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State Governors And Beggar Bowl Leadership Approach By Jerome-Mario Utomi

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It is no longer a news that most of our states are currently faced with serious socioeconomic issues bordering on sustainability inabilities. Although this has been on over time but as a nation that plays politics with everything, we decided to live in denial. But as it currently stands, it has gotten to the brim and the state Governors are faced with either confess or collapse options, hence the bailout carol.

But in rushing to Abuja for a bailout, our Governors has forgotten that one of the negative attributes of borrowing is that once you start, it becomes your character. This borrowing habit of theirs has succeeded in weakening our states to a sorry level, that just about four out of the thirty-six states can presently pay their workers salaries without seeking for ‘economic live support’ in the name of a bailout from the federal government.

As a matter of fact, it is not a bad Idea demanding for a bailout.  But mindless borrowing such as this depletes the borrower’s economic creative prowess, dwindle the propensity to achieving self-reliance and have the entity exposed to further socio-economic vulnerability.

Consequently, the feeling by some that Abuja is there to provide the needed financial succor, has rendered most of our governors lazy and uninterested in carrying out self-introspection on how to improve their state’s internally generated revenue(IGR) not minding that every opportunity to borrow as provided comes with a looming risk.

The above I am sure of, as no state can guarantee it’s socioeconomic security by living on a borrowed fund.  Most especially when it becomes incessant or a recurrent decimal of the sort as we are witnessing.

Additionally, the above development has brought to the fore the type of people that we have freely blessed ourselves with as our governors. With the exception of Lagos and few others that are still active in sustaining their states via internally generated revenue, the rest shares a common denominator; Abuja dependants.

So, we can now understand why Lagos is witnessing massive infrastructural development today while other states are busy with a bailout sing-song.
This also points to the fact that our problem as a nation is more of leadership as the ‘the strength of every state is a direct result of the strength of the leaders’.
To further support the above point as advanced, our colonial overlords very seamlessly penetrated all the nooks and crannies of this nation ensuring that all paid their taxes. That exercise did not in anyway exclude my poor grandfather as he was tracked to his sleepy farm settlement to ensure compliance. So, what is going on with our present crop of leaders?
But as it is at the moment, it has become crystal clear that the monthly orthodox procession to Abuja for a ‘holy communion’’ using  FAAC as the sacrificial lamb and the FG seated as the chief Priest is no longer sustaining.This should be a source of worry to our state governors who could neither pay workers nor pensions of our retirees when the federal allocation was constantly dropping.

However, I am well aware of the fact that the civil servants are self-declared enemies of the states occasioned by their bureaucratic tendencies but that should not be enough reason for them to be treated like the internally displaced people (IDP)  that their situation has degenerated into in some states. The recent suicide and contribution of food items and other relief materials as witnessed recently occasioned by nonpayment of salaries bear eloquent testimonies to these facts.

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Similarly, most of our pensioners have given up hopes and have resigned to fate banking on their age-long religious teaching that their reward is in heaven.

To illustrate this point, an uncle of mine, a pensioner and a man well above 80 years told me very recently that they were promised 33% increment in pension since the steady rise in inflation has made sense of what they receive as the pension. That was in  June 2010, but as I am doing this piece,  they have not received a kobo from that promise 7years after.  Yet, the state government in question is busy shouting prosperity for all through SMART AGENDA.

Considering my uncle’s age, he has naturally packed his luggage, checked in and now at the departure lounge waiting for his creator to open the boarding gate. If such should take place now, when and how will he receive this amount that has accumulated for the past seven years? Very sadly, he may not, but.

In all these, one thing that our governors fail to remember is that  ‘the grinding poverty and starvation with which our country is afflicted is such that it drives more and more men every year into the ranks of beggars, whose desperate struggles for bread renders them insensible to all feelings of decency and self-respect’.

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To put it differently, if the above  is  examined closely,  one will discover that our governors are in one way or the other architects of this situation  and instead of trying to ameliorate it, by  providing work for their subjects  and insisting on their working for bread,  they denied those that have worked  their just wage and pension respectively.

As if that was not enough, they now watch their civil servants commit suicide and the only defense they put up is ‘we owe him just  9 months and not 11 months salary’. Saying it as if they were morally justified allowing the civil servants go home at the end of every month without their salaries.

Still, on these negative light, these deliberate inactions of our governors has again portrayed them as a group that knows how to mop up our commonwealth for their personal aggrandizement while abandoning their subjects to mop up their tears. This to my mind is condemnable

Again, another fact that our state governors should remember is that no one takes a government that governs with beggar bowl approach seriously.

As a response to the above realities,  it is my submission that there is the need for our  state governors to imbibe a saving culture as this attitude of eating with our ten fingers is not in any way supporting our economic growth or sustainability

In the same token, they must remember also that the people are watching closely most especially the youths. They should remember that in a period such as this, people watch with rapt attention, noting every move they make, learning what they really believe as opposed to what they say.

 Finally, the state governors should remember and take into action the fact that the shortest way to the bright future we seek lies in a creative approach.

Therefore, let the governors defocus on Abuja and focus on increasing their states internally generated revenues, working in a collaborative manner with their civil servants. This process, who knows, may provide a lasting solution to the restructuring of our nation.

Jerome-Mario, wrote via; jeromeutomi@yahoo.com

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Opinion

The Disturbing Success Of Coronavirus: Who Will Save The World? By Omoshola Deji

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World

 

These are very abnormal times. The earth we labored to build is shutting down before our eyes and we have no magic wand. Although we’ve faced several challenges in our lifetimes, overcoming them never made us thought something so disastrous could surface that would cause us to be still. Suddenly the novel Coronavirus, otherwise called Covid-19 struck. It rose to pandemic and the earth stood still. We are striving not to perish, but have only made a tiny progress after a tired race. Who will save us from Covid the viral virus?

 

China struggled to restrain Covid to its origin at Wuhan, but it escaped. The virus has managed to infiltrate 195 countries and territories through our innocent bodies. At the time of writing, Covid has afflicted 882,191 persons, out of which 185,094 has recovered, while 652,961 remains ill. Over 44,136 persons have passed away, with Italy recording more deaths ahead of Spain, United States, France, China and Iran respectively. The casualty keeps mounting as Covid rages wide and wild.

 

Covid is omnipresent. It is present in every continent (except Antarctica) and attacks people irrespective of religion, gender, class or race. Some Africans who boasted that the virus can neither survive their hot climate nor subdue their acclaimed ‘strong’ immune are now recanting their words. At the time of writing, Africa has over 5,780 cases in 49 nations out of 55.

 

Covid is one confident virus. It passes security checks unnoticed to afflict the powerful. The virus took photos with United States President Donald Trump through Fabio Wajngarten, the press aide of Brazil President Jair Bolsonaro. Wajngarten tested positive few days after he met with Trump. Covid also infiltrate US Vice President Mike Pence’s office, but never got him – his staff paid instead.

 

Leaders living with Covid across the world includes Prince Albert II of Monaco; Iran’s Vice President, Masoumeh Ebtekar; Cameroon national assembly speaker, Cavaye Djibril; and the archduke of Austria, Karl von Habsburg. United Kingdom’s Prime Minister, Boris Johnson, also tested positive. As if that were not enough, Prince Charles, the oldest son of Queen Elizabeth II and heir to the British throne is down with the virus. No one can trouble these leaders without paying dearly but Covid has.

 

In Nigeria, Africa’s most populous nation, the government’s Chief of Staff, Abba Kyari, and son of ex-vice president Atiku Abubakar are both down with the deadly Coronavirus. The governors of Bauchi, Kaduna and Oyo States tested positive, while about 15 other governors are at risk, having come in contact with Kyari. President Buhari and Vice President Yemi Osinbajo had to self-quarantine.

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Other nations’ leaders in self-isolation includes Botswana President Mokgweetsi Masisi; German Chancellor Angela Markel; and the Prime Ministers of Spain and Canada, after their wives, Begona Gomez and Sophie Trudeau tested positive for Covid. Apparently, more than a few nations’ first families are either undergoing tests, in self-isolation, or have tested positive for the virus.

 

Is the earth’s governance so flawed that Coronavirus seeks to wipe out a portion of the ruling class? If so, I pray it starts with my country, Nigeria. The reason is one: Nigeria works for the leaders only. Over seventy percent of the population are incredibly poor, living in slums, and lacking basic amenities, despite the nation’s enormous oil wealth. No thanks to the corrupt leaders, who now has no option than to use the collapsed healthcare system they failed to build for their Covid treatment.

 

Who will save the entertainment industry from Covid? Entertainment helps our brains restore to functioning capacity when we’re dull or tired. Sadly, some of those bringing us the cheers are down with the deadly Coronavirus. Celebs who have tested positive for the virus across Europe and America includes British actor Idris Elba; Norwegian actor Kristofer Hivju; famed opera singer, Plácido Domingo; Cascada singer, Natalie Horner; 19-year-old singer Charlotte Lawrence; keyboardist David Bryan; TV host Andy Cohen; and several others. Actress infected includes Rita Wilson, Rachel Matthews, Olga Kurylenko and Debi Mazar, among others.

 

Africa is not left out as Tanzanian rapper, Mwana FA and saxophone legend, Manu Dibango (now late) contracted the virus. Fearfully, disaster looms as top African celebrities who graced the recent Africa Magic Viewers’ Choice Awards (AMVCA) have been advised to self-isolate. This came after a number of persons at the event tested positive for Coronavirus. One can only imagine how many people the carriers have infected at the energetic, star studded event.

 

Worst still, the new carriers would have, after the event, mingled with friends, families and fans, passing the virus unknowingly, before the isolation announcement. Coronavirus started from one person, but we now have thousands of people spreading it.

 

Who will save the sporting world from Coronavirus? Sports makes us feel happy and relaxed, especially when we watch with friends. Aside helping us to maintain a healthy social life, some persons also earn from it via betting. We all thought nothing could stop sports until Covid-19 surfaced. Aside halting trainings and tournaments, Covid also afflicted the players.

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For basketball, NBA players such as Rudy Gobert and Donovan Mitchell of Utah Jazz; Kevin Durant of Brooklyn Nets; Christian Wood of Detroit Pistons; and Marcus Smart of Boston Celtics, among others are in Covid’s net. The virus also kicked both football managers and players into its net. Callum Hudson-Odoi of Chelsea; Blaise Matuidi of Juventus; Arsenal head coach, Mikel Arteta; and AC Milan technical director Paolo Maldini are all down with the virus. African football legend, Mohamed Farah; former Olympique de Marseille President, Pape Diouf; and former Real Madrid President, Lorenzo Sanz died from it.

 

Cycling is not spared as Colombian cyclist Fernando Gaviria and Russian ProTour cyclist Dmitry Strakhov are down too. Sadly, some of these sportsmen may no longer be fit to deliver the sterling performance they’re known for before now. Such may affect their carrier, even if they survive the virus.

 

While elites of nations are quarantining in luxury and could afford first class health care in their countries (if they have), a lot more needs to be done for the hoi polloi whose lives are hanging in the balance. Many live on daily earnings and the lockdown is making survival ever more difficult. Whether living in luxury or penury, no one is immune from the Coronavirus. Thus, we must follow the social distancing and hygiene precautions to remain aseptic.

 

Coronavirus has phenomenally crumbled our world and threatening to wreak more havoc. Sadly, ammunitions can’t exterminate it and prayer is no remedy. About 35 companies and academic institutions are racing round the clock for cure, but no luck yet. Fear grips my heart over the calamity that will befall the world, if the deadly virus lives on for months.

 

Who will save us from this deadly virus making human body its home? Who will save us from the virus sending our brethren to the final home? Who will save us from this virus keeping us at home? Who will save our world from Coronavirus?

 

*Omoshola Deji is a political and public affairs analyst. He wrote in via moshdeji@yahoo.com

 

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Opinion

Those Whose Prayers God May Not Answer 

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Olusegun Fafore

 

 

Olusegun Fafore

 

 

With the public outrage following the flouting of government’s directives by some religious institutions last weekend over the number of worshippers that could attend mosques and churches for prayers in the face of the deadly pandemic ravaging the world, God may have nullified some supplications for putting His creations in danger.

 

The contribution of a South Korean Church to the Coronavirus spread, which represents about 60% of the country’s confirmed cases of over 4,000, motivated restrictions on the number of people who can congregate at places of worship at this time.

 

The restriction terms, which allowed 50 worshippers, was further revised to 20 people, with ample space between seats and individuals who must be at worship centres for their supplications to be heard by God or Allah.

 

As attendance at religious gatherings were monitored for compliance, social gatherings did not go off the sight of governments. This is because governors will be labelled as failures and ineffective if the ruthlessness of the virus overruns our communities.

 

At a speed matching the invasive tendencies of the deadly Coronavirus, governments across the globe made pronouncements and took decisions targeted at protecting their citizens, limiting the spread of the virus and managing the level of fatality.

 

In the city of Rome, the capital of Italy, a country that lost about 743 people to the Coronavirus outbreak in just one day, the lockdown forced churches to suspend Mass.

 

Meanwhile, before this outbreak, Rome was the downtown of Catholic worship. The Pope resides in the Vatican City, a sovereign City-State enclaved within Rome, which has been a center of Christian Pilgrimage for centuries.

 

With death in the air, excursion to the holy city stopped. Priests in the Vatican found other ways to reach their congregations since science has established that Coronavirus thrives amidst multitudes.

 

Perhaps this was why Saudi Arabia’s King Salman locked-down the country’s capital, Riyadh, and the holy cities of Mecca and Medina. Beyond this action, the country, which hosts millions of pilgrims annually, suspended all educational and Qur’anic activities at all Mosques, closed malls, restaurants, cafes and parks, and banned Muslim pilgrims from coming for Umrah this year.

 

These decisions, are not only unusual, but are far-reaching, and genuinely reflective of the value placed on citizens lives by the government of the county.  And the impacts of these decisions are evident in the containment effort of the State, which has limited casualty of the dreaded virus to only 1, out of the 767 reported cases, since the country confirmed its first case on March 2, 2020.

 

Public safety sentiment echoes across the globe. It is a critical index for measuring purposeful leadership at this unnerving period in human existence. So that you know, the time has gotten direr in Israel and the country’s Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu is set to implement a total lockdown.

 

The number of sick Israelis infected by novel Coronavirus has climbed to 2, 369. And it is the responsibility of the State to cater for them and prevent them from adding to the number of deaths attributed to the pandemic.

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“These steps we have taken here in Israel are being taken all of the world; however, they are not enough because the number of patients is doubling every three days” said the Prime Minister who added that “in two weeks we are liable to find ourselves with thousands of patients many of whom will be in danger of death”.

 

If this statement does not provide hint of the despair in the Prime Minister’s voice, it is reflective of the fact that he is under enormous pressure to protect his people from the scourging death and save his land from the spate of Coronavirus.

 

Netanyahu’s predicament reflects what every leader all over the world is going through at this period. Even, his case should be different because Israelis have an unending covenant with God, and they can afford to ignore the roving signs of over the world.

 

Leadership is a huge responsibility. People occupying such positions are wearing thorny crowns at this moment.  Whether they are calm or spirited, their minds are in crisis. They are thinking about the safety of everyone, and the purity of their territories, which could be a sovereign or sub-national.

 

Forget the Lagos State Governor, Mr. Babajide Sanwo-Olu’s calm demeanor. Every additional case of Coronavirus in the State unsettles him. Since when the first case, which later turned negative was announced in Lagos State, the Governor’s determination to contain the pestilence has increased. Every update, he wished had included the announcement of a vaccine, or drugs that can permanently wiped-out the deadly Coronavirus from our World.

 

“There are about 22 million people in my care and everyone is only an arm’s length away from the other. This pandemic is highly transmissible and travels in the air from one person to the other. Aside from my domain being the most populous in the country, with an incredible density, it is also the major entry point into Nigeria. Daily, thousands of travelers come into Lagos from different parts of the world, even from Coronavirus worse-hit countries”, captures the minute-by-minute thoughts on Governor Sanwo-Olu’s mind.

 

So, his mind cannot idle away from the conjectures coming in gushes. Even, complicating the situation is the centrality of Lagos to managing the containment of the deadly virus in Nigeria. The level of the State’s preparedness and quality of facilities make it a destination for case management and patient treatment.

 

As the facilities get stretched by cases imported from outside Lagos, his mind skips; because of the ever-present imbalance between needs and available resources in life. If not for our recklessness, may be the number of cases in Nigeria would still have been as low as five, and Lagos will be zero with the index case turning negative. And this would have perhaps contributed to reduction in his anxieties.

 

But we are strange and very funny people, with immeasurable capacity for disobedience. It is ridiculous that government needed to enforce compliance with directives to stem the tide of a lethal microbe that has claimed 21,367 lives from the 475,879 cases in 198 countries.

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We sneered at instructions as basic as restricting the number of congregations to 20 if there must worship in our Churches or Mosques and self-isolate for 14 days, if we just returned from overseas trip, to abate the spread of Coronavirus amongst us.

Even, the call to avoid public places and social gatherings at this perilous time is pointlessly ignored just as much as the need for personal hygiene is discounted.

 

Excuse me, why are the doctrines of “wash your hands regularly with soap” and “observe the principles of social distancing” to protect yourself from a deadly infection difficult to obey? Are we just being suicidal, or deliberately inclined to committing large scale murder?

 

Don’t we understand that our disobedience endangers other people’s lives and diminishes government efforts at protecting the land against pandemic? If we assemble somewhere in the name of prayer or worship, and enable coronavirus fly at a geometric progression through community spread, we have not only disobeyed civil authorities, but also committed evil in the sight of God. Good citizenship is one of the conditions precedent to Godliness. For Christians, Apostle Paul espoused this in his homily on civil obedience in Roman 13: 1-1.

 

The holy Quran does not defer on civil obedience and respect for constituted authority. In verse 59 of Surah An-Nisa in the Quran, which is known as Uli al-Amr verse, Believers are ordered to obey Allah, obey the prophet and those vested with authority (Uli al-Amr).

 

So, where did the disobedience come from? If your recalcitrance increases the spread of COVID-19 in Nigeria and results in loss of several lives, you are a murderer! If you fail to self-isolate when you return from overseas or are exposed an infected person, you are killer because your indiscretion will infect people with the novel coronavirus.

 

We need to comply with the social distancing and personal hygiene precepts. No one should commit suicide by disregarding these principles. God holds human life sacred. That is why the 6th commandment, Exodus 20;13 “Thou shalt not kill” is a clear directive to preserve human life.

 

More importantly, suicide is a grave sin before our creator.  It is true that in times of pestilence, prayer is a means of privileged communication with the Almighty God. No one is in doubt about the power of prayer as a source of strength in moment of crisis, but like Peter cautioned Christians to conduct their lives properly;  so that their “prayers be not hindered” (1 Pet. 3:7).

 

If your actions or activities cause self-death or death of others, or endanger the society, God may not answer your prayers.

 

Stay safe. Wisdom is profitable to direct.

 

Fafore is Executive Assistant on Public Relations and New Media to Lagos State Governor

 

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Opinion

EFCC Attempts to Balance Action with Fairness as it Sanitizes Nigeria’s Corporate Sector

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Fraud

 

By Adedayo Samson

While fighting corruption at all levels is a laudable effort, balancing action with fairness in the prosecution of justice remains pertinent in the operations of a law enforcement agency. Faced with such moral dilemma, the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) has ramped up its efforts to sanitize Nigeria’s corporate sector.

The Commission’s attempt to rid the country’s private sector of criminals and criminality through checks and balances has led to the investigation of some businesses across several industries and the imposition of fines on some. While top shots found culpable of economic malpractices are undergoing prosecution, companies and their executives hitherto scrutinized are being acquitted. In particular, the EFCC has scaled up its scrutiny of the telecoms and lottery industries.

One of the notable cases is EFCC’s investigation of telecoms giant, MTN in 2019 over alleged irregularities in the process of its listing on the bourse of the Nigerian Stock Exchange (NSE). In May 2019, the firm had listed by introduction, 20.4 billion ordinary shares at N90 on the NSE. In less than a week, the share price had risen to N131 as scarcity drives up its value. Many believed the company did not follow due process and had given insider information to some of its major shareholders, a move that led to artificial scarcity of the company’s shares following the announcement of the IPO. However, while acknowledging that it was under investigation by the EFCC, MTN reiterated that it had not been accused of any wrongdoing by the anti-graft agency. After further explanations from the Securities Exchange Commission (SEC), MTN was let off the hook.

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Similarly, in January 2020, Premier lotto, Nigeria’s foremost and perhaps, oldest lottery firm became the subject of a routine EFCC inquest to investigate alleged tax evasion based on unsubstantiated accusations from a competitor. An Executive Director of the company and son of the founder, Segun Adebutu, who was incidentally at the Premier Lotto office on the day, was invited to the anti-graft agent’s office for questioning without detainment. After due investigations, and further clarifications from the company, the EFCC found no malpractices in the affairs of Premier Lotto and Segun Adebutu.  The matter was thereafter summarily dismissed, and the petition was closed.

In its bid to sanitize the lottery industry, the EFCC went into a partnership with the National Lottery Regulatory Commission (NLRC) in July 2019. The deal involves agreement for support in the areas of information sharing, intelligence gathering, enforcement and prosecution. With the new agreement, it became easier for the anti-graft agency to detect cases of foul play in the hitherto opaque Nigerian lottery industry, which is reportedly worth about $70 billion. The partnership with the NLRC is already yielding some results as the EFCC recently announced the discovery of 35 illegal lottery business operators in the country.

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EFCC’s scrutiny of the telecoms sector revealed a boost early in the years, when the House of Representatives Committee on ICT revealed that commission will join the committee to investigate telecom providers, over alleged non-remittance of the one per cent annual turnover to the National Information Technology Development Agency (NITDA). According to the Reps committee, the telecom companies are owing up to N200 billion in pending remittance to NITDA for infrastructure provided.

While some people see the EFCC’s intervention in the affairs of the business world as being overbearing, others see it as a means of reining in some of the excesses of the businesses and protecting the consumers who are serviced by these businesses. Nevertheless, these moves have yielded some benefits. They have checked the excesses of the telecoms operators and brought in more revenue for government in form of fines.

Lastly, thanks to the cooperation of some key lottery operators, the EFCC has made the industry more transparent and accountable.

Samson writes from Lagos

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