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Opinion: Random Notes in Times of Great Expectation, Hope and Anxiety By Dr John I Abhuere

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Many disturbing thoughts are in my mind this day: The 2016 budget just signed, the  stinking corruption of the past that is being uncovered today, looming crisis in the labour  world, the unending crisis in the oil sector, the incessant clashes between the herdsmen and plantsmen, the heightened criminal activities of kidnappers, the seeming return of militancy in the Niger Delta, the fight of Honorable Members in the hallowed chambers of Edo State House of Assembly, gunmen’s disruption of political campaigns in Edo State, the re-emergence of ‘godfatherism’ politics from the most unlikely corner, the announced  passage of our revered Royal Father to glory – the great Oba of Benin, etc, etc  

The thoughts enervate both the mind and body and weigh me down considerably in this time of great expectations spiced with hope and anxiety

INCESSANT CLASH BETWEEN HERDSMEN AND PLANTSMEN IN NIGERIA

The mass media are awash with the sad news of the  incessant clash of herdsmen with plantsmen in different parts of the country.

It is a new source of serious concern in the country with the dangerous prospect of awakening tribal and ethnic consciousness to a breaking point. It is a clash of deep seated cherished values.

The herdsmen love their animals and are ready to fight and kill to protect them. The plantsmen love their plants and would do anything to protect and keep them alive. In a word, the herdsmen and plantsmen are fighting over life – their respective means of livelihood and survival. This is why the escalating trouble is so frightening. None will be ready to shift grounds. Only good policy will settle the matter.

Before the youth militias are mobilized for the deadly fights ahead in territorial defence of  some cherished values- property- animals, plants, family land, groups’ pride and prejudice defence in different parts of the country, let there be speedy action on the part of the state. ‘A stitch in time saves nigh.’

There are modern ways now of raising animals . Herdsmen do not need any longer to travel many miles to achieve their goal.  The days of the itinerant herdsmen should be deliberately brought to an end peacefully through effective policy measures.

Let us get it right. The herdsmen have always carried arms or dangerous weapons about no matter how primitive but carrying AK47 riffles is brand new dimension .

Their invasion of other people’s land and related violation of property and escapades in other people’s land must be roundly checked . It must be thoroughly investigated for any ulterior motive. The prospect alarms and disturbs the mind.

WORRYING NEWS FROM THE OIL SECTOR

The news from the oil sector is no less palatable. The fuel palaver is abating but certainly not over. It will take time and strategic move especially that of promoting domestic production to overcome the problem. A new price regime is on stage shooting up price refined products by a wide margin. Well don’t worry folks, if that can make product available let it be. With increased production of refined products at home, I can see prices coming down  soon in observance of the law of Demand and Supply. What we suffer today is the high cost of importation and neglect  of refining at home.

But I hear also of plans to privatize existing refineries. No. It is not the right way to go. Let the state run its own refineries well and build more. And the private investors build and run their  refineries. Remove all strictures including price control.  Encourage the so called illegal refineries to become legal.We need competition. We need more production at home to meet domestic demands. The market is large enough to accommodate both the state and private investors.

BAD TIME FOR LABOUR AND TRADE UNIONS IN NIGERIA

It has long been bad time for Labour and Labour Unions in Nigeria. With embarrassing  large army of unemployed  the  bargaining power of labour has since  been severely weakened before the employer.The unemployment rate is so high that a million job seekers could be seeking for  10000 places in the police force- a ratio of 100 applicants to 1 vacancy . Scandalous. It sags  and dehydrates the vibrancy of workers unions . As we know the strength and major source of funds for any trade union is its workers’ membership. Pity this is no longer there for picks. The source of recruitment is drying up fast and those at work are not too sure of tomorrow. Such is the bad situation  that the labour unions cannot really flex  muscles as much as they would like these days.

While the nation’s economy has been in trouble for some time now, a looming crisis in the wings  to compound things. The labour unions have served notice that  they want  a N50,000 minimum wage package for their members or prospective members. Pity.

From where? From a sinking boat in troubled waters. This is a wrong time to make such demand. Let’s recover and stabilize the boat first. Apart from the fact that I do not believe in a uniform minimum wage for the country- each employer should determine its pay structure based on  own on its financial strength and inputs from its workers, it is  truly a bad time to make such demand.

THE PASSAGE OF GREAT KING – THE END OF AN ERA

The news from home is sad. Our revered Omonoba Obakpolokpolo n’Edo, Oba Eriaduwa who has been ill in ‘the savannah forest’ has finally transited from mortal to the immortal world of his ancestor leaving us with mourning faces of gloom. He was a great Oba who  was widely loved and revered by his people. He will be remembered for his remarkable service as a federal permanent Secretary, state Commissioner and above as Royal Father par excellence of the highest breed. A Cambridge educated prince he displayed exceptional ability to give to Caesar (Benin tradition) what is Caesar’s and to God (modernity) what is God’s. In Oba Erudiawa we saw modernity and tradition sitting together comfortably.

The departed Oba loved the youth : He was a patron of the Boys Scout, and he built a  youth centre for youth development in Benin . He once called me a son during a courtesy visit to his highly respected palace and I shall never forget his symbolic gesture of sending yams from the palace to NYSC camp during orient ion course to welcome corps members to Edo State.

He advised a visiting Director General of NYSC to de-emphasize ethnic tendencies in orientation camps by preaching national values.He intervened to help secure a permanent camp for The NYSC in Edo state when I was the State Director.

Rest  in peace our Royal Majesty. You were born to be king and proved to be a great one through purposeful leadership, mighty deeds and selfless service  to humanity.Your iconic role in the service of mankind will remain  ever green in our hearts .

HEIGHTENED ACTIVITIES OF KIDNAPPERS, DEATH OF A NEIGHBOUR AND RETURN of THE MILITANCY IN NIGER DELTA?

Kidnappers and militants and assassins are on the prowl leaving fears and apprehensions in the air. It is now a nightmare to travel from Okene- Ishan – Benin Road. News from home is sad and disturbing. Some friends were kidnapped and a neighbour killed by kidnappers. From the neighboring states come the news that Chevron facilities are under attack by some militants. Where went the security agencies.? Does it mean that truce is over and the militants are back to their trenches in the Nigeria? While the security must redouble efforts including the effective use of relevant technology , it should be stressed to all concerned that meaningful development does not take in atmosphere of insecurity .

Then hear this: Edo Deputy Governor escapes assassination in Auchi – Governor Oshiomhole senatorial area.

The story is backed by pictures of some victims of the incidents being treated. Has it got to that point in Edo politics? Just before you know it, the state House Assembly went in wild fight and another governorship aspirant Ize Iyamu reportedly fired at. No , this is not the way to go. And the rumour is high that the chief apostle of one man, one vote ideology and chief denouncer of godfatherism in Nigerian politics is now emerging as a godfather himself ? Could this be true Our Comrade Governor?

Resist the temptation, go down in history as one associated more with some noble principles than double -speak.

YOUTHS SMILE AND BE HAPPY – THE MINISTER OF FINANCE HAS GOOD NEWS..

At last the  2016 budget has been signed and there is much goodies for the youths -if well implemented. And there is hope because a good hand is on the plough. I watched finance minister Mrs Adeosun on Channel TV and I saw one with skills, knowledge , understanding  of the nature of the problem and passion to deal with it in one person.

Time to do real development and not preach ideology. With so much planned to be injected into the economy for capital projects, many youth should be at work sooner than expected. So smile my dear patriotic youth – be happy and remain committed to the national cause.

End

 

Chief Abhuere is a retired Director of NYSC and the founder of Centre for Childcare and Youth Development (CCYD), Abuja.

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