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Weaponizing Transaparncy in NEDC – By David Audu

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It is said that, “Transparency is the pillar of Accountability”. Give me a Leader who is transparent and accountable, I will show you a nation that will birth Development, and lead other nations into the Future.

I wish to state that the crisis in North-East Nigeria that came with its attendant loss of lives, destruction of properties and displacement of millions of people has been greatly managed and subdued. The after effects are now less visible due to the magnanimous reconstruction made by the North East Development Commission (NEDC) in the coordinating, harmonizing, and overseeing the success of many intervention and initiative programmes for the NorthEast States.

It is no news that Muhammed Goni Alkali being the MD of NEDC has relentlessly prioritize his engagement in the resettlement, rehabilitation, integration and reconstruction of infrastructure for victims of terrorism as well as tackling the menace of poverty, illiteracy, ecological challenges in the North-Eastern states and other related matter.

Indeed, Muhammed Goni Alkali has impressed many Nigerians for his performance, most particularly the residents of North East states. His surpassed excellence has benefited many sectors in the North East states. Moreover, his exceptional certificates which include a first class degree certificate of Accountancy in Bayero University, Kano (BUK), and a M.Sc certificate in Accounting and Finance, London School of Economics, UK, cannot be neglected. Elements of transparency and accountability can be perceived in the roles of Muhammed Alkali as the MD of North East Development Commission.

As the Managing Director of NEDC, I must commend that Muhammed Goni Alkali is striving to redevelop the North East region of Nigeria despite all hurdles he consistently experiencing. Regardless that some fraud allegations have been previously leveled against him and NEDC, his achievements are perfectly glare to Nigerians. It must be expressed that the MD of NEDC has immensely fulfilled many of his mandates for the commission. Ever since his installment as the MD, many ineffective sectors has gained strength to fully commence operations at its peak.

Muhammed Alkali ensures that every funds that are dedicated for NEDC projects needs to be utilized for the advantage of the residents of North East states. Just last year, around August, one of Muhammed Alkali’s plans for the North East region was announced. He planned to carry out 224 developmental projects in 112 LGAs all through the six North East states in Nigeria. This includes Adamawa, Bauchi, Yobe, Borno, Taraba, and Gombe. Being among the broad long-term outline of NEDC to wholly develop the North East region, the developmental projects were to be carried out under Rapid Response Intervention (RRI). They were to be carried out in regards to the needs and recommendations of the North East states. Such needs constitutes of what needed to be restored in various sectors such as the education sector, health sector, social infrastructure sector, agricultural sector, as well as in Water, Sanitation, and Hygiene (WASH) sector.

Thus, Muhammed Alkali made a reservation of #50 million so as to sort each of the requirements in the 112 LGAs. He also initiated his plans to revitalize the infrastructures in the state for the benefit of the people. The MD also declared that NEDC has made provisions of integrated agricultural programmes which was in support of newly-returned communities. He also reserved a sum of N6billion which is a fund set aside for 10% yearly grants on scholarship. Undergraduate and postgraduate students in the North East region are to benefit from the grants. This includes 5,000 undergraduates of bachelor’s degree, 336 Masters students, and 54 undergraduate of Doctorate Degree.

In regards to this, the MD has successfully executed a vast number of projects in Nguru Local Government, Yobe. Among which are drilling and installation of hybrid solar borehole in Bilalam Hausawa, Kwanar Dan Iya, renovation of classrooms, offices, and stores in various schools within the LGA.

Since the appointment of Muhammed Goni Alkali as the Managing Director (MD) and Chief Eecutive Officer of North East Development Commission on the 9th of April, 2019, the NEDC have gone on to achieve so much beyond our expectations amidst criticisms and scandals.

Since its inauguration, the NEDC has been cumbered with the responsibilities of receiving and properly allocating funds from the Federal Government and International donors for the reduction of unemployment, alleviation of poverty, provision of Basic Education, construction of roads and settlements, providing care to victims of terrorism and other challenges faced in the North-Eastern States which include Adamawa, Bauchi, Borno, Gomeb, Taraba and Yobe States.

The NEDC under the leadership of Muhammed Goni Alkali has successfully executed all of these with outstanding success. We are all aware of the many challenges the North-East is faced with. It ca only take a man who is an adept problem solver and critical thinker to spearhead a commission designed to tackle all of those challenges.

Thanks to the longsuffering of the people of the North-Eastern states, they had managed to endure the many hardships and terrorism for several years, so when President Muhammadu Buhari signed into law and act establishing the NEDC in 2017, it paved way for the development and reconstruction of the North-East and it was a huge relief for all.

The appointment of Muhammed Goni Alkali was greeted with mixed feelings and skepticisms. Many were unsure if he had the capacity to lead a commission designed for the purpose of reconstructing and developing the North-Eastern region of Nigeria. Muhammed Goni Alkali has since proved his worth with his excellent performance as the MD of the NEDC.

Muhammed Goni Alkali has made sure that while executing his mandate and the mandate of the NEDC he has stuck with one policy which is accountability and transparency. In every sector or organistaion, accountability and transparency is paramount and cannot be overlooked for the success of such sector. Muhammed Goni Alkali acknowledges that every single kobo must be utilized for the benefit of the people of the North-east, and thus he has ensured that no money is misappropriated and there is no inflated budget. If you need to cite an example of a sector in Nigeria where accountability and transparency is the order of the day, then the NEDC is top of the list, and it is all thanks to their current MD.

Looking back at past administrations, it is a norm that whenever a new commission is inaugurated to tackle a specific challenge in a particular sector or region in Nigeria, corruption erodes the project and little is ever accomplished, and this is a major contributing factor to the failures of past administrations. President Buhari foresaw this, and it is little wonder that he appointed Alkali as the MD of the NEDC, and once again, the president has shown us his formidable foresight and wisdom in choosing Mohammed.

Alkali is a man of integrity and good standing. I personally love his leadership style. It is one that many leaders in Nigeria should emulate. Stakeholders and members of International community are always full of praises for this man anytime they talk about him. That was why I knew the misappropriation of funds scandal that rocked the NEDC sometime in in July, 2020, were baseless accusations by disgruntled individuals who are seeking to put a stain on the integrity of the current administration.

The Nigerian Senate Committee on Special Duties recently praised the NEDC for its “outstanding performance” in the area of humanitarian intervention. It was cited that despite just being about a year old, the commission has “performed tremendously well”.

There have been a lot of criticisms thrown at not the NEDC boss, but also the NEDC in general, but the truth is that no matter how well a leader has performed, there must always be those who have bad things to say. In my opinion, these criticisms are just ad hominem mudslinging by members of the opposition aimed at demoralizing the NEDC and the current administration by labeling them as corrupt. The very fact that international communities have studied the success of the NEDC as an agency for development.

The NEDC boss continues to work tirelessly along with his faithful staffers to ensure that they successfully execute the mandate of the NEDC and the development of the North-East. Today, as a result of the determined efforts of these men, the North-East is undergoing rapid development as never seen before in the history of Nigeria. Many roads have been constructed, level of illiteracy in the region is being significantly reduced, many job opportunities have been created, many humanitarian interventions are being out in place and there is now a cleaner and safer environment for the people of the North-East.

From the report gotten from The Good Governance and Transparency Coalition as a
stakeholder in this critical sector that has consequently monitored the operations of the NEDC, it has stated that in the past one year of its operations, there has been entrenchment of transparency and accountability.

Therefore, i believe that we should be consequently alarmed at any spurious allegations without recourse to implicating NEDC, which by all intent we know that the purposes are of poor taste and lacking any form of credibility as there are no such infractions in the operations of the NEDC. As a matter of fact, the operational manual of the NEDC is such that is tailored to ensure accountability at all times and as such we should wonder how such infractions would have been effected with the multiple layers of checks in place.

Alkali remains my man. A man who is passionate about delivering the best results for the benefit of the people of the North-East. I do not have the slightest doubt that as long as he remains the MD of the NEDC, there are still better days ahead for the North-Eastern region of Nigeria.

Audu is a public affairs analyst and wrote this piece from Abuja.

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Opinion

NYSC- TF: Ushering In A Game Changer In Youth Empowerment – By Philip Agbese

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After thorough examination, further being excluded from the list of inconsequential matters, and moved to the top relevant section in the nation, The National Youth Service Corps (NYSC) Trust Fund bill has been a topic on the tongue of many great visionary leaders in this country. It is said that, “In a stronger Youth, lies the strength of a great Nation”. One would wonder how much exploration, and greatness that would emanate from a nation that have taken time to invest in her youths. What great expectations await such magnanimous task, or investment?

It’s no myth that for long have ethnic, political and religious differences been too frequently weaponized by those seeking to obtain or retain political power. Given this history, expecting a program to bring national unity, is a tall order, one that NYSC has proven to fill and also brought to realization its many benefits and importance as a developmental factor in our beloved country. The basic fact that a young graduate who has spent most of his or her life in the south-west graduates and is posted to the North Western part of the country, courtesy of the NYSC to explore and contribute to the community is indeed very important. It launches such an individual to his next stage in life and equips such individual with the necessary experiences needed to excel in his career path. It’s no surprise that Nigeria as a nation is closest to its revolutional-breakthrough in massive progress which would be witness soonest among the youths. This feat has been made possible by great minds who have invested their time, commitment, and resources in ensuring that Nigeria becomes a greater nation than it used to be.

Putting different views on a test of time and candid watch, perpetual evidence over time has fully trashed the misconception of different arguments on the NYSC scheme having outlived its usefulness. However, standing the test of time and season, it is now evident with rigid facts that there is no contesting the fact that the NYSC plays a critical role in fostering the country’s economic and social development. It is because of the impact of the outstanding influence of the NYSC scheme in different sectors across the Nation that has now made it well-convincing that recent efforts to set up the NYSC Trust Fund deserves the full support of all and sundry considering the fact that it will provide the impetus to boost the Skill and Entrepreneurship Development Programme for corps members. While noting great numerous streams of success in various sectors already in record under the leadership of President Muhammadu Buhari, there swiftly came an additional great initiative by the National Assembly, which is considering the National Youth Service Corps (NYSC) Trust Fund Bill, and ensuring seamless passage of this proposed bill that would give firmness to the clarion call for the creation of the NYSC Trust Fund. This heroic support given by the two Chambers of the National Assembly in passing the NYSC trust fund bill has remained a positive game changer for the Nigerian youths. The unpoliticized moves taken by this visionary leaders in power has further solidify the unity and hope of a greater future for our Nation. These are leaders that have continued to seek for ways to put out the flame of ethnic and religious tensions by proffering solutions to the healthy survival of the youths in this nation.

This bill is meant to power sustainability in all ramification as pertains to everything that needs to help actualize the goals and vision of Nigeria Youth Service Corp. The bill sought to address the Infrastructural deficit in the orientation camps, ensure adequate provision of other operational logistics, as well as address the problem of graduate unemployment in the country.
Furthermore, it is worthy of note that when passed into law, this Trust Fund bill would also have a positive impact on the Nigerian youths and citizens in general.

X-raying the immense benefits of NYSC scheme and the Trust Fund bill to our great nation, these expectant contributions are worthy of note:

*IMPROVEMENT IN GENERAL WELFARE*
With this bill in full implementation, the corps members welfare would become better, there will be better maintenance of existing NYSC facilities, and more orientation camps extension to better accommodate youth corps. This Trust Fund bill runs with the vision of enhancing the improvement of the general welfare of corps members and personnel of the scheme and their preparedness to effectively discharge their statutory duties of promoting national unity, integration, self-reliance and accelerated development of the national economy.

*INCREASE IN LOW STEREOTYPICAL RATIO AND GOOD INTERPERSONAL RELATIONSHIP*
In considering the yearnings on unity in this nation, we cannot be oblivious of the fact that there have always been stereotypes and Prejudices view which one ethnic group may have about another. It takes more experience, and moral influence of the life of other ethnic groups to see the lack Of objectivity in such false assumptions. Knowing well that Stereotypes are characteristics are mentally imposed upon groups of people because of their race, nationality, and sexual orientations, it would take more than just educational enlightenment, but an integration into a cultural wellbeing, and this is the revolution NYSC has provided. These characteristics in different groups involved has strengthened the absurdity of human personification in relation to their judgemental reasoning. However, this action has further strength the arm of nepotism in different sectors occupied by people with this stereotypical traits, forgetting that they are not necessarily representative of all people within that group. This syndrome is partly responsible for monumental disunity of the country. The Trust Fund bill would further help to build good interpersonal relationships, galvanize, and strengthens the bond of unity amongst ethnic groups. The experience of ethnic diversity in all forms has helped to appreciate and learn other people’s cultures. This pleasant encounter often dispels whatever myths they may harbor against any other ethnic groups, therefore helping them to transact, and relate better together.

*DRASTIC LOW RATE OF GRADUATE UNEMPLOYMENT*
In accessing the Trust fund by all corps member, there would be massive reduction in the rate of graduate unemployment, as this bill would help enhance the Gains of the SAED Programme. This Trust funds will surely provide many source of funds for the Nigerians Youth Service Corps in terms of skill acquisition training like Web Development, Cyber security, Graphics Deisgn, Content writing, Digital marketing, Mechanized farming, and many more. Considering Capital; being the greatest challenge of every prospective entrepreneurs with great ideas, it’s obvious that this bill is a prayer-answered solution. Apart from providing adequate facilities for more impactful vocational and entrepreneurship training, it would also be a sustainable source of business financing capital for the corps members. This way, greater feats would be achieved in empowering our graduate youths for self-employment and wealth creation. Curbing unemployment among graduates is one of the aim of the Trust funds. Just as the same manner like Tet fund (Tertiary Education Trust Fund), Police Equipment Trust Fund and Petroleum Technology Development Fund, which help in aiding full operations of tertiary educational institutions.

*REDUCED INSURGENCY AND YOUTH RESTIVENESS.*
Taking a peak look at the statistical age range of those actively into terrorism, Insurgency, Banditry, and all other evil vices, it can be undoubtedly concluded that the Youth dominates in numbers. From previous encounters the Armed forces had in combating Insurgency and Banditry, reports were gotten that the Youth made a great number of those involved in this vices. Confession from most of the repentant Bokoharam and the Niger deltan militants revealed that, most of them laid claim to their inability to secure a good job, little to no grant support for their business ideas, the high unemployment rate, and the lack of capital to start something for themselves that made them ventured into causing mayhem and unrest around the country, due to the short-lived promise made to them. This has made them a menace to the peace and unity of the nation.

 

Moreover, in the issues of funding and many infrastructural decays, the NYSC Trust Funds will help to harness smooth running and operations of the scheme. It would also serve as seed money for many young graduate entrepreneurs after their service. This will not only benefit the youth alone, but would also help secure a good future for the coming generation, and also prepare a good rest for the older generation. There is no doubt that when the NYSC Trust Fund becomes operational, the number of corps entrepreneurs will increase drastically, and they will in turn help to provide jobs for millions of other youths of the country. This will equally help to reduce the issue of security challenges faced in the country. It is instructive that the majority of the lawmakers are products of the scheme as most of them are graduates of tertiary institutions who have participated in the scheme. From their varying and variegated experience going through the scheme, they will agree that corps members are grossly underutilised and one sure way of unleashing the real potential of the corps members is to empower them to be able to acquire new skills and put to use their training. No wonder their speedy approach in passing the bill. They are keen on rejuvenating the 1973 mandate of the NYSC scheme created by the Yakubu Gowon regime.

To face these herculean challenges, the corps members only need to be empowered. The NYSC Anthem to Nigerian youths to obey the clarion call, to lift the nation high, under any circumstances (sun or in the rain), with dedication and selflessness, and to serve a great Nigeria. But, many great ideas have died without requisite enablers, or a light of hope which is funding, mostly for the NYSC. So, when Nigerians call for a trust fund for the scheme, it is to ensure that a dream should survive its purpose.

It would be a great achievement and landmark in history by President Muhammed Buhari’s administration if the bill is imported, and the act signed in the next few days. Therefore, this need to be duly considered by Mr President.
The joy of a Nation to the world is its impactful Productiveness and growth. The growth of a nation is the growth of its youth. Therefore, Passing the NYSC Trust Fund bill into law, will be a Chronicle that will forever remain in the legacy of history Worldwide, and would be known as, _“The move that changed the sovereignty of every Nigerian youth’s Existence “._

Agbese is the All Progressives Congress Candidate for House of Representatives, Ado/Okpokwu/Ogbadibo Federal Constituency writing from Agila.

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BWACHA 2023: the perception of his critics and the support of the people – By Rikwense Muri

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When you read the jittering online media propaganda of his critics and and see how they perceives the Taraba state APC gubernatorial candidate, Senator Emmanuel Bwacha, you will just wonder within yourself what a great and powerful man he must be. They make the man appears as an almighty and invincible politician who has pocketed INEC, Police, DSS, APC and now the Judiciary, just for him to become the next governor of Taraba State.

I read one of such articles recently and I saw how the author explained the connections of the Senator with the judiciary and how even the supreme Court judges through one of their retired and highly respected colleague have been pocketed to pervert justice in favour of his 2023 gubernatorial ambition. What a joke!

After laughing myself out, I said to myself, if our leader Senator Bwacha is this powerful as they are postulating and agitating, then it’s God’s doing and it’s marvelous in our eyes. I am convinced that this fear and desperate agitating of our critics and opponents against the restoration agenda and aspiration of Senator Bwacha, is a message to all concerning the perceived outcome of 2023 general elections. Glory be to God! This is because no politician, not even a presidential candidate can be perceived to exert such great influence over independent institutions of government as we are witnessing in regards to Senator Bwacha.

However, the truth of the matter is, they know that Senator Bwacha is innocent of all their allegations, accusations and media propaganda because as a ranking Senator in the red chamber, he does not have executive power to have so much and influence as they’re postulating. But because they know that Senator Bwacha is time tested political strategist who plans his ways to the end of every struggle he has ever undertaken, they know that with the leadership capacity he has displayed so far, Tarabans will vote for him in 2023 and he will work for the good and prosperity of the state. With this knowledge, they are afraid and jittery about his emergence.

Taraba State history is filled with the emergence of unprepared political opportunists as executive or acting Governor. This is the first time in our history for a man who has served and paid his dues in the political arena to given the ticket to stand for general election. Some of these opportunists did well while others just came to plunder and abandoned the people in more precarious condition than they met them. Bwacha is different and that this the reason of their fears. How I wish someone can help us explain to them why Bwacha is ‘alheri ne,’ a special blessing prepared and sent from God to give Tarabans a sigh of relief and restore hope in government as the driver of security, peace and prosperity. There is no reason to be afraid or agitated over his emergence if truly we want political leadership to be a blessing to the people of Taraba state.

With Bwacha, Taraba will be united again across ethnic and religious divides as we can see in his political campaign structure to the ward level. The people’s hope and confidence in government from the local government to state will be restored as he plans to imbark on a massive reform that will bring government back to life in Taraba. The Restoration Government plans to provides resources and opportunities for scholarships, training and empowerment of our youths. It will bring back drugs to our healthcare facilities. It will bring back enthusiasm in civil service and make it a rewarding career with regular salaries, pension and timely gratuities. Tourists will see Taraba as the preferred destination and haven of adventure.

Senator Bwacha plans to ensure that the Transport system is given adequate attention to ensure our people travel safely, comfortably and affordably to their destinations. Taraba State Transport Corporation ( TSTC) management will be restructure, redesigned and positioned to give Tarabans the comfort they need as they plan their journeys across the country.

Under Senator Bwacha’s Restoration Government, private schools will be less attractive except they raise their standard due to the investment and priority that will be given to public educational institutions from basic to tertiary. Quality teaching method and curriculum that will ensure that the education of children is base on 21st century requirements in education.

Senator Bwacha’s restoration government will put in all the experiences that he has gathered as civil servant, state legislator, member of state executive council, a federal representative, member of the governing board of the Administrative Staff College of Nigeria (ASCON) and a three term Senator and principal officer of the highest lawmaking institution in Nigeria. He is prepared and ready to serve his people.

Senator Bwacha is not coming as a “General without troops” like some of his opponents who are lone rangers in the political arena but go about claiming to be leaders. Instead, he is coming as a General with officers and men who has been motivated, trained and are ready to offer their services in different aspects of governance to the people of Taraba. In the Bwacha Political organization are experts in different fields of human endeavors who because of Senator Bwacha will sacrifice anything to come back home and support in the building of a new Taraba.

Senator Bwacha’s ability to give attention to details has endeared him to many professionals in education, security, environmental management, administration, political development, media, healthcare reformation, economists, social investment, urban development, tourism management etc. who have confidence in him and are ready to work with him. He has brought a lot of them into politics already. His team is such an inspiration and enthusiasm for a new Taraba. A vote for Bwacha is a vote for all these experts and professionals that will join hands to turn around Taraba state and restore it on the path of peace and progress as a known team player.

What am I trying to say? I want to reassure Tarabans that with Senator Bwacha, it will be a different ball game in government and governance. He is the only candidate that you and I can trust to unite Taraba and build a team that will change the fortunes of our dear state. No doubt, a vote for Bwacha is a vote for unity, peace, security and prosperity.

His critics know these facts very well and they know that 2023 election has already been decided once APC field senator Emmanuel Bwacha as it’s gubernatorial candidate for Taraba state. With that already done and dusted on 26th May 2022 at the direct primary election, be rest assure by the grace of God that Senator Bwacha is coming. Better days ahead!!

Amb. Rikwense Muri, mspsp
P.A Media and Strategy to Senator Bwacha

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The Ombudsman: Examining the Role of Nigeria’s Public Complaints Commission – By Ibrahim Gaddafi Tanko,LLB

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World over various country’s like Nigeria through the instrumentality of there various law making bodies have enacted there own form of complaints commission as a veritable tool for addressing the concerns of victims of administrative injustice in the public and private sectors.

In Nigeria can we say the commission has lived up to it mandate of addressing this forms of injustices as we are daily inundated with tales of how workers are subjected to dehumanizing working conditions with very low intervention from this very critical agency of government.

If the answer is not in the affirmative, then there is a need for critical questions to be asked, where are we getting it wrong ? What could be done to strengthen the commission ? Are we placing the right people at the helm of affairs at the commission? This are questions that deserve urgent answers.

Sequel to my study of the powers of the commission and it role within the context of the Nigerian state I am convinced that the act establishing the commission needs some radical amendments so as to make it more powerful and independent devoid of interference.

I feel very strongly that the commission should be removed from the supervisory cloak of the National Assembly and be placed on the same pedestal with the independent national electoral commission in terms of true independence for optimal performance.

The funding of the commission should also be improved as the current state of affairs at the agency of government is nothing to write home about with it state offices in decrepit condition coupled with inadequate manpower.

There is a need to also empower the commission to prosecute offenders just like the efcc and the icpc so as to deter in Totality the perpetrators of administrative injustice and maladministration In the public and private sectors.

Initiating some of this reforms with the needed legal framework is what is dearly needed to reposition this agency of government for it to move from the era of a toothless bull dog that cannot only bark but also bite.

Gaddafi, a development and legal reforms advocate writes from Abuja, the nation’s capital, he can be reached @ gaddafi_i@yahoo.com.

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