Thursday, June 21, 2018

Buhari's High Score on Education

President Muhammadu Buhari

When teachers cannot pass their exams what are they suppose to teach the children? It is a very tragic situation we are in. 

Our country is facing numerous challenges in education and all other sectors as a result of historical abuses, mindless impunity and corruption is not news to anyone.

An estimated 13.2 million children out of school, high illiteracy level, infrastructural deficit and decay, unqualified teachers, and inadequate instructional materials, to mention some of the challenges, this shows the effect of decades of neglect that the educational sector has suffered.

President Buhari’s promises include

 - A full review of the Universal Basic Education Act with emphasis on gender equity in primary, secondary school enrolment whilst improving the quality and substance of our schools.

-Targeting up to 20 percent of the annual budget for this critical sector whilst making substantial investments in training quality teachers at all levels of the educational system.

-Reduce malpractices in the sector to a low level.

-Enhance teacher training and improve the competence of teachers in the light of the 21st Century.

– Provide one meal a day for all primary school pupils as this will create jobs in agriculture, catering, and delivery services.

-Develop and promote effective use of innovative teaching methods/materials in schools.

-Ensure a greater proportion of expenditure on university education to help improve the sector.

-Establish at least six new universities of Science and Technology with satellite campuses in various states.

-Address the out-of-school children phenomenon.

-Ensure 30 million Nigerians become literate within three years.

-Re-negotiate the 2009 Agreement with unions in the tertiary sector.

-Academic stability at all levels.

-Attracting best brains to the teaching profession.

-Reducing the percentage counterpart fund paid by states to ease their access to funds.

-Providing e-learning, technical and vocational education and training, education data and planning and adult literacy including special needs education.

-Providing educational support to deportees.

-Re-emphasising ban on tuition fees in federal universities

Achievements recorded

-Presented a roadmap for ‘radical change’ in the education sector between 2016 and 2019.

-Introduction of national headcount of pupils and personnel in all primary and junior secondary schools.

-Compulsory basic education for pupils especially in Bayelsa State.

-Implementation of open distance and flexible learning for 25 polytechnics.

-Approval of N1.9 billion intervention fund for each university.

– Introduction of the school feeding programme.

-Modification of the United Tertiary Matriculation Examination (UTME) for candidates seeking admission into the higher institutions of learning by introducing Central Admission Processing System.

– Making JAMB, Nigeria’s foremost admission body to tertiary institutions, not only more transparent but also more productive.

-Approval of 15 university online learning centers.

-Revamping data-collection system in the education sector.

-Introduction of Teachers’ professional examination.

Whilst we acknowledge the work done, there is still more work to be done. More importantly, the President Buhari administration needs to take solid measures towards addressing the issue of producing unemployable graduates by some institutions. If not, this negates all the good work done.

Wednesday, June 20, 2018

Buhari Signs 2018 Budget

President Muhammadu Buhari
It is imperative to note that It the budge signing has a very significant accelerator effect on the financial plans of other tiers of government, and even more importantly, the private sector, which mostly operates on a January-December financial year.  

Notwithstanding the delay this year, I am determined to continue to work with the National Assembly towards improving the budgeting process and restoring our country to the January-December fiscal cycle.

The bill was slated to be signed today, but I submitted the 2018 Budget proposals to the National Assembly on 7th November 2017, I had hoped that the usual legislative review process would be quick, so as to move Nigeria towards a predictable January-December financial year. The importance of this predictability cannot be overemphasized.

As I mentioned during the presentation of the 2018 Appropriation Bill, we intend to use the 2018 Budget to consolidate the achievements of previous budgets and deliver on Nigeria’s Economic Recovery and Growth Plan (ERGP) 2017-2020.

The lawmakers increased the proposal by N508 billion from N8.61 trillion to N9.12 trillion before passing it, they made cuts to some projects and introduced others which the President consider a setback to his plans.
Buhari expressed his worry, he said “an aggregate of N73 billion increase” the National Assembly made with regard to the provisions for statutory transfers. Most of these increases are for recurrent expenditure at a time we are trying to keep down the cost of governance’.
“An example of this increase is the budget of the National Assembly itself which has increased by 14.5 billion naira, from 125 billion naira to 139.5 billion naira without any discussion with the executive.
As it is, some of these projects relate to matters that are the responsibility of the States and Local Governments, and for which the Federal Government should therefore not be unduly burdened.
Furthermore, many of these new projects introduced by the National Assembly have been added to the budgets of most MDAs with no consideration for institutional capacity to execute them or the incremental recurrent expenditure that may be required.
Such examples of projects from which cuts were made are as follows:
1. The provisions for some nationally/regionally strategic infrastructure projects such as Counter-part funding for the Mambilla Power Plant, Second Niger Bridge/ancillary roads, the East-West Road, Bonny-Bodo Road, Lagos-Ibadan Expressway and Itakpe-Ajaokuta Rail Project were cut by an aggregate of 11.5 billion Naira.
2. Similarly, provisions for some ongoing critical infrastructure projects in the FCT, Abuja especially major arterial roads and the mass transit rail project, were cut by a total of 7.5 billion Naira.
3. The provision for Rehabilitation and Additional Security Measures for the United Nations Building by the FCT, Abuja was cut by 3.9 billion Naira from 4 billion Naira to 100 million Naira; this will make it impossible for the Federal Government of Nigeria to fulfill its commitment to the United Nations on this project.
4. The provisions for various Strategic Interventions in the health sector such as the upgrade of some tertiary health institutions, transport and storage of vaccines through the cold chain supply system, provision of anti-retroviral drugs for persons on treatment, establishment of chemotherapy centres and procurement of dialysis consumables were cut by an aggregate amount of 7.45 billion Naira.
5. The provision for security infrastructure in the 104 Unity Schools across the country was cut by 3 billion Naira at a time when securing our students against acts of terrorism ought to be a major concern of government.

6. The provision for the Federal Government’s National Housing Programme was cut by 8.7 billion Naira.
7. At a time when we are working with Labour to address compensation-related issues, a total of 5 billion Naira was cut from the provisions for Pension Redemption Fund and Public Service Wage Adjustment.
8. The provisions for Export Expansion Grant (EEG) and Special Economic Zones/Industrial Parks, which are key industrialization initiatives of this Administration, were cut by a total of 14.5 billion Naira.
9. The provision for Construction of the Terminal Building at Enugu Airport was cut from 2 billion Naira to 500 million Naira which will further delay the completion of this critical project.
10. The Take-off Grant for the Maritime University in Delta State, a key strategic initiative of the Federal Government, was cut from 5 billion Naira to 3.4 billion Naira.

11. About seventy (70) new road projects have been inserted into the budget of the Federal Ministry of Power, Works, and Housing. In doing so, the National Assembly applied some of the additional funds expected from the upward review of the oil price benchmark to the Ministry’s vote. Regrettably, however, in order to make provision for some of the new roads, the amounts allocated to some strategic major roads have been cut by the National Assembly.

Tuesday, June 19, 2018

Buhari And nPDP Lawmakers' Face-off: A Most Desirable Development

President Muhammadu Buhari

If there are admirable qualities about President Muhammadu Buhari, they are his strong political will and the capacity to see his decisions, no matter how unpopular, through against all adversity. Even when he found himself standing alone and taking the heat from the opposition, sometimes against members of his ruling APC, he didn't relent, didn't bend nor break in submission to his doubters.

Many of his economic policies during the recent recession proved to be unpopular; the operation of a multiple foreign exchange window and ban of certain imported items from the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) forex list, to mention a few. 

Despite opposition from various quarters, he allowed the CBN the independence to formulate policies, and coupled with luck from rising oil prices, Buhari led Nigeria out of hard-biting recession. That isn’t to say he didn’t have unending troubles, particularly with the legislature. 

Since the return of democratic experiment Nigerians calls the 4th Republic, it is an open secret that the National Assembly is Nigeria's unofficial apex trading floor. 

This is where the all-powerful executive goes cap in hand to the pro-lobbying legislature to seek approval for projects, budget spending and other aspects of national interests. 

It is open record the executive had been coerced (sometimes humiliated) to dance to the whims and caprices of the lawmakers over and over, especially when an election cycle is coming around. 

The penultimate year to a general election never fails to reveal another level to the shenanigans the average Nigerian lawmaker possesses, in that period, the legislature’s avarice and most selfish tendencies emerge fully in the hallowed chambers, green and red alike.

Though the principle of separation of powers states the executive and legislature be at constant loggerheads over checks and balances, their relationship in Nigeria had been particularly been bitter during the Buhari administration. 

The enmity between these arms of government isn't restricted to opposition lawmakers, members of President Buhari's ruling APC are constantly involved in the cloak and dagger games to impede the president’s progress on issues of national interest any time they get to the floors of the National Assembly. 

These mutinous senators have not failed to bare their fangs at every given opportunity against President Muhammadu Buhari and his policies.   

With the 2019 elections looming large in the political horizon and gerrymandering at its feverish pitch, the biggest of President Buhari's troubles is finding it hard to camouflage its colors. Members of the New PDP, a key part of the political merger on which President Buhari crested to victory in May 2015, constituted themselves a thorn in the ruling APC's side since his administration's inception. 

Not satisfied with upsetting the cart at every given chance, senators of the New PDP have demanded showdown talks with the President, mere days before the ruling APC's national convention scheduled for the weekend. 

Their demand? Besides getting automatic re-election tickets to the 2019 elections, they desperately want to select the composition of the ruling APC's National Working Committee.

These rapacious individuals, who have arguably been behind every rancor that bedeviled the Buhari administration, promised to throw everything out of the pram if he doesn't accede to their every request. But true to his characteristic self, President Muhammadu Buhari has decided to rebuff their entreaties and call the New PDP senators' bluff. 

Enough seemed to have been enough. The game is up and much to every political observer's delight, the president won't budge an inch for them anymore. Their reign of calumny and anarchy has come to an abrupt end. They embittered nPDP senators have held their entire nation by the jugular for far too long and need to be cut to size.

While this game of musical chairs may have just begun, it’s apparent President Buhari has decided not to be personally invested in the nPDP senators’ clandestine calculations. His resolve to abide by the rule of law and his party's decisions on the nPDP senators' matter has become public knowledge and he’s not famous for going back on his word. 

What this means is the executive has gained strong grounds and will not pander to the aggrieved senators' whims. 

Carpet crossing isn't new in Nigeria's political calculations, the winner or loser of this game of cards might be who blinks first, and Buhari doesn't appear ready to back down in this one. 

The only certain thing in this latest development is Nigerians will be treated to high stake political drama and hopefully, the winner will be the Nigerian electorate who has in the last three years seen more clearly the gladiators heading to the 2019 general elections. 

Rice Importation: Closing the Nigerian Borders

Buhari administration has faced many obstacles but many of it has been due to the dust it met before the grand takeover.

In 2017, the federal government has said it would close down the land border between Nigeria and some neighboring country in a few days time to avoid the smuggling of foreign rice.

Buhari has declared that Nigeria was capable of feeding herself and also could open up to investors by improving on exports. 

It's not new knowledge that Nigeria relied solely on Crude oil and it is such a shame that Nigeria has not been able to leverage on other resources particularly agriculture.

The minister of Agriculture and Rural Development had explained that the closure of the borders was necessary to frustrate their attempt of destroying Nigeria’s plan to stop local production. They are bent on making money of our economy while they watch us go down by the day.

Though the name of the country was withheld, this measure is in a bid for Nigerian to explore the option of local production of rice by our Youths.

Dr. Ogbeh is one of the first Nigerians to mill rice free of stones, he reiterated that the rice imported to Nigeria is poisonous and causes cancer. 

He said, ‘if you go to South East Asia where they grow rice, if you plant rice in the same place for four to six years continuously, the quantum of arsenic begins to increase and arsenic causes cancer.

The smuggling activities pose a serious threat to the nation’s economy has also become an impediment to all rice production projects. 

The current national demand for rice is between 6- 7 million tons out of which about 3.2 million tones are produced locally. But with shiploads of far cheaper loads of rice smuggled into Nigeria through seme border and several other routes, the local producers cannot compete and behave become discouraged.

The problem is most Nigerian are lazy and expect the government to put food on their table. Dr. Ogbehemphasizedd that the government can only lead her citizens to prosperity not create magic. 

He said that the number of rice farmers under President Buhari’s regime has increased from 5 million to 30 million.

States like Anambra, Kebbi, Kano, Jigawa, Ebonyi are doing excellently well in rice production. All round, Nigeria has been considered a dumping ground for countries with large industries and this has largely been successful because they is no active enforcer of standardization. 

However, the goal is to ensure self sufficiency and save scare foreign exchange.

President Buhari has been able to concentrate the attention of the world bank to improve water availability for all farming seasons in Jigawa state with the 9.6 billion naira allocation. 

Several of such projects are ongoing around the country so as the boost the agricultural sector as a whole.

Monday, June 18, 2018

TCN Announces Nationwide Load-shedding Following Rupture Of NGC Gas Line

Do not fear if the power supply has dropped substantially in your area of residence or business, you are on the receiving end of a necessary load shedding exercise initiated by the Transmission Company of Nigeria (TCN). 

The custodian of power supply around the nation, the Transmission Company of Nigeria (TCN) has stated as there will be load-shedding exercise nationwide to maintain the stability of the country's power grid. 

The load-shedding was caused by the gas line rupture of June 15th and technical issues at Shell's gas wells on June 16th, which resulted in the sharp drop of 1,087.6MW from the national gird. Fortunately, no collapse of the power grid was recorded.

The six power stations which are unable to generate power as a result of the gas line rupture on June 15th are Ihovbor, Azura, Omotosho gas, Geregu gas, Olorunsogo gas, Sapele and Egbin Power Station. Afam VI power station was the one shut down to enable Shell to resolve its gas well issues. 

These latest two-pronged issues bedeviling the power sector necessitated the adoption of load-shedding by the TCN because the 1,087.6MW decline to the national grid has made the transmission system fragile. 

The only option open to avert a total nationwide power system collapse is the undesirable load-shedding, this will ensure that what is available is allocated and spread across to create balance and prevent grid instability.

Why embark on nationwide load-shedding if the national grid didn't shut down? It's on record that the nation's power grid is weak and obsolete, an overload could easily trigger a national collapse. 

A record of past system collapses reveals, 22 system collapses in 2013 with some lasting for 24 hours. 

The incessant collapse led then former Minister of Power, Prof. Chinedu Nebo to set up a panel to investigate the causes of such collapses. 

The recommendations following the investigation revealed the system collapses were reduced to nine in 2014 and just six in 2015.

The building of a parallel ‘National Grid Backbone’ was recommended in 2014, and also that the 'Baseline of Daily Load' allocation to DISCOs should not be more than 3,500mw until the infrastructure was strengthened. 

The solution to the national grid problem may not be far away from the recommendation until today. 

Where the Tunde Fashola led Ministry of Power should be commended is in the area of post-privatization support to Nigeria's various GENCOs and DISCOs, stakeholders in the sector would have shut off supply long ago with the incessant issues dogging the nation's power industry.

What is expected of Nigerians by the TCN and Ministry of Power right now is understanding. 

The national grid engineers are working hard to maintain the stability of the grid, pending the completion of repairs of the ruptured gas pipelines by the Nigeria Gas Company and the restoration of full gas supply to the power stations affected.

Sunday, June 17, 2018

How to run your business on a budget

 I recently started my own consulting business and it's been really good. You know how nice it is to have everyone calling you a business strategist, sales expert etc, getting invitations to speaking gigs, my face splashed all over posters and banners and even on TV.  I leveraged all social media and I could work from home. 

My clients, small business owners like me didn't seem to mind Skype meetings  and Whatsapp calls. Neither did I, it felt so good to be able to run my business without any traditional structures in place.

Until recently.

Friday, June 15, 2018

June 12 Investiture: A Renewed Hope Under President Buhari

President Buhari

If there is a takeaway from the euphoria of celebrations that accompanied the June 12 investiture of honours on the presumed winner of the annulled 1993 presidential elections, Chief MKO Abiola, it is the fact that there is renewed hope in the positive destination of Nigeria. 

For nearly a quarter of a century after the Ibrahim Babangida led junta annulled the June 12 elections, a majority of the Nigerian electorate lost faith in the country's leadership. Leader after leader, from the interim arrangement led by Ernest Shonekan to President Goodluck Jonathan, the masses longed for a leader they could believe in but sadly couldn’t find one.

While the right words come during presidential campaigns, the hope placed on the leader usually fizzled out when the president assumes the mantle fully, with accusations of cronyism and nepotism renting the air. Without a leader to carry their hopes, Nigerians, masses and elite alike, would after each election cycle return to their various domains, embittered and full of regrets for another four years. 

The belief the country could one day become great again goes to the cooler for another 4 years. All that changed on June 12, 2018, when President Buhari gave out the special national honours to heal the wounds in the land, largely brought about by the injustice that followed the June 12 agitation.

President Buhari's graceful gesture not only rekindled the hope of a new Nigeria to Chief MKO Abiola’s family but to every Nigerian across the length and breadth of the country. 

President Buhari showed tact, diplomacy, maturity, forgiveness and most important of all, the political will to do the right thing without fear. Such was the renewal of hope that Co-founder of Michael and Cecilia Ibru University Agbarha-Otor, Delta State, Dr. Cecilia Ibru, called on President Buhari to proceed with the restructuring of Nigeria at an event at the Petroleum Training Institute, Delta State.

Mrs. Ibru said the restructuring of the country is very paramount, much more than any other gesture to bring Nigeria back together again. That belief that Nigeria was long overdue and is no restriction to Mrs Ibru, many Nigerians believe restructuring was the only way of seeking redress on touchy issues such as reconciliation across ethnic lines, devolution of powers, resource control and other problems threatening to rip the nation apart. Is Mrs. Ibru's faith in President Buhari's misplaced? Not at all.

President Buhari has supervised the initiation of new reforms like the signing of the “Not Too Young To Run” bill in law being one of them. He isn't leaving anybody out in this nation-building exercise. 

The address of the June 12 agitation represented a chance to further prove President Buhari has the sense of fairness and political will to pull the chestnut out of the fire raging against the nation's unity and growth. 

Despite getting caught up in the worst recession in recent Nigerian history, President Buhari did not get distracted nor exasperated by the daunting task ahead of him. 

Undeterred by constant criticism, the president alongside his strategic team rolled their sleeves and dug their heels in till calm descended on the economic situation.

Are there still so many challenges buffeting the nation? Yes, a myriad. Has President Buhari reached the end of his capabilities? No. Not even the protracted illness of 2017 could put him out of action. He is poised to restore Nigeria to where she belongs in the comity of nations, what he needs is a renewed faith in the country's potential from all her peoples, old and young, North and South, East and West, in the urgent business of rebuilding the nation. 

Can President Buhari midwife a new Nigeria? Yes he can. But he can't do it without renewed hope and strength from her people. 

June 12 is the foundation block to reach out to greatness, hope Nigerians will not let ethnic or religious bias prevent us from making the most of the opportunity.  

Thursday, June 14, 2018

Buhari: The Real Messiah?

President Muhammadu Buhari

In the books of many Nigerians, Buhari has scored good points in the last few months. Honoring the late MKO Abiola, to the signing of the not too young to run bill, his visit to Morroco and Tanzania are all part of the points.

Beyond hearsay, these milestone achievements have been classified as a strategy to win his election in the coming year. 

However, placing reason against sentiments, he could have chosen another route to this which would be to buy the minds and heads of the average Nigerians and skim his way through. But as an Honorable man, he chose the road less traveled.

Goodluck Jonathan towards his re-election period was barely guided on the steps to take. 

Buhari has taken calculated steps that would benefit Nigerians whether he wins or not. 

The not too young to run bill would be significant even to generations yet unborn and this is naturally a bill he does not stand to benefit from.

Spiritually speaking, it is often believed that gratitude brings more. Nigeria is a country of over 190 million people with several foundational issues to tackle but taking active steps in the right direction should be applauded.

As a propagator of enhancing bilateral and multilateral relations, Buhari has tightened his seat belt in preparation for this long ride. He has visited France, United Kingdom, India and other African countries, to discuss several developmental projects, economic strategies and solidify bonds for collective security.

A man who is sensitive and attentive enough to have listened to the internal rage of many to relive their 1993 votes for MKO, he also granted the family a presidential apology and honorary posthumous award. Never has such a feat been carried out in the past 25 years by any administration.

In all honesty, President Buhari’s accomplishments are under-communicated in the media. This could be a major ploy by the opposition to frustrate the efforts of an upright man. Imagine a laudable triumph such as the release of the 200 chibok girls who were withheld for about 2years to be regarded as unpopular. 

This is a clear indicator, that the opposition is threatened by his exploits.

In Buhari’s words, he said “When I was told that the CBN had no savings after the windfall of selling oil for more than $100 per barrel for many years, and the production was 2.1 billion barrel per day, I did not believe them. 

This was the reason for the seeming delay Nigeria experienced when Buhari initially took over, fighting corrupt practices that exposed CBN empty pockets and enormous loans. 

Nigerians are generally unaware of the fact that the recession experienced in the first ten months of his administration was caused by over-reliance on crude oil, the neglect of agricultural sector and poor economic plans he inherited from Goodluck’s administration.

Truth be told, the problem of the average Nigerian is the fact that they do not do adequate research in order to validate any administrations claim. If anyone does, it would be revealed the real messiah of Nigeria.