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14082018 - POPULATION GROWTH : Danger looms for Nigeria

Vanguard Newspaper 14 April 2018

84—SATURDAY Vanguard,

84—SATURDAY Vanguard, APRIL 14, 2018 Abubakar: Restoring sanity to governance in Bauchi By Emmanuel Aziken, Political Editor HAVING risen through the ranks of the Bauchi State civil service to the position of director before venturing into politics, Mohammed Abubakar had a clear view of the situation in Bauchi State before his inauguration in May 2015. It was that clear perspective that granted him the insight to soothe the felt needs of the people of the state. The bequest of the preceding regime was in any case, a challenge that would have daunted any other less courageous politician. The governor was welcomed to office by a disgruntled civil service which had issued a strike threat following monthslong arrears of unpaid salaries. That situation was not helped by nearly N100 billion of debts accumulated by the preceding regime that the new administration had to shoulder. That was besides the challenge that came from the insurgency in the Northeast given that the southern edges of the Sambisa Forest, the base of the Boko Haram insurgents, extends to Bauchi State. In addressing the restiveness that was the hallmark of the civil service that preceded his advent, the governor summoned the courage to tackle the horrendous hold of ghost workers on the state bureaucracy. The fight against the ghosts has caused the state to have net savings of N1 billion monthly from its recurrent expenditure. Obligations to the civil servants Governor Abubakar’s immediate response to the apathy he saw everywhere was to, through tact, bring down the tension in the civil service by settling the obligations to the civil servants. Calming the civil servants and bringing sanity to the bureaucracy was important given the pivotal role that it was to play in the delivery of the governor’s promises to the citizenry. That trajectory proved helpful as the governor has through the Bauchi State Planning Commission articulated annual market calendars that have now proved as useful guides to potential investors wishing to invest in the state. The effort to boost the capacity of the private sector in the state has also been helped by the active synergy between the state administration and some international bodies including UNICEF, World Bank, USAID, Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation. Governor Abubakar’s effort in extending the efforts of the government to the populace saw the establishment of a programme directed at the youths, termed YESSO- Youth Employment and Social Support Operation, a programme directed at boosting the entrepreneurial capacities of the youths. Given that Bauchi State is mostly a rural state, the Governor Abubakar administration has directed its efforts towards boosting agriculture in the state through the empowerment of the •Governor Mohammed Abubakar of Bauchi State farmers. The Abubakar administration lent its support to the capturing of the biometric data of farmers in the state, which itself is part of a scheme that allows small-scale farmers access farm inputs directly from suppliers at subsidised prices under the National Agricultural Payment Initiative, NAPI. At least 800,000 small-scale farmers in the state have been enrolled into the scheme which is itself a modification of the Growth Enhancement Support Scheme, GESS practiced in some other states. The Governor Mohammed Abubakar led administration has also caused farmers in the state to participate in the Federal Government A n c h o r Borrowers programme for rice, wheat, and m a i z e production. The state government expended N 1 9 4 . 6 million in purchasing equipment and other logistics for 8,000 farmers in the state who have been enrolled into the scheme. These are His fight against the ghost workers has caused the state to have net savings of N1 billion monthly from its recurrent expenditure besides other supports given to farmers including tractor hire at subsidized rates, and expenditure of N2 billion in the purchase of assorted fertilizer distributed to farmers in the 2015-16 farming season. The projects which covered such sectors as health, water, and environmental schemes, were carried out under the 2015 Conditional Grant Scheme (CGS) of the Bauchi State Office of Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) SDGs Office has also constructed 19 primary health centres, staff quarters and VIP toilets were constructed in various locations across the state during the period. In an effort towards making a better life for the rural people in Bauchi, the Governor Abubakar led administration has also drilled 33 solar-powered boreholes, 57 hand-pumped boreholes, supplied six ambulances and equipped the 19 newly constructed primary health centres. The Bauchi State SDGs Office also in conjunction with a private concern also trained 2,340 unemployed youths in digital applications with the expectation that the trainees would establish their own businesses in digital applications. The impactful efforts of the Mohammed Abubakar administration in the lives of the citizenry have been mostly helped by the enhanced security that the people of Bauchi State have witnessed since the advent of the administration. The administration has through deliberate supports to security agencies and through programmes and policies helped to dissuade the citizenry from the message of the Boko Haram insurgents leading to enhanced security in the state. For his efforts in strategic planning and mobilizing the resources to impact the majority of the people of Bauchi State, Barrister Mohammed Abubakar is Vanguard’s Man of the Year, 2017.

Adebayo Shittu is the summary of our degenerate politics. He was elected into the Oyo house of Assembly at 26. He must have been such a promising prospect. He had two brief stints as commissioner in Oyo state. He was even the state Attorney General. Many must have had real hopes and perhaps confidence in him. That state, like the nation, had been starved of seasoned, morally erect and insightful politicians. So no one could be blamed if anything that glittered , anywhere in the nations political field, was mistaken for gold. So much was given to Adebayo Shittu. Adebayo shittu is 65 now. He is the minister of communications. He seems a thoroughly failed project. He mistakes success for the positions he has held. So he seems perpetually self conceited. There is never a mention of any notable achievements. Okay, he has written some religious books. If he had any gift of introspection he would have been alarmed by his untamed moral sensibility. He would have spent some time reflecting on his fascination with mundane accomplishments. When he was made Communications minister by President Buhari many were certain he was a bent round peg in a square hole. Opponents pointed at ministers like Adebayo Shittu and wondered whether Buhari wasted six months dreaming or actually looking for a ministerial dream team. Shittu didn’t disappoint his mockers. Nothing remarkable has happened in his ministry. Shittu was seen occasionally in official pictures. As 2019 approached, Shittu became more visible. Rumours started sprouting. He had Oyo governorship in his sights. That is a lofty ambition. But Shittu didn’t have to leave the ugly impression that he was suddenly desperate to be in the news. A solid performance in the communications ministry would have been his argument for his desired position. Shittu is very street-smart. He had not much to show in ministerial performance. He contrived a substitute. One bright Wednesday morning he hopped into the Federal Executive Council chambers Abuja with a grin and big bags. The bags Adebayo Shittu:Minister of Communications, Sycophancy and Pomposity contained caps and vests promoting President Buhari’s re-election. Buhari hadn’t indicated interest to run in the 2019 elections then. But Shittu had realized that since his performance had been nondescript, his loyalty had to be extravagant. He began distributing the campaign materials. Other ministers cringed at his sycophancy which was well within the realm of buffoonery. The Secretary to the Government of the Federation rose and saved Buhari and the government further embarrassments. The bag was taken from him and his enterprise was contained the way any nauseous obsequiousness should be contained. If Shittu were unschooled, we could have had a simple explanation. We could have blamed it on illiteracy. That was what we said about Adedibu and his methods. But Shittu is a lawyer. That day at the federal executive council he was flagrantly breaking the law on electioneering and campaigns. Why are even our educated politicians so refractory to the acquisition of finer moral sensibilities? Why do they fawn without restraints, without regards for their children and public decency? Shittu is inexplicable. There is a part of Adedibu that is very visible in Shittu. That unpretentious cockiness. If one Razaq Olubodun, Shittu’s former aide, is credible then Shittu doesn’t have Adedibu’s invaluable generosity. Late Adedibu took good care of his ‘boys’ and protected them with jealousy. Razaq Olubodun has been everywhere telling tales of woes. He has described penny pinching selfishness. He branded Shittu a ‘chop alone.’ Shittu, who takes and gives without compunction, responded and branded his renegade aide a ‘kobo kobo’ traitor. We know that in Nigeria people can be hired and poached. And such political dramas can be staged for vendetta. Opponents can recruit casts from the kitchens of the rivals for great effects and believability. But Shittu hasn’t helped himself. At a radio programme recently, he took off his dress and revealed himself. What came to the fore in his exchanges with Sowore, the publisher of Sahara Reporters, at that station, was uncouth arrogance and total disregard for bounds of propriety. Listeners were grated by the vulgar presumptuousness of the minister. When he was not reveling in self congratulations on his precocious rise to ‘significance,’ he was SATURDAY Vanguard, APRIL14, 2018—85 denigrating online journalism. When he wasn’t sneering at poverty and an online publisher seeking the presidency, he was intoxicated about having occupied the office of a minister for three years. There, was a communications minister who disparaged an online newspaper the way a motor park tout would. If a communications minister was so out of touch that he was not conversant with the trajectory of 2018 journalism, he could have saved himself by being contrite. But Shittu was loud and effusively ignorant. He wouldn’t let go of conceitedness, so he couldn’t be freed from his ignorance. Every modern politician pretends to some civility in public. But it was in public that Adebayo Shittu contemptuously dismissed a 47 year old man as being too young to run for president on account of age. If this is the mindset of a lawyer who became a state legislator 30 years ago and who is the minister of communications, then our salvation may still be afar off. Our politicians spend many years in politics and learn nothing. We have no political culture. If there is any grooming, it is done by wily hands and unscrupulous minds. The system teaches only perversion. They see the suffering in the land first hand but they are pre occupied with self aggrandizement and the winning of elections. They hold many important positions but they acquire no positive experience. What they become are masters in the art of personal survival. They have seen the ephemerality of power firsthand but they do not lend their minds to any moral reformations. Their excitable souls are impervious to the lessons of history. They are carefree with history. They have seen the rich and powerful come to sudden death, come to timely deaths. But they are not moved by the futility of wanton acquisition of wealth in all circumstances. They have seen flowers bloom and puff today, and go limp tomorrow. Yet they puff, puff puff and attend to their fantasies with a sense of personal immortality.... Sometime ago, in company of my wife, I visited a family. I met a very beautiful lady in her mid 30s, a relative of the madam of the house. Out of curiosity I asked my friend when he was escorting me to my vehicle about her marital status because I did not see a wedding ring. He said she was married, but her husband was abroad. She had been trying to join him to no avail, he explained. Why did they not sort that out before tying the nuptial knot, I pressed further. “Well they are not actually married yet, they are just engaged,” he responded. “It still does not matter, they should have sorted out her visa or resident permit issues before the engagement and the fiancé’s relocation abroad. Horse before the cart and not vice versa,” I insisted. Then, he threw the bombshell: they have not met physically; they met on Facebook. The guy actually left Nigeria over 10 years ago and has not set his foot on Nigerian soil since then. “So how was the introduction done,” I asked. “His family did it on his behalf,” he responded. As we drove out, I could not get it off my mind. I wanted to write about it then, but decided not to because I felt the cases of internet and social media marriages in Nigeria were isolated; no need crying wolf where none existed. I have heard a lot about internet dating via social media, but not marriages. But when a highly respected and influential personality as Pastor Enoch Adeboye, the General Overseer of the Redeemed Christian Church of God, warns against getting spouses on social media, you know there is fire on the mountain. He admonished members and all who cared to listen at the monthly Holy Ghost Service and Vigil of the church last weekend —which makes the matter even more serious— against social media marriages. As he rightly observed, it is wrong to get married to someone whose background you do not know. This is not just about Christianity; as Pastor said, in those days, parents investigated the families their children were to marry from or marry into before sanctioning the union. This tradition has endured to this day even with globalization and interracial and interethnic marriages. Sometimes you wonder whether the marital institution that some of these youngsters are Marriage via social media preparing to get into is the same one you know. Long before Christianity berthed in Africa, family units were responsible for the stability of African societies. A family starts with marriage which unites man and woman, so stable families and marriages are the bedrocks of a stable society. These In those days, parents investigated the families their children were to marry from or marry into before sanctioning the union. This tradition has endured to this day days, churches, and even the secular world, place much emphasis on courtship, the period both parties get to know each other more and decide whether or not the relationship should transit to a marriage. In making that crucial decision, they ought to answer some fundamental questions. Am I ready to spend the rest of my life with this person? Can I tolerate his shortcomings for the rest of my life? Do we share common core values? Are there meeting points where our values and views are divergent? Does he/she fall within my latitude of acceptance? Does he/she have any health challenges or dark side or past I ought to be aware of? What is his/her genotype? Some of these questions cannot be answered adequately in relationships conducted via Skype, video calls, emails and whatsapp. You need some level of physical interactions. Many “arrangee” marriages of old between and among our grandparents worked, so some people now feel that marriage without courtship can also work. Yes, nothing is impossible, but you increase the chances of the success of your marriage when you know your spouse reasonably well before marriage. In the African society of old, the husband was supreme, he was lord and master. There was only one voice in the house, the man’s. In fact, in some cultures, the wife was no different from her children. The man could tell her to kneel down or even flog her, like her children, as punishment. Sometimes, the husband punished her for the misdemeanor of her children on the ground that she failed in her parenting responsibilities. But these are out of the question in today’s modern African society. In modern marriages, the voices are two, no longer one. Sometimes the woman’s voice is dominant, especially where she is the breadwinner. The traditional African setting was tilted against women. Now, in trying to redress it, some feminists have pushed their agitations beyond boundaries. The relationship between husband and wife is no longer universal, firm and uniform as in time past. Now, each couple adopts what works for the union. If you copy couple A’s arrangement hook line and sinker, your marriage would go up in smoke. Mr. A runs his family strictly like a typical African man; but he is also the breadwinner. The same might not work for Mr. B, who is unemployed. But while couples must come up with a formula that works for them, the foundation of the formula should be laid during courtship, then ensure the goal post is not unilaterally shifted by either party after the match (marriage) has started. That is partly why courtship is very important. But the foundation must be laid on mutual love and respect. It is very unAfrican for an African woman to disrespect her husband, while the husband should reciprocate with showers of love. My firm belief in the indissolubility of marriage, notwithstanding, I do not understand marriage without love and respect. What is salt without its saltiness? Families of youngsters dating should differentiate between courtship and marriage. Once people get married, families should leave them alone to sort out themselves, except there is threat to life. But families should be involved in their children’s courtships, but totally for the children’s benefit not for selfish motives, so that they can be saved from themselves when they do dumb things like social media-only dating. Many youngsters in courtships need assistance; they are not fully in charge of their faculties. If nothing else, family members with good intentions should ensure that their wards know what they are doing. If you refrain from getting involved during courtships, you may be dragged into marital issues that you ought not to be involved in after the marriage.