By Jerome-Mario Chijioke Utomi
Even when there is no codified word or structured documentation adequate enough to evaluate a public office holder, there exists presently, a compelling need to evaluate the present administration in the country, via a broader view of the people’s paramount concerns and legitimate expectations in order to unravel its values of fiscal discipline, prudent management, robust and continuous community engagement, effective and efficient public communication, and excellent public service delivery for the benefit of this generation and the next.
This logical, rational and practical belief is predicated on the current unpalatable happenings and failures recorded in recent times and traceable to the current administration.
Out of many such instances, one that cries for attention is; how well has the present administration at both state and federal levels treated its critical mass-the youths?
Aside from enjoying demographic advantage and being in possession of a commanding majority, providing an answer to this question/evaluation is important because Nigerian youth will provide the future leadership needs of the country.
Take, as an illustration, in 2015, President Muhammadu Buhari promised during his electioneering to work with the youths. But contrary to that promise, eight years after such a promise was made, the Nigerian youth are still relegated to the political background.
Again, even when they are celebrated daily on the world stage for their superlative showings and performance, right here in Nigeria, they are judged to be ‘lazy’ by the same administration that promised to work with them.
The first of such shock came to the youths shortly after the 2019 general election and Mr President submitted to the National Assembly for screening the list of 43 ministerial nominees. Separate from the disproportionately skewed list screaming with evidence that youth’s political highway remains slippery, rough and riddled with potholes and hopelessness, the list eloquently laid bare an ingrained falsehood of the administration.
In the same style, not only did the ministerial list make nonsense of the seemingly gains of the not-too-young-to-run campaign embarked on by the youths in July 2017, which brought about the amendment of some sections of the nation’s constitution to accommodate youths desirous of seeking political or elective positions, what is now left at this stage, of course, is the question of the extent to which youths should draw political lessons from the episode or whether to continue exerting power on inglorious political functions they are reputed for without result.
Also in 2018, Mr President while attending an international function, stated among other things that; “a lot of them (Nigerian youths) haven’t been to school and they are claiming, that Nigeria has been an oil-producing country, therefore, they should sit and do nothing and get housing, health care, and education”, a remark that Nigerian youths and the vast majority of other Nigerians received with disbelief, grief, and rage.
Certainly, in my view, if there is a sterling lesson the youths must draw from the asymmetrical structure of appointments by the present government at the centre, it is the new awareness that thuggery and other illicit political functions at the polls cannot guarantee a political position for the youths. Rather, what guarantees political appointment and position is the possession of a keen sense of independence, self-respect and oneness and insistence on choosing the right people as leaders during the election.
To explain, throughout the period of the 2019 general election, the Nigerian youths hobnobbed and romanced these politicians without knowing that our political leaders are experts in adopting the tactics of the coquette.
‘A tactic that makes the public fall in love with excitement while these leaders remain inwardly detached; while keeping them in control. What the youths must learn from this exclusion is that to gain relevance politically, they must develop the will to work out their political salvation by recognizing ‘that there is little hope until they become tough-minded enough to break loose from the shackles of prejudice, half-truth, and downright ignorance.
Regardless of whether the appointments in the past seven years were made by Mr President to achieve a particular purpose—such as tackling the nation’s troubled economy, insecurity, unemployment or improvement of power generation, the truth is that looking at the lopsided architecture of those that Mr President appointed in 2019- predominantly made up of familiar names that did not spectacularly perform during Mr President’s first term, coupled with their present below average performance, the youth should know that as the nation races to 2023 general election, the hour has come for a shift in paradigm.
The above is not to suggest that this non-appointment of the youths to political positions in the country is limited to the present administration or just happening for the first time; as no administration in Nigeria can boast of clean hands. The challenge may exist in overt and glaring forms among the Buhari administration but may have existed in a hidden and subtle manner in others.
In my view, these are happening because Nigerian youths apart from playing visionless politics, they are in the words of Professor Wole Soyinka full of spunk abroad, but gas at home. Coupled with the reality that our nation is unfortunately blessed with a huge number of ‘coercive’ and selfish leaders as against truly ‘democratic, pacesetting and coaching leaders.
As an illustration, like a prophet that was supernaturally informed of it and supernaturally moved to announce it, I recall writing a piece dated August 2017 titled; Nigerian youths; celebrated abroad and despised at home, pointed out that the Nigerian government right from independence has evidently proved not to be interested in, or paid adequate attention to supporting youths involvement in politics or holding of public offices, but are merely concerned with clarifying the problem of youths apathy in politics without a solution. I also in that piece submitted that the only twist to that narrative is that youths have visible but ignorantly endorsed these underground plots through their actions and inactions.
Conversely, political pundits have argued that the youths should not be blamed for their inability to occupy political or leadership positions in the country, be it elective or appointment, but blamed on the nation’s inglorious departure from politics of ideas to money politics or what is currently referred to as the politics of the highest bidder which the youths have no financial muscles to partake in and therefore settled for the easiest option at their disposal which is praise singing.
Despite the virtues and attributes of the above positions, I still hold an opinion that the bulk of the blame rests at the doorstep of the youths as the list of political actions not taken was lengthy and worrisome.
As an incentive, if the youths had during the build-up to the 2019 general elections, identified the areas which really hold the key to political success, and apply the right mix of resources, make collaborative efforts and discipline, they should have been able to put themselves in a position of real competitive superiority using their demographic advantage.
To, therefore, catalyse the process of reversing this appalling trend, and form a force that must not be ignored, Nigerian youths must first understand the threat fear poses for a reason. They need to remember that under ‘right circumstances; fear can trigger the temptation to surrender to a demagogue promising strength and security in return.’ The 2018 general elections and the current political situation in the country stand as vivid examples.
Finally, Nigerian youths must not continue to agonize over such developments but wake up and do something civil and positive. On their part, our leaders should not live under the illusion of misguided cleverness but should ‘study history, study the actions of the eminent men, to see how they conducted themselves and to discover the reasons for their victories or their defeats so that they can avoid the latter and imitate the former.’
Utomi Jerome-Mario is the Programme Coordinator (Media and Policy), Social and Economic Justice Advocacy (SEJA), Lagos. He could be reached via firstname.lastname@example.org/08032725374
Verification of Bank of Agriculture Pensioners Begins
By Aduragbemi Omiyale
Pensioners of the Bank of Agriculture (BoA) who missed the previous verification exercises under the Defined Benefit Scheme (DBS) now have the opportunity to be verified.
This is because the Pension Transitional Arrangement Directorate (PTAD) has fixed Monday, August 22 to Wednesday, August 24, 2022, for their verification.
In a statement signed by the management of the agency, it was stated that the verification exercise is also for pensioners of other organisations who could not appear for the previous ones.
In the statement, PTAD said Bank of Agriculture pensioners and others should appear at the Afficient Event Centre located on No. 74, Sultan Road, Nassarawa G.R.A. Kano State and at the PTAD Marquee, tucked in 22 Katsina-Ala Crescent, Maitama, Abuja between 8 am and 4 pm for the three days.
PTAD emphasised that pensioners with incomplete documents should obtain a Letter of Introduction from the management of their agencies and an affidavit for the loss of documents.
The documents they are expected to present for verification include the original and photocopies of their career documents, stamped and signed BVN with a picture, one month stamped and signed bank statement, NIN or any other valid identification.
Ikeja Electric Signs Deal for Better Power Supply to Ayobo
By Adedapo Adesanya
A tripartite interconnected mini-grid agreement has been signed by Ikeja Electric Plc, Enaro Energy Limited and the Ayobo community for the provision of reliable and uninterrupted electricity supply to Ishokan Phase 1 Estate, Mercy Land Estate, and Mercy Land Phase1 residents in Ayobo, Lagos State.
The initiative is in line with the Nigerian Electricity Regulation Commission’s (NERC) goal of ensuring there is a reliable and steady power supply across communities in the country through partnerships between distribution companies (DisCos) and independent power generators.
The agreement, which was signed on Wednesday at Ikeja Electric’s corporate headquarters in Alausa, Lagos, will rely on the interconnected mini-grid initiative of the power sector to provide the customers with an uninterrupted power supply.
Speaking on this, Mrs Seqinah Adewunmi, the Chief Finance Officer of Ikeja Electric, who represented the Chief Executive Officer, Mrs Folake Soetan, during the signing of the agreements, stated that the initiative was a landmark in the history of the power sector in the state.
She added that those communities will be the first to experience uninterrupted power supply via a blend of grid and off-grid generation and distribution of power.
According to her, “it will demonstrate the possibility that our customers can enjoy 24 hours power supply which is in line with the core mission of Ikeja Electric to be the provider of choice wherever power is consumed.”
She congratulated everyone that has been part of the process, revealing that the initiative will transform the ways in which electricity is being distributed in Nigeria.
She further stated that this initiative will set the pace for bigger things to happen as the plan is to expand to other communities within the Ikeja Electric Franchise area.
On his part, Mr Oluwaseun Smith, the Managing Director of Enaro Energy, expressed his appreciation that the project was finally coming to fruition, adding that the journey began about two and half years ago and was glad that all the efforts towards ensuring the signing of the contract were worth it.
He stated that Enaro Energy was committed to providing the necessary resources to ensure the success of the project.
Obasanjo Charges Africa to Decide Its Energy Future
By Adedapo Adesanya
Former president of Nigeria, Mr Olusegun Obasanjo, has said Africa must take charge of its own energy destiny and use its rich resource assets for the benefit of its own people.
His comments come in support of the Africa Oil Week (AOW), which is necessitated as the world scrambles to find new sources of oil and gas to meet its energy needs following Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.
In this context, Mr Obasanjo noted that African countries cannot be beholden to the unrealistic ideals of the Global North for an exclusively renewables-driven economy, saying this is particularly true when the developed world is itself accepting the need for hydrocarbons.
“Like the rest of the world, Africa must follow energy policies that promote socio-economic development and sustainable hydrocarbon use,” he said.
The former Head of State, who ruled Africa’s largest crude oil producer from 1999 to 2007 said, “Africa is the lowest producer of greenhouse-gas emissions and needs to lift nearly half-a-billion citizens out of poverty.
“Responsible management of our hydrocarbons and investment in our economies is necessary to ensure a just energy transition and sustainable growth for our people.”
The European Union (EU) had previously said it intends to cut Russian-supplied oil by up to 90 per cent by the end of 2022, and the announcement has already caused global energy costs to soar.
Africa is one of the potential new sources of energy to replace this supply, with an estimated 61 billion barrels of oil equivalent being discovered in the region over the past 10 years.
Mr Obasanjo’s view aligns with that of the African Petroleum Producers Organization (APPO), which also called on member countries and other global institutions to use petroleum as a catalyst for energy security, sustainable development, and economic diversification in Africa through collaboration and partnerships.
Mr Obasanjo has been a major leader of Africa’s post-colonial period, having overseen Nigeria’s transition to representative democracy. Since his move out of the government sphere, he has been a senior statesman, active in defining geopolitical issues – including energy.
He also helped to shape the modern Nigerian oil industry, inaugurating policy reforms that have seen the country become an energy superpower on the African continent.
“Creating an African oil industry that benefits Africa’s people needs strong policy and regulation.
“During my time in government, we launched oil-and-gas policy reforms that helped to build a modern oil and gas hub. There were many learnings that we can apply across the wider region. I look forward to discussing these opportunities for Africa.”
He then called for accelerated dialogue on the sustainable development of hydrocarbons, and the role of Africa as a supplier of global energy needs.
“There has been much talk at forums such as the World Economic Forum (WEF) in Davos about a just energy transition. However, we must not allow Africa to be dictated to. The discussions at AOW will be pivotal in charting a new energy course for Africa. We will decide what is best for us,” he said.
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