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Nigerians Are In Bondage, Many Of Them Are Working To Escape — Prof. Pat Utomi |The Republican News

Prof. Pat Utomi
  • ‘Nigeria has had very bad politicians one generation after another’

A political economist and former presidential candidate, Prof Pat Utomi, who also contested the governorship primary of his party in the last election, shares his thoughts about the state of the nation in this interview with TUNDE AJAJA

Nigeria will be 59 in two days and many Nigerians are grossly disappointed with the country’s level of development. How would you assess the country’s progress so far?

Part of my personal burden is that I have been around for all of those 59 years and so I have seen those 59 years from the eyes of a young person, a teenager, a middle-aged person and someone now entering into the twilight of his time of being. I think one sentence sums it up; excruciating and painful witness to a country’s failure to live its dream. Most of my adult life has been focused on two things; social justice and economic development. In both areas, Nigeria has been a remarkable failure. I still remember as a young academic interested in development issues the days people used to say to Indonesia that ‘if you organise yourselves well, maybe you can be like Nigeria.’ And now I’m living through a time people are saying to Nigeria; maybe you can be like Indonesia. Isn’t that a great irony? In fact, a friend of mine, an American professor at the School of Advanced International Studies, Johns Hopkins, Peter Lewis, reflected that in a book, titled ‘Growing Apart’, which was a comparison of Nigeria and Indonesia. As Nigeria went south, Indonesia moved up the ladder. If Indonesia is painful to compare Nigeria with, you just try to compare it with Singapore. If I compare what has happened over the years in Singapore and Nigeria, sometimes, I literally break down in the night and begin to sob. I just love Singapore.

What’s the attraction?

Well, it’s the story of a country that was literally nothing. I saw it grow from a fishing village to what it is now. Its Prime Minister once broke down and wept because they thought they could not survive without Malaysia when the Malaya Federation got rid of them. But it became the hub of development. Everything happened before my eyes. Something happened when I went to Singapore this summer, and the story is very real. I was in my hotel room; reflecting and I found myself literally going into private conversations with Chinua Achebe and Nelson Mandela. In many ways, some of their expressions reminded me very deeply, painfully and sorrowfully the failure of Nigeria as a country. I was just lost in conversation with these men and I actually plan to put down a book of those conversations of which I got no reply from these men. Somebody interviewed me in 1990 and I was shocked when the person said there is a topic you would turn to that would animate me any day, which is Nigeria. I have always been pan-Nigeria in all my views, but Nigeria has been a depressing ride; its youths are leaving and they are unsure about the future.

Where do you think the country is getting it wrong?

One of the things that the Nigerian elite have never gotten around is understanding what it means to govern. So we have one generation after the other of very bad politicians. Government has gone from bad to worse; you think it’s going to get better and the next one is just worse than the one before it. It’s depressing when you think they would learn from the mistakes of others but it never happens. Associated with this is the fact that governing Nigeria is expensive; politicians are on ego trips, which must be manifested in motorcades and how they steal the commonwealth in the name of taking care of themselves because they are government officials. In many countries, public officials are some of the least paid persons. Here, they are probably not as well paid but we know how much of our resources they have plunged. The budget of the country comes to less than six per cent of our Gross Domestic Product and what it takes to run the government is extracted mainly from revenues from crude oil and taxation, and about all of it going into the budget. And this budget maintains less than two million of us who are either civil servants or politicians and they don’t even feel accountable enough to ensure that the rest of us have a decent life. They actually think who are we to be talking to them and asking to be governed well. So, between the civil servants and the politicians, we have a new colonisation of the Nigerian people. Femi Falana said the other day that Nigeria is governed like we are a conquered people and I disagreed with him. I told him we are not governed like we are a conquered people; we are a conquered people. Only a conquered people can be governed the way we are governed. We are in captivity and that is why a lot of people are trying to escape as if they are trying to break out of captivity. It’s a run for freedom. We cannot continue that way; it’s not possible.

Would you have an idea of how the country got to this level if Indonesia once admired us?

Yes, it wasn’t this way from the beginning. I remember the late Prof Emmanuel Elebute saying that when he was appointed a professor of medicine in the 60’s, his pay was higher than that of the Prime Minister of Nigeria. Can you imagine anybody in the National Assembly allowing a professor of medicine to earn more than them? That’s impossible in today’s system. We know how long it took him (Elebute) to get there, but we don’t know how long it took to get to the National Assembly. In some cases, all it takes is to steal a few ballot boxes, even if you are coming from the gutter. A collapse of culture happened somewhere along the way. When there is a collapse of culture, nothing dear exists anymore. Value shapes human progress and it determines what any society becomes, but there has been a collapse of culture in Nigeria and there are no values guiding anything anymore. Anything goes and you can get away with murder, literally. You can steal the maze today and the next day you would be the custodian of the maze. That’s a society that has lost everything.

If Nigeria continues on this route, where do you think the country is headed?

For three decades, I have been trying to get the Nigerian middle class to realise that they are the problem. I recently wrote a book, titled ‘Why Not’, where I talked about the complicit middle. I think I played some role in waking up that middle in 1993 after the annulment of the election. I wrote an article, ‘We must say never again.’ Professionals got up and said truly we couldn’t continue, but everybody went back to sleep and the conquest continued. Fully conquered by the political class, the Nigerian people are wondering who they are and what would happen to them next. But, you see the thing about situations like this is that they are not sustainable; it’s just for a period of time. About 25 years ago, I began using a phrase that Nigeria would witness the revenge of the poor. My friend, Rev Fr George Ehusani, seems to have popularised the phase. It’s happening as we speak. Let the rich travel from Abuja to Kaduna in their flashy cars and see what happens. And it’s just starting. Unfortunately, the poor and middle class are also caught up by it. We could have avoided all of these and build a prosperous and just society for all. When there is no justice, peace is hard to find. Nigeria built an unjust society and today it is searching for peace. It was all avoidable. I can go back to look at all my writings for the last 40 years and I can show where I predicted where we are today. I am tired this time and it’s time to retire.

There are people who believe that the discovery of oil is part of our problem, do you agree with that?

Nigeria has suffered a major problem that led to the collapse of culture, and it’s what I like to call the dangerous alchemy of the convergence of soldiers and oil. Military rule, which brought an authoritarian structure, met with oil, which brought free money. The people in power, who were soldiers, did not need the people because they had enough money coming from oil exploration to do as they pleased. So, people were very happy that they (military) left them alone. Then, they also stopped paying taxes and they stopped asking what they (leaders) were doing with our (oil) money. That drove the emergence of state capture. The people who had power and money basically captured the Nigerian state. I often talked about those who own Nigeria as their property. For nearly 60 years, we have had a group of people who have captured the country and owned it. In many ways, groups negotiate with them entry into sharing some of what they own. I have a very remarkable relationship with former President Olusegun Obasanjo and I love him. There are two sides of him. There is a side of him that is with that rapacious group of captors and a side of him that represents a certain social will for good of all. He’s a very complex man caught in the middle of this and people don’t understand him. There are things about him that you may not like but there are things about him that you can’t but respect. But, there are others in that group that are not given to his pang of conscience. It’s a rapacious parasitic group.

There is also the belief that the Nigerian citizenry went to bed after the return to democracy in 1999, was that truly the case?

While the state capture lasted, they woke up in 1999 and we all fought the system until they (military) decided to let go. After that, we – and I charge myself as the first accused – decided we had done our bit, which was the ultimate mistake, in my view. It opened the doors to a bunch of charlatans and once those traditional politicians moved in, that was it. People who came with the late Chief Obafemi Awolowo, Michael Opara and Ahmadu Bello, who grew up in the understanding of social conscience, thought the military was not serious about going. Then a bunch of bandits stepped in and Nigeria has not recovered since then.

Do you think it is possible to recover?

It is possible to recover. You see, why I think any nation caught in this kind of mess can recover is Brazil. If Brazil can come back, why not (Nigeria)? But my fear is that if we are not careful, instead of taking the Brazil option, we might do Argentina or worst still, we may do our natural ally and soulmate, Venezuela. Do we learn from our mistakes? Nigerian civil war was the worst genocide of the 20th century outside Hitler’s attempt at exterminating the Jews, even though we tried to cover up that history. Rwanda went through genocide and recovered brilliantly in the way President Paul Kagame has tried to rebuild the country. Nigeria has not had a good fortune of learning from the error of the Nigerian genocide in the way Kagame had. So, where do we find hope? I think there is still a group of people committed to the dignity of the human race, who are middle class persons and are still driven by a bigger good. I remember that one of the things I had written while reflecting on my thoughts about Achebe and Mandela was what I titled 1,100 years of servitude. My fear is for Nigeria as a nation not to plunge its people into 1,000 years of servitude. When I talk to many Nigerians, people are so short-termed and instant gratification-driven and it increases my pain. To have elite that are not sensitive to the pains of Nigerians is one of the reasons my time of being has been a depressing one.

Your party, the All Progressives Congress, on assuming power in 2015 lamented what it called PDP’s 16 years of misrule and people felt the APC would do things differently. Do you think anything has changed since your party took over?

Let me tell you my own history with that adventure. I think about seven or eight years ago, I was asked to give the annual lecture of the Leadership newspaper and the subject was ‘political parties’. I remember vividly and I remember that in that room were almost all the people who became the bigwigs of the opposition, sitting on the high table. I took the pain to analyse what political parties are; what their role is in building up ideas for social transformation and progress. But there was something interesting after I finished speaking in that hall. Paul Unongo (former Chairman of the Northern Elders Forum) running to the podium saying to me that he felt like locking the doors and preventing all of us from leaving the place so we could sit down and discuss how Nigeria would move forward. That lecture was to get the opposition to realise that the redemption of Nigeria was all these people getting together, crafting ideas about how Nigeria should travel and using the platform of a political party, based on ideals of social democracy, with the people’s capitalism embedded in it, to organise a better society. The first thing I would say about the trouble with Nigeria and my party, as you called it, is that we didn’t form a political party.

How do you mean?

We created something called the APC, but it’s not a political party. Political parties in Nigeria unfortunately remains essentially machines for winning elections; a classic example of machine for elections. Machine politics does not save a nation, rather it produces political actors, whereas Nigeria needs to be saved. Once we did not manage to form a political party out of the APC, the game was lost. The first game that was lost was that the APC had no machine for internal conversation. So, once the machine produced officers, it was the end of the game; we could not even talk internally about what we should be doing as a party. People who can testify are still alive. I kept going back to talk to Chief John Odigie-Oyegun, who was the chairman of the party, about the need for us to sit down, develop ideas and coach all the people elected on the party’s platform about what we stand for and where our country should be. He said we truly needed such but that there was no money, and I told him we didn’t need money. I said he should invite them and leave the rest to me. I told him I would bring my friends free of charge to orient them. So, I went through that with him, but when you can’t find a platform to speak inside your own party, what do you do? Maybe once in a while journalists would harass you (laughs) and you would say one or two things and that is the end. I’m not surprised that we are where we are now. But, it’s a tragedy for our country. And there is this big misconception that we are a rich country; but we are not. We are a bankrupt country. If we are a company, we would have gone like Thomas Cook (a British global travel group that folded up a few days ago).

Have you tried having that conversation with the new leadership of the party?

Remember I said I’m retired (laughs). Since I have no pension, maybe I would first go to an American campus and speak English for two years, perhaps I would earn enough that could sustain me in my village (laughs). It’s a big pity, because this country has so much potential. A professor at Harvard years ago said the central conservative truth is that it is not politics but culture and its values that are responsible for the progress of the society. The central liberal truth is that politics can change the culture and save it from itself. In effect, what he was saying was interpreted very nicely by Samuel P. Huntington (jnr) who gave an example of that. Lee Kuan Yew in many ways represents that central liberal truth. He was a man who used politics to change the culture of his people and in doing that effectively, he took that country from the third world to the first. Unless there is a change in culture and values in Nigeria, the result would be the same. For example, our youth bulge should be producing demographic dividends for us, but, right now our youth bulge is producing the road to Somalia. Robert Kaplan told us 20 years ago that we would likely descend into anarchy, with ethnic, religious and economic cleavages. Instead of us to work assiduously at preventing that from happening, we just kept on behaving every day to get to the destination we were warned against. If lives were not involved, Nigeria would be a serious comedy, but the lives of millions of people are involved.

You participated in the presidential campaigns of your party prior to the 2015 election, and as an economist, some people expected that you would be in the President’s team to bring your experience to bear. Would you know why you didn’t get an appointment or were you offered and you declined?

One thing I know about God is that He loves me and He doesn’t let me go to where it’s not in my best interest. So, whatever happened was absolutely what God loved to happen, and it has been for my own good.

You took part in the primary election of your party for the governorship election in Delta State in the last election. Even when you wrote to your party to postpone the primary because the list of delegates was not available, you said you got no response. How did you feel about it?

I believe in process. The rule said if you would use the indirect primary you must provide all the aspirants with the list of delegates so they could pitch their ideas to those people, but the list never came. To be on the record, one week to the exercise the list didn’t come, so I wrote to the state and national offices. Even on the day of the exercise, we didn’t see the list. What is tragic about our situation is that we have used social media to confuse many things. I have seen on the social media on how some people said I didn’t know where the primary was taking place and that I went to another place. It was all nonsense. But they planted it in the media to suggest that I was somehow confused. But there was no such thing. 70 per cent of the things I see in the social media with my name don’t emanate from me, but what do you do.

What happened on the day of the primary?

You see, based on what I just said, there was no reason for me to show up; when I didn’t get the list and there was no response to my letters. On the day of the election, which was supposed to start at 9pm, they called for a meeting at noon and the delegation from Abuja was there. The then Minister of State for Petroleum Resources (Ibe Kachikuwu), who is also from the state was there, including the other aspirants. Every single person, except one, said it didn’t make sense and that we should postpone it. The chairman of the panel said, ‘Prof, you know the way things are in Nigeria’ and I asked if I could see the list but he still didn’t bring it out. He said he saw it yesterday in Abuja and I said okay, can we see it? He said ‘Prof, you know we are brothers, let’s just go to the field.’ I was looking at the man and I asked myself how this country came down so low. He even said, ‘Prof this is not classroom’ (laughs). At that point I didn’t know whether to be amused or not. I knew it was clear what they came to do, so there was no point. The problem is that people who violate laws don’t go to prison, so it would be done again in the next election. In a normal country, all those involved in that process should be in prison by now. I am watching for the third time in my life, grand treason against the Nigerian people. What has happened in Nigeria unfortunately is that it has become a way of life. It has become a racket. So, rights are denied Nigerians normally. Several times I have told the Nigerian Bar Association that they have a duty to be activists for the rule of law.

At the point that the process didn’t go as planned, did you make any attempt to reach out to the authorities at the national level?

Which authorities, when they were the ones doing it? Whatever it was, there was deliberate collusion from the upper echelons of the party. They (electoral committee) can’t just do that kind of a thing among themselves.

The man who won the primary lost the election, were you surprised?

I expected that to happen. That was why the whole thing was like a no-brainer and I wonder why they didn’t understand that was how it would play out. The general politics of the place was such that anything other than someone like me emerging was baptising the incumbent.

Do you think you would have won if you had emerged as the winner?

Clearly, I would have. People were looking for something new and different. I didn’t wake up to say I wanted to run for any office, but they harassed me in my house. Those concerned persons disrupted my peace. Nobody around me, family and friends, wanted me to contest, but the people who came to me were not even my kinsmen. They were mainly from the central part of the state, which was what impressed me.

What was the position of your wife?

My wife, more than anybody else, was the one going quietly behind me to beg my friends to tell me not to go ahead. But, I also ask myself how history would remember me if there was a chance to mount the stage and effect a change and I walked away. One thing I can never be accused of in this country is not having made the effort to change anything I have ever criticised. I criticised how we treat widows and then I created a centre to support widows and it has been on for nearly 30 years. I observed that we didn’t have a public conversation, so I created Patito’s gang to aid public conversations. I know what it has cost me, beyond what it costs to air and produce the television show for 20 years. But I have been happy to live with all those things as part of my own sacrifice for nation building.

Are you still a proud member of the APC?

Political parties are an aggregation of groups in a direction, if it was really a party. The Conservative Party have the back-benchers, so consider me a very serious back-bencher in the APC.

You once contested to be President and then you later contested to be governor, some people would see that as a descent. Did you see it like that initially?

No, I don’t even think of those things like that. Many people thought that way but I don’t think in those terms. That is where pride really is, and the example I gave in my book, ‘’Why Not’ on that subject was that when I was a graduate student in the United States in the 70s, the Governor of California, a gentleman called Jerry Brown did something similar. After he left being the governor, he went to be a local government councillor. Over 30 years after, he ran for governor again. I had a good fortune of becoming friendly with a one-time Prime Minister of France. Just before he died, he was the Mayor of Lyon, after being the Prime Minister. So, I don’t think like that. In fact, if you tell me that what would change Nigeria is if I become a local government councillor, not even chairman, I will. My interest is not in the title but the impact.

After those attempts, do you still have plans to contest any office?

I told you that I’m making the moves to go to my village, you’re talking about an election (laughs). In fact, if not that I’m not buoyant enough to retire, because I don’t have a pension, I won’t be here (laughs). I also believe that impact is not a function of title. I wish people didn’t have to have a title to make a difference. I’m not looking for a job and I’m not looking for a title. What title did Mahatma Gandhi hold in India? You mention India and the first name anybody thinks of is Gandhi. I ran into Dr Tokunbo Awolowo-Dosunmu sometime and she looked at me and shook her head. She said ‘you know I have been watching and following you; I see these people trying to stop you to block you out the way they blocked my father.’ I was struck. As she walked away, I turned to the person next to me and I said I wish they would succeed. If I could go to my grave in the stature of her father, I would rather that than any title in Nigeria.

Now that you want to retire, what do you do at your leisure?

I talk to people like you (laughs). Of course, I read a lot, and that one is a habit. If I have 10 minutes to myself and I didn’t read, something would be wrong because I would always have a book in my hand. (Punch)

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Okorocha’s Government Degraded Our Institutions, Ihedioha Laments At Inauguration |RN

Imo State Governor-elect, Hon. Emeka Ihedioha sworn in
  • Okorocha left shoes too big to fit into –Ex-CPS

Newly-sworn-in Governor of Imo, Emeka Ihedioha, has alleged that his immediate predecessor Rochas Okorocha’s administration “degraded” most institutions in the state. Ihedioha stated this in his inaugural speech shortly after being sworn-in by Imo Chief Judge, Justice Paschal Nnadi, at the Dan Anyiam Stadium, Owerri on Wednesday.

The governor, who sympathised with the people of the state over what he described as “debased and desecrated governance,” promised to remedy the damages done by the immediate past administration.

He solicited the cooperation of all stakeholders in the rebuilding process, pointing out that appropriate steps would be taken so as to restore faith and confidence in government.

“The outgoing administration degraded and destroyed most of our institutions and values.

“The legislature, the judiciary and the civil service, all suffered grievous assaults, with the House of Assembly made redundant and court orders routinely disregarded.

“But Imo State will, as always, endure. Imo will revive and prosper again.

“We urge you to be courageous in this conviction, for we are not captives of fear.

“We will not waste a day getting to work to renew the Imo promise of our founding fathers. Therefore, we will take appropriate measures to restore faith and confidence in government.

“I stand ready to personally interface and facilitate with any person or company willing to establish business in Imo. Together, we shall achieve the Imo of our dreams.

“Imo shall rise again,” the governor said.

In a reaction, however, Chief Press Secretary to Okorocha, Mr. Sam Onwuemeodo, said he was not surprised, insisting that the ex-governor left shoes too big to fit into.

Onwuemeodo listed Okorocha’s achievements to include free education, security and urban renewal.

“Owerri is fastest growing city in the Federal Republic of Nigeria. In 2011, no one could move out of their houses after 7.00 p.m., but today, Imo is secure and businesses are thriving.

“We raised the bar and the shoes are just quite big,” he said.

(NAN)

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A Revolution Is Coming Soon, It Will Rise From The North – Ettu Mohammed |RN

The schools they didn’t build have created Boko Haram, Terrorist Herdsmen, Bandits etc and they have now added Chronic Kidnapping to the legion of madness culminating.

For decades the SAME group of individuals have presided over Nigeria. They allotted oil wells to themselves and their cronies, connived with their counterparts from other regions to loot money from crude oil sales for the last 5 decades.

Despite all the billions of dollars they cornered for themselves and their cronies, they couldn’t build a single state of the art hospital, or provide water, or build a school or invest in their people.

They were okay looting every penny. They left their region with the highest out of school kids on Earth and probably the most impoverished people on earth too.

The easiest person to manipulate is someone without any form of education. They know this but they decide to look away.

They are building up Dubai for the Emirata, buying luxurious home in Europe and North America, building refineries abroad instead of situating same in their region.

Billion of dollars owned by our country is sitting idle in some safe in Europe and America the little they returned from the Abacha era is being re-looted via various ponzi schemes.

Guess what? The chickens have come home to roost! The schools they didn’t build have created Boko Haram, Terrorist Herdsmen, Bandits etc and they have now added Chronic kidnapping to the legion of madness culminating. It is now all centred around the North and this is not meant to happen in a region that has produced at least 10 heads of government.

An entire region is now under seige because some people somewhere decided not to do the needful. They just could not be bothered. That is why most Northern governors now prefer to live in Abuja away from their unsafe states.

The kids they have refused to educate are now tormenting the entire region to to the extent that we are now spending billion of borrowed dollars to fight the menace and rebuild after every destruction. Only for it all to be destroyed again.

A region which was once a delight to visit is now like a ghost town with everyone on guard all because some people decided not to do the needful.

If these deranged demon birthed by the madness of the looting class are the only ones affected by the activities of these demons, I won’t be bothered one bit. But innocent citizens who were not part of the whole planning are now being killed like chickens.

If a revolution will be started in Nigeria today. It will be from the North and it will be red all through.

God help Nigeria.  (Sahara Reporters)

 

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Nigerian Leaders Stop Sleeping, Nigerians Need Leaders Who are Ready To Work And Corrupt-free – Trump

Trump-and-Buhari

By Eric Patrick,

The American president Donald J Trump again blasts Nigerian government for their inability to deliver and protect the lives of its people.

Trump had kick against the killings of innocent Nigerians in the country especially in the northern part of Nigeria by bandits.

According to him the Nigerian government must stop sleeping and find everlasting solution to the crisis that is taking thousands of lives, Trump also says that the poor are the ones facing the insecurity crisis most,’ adding that their lives are more exposed to jeopardy than the rich.

In a brief conclave with journalists the American president also condemned the Canadian citizen who was recently kidnapped in Nigeria by gunmen, pleading with the Nigerian federal government to take immediate action to save the Canadian citizen.

In the pass four years till date Nigerian have been going through a lot facing challenges like, insecurity, poor economy, corruption, lack of education and employment.

“Nigerians need leaders who are ready to work, who are ready to deliver when call to power, leaders who are corrupt-free, Nigerians need leaders who listen to the cry of the people, the Nigerian government must stop sleeping.

Americans are not perfect but we are working so hard to remain the world number-one and I know many African countries are looking up to Nigeria so their leaders should stop working for their selfish interest Trump says.

Trump also talked about president Buhari 10 day visit to the UK adding that, it is wrong for a president to travel without handing over power to his vice and not notifying the people he serves to know about his foreign trip.

Nigeria is a nice country recognized in the world, the country would have been second most powerful and most wealthy country in the world if not for the corruption that have taken over the minds of its leaders.

“However Donald Trump says, in the history of Nigeria leadership, the present government happens to be the worst ever. A government who don’t take legal actions to stop the killings of its people. The only government who don’t attack on terrorist but unleashed attack on innocent Nigerians. The only government who negotiate with terrorist, its time Nigerians need to rise and kick out bad government and fight for their pride.

 

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Over 91 Million Nigerians Now Desperately Poor – World Poverty Clock |RN

Nigerian-kids

Nigerian kids

Eniola Akinkuotu, Abuja

 

The number of extremely poor Nigerians has risen to 91.6 million, according to the World Poverty Clock.

This implies that virtually half of Nigeria’s population now live in extreme poverty.

The World Poverty Clock had named Nigeria the poverty capital of the world last June when it revealed that Nigeria had 87 million people living in poverty.

The latest figure shows that an additional four million Nigerians have since fallen under the poverty line.

The report adds that six Nigerians become poor every minute.

The World Poverty Clock is a tool to monitor progress against poverty globally.

It uses publicly available data on income distribution, production, and consumption, provided by various international organisations, most notably the United Nations, World Bank, and the International Monetary Fund.

According to the World Poverty Clock which was created by Vienna-based World Data Lab, 91.16 million Nigerians were living below a dollar a day as of February 13, 2019.

The World Bank says a person can be said to be living in extreme poverty if they live below the poverty line of $1.90 which translates to N693.5 per day.

The President Muhammadu Buhari government had last year rejected the report, insisting that it had created jobs especially in the area of agriculture and reduced poverty.

However, British Prime Minister, Theresa May, reiterated the statistics during her visit to Nigeria last year.   (Punch)

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Umahi: ‘I Rented 2,000 Persons To Cheer Buhari In Abakaliki If Not APC’ll Be Booed

Juliana Taiwo-Obalonye , Obinna Odogwu, Abakaliki

 

The Governor of Ebonyi State, David Umahi, has disclosed how he rented 2,000 persons to beef up the crowd that came to cheer President Muhammadu Buhari at the Abakiliki Township Stadium. He said he did that to save the president from seeing empty seats because his party, the All Progressives Congress (APC) was not on ground in the state.

He has also debunked allegations that he is paying any amount he likes to workers in the state saying that if he is doing that, he would have long been exposed in the media.

Umahi was reacting to APC gubernatorial candidate, Sonni Ogbuoji’s allegation at the presidential campaign rally at the Abakaliki Township Stadium, that Ebonyi workers have had to endure poor pay, no gratuity for retired workers and even some of them have been reduced to mere slaves that do not deserve any form of promotion.

Speaking to journalists shortly after seeing off President Muhammadu Buhari to his helicopter on his way to Calabar, Umahi denied that the 5,200 workers he inherited had been reduced to 3,200. He said rather than do that, he released the sum of N4 billion to the workers to access soft loans to help them to do any form of agricultural business of their choice. He added that he even had to allow them to use Fridays to engage in any business they prefer that would help them generate additional income.

The governor said: “You see, when they have nothing to accuse you of, they  come up with something. In the first place, the staff I met, I have never retired anyone of them and I don’t think two percent of the workforce has been retired. But I have said that there is no need to employ more people because the condition of those in service – not only in Ebonyi State but also, nationwide  – is not palatable. So you have to take care of those you have employed before you think of employing more people.

“That is why I made available N4 billion to the civil servants to take loans within a range they can pay back ; even if any of them has up to 25 years to stay in service, the loan will last for 25 years.

“I gave them Fridays free to go and do any agric business of their choice.. Because, I know there is no amount of money you will pay civil servants that will be enough for them; there is always nothing left after paying salaries for you as a governor to work with. Because, the essence of one being in government is to do something for the people; but when you use 100 percent of your earnings to pay salaries, then what are they working for? So, I devised a means whereby everyone should be doing something more useful and that is why we made available soft loan to them.

“If it’s true that I pay the civil servants anything I like, I will be on the pages of newspapers always; you know civil servants are not the type that will keep quiet. Ask them (APC members in the state) what is the GDP of the state like;; ask them the factors and indices that make up the GDP, they won’t know. I am a trained engineer and all my life I have been in business, employing thousands of people, and so I understand what governance and administration are all about.”

He described Ogbuoji as spent force who has nothing to campaign with.

The governor said as the Chairman of South East Governors Forum, he decided to organise 2,000 people to fill the stadium to welcome President Buhari  because he didn’t want him to feel he was not liked by the people of the state or the region, that has benefited from his administration’s projects.

Umahi said: “They have nothing to talk about but complaints. The last time Mr. President was here, they wrote a 15-page petition against me and Mr President said to me, don’t allow your frustration to overwhelm you. We have performed beyond human expectations and that is their problem; they have nothing to campaign with.

“When I was a deputy governor, they were all the people we helped. Then, and if you saw their venom against Mr. President when he was contesting in 2015, you would doubt the morality of human beings. So they have nothing to campaign about.”

On the allegation that he bamboozled the president, pretending to be his supporter while he was doing everything underneath to frustration his re-election bid, the governor said: “I don’t understand what they mean by support. We belong to two different political parties and so the support for Mr. President as a governor, is what we are doing.

We are not castigating Mr. President; rather, we are supporting him; that is our  support for him. We acknowledged publicly what he, Mr. President ,is doing for Ebonyi State, that is the support we are giving to him.

“Morally and ethically, I am not supposed to come out and start shouting while I’m still holding the ticket of PDP and saying ‘vote APC president.’  But there are many ways of giving support, as the chairman of South East Governors Forum; we have given Mr. President a very good landing opportunity in the South East and definitely he will have more votes that he had the other time.”

On the allegations that he initially denied the APC use of the Abakiliki Stadium, Umahi said: “The first time they wanted to use the stadium, But ;they had two factions of the party, and they were likely going to fight and destroy our property. So, I said no; they should clear with the Commissioner of Police and come up with one set of leadership so that they can use the stadium and I was going to give it to them free of charge.

“Today, not only did we give them the stadium which of course is important of  me it to give them when Mr. President is coming;, we renovated the stadium and painted the seats. We called them for a security council meeting; some of them came and we asked them what they want.

“ere Now, the crowd you saw there at the stadium, 2,000 of them were from me because I know they have nobody. But for it not to seem like Ebonyi people don’t love Mr. President, I had to make available 2,000 persons to come and cheer the president. That is why if you check the crowd, while they were castigating me unduly, the crowds were not clapping’, the people were not happy. But for the respect they have for Mr. President, they could have booed them. I had to do what I because L’m not into extreme politics; I’m into politics for development.”  (The Sun)

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APC Accuses Ohanaeze Of Sabotaging Buhari’s Campaign |The Republican News

• We scheduled meeting before election timetable –Nwodo

Magnus Eze, Enugu

 

The All Progressives Congress (APC) has accused the Ohanaeze Ndigbo of frustrating the party in the South East, including President Muhammad Buhari’s visit to Anambra and Enugu states today.

They alleged that the fixing of meeting of the Imeobi, the highest decision making organ of the body, today, by the Chief Nnia Nwodo leadership, was a design to diminish the import of the President’s visit.

Deputy Publicity Secretary of Ohanaeze, Chuks Ibegbu said Ndigbo would, at the meeting take a position on which direction they will cast their votes, particularly on the presidential election.

APC National Vice Chairman, South East, Chief Emma Enukwu said the “Ohanaeze is the only socio-cultural group that has taken a position on 2019 election with adoption of a candidate, but power belongs to God.”

Also, a chieftain of the apex Igbo organisation, who belongs to the APC in Enugu State, Prince Richard Ozobu, on Monday, faulted Nwodo for scheduling such an important meeting on the day the President is visiting two states in the region.

Ozobu said: “I’ve been a frontline player in Ohanaeze for many years and Imeobi meeting has never held on a Thursday but Saturdays.

“I can clearly tell you that Nwodo fixed this Imeobi meeting in bad faith. There is no emergency in Igboland to warrant the message he sent across that emergency meeting of Imeobi holds Thursday. This is to show the least, Nwodo’s disdain for President Buhari and he should not hoodwink the entire Igbo nation into his personal calamity.”

But, Ohanaeze, in a swift reaction denied that the Imeobi meeting was scheduled to sabotage the campaign tour of the APC presidential candidate.

Nwodo said in Enugu, yesterday, that the NEC of Ohanaeze Ndigbo had chosen the date without knowing the campaign timetable of the ruling party.

He explained that it was even the Minister of Labour and Productivity, Senator Chris Ngige and the Chairman of the South East Governors’ Forum and Governor of Ebonyi State, Chief David Umahi that called his attention to the clash. He disclosed that Ohanaeze Ndigbo has in deference to Ngige and Umahi, shifted the time for the meeting from 10:00am to 4:00p.m “on the same day at the instance of Dr. Ngige.

The body noted that they were aware of the extra cost implications due to those that would have gone after the meeting, but would now be accommodated in hotels, apparently to give all Igbo sons and daughters scheduled for the meeting opportunity to be there. The statement added that although Ohanaeze Ndigbo is apolitical, it could aggregate the collective interest of Ndigbo for a candidate that answers to their wish and inclination but would not be dragged down to the level of vile politicking.

Meanwhile, Minister of Foreign Affairs, Geoffrey Onyeama, has called on Ndigbo to vote massively for President Buhari in the February 16 poll because of the long term benefits to them.

Addressing a meeting of APC faithful in Enugu, he said: “We want to be on the side of history, we want to be on the side of victory because in years to come, we will look back and we want our children and our grandchildren to say this was the moment when the South East got its act together, united and followed a path of victory and a path of sustainable development for the South East and for Nigeria.”   (The Sun)

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Obasanjo Slams Buhari: ‘You’re sick In Spirit, Body, Soul |The Republican News

Romans UgwuAbuja, with agency report

 

Less than 24 hours after former President Olusegun Obasanjo President Muhammadu Buharia of behaving like late General Sani Abacha, he has fired yet another shot at the incumbent.

Obasanjo, in an interview with the British Broadcasting Corporation, Yoruba, the former president said Buhari is sick in the spirit, body and soul. The elder statesman said Buhari needs to rest and allow another person to take charge of Nigeria, ahead of the February 16 presidential election.

“Buhari is sick in the spirit, body and soul. Let’s beg him to go and rest. He has tried his best. Let give chance to another person..

“When people ask me that, ‘what if the next person is not suitable?’ I tell them ‘that is the beauty of democracy.’”

In an open letter on Sunday, titled: Points for concern and action, Obasanjo specifically accused the president of taking the country back to the Abacha era and also, accused the Buhari government of derailing the country’s democracy by using security institutions to fight perceived critics.

“EFCC, Police and Code of Conduct Tribunal are also being equally misused to deal with those Buhari sees as enemies for criticising him or as those who may not do his bidding in manipulating election results. Criticism, choice and being different are inherent trade mark of democracy. If democracy is derailed or aborted, anarchy and authoritarianism will automatically follow,” Obasanjo said in the letter.

The interview was on its website (www.bbc.com/yoruba/afrika-46942779), yesterday evening, BBC Yoruba, with release of the full interview, today, at 6:00am.

In the interview, Obasanjo also said although he has reservations about Atiku, he would be a better alternative than Buhari.

In a swift reaction, the All Progressives Congress (APC) described Obasanjo as someone whose nuisance value is high.

Reacting to the latest attack on Buhari, from Obasanjo, APC National Publicity Secretary, Mallam Lanre Issa-Onilu, told Daily Sun, yesterday night, that everything that is supposed to be said about his attacks to Buhari has been said.

Insisting that Obasnjo’s utterances have become inconsequential, Issa-Onilu said Obasanjo should not forget that he has only one, un-influential vote.

“Whatever he is saying now is not different from what he said on Sunday. I have reacted enough to what he said. If mine was not enough, what Asiwaju Bola Tinubu and others said about him should be enough.

“We don’t want to give Obasanjo that privilege of replying to everything he says. APC is done with Obasanjo.

“He is not worth the attention the media is giving to him. It is not true that Nigerians want to hear from him.

“His nuisance value is becoming very high. APC has more important things to do than replying to Obasanjo. He has only one vote and can decide where to take it to.”  (The Sun)

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2019: A Clarion Call For Change |The Republican News

Chris Nwokeji

With less than two months to go, Nigerians are still pondering which presidential candidate to vote for in the general election of 2019. It will be definitely fun to watch the winner of the election. In the build up of 2015 presidential election, many Nigerians were meant to believe that corruption increased by unimaginable proportions, leading to hardship, hunger, frustration and withdrawal. In fact, one of the strong points the opposition had against the government of Goodluck Jonathan was his seeming inability to curb insurgency. Criticisms were rife. The government was given many ill-labelling that actually smacked of giving a dog a bad name in order to hang it.  The common unfortunate label was ‘clueless.’

Three years after Jonathan, insurgency and daily killing of innocent people seem to have increased throughout Nigeria. Today, some Nigerians are not current in what happens in other parts of the country and the rest of the world due to lack of or inadequate supply of electricity to power their televisions and other modern media devices to access news and current affairs and importantly, information disseminated in the social media.

The power of television is not really in persuading viewers to take one side of an issue or another but is used for decision making; deciding what issues would be given attention and those to be ignored.

Newspapers are the major source of information for the vast majority of Nigerians. Over two-thirds of Nigerians report that they receive all or most of their news from the newspaper. Prior to the invention of television, Newspapers had always reported news, politics, business, entertainment and sports just as they do today. Additionally, the masses of Nigeria always read the news sections of their daily paper and topical issues in the editorial columns.

In Nigeria, the importance of television in transmitting information is a relatively new occurrence. As a result, households with television were reported at 40 percent in 2010, according to the World Bank development indicator. At the end of 2017, 22 percent of Nigerians had television in their homes, thus, showing a decrease in the number of households with television. In most developed countries, television is really the first form of mass communication that reaches nearly everyone such as youths and children.

More importantly, television presents to adults, youths and children visual images rather than printed words. It is quite unlike Nigeria where Newspapers are major source of information due to lack of adequate supply of electricity.

Electricity plays an important part in our everyday lives, at home, school, business or job and our daily activities rely heavily on the use of electricity. It is used at homes and businesses to run electronic components and appliances such as lighting, television, fan, refrigerator laptop, radio, air conditioner, microwave oven and others. In industry, electricity is used to operate huge machines that make foods, cups, clothes, paper, toiletries and many other things. According to World Bank, 90 million Nigerians have no access to electricity. Truth is, Nigeria is blessed with large oil, gas, hydro and solar resources with the potential to generate 12,522 megawatts(MW) of electricity power from existing plants but most days is only able to generate between 4,000- 5,000 megawatts which is grossly insufficient. In short, our leaders are cruel and inhuman because they know that without electricity, Nigeria can never develop and the masses would continue to be separated from the rest of the world.

Since the beginning of this government, many Nigerians are confused at the appropriateness of the anti-corruption war, believing that corruption has increased by unbelievable proportions, leading to hardship, hunger, frustration and withdrawal, practically losing faith in the administration. It is true that the maintenance of law and order is a prime function of the government and is essential to development. The sole aim of government is to provide its people happiness, stability and security. In addition, government is about increasing human and material resources for economic growth and to improve political development and provide support for cultural expression.

Perhaps not to be left out are those policies and programs designed to deal more directly with the people such as access to reasonable prices of food supplies, clean water, affordable healthcare, education, housing, electricity, road, infrastructure, and allowances for the unemployed, the aged, the disable, the blind and the deaf. Again, at no time in the history of Nigeria have the prices of staple foods gone up by 400 percent. For example, in May of 2015, the price for a bag of 50Kg rice was between #6,000 and #7,500. Now the same brands sell at between #18,500 and #20,000 for each. At no time in Nigeria has the price of petrol gone up by nearly 700 percent. At no time in Nigeria has the price of electricity from national grid and the resultant blackouts quadrupled. At no time in Nigeria has Naira been so weakened without any conscious effort by the Central Bank to rectify the currency.

The government seems to have over blown its anti-corruption war and people are beginning to see it as a way to persuade or influence people rather than arresting those that have emptied the nation’s treasury. Furthermore, the President continues to arrest members of other political parties and some organized groups that are opposed primarily ideologically to the government while much more are stolen under his watch. In addition, regardless of one’s ideology, ethnicity, language or background, now is the time for those in positions of leadership in Nigeria to speak out concerning a broken political system. This administration has widespread examples of corruption, ineptitude, ineffectiveness, cluelessness, unproductivity and a disorganized and unschooled group of people flaunting as leaders.

As politicians and leaders of this great nation, we must encourage each other to voice our concerns whenever Nigeria is going in the wrong direction. Perhaps, Nigerians need to understand the importance of upholding the constitution of Nigeria. Moreover, a constitution is a plan for running the government. For example, the freedom of speech, press and politics are some of those rights. It guarantees the voting rights of men and women and also protects citizens’ rights in every aspect.

All things considered, l think it’s the wrong time for us to start blaming or criticizing the former Presidents Olusegun Obasanjo and Goodluck Jonathan. Noteworthy here is that Atiku Abubakar was the vice-president of Nigeria under president Olusegun Obasanjo while Peter Obi a former Governor of Anambra State, representing the People’s Democratic Party and the All Progressives Grand Alliance (which shares ideological principles  and cooperation with the PDP) respectively. On this basis, one may conclude that Nigerian economy grew rapidly and achieved higher on many other macroeconomic metrics when the president of Nigeria was of PDP than now it is of the APC. For instance, the previous administrations tried reducing poverty by creating jobs monthly, but instead, the present government refuses to create jobs for our teeming youths across the country. Nigerians are yet to see any substantial foreign investment attracted by this administration for the interest of our citizens. Nonetheless, our government is doing all it can to prevent creating jobs in Nigeria. The corporate tax rate of 30 percent for business is too high. Proponents of tax reform argue that lower tax rates will boost business profits, therefore, creating more jobs for our teeming youths and citizens.

  Consequently, the youths should understand that it is time for a clarion call for what kind of economic policies are in place for creating jobs for  them. This is no time to point fingers at one another to rationalise considering a President and members of his party who refused to listen to the masses of Nigeria. With less than two months to go, the politicians will always make you believe that you have freedom of choice while you don’t. The APC government are owners.

Prof. Nwokeji writes from the US

(The Sun)

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Buhari’s Performance On NTA Live Programme Shameful – Ortom |RN

Rose EjembiMakurdi

 

BenueState Governor, Samuel Ortom, has described  President Muhammadu Buhari’s overall performance during the live programme on NTA, on Wednesday night, as shameful and a confirmation that he had lost control to cabals in his government.

The governor said this, yesterday, at NKST Church, Buruku, while interacting with officials of the Christian Association of Nigeria (CAN), during his reelection campaign in the local government area.

The governor, who was reacting to the televised comments on president Buhari on the matter, said the poor outing gave credence to what the president’s wife had said that he has lost control and a cabal has taken charge.

On the planned cattle routes by the Federal Government, Ortom insisted there are no cattle routes in his state and stressed that even if there were such routes which were gazetted, he would have de-gazetted them, as the current population of the state had made such routes untenable.

“At the time such routes were contemplated in the 60s, the entire population of the country was about 40 million, while the current population is about 200 million, thereby, foreclosing the possibility of such routes.”

The governor, who said he battled and overcame financial, social vices as well as security challenges during his first term, said his focus on these areas impacted negatively on his performance, adding that if given a second mandate, the end of his administration would be better than his rough beginning.

Governor Ortom said the All Progressives Congress (APC)-controlled federal government failed to forestall attacks on the state by Jihadists, who openly declared their conquest and occupation agenda on the state and, thereafter, failed to give the people justice when they demanded it. “This development coupled with the deliberate neglect of  Benue people, by not giving them strategic positions in government, prompted me to seek an alternative platform on which to pursue my reelection.”    (The Sun)

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