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Inadequate COVID-19 Pandemic Lockdown Palliative: A deliberate Action by the Government or Lack of Accurate Demographic Data?

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COVID-19: NGIJ Charges Gov. Sanwo-Olu to Urgently Revise Lockdown Palliative Measures for Residents
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The maturity and efficiency of a government is often put to test in times of crisis as it would be difficult for one to detect flaws in a government in times of peace and serenity.

We must not forget the outcome lessons of this COVID-19 battle after the storm has settled. Once beaten, twice shy.

But, before I proceed, I would quickly commend our medical team, the paramedics and others that have put their life on the line to be in the frontline in this battle against COVID-19. You are really doing great!

However, many flaws of our government have become obvious in this COVID-19 pandemic and we all must not miss to highlight them, if we really need to move forward as a people and as a nation.

I would not waste time to talk about the inadequacy of our health system, we all know the condition of our health system before the sudden arrival of COVID-19. Perhaps, those that we have entrusted with our national affairs lacked the foresight that one day, they would be locked down at home, in Nigeria, and would be required to treat their sicknesses here in Nigeria. It was a wildest imagination then!

More importantly was that of our lack of think tank system or research and development institution that also became talk of the town in the foray of things. We have to wait for other people, nation to develop concoction of some sort as vaccine or possible treatment for coronavirus before we can take action by queuing on a long line to buy such a vaccine.

Our law makers were even in the business to adopt a vaccine that has not been produced yet! Development of potent vaccine takes longer time. By now, sixty years after independent, we should be able to think by ourselves, on our own as a nation. Imagine! Why must people or a nation continue to be thinking for us as a people or as a nation?

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Also, in this fight against COVID-19, the issue of lack of up-to-date demographic data of the people of Nigeria became obvious! The government did not have indepth knowledge of the people it governs, hence poor decision making. The reason why the masses felt the effect of COVID-19 firsthand. Ordinarily, ordinary Nigerian wouldn’t have give a damn about the virus. Virus no dey fear face?!

This was the major bottleneck when the issue of palliative distribution came to fore. We were faced with the challenges of how many vulnerable people are in AMAC, Abaji, Bwari, and so and so now. No wonder the inadequate palliative materials distribution. How do you think that the vulnerable Igala people in Karu-Jikwoyi is just thirty people?!

HRH. Alhaji Abdulsalam Tijani Musa the Ogah Attah of Igala, and the Onu of Igala, Karu Jikwoyi, FCT., said, “Truly, I am also a COVID-19 Palliative Committee member in AMAC, precisely Karu Ward.

“We were partially part of the people that were distributing the palliative materials that was donated to the vulnerable people of FCT by the honourable minister of FCT, Honourable Musa Muhammad Bello. And it happened to be that the number of the items given were too small to the number of the vulnerable people that came out for collection.

“But by and large, we have to still thank the government for what they have done but we are still expecting more because some of us could be able to scratch up and down to be able to satisfy people a little which we know we can never satisfy them in totality.

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“Even the government himself said that we should start, may be as time goes on, more may come on the way and that is how I have been able to go up and down to see how I can be able to reach out to people.

“Though in my own ward, the palliative was distributed through the traditional ruler; that is tribal community leader, and Dagachi as well as Hakimi of the community.

“So, what came to me as the tribal chief of Igala people, Karu-jikwoyi was a condiment, thirty pieces and rice thirty pieces. That is just thirty pieces, let me call it thirty pieces because one condiment and one rice (goes together) is to be given to one person.

“Invariably, people that gathered in my palace are over two hundred. I don’t have a choice than to go extra mile to make sure I give the little I can do which is still not yet okay and I have to equally beg others to go and wait when next have been provided or I have made by myself, I would still call on them, I would still give to them again.

“That is how I was able to manage. But that is the material that was given to me as confirmed by Esu of Jikwoyi whom I collected the material from.

HRH Abdulsallam confirmed that people are really suffering under the hammering head of the lockdown.

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He said, “The HungerVirus is more serious in Jikwoyi than the Coronavirus. That is the reality, the hungervirus is more serious in Jikwoyi, Karu ward, in fact in AMAC as a whole in FCT more than the COVID-19, the coronavirus that we are talking about.

“That is the reality. Because if person has to come out just for the purpose of two and half mudu of rice to trek from a long distance which amounted to, even if you enter Okada (bike) is about twho hundred to three hundred naira and they don’t even have. They have to trek to come and take this palliative. You can imagine what it is. So, people are suffering, that is the reality, people are suffering.” he concluded.

If we must move forward as a people and as a nation, we must be able to plan ahead. And we cannot adequately plan ahead without adequate demographic data of the citizen.

Any responsible government must prioritize adequate statistical data mining, as this is the bedrock of any meaningful development as a people and as a nation.

Abdulrahman Obaje writes from the Federal Captal Territory, FCT, Abuja, Nigeria

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Abdulrahman Obaje
Abdulrahman Obaje
Prince Abdulrahman Obaje is a Media and ICT Consultant, Journalist, online marketer, social media strategist, Mathematician and Computer Scientist based in Abuja, Nigeria. He is the Founder and the Publisher of The Informavores!. You can reach me on +234 805 939 5252 or send i-witness report directly to me on news@informavores.com.ng.

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Post COVID-19 era: 7 reasons why N’Assembly must pass local content Bill

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By Yemi Itodo

As the world prepares for measures in boosting economies after the ease of global lockdown, the Nigerian National Assembly, is once again, saddled with the responsibility of coming up with legislative piece and actions that could help rejuvenate the nation’s economy and help Nigerians overcome post-Corona virus hardship.

One swift step that must be taken by both Houses of the National Assembly, is to give serious attention to, and speedily pass the local content enforcement Bill.

The Bill which is known as, the Nigerian Local Content Development and Enforcement Bill 2020, passed second reading on the floor of the House of Representatives, on Tuesday, 19th May, 2020.

The Bill is being sponsored by the Speaker, House of Representatives, Rt. Hon. Femi Gbajabiamila; Chairman, House Committee on Nigerian Content Development and Monitoring, Rep. Legor Idagbo and 7 others.

Amongst other things, the Bill seeks to expand the scope of local content in the extant NOGICD Act, thereby putting the Nigerian economy in the hands of Nigerians, creating jobs and enhancing the value of indigenous businesses in the post Covid-19 era.

Spokesman of the House, Rep. Benjamin Kalu, while analysing the general principles of the Bill in a statement on Monday, said, the idea of local content Bill or policy was to encourage local participation, ownership and control of certain key sectors by indigenous businesses.

“This is vital to preserving Nigeria’s socioeconomic independence and enhancing the ability of indigenous businesses to exploit local opportunities, while staying globally competitive”, Kalu said.

Stressing further, the Spokesman said, “so far, the key local content legislation in Nigeria is the 10-year old Nigerian Oil and Gas Industry Content Development Act 2010 (NOGICDA), which established the Nigerian Content Development and Monitoring Board (NCDMB) but is limited to the oil sector.

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“Also notable, are the President’s efforts to extend local content compliance to the public procurement practices of federal parastatals vide his Executive Orders 003 and 005.

“However, as we celebrate the Africa Day (May 25), a day commemorating Africa’s independence, liberation and socioeconomic freedom from foreign dominion and exploitation, and in the light of the current COVID-19 induced global economic position which has forced countries to look inwards for economic growth and sustainability, it has become imperative to extend local content policy beyond the Petroleum Industry to other critical sectors like, ICT, Manufacturing, Agriculture, Power, Solid Minerals, Construction, Health, etc, through comprehensive legislation”.

THE SOCIO-ECONOMIC BENEFITS OF THE BILL IN NIGERIA’S POST COVID-19 ERA:

  1. The Bill, when passed and assented to, will promote local manufacturing and economic diversification with focus on ICT, Agriculture, Solid Minerals, Hydrocarbon Refining and Power.

It provides for incentives to encourage local processing of hydrocarbon resources, export of processed minerals and agricultural commodities, local manufacturing of equipment, machinery, spares, chemicals, ICT hardwares, development of softwares and others.

The Local Content Bill also provides for standardisation of locally made goods and locally sourced raw materials to make them competitive in the international market.

  1. The Bill makes it mandatory for Nigerian made goods and services in all public procurements; Nigerian content philosophy as a key requirement in all public sector procurements; provides for creation of local content departments in MDAs and provides requirement for Nigerian Content Plan (NCP) on major projects (above N100m) outlining minimum Nigerian Content thresholds for materials, labour and services required on the project.
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It also strengthens Nigerian content requirements in solicitation of bids and requires Nigerian content compliance certificate as a pre-condition for contract awards; while recommending the creation of Nigerian Content Committee (NCC), to develop economy-wide local content policy.

  1. Creation of a robust R&D ecosystem to drive home grown technology development; promoting collaborations between Research institutions, product developers and end users of Research; as well as provision to incentives funding of research by public and private sector entities, is another green side of the Bill that would help develop the Nigerian system.
  2. In job creation drive to address unemployment, the Bill seeks to give first consideration to Nigerians with requisite skills in all public funded projects.

The Bill also provides for creation of national database of available skills amongst the Nigerian locals and requirements for approval and utilisation of expatriates will only role where there is immediate skills shortage.

  1. Local Content Enforcement Bill will address capacity building to develop resilient local supply chain; Provision for targeted sector-specific capacity building programmes and requirement to close capacity gaps in education, infrastructure, facilities and vendor development on the back of projects.
  2. Sustainable funding for local content is another clause in the Bill that will help promote and grow the Nigerian economy in Post COVID-19 era.

To achieve this, the Bill provides for creation of a Nigerian Content Trust Fund (NCTF), dedicated to implementing projects and programmes connected to developing local content. Application of the Fund to develop SMEs through low interest project-based financing schemes is also provided for in the Bill.

  1. The enactment of the Nigerian Local Content Development and Enforcement Bill will strengthen executive-legislature synergy and oversight on local content administration in key sectors of the economy.
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It will also provide necessary legislative backbone for implementation of key initiatives that will evolve from the Presidential Economic Sustainability Committee as well as other policy actions by the Executive aimed at repositioning the Nigerian economy in the post COVID-19 era.

As the House of Representatives resumes plenary on Tuesday, 2nd June, 2020, it is instructive to consider further legislative actions for the speedy passage of the all-important Nigerian Local Content Development and Enforcement Bill 2020.

The Nigerian Senate should also, as a matter of urgent national importance, consider the concurrence of the Bill when passed by the lower chamber, for the immediate assent of President Muhammad Buhari, for the good of our economy and the citizenry.

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9th National Assembly, a Parliament Waging a War Against its Own People

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By Moses Idika

On June 11, 2019 the 9th National Assembly was inaugurated with fanfare in Abuja as Nigerians from all the 36 states converged on Abuja to celebrate the “induction” their representatives into the hallowed chambers of Nigeria’s apex lawmaking body.

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All the hotels and many private homes in and around Abuja were filled with well wishers, supporters and family members who arrived the nation’s capital to rejoice with their new or re-elected lawmakers. One week earlier, June 6th, 2019, the life span of the 8th National Assembly had elapsed and it subsequently adjourned, sine die.

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By nightfall of same June 11, 2019, however, some of the earlier excitement had already began to wane in some circles, especially when the leadership of the National Assembly was “done and dusted” (as young Nigerian fresh university graduates would want to say). adsbygoogle || []).push({});

The emergence of the duo of Dr. Ahmad Lawan (APC Yobe North) and Hon. Femi Gbajabiamila (APC Surulere 1, Lagos) as the President of the Senate and Speaker of the House of Representatives respectively, left many Nigerians feeling that the Nigerian parliament may have been “conquered” by some forces in the Presidency.

The feeling by Nigerians that the National Assembly may have been “conquered” was against a background hinged on the frosty relationship that characterized the immediate past 8th National Assembly led by Senator Bukola Saraki and Hon. Yakubu Dogara, the President of the Senate and Speaker of the House of Representatives respectively whereby, the Presidency blamed every misfortune of President Buhari’s government on the “sabotaging” efforts of the leadership of the 8th National Assembly. In other words, the Presidency insisted that until it installs its own lackeys as the leadership of the National Assembly nothing good was ever going to come out of the parliament.

In the 8th National Assembly, the Nigerian parliament was seen as being on the side, with the Nigerians, while the Presidency and the entire cabinet of President Buhari saw the Assembly as a “clog” in the wheel. The 8th National Assembly rejected several bills and initiatives that they argued were not in the interest of Nigerians. In retaliation, President Buhari withheld assent to several bills passed into law by the 8th National Assembly, including the very important electoral Act amendment bill. The President of the Senate was even docked for corruption charges, while other members of the 8th Assembly leadership had anti graft agencies unleashed on them endlessly throughout the life of the Assembly.

Chief among some of the outstanding decisions of the 8th Assembly include the rejection by the senate of a $29.96 billion loan request by President Muhammadu Buhari. In a media interview, the then Chairman of Senate Committee on Local and Foreign Debt, Senator Shehu Sani said that the Senate rejected the request to save Nigeria from fresh colonization by creditor nations and foreign financial instutitions.

“We turned down the Federal Government loan request of $29.96bn to save Nigeria from sinking into the dark gully of a perpetual debt trap.We don’t want our country to be recolonised by creditor banks.”

“If we had approved that loan request, our external debt could have catapulted to over $52bn and that is not sustainable.

“With the current escalation of borrowing, we will be walking into debt slavery and move from landlords to tenants in our own country.

“They will always tell you that even America is borrowing and I don’t know how rational it is to keep on borrowing because another country is borrowing,” Senator Sani explained.

Another watershed decision of the 8th National Assembly that shaped the perception of Nigerians about the parliament was the outright failure to sail through a bill that sought to gag Nigerians in the social media sponsored by then Spokesman of the Senate, Sabi Abdulahi, a senator from Niger state.

Enter the 9th National Assembly

Since June 11, 2019 when it was inaugurated, the President of the Senate, Ahmad Lawan promised that he was going to lead a senate, nay National Assembly that will “work collaboratively with the executive arm of the government.” And true to Lawan’s promise, the National Assembly has collaborated with the executive on all its decisions irrespective of what the intensions of the executive decision may be.

A Retinue of Anti People Legislations

As if choreographed, all the anti people and unpopular policies rejected by Nigerians and the 8th National Assembly have all found a fertile ground in the 9th National Assembly and the 9th session has barely spent one year out of its four year term.

The Anti Social Media Bill

Barely five months after its inauguration, the 9th National Assembly fired its first missile against Nigerians and specifically targeted its youths through the introduction of an obnoxious and draconian bill aimed at caging and gagging the young people from expressing themselves against the government policies, especially as government policies continues to incapacitate the future of Nigeria and Nigerians.

On November 5, 2019, Senator Muhammed Sani Musa (APC Niger East) introduced the “Protection from Internet Falsehood and Manipulations Bill 2019,” a bill he admitted to have copied from a country with some of the worst Human Rights record in the world, Singapore. The bill sought to ensure that Nigeria government effectively controlled what the citizens could say or not say, especially against the government.

As if that was not enough, one week after the introduction of the gag bill, a second bill couched in even more dangerous nomenclature was also introduced by another APC senator, also from Niger state, Sahabi Abdulahi who coincidentally is the Deputy Chief Whip of the Senate.

“The National Commission for the Prohibition of Hate Speeches (Est. etc.) Bill, 2019 otherwise known as the “Hate Speech Bill” sponsored by Sabi Abdulahi prescribed death by hanging for any Nigerian the commission he seeks to establish deemed to have made any “hate speech.” Curiously, the bill did not specify what constitutes hate speech, but rather left the interpretation of what constitutes hate speech to whims and caprices of the government through the head of the Commssion.

Notwithstanding, the obvious evil intentions of these two bills, the 9th Senate gave overwhelming support to them. It took a hard fight from Nigerians, including protests, community advocacy actions and outright intervention of various rights groups, including Amnesty International and the Nigerian media (the primary target of the two bills) to shoot down the draconian bills.

$22.7 Billion Loan

The 8th Senate had rejected an opaque request by President Muhammadu Buhari to borrow a whopping $29.96 billion from various countries and international financial institutions because, like Senator Shehu Sani said, the loan was going to plunge Nigeria into the abyss of “financial colonization” and subsequently “burying ourselves and leave behind for our children a legacy of debt burden.”

Nevertheless, on March 5th, 20020 the 9th Senate without any form of scrutiny approved the $22.7 billion loan request by President Buhari.

In fact, the speed with which the loan was approved made it impossible for even the lawmakers themselves to notice that the entire Southeast geopolitical zone, a region comprising 5 states were not in any way accommodated in the bogus projects the government said the loan was going to be expended on.

It took the over 4hours protest by the Southeast National Assembly caucus led by former Deputy President of the Senate on the alleged “exclusion” of the Southeast for the House of Representatives to pause a little before giving the bill a similar jet-speed approval as the Senate did. The loan request has since been approved, albeit clandestinely by the House.

Now the Infectious Disease Bill

The fourth in the series of anti-peoples bills that have come out of the 9th National Assembly within a six month period is the Control Of Infectious Diseases Bill 2020 (A Bill For An Act To Repeal The Quarantine Act And Enact The Control Of Infectious Diseases Act, Make Provisions Relating To Quarantine And Make Regulations For Preventing The Introduction Into And Spread In Nigeria Of Dangerous Infectious Diseases, And For Other Related Matters.) sponsored by the Speaker of House of Representatives, Hon. Femi Gbajabiamila (APC Lagos) Hon. Pascal Obi (APC, Imo), and Hon. Tanko Sununu (APC, Kebbi).

The latest offering to Nigerians from the 9th National Assembly may be the most dangerously encompassing yet in the history of anti-people law in Nigeria to date. This bill in a most audacious manner simply seeks to abrogate the rights of both the elites and masses of Nigeria.

The “satanic bill” as former lawmaker and a member of the 8th National Assembly, Senator Dino Melaye described it seeks to turn Nigeria into a banana republic where any Nigerian can be removed from the society and quarantined into oblivion by as simple as innocuous suspicion by a new leviathan to be called the Director General (DG) of the Nigeria Centre for Disease Control (NCDC).

Reading through the various provisions of the infectious disease bill, one will only then appreciate the position of the current DG of the NCDC, Dr. Chikwe Ihekweazu who told Gbajabiamila that he (Chikwe) was looking “forward to working with the Speaker to bring a new bill after the COVID-19 pandemic was over.”

Obviously Dr. Ihekweazu must have read the bill and wondered while anyone in their right mind would propose such a law in a democracy.

The Infectious Disease bill can pass for the worst bill ever contemplated in any democracy in the world. The bill is and outright frontal attack on the constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria and an audacious attempt to emasculate all the fundamental rights of Nigerians.

Even dead Nigerians are not exempted from the all powerful and audacious leviathan the bill seeks to create!

Section 4 (5) of the proposed bill seeks to strip medical practitioners in Nigeria of their right to maintain the privacy of their patients. Section 12 of the proposed bill seek to ensure that the dead were not allowed to rest in peace as it empowers the DG, NCDC to impound any dead body he “suspects” to have died of any infectious disease.

Section 13 empowers the DG, NCDC to forcefully seize and isolate anyone or groups (including minors which the bill provides that they be isolated with their parents) of persons they suspect to be infected of such a disease as they may deem to be infectious, while section 14 empowers DG, NCDC to place anyone in Nigeria under surveillance on suspicion of being infected by any disease the DG feels is infectious. Section 15 of the proposed bill even goes further to empower the DG, NCDC to be able to isolate entire areas or even communities they suspect of having an infectious disease. In section 15, the bill empowers the “health officer” or a police officer on the direction of the DG, NCDC to seize anyone on the street, in their homes, church or any gathering and quarantines such person or persons on any suspicion of having an infectious disease.

Sections 16, 17, 18, 19, 20, 21, 22, 23, 24, 25-30 makes various obnoxious provisions that expressly removes the rights of Nigerians to gather in groups, including religious gatherings. It is instructive that the infectious disease bill poses serious threat to all sections of Nigeria’s national life, including abrogating the rights of governors and the President and giving same to the all powerful Director General of the NCDC.

The infectious disease bill also removes the courts from the affairs of Nigerians as it seeks to empower the Minister of Health to be the last arbiter (sections, 17, 18, 19 and 20). In the bill, the Minister of Health and the Director General, NOT the courts decides the fate of the offenders of the obnoxious law.

Good enough, while the National Assembly has the oversight rights over other arms of the government, the people, happily are the ones constitutionally empowered to oversight the parliament.

Nigerians must, therefore, as a matter of survival stand up to the opaque intentions of the 9th National Assembly which is daily baring its fangs to strangulate Nigerians and return the country to a despotic authoritarian nation.

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Opinion

WHEN WIND BLOWS: Who are and will be the true and sincere stakeholder in Nigeria?

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Micah Ugala
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Nigerians, politicians and political party’s manifestoes has not, and will not work here in Nigeria in the nearest future, going by the current status quo.

All our current crop of Public servants (elected and appointed) does not have any stake in our Public sectors.

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Like the two women, laying claim to one child during King Solomon’s reign, as recorded in the Scriptures, the woman who truly owns the child, having a stake on the child’s welfare and well-being, refused for the child to be shared into two. While the other woman who don’t have any stake on the child, agreed for it to be shared.

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Until and unless we shop for those who are willing to have their stake in our Public sectors, those occupying our Public space will always agree for our own child to be shared. adsbygoogle || []).push({});

How do we get those that will have a stake in our Public sectors? It’s when we insist that whoever will occupy our Public space, MUST patronize all our Public Institutions, Facilities, Systems and Infrastructures.

And the starting point is, for them to have their own children and wards in our Public Schools. What they are doing now is, like some cook who are not willing or ready to savour the taste of the meal they prepare and serve. Who among us will be willing to eat such meal, and continue to engage the services of such cook?

Anything short of this, will amounts to business as usual.

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