Continued from Part 19
Our duty is to preserve what the past has had to say for itself, and to say for ourselves what shall be true for the future (John Ruskin)
Don't waste your time talking about what you should have done, use your time instead and do the next thing that is needed to be done (Terry Mark)
The best way to honour the memory of the youths who died during the immigration exercise is for us to work harder to create more jobs (Dr. Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala)
Nothing seems really to matter, that's the charm of it. Whether you get away, or whether you don't; whether you arrive at your destination or whether you reach somewhere else, or whether you never get anywhere at all, you're always busy, and you never do anything in particular (Kenneth Grahame)
he government is getting the message that it must do something to curb the disturbing unemployment rate in the country, as the Coordinating Minister for the Economy and Minister of Finance, Dr. Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala, acknowledged, just few days ago (at the Housing Stakeholders Summit in Abuja, on Monday March 24.03.2014) that the best way to remember Nigerian youths who lost their lives at the recent recruitment exercise into the Nigeria Immigration Service was to create more jobs for the unemployed. She claimed that the present administration is determined to create more jobs for youths in several sectors, including the housing, agriculture and ICT, among others. Although her figures are disputable, she said: "We created 1.6m jobs as confirmed by the National Bureau of Statistics, NBS, but these are not enough. Every year 1.8m new entrants come into the job market. This is in addition to 5.3 million that have accumulated over time. So we need to work harder and faster to create more jobs for our youths. We are focusing on housing because this sector can significantly increase the number of jobs in addition to growing the economy. This sector will create jobs for builders, carpenters, plumbers, managers, interior decorators and so many jobs. This event is not for long grammar. It is about action; it is about numbers, it is about meeting targets and deadlines so that the jobs will be created and the houses built."
In the same forum, the Minister of Lands, housing and Urban Development, Mrs Akon Eyakenyi, acknowledged that foreigners constituted the critical mass of skilled artisans and craftsmen in the country's housing industry, adding that the Federal Government would soon commence the training of artisans to take over the industry. She promised that the Federal Government would reverse the current situation of foreigner artisans' domination of the housing sector in the country. She revealed that the government would flag off a train-the-trainers programme involving over 1000 artisans and craftsmen in partnership with the National Home Builders Association and Home Builders Institute of the United States of America. USA.
For this column, talk is talk, and talk is cheap; if the government would do as the two ministers promised, these would go a long way in tackling the menace of unemployment in the country. True to their words, housing, agriculture and ICT sectors can create a lot of employment opportunities, if well managed. Take ICT for instance: Countries such as India are now ICT giants and are exporting their ICT expertise to the developed world. Countries such as USA, Germany, Britain, Australia, Canada, Netherlands, Sweden, Norway, Italy, France etc are courting ICT experts from India and are dangling before them alluring offers such as permanent resident permit, job, house, car and other benefits just to entice them to come over to their respective countries to help develop and maintain their ICT sector. Nigeria can invest heavily and really in the training of ICT experts whose services may be required even in foreign lands. Here, there should be no quota system or man-known-man, only the best, irrespective of one's ethnicity or creed, should be good enough for the training.
Still on unemployment and the death of applicants during the NIS recruitment exercise; the Tribune Editorial hit the nail on the head when it noted: "the Immigration exercise itself is a sad reminder, above all, of the tragedy of youth unemployment in the country and the need for urgent remedial measures. According to the National Bureau of Statistics (NBS), 54 per cent of Nigerian youths are currently unemployed. Of this figure, the unemployment rate for young women stands at 51.9 per cent, while the rate for men is 48.1 percent. No country hoping to ascend the ladder of development can afford to have so many young men and women idle or, at best, fitfully unemployed. An idle hand, goes the old saying, is the devil's workshop. It is therefore imperative that the government takes the issue of mass unemployment in the country as a crisis that can no longer be kicked down the road. It is time to come up with solutions that will unleash the energy and creativity currently slumbering in millions of young Nigerians.
In the meantime, as the government chews on various possible solutions to the crisis of youth unemployment, something urgently has to be done to curb the current shameful tendency among potential employers of labour of taking advantage of the unemployed through various exploitative methods. Such ruses include placing advertisements for non-existent jobs and charging exorbitant application fees; collecting 'processing' fees from more applicants than can be feasibly processed, and in numbers highly disproportionate to the existing vacancies; convoking 'aptitude tests' in which hardly any arrangements are made for the safety and health of applicants; and in short, treating the unemployed with absolutely no regard for their humanity, let alone their rights as compatriots.
Unfortunately, these nefarious practices are not limited to 'recruitment agencies,' which have mushroomed in tandem with the spiralling rates of unemployment. Regrettably, government parastatals have been caught in the same web of deceit. During the NIS debacle, more than 500,000 desperate young men and women congregated in different venues for aptitude tests for a reported 4,500 or so vacancies. Each of them had paid the sum of N1, 000 for the opportunity, as it happens, to be shoved, pushed, and trampled upon. In some government offices, applicants have been pressured to offer a bribe before their applications can be processed, and not too long ago, in Imo state, poor young men and women enthusiastically collected application forms and even paid the attendant fees for phantom jobs. Clearly, the problem of mass unemployment has become a honey pot for many who do not balk at the thought of piling more misery on those who are struggling to make ends meet; and instead of being part of the search for a solution, many government offices are fanning the embers.
It is important that decisive action be taken to eradicate this problem once and for all. First, the Federal Government should open an official register for recruitment agencies as a strategy for rooting out fake recruitment entities. Second, recruitment agencies found to have run afoul of the law must be prosecuted. Third, exercises for recruitment into government offices must be fairly and transparently conducted, taking advantage of the most up to date information technologies. In the long run, both the government and the private sector must collaborate in confronting the problem of youth unemployment. This is the most effective way to undercut those seeking to capitalise on the desperation of the unemployed".
Policy inconsistency stifles development as government creates unnecessary red tape and bureaucracy which make doing business in Nigeria very difficult, leading up to the "killing" instead of creating of jobs. Policy inconsistency has made the Nigerian government to initiate policies and to reverse itself even before the taking off of some of those policies. It's a shame that a government can't conceive and develop well thought-out schemes before initiating them, and then, will go on to contradict itself later. The President can't know or do it all alone; that's why he appointed ministers, advisers, heads of departments and agencies to help him in initiating and implementing policies. This writer can't understand why it is difficult for government officials to have carefully thought-out public policy which their respective ministries or departments or agencies can initiate, that would benefit a majority of Nigerians, and then, they are supposed to take it to the President for approval. That's why they are there; but, in Nigeria, the ministers, advisers, heads of departments and agencies are thinking of how to line their own pockets and their own comfort only. Tell me why nobody is telling the president that he needs to give the order for the de-congestion and the de-emphasizing of the Lagos seaports and the full utilization of all other Nigeria's seaports as ways to create millions of jobs? Those gaining from the confusion going on at Lagos seaports and their cronies would never allow all the other seaports outside Lagos to see the "light of the day" due to selfishness.
To prove only just once how selfish our politicians and officials are: It has been alleged that the Petroleum Minister, Mrs. Diezani Alison-Madueke, spent N10bn on a chartered private jet used for her personal trips within the country and abroad. A member of the House of Reps from Lagos State, Mr. Babatunde Adejare, informed the House that maintaining the jet alone, gulped N3.120bn in the last two years, and that the minister reportedly spent N130m monthly to keep the jet. The Punch quoted a source as having said: "There are pertinent questions to be answered. How does she pay for the services of this jet? Is there a budgetary provision? Who approved it? Is a minister entitled to a private jet funded by public resources? These and many more will come to fore in the course of the investigation. Last week, lawmakers raised the alarm that the alleged N10bn expenses on the jet "eclipsed" the N255m bullet-proof cars said to have been procured for former Aviation Minister, Ms. Stella Oduah, by the Nigerian Civil Aviation Authority in 2013. This case is worse than Oduah's case. From N255m, we are now talking of N10bn. How many more ministers are living this lifestyle unknown to the public?"
As if that's not enough, the Nigeria NewsDay tells us that "the investigation being carried out by the House of Reps into the alleged unsanctioned spending of government funds by the petroleum minister, has uncovered a second jet she maintains. The jet, a Global Express XRS plane, is allegedly chartered specifically for her private and official trips overseas. A return trip on the XRS plane is said to cost taxpayers €600,000. The jet is different from the Challenger 850, which the House of Representatives said gulped N10bn in the last two years to fly the minister. The Paper wrote: "Further investigation showed that the House Committee on Public Accounts stumbled on the second jet in the course of the ongoing probe into the N10bn expenditure on the Challenger 850. Findings also showed that the owners of Challenger 850 might have fled the country shortly after the House ordered an investigation into the transaction between them and Alison-Madueke. The aircraft owners reportedly became jittery after the committee declared its plan to summon them to assist in the investigation".
The Chairman of the House committee on Public Account, Mr. Solomon Olamilekan, remarked that he was shocked by the latest information. Olamilekan, while confirming that the committee had uncovered a second jet, added that they were trying to establish how many trips it made outside the country". The Paper wrote further that a document its correspondent obtained in Abuja indicated that Alison-Madueke flew in the Global Express XRS on two occasions in 2011. She chartered the same jet twice in 2013 on a return trip bill of €600,000 per trip. For example, on March 21, 2011, she flew to London with the jet from the Nnamdi Azikiwe International Airport, Abuja. On board the jet with her were two people, Imotimi Agama and Haruna Momoh. The aircraft returned to Nigeria from London on March 23, conveying the same passengers. Another trip on March 9, 2013 departed the Muritala Muhammed International Airport, Lagos en route to London. The passengers were Alison-Madueke, Abubakar Fari and Momoh. The jet returned to Nigeria on March 13 with the same passengers". In Abuja, lawmakers are asking how a serving minister raised the money to charter jets for overseas trips at the expense of the taxpayers. One of them, who asked not to be named, said "Nigerians deserve to know which law authorises this type of extravagance. Under which budgetary sub-head has she been chartering jets for her personal use? Where is the law that authorises a government minister to be flying around the world in chartered private jets? You are going to London, why did you not use the British Airways or any other international airline?"
As if we haven't heard enough about the aircraft scandal, the Punch tells us that the members of the House of Representatives Committee on Public Accounts have discovered that Alison-Madueke chartered a third jet for her use, besides the two already in the records of the committee. The Paper wrote that findings showed that the committee was gathering information on the existence of a third jet chartered by the minister for the same purposes as the first two. A source close to the Public Accounts committee said "From available information, there are three aircraft the minister charters for her trips within and outside the country. What they were doing was to alternate the planes". The House Committee members complained of intense pressure beamed on them by some powerful Nigerians in order to mellow them in their ongoing investigation into the alleged financial excesses of the Minister of Petroleum Resources, Mrs. Diezani Alison-Madueke. The irony of the whole saga is that NNPC, being supervised by the minister, abandoned its own two aircrafts and preferred to charter aircrafts for the minister. One of the NNPC's aircraft, a Hawker 4000, crash landed in 2012 at the Osubi Airport in Warri and the plane is believed not to have valid warranty for its operations after the crash due to lack of maintenance, and is now to serve as a source of spare parts to another Hawker 4000 in the presidential fleet; while the second NNPC's aircraft was abandoned after it lost altitude twice. In other to justify the continued hiring of a private jet for the corporation's senior officers, including the Minister of Petroleum, the corporation blames it on the President for not approving the purchase of a new jet for the NNPC. What a country!
Getting back to the crux of this part of the article: The point is that lack of well-thought out policy or inconsistency as far as Nigeria's seaports are concerned is making the country to loss its revenue to smugglers and other countries. A case in point was the decision to increase the tariff paid on imported used vehicles and rice before the government realised that it has put the cart before the horse and then reversed itself, because which ever way, Nigeria would have lost. If not for the reversal, Nigeria would have lost its two biggest import duty earners; there would have been more hardship for the poor Nigerians; importers would have diverted their imports to other countries, and that would have reduced the amount of traffic and revenue collected by Nigeria; corruption would have increased as importers would have bribed customs officials at borders and wharfs; cost of transportation would have skyrocketed, and of course, the masses would have bore the brunt of it all. The Daily Newswatch wrote "Smuggling activities and cargo diversion have been on the increase since the Federal Government commenced Nigeria's self-sufficiency programme on rice production with a 110 per cent hike in import duty on the commodity. Many Nigerians have been complaining that the policy has led to loss of revenue for the government and lull in business activities for importers, terminal operators and traders". To have enough locally produced vehicles and rice, the government must invest hugely, and then an increase of tariff for the imported ones should be put in place only when the local investments have started yielding fruits, as anything short of that is tantamount to policy myopia.
What's going on in Nigeria? The Lagos ports are choking and nobody deems it necessary to do something about it. The severe congestion at the Lagos seaports is caused by politics and tribalism. That's the problem with Nigeria as those in authority positions tend to taint everything in their spheres of influence with a political or tribal colour. Those gaining from the congestion would never want the de-congestion of the Lagos seaports through the diversion of ships to other Nigeria's seaports in other regions of the country. They may even prefer diverting ships and cargoes to other countries' seaports rather than to the seaports in other regions of Nigeria (to deal with this topic in subsequent parts of this article).
Another problem causing the congestion is the cumbersome clearance procedures at the Lagos ports. People gain when cargoes stay longer at the ports. Africatime wrote that strong indications have emerged that Nigeria's container terminals especially those located at the Lagos Ports Complex, Apapa and the Tin Can Island Port as well as in Apapa might grind to a halt in the next few years, if adequate measures to curb the long cargo dwell and the attendant congest that rocks most of the terminals are not properly addressed. Available statistics shows that the minimum cargo dwell time at Nigeria's container terminals is 21 days, while it is a maximum of six days at the Mombassa Port, Kenya, four days at the Gothenburg Port, Sweden, three and half days at Sydney Port, Australia and six and half days at the New Jersey Port, United States. Competent maritime sources have expressed fears that with a population of over 160 million people and an import dependent nation, the volume of the nation's import grows at about 10 per cent annually. The source noted that at 21 days as the minimum cargo dwell time and at a growth rate of container volume, the nation's containers terminals might be grounded to an extent that over a period of three years, there might be no space to drop a container both at the ship side and the stacking areas if nothing urgent was done. According to the Paper, over the last 10 years, congestion has come to be a major feature of Nigeria's port system occasioned by high cargo dwell time, poor road and other infrastructure, cumbersome clearing processes and the existence of too many government agencies that participate in cargo examination at the ports.
To be continued!
Nigeria sent people to the national conference to deliberate upon the future of the union, but, some of them went there only to sleep. That's shameful. Sleeping while on duty is misconduct. The delegates should note that Benjamin Franklin (1706 - 1790) said that "A life of leisure and a life of laziness are two things. There will be sleeping enough in the grave".
The present administration has not learned anything, in that it has made the same mistake like the previous administrations which sent people who were in their "quarter to twelve" to go and deliberate on the future of Nigerian youths and the generations of Nigerians yet unborn, instead of sending mainly the young and agile to the conference. Now let the sleeping competition begins! The Punch noted that many Nigerians are livid and are asking if the delegates were being paid to sleep at the conference, saying that it would be a great disservice to the citizenry if their representatives at the conference would resort to sleeping while the future of the nation is being deliberated upon.
Below are pictures of those deciding the future of about 170 million Nigerians and those yet to be born. Nigeria we hail thee!
Tmgapp.com: Sleeping At The Confab After Collecting 12m For Accommodation.
Day 1 at the on going National Conference where Critical issues are been deliberated on how our beloved country can move forward and the people they selected are there sleeping while the future of my country is at stake after collecting the sum of 12m as accommodation allowance. God help the youth of this country.
nigerianmonitor.com: Delegates Sleeping At The National Conference
The much-awaited National Conference kicked off on Monday, 17th March with most of the 492 delegates drawn from all the 36 states and Federal Capital Territory of Abuja in attendance. While Nigeria is coughing out billions of naira to pay these delegates and keep them comfortable in Abuja, it seems some of them are there to sleep.
Chief Richard Akinjide, former Attorney General of the nation and of the 12 2/3 fame.
Delegates sleeping during the sessions when they are supposed to be deliberating on the problems of the nation!
Delegates sleeping! Recall that the delegates Of National Conference get paid N1.45 million after sitting for one week.
Another delegate observing his siesta. Unfortunately, according to: SAHARA, this delegate at the ongoing National Conference in Nigeria, retired police AIG Hamma Misau, has died at the National Hospital in Abuja. Mallam Misau died of an undisclosed illness at the age of 67. Barrister Mohammed Hamma, a cousin to the retired police officer, confirmed his demise to SaharaReporters. He said a Muslim funeral is due shortly in Bauchi for the late delegate. Mallam Hamma Misau hails from Misau in Bauchi state.
Dr. Boniface Chizea wrote: It is not the easiest of things to do to sit for hours on end when you are not used to it. What this unfortunate development calls for is the need to ask for medical test to ensure that delegates to such an exercise are well enough to undertake the rigor! May his soul find peaceful repose in the Lord. Amen.
Are they being paid to go and sleep?
mojidelano.blogspot.de: What I find very interesting more than anything else is why a large number of the delegates are 60 years and above, when the conference is said to aim at 'charting a new path of socio-economic and political development for the nation, and creating a better future.' Are younger Nigerians who are future leaders not better positioned and qualified to attend this conference? Won't they be better off than our sleeping delegates? Why are youths the minority at this conference?
I keep saying and will continue to reiterate it, one of the biggest canker worms eating deep into the Nigerian nation is 'Misplaced Priorities'.
tatafonaija.com: National sleeping conference, watch as your delegates sleep after receiving N12million. They are supposed to be discussing serious issues as regards our Nationhood and existence as a country, 492 chosen from all the states and all works of life have converged in Abuja for this very serious conference that is billed to last for 3months and each delegate is expected to receive N12million for participating.
Pictures coming out from the conference is not anything to write home about, apart from the fact that the Northern delegates have threatened to walk out because of issues surrounding voting, another worry has been the way the delegates are sleeping at the conference, one begins to worry, will these men be able to constructively deliberate on national issues? Or have they received N12million sleeping allowance. Time will tell.
Listen to these:
THE THANX IS ALL YOURS!!!
Continued from Part 19