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Showing posts with label Opinion. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Opinion. Show all posts

Saturday, October 9, 2021

October 09, 2021



Vincent Effiong

[email protected]

The issue of zoning political offices within the respective political parties has generated so much furor in Cross River State recently, that an x-ray into our political journey and peculiarities have become imperative and abundantly necessary.

Aside the component units that make up our political system, ethnic affiliations play major realistic roles in the Nigerian society such that its significance transcends into our individual political culture. This reality has equally necessitated the "Federal Character" principle enshrined in the Nigerian constitution - where every segment of the country must be represented in governance. Accordingly, any individual challenging a zoning/rotation arrangement is effectively opposing the coexistence of the society he finds himself; such would have to establish a constitutional ground that supports his/her subscription to political hegemony. The zoning of political offices has  been upheld in our national politics over the past two decades of democratic era, especially in the legislature and the executive arms, with a reasonable relation between the end sought to be achieved by the regulation and the means used to achieve that end. 

The system of zoning was first introduced into Nigerian politics by the National Party of Nigeria in the Second Republic. The nexus of this development rested on the heterogeneous nature of the Nigerian State. NPN thought of developing the concept and to assure every member and every segment of Nigeria that the exotic office of the president would one day come to their area or zone. And this is the reason all political conferences that took place after NPN, the idea of zoning kept coming up in such conferences and have been adopted by some conferences as a provision in the Nigerian Constitution. Under (Gen.) Sani Abacha’s constitutional conference, 1994/1995, it was recommended and the military accepted that zoning should be incorporated into the constitution of Nigeria. Since 1999, all the federating units have benefitted from the rotational politics - presidency and principal offices within the National Assembly.


Before the emergence of democratic era in 1999, two districts out of the old Cross River had developed a working document known as the  “Calabar-Ogoja Accord of 1980” for an equitable allocation of values across the two Senatorial Districts of Calabar and Ogoja. Much have been said about the application of the Calabar-Ogoja Accord to the present political permutations of the State, both from the supportive and opposing ends. While a few elites from the Southern Senatorial District of the State take bearing from the provisions of the accord, others from the Central Senatorial District question its application, pointing to its obsoleteness, which rests on the fact that “signatories to the accord are dead, so the accord is dead”.

Can we also say the Nigerian Constitution is dead, based on the fact that some of those who drafted the constitution have passed on? Whether we argue for or against, either which, we must recognise the fundamental elements upon which the accord was based and the set of people it was made for:

1. The Accord was made by/for the people of Ogoja-Calabar Senatorial districts.

2. The sharing formula was basically for the two senatorial districts.

3. The territory that consisted the Ogoja-Calabar Districts hasn’t changed - same people formed the present day Cross River State. 


The addition of new extra senatorial district to the existing two districts during the state creation to make the present day Cross River State. Notably, THE NEW SENATORIAL DISTRICT WAS CREATED OUT OF BOTH OGOJA AND CALABAR. Logically, it would not be out of place to conclude that nothing has changed; this, therefore reveals the arrogance and rudeness in referring to the Accord as an obsolete material that should be cast to the bins of history.  Until an alternate document is made, the Calabar Ogoja Accord remains a useful document to reflect on our political history and the imperatives of coexistence.

Fast-forwarding to 2015, it was this same principle of zoning and rotation that saw the emergence of Sen. Ben Ayade of the Northern Senatorial District as the Governor of Cross River State. Why is the arrangement raising dust now that it is the turn of the South to produce the next Governor? Our neighbouring state, that ought to have been learning from us are already ahead in this peaceful arrangement. Equitable rotation of power has become their political culture. From 1999, the zoning arrangement started from the Uyo Senatorial District to Ikot Ekpene, succeeded by Eket; and everyone is already keeping an eye on Uyo Senatorial District to produce the next Governor in Akwa Ibom State, come 2023.

Zoning is not excessively restrictive; it is only a means of ensuring every Senatorial District have a fair share in government. There is no senatorial district in Cross River State bereft of a credible candidate for the governorship seat, why would one think zoning will bury meritocracy? We have coexisted through this path of peace. True peace is not merely the absence of war, it is the presence of justice. And we must tow the path of equity and justice. Opposing this fundamental principle with stream of logicality questions our conscience, and of course, knowledge which is divorced from justice may be called cunning rather than wisdom.

While others are utterly against zoning, some believe the rotation can begin from anywhere, haven gone round the three senatorial districts. From all justifiable moralities, such notion is heresy expressed in the most infelicitous amalgam. Should the next Governor come from the Northern Senatorial District who has just completed two term? Supposed a chorus NO serves the response, what would then make it an open contest if the northern senatorial district is excluded from the race? By 2023, Southern Senatorial District would have been out of power for 16 years – four years away from two decades, while the Central District would have reached 8 years by the same year. The elements of democratic zoning vis-à-vis; peace, equity, unity, political stability and justice have positive and significant effects on the growth of our dear State, we must not sacrifice this for our personal interest. 

Cross River South comprises 7 Local Government Areas – the highest in the State. Aside this, two Local Government Councils serve  as the State’s capital and seat of Government; it will be a gross injustice to deny the senatorial district her turn in the power rotation.

Summarily, the nation at large is going through trying times in our political history, with embarrassing records of unrest glaringly attributed to marginalisation, unjustifiable form of distribution of wealth and income across geo-political strata. It is against this backdrop that all federating components must pursue justice and equity to forestall tensions and deleterious tendencies. The heinous move by some elements to deny the Southern Senatorial District a fair share of the power pie MUST be opposed by every well meaning Cross Riverian. CROSS RIVER STATE IS NOT A THEATRE OF POLITICAL COMBAT, SAD SPECTACLES AND INJUSTICE MUST NOT DEFACE OUR REALITIES: LET THE SOUTH TAKE HER TURN!

Tuesday, August 3, 2021

August 03, 2021

OpED: Political Metamorphosis Of Cross River State & The Gains Of "Centre Socketing" BY VINCENT EFFIONG

 By Vincent Effiong

APC, Eki Ward

[email protected]

Few months ago, the Governor of Cross River State, His Excellency, Sen. Prof. Sir Ben Ayade made an episcopalian departure from the cataclysmic People’s Democratic Party to the All Progressives Congress – a party whose modus operandi derives from global democratic practices. To many, this classical departure didn’t come as a surprise, as the Governor consistently had a top-level romance with the progressive fold from his day-1 in Peregrino House. 

The tsunami of nationwide defection greeting the opposition PDP on a daily basis is only but a reflection of ideological decadence and obsoleteness of their operationalism. It is evidently difficult for one to perform under this nature state. This explains why a former Governor of the State left the party he co-founded to seek for Presidential nomination elsewhere in the 2019 general elections. To him, no one can ever perform as a Governor or President under the People’s Democratic Party’s structural collapse, insensitivity and ludicrous propensities. His recent reunion hasn’t changed this status quo anyways.

In real sense, contemporary societies and political settings are patterned by sets of objectives, definite views, ideas, conceptions and notions. These views define the structural functionality of such political system, with deliberate aim of constant development of the people and economy. Sadly, this has not been the case of PDP past years in power. The party is practically a fountain of  narrow-mindedness and unthinkable conformity that crushes the originality of an individual’s positive adherent. In this straits, lives of millions can be oppressed, distorted or lost by such political  movement driven by nepotistic hegemonism.

As a people, we have gone through political phases and has finally metamorphosed into a PROGRESSIVE FOLD. We are only two months in power, yet, we have launched the latest Airline in the country with an affordable flight fee - the cheapest in the country. Indeed, Ayade has shown Nigerians love. The economic implication of this magnificent investment cannot be overemphasized, it has not only created jobs for Cross River Youths, but has boosted our Internally Generated Revenue (IGR) by a reasonable percent. While it may be true that States and regions can run successfully without necessarily “socketting to the centre” (aligning with the party of federal government), it is also UNARGUABLE that State actors will do less while on a political platform outrightly not in sync with LIBERAL DEMOCRACY and PROGRESSIVE VALUES. 

The Governor, His Excellency, Sir Ben has found political peace within the PROGRESSIVE fold. It is gratifying to note that within a very short while, his people-oriented policies and programmes hitherto hindered as a result of political unrest in his former fold have seen the light of the day in APC. We are gradually making progress, and the State is putting up a new look. The Deep sea port is gaining more concern from the Federal government, the paper work for rail construction is ongoing. The Calabar Itu road work is in progress. To achieve the CROSS RIVER of our dream, we ALL MUST BE PROGRESSIVE MINDED.

Wednesday, June 23, 2021

June 23, 2021

OpED: 2023 Governorship: APC & Southern Senatorial District Owe Cross River The Best BY VINCENT EFFIONG


 “2023 is the turn of the South, and that was the commitment I gave. I will use every fiber in me to ensure the next governor comes from the Southern Senatorial District. Fairness is fairness, equity is equity. I have preached equity, so it is my turn to do equity”.. *H/E, Sen. Benedict Ayade, 2019*_.


Going by this position, I will narrow my argument to the choices where the governorship position has been zoned to, by virtue of justice and equity.

Cross River is one the least beneficiaries in terms of federal government allocation. This is not unconnected with the ceding of the oil rich Bakassi to Cameroon by the International Court of Justice (ICJ), and the subsequent lost of 76 oil wells to our neighbouring State through a supreme court ruling. Undoubtedly, the deleterious effect of this on our economy cannot be overemphasized. It has not only retarded infrastructural/industrial development of the State, but had also, within the past years, posed untold hardship on the people both in the rural and urban centres.  

Going further, the phenomenon of hardship and poverty has been identified as one of the increasing social challenges linked to a number of social problems including street crime, substance abuse, internet fraud, armed robbery, ritual killings, kidnapping, and youth restiveness. It is widely argued that the youth is the locomotive of national development and contribute immensely to the sustenance of the developmental momentum of a nation; youths in Cross River are largely unemployed and redundant. The social consequences of this are enormous and can only be explained from the lens of our experiences.  Sadly, the federal allocation cannot tackle ALL our challenges. IT IS AGAINST THIS BACKDROP, THAT WE MUST SORT FOR AN EXPERIENCED HAND IN POLITICS AND ECONOMY FOR THE GOVERNORSHIP JOB. 

Many state governments including Cross River are eager to grow their internally generated revenue base through the diversification of economy, but seem largely unable to harness available opportunities to do so, reason mostly centred on administration’s policy direction. Many legitimate sources of revenue in the state remained untapped, while procedures for the collection, remittance and accountability for the ones exploited often fall short of expectations, giving room for avoidable leakages. It is assumed that when the internally generated revenue is low, the state is forced to apply most of its federation account allocation to service recurrent expenditure, whereas when the internally generated revenue is high, a greater percentage of the federation account will be used for capital expenditure. The diversification of our economy will correct the disparity between revenue and expenditure and reduce the attendant budget deficit, thereby giving a boost to all sectors of our economy.

AHEAD OF 2023, to consolidate on the gains of the present administration under the leadership of His Excellency, Sen. Prof. Ben Ayade, we need an experienced hand with “Strategic Framework” for ending poverty in Cross River State, topnotch entrepreneurship development, sound policies and programmes that will foster a paradigm shift from our present state. To achieve this, there must be a classical departure from the total dependency on federal allocation to a productive diversification of our economy through the exploration of other natural resources at our disposal. This will not be a hard nut to crack if we entrust this responsibility in the appropriate hand.

No economy can improve if the government remains the highest employer of labour. A developing economy is driven by an active private sector. Our preferred candidate must reflect one WHOSE CONNECTION, TRUST AND CONFIDENCE GO BEYOND STATE AND NATIONAL POLITICS, as this will pave way for a fruitful private sector investments. 

We must treat development as a mass movement in order to see that fruits of development reach the poor and the downtrodden. The biggest determinant in our lives is culture, where we are born, what the environment looks like. But the second biggest determinant is probably governance, good governance or a certain kind of governance makes a huge difference in our lives. It never depends upon laws, but upon the personal qualities of those who govern. The machinery of government is always subordinate to the will of those who administer that machinery. The most important elements of government, therefore, are those who drive the government.

Although many are yet to make public their interest in the governorship race, we are not oblivious of drivers of good governance. I therefore enjoin well meaning Cross Riverians to settle for an experienced and issue/development-driven governor to succeed His Excellency, Sen. Prof. Ben Ayade come 2023.

Wednesday, April 21, 2021

April 21, 2021

OpEd: Back To South With Equity, Fairness, Capacity And Ethicals BY VINCENT EFFIONG

Equity and fairness (in practice) are two important concepts, which over the years have been an effective approach to the achievement of a symbiotic livelihood. Globally, modern societies have considered "evenly distribution of power and resources to be the panacea for sustainable development and maintenance of peaceful co-existence". This normative approach however, curtails social inequalities, economic and political crises, and of course, regional imbalances. We must escape from the theoretical trap of the subject that is typical of the nature state - selfishness and "war of all against all". This nature of greed and selfishness is the baseline against which to judge the justifiability of the conventional political formula of "CODE 888".

Understandably, the desire to preserve one's political world grows stronger by every political season, this personal desire often times do not reflect the interest of the larger society, thus, raising an avoidable dust. It therefore behoves on every political gladiator to retreat and have a sober reflection ahead of 2023 - putting Cross River first.  

Going further, if the blame for the alarming insecurity and political instability that has challenged our freedom of existence could be attributed to marginalisation, injustifiable form of distribution of wealth and income across geo-political strata in the country, then, it will not be undesired to explore the principle of fairness as the antidote for our obvious fiasco. The most scandalous result of this is the destruction of lives and properties - this, also, we can avoid.

Zoning system is widely argued to be an ideology for power-sharing arrangements and a mechanism for ethno-regional balancing, conflict mitigation and consensus formation in plural society like ours. Cross River, just like every other State in the Nigerian federation is characterised by potentials of human population and material resources in the best of quality, across the three senatorial districts, to play major roles in Nigerian and global politics. 

Ahead of 2023, it is no longer news, that there are rapacious agitations by disgruntled groups and individuals to disregard the conventional system of governorship rotation in the State. Let them be reminded that peace and unity is a key challenge in many societies. It is a key challenge in Nigeria with major divisions along class, linguistic, religious and ethnic lines. In the case of Nigeria, a sense of belonging or inclusion is vital to the country's survival. This is why the Constitution prescribes the Federal Character principle in Section 14. Federal Character is about inclusion of the six geopolitical zones in the allocation of political and public sector appointments including the office of the President. Cross Riverians should take a bearing from the inclusion policy laid out in our Constitution. This connotes a sort of rotation. Any argument against this, is a misconceived one. Presidential election is rotated between the South and the North. Why then should a few power-drunk exhibit tendencies that may challenge mutual peace, having enjoyed same for a period 10 years? The elites in this school of greed argue from the point of credibility and capacity. That, to me, is laughable and quite an invalid notion, as there is no senatorial district bereft of credible candidates that can effectively and efficiently lead the state through the path of development at any political time. The Southern Senatorial District had the governorship seat between 1999 to 2007, succeeded by a Central Senatorial District Liyel Imoke who governed between 2007-2015 and handed over to the North. It is commonsensical to understand that power should return to Cross River South - a people that have patiently  waited and supported past administrations for almost two decades now.

Let us all throw our weight to the most credible in the Southern Senatorial District for a greater Cross River.

Saturday, December 26, 2020

December 26, 2020

Engr. Ben Akak's 2020 Christmas Message Of Hope

Engr. Akak


I sent in a short piece yesterday morning, the 25th December, 2020 to you all in the spirit of the season of Christmas, but while ruminating over the litanies of event yesterday, I had this great urge and push share this piece with you which I christened, “2020 Message Of Hope”. In life we are always presented with two sides of the coin. Experiences in life has taught me to look at situation beyond the negative carriage associated with it.

As the curtain closes for 2020 which also mark the dawn of yet another year. It a time to cast a reflective look at our state, Cross River as charity as we know begins at home. As we reflect on our condition, we also glean into our future from our convoluted past and our stigmatized present.

We have been so heavily inundated with critical circumstances and with a devastating situation that only those with hearts of stone fail to acknowledge the obvious.

Aside from our depleted revenue from the Federal allocation, the odd seem to work against us as even the blind can see the intolerable squalor of the masses a sheer contrast to the elites.

For the generality of the people, 2020 came with ominous quiet of an unbearable angst, from the novel Covid-19 pandemic, the EndSars protest and the consequent looting and vandalism that followed, with the later been dominated and sustained by callousness and opportunism.

The net effect of all of these has seen a monumental waste in resources, a slide in social development and an enrichment of economic hardship. All of these has given birth to a new wave in social unrest and spurned new sophistry in the repression and elimination of dissent.

We cannot deny the truism that the past gave birth to the present existence of obscurity, insecurity and instability. We now have in our hands the audacious forms of kidnapping, armed robbery, youth delinquency, cultism, economic sabotage, unbridled immorality, economic stagnation, social disorientation, structural decay, institutionalized corruption and other sundry social vices.

Amidst these troubling situations, there is renewed hope that in the darkest tunnel, there is light at the end of it just the same way that we have a bright dawn after a protracted midnight. This is where the true believers must rise above the frustrations of the moment and continue to dream the dream of justice, reconciliation and peace. We must together fight against the onset of despair and rekindle our conviction for positivism and hope in the emerging year 2021.

We have reached a situation where we could be a lot worse off without hope and without God as our redemption today can no longer be in the hands of men but on God. As Cross Riverians and those resident here, we should know that with the unflattering and uncheering antecedents of our past, keeping hope alive becomes the imperative for a better tomorrow.

As we basked in the popular refrain of, “only God can save Cross River nay Nigeria”, we should also note that God cannot save Cross River without Cross Riverians. We need to reconcile ourselves to God as our reconciliation is not in the hands of men.

Our peace is not also in the hands of men but on God, hence we should not be driven into apathy or despondency but to seek solace in our creator who is the ultimate miracle worker.

We must seek God’s face and renew our hope in the God of the impossible who is capable of transforming our apparent state of helplessness and hopelessness.

Let’s abandon our individuality, our illusions, our social sins, our sordid past, our prejudices, our biases etc and make a firm resolve to be more accommodating, tolerant and inculcate the habit and spirit of sharing.

God bless you all

Monday, December 21, 2020

December 21, 2020

OpED: Engr Ben Akak: An Ivory Tower Of Charity BY VICTOR NDIFON

It is baffling to truly comprehend the Humanitarian crisis that has and is still bedevilling the whole World because of the surge of the New Corona Virus Pandemic.  We have witnessed the contraction of Major World Economies occasioned by phased lockdowns. This untoward situation has affected immensely the livelihoods of citizens of the World especially those at the lowest rung of the Economic ladder. 

Nigeria is already a very poor Country in terms of our Human Development Index which is pegged at low. This worrisome circumstance has been exacerbated by the Pandemic; ultimately leading to a Recession in our dear Country. The attendant effect of the aforesaid is evident in the economic turmoil and hardship faced by many Nigerians and Cross Riverians alike. 

It is in times like this that the greatest virtues of men are unlocked. These virtues are expressed in the humanitarian efforts of charitable individuals and Organisations to alleviate the sufferings of the poorest in our Country Nigeria and Cross River State. This fortunately is the hallmark of the phenomenon and the person Engr Ben Akak and his Foundation. 

Engr Ben Akak Foundation has elevated the generic mandate of the advancement of the Human Race to its peak.  This is made manifest because of the Foundation’s core objective of putting smiles on the faces of people  as  exemplified by the staunch  belief  of Engr Ben Akak that the primary purpose of people of influence in the Society is to better the lot of others .  

Little wonder, Engr Ben Akak Foundation has traversed the length and breadth of Cross River State providing succour to families, individuals and the poorest in our Communities. Sheikh Mohammed Bin Rashid Al Maktoum The Prime Minister of United Arab Emirates said in his book titled  “My Vision” that the principle that should govern those in positions of influence  is “the love of God and the love of the people” . This sums up the driving force and ideal of the Engr Ben Akak Foundation.  

The love of GOD (Yahweh) which cannot be relayed without the love of the people is the epicentre of the many humanitarian efforts of Engr Ben Akak as demonstrated by his Foundation.

*Victor Ndifon* _is a Media Consultant to Engr Ben Akak and his Foundation._

Tuesday, November 3, 2020

November 03, 2020

OpEd: He Never Listened BY CHIEF RAY MORPHY


1. I told him to concentrate on citizen-enhancing projects spread across the LGAs, he ignored, he never listened. 

2. I told him to forget his MoUs and concentrate on skill acquisition for our youth. I told him to use the Togolese model and the Indian model where they trained their youth and then export them as skilled-trained labor who will in turn repatriate Dollars and help boost the economy. He never listened.

3. I told him to forget those grandiose impossible projects such as super highway and concentrate on fixing and improving the rural road networks. He ignored, he never listened. 

4. I told him that our school standards were low! I told him to embark on a massive teacher recruitment and education upgrade program. He ignored, he never listened.

5. I told him to appoint experienced hands who would look him in the face and correct him. He didn’t want that, he knew all things. He never listened.

6. I told him to reduce the greed and the playing around. I told him that government was a serious business that requires thinking and thinkers, not just a food-on-the table approach. He ignored he never listened.

7. I told him that he will regret his approach to governance. I told him that the thing will rotten and smell in his hands and he will be cited as the worst governor ever. He ignored the sane free advice, he never listened. 

8. I told him to concentrate on projects such as roads and finish them before embarking on other ones. I told him it was wrong to scrape off existing roads and destroy people’s roadside shops when he had no intention of speedily doing the roads, of course he ignored. He never listened. 

9. I told him that our people needed rural hospitals and rural roads, boreholes and enhanced markets. I told him our people needed to be empowered through cooperatives. I told him to stop his obvious family-based nepotism since the entire state voted for him, the entire state should benefit from government. He ignored, he never listened. 

10. I told him not to abandon the nearly completed roads of the previous Liyel Imoke's administration, he ignored, he never listened!

Now he knows that I was right. And I am still right. What a wise gifted thinker sits down to see, a comic on a tall tree can never see it. 

Now you you know WHY I RESIGNED THAT APPOINTMENT! Today, I stand tall because I am vindicated! But I am saddened by the wasted years!

I am Chief Ray Morphy

Mgba Ntol, Njoram Mfan, Ovar Okan, Nkpume Utonkor! Shaman! 

Former Special Adviser to Gov Ben Ayade on Strategy and National Contact


The views and opinions expressed in this article are those of the author(s)s and do not necessarily reflect the official policy or position of Grassroot Reporters 

Saturday, October 31, 2020

October 31, 2020

OpEd: Value Re-Orientation: A Panacea to Moral Decadence BY EZINWANNE ONWUKA

Different schools of thought consider values to mean traits, practices, acts, ideals, beliefs, attitudes and principles that an individual, group or society acknowledge to be of merit, worthwhile, dear, acceptable and right. Values, therefore, are basic beliefs and attitudes in a society whether of individuals or groups which are considered worthwhile and serve as a guide to choices and behaviours in one's daily life. Values help to inform one on how he or she can conduct one’s life in a meaningful way. In other words, values are deep seated beliefs that influence people’s actions and behaviours. It is therefore essential that every individual, group and indeed the entire nation must have core values which serve as the driving engines for growth and development.

Our value system therefore is the sum total of our ideas and beliefs. It includes every opinion we hold about life. Each thing we like or dislike, and the importance each one has to us, merges to form our unique value system. Our value system develops through what we are taught and experience, combined with our reactions to them, forming our preferences and our unique perspective on life. Ultimately, every opinion we have in life is based on something in our value system.

Our actions are the first indicators to ourselves and others about the values we hold because the values that we live by are connected to what is most important to us. However, we can sometimes have other desires in our hearts that differ from our actions. To be completely at peace within ourselves, there must be conformity between our deepest values and how we actually live. That is, you must be committed to your deepest values and seek to live according to them. Otherwise, you will experience inner conflict because you have not determined which values are most important to you, and every choice you make will not flow from a firmly held belief about that area of life.

If we are honest with ourselves we’d mostly agree that all is not well with our nation and that the values we once held dear sadly belongs in another era. Where are values like honesty, integrity, good neighbourliness, religious tolerance etc. that once characterized our society? Whatever also happened to being our brother’s keeper? Today, we’ve grown so numb and we’re no longer shocked when people are slaughtered in a senseless terror campaign by some deranged individuals. As a result, we now have internally displaced people in Nigeria, yet we carry on as if all is well.

Once upon a time, Christians and Moslems mingled together celebrating Christmas and Salah, but today bigotry reigns supreme. We perpetuate the worst kinds of ethnic and religious chauvinism you could ever think of. Driven by greed and inordinate lust for the “good life,” we seek the shortest possible route to riches. We revere criminals and treasury looters as our “best of men” bestowing upon them honourary degrees, chieftaincy titles or even “purchase” election forms for them.

As I write, everything continues to go wrong as we forsake the values that ought to matter. Police officers still terrorise ordinary citizens, bankers still pilfer the life-savings of poor and struggling compatriots, hoodlums continue to run amok in communities, minority “lawmakers” ride roughshod over the majority, internet scammers and advanced fee fraudsters are still at their beats. What about armed robbers and kidnappers? They are all having a field day. The concept of equity has all disappeared from our lexicon, so is benevolence and the Rule of Law which permits no perception of justice except for the rich. 

Religious and ethnic sentiments have taken pre-eminence over brotherhood. Gone are the times when Nigerians were their brothers’ keepers, irrespective of tongue or creed; gone are the days when every adult member of society could instantly discipline any erring child to the happiness of the child’s parents. The traditional institutions on their own were faithful custodians of culture and moral values. Our music and folklore then had a good moral hold on the youths. Those were the days when Sallah and Christmas were celebrated together by both Muslims and Christians, be it in Kano, Onitsha or Lagos. This was the Nigeria of yesteryears before our slide into the current perfidy. 

The society has become characterized by high level of distrust and everybody has become a suspect of misplaced value. Immorality and lack of sanctity of life have increased as murder and kidnapping have become a daily occurrence. The malady of corruption has polluted the character and personality of every Nigerian. It is worrisome as well as regrettable that vices have taken the place of virtue in our society.

The crisis of value system in Nigeria suggests that the growth and progress of the society is being retarded in many aspects through outburst of materialistic tendencies. It is beyond doubt that materialism has taken over government, political institutions, invaded traditional and cultural institutions, while the church seems to be more materialistic than the secular society. The malady of value crisis has predicated Nigeria as open society in which anything goes. In Nigeria, we seem to be grabbing the worst and getting very little of the best from the rest of the world.

Value re-orientation is the best way to address the myriad of societal problems confronting the Nigerian society. The message of value re-orientation and social harmony should dominate our polluted psyche. By and large, the strength of a nation does not rest merely in its material or scientific achievements but it lies rather more in the moral qualities of the individuals and in the level of moral consciousness of the entire society. There is no doubt that our future really depends on how successful we are in fighting the orgy of negative values. Values are products of the mind which are manifested in behavioural patterns. The values of citizens on national issues is a two-edged sword capable of enhancing development or crippling it.

We cannot continue to sound like a broken record about our youth being leaders of tomorrow when we have not adequately invested in the all-important value re-orientation meant to inculcate in them good moral values while also purging them of all kinds of primordial sentiments of religious extremism and ethnic jingoism.

However, how ready are we as a family in preparing the child/youth to take over this responsibility of being leaders of tomorrow. Are parents now ready to question the source of the sudden wealth of their children who sometimes engage in armed robbery or Advanced Fee Fraud (419) and suddenly come home to exhibit stupendous wealth to the admiration and celebration of their parents? How prepared are our traditional institutions and religious leaders to stop the rampant and indiscriminate award of chieftaincy titles and religious honors to the people with questionable wealth? These are the issues and until they are tackled decisively, the fight against corruption in the polity, violence, drug abuse and other intolerable social vices will not be won.

Ezinwanne Onwuka writes from Cross River state, Nigeria. She is a Corp Member serving in Cross River state. She writes informative, creative and research-driven contents on topics about life, politics, religion and more. You can reach her on [email protected] and +2348164505628

Wednesday, October 7, 2020

October 07, 2020

OpEd: Politics In My Country BY EZINWANNE ONWUKA

The verity of the saying, “if you want to steal without being arrested, become a politician” is incontestable in our dear country, Nigeria.

Politics is rightly defined as a dynamic process whereby human and other human resources are managed, directed after due mobilization to ensure the enforcement of public policy and decision in the bid to regulate social order but in the Nigerian context, it is the art of diverting public funds for personal use while enjoying special immunity that places you above the law.

Over the years, politics in Nigeria has become associated with embezzlement and misappropriation of public funds, bribery and corruption. You cannot be a politician in Nigeria without being fantastically corrupt!

When counting the problems of Nigeria, I count bad leadership twice. Bad leadership is the reason the giant of Africa has remained crippled after sixty (60) years of independence. Nigerian politicians see public offices as an avenue for self-aggrandizement and fattening of their bank accounts. This explains the reason they defect from one political party to another when their political interest is no longer guaranteed in the present political party. This is why indiscriminate party defection have become the hall mark of Nigerian politics.

In Nigeria, people go into politics and contest for elections into public offices for the sole purpose of siphoning the nation’s resources and looting the nation’s treasury. However, this selfish and greedy motive is hidden before the elections. During the political party’s campaign, they would make many promises that would portray them as the saviour of the people. The story changes once the mantle of leadership falls on them. The promise to fight corruption is forgotten and corruption gains momentum right under their nose. Misappropriation and embezzlement of funds becomes the order of the day. Policies that would favour their ethnic and religious groups to the detriment of other groups are enacted. They surround themselves with fellow thieves as ministers and advisers who would assist them to tactically divert funds to their personal accounts. Nigerian politicians are a cabal of criminals whose sole aim is to loot the nation’s treasury and they have been doing this wonderfully well.

It is ironic that the ones saddled with the responsibility of maximizing our welfare are the ones subjecting us to penury. Instead of representing the collective interest, they champion their personal and selfish interests. P.O.C Umeh rightly called them “Ambassadors of poverty”.

It is funny how Nigerian leaders frown at and commit themselves to fighting crime without realizing that the various crime being perpetrated by the younger generation reveals a failure of leadership. The youths steal because those at the helm of affairs steal. Corruption has eaten deep into the fabrics of the Nigerian society because the leaders are fantastically corrupt. Honesty is gradually going into extinction because those in authority are liars, deceitful and stifle the truth. In other words, the vices of the followers mirror the vices of the leaders. Thus, the frightening crime rate in Nigeria is only a symptom of the criminality of the Nigerian ruling class.

It is disheartening that our leaders are bereft of ideas on how to curtail the insecurity, curb the threats of secession, resolve the issue of epileptic power supply and improve the health and educational sector in the country but they are second to none in rigging elections to favour their political party, mobilizing thugs to fight their political foes and stealing from the nation’s treasury.

Politics in my country is an opportunity to get access to the vast resources of the nation and the art of mismanaging the resources, appropriating it for personal use thereby leaving the masses in squalor, penury and impoverished.  

Politicians in my country are patriots in reverse order, having their head abroad and anus at home. They are merchants of loot who loot our treasury. They are barons of incompetence, position occupants and enemies of service. They are corrupt masters of the economy whose sole aim is to siphon the nation’s resources. They are kleptomaniacs who embezzle and steal public funds with impunity. They are office loafers who occupy positions they do not deserve. They contribute to the political, economic and social malaise of the nation by their greed, selfishness and ineptitude.

Ezinwanne Onwuka writes from Cross River state, Nigeria. She is a Corp Member serving in Cross River state. She writes informative, creative and research-driven contents on topics about life, politics, religion and more. You can reach her on [email protected] and +2348164505628


Sunday, September 27, 2020

September 27, 2020

OpEd: The Change Begins With You BY EZINWANNE ONWUKA


Man: You dey go Maryland?

Keke Driver: Make we dey go.

Man: How much?

Keke Driver: (Scans him and realizes he is new to Enugu): #1,500.

Teacher to Students: As you know, your Chemistry exam is coming up next week. If you want to pass in flying colours, all that is required of you is to pay the sum of #2,000. If you want to fail, don’t comply. By the time WAEC result is out and you see others making A, you will wish you could turn back the hands of time. 

Student: Mom, we were asked to pay #2,000 for our chemistry teacher to help us during Chemistry exam next week.

Mom: That’s great. That’s what the teachers are supposed to do. Are you paying for Chemistry alone? What of other subjects?

Driver: Na who get this load?

Woman: It is mine.

Driver: Madam you go pay for this load o.

Woman: Haba! Na clothes full that bag, driver.

Driver: Na only clothes full am and the bag dey heavy like this. Madam, abeg pay.

Woman: How much?

Driver: Your money na #2,000.

Woman: For bag wey clothes full?

The three scenarios depicted above is not strange to us. In the first instance, the tricycle (keke) driver wanted to extort money from the man solely because he is new to the city and was ignorant of the right cost from Holy Ghost park to Maryland. I am certain the man fell for it and was taken on a rendezvous drive before getting to his destination to make the journey seem worth the amount he was charged. In the second instance, the teacher is encouraging examination malpractice. He probably thinks he is offering a great help whereas he is inadvertently helping the students cultivate the culture of examination malpractice because they would believe examination malpractice is a prerequisite to passing any exam in future. Parents even encourage this yet we wonder why the reading culture is going into extinction. Do you now see the reason for the high rate of examination malpractice among students? In the third story, the driver charges an exorbitant fee of #2,000 for a luggage. I would love to ask: is the boot not meant for luggage? Why do we need to pay for the boot to serve its purpose? Is that not a mild form of extortion? 

I watched a video of a man addressing a crowd. He asked, “Who wants change?” Everyone’s hand was raised. He then asked, “Who wants to change?” No hand was raised this time. It is ironic that everyone wants change but no one is willing to change. This may be due to ignorance – we do not know that change begins with us. We want an end to extortion yet we extort from people in silly ways. We want students to take their studies seriously yet we expose them to examination malpractice at an early stage in their educational background. We criticize and put the blame on the government officials for the mess we are into, forgetting that we also contribute to this in our own little ways – we are as bad as the government officials!

Our desire for change made us vote the APC into power in 2015, thinking Nigeria would be better. Is it any better? Answer for yourself! We desire change but we do not intend this change to happen. Our actions often betray our intentions. We say we don’t want bad politicians but we still collect money from them and vote them in. If a politician gives out money for the mobilization of thugs, he finds thugs more than he actually paid for. If he gives out money for an election to be rigged, it will be done and he will emerge the winner. Are we not his accomplices? I once followed a discussion on a certain Facebook group. The question asked was: If you become the governor of your state, what would you do? I am sure you won’t be surprised to know that everyone’s comment revolved around, “the kind money I go pack no be here”. That is the mindset of the supposed leaders of tomorrow. Are we not as bad as the politicians we criticize and condemn daily? Little wonder, our criticisms does not yield any positive result. It is the case of the kettle calling the pot black!

We are opportunists. We are always on the look out for an opportunity to exploit others, infecting the society with greed and inordinate desires.   Transport managers inflate transport fare during festive seasons. Drivers would demand hundred naira for a journey of fifty naira once it is raining. Policemen enforce the giving the fifty naira on drivers not minding whether or not they perform their basic duties. A manager of a company would increase his/her earnings by manipulating figures. Yet we want change!  

I was once told the story of a man who tied his donkey to a tree with a rope and afterwards tries to pull it forward. The donkey refused to move. He thought the donkey was resisting to move and he started to hit it with it a stick. “The man is a fool”, you might say and you are probably right. And we, Nigerians, can be likened to that foolish man. We want Nigeria to move forward whereas we are also pulling it backwards, hindering progress. Afterwards, we wonder why the country is not progressing and lament.

The change beings with me. The change begins with you. Building the Nigeria of our dream is our collective responsibility. When you do your part and I do mine, we will have a Nigeria we would be happy to bequeath to generations after us.

The change begins with the man in the mirror. With united effort, sincere commitment and patriotism, we can evolve a better society. Nigeria will become great if we all do the right thing. The ultimate power to effect positive change lies with us and us alone.

Ezinwanne Onwuka writes from Cross River state, Nigeria. She is a Corp Member serving in Cross River state. She writes informative, creative and research-driven contents on topics about life, politics, religion and more. You can reach her on [email protected] and +2348164505628.  

Monday, September 7, 2020

September 07, 2020

An Open Letter to His Excellency, The Executive Governor of Cross River State, Professor Ben Ayade.

I have always doted on Cross River state. The annual Calabar Carnival always gave me goose bumps and made me dream to be here. I have always wished to experience the serenity and tranquility in Cross River state. Luckily, my dreams came true when the mandatory National Youth Service availed me the opportunity to be here in Cross River state. I would not be exaggerating if I chip that the opportunity was given to me on a platter of gold. I have interacted with the accommodating, friendly and lovely people of Cross River state. I have had a taste of the yummy Afang soup and the mouth-watering Edikang Ikong soup. I have fallen helplessly in love with periwinkles and I am eagerly anticipating this year’s Calabar carnival to witness the rich cultural heritage of the people. I hope the Covid-19 pandemic would be at its barest minimum by December.

His Excellency, I must admit that I am impressed with your works in the state. It is amazing how Cross River state transformed from a traditional economy to a digital economy under your leadership. Your laudable projects (completed and ongoing) shows that you truly understand that leadership is all about selfless service to the people. The zeal and zest in which you work towards promoting the welfare of the people of Cross River state is highly commendable. You deserve some accolades. You are indeed a digital governor. I have one question though. Are you called a digital governor because you digitalized Cross River or you digitalized Cross River because you are digital person? I look forward to getting an answer.

His Excellency, I am convinced that you are a man who wishes, above all things, for the welfare of the people of Cross River state to be at its maximum. The manner in which you  have worked arduously to provide good road networks within the state, amusement parks, good water supply, security and electricity attests to this. I am equally convinced that it would sadden your heart to know that a section of your population is being deprived of one of the essential utilities of comfortable living.

His Excellency, I wish to use this medium to draw your attention to the pathetic situation that the people of Bakassi Local Government Area has been subjected to for the past six months – lack of power supply. You would agree with me that electricity is one of the social amenities that promote the welfare of the people of any society. Thus, it is a prerequisite for a comfortable life. As a caring father who has the interest of his children at heart, however, I am bamboozled to think that you would be nonchalant about addressing this situation and allow your children to live in darkness this long. What kind of a father is he who cannot stay a day without electricity but allow his children to live at the mercy of generators for six good months? Where is the love he claims to have for them. It is written that a son cannot ask the father for a bread and he would be given a stone. He cannot ask for a fish and receive a snake. Yet, your children asked for a steady power supply but they were given generator sets!

His Excellency, Bakassi Local Governemnt Area needs your digital touch. Like the biblical blind man in need of the touch of Jesus cried out on hearing that Jesus was passing by, the people of Bakassi cries out, “Do not pass us by, His Excellency. Hear our humble cry. Let your wind of digitalization blow over Bakassi.”

His Excellency. I implore you to use your good offices and address this issue as urgent as practicable, just like a father would rush out of his bed on hearing that his child was drowning. I look forward to the day I would hear the chants and shouts of “NEPA!” at every corner in Bakassi.

Warm Regards,
Ezinwanne Onwuka
(A Corp Member)

Friday, August 28, 2020

August 28, 2020

OpEd: Education: The Weapon Of Mass Salvation BY EZINWANNE ONWUKA

Formally, a general theory of education can be said to have one aim only: to produce a certain type of person, an educated man. The interesting question is how to give substantial content to this formal aim. To do this, there is need to work out in detail the criteria which govern the actual use of this term. The criteria will be those which enable us to mark off the educated man from one who is not.

At the outset of this enterprise, we meet with a complication. The term ‘education’ can be used in more than one way. In a restricted sense, it is used to describe what happens to an individual in specifically educational institutions like schools or colleges. In this case, to talk of a man’s education is to talk of his passing through a system. ‘He was educated at such-and-such a school’ signifies that he went to the school in question. A more restricted sense still is one which imports into the notion of education some reference to value. Education, on this interpretation, is a normative or value term, and implies that what happens to the individual improves him in some way.

According to the normative use, an educated man is an improved man, and as such a desirable end product, someone who ought to be produced. It is this normative sense of education which provides the logical starting-point of a general theory, the commitment to produce something of value, a desirable type of individual. Such a person would have specific characteristics, such as the possession of certain sorts of knowledge and skill, and the having of certain attitudes themselves regarded as worth having. The educated man would be one whose intellectual abilities had been developed, who is sensitive to matters of moral and aesthetic concern, who could appreciate the nature and force of mathematical and scientific thinking, who could view the world along historical and geographical perspectives and who, moreover, had a regard for the importance of truth, accuracy, and elegance in thinking. A further requirement is that the educated man is one whose knowledge and understanding is all of a piece, integrated, and not merely a mass of acquired information, piecemeal and unrelated.

Education, then, can be seen as the total development of the individual through acceptable methods and techniques according to his abilities and interests to meet up the needs of the society and for the individual to take his rightful place and contribute equally to the enhancement of the society. For Herbert Spencer, the educated man is one who has acquired knowledge and intellectual development sufficient to enable him to support himself in an industrial and commercial society, to raise and support a family, to play the part of a citizen in such a society and to use his leisure wisely.

Education, in the life of a nation, is the live wire of its industries and also the foundation of moral regeneration and revival of its people. It is also the force and bulwark of any nation’s defence and it has been observed that no nation rises above the level of its education. Education plays an indispensable role in the society, no doubt. Education supplies the needed manpower for national development. Education is an indispensable tool which will not only assist in meeting the nation’s social, political, moral, cultural and economic aspirations but will also inculcate in the individual knowledge, skills, dexterity, character and desirable values that will foster national development and self-actualization. From the definition of education given above, it is clear that education trains an individual to be useful in the society and to meet up the need of the society for national development. Therefore, it should be clear that without education, a nation cannot get the needed manpower for material advancement and enlightenment of the citizenry. The trained engineers, teachers, medical doctors, inter alia are all the products of education. This explains why it is argued also that the quality of a nation’s education determines the level of its national development.

Education also promotes the culture of productivity by enabling individuals to discover the creative potentials in them and apply same to the improvement of the existing skill and technique of performing specific tasks, thereby increasing the efficiency of their personal societal efforts. In other words, Education teaches or trains people to be useful to themselves and the society they live. By this, they have to be productive and discover their creative abilities and use this to perform specific tasks to attain self-actualisation.

Education also develops in individuals those values which make for good citizenship, such as honesty, selflessness, tolerance, dedication, hard-work and personal integrity, all of which provide the rich soil from which good leadership potential is groomed. As already noted, education trains an individual to be responsible in the society. From this, it is clear that education gives moral training. Disappointedly, Nigerian leaders are morally bankrupt and have nothing to offer in terms of national development from their leadership style. This therefore demonstrates that education has not fully impacted positively on Nigerian leaders.

From the above, it is clear that education has a critical function in the development of any society. But in the Nigerian context, education has not fully played its roles in the regard. This is as a result of certain inherent problems in the Nigerian education system. First among these problems is inadequate funding. Education is no doubt, directly linked with the processes of nation building and development. Education in Nigeria has not been properly funded and this leads to poor infrastructure developed in the universities, secondary and primary schools. This poor infrastructure makes the environment very hostile. This shows that products of this underfunded educational sector will be very poor and teachers will not be adequately remunerated for them to perform their duties effectively. This explains the incessant strike actions embarked upon by Academic Staff Union of Universities. This also explains why pupils and students in the school system sit on bare floor and under mango trees to receive lessons and lectures. This utter disregard for quality education which is informed by poor funding appears to have bedevilled the academic qualifications obtained in Nigerian universities today.

Still in the same vein, education in Nigeria has been bastardized by the grade-system. Grade and/or mark is the determining factor to know whether one is educated or not. This explains the sex-for-marks scandals ravaging our higher institutions of learning. This also explains the level of examination malpractice among students. Students are no longer interested in learning, they are interested in boosting their grades. Little wonder, the perplexing problem facing our society today is that a greater percentage of students study only to pass exams which is leading to the mass production of graduates who are 'academic misfits' in their specializations. It won’t be wrong to say that one the maladies facing Nigeria today is not unemployment. Rather, it is 'unemployable graduates' - graduates who can't do what their certificates present, graduates lacking in 21st century work skills, and it is getting worse by the day. The greatest challenge of employers in today's Nigeria is unemployability. This is the bane of our educational system! It revolves around reading only to pass exams. There is very little concern for the practical application of what is being learnt. This is the reason many uneducated graduates flood the labour market annually. The emphasis is only on the paper (certificate). They think that the certificate certifies them as being ‘educated’. Not knowing that it is not just about the certificate, it is about the certification! Because they are so certificate-minded, they indulge in all sorts of examination malpractice just to get a pass mark and get the certificate at the end of the day. We have so many graduates with certificates yet they are uncertified! Many live in the delusion that to be literate (being able to read and write) is to be educated without knowing that education is broader than literacy.

Despite these challenges, the importance of education is overwhelming. In a democratic society like ours, education should serve democracy by producing democrats. This is because a democratic society depends on democratic men. Plainly, if it is in the public interest for society to be democratic, it will be in the public interest to provide whatever is necessary, education included, to sustain a democracy. This would involve some kind of political education, an initiation into the practice of group decision-making and the inculcation of a commitment to such principles as the adherence to majority decisions, toleration of differing opinions, and an introduction to the institutional structure of democratic society. This will go a long way to groom and train the leaders of tomorrow. 

Ezinwanne Onwuka writes from Cross River state, Nigeria. She is a Corp Member serving in Cross River state. She writes informative, creative and research-driven contents on topics about life, politics, religion and more. You can reach her on [email protected] and +2348164505628.  

Wednesday, August 19, 2020

August 19, 2020

OpEd: If I Become The President Of Nigeria… BY EZINWANNE ONWUKA

Since independence, Nigeria has been dogged by several problems. By October 1st, 2020 (less than 100 days from now), Nigeria will turn 60 years as an independent country. A man that has attained the age of 60 has come of age. He would have been married, maintained a stable family and has reached the apex of his career. This age, for any reasonable man is an age when he looks back at his youth and calculates his failures and successes. It is the age at which a man sets in motion the last part of his plans for survival, having with the aid of hindsight, identified areas of failures and successes.

The same could be said of a country that has attained 60 years of age as Nigeria has. Such country could be said to have survived the vagaries of infancy, the exuberance and crisis of adolescence and has established a functional and effective socio-political system that will ensure stability. However, it is a different ball game when a country that is stupendously endowed, as Nigeria is, fails, as Nigeria has failed miserably, to utilize the experiences of her infancy and youth as building blocks for a better future. 

In 60 years, centripetal and centrifugal socio-political forces seems to have become dangerously sharpened in Nigeria, with each contending socio-political group becoming increasingly suspicious and subversive of the other(s). In 60 years, Nigeria seems to have enthroned corruption and charlatanism as articles of faith in her political leadership. In 60 years, Nigeria has consolidated a dubious political culture that emphasizes the primacy of sectional interest over and above national interest. In 60 years, Nigeria’s political leaders have become so immersed in flaunting their ill-gotten wealth, in upbraiding the primordial public at the expanse of the civil public. 
Our dear country, Nigeria is stuck in the miry clay of leadership ineptitude. It is always bad with each change of government. The past and present leaders have exhibited shameful cluelessness in addressing the insecurity challenges in the country, resolving the country’s epileptic power supply, dealing with unemployment and corruption and so on. In fact, they have demonstrated nauseating lack of vision on how to move Nigeria forward. Dr Arthur Nwankwo (2018) described Nigeria perfectly when he wrote, “Nigeria is a lumbering behemoth in search of a safe berth; a country with awesome potentials for global dominance but frittered away by sustained and unmitigating ethnic pariahs, leadership inertia and mindless looting of the commonwealth.”

Nigeria has become a theatre of the absurd – all thanks to our clueless, visionless and kleptomaniac lootocrats! That Buhari and other past leaders have failed is not arguable. The philosopher, Plato proffered that an ideal state is one whose policy makers are philosophers. That Nigeria has become a fantastically corrupt state with a collapsed economy goes to show that none of the past policy makers and present president is Nigeria’s ‘philosopher king’. 
Nigeria as it is today is a lopsided colonial creation where the resources of the state are continuously being hijacked by a predatory but insignificant class of oppressors – the political leaders. What Nigeria needs now is a ‘philosopher king’ who is also a clinical economist who will meticulously and painstakingly study the patient – a crisis-ridden economy, like ours – in order to prescribe a course of treatment; performing a surgery, if need be.

If I become the president of Nigeria, to nib the sharp rise in ethnic separatism, incandescent ethnic nationalism and collapsed economy suffocating the country in the bud, I will restructure the country. I am not ignorant of the fact that the present administration of Muhammdu Buhari has turned Nigeria into a treacherous environment where truth is unwelcomed and stifled; and where a public opinion on a delicate issue such as this could be easily misconstrued and mischievously interpreted as a felony. This notwithstanding, I will proceed.

Restructuring does not refer to the merging of states as most people erroneously assume. Rather, it is a call for the restoration of federalism – the foundational constitution structure to which all Nigerians subscribed as encapsulated in the independence constitution of 1960. This constitution was violated in 1966 and the violation set in motion a chain of events that has culminated in the present abnegation of a 36 states structure against the four regional structure that emanated from the independence constitution. All the ills presently plaguing the country are directly or indirectly a consequence of the wrong anti-federalist diversion Nigeria took in 1966.

For Nigeria to be pulled out of the miry clay of disintegration, it needs both political and fiscal restructuring. This would be my number one political agenda. Politically, there would only be two tiers of government  — the central government which will have exclusive responsibility for common services such as the central bank and monetary policy, foreign affairs, defence and the armed forces, and immigration, and regional governments which will now have direct supervision over the zones (the present 36 states). Local governments should be abolished as a tier of government. It would be the responsibility of regional governments to create and administer local governments. 

The existing six geopolitical zones would be constituted into federating units with equal constitutional rights. A restructured Nigeria with the six geo-political zones as federating units will work much better because these zones each have economies of scale. Trade and manufacturing can happen inside each zone with a market large enough to meet demand, as well as to trade effectively with other zones in the federation.

The states as presently existing will make up the zones. Each zone will have its own constitution which will not be in conflict with the federal constitution. The State’s Houses of Assembly will remain as they are but there will be Regional Houses of Assembly that will function as the highest legislative organ of the regions.
Each region would have its own police, courts; and sustain its educational and other sectors. Each region would have a Governor who would coordinate the activities of the region and report to the President. 

In terms of election, INEC would still conduct federal elections, while each region would establish its own electoral body for the purpose of regional and municipal elections. The Office of the President would be for a single term of six years.

Nigeria today is called a “federal republic” but in reality it is a unitary state in which the federal government wields overarching powers. Like the United States of America, Nigeria is structured as a federation with 36 states, a federal territory, and 774 Local Government Areas (LGAs), including Abuja. However, unlike the United States, the central government controls the revenues and nearly all of the country’s resources, especially oil and natural gas. Revenues accrue in the Federation Account, where it is allocated monthly to the states and the LGAs, by a federal executive body, the Revenue Mobilization, Allocation, and Fiscal Commission (RMAFC).

On fiscal restructuring, there would be an overhaul of the Exclusive, Concurrent and Residual legislative lists as contained in the constitution. There are, for example, 68 items on the Exclusive Legislative List in the 1999 constitution, and a residual list that is far too small – the latter made up of a few items such as cemeteries and burial grounds, births and death registration, healthcare, traditional and chieftaincy titles. I would move mines and minerals from the Exclusive List to the Residual List as an exclusive preserve of regions. Also, insurance, police and security agencies, prisons, taxation, trade and commerce, and water would be moved from the exclusive to the concurrent list. This way, the powers of the central government would be significantly reduced to issues of immigration, currency, military/defence and foreign affairs. Power, in essence would devolve more to the federating units.

The regions would be in charge of the resources within their space, which is to be exploited by the regions and an agreed percentage paid to the central government. In other words, the present revenue sharing formula would be discarded. 
Restructuring will compel the regions and states to look inwards to identify and develop their internal economies and by extension the national economy. In the first republic, the North was famous for its groundnut pyramids, the West was known for its cocoa, the Mid West for rubber, the South-East for its palm produce and the South-South of lumbering and fishing. In addition to this vast agricultural profile which presently is lying fallow, each region has mineral deposits. 

With proper restructuring, each region, not the central government, will control natural resources found therein, but pay a certain percentage of the income from those resources to the central government for the functioning of the federation. This will spur development because the regions will now take on responsibility for how they use their natural resource income, and indeed whether they choose to depend mainly on such income or build a more complex and productive economy. In a true federation, the central government should have no business owning the country’s natural resources and “allocating” revenues to sub-national units.

The best arrangement for Nigeria is neither the “unitary federalism” the military leaders imposed on us, nor a confederation, but a real federation with a finely calibrated balance of powers and responsibilities between the central and federating units. In this scenario, the federating units can look after themselves more effectively without the “feeding bottle” of the central government. The centre becomes less powerful, but not weak, because it will retain core sovereign responsibilities such as the armed forces and security services, citizenship and immigration, foreign affairs, and the central bank.

The reasons restructuring is vital are as follows. First, the case for justice, fairness and equity. The truth is that the current constitutional structure of Nigeria and concentration of power at the centre favors some parts of the country and disenfranchises others, in particular, those parts of the country from which the natural resources rents support the current structure. It disenfranchises them because they have no control over these resources (which should not be the case in a truly federal state), and because the arrangement places excessive political power in the hands of whichever groups control power at the centre. Additionally, restructuring is essential because it will help our democracy achieve better governance. This will be achieved in two ways. One, restructuring will bring greater accountability and transparency to governance because power and responsibility will devolve closer to the people. This will help evolve a better culture and quality of leadership, and will foster competitive development between the regions. Two, restructuring will result to a reduction in the costs of governance at both the centre and the regions.

If I become the president of Nigeria, the proactive steps I would take to restructure the country are: First, I will meet with the National Assembly and intimate the lawmakers about my plans to restructure the country and painstakingly explain to them the need to come to a broad agreement on the National Assembly’s critical role in constitutional restructuring. Second, I will appoint a Commission on Constitutional Restructuring. The Commission will be comprised of distinguished personalities with impeccable records, and will include a member from each of the regions. The responsibility of the Commission will be to review previous reports and recommendations on constitutional restructuring and to analyse the various positions, arguments and recommendations. It can also craft further recommendations of its own. Third, the report of the Commission will be followed by a widespread sensitization and consultation with citizens and stakeholders in all parts of the country. The aim will be to foster a participatory government where the citizens freely express their opinion on a public policy. The final step will then be the submission of the Restructuring Bill to the National Assembly.

Restructuring is the panacea to Nigeria’s epileptic development. I believe that restructuring will have a proactive effect of positioning Nigeria for real development. 

Ezinwanne Onwuka writes from Cross River state, Nigeria. She is a Corp Member serving in Cross River state. She writes informative, creative and research-driven contents on topics about life, politics, religion and more. You can reach her on [email protected] and +2348164505628.  

Thursday, August 13, 2020

August 13, 2020

OpEd: 9 Things You Need To Know About Introverts BY EZINWANNE ONWUKA

Most of us find extroversion as a quality to reckon with. We see extroverts as easy-going, people-loving individuals while introverts are often tagged as weird, snob and nerd.
Just because extroversion appears to be a more popular and dominant personality trait does not mean that being an introvert makes one a ‘weirdo’.

Having differences is not a hurdle in a bond, knowing how to respect it is. Knowing these few things about introverts, then, will help to foster a healthy relationship with them.

Introverts need ‘alone time’ and we want you to respect that: Our ‘alone time’ is our ‘life potion’. We will literally exhaust ourselves to death if we are not allowed a minimum of, at least, 30 minutes solitude everyday. We need time for recharging. Don’t force us to join you to outings, movies, group chats etc. after an already overdose of socialization. If you do, we will politely decline your offer and we expect you to respect that without further question.
Introverts do not like to party: Sorry, but introverts are not the party types. And this is mostly for two reasons. Firstly, the need to unnecessarily socialize with people, even if they are absolute strangers. Secondly, the need to avoid unnecessary noise. If you are one of those who think inviting or dragging an introvert to a party will put an end to his despondency and make him come alive, have a rethink. Partying will only add to our gloom. We are not ‘people’ persons. Introverts detest parties for the sheer amount of people they get to meet all at once!

Do not urge us to be more extroverted: Often extroverts try and make us behave like them, fit in their lifestyle and also impose their opinions and choices on us. How annoying! We find it disrespectful and annoying to face situations when extroverts will come and tell us to ‘be bolder’, ‘be more expressive’. Introverts and extroverts are quite opposites. We can still exist alongside each other, even if we apparently have contrasting traits. There is no need to force us to change; just like we don’t force you to keep quiet when you start to ‘shout’. We must just embrace each other’s uniqueness. Introverts experience the beauty of the world in a way different from extroverts. But that does not make an introvert an ‘odd creature’. They are beautiful in their own way as you are in your own way, as an extrovert.

Introverts do not share their personal details in front of a group of people: Sharing personal information in the presence of a group of people is an absolute nightmare for introverts. However, if you are really interested in us and wants to know us better, follow the following steps. First, gain our trust and sneak into our circle of friends. Second, have the patience to create that comfortable space for us to open up. Lastly, and most importantly, meet us alone. Our personal life is a very treasured part of us and we do not want to share it with random people.
Do not force us to speak up: Have patience with us. We do speak. And we speak a lot. We just need the right comfort, the right dose of understanding, the proper listening skills from you and we will keep going on and on. The more you force us to speak, the more we will retire into our shells. Introverts need some time to process and contemplate before they speak.

Introverts do not like to be interrupted: 
Introverts are deep thinkers and need substantial time to process information. That, however, does not make us ‘slow-witted’ beings. Thinking is just our most favourite hobby. And when we are replaying a scene in our mind or are engrossed in our imaginary world, we would not like to be disturbed. We want to be left by ourselves. That helps us to focus on one out of the number of thoughts in our minds.
Talking over the phone is torture for us: You will be disappointed to the core when you try to talk to us on the phone; we are likely to stare at our phone until the call ends, especially when you are not in our circle of friends. It is better you send us a voicemail, text, email or better still chat us up on social media rather than dial our number. Even if we answer the call, we will fervently wish you to disconnect as soon as possible.

We do not want you to add us to group chats on social media: ‘Groups’ are not our thing. ‘Solo’ is our thing. We can still manage group outings periodically with our intimate buddies. But keeping track of the conversation going on in group chats on communicative apps is not just our thing! It is exhausting. We simple suck at it. Most importantly, the constant inbox notifications interrupt us from our focused thinking.

Do not complete our unfinished sentences: Opening up, for introverts, is a bit difficult. So, when you witness us performing our masterstroke of opening up, carefully pouring our hearts out, do not interrupt us by completing our sentences. It cuts our conversation flow. It makes us feel like you have violated our boundary; thereby reducing our chances of ever providing you with a glimpse of our inner world.

Ezinwanne Onwuka writes from Cross River state, Nigeria. She is a Corp Member serving in Cross River state. She writes informative, creative and research-driven contents on topics about life, politics, religion and more. You can reach her on [email protected] and +2348164505628.  

Wednesday, August 5, 2020

August 05, 2020

OpEd: Cross-carpeting: A Challenge To Nigeria's Democracy BY EZINWANNE ONWUKA

A generally accepted definition of a political party is that it is an organized group of people with similar political aims and opinions that seek to influence public policy by getting its candidate elected to public office. Political parties are important institutions for developing policies and platforms and providing critical oversight and accountability of government action. Through their elected representatives, political parties implement policies that reflect the ideology of the party. However, this is not the case in Nigeria. Changing from one political party to another is common and seen as a way of gaining an advantage over other political parties.

Nigeria face a major and persistence problem: incessant cross-carpeting among elected political actors which tend to impede the democratic process. Cross-carpeting, otherwise known as party defection (I will be using the two terms interchangeably) is a situation where politicians cross from one political party to the other due to myriad of reasons such as personality clash, power tussles, crisis or division within a given party, disagreement on party's position on an issue, realization of one's personal political ambition, and divergent views on the operations of a political party's philosophy or ideology. 

In other words, party defection is any situation in which a member of a legislature who had been elected on a certain party platform changes his political allegiance before or after a general election. In this regard, political party defectors are usually regarded as political prostitutes without political principle, morality, conscience and lacking in political ideology to champion the cause of leadership for the wellbeing of the society and political development of the country.

Cross-carpeting have become the underlying attribute of party politics in this present democratic dispensation and have become frequent toward and after election periods. To be certain, the word “cross-carpeting” does not exist in the English language. It was, however, coined to describe a common phenomenon by which politicians, almost unashamedly, switch political allegiance just to achieve their own personal political goals.

One of the challenges to the sustainability of democracy and the evolution of a robust political system and process in Nigeria is the gale of party defections in the country. Developed democracies like the United States, Germany, France and United Kingdom have politicians with over 3 decades of experience in politics without wavering in party affiliations and ideologies. However, in the Nigerian context, a politician will defect from one political party to another, when his or her political interest is no longer guaranteed.

In 1951, the first known case of cross-carpeting occurred in Nigeria which robbed Dr. Nnamdi Azikiwe the chance to become the Premier of the Western Region. This happens to be the most celebrated cross carpet episode in Nigeria. Yoruba members of the National Council for Nigerian and the Cameroon (NCNC) were lobbied to cross over to the Action Group (AG) to stop Dr. Nnamdi Azikiwe, an Igbo man, from becoming the premier of Western Region. This heralded the massive cross over to the AG. As the leader of the NCNC, Azikiwe was to be the Premier of Western Nigeria following the elections of 1951 with Chief Obafemi Awolowo, a Yoruba man and the leader of Action Group, as the leader of the opposition in the Regional House of Assembly. The NCNC won 42 seats out of 80, but within 24 hours, 20 of them had cross-carpeted to AG.

While President Muhammadu Buhari was never a member of the People’s Democratic Party (PDP), he did move between various political parties in his quest to become the number one citizen of Nigeria. In 2003 and 2007, he contested for president as the candidate of the All Nigeria People's Party (ANPP). In 2011, he was the presidential candidate of the Congress for Progressive Change (CPC), which he founded. In 2015, he contested under the umbrella of the APC and won.

The political calculation in the country took a dramatic turn by 2013 with the formation of the All Progressive Congress (APC) through the merging of four political parties - Action Congress of Nigeria (ACN), All Progressive Grand Alliance (APGA), All Nigerians Peoples Party (ANPP) and Congress for Progressive Change (CPC) - formed just to garner more supporters over the People’s Democratic Party (PDP) in the build up to the 2015 general elections. This development led to the defection of five former PDP governors: Murtal Nyako (Adamawa), Abdulfatah Ahmed (Kwara), Rabiu Kwankwaso (Kano), Aliyu Wammako, (Sokoto) and Chibuike Amechi (Rivers), to the APC ahead of the 2015 general elections. Also to cross-carpet to the APC is the governor of Imo State, Rochas Okorocha, from the All Progressive Grand Alliance and the PDP senators: Senator Bukola Saraki (Kwara Central), Umaru Dahiru (Sokoto South), Magnus Ngei (Rivers South), Wilson Asinobi (Rivers West), Bindawa Muhammed (Gombe Central), Aisha Jummai (Taraba North), Mohammed Ali (Borno South), Mohammed Shaba (Kwara North), Abdulahi Adamu (Nasarawa West) and Ibrahim Abdullahi (Sokoto East), as well as thirty-seven members of the House of Representatives who cross-carpeted from PDP to APC.

Moreover, with the mantle of political power turning to the APC after the 2019 general elections, politicians continue to defect to the party in a bid to further their political career. Unlike other parts of the world where politicians defect for ideological reasons, politicians in Nigeria defect mostly for selfish ends. All they are concerned with is simply associating with those with whom their personal political objective stand a better chance of being achieved. The series of indiscriminate party defection is such that Nigerian politicians defect from their political parties to another party only to leave that other party for yet other parties before eventually returning ‘home’ to their original political party.

One reason for the occurrence and prevalence of party defection in Nigeria is the nature of party formation. Party formation in Nigeria is often driven by political careerism rather than ideology. Personal ambition and ethnic loyalty, as opposed to social and economic issues, tend to drive Nigeria's political parties. The deprivation that opposition politics might engender often make it unwise for politicians to remain in opposition parties. This is perhaps so because the party in power often discriminates against the opposition. Thus, owing to the winner-takes-all nature of Nigerian politics, political opponents usually had to choose between crossing the carpet to join the ruling party or suffer exclusion, repression and lack of access to resources.

Cross-carpeting no doubt has telling effects on the process of consolidating democracy, especially when it affects state and federal elected political office holders. This trend is fast making caricature of democracy in the Fourth Republic and seriously belittles the spirit of opposition parties. This often breeds the emergence of new political parties that lack strength and focus to compete reasonably in the polity. In other words, incessant cross-carpeting weakens opposition parties which have a telling effect on democratic consolidation in Nigeria. Furthermore, it tends to promote money-bag politics rather than ideological oriented political parties. According to the News Magazine of February 2014, a ‘‘mouth-watering'' offer of money were outlined for the legislators that cross-carpeted to the APC in the build up to 2015 general elections. According to the same report, the then ruling PDP was said to have promised $2 million to each senator who returns to the PDP, $1 million to each member of the House of Representatives and $10 million to each ‘leader' who abandoned the APC for the PDP. Although, this is considered a rumour in some quarters, one cannot completely dispel issues like this in any polity that is not ideologically driven, where possession of political power is viewed directly as economic empowerment.

Indiscriminate party defection have become the hall mark of Nigerian politics. A pre-requisite to curtail the incessant party defection is to de-emphasize the excessive premium placed on political power. When politics becomes less lucrative, ideology will begin to gain popularity across the polity. This will keep political practitioners back on the track and guide against incessant party defections.

Ezinwanne Onwuka writes from Cross River state, Nigeria. She is a Corp Member serving in Cross River state. She writes informative, creative and research-driven contents on topics about life, politics, religion and more. You can reach her on [email protected] and +2348164505628.