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Nigerian Politics And Fallacy Of PDP-APC Semblance

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Retrogressive Politics Of Value Added Tax In Nigeria

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Salihu Moh. Lukman

Partisan Problem of One-Dimensional Politics

In his recent book, Arguing with Zombies: Economics, Politics and the Fight for Better Future, the American economist, Paul Krugman drew attention to what he refers to as ‘one-dimensional politics’, which is about opinions and not facts. According to him, ‘everything is political. In many cases, accepting what the evidence says about …question will be seen as a partisan act.’ Although the United States was the focus of Krugman’s analysis, one-dimensional politics such that accepting evidence becomes partisan, goes beyond the US. At least, it is also the reality in Nigeria, largely because opinions dominate almost all political conversations in the country. For instance, there is the widespread belief that the two leading parties in the country – Peoples’ Democratic Party (PDP) and All Progressives Congress (APC) – are the same. Some analysts have gone further to argue that both parties have failed Nigerians.P

Prof. Attahiru Jega, former Chairman of the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC), in a BBC Hausa Service interview on August 2, 2021, reechoed this position with the submission that ‘the two big parties have failed to engender good governance and development in the country.’ Consequently, he called on Nigerians not to ‘give their trust to the parties again.’ Coming from Prof. Jega, the claim that both the PDP and APC are the same and have failed Nigerians should not be taken lightly. Prof. Jega wasn’t just the former Chairman of INEC. He is a respected political scientist internationally. He is both a theoretician and practitioner whose commitment to Nigeria’s development cannot be faulted. He grew through the ranks of radical activism to become the leader, both intellectually and in the practical field of politics and was able to inspire and influence the emergence of generation of both activists and leaders in the country. As Chairman of INEC, it cannot be disputed that he successfully led the reform of electoral management in the country.

As should be expected, both the PDP and APC dismissed Prof. Jega’s submissions that the two parties have failed Nigerians. Speaking through Mr. Kola Ologbondiyan and Sen. John Akpanudoedehe, respectively PDP National Publicity Secretary and APC Secretary of Caretaker/Extraordinary National Convention Planning Committee, they both argued that Prof. Jega was wrong to conclude that the two parties have failed Nigerians. PDP went further to accuse Prof. Jega of being ignorant of the ‘significant milestones’ it recorded during its reign and contended that ‘it is indeed unfortunate that … a professor of Political Science could portray an ignorance of the manifest contrasts between the robust fortunes of our nation under the PDP and the wasteland she has become under the APC.’

Somehow, both responses from the two officials of the PDP and APC failed to disproof Prof. Jega’s declaration that PDP and APC have failed Nigerians. A clear demonstration of the problem of one-dimensional politics, which is just about opinion and even when there is evidence to prove otherwise, individual opinion of leaders, which was what the responses of both Mr. Ologbondiyan and Sen. Akpanudoedehe represents, will instead be the reference. The responses from Mr. Ologbondiyan and Sen. Akpanudoedehe, if allowed to stand can only strengthen the argument that both PDP and APC are the same, which is not correct. The question of whether PDP and APC are the same and have all failed Nigerians should therefore be proven beyond the opinion of anybody, including the responses of Mr. Ologbondiyan and Sen. Akpanudoedehe. Irrespective of whether it is PDP, APC or any other party for that matter, performances of parties when elected to manage governments must go beyond opinions.

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Perhaps, it needs to be acknowledged that the disposition of politicians to switch between parties, especially from PDP to APC and vice versa, is often cited as a justification of semblance. In addition, there is also the question of ideology, which many have argued is absent from Nigerian politics and is another evidence of why the two parties are the same. While it is important to acknowledge the validity of this criticism, it doesn’t however confirm that both the two parties are the same and as Prof. Jega alleged have failed Nigerians. Noting that Prof. Jega granted the BBC interview as a member of the People Redemption Party (PRP), it is important that he is assisted to go beyond the seductive appeal of one-dimensional politics by checking what the evidence are with respect to the credentials of both the APC and PDP as ruling parties.

Recognising also that one-dimensional politics, in the context of Nigeria, encourages politicians to resent criticisms, which is why Prof. Jega can be accused of being ignorant of ‘significant milestones’, politicians, especially from leading political parties need to also be made to appreciate that their opinion does not prove any achievement or disprove failure. To dismiss people criticising both the PDP and APC highlights the problem of intolerance, which Nigerian democracy must overcome. Intolerance creates a big gap between politics and knowledge. The consequence is that many politicians will continue to develop inferiority complex, based on which they use very uncouth language in responding to criticisms. It will either be a case of ‘ignorance’ as Mr. Ologbondiyan and Sen. Akpanudoedehe, will argue, ‘nauseating, malicious and nonsensical’ as Dr. Chris Ngige will refer to criticism of his management of industrial relations in the country or Comrade Adams Oshiomhole’s reference to people critical of his leadership approaches as ‘cowards and pigs’. Once it is the attitude of politicians to resent criticism, loyal party members will be intimidated and forced to submission. Nigerian politics must be reoriented such that leaders are able to respect criticism.

PDP and APC have failed Nigerians: Scholar Jega Vs Politician Jega

First thing first, is it true that both PDP and APC ‘have failed to engender good governance and development in the country’ as argued by Prof. Jega? What exactly are the evidence that made Prof. Jega to arrive at such a conclusion? So far, from the BBC interview, Prof. Jega did not present any specific validation of his conclusion. Both listening and reading the script of the interview, one is tempted to conclude that Prof. Jega spoke more as a politician in that interview than the thorough scholar he is. Being a PRP member, it was more about justifying his choice of PRP as opposed to any of the so-called big parties. In many respects, it wasn’t necessary at all. He doesn’t need to justify his political choice with reference to other parties. Doing so, cheaply brings him down to the basement of one-dimensional politics, which he is way above. As a result, at least from the BBC interview, he didn’t make any attempt to present how his party, PRP, will be different.

A person of the stature of Prof. Jega is entitled to his own political choice without having to justify it with reference to what is in existence. Projecting his choice confidently without having to situate it in relation to existing parties will determine substantially the value he is bringing into Nigerian partisan politics. No doubt, his potential is very high, which is why every serious-minded Nigerian should continue to advocate that people like Prof. Jega should join partisan politics. Being the successful scholar he is, in fact an authority in the field of political science in every respect, evidence-based politics should be the reference point of his political conclusions. He should be able to engage politics based on facts and not just opinion. Once he deviates from that and orient his politics based on opinions, it will be difficult, if not impossible for him to be different from the mainstream Nigerian politicians. This will simply mean that partisan politics will erode his moral authority and devalue his personality.

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The second concern borders on how the two senior officials of the two parties – PDP and APC – contemptuously dismissed Prof. Jega’s statement. The PDP went further to question the credential of Prof. Jega as a professor of political science. This highlights one of the dangers of the Nigerian brand of one-dimensional politics. What qualifies any politician to question the academic qualification of anybody? Anybody going into politics, should be ready to be bullied by politicians who are experts in all the conventional strategies, both fair and unfair. It is debatable, if politics has entry requirement, Mr. Ologbondiyan can qualify to be anywhere near Prof. Jega. Once the disposition of politicians is to disrespect people like Prof. Jega, it will be almost impossible to expect anything more than what the PDP has achieved in Nigerian politics, which is more about opinion rather than evidence.

The truth is that one-dimensional politics in Nigeria, create a situation whereby no matter one’s level of education or exposure, the person must contend with the strong opinions of politicians. Going contrary to those opinions will be resisted. In the process, crude methods will be applied to rubbish the person. Recall how sadly under the immediate past leadership of the APC, a particular person was disqualified from emerging as a candidate of the party for election based on false allegation that his academic qualification was forged. Even when the registrar of the institution made public statement confirming that the person graduated from that institution, the APC leadership went ahead to disqualify the person.

With one-dimensional politics, everything is reduced to opinion. With Prof. Jega now becoming a partisan politician, will he play politics based on evidence or it will just be about his opinion? Will he fail to apply all his knowledge and experience, which is his life achievement and use it to contribute towards building Nigerian political parties to practice evidence-based politics? Or will he join the conventional one-dimensional politics, which is just about opinions? One will be tempted to imagine that even the choice of PRP suggests that Prof. Jega wants to practise evidence-based politics largely perhaps because he is looking for a free space where internal dynamics doesn’t have the strong opinion that will be hard to break. In many respects, the choice of political party based on the strategy of avoiding strong opinions is simply a quick fix, which may not translate to any qualitative shift. That is why Prof. Jega’s BBC interview makes him vulnerable to being downgraded to the basement of one-dimensional politics.

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This being the case, Prof. Jega, the politician risked being different from Prof. Jega the scholar. If Nigerian partisan politics is to benefit at all from Prof. Jega’s wealth of knowledge and experience, Prof. Jega the politician should be the same person as Prof. Jega the thorough scholar, theoretician, and practitioner of evidence-based politics. Being a member of PRP, his contribution towards the development of the PRP, should be evidence-based so that he is able to apply his knowledge and experience in politics. Otherwise, his ability to contribute to making PRP competitive in the politics of Nigeria will be blocked because however he approaches it, he will have to still contend with all the strong opinions that dominate Nigerian politics when seeking to mobilise support for his party, as was the case with the BBC interview.

PDP’s Significant Milestone – A Confirmation of Failure

If evidence-based politics is the reference, the recognition that no party is perfect is important. To that extent, it should be also recognised that both PDP and APC have challenges. Part of the challenge is that leaders and members of political parties should constantly be working to build capacity and correct inadequacies. The degree to which leaders of political parties ignore problems or deny that those challenges exist, the weaker they will be in managing public trust. Once the disposition of leaders is to deny existence of challenges, one-dimensional politics oriented based on opinions, which may not be the true reflections of reality, will be the attraction. Therefore, when PDP’s Mr. Ologbondiyan referred to ‘significant milestones’ recorded during the sixteen years tenure of the PDP, it is more about his opinion, which for opportunistic reasons of gaining electoral advantage could be acceptable to other PDP leaders and members.

The evidence so far from PDP’s record of sixteen years in government is largely about a litany of corruption and how problems of insecurity became widespread in the country. With respect to the problem of corruption, a series of reports of investigation is there, which is not about anybody’s opinion. For instance, recall the House of Representatives investigation into petroleum subsidy in 2012. Under the Chairmanship of Hon. Faruk Lawan, the Committee reported that “contrary to official figure of subsidy payment of N1.3 Trillion, the Accountant-General of the Federation put forward a figure of N1.6 Trillion, the CBN N1.7 Trillion, while the Committee established subsidy payment of N2.587 Trillion as at December 2011, amounting to more than 900% over the appropriated sum of N245 Billion. This figure of N2.587 Trillion is based on the CBN figure of N844.944 billion paid to NNPC, in addition to another figure of N847.942 billion reflected as withdrawals by NNPC from the excess crude naira account, as well as the sum of N894.201 billion paid as subsidy to Marketers. The figure of N847.942 billion quoted above strongly suggests that NNPC might have been withdrawing from two sources especially when double withdrawals were also reflected both in 2009 and 2010.” The report also indicted the Accountant-General of the Federation because of payments in 2009, in equal instalments of N999 million for 128 times, totaling N127.872 billion.

Also recall the claims and counterclaims of missing oil revenues in October 2013 when Mallam Sanusi Lamido Sanusi, as CBN Governor alleged that $49.8 billion from the sales of crude oil between January 2012 – July 2013 was missing from NNPC accounts. Following a series of audits and reconciliation meetings involving NNPC, CBN and Ministry of Finance, the former CBN Governor reported the missing amount to be $20 billion while the former Minister of Finance, Mrs. Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala reported $10.8 billion. On February 20, 2014, former President Goodluck Jonathan suspended Mallam Sanusi from office over allegations of financial misconduct. After the suspension of Mallam Sanusi as CBN Governor, PricewaterhouseCoopers (PwC) confirmed that about $20 billion was missing.

In 2012, there was the case of Police Pension Task Force, which was investigated by the Senate Joint Committee on Public Service and Establishment and State and Local Government Administration. Some of the revelations include withdrawal of N24 billion for payment of pension that required about N3.5 billion — the Chairman of the Pension Review Task Team, Alh. Abdulrasheed Maina, informed the Senate Committee of two accounts in Lagos where police pension funds were lodged, each amounting to N21 and N24 billion. Alh. Maina reported daily withdrawals of various sums of money from these accounts ranging from N200 to N300 million. A total sum of N273.9 billion was reported by the Senate Committee to have been looted in 6 years from the police pension fund.

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Other corruption cases under PDP (1999 – 2015) include the case of $180 million Halliburton; $1.1 billion Malabo Oil; Princess Stella Oduak N255 million Aviation Ministry bulletproof cars; N10 billion jet scam involving the Petroleum Minister (2011 – 2015), Mrs. Dizieni Alison Madueke; and House of Representatives Capital Market probe; and N360 billion service-wide scam. There was also the case of $2.1 billion arms deal involving Col. (Rtd) Sambo Dasuki, former National Security Adviser under the Jonathan’s PDP administration. The breakdown showed that N1.5 billion was paid to Alh. Bashir Yuguda, which was reportedly disbursed in respective sums to the following PDP chieftains – N600 million to PDP 2015 election campaign Contact and Mobilization chairmen (Chief Bode George, Amb. Yerima Abdullahi, Mr. Peter Odili, Alh. Attahiru Bafarawa, Chief Jim Nwobodo and Col. (Rtd) Ahmadu Ali); N300 million to BAM properties linked to Alh. Bello Haliru, former PDP National Chairman; N200 million to Alh. Bello Sarkin Yaki, former PDP Kebbi State 2015 governorship candidate; N100 million to Alh. Mahmud Shinkafi, former PDP Zamfara State Governor; and N100 million to Dalhatu Limited linked to Alh. Attahiru Bafarawa.

Other disbursements from the $2.1 billion arms deal were N750 million to Reliance Referral Hospital Limited for special prayers; N380 million to support re-election of PDP members of House of Representatives; N550 million to Thisday Newspaper allegedly as compensation for attacks on the newspaper’s offices in Kaduna and Abuja in 2012; N120 million to Nduka Obaigbena allegedly as compensation for copies of various newspapers seized in June 2014; N170 million for the purchase of four-bedroom duplex; N260 million paid to Chief Tony Anenih; N345 million paid to Sen. Iyorchia Ayu; and N90 million for Dasuki’s son’s house.

Even in terms of the internal administration of PDP, corruption was an identifiable legacy. The proof is the construction of the PDP National Secretariat for which on November 14, 2008, the then National Chairman of PDP, Chief Vincent Ogbulafor, organised a fundraising dinner in Abuja to raise N10 billion to finance the construction of a 12-storey new PDP National Secretariat, located on Muhammadu Buhari Way, Central Business District, Abuja. Quoting Premium Times, Sahara Reporters of January 22, 2017, reported that the dinner, which was chaired by Dr. Goodluck Jonathan, then Vice President, raised over N6 billion for the project.

Some of the donors include Mr. Femi Otedola who donated the highest amount of N1 billion and his late father, Chief Michael Otedola, who donated N25 million. Other big donors included Alh. Aliko Dangote who offered to supply cement worth N3 billion; the PDP National Working Committee, N1 billion; Mrs. Bola Shagaya, N25 million; Strabag Construction Company N100 million; Ogun State Government, N10 million; and an anonymous donor, N100 million. The late President Umaru Yar’Adua and his Vice President, Dr. Jonathan, contributed N527,205 and N454,735, representing 15 per cent of their basic salaries, respectively. Each of the party’s 28 State Governors at the time was reportedly levied N50 million by the party.

The contract for the PDP National Secretariat project was awarded to BNL Limited. The party paid an initial sum of N2 billion while BNL Limited was billed to complete construction of the National Secretariat project in 126 weeks. Sahara Reporters further reported in January 2017 that because of construction variations over the years, the project cost rose to N16 billion from the 2008 estimated N10 billion out of which the party had paid N6 billion before work stopped. At it is, the project has been abandoned.

Another major legacy of the PDP’s sixteen years tenure was the problem of insecurity, especially Boko Haram insurgency in the North-East. Of course, there were problems of vandalisation of oil installations and kidnapping in the South-South and parts of South-East, cases of cattle rustling in North-West and North-Central. While it needs to be acknowledged that the cases of vandalisation of oil installations and kidnapping by Niger Delta militants in South-South were brought under control, the case of Boko Haram insurgency in the North-East was politicised by the PDP under former President Jonathan, which accounted for the failure of the PDP administration to mobilise effective response. When for instance, the abduction of more than 200 Chibok schoolgirls happened in 2014, the position of former President Jonathan-led PDP Federal Government was that it was a setup. For quite some time, former President Jonathan administration did not mobilise any response to the Chibok abduction. Up to May 2015 when APC government was inaugurated, PDP-led Federal Government failed to mobilise strong military response to the problem of Boko Haram insurgency in the North-East.

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Apart from all these records of corruption and insecurity, what were the other legacies of the PDP after sixteen years in government at Federal level? May be Mr. Ologbondiyan and other PDP leaders can provide the evidence of ‘significant milestones’, which may be different from the depressing records of corruption and insecurity. Or put differently, the evidence will confirm ‘manifest contrasts … robust fortunes of our nation under the PDP.’ PDP’s Mr. Ologbondiyan will have to go beyond claims and specifically tell Nigerians what exactly were the ‘significant milestones’ recorded by the PDP during its sixteen years reign in power between 1999 and 2015.

APC’s Contrasting Scorecard

While awaiting Mr. Ologbondiyan and PDP leaders’ account of ‘significant milestones’, as well as Prof. Jega’s evidence that both PDP and APC have failed Nigerians, as members of APC, we should be able to engage the debate by providing supporting evidence highlighting the contrasting scorecards of APC government in the last six years. In doing so, it will be necessary to acknowledge challenges. Unlike PDP leaders, APC leaders are not in denial of the existence of challenges. Despite the challenges, however, the APC Federal Government under the leadership of President Muhammadu Buhari is making efforts to move the country forward. To confirm that, unlike the PDP, the APC- led government is not a failure, and three important achievements, in the areas of social investment, infrastructure and agriculture will be emphasised. The assessment of challenges of insecurity and how APC is handling them differently will be also presented as part of the supporting evidence of APC’s contrasting scorecard.

Social Investment Programme: Since emerging as the governing party in 2015, the APC Federal Government has been implementing the National Social Investment Programme (NSIP), which is far more than what any government in the past has done. Now elevated to a ministerial status, which is the initiative of President Buhari, it is founded on four pillars of N-Power, Conditional Cash Transfer (CCT), Home Grown School Feeding and Government Enterprise and Empowerment Programme (GEEP). With the goal of lifting 100 million Nigerians out of poverty, millions of poor Nigerians are benefiting from these initiatives. For instance, GEEP has disbursed N36.9 billion in interest-free loans of between N50,000 to N350,000 to more than 2.3 million Nigerians. Under the Home-Grown School Feeding Programme, 9.9 million primary 1 – 3 pupils in 54,952 public primary schools in 35 states have benefited. Additional 107,000 cooks have been engaged. In the case of Conditional Cash Transfer more than 3 million poor and vulnerable households have been registered on the National Social Register, out of which more than one million families are currently being paid N5,000 monthly.

Infrastructure: When President Muhammadu Buhari administration assumed office in 2015, the total budget for Federal Roads by the outgoing PDP government of former President Goodluck Jonathan was 18 billion Naira, which is only about 25% of the Lagos State roads budget for that year. The persistent skeletal funding translated to abandoned or slow-moving road projects across the country. The APC administration’s first priorities were to increase the amount of funding available for road projects, while also ensuring the resumption of work on abandoned projects. In 2016, the roads budget went up to 260 billion Naira, for which about 200 billion Naira was released.

Significantly, more resources were devoted to construction of road and transport infrastructure than any other administration since 1999, and the results are roads, bridges, highways, rail lines and stations, and air and seaport upgrades. Work has since resumed on several stalled, abandoned or solution-defying road projects that were inherited, like the Loko-Oweto Bridge, Lagos-Ibadan Expressway, Sagamu-Benin Expressway, the Enugu-Port Harcourt Expressway, Onitsha-Enugu Expressway, Kano-Maiduguri Expressway, Abuja-Kaduna-Zaria-Kano Expressway, Obajana-Kabba Road, Ilorin-Jebba Road, Apapa-Oshodi-Oworonshoki Road, and several others are in progress, with some already close to completion.

A brand new bridge in Ikom, Cross River State, has just been completed, to replace a dilapidated steel truss bridge originally built five decades ago, as was a new border bridge linking Nigeria and Cameroon, in the spirit of regional integration. Construction work on the Second Niger Bridge, a contract awarded multiple times between 2002 and 2015, but constantly stalled for lack of funding, finally kicked off in 2018, with guaranteed funding, for the first time in the history of the project. In 2017, construction finally commenced on the Bodo-Bonny Bridges and Road (linking Bonny Island to the Rivers Mainland), a project first mooted decades ago, and awarded a number of times without success, prior to the Buhari APC-led Administration. Currently, according to the Federal Ministry of Works and Housing, there are around 900 active road contracts, covering the construction, reconstruction or rehabilitation of more than 13,000km of federal roads and highways across the country, out of a total of 35,000km of federal roads in existence.

Agriculture: Some of the specific initiatives of the APC-led government of President Buhari in the agricultural sector include National Food Security Council (NFSC), Agriculture for Food and Jobs Plan (AFJP), National Livestock Transformation Plan, the Anchor Borrowers Programme (ABP), the Presidential Fertilizer Initiative (PFI), and Creation of an Enabling Environment. Specifically, the ABP for instance, implemented by the Central Bank of Nigeria, since 2015, provided more than 300 billion Naira to more than 3.1 million smallholder farmers of 21 different commodities (including Rice, Wheat, Maize, Cotton, Cassava, Poultry, Soy Beans, Groundnut, Fish), across Nigeria, successfully cultivating over 3.8 million hectares of farmland.

The PFI has produced and delivered to the Nigerian market, over 30 million 50kg bags equivalent of fertilizer, at reduced prices; and resulted in the revival or construction of no fewer than 40 moribund fertilizer blending plants across the country. That Nigeria today has 44 functioning blending plants, with more on the way, is solely due to the success of the Presidential Fertilizer Initiative (PFI). The plants include the following:

· In 2017, the multinational group Olam invested $150 million in an integrated animal feed mill, poultry breeding farms and hatchery in Kaduna State, as well as an integrated poultry and fish feed mill in Kwara State.

· In Anambra State, the Coscharis Group began the cultivation of rice in 2016, on a 2,500 hectare farm, and soon after expanded into milling, with the commissioning of a 40,000 MT modular Rice Mill in 2019.

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· In Niger State, the BUA Group is currently completing a $300million Integrated facility comprising a Sugar Mill, Ethanol Plant, Sugar Refinery and Power Plant, and a 20,000-Hectare Farm.

· In Kebbi State, GB Foods has invested 20 billion Naira in a Tomato Processing Factory supplied by what is said to be the single largest tomato farm in the country. Future phases of the investment will make it the largest processing facility for fresh tomatoes in sub-Saharan Africa.

· The same GB Foods in July 2020 opened its N5.5 billion Mayonnaise production facility in Ogun State, which will be supplied with input from the company’s new farms in Kebbi State.

· In Lagos, Ariel Foods FZE has recently constructed and completed the biggest Ready-To-Use Therapeutic Foods (RUTF) production facility in Africa.

· In Nasarawa State, the Nigeria Sovereign Investment Authority (NSIA) has recently completed work on the first phase of a multi-million-dollar animal feed processing facility and a backward-integrated 3000-hectare Maize and Soyabeans Farm, in a co-investment partnership with a South African Investment Group.

· In 2021, the Dangote Group commissioned its $2 billion Fertilizer Plant, with an annual capacity of 3 million Metric Tonnes, the largest fertilizer plant in West Africa. In June 2021, the plant began delivering an average of 120 trucks of Urea per week to the Nigerian market, and is also set to target the export market across West Africa and beyond.

· State Governments are also actively keying into the President’s Agriculture vision. In 2018, Cross River commissioned a 3 billion Naira Hybrid Rice Seedlings Factory, to supply rice seedlings to farmers and governments across the country.

· Lagos State is completing the 32 Metric Tonne per hour Imota Rice Mill, which, when functional, will be one of the largest rice processing facilities in sub-Saharan Africa. The Imota Rice Mill will produce 2.4 million bags of 50kg per annum, and create an estimated 250,000 direct and indirect jobs, and will plug Lagos State firmly into the national rice value chain.

· Ekiti State is reviving its Ikun Dairy Farm, in a successful partnership with Promasidor, with a production target of 10,000 Liters of milk daily.

· In Ondo State, the 9 billion Naira Sunshine Chocolate Factory – a Public Private Partnership involving the State Government – was completed and commissioned in 2020, to take advantage of the state’s leading position in the cultivation of cocoa.

Apart from these three sectors, there are other initiatives in other sectors. The achievements cited in these three sectors are just to substantiate the point that based on records of performance in government, APC can’t be in the same category with PDP. Anybody arguing that these achievements represent failure will need to substantiate it with convincing evidence of how their impact on the lives of Nigerians translate to negative outcomes.

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Beyond Politics

The need to be honest, whether as politicians or intellectuals is a minimum requirement that should confer legitimacy on conclusions being presented to Nigerians. If the APC-led Federal Government has initiated the kind of ambitious National Social Investment Programme in the country, which no other government in the past has undertaken, including PDP governments, isn’t that a confirmation of the difference between PDP and APC? If the APC-led Federal Government has successfully revived Nigerian Railways, actively implementing around 900 road contracts, covering the construction, reconstruction or rehabilitation of more than 13,000km of federal roads and highways across the country, out of a total of 35,000km of federal roads in existence, how many kilometers of road contracts were constructed, reconstructed or rehabilitated throughout PDP’s sixteen years rule?

What were the specific agricultural initiatives of all the PDP-led Federal Governments between 1999 and 2015? In the context of these three achievements, and in other areas, the APC-led Federal Government was able to succeed where other administrations, including the PDP have failed. Take the case of the 327km Itakpe-Warri Standard Gauge Rail, completed by the President Buhari-led APC administration 33 years after construction began. there was the evidential case of the second Niger Bridge, originally conceived decades ago, which is now more than 50 percent completed, and scheduled for commissioning in 2022. There was the case of the Lagos-Ibadan Expressway, which has defied every PDP administration since 1999.

There is the case of the new Petroleum Industry Bill assented to by President Buhari on Monday, August 16, 2021, which is going to restructure the operations and management of the Nigerian oil and gas industry. The initiative to put in place a new legal framework for the oil and gas sector started under the PDP government of former President Olusegun Obasanjo, more than two decades ago. It was shrouded in endless national debates and stalemate but was eventually passed by the two Chambers of the National Assembly under APC leadership with a six-month transition for the emergence of a new institutional framework for the operations of oil and gas industry in the country.

If with all these, it means that PDP and APC are the same and have all failed, then failure must be defined in a way that invalidates APC’s achievements since taking over the reins of Federal Government in 2015. However, recognising that the issues of insecurity inherited by the APC-led government of President Buhari remained a major national challenge, it is important that the assessment of performance of APC government is not reduced to opinions of individual politicians. The reality is that both President Buhari and all APC leaders acknowledged the enormity of the challenges of insecurity in the country, which is why Maj. Gen. (Rtd) Babagana Monguno, National Security Adviser was reported after the meeting of National Security Council of August 19, 2021, to have declared that President Buhari ‘would not leave office a failure.’ This is in recognition of the fact notwithstanding all the achievements of the APC administration, once the problem of insecurity persists, it means the government has failed.

Noting also that the APC administration is taking steps to equip the security agencies and build morale, promote community-led solutions, develop new security infrastructure and operations across land and maritime environments, and address the underlying drivers of insecurity (poverty and youth unemployment), encouraging reports are emerging from the various theatres of operation. Although serious challenges still exist, and there is still a long way to go in restoring a robust sense of security in the country, it is also very important to continually acknowledge the successes being recorded by the military and law enforcement agencies, in the various theatres of operation across the country.

For instance, the tide has turned against Boko Haram and ISWAP in the North-East and is turning against the bandits and criminals in the North-West. In the South East, relative calm has returned, and efforts are ongoing to fully neutralise the militant networks that have been troubling the region. In the Coastal Areas, the full rollout of the Deep Blue and Falcon Eye surveillance and security projects is certain to deal a strong blow on the activities of pirates and militants in the weeks and months ahead.

Certainly, all these measures can be strengthened, and the government can do more especially in relation to getting our security agencies to be more accountable. Everything considered, the current security structure in the country needs to be radically reformed. Issues of amending the laws to enable state governments to establish state policeare clearly unavoidable.

However, there are conditions that must be met before any decision to establish state police can serve as a good response to Nigeria’s security challenges. These include the requirement that processes of regulating the operations of the state police should be centralised as part of the functions of the Federal Police. Under that, for instance, issues of recruitment, qualification, background checks for those to be recruited, enforcement of disciplinary requirement, arms procurement and training for weapon handling, etc. should be handled at the federal level so that there are uniform standards across the country. It should be like the case of universities with National University Commission (NUC) serving as the regulatory body enforcing standards across all Nigerian universities.

Outside regulations, there are issues of funding. Most time, Nigerians make proposals in terms of how government should address challenges with the assumption that funding is given, which means that government can always mobilise the resources. This is mostly exaggerated. To address Nigerian security challenges, especially if the establishment of state police is to be considered, there must be a new funding arrangement, which should insulate the operations of Nigeria Police including the new state police to be established from all the uncertainties surrounding public financial management.

Conclusion – Facts Should Define the Boundaries of Politics

If the narrative is that PDP and APC have failed, what is the evidence based on the performances of both the PDP during its sixteen years tenure between 1999 and 2015, on the one hand, and that of the APC since 2015, on the other? If the disposition of politicians is one-dimensional politics, which is limited to opinions, why should scholars endorse opinions without evaluating them based on what the facts are? Could it be that the field of politics is truly different from the intellectual environment? May be that is so. However, it will be important to recognise that the ability of individuals to contribute to changing Nigerian politics will depend a lot on the extent to which facts are recognised and respected. Whether political conclusions are oriented based on unsubstantiated opinions or facts, depends a lot on the degree to which evidence rather than opinion is the reference. Once conclusions are about opinions, propensity to ignore facts and become intolerant will be high.

The contours of the difference between the PDP and APC should be defined by the records of their experiences managing governments. The commitment to move Nigerian politics forward should be constructed based honest recognition of the realities, which the facts of performances of political parties when entrusted to manage governments represents.

Dr. Lukman is the Director-General of the Progressive Governors Forum, Abuja.This position does not represent the view of any APC governor or the forum

 

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Opinion

Wanted: Nigerian Football Museum (2)

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Wanted: Nigerian Football Museum (2)

By

Tony Afejuku

Let me let you enter my column today by way of revising a remark I made last Friday with reference to Daniel Okwudili. Daniel Okwudili was not a product of Amukpe Football Club of Sapele. He was a product of Warri Football Club in the early sixties. He was discovered in Warri from where he played for the Green Eagles as a right inside forward. He was a product of Hussey College, Warri. Much, much earlier he was a product of Sacred Heart, a Catholic Primary School in Warri where his football stretched out to Hussey College.

Mr. Amaju Pinnick may not know it now, but after all is said or written or recorded after his precious or not precious time, or tenure or period as chairman of the Nigeria Football Federation his wondrous legacy that will remain his wondrously permanent legacy is the football museum being canvased here and now. If he can do this, if he does this, if he establishes this museum we shall hail him to the high heavens of Nigerian football. And we shall do so by importing from Australia specially and meticulously well bred wonga-wongas to celebrate him and the historic institution. But the envisaged football museum is not to be seen as a mere wood lot or bush lot. It is envisaged as an institution of a great historical record of great success for our football project of sound intellectual merit. The staff to run and man it shall be the right caliber staff especially at the senior category or senior level to engage in adequate research of pure beauty to stand and watch over our football not as its police or sheriff but as its keeper and researcher of records. Sports writers and chroniclers, football essayists and academic football writers and chroniclers and academic and non-academic football anthropologists shall be engaged by the museum to go back into the deep past to straighten, straighten out and straighten up our football in all ramifications right from the deep past, I repeat, up to the present time. Mr. Amaju Pinnick should intellectualize our football.

READ ALSO: Wanted: Nigerian Football Museum (1)

Who and who did this or that for Nigerian football and at what time, or at what period as players, official referees, ball boys/girls, as proprietors or proprietresses or as philanthropists, etc.? Can we get their pictures or murals or drawings or images as mementos to encourage present players and lovers of our football to be real football patriots of Nigerian football? Who were and are current heroes and heroines of Nigerian football? What historical and patriotic projections can be made for those who are rightly visible now and who definitely are not going to be visible tomorrow but whose legacies should (and must) be recorded and kept alive for posterity? These and several other issues I don’t wish to mention here now for strategic reasons and considerations should receive the beautiful and expansive attention of Mr. Amaju Pinnick and members of the Nigeria Football Federation (NFF) he leads. In fact, Mr. Amaju Pinnick and the Federal Minister of Sports, Mr. Sunday Dare, the equally youthful sports administrator, should sit down and rub minds over my modest proposal which should be in the capital heart of their respective football and sports hearts.

Now I should steer my readers to the foreign football port that inspired me to feel for Nigerian football as I have lovingly felt for it to the extent that I am hereby dreaming for it the need for Mr. Amaju Pinnick to erect a museum for it.

My reader from across the Atlantic Ocean (who pointed out my Daniel Okwudili error) drew my football heart and mind to a black football “trailblazer” who “helped transform how football was placed” in  Scotland and in England. The name of this black “trailblazer” was Andrew Wilson. He was born in Guyana in the West Indies of a very wealthy Scottish father (who made hay in Guyana) and a black slave mother. He was bred to become an English gentleman and made his great or iconic mark as a highly famed footballer who captained Scotland and was widely acknowledged as a fabulously fabulous Scottish footballer that led Scotland as its football captain to demolish England 6-1 “on his debut in 1881.” Andrew Watson has gone into history as the “world’s first black international, but for more than a century the significance of his achievement went un-recognised” on account of racism. Research of three decades has rescued him from oblivion and obscurity. A significant and well underlined description of him and Pele, the black and world football pearl of pearls, goes thus: “There are murals of black footballers facing one another across an alleyway in Glasgow. One helped football as we know it, the other is Pele.” Watson’s biography is very, very rich in every respect, but I am primarily concerned here with his football exploits. In his second match against England (not long after the first) he led Scotland to beat England 5-1 convincingly. This second heavy defeat compelled the English Football Association to change England’s football approach thanks to Andrew Watson who “assumed the role of Scotch Professor and taught his English peers “the science” of a more dynamic passing style.” And here is the gem of gems:

“Pele was a genius footballer, but there are thousands of genius footballers whose influence dies with them the second they retire,” says Ged O’Brien, founder of the Scottish Football Museum.

READ ALSO: Haba, Oga Ichabod, Were You  Actually Called?

“You can look at any game of football being played anywhere in the world – by any person of any gender or ethnicity or culture and the ghost of Andrew Watson will be looking down on you because they are playing his game.

“Watson is the most influential black footballer of all time. There is nobody that comes close.”

Many persons may accept almost everything in this quotation with a pinch of salt. But one thing is clear: Andrew Watson is today a living subject brought to our fading football consciousness by the Scottish Football Museum. This remark should enter well and well the key of Mr. Amaju Pinnicks’s Nigerian football administration, impression and pleasure – meaning that positive thoughts about giving us Nigeria Football Museum should start raining forth in profusion from him.

I must end this second division of my subject – before my conclusion – with what the Scottish Football Museum’s historians, researchers and academics also further brought to light about Andrew Watson: “During his life-time, Watson’s influence was felt across the game. He was a captain, a national cup winner, an administrator, investor and match official, each achievement and contribution made as the first black man to do so. Is Mr. Amaju Pinnick hearing me? Is Mr. Amaju Pinnick listening to this columnist? If he is not blocking his ears (and eyes), he should read well my lips: Don’t be satisfied with the pleasurable feeling of entering Nigerian football books as the first Itsekiri-Nigerian to be the chairman of our NFF and to be Nigeria’s representative in FIFA. He must make a mark that is a mark that is a legacy of legacies.

To be continued.

Afejuku can be reached via 08055213059.

 

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Haba, Oga Ichabod, Were You  Actually Called?         

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Haba, Oga Ichabod, Were You  Actually Called?         

By

Grace Ego Omoni

The world is changing rapidly in all facets of life…technology, science, education, fashion, money-making and of course our religion including absurd  activities of many  church leaders, I mean the so- called  “men of God.” Stories surrounding the “self-anointed men of God” are so incredible that one is left  but to ask whether they were really   called by  the  Lord who instituted the church or it was a self-induced call.

Career choice in guidance and counselling in the school system is based on the use of psychological tests, one of which is the Vocational Interest Inventory by Prof C.G.M Bakare. Unfortunately, many schools know little or nothing about this all-important tool which assists students to choose a career based on  their area of interest, ability and capability. So many people find themselves in professions  not actually meant for them but are there  just to make two ends meet. Of all the professions most bastardized,  is the pastoral ministry where we find every dick and harry calling and parading themselves as “men of God” whereas the anointing is very, very  far away from them.

They are of different shades: the trained but not carrying grace,  the charlatans, the  self-appointed church leader, the illiterate pastor, the morally bankrupt church leader, the false prophets/prophetesses and the general overseer church leader( which I have labelled: one-man company) and a host of others. My problem is that many of these so-called  “men of God” do not realise that church leadership is dependant on God’s power and call and not just a feeling or a desire. It is a decision taken which entails  relying  on God based on what He has revealed about Himself through His nature and the Scripture.

READ ALSO: When Engineers Go Unethical

Unfortunately, some of these “men of God” who are supposed to influence society positively in their biblical teachings and moral behaviours are the ones perpetrating corruption and immorality unabated in their environment. Unhealthy toxic culture has crept into the church and it  is being spread sporadically by this  calibre of Christians popularly applauded as “men of God.” Hence my question: Haba, Mr. Ichabod, were you actually called or you see this noble profession as your last resort after failing to secure a job in the secular world? Why have you decided to make the glory of God to depart from the church? This article is  meant to  help us  reposition and redefine the influence and the role  of church leaders in our society and not in any way to bring  her to disrepute.

Thus, we shall be looking at this discussion under the following sub-topics:

1) The characteristics of the ideal church leader or pastor.

2)Levels of immorality among pastors.

3)Factors facilitating  immorality among pastors.

4)Consequences of these practices on the society.

5)Counselling strategies.

As earlier observed, this article is not to play down Christianity but it is  with a view to repositioning the integrity of the church and for society to realise that the office  of the pastor is sacred,  noble, ordained by God, a model worthy of emulation and thus must be held in high esteem.

Characteristics of  an  ideal pastor or man of God or church leader:       

According to 1Cor 2: 14, “the natural man receiveth not the things of the spirit for they are foolishness unto him; neither can he know them because they are spiritually discerned.” Thus a real man of God is spiritually inclined, anointed and called by God Himself. He is able to discern spiritual things; listens and hears from God. He is one who can give a defined testimony of his or her call into the ministry. Such a one   must have undergone proper training in a bible school, a theological seminary or college. There must be evidence of this training; he or she must show evidence of being qualified to pastor the church by his or her character. That is he must possess a licence which gives him the authority to minister under laid down principles, beliefs and practices of the denomination he belongs to. This licence acts as checks and balances to him in his role as a church pastor. The implication is that such a licence can be withdrawn from a pastor who fails to live up to expectations as outlined in the ethics, beliefs and practices of the church.

The scripture also identifies the many qualities of a pastor. He must be blameless, husband of one wife with disciplined children and able to rule his house. He must not be a drunk nor a brawler. He must not be  covetous. He must be of very good moral behaviour, accommodating, not greedy or boastful or proud.  The pastor is patient, not given to wine, hospitable, vigilant, full of wisdom from above and not sexually immoral or weak. He is not given to telling lies, not quarrelsome or one who exhibits uncontrollable anger. He is disciplined, , a lover of peace, sober and is judicious with his speech and not greedy for riches or women. He must be able to teach the word in truth and in spirit and must be able to influence the church and the society positively.

READ ALSO: Dealing With Mental Illness In The Family

Levels of unethical and immoral behaviour among pastors.

The church is supposed to be the core institution where morality is taught and a campaign against immorality ought to be mostly carried out. Morality relates to the act of being right or wrong. It pertains to the principles concerning good or bad behaviour in which man is supposed to act; whereas, immorality connotes unethical practices not acceptable by the society. It pertains to all forms of absurd abominable corrupt and evil acts by individuals. It is pathetic to observe that immorality among Christian leaders/ pastors is going on at an alarming rate.

The level of immorality among “men of God” is rampant and high  and  causing embarrassment to the church. It has negatively affected the society. It has brought serious shame, disgrace and mockery to Christendom as well as lawlessness/disorderliness to the larger society. It is an irony that men of God who are supposed to be role models to the secular world are actually the shameless vanguards and perpetrators of immorality. The integrity of the church is now at stake making the glory of God to depart( Ichabod).

Stories of pastors engaging in all manner of unethical practices, corruption and  immorality abound. They range from frauds, deceptions, intimidation, false teachings and prophecies, heterosexual and homosexual acts ( gay/lesbianism relationships), sex abuse,  adultery, fornication,  violent conducts, vandalism, covetousness, pride and power intoxication to  misappropriation of church funds, acts of schism, cheating, swindling of funds, fighting, lying,  ostentatious lifestyles and bullying.  Here are some scenarios as reported in the media, by friends and those personally witnessed. It was reported recently in the media of a pastor caught in an adulterous act with a member’s wife and he shamelessly asserted that God told him to do so. Does God have a double standard?

The 10th commandment says that we should not covet a neighbour’s wife but this pastor claimed that God told him to sleep with his member’s wife right inside the church office! Haba! Some weeks back, a pastor was made to pay the dowry and perform all the marriage and funeral rites  of a dead woman who had an abortion for him. It was reported that he forced the lady to go for an abortion because  it was shameful to hear that he put  a girl in the family way out of wedlock. Just a few days ago, a friend narrated how a pastor resold plots of land he had already sold years past to new buyers just recently and lavished the proceeds on  women leaving the mother, the real owner of  the land homeless and the immediate family in  total penury.

Presently,  he is roaming about with nothing because the church has relieved him of his appointment. Yet another story of our so-called “men of God.” Some years ago, a pastor fought his members in the church with only his pants on in  the presence of onlookers and  without remorse. He was already at loggerheads with the church, so he refused to release the musical instrument for the members to use. What a shameful act!  What a world!  Recently, a group of people witnessed an ugly situation of money swindling by a pastor right inside the church and people could not talk and arrogantly carted the money away.

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A story was  also told of a pastor who engaged in administering drugs and giving medical treatment to people in a village in the Niger Delta Region. He was neither a  trained nurse nor a  doctor or a pharmacist. This very pastor was also involved in a sexual relationship with a widow in the church. This last but not the least story is an eye-witness account. During an executive zonal  meeting of a  denomination,  this pastor exhibited very  terrible anger and boasted to members of how three of our members died because he was challenged. He confiscated the property of the church he was pastoring under his care, carried away the  church  notice board, sold the church land,  resisted arrest and attempted fighting the police when he was to be arrested.

Dear reader, what will you call this kind of pastor… a murderer, or a sorcerer or a cultist or a thug? I can go on and on to cite examples. Some are ritualists, cultists, serial killers, rapists, dupes and thieves. I am led to ask, is it compulsory to be a “man of God”? Should you use this sacred  title to cover up for your atrocities, Mr. Ichabod? Yet many people are still following them sheepishly even when the glory of God has left them. Some of them cannot teach the undiluted word of God.By their fruits, you shall know them!

Factors facilitating immorality among pastors:                             

These will be briefly itemized:

a) Many pastors are not called by God. They are self-made.

b) Many lack formal education.

c) Most of them do not have pastoral training. They neither went to bible schools nor theological institutions.

d) Some came into the profession just to have a means of livelihood.

e) There is proliferation of false prophets for money-making.

f) Many people patronize them with money for powers and to help them solve their seemingly insurmountable problems.

g) The society worships them without questioning their source of power.

h) The society is already lawless and disorderly.

i) Unemployment and poor economy sydrome.

j) The craze for wealth and power.

k) Gullibility of followers especially the female gender.

l) High-level criminality in the society without appropriate punishment meted out to culprits.

m) The culture of silence among the high and the low especially, the leadership of the Christian Council of Nigeria. The idea of covering up the atrocities of these pastors has eaten deep into the society.

n) Proliferation of churches in every nook and cranny of the society by men of shady characters. The factors are inexhaustible!

Consequences of unethical behaviour and  practices by the so-called “men of God”:                 

a)Disruption of the integrity of the Church of Christ. Their unethical  and immoral practices have brought shame and mockery to Christendom.  The Glory of God seems to have departed from many churches.

b) It has increased the level of doubt people have on the integrity of real pastors in our churches.

c) Societal lawlessness, indiscipline and criminality are on the increase as unscrupulous individuals hide under the name of the churches to perpetrate heinous crimes in the society.

d) There is a high rate of sexual atrocities among members and their pastors. Cases of sexual abuse, heterosexual and homosexual relationships abound now as well as adultery. These have led to a high rate of divorce and single parenthood. e)Paternity issues are on the increase no doubt.

f) Instability in families is also on the increase.

g) Many so-called men of God seek powers from herbalists, cultists and marine spirits leading to more evil such as ritual killings.

h) Since it is now a lucrative business, charlatans, false prophets and false teachings are on the increase.

i) Competition and jealousy among pastors are now the other of the day. There is no more unity, love and peace in the body of Christ.

j) Conflicts and schism( division) in the church is the order of the day.

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Counselling strategies:

1)Formal education and seminary training must be the criteria for becoming a church leader. The Christian Association of Nigeria must see to this.

2) the curriculum content of training pastors  must include relationships,  educational laws, rights of the citizen and guidance and counselling. These will help would-be pastors to adjust well to societal issues.

3) Seminars and workshops should be organised periodically by different bodies such as the Christian Association of Nigeria, denominations, non-governmental organisations, counsellors,  bible  schools and theological seminaries for pastors in the field to discuss trends in their profession as they relate to the society.

4) sanctions should be meted out to culprits.

5) The culture of silence should be stopped among Christians especially by the leadership of CAN.

6) Men of God found guilty should be prevented from practising as church leaders and the licence of such withdrawn. No pastor should be allowed to practise without licence from a properly registered seminary or bible school.

7) The society should stop being gullible and learn not to be easily deceived by this category of pastors. So church members need counselling too on who to call to  pastor the church  and how to handle him when issues on unethical behaviour arises in the church .

8) Families should take care of their children and spouses. Members should caution themselves on  too much dependence on their pastors. This gullibility  should stop.

9) The society should lay emphasis on morals and not on wealth, fame and power.

10) Churches take care of your pastors financially, morally and socially. They are human beings and can be tempted, so pray for them without

We exhibit faith when we trust in the wisdom and logic of God’s plan. Faith in God is a choice and not a feeling. Many so-called men of God are but a lie and exhibit behaviours that have brought shame to Christendom in Nigeria. Unhealthy toxic culture  at work in the church has penetrated the society at large.  This includes  money temptation, sexual temptation, anti-Christ teachings,  suspicious criminal acts such as cultism, ritual murders, exaggeration of fake miracles, lies, pride and   fraudulent “men of God” playing god before their gullible members. These practices have influenced the society negatively and have also destroyed the integrity of the Christian body in Nigeria. The glory of.  God is fast departing in churches harbouring this category of church leaders .

The culture of silence among the high and low in the church has further heightened the scandals, abuses and moral fallouts among the pastors. There is a call that enough is enough! The church leadership should rise up to fight against this pollution and unhealthy immorality in the church by teaching the undiluted word of God, resisting unethical behaviour by fellow men of God,  counselling, restoring the old-time religion of the apostles, abolishing the culture of silence and flushing out culprits, withdrawing their licence and taking legal actions against them. These will help in restoring the glory of God in our churches and further bring sanity to the society.

 

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Opinion

When Engineers Go Unethical

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  When Engineers Go  Unethical

By

Sam Akpe

A few years ago, Effiong Bob walked into the hallowed chamber of the Senate clutching about half a dozen bills. That was unprecedented in the history of Nigerian legislature. All the bills were listed in the Order Paper for First Reading, and were taken; the same day. When passed into law, one of them granted full operational autonomy to the Federal Inland Revenue Service.

When Engineers Go Unethical

Senator Effiong Bob

As a senator, Bob’s voice on the floor of the Senate was not so loud. But at the Committee level — which is the engine room of legislative business — he was a master of the game. Those who should know, know that the Senate in plenary is a Senate on exhibition, the Senate in Committee Room is the Senate in its workshop. It is at the Committee level that the worth of individual senators is  measured and graded.

As Chairman, Senate Committee on Finance, and later, Chairman, Senate Services Committee, Bob noiselessly discharged his functions with amazing speed and accuracy. He pursued each task with messianic commitment. So, when he was invited by the Nigerian Institution of Mechanical Engineers some weeks back to present a keynote address at their annual event, he took the ball straight into their court.

Speaking on “Impact of Legislation on Engineering Practice: The Mechanical Engineers Experience”, Bob said the theme of the presentation, aligned completely with the dominant issues of the season; especially in a country where impunity seems to run riot almost everywhere and in everything.

Without any doubt, he said the relevance of engineering and engineers to our everyday existence cannot be dismissed with a wave of the hand. Despite their failings and excuses, we cannot forget to applaud their little successes.

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He was right. A close look at the environment will always reveal that the major infrastructural creations around us — things that contribute to make life worth living — are products of engineering ingenuity. Some engineers create, others maintain. I can only imagine how boring and drab life would be without engineers.

Bob stated that the formal regulation of engineering is crucial because it is the law that separates the practice of engineering from other natural sciences. The law provides guidance, spells out controls and gives impetus to the practice. The legal frameworks ensure public safety.

He defined legislation in engineering as the process of enacting and applying laws to ensure qualification, safety and quality compliance, application and use of engineering outcomes. It also means the protocols of how ethics and legal frameworks are used to ensure quality delivery and public safety in the profession.

The former senator told the attentive audience that legislation in engineering practice is meant to prevent certain problems and behaviours observed in the application of science in the public interest, in a bid to protect life and welfare of the people; because it would be against the run of play for a practising engineer to endanger public safety.

By implication, the law places a high responsibility on the engineer to uphold sound ethical standards in his operation, as system failure would most likely attract legal action, particularly if such failure creates liabilities by causing harm to the public or incurring other unintended costs, as a result of unprofessional or ethical breach.

Bob stated: “It is one of the reasons a practitioner must be registered for proper identification, regulation, monitoring, training and discipline. He is expected to practise professionally and within the ambits of the regulations governing the practice. Legislation confers both moral and legal authorities on practitioners of the profession. It also comes with expectations and punitive measures.

“Let it be made clear that any person who calls himself a professional in any aspect of human endeavour, if what he practises is not governed or regulated by law or is not known to any existing law, that person must be engaging in an act that is inimical to the interest and safety of society. The reason is because he cannot be justifiably held accountable if anything goes wrong because where there is no law, you can’t talk about breaking the law.”

What he meant here was that an unregulated space is likely to be governed by impunity. Regulation generates sanctions. Every human endeavour requires the knowledge of the laws governing the discharge of that responsibility and the rights of others within the environment of practice.

Truly, since an engineer deals with a wide range of activities that involve lives and the environment, he must be guided, and in fact, arrested by the law, if misguided. The law is there to control and give impetus to the practice. Bob went ahead to cite specific existing laws that are intended to guide engineering practice in Nigeria.

He observed that without legislation, engineering practice would be subject to infiltration and severe abuse by unqualified persons. Of course, even with legislation, the practice is richly infiltrated by various grades of persons who have not received the requisite training that qualifies them to practise.

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Referring to Sections 6 and 7 of the Engineers (Registration, Etc) Act, 1992, he said it clearly specifies who should be registered as an engineer as well as titles to be used. Section 7 stipulates that a registered engineer shall use the abbreviation “Engr;” an engineering technologist shall use “Engr Tech;” and a technician shall use “Tech;” while a registered engineering craftsman shall use his full title with his trade in bracket under his name.

Declared Bob: “But there are lots of people who go about with the prefix Engr, yet have not received professional training from relevant institutions and definitely not certified by the appropriate body to practise as prescribed in Section 6 of the Act.”

He said these persons go about executing projects and, in most cases, create image problems for the profession through ethical and criminal failures. But again, even some certified practitioners also flout the codes and bring the profession into disrepute.

This is where the relevance of legislation comes in, to preserve the profession from quacks. But though the relevant statutes are there, it is the duty of the Council for the Regulation of Engineering in Nigeria (COREN) to ensure that they are enforced for the sake of the profession and the safety of the society.

It was revealed that different aspects of engineering legislation deal with different activity areas. Without tort, for instance, impunity would have a field day especially in our clime where the propensity for substandard deliveries is high. The law assigns blame and penalties.

In addition, contract law defines the rules of engagement between engineers, business partners and clients. Product liability law talks about quality. There is also the intellectual property protection law; and the safety legislation codes and regulations.

If legislation provides checks and balances, Bob wondered why “We have had several cases of collapsed structures in our society including buildings, roads and bridges; and these are structures that a number of professional engineers must have or are supposed to have been involved in building.

“Let’s look inward. Can COREN honestly absolve itself from blame or complicity in the collapse of these structures since its members were involved or are supposed to have been involved in the building of such structures?

“How come that in spite of the uproar that greets each incident with accompanying casualties, it still happens again and again? Does it mean that the regulatory authorities are not doing much to whip members into line or deal with quacks to act as  a deterrent?

“This is an area that should be focused on. The body has a responsibility to save the profession from this embarrassing situation which in some cases has claimed lives. There is an urgent need therefore, for the strict enforcement of legislations governing the practice of engineering if professional integrity is to be maintained.”

COREN, don’t pretend you did not hear, please.

Akpe, a journalist, lives in Abuja.

 

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