Abba Kyari : Tribute To A Single-Minded Patriot
As the inks flow in tributes to Abba Kyari by those who loved and despised him, let us not forget that Abba was much misunderstood and often maligned.
Wherever you stood then and stand now, let us not forget that Abba was a patriot .
He executed President Buhari’s vision with his own single mindedness. One of his favourite quotes was credited to Jeff Immelt to the effect that “The job looks easy when you are not the one doing it.” He seemed to take a lot of comfort from these words when his actions were misunderstood.
I bear testimony to his dedicated execution of the Presidential Infrastructure Development Fund Initiative (PIDF) which guaranteed funding to cash strapped projects like the Second Niger Bridge, the Abuja-Kano Highway, the Lagos-Ibadan Expressway, the Mambilla Hydro Project and the East –West Road at monthly meetings we held to review progress with Contractors.
Like all of us, Abba was flawed but he was not conceited. He was driven by conviction and never shied from an intellectual argument because his intellect was vast.
We disagreed but I never found Abba disagreeable.
Now that he has paid the supreme price in the service of the fatherland one good way we can honour Abba’s service and memory is to continue where he stopped.
Our most compelling assignment is to make the defeat of Covid-19 an urgent National Assignment to be completed in shortest possible time.
I think Abba would love that very much.
We must now undertake this assignment with a single mindedness similar to Abba’s execution of his own assignment.
This requires all of us , high and low , to observe existing guidelines like hand washing, sanitizing , wearing of face mask, social distancing and staying at home, in order to stop the community spread of the virus.
We must remember that the virus , on its own can only travel about 6 (six) feet and no more.
If it travels beyond that to our villages, cities, towns, wards, local governments and our homes, we carried it and enabled it to do so by heedlessly transporting it.
My deepest condolences go to Abba’s wife, children and family who gave us their Husband, Father, Brother, Uncle and Son , and to Mr President and all his immediate Staff and colleagues in the Villa .
Rest in Peace Chief, you served well.
Babatunde Raji Fashola, SAN
Honourable Minister of Works and Housing
7TH_TOP MANAGEMENT RETREAT
Isang Iwara Bows Out Of Service
The Director of Human Resources Management, Federal Ministry of Works and Housing, Mrs. Isang Iwara on Friday 29th May, 2020 bowed out of service in grand style after a meritorious service to her father land.
Friday marked thirty-four years and six months she joined the service. She will be sixty years on Saturday hence her retirement yesterday.
Mrs.Isang Iwara born on the 30th of May, 1960, joined Cross River Civil Service in November, 1985. She transferred her service to the Federal Civil Service as Assistant Director, Administration in 2004 and was promoted to the position of Deputy Director Administration in 2010. In 2014 she became a full fledged Director. She was posted to the Federal Ministry of Works and Housing in 2018 as Director, Human Resources Management from where she retired.
Speaking at the event the Permanent Secretary of the Ministry of Works and Housing, Mohammed Burka represented by the Director of Planning, Research and Statistics, Dr. Famous Eseduwo congratulated her, saying that it was not easy coming out of the service unscratched because the service is most of the times turbulent.
Bukar urged the retired Director to sustain her positive contributions to the service in nation building.
He commended her for her expertise in the discharge of her duties while in service,adding that she was a person that was able to bring result with little resources.
The Permanent Secretary charged members of staff to imbibe Mrs.Isang Iwara's attribute of prudence as things are not what they used to be especially during this Covid-19 era.
Giving a goodwill message, the Deputy Director (Staff Welfare and Training, Housing) Mrs. Cecilia
Akuns described Mrs.Isang as an embodiment of a seasoned technocrat that Civil Servants must emulate. That though she has retired, she should make herself available any time she is called to serve in higher capacity.
In her vote of thanks, the retiring Director of Human Resources Management, Mrs. Isang Iwara thanked the Honourable Minister of Works and Housing, Babatunde Raji Fashola, SAN, the Honourable Minister of State for Works and Housing, Engr.Abubakar Aliyu,FNSE, Mohammed Bukar,the Permanent Secretary , director colleagues and other members of staff for affording her the opportunity to serve Nigeria in various capacities in the Civil Service.
Mrs. Iwara also thanked members of her staff and said that the successes she recorded were due to the crop of hard working and dedicated staff of the Ministry and the support she enjoyed from the management.
The retiring Director enjoined staffers of the ministry to extend their support and cooperation to her successor to serve the ministry and the nation better in service delivery.
Disclaimer: Honorable Minister Of State For Works And Housing Has No Facebook Account
The attention of the office of the Honorable Minister of State for Works and Housing, Engineer Abubakar D. Aliyu, FNSE, has been drawn to some fake Facebook accounts opened in his name, soliciting money from the members of the public to offer them jobs or contracts.
We want to use this opportunity to inform the general public that this is a huge scam. The Honorable Minister of State for Works and Housing doesn’t operate or own a single Facebook account. All Facebook accounts operating in his name are simply fake.
This is just another dubious act by some undesirable elements to use the good name and reputation of the Honorable Minister of State for Works and Housing to defraud some unsuspecting hardworking Nigerians. This must not be allowed to continue.
We want to categorically state here that the Honorable Minister of State for Works and Housing, Engr Abubakar D. Aliyu, FNSE, has not authorized anyone at anytime to solicit or request for money or any other information from anyone using the social media with the aim of securing contracts or jobs placement.
We have learned that the scammers are using the Messenger Chat App of the fake Facebook accounts to communicate and subsequently dupe their victims. The general public should note that this is fraud and couldn’t have emanated from the office of the Honorable Minister of State for Works and Housing.
Appropriate security agencies are already working to unmask the scammers with a view to make them face the full wrath of the law.
The Honorable Minister of State for Works and Housing wishes to urge the general public to refrain from engaging with these scammers. And anyone who engages with them does so at their own peril.
FG’S Interventions In Tertiary Institutions Critical contribution To Education Sector – Fashola
* It was an excellent job done by the Federal Ministry of Works and Housing, Says VC
* It is a welcome development that the roads are now motorable and enhancing easy movement of both staff and students-Lecturer
* Omah Mbah, Sociology Student, says, The roads are beautiful, motorable and neat. My friends and I have been taking pictures on the new road
* As Minister receives award for rehabilitation, reconstruction of 4 internal roads in BUK
The Minister of Works and Housing, Mr. Babatunde Fashola SAN, Tuesday in Kano handed over four rehabilitated/reconstructed internal roads in Bayero University Kano to the authorities of the institution describing Federal Government’s interventions as critical contributions to support Education in the country.
Fashola, who was represented at the event by the Federal Controller of Works Kano State, Engr. Idi Saje said, “The gap of our infrastructure needs is steadily being bridged by a gradual process of repairs, renewal and construction on major highways and it has reached the schools.”
The Minister, who was later given an Award by the University Community for the intervention, declared “To date , 18 (Eighteen ) out of the 43 ( Forty three) interventions have been completed and today we hand over this one in Bayero University Kano, Kano State as a critical contribution to support education.”
While presenting the Award to the Minister on behalf of the University Community, the Vice Chancellor of the University, Prof. Muhammad Yahuza Bello, expressed their joy, saying that the road intervention would make their lives around the school bearable, resulting in spending less on transportation, reduction in airborne diseases and stress of moving around. He added that it would also enhance regular attendance of classes, less discomfort on the roads while fatalities would be reduced completely.
The Vice Chancellor, who said it was a great pleasure to receive the roads on behalf of the University, added that the roads were properly constructed with drainages. He declared, “It was an excellent job done by the Federal Ministry of Works and Housing and we assure the Honourable Minister that the roads will be well used and maintained”.
Speaking earlier, the Director Physical Planning Unit of Bayero University Kano, Q.S Muhammad Gazzali, who represented the institution in supervising the project attested to the high quality of the roads, adding that they would stand the test of time.
The representative of the contractors that handled the projects, a staff of Views Tours Nigeria Ltd, Engr. Abideen Abdulazeez thanked the Honourable Minister for adequate funding of the project.
A Professor of Pharmacy in Bayero University Kano, Prof. Chedi Bashir, described the intervention as “a welcome development that the roads are now motorable and enhancing easy movement of both staff and students”.
A Sociology student from the Social Science Faculty of Bayero University, Omah Mbah expressed her joy over the rehabilitated roads. She said the roads are beautiful, motorable and neat. She added, “ My friends and I have been taking pictures on the new roads." She commended the Minister and the Federal Government for the wonderful road projects.
FG Hands Over Some Internal Road Projects To FUT, Owerri
The Federal Government through the Federal Ministry of Works and Housing has handed some internal roads projects to Federal University of Technology Owerri, Imo State.
The roads projects are among the 18 roads interventional project to tertiary institutions awarded in 2018 and completed that same year.
The 1.72km roads project in FUT Owerri includes; Construction and Asphalting of Health Centre and Hostel Roads, and Rehabilitation of Smat Road.
According to the Honourable Minister of Works and Housing, Mr. Babatunde Raji Fashola who was represented by the Federal Controller of Works, Imo State, Engineer Anthony Animaku, the roads are now completed and ready for formal handing over to the Vice Chancellor of FUT Owerri.
Fashola said "our gap of our infrastructure needs is steadily being bridged by a gradual process of repair, renewal and construction on major highways and it has reached schools”.
Buttressing the importance of infrastructure development in educational institutions, the Minister stated that the quality of education would be impacted by the quality of infrastructure and the learning environments.
“And those who doubt it should simply listen to some of the feedbacks from students where this type of infrastructure has taken place”, he said.
Accordingly, Fashola further explained that the interventions in the various tertiary institutions would have a critical contribution to support education.
“The intervention by Federal Government would improve the ambience and environment of Federal Tertiary Institutions to enhance academic activities" he said.
Responding, the Vice Chancellor of the institution, Professor Francis Chukwuemeka Eze represented by the Deputy Vice Chancellor academics, Professor Ndukwe James Okeudo commended the
Federal Government for choosing Federal University of Technology, Owerri as one of the beneficiaries of Federal Government laudable intervention.
He said, "the senate, council and the entire management are very grateful that FUTO was singled out as a beneficiary. We thank Mr. President and the Minister for this honour done to us,"
He stated that the roads are of great importance to the institution as it would aid access to movement around the school, adding that they would maintain the projects.
Also, a student of the institution, Donald Anarado said that hitherto the roads were not passable especially during raining season.
“When rain falls, we cannot move easily from our hostels to classes, but now that the roads have been fixed we can move easily to our classes. We are very grateful to Federal Government, “he said.
We Deliver Infrastructure At Tertiary Institutions To Impact Learning-Fashola
The Honourable Minister of Works and Housing, Babatunde Raji Fashola,SAN has said that the Federal Government is constructing and rehabilitating internal roads in higher institutions through the Federal Ministry of Works and Housing to make learning pleasurable and less stressful.
Fashola made the remarks at the University of Benin , Benin City, Edo State today on the occasion of the handing over of a 0.69 kilometre road constructed by the ministry for the institution.
In the words of the minister,"It is undebatable that quality education will be impacted by the quality of infrastructure and the learning environment."
The minister who was represented by the ministry's Controller of Works in Edo State,Engr.Oke Owhe said the ministry has 43 internal road projects in tertiary institutions across the six geopolitical zones of the country out of which 18 had been completed.
The ministry has commenced the process of handing over the completed internal road projects in tertiary institutions such as universities, polytechnics and colleges of education across the country.
The minister noted that with that intervention students are expressing renewed enthusiasm with regard to attending classes because some defective roads have been restored to motorability.
The Vice -Chancellor of University of Benin,Prof.Lillian Salami who was represented by Prof.Ikponwosa Omoruyi,Deputy Vice-Chancellor, Administration said that they value the intervention through the road project.She added that through an intervention like this the burden of university education would be more lighter.
Prof.Salami assured that the road would be put into good use and maintained.
The President of University of Benin Students Union,Egbu Benjamin Notana thanked the Honourable Minister of Works and Housing and the Ministry for the kind gesture.
In Notana's words"Before now we found it very difficult to access this road.But now it is no longer as it used to be.Right now we don't experience flood or gallops when going to classes.It is a very welcome development.We are very much happy about it."
The constructed road is linking the Departments of Pharmacy and Nursing in the institution with three car parks and drainages.
It could be recalled that the Honourable Minister of Works and Housing, Babatunde Raji Fashola,SAN is an alumnus of University of Benin.
Text Delivered By H.E, Babatunde Raji Fashola, SAN At The Commissioning Of Woodhill Estate Under Akacare Cooperatives, And Flag-Off Of Cooperative Housing Development, Kuje, FCT, Abuja
Welcome one and all to the commissioning of Woodhill Estate of AKACARE Cooperative Housing Scheme and the flag-off of our cooperative housing initiative, one of the series that will happen in each of the six (6) geo-political zones of Nigeria and the Federal Capital Territory.
One of the NEXT LEVEL commitments of the Federal Government of Nigeria as declared by President Buhari at the ministerial retreat held in September 2019, is to deepen access of Nigerians to affordable housing and consumer credit.
This is a mandate item of the housing sector of the Ministry of Works and Housing; as the policymaking arm of government, and we have assigned the Federal Mortgage Bank of Nigeria (FMBN) a parastatal of the Ministry of Works and Housing, the implementation responsibility for executing our policy of PARTNERSHIPS with cooperatives.
For those who may wonder, why cooperatives? The answer is simple.
By definition, co-operatives are "an autonomous association of persons united VOLUNTARILY to meet their common economic, social and cultural needs and aspirations through a jointly-owned enterprise.”
The key word in that definition is the "voluntary" nature of cooperatives, and this is critical in the formulation of our policy of partnerships with cooperatives as a means of overcoming the problems of "Acceptability" and affordability that stand in the way of access to housing.
This is important because our experiences, our investigations and our observations reveal starkly that there are hundreds of thousands of empty and unoccupied houses in major cities across Nigeria.
They are empty and unoccupied because they are either over-built, in being too big, or under-built in being too small and therefore not acceptable to those who need them, because in many instances no consultation took place between the builders and the consumers they built for.
This is why we are undertaking a pilot scheme based on our studies to build in 34 states who provided land, what the people we consulted said they will find acceptable.
Because of the lack of consultation and acceptability problem, the problem of affordability creeps in.
Our policy development team finds the voluntary nature of cooperatives very useful because members will be expected to design and build according to their needs and their income, as they find affordable.
Co-operatives have traditionally proved to be successful in areas like transportation, agriculture, trade and commerce, market associations and amongst large groups in the informal sector.
It is these large members of the informal sector that we seek to reach, scale up constructions of houses and the multiplier effects on the economy for cottage industries who make building materials like paint, doors, roofing materials, nails, and electrical fittings to mention a few.
The scale of construction by voluntary associations is expected to ramp up employment and income for artisans who will build houses. This will be our contribution to President Buhari’s commitment to raise a hundred million out of poverty in a decade.
As in other sectors, when cooperatives have been successful, we can point to modest successes of partnerships by FMBN with some cooperatives in the formal sector that currently has 52 housing projects under construction to deliver 4,624 units in 2020.
It is this number, that the policy we flag-off today seeks to multiply in many fold by unleashing the power of cooperatives and empower their voluntary will to act together in pursuit of the common desire to access housing and credit.
In order to be eligible, cooperatives must be registered, they must acquire their own land, get title to it, seek and obtain a building permit from the governments of the respective states where their land is located.
This last requirement is instructive because it seeks to eliminate incidents of unapproved buildings and slums which governments later seek to demolish.
All the state government agencies in charge of land have been duly briefed at the National Council launch meeting held in Abuja on November 7th 2019.
The Mandate and the role of the FMBN is to then provide construction funding to the cooperatives to build the houses, and to provide mortgage finance to the individual members to buy the house and pay back in instalments at a rate not exceeding 10% per annum.
Ladies and gentlemen, this is the sum and substance of the policy and partnerships that bring us to Kuje, in the FCT today because AKACARE cooperative has embraced this NEXT LEVEL initiative to deepen access to housing and consumer credit.
It is therefore my honour and pleasure to flag off this cooperative partnership in the hope that it will quickly spread to other states in this Geo political zone.
As every cooperative chooses what it desires and can afford, the FMBN, representing the Federal Government of Nigeria will be your partner, providing financial support to enable you to act voluntarily to choose and build what you accept and your income can afford.
On behalf of President Muhammadu Buhari and the Federal Government of Nigeria, I commission this Housing Estate and flag off this co-operative development away from poverty and towards common prosperity.
Babatunde Raji Fashola, SAN
Honourable Minister of Works and Housing
INSECURITY: Taking Actions Against Organized Crime, Speech Delivered By H.E Babatunde Raji Fashola, SAN At The 4th Annual Lecture Organized By The United Action For Change At The Digital Bridge Institute
It is no longer news that world leaders are facing enormous challenges in the execution of their primary mandate which is the security and well-being of their citizens.
From mass shootings and school shootings, with massive opiod crises and gang wars in the United States, to knife killings in London, bombings in Paris, mass shootings in New Zealand, just to mention a few; our Civilization is facing new challenges of security.
Please see Appendix 1 for some Crime Data Statistics
Nigeria is not insulated from these happenings and therefore has had her own share of old and emerging security challenges.
It is the Nigerian situation that I seek to address. The numerous conversations that have been held about what to do and how to overcome the challenges that we face, omits to make critical linkages between security challenges that we face and the deliberate conduct of a few of our people and others who are not Nigerians.
Conversations have focused on the capacity of law enforcement officers, from numerical strength, to financial resources, training and equipment as if this was the only problem.
While all of these are necessary and welcome, they are regrettably not enough and they are inadequate to resolve the problems we have to overcome.
This inadequacy is best captured in the often-repeated statement of fact by elected leaders and security personnel as well, that the challenges of securing all of us requires many more of us and indeed, all of us, to act.
I have argued and restate the argument that the ability to mobilize well-armed, well trained, well funded security personnel to a point of crisis in a pre-emptive or reactive manner only helps to achieve enforcement of the law.
It does not guaranty security, if there is no peace.
It is peace and peaceful co-existence that inures to safety and security; otherwise no sooner are the personnel redeployed, as they inevitably will be, do the communities or persons involved return to hostilities.
Therefore one of the points of action that I urge us to commit to, is to seek to identify the causes or sources of conflict amongst people, groups of people, and communities, and seek to eliminate, resolve or manage them better, in a quest for permanent peace; and, by extension, security.
This requires the involvement of local people, people close to the problem, people with influence and people with some authority to play this role.
The logic of this argument often finds expression in the persistent calls made on traditional rulers to play a more active role.
It must involve teachers, market leaders, and spiritual leaders, elected and appointed public office holders and in every manner of speaking it must involve the whole village.
But while we may have identified law enforcement and persons of influence, there are many more people who do not constitute members of this class who have an all important role to play.
But their ability to rise up and respond requires them to understand the gravity of the problem; and this is the Centrepiece of this intervention.
Majority of the issues that heighten the spectre of insecurity are not accidental, they are deliberate.
They are often driven by reward or expectation thereof, in cash, kind and influence. What the world (and by extension Nigeria) is contending with is not just insecurity and crime, it is insecurity escalated by ORGANIZED CRIME!!!
Organized crime is a chain whose links must not only be broken, but whose individual parts must be separated, degraded and prevented from ever linking together.
With this background, I propose to move to specifics and examples, from my experience in government, to link this chain and highlight their connectivity, and explain why it requires more than law enforcement and persons of influence to make all of us safe.
The collection of information and the use of it to prevent crime or apprehend criminal activity is often discussed as if it is the prerogative of law enforcement agencies alone.
Let me be clear that this is the duty of the citizen and it starts with all of us being interested in our own wellbeing and security.
Indeed section 24(e) of the Constitution provides that:
“It shall be the duty of every citizen to-
(e) render assistance to appropriate and lawful agencies in the maintenance of law and order;”
It involves not only careful choices about our lifestyle which will prevent us from being attractive as victims to Criminals. It requires us to show more interest in what is around us, who is around us and to pay more attention to unusual things.
It also requires courage, a lot of it, to be able to share information, no matter how innocuous, with law enforcement, to enable them keep us safe.
There is no magic to intelligence gathering. It is rooted in civic responsibility.
One institution of civic participation that we must revive, reform and re-Use is the RESIDENTS/LANDLORDS ASSOCIATION. We need them very quickly.
Know Your Neighbour is a critical first line of Defence against any criminal activity and in particular against organized crime. This is because it:
a. Helps to occupy the space of anonymity in which all criminals thrive;
b. Provides information or suspicion about irregular or abnormal behavior that requires attention.
It is when information is offered that law enforcement must act to check, re-check and verify.
So, when 17 (SEVENTEEN) suitcases loaded with explosives were brought into Lagos in 2013, law enforcement missed it.
It was citizen information (which we did not discard) that led to their seizure, apprehension of the suspects and their cargo of terror, their trial and eventual conviction, which enabled Government put them in a place where they could no longer harm residents of Lagos.
OPEN SPACES/ EMPTY BUILDINGS
It is my humble view, and one which is very strongly held, that there is no time more compelling than now for State governments to dominate open spaces within their territories.
By law, State governments control urban and development planning, and how these powers are exercised or not exercised affects how law enforcement agencies perform and how criminals can either escape justice or be apprehended.
Apart from street signages, house numbering which helps with identification and response to distress calls, State Governments must use the provision of the Land Use Act to reduce and ultimately eliminate the number of abandoned, uncompleted buildings in their states. They constitute an easy refuge not only for destitutes but also for people with untoward intentions.
Abandoned buildings provide free and unmonitored accommodation for criminals, and also storage for implements and proceeds of crime or evidence of it, like guns, drugs, cash, stolen goods kidnap victims or even dead bodies.
In an apparent display of “COMPASSION” (if that is what it is) for vulnerable members of our society, we have allowed all manner of people to dominate open spaces like sidewalks, street corners as acts of empathy for the poor and vulnerable.
The truth is that by planning laws, the PROPERTY LINE of residents ends where their fence or land beacon ends as shown in their survey plans.
The landed property of individuals does not extend to the sidewalk or the road, upon which many have built and many have appropriated for personal use.
Every piece of land beyond the property line belongs to the government. The unauthorized uses of the public spaces are liable to sanctions by law under any vigilant government.
It is the DUTY of Civil and Public Servants to understand this, and take steps to Occupy, Dominate and Manage these spaces for lawful activity only (such as Parks and Gardens that are MONITORED), in collaboration with members of the public.
Governments, State and local, who fail to dominate these spaces, do so at the peril of their residents.
It is from these spaces that people masquerading as traders, hawkers, have either launched criminal attacks on citizens, or helped to ferry arms, drugs or proceeds of crime.
Therefore, urban and town planning departments are important building blocks for law enforcement and security, and critical points of immediate action against organized crime.
ROAD TRAFFIC LAW; OKADA VEHICLE LISENCE/REGISTRATION
Stolen vehicles, unregistered (and therefore anonymous) vehicles, tricycles, and motorcycles constitute a vast area of neglect that we must attend to especially at State level where road traffic laws have been enacted but largely unenforced.
The decision not to register a vehicle is a choice which indicates a deliberate (organised) decision as against an accidental one.
Very often these are the conduits for getaways from crimes because without registration, tracing it is difficult.
As governor, with my police aides, we once apprehended a motorcycle with three (3) male passengers. When we searched, we found a fire arm under the seat, a lady’s handbag, baby diapers and a feeding bottle.
I leave the rest to your imagination.
In the days when Lagos was plagued by frequent bank robberies, unregistered motorcycles were the favoured getaway vehicles for the robbers. We also discovered that they were the medium for trafficking in hard drugs like marijuana, cocaine and heroin.
In one Robbery incident on Ikorodu Road where a Young Medical Doctor unfortunately lost his life, the Getaway vehicle was a Motorcyle riding against traffic.
Unknown to many residents, while their children were at home and seemingly safe, organized drug rings used motorcycle riders to deliver hard drugs to them right in their houses under their parents noses.
These and many more reasons informed the strict enforcement of the Lagos Road Traffic Law on motorcycles at the time.
In a society where nobody is above the law, then, everybody’s vehicle, from President to the ordinary citizen must carry a license plate, registered with government.
Throughout my tenure as governor, my vehicle always displayed the registration of LASG 01. I was told by my security aides that there was a regulation that required them to cover my licence plates after a particular time of the day; I refused to comply, first because “the regulation” was not produced and more importantly because I was certain that the Traffic Law commanded my obedience.
Our security challenges require actions by legislation to eliminate anonymity to reduce the sphere of operation for organized crime.
The Attorneys-General of the States, the Speakers of all State Houses of Assembly and legislators must be visionary and far sighted in developing legislative reforms that cover and dominate this space of criminal operation.
PUBLIC BUILDINGS, HOTELS, GUEST HOUSES
In most parts of the world today, it is inconceivable to take up lodging in any hotel without a credible form of identification, and where that is achieved, no visitor of a registered guest is allowed beyond the reception area into the rooms without presenting an identification which is scanned, copied and recorded.
If we reflect on the number of murders that have taken place in hotels or criminals who have been apprehended in hotels, guest houses or hospitality facilities, we can only imagine what might have been missed.
Again these are local matters under the dominion of State and Local Governments.
Any State that is serious about security must pay attention to the identification of persons at Hotels and Guest houses.
This is an area begging for urgent national action while promoting hospitality, entertainment and tourism. Safety is the underlying currency on which this industry thrives.
Cameras in lifts, staircases and corridors of these types of buildings must be made mandatory by Legislation. Technology is making cameras more affordable and cost should not be meritorious argument against compliance.
A commitment to documentation, identification and transparency, will itself create jobs as it will drive growth of the business.
Let us make no mistake about this, organised crime looks for those unmanned spaces to plan, and sets up itself deliberately to occupy them and hurt us.
Organised crime does this, not only by physical pain, injury and sometimes unfortunately death, but reputationally as well, by giving us a name we do not deserve.
EDUCATION, SPIRITUALISM, MIRACLES
This is a very serious and almost endemic issue in many parts of the developing world where people, partly because of poor education are led to believe in miracles induced by fetish, occult and spiritualism or “black magic”.
Recently, our public space was dominated by stories of youthful (and perhaps the not so youthful) men in a desperate search for ladies’ underwear.
The story suggested that this was an avenue to get rich. I assume it was somehow convertible into cash.
I know that money (cash) is produced by printing in a mint, but a belief system to the contrary is difficult to change and this is why I say this is a serious problem. Our entertainment industry albeit unintentionally, has helped to promote this belief and I say that the time to stop it is not now, it was yesterday.
If we reflect on the number of people who have disappeared without trace, if we consider that they might have been murdered for ritual purposes, if we reflect on the number of people that have been arrested with human parts, without any identification of whose body parts were recovered, it would not be difficult to agree, that we should have acted yesterday.
What I have attempted to demonstrate is that criminal activity of many types that threaten our peace and security are demonstrably mainly organized and not accidental.
We must therefore beam a very bright searchlight on organised crime.
We must recognize that organised crime is a business that we must put out of business because it thrives at our collective peril.
The people behind organised crime earn their livelihood from it and also employ people, including the young and able bodied who play critical roles in the value chain of its operation.
They have collaborators in critical institutions of State and at sensitive places like our borders, (land, sea and air), as we have recently heard from reports about illicit drugs planted in the luggage of an innocent Nigerian lady who travelled to Saudi Arabia.
Seizures of containers of arms and Tramadol at our ports are not accidental. They are the products of vigilance and dedication by border security personnel against organised crime.
But the question to ask is how many actually got in undetected.
Therefore, the case for immediate action by budgetary commitment and spending against an illegal business that is investing must be a compelling matter of national consensus.
The United Kingdom recently made the case for investing an additional £2 Billion to its existing budget, in order to fight organised crime.
Because of the rewards that organised crime offers by way of illicit funds, and its appeal to the young, old, unemployed and vulnerable, we must move financial controls to another level.
While the BVN (Bank Verification Number) initiative is welcome, the amount of money outside the banking system, such as that with traders of foreign exchange on major streets of some of our cities command action by way of more imaginative financial controls.
I must not in this sense be misunderstood to be suggesting that these types of businesses or other vending businesses be put out of commission where they are not manifestly illegal.
On the contrary, I am recommending actions such as record keeping of all currencies they buy and sell, and from whom, to whom, and provide reporting and check on their transaction.
This is more easy to understand as being organized. A recent report by a victim that his abductors were using a laptop to monitor all efforts by law enforcement to rescue him supports the case for spending and investing in technology.
It is comforting and encouraging to know that the Nigerian Communications Commìssion (NCC), the Regulator of the Telecoms operators is continuing to review data to ensure that unregistered and therefore anonymous SIM card holders ( used to demand ransom and for other Organised criminal purposes) are identified and delisted from the network.
CATTLE RUSTLING AND BANDITRY
This is another face of organized crime that is perhaps not well understood.
To the urban dweller who is not connected to rural life and those involved in the business of animal husbandry, it is easy to miss the cash and material benefit in every head of cattle.
Therefore conversations about the ethnic connection of these crimes rather than the organized criminal activity, is what dominates the public space.
We take ourselves away further from the solution if we do not see an organized pattern and the reward of cattle stolen and re-sold for cash, as a stronger motive for these actions.
The spectre of human trafficking, a modern act of human slavery, for sex, prostitution rings, forced labour, lies at the heart of large scale migration. Yes they may be compounded by bad governance, poor education and poverty. But a group is organizing around it and profiting.
The victims see “opportunities” in Europe while organized crime sees “vulnerability” which makes them perfect targets to be used as sex slaves and cheap (and forced) Labour, being undocumented and therefore “illegal” immigrants.
The media like other non-state actors in any society have an important role to play. The people behind organised crime also watch television, listen to radio and use telephones, laptops handheld devices and are therefore connected to the media.
It is therefore important to understand that in the discharge of the duty of Security, the Odds against Government and all her institutions are VERY HIGH.
Government and her institutions must get it RIGHT ALL THE TIME, while criminals need to be right ONLY ONCE, to create, fear, pain, terror, Victims and consequently NEWS.
All acts of ”valorising” and ”eulogising” the “successes of the criminals in the media in our apparent frustration and the “political” weaponising of their “feats” only helps to promote their illicit brand.
I had the privilege of accompanying President Muhammadu Buhari to the G7 meeting held in Germany in June 2015.
One of the Resolutions of the world leaders, Barack Obama, Angela Merkel, David Cameron, Sarkozy and others at the meeting was to go back home and engage their local media to stop broadcasting images of “Islamic” terrorists beheading victims, and recruiting young people.
We can now think back when last you saw such images on an international network. Instead, those images have been replaced by images of Western governments destroying strongholds of “Islamic” Terrorists.
You can view it as a reverse propaganda, and my view is that it advances the security effort rather than undermine it. This must be a front burner contribution that our media can make, while still reporting news of unfortunate acts of crime.
Specifically, I recommend that leaders of our Media Resolve to take down those images of terror, such as those showing girls in captivity, with Masked gun-wielding men standing over them. They inadvertently promote the “Brand” of crime.
All of us, and especially the media as managers of information must remember that FEAR, PAIN, MISERY, TEARS, INJURY and CONFUSION are the purpose of Criminals.
Reportage of crime must innovate to document and report the incident without inadvertently lending itself to spreading the message of the criminals.
I suspect that those who are behind some of the unfortunate criminal incidents that have happened recently must be rubbing their hands with glee and patting themselves on the back when they see the screaming headlines, the scathing commentaries and the doomsday predictions.
What we must not do, is deliberately or unintentionally valorise, eulogise crime or provide propaganda for it.
What is true of images is true of spoken words that foster hate, breed mistrust and incite conflict and violence.
The media must make the investment and commitment to take away their platforms from the purveyors of such messages.
We must also remember that the people who perpetrate these acts are not only local people. There are international collaborators especially those seeking access and control of economic resources like timbre, cocoa, oil and other minerals.
Conflicts have therefore been known to be planned, as deliberate STATECRAFT launched and perpetrated, in order to distract government from regulating the control and access to those resources while being focused on conflict management.
It is my humble view that with globalisation, the damage of media exposure has exceeded the reality of our security challenges.
It seems to me that we can also learn from what some other media outlets, especially of the Electronic cadre now do in the global age.
What they broadcast to the whole world about their Country is not exactly the same as what they broadcast within their Country. This must be a matter of editorial choice about which I claim no expertise.
But this brings me to the provisions of Section 24 (b) of the Nigerian Constitution imposes a duty on all of us to:
“help to enhance the power, prestige and good name of Nigeria, defend Nigeria and render such national service as may be required.”
What I have observed in the style adopted by some other international media houses while reporting tragedies and disasters, is how they shift the focus to the human angle of positivity by emphasising on stories of bravery, survival, human empathy, heroism and stoicism with which they project the positive image of their people, communities and Country.
The Boston Marathon bombing was an example. It was not that there were no intelligence failures or that people were not killed.
But the media took us away from the story of killings to the survival stories.
One year after, Boston was not only holding the Marathon again, she was hosting the Annual Conference of the International Bar Association.
The mass shooting in Texas in 2019 was dominated by the story of defiance of a people who will not be cowed and a few months after the tragedy, Texas was hosting the world in a pre-planned sports meet that was not cancelled.
Regrettably, the erroneous impression now being created by public reportage is one that suggests that all of our country is unliveable, and unenjoyable.
The facts do not support this even as we clearly have challenges.
We must therefore work together to remake this image from one that is not us, to one that fairly and accurately reflects us and our situation.
Babatunde Raji Fashola, SAN
Hon. Minister of Works and Housing
Road Infrastructure, A Necessary Factor for Nigeria’s Unity : Mohammed Bukar
The Permanent Secretary, Federal Ministry of Works and Housing, Mohammed Bukar has disclosed that road infrastructure was a necessary factor for the unity of our geographically vast and culturally heterogeneous nation, Nigeria.
He made the disclosure today at the ongoing meeting of Federal and State Permanent Secretaries at the 25th National Council on Works in Calabar Cross River State. The theme of the Council Meeting is ‘’ Infrastructure as the pathway for prosperity’’ which according to him was ‘’Apt and deliberately chosen to address issues of job creation , poverty alleviation and wealth creation.” Bukar who was ably represented by the Director Highways, Planning and Development, Engr, Chibike Uzo maintained that ‘’ In spite of the present improvement in GDP growth , road infrastructure deficit and its attendant adverse effect on the transport sector remained a major impediment to future economic prosperity of Nigeria , especially in the area of food supply, employment generation and wealth creation.
The Permanent Secretary assured Nigerians that his Ministry was committed to integrating and developing Nigerian roads infrastructure through the completion of projects with positive impact capable of providing more conducive environment for local and foreign investments.
While welcoming all Stakeholders to the Council meant to look at the issues raised during the Technical Meeting which took place on Monday_ Tuesday(25th_26th November, 2019), Bukar expressed immeasurable gratitude to the Government and good people of Cross River State, especially, the Executive Governor, His Excellency, Prof, Ben. Ayade for providing the conducive environment for stakeholders in the Works Sector to deliberate on the myriad of infrastructure challenges in Nigeria.
In her address, the Permanent Secretary, Cross River State Ministry of Works, Dr. ( Mrs) Ihort Achu , commended the Directors from various MDAs for patiently brainstorming on issues of roads infrastructure which according to her were crucial to the economic development of Cross River State in particular and Nigeria in general. Achu happily welcomed the Permanent Secretaries from the 36 States of the Federation and the Federal Capital Territory and enjoined them to feel at home and enjoy the hospitality of Cross River State.
DPRS Council of Works Remarks
Introductory Remarks by The Director Planning Research & Statistics, Federal Ministry of Works and Housing, Dr. Famous S. Eseduwo at the On-going 25th Meeting of The National Council on Works at Calabar on Monday, 25th November, 2019.
I am delighted, on behalf of the Organizing Committee, to welcome you to the 25th Meeting of the National Council on Works with the theme: “INFRASTRUCTURE AS THE PARHWAY FOR PROSPERITY”, holding here in Calabar, Cross River State from today, Monday 25th to Thursday 29th November, 2019.
2. I wish to express our profound gratitude to the Honourable Minister of Works and Housing, Babatunde Raji Fashola, SAN, the Honourable Minister of State Engr. Abubakar D. Aliyu FNSE, the Permanent Secretary Mohammed Bukar, the Directors and entire staff of the Ministry for their support in organizing this meeting.
3. As you are aware, the Meeting of the National Council of Works is an annual event and the highest policy formulating organ of the Works sector where stakeholders in the Works sector deliberate on issues concerning the Sector.
4. It is important to highlight that the council meeting is signaled by a two day technical meeting of Directors and the Permanent Secretaries Meeting. Our responsibility is to create a solid and resourceful foundation by diligently reviewing the memoranda submitted and fine-turning the recommendations for presentation to Council through the Meeting of Permanent Secretaries.
5. I urge all Directors present to own up to the process and show the right attitude and commitment towards heralding a successful Council Meeting.
6. At this juncture, I will like to assure you that all necessary arrangements have been put in place by the Ministerial Organizing Committee (MOC) and the Local Organizing Committee (LOC) to ensure the success of this year’s Council Meeting. The secretariat is available for any possible assistance.
7. Once again, I welcome you to the 2-day brainstorming session preceding this year’s National Council Meeting on Works and also wish you all a fruitful deliberation.
Restructuring For A Better Life – Lessons From BREXIT, Being Address Delivered By H.E, Babatunde Raji Fashola, SAN At The 2019 Island Club 76th Anniversary Lecture
I must commence this address by issuing a caveat or a series of them namely:
a) That I started writing this piece intended as a public contribution to the restructuring debate in January 2019.
b) The views I express here are personal to me and do not reflect the position of the Government in which I serve or that of the All Progressives Congress of which I am a member.
c) The views are also informed by further reflections on positions I have taken on the need to strengthen our federal system of Government and to do so based not on emotions or political interests, but in the interest of improving the quality of life of Nigerians and for the purpose of developing Nigeria.
d) More importantly to state is that in seeking to solve a problem, we must look at many options, analyse their strengths and weaknesses and resist the temptation to jump at what first appears as a “solution” because it may not be the solution after all.
The quest for a better life has been an unending aspiration of the human civilization and will remain so till the end of time- that is if time ever ends.
From the agrarian to the industrial and now the information technology age, all the peoples of all nations are seeking a better life.
But the quest for a better life has led to many choices, sometimes well thought out and in some cases not so well thought out.
Some have sought constitutional amendments only to realize that a new document does not a better life procure. Some have sought geographical demarcations and creation of new nations, states and local governments only to realize that a new territory does not necessarily deliver a better life.
Some have sought increased control of resources and wealth only to find out that more wealth does not necessarily translate into a better life. These are facts of life, yet the quest for a better life, being a natural human longing and seeking, must continue.
There are a few things that Nigeria and Britain share in common in their quest for a better life and their coincidental reach for new political and economic realignments that currently dominate their public discourse in the name of “Restructuring” and “Brexit” respectively.
First to be noted is that both nations as they currently exist are not originals and this is true of many nations (Texas). (Netherlands).
Nigeria’s recent history of statehood or nationhood is still very fresh in the memory as having evolved as an amalgamation of many territories of diverse ethnic and religious dispositions in 1914.
But it is a story that dates back much longer; first to the British conquest of Lagos in 1861, the Berlin Conference of 1883-1885 and then to the Southern and Northern Protectorates that were the predecessors to the 1914 amalgamation.
This saw many Muslims, Christians, animists and people of diverse languages bound together in a household where a better life has now become a common aspiration.
It is important to point out that in Britain or the United Kingdom as they are also known, England was the kingdom, and that is why till date there is only a Queen of England not of Britain. The Scottish, Welsh, Irish who together with England constitute Britain are not English people. They have Christians and Muslim citizens, Anglicans, Catholics and Protestants.
While this speech may not be able to delve into the detail of their diversity and historical origins, it will suffice for comparison to point out that crude oil is largely to be found on the soil of the Scottish who continuously express an intention to leave the union.
And Britain as we know it today first emerged in 1801 when it united with the neighbouring Kingdom of Ireland, forming the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Ireland. This was renamed the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland following the secession of the Irish Free State in 1922.
In perhaps the same way that Nigeria has moved from two (2) protectorates and one (1) colony to three regions, four regions, 12 states, 19 states to 36 states, Britain in its original form has had to concede independence to the southern part of Ireland now known as the Republic of Ireland while Northern Ireland remains a part of the United Kingdom.
This was the result of the Good Friday Peace Agreement that secured a truce after many years of conflict between Catholics and Protestants in Ireland which spilled to several parts of the United Kingdom and resulted in bombings and acts of terror in the 1970s, similar to some of what we have experienced in the North East of Nigeria.
In spite of these, POLITICAL REALIGNMENTS, the quest for a better life exists in both countries – Nigeria and the UK. There are problems of unemployment, security, health care, homelessness, quality of education, cost of living and business competitiveness to mention but a few in both countries.
What is different is the scale of the problem, characterized by how the resources have been invested or misused, the level of development, which is manifest in the quality of infrastructure that supports transport, energy, health care, education and law enforcement.
What does not change is the quest for a better life on both sides, and interestingly, the political leadership has weaponized this quest for maximum benefit.
In the United Kingdom, the answer to the quest for a better life is in seeing Britain leave the European Union, a union they joined reluctantly in 1973.
So, to the people of Britain, “Brexit” (one word) was sold as a politically nebulous term that suggested to the ordinary people that the free movement of other Europeans into Britain was responsible for the lack of jobs.
That the amount they were paying as membership fees of the union was part of the reason why there was not enough money to spend at home on British education and healthcare.
That the need to subordinate their laws to the European parliament affected the British government’s ability to properly protect their own people.
It was a fascinating proposition. Their constitutional arrangement required that a referendum be conducted to ask the people to decide.
In the quest for a better life, the people voted in the referendum that Britain should leave or exit from the European Union. So was formed Brexit.
The people voted for a political Rearrangement in the belief that it would deliver economic and social benefits, and therefore a better life.
But, at the time they were voting, nobody told or reminded the people, that:
Most of the insulin that diabetic patients used to treat themselves in Britain came from France and the cost might go up.
Some of the best medical personnel in Britain were Europeans who might leave. ( 5,000 Nurses from Europe have since left the United Kingdom , as alleged by a member of Parliament on the 29th October 2019 and Nigeria and some other countries are paying the price with 2-3 year contracts being offered to their medical personnel to fill the Gap).
40 per cent of their food comes from Europe.
If they travelled to European cities, they may require visas to enter, or will have to share the same queue with Asians, Africans and other nationalities at immigration points at airports and may lose their right to use the European entry point.
Needless to reiterate, while it is doubtful that the people will all have voted for the risk of high cost of insulin, high cost of food or loss of their right of entry, the vagueness of the details of Brexit as presented by the political spin masters, has certainly left the country in some quandary.
Some people are now saying it was not well explained to them. Some have gone to court to stop the process but were unsuccessful and some are now saying they want a fresh referendum.
The political class that set the stage for Brexit now say there is no going back. The people have spoken in a referendum, and that it is a threat to democracy not to do their bidding.
Here is the tyranny of democracy’s fixation with the will of the majority and its supremacy. The majority is not always right while their supremacy is not always unimpeachable.
While this debate goes on about how to Brexit after 3 years of the Referendum to leave, businesses are either Relocating or shutting down, Jobs are also being lost , and uncertainty is hobbling investment decisions.
Of course, because things are no longer what they used to be, those who described us as “fantastically corrupt” are now “visiting us fantastically”. The Prime Minister and the Prince of Wales have been here.
Their views have not changed. We are simply a market that can replace what they might be losing in Europe as a result of Brexit.
So, while we roll out cultural troupes, take them to entertainment spots and queue to take selfies , they are looking for where there is food supply, skilled labour, and possibly a new source of insulin that will be cheaper than that of France, post-Brexit.
How we react to this opportunity is another matter for another conversation, but it is one that must take place very quickly. This new friendship must be defined by mutually beneficial parameters.
But this takes me now to Restructuring, which is also one word, like Brexit.
The proponents of restructuring have not been specific. Some of them, with very great respect, it appears that some of them simply want what they were used to in their more youthful days which was a parliamentary system of government and not a presidential system of Government. There is nothing wrong with this, after all we are often victims of habits that are difficult to change.
However, a much younger generation did not experience the parliamentary system and may be taken in by some arguments such as cost of getting elected and the cost of legislative work. In a parliamentary system, you may have a Prime Minister in the saddle for 16 straight years for as long as he is the leader of his party. Mrs. Margaret Thatcher was Prime Minister for 16 years for example. Given our current realities and diversity as a people, is that desirable in our land?
True as the cost of legislation may be as a factor, this generation must be told in clear terms that it was during the Parliamentary system that the political crisis of the 1960s started, and with a combination of other factors, led to a civil war in which many died.
They must read up about it, and demand more explanation as to why it did not prevent our division from resulting in a full blown civil war.
Of course we must not forget that the UK Parliamentary system has produced 4 (Four) Prime Ministers in the last 12 (Twelve years) including the incumbent. Do we want such rapid political leadership changes like this? What does it portend for policy consistency and continuity?
All I can add is that empirical evidence has shown that diversity such as we have, is better managed with a federal arrangement and that this generation should look before they leap.
A federal arrangement reduces suspicion, hate, and acrimony and prevents hostilities. It makes for greater stability over all and collaborative working of the federating units, forging a sense of belonging in its trail and setting the tone for competitive spirit.
However, when the protagonists of restructuring are pressed to say what they mean, some say they want a more federal union and that what we have is a unitary government masquerading as a federal one.
So, their argument becomes an argument of political arrangement. The issue is, therefore, not so much the objective but the artery road, shun of bypass to the objective goal of restructuring.
When the constitutional amendment to allow for the creation of state police was voted down, very few of the champions of a wholly federal arrangement raised a whimper. This was a big item of restructuring to reform law enforcement.
I have previously said and I repeat my views that multi-level policing by whatever name called, is something that I agree with.
What is a true federal arrangement without decentralized law enforcement, when you have a decentralized judiciary and law making arrangement? Shouldn’t states that make their own laws have their own agencies to enforce them and local governments that make bylaws have their own community policing?
Put simply, it seems that some of the protagonists of Restructuring want a true federation but prefer a unitary police. Even at that, the structure of the police system is not on its own a guaranty of efficiency.
The unitary British political system has operated a decentralised policing system which is now being considered for wholesale merger in order to save costs.
With rising crime, especially gang violence and knife attacks, such as a recent report of 13 knife stabbings over a 24-hour period, thorough reflection requires one to ask whether simple structural re-arrangement will resolve the knife attack problems.
As we grapple with the issue of a minimum wage, I expect the voices of the Restructurers, apostles of true federation, and those who want control of resources to stand with REASON, that the wages should not be uniform if the resources and the cost of living are not uniform.
This is a position I have previously advocated publicly, that states must be allowed to decide their own wages, and that wages must move from the Exclusive to the Concurrent list of the Constitution.
Sadly, I have not heard those voices raised at the same decibel as they have argued for restructuring.
My position on state police, wages and other issues also make a protagonist, but not all protagonists will agree with me, because they also want something different.
For yet some other people, the appeal of restructuring is the opportunity to agitate for more states and more local governments. That may be legitimate.
But the aspiration must answer some questions like, which states will be carved up? What is their viability? How do we solve the problems of existing ones that are at the point that wages of the public servants cannot be paid?
It might interest members of the public to know that boundary disputes from states creation that took place in 1967 and after that are still unresolved before the National Boundaries Commission, as some asset sharing and ownership issues have also persisted from states created after the 1967 episode.
It is perhaps helpful to also point to the fact that some of the states created over two decades ago such as Anambra, Bayelsa, Nasarawa, Zamfara and Ekiti feel that they are not fairly treated because there are no Federal Secretariats in their state.
The Buhari Administration is now completing and in the process of furnishing some of these secretariats while new ones have recently been awarded.
For yet another group of the protagonists of restructuring, the argument is in favour of a weaker centre and stronger states as federating units.
Apart from the case which is appropriately made for a change in the revenue allocation formula, they hinge the argument on the case that the President is too powerful. In fact, some have argued that the Nigerian president is the most powerful in the world; however, recent facts do not support this assertion.
We are witnesses to the fact a president once seized local government funds and the Supreme Court, an arm of Government that is set up as a check and balance on excessive powers and abuse of same, rightly declared that there was no constitutional power to do so.
Although the order to release the money was not immediately complied with, another president who recognised the limits of presidential power appropriately ordered the release of the funds.
We are living witnesses to how difficult it has been for these so called all powerful presidents to get their Budget passed without alterations, (some of which are so fundamental) by the parliament.
I leave you to decide whether the all-embracing “powers” of the Nigerian president is a “fact” or a contrived “myth” to bolster the case for restructuring.
I also urge you to read the Nigerian constitution and see for yourself the power and duties of the Nigeria president. If you do, as I have done, you will find 48 items of mention concerning the office of the president.(Duties, functions of the President- See Annexure I).
It seems that in the determination to support the unfounded argument about the enormous powers of the President, those who make the case, conveniently lump Powers with Functions and Duties.
Power is the legal right or authorization to act or not to act. It is the ability conferred on a person by law to alter, by an act of will, the rights, duties, liabilities and other relations, either of that person or another. On the other hand, the term ‘Function’ is the duty of the office.
The summary of references to the President show:-
a) Powers exercisable by the President = 23
b) Powers exercisable by the President, subject to National Assembly = 9
c) Power exercisable by the President, subject to other institutions = 4
d) Duties and Functions = 9
e) Restriction on the powers of the President = 3
Total = 48
For yet another group of Restructurers, they want their own country created by excising their zone. I only need to say that they should look closely at the break-up of Yugoslavia, the Soviet Union, and lately Sudan, to see whether it has delivered on the expectation of a better life.
In addition to that, they must look at the potential of what they might gain as being separate nations, to what they might leave behind from inter-marriage and families that they have created in other parts of Nigeria.
Recently the Cable News Network featured the story of the emotional reunion of an octogenarian mother with a son she had left behind when Korea was broken up into North and South as different nations in the 1940s.
And it is not just about people, it extends to resources and sustenance that contribute to better life. Think of whether you want to live in a new country and have to spend money to import some of the things you could get by driving just an hour without a border or the need for a visa.
That is the reality of Brexit today.
Before writing this piece, I thought it might be worthwhile to find out what ordinary Nigerians, as distinct from political actors know about Restructuring.
I commissioned a survey, in December 2018, which was a repeat of a similar one , in late 2017.
Just over 2 in 5 of the respondents are aware of the ongoing restructuring debate in the country. Even after prompting, a third of the sample still remain unfamiliar with the term (Restructuring.)
33% Don’t know what restructuring means.
15% Think that it means amending the constitution.
14% think that it means reorganising/rebuilding the country.
8% think that it means devolution of power to the states.
6% think that it means changing the revenue allocation formula.
6% think that it means reverting to Regional Government.
3% think it means increasing Federal Resources to selected states that are viable.
2% think that it means abolition of Federal Character and adoption of merit based appointment.
2% think that it means restructuring the economy.
While the findings may not vitiate the imperative of restructuring, what these point out is that there is a great deal of work to be done by its protagonists. Restructuring is inherently desirable.
Those not overtly enthusiastic even when they grasp what restructuring means, what are their fears? We must make efforts to allay their fears. Because a leader leads, carrying his vision of a higher goal and a better life even when a larger section of the citizenry are yet to see his cause clearly, it means the call for restructuring requires greater public education. It is in this way we would not plunge the country into intractable confusion, to put it mildly.
Let me say emphatically that the quest for a better life in Nigeria is legitimate and salutary. That is because there is so much more that we can do and will do.
However, it seems to me that while the quest for a better life may be assisted by amending some parts of the constitution, on its own it will not deliver a better life. A better life is the commonwealth that is produced by what I call common contribution. In other words, it is the result of hard work and dedicated productivity. It is what we produce that we can distribute.
For example, how much do we produce in terms of human activity and how will amending some parts of the Constitution on their own, translate to increased national productivity?
How many of our people in public and private sector who are contracted for an 8(Eight) hour daily work shift, actually work for 4(four hours)?
A better life is not a miracle product. It is the harvest of the investment of labour.
While considering numbers, it might be useful to see how they impact education.
The default argument for poor quality education is Government.
That is true to the extent that Government is the regulator, responsible for setting standards and all. But how many schools does Government own? The record indicates that there are a total of 165 universities in Nigeria; (not including a few recently approved ones) 43 belong to the Federal Government; 47 to the state Governments and 75 are private universities.
At the secondary level, there are 104 unity schools owned by the federal Government; this is a drop in the ocean, compared to the number of secondary and primary schools owned by state governments and private organisations nationwide.
Let me use the data from Lagos that I can claim some degree of familiarity with to make this case of responsibility.
There were a total of 8,274 schools primary and secondary in Lagos State. The state government owned a total of 1,681, made up of 1,045 primary and 636 secondary, representing 20 (%) per cent of the total number of schools.
The remaining were owned by the private sector, individuals, non-profit organisation and religious missions. These numbers show where the bulk of responsibility for foundational education lies, with us, the private people, entrepreneurs and less with Government.
The same is also true of the health sector where critical life saving intervention, like ante-natal care, immunization of babies, sanitation and refuse management all lie with the Local Government system under our Constitution.
Do we wish to restructure and pass these to the federal government, whose powers we say are already too much, or will we get down to work and make these primary health centres do their work of preventing disease, supporting wellbeing and deterring illness, or do we want to blame the constitution?
Let me remind all of us that we already have in our constitution a provision that seeks to promote the equitable distribution of opportunities called the Federal Character provision.
Has it solved the problem of access to opportunities and jobs?
The Supreme Court of Nigeria has also advanced the cause for restructuring in its judgement in the case popularly called the Resource Control Case by which certain oil producing states get 13% extra revenue from the distribution pool.
Has it achieved a better life for the peoples of those states?
I think the jury will be out for a long time on this one.
These are some of the hard facts.
They point clearly to where the responsibility for a better life lies. While admittedly a document may point the way; while it may show direction, it is we who must tread the path it shows to us. A good document not backed by the right attitude does not take a people far.
So, in addition to restructuring our political and administrative arrangements, we must restructure our attitude and our mind set. A better life does not necessarily exist in a new document without the right political education, a change of attitude and our inflexible commitment to public good.
Hearty felicitations to the Island Club at 76, and long the Federal Republic of Nigeria .
Babatunde Raji Fashola, SAN
Honourable Minister of Works and Housing
INSPECTION TOUR OF LOKO OWETO BRIDGE IN NASARAWA
The Hon Minister of Works and Housing Babatunde Fashola SAN the Hon Minister of State Engr Abubakar D Aliyu FNSE Director Highway Construction and Rehabilitation Engr Yemi Oguntominiyi Federal Controller of Works Nasarawa State staff and members of the press at the inspection tour of Loko Oweto Bridge in Nasarawa Benue State by Messrs RCC Ltd on the 13th of March 2020
FASHOLA INSPECTS RECONSTRUCTION OF ENUGU PORT HARCOURT EXPRESSWAY SECTION IV ABA PORT HARCOURT IN RIVERS AND ABIA STATES
Hon Minister of Works Housing Mr Babatunde Fashola SAN left and Governor of Rivers State Ezenwo Nyesom Wike right during a courtesy visit to the Government House Port Harcourt shortly after the inspection of the Reconstruction of Enugu Port Harcourt Expressway Section lV Aba Port Harcourt in Rivers and Abia States by the Hon Minister on Thursday 19th March 2020