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Sports Development and 2023 Elections

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Sports Development

By Jerome-Mario Chijioke Utomi

It was Orji Uzor Kalu, former Governor of Abia State and presently the Chief Whip of the Nigerian Senate, that at a time stated thus; a good businessman sees where others don’t see. What I see, you may not see. You cannot see because that is the secret of the business… the entire world is a big market waiting for anybody who knows the rules of the game.

The above thought came flooding recently not necessarily because Nigeria and Nigerians are at present witnessing politicians queue behind each other to declare/express interest in the nation’s 2023 presidency.

Rather, it stemmed from the fact that in the past two decades or thereabout, when democracy in the country, the nation has handled all its electioneering exercises from conventional societal and socio-economic contexts/considerations, principally anchored on regionalism, ethnicity, class/elite recruitment and gender.

There is a general but erroneous belief that these selected/mentioned aspects are the most relevant factors to be considered because they represent deep, persistent divisions in society. In making these decisions, we exude the confidence of rational people. We feel that we are both practical and pragmatic.

This practice has since graduated to what analysts now refer to as ‘politics of identity ‘or ‘politics of recognition’.

But in all these, no public office aspirants have ever brought into view sustainable sports development as his/her major selling point, objective or agenda. And Nigerians have not bothered to ask why the non-emphasis on sports development flourished even when it is evident that sporting activities, particularly the game of football/soccer presently creates in the country both local and international employment for our teeming youths, promotes tourism and entertainment, attracts direct foreign earnings/investments and unarguably qualifies as the most unifying factor in the country. In fact, there is this veiled belief that the only time Nigerians can agree with one another is when it comes to the issue of sports.

The facts are there and speak for it.

Aside from the zeal with which Nigerians unite to watch foreign clubs during European Premiere/La Liga leagues, the most recent example of how the game of soccer created peace and unity in the country was demonstrated by the harmonious reaction/celebration that trailed the sweet 34th minute belter, intelligently struck by Kelechi Iheanacho, which earned Nigeria a first-ever opening match win over Egypt at the ongoing Africa Cup of Nations.

This piece also observes with satisfaction how in 2003, the Hausas, Yorubas, Igbos, among other tribes, in praise/support of Enyimba Football Club of Aba, to the admiration of the watching world chanted; Nzogbu nzogbu, enyi  mba enyi. Nzogbu, Enyi mba enyi, Nzogbuo Nwoke, Enyi mba enyi, Nzogbuo nwanyi, Enyi mba enyi, Nzogbu, Enyi mba enyi, a popular Igbo assonance. This was in 2003 when the club, under Orji Uzor Kalu as the Abia State Governor, played USMA of Algeria in a crucial quarter-final of the Champions League.

More difficult to believe is the reality that we overlooked sports development but continued in the culture of choices such as economic planning and masses welfare, even when it is evident that past efforts/choices in that direction have not stopped the nation from going through the shooting pain of bad leadership or aided the country to enthrone true democracy in which the nation would be corruption free; the rule of law is obeyed to the later and impunity on the part of all top government officials, civil servants and every other person in either the civil service or the private sector is curbed.

Making it a crisis is a fact that those elected into public offices based on these considerations. In particular, their economic planning and development prowess has continued to go against the provisions of the constitutions as an attempt to disengage governance from public sector control of the economy has only played into the waiting hands of the profiteers of goods and services to the detriment of the Nigerian people.

Today, while the nation continues to lie prostrate and diminish socially and economically with grinding poverty and starvation driving more and more men into the ranks of the beggars, whose desperate struggle for bread renders insensible to all feelings of decency and self-respect, the privileged political few continue to flourish in obscene and splendour as they pillage and ravage the resources of our country at will.

So, using the above scenario as a dashboard to correct our leadership challenge which is gravitating towards becoming a culture, the question may be asked; as the nation, Nigeria races toward the 2023 general elections, how can we use the election as president a Nigerian with interest in sports development to build a nation that will be ‘militant’ enough to keep our citizens aroused to positive actions and moderate enough to this passion within convenient bounds? Do Nigerians have a choice in this matter? Can they really afford in the present circumstance to make such a decision?

Before tackling this question, this piece must underline the age-long saying that ‘to know the road ahead, we must ask those coming back’.

In light of this consideration, Nigeria and Nigerians must provide an answer(s) to the above questions and ask Orji Uzor Kalu how he was able to move Enyimba Football Club from grass to grace and use the club’s superlative performance to unite Nigerians.

To further underscore why this lesson is necessary; let’s cast a glance at an account by an Aba, Abia state-based public affairs analyst,

It reads in parts; Before 1999, Falcons and later Enyimba struggled to exist in the Amateur league. By a stroke of policy fate, they transited to the professional league and later the premiership.

The name Falcon or Enyimba did not mean anything.  The face of Enyimba changed as soon as Kalu mounted the saddle as the Chief Executive of Abia State, bringing massive support and overwhelming passion to bear on the administration of the club.

He influenced the pattern of buying the best players in the Nigerian league. Kalu offered irresistible welfare packages that saw the team displacing other 19 clubs to lift the coveted premiership trophy five times in six years.

Regardless of what others may say, this piece will, in my view, conveniently agree as well as conclude that ‘the entire world is truly a big market waiting for anybody who knows the rules of the game. Nigerians in the same vein must recognize that the world has become a ‘global village’, and international, multinational, transnational and supernatural factors are important elements of any national political system.

Therefore, come 2023, if we cannot elect as President someone who will deliver excellently in a sector that will positively affect other sectors, then, the consequence of such failure/failing will be that our political leaders will continue to fracture our nation’s geography into polarized idiosyncrasies and idiosyncrasies, all of which will lead to agitations of different sorts and capacities without any socioeconomic reward.

Above all, come 2023, we must use sport development to remove arms and other dangerous weapons from the hands/reach of our youths and create sustainable peace in the country. This is important.

Utomi Jerome-Mario is the Programme Coordinator (Media and Public Policy), Social and Economic Justice Advocacy (SEJA), a Lagos-based Non-Governmental Organization (NGO). He could be reached via Jeromeutomi@yahoo.com/08032725374.

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Feature/OPED

Still on Nigeria’s Electricity Crisis

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Nigeria's electricity crisis

By Jerome-Mario Chijioke Utomi

Similar to history, which according to historians, is an unending dialogue between the present and the past through a continuous process of interaction between the historian and his facts to assist the anxious enquirer improving the present and future based on a clearer understanding of the mistakes and achievements of the past, the conversion on electricity power supply challenge in the country has like history, become neither unending nor abating.

Essentially, the first half of this recurring circle was captured recently in my piece titled FG’s Assurance on Generation of 25,000MW Electricity, as it explains why Nigerians are no longer comfortable with assurances from the federal government, the present piece which qualifies as the beginning of something new was elicited as a response to a declaration by Garba Shehu, the presidential spokesperson.

Shehu, who spoke in an interview on a Channels Television programme, Sunrise Daily, among other things stated; that President Muhammadu Buhari has greatly improved electricity generation in the country, he concluded.

Let’s face the fact; he spoke convincingly with actual authority that flows from the position that he occupies. However, the only difference here is that, unlike history, his run on fact, particularly his fervent belief that the outlook of the nation’s electricity remains good, in the face of the current epileptic power supply and unjustifiable high tariff regime in the country, has not in any way advanced our conversation on or assisted the nation’s quest to find a quick solution to its electricity/energy crisis.

Let’s face the fact; it is true that the 2005 Power Reform Act (EPSR, ACT of 2005), which provided for the privatization of the power sector did not go far before President Olusegun Obasanjo administration left office in 2007. Yes, it is also true in parts that the present frustration in the sector was further fed by the reality that the current federal government as noted by Garba Shehu during the interview, inherited reckless privatization of the power sector done by the Goodluck Jonathan administration (the roadmap for power sector reform of 2010), Despite the validity of these claims, yet, Shehu’s analytics for reasons did not go without opposition.

First, enough evidence supports the fact that no administration in the country, not even the present Muhammadu Buhari led federal government can boast of clean hands when it comes to Nigeria’s electricity crisis.

Without going into analysis to establish how culpable each of these administrations appears in this case, one point, in my view, that mustn’t be overlooked when discussing the power/electricity crisis in Nigeria is that the challenge has nothing to do with privatization. It is neither fuelled by the desire to fashion an authentic roadmap for restoring the health and vitality of the sector nor is it the function of the current effort to bring about a new tariff regime.

Rather, it’s simply and squarely a conceptual problem of what successive federal government has been doing which has never been in the best interest of the people, the nation and the sector.

Very fundamental of the challenge is the operation of the obsolete grid system, an arrangement where the power generated in the country is pooled/assembled or channelled to a control/switch centre before it is finally distributed to consumers across the nation.

Aside from qualifying as a clumsy arrangement and operated in an environment laced with outmoded transmission lines and facilities that cannot hold supplies over time, the practice itself, going by what industry watchers are saying, is not only out-fashioned, old-schooled but visibly runs contrary to the global vision/model which presently favours decentralization of energy generation and distribution.

In my view, energy/power centralization has never assisted the socio-economic development of any nation desirous of making headway industrially.

There exist yet another frustration, this time around fuelled by painful consciousness that instead of acting as energy sector regulator, successive administrations’ for yet to be identified reasons choose to function in the nation’s power sector as both ‘ captain and coach’,- owning shares in Gencos, Discos and TCN.

This state of affairs occurred in spite of part breaking studies that suggest that the private sector is likely to better understand the location and nature of market failures/bottlenecks/barriers that inhabit the energy sector.

It was also argued elsewhere that the government capacity to design and execute an appropriate resolution of identified market failure/bottlenecks is the sector is often always laced with controversy.

From this  ‘unrelenting’  failures/failings on the part of policymakers to define the business of power generation and distribution in the country and lack of clear strategy for penetrating it profitably, or allow conventional market forces to determine electricity tariff regimes in ways that will lead to the realization of economic rights of the investors while expanding fundamental freedoms and choices of the individual consumers; and with government, unwillingness to follow swiftly, the ‘changing needs of time’, which of course are the sufficient ingredients of foresighted decision making and condition that every leader desirous of success must constantly fulfil, it obvious that the nation’s handlers have finally left the survival of the sector to chance.

As we know, anyone that fails to search for his potential leaves his survival to chance

Again, it is weak regulations and untidy oversight such as these, that largely promotes a situation where according to a commentator, an electricity consumer buys pole, cables, meter and contributes money to buy or replace the community transformer; and, as soon as that is done, they automatically become the Disco property and the electricity distribution companies will, without taking the meter reading, send outrageous estimated bills he/she never consumed.

That is not the only apprehension. There exists also some unforgivable abuse of trust within the sector.

The first that comes to mind is the recent report that the Senate Committee on Public Accounts has begun the investigation of N14.7 billion proceeds of privatization of the defunct Power Holding Company of Nigeria (PHCN) allegedly hidden in commercial banks by the Bureau of Public Enterprise (BPE).

The committee is acting on an audit query in the ‘Auditor-General for the Federation’s Annual Report on Non-Compliance/Internal Control Weaknesses Issues in Ministries, Departments and Agencies of the Federal Government of Nigeria for the Year Ended 31st December 2019.’

Before the dust raised by the above worrying/worrisome development could settle, another was up. This time around has to do with a new awareness of how TCN, DISCO’s Inefficiencies Caused Electricity Generating Companies to about N120.25 billion to stranded power which averaged 2,448.50 megawatts every month in 2021.

According to industry data cited by Business Standards, an average of N13 billion was lost every month by generating companies. This is the total monetary value of the volume of electricity generated by generating companies but which unfortunately could not get to consumers either due to infrastructural problems or because they were rejected by distribution companies for fear of not being able to recover the money from consumers.

What the above development tells us is that it is a difficult venture to implement meaningful changes when institutions are the cause of the problems in the first place.

It also suggests that engineering prosperity without confronting the root cause of the problem and the politics that keeps them in place is unlikely to bear fruit as the institutional structure that creates market failure will also prevent the implementation of interventions.

To catalyse the process of serving the sector, we must recognize that what we need today, perhaps, is not a new theory, concept or framework, but people who can think strategically with a balanced perspective.

Utomi Jerome-Mario is the Programme Coordinator (Media and Public Policy), Social and Economic Justice Advocacy (SEJA), a Lagos-based Non-Governmental Organization (NGO). He could be reached via Jeromeutomi@yahoo.com/08032725374.

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Advancement, Money, Transcendence and Vanity

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Money truck going over a cliff

By Nneka Okumazie

The progress that a country makes does not depend on what some individuals can afford. That an individual can have something or afford it does not mean that the happiness the individual now has would become useful to development.

There are countries in the world with people whose priority is to be able to afford high-end things. The acceptance of their society is about that – not about making it, or how it was made, or how to make extraordinary things that people would want, in future.

Money is the global standard of success, but the availability of money is not the eradication of problems. Most developing countries in the world with complex problems have internal and external revenues, with people of means, but low to zero probability of solving their own problems.

Money is its own pet, necessary for continuous tend. Those who have it live for it and are its subject, those who don’t, want and serve for it. There is normalcy to continue to make money, but many people, decades and decades ago, who did, and lived for it, rarely transcended its shackles.

They are gone. Their time and pleasures are gone. What it was to be what they were is forgotten. Their conflicts, bias, strife and competition are all past. Many left without leaving lessons. There is no difference between some of those who had now forgotten, and others who didn’t, also forgotten.

In a world where sudden death is possible, money should not be this important. Knowing that void can become of anyone should make the total war for advantage to money or resources less important. Time passage also, is a lesson, as some fade off, after being in the centre stage for years.

Money should have been a tool mostly adapted to progress, not as the meaning of life. The loss that the place of money is, to life, is unquantifiable. There are people who have things and that is all for them. Pride, arrogance, discrimination and irritation are tosses of money.

The preeminence of capitalism paved way for intense use of technology, contributing in part to unprecedented loneliness, dissatisfaction and gross sadness. Money is the centre of most technology contents, to make or to show, drawing those trying to make or looking to show.

When it was said that all is vanity, there is a point where the money for the sake of it, is included. Progress, real useful advancement carries more meaning than money for things, status or class.

Lack of money is what can make people brand others danger or stranger. The thing about network or connection is not about integrity or purpose, but mostly about who has money or who is close to it.

There are lots of talks about the end of the world, but the world has long driven over the cliff with money as the one true throne everyone bows before.  Those who should have understood more about the risks of money supremacy are blinded by it. Those who understand nothing about its emptiness are controlled by it. The position of money in the world is greater than all people, nation, government, work, school, knowledge, all. Money may be the main, unbreakable hex.

[Psalm 144:4, Man is like to vanity: his days are as a shadow that passeth away.]

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Feature/OPED

Germ Traps in the Kitchen

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SweepSouth germ traps in the Kitchen

From fridges to coffee makers, these are 5 germ traps in your kitchen.

We all want our homes to feel sparkly clean, but there are some areas that may not be making it onto your household chores list.

Aisha Pandor, whose on-demand home services company SweepSouth helps people to keep their homes spotless, lists the places we often forget to clean.

In a study by global health organisation NSF International looking at where the highest concentration of germs can be found in the average household, three of the top five germ hot spots were in the kitchen – which leads to the first area that needs a good clean.

The back of your fridge

Topping the list of places in the home that rarely gets cleaned is the back of the fridge – that’s the exterior back, not inside! The coils located there work to cool the air down, but they can’t do so efficiently if they’re coated with grime. To reach the coils, Aisha advises you to unplug your fridge, pull it away from the wall and gently brush off any dirt and dust on the coils.

Do this annually and it will help you save on power costs. A fridge is one of the top energy-using appliances in the home, and simply cleaning its exterior coils can reduce the amount of energy it uses by up to 30%. Remember to leave space between your fridge and the wall once you’ve pushed it back into position, to allow air to freely circulate.

Backsplashes

Tiled backsplashes are often overlooked during cleaning, but they’re notorious for attracting grease and grime. That grease acts as a magnet for dust and dirt, says Aisha — not exactly the type of environment where you want to be preparing food.

To clean backsplashes using natural products, mix two cups of distilled white vinegar with a cup of water and 15 drops of eucalyptus oil. Dab a cloth into the mixture and rub over the tiles to clean. You can use this cleaning mixture on any shiny non-porous surface, like sinks, too.

Ovens and hobs

At the very heart of the kitchen’s food preparation, ovens are prime real estate for germs. Clean the interior regularly, and line the bottom with foil to catch any drips and spills. When the foil becomes grimy, simply peel off and throw it away.

It’s not just the inside that needs cleaning, though — stove knobs are in the top 10 for common places where germs hide. To clean, remove the knobs and wash in hot soapy water. Rinse well, allow to dry, and reinstall. On a gas hob, dismantle the gas rings and clean separately in hot soapy water.

Can opener

Chances are that you seldom take a close look at your can opener, yet it’s surprising how grimy this kitchen aid can become. Can openers can harbour bacteria like salmonella and e.Coli, and should be washed after every use to clean the gears and cutting wheel.

Dry thoroughly to prevent rust. If there’s a build-up of dirty residue in your can opener’s wheel, Aisha has a nifty trick to clean it: simply clamp the wheels onto a piece of dry paper towel and turn the handle to get rid of any gunk.

Coffee maker cleanse

Coffee machines’ water tanks or reservoirs usually have lids to stop dust, dirt and insects from getting in. However, a study by a health organisation, NSF International, of where the highest concentration of germs can be found in the average household, showed that coffee machine water tanks are the fifth most germ-ridden place in the house.

A tank’s moist, dark, location is a prime place for germs and bacteria to grow. In fact, the study discovered that 50% of households had yeast and mould in their coffee maker water tanks, and one in 10 had traces of coliform, a bacteria found in animal and human faeces that can cause gastrointestinal upset and flu-like symptoms. If you regularly make coffee, Aisha advises that you rinse the water reservoir regularly — if not daily, at least every week.

While experts do say we need some exposure to germs to help build strong immune systems, we need to limit being around germs that cause serious illnesses, says Aisha. By cleaning the above areas regularly, you’ll help keep your kitchen more hygienic and safer.

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