Audit, Debt Management Office(DMO) and SFTAS and
  • Mrs Patience Offor Okorie is the only new appointee and she is to serve as SA Welfare in the Office of the First Lady of the State.

Former NASS lawmaker confirmed as Commissioner in Ebonyi

The Ebonyi State House of Assembly has approved the nomination of Hon. Lazarus Ogbee as a member of Gov. Dave Umahi’s Cabinet.

Ogbee is a former National Assemblyman who represented Ikwo Ezza South Federal Constituency in the lower legislative chambers in Abuja.

An elated Ogbee told journalists at the State House Assembly Complex, Nkaliki in Abakaliki, that he is eager to serve the state in any capacity.

“I’ve always contributed my quota in the development of Ndi Ebonyi as a stakeholder and have taken part in the progress of the current Administration even from inception in 2015.

”I am happy that I am appointed by the governor.

He said he will not be choosy about where to serve.

“As someone that has worked towards the emergence of this Government, I am willing to serve in any capacity to see the Government succeed.”

Ogbee maintained that he is not embarrassed to serve as Commissioner after attaining the lofty position of National Assemblyman because “governance is about rendering selfless service to the people irrespective of one’s ego and pride.”

He asked for patience as he intends to  make known his priorities when the governor assigns a portfolio to him.

“My work for government will speak volumes,” he said.

Ekweremadu accuses INEC, courts of constitutional violation

“The reality is that any (Assembly) election conducted after 30 days from the day a vacancy occurred is unconstitutional and therefore null and void”

Senator Ike Ekweremadu (PDP, Enugu) today 25 June 2020 knocked the Independent National Electoral Commission and the courts for breaching constitutional provisions on conduct of National Assembly elections.

He spoke yesterday at a webinar with the theme, “Electoral Reforms: National Assembly and the People’s Expectations”, organised by Centre for Liberty, Abuja and sponsored by the Open Society Initiative.

He noted that Section 76 (2) of the 1999 Constitution mandates the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) to conduct byelection within a month to fill any vacancy that occurs in the National Assembly.

Going by this provision, he stated that the window to legally fill existing Assembly vacancies in four states – Imo, Bayelsa, Cross River, and Plateau States – has already closed.

The lawmaker, who steered electoral reforms between 2007 and 2019, pointed out that the National Assembly had to change the wording of this provision from “within one month” to “within 30 days” to ensure everyone understood the meaning.

“The essence is to ensure that every part of the country is properly represented in parliament at every point in time.”

He expressed disappointment that both INEC and the courts have ignored this provision.

“The courts order fresh elections to be conducted within 90 days, while INEC conducts such elections within or even outside the 90 days.

“The reality is that any election conducted after 30 days from the day the vacancy occurred is unconstitutional and therefore null and void”, he stated.

Staggered process solves primaries’ challenge

The Former Deputy President of the Senate also weighed in on current challenges of political nomination processes by political parties and suggested adopting early and staggered primaries to surmount it.

He cited the examples of the United States as well as Ghana, Nigeria’s western neighbour, to demonstrate how adopting this system could help Nigeria avoid drawn-out political quarrels.

He said that the United States system allows presidential primaries to be completed 12 month before the elections, “climaxing in the convention where an already known candidate is affirmed.”

He also expressed approval with the Ghana timeframe for nomination of candidates, citing the National Peoples Party (NPP) constitution which allows parliamentarians to be elected at least 12 months before the national election while presidential nomination processes take not less than 24 months to conclude.

The problem with Nigeria’s primaries process, he said, is that they are very close to the main elections and end up occasioning delays through logistics management or when desperate attempts are made by aspirantd to delay the process through litigation.

“The advantage (of adopting staggered primaries) is that we will not likely see court orders flying all over the place as is the case in Nigeria today because every litigation or contentious issue arising from the primary election would have been settled before the main election.

“The election management body and the political parties will also have enough time to prepare for the election, while the electorate will have enough time to interrogate the manifestos of the political parties and suitability of every individual candidate”, he said.

Ekweremadu also explained that direct and staggered primary elections would compel aspirants to campaign at the grassroots for the support of every party member.

“Importantly, aspirants will weigh their individual popularity as the primary election train moves from state to state in the case of presidential primary or from local government to local government in the governorship primary election.

“Those doing poorly will advise themselves appropriately and naturally withdraw from the race for the ticket, while the leading aspirants will continue.  This will make the process less prone to the extreme contentions and litigations we see today”.

The Senator, while expressing his disappointment over the denial of presidential assent to critical electoral reforms by the National Assembly, was also displeased that many of the successful reforms were continually observed in the breach.

“It is one thing to reform the electoral system, but it is also another to ensure that the reformed laws are operational,” he concluded.

Why Nigeria switched candidates for WTO top job – Okonjo-Iweala

“Nigeria wants to have a candidate they feel is credible and well-qualified with a proven track record of reform and strong political reach.”

Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala

Former Finance Minister, Dr. Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala, has explained that Nigeria switched candidates for the World Trade Organisation (WTO) director general position in order to present a nominee that African countries could agree to push forward as consensus candidate.

“Nigeria wants to have a candidate they feel is credible and well-qualified with a proven track record of reform and strong political reach,” she told a European newspaper in an interview. 

The European Union (EU) has said that it would support an African candidate if African Union (AU) members would put their differences aside and settle on a single candidate that could be sold to the United States as a proven reformer.

In the event that this does not happen, EU plans to present a candidate and, in anticipation of this possibility, EU trade chief Phil Hogan had let it be known that he would gun for the position himself.

Africa is currently failing the test as Egypt and Nigeria have each presented a candidate. Benin Republic, the third African country that initially showed interest in the position, has however withdrawn her nominee and is now supporting the Nigerian candidate.

Okonjo-Iweala has also said that apart from being qualified for the position, she also has “the sort of negotiating skills that would be vital to repair the multilateral agenda and bring competing interests together at the WTO,” a critical skill that all parties have said that they want in the candidate who will take up the job in September this year.

Analysts say the prospects of Dr. Okonjo-Iweala’s ascendency will brighten if three factors hold true: AU successfully persuades Egypt to withdraw her nominee in favour of Nigeria; which will in turn make it easy for Europe to back an African candidate; who could be perceived as a true reformer by United States’ President, Mr. Donald Trump.

The US position on who becomes the top dog at the WTO was made known by EU trade chief Hogan who said he got the feelers after discussions with US trade representative, Robert Lighthizer.

Although Hogan said he did not expect that the US would be in a hurry to make her views public until all the candidates are known, “Ambassador Lighthizer is very much of the view that a developed country should assume the responsibility of the director-general of the WTO.”

Another factor that will sway US interest is the coming November 2020 presidential elections’ battle.

Researchers have drawn a link between the level of interest that a US president shows in WTO affairs and trade issues with far-reaching domestic impact in swing states during presidential campaigns.

Results from such researches show that in an election year, incumbents seeking reelection are increasingly interested in the affairs of the WTO because of how they may affect states that depend on exports or are impacted by imported products they produce.

In the days before the Coronavirus pandemic seized public imagination and public policy debates, President Trump had been particularly critical of the WTO over its inability to push for needed reforms, especially as it relates to its current trade battle with the Chinese.

…stepping down in September 2020

The sustained series of Tweet-attacks by Trump may have aided the decision of WTO director-general, Roberto Azevêdo, to step down at the end of his tenure in September 2020, analysts said.

The organisation has also battled to contain China’s domestic policies which have continued to smartly side-step WTO’s trade liberalization rules to the chagrin of the United States.

It has been suggested that, although Nigeria presented a poorly packaged CV of its highly qualified candidate, the current disposition of the United States on the WTO generally may work against candidates of Egypt and Mexico as they may be seen as “insiders” who may be tempted to perpetuate the status quo.

The Egyptian candidate, a lawyer and diplomat, has done extensive work for the WTO in the past while the Mexican candidate in addition to his WTO experience was also at the head of his country’s recent trade dispute talks with the United States.

Nigerian continues to quietly pull diplomatic strings to get the AU to accept Harvard-trained Dr. Okonjo-Iweala, a former Managing Director at the World Bank, as Africa’s consensus candidate who may have an edge over the Mexico nominee.

These diplomatic offensives have already yielded fruits with the withdrawal of the Beninoise candidate and his country’s decision to back Ngozi Okonjo-Iwheala, despite spirited efforts made by Egypt to woo the Nigerian western neighbor.

The one-month nomination window for applicants opened on 8 June 2020 and has three more weeks to run from today 16 June, before nominations close on 8 July.

COVID-19: Time For Buhari To Walk His Talk

Using the President Buhari’s buy-Nigeria response to the Covid-19 as a case point, SKC OGBONNIA argues that the trouble with Nigeria is not lack of natural and human resources, not good visions or enabling policies, but squarely a failure by leaders to efficiently influence implementation of policies for the common good.

The consensus around the world is that the lessons from the coronavirus pandemic (COVID-19) would provoke commonsense among Nigerian leaders to harness the full potential of their local economy. This dream may never come close if President Muhammadu Buhari does not lead by example.

A defining theme of my foray into the 2019 presidential race is that Nigeria’s problem is not as complex as commonly imagined. For the problem is neither the lack of natural resources nor human resources. It certainly has nothing to do with good visions or the enabling policies. The Nigerian endemic problem is squarely the failure to influence the efficient implementation of the policies towards the greater good.

It is not surprising, therefore, that amid the COVID-19 pandemic, President Buhari demonstrated visionary leadership by declaring that Nigeria will henceforth promote and patronize made-in-Nigeria products over foreign goods. Buhari’s vision is laudable and mirrors the case of Asian countries, particularly China and India, which for several decades banned a good number of foreign products to enable their local industries to thrive. Today, both Asian nations have become economic envy of the world.  

The message, if it is not already explicit, is that the Nigerian president should, without further delay, replace his official car, a German-made Mercedes Benz, with a Nigerian-made Innoson brand.  

SKC Ogbonna

Interestingly, not long after the made-in-Nigeria policy went public, instead of patronizing Innoson Motors, the sole local auto manufacturing outfit, the Federal Executive Council (FEC) hurriedly approved a whopping sum of N683, 613 million for purchase of 19 Made-In-Japan Toyota vehicles for the Nigeria Ports Authority (NPA). According to the Minister of Finance, Zainab Ahmed, the justification for the abrupt breach of the policy is that the need for the foreign vehicles predated the COVID-19 pandemic. As if her logic lacks in folly, the Minister of Transport, Chibuike Amaechi, followed that the approval became necessary, because “it’s the first time in four years that NPA was buying any vehicle.”

The simple takeaway from both Ahmed and Amaechi is that Nigerian leaders embrace lunacy as legacy. This goes without saying that the rationale behind the choice of the foreign vehicles over local brands has nothing to do with the common good. Instead, it has everything to do with the manic competition for financial profligacy among the different arms of the Nigerian government. The decision by the Executive arm of government is merely to outdo the wastefulness synonymous with the Nigerian Legislature. The NPA squander dittoed the Senate, which not long ago rejected Innoson only to launder over N5 billion for Toyota brands. The House of Representatives would also double down to sink another N5 billion into Toyota Camry saloon cars in place of moderately priced Innoson jeeps that are specially designed and tested for the Nigerian roads.

This pattern of lavishness by public officials, particularly under the prevailing COVID-19 crisis, is plain cold-blooded. It is impunity going too far. But President Muhammadu Buhari must own full blame. Though his call to patronize local products is commendable, he is neither able to influence his appointees to implement the policy nor able to lead by example himself. Rather than demonstrate patriotism, by proudly using the Made-in-Nigeria goods that he preaches, Buhari appears to be emulating the ostentatious style of the regime before him.

President Buhari should quickly revert to the tenets of his 2016 “Change Begins with Me” slogan. The core principle demands that he declares Innoson as the official brand for all government agencies, beginning with the Presidency. If a General Buhari, as a military head of state, could endear himself to the Nigerian people over 30 years ago, by embracing jagged foreign Peugeot—then assembled in Nigeria—as a badge of honor, it is only patriotic for him to replicate such gesture for wholly made-in-Nigeria vehicles.

It is worth mentioning, however, that the Innoson Motors is on record to have stated that the company has seen more patronage from the Buhari government than the one before it. That is commendable, at base. But the mediocrity of the previous regime can never be substituted as a gold standard for success.

President Buhari is a man widely known as ascetic and who assumed power on the mantra of revolutionary change. He should, therefore, embolden his change vision, as well as the authenticity of his policy on local goods, so that others can follow. The message, if it is not already explicit, is that the Nigerian president should, without further delay, replace his official car, a German-made Mercedes Benz, with a Nigerian-made Innoson brand.  

The COVID-19 pandemic has combined to plunge Nigeria into an economic miasma and true change has become inevitable. The leaders can no longer afford to carry on business as usual. In short, besides leading by example, it has become imperative for President Buhari to remind public officials that the country risks a serious mass revolt, if they continue to swim in ocean of affluence while submerging the masses deeper and deeper into abject poverty and despair.

SKC Ogbonnia, a 2019 APC Presidential Aspirant, writes from Ugbo, Awgu, Enugu State. Twitter: @SKCOgbonnia

Ugwuanyi commissions 13-km road bypass at Nike

Governor Ifeanyi Ugwuanyi yesterday 28 May, opened a completed virgin 13-kilometer road bypass cutting through the thick forests of Umuchigbo Nike community in Enugu East to link up to the Akanu Ibiam International Airport.

The new road traversing five river crossings features lined drains, modern culverts and bridges, and links the high-density Abakpa Nike with the Emene Satellite Town.

Apart from facilitating easy access to the airport for commuters approaching Enugu City from the northern boundary, the road connects other strategic landmarks in the city such as Harmony Estate, Amorji Nike, and Fr. Ejike Mbaka’s Adoration Pilgrimage Centre and up to Orie Emene Road.

Gov. Ugwuanyi noted at the road-opening ceremony that the project was also conceived as an important bypass to ease traffic flow and facilitate interstate vehicular movements through Enugu East Zone.

“The stretch from Airport roundabout to Eke Obinagu in Emene was also duly completed and inaugurated by my administration,” he said.

These infrastructures, he said, were deliberately targeted at “elevating the status of Emene and its environs, hitherto a semi-urban city, to now an urban city within Enugu Capital Territory.”

An elated Fr. Mbaka could not hide his excitement as he showered praises on the Governor for connecting his Adoration Ministries to the City.

He described the road as “unprecedented and a miracle,” for his Pilgrimage Centre.

“I dreamt of it, I envisioned it, the governor achieved it. May God be glorified, and may the governor of Enugu State be blessed in Jesus name, Amen.”

COVER PHOTO: With Ugwuanyi (2nd right) at yesterday’s opening of the 13-km Nike Lake Junction-Harmony Estate-Amorji Nike-Adoration Pilgrimage Centre-Orie Emene road, are (from right), State Assembly Speaker Edward Ubosi, Rev. Fr. Mbaka, State Chief Judge Priscilla Ngozi Emehelu, House of Representatives Member Cornelius Nnaji, and State PDP Party Chair, Augustine Nnamani

FG declares 2-Day Holiday from Mon. 25 May

Interior Minister, Rauf Aregbesola, has announced that Monday 25 and Tuesday 26 May 2020 have been declared public holidays to commemorate the Muslim feast of Eid-el-Fitr.

In a statement from the Ministry signed by Director Press and Public Relations, Mohammed Manga, the Minister congratulated Muslim faithful for successfully completing the Ramadan fast.

Eid is the first day of the Islamic month of Shawwal and marks the end of Ramadan, which is a month of fasting and prayer.

In Nigeria Muslims attend communal prayers, listen to sermons and give charity in the form of food during the festival.

Aregbesola asked Muslims to emulate the virtues of Prophet Muhammad which he listed as “kindness, love, tolerance, peace and good neighbourliness.”

The minister also joined the call for Nigerians to take responsibility against the spread of COVID-19 by staying safe through “observing physical and social distancing, personal and respiratory hygiene as well as other regulations issued by relevant authorities.”