Promise Adiele – Convener, Third Force Movement
I am compelled by the title of this week’s essay to set aside all the literary and linguistic stunts associated with scholarship. I am motivated to communicate this message objectively and simply for the discerning mind to appreciate. Delivering a message simply reminds me of the late Nigerian musician, Sunny Okosun. He sang simply and directly. He was famous for his practical approach to music. Mostly remembered as the undisputed Ozzidi crooner, Okosun’s music preaches nationalism and advances the African cause. Although many people believe that Okosun named his band ‘Ozzidi’ after an Ijaw god, the late musician insisted that Ozzidi means ‘there is a message’. It is to the latter meaning of Ozzidi that I subscribe to because Okosun’s songs are full of messages. In 1977, he released an album made popular by a particular track “Papa’s Land”. In the song, Okosun declares, ‘we want to know who owns the land’. That declaration by the Ozzidi exponent is presently more relevant than ever in Lagos State given the way members of the National Union of Road Transport Workers (NURTW) have taken over Lagos State especially the roads and highways causing untold traffic gridlock in desperation.
Of course, one recognizes that people have the right to carry on with their daily activities but when the activities of one person or group of persons inflict misery and anguish on the rest of the people, then certain questions become pertinent. It is dispiriting that members of the union have gradually become the law, they are not just above the law, they are the law. Unfortunately, the Lagos State government, with all the appurtenances of governance and power are simply helpless in the face of growing acts of knavery by the NURTW members. It is the apparent show of power and authority by members of the NURTW and the timid approach of the Lagos State government that has provoked the title of this week’s essay as I ask, who owns Lagos State? To put it more succinctly, between the Lagos State government and NURTW, who owns Lagos State? Between the governor of Lagos State Babajide Sanwo-Olu and the NURTW chairman, Musiliu Ayinde Akinsanya, popularly known MC Oluomo, who is in charge of the Centre of Excellence? Some people have argued that while Sanwo-Olu is the official governor of Lagos State, MC Oluomo is the unofficial Grand-Commander of the State. The truth is not too far away.
No doubt, Lagos is the undisputed commercial hub of Nigeria with an estimated population of twenty-five million inhabitants. People from all walks of life migrate to Lagos in search of greener pastures. Lagos, as a state, has a more robust economy than most African countries. On the flip side, the city accommodates the good, the bad, and the ugly. It has a special language understood by only Lagosians. It has its peculiar idiosyncrasies, its behaviour and general way of life. A Lagosian is famed to be smarter than most people who grew up in other parts of the country. A Lagosian is freer with money, perhaps because to make money in Lagos is not as tedious and herculean as in other cities in Nigeria. For millions of people, Lagos is home, but not for the faint-hearted. Its mad traffic can collapse the Berlin Wall. It is said that anybody who can drive in Lagos can easily drive in any part of the world including the glamorous New York City. Indeed, Lagos is the New York of Africa. It is the safest city in Nigeria, most organized and liberal. Come to Lagos and be happy. Come to Lagos and bask in success. Lagos is the unrivalled land of opportunities. A Lagosian I know, Baba Simi, has boasted that the madness of Fulani herdsmen will never allow them to enter Lagos. According to the Baba, the day they do, they will meet their waterloo. Lagos is the city champion of Africa.
Given all the accolades associated with Lagos, it then becomes worrisome that members of the NURTW have made movement around the city very difficult. They deliberately and fragrantly block the roads at will while carrying passengers in their yellow buses. This causes very long traffic for motorists who have various places to go to. It is unbelievable that while these yellow buses are blocking the roads and constituting a huge nuisance to everybody, members of the Nigerian Police, the FRSC, LASTMA and other law enforcement agents look on. They only hunt innocent Nigerians to harass and intimidate. Certainly, NURTW members are above the law. The police can’t touch them. Someone has inferred that the NURTW is the roguish arm of the Lagos State government used for underhand, nefarious activities. Well, I do not believe such submissions but given the way members of the NURTW carry on daily, one would suspect that the Lagos State government may be hand-in-gloves with them.
No one has said that NURTW should not operate. No one has queried the legitimacy of the union because it is a registered group recognized by the law. However, as they carry out their activities daily, they should not hinder other people from doing the same. As they set out to make their daily bread, they should also remember that time is of the essence for many people who have the legitimate right to move around the city. From one end of Lagos to another, the story is the same. Yellow buses controlled by NURTW block the main road in utter disregard for the traffic laws of Lagos State. Ikeja bus-stop is a nightmare for motorists. It is not because the road is bad or broken but because yellow buses find it convenient to block the road while carrying passengers. Obalande, CMS, Mile 2, Ojota, Ojuelegba, Yaba, Falomo, Oshodi, Isolo and many other spots around the city have become nightmares because of the activities of the NURTW members.
The recently completed Agege over-head bridge has become a bad dream come true. Motorists from Ogba descending from the bridge towards Abule-Egba are having it rough. The stretch which ordinarily should be free and smooth has become tedious and agonizingly slow. Motorists spend several hours there because of the activities of NURTW members who block the road from NITEL while calling passengers. Somehow, they carry on with a certain assurance that there are no consequences to their actions. The body language of the Lagos State government does not instil confidence among the people as they are left at the mercy of these lords of the manor. The new Agege over-head bridge has also become a home for many miscreants who park yellow buses around the bridge and make the whole area look like one madhouse. Is the Lagos State government aware of all these? Lagosians were happy when the former governor Babatunde Fashola carried out what could be likened to a surgical operation in Oshodi. After the operation, one could hardly recognize Oshodi. It looked like a city in Japan with streets lights and wide roads. Unfortunately, Oshodi today is gradually returning to its disreputable state. The road blocking has returned. Street trading has returned too and the current Lagos State government appears helpless and confused. Who owns the land, NURTW or Lagos State?
It was Nigeria’s doyen of literature Chinua Achebe who submitted thus – “let the kite perch and let the eagle perch too, if one says no to the other, let its wing break”. NURTW should realise that Lagosians also have the right to live in the city and move around to pursue their daily living. Let NURTW operate, but let them also allow other people to operate. Peaceful co-existence is the way to go in Lagos as we all watch events in Nigeria with trepidation. If the Lagos State government cannot compel NURTW to obey the laws, at least moral suasion will suffice. The governor of Lagos State Babajide Sanwo- Olu may not possess the dare-devil, bold approach that Fashola has, but he can use other means to call these people to order. NURTW does not own Lagos State or do they? Those who pay taxes in the state deserve to move around freely. Lagosians also deserve to enjoy the roads constructed by the government. The leadership of NURTW should call their men to order and behave responsibly. To always attribute lawlessness and rascality to the union is bad for the image of the union. NURTW can be useful in Lagos State and to Lagosians. Everyone can live in peace without constituting a stumbling block in another person’s way. Let Lagos become a true megacity that everyone will enjoy.
Dr Adiele teaches in the Department of English, Mountain Top University email@example.com
Daily Times Nigeria24th March 2021
2023 Election: Group suggests Saraki for Presidency, says North-Central is marginalized
By Progress Godfrey
As the curtain draws closer toward the end of the current administration, a group known as the North Central Coalition Initiative (NCCI) has suggested Dr Bukola Saraki for the Presidency in the forthcoming election in 2023.
The group said this on Wednesday in Abuja in a press statement delivered by its visionary and national coordinator Sen. Phillip Aruwa, adding that Nigeria’s focus must be on the North Central for it to be rescued from the brink of the current situation.
The national coordinator said that the region has been marginalized in power distribution owing to its non-inclusion since the democratic system of governance was ushered in in 1999.
He stressed that the country is at the brink of disintegration due to the unprecedented clamor for self-determination in some geopolitical zones of the country which he said, calls for the complete jettisoning of the military-authored constitution
Against the backdrop of the looming threat to national unity, Aruwa expressed the need to revisit Nigeria’s past political development in a view to situating the problem within the context of nationhood.
He said, “Having exhaustively analyzed our current situation, we strongly believe that for Nigeria to be rescued from the brink, our focus must be on the North Central zone. Let the next President of Nigeria come from this zone. Political leaders in the likes of Dr Saraki, have what it takes to lead this country and unite the people.
“The north central geopolitical zone has suffered so much injustice and it is its political victim status that can make leaders from this zone dispense justice equitably and ensure that there are no second class citizens in Nigeria. We strongly believe that for Nigeria to survive as a political entity and witness rapid development, there must be good leadership in place. The North Central geopolitical zone is strategically positioned to provide the much deserved political leadership for Nigeria.
“A critical analysis of events in the corridors of power will show that all the bickering prevailing today are influenced by negative political tendencies. The table below shows the distribution of power positions under democratically elected governments in the past. It is clear that only one geopolitical zone has been marginalized in power distribution; And that zone is the North Central geopolitical zone which has never produced a democratically elected President or Vice President (see table below).
“Leadership Positions In Nigeria From 1979-2021:
- Alh. Shehu Shagari, President, (North West)
- Dr Alex Ekwueme, Vice President, (South East)
- Chief Ernest Shonekan, Head of Interim Government, (Southwest)
- Olusegun Obasanjo, President, (Southwest)
- Alh. Atiku Abubakar, Vice President (North East)
- Alh. Shehu Musa Yar’adua, President, (Northwest)
- Dr. Goodluck Ebele Jonathan, Vice President, (South-south)
- Dr Goodluck Ebele Jonathan, President, (South-south)
- Alh. Namadi Sambo, Vice President, (Northwest)
- Muhammadu Buhari, President, (Northwest)
- Prof. Yemi Osinbajo, Vice President, (Southwest).
“Nigeria today is at the brink of disintegration as we are witnessing unprecedented agitations from the various political components that make up the country.
“This clamoring for self-determination in some geo-political zones of the country, calls for restructuring of political power structures, and calls for the complete jettison of the nation’s Constitution which was authored by the military, for a new one whose tenets should have inputs from the people.
“This scenario, which is threatening the country, is leading the country towards balkanization and complete disintegration, unless urgent steps are taken towards averting the inevitable.
“Against the backdrop of this sad development, a revisit of our country’s past political development is very necessary in order to situate the problem within the context of our nationhood, and proffer empirical solutions to the issues at stake.
“What is the empirical solution that can pave the way for overcoming the present predicament that we’ve found ourselves in? And how can we work towards reverting the present situation that has taken us to the brink? This piece is an attempt to provide a solution to our problem as a nation.
“We must therefore, pause and ponder awhile as to what needs to be done, if we’re to survive the present political onslaught being carried out by evil forces.
“Revisiting our political developmental processes and our political history will give us an insight into the country’s problems and what we can do to move out of the present political quagmire.
“No one in our country today can comfortably say that the present prevailing situation is not a disturbing phenomenon.”
The national coordinator further highlighted the efforts by the North Central Zone during the post war federal government headed by Gen. Yakubu from the region, whose slogan, “no victor, no vanquished” he said, was the bedrock for reconstruction and rehabilitation of the country and the birth of the democracy that Nigerians so cherish today.
He decried the recent happenings, stating that it is an effort to tarnish the efforts put to ensure that democracy and its dividends are benefited by Nigerians.
According to him, the North Central Zone desires to build a Nigeria poised for developmenta through the entrenchment of democratic institutions; and this, he said can only be done through the inclusiveness in politics and the equitable involvement of the region in the political process of all Nigerians.
“The post war Federal government, headed by Gen. Yakubu Gowon, and who comes from north central geopolitical zone, worked assiduously to ensure that the nation remained as one political entity. His “no victor, no vanquished,” slogan was to herald a new era of reconstruction and rehabilitation, which resulted in national cohesion and coexistence in our body polity.
“President Muhammadu Buhari was elected to take over from Jonathan, and has since then remained in power to this day. It is under him that Nigeria is today at the throes of imploding politically. Activities undermining democratic norms are now rife in the country, and it is very clear that unless these issues are addressed, the nation may no doubt slide into an abyss of destruction; a situation we’re all praying would be averted.
“One noticeable phenomenon in our polity is that in spite of the numerous coup d’etats recorded before the termination of military rule in 1999, our country continues to witness unprecedented developmental efforts in different sectors. However, recent developments in the country are threatening to make rubbish of these efforts.
“We are witnesses to the macabre political schemes and audacious demands by separatists, terrorists, and armed gunmen who are hell bent in destroying the hard earned unity of our nation. But for how long shall we continue to watch these happenings without doing anything to stem the tide of this evil season of anomie?
“All right thinking Nigerians know that the disintegration of our country would spell doom not only for us as a people, but would also drastically affect the entire African continent. Something needs to be done and urgently too, if we’re to survive the evil times that have enveloped our nation.
“The interesting thing here is that the north central geopolitical zone of Nigeria provided for the enabling environment for political re-engineering of our political system and national cohesion. And ever since this significant role of the north central geopolitical zone in Nigeria’s re-engineering political process, this region has remained the fulcrum that holds the nation together.
“It was the leadership provided by Gen. Yakubu Gowon, that saw to the amicable resolution of political crisis that engulfed the country and the eventual end of the civil war. In the same vein, Gen. Abubakar created the enabling environment for power to be returned to the Southwest, with Obasanjo emerging as democratically elected President.
“The likes of political leaders like Solomon Lar and many other notable sons of the north central geopolitical zone, encouraged and pressured the military to birth democracy. The democracy we so much cherish today is the product of the efforts of these men of honour.
“It has to be explained here that even in the present dispensation, there’re many political leaders from the north central zone like Sen. Dr Abubakar Bukola Saraki, Sen. Prof Iyiorcha Ayu, Sen. David Mark, Sen Jonah David Jang, and many others not mentioned here, who were the architects of tenets of democracy in legislative craftsmanship while serving in the National Assembly.
“It would therefore be logical to say in spite of being marginalized politically, north Central Nigeria has continued to play the role of mediators and ameliorators during crises situations in the country. This, political leaders in the zone have done because of their desire to see that Nigeria remains as one political entity,” he said.
320 Independent Monitors Received Engagement Letters, Devices In Kano
The Honourable Minister of Humanitarian Affairs, Disaster Management and Social Development, Sadiya Umar Farouq has flagged off the distribution of engagement letters and monitoring devices to trained Independent Monitors in Kano State.
The Honorable Minister who was represented at the flag off by the Permanent Secretary of the Ministry, Bashir Nura Alkali disclosed that the National Social Investment Programme (NSIP), created by President Muhammadu Buhari in 2016 is mandated to lift citizens out of poverty through Its various programmes such as N-Power, National Home Grown School Feeding Programme (NHGSFP), the Conditional Cash Transfer (CCT) and Government Enterprise Empowerment Programme (GEEP).
Continuing, Alkali said, the 320 Independent Monitors in Kano are among the 5000 trained in February – April 2021 when the nationwide trainnig was held, adding that the Programme is implemented in the 36 states including the Federal Capital Territory.
A statement by the SA Strategic Communications, Halima Oyelade said the devices to be used in monitoring the Programme are locally made in Nigeria with an Application called the Social Investment Management Information System (SIMIS) designed by an indigenous company.
” Using this Application the Ministry sees real time activities of the Independent Monitors on the field, see reports submitted and the NSIP performance indicator state by state. This will help the Ministry detect areas where there are challenges and essentially help the Ministry to deliver on the mandate, to to lift 100 million Nigerians out of poverty” he said.
The Independent Monitors are expected to monitor a designated number of beneficiaries of the NSIP and will be paid a stipend of N30,000 monthly. However, they must meet up to 80% of the deverables to get their stipends. The engagement letters articulated the scope of work for the monitors which include ; routine monitoring of NSIP in their assigned.
Embrace Peace And Unity-Senator Odey Charges Youths
The Senator representing Cross River North, Dr Stephen Odey, has charged Yache youths to focus on ensuring the peace and unity of Nigeria, which are indispensable catalysts to meaningful development.
Odey, gave the charges during the 2nd Yache Youth National National Congress in Calabar,in a statement obtained by The Summit,on Wednesday.
He assured the youths of his unflinching support for their laudable developmental strive, stressed that they must focus on ensuring the peace and unity of their immediate community and beyond.
He said “I have been following your activities with keen interest and I wish to formally encourage you and assure you of my resolve to support you when you focus on ensuring peace and unity in Yache and beyond.
“As you already know, I will never be part of any disunity in my community, consequently, I urge you to remain steadfast in championing the cause of unity in Yache.”
He call on the youths to continue to support the administration of Senator Professor Ben Ayade, Governor of Cross River State, whom he described as an astute lover of Yache Nation.
Dr Eric Ugor Ogri,who delivered paper on the theme: “Empowering Yache Youth towards Meaningful Development, A call for Re-orientation” Condemned cases of unhealthy rivalry and competition, egocentric dispositions and disunity among the people.
He noted that meaningful development is indispensable to social, economic, political advancement and peaceful coexistence of any given people.
He charged Yache youths to actively be at the vanguard for meaningful development, peaceful coexistence and unity.
Ogri identified areas of youths empowerment and community development to include, orientations of youths, economic and political empowerment, intellectual empowerment and engagement in communal efforts and community services.
The congress was attended with personalities; Francis Ogar Obri, Oko Peter, Dominic Odey Ayide, Patrick Agbahi, Tony-Jerry Okpatuma; Miss Vivian Bassey.
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