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Failure of governance and communication breakdown

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THE inability of any government to provide basic necessities of life for the masses without recourse to justifiable reason(s) is best described as a typical failure of governance. Hence, the untold socio-economic hardships which the overwhelming populace of the Nigerians are subjected to and which still persists at present exemplifies failure of governance.

Albeit, every successive governments in Nigeria have always contended with one form of socio – economic crisis or the other. In retrospect, Shagari government was faced with a serious economic crisis leading to the introduction of austerity measures. Also, Babangida regime introduced SAP, SFEM and FEM to cushion the effects of the economic hardship which made scanveging paupers of the Nigerians.In all the cases it has always been the masses that were made to bear the brunts of pains and pangs of these unfortunate and sordid developments.It is paradox of monumental proportion when the hapless citizens suffers from hunger, poverty and diseases in the midst of abundant economic and financial resources being gleefully mismanaged by the privileged few on the corridors of power.

This brings us to the present ravaging economic recession in Nigeria. President Muhammadu Buhari-led administration has not found it easy since its inception.
Yet,the media team of the government has failed woefully to explain in concrete terms the meaning of this terminology. Rather, it heaped the failure of goverment to provide succour to the suffering masses on the door steps of the Goodluck Ebele Jonathan gross mismanagement of the nation’s socio-economic affairs during its ill fated tenure in office. According to the PMB-led government, GEJ and his co-travellers in governance plundered the nation’s vast financial and economic resources in a manner that is unprecedented in the annals of political history. To all intent and purposes, the explanations are still vague and ambiguous to an ordinary hungry and angry Nigerian.

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The inability of our governments at various levels to educate and enlighten Nigerians of all cadres regarding the concept, meaning, causes, consequences and solutions has dampened their collective morale.The high expectations of Nigerians on the ability of the PMB-led government to make life more abundant for them gave way to despair. All the information ministries in Nigeria, NOA, NAN, etc, have failed in the all important task of keeping the young and old adequately informed and educated on the concept of economic recession. Our education departments too ought to have introduced it as a topic in our school curriculum. An uninformed mind is a confused mind.

Reasonably, had the government done the needful, the effects of the economic recession could not have been that biting as experienced by the populace.

Yes, the PDP-led government of yesterday looted the treasury. But, the information as to the exact amount of money recovered is still missing.What percentage of the recovered loot shall be ploughed back into the economy and for what specific purpose is still a mystery.Yet the information ministry at the centre has refused to do the needful by keeping the citizens abreast of all these developments. To the best of my knowledge, a government’s information department is not for image laundering only, but, disemination of information in all fronts about the activities of the government. It is only a government without focus and strategy that plays undue politics about information dissemination. After all, people deserves to know how they are governed.

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To this end, adoption of damage control measures should be put in place to assuage the feelings of Nigerians in respect of the psychological trauma they have been subjected to. The unprecedented sufferings, hunger, poverty, diseases, death, indebtedness and pains must stop today. Short term measures such as quick wins must be introduced to arrest the ugly trend. It is even better to act now!

 

Akeem Adebiyi writes from Ibadan, Oyo State.

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National Issues

Open Letter To Asiwaju Bola Ahmed Tinubu | By Bayo Adeyinka

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My dear Asiwaju,

I am compelled to write this open letter to you because of the state of affairs of the Yoruba nation. Firstly, I wish to acknowledge that fate has put you in a prime position to determine to a large extent the direction that the Yoruba people will go. The indisputable truth is that one may quarrel with your politics but your sagacity is never in doubt. Even those who don’t see eye to eye with you agree that you are imbued with unusual native intelligence, uncommon people skills and unrivaled foresight. You, more than any other person, has been the game changer since the advent of democracy in 1999. It is for these reasons that I have chosen to direct this letter to you.

My singular purpose is to tug at the strings of your heart. I am not writing to appeal to partisan considerations but to see, if per chance, I can pour out my heart to you in a manner of speaking. God has blessed you even beyond your wildest imagination. You have installed Senators and Governors. You have removed Governors and even a President. You have also installed a President. There is nothing you have wished for or desired that you didn’t get. Fortune has smiled on you. Goodwill follows you everywhere you go. You have done very well- more than most men ever will. However, there is one area that is begging for your urgent attention. This area may well define you and all you have ever achieved. This matter, in my opinion, is the only difference between you and the late sage, Chief Obafemi Awolowo. Let me restate for the purpose of emphasis that this is the area in which the late sage and Leader of the Yorubas stand head and shoulders above you. It is the reason his name has been a constant denominator in our regional and national politics. It is the reason politicians, friends and foes invoke his name for political advantage and personal glory. It is also the reason why we can’t stop talking about him almost thirty years after his death. What will anyone say about you thirty years after you have transited?

Asiwaju Sir, you may be wondering what I’m talking about? It is the issue of legacy. According to Peter Strople, ‘Legacy is not leaving something for people, it is leaving something in people’. Legacy is building something that outlives you. Legacy is greater than currency. In the words of Leonard Sweet, ‘ What you do is your history. What you set in motion is your legacy’. You can’t live forever, Sir. No one can. But you can create something that will. Enough of speaking in parables- I shall now speak plainly.

When destiny brought you on the scene, we were enamoured because you championed the case for true federalism. It was your belief then that the Yoruba nation will fare better under a restructured arrangement than under the type of unitary government we run while pretending by calling it a federal government. Everyone knows that there is nothing federal about our government at all. If truth must be told, the Yoruba nation has fared very badly since the advent of our new democracy. And this is not about holding power at the centre.

Let me bring this home: someone passed a comment recently that he would want Biafra to become a reality because he knows the Igbo nation will survive. That comment led me to deeper introspection as I wondered if the Yorubas can truly survive. Let me cite my first example. From Oyo to Osun, Ogun to Ondo, Ekiti to Kwara and Lagos, hardly will one see any serious industry or manufacturing concern owned by a Yoruba person. I am not talking about portfolio businesses or one-man business concerns. Most industries in Oyo State are owned by the Lebanese. The native business and industry gurus who dominated the landscape- Nathaniel Idowu, Amos Adegoke, Lekan Salami, Alao Arisekola, Adeola Odutola, Jimoh Odutola, Chief Theophilus Adediran Oni and others- are all gone with no credible replacements. I’m sure you remember the tyre factory of the Odutolas and how Jimoh Odutola was even asked by the Governments of Kenya and Ghana to set up a similar factory in their countries. Chief Theophilus Adediran Oni, popularly called T.A Oni & Sons started the first indigenous construction company in Nigeria. He willed his residence- Goodwill House, to the Oyo/Western state government, to be used as a Paediatric Hospital, which is now known as T.A Oni Memorial Children Hospital at Ring Road in Ibadan. This sprawling family Estate and residence was cited on a 15acre piece of land, 65 rooms, with modern conveniences, Olympic Swimming Pool and stable for Horses, etc.
People like Chief Bode Akindele started companies like Standard Breweries and Dr Pepper Soft drink factory at Alomaja in Ibadan. Broking House built by the late Femi Johnson, an insurance magnate, still stands glittering in the mid-day sun as an epitome to a rich history that Ibadan has. The most serious and only notable Yoruba entrepreneur we have now is Michael Adenuga. I say this quite consciously because most of the other names are oil and gas barons. Most of what stood as testaments of industry in Oyo State are gone- Exide Batteries, Leyland Autos and many others. In its place are shopping malls and road side markets but no nation develops through buying and selling alone- especially when you’re not actually producing what you’re selling. Hypermarkets and supermarkets have taken over because of the need to feed our insatiable consumer-appetite and foreign tastes. In one instance, an ancient landmark in the form of a hotel was demolished to pave way for a mall. That is how low we have sunk. If our past is better than our present- if we always look back with nostalgia frequently, then there is a problem.

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The case of other states is not different. Osun’s case is pathetic. Ditto for Ondo and Ekiti. Ogun State can boast of some factories at Sango-Otta and Agbara axis but most of them are not owned by the Yorubas. There is no significant pharmaceutical company owned by any Yoruba except for Bond Chemicals in Awe, Oyo State- and its wallet share is very insignificant. For Lagos State, more than 70% of the manufacturing concerns and major industries in the State are owned by the Igbos. If the Igbos were to stop paying tax in Lagos State, the IGR of Lagos State will reduce by over 60%. In contrast, Sir, go to the South East and look at the manufacturing concerns in Onitsha, Aba and Nnewi. Please don’t forget those were areas ravaged by civil war a mere forty something years ago. The Igbos have certainly made tremendous progress but the Yoruba nation has regressed. I wish to state that this letter is not meant to whip up primordial considerations or ethnic sentiments but just to put things in proper perspective.

Asiwaju, I will like to also talk about the state of education in the Yoruba nation. Our education has gone to the dogs. We have a bunch of mis-educated and ill-educated young men and women roaming the streets. Ibadan, for instance, had the first University in Nigeria and the first set of research centres in Nigeria ( The Forestry Research Institute, the Cocoa Research Institute (CRIN), The Nigerian Cereal Research Institute Moor Plantation (NCRI), the NIHORT (Nigerian Institute of Horticultural Research), the NISER (Nigerian Institute of Social and Economic Research), IAR&T (Institute of Agriculture, Research and Training), amongst several others). Ibadan was the bastion of scholarship with people like Wole Soyinka, JP Clark, D.O Fagunwa and Amos Tutuola as residents. In the May/June 2015 West African Senior Secondary Certificate Examination, Abia came tops. Anambra came 2nd while Edo was 3rd. Lagos placed 6th while Osun and Oyo was 29th and 26th. Ekiti was 11th, Ondo State was 13th and Ogun State was 19th. In 2013 WASSCE, only Lagos and Ogun States were the Yoruba States above the national average. If we do an analysis of how Lagos placed 6th in 2015, you will discover that it was substantially because of other nationalities resident in Lagos. For proof, please look no further than the winners of the Spelling Bee competition which has produced One-Day Governors in Lagos State. Since inception in 2001, other nationalities have won the competition six times (Ebuka Anisiobi in 2001, Ovuwhore Etiti in 2002, Abundance Ikechukwu in 2006, Daniel Osunbor in 2008, Akpakpan Iniodu Jones in 2011 and Lilian Ogbuefi in 2012). Sir, there is something seriously wrong about our state of education. From the vintage times of Obafemi Awolowo who initiated ‘free education’, we have regressed into a most parlous state.

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Let me talk about roads, housing and infrastructure . The first dualized road in Nigeria, the Queen Elizabeth road from Mokola to Agodi in Ibadan was formally commissioned by Queen Elizabeth in 1956. The first Housing Estate in Nigeria is Bodija Housing Estate (also in Ibadan) which was built in 1958. The state of roads in the Yoruba nation has become pathetic. Our hinterland are still largely rural. Even some state capitals like Osogbo and Ado-Ekiti are big villages when you compare them to towns in the South East. How many new estates have been built over the last decade? Even Ajoda New Town lies in ruins.

We have abandoned the farm settlement strategy of the Western Region and only pay lip service to agriculture. Instead of feeding others like we once did, others now feed us. We plant no tomatoes, no pepper and the basic food that we require. The Indians have bought the large expanse of water body that we have in Onigambari village. The water body in Oke Ogun of Oyo State can provide enough fish to feed the whole of the South West. From being a major cocoa exporter many years ago, one can point to just a few vestiges of factories that still deal with Cocoa in the Yoruba nation. 80% of Cocoa processing industries in the South West have been shut down. The Chinese have taken over the cashew belt at Ogbomoso in Oyo State. They have even edged out the indigenes as brokers. They now come to the cashew belt to buy from the local farmers, sell on the spot to other Chinese exporters who now process the cashew nuts and import them back into Nigeria at a premium. Sir, there are only 7 major cashew processing plants in Nigeria and you can check out the ownership. The glory has departed from the Yoruba nation.

Apart from Asejire, Ede, Ikere Gorge and Oyan dams built ages ago, where are the new dams to cater for increased population and water capacity for the Yoruba nation? How have we improved on what our heroes past left us? Maybe apart from certain areas in Lagos State, others can’t even supply their citizens with pipe-borne water.

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Our youth which we used to take pride in are largely a mass of unemployed and unemployable people. Have you noticed the abundance of street urchins, area boys, touts and ‘agberos’ that we now have all across the Yoruba nation? Have you noticed the swell in the ranks of NURTW (I mean no disrespect to an otherwise noble union)? Have you noticed the increase in the number of Yoruba beggars? There was a time that it was taboo for a Yoruba man to beg- but no more. The spirit of apprenticeship is dead. There was a time that people who learn vocational skills celebrate what we referred to as ‘freedom’. While that is largely moribund now in the Yoruba nation, the Igbos still practice it with great success.

The only thing we can boldly say the Yoruba nation controls is the information machinery- the press. We own largely the newspapers- the Nation, Punch, Nigerian Tribune, TV Continental and a few others. It is because of our control of this information machinery that we have rewritten the narrative in the country with the misguided self-belief that things are normal and we are making progress. A look beyond the surface will prove that this is so untrue.

We are largely divided. For the first time in the history of the Yoruba nation, religion is about to divide us further- and it is starting from Osun State. You are married to a Christian. My own father-in-law is an Alhaji. That is how we have peacefully do-existed but the fabrics are about to be torn to shreds because of poor management of issues. Afenifere has been reduced to a shadow of itself. OPC that once defended Yoruba interests has gone into oblivion. Yoruba elders have been vilified in the name of politics and partisanship. It is no longer news to see teenagers throwing stones at their elders because of their political indoctrination. Even under the late sage, Chief Obafemi Awolowo, the Yorubas never belonged to just a single party- yet our unity was without blemish. Now, our values have gone down the drain.

Asiwaju, I believe I have said enough. The task is Herculean but I believe Providence has brought you here for such a time like this. It is time for the Yoruba nation to clean up its acts. What do we really want? How can we quickly right the wrongs? The Yoruba nation is in a state of arrested development. The Yoruba nation is gasping for breath and crying for help. Will you rise up to the occasion? I am aware you understand that all politics is local and charity begins at home. Our fathers gave us a proverb: ‘Bi o’ode o dun, bi igbe ni’gboro ri’. I know there are no quick fixes but I also know that if there is anyone who has the capacity to do something about our current situation, that person is you. This should be the legacy you should think of. Your legacy is our future.

 

Yours Very Sincerely,

Adebayo Adeyinka

Ibadan, Oyo state, Nigeria

 

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Nigerians; Poor people in a rich country | By Adediji Wasiu

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Among developing countries, Nigeria is a relatively rich country with abundant human and natural resources. Nigeria is the most populous black nation in the world. In 2019 estimate, its population was approximately 200 million, Nigeria accounts for about 47% of West Africa’s population, and has one of the largest populations of youth in the world.

Nigeria’s economy depends heavily on the oil and gas sector, which contributes 99 percent of export revenues, 85 percent of government revenues, and about 52 percent of gross domestic product (GDP).

The petroleum sector being the mainstay of the Nigeria economy, contributing 36% to annual GDP, 75% to government revenues and accounting for virtually all foreign exchange earnings. In addition, despite the presence of millions of acreage of reserve mineral resources (oil and non-oil sectors) and large resources of humans found in Nigeria, the country has remained a victim of underdevelopment, several decades after the end of colonialism, most parts of Nigeria especially the rural area is still battling with problems such as high poverty rate, lack of basic infrastructural facilities in all sectors of the economy, unemployment, high mortality rate, and insecurity of lives and property. Nigeria hasn’t been able to unlock and maximize her potentials to build a prosperous economy, reduce poverty significantly, and provide health, education, and infrastructure services its population needs.

Nigeria was ranked the global poverty capital of the world with a high degree of unemployment by global development index. Despite possessing vast acreage of natural resources and experiencing positive economic growth, Nigeria’s Human Development Index (HDI) value in 2017 was 0.471, which places the country 154th out of 187 countries.

Furthermore, in the World Bank Human Development Report released in November 2018, Nigeria ranked 157th out of 189 countries. The Gross Domestic Product (GDP) growth, high poverty and unemployment rates has continued to highlight the need for Nigeria to pay more attention to achieving inclusive growth.

The key question is why improved economic and high revenue generation from oil and non-oil sectors have not translated into greater improvements in rapid infrastructural development and social welfare, especially among the rural-urban masses?

One of the goals of sustainable development goals (SDGs) is eradicating poverty in all its forms in year 2030. However, poverty remains one of the greatest challenges facing humanity in Nigeria. While the number of people living in extreme poverty dropped by more than half between 1990 and 2015, unfortunately, according to United Nation, 98 million of Nigerians are in multidimensional poverty; that’s 50% of Nigeria’s population are still struggling for the most basic human needs.

What this means is that as of 2019, about 98 million Nigerians still lived on less than US$1.90 a day; many lack food, access to clean drinking water and quality education.

In the last six decades, Nigeria has undergone many economic reform, growth and social investment policies before and after returns of democracy, every successive government has initiated one policy or the order on diversification of Nigeria’s economy from oil based economy to more competitive non-oil driven economy, yet it has always being a lip service with little or no efforts put to work in moving the economy from one commodity driven economy to a more open economy with low inflation, and high per capital base trade.

More so, according to the Microeconomics outlook by the Nigeria Economic Summit Group (NESG), the report stated in the 2000s, Nigeria enjoyed a decade of high GDP growth averaging 7.6 per cent, adding that the period under review was accompanied by high levels of unemployment and poverty, “which could be largely attributed to the concentration of growth in just a few sectors; hence the country’s growth was not broad-based.

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Oddly enough, the role of the non-oil sectors remains under-performed, even though, it contribute 90.86 percentage to the nation’s Gross Domestic Product (GDP) as at first quarter of 2019 higher than recorded in the first quarter of 2018 (90.45%) but lower than the fourth quarter of 2018 (92.94%). Radically, both the oil sector and non-oil sectors have remain the bedrock of corruption, and with the privatization of state-owned enterprises in oil, telecommunications, airways and electricity, and despite huge money budgeted for infrastructure development, it hasn’t resulted to more growth, rather, it has resulted in more job losses and substantially discounted terminal benefit to Nigeria .

Why did Nigeria as a nation fail over and over again?

To answer this question, permit me to share a narratives by Mr. Moses Ihiabe in a book titled “Why Nation Fail’ all over again, the author postulates that corruption, oppression, absence of social justice and bad education has kept a nation perpetually poor. He says a few percentage of the people in the political class perpetuate themselves in such a way to amass public funds for self-aggrandizement, thereby creating an unnecessary scarcity of resources to fund public facilities and institutions. ‘Most nations are poor precisely because it has been ruled by a narrow elite that have organized society for their own benefit at the expense of the vast mass of people. Political power has been narrowly concentrated, and has been used to create great wealth for those who possess it’, he said.

To appreciate that view by the author, I decide to rephrase the author’s rhetorical question in Nigeria context, why Nigeria fail, over again? The author’s accurate premises suit Nigeria situation. I can’t agree less. It provides an insight why we failed as a nation despite abundant resources in human and natural resources.

Undoubtbly, our situation since 1960 that the destiny of our dear nation has being placed in the hand of her narrow minded political elites, it has been an outcry for cases of corruption, oppression, injustices, human right abuse and absence of sound economic policy framework to facilitate and accelerate creation of an inclusive economic opportunities for the vast majority of her populace, which is crucial in addressing the pertinent issues of poverty, unemployment and social exclusion, instead, the political elites have continued to organized society for their own benefits at the expense of the vast mass of people. Every successive government has continued to dance to the tone of few cabals or class of political elites that continued to hold our nation’s in hostage and dictating the wheel of her progress.

Unfortunately, despite the abundant resources in human and natural resources both tapped and untapped resources, there is prevalent scale of poverty in Nigeria, approximately, more than 60% of Nigeria’s populous can’t afford one meal a day, which is less than a dollar per day and significant percentage of majority of the children in Nigeria, especially those in rural areas have no access to basic education and avoidable health care services. Millions of households in Nigeria and the vulnerable have no access to quality health care delivery, and other basic necessities. Nevertheless, high poverty level persists, especially in rural areas, and the gap between income groups in terms of human capital and access to basic services is growing. In addition to chronic poverty, there is widespread vulnerability as environmental, economic, and other shocks frequently affect many households.

Nigeria remains an under developed country with a relatively high level of poverty index. According to UNICEF, as at 2018, close to 13.2 million children were out-of-school, which is the highest number in the world. In addition to the core challenge of access to portable water, children malnourished by hunger, basic education, epileptic power supply, high mortality index rate and poor infrastructure deficit, the quality of learning across government-owned schools from elementary to higher institutions is significantly low across the country, from North to South, East to West are being ravaged by the same problem of under-development.

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Since 1960, the country has gone through series of internal war ranges from inter-ethnic war, religious war, territory control war and the country has turn to cesspool of corruption and misrule which has led to a remarkable sharp increase in rate of inflation and made life unbearable for her citizens with average Nigerian life expectancy at birth remains at 54 years, below the SSA average of 60.7 years. Nigeria continues to rank within the category of countries with ‘Low Human Development.

Colonization and Under-development

In a sense, most Africans independence came at a time in which many African leaders were only interested in grabbing power but were intellectually unprepared for governance, one might say, Nigeria progress has being compromiyse from the time of colonialism. The major reason while Africa continent remains in perpetual and underdeveloped despite many abundance is because most colonized Africa countries, got freedom hurriedly without any post plan for power sharing, resources control and governance.

If we are to compare our situation and that of many other African’s colonized nation to that of Ethiopia, the only uncolonized nation in Africa. Despite sharing the same geographical position on the plate of the world, Ethiopia is fast ahead of other Africa colonized Nations in development index from health, security, and infrastructural development, Ethiopia is more prosperous than many colonized African countries.

Africa continent prior to colonialism was not economically isolated from the rest of the world. Indeed, African states had engaged in documenting her history, trade from the time of the pharaohs of ancient Egypt. Who would ever believe that development started from Africa, particularly in the field of engineering, education, medicine, astronomical and that education actually started from Africa, Al-azhr University of Egypt, Cairo was the first and oldest university on earth and the very first place on earth where written was first done was Egypt and that west Africa specifically had developed extensively in international and regional trade with her own system of counting, money and trading pattern long before western world involving.

Without gain saying, I would say that colonization has done us more harm than good. Prior to the “Scramble for Africa,” or the colonization of Africa countries by the major European nations, African economies were advancing in every area, particularly in the area of trade, innovation, African science (metabolic power) and African were moving at very fast pace. Unfortunately, as soon as colonialism happened to her, we became a continent without direction and our rich history and natural development of the African economic system were altered completely. Our culture, food, dressing, and ways of life were viewed as uncivilized, in fact, everything about us was altered for foreign lifestyle.

Our situation in Nigeria is not lack of resources but lack of good and innovative leadership to turn around things with possible and shortest time.

Now, what could be done differently ?

By 2030, one of the goals of Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) is significant reduction by half the proportion of men, women and children of all ages living in poverty in all its dimensions. This means that as a member of United Nation, we must triple our efforts and key into this goal, develop the right conditions for sustainable growth and reduced the disparities between low level class income  and higher income earners.

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Government must reduce inequality line between all men and women of all ages in all dimensions by leveraging resources across and develop the right enabling environment to reduced poverty rate and strengthen our economy through social investment program targeted towards the poor and the vulnerable .

There is need to improve opportunities in all dimensions. Government, non- government organizations must appropriate new technology and financial services, including micro-finance gear towards improving local innovations in science and technology to enhance global competitiveness and create sustainable 21st century jobs opportunity for the teaming youth. Hence, there is a need to map out strategic policies framework that would foster social investment and innovation by facilitating collaborations between government, non-governmental organizations and schools.

Government must appropriate new laws and implement old laws, fulfill their electoral promises and create policies to end poverty in all dimensions.

Non- governmental organizations must sustain their momentum towards significant mobilization of resources in order to provide adequate and predictable means in helping the poor and the vulnerable, while pushing for equal rights to economic resources, access to quality health care, education, this would help to reduce the disparities between the poor and rich to a minimum level for overall development of an inclusive and competitive economy.

Government must improve on transparency of social safety net programmes to ensure that the resources and other relief materials are  targeted at the poor and the vulnerable irrespective of political ideology, while pushing and galvanizing support for passage of laws in National and State Assembly to ensure equal rights of all Nigerians.

There is need to create access to economic resources instead of what is presently obtainable in our society that few percentage of the people in the political circle amass public funds for their self and family aggrandizement.

To put Nigeria on the path of continuous economy growth, relevant cooperate organizations, individuals and non-governmental organizations must help government to develop strategies and create sound policy frameworks at the national, state and local government levels to accelerated investment in poverty eradication and open access of the poor and the vulnerable to basic services in rural area that will discourage rural urban migration and make life easier for the poor and the vulnerable.

Conclusively, there is need for attitudinal change and our ways of life, if Africa and indeed Nigeria is to catch up with the rest of the world. We need to focus on institutional reforms that would compel people to be more pragmatic, accountable either in their private business or in government position. Also, there is need to push for enactment of policies and strategic frameworks that will lead to inclusive economy growth and brake the barrier enacted by the oppressing system between the poor and rich.

 

 

Adediji Wasiu, is a petroleum technologist and public affairs analyst

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US: 9 Things You May Not Know About the Declaration of Independence | By ELIZABETH HARRISON

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As people across the United States celebrate the nation’s birthday, explore nine surprising facts about the founding document adopted on July 4, 1776.

1. The Declaration of Independence wasn’t signed on July 4, 1776.

On July 1, 1776, the Second Continental Congress met in Philadelphia, and on the following day 12 of the 13 colonies voted in favor of Richard Henry Lee’s motion for independence. The delegates then spent the next two days debating and revising the language of a statement drafted by Thomas Jefferson. On July 4, Congress officially adopted the Declaration of Independence, and as a result the date is celebrated as Independence Day. Nearly a month would go by, however, before the actual signing of the document took place. First, New York’s delegates didn’t officially give their support until July 9 because their home assembly hadn’t yet authorized them to vote in favor of independence. Next, it took two weeks for the Declaration to be “engrossed”—written on parchment in a clear hand. Most of the delegates signed on August 2, but several—Elbridge Gerry, Oliver Wolcott, Lewis Morris, Thomas McKean and Matthew Thornton—signed on a later date. (Two others, John Dickinson and Robert R. Livingston, never signed at all.) The signed parchment copy now resides at the National Archives in the Rotunda for the Charters of Freedom, alongside the Constitution and the Bill of Rights.

2. More than one copy exists.

After the adoption of the Declaration of Independence, the “Committee of Five”—Thomas Jefferson, John Adams, Benjamin Franklin, Roger Sherman and Robert R. Livingston—was charged with overseeing the reproduction of the approved text. This was completed at the shop of Philadelphia printer John Dunlap. On July 5, Dunlap’s copies were dispatched across the 13 colonies to newspapers, local officials and the commanders of the Continental troops. These rare documents, known as “Dunlap broadsides,” predate the engrossed version signed by the delegates. Of the hundreds thought to have been printed on the night of July 4, only 26 copies survive. Most are held in museum and library collections, but three are privately owned.

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3. When news of the Declaration of Independence reached New York City, it started a riot.

By July 9, 1776, a copy of the Declaration of Independence had reached New York City. With hundreds of British naval ships occupying New York Harbor, revolutionary spirit and military tensions were running high. George Washington, commander of the Continental forces in New York, read the document aloud in front of City Hall. A raucous crowd cheered the inspiring words, and later that day tore down a nearby statue of George III. The statue was subsequently melted down and shaped into more than 42,000 musket balls for the fledgling American army.

4. Eight of the 56 signers of the Declaration of Independence were born in Britain.

While the majority of the members of the Second Continental Congress were native-born Americans, eight of the men voting for independence from Britain were born there. Button Gwinnett and Robert Morris were born in England, Francis Lewis was born in Wales, James Wilson and John Witherspoon were born in Scotland, George Taylor and Matthew Thornton were born in Ireland and James Smith hailed from Northern Ireland.

5. One signer later recanted.

Richard Stockton, a lawyer from Princeton, New Jersey, became the only signer of the Declaration of Independence to recant his support of the revolution. On November 30, 1776, the hapless delegate was captured by the British and thrown in jail. After months of harsh treatment and meager rations, Stockton repudiated his signature on the Declaration of Independence and swore his allegiance to King George III. A broken man when he regained his freedom, he took a new oath of loyalty to the state of New Jersey in December 1777.

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6. There was a 44-year age difference between the youngest and oldest signers.

The oldest signer was Benjamin Franklin, 70 years old when he scrawled his name on the parchment. The youngest was Edward Rutledge, a lawyer from South Carolina who was only 26 at the time. Rutledge narrowly beat out fellow South Carolinian Thomas Lynch Jr., just four months his senior, for the title.

7. Two additional copies have been found in the last 25 years.

In 1989, a Philadelphia man found an original Dunlap Broadside hidden in the back of a picture frame he bought at a flea market for $4. One of the few surviving copies from the official first printing of the Declaration, it was in excellent condition and sold for $8.1 million in 2000. A 26th known Dunlap broadside emerged at the British National Archives in 2009, hidden for centuries in a box of papers captured from American colonists during the Revolutionary War. One of three Dunlap broadsides at the National Archives, the copy remains there to this day.

8. The Declaration of Independence spent World War II in Fort Knox.

On December 23, 1941, just over two weeks after the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor, the signed Declaration, together with the Constitution, was removed from public display and prepared for evacuation out of Washington, D.C. Under the supervision of armed guards, the founding document was packed in a specially designed container, latched with padlocks, sealed with lead and placed in a larger box. All told, 150 pounds of protective gear surrounded the parchment. On December 26 and 27, accompanied by Secret Service agents, it traveled by train to Louisville, Kentucky, where a cavalry troop of the 13th Armored Division escorted it to Fort Knox. The Declaration was returned to Washington, D.C., in 1944.

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9. There is something written on the back of the Declaration of Independence.

In the movie “National Treasure,” Nicholas Cage’s character claims that the back of the Declaration contains a treasure map with encrypted instructions from the founding fathers, written in invisible ink. Unfortunately, this is not the case. There is, however, a simpler message, written upside-down across the bottom of the signed document: “Original Declaration of Independence dated 4th July 1776.” No one knows who exactly wrote this or when, but during the Revolutionary War years the parchment was frequently rolled up for transport. It’s thought that the text was added as a label.

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