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Nigeria Becoming A Failed State, Divided Under Buhari — Obasanjo

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Former President Olusegun says Nigeria is gradually becoming a failed state and a basket case that urgently needs to be pulled from the brink of collapse.

He said this in Abuja on Thursday while delivering a speech titled, ‘Moving Nigeria Away from Tipping Over’ at a consultative dialogue attended by various socio-cultural groups including Afenifere, Middle Belt Forum, Northern Elders Forum, Ohanaeze Ndi Igbo and Pan Niger Delta Forum.

The former President Obasanjo, said he had never seen Nigeria so divided, adding that many of the problems confronting the country today were due to the recent mismanagement of Nigeria’s diversity.

The former President said, “I do appreciate that you all feel sad and embarrassed as most of us feel as Nigerians with the situation we find ourselves in. Today, Nigeria is fast drifting to a failed and badly divided state; economically our country is becoming a basket case and poverty capital of the world, and socially, we are firming up as an unwholesome and insecure country.

“And these manifestations are the products of recent mismanagement of diversity and socio-economic development of our country. Old fault lines that were disappearing have opened up in greater fissures and with drums of hatred, disintegration and separation and accompanying choruses being heard loud and clear almost everywhere.”

Obasanjo said those beating drums of war and calling for secession must remember that were Nigeria to break into several countries, the citizens would still be neighbours and would need to interact with one another.

He stated that if Nigeria was to successfully tackle its challenges, it must first address the problem of disunity because a house divided could not achieve much success.

The former President, therefore, commended all socio-cultural groups present at the meeting, describing their agreement to come together as a good sign.

He added, “With what I have seen, read and heard from the rapprochement that you are forging together, I see a ray of hope that Nigeria can be saved from disintegration.

“If we are ready to live together in understanding, mutual respect and love with equity, justice, inclusiveness while engendering sense of belonging and unity of purpose and all hands on deck, we can deal with internal issues of terrorism, organised crimes, banditry, kidnapping, human trafficking, drug, money laundering and corruption. We will then be able to deal successfully with any incoming attack of terrorism, organised crimes, etc; from outside.”

Obasanjo described the National Assembly’s fresh constitutional review exercise as a waste of time and resources.

He subsequently praised socio-cultural groups like NEF and Yoruba Summit Group for describing it as such.

Obasanjo said, “That ray of hope was somewhat manifested in the last 10 days or so when the Northern Elders Forum and Yoruba Summit Group complemented each other in their separate press releases on the Senate’s idea of inviting submissions from Nigerian public for constitution amendment which had been regular money-gulping activity by every National Assembly session since 1999, a veritable source of waste without end.

I believe one of our major problems in the past was that we did not dialogue enough, we talk at ourselves and selfishly keep old prejudices and biases. If we show understanding, give-and-take, love of one another and commitment and love of the country, we will do what is right and stand firmly together for the good of all.”

He said he was optimistic that the consultation among the several groups would enlarge the circle from the mini-dialogue group bit by bit until a national dialogue that could save Nigeria from disintegration was reached. When that is done, he said the initiative would come to an end.

The former President said only self-deluded people would claim that all is well in Nigeria.

He said, “I believe Nigeria is worth saving on the basis of mutuality and reciprocity and I also believe it can be done through the process of dialogues rather than talking at each other or resorting to violence. It will amount to dangerous and destructive self-delusion for anybody to claim that all is well in Nigeria today.”

He stated that rather than work on fixing the country and ensuring that grievances among several units within the country are addressed, some are fixated on the 2023 Presidential election.

Obasanjo added, “Some people are obsessed with 2023, I believe that with death, destruction, debt, disease, deceit, disbelief, disenchantment, doubt and suspicion around, we need to see our way through to 2023 and beyond in some form of unity of purpose, reasonable security, shared values, true democratic practice, inclusiveness and shared society. That is why we are here. No constitution is even permanent; it is dynamic with time and experience.”

Maritime

Exclusive Interview: Izah Ogor,South-South Zonal Coordinator of NSC Speaks on Business in the Eastern Seaports

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Ogor Izah Nigerian Shippers Council

Interview with Ogor Izah, South-South Zonal Co-ordinator, Nigerian Shippers Council

The of the arrival of the biggest ship to have ever berthed at Nigerian Seaport to us to the office of Izah Ogor, South-South Zonal Coordinator of Nigerian Shippers Council as we sought reactions from stakeholders to the welcome development.

An excited ZC of the port economic regulator, reeled out an avalanche of information as he spoke on a wide range of maritime issues.

FR News: Why do ship operators still prefer Lagos ports over the Eastern Seaports in spite of the loud complains of congestion, gridlock and overstretched facilities?

Izah:  The total port cost of doing business at the Eastern Seaports of Port Harcourt, Onne, Warri and Calabars are quite high making it impossible for some of these stakeholders to make meaningful profit in their businesses. This is why you may be surprised to see people living in Port Harcourt or even people living in Onne preferring to bring in their cargo through Lagos.

This port cost includes various items like unnecessary charges by the MDAs at the ports, frustrations arising from communal interventions, incessant extortions, roadblocks mounted by customs, double charges, piracy, and the issue of the shallowness of the channels.

The infrastructure in these areas are not in their best condition. However, the Onne Port is about the biggest in West Africa. So why are ships not coming there? It is because of the high port costs.

Averagely, by the time your cargo arrives, the total cost could be much higher than if you were to come through Lagos.

FR News: In spite all these issues you have mentioned, especially the much talked about issue of shallow and narrow water channels, the NPA recently celebrated the arrival of the biggest cargo ship to ever berth in a Nigerian seaport. Was this a miracle?

Izah: No, it was not a miracle. It is a response to the yearnings of stakeholders who have long complained of the state of affairs in the ports around here.

You remember that even in the middle of the congestion in Lagos, members of the National Assembly went to Lagos to see things and later advised the government to start diverting vessels to other ports. Progress was being made in this direction before the COVID-19 pandemic.

Like you said, two weeks ago, we woke up to the fanfare of the biggest ship ever to berth in any Nigerian port in Onne. This was an attempt by the NPA to assure stakeholders that vessels can actually come into this place.

What happened is this- we’ve been talking about the shallowness of the draft yet the ‘biggest ever’ came in- how?

The Port Harcourt and Onne Ports are located on creeks that enjoy tidal advantage- so the vessel was able to come in and leave taking advantage of the high tide. This means that even though the channels are yet to be dredged, the ship had an incidence of free voyage.

By this, the NPA had successfully demonstrated that it can be done- the rest is for ship owners to tell their customers in Aba, Onitsha and other places that they can now bring their cargo through here.

By this, the NPA had successfully demonstrated that it can be done- the rest is for ship owners to tell their customers in Aba, Onitsha and other places that they can now bring their cargo through here.

FR News: Can We say that this is a sign of a coming boom?

Izah: Definitely. I have been talking to my colleagues in the MDA on how to ensure more competitive and friendly ports. we are also strategizing to assure the shippers that it can be done.

FR News: As a regulatory agency, what has the Shippers Council been doing over the years to help increase the patronage of the eastern seaports?

Izah: After listening to several complaints of frustrations from stakeholders in this area, the Shippers Council severally met with the National Assembly on the state of infrastructure, the issue of piracy and extortion on the roads. For example, in Warri, after every cargo has been released, at the port gate you will see Egbesu boys demanding for money. But, following our complaints, the coordinating ministry has reached out to the National Assembly for legislative intervention.

If you can remember, around May last year, members of the National Assembly members visited the eastern seaports to find out why they were underutilized. As a result of this, the lawmakers began to proffer ways of redirecting vessels to the eastern seaports.

Also, when we observed the overlapping functions of most agencies at the ports, Shippers Council through the presidency initiated the Standards Operating Procedure (SOP) of all stakeholders in the ports- the customs, the Immigration, the Port Health, NIMASA, SON, NAFDAC etc. The SOP streamlined the activities/functions of each stakeholder agency in the port.

The Shippers Council has been able to talk with the leadership of the Nigerian Customs to remove most of the checkpoints on the road because we believe this will ensure free and seamless delivery of cargo.

 We’ve also spoken with the hierarchy of the police to encourage officers on the Highways to allow free flow of cargo.

During the COVID19 Lockdown, the Shippers Council was fully active to make sure all our ports were operational because despite the pandemic, medicine, food and other essential goods had to be delivered.

In Rivers State, the Shippers Council was busy sensitizing stakeholders to keep working despite the health situation to ensure delivery of goods from ships.

Shippers council intervened when the Rivers State government arrested some members of the maritime workers union over breach of lockdown order.

FR News: As a stakeholder, how do you rate the readiness of the Eastern Seaports for a possible surge in port activities?

Izah: We are ready. I believe all the stakeholders have fought so hard that they will want this place to work. As port economic regulators, we have embarked on sensitization of all other stakeholders by way of introducing the new opportunities offered by the NPA. While the customs, NIMASA, SON, Port Health, including the Shipping Trade among others are all willing to take advantage of the new initiative.

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Aisha Buhari’s flood mission reaches Niger state

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The goodwill of the First Lady of Nigeria, Dr. Mrs. Aisha Muhammadu was extended to flood victims in Niger state on Thursday 24th September, 2020, through a Future Assured team. As with other flood-prone areas, parts of the state were flooded, leaving many families with destroyed homes, and businesses.

Speaking during the distribution of palliatives to the victims of the flood disaster, leader of the Future Assured team, Mr. Aliyu Abdullahi, Special Assistant to the President on Media and Publicity, delivered her message of sympathy, saying her thoughts are with them at difficult times like this.

Areas visited include Mai Tumbi in Bosso LGA, Ungwar Rahma in Chanchanga LGA, and Farm Center in Minna all in Niger State.

Director-General, Niger State Emergency Management Agency (NSEMA), Alh. Ahmed Ibrahim Inga, who represented Niger State government at the occasion, expressed the appreciation of the government and people of Niger state for the kind gesture of the First Lady, saying that she has been identified by Nigerians for her spirit of philanthropy. Staff of the agency collaborated with the future assured team to conduct the distribution exercise.

Some of the beneficiaries interviewed expressed appreciation to the First Lady for coming to their aid.

This was another humanitarian outreach to states affected by flooding in the country. Many states have so far been visited for distribution of palliatives

Items distributed included large quantities of rice, other food commodities such as cooking oil and toiletries, blankets and clothing materials.

Aliyu Abdullahi
Special Assistant to the President on Media & Publicity
(Office of the First Lady)
September 25, 2020

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