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Askira/Uba, Hawul Federal Constituency: Inuwa Bwala honours APC party leadership call, Steps down for Tarpaya


By: Inuwa Bwala

By the time I depart as the Chairman of Hawul Local Government Area of Borno state, I may have garnered enough imputes to write about the enclave and her people.
But I want to start with a glimpse at the jinx that surrounded Azare, the local government headquarters, and how it is being broken.
Created in 1991 along with other local government areas across the country, Hawul Local Government Area of Borno state has an interesting and intriguing history behind it.
Perhaps the most intellectually sophiscated, productively ingenious, culturally boisterous, highly industrious but politically unpredictable and sadly developmentally retarded untill recently, of all the Local Governments.
Azare, the local government headquarters, even as the face of the local government, has been a glorified village: bereft of facilities that qualify it as centre of attraction.
There might never have been a conscious effort to develop it, in the erroneous belief that one day the local government may be split and Azare may revert to a virtual nomans land.
All the main towns, which serve as ward centres of the 12 wards in Hawul, are far ahead of Azare the Local Government headquarters, in terms of infrastructure and population.
All the elites from Hawul, including me, prefer to concentrate our development efforts in our immediate towns or in Biu, the largest town in southern Borno, at the expense of Azare.
Workers posted to Azare prefer to take up accommodations in surrounding towns, in the absence of beffiting houses to rent in Azare.
The few Government built houses have given way under consistent wind and rainstorms in the face of poor maintenance culture.
For over forty years, the citizens were often sold the gimmick that there was no water fllowing underneath the earth in Azare.
At a point, attempts were made to lay pipes from other communities into Azare, all in an attempt to further mystify the water story.
Indeed, the social media was awash with stories of people ferrying water from valleys into Azare; long after the jinx had been broken.
The water story in Azare was deliberately orchestrated to score political points and to further portray the town as unsuitable for citting the headquarters of Hawul.
The only road, which is a federal highway that passes through Azare from Biu to Gombi, is a virtual death trap.
Travellers plying the road are at the mercy of so many odds. Communities along the road tell stories of lamentations of neglect and deprivations.
The stories sounded rather too scary when I was asked to go and change the narratives; first, as a transition chairman and later as a caretaker chairman.
Coupled with the task of midwifing an election that was tension soaked, the assignment at first looked impossible.
I was torn between having to convince a population that was hoodwinked into believing my party was a bad product, and having to work against a hypocrisy that wanted me to fail, even as members of my party, and further thinking of giving water to the Azare community that believed there was no water under their own soil, the task looked daunting.
So, in the first four weeks of my assumption of duty, when the Governor, Professor Babagana Umara Visited and looked at me straight in the eyes and before the Azare community, ordered me to provide water to Azare-Tasha, I was at my wits end how to do it.
It was rather baffling that a few meters away from the community water was flowing from a borehole within a Church premises, but for the community, the story was different. But then, I took up the challenge and punched the first two sites without success. On a third trial, water started gushing out at less than a hundred meters. That water still flows: in a community that was told to resign their fates.
That feat began to break the water jinx. Since then, any visitor to Azare in the last one year should be telling a different story from the gory picture painted above.
Today, there are not less than 30 functional water boreholes in Azare; all oozing out water, for human and animal consumption, and even gardening.

We immediately embarked on massive borehole repairs beyond Azare; including private and public borehole, j6st to gather goodwill. We drilled new ones in other locations, all of which only marginally impacted the usually unpredictable lot.
Again, when we looked around, the local government secreteriat, where I was expected to operate, was in tatters. Staff morale was down, and there were no companies with whom to work, as they seldom come around.
To attract life back into the secreteriat, we opened a staff register in each department and ordered workers to sign in on reporting to duty and to sign out at the close of work.
That trick worked out as every worker immediately reported to work, and we started having people around whom we assigned to do jobs of bringing life into the secreteriat.
We commenced distributing palliatives to attract attention and even resorted to nocturnal visits in the community to win over friends.
We could not do much to Azare enough to change the narrative in the first stanza, but we were able to prove that the story about water under their soil was a mere facade.
Today, Azare is beggining to wear a new look, courtesy of a few structural developments, we undertook.
The local government secreteriat wears a new look after the rainstorm disaster of 23 May, 2023, that brought down walls and blew off roofs.
We have restored electricity, we have built an arena, with a shopping arcade to attract commercial activities to the town, we have completed a seven room befitting lodge for visitors, we built a central store and repaired parts of the collapsed Federal highway.

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Kashim Shettima: Abati’s response and Rufai’s reactions to hunger in the land



Kashim Shettima: Abati's response and Rufai's reactions to hunger in the land

Kashim Shettima: Abati’s response and Rufai’s reactions to hunger in the land

By: Dr. James Bwala

The Arise News TV morning show of Wednesday, February 21, 2024, like others before it, is a butchers table where thoroughbred professionals are supposed to be speaking to Nigerians on matters that affect them. However, while a professional like Dr. Reuben Abati would tailor his responses to journalistic professionalism, his colleague in the studio (speaking of TV host Rufai Oseni) would always react to issues as one seeking to take a pound of flesh on persons he may not have agreed with in an exchange of denomination on issues so worrying to all Nigerians. 

Nigerians are angry. Yes, we all deserve better deals from our leaders. But do we really love the truth? If we do as many who are chanting in the streets blaming the Tinubu Administration for the sins of the past regime or what he did or did not do as president, we must understand that the trouble we faced today is the result of the corruption we overlooked or waved with the hand when it was happening. 

The unrepentant evil doers in the political circles, which continued to dictate to leaders in power, have for all reasons to be blamed for Nigeria’s current crash in the naira free fall, skyrocketing prices of food items as well as building materials, which shoot to unimaginable heights within weeks of the new year, if we take it closer. Most of them are not in the corridors of power, but they are those steering the economy, banditry, and other terrorism acts from their sitting positions across the country.

These ungrateful citizens, who pile up food and other needs in the name of hoarding, are living among the people and are joining in blaming the government when they actually know that they are the ones to blame for sabotaging the nation. 

The Vice President Kashim Shettima, while commenting on an occasion recently, said that some trucks loaded with food items were arrested for trying to smuggle out food to other countries while their countrymen were in need of such commodities. Many Nigerians who are on top of their voices are not blaming these evil men for their woes; instead, they form alliances and go to the streets to satisfy their paymasters, who are bent on making the country ungovernable.

When I saw some of these paid scripts and rented voices in Abuja on Tuesday, I realized that the real issue in Nigeria is not about fighting for the masses who cannot afford a meal. It was not about fighting for hundreds and thousands whose voices ebb as would a lantern go out of fuel. But it was a game stage played by individuals who lack integrity and are actively trying to sabotage President Bola Tinubu’s administration’s initiatives to improve the Nigerian economy. They are peching everywhere, from the dollar rate to food items in the market.

These forces are hell-bent on undermining our nation, and rather than supporting the government to fight these evil men, Nigerians, blinded by false witnesses, have turned their blind eyes to reality and focused their attention and energy on helping these evil men achieve their purpose. Nigerians ought to start looking inward. We must begin to tell these individuals to stop their evil doings in the interest of our nation. This is the time for us to coalesce into a singular entity, and indeed, as Vice President Kashim Shettima has said, we have to make this country work. We have to move beyond politics. 

We have to understand that we are now in the face of governance. Persons like Rufai Oseni of Arise TV should not wake up to a morning show as a TV host on the wrong side of the bed with such rage in speech and countenance. I have studied mass communication, and that is not what we have been taught in the classroom.

Rufai Oseni’s reactions to Vice President Kashim Shettima put him in a different class of journalism. But sitting with professionals like Dr. Reuben Abati, he needs to learn journalism again. I think he needed to replay the Wednesday morning show and watch it for himself again and make a comparison of his reactions to the responses given by Dr. Reuben Abati on Shettima’s statemanship comments, standing as one and not as the Vice President of the Federal Republic of Nigeria.

If you know Kashim Shettima very well, you know when he is speaking from the heart and when he is playing politics with words. While Dr. Reuben Abati understands the pains of Shettima’s response to the hardships and actions of saboteurs, Rufai’s reactions betrayed his commitment to national interest, and I hope Arise TV could organize tutorials for such staff appearing on a national TV, whether as journalists or TV hosts, which I will recommend for Rufai Oseni to go for those lessons.

“It is so sad that some of our countrymen are still in political mode. They are the practitioners of violence, advocating that Nigeria should go the Lebanon way. But Nigeria is greater than any of us here. Nigeria will weather the storm.” Indeed, Vice President Kashim Shettima was right. These men are living with us; we all know them and know their moves. It is time to begin to look them in the eyes and tell them the neckade truth. The Tinubu and Shettima administrations are not sleeping over the many issues confronting the nation at this time. This government has been battling many fronts, some of which are living under our nose. We must fight them to release our country from the shackles of destruction by these saboteurs.

As of January 18, 2024, a bag of cement was selling for N5,500. Iron rod by 12 was selling for N4,600, and by 10, it was selling for N3,600. Cement is now going for N10,200, and the iron rod was selling for N9,700 and N8,700, respectively. This was barely one month from the known price in the market. The explanations being given by traders, marketers, and companies over the increase in their products were not realistic. 

For example, I heard one of the executives of a cement company attribute the souring price to demand over short supply and also point at the price of diesel for production. But I ran my eyes over some level of development, at least in comparison to what I saw last year when the price of cement was under N6,000 to what is obtained now, and I could not convince myself to believe that demand was low last year in comparison to this year’s demand since the year itself is young and the first quarter of the year, as we know, is not time for such high demands of products like cement. So what are the true reasons?

Perhaps Arise TV should begin to think of calling these traders, marketers, and company owners to tell Nigerians in point blank why they are subjecting Nigerians to untold hardship and also give us what they think the government needs to do if they feel that the government is not doing enough so that Nigerians can know where the problem is coming from and stop the blame game or conducting and sponsoring protests to add salt to injury. 

Some producers of cement have attributed their claims to a hike in the price of diesel, but still, was the price of diesel the same as it was last year and the year before? If these protesters want to help Nigerians overcome the piling problems, why can’t they show support by approaching these conglomerates about the changes that come to us in a tsunami-style manner? No matter how situations may turn with government handlings, it cannot turn overnight as we are experiencing unless there are attempts to bring the government to it’s knees by certain elements and that is what the VP saw.

If Rufai Oseni could react to Shettima’s comment as he did on the morning show today, I would ask where he left his professionalism. If the Arise TV morning show is a place of butchering ideas, comments, and statements made by politicians or persons of profiling, in journalism, I believe we still hold to the creed of respecting people’s opinions and never allowing our own opinions about people to becloud our reasonings.

* James Bwala, PhD, writes from Abuja.

Kashim Shettima: Abati’s response and Rufai’s reactions to hunger in the land

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Tinubu,Shettima: The epidemic of economic, insecurity in Nigeria



Tinubu, Shettima

Tinubu,Shettima: The epidemic of economic, insecurity in Nigeria

By: Dr. James Bwala

With the rhetoric around the economy and security situation in the country, those blaming the government have failed to look at the history and those involved in it that brought Nigeria to its current predicament. The eight-year rule of the Buhari regime has given birth to criminality with untold consequences for Nigeria, but many who are now speaking ill of the Tinubu and Shettima administration are deliberately shying away from that creation, now biting the fabric covering the nakedness of Nigeria as a people and nation.

The fingers pointing at the present economic and security situation never consider some big names flooring on the pages of newspapers, both living and dead, who have melted the economy of this country and secured insecurity to this heights that left tears around and in many families who lost loved ones to banditry and other criminality.

Since May 29, 2023, I have gone through the pages of informed newspapers in the country and read success stories of greater achievements in security operations by our soldiers, police, the DSS, and other security agencies. But critics, as they are, are not quoting some of these successes to encourage the government and say we are with you in this movement. They would rather omit these achievements in their narrations to make the devil out of the new administration that, during Buhari’s time, they told us to be patient with when, in six months, the country was without a minister and nothing seemed to be moving in the face of the same security and economic challenges.

In the North, they say it is our own. And so, nobody speaks ill of the Buhari regime, despite its failure in all phases at the time. Those who reflected back at the Good Luck administration to make comparisons to Buhari’s government are seen as anti-north.

The community of the northern leaders has rallied around the regime to not allow the nakedness of the government to be seen by outsiders. They preach the sermon of never washing your dirty lining in public places, though in the closets they are gnashing their teeth in anguish and regret that their roars are eating them while they watch. Those who dare the government are shown the way to Kuje prison, and those who do not want to go that way retract their shells and watch with hopelessness.

Before the 2023 general elections that brought the victory for Tinubu and Kashim Shettima, Nigerians witnessed the shocking twist in both the security and economic situation, anchored by very few individuals in Buhari’s archery.

Recently, the Lagos elderstateman, Chief Bode George, was trending on a video calling on the government to invite three Nigerians for questioning. One of them was late but opened a ten billion naira retirement home at less than sixty years old. One was circling around the courtroom and prison since the Tinubu and Shettima administration closed on him, and the other, according to Chief Bode George, was a floor boy in the banking hall before rising to prowess.

There are others nitting to the immediate past regime of Buhari, which the current administration seemed to be taking careful steps to cover around them. Perhaps long before a comment credited to a former military ruler in the country.

A statement recently credited to the former Military President, Ibrahim Badamasi Babangida, asked President Tinubu to be careful to avoid military takeover. I believe the former military ruler has the ears of some military commanders in service, and his entreaty should be positively anchored to preaching democracy and rule of law so Nigeria should not derailed.

A man of such vintage should caution at the close door and not allow an air of a few words to fall into the ears of some power-hungry morons because what hatches the eggs is the constant daily warmth that comes from a light bulb. Tinubu and Kashim Shettima have fought big battles to come thus far in their careers as politicians.

Today, they are leading Nigeria to get to the promised land, and it is not only about them and their families. It is also about over two hundred million Nigerians moving together to reach a goal. It could take forty days or forty years, depending on the faith we carry and our decision not to murmur at every inch.

Since the Nigerian journey is not about Tinubu or Shettima but a movement of over 200 million people towards a goal, I feel it is rather in the interest of all to rally around the government to support it. Since the onset of the administration, Nigerians have applauded their choice of individuals for service chiefs and other credible appointments.

Of course, no kingdom arrangement is complete without the Judas; we have seen a few of them, and the administration did creditably well in doing the needful. A case of the humanitarian minister and more are coming. This shows the seriousness of this administration in dealing with the Nigerian people by the books they swore on oath.

Those who want to criticize Tinubu or the VP, Kashim Shettima, over the current economic and security situation should do so with good intentions and help the government by offering solutions. They should do so with facts to praise and to condemn. The government is open to criticism, but positive criticism is what builds a nation.

The economic and security situation will fizzle out when we all go back to the drawing board to trace the actions and inactions of the past that led to the current situation. Tinubu and Kashim Shettima mean well, and we can do well to support them and Nigeria. As leaders, they should also be encouraged to give their best to building the nation. So, we can all reach the promised land.

I believe as many Nigerians had hope to have a peaceful country free of security situations and greater economic revival, both Tinubu and Kashim Shettima are on the same page with Nigerians because there is no other country where we can all be proud of like Nigeria. If we come together to support the government, we can tailor this fabric of economy and insecurity to a desired shape that will be pleasing to all. Dear compatriots, let us come together to do as we say in our anthem.

***James Bwala, PhD, writes from Abuja.

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Time not to listen to the World Bank, IMF



Time not to listen to the World Bank, IMF

By Taiwo Adisa

Some six months ago, the World Bank and its brother institution, the International Monetary Fund (IMF), praised President Bola Tinubu for making the decisive “fuel subsidy is gone” policy statement.

Remember that the Bretton Wood institutions have painted the fuel subsidy removal policy like the famous gbogbo nise, aporo epa Ijebu (one cube cures all medicine) which could heal Nigeria’s economy.

The World Bank, in June, said that by removing subsidies, Nigeria would save N3.9 trillion of its GDP in 2023 and N11 trillion by 2025.

Months down the road, the World Bank is singing a new song. It is telling our leaders that Nigerians need to pay more for petrol, even though fuel prices now hover around N560 and N700 per litre depending on your location in the country. It said the current prices are not “cost reflective.”

Speaking on the fuel subsidy situation in Nigeria, World Bank’s lead economist for Nigeria, Alex Sienaert, said last week: “We think the price of petrol should be around N750 per litre more than the N650 per litre currently paid by Nigerians.”

I believe the World Bank and the IMF are too engrossed with the macro-economic machinations of the Nigerian economy such that they either blindfolded themselves to are blindfolded to the micro-economic realities in the land. I have also concluded that economic expatriates in the Bretton Wood institutions are making the mistakes of the earliest Development Communication experts, ignoring the sound bites from the particular location.

The thesis of World Bank and IMF postulations on our economy is that when the government is rich, the people should rejoice. The government would be able to undertake welfare programmes, fund people-oriented projects and orchestrate development.

But that’s far from what we have in the developing world and I think that should have been obvious to the Bretton Wood institutions by now. Since 1986, when the World Bank and the IMF started applying drugs to the ailing Nigerian economy, something should have told them things are not working. The theories are not interpreting the situations and the hypothesis kept failing. It is time for a review.

Is the error in the hypothesis or the theories or in the sample population? That’s the question the World Bank and proponents of the theories should ask. I think the fault is not just in the theorists but largely in the local implementers.

Rather than have the type of explorers Europe sent to colonise Africa, centuries back, what we have in Africa is the example of Oba li ni ile (the king owns the land surface and underneath). The African model is such that once the leader takes charge, he colonises the wealth of the nation, leaving the people with little to scavenge.

Africa needs development but the Oyinbos, failed to ask us how we intend to get there. With the Oba lo ni’le posture, African leaders hold fast to the entitlement mentality. They amass public wealth for personal use and where they have enough, they hide what they don’t need in some foreign lands. That’s the exact opposite of what developed Europe and others.

So by saying that the people should keep sacrificing such that the government in Nigeria or Africa would gather more wealth for public good, you would only end up drying the blood that flows in the citizens.

Rather than perpetually taxing the Nigerians, I will recommend a clean-up of the opaque management nature of the nation’s oil sector. The World Bank should impress it on our economic managers to stabilise the Naira, keep exchange rates stable and note that any change to the price of petrol alters everything in the economy, inflationary trends inclusive.

The bank and IMF also need to note that the challenges we are trying to fix were brought about by the government’s failure to manage public infrastructure, expand the economy and account for its wealth over the years.

Okomu Oil is calling…

Fidelis Olise is the Public Relations man of Okomu Oil Palm Company PLC. Just like every other reader, he read the last piece on this page titled “Okomu Oil, Gbelebu community, and what big corporations can do.”

But he has to take more than a passing interest because the subject directly affects the company he works for. He immediately got in touch and attempted to straighten the story. Some slides showing the Corporate Social Responsibility activities of his company in Gbelebu community were the first to land on my phone. He had also got in touch with Suyi Ayodele, South-South Bureau Chief of Tribune newspapers, who was also in Gbelebu community for the burial of Pa Aaron Ponuwei Ebelo, the trip that exposed to us the harrowing experience the people of Gbelebu had been contending with in the name of access road to their homes. Suyi had earlier done a piece titled “Gbelebu as agbelebu of misgovernance.”

The slides contain pictures of the overhead tank of the first borehole project in Gbelebu; the first block of classrooms at the Gbelebu community; the second block of classrooms at Gbelebu community; the third block of classrooms at the Gbelebu community; the Gbelebu Town Hall and a picture showing the graded earth road that leads to Gbelebu.

Though Okomu Oil’s CSR activities were not the subject matter of this column on December 10, Fidelis had gone that far to substantiate his defence that his company was not involved in marginalising or maltreating the people of Gbelebu and environs, the host communities of Okomu Oil Palm Company Plc.

He had also earlier engaged me in a lengthy telephone conversation to explain the pain of his company in the whole saga.

He said in a brief write-up on the matter: “I was at the function referred to in your write-up and I passed through the same road. I can sincerely tell you that your analysis is incorrect.

The road in question is the main road to the Gbelebu community but as Nigerians, we look for shortcuts to everything and the only shortcut the people of Gbelebu found is to pass through our (Okomu oil) plantation which is illegal.

The tarred road referred to, ends in our plantation and Okomu did not dig a trench across the road, we only dug a trench at our boundary. You can verify this from anyone in Gbelebu.

“You can draw the attention of the state and Local Government to the (earth) road. As a company, we have our limitations but within the capacity of our resources, we are doing well for communities around us.”

That notwithstanding, Okomu Oil and the host communities need to work together to fix the pains. That would go far in easing the pains of its operations as well.

Time not to listen to the World Bank, IMF

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