Connect with us

EDITORIAL

The Malady of Uncompleted Projects

Published

on

Everything that has a beginning is said to always have an end, except Government projects in Imo state, which usually have a start but never a finish. The few that seem to be nearly completed lack the required of such projects.

These projects are usually flagged-off with a lot of fanfare end enthusiasm. People are elated knowing that the projects when completed would ease their burden in one form or another. But guess what? The much-needed relief never comes because the projects are always never completed.

Government, like a confused child, is always side-tracked by another big project, which will also never get finished. The result is that the Governor vacates office, leaving behind a trail of uncompleted works which his successor is only too happy to abandon for reasons best known to him.

This is usually the case although the successor knows it’s in the people’s interest to complete that particular project. The desire to make his own “mark” or money and deny his predecessor any trace of praise is ever precious. This is a major cause of wastage of public funds and underdevelopment in  Imo State and country.

Regrettably, there are no reasons to believe that this hapless state of affairs will change soon, as our leaders are yet to learn, like their counterparts in the developed nations, to put the people first. Just as a people perish when their leaders are without vision, so also do they remain poor and underdeveloped when there is no continuity in governance.

Lack of continuity of projects in Imo State is an albatross on the people’s neck.  Let’s take for instance the Amakohia flyover started by the Ohakim administration and which inspired much hope. Initially the present government changed this plan and decided to convert the flyover to a big round about as its own solution to the traffic jams, massive flooding and the people’s trauma.

As far as we can guess there have been several effort to “get the hang” out of the project with frequent knocking down and blowing off of part of the ongoing work. Eventually their seem to be a sudden change of plan again to revert to the original plan of a flyover after nearly three years of tinkering around on the project. No thanks to the huge waste of time and state resources.

The same thing goes for the flyover at Ugwu-Orji, where the constructed pillars are also standing and seemingly asking “what else?” There seem to be plans to do a Round About instead of continuing with the original plan for a flyover. .

The flyovers were supposed to be part of the improvement on the  ambitious ring road mooted in the Owerri Capital City development project, designed to ease traffic congestion. Needless to say the Ndubisi Kanu conceived ring road is still a mirage, years after the demise of his military administration.

Let’s consider also the monthly sanitation or environmental cleanup started by the military government of Buhari and continued by subsequent governments. Why was this stopped in Imo State? The ill -fated Ohakim government had the  “Clean and Green project”. Why was this not continued and improved on.

The Okorocha Government at inception continued the exercise but only for a while. At a point, the Governor himself was physically leading the cleanup campaign and was seen scooping dirt out of our filthy gutters – talk about leading by example, a strange concept in our society! Sadly, he ran out of gas no sooner than he started.

But again, the project was abandoned and Owerri, formerly the “cleanest state capital” under Sam Mbakwe is once again wallowing in dirt and debris.

We are not suggesting that lack of project continuity is limited to the Okorocha adminstration.  Ohakim himself did not continue the projects of Governor Achike Udenwa neither did Udenwa his predecessor’s – it’s a scourge in our society!

Abandoned projects, like white elephant projects, are a national shame. What we are saying is that good works should be commended and continued in the interest of progress.  Our leaders should have the humility and wisdom to continue projects which they know will benefit the people, irrespective of who started it and which party they belong. They should not only be quick to inherit assets, but also the liabilities, including projects conceived in the people’s interest.

 

EDITORIAL

Increasing Fuel and Electricity Prices

Published

on

Increasing Fuel and Electricity Prices

Once again, Nigerians are digging deeper into their pockets to buy fuel. They are paying N162 per litre from N142 last month. While the five per cent or so Nigerians with deep pockets will not be bothered by the increase, the majority with shallow pockets will have to empty them to buy petrol to run their businesses or shut them down, fuel their vehicles, light their homes and pump water, among other things. Electricity bill has also gone up although the average Nigerian is still in darkness most of the time.

The Federal Government explained that the removal of fuel subsidy, froth with duplicity and corruption, was responsible for the increase. For electricity, it said only consumers who get 12 hours or more of electricity per day should pay the new rate. Electricity Distributing Companies (DISCOS) may not agree.

Vice President Osinbajo has advised Nigerians to bear the pain and not go back to the fuel subsidy regime. He said the Federal Government is aware of the suffering and working out ways to alleviate poverty. This sounds familiar. Poverty alleviation doesn’t mean much in Nigeria anymore.

Petrol is at the heart of Nigeria’s economy. It drives everything. Whenever there is an upward review, the cost of living skyrockets. For the poor masses, the present situation spells doom. Fuel subsidy was introduced to alleviate poverty but instead it became a curse, benefiting only a few.

The Buhari Government announced early in the year that it will stop the subsidy payment. It said the downstream sector of the oil industry will be fully deregulated so that prices of petroleum products will fully be determined by market forces.

We have nothing against deregulation or removal of the ‘dubious subsidy’. The question is why now? Another is, if not now when, as things seem to go from bad to worse?
By failing to flush out the criminals benefiting unduly from the fuel subsidy, the Federal Government has proven that some people are, indeed, untouchable.

What will the Federal Government do now to cushion the effect of the hike on the poor, that it has not done before and it didn’t work? Poverty alleviation without improvement in quality of life means nothing. If for example, a commercial vehicle driver buys fuel at N162 per litre but drives on good roads and has access to portable water, he would charge commuters less. It has a ripple effect and vice versa.

When the Federal Government compares the price of petrol in Nigeria with those in neighboring countries, one wonders what indices it uses? Does it consider the minimum wage and the fact that Nigeria is the seventh world oil producer?

Nigeria produces crude oil but imports petrol. If the refineries are broken down, why can’t they be repaired? It is unfortunate that from time to time billions of Naira is gulped by so-called Turn-Around Maintenance of our refineries without anything to show for it in the end.

President Buhari promised to support the creation of modular refineries. Yet those in the riverine areas are being shut down and labeled illegal. What a contradiction! Why can’t the technology used in those refineries be harnessed?

Nigeria prefers to import what it can produce locally. By that, what Government is telling people is endure poverty. Don’t try to get out of it.

Removing subsidy in the midst of poverty is bad. But policy inconsistency and double standards will do Nigeria no good.

Continue Reading

EDITORIAL

Security operatives, IPOB and Emene massacre

Published

on

Security operatives, IPOB and Emene massacre

The high-handedness of security operatives towards members of the Indigenous People of Biafra, IPOB, is truly a concern. The ruthlessness with which they deal with the unarmed youths whenever there is a clash, is worrying and unacceptable.

What happened at Emene Enugu State, last Sunday, is not an isolated case. It stirs up memories of “Operation Python Dance” Egwu Eke, and others which saw the cold-blooded murder of many Igbo youths. When Ndigbo are trying to put one incident behind them, another occurs as a reminder, making it hard to forget.

Ironically, what police insensitivity, hatred, and the proscription of IPOB, have done is win sympathy for the unarmed youths, agitating for a cause. Police brutality on IPOB increases the nostalgia for Biafra, even among those who through fear or faith oppose it. It also gives credence to those comparing Nigeria with George Orwell’s “Animal Farm,” a euphemism for discrimination and corruption. This is glaring when one compares how police treat unarmed IPOB members, and the real terrorists such as armed Fulani herdsmen, the so-called bandits, Boko Haram and other hoodlums operating across the country.

Although there are conflicting reports about what took place at Emene. what is most regrettable is that lives were lost. It is also clear that the conflict started when security operatives stormed the venue of an IPOB meeting. There is no report that the youths were carrying weapons or marching somewhere to attack the police or anybody else. What happened to the tear-gas which police use to disperse unarmed group? Perhaps, life has become so cheap in Nigeria that police do not care who dies anymore.

But the killings have been widely condemned by Nigerians at home and abroad. Here in the South-East, Ohanaeze, MASSOB, Nzuko Umunna, town unions and others have called for a judicial inquiry into the incident.

The panel is expected to unravel the truth about what happened, as there are suspicions of a sinister motive. South-East governors should speak out also before things get out of hand.
Clearly, Nigeria is engulfed in countless security challenges. People are wondering why the same security agencies who have guts to murder unarmed Igbo youth have displayed helplessness in containing more vociferous security challenges, elsewhere?
Nigerians have enough experience to know that if one ethnic group keeps quiet while another unjustly suffers, soon the others will also be at the receiving end because, as they say, what goes round, comes around.

Furthermore, it beats one’s imagination that the IPOB should be labeled ‘terrorist’ while the real terrorists continue to massacre and kill and maim across the country.

We agree with many Nigerians that unarmed IPOB youths, who have not shown the cruelty and callousness of Boko Haram, Fulani herdsmen and even bandits in South Kaduna do not deserve, proscription, constant harassment and killings.

We condemn violent agitations in all forms. But when armed law enforcement agents descend on unarmed youths at their peaceful meeting, we wonder who sent them and what the motive is.

Continue Reading

ARTICLES

Imo as Unemployment Capital

Published

on

Imo as Unemployment Capital

Former Governor Rochas Okorocha understood clearly that Imo State needed jobs and factories. The question is what did he do about it?

Imolites are familiar with the mantra “Job, Job, Job, factory, factory, factory,” which he orchestrated in his second term. That was his way of telling Imolites what was lacking in the state. He gave the impression that his government was about to tackle unemployment, by rehabilitating moribund factories and, building new ones. Many people believed him.

Now, the National Bureau of Statistics NBS has come out with the figures stating that 23 million Nigerians are unemployed and that Imo has the lion’s share of 48.7 per cent. One wonders if the NBS report would have been released had Governor Okorocha still been in charge. The NBS report showing Imo State as Nigeria’s new unemployment capital can only be annoying to Imolites when viewed in the prism of Okorocha’s factory, factory factory, jobs, jobs, jobs.

Imolites cannot even point to one “hot” industry or employment generating project created during Okorocha’s eight years. But that is typical of our politicians. Yet, one can still ask where the factories and jobs promised by Okorocha are? Knowing Governor Okorocha, he would not deny that he promised “factories” but the problem will be telling people where they are located.

If Governor Okorocha was honest with his “factory, factory and job, job” utterance, he would have done something to stir up activities in the so-called Owerri Industrial Layout along Onitsha road Irete, which is almost a forgotten area. The industrial hub is now more of a hide out for miscreants, with all its roads in deplorable condition.

Several of the factories are overtaken by grass, as they have either been shut down in frustration or relocated. Individuals and private businesses use some of the large expanse of land to dump solid waste, including faeces.

We are not holding former Governor Rochas Okorocha solely responsible for this abysmal neglect of the Industrial Layout. Apart from the first civilian Governor of the state, Chief Sam Mbakwe, who saw wisdom in setting up several industries across the old Imo State, that extended to present day Abia and Ebonyi States, none of his successors either military or civilian did anything in that direction. The successive administrations paid mere lip service, to job creation.

It is also important to point out that previous governors remembered their promises to create jobs just when they were about to leave office.

It was only then that they created dubious and questionable jobs that run into thousands but which are practically impossible for their successors to fund.

Charity must begin at home. Any Government desiring to create jobs and kick-start manufacturing in Imo State must uplift the Industrial layout and not neglect it. No entrepreneur, investor, local or expatriates, would set up business in a place with virtually no roads, to begin with.

We only hope and pray that the present Government would be grieved by the unflattering NBS report, which ridicules Imo State and decide to take some positive steps towards developing the Industrial Layout.

We know Government cannot employ everyone. But we know also that it can create the enabling environment where virtually every eligible person can get employed.

If Governor Hope Uzodinma is touched by the ugly NBS report, he can do something about it. He can put politics and his personal interest aside and rehabilitate old factories as well as revive the Industrial Layout. Anything short of this will be another exercise in deception.

Continue Reading

Trending