JESUTEGA Onokpasa, a lawyer and public affairs commentator, has condemned the call by the Delta State Youth Forum for Good Governance, for the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, EFCC, to probe the recent training of Delta State House of Assembly members in the United States. In a chat with journalists, Onokpasa described the group as a faceless bunch with no genuine address or interest in the state.
According to him, it ought to be clear to anyone with a genuine desire for good governance that the present democracy, being at an embryonic stage, required the regular training of principal actors for the purpose of the entrenching a deep sense of democratic culture in them so that they could deliver the dividends of democracy to the electorate.
Onokpasa argued further that the training did not cost anything near N1.2 billion as the group had claimed. Besides, he said: “Education costs money, and people, be they leaders or the led, require enlightenment in order to achieve their full potentials. This is what informs the elders’ saying to the effect that ‘If you think education is expensive, try ignorance’.”
The lawyer wondered why the group was against the Victor Ohei-led House of Assembly and asked if the group would prefer a primitive democracy of uneducated and uninformed leaders. According to him, “seminars, training sessions and workshops did not originate in Nigeria, or in Africa, for that matter, but are English words referring to practices of the white man towards the goal of continuous improvement of human capital.”
Onokpasa also viewed the group’s call for a probe of the renovation of the Delta House of Assembly, as an agitation from agents on an infernal errand at the prompting of desperate politicians, envious of Ochei’s achievements, uncomfortable with his visible accomplishments and scared of his rising profile.
He said Ochei deserved commendation for spending government money on projects it was meant for instead of pocketing it. This, he said, has obviously aroused the envy of those who have nothing to show for their stewardship in governance to sponsor people to criticise him, while any visitor to the assembly would be encouraged by the spectacular transformation in the premises.
House Members Kick Against Sale of NITEL
THE House of Representatives wants the federal government to stop the on-going liquidation process of the Nigerian Telecommunications Limited, NITEL, and Mobile Telecommunications Limited, MTel, its mobile arm. Instead, the lawmakers called for an immediate technical and financial audit of the beleaguered national carrier. Besides, the lawmakers are also advocating for a Public Private Partnership, PPP, alternative to outright liquidation of the two telecommunication companies.
The decision of the lawmakers followed the approval of the recommendations of the report of the House committees on privatisation and commercialisation, finance, communications, public procurement and information technology on the need to stop the liquidation process.
In the recommendations, the federal government was asked to direct the National Council on Privatisation, NCP, to direct its records office to eliminate the existing over N170 billion variance under the supervision of the office of the auditor-general of the federation. It was also approved that the NCP should direct the Bureau of Public Enterprises, BPE, to comply with the federal high court judgement in favour of former 300 employees of the two organisations treated as casuals and another judgement in favour of pensioners of the two organisations. In addition, the NCP should consider the proposal for revamping the companies while privatisation process should be an alternative to outright liquidation of the telecom firms.
The NCP was also asked to consider the PPP saying a privatisation strategy of the two companies would make them maintain the national carrier status for security reasons.
PDP Crisis Talks on Hold?
THE much-publicised peace meeting between President Goodluck Jonathan and the breakaway faction of the ruling Peoples Democratic Party, PDP, scheduled for Monday, October 7, is not going to hold after all. The Abubakar Baraje-led faction, which includes seven governors, has asked for a postponement, saying some of its key members would be on pilgrimage to Saudi Arabia at the time. In a statement signed on Wednesday, October 2, by Chukwuemeka Eze, the faction’s national publicity secretary, the group said it had already sent an emissary to President Jonathan seeking for a postponement.
The statement said the decision was taken in the evening of Tuesday, October 1, at a caucus meeting of the New PDP, in Abuja. “It was discovered that the date of the proposed peace meeting clashes with this year’s hajj, in which several of our key members are billed to participate. Our National Chairman, Alhaji Baraje and most of our other key members, including most of the G7 Governors and the five other governors that have indicated interest to join us by next week, as well as members of the National Assembly, former governors and business moguls, are billed to perform the Hajj, which is already in operation.”
But it has also been speculated that the hajj trip was a mere excuse for adjournment. “They are now thinking of another party to join,” a source was quoted as saying. In a swift reaction, Olisa Metuh, national publicity secretary of the PDP, took strong exception to the way the Baraje faction had publicised the decision. Metuh said: “It is inconceivable that they are dramatising a matter that’s being discussed with the president. If they are responsible enough, they would not be making a public show of it by taking it to the pages of newspapers. It’s the height of irresponsibility for them to be discussing a matter they had with the president on the pages of newspapers. I am not sure that even some of the governors are aware of this.”
ASUU Strike: Past Leaders to the Rescue?
THE federal government is likely to seek the intervention of some Nigerian past leaders, governors traditional rulers and serving senators to resolve the three-month face-off with the Academic Staff Union of Universities, ASUU. Nyesom Wike, supervisory minister of education, dropped the hint in Abuja, on Wednesday, October 2, after a palliative meeting with Michael Olukoya, president of the Nigeria Union of Teachers, and Emeka Wogu, minister of labour and productivity.
Wike, who claimed that said the government was looking at the suggestion by the NUT, said: “We have met to dialogue on the way forward to the crisis in the education sector. The meeting went very well and it was very cordial with respect to the crisis between ASUU and Federal Government. We have put our heads together and we have taken all the ideas, both the one we suggested and the one NUT suggested and we are going to move it forward. The suggestions by the NUT were quite good and the ones we suggested were also quite good and we have put them together. Just watch out what is going to happen very soon.” The minister was, however, evasive on when the strike would be called off.
The idea to involve the national leaders was mooted by Olukoya who noted the inability of the committees earlier set up to settle the crisis. “With the way this strike has lingered on for three months, we believe government should explore all modalities to end it. Government should invite past heads of states, speakers, senators, ministers of labour and education and every other stakeholder in the sector to resolve this ugly situation. Call powerful voices like traditional leaders to intervene in this strike because our concern as teachers is that as these undergraduates stay at home, they are prone to negative vices and in turn these are the same people that would lead the society in future,” the NUT boss said.
Meanwhile, vice-chancellors of Nigerian Universities will meet in Akure, Ondo State on Monday, October 6, to deliberate on the ASUU strike. This followed the call by students of the Obafemi Awolowo University, Ile-Ife on Wednesday, urging the federal government to implement immediately the various agreements it reached with labour unions in the nation’s tertiary institutions.
— Oct. 14, 2013 @ 01:00 GMT