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Thursday, 9 November 2017

CHANGE BEGINS WITH ME CAMPAIGN : REVISITING THE IMPERATIVES FOR SUCCESS


  Last Year, President Muhammadu Buhari( PMB)launched the new National Orientation campaign called: Change Begins with me. In his address at the launch, PMB said " We must resist the temptation to fall on the same partisanship, pettiness and immaturity that have poisoned our Country for so long" 
 I am one of those who have consistently called for a national reorientation that will bring real change to how we conduct ourselves and present ourselves to the outside World  and particularly to  broaden and deepen the fight against corruption. I had fully agreed with former UK Prime Minister David Cameron that Nigeria was "fantastically corrupt" and opined that merely focusing on the alleged corrupt election funding of the former ruling party was only scratching the surface. So I congratulated PMB for launching this campaign. One year down the line and with all issues that have arisen since the launch especially the latest-Mainagate, I am wondering if we are truly making significant progress. I will therefore like to reiterate my suggestions which I hope will help the campaign to succeed before it dies prematurely like its predecessor campaign-good people,great nation!
 . PREACHING ALONE WILL NOT DO
If preaching or sermonizing alone could change Most Nigerians and make them imbibe "the long cherished and time-honoured, time tested values of honesty, integrity, Hardwork,punctuality,good neigbourliness,abhorrence of corruption and patriotism" we will not need PMB at all. Nigeria has one of the greatest number of Churches, mosques and other religious houses in the whole world. Our Pastors and Imams preach and sermonize every Sunday or Friday,including at mid-week prayers and crusade grounds, yet we can not see much difference in the moral tones of many Nigerians between 1983 & 2017. So,we need to do more than preaching or sermonizing. We must remove that 'thing' in our system that makes many people abandon the fear of God when they leave the worship centres.
  . MEDIA CAMPAIGNS ALONE WILL NOT CUT MUCH ICE
Certainly the Ministry Of Information & Culture has contractors who print flyers, posters and sundry documents to promote the campaign. Our airwaves have intermittently been filled with all kinds of messages on the 'change begins with me ' theme. Government owned media like Radio Nigeria and the NTA have been carrying loads of slogans and advertorials in an effort to create awareness. If fliers, documents and radio jingles alone could be successful in stopping Many Nigerians from " dishonesty ,indolence, unbridled corruption and wide-spread impunity", we will not need to spend our limited budget on such activities. All the Bibles, Quarans, Television & Radio evangelism, and religious literature preach the same message. Then all the investment made in fliers ,Radio & TV Jingles by the National Orientation Agency( NOA) from the days of Prof Jerry Gana through the years of Prof Dora Akunyili to these Lai Mohammed day would have made some meaningful impact. There must be something fundamentally wrong with our system that undermines these efforts.
 . PATRIOTISM CAN NOT BE LEGISLATED OR ENFORCED
To make Nigerians love their country and wish to die for it,can not be forced and achieved by propaganda. If they are cheated and discriminated against by their own country, they probably will prefer to be cheated and discriminated against because of their skin colour in other countries . If their Country loves and cares for them, they will love their Country back.
 I say these, because we have tried all these from the days of MAMSER till today and many people believe that Nigeria's moral tone is worsening. Did we really undertake a proper study to find out why, before starting out with this new campaign?. May be or may be not, but I will reiterate the following imperatives.
1. UTMOST SINCERITY
Because of the failed past attempts and the deep-seated skepticism of the Nigerian populace, the Leadership must be very very sincere in handling this very critical project. Such statement as" in other words,before you ask' where is the change they promised us', you must first ask how far have I changed my ways" may be interpreted in different ways. For some people, it will sound as if PMB  was now passing the buck for the change he promised to Nigerians, that they must change before expecting to see the change he promised! And perhaps that's why there seems not to be much change in our moral integrity since the campaign broke, because as he is waiting for us, we are also waiting for him
2. LEADERSHIP FROM THE POLITICAL CLASS
 Nigerians look up to their political leaders to lead the change. If they refuse to change,then we may have great difficulty achieving any change in the populace. When the political leaders act in ways that show them up as essentially seeking their own and their group's selfish interests, when the political class terrorize and push out poor Nigerians from the roads with their motorized and militarized convoys or when the roads and airports are closed for hours just because the President wants to visit his farm, rather than inspire change, make ordinary Nigerians bitter. When ordinary Nigerians are losing  their jobs and businesses and having difficulty feeding properly, to see political leaders keep theirs and continue to swim in affluence and pageantry will not inspire change!
3. GOVERNMENT AND ITS AGENCIES MUST JOIN THE QUEUE 
Literally speaking, government officials, including the police, the military and regulatory officials must join the queue. They can not inspire change when they beat queues, drive against the traffic, disobey court rulings, involve in extra-judicial executions and perpetrate impunity.  The government must be hard on itself and agencies to lead a successful "cultural" or behavioural  change. The kind of reluctance & dithering seen in dealing with corruption cases in the government does not inspire.
4. MOTIVATE CHANGE BY ADOPTING CARROT & STICK
In Management sciences we speak of motivating change,encouraging good Behaviour  and discouraging bad Behaviour. What incentives are we putting in place to make people see the benefit for change and what deterrence do we have to make people regret bad Behaviour? Without these, the change we desire may not be sustainable. At the minimum we must be even-handed in enforcing existing laws and regulations. How do we make the interest of the ordinary Nigerians to align with the interest of the Nation? That will be the game changer. Normal people do not destroy what they own nor work against their own interest.
5. RUN A SYSTEM WHERE JUSTICE , EQUITY & FAIR-PLAY REIGN SUPREME
Many Nigerians who are unruly, undisciplined,discourteous and dishonest at home become law abiding and well behaved when they travel or live abroad. Why? They operate in systems that are well ordered,where one rule applies to all( big & small, poor & rich); where you get what is due you without crying and groveling and where you get knocked back on line if you misstep.Secondly, we must enthrone a system that is fair to all sections of the Country. When a President or Governor or even a business leader chooses to discriminate against a section of his constituency, or goes on to appoint predominantly people from his own area to high offices, he can not be inspiring patriotism amongst those who feel discriminated against, cheated or ignored.
 In conclusion, I am for the 'change begins with me campaign'. But since the fish begins to rot from the head, then it follows that if the head can be kept fresh, then the other parts of the body will remain fresh. So the repair must start from the head. That is the true challenge and my prayer is that God will grant wisdom and humility to our leaders-Public & Private, Military & Civilian to know that the change must start with them and then descend downwards and not the other way round. It is after we have seen this change amply demonstrated by our leaders that they can then begin the preaching, roadshows and media campaign. Otherwise, the campaign may go the way of operation feed the Nation, the green revolution, Better life for the rural women, Health for all, War against Indiscipline, Great Nation-Good People and such failed National programs. That is, if it is not already on that road!

Mazi Sam Ohuabunwa OFR .

EASE OF DOING BUSINESS: NEED FOR SUSTAINED RIGOUR



  Last week, we received the hearty news that Nigeria's position on the Global ease of doing business index improved significantly. In the 2017 rankings released by the World Bank, Nigeria moved from the 169th position to the 145th Position, thus gaining 24 positions. This is a great feat that deserves commendation to all, put particularly we commend the recent efforts of the Presidential Ease of doing Business Council chaired by the Vice President.
  After achieving a peak of 120th position out of 181Countries surveyed in 2008, Nigeria remained on a roller-coaster since then, hitting the rocks at the 170th position in 2014. Worried by this depressing descent, the Federal government set up the Ease of Doing Business Council last year, which went to work to determine first, an action plan to address specific areas of business difficulties in Nigeria. This Committee which includes the Minister of Industry, Trade and Investment, Minister of Finance and 8 other Ministers also has the CBN Governor and the Head of Service (HOS) as members. It started with identifying certain criteria for the assessment, had consultations with players in the economy and got the then acting president to issue executive orders, perhaps for the first time in Nigeria, borrowing from the practice in the USA. Executive order 001 on Transparency and Ease of doing Business led to the 60day National action plan that addressed such issues as business registration, construction permits and trans-border trade, etc. The committee monitored to ensure that the orders were obeyed and then went on to take certain other aspects of the ease of doing business assessment criteria, setting fresh targets and determined new time lines for accomplishment. The reward is what we are now witnessing- the 24 places jump.
  About 2010, in an interactive meeting with Dr Olusegun Aganga who was first a minister of Finance and later Minister of Trade & Industry, we had suggested that the Country needed to be methodical in addressing the issues that affected the ease of doing business in Nigeria so as to improve our overall global competitiveness. We had reasoned that continued platitudes and expression of intention by government to improve our global competitiveness would yield little result and that focus was needed, especially since the government was getting frustrated by the lack of improvement in our ranking year after year. The minister agreed with us and went on to set up the National competitiveness council of Nigeria (NCCN). I was invited to participate in the work of the council at some point. I am aware that the Chika Mordi led council has been working very hard. It has undertaken several initiatives and several studies and surveys, in addition to making several recommendations. But its achievements and successes have not been easily measured.
 And that's what makes the Presidential council different. Whereas Mordi's council essentially made recommendations with minimum power for execution and enforcement since it is mostly private sector driven, the Vice-President's council has both execution and enforcement powers. Whereas Mordi's council would be making effort to convince government officers on the need to take certain actions in line with its recommendations, the Vice- President's had no such burden. Whatever they recommended, they went ahead to implement and if there was any obstacle, they issued executive orders to clear it, including dealing with recalcitrant public servants. Nevertheless it is certain that both councils have contributed to this improvement in both Ease of doing business and Global competitiveness.
  While we may be tempted to celebrate, it is important that we realize that we still have a very very long way to go. First, the World Bank evaluation that gave us this jump was only done in Lagos and Kano. It is certain that if many more states were included in the survey, the result would not have been this cheering. Second we must be humble to admit that locating at the 145th position out of 190 countries does not in any way put us in a competitive position even for African standards. We are much behind Angola, Ghana, Sierra Leone and several other smaller African Countries. So we really do not have the luxury to celebrate nor to begin to rest on our oars. Global investments follow the lines of least resistance. Therefore there are 144 Countries with less resistance to investment than Nigeria.
   We recommend that we put the searchlight on the sub national economies. The recent surveys conducted by NCCN has ranked the States in terms of ease of doing business and competitiveness. The Federal Economic council which co-incidentally the same VP chairs must put its focus on this and see that the efforts and initiatives by the Ease of Doing business council are adopted by all the States of the federation. May be, some incentives or kind of competition must be instituted to motivate and reward States that show the most improvement every year. This must transcend politics as Nigeria's sustained economic wellbeing firmly hinges on these matters.
  Let me also add that all efforts must be put in place to institutionalize the changes that helped move us up. Much relates to the public sector and as we all know, Nigeria's Public sector is very resistant to sustained change. Many good initiatives are started with fanfare, but soon die out. Sometimes Nigeria's primitive political culture stands on the way of sustainability. New Government new policy, new program; new party in power relegates all good policies, programs and projects of the previous party in power. We must change this self-defeating political culture and do what the Ministry of Industry, Trade and investment did by retaining the Industrial Revolution program of the previous government.
 My hope is that we can repeat this feat next year and sustain the improvement in subsequent years. Now we know that it is doable, we should be encouraged to aggressively pursue the changes that need to be made. We must set new targets for each year and hold ourselves accountable for achieving them. Leadership is critical as we have just seen.

Mazi Sam I. Ohuabunwa OFR 


Thursday, 2 November 2017

MAINA' S SAGA ENDS THIS PHASE OF PMB'S ANTI-CORRUPTION AGENDA



  It is a pity that two and half years into PMB's 4-year term we have to bring this phase of PMB's anti-corruption agenda to an end. This has become very necessary to save PMB and all those who wish Nigeria well from continued embarrassment. With the high drama of Maina's reinstatement into the Civil service, it is reasonable to conclude that we are not making much headway with fighting real corruption in Nigeria. 

 Maina was accused of embezzling or stealing billions of Pension funds which he was called to manage. EFCC investigated him and found that he had a case to answer. The Federal Government that he was working for, after investigating him, dismissed him from the civil service. The National Assembly invited him, he refused to show up. The EFCC invited him, he failed to show up but ran away to a foreign country to evade justice. Thereafter EFFC declared him wanted and he became a fugitive.

   Then PMB came to power on the steam of an ANTICORRUPTION and change agenda. According to Maina's family, PMB and APC invited Maina to join them to bring change to Nigeria. Then the wanted Maina was escorted back into Nigeria and then given security cover by the DSS according to his family as they revealed in a press conference carried on National Television watched by the entire World. Thereafter the AGF steps in and directs the civil service commission and the Ministry of Interior to re-absorb Maina, with a copy to the office of the head of service of the federation. Minister of Interior welcomes Maina and promotes him, backdating his promotion to the date of his dismissal in 2013. What a tale!
 Then some people raised their voices and PMB ordered the sack of Maina for the second time? and asked for a report to be sent to his office on how the man who was dismissed in 2013, declared wanted in 2015 by the EFCC, came back triumphantly and was re-absorbed and promoted. Shall we know the contents of the report? Perhaps after the contents of earlier investigations on the SGF and NIA DG have been released. Meanwhile, the same Maina who was occupying an office in the Ministry of Interior that houses the department of immigration, vanishes into thin air once again and no one could arrest him, nor know his current where about ! Then the EFFC wakes up from sleep and remembers that he had property in Maitama and goes to raid and sieze the property, following with declaring him as wanted( a second time !) and requesting the help of Interpol. See how the government and its agencies are insulting the intelligence of Nigerians!

  I had previously stated in this column that this current anti-corruption war was not holistic and that it seemed as if we had a limited definition of the concept of corruption. It seems that the current promoters of the campaign see corruption as the stealing or misappropriation of public funds by the officials of the past government or the opposition party. This view has been substantiated over time as the government seems to gloss over the misdeeds of its own officials and party members. In addition, the war seems to ignore the common everyday corruption that goes on in government ministries and agencies. I am completely downcast that after the allegations that the GMD of NNPC did not adopt good corporate governance procedures in his official transactions, the government has said nothing, except prompting the accused to continue to campaign that he did nothing wrong. Whoever admits wrong doing in the Public service? Even the accusations that the NNPC board and management appointments were lopsided and did not reflect federal character has been entirely ignored because it does not relate to corruption? The ongoing accusation of corruption and several unethical misdeeds against the IGP by Senator Misau and others has been allowed to fester in a regime that all thought had come to kill corruption.

  This is why I think that we need to bring this misguided notion of an anti-corruption war to an end. Then we must start a new phase that will be comprehensive and holistic. A new war that will fight every corruptive tendency in every strand of our public and private lives. This phase must start with an attempt to define what corruption really means and to identify its ramifications and manifestations. Then we take away politics from this fight. Every act of corruption must be treated with maximum reprehension without regard to political, religious or ethnic affiliations. In this new phase, we must show maximum revulsion against the least act of corruption. Government must never come out to defend its officials. Every indicted official must be suspended and put through investigation and or trial by the appropriate law enforcement agency. Also, government officials should no longer be asked to investigate infringements by fellow officials. Lack of bias cannot be guaranteed in these circumstances. The Police, the EFCC, ICPC and the DSS are the appropriate agencies that should investigate all acts of corruption and public malfeasance.
  Let me state that I am making these suggestions in good faith. First, I firmly believe that corruption is Nigeria's biggest problem, given my broad understanding of what corruption means and the unquantifiable damage it had caused and is still causing in the country. Second, I fully agree with PMB that if we do not kill corruption, corruption will kill Nigeria. And thirdly, so much faith has been invested on PMB by Nigerians and even the global community that he has the moral integrity to fight this battle successfully. But thus far, many are beginning to lose hope.

  Mazi Sam I. Ohuabunwa OFR 


Monday, 23 October 2017

TIME TO FINALLY PROSCRIBE THE MILITANT FULANI HERDSMEN



   That the militant Fulani herdsmen have become the greatest security challenge of this Nation must be obvious to all who wish this nation well. In fact many objective watchers have declared that the raids by the nomadic Fulani herdsmen is the biggest security threat facing Nigeria after Boko Haram. Indeed in 2016, more people died in clashes with militant herdsmen than Boko haram attacks .And yet our political leaders are handling the problem with kid gloves.
  True the Fulani herdsmen and Farmers clash did not start today. It has been long but was limited to parts of the North East and North Central states. Indeed between 1996 and 2006 (Ten full years) only about 121 farmers were killed by the Fulani herdsmen, largely in Bauchi, Plateau and Gombe States. But since late 2014 and early 2015 and ever since, the intensity and regularity of the attacks have maintained a steady crescendo engulfing most of the central and southern regions of Nigeria. According to the global terrorism index, over 1200 people were killed by different Fulani herdsmen in 2014.
  In January 2015, the Nkpologu community in Uzo-Uwani of Enugu State was thrown into mourning following an unprovoked attack of the Fulani cattle herders. In April 2016, suspected herders invaded Ukpabi Nimbo community in the same LGA killing scores of innocent citizens. The armed herdsmen numbering over 100 stormed the sleepy community in the early hours of a Monday. Indeed in Enugu State virtually all the 482 communities have had their shares of the Fulani herdsmen's barbaric activities, leaving in their wake, perennial tears of sorrows as incidents of killing, robbery, rape, maiming and kidnapping are inflicted on the communities.
 Since January 2016, 10 Agatu communities in Benue State have suffered unprecedented hardship in the hands of Fulani herdsmen, forcing Governor Ortom to ban unrestricted grazing in Benue State. Abia state communities in Uzuakoli in Bende LGA, Ebem and Akanu in Ohafia LGA, Umuchieze in Umunneochi and Abam in Arochukwu have been variously attacked by Armed Fulani herdsmen who act as if they owned the entire Nigerian territory. The carnage caused by these marauders in Southern Kaduna was well reported and nothing could assuage them until Governor EL-Rufai of Kaduna State bribed them to calm down or look elsewhere. This year alone there have been attacks in Zaki Ibiam in Benue State in March, in Odukpani Cross River State in April and in May, armed herdsmen attacked Villages in Niger State killing 21people.
   The attack of the Fulani herdsmen have not been limited to the North Central and South East States alone. Communities in Lagun, Iyana Offa, Offa, Atagba, Lapata and their surrounding communities in Lagelu LGA in Ibadan,Oyo State have been variously attacked. They have also attacked EKITI State and Ogun State prompting Ayo Fayose to take similar action as Governor Ortom of Benue State. The attack on and Kidnap of Chief Olu Falae made headline news. The attack has gone on up to Bayelsa and Delta states in the South- South Region. Everywhere, women and Men are afraid to go to their farms because of rampaging and raping Herdsmen who attack human beings while their cattle attack crops! This is nothing but war!
  But this article has been instigated by the serial killings in Barkin Ladi and Bassa LGAs in Plateau in the last week. Trouble started. Villagers were killed by armed herdsmen, over 15 people. The State government imposed a dusk to dawn curfew. A second attack happened and 9 people were said to have been killed. Then the soldiers sent to keep peace took the remaining villagers to 'safety' in a primary school building. That same night, 48hours after the curfew by Governor Simon Lalong, the armed Fulani herdsmen returned, freely killing 27 helpless women and children, asleep in their 'safety nest ' in the Nkiedonwhro community in Bassa LGA. For the first time, this prompted President Muhammadu Buhari to issue a terse statement "the madness in Plateau State which led to the killings of at least 20 people has gone too far"
     Good that the President spoke. Good that he called the serial attacks and killings madness. But who left it to go too far?
If PMB found justification to brand IPOB a terrorist organisation because operation Python dancers found a double barrel gun in Nnamdi Kanu's home or that one of the IPOB members tried to snatch a rifle from a soldier (what flimsy excuses!), what on the earth is stopping him from properly classifying the armed and militant Fulani herdsmen a terrorist group as rest of the World had done. He should then follow up with prescribing the group and then send the military to take them out. I am surprised that President Muhammadu can sleep easy when he has these marauders straddling around the Nation and shedding innocent blood. What a Nation that cannot protect innocent children and women even by Nigerian soldiers. I weep for Nigeria!

Mazi Sam Ohuabunwa OFR


SLEEPING WHILE CITIZENS ARE HUNGRY AND BEING MURDERED


 Last week I was thrilled to read that PMB threw a very interesting question to State governors who were owing arrears of salaries: How do you sleep when your workers are unpaid and hungry? In some States in Nigeria, we hear that workers are still being owed up to 6 months and pensioners up to 9 months, and that is after the federal government's bail out packages and the recent Paris Club debt reimbursements.
  For some of us things begin to get difficult just after two weeks of our last month's pay, and if the next pay day is delayed for any reason whatsoever, we become anxious and dysfunctional. I cannot contemplate how we can survive with two months of salary arrears and yet we hear that some 'poor' civil servants can still transport themselves to work even when salaries have not been paid for six months or more. How? Is it from previous savings, iou, book me down, support from family and friends or from egunje? We need to hear from them please.
 The question PMB asked intrigued me, because, it is the type I have been asking our leaders for years. It would have been nice to hear how the governors answered the unsettling question. Because, some of these governors do not only sleep very well, but they find the time and money to organize receptions and parties, undertake frequent overseas trips with their families and cronies in tow and fund sundry expenses. Many of them collect their salaries regularly and their security votes are paid up front, while the miserable civil servants are asked to exercise patience(unending?) or cajoled to accept a fraction of their emoluments as governor Rochas Okorocha of Imo State tried to do recently. As I was concluding this piece, my heart was broken when I read the story of a senior civil servant in Kogi State who recently committed suicide because he was owed 11months salary and did not have any money to take care of his wife and their 10-day old male triplets. What a shame! Does anybody know how many of such disasters have happened without being reported and yet our political leaders sleep easy!
  It may sound unreasonable, but I have always expected the actions and moods of leaders to reflect the circumstances of the people they lead. If the people are mourning, they should mourn, if they are hungry, they should go hungry. If there is not enough money to pay salaries, the leaders should be the ones to be paid last. We should start paying from the least paid to the highest paid. If the State does not have enough money to pay salaries, then we should cut off frivolities and if that does not solve the problems, then we should down size and set the people free to go and do something for themselves instead of holding them as 'captives' and helping to spread poverty and misery. How can a man who is owed eleven months salary still be honestly regarded as being in employed, contributing to false statistics?
  As they say what is good for the goose should be good for the gander. If permitted, I will like to ask PMB, how he sleeps when the armed Fulani herdsmen are daily ravaging communities and murdering innocent women and children, some in their sleep? How does he sleep when armed herdsmen are now killing more Nigerians than the Boko Haram terrorists? How does he sleep when last week, particular communities in Bassa LGA in Plateau State were consistently attacked and murdered by militant herdsmen, despite dusk to dawn curfew and despite the presence of the military? How does he sleep when the government he leads is failing in its primary duty of protecting citizens? It was okay for him to condemn the "madness" in plateau which according to him" has gone too far". It was also good for him to instruct the police and military to bring an end to the madness. But would it not have sent a new message if he said he was delaying or cancelling his trip to Turkey in honour of the 15+9+27 innocent souls lost in cold murder in the plateau last week. When will the life of ordinary Nigerians begin to count in this Country? Suppose one of those killed was his, would he still have travelled?
  I may sound unreasonable, but that's because I am really unable to sleep as I daily worry about the failure of leadership in this country! So help me God.
 Mazi Sam I. Ohuabunwa OFR 
                                                                                       

Monday, 16 October 2017

SUSTAINING THE IMPROVED ELECTRICITY SUPPLY



  I am drawn to believe that many Nigerians have seen some improvement in electricity supply in the last few months. I just hope that this assumption is indeed true. In Lagos where I live, I have noticed an usual availability of electric power, so much so that for some weeks, we have not been using much of the generator. Yes, often the supply is disrupted, but before you can start the generator, the power is restored. Every once in a while there is a collapse of the system but it quickly comes back to life. In my family home in faraway Arochukwu, in Abia State, I have also been surprised by some improvement in electricity supply in recent times. In fact, the change has been most dramatic in Arochukwu. For years, I had never arrived home to find the lights on. We would have to start the generator to have light to get into the house and most times, we could spend a whole week without electricity from the mains. Indeed, we had come to the conclusion that "NEPA" people intentionally take out the light over the weekends or during holiday periods when they expect many of us to be home. But in recent weeks, I have arrived Arochukwu without first having to power the generator. Indeed I had spent a whole week end without using the generator. Therefore, we need to congratulate all those working hard to provide this noticeable improvement. From the Minister of Power, Works & Housing to NERC to BULK TRADER, GENCOS, TRANSCO and the DISCOS. They have always been on the receiving end of endless criticism by Nigerians and therefore we must acknowledge this visible improvement in output.
   It is not as if we have achieved a comfortable or befitting level. I am also conscious that many Nigerians may not have had similar experience in recent times. But since my experience cuts across two regions of the Country, it may be permissible for me to assume that many other Nigerians share my experience of improved supply. I am therefore wishing that this improvement is sustained across the nation. But since we had been here before, when we had short periods of improved supply and then went through prolonged periods of poor supply, I am also praying and hoping that this improvement will be sustained and hopefully we will begin to change the story of electricity supply in our beleaguered Nation.
  It may therefore be appropriate to ask what caused the improved supply. First is that there has been significant improvement in generation output Recently I read that our Installed capacity had reached 12000 MW and that we are now better able to actually generate 7000 MW, transmitting over 6000MW through TRANSCO. Second, it is also possible that the improved distribution to households may have occurred because of increased availability of prepaid meters. My experience is that this may be a major contributor to this improvement. Use of pre-paid meters achieve three significant benefits: It shuts out illegal connections and power theft; it mandates more efficient use of power as households now manage their consumption, avoiding waste, thus releasing more energy for other users; and the discos now have more cash as consumers do not only pay before use but all old or outstanding debts must be paid before the prepaid meter can be commissioned to work.
   Our challenge then, is how to sustain this improvement so that Nigeria can solve one item that has held its productive economy down, being a major contributor to our global un-competitiveness. Indeed my first take on this, is that we must pursue aggressively the provision of pre-paid meters to all electricity users. The benefits are enormous and it will cut out much of electricity theft and wastage, allowing the small quantity we produce to be efficiently used. I trust that the DISCOS that have invested in pre-paid meters have seen a marked jump in their cash flow. This increased cash flow will not only help many meet their financial obligations to banks but allow more investment in acquiring transformers and other critical equipment. Luckily we now have companies that can produce these meters locally, the recent being the Gospel Digital Technology FZE, in Calabar commissioned  two weeks ago. Discos should engage such companies and arrange a massive production of pre-paid meters and get every consumer to procure. The benefits to the entire electricity value chain will be phenomenon.
 Secondly, it has become evident that much more investment is required in this sector if the 40,000 MW projected for Nigeria by 2020 can be achieved. Nigeria is currently the 5th largest generator of electricity in Africa, behind Libya, Algeria, Egypt and South Africa; and is the 70th largest producer in the World. Beyond direct investment by the Federal Government in generating plants as is being done in the Mambilla, or other public sector efforts as is being done in Cross River State, Nigeria must invite substantial Private sector investment in all segments of the value chain. Government insistence on maintaining monopoly on transmission needs to be reviewed urgently. If we can trust the private sector to be the sole provider of several critical infrastructure and services like Medicines and Telecommunications, then we should allow private sector investment in modernizing our transmission systems to help improve evacuation and distribution. 
 Thirdly, the GENCOS & DISCOS that are already privatized need to invest more and quickly too, to vastly improve supply to consumers. Many Nigerians and recently the federal government have expressed disappointment with the performance of these companies, leading some to question the capacity of the companies to meet expectations. Some have even queried the integrity of the privatization process that produced these major investors, especially in the DISCOS. There have been even strange suggestions that the whole exercise should be reviewed.
   While I support every effort that need to be made to make the companies ramp up investments to vastly improve sorely needed supply, nothing should be done to unduly interfere either with the ownership or the running of these companies which are essentially private companies. Nigeria must learn to respect its laws and other international covenants. There could always be buyer's or seller's remorse after any transaction, but as soon as a deal is sealed and values exchanged, the terms of the deal must be respected. This country is struggling to restore investors’ confidence and therefore must avoid any actions or suggestions that would suggest policy reversal. Government being a residual shareholder in these companies may decide to sell its shares to other companies that may bring value or they can use their position to persuade the majority shareholders to recapitalize or invite other investors. But it must be by mutual agreement, no underhand or overreach tactics. The recent tango with Intel is already raising dusts in the investor community. We must avoid shooting ourselves on the feet again.
 Fourthly and lastly, the issue of appropriate tariffs and pricing using global best practices must be enforced. If the DISCOS and GENCOS are not making money, then no new investments can flow into the industry. As I have argued frequently, if we wish to become a major global economic player and join the list of emerging Nations, then we need massive ramp up in electric energy generation, transmission and distribution. And this cannot happen without massive investment in a deregulated and investment friendly economy. Everything therefore must be done to sustain the improved electricity supply that we (at least some of us) are currently experiencing.

 Mazi Sam I. Ohuabunwa OFR 


Tuesday, 5 September 2017

DEALING WITH THE GROWING INSECURITY IN NIGERIA



  In present day Nigeria, life has become brutish and short. No day passes without the terrorist group- Boko Haram murdering innocent Nigerians in market places, worship centres and even in educational institutions. That is after they have been firstly, technically degraded and then flushed out of the Sambisa Forest with the recovery of shekau's Koran! There is a daily decimation of the People of the North East Nigeria, especially the people of Borno State. Though, Government understates the casualty figures for obvious reasons, other sources indicate frightening casualty figures including military, Civilian JTF and just plain and ordinary citizens of a country that is proving apparently incapable of protecting the lives of its citizens.
  Elsewhere in the Country, armed robbers and kidnappers are running a mock. They have taken over many highways, especially at the damaged portions, which are too many on almost all the roads in the Country-Federal and State. While we are making a song and dance of arresting one kidnapper-Evans, the kidnapping business is proliferating all over the Country. Most often, the only help the police offers is to advise the relations of the captive to cooperate with the kidnappers and sometimes also help with negotiating the ransom. Less than 1% of kidnappers are ever arrested by the police, not to talk of those who have been successfully prosecuted. Often, I wonder if the government is really aware of how widespread the problem has become. In cities where the kidnapping crime had come under control a few years ago, there is a frightening resurgence.
 Then there is a growing tribe of ritualists and cultists who are possessed of the devil and are just causing mayhem all over the Country. They invade communities and perpetrate murders. The ‘Badoo’ group in the South West and such other similar groups have seized, tortured and killed innocent citizens for no known causes as they neither take away money nor other physical possessions of their victims- young and old. The Criminality of the Fulani Herdsmen remains largely unchecked and every once in a while they will invade communities especially in the Middle belt and Southern Nigeria and destroy lives and property and then disappear into thin air. Despite the loud protests raised by the victim-communities, only few arrests have been made and virtually no convictions.
  We have the violent agitators for resource control in the Niger Delta, who seem to be fairly calm now but with potential to erupt anytime as the fragile peace can be disrupted easily. These ones disrupt the free flow of crude oil in the Country. Among them are some criminal elements who kidnap for ransom, undertake illegal bunkering and run illegal refineries, daily destroying the environment. The current cessation in hostilities is a major achievement of the Vice-President Yemi Osibanjo when he acted as President. But those who live and do business in the Niger Delta live in fear every day and private security companies are making brisk business.
  Then we have the Non-Violent agitators for self-determination, which today is exemplified by the IPOB led by Nnamdi Kanu. Though non-violent, their rhetoric and demand for a sovereign State of Biafra is regarded as a security threat. To counterbalance and checkmate the threat of IPOB, the Coalition of Arewa Youths emerged with their quit notice and threats to confiscate the property of the Igbo living in Northern Nigeria and actually strongly demanded that the Igbo should no longer be part of Nigeria. Though it is reported that they have suspended the quit notice, the suspension was conditional and even if it was not conditional it was only a suspension, not a recant or a total withdrawal of the Quit notice. In which case even if their conditions were met, they could still re-activate the quit notice sometime in the future. To me this portends one of the greatest and subsisting security threats in Nigeria. Nobody is certain of what will happen after October 1. Who knows who is lurking in the shadows to take advantage of this persisting threat? We need to pray!
  Reading official pronouncements by the Nigerian establishment, the greatest security risk today seems to be the non-violent IPOB struggle for self-determination. And every attempt is now being made to either "crush" Nnamdi Kanu or to revoke his bail which from the onset was granted on impossible conditions. The game plan was clear. Grant him bail on impossible conditions to relieve the great pressure on the Government and then unleash the Arewa Youths and if that did not break Nnamdi Kanu or the Igbo, they would finally re-arrest and jail him for life for treasonable felony.
  It is surprising that Nigeria's establishment is playing hide and seek with Boko-Haram, looking for the authentic  leaders to negotiate with, including paying heavy ransoms for the CHIBOK girls and yet think it is infradig to even invite the very well-known leader of IPOB to dialogue with the the government . I am befuddled that the government has not raised the national threat level in response to the threat of the Arewa Youths nor arrested them nor gotten them to recant or withdraw the threat. I am stultified that the growing menace of armed robbers, kidnappers and ritualists is not giving the government cause for much concern. Nobody talks about them, outside the police half-hearted efforts, including phantom arrests and arrangee-confessions. I am in pain that Nigerians in many cities are being violated and killed like chicken or kidnapped with great ease, that many can no longer sleep with both eyes closed as armed bandits become more daring. I cannot see what extraordinary effort that is being made by the Government to arrest the ongoing proliferation of military-type ammunition all over the Country. Someone said that none-state actors seem to have more sophisticated weapons than the State. This is a frightening development that puts the lives of ordinary citizens at very high risk and yet all seems well from the official perspective!
   Is there a way out of this growing insecurity in the Country? I believe there are. First ,is that it is very clear that the current Nigeria Police does not have the capacity, the capability and the resources to deal with the myriads of Security challenges confronting the large country. The simple answer is to allow State Police. We need to decentralize Policing and Security services in this Nation. The State Governors need to take full charge of the security in their domains. To call them state chief security officers and yet they have no security outfits under their command is a misnomer and contributes largely to the growing insecurity in the Country.
 Second is that we need to reduce the feeling of economic marginalization, social injustice and political alienation being felt by some Nigerians who then take it out on the Nation by adopting deviant Behaviour. The growing militancy, armed robbery and kidnapping derive a lot of impetus from these. To do this, will require a rearranging of the way Nigeria is organized and governed to allow the creation of more opportunities for communities and individuals to express and actualize themselves politically, socially and economically. The current central control from Abuja rewards only a few and leaves many alienated all over the Country (East, West, North and South). Third is that we need to allow space for those peacefully agitating for self-determination to come to the table to place their matter. And then through a process of negotiation work out an acceptable format that will be acceptable to all. I believe that whatever security threat posed by such agitators can be easily contained if their inalienable rights to self-determination is recognized while taking actions to deal with their grouses in a friendly and peaceful manner.
  When all of the above is considered, the emerging conclusion is that none of what I have suggested would happen without a constitutional restructuring of the Country to devolve more power, responsibility and resources to the federating units. It is important to conclude by saying that the growing insecurity in the Country is troubling and it looks to me that the fastest and surest way to deal with this problem is to heed the call of many well-meaning Nigerians and lovers of Nigeria to restructure the Country politically, economically and socially. Further delay may be injurious to the continuing safety of many citizens. A stitch in time saves nine.

  Mazi Sam Ohuabunwa OFR 

Tuesday, 29 August 2017

UNITY OF NIGERIA: ACTIONS MUST SYNC WITH WORDS


   Since the Break out of the Nigeria-Biafra war in 1967, one theme has remained recurrent- Unity of Nigeria. General Yakubu Gowon harped on the theme: "To Keep Nigeria one is a task that must be done".In the long expected speech from the President last week after his long medical vacation, the central theme of his very short address was: "Nigeria's unity has been settled and all the trouble makers who are threatening the unity must be summarily dealt with".
  Gowon was the Head of State when the war broke out. I am not sure if he has written his memoirs because it will be nice to know if he showed any humility  by admitting that some of his actions contributed to the disunity of the Country and the subsequent civil war. Perhaps one may be charitable to assume that he did not deliberately take those decisions with the aim of precipitating the war. But after a cold and unbiased review of some of his actions, he must have realized that those actions helped to precipitate the disunity of Nigeria rather than promote unity.
  For example, it will be nice to know how his support for the counter coup of July 1966, that decimated the senior military officers of Igbo extraction on the ostensible reprisal for the January 1966 coup promoted Nigeria's unity? It will be good to know how his unilateral refusal to implement the 'ABURI accord' which he freely entered to in order to avert the war contributed to Nigeria's unity. It will indeed be important to know how his preference for military action as against political action for the resolution of the dispute helped to keep Nigeria united. Because if it did, we will still not be talking of Nigeria's unity 47 years after the war ended.
  The question is as a Nation, what lessons have we learnt? May be we have not learnt many lessons. But I will like to draw out a few. First,is that Unity is built and Not forced. Forced unity does not last. As I had said in the past, the unity between a slave master and a slave does not last, nor that between a kidnapper and his hostage. Though we have read the story of how an ISIS female hostage fell in love with her captors but eventually it unraveled. Enduring unity comes from mutual love and mutual willingness to see the benefits of being united. In every human relationship, when one party feels that he is carrying a disproportionate cost for the relationship, he begins to see either how to balance the cost or if that fails, how to walk away from such a debilitating relationship. It may happen by physical separation, or by recalcitrance or by full resignation. Relationships endure when all sides are enjoying proportionate mutual benefits.
  Secondly unity in a relationship must not only be built by willing partners but they must continue to service the relationship. It is in the nature of human relationships to suffer from the law of entropy which naturally affects physical( material) relationships. Without any deliberate efforts to continue to renew the relationship, most relationships will gradually drift apart and may eventually terminate. Even the marriage institution which God Himself set up and which in my faith is expected to last through life, often begin to fall apart, for several reasons but mostly when one party or some times both, begin to feel that they do not derive any more joy, happiness or benefit from the marriage or when one party becomes cruel or negligent to the other party or even when one party begins to take the other party for granted.
  Thirdly, relationships have been saved even when people thought that such relationships are said to have broken down 'irretrievably'. One party who wishes to continue the relationship makes the undue effort to try and understand what is actually causing the problem, first starting with himself and then goes out of his way to find ways to rebuild the relationship  including seeking external help. Some times, after such effort, the relationship is restored, often rekindling better affection,love and unity than was the case ante bellum. Therefore every quarrel must not end in a divorce, if one or both parties are willing to make sacrifices to restore the unity of the relationship.
  Fourthly is that bellowing out orders and issuing threats can frighten some criminals or those intent on causing trouble but it never fully resolves issues, quarrels, misunderstandings or deep seated feelings of alienation between parties in a union. Rather than solve problems, they help to harden positions. And so the unity of a Country can not be achieved by threats or even military options. That is why even after wars, peace and unity are only achieved by negotiation and the attainment of acceptable terms which make all sides comfortable.
  President Muhammadu Buhari is the current President of Nigeria and it is not surprising that he wishes Nigeria to remain one indivisible united Country. What is more, he fought in the Nigeria-Biafra war which in my book- "The PortHarcourt Volunteer" published in 2015, I called "Nigeria's war of unity". For those two reasons, his position and constant harping on this indivisibility theme is not only understandable but is justified .Indeed if I were in his shoes, I would probably hold the same position.
  However where we differ markedly is that I would not be bellowing threats when I see people protesting and complaining and wanting to divide the Nation, more so when the people complaining or protesting are not violent.I would call the people protesting and complaining and find out what their problems are. I would dialogue and negotiate with them and agree on an amicable solution. If I find them unreasonable I would invite other Nigerians to help me sit with this group or groups and work out amicable settlement. This is because If I want the unity of the Country so badly, I will do all in my power and ability to achieve it, realizing that I can not force it. In addition to not threatening, I will not deliberately discriminate against any group in the Country nor make any group feel unwanted or unloved.Because I want the unity of my Country, I will ask Nigerians who are talking of restructuring of the Country to come forward with what we need to do to restructure the Country to achieve unity and peace. Because I want unity, I will at least mandate the National Assembly to do the minimum possible to begin to respond to the demand of Nigerians for the devolution of power to the federating units and to make other constitutional adjustments that will create a true and balanced federation. Because I want a united and happy Nation, I will speak to Nigerians after a long medical vacation abroad in re-conciliatory tones and show by words, body language and actions that I need all Nigerians to feel happy and comfortable to belong to one Country. That is the challenge confronting President Muhammadu Buhari as he fully resumes from his long vacation, that is if Garba Shehu's  'Aso Rock rats'will not constitute a new danger. History is beckoning.

   Mazi Sam Ohuabunwa OFR

Tuesday, 22 August 2017

SUPPRESSION OF DISSENT: HOW FAR CAN WE TRAVEL?


   The hall mark of democracy is free speech and free association. Implicit in this,is the freedom of dissent or the right to protest against anything that the government has done or did not do as long as such protests are held in line with lawful conduct. When a government becomes intolerant of lawful protests or criticisms by citizens of the Country, that gives a dangerous signal. And it will not be morally right for men of goodwill to keep quiet when our democratic freedoms are being trampled upon.
  Some Nigerian citizens who were frustrated that our President had been out of the Country for over about 100 days on his second medical vacation this year, decided to express their frustration by holding some protest rally, first at the Unity centre in Abuja. Operating under the "Our Mumu done do" coalition, the protesters who were generally few in number gathered at Unity Centre, singing and requesting the President to 'resume or resign'. The first sign that our government was unhappy with any protests and would wish that we all remain as 'mumu' was that they sent the Police to tear-gas the peaceful protesters and to ruffle them. Reports had it that the co-Convener of the movement, Mr Charles Oputa( aka Charly boy), fainted from suffocation caused by the tear gas.
  When that did not stop the " Our mumu don do" group, the Government  went low to go and organize counter demonstrators called "Pro-Buhari " groups who challenged the right of the Charly Boy's group to complain that the President had stayed away too long. They abused the group and confronted them at the Unity Centre. The Presidential spokes persons berated the protesters as "busy bodies" They said that the President had not broken any law and so he could remain outside the Country for the next two years if he wished, perhaps only to return to stand for re-election in 2019! In effect, these men were outlawing every protest, except the Court decided. Because by our constitutional provision, only the court can determine that a law has been broken!
  When the Charly boy's group, felt that they were not making much impact as they were apparently overwhelmed by the "Pro-Buhari" group which actually should have gone by the name" Our Mumu never begin" group, they went to Wuse Market perhaps to see if they could recruit more sympathizers or supporters and that was where they met their Waterloo. How it was organized, I could never know, but they met a very stout and violent resistance that created havoc and pandemonium, with many bloodied including journalists who were doing their jobs. A Guardian Newspaper reporter escaped being lynched because one of the leaders of the Wuse Market resistance coalition came to his rescue, directing his army of cudgel-bearing and  stone-throwing counter demonstrators to let him alone. Charly boy had to escape on a motorcycle, abandoning his car at the market. The next day, Charly boy and his sparse group came to the Unity centre to announce that they were calling off their protests. With that The Government achieved its aim of suppressing dissent.
  Perhaps a 'congratulation'will be appropriate here for the government machinery that worked very hard to drown the voice of dissent and to drive away "trouble makers and busy bodies" from the Unity Centre. My special 'congratulations' go to Femi Adesina and Garba Shehu. I am waiting for Femi Adesina to finish his tenure and return to the Private sector and begin to sing as his predecessors Olusegun Adeniyi,Reuben Abati and Femi Fani-Kayode( before he got born-again)who in their time promoted and defended Governments' efforts to stifle the voice of dissent. What government office can do to otherwise normal citizens! Until  a few days ago, Steve Bannon, the erstwhile Chief Strategist of Donald Trump supported and defended every thing-good or bad which Trump said or did. Few hours afters after he was fired he tweeted" The Trump Presidency which we campaigned for and won is over!". The Presidency 'is over ', just because he has been fired! That is the calibre of many people who find themselves in the corridors of power. Because of the need for influence peddling and stomach infrastructure and patent opportunism, they defend the indefensible, but as soon as the supply is cut off, they begin to sing or tell cock'n'bull stories. God Help us!
   What would have happened if these spokepersons, had welcomed the protesters, acknowledged their rights to raise the issues they were raising and explained to them that the President had heard them and that all things were being done to get the President resume soon. Would they have lost their jobs? Would it not have enhanced their standing before the public and even before the President, who thanks be to God, has returned home and resumed duty this week. The tendency to be over zealous in 'protecting' the President from his constituents is frought with danger. It actually damages the relationship, because in pretending to love or own the President more than the citizens they further alienate him. I just wish these men and others like them would understand.
  My disappointment is worsened by the fact that these same people and their Principals presented progressive credentials when they were seeking for power. When the Nation found itself in similar situation with Umaru Yar'adua, they were so vociferous in 'defending' the People's right to know everything about Yar'adua's health. Some of them actually called on Yar'adua to resign! Now they feel that it is an act of treason for citizens to demand that their President resumes work, especially after many Nigerian Political leaders and office holders had undertaken the expensive pilgrimages to visit the President in his 'winter home' in London and reported he was now healed, hale and hearty. The President of any nation is not a private person, and the people who employed him have unquestionable rights to demand accountability from him on any issue including his health and work ethic. How many employers will allow their employee stay out of work for about 150 sick days in less than a year without knowing the name of the sickness?This can only happen to conquered people!
  My counsel to the government is that history has taught us repeatedly in Nigeria and globally that suppression of dissent is wrong strategy. You only force the people to suppress their feelings and frustrations and some day, they may just explode! It is usually a wrong road to travel, because governments come and go, but the People are always there. And usually they have the last laugh. Welcome home Mr President and may your return bring better tidings to our beleaguered Nation.
Mazi Sam Ohuabunwa OFR 

Friday, 11 August 2017

MARGINALIZATION OF THE SOUTH EAST IS MUCH MORE THAN JUST"APPOINT ME"



  I have heard the Acting President say on at least two occasions that those who are complaining of marginalization in Nigeria are actually only saying "please appoint me". The first time I heard him say so, I was taken aback and was not quite sure what to make of it. But when I heard him say so again last week, I became really bothered.
  Was the Acting President saying that the cry of marginalization by some ethnic groups or sections in Nigeria is a hoax?  Was he actually saying that there is no genuine case of marginalization in Nigeria and all those complaining about it were only making noise, seeking undue attention or just looking for opportunities for themselves? Or was he saying that indeed there are genuine cases of marginalization in Nigeria but those who are leading the cries are not truly interested in the holistic resolution of the matter but just interested in getting something for themselves? In which case, the moment they get 'settled' perhaps by an appointment, the cry will cease or they would abandon the truly marginalized people to continue with their pain?
 If what he meant is the latter scenario, perhaps my pain will be less, though not completely eliminated. Of course there are fake leaders who trade with the sufferings of the people, whose stomachs have become their gods. They are all over Nigeria,pretending to be pursuing group interests or causes, whereas all they seek is a platform to present their personal matters and as soon as their personal issues are settled, they quickly abandon the struggle. I am reminded of the many advocacy groups or protest leaders who appear in Aso Rock with their CVs in their pockets and after the fierce rhetoric for the benefit of the television cameras, on their way out drop their CVs or come out smiling, having been "settled" Even now, some APC leaders who were once champions of Restructuring the Nigerian Federation have lost their voices now that they have power! 
  But given the season we are in, when I believe that God in His infinite mercy has heard the cries of the oppressed and marginalized people or groups in this Country, it will be unfair for the Acting President or any one else to trivialize the genuine cries of the People by labeling it as just a cry for some people to be appointed to public offices. I can not speak for other groups, peoples or regions that feel marginalized in the Nigerian Federation as presently constituted and organized but I have a deep understanding and personal experience of the level of the marginalization of the people of the South East Region of Nigeria. Incase the Acting President has forgotten, the People of the South East Nigeria feel marginalized in the current Nigerian Federation for several reasons. Because of space constraints I will address just a few.

  1.  LEAST NUMBER OF STATES
Out of the six geo-political zones in Nigeria, the South East has the least number of States. It has only 5 States whereas as others have Six states with the North West having Seven States.
What that means is that the South East receives the least amount of allocation from the Federation account, and therefore has the least share of National resources. This anomaly has been recognized by the 2005 and the 2014 National Conferences which in their  desire to correct this marginalization recommended an additional State for the South East to bring it in line with most of the other zones that have six states.

2.   LEAST NUMBER OF LOCAL GOVERNMENT AREAS
 The South East zone has the lowest number of local government areas in the Nation. See below the local governments in each zone:
North West-186; South West-137; South South- 125; North East-113; North Central-112 and South East-95 which is about half of the number of LGAs in the North west. And National resources are allocated to LGAs directly. Is the marginalization not evident?
Yet these local governments were created by fiat by the military administrations without any defined and verifiable criteria. Someone once joked that at a point in our history,local governments were created as compensation for Generals. And since the South East had the least, it was natural that they would have the least no of LGAs.

 3.   LEAST REPRESENTATION IN ELECTED AND APPOINTED POLITICAL OFFICES
Representation in the National Assembly and in the Federal Executive Council is based on states. It therefore follows that the South East Region that has the least no of states would have the least number of Reps in the National Assembly, least no of ministers in the Federal Executive Council and in all most all organs of government constituted on representation basis. 

 The South East Zone has the least no of Ambassadors, the least number of heads of  Government  Parastatals  and other extra ministerial agencies. Very few chair Federal Govt Boards or Councils. Among the three dominant groups in Nigeria, the South East is the only one that has not been allowed to produce the President of Nigeria since 1970.

 4.   POOR REPRESENTATION IN THE FEDERAL PUBLIC SERVICE
The South East is poorly represented in the Public Service of Nigeria. Many Public servants have been retired prematurely and very few are being admitted into the service- immigration, customs, FAAN,etc.There was the case of Mrs Chinelo Anohu-Amazie who headed the PENCOM, who was prematurely retired and her replacement came from another zone in contradiction to the PENCOM act. Many people remonstrated but nothing happened and that travesty still stands. Is this not discrimination and marginalization rolled into one?

5.  THE ABSENCE OF THE SOUTH EAST IN THE NATIONAL SECURITY COUNCIL 
  South East is the only zone missing in the security Council leadership- Defence, Army, Navy, Airforce, Police, Civil Defence, NIA, DSS, EFCC, ICPC, FRSC and National Security Adviser. Security issues are discussed in Nigeria and no voice from the South East is heard. Here the Federal character principle has been jettisoned. Many promising Security officers from the South East have been retired prematurely. We have complained endlessly but nobody cares.

6.  UNBEARABLY POOR STATE OF FEDERAL ROADS IN THE SOUTH EAST
It is known by the whole World that the worst federal roads are located in the South East, many of them abandoned. This did not start today. For example, Reporters from Thisday Newspaper and the Channels TV have described the Arochukwu Road in Abia State as the worst in Nigeria!

7.   SHUTTERING OF THE GATE WAYS TO THE SOUTH EAST
The Eastern sea ports are shuttered by official policy. The inland Ports are abandoned . The so called international airports are not sufficiently national, to talk of international.Nobody is talking of developing the allocated Dry Ports while some of those in the other zones are up and running.

8.  EXCLUSION FROM THE MODERN RAILWAY INFRASTRUCTURE 
 It took the resistance of the South East Senators who opposed approving a foreign loan for the new standard gauge rail line that nicely excluded the whole of the South East, for anybody to remember. The Federal Government is building several new obridges with funds from the budget, only the 2nd Niger Bridge is to be built by PPP so that it would be tolled!

9.   DISCRIMINATION AGAINST SOUTH EAST YOUTHS IN SCHOOL ADMISSION 
  It is well known that most of the South East States have about the highest cut off points in common entrance examinations to Unity Schools and Federal Universities. Many Igbo youth including those protesting openly today, were denied admissions to federal schools while their classmates from some other zones ,who scored much lower marks were admitted. How do you explain to such a youth that both of them have equal citizenship rights?

 10.   REFUSAL TO RECONSTRUCT THE SOUTH  EAST 
   We have the Niger Delta Development Agency (NDDC) to deal with ravages of oil exploration in the Niger Delta and to reverse the long neglect of the Region and rightly added the Ministry of Niger Delta. Recently we have created the North East Development Agency to help rebuild the North East following the ravages of the Boko Haram insurgency. But since the Nigerian civil war ended with all the destruction that took place in the South East, no Development Agency has been created. Even the recent effort by the South East Legislators to create a South East Economic Development Agency that will not even be funded by the Federal Government was thrown out in the House of Representatives!
    I could go on and on but because of space I will stop here. Can any one then in good conscience declare that these are not acts of marginalization? When you beat a child, can you also deny him the right to cry? As I said, the South East Zone is not the only zone suffering from these acts to some degree or the other. What then is wrong for people to point out these manifest acts of discrimination that is destabilizing the Nation? I pray that the Country focuses on how to remove these acts through fundamental constitutional reviews or preferably the writing of a new one, rather than demonizing the agitators. Calling them Names or even intimidating them will not solve the problem.!

Mazi Sam I. Ohuabunwa OFR