​FG to tackle insecurity with ‘appropriate technologies’ ― Minister

In an apparent move to curb the increasing wave of insecurity in the country, the Federal government says it is set to deploy appropriate technologies to help surmount the security challenges confronting the country.

The Minister of Federal Ministry of Science and Technology Dr Ogbonnaya Onu disclosed this at the presentation of grants for journals publication to the Nigerian Academies of Science, Engineering, Social Sciences, Letters and Education at the Ministry’s Headquarters in Abuja on Monday.

Dr Onu said appropriate technologies will be deployed in the area of intelligence gathering, monitoring of suspects and development of platforms to effectively fight insecurity in Nigeria.

The Minister said that the challenge of insecurity has negatively impacted socio-economic development of Nigeria, adding that farms and school activities have been grounded in some parts of the country.

“Without security, Nigeria cannot achieve meaningful sustainable development; the time has come for Nigeria to apply Science, Technology and Innovation to national security,” he said.

He further said that the Ministry, through the National Space Research Development Agency (NASRDA) is working tirelessly to use space technology in intelligence gathering and other sensitive aspects of national security.

The Federal Government, he added is also working hard to ensure that Nigeria’s economy is diversified in an inclusive and sustainable manner, from being dependent on resources and commodities to knowledge and innovation-driven one.

Dr Onu urged the five major academies in the country (i.e Science, Engineering, Social Sciences, Letters and Education) to work in harmony for the overall interest of Nigeria.

He also charged them to effectively contribute their quota to national development and knowledge in the country.

The President Nigerian Academy of Science, Professor Mosto Onuoha said that the grants given would go a long way in boosting the activities of the Academies.

He thanked the Ministry for the annual gesture, adding that his academy had been able to collate her proceedings in a book form, made possible by the grants from the Ministry.

He added that his academy has published a book on Covid-19 responses by various Nigerian scientists.

​How we’ve repositioned PDP- Secondus

Prince Uche Secondus, national chairman of the Peoples Democratic Party, PDP, recently hosted journalists to a media parley in Abuja, the nation’s seat of power.

The event which coincided with his three years in office, offered Secondus an opportunity to present record of his stewardship, ranging from repositioning the party for the 2023 polls as well as steps taken so far to deepen internal democracy in the party.

What we met on ground

It has been 36 months of ups and downs and I am proud to report that the party is not at the level where we met it. We took over the party when it was still trying to come out of the trauma of losing election and being in opposition for two years under an intolerant ruling party, the All Progressives Congress, APC. We met a psychologically traumatized party struggling to adjust to opposing life after 16 years in power. We inherited a party that had issues with internal democracy. Delegates were not having the final say on who flies the flag of the party in an election. Names of winners were randomly and blatantly changed in Abuja with disregard to the people and the requirements of our constitution.

What we did

The delegates of our party across the country had given us the mandate to lead believing in our rebranding campaign message of 3Rs- Reposition, Rebuild and Regain which were designed to recreate and rebrand the party. We quickly hit the ground running in our reform policy. We organized a rebranding conference and embarked on extensive consultations across the country. Our sensitization program took us to rallies in all the geo-political zones.

By the time our reform program came on stream, the party had become an attractive brand to accommodate the influx of new members that included the entire leadership of the two chambers of the National Assembly then, the Senate President and the Speaker of the House of Representatives, others members of the parliament at federal and state levels as well as three incumbent state Governors of Benue, Kwara and Sokoto who joined us.

Internal Democracy

As we approached the general election of 2019, the PDP was already the party to beat. The internal democracy promised in our reform package was already in place. Powers were effectively decentralized to flow from the people. Party tickets were gotten at the congress venue not at party headquarters at state and national levels. Popular and more acceptable candidates emerged at state congresses and national convention.

Our national convention in Port Harcourt, Rivers state in October 2018 became the first of its kind in Nigeria. It was so transparent that there was no complaint from anybody. Instead, all the contestants resolved to support the winner. All these helped to engender confidence and trust in our leadership.

Our 2019 campaign

Nigerians had earlier realized their mistakes of 2015 and also accepted our apology for any short coming. We carried out one of the most effective campaigns, going to the people with issue based messages not propaganda.

Nigerians accepted these messages and were ready and charged to vote out the APC whose incompetence and incapacity to govern had become apparent. But what Nigerians never envisaged was that the APC and President Muhammadu Buhari who came to power through a transparent and credible election was not going to conduct free and fair election in 2019.

As a prelude to their agenda of holding on to power when it was obvious that Nigerians did not want them, all institutions of democracy, the legislature, the judiciary, the opposition and the media were made targets of intimidation and harassment. You all could recall the shocking and unprecedented unilateral removal of the Chief Justice of the Federation, Justice Walter Onnoghen. You also recall that midnight attack and arrest of some judges and justices by security operatives of state in the name of fighting corruption.

We all are witnesses to the intimidation meted out to the parliament, how the then Senate President, Bukola Saraki was subjected to all kinds of harassment, how the mace, the symbol of the Senate was stolen in a broad daylight and how the entrance to the National Assembly was blocked by masked security operatives to prevent members going in. We also saw how security men were deployed to help the ruling party have an advantage over other parties in elections.

The gains

Notwithstanding, PDP under my leadership had through its reform packages significantly enhanced the image and status of the party. All over the country, the party remains the bride. States under the party’s control rose from 11 to 16 and it could have been more if not for the shameless ambush of the APC in Osun, Kano, Kogi and Imo states.

Internally, the party has also used its in- house means to resolve issues making PDP the right party to belong in this country today. Nothing supports this assertion more than that after five and half years, the ruling APC instead of trying to put their tattered house in order is busy begging and coercing our members to join them with fake and unrealistic promises.

At the risk of being seen as blowing our own trumpet, it’s necessary to note that this NWC is the first in transparency and accountability, the first to function effectively for three years without any scandal or dent of corruption; the first also to successfully render account of its monetary expenditures to both NEC of our party and the Independent National Electoral Commission, INEC as statutorily required.

PDP governors

Another thing that helped us as a party while in this opposition is the exceptional performance of PDP governors. Throughout all the PDP controlled states, there is glaring evidence of delivery of democracy dividends. This has helped to engender confidence on the party about democracy. APC performance in the area of delivering democracy benefits at federal and state levels has been awful and demoralizing. As a party, we are proud of the performances of our Governors and Nigerians are also happy with them.

State of the nation

I know you the media are interested in zoning, but our party has a clear method of doing things. After the general election, we set up a panel to study and appraise our performance and make necessary recommendations.

The Governor of Bauchi state, Alhaji Bala Mohammed is heading the committee and they are still working. We did the same thing when we lost election in 2015 when we set up the Senator Ike Ekweremadu committee to look into why we lost. It was from that report that the party took action towards 2019.

The same way this time, we must study our last outing before looking ahead. We can’t be talking of zoning when we have not appraised how we faired in the last election. Moreover, the state of the nation today is such that politics or anything concerning 2023 of three years away should take back stage. Nigeria is in a comatose state today where APC brought it. That should be our concern now.

President Muhammadu Buhari who was scheduled to address the nation’s parliament today backed out after confirming to them he was coming. Disregarding the nation’s parliament is disregarding Nigeria people because they are representatives of the people. The truth which is worrisome is that the President either does not know what is happening or does know what to do, otherwise, he should not be afraid to face the people.

The hard fact facing all of us now is that this regime has woefully failed Nigerians in all ramifications. It’s a shame that a government that came to power brandishing its military credential as a General with the propaganda to wipe away Boko Haram in 100 days is there 5 years plus presiding over the worst security situation in our history with no clear direction what to do and even afraid to face the country’s the parliament to explain what he is doing.

Jonathan and 2023 Presidential ticket

I stand by my position that the Gov. Bala-led committee is still working. They are coming out with a report on why we lost and by the time they finish, we will take decisions and the decision is not for the National Working Committee but for the entirety of our party.

And I believe that whoever that is interested in the 2023 may be including the former President, the chances are there because the PDP is a party of all. Everybody will have that opportunity but in clear terms, we have not taken any decision to give anybody ticket for now.

 Looking ahead

Projecting into the next one year when our tenure will end, we have lined up some programs. Our e-membership registration is to begin in 2021 unfailingly having secured the approval of its take off from the NEC of our party. We also intend to finalize the peace and reconciliation process within the party with a view to entering the general election as one united and focused political family.

​Benue accounts for 260,000 out-of-school children in Nigeria — FMoE

The Federal Ministry of Education, FMOE, weekend disclosed that Benue state accounts for over 260,000 out-of-school children in Nigeria placing the state on the list of states with low school enrollment rates.

The Director, Basic and Secondary Education in the Ministry, Hajia Binta Abdulkadir made this known at the ceremony for identification and enrollment of out-of -school children in the state held in Gwer West and Apa Local Government Areas, LGAs of the state.

She said it was on that basis that the two LGAs were selected in the pilot phase of the enrollment drive campaign to help the state enroll more children into school.

According to a statement by the Information Officer of BSUBEB, Mrs. Erdoo Sar, the Director who was represented by the Deputy Director Gender Branch, FMOE, Mrs. Felicia Abuka charged the board to redouble its efforts towards eradicating the incidence of out-of-school children in the state.

“UNICEF reports indicated that Nigeria accounts for one in every five out-of-school children in the world and 45 percent of the children in West Africa; while Benue state accounts for 260,000 out-of-school children in Nigeria. This places Benue on the list of states with low school enrollment rates.

“It is on this basis that Apa and Gwer-West LGAs were selected in the pilot phase of the enrollment drive campaign.This exercise is also taking place simultaneously in Benue, Nasarawa and Zamfara States in the first series of interventions carried out by the FMOE,” she was quoted as saying.

Benue state Commissioner for Education, Prof. Dennis Ityavyar represented by Mr. Matthew Idoko while lauding the Minister of Education, Mallam Adamu Adamu for the intervention sued for the sustenance of the programme.

On his part, the Executive Chairman of BSUBEB, Comrade Joseph Utse represented by the Permanent Member II at the Board, Mr. Johnson Ahubi, thanked the Federal Ministry of Education for choosing Benue state for the enrollment drive activity.

He commended the Minister of Education for changing the fortunes of the 75 Pupils selected from Apa and the 75 selected from Gwer West LGAs and expressed optimism that the move would help take Benue state out of the list of states with high prevalence of out-of-school children.

​Insecurity: CSOs express disappointment over Buhari’s failure to appear before House of Reps

Civil Society Organisations, CSOs, Monday, expressed disappointment over President Muhammadu Buhari’s failure to appear for the House of Representatives on Thursday last week.

It will be recalled that Buhari had indicated readiness to honour the invitation to appear before the House of Representatives to address Nigerians on the worrisome dimension and trend of insecurity across the country upon the recent killing of 43 rice farmers in Borno State by Boko Haram sect.

Also the Minister of Justice and Attorney-General of the Federation, Abubakar Malami (SAN), last week Wednesday told Nigerians that the National Assembly lacked Constitutional powers to summon Buhari to speak on current security issues.

We’re in for civilian dictatorship — Adeyanju

Speaking on President Buhari’s failure to appear before the House of Representatives, Convener, Concerned Nigerians, CN, Deji Adeyanju, said, “On the non-appearance by Mr President before the House of Representatives is to reconfirm what I have always said on the complete loss of respect for the legislature and you cannot blame the President because the legislators, especially this Ninth National Assembly has sold itself out in many ways, they are not standing with the people, they behave as if they aides of the President. So how dare them to summon the President whom they have said they will do his bidding.

“The legislators should stop playing to the gallery and do the needful. The Constitution is very clear, giving the legislators to summon anybody the President inclusive, but the legislators have o ridiculed themselves and you begin to wonder whether they are still an independent arm of government then they have themselves to blame.

“So I feel no sympathy for them, it is a defeat for democracy because the Doctrine of Separation of Powers is one of the fundamental pillars of any reasonable democracy. It is just unfortunate. This is just civilian dictatorship in civilian guard. It is unfortunate.”

A missed opportunity that’ll do greater damage to democracy — Atoye

The Convener, Coalition in Defence of Nigerian Democracy and Constitution, CDNDC, Arroyo-Dare Atoye, said, “The issues for which the President has been asked to address Nigerians through the hallowed chamber of the National Assembly, are far weightier than the trivial nature of the controversy disputing the summoning powers of the House of Representatives over the President.

At stake in that invitation is whether the President is a responsible or an irresponsible entity in the process of finding an inter-arm solution to the security problem besetting the country, and it is unfortunate that he has been led astray by Governors Rotimi Akeredolu of Ondo State and Yahaya Bello of Kogi State, Prof Itse Sagay and a host of others, and also denied himself the opportunity for a roburst engagement with federal lawmakers.

Although, the failure of the President to address the congress is not really shocking to many Nigerians because of his constant aloofness to tragic occurrences in the country, however, it is a missed opportunity that will do a greater damage to our democracy and deny the country a sense of executive accountability to the nation.

Unfortunately, the axis of evil that is breeding terrorism, banditry and criminality is also watching the obvious inability of the President to provide leadership and galvanize the entire country to fight criminality, and thereby emboldening these monsters to do more as we can see with the recent kidnappings of school children in Katsina State, coinciding with the President’s visit to his home state.

President Buhari’s refusal to appear before Reps is big disappoint — Nnimmo

The Director, Health for Mother Foundation, HOMEF, Arc Nnimmo Bassey, said, “The public was told that the President would visit and address the House of Representatives as requested by the House. Refusing to appear before the House is a big disappointment. It is a lost opportunity because the President would have used the appearance to speak not just to the House but to the nation.

“The occasion would have been helpful to Nigerians who wonder why the president is so tight lipped about many issues. Although his spokespersons issue statements on any and everything, Nigerians want to hear directly from their President.

“Sometimes we wonder if there is a more taciturn political leader of a nation than the President of Nigeria. I don’t know who is the Strategic Adviser responsible for the President changing his mind about visiting the House of Representatives? But it might be the same specialists urging him to keep mum over so many other pressing national issues.

“I don’t really think the Attorney General needs to tell us that the House has no power to invite Mr President. In the current malaise engulfing the nation, the invitation should have been grabbed as a golden opportunity, a low hanging fruit, to assure citizens that someone is doing something to address their concerns.

”The President should be ready to engage the Representatives and possibly take questions from journalists on leaving the event.

“It was a great opportunity to build trust, hope and patriotism — things that were all do symbolically assaulted at the Lekki Tollgate incident.

“The signal being sent by the turn of events is that a President only needs to speak to Nigerians during electioneering campaigns and, after that, retreat into the Rock, or cocoon, once elected and sworn into office.

It’s a shame for Buhari to hide, refuse invitation by Reps — Yahaya

The Founder and Peoples Movement for a New Nigeria, PMNN, Yahaya Ndu, said: “Honestly it is a grotesque shame for President Buhari to be hiding behind the thin and flimsy veil woeful technicality to refuse to honor the invitation of the House of Representatives to explain the efforts and plans of his government to stem the tide of inexplicable insecurity sweeping along the length and breadth of Nigeria.

“It is also a betrayal of trust of the worst order that a president who the masses of Nigeria trusted to bring back security of lives and properties above everything else and that is organising kangaroo town hall meetings at all geopolitical zones of the country is running away from meeting with the representatives of the people to explain its work on security.

“This is the same Government that tells all agitators in Nigeria to go to the national Assembly. But then the president is not alone in this.

“The leaders of the APC/PDP especially from the Northern States of Nigeria including those who claim that they do not belong to any political parties but are right now traversing all-over the South East and South South zones of Nigeria trying to fool the people again into trusting another hypocrite with the mantle of leadership.

“Over five years ago this Government said it had a list of sponsors of Boko Haram and was going to publish it and up till now they have not and the leaders of the APC/PDP especially from the north are keeping quiet while people are being slaughtered everyday like ants.

“The National Assembly itself has proven to be worse than useless, and Nigerians are on their own.”