WHEN SILENCE IS NO LONGER CONVIVAL AND INACTION UNECONOMIC

Jerome-Mario Utomi

One inherent challenge associated with opinion writing in Nigeria is that intellectually, opinions are more often accepted but politically rejected without justification;  a development that presents the writer’s effort as a baggage of goodness without good luck. However, despite these incessant rejections, opinion writing neither abates nor wanes.  Instead, it increases geometrically with a torrent of it coming from respected religious organizations, socio-cultural bodies, ethnic/tribal organizations and talented Nigerians well educated to build a modern nation.

Regrettably, while these opinions are being rejected daily, the issues/ challenges they were tailored to solve lingers, the nations’ resources deplete, political/ economic growth stunts, the masses suffer while the less fortunate but innocent citizens die as we are currently witnesses to tears.

Keeping the issues where they are, it is the rejection of calls for the nation’s restructuring that propelled the proliferation of local groups/militias that now champion unrests across all geopolitical zones. With each singing in discordant tone, proving to be more Nigerian than the other while promoting tribal loyalties as against common sense of nationhood.

Adding fire to the controversy is the advent of the Fulani herdsmen thoughtless killings of defenseless Nigerians and the recent memo (a few days back) from the Avengers threatening to resume hostility in the oil-rich Niger Delta region. A development that has become a familiar music act but must not be handled with levity. Equally, our nation’s inability to heed the call for the reform of our civil service has finally bogged down the public sector with bureaucracy and corruption, made fuel scarcity and unemployment natives.

Looking at this crowd of a challenge, it’s obvious that our leaders have deceptively held a false hope before Nigerians which has finally been swept away by the current happenings. Hence, silence is no longer convivial, and inaction has become uneconomic to us as a nation.

Instructively, we must grow as we cannot afford to shrink.  And the changes that will generate this needed growth is accentuated in the torrents of opinion already expressed by the masses.

Notably, I am aware that the most attractive thing on earth is what we did not say or communicate. I am equally aware that encouraging brothers to be accommodative is important but asking if, and how to co-habit is the real leadership. In like manner, that platform where the nation can ask these solution-oriented questions in a solution-oriented approach is what we seek.

Put differently, the notion by many that the above is difficult to achieve is erroneous to my understanding as the opinions, memos, reports and abandoned discourse are readily available for the Federal Government to access.

For a deeper understanding of this call, I am aware that some opinions are lacking in merit as they are laced in selfishness and garnished with ulterior motives. But in the same manner, without opinions expressed by the masses, without reliable criticism, and intelligent reporting, the government cannot govern. For there is no adequate way in which it can keep itself informed about what the people of the country are thinking, doing and wanting’.

Against this backdrop, it will be gratifying if the leaders revisit the heap of opinions rejected by the successive administrations as inaction via systematic avoidance will continue to propel the agitation looking at history.

Explicitly, ‘experience has shown that ‘the agitators will continue to fight because they are tired of being perpetual victims of state-sponsored poverty and human degradation visited on them by long years of misrule. They may be ready and committed to peace by any means necessary, but may not want to be committed to becoming the victims of peace’ Public opinion is present to assist in this direction; to help discover our mission as a people and help us have it fulfilled.

Another key point deduced while listening to Mr. President New Year remarks on infrastructural development reveals his administration’s desire to move this country forward. I observed a determination to getting to the root of this collective blackmail of all Nigerians and ensure that whichever groups are behind this manipulated hardship will be prevented from doing so again. I pictured him reiterate that such unpatriotic will not divert the Administration from the course it has set itself. And I finally heard him say that his government’s watchword and policy thrust is CHANGE. and must, therefore, change the way of doing things.

Expressly, If the above is the FG’s thrust if bridging the infrastructural gap is the goal, Then, I suggest searching no further but immediately commence with the public sector reforms. Specifically, the is imperative as our civil service is currently shaped with too many hands, with too little work and all lacking in the habits needed for civilization.

Catalyzing these needed reforms will among other steps entail’s the FG opting out, and embracing private-public-partnership (PPP) in infrastructural planning and development as the public sector may not be trusted with efficiency and productivity. Though, this notion is not peculiar or limited to Nigeria.

Buttressing the above position,  Muhammad bin Rashid Al Maktoum  of United Arab Emirate while expressing his frustration working with the public  sector remarked that ‘Whoever belief he can propose an action plan aimed at achieving excellence  in the public sector and  expect to hear the management  shouting ,let us go for it ‘ simply does not know  this  institutions.

Correspondingly,, Participants in a recent conference in Lagos were unanimous that partnership and collaboration is the way out of infrastructural shortfall but commitment/transparency of the public sector remains a  concern.

Today, Lagos state has become the ‘oasis of efficiency’ in the areas of transportation (Lagos/Epe expressway), environment{cleaner Lagos project) and housing courtesy of PPP. Such development will not be out of place if the FG and other federating states should learn from Lagos state and replicate.

By all legitimate means, we need to find a solution to our nation’s challenges as the masses are hungry for direction.

Jerome-Mario writes via;Jeromeutomi@yahoo.com

POST ELECTION MEMO TO GOV. IFEANYI OKOWA: MAY 2019 NOT BE ROUGH FOR YOU AS THE LAST LOCAL GOVERNMENT ELECTION WAS

Fejiro Oliver

 

Sir, I am no sycophant or worshipper of power anywhere.

                                                                                   Benjamin F. Wade

Your Excellency, permit me to make this letter which should have been private to you public. I do not want to be in the league of those they will ask “Are you not the one that marshaled his media team in 2014 and 2015. Why didn’t you tell him the truth when you knew all was not going well?”. When they will tell me this and accuse me of not doing enough to draw your attention to the doom that was to befall you, you will not be there.

“No mind Fejiro, he’s still my son” was the last word you said to me when we met last. As we sat together, the express show of love between a father and son was so radiant. It engulfed the room. You held my hands for long as I leaned on you. Even as I type, the picture of that moment stares me in the face. My conscience will know no peace if I see what will consume you and not tell you. I’m not so fantastic with words when discussing one on one, unless I’m holding the microphone to address the audience. The other way I know how best to express myself is through writing, which is exactly what I am doing right now. Please bear with me.

Sir, I’m sure you must be basking in the joy of winning 25/25 during the just concluded Local Government elections. It must have given you insight into what next year election will bring. I’m pretty sure the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) State Chairman, Kingsley Esiso and other party chieftains must have told you how fantastic PDP did. You were not on the field, but in your house getting minute by minute briefing. I am not Esiso who will tell you what you want to hear. I am not one of your aides who fears to be sacked and thus will tell you what suits your ears when it’s all lies. This is the truth.

The LGA election is the litmus test to tell you that the election was not between the PDP and All Progressive Congress (APC) but between your party and the people. It was an election where Deltans expressed their anger by moving against the PDP. It was so clear that your media team otherwise called the twenty five man social media team could not find their way, as APC media team chased them out, dominated the narration of the election, with their own stories finding their way into the hearts of Nigerians. That day, water truly found its level.

Your Excellency, you must have been told that PDP won Illah in Aniocha South but the truth is that PDP was roundly beaten in Ward 5. In ward 4 which is Victor Ochei’s place, the PDP was also beaten and didn’t score up to 2%. If DSIEC can be truthful to you, they mutilated the result, claiming that Ochei’s arrogance will be boosted if he wins his ward for APC. The Returning Officer of ward 4 ran away with result sheets knowing APC was winning and was caught destroying APC ballot votes at DSIEC office.

Even in Owhologbo, Otor-Owhe in Isoko North where Ovuzorie Macualay hails from, APC floored the PDP candidate which was caused by the rift between Macaulay and Tim Owhofere. In Ndokwa West and Ukwunai, they won more wards including the whole of Obiaruku where they polled nearly all the votes but were turned in favor of PDP.

In Ika South, the damage to PDP was massive but to avoid tongue lashing by you, your appointees had to perform abracadabra and caused victory to your party. That’s the stronghold of Dr. Cairo Ojugboh and you need not be told that it will take only sorcery to win it by PDP. In Sapele, your saving grace was Austin Ayemidejor and Anirah who recently defected from APC to PDP; else it would have been a disastrous outing. I won’t write much on this.

I could go on and on but the honest truth is that what the Party Chairman and some of your Commissioners told you about the election were all fallacy. Eighty percent of them never had it rosy on the Election Day. Most of them were not bold enough to come out again after casting their votes, as they have lost the moral courage to tell the electorates about the PDP when all they have done so far is to stay in Asaba and sing the state anthem of “Ego Aria”, whereas there’s money for them to spend around.

Mr Governor, only one place suffered violence during the election which was Ughelli North but the popular belief in the country was that the election was marred with violence. Even Ex. Gov. Emmanuel Uduaghan who voted in Koko, Warri North believed that the election was violent, even when he voted in peace. He was not wrong as that was what the social media reported. What happened?

Your media team was overwhelmed. We do not expect the Commissioner for Information and CPS to be focused on media issues on that day, as they were busying working on the field to deliver their various wards. What about the rest who’s only duty is to face the media apart from Godspower who’s a Party Chairman and was working to make sure Patani does not fall to APC? On the day they should have worked for the money they earn from this government; they were nowhere to be found. APC media team apparently chased them into the forest and had a field day broadcasting violence and heaped the blames on PDP.

The time to overhaul your entire cabinet is now. Glad you are already set to do it, but it has to be done fast. Those you have as Commissioners are mostly Asaba politicians without base at home. Their people do not believe in them and cannot influence them. If an election conducted by DSIEC which is controlled by the State Government can be marred in controversy with APC winning wards, what will happen to 2019 where the Federal Government which is an opposition will be solely in charge of INEC and all security apparatus?

2019 will be a rough year for you. Be not deceived with the positive reports by your party. All was not well during the LG elections and the effect will linger on for months unless you put in place measures to right the wrongs. The hunger in the land is much; the prosperity agenda is not trickling down to the masses. Memos meant to be sent to your tables are delayed for no just reasons. Demands that will aid your government perform in specific areas are not hearkened to. A silent cabal may have taken over your government and the payback time will be in 2019.

Call DSIEC members and mandate them to tell you the truth, the whole truth and nothing but the truth. Leave the comfort of Government House and hold two hours live uncensored phone in programmes on radio and television for Deltans to reach you directly and tell you what you need to hear. Remove the cotton wool of sycophancy used in blocking your ears and hear the plight of the people. They are the ones that will determine your fate in 2019; if you will come back a second term or they will send you packing to Owa Alero and bring in another Anioma to complete your tenure. The era where greedy Commissioners, House of Assembly members, Senators, House of Reps Members and political appointees come to tell the people whom to vote for is over. These days, we debate it among ourselves on social media and go to the field with our open mind to vote for a performer.

Constitute an independent team to access your performance so far and be ready to accept their report. Seek help! At this point in time, you need help. Let no one deceive you, your worst battle which is 2019 gubernatorial race will be fought by people within your cabinet. The dagger that will be used to stab you is ready only waiting for the appointed time, but you can still avoid it. Your Excellency, go back to the beginning of time where it all started.

Happy New Year.

These little things matter…

 

Fejiro Oliver is Editor In Chief of Secrets Reporters News, Investigative Journalist, Media Consultant and Human Rights Activist can be reached on +2348022050733 (SMS ONLY) or secretsreporters@gmail.com. Engage him on twitter on @fejirooliver86.

 

DELTA LOCAL GOVERNMENT ELECTION AS 2019 GUINEA PIG

Jerome-Mario Utomi

For the first time, I witnessed all the participants in a recently held Delta state Local Council polls ( winners and losers)  alike, went  home cold in smiles after the results were announced on Sunday 7th January 2018 by the Delta State Independent Electoral Commission(DESIEC).  The reason for this odd reaction is simple.

While the losers bemoaned their fate in their sorrows and their hardships, the winners on the other hands, suddenly discovered that they won the ballot boxes and the polling units without winning the votes, consciences or enjoy the support of the majority of Deltans. A development that made a feeling of guilt to descend like a pillar of cloud; adding to their moral burden, dividing their peace, subtracting their inner joy while leaving their worries multiplied, making the orchestrated   ‘victory’ inorganic.

Though the LG election has come and gone, leaving the entire deltans as ‘causalities’, not of a civil war but a deformed democratic process occasioned by the will of man. An outcome that has, in turn, left the proponents of disorder praying in their inner selves for courage and stamina to face deltans they have wronged.

Coincidentally, while deltans were mourning this political regression which has become a reality to worry about, the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) in Abuja released the electoral timetable for the 2019 general election. This development has since shifted our attention to the bigger frame of a challenge but not without the lessons learned from the Delta LG polls.

Markedly, If nothing is done to solve this problem we face, if we have no collective responsibility to finding a lasting solution to impunity and rigging of election, if nothing is done to the mentality of party preference against credible candidates by party loyalists which is fast becoming a native, before 2019 election,  then our journey to nationhood is bleak and  the nation’s restructuring we seek  becomes  a mere hallucination.

For a deeper understanding of this piece,  I am neither for PDP nor APC but to objectively bring to the fore yet another opportunity lost in getting credible people to run the affairs of our councils. It’s also targeted at instructing us that no matter how beautiful or strong an institution such as democracy tends to be, we have deconstructionists positioned to undermine it.

Exiting this state of a vicious political challenge will require on the part of the people, developing a clear expectation from our nation that will shape our demand structure.

And in my opinion, Winston Churchill, a onetime Prime Minister of Britain seems to have provided an answer to what should be our preoccupation/expectation as we race toward 2019 general election. The answer according to his remark is victory; victory at all costs, victory in spite of all terror, victory however long and hard the road may be; for without victory, there is no survival’.

Truly, for us to survive as a nation and achieve the hoped victory come 2019, Nigerians must learn to seek true  Victory over aggression, a victory that respects the opposition’s basic humanity, rights/freedoms and renders further conflicts unnecessary’. This to my mind should be a very small beginning that will hopefully earn a big breakthrough.

For us to survive as a people, we must understand that democracy will never guaranty development until it is mixed with the needed proportion of discipline on the part of the people.  The discipline needed to vote and monitor the votes. A role that was conspicuously  missing in the Delta LG polls.

Important to realize also is that observing this local council poll availed me the unfortunate opportunity to learn that some of our youths are now self-declared enemies of democracy and the nation, refusing to change neither their minds nor their wrong political belief.

They labored to get voters confused, caused mayhem and openly advertised party preference as against merit/capability. They vigorously argued that since Delta is a PDP state, it will be out of order if another party should be allowed to win in the state. I helplessly watched the leaders of tomorrow educate me with quotes on ‘power’ such as; power being the ‘ability to protect your interest’.

Regrettably, they were medium in vision on some silent points. First, in postulating that Delta is a PDP state, they lost sight of the fact that APC on the other hands controls the government at the centre. Interpretatively, if APC should tow this line of argument come 2019 using the federal myth, the political survival we all seek will again elude us as a nation.

I waited for these lads to educate me more on the major function of power, which in my view is to ‘effect political and socioeconomic changes’, all to no avails.

To my mind, it is our blank ability as a nation to understand that we cannot achieve good result using a bad formula that is responsible for all these multifaceted challenges we face as a nation. Until we recognize that ‘the end can never be cut off from means’ arguments/ opinions such as these shall continue to litter our political space.

Having perceived the mind structure of our youth and our political adults, having faced the difficulty of the local council polls, it will be gratifying for all Nigerians to again sick real victory as we prepare for the 2019 general election

Regardless of these temporal challenges we face as a nation, it is my conviction that ‘the destiny of the ship is not in the harbor but in sailing the high sea’’ and so shall our collective responsibility be, not to destroy this great nation but join hands to nurture and sustain it. If we are able to manage this situation come 2019 and other social menaces effectively and navigate out of dangers of disintegration, it will once again, announce the arrival of a brand new great nation where peace and love shall reign supreme.

Jerome-Mario Utomi writes via jeromeutomi@yahoo.com