Connect with us

Opinion

THE PURSUIT OF GREEN ECONOMY FOR THE NIGER DELTA AND EMERGING OPPORTUNITIES FOR EX-AGITATORS

Published

on

Niger Delta Avengers

 

 

Niger Delta region, home to about thirty million people and popular acknowledged for its rich oil reserves that fetches over 70 per cent of Nigeria’s export earnings, is also a rich producer of plantain.

 

Aside plantain being a widespread staple food, it is a unique delicacy that can be prepared by frying, roasting or boiling.

 

For commercial purpose, it can be processed as plantain chips or into flour which has become a preferred substitute for wheat flour given its high quality nutritional content.

 

Food and Agricultural Organisation (FAO) statistics show that Nigeria is a major plantain-growing nation with more than half of its estimated annual production capacity of 2.74 million tonnes coming from the Niger Delta alone. Of the sixteen states classified as plantain producers, nine are in the Niger Delta. These are Edo, Ondo, Delta, Rivers, Cross Rivers, Akwa Ibom, Imo, Bayelsa and Abia states. Coincidentally, they are in the oil-producing region of Nigeria.

 

Given that plantain grows in abundance all-year round in the Niger Delta, the expectation is that it would constitute a high income generating source for farmers and those engaged in its post-harvest production. Unfortunately, that has not been the case. That the Niger Delta plantain potential has remained untapped for decades is an ugly statement of fact that is overdue for remedy.

 

This sad story of unexploited wealth becomes very uncomfortable to digest especially when it is tied to a people that have for decades sought fresh narratives beyond reliance on federally-controlled statutory allocations from oil earnings and have expressed resentment over environmental degradation from oil exploration activities.

 

The huge percentage of plantain lost to post-harvest inadequacies is regrettable.  However, with the recent focus of the Federal Government on green economy for the region through its overhauled Niger Delta Disarmament, Demobilization, Rehabilitation and Reintegration (DDR) programme, a new dawn seems to have arrived.

 

Specifically, with a fresh economic vision of capturing ex-militants into agro-related initiatives, it is obvious that the present leadership of the DDR programme is offering an optimistic future and narrative that not only gives a sense of real economic hope but demonstrates increased genuine interest of the Federal government in the Niger Delta.

 

No doubt, the Special Adviser to the President on Niger Delta, Brigadier-General Boroh (rtd) has embraced the economic change agenda of the federal government, especially in running a series of new empowerment programmes focused on harnessing the potentials of Niger Delta ex-agitators. What stands out is the newly-introduced tarter pack plantain chip (a.k.a ‘kpekere’ or ‘hunger quencher’) production scheme which it grants Ex Agitators with special equipments like industrial plantain slicing machines, gas-powered commercial deep

Also Read:  Over 100 Small Businesses To Participate In 2017 GTBank Food And Drink Fair

fryers and sealers. Even though, it is difficult to apply a sweeping narrative to all DDR agro projects, but there is sufficient evidence to affirm that most of the agriculture projects are successful especially the plantain chip production, a highly profitable venture.

 

The desire of the Office of the Special Adviser to the Presidency on Amnesty to use ex-agitators for industrial production of plantain chips to create value-added plantain products and income-generating

opportunities is a welcome development. Aside this DDR plantain chip production initiative having the capacity to reduce both redundancy and unemployment in the Niger Delta, it comes with huge economic prospects for beneficiaries of the programme. Presently, the economic transformation of ex-agitators involved in plantain chip production seems to have just begun as the market is enormous.

The Boroh-led DDR programme envisages that these products will eventually be exported across West Africa.

 

For now, the anticipated economic growth from the initiative may not be very   noticeable because of the limited scope of the scheme.

 

However, emerging signals indicate it is a good partners’ approach by the President Buhari-led federal government as it is encouraging entrepreneurship through small business support for ex-agitators.

Certainly, such a quick impact money-earning project will advance peace and security in a region massively rocked by waves of restiveness powered by idle youths before the introduction of Amnesty

aspect of the DDR in 2009.

 

On plantain chip production by Ex Agitators, the realistic forecast should be that with better equipped new entrepreneurs, the Niger Delta can become the biggest exporter of value-added and finished plantain products in Africa. Indeed, if the plantain abundance in the region is fully exploited and well managed, this hitherto hidden treasure may be a major source of wealth that could catapult the region’s fortune as the estimated annual economic gain for Niger Delta runs into hundreds of millions of dollars. However, whether or not the initiative can become Niger Delta’s new engine of economic growth will largely depend on next steps taken.

 

At the moment, all the economic variables of some Niger Delta ex-agitators becoming exporters are clear. The likelihood of the

Also Read:  PRAYER POINTS ARISING FROM THE TRAVAILS OF TONY OKOROJI-By Dr. Ope Banwo

initiative thrusting the region to the top of trade in value-added plantain products rather than just suppliers of unprocessed raw materials is very high. With such an initiative in place, the economy of the Niger Delta will be driven mostly by agricultural production.

 

This will make the federal government’s dream of a Niger Delta green economy accomplishable. Also, it would have positive multiplier effect on employment of youths in the region and reverse the culture of reliance on government handouts.

 

While the big infrastructure projects that drive overall economic growth are being carried out by other intervention organisations like the NDDC and the Ministry of Niger Delta, it is vital to recognize resentments expressed in Niger Delta that the benefits from such do

not trickle down immediately to the masses nor offer direct monetary enhancement. The engagement of these agencies in plantain chips production will also assist in offering instant gains for the Niger Delta people and help dismiss the many misconceptions about the present administration’s good intents.

 

Realistically, if this particular DDR programme can be replicated by other government agencies and interest groups involved in developing the region, then that might mean that a viable blueprint for the Niger Delta green economy would have been discovered.

 

This unique initiative under President Buhari’s administration towards harnessing the untapped potentials of the Niger Delta region’s plantain resources is commendable as it has already indicated positive results as being capable of introducing distinct gross financial gains

and freedom from poverty for some ex-agitators. However, the leadership of the DDR programme should recognize that the work ahead is much as only a minute population of the poor has been covered.

 

As such, the need to dedicate more resources to broaden the scope of this winning initiative to accommodate more persons cannot be overemphasised. It is really unfortunate that women are almost

completely excluded from the Niger Delta Developmental Action Plan but this idea of granting starter packs for commercial plantain production chip offers the leadership of the DDR programme an opportunity to redress the disturbing gender imbalance in its empowerment schemes, given that women are globally recognized as the veritable peace and home-builders especially in such a post conflict region.

 

Telema Wilson, Ph.D Co-ordinator, Activists for Niger Delta Advancement & Positive Engagement. (ANDAPE) Writes from Port Harcourt.

 

Share
Continue Reading
Click to comment

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Opinion

Hitlist N Cruzin To The Next Level A Priority In 2020–Mursty Adinoyi

Published

on

Mursty Adinoyi

Seasoned entrepreneur and producer, Mursty Adinoyi, is the brain behind one of Nigeria’s leading television shows, Hitlist N Cruzin. For over a decade, he has successfully changed the lives of young Nigerians across several states via the programme which takes people on a dream shopping spree. In this interview with Lukmon Akintola, he speaks on his 2020 development plans for the show, the need for youths to be more dedicated to the country and the impact of terrestrial television on the society.

2019 was a positive year for you and Hitlist N Cruzin, tell us about your 2020 plans.

Personally, I have a lot of plans for myself, long term plans that will culminate into awing developments. In addition to our flagship programme, Hitlist N Cruzin, we have AIT Music+, and both programmes have garnered positive followership.

Are there plans to take the programme to other parts of the country where it is not popular?

Most definitely. We are expanding the map to other states. We want to take it to places where we are not known, not just where people are already watching us. Talking about plans, I pray that all the ideas we have materialise. At Emrose Adinoyi Productions, we don’t make one-year plans, but long term plans. It’s our lifestyle and we’ll keep seeing what we can do to get better.

You are known to be passionate about Nigeria, do you have plans to start a programme that will dwell on Nigeria’s peculiar challenges?

Having a programme that focuses on Nigeria’s issues will not make any change. If you watch Kakaaki on AIT or Channels Television in the morning, you will see all of this stuff ongoing. If you watch Focus Nigeria on AIT as well, you will see all these discussions ongoing, but have there been changes? They say that democracy is the best for us, but we have to find a way to make sure that it works for us, because the way it is right now, I don’t think it’s working for us.

What are the peculiar challenges in your industry?

There are so many challenges. Don’t forget that to shoot Hitlist N Cruzin, we go out, looking for winners to take on a cruise. You hit the road, you see bad roads. You get a good car before you know it, it’s gone because the roads are bad. Some major roads are bad, how much more the roads in the hinterland? So, the challenges are enormous.

These challenges have seen a lot of people relocating out of the country, are you thinking of joining them?

Also Read:  Over 100 Small Businesses To Participate In 2017 GTBank Food And Drink Fair

If your father’s house is not painted, instead of looking for an apartment to rent, look for money and paint it, that’s my belief. So many young people are leaving the country because they’re looking for greener pastures. You can’t blame anybody, but for those of us who believe in the Nigerian dream, we will contribute to the development of the country. I will rather do that than leave for Canada or anywhere in the world.

You have also been making political statements in recent times, are you thinking of going into politics?

This is our country and some of us are committed to its development. If things are not going well, we have to speak out. We should all know that life is in stages, we are in our forties right now, it’s just very unfortunate that the Nigerian system tells us that at forty we are young, we are actually not young. Very soon, leadership will fall into our hands. So we need to be consciously telling ourselves the truth so whoever amongst us has the opportunity to occupy an office can do the right thing. If we’re doing the right thing, people will not travel to other places, and even if they travel, it will be for fun, they won’t abandon Nigeria.

There have been calls for people to make their industry buoyant such that it can contribute to the country’s GDP, do you think the television industry can do this?

Content can be created from the training that an ex-military man has gotten. People will benefit from it, and then there will be much money for him and even the television station airing the programme and other participants. I am telling you there are so many things we can create, lots of things, even an ex-banker can create a programme. So, there is a lot of money to be made here, but first, we have to develop Nigeria first, using television.  Everything about us can be on television and we would make money from it. Okada, for instance, can be used for stunts. If independent producers can have good money with them and we are tax-free, we can gather Okada riders, create stunts, stage them, put them on television and make money out of it for development of the country. We see all these things on foreign channels and we think they are just for the foreign market, but they are also applicable here. There are lots of independent producers that can create good content for television consumption that will engage hundreds and thousands of people. That way, the unemployment rate will definitely drop.

Also Read:  THE HIDDEN TRUTH ABOUT IDUMUJE-UGBOKO KINGSHIP

You have severally called for a tax-free media, can you justify this?

When I say tax-free television, I am not referring to cable television because there is a lot of money on pay television. There is a lot of money coming in because people subscribe to watch. I am speaking in relation to terrestrial television, some of these stations cannot even pay salaries. You need to realise that a local television station and independent producers are capable of employing more hands. But if you tax this sector too much, there will be no much money to even sustain what they have talkless of bringing in more hands. If we are actually looking at a better country, policies that we create should be those that would be for a better Nigeria, that will benefit Nigerian companies. When I say tax-free, I don’t mean for foreign companies. For instance, if VAT is 7.5% media-related companies can be made to pay 2.5%. The country is not growing because the policies we make are not developmental. If we have developmental policies, we’ll definitely move forward. We need to face reality. The government needs to see beyond immediate gain and make policies to help grow Nigerian companies and also make plans for our growing population.

There are people who will argue that if a company can’t pay its staff it should close shop, what do you say to that?

That would be wrong because when you talk of a direct impact on our society, it is terrestrial television that gets it done, not pay television

You have asked for all-round development in the country, where would you want the government to start from?

The scripture said let there be light and there was light. So, taking it from that angle, I would say the first thing we should be thinking of doing in terms of development should be stable light. Light is important because if we have it, other things will grow. But it’s not just about having light because other aspects also have to work. Transportation, the train needs to be connected to every state so that instead of everybody moving to Lagos State, you can even stay in Kogi State and do your business and if you have to come to Lagos State, you come by train. There are so many things that need to be done. There is a need for a change in government policies such that it will favour Nigerians.

Share
Continue Reading

Opinion

Overrated: How Odion Ighalo Disappointed Nigerian Fans

Published

on

odion

Ex-Nigerian International, Odion Ighalo, disappointed fans when he only saw a cameo appearance for his debut.

Nigerians who were excited about Ighalo’s six-month deal move from Shanghai Shenhua to Manchester United on transfer day deadline had expected a major appearance for his debut.

However, the ex-Watford striker only got a few minutes when he came on for Anthony Martial at the 90th minute.

Also Read:  I Was Dating Chioma When I Had Imade And Hailey-Davido

Ighalo is the first Nigerian to play for the Red Devils, making setting a record amongst Nigerian footballers.

Man United’s next fixture is against Club Brugge, while they will play Watford in the premiership on Monday, February 23. Ighalo is expected to be in the lineup for the matches.

View image on Twitter
View image on Twitter
View image on TwitterView image on TwitterView image on TwitterView image on Twitter

 

Share
Continue Reading

Opinion

Judicracy And The Fairness In Being Unfair

Published

on

Fidson

Abraham Lincoln described democracy as “government of the people, by the people, for the people” during the American civil war in 1863. His notion later became the often quoted definition of democracy and a benchmark of rating its success globally.

More than a few nations have actualized Lincoln’s thought, but Nigeria is lagging behind. Her quasi-democratic arrangement is what the writer terms Judicracy: representative government via the verdict of law lords. J-u-d-i-c-r-a-c-y is a flawed democratic system in which the court repeatedly determines who rules, instead of the electorates.

2019 general election is the worst in Nigeria’s history as it produced the highest ever, about a thousand lawsuits. Virtually all the governorship election outcomes were challenged up to the Supreme Court. The judgments issued bagged no dispute, except that of Imo and Bayelsa States. In Imo, the lordships sacked Emeka Ihedioha of the People’s Democratic Party (PDP) for Hope Uzodinma of the All Progressives Congress (APC), the fourth winner. Despite the unprecedented controversy and protests this sparked, the Supreme Court courageously made another upset in Bayelsa by nullifying David Lyon’s mandate barely a day to his inauguration.

The Bayelsa Case

Two lawsuits emerged from the Bayelsa 2019 governorship election. The first is an intra-party candidacy tussle between Hieneken Lokpobiri and David Lyon, both of the APC. The Supreme Court ruled in the case that Lyon was validly nominated. The other lawsuit is an inter-party, deputy governorship candidate qualification case, instituted against the APC by the PDP. Lyon’s running mate, Biobarakuma Degi-Eremieoyo was accused of forgery and perjury. The Supreme Court pronounced him guilty, and consequently sacked him and Lyon on the basis of their joint ticket. Lyon did no wrong, but was fired for the sins of Eremieoyo. The judgment is both fair and unfair.

Why the Judgment is Fair

It is fair to sack persons who aspire to rule or are ruling with false documents. Eremieoyo’s deputy-governorship nomination form shows he has answered five different names since he was born. In his first school leaving certificate dated 1976, Eremieoyo bore the name Degi Biobaragha. He bore the name Adegi Biobakumo in his o-level results dated 1984 and Degi Biobarakuma in his bachelor’s degree dated 1990. Also, he bore the name Degi Biobarakuma Wangagha in his master’s degree dated 2002 and he’s currently bearing Degi-Eremieoyo Biobarakuma. One person. Five names.

Eremieoyo’s trial judge proclaimed that only a woman who’s been married five times could have changed names the way Eremieoyo did. My take is Eremieoyo may have been a fraudster who kept changing names to conceal his identity and wrongdoings. Before the advent of fingerprint technology, fraudsters conceal their identity by changing names and appearance.

Eremieoyo’s counsel and apologists argument that his periodic change of name was as a result of the chieftaincy titles he bagged holds no water. Traditional honors rarely require name change; the titles are only placed before the recipient’s conventional name. Though not impossible, it is very rare to come across honors that would require a total change of name. Bola Tinubu’s name didn’t change when he was made the Jagaban of Borgu Kingdom. Also, Atiku Abubakar’s name didn’t change when he was turbaned the Waziri of Adamawa Emirate. Even kings don’t change names after coronation.

Nigerians are comparing President’s Muhammadu Buhari’s certificate and identity controversy case to Eremieoyo’s, but the facts are different. Buhari presented an affidavit and a re-issued copy of his disputed result to the court, while Eremieoyo only presented an unverifiable affidavit. Besides, in Buhari’s case, the spelling of ‘Muhammadu’ only changed to ‘Mohammed,’ on a single occasion and Islamic clerics clarified that both names are one and the same. On the other hand, Eremieoyo’s name changed significantly, sometimes completely, multiple times. God forbid a Nigeria where the court would free such a dubious personality to govern despite convincing evidence. Cry or smile, the Supreme Court judgment is fair.

The implication of allowing Eremieoyo rule Bayelsa is grievous. Every deputy governor is a governor-in-waiting. If Lyon had been sworn-in and (God forbid) dies in office, Eremieoyo will take over. By then, the same Eremieoyo the lordships fail to sack will be appointing judges to do his bidding and hounding those who fail to. The same Eremieoyo that has no clean record and certificate will be commanding professors who have many degrees and appointing vice chancellors. Haba! Nigerians should be grateful to the Supreme Court for saving Bayelsa State from such catastrophe.

APC’s failure to act right made her pay the hard price. Eremieoyo shouldn’t have been nominated, or better still, the party should’ve replaced him in the wake of the scandal. The court did no wrong to have enforced the law made by APC members for themselves and the national laws, made by the legislature in which APC is in the majority.

Also Read:  Xenophobia: Nigerian Prophet Chukwuemeka Odumeje Declares Spiritual War On South Africa

APC national chairman, Adams Oshiomhole’s aspersion on the judiciary over the Bayelsa judgment is dishonorable. He should rather resign for failing in oversight. If the party he leads deliberately fail to obey legitimate laws and the court decides to punish accordingly, how dare him utter unfair!

It is indeed a great loss to APC members and chieftains, but protesting Eremieoyo’s sack in the face of overwhelming evidence is a display of sophisticated foolishness. Will any of them, as an employer, retain an employee that secures a job under them with false identity and fake certificate? In this case, Bayelsa people lack the power to sack Eremieoyo for his dishonesty, but the constitution empowers the court to, and that has been done. Instead of belittling the lordships, they should be praised for acting right. Eremieoyo’s sack is fair and should not end there. He should be prosecuted for bringing pain to APC and Lyon.

Why the Judgment is Unfair

The Supreme Court’s verdict is deserving on Eremieoyo, but unfair to Lyon. Recognizing two persons as one is an unfair custom that will always make the guiltless sink with the guilty. That is not justice. If a father cannot be imprisoned for the crime of his son despite their blood ties, it is absolutely unfair to punish Lyon for the crime of Eremieoyo, a nonrelative.

Moreover, Lyon has been a businessman all along, while Eremieoyo is a career politician. Based on the difference in their yesteryear engagements, the governorship election is probably the first relationship between Lyon and Eremieoyo. There is word on the street that Lyon never chose Eremieoyo as running mate. He was imposed on him by the minister of state for petroleum resources, Timipre Sylva and the APC national chairman, Adams Oshiomhole. With the lordships awareness of the rampancy of imposition in Nigerian politics, crucifying Lyon with Eremieoyo is not justice. It is, in my opinion, a miscarriage of it.

Lyon shouldn’t suffer for Eremieoyo’s misdeed, especially when he never partook in the crime. The judgment would have been fair on Lyon if he’s complicit, but he’s not. With the judges’ awareness of such fact, it is unfair to waste Lyon’s 352,552 votes because his deputy broke the law. Such verdict is an injustice to the electorates that voted Lyon and his party, the APC.

Duoye Diri, the PDP candidate who lost at the ballot shouldn’t have been foisted on Bayelsans by the court. Such action will lead to an increase in political apathy. Electorates will no longer troop out to vote because the court may upturn their will. With apathy, rigging will increase and democracy will die slowly. To my mind, it is undemocratic for the court to keep installing those who lost at the ballot. It happened in Zamfara, and now Bayelsa state. The law should be amended if necessary and politicians must endeavor to always play by the rules.

A number of Supreme Court judgments states that votes are for the parties and not the candidates. This is premised on the reason that the names of candidates don’t appear on the ballot; only the parties’ logo appear. In this respect, it is disappointing that the lordships annul 352,552 votes when some previous judgments can be referenced and applied to save APC’s mandate. The judges should have protected APC’s vote, but punish Eremieoyo. Ordering that he be replaced with another person would have been just. Although the Supreme Court has the power to judge as it pleases, the adverse implication of the judgments on lives and properties must be considered, especially in sensitive cases.

Kogi State’s 2015 governorship election tussle also establishes the inconsistency of the Supreme Court. When candidacy dispute arose after Abubakar Audu’s demise during the Kogi election, the Supreme Court denied his running mate, James Faleke the chance to inherit the votes of the Audu-Faleke ticket. The mandate was surprisingly given to Yahaya Bello, who was selected by the APC to replace Audu. If Faleke wasn’t allowed to inherit the mandate of Audu, then it’s a miscarriage of justice to drag Lyon into Eremieoyo’s conviction. The logic is simple. Since Faleke wasn’t allowed to profit (positively) from Audu, it is unfair to make Lyon profit (negatively) from Eremieoyo.

Also Read:  Changemakers: Segun Agbaje, Building A Great African Institution Through Digital Transformation

The people of Bayelsa felt PDP hasn’t served them well, so they voted the APC. Upturning their decision means the court is forcing them to remain under the rule of an unwanted government. Such action itself is a murder of the democracy and rule of law the court is trying to protect.

Since Eremieoyo’s qualification case is a pre-election matter, justice would have been appropriately served if the ruling was given before the election. Democracy would’ve still manifest even if APC was denied participation. Several parties fielded candidates and the people may decide to vote massively for any them if they don’t want the PDP. With that, the leadership production process remains democratic and the people’s right of choice remains protected. The law must be amended to effect this.

A more sad side of the unfairness of the Supreme Court’s verdict is the cost and emotional effects on Lyon’s families, followers and political associates. It would have been kind if the judgment was delivered a week earlier. Governorship inauguration is a big ceremony in Nigeria. Even if Lyon chose to celebrate low key, his nearest and dearest would blow the trumpet with their personal fund.

Think about the level of preparation that would have been in place before Lyon was sacked some few hours to his inauguration. Special attire for the occasion (aso-ebi) have been bought and sown; cows have been slaughtered and stewed; wines have been iced; guests have started landing from across Nigeria and abroad; and all hotels had been booked. Furthermore, Lyon had rehearsed how to inspect the guards of honor and people were already addressing him as ‘Your Excellency.’ Even the President was preparing to grace the inauguration. But, all of a sudden, the Supreme Court threw Lyon into confusion. He was disgraced few hours to his glory for a crime he never committed. That’s unfair!

The Supreme Court should have kindly reduced the emotional and cost effects by issuing the judgment earlier, at least a week or two before the inauguration. Perhaps the judgment was delivered late to teach APC a bitter lesson for failing to learn from the annulment of its candidacy in Zamfara and Rivers States.

End Note

It is unfortunate that the court that is expected to be the last hope of the common man is now taking away the wishes of the common man in Nigerian elections. Judicracy is not good for Nigeria. It is a recipe for crisis that may tear the nation apart. Election must start and end at the ballot. Shifting the contest to court is distracting the APC and PDP from concentrating on governance. Both are devoting their energy and resources on winning in court, rather than tackling the nation’s challenges.

Certificate may not be the perfect means of measuring intelligence, but it is the global standard of confirming that an individual have passed through the rigor of acquiring knowledge and proficiency. Eremieoyo’s ordeal is a lesson for everyone to get some education and always act right. Although Nigerian courts sometimes fail to command justice on apparently guilty influential persons, Eremieoyo’s conviction may be beginning of the long-expected turnaround. The three arms of government must collaborate to address the flaws and lacunas in the laws. They must also devote attention to strengthening the institutions and the electoral process.

Lyon’s misfortune shouldn’t be the end of his political career. President Buhari should appease him with a major appointment. The APC should also give him an automatic ticket in the next election. On the other hand, PDP should not over rejoice as it may suffer the same tragedy if it doesn’t learn from APC’s mistake. Nigerian politics is an intriguing, suspense-filled, unending movie. New issues keep evolving each time the population thinks they’ve seen it all. It won’t be a surprise, if for the first time, the Supreme Court reverse either the Imo or Bayelsa verdict. Even at that, politicians must always abide by the rules, else the court will keep determining who rules.

*This piece is an innocent analysis and not an aspersion on the integrity of the Supreme Court. The writer, Omoshola Deji has profound respect for the judges, their decisions and the institution they represent. Deji is a political and public affairs analyst. He wrote in via moshdeji@yahoo.com

Share
Continue Reading

Facebook

Trending

Copyright © 2019, February13 Media