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Another Look At The New Gospel According To St. Matthew Kukah – By Sunday Garba

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Let me begin by thanking the Almighty God, the creator of heaven and earth for His infinite kindness and mercifulness unto mankind, especially, to Nigerians and Nigeria. I am also sending the New Year felicitation to our leader, President Muhammadu Buhari and all those saddled with leadership responsibilities in our treasured country, Nigeria.

Specifically, I am posting this special New Year greeting to the Catholic Bishop of Sokoto Diocese, His Lordship, Rev. Fr. Dr. Matthew Hassan Kukah. In the same spirit, I extend the same felicitation to all my compatriots in Nigeria for the Grace of our Lord to see a brand-New Year.

The Year 2020 has been a turbulent period for all of us – both for the leaders and the citizens. But it has fizzled out now. As the New Year dawns, we are expectant of emerging better, stronger and united as a nation. Once again, let us congratulate ourselves for this special privilege which God Almighty Has freely afforded us the luxury.

For nearly a week now, the Christmas day message to the leadership of Nigeria as symbolized by President Buhari and Nigerians, by My Lordship, Bishop Kukah has been trending and resonating with assorted sounds. The bevy of diverse reactions from Nigerians to its contents is indicative of its aversion in some quarters and, also, its approval by others. It is normal and the joy of all democracies is that the people postulate varied perceptions on any issue.

Personally, I hold deep veneration for Bishop Kukah for certain reasons. First, I consider him a personage who is an embodiment of three solid endowments, all packed in one soul. He is a great messenger of God and evangelist of great repute; Father Kukah is an outstanding administrator and by His Grace, Kukah is also, an advocate of the masses, a consistent voice for a better Nigeria. In other words, Kukah is a human trinity in invaluable leadership. I adore him!

But like many other Nigerians, I have cause to disagree some aspects of his Christmas day message, which he captioned, “A Nation in Search of Vindication,” particularly directed to Mr. President for twin reasons. Firstly, its intonation drapes with a strong voice of incitement, rather than reconciliation from a personality of his status. And secondly, the message is ill-timed and ill-motivated, which frowns at the basic tenets of his vocation as a preacher of the Gospel and seeker of peace.

I am the least person to delude myself that everything is smooth in Nigeria today or the nation has been completely lifted from the doldrums by President Buhari. But the problems of this nation have been deeply entrenched for decades. I dare say at the risk of being battered that the foundations of this decay are massively erected even in individual homes by people who are not prepared to let it go for whatever reasons. The overtime has really been deep!

In the Christmas day message, Father Kukah personally alluded to this mess only by a fraction with a recent example in these words; “For over ten years now, at almost each Christmas, a dark pall of horror, sorrow, and death has consistently hung in our horizon threatening to eclipse the promises of the joy of Christmas. Recall the bombing of St. Theresa’s Catholic Church, Madalla on Christmas day in 2011.”

I consider this reminiscence by My Lordship’s as his appreciation of extent of the tribulations with Nigeria before the Buhari Presidency. No doubt, these challenges have not completely eclipsed in this nation. However, where I could not grasp the thoughts of Bishop Kukah is the conscious refusal to admit that there have been some improvements under the incumbent administration. He failed to understand that the security challenges in our country cannot be exorcised in a day, not in five years or even in 10 years or more.

Joyfully, President Buhari has given Nigerians a glimmer of hope in the restoration of peace and security in the country as evidently captured by Kukah in the release of the abducted Chibok and Dapchi schoolgirls as well as the recent Kankara and Mahuta schoolchildren. To me, this is a cheering flicker of hope.

Last Christmas was celebrated just yesterday, but I am not aware of any Christmas day bombing of a church in Nigeria, ditto a mosque in preceding Sallah celebrations. Formerly, these were auspicious times of horror and sorrows in Nigeria.

I don’t believe the narrative or insinuation by Kukah that the armed terror gangs wished Nigerians this break or respite. Our security agencies have taken conscious steps to tame the terrorists, the bandits and so on. This is worth the acknowledgment of everyone of us, to ginger our leaders to more actions because it is a collective battle and, not exclusively a Buhari affair.

We are persuaded to understand that leaders are also humans in 1 Timothy 2:1-2; “I urge, then, first of all, that petitions, prayers, intercession and thanksgiving be made for all people – for kings and all those in authority, that we may live peaceful and quiet lives in all godliness and holiness. This is good and pleases God our savior.” Therefore, I believe that even when a leader is believed to have faltered, it is the duty of everyone of us to embolden him to overcome the perceived shortcomings, but not chant songs of war or outright vilification as Bishop Kukah’s message barked loudly.

I am also piqued at Bishop Kukah’s condescension to our familiar national faultlines by his very bitter accusations or emphasis on nepotism and tribalism or the institutionalization of the Northern hegemony by the Buhari Presidency. These are issues which have come in the front burner of national discourses time and time again! And they have been variously trashed and proven with verifiable evidence as false alarms by disgruntled Nigerians desperate to sow the seed of discord and disunity against Buhari.

Truly, it is incitement of Christians against Muslims when Bishop Kukah became a vuvuzela or trumpeted that “Every honest Nigerian knows that there is no way any non-Northern Muslim President could have done a fraction of what President Buhari has done by his nepotism and gotten away with it. There would have been a military coup a long time ago or we would have been at war. The President may have concluded that Christians will do nothing and will live with these actions.”

And it sparked instant revolting reactions from Nigerians and the Bishop can attest to it. The varied interpretations of this statement also included those who claimed he was calling for a Military coup to overthrow President Buhari; thereby putting him on the defensive in furious denials. I know, an agitation for a coup was far from his intentions in the expression; but the connotation of that statement unarguably draped and animated the spirit of incitement in Nigerians towards that direction.

How many of the clergy across religious faiths loudly lamenting over the state of the nation now, ever uttered a word, when the situation in our country was glaringly worse under the preceding administration? They were very silent! Perhaps, there is something hidden from the rest us.

I was astounded that Bishop Kukah transposed himself into the ridiculously feeble campaigns of the Nigerian opposition by sketching rhetorical posers; “Why did President Buhari hand over a majority of the plum jobs to Northern Muslims? Was it for efficacy and efficiency? What was the logic?”

So, I asked myself whether by the imagination of My Lordship, there are lesser or less attractive jobs in service to the nation reserved for certain regions peopled by Nigerians or members of a particular faith. Which aspect of national service is irrelevant or not an impactful component of the whole? The phrase “plum jobs” is a coinage by political lobbyists who perceive and fete national appointments as a means to self-glorification. It is perplexing for Bishop Kukah to have aligned with this narrative.

And it earned My Lordship the underserved public epaulet as a politician in Cassock. The exponents of this campaign argued fervently that Jesus Christ was never a friend of any politician in the land, but Bishop Kukah has deviated from this norm by such indulgence.

Let me end this New Year message to Bishop Kukah by saying, we all crave for a better country. We need peace, security and prosperity as a nation. But the work to be done in Nigeria is much, but the labourers are few. It’s impossible to expect a better Nigeria, without a correspondingly better citizen.

I have no iota of doubt that President Buhari is challenged by the enormity of the work; but I also know our President is not a faint-hearted leader. He has not faltered either. He gathers his strength and inspiration as implored in Proverbs 24:10; “If you faint in the day of adversity, your strength is small.”

We owe our President and dear nation, the sacrosanct obligation to avoid public utterances likely to cause divisions, incite the masses and exacerbate the tension in the land. I was disappointed honestly, My Lord Bishop, that throughout your Christmas day message, there was no plea to incensed compatriots responsible for these organized armed criminalities against their country to lay down their arms, embrace and seek forgiveness from God. This counsel from a messenger of God is also very crucial in our expressions of despair.
Happy New Year, My Lord Bishop! Happy Prosperous New Year, Nigerians!

Garba is the National Coordinator, National Inter- Faith Organizations for Peace.

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Jalingo City Flyover: The Lies Imported By Hungry Social Media Influencers – By A. A. Mshelia

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It has become obviously clear that the politics played in Taraba State by the said opposition and the enemies of State has reached it highest peak.

Those familiar with the trends of polity being played in the State should by now come to the know, the intensity and how determined certain folks are in ensuring they pull down everything good happening in the State.

It is true that fake news trends faster than those said to be the facts, but, it amazes me and those that have common sense how some people are falling for the said collapsed picture of the flyer over in Taraba State, which is under construction by the Darius’ administration.

As much as Governor Darius appreciates creative critism, and most times swallows the trash pushed on him by certain folks,it is becoming expedient that some people needs to be dealt with, so it can serve as an example that the government have the powers to protect the good of the land.

Below is the laughable, yet stupid and foolish pictures spread around on social media. Not only is it circulated by some hungry opposition, but also by some sponsored peanuts-seekers called online TV stations, and social media influencers.

Fake

Since common sense is never common, let’s make some analysis and show some facts about the said collapsed bridge.

  1. The said bridge is an old bridge, looking at the texture of it surface..
  2. The people working on the bridge, to those standing around it to take a look and passer by are Indians
  3. The present bridges under construction in Taraba are within the City centre, in the State capital Jalingo, while the said picture is one that’s completely in a bush in a village in India.
  4. The bridge in Jalingo is thicker, wider, longer and Stronger than the one making rounds in the picture.
  5. The current stage of the bridge in Jalingo has not yet reached the level of the top layer as it is seen on the said picture.

Though it seems the work in Jalingo is taking longer than other States that copied such from Governor Darius, one needs to know the bridge in Jalingo is thrice in size, length, strength etc. Compared to anyone seen in the Northeast.

Governor Darius is an Architect, thus, at no cost will he allow quality to be compromised.

Jalingo city flyover under construction
More pictures
Construction on going
Taraba flyover bridge under construction

According to the report captured by The times of India, it States:

“KAITHAL: An under-construction flyover near Dulyani village of Pundri town in Haryana’s Kaithal district collapsed on Saturday evening minutes after it was laid. However, no one was injured in the accident.”

“According to the villagers, the structure came crashing down about 30 minutes after concrete material was laid atop pillars. As two pillars supporting the flyover collapsed, the newlylaid structure also came tumbling down, they said.”

“Sources said that soon after the incident, the project officials attempted a coverup and covered the broken pillars with cement mixture from the top and spoil at the base.”

“National Highways Authority of India (NHAI) project director K M Sharma said, “Prima facie, it appears to be an outcome of mechanical fault. I have initiated a probe into the matter to fix responsibility.”

The flyover was coming up on National Highway 152D, known as Trans Haryana Greenfield Expressway and Ambala-Narnaul Expressway, on the stretch between Gangheri in Pehowa town of Kurukshetra district and Narnaul. Foundation stone. The foundation stone of the flyover stretching 227km was laid last year by Union minister for road transport and highways Nitin Gadkari. The structure is slated to have 122 bridges and underpasses.”

“Kaithal deputy commissioner Sujan Singh said, “The project director has been called to explain the reasons of the collapse of the structure.”

For further research and prove to every well meaning Taraban, click on the link to read the total storyline and watch videos. Click on this link: https://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/city/chandigarh/under-construction-flyover-on-e-way-collapses-near-kaithal/articleshow/81266207.cms

I call on all Tarabans to understand that it’s high time we stand with the facts and realities on ground, we must also fight such fake news and those that propagate them through propagandas. One thing is obvious, God, and even nature will deal with such inventors of evil against Taraba State and it Leader.

For Governor Darius Ishakus, he remains focused to delivering the Rescue Mandate against all odds.

God bless Governor Darius, God bless Taraba State, and God bless the Federal Republic of Nigeria.

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Alkali’s Answers To The North -East Humanitarian Question – By Raphael Odoh

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Apparently, Boko Haram insurgents and the Islamic State West Africa Province (ISWAP) have gravely injured and shackled the North East Development Commission (NEDC), a baby created out of necessity to cater for humanitarian crisis incited by Boko Haram. The NEDC’s Managing Director and Chief Executive Officer, (MD-CEO), Alhaji Mohammed Goni Alkali experiences grippingly retells the story of managing the near post-insurgency gores with a nauseating taste.

In his heart of hearts, Alkali wishes to relinquish the job to someone else because the burden is damn too much. But what are the real alternatives at his disposal? Virtually none! Those affected are directly his kith and kin. Someday, questions would be asked from the countryside on why he shirked from coming to their assistance in the hour of need. So, Alkali grudgingly trudges on.

Established in 2017 by the Government of President Muhammadu Buhari, the NEDC has had a tortuous path attending to the multifaceted infrastructural and humanitarian crises created by the over 10 years Boko Haram insurgency in the region. In his solemn moments, he seats and reflects on how the NEDC’s efforts in rebuilding the devastated region are again sabotaged by same Boko Haram and its local conspirators. It pierces the heart with pain. But he is determined never to give up.

NEDC’s main responsibilities includes, to receive and administer funds from the federation account, international donors and other humanitarian organizations for the settlement, rehabilitation and reconstruction of roads, houses and destroyed business premises of victims of insurgency. NEDC also has the mandate to intervene in ameliorating pervasive poverty, mass illiteracy, ecological problems and any other such linked social problems that would make life more meaningful to the suffering populations living in insurgency ravaged Northeast states of Adamawa, Borno, Yobe, Bauchi, Gombe and Taraba.

At the inauguration of the NEDC Board, President Muhammadu Buhari gave it a limitless gamut of operations. Mr. President was emphatic that the commission should superintend on the development activities and structures at all levels of government-funded agencies legitimized to work in the region.

NEDC daily sees an internally displaced or deprived population of over 2.6 million Nigerians or more in dire need of rehabilitation and succor under its responsibility. It’s a frightening statistic. It’s precisely the cause of Alkali’s nightmare.

Whether the MD/CEO accepts its or not, the NEDC appears bowed under the weight of sheer destructions by these terrorists’ gangs in the Northeast region of Nigeria. The job is very tasking, strenuous and energy-sapping.

The NEDC’s Managing Director, Alhaji Mohammed Goni Alkali is clearly dazzled by the magnitude of work on his hands. His admirers and acolytes are asking everyday whether he has enough capacity to solve the humanitarian crises of varying proportions exacerbated by subsisting and continuing destructions of public infrastructures perpetrated by Boko Haram insurgency. And his fever is understandable because the NEDC is the fulcrum of the peace-building, reconciliation and de-radicalization agenda of the Buhari Presidency.

Encouragingly enough, Alhaji Mohammed Alkali is a uniquely talented administrator, widely acclaimed for his defiant battles with obstinate challenges. His consociates’ mouth that the MD/CEO does not shudder or contemplate surrender on any challenge until he conquers the obstacle and snatches success.

Ab initio, Alkali knew that a savior in the neighborhood would not be noticed until he announces his presence. Therefore, the NEDC -MD’s first area of concentration was the engagement of the various communities in the Northeast on sensitization of indigenes on the prevalence of fleeing remnants of Boko Haram insurgents in their midst and how to dismantle unexploded landmines in their communities after the Military’s complete subjugation of the cursed jihadist campaigners’.

Selected persons across communities in the Northeast region in the Boko Haram worse hit states were selected and trained to lead the battle of disabling unexploded landmines. The idea captured the mindset of an administrator perfectly conversant with the preliminary rudiments of his job

The NEDC boss has launched and progressively pursued the agenda of Education Endowment Fund , which has engaged over 20,000 beneficiaries annually to enable them access academic and professional capacity training and development in diverse fields of human endeavors. It has further sparked the anger of Boko Haramists, a sect stridently opposed to western education. Alkali has courageously dared their gods!

Therefore, the commission disburses N6 billion yearly on scholarship for students in the region, which is more than the annual education budgets of most states in the federation. The drag net of the scholarship scheme covers over thousands of students from bachelor’s degree to doctor of philosophy degrees.

Added to it, the NEDC has implemented the rehabilitation of drinking water and sanitation facilities in states of the Northeast Nigeria pinned down by insurgency. It is part of NEDC’s Multisectoral Crisis Recovery Project (MCRP) with the support of the World Bank. The MD/CEO, Alkali is steadily surmounting these challenges because for every kobo into the commission’s coffers, there are human upliftment projects to justify it.

So, within three years, the NEDC has implemented humanitarian reliefs projects totaling 1, 310 under the ambitious scheme of “Rapid Response Intervention” (RRI) in all the 112 local governments of the Northeast region. Humanity survives on food and it is the basic traditional occupation of people of the Northeast. But Boko Haram insurgency pierced it badly resulting in the massive hunger and starvation in the land.

A sensitive Alkali’s focal agenda as NEDC boss has restored it. The commission has funded the implementation of an “Integrated Agriculture Programme,’ (IAP) under the broad umbrella of RRI, which yearly provides agricultural machinery and equipment, seeds, fertilizers, agrochemicals and extension services logistics vehicles from NEDC’s funds.

It has bolstered the production capacity of small-holder farmers in Northeast region, and boosted economies of families, which are currently regaining their lost farming treasures and domestic food sustenance. The NEDC sees it as a sacred obligation of the holistic rebuilding agenda of the Northeast region. Annually, the NEDC funds the IAP scheme in each of the 112 LGAs in the Northeast with N50 million.

NEDC has also has also directed its attention to skills acquisition, training and provision of starter packs to over 5, 000 Information Communication Technology (ICT), knowledge seekers. About 5, 000 women and youths in the region are trained annually on entrepreneurship, and another 2, 000 on vocational skills in each of the 1,028 wards of the region ravaged by Boko Haram. And Alkali deems it a faithful a yearly ritual. For the people of the Northeast, it is a narrative of a steady regaining of lost grounds under NEDC’s boss, Alhaji Mohammad Alkali.

The NEDC has also prominently and actively registered its shadows at the De-radicalization, Rehabilitation and Reintegration (DRR) Programme of the Nigerian Military otherwise known as “Operation Safe Corridor” (OSC) at Malam-Sidi, in Gombe State in the same region. After the initial work tour to the camp and assessment of intervention areas, the NEDC boss has continued to financially assist the programme with needy facilities.

Alkali’s humanitarian focus on rebuilding the Northeast resounds more in the ambitious housing projects for the IDPs in Borno state, the epicenter of Boko Haram terrorism. Its Mr. President’s consolatory initiative or the FGN to these displaced persons, which is worth N20 billion, but routed through the NEDC.

At the moment, the construction of 10,000 housing units spread across 10 Borno LGAs for the resettlement of the internally displaced persons (IDPs) are aggressively pursued. Through the supervision of Alkali, these housing units have reached advanced stages of completion.

The outbreak of the global coronavirus in early 2020 really shook Alkali’s heart. The NEDC boss was sensitive enough to understand that various Internally Displaced Persons (IDPs) camps were potent vectors of the spread of the epidemic. He personally went round the IDPs camps in the Northeast and supplied essential disinfectant products worth millions of Naira in the collective national struggle to combat the transmission of Coronavirus.

He kick-started the exercise at Bakkassi, Stadium and Muna IDPs camps in Maiduguri. It is reason Nigerians have not heard of COVID-19 related deaths in any of the IDPs camps in the Northeast region.

Hard work is noticed and acknowledged by Nigerians. Alhaji Mohammed Alkali’s leadership of the NEDC is rated high both by the Senate and the civil society. An unpersuaded and uninfluenced body known as the National Accountability Watch Group (NAWG) though its Executive Director, Dr Okpe Joseph Okpe applauded NEDC’s boss for holding the mandate of the Commission evidently sacrosanct by impacting on the economy, social wellbeing and infrastructural development of peoples of the Northeast region.

Under the supervision of another compassionate woman, the Minister of Humanitarian affairs, Disaster Management and Social Development, Hajiya Sadiya Umar Farouk, the NEDC boss has replicated her posture of delivering services to Nigerians with a human face. Alkali is sincerely working for the people on whose back he got the mandate to lead the NEDC.

Alkali has dispensed himself as a selfless gentleman by every detail of his assignment today as always. He is doing all within his powers to ensure that citizens in the Northeast forget the sorrows that Boko Haram insurgents and ISWAP terrorists have wrought on the populations. For conscionably comforting the downtrodden and traumatic peoples of the Northeast through various intervention programs, Alkali looks ripe for a reward in heaven. #

Odoh, a humanitarian worker wrote from Maiduguri.

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NPHCDA, COVID -19 And The Fall Of Anti-Vaxxers- By Pine Oralu

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The coronavirus pandemic indeed brought the world to its knees, with various countries imposing lockdown in the bid to stop the further spread of the virus. Consequently, efforts were deployed towards developing a vaccine that would halt the further spread of the novel coronavirus.

In Nigeria, it was not any different as the country was also in lockdown. The government introduced measures that would mitigate some of the adverse effects the coronavirus has had on our socio-economic life.

There was also a challenge, which was essentially how to convince the populace of the coronavirus’s existence and why all must observe known safety protocols such as wearing of facemasks, observing social distancing and ensuring proper hygiene through the washing of hands frequently and avoiding crowded places.

By and large, there was some level of compliance when the number of deaths increased, and the reality dawned on us. I think credit must be given to the government in its sensitization efforts, and the rest they say is history.

However, we must all be glad that the vaccines are here. There seems to be some glimmer of hope towards the world returning to normalcy if the vaccination process goes as planned. This is indeed the crux of this piece regarding the various conspiracy theories that have come out since the vaccines’ rollout, especially in Nigeria. I must add that it has been such a daunting task for the National Primary Health Care Development Agency officials to ensure that Nigerians are vaccinated.

The NPHCDA has stated that close to 400,000 Nigerians have been vaccinated so far since the vaccination programme began. This is quite commendable given the various conspiracies across the country that condemned the vaccine, so much so that stakeholders in the health sector doubted if Nigeria’s vaccination programme would be successful. They were wrong.

This is where I would commend the NPHCDA for its sensitization efforts and the orderly manner it has gone about in ensuring that the administration of the vaccines across the country was seamless. The registration portal created before the commencement of the exercise was ingenious because it was a departure from the past where such programmes were marred by poor planning, execution and other logistics impediments.

If truth be told, Nigeria has fared better than most countries in administering the vaccines to the populace. And this further reinforces the role of leadership in our daily lives. The Dr Shaibu Faisal led NPHCDA has once again demonstrated that indeed what is needed in Nigeria is purposeful leadership that is anchored on transparency, accountability and a sense of direction.

The NPCHDA knew what was at stake if the conspiracies against the vaccine thrived. Consequently, their efforts paid off handsomely with the reception the administration of the vaccine has received, even from the most critical individuals and groups across the country. Suffice I add that the vaccine administration’s success in the country didn’t come on a platter of gold. The sensitization was top-notch. The distribution of vaccines across the states was seamless. And the results have been outstanding.

If not for anything, I am particularly joyous that one of the most critical fellows against the vaccine, Femi Fani-Kayode, has taken to the social media to flaunt and inform Nigerians that the vaccines are safe and encouraged Nigerians to go for the jab. This is indeed a great victory for all and a sign to tell that the NPHCDA has done well in ensuring the success of the vaccination campaign in the country.

If this is not victory, I don’t know what else to call it. This is not just victory for the NPHCDA, but a victory for all Nigerians that are desirous of the progress of the country through the demonstration of a burning desire to see to the fact that coronavirus impediment is quickly put behind us so that we can resume our everyday lives in the quest for sustainable growth and development.

It is not yet Uhuru as the journey is just beginning in the vaccination journey. However, if the NPHCDA sustains the current tempo, we should be sure of timely vaccination of the entire population in the country.
For us to achieve this, two things are of utmost importance.

One is for the NPCHDA to continue to sensitize the populace on the vaccines’ safety and effectiveness in line with the position of the World Health Organization. And in the words of the WHO chief Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus “Every new, safe and effective tool against COVID-19 is another step closer to controlling the pandemic,”

In my opinion, this message must be sustained by the NPHCDA towards ensuring the vaccination programme is not jeopardized by conspiracy theorists who want to capitalize on any given opportunity to cause disaffection in the polity.
Secondly, we must continue to give credit to encourage the leadership of the NPHCDA for their invaluable role it has played so far in ensuring the success story of the vaccination programme in Nigeria, not just for COVID 19, but other immunization and other vaccination programmes in the country.

Dr Shaibu Faisal remains a leader with eyes on the ball and matches words with action since his assumption of office as the head of the critical National Primary Health Care Development Agency in Nigeria. His ideas and thoughts with regards to delivering on the mandate are concise and effective. His leadership acumen is also infectious. And a true definition of what leadership entails and what it should be in the critical point of our existence.

At this point, I would say that indeed those against the success of the coronavirus vaccine in the country have fallen flat on their faces. And like I said earlier, it would be too early to roll out the drums, but we must admit that we are on that steady and desirable path.

And for Dr Shaibu Faisal, your efforts are noble and commendable; I encourage you to continue to devout energy and time to sustain the tempo in service to Nigeria.

Oralu is a public affairs analyst based in Makurdi.

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