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Who is Afraid of Gov. Yahaya Bello? – By Rotimi Akinsanya

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I have observed with much dismay, the recent drama or altercations between Governor Yahaya Bello (GYB), the youngish, ever-smiling, gap-toothed, cerebral, focused and courageous leader of Kogi state and the anti-graft agency, EFCC over the alleged diversion and secretly stashed N19.33 billion bailout funds for workers salaries released to the state years back.

The EFCC claimed the N19.33 billion was domiciled in a fixed deposit account with Sterling Bank PLC, bearing the imprimatur of “Kogi State Bailout Account.” However, the Kogi State Government has insisted, it has no such accounts domiciled with the bank at the center of the controversy. The narrations make the saga more interesting. But it has placed a heavy burden of clearing the incidental conjectures generated by a tale crafted and circulated by the anti-graft agency.

More intriguing, the EFCC suddenly made a detour by withdrawing the suit filed in court seeking to establish the source and ownership of the about N20 billion bailout funds domiciled in Sterling Bank PLC. I find it completely, incongruent, the EFCC’s multiple explanations of freezing, unfreezing, discontinuation with the case and the return of the said amount to the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN).

I am more scared and suspicious that the EFCC , through its spokesperson, Mr. Willson Uwujaren suddenly expressed the commission’s public disinterest in exposing the source and ownership of the funds, but felt accomplished that it blocked the exit of the funds. Except the EFCC has invented new laws or operating now on the basis of personal discretion, why is it necessary to back out from such a sensitive investigation of a presumed “executive fraud” after the media blitzkrieg on the matter?

Exposure of financial crimes and its sources assist in deterring others. But in this instance, the EFCC wittingly denied Nigeria this opportunity by arm-twisting itself and pleading that the controversies be laid to rest with the CBN’s custody of the money, persuading itself feebly that it “is expedient for the instant suit to be discontinued and the account unfrozen”.

I suspect grandeur hatchet job of some covert political antagonists’ at play against GYB to tarnish his public image. It appears to me these politicians are desperate to portray GYB as a corrupt politician, governor and leader before the Nigerian public since he is seeking the 2023 Presidency of Nigeria.

Can any one of us reasonably imagine that a State Governor could disown such humongous amounts in this period of severe economic crunch? It’s incredible! Ask Rivers State Gov. Nyemson Wike, who instantly claimed ownership of huge sums of monies, in different currencies, the EFCC discovered hidden in a building in Lagos state. He didn’t take a breath before claiming the discovered monies belonged to the people of Rivers state.

Is GYB a different personality? Is he being blackmailed or given a bad name in order to smear his reputation and halt his rising political profile in the race for Aso Rock in 2023? Since Nigerian youths officially adopted GYB as their next President, to continue with the marvelous works of President Muhammadu Buhari, the Kogi Governor’s shadows are shuddering many political camps; penetrating rare places ; receiving frantic endorsements from all stakeholders and the Youths throughout the country. It has caused some extreme anxiety in some persons.

Precisely, GYB’s political outings are causing nightmares to many opponents including traditional politicians and perpetual powermongers in Nigeria. Could it be the reason for the recent attempt to demean his person and administration on the plank of the EFCC?

Methinks, EFCC’s latter conflicting narratives of same incident and its sudden lack of enthusiasm gives more credence to these obvious conspiracy theories against GYB, pointing to his 2023 Presidential ambition as the main target.

Therefore, as a public affairs analyst, I am compelled and indeed, finds it expedient to add my voice to the discourse that someone, somewhere is afraid of the rising profile of Gov. Yahaya Bello. I can vouch that the EFCC’s baseless hounding of GYB is an apt expression of the morbid fear in some powerful political forces. Certainly, some persons are not comfortable with the 2023 Presidential aspiration of Gov. Yahaya Bello who is being generously called upon to step into Nigeria’s main leadership fabric to continue with the good legacies of President Buhari.

Why I’m I this assertive on this angle? Such huge sums of money deposited with a commercial bank these years would yield amazing interests in millions or even billions of naira. How much did the fix deposit yielded on the account discovered by the EFCC, in addition to the original sum of N19.33 billion? It’s unrealistic that only the deposited money was recovered. Besides, the operationalization of fixed deposit accounts is for a fixed period. EFCC’s backout against the case would have also explained to Nigerians lucid details such as the terminal date of the deposit account where the N19.33 was found. But it declined.

So, the unassailable truth by EFCC’s poor outing is merely to cushion the path for GYB’s detractors who are apparently against his giant strides in the development of Kogi state, in order to frustrate the intervention of investors, development partners and sow a seed of discord between the Governor and the good people of Kogi state, as evidently, “The Kogi State government had disbursed its bailout loans for the purpose of which it was granted as of October 2019.”

We can baselessly drag the personality and reputation of GYB into the murky waters of Nigerian politics. Nonetheless, what is indisputable is his manifest beneficial leadership to the people of Kogi. He has worked hard to make Kogi State one of the most peaceful and devoid of all manner of security threats plaguing other states.

Before his divine rescue mission in the state, Kogi was a haven for appalling armed robberies, kidnappings and an extension camp for Boko Haram terrorists who found the alluring mountains, forests and caves of the confluence state, convenient for habitation. Kogi state served as the transit camp for Boko Haramists and Lokojo State Capital provided the shield in their quest to make an incursion into Southern Nigeria.

For years, the forests of Kogi State were Boko Haram’s chambers for manufacturing Improved Explosive Devices (IEDs) on a large scale, which were exported to other parts of the country. But GYB has positively changed the narrative of insecurity in the state, as no traces of the heinous and violent crimes he inherited are found anywhere in the state now.

I know like most Nigerians, the conducive security atmosphere in Kogi state has promoted agriculture in the state, further amplified by GYB’s active and exceptional support to farmers. He has inspired and supported young Kogites into massive farming through orientation, subsidy inputs, fertilizer supplies, supply of seedlings, ceaseless trainings and mechanization support tools.

It is the success story of Kogi state under GYB these years, in virtually all the sectors. I am not astounded that opponents who initially, (ignorantly though), touted GYB as a failed state leader, are wounded internally and have their outer pride gravely bruised that the Governor has conquered leadership at the state level and scheming to saunter into national limelight with a shot at the Presidency in 2023. It is the only sense I can glean from prodding the EFCC to baselessly bark at GYB.

But such scare tricks are not new to us. Alhaji Adoza Yahaya Bello has done his best for Kogi State. And based on popular demand, those who transverse the length and breadth of Kogi State have called on him to sustain the efforts of the Buhari Presidency. So, we expect dissenting voices and deadly plots in the camp of the opposers as experienced now.

In any case, Nigerian youths who are actively backing GYB for Nigeria’s 2023 Presidency have concluded that the scare tricks employed by detractors are too puerile to derail the popular agenda of the masses. The first stumbling block on GYB’s path to success has crumbled independently. With this sign, those insisting on throwing the proverbial banana peels on his path must be joking and living in self -denial or on some delusional exploits.

Straightforwardly, let me end this analysis by pointing out two scenarios’ likely playing out in this macabre dance. It’s either someone is out to destroy the good reputation of the EFCC by that shameful outing on GYB. Or, some persons are desperate to destroy the country by coming forward to challenge a candidate selected by the Nigerian Youths to fly the flag of the Presidency in 2023 and expectedly, coast victoriously into Aso Rock.

And my honest advice to the antigraft agency is that it must avoid the temptation of chasing shadows in Kogi simply because some persons want to stop Gov. Yahaya Bello, as it won’t work. Such actions should also not be contemplated in any other state or on any other leader, as it is capable of eroding public confidence and credibility in the operations of the EFCC.

Akinsanya wrote this piece from Bariga, Lagos.

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Opinion

An ode to General Ibrahim on Unijos honour – By Toby Prince

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Unpretentiously, commitment and hard work in public service pays handsomely. Feasts of garlards brighten up your day from unexpected quarters. It confers on the recipient, more sense of responsibility and the patriotic feeling of self fulfilment to really hear resonations of eulogies vibrate everywhere.

The honouree is usually excited because humanity has found a breather through him and society covertly and overtly appreciates his sacrifices. There is nothing more profoundly enduring like contributing to the elevation and development of one’s country. Nation- building is a task for everyone, and obligatory to perform in everyone’s small space.

This is the proud and enviably recognized posture of the Director General, National Youth Service Corps ( DG- NYSC), Brigadier General Shuaibu Ibrahim. Sentiments apart, Gen. Ibrahim is a loveable personality, not only by his innately gifted bundle of talents, but his rare capacity to utilize it for public benefits of mankind.

Someone once described Gen. Ibrahim as a soldier of the finest breed, an intellectual/ academic don, classic administrator, innovator, reformer, goalgetter and an amazing pacesetter. Nigerians have attestably encountered Gen. Ibrahim in these neons in the various military establishments where he has served. Now, as DG- NYSC, Gen. Ibrahim has marketed himself in spellbinding excellence on the job.

Therefore, a few days back, at an event, his alma mater, the University of Jos (UNIJOS) Alumni Association feted this crack military officer, with an award of excellence in Abuja. The association accurately assessed and endorsed the decision in recognition of Ibrahim’s tremendous achievements as the 18th DG- NYSC in barely two years on the saddle.

The plethora of ecomia on the NYSC boss yawned loudly with the exceptionally positive feats and accomplishments of Gen. Ibrahim as head of the scheme. It is palpable that his choice for the award was not a mistake.

Of grippling relevance, the Chairman, Unijos Alumni, Abuja Chapter, Mr. Joseph Chukwu uttered something unique about the persona of Gen. Ibrahim as the alumni association mulled with the idea of an award to him, a man of solid credentials and unbeatable records of performance anywhere. Chukwu exclaimed to the audience that Brigadier General Shuaibu Ibrahim’s name came topmost and got thundering ovations when he was nominated for the award.

Its difficult for Nigerians in any congregation to collectively agree and endorse anyone for honor without some protest voices. But Ibrahim broke the jinx in an association comprising professionals of different ilk, ideological persuasions and creeds. This general acceptability in itself is the first big plus and loud testimony of his credible performance in public service.

Did the University of Jos (UNIJOS) Alumni Association actually make a mistake by conferring on Gen. Ibrahim the prestigious award of excellence and a good ambassador of the varsity? Has Ibrahim really lived up to public expectations in his assignment as NYSC boss by repositioning the scheme to the status of a focal catalyst in the overall quest of Nigeria’s national development?

The answers are handy from an independent inquest of Gen. Ibrahim’s leadership of the NYSC scheme. Its needless to trumpet that Gen. Ibrahim met an NYSC scheme which was grossly underutilised, with potentials of serving corps members largely unexplored!

But he dexteriously turned around the fortunes of the scheme and changed dormant narratives to now a vibrant and beneficial scheme for serving corps members and their post – service years. Even public perception of the scheme has positively changed. Gen. Ibrahim has also excitingly laid the path of achieving finanacial independence for the scheme which will assume full effect in the nearest future. He is already partially successful in this regard.

Therefore, Ibrahim has upgraded the existing NYSC’s Skills Acquisition and Entrepreneural Development programme ( SAED) and ensured the one month training in different vocations impact on the quest for more knowledge on all corps members. Some of them actually begin to utilize such skills in their places of Primary Assignment ( PA).

And thinking out of the box, Gen. Ibrahim has gone ahead to partner with multiple financial institutions to empower corps members with start-up capitals towards self- reliance through personal investments in the post- service years. Today, Nigeria is a nation, where some corps members have become employers of labor after the mandatory service year because of the skills through SAED and the financial backing of some institutions partnering with NYSC to finance their business proposals. The Central Bank of Nigera (CBN), Bank of Industry (BOI), Heritage Bank, (HB) and Access Bank among others can attest to it. These benefits are a product of Gen. Ibrahim’s leadership ingenuity.

Furthermore, the NYSC boss has accepted, adopted and is implementing President Muhammadu Buhari’s policy and initiatives on agriculture and food security. Similarly, the NYSC under Ibrahim’s guidiance has also partnered agric-based institutions and other organisations to sponsor training of serving corps members in farming techniques, cropping and mechanized agriculture.

Today, the previously moribund NYSC farms across the federation have come up alive and new farm plantations have sprouted. NYSC alone has cultivated over 60, 000 hectares of rice fields as at 2021. The harvested rice is processed for consumption in the scheme’s owned ricemills and the investments are still being consolidated. Undoubtedly, this is an enormous contribution of corps members to food availability in the country .

The NYSC boss is not resting on his oars. Gen. Ibrahim has revitalised NYSC investment ventures across the country, such as garment, bread and table water factories, which are functioning at maximum productivity. They also double as
training avenues for serving corps members.

Its shocking and indeed novel that the NYSC under Gen. Ibrahim has started to generate and remit revenues from these investments into into the federation account. In 2020, the NYSC paid N280 million into FGN coffers and in 2021, a sumptuous sum of over N.5 billion was remitted, with plans to keep increasing its revenue generation.

And the big bang! Gen. Ibrahim has conceptualised and vigorously pursuing the establishment of the NYSC Trust Fund. He is working towards the future. Sensitization campaigns on this initiative have gone virile and received favorable endorsements from a wide spectrum of Nigerians.

When the NYSC Trust Fund comes into fruition, it will provide a wider range of corps members more access to start-up captals to finance their private business ideas as they blissfully exit the year of service to fatherland. The expected impacts of these laudable initiatives in the nearest future are truely tremendous! Gen. Ibrahim truely deserves more than the award of excellence from Unijos alumni, but a national honour.

Prince is a journalist and wrote this piece from Guzape, Abuja.

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The Corp Member as a True National Hero – By Kolawole Abe

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It is the dream of every graduate of tertiary institutions in Nigeria to adorn the NYSC brown Khaki uniform. We have been regaled with tales of how newly deployed corp members wear their attires posing for the cameras and sending them to their parents and loved ones. The feeling is usually ecstatic, and a dream come true.

Parents and guardians are also not left out of the euphoria. You could easily hear parents discussing about their wards deployed for the mandatory youth service year in a loud tone. This is the NYSC, the scheme that has continued to serve the critical purpose of national integration and nation building amongst the teeming youthful population in the country. Welcome to the world of the NYSC, where people from various ethnicity and religion converge pursuant to a common goal in the country’s interest.

I have, on numerous forums, canvassed for improved funding for the operations of the NYSC due to its critical role in the socio-economic development of the country. My position has been hinged on the invaluable role the one year service period plays in the lives of our youths. We should also remember that some youths have, as a result of their engagement in the NYSC, realized their potentials and set out to conquer in their various life endeavours. Some have also met their life partners, while some have been beneficiaries of goodwill from parts of the country they found themselves. And the list goes on.

Beyond all of the above mentioned, I believe that a critical aspect of the NYSC has been neglected for a long time: the corp members themselves. Their sacrifices and efforts in important health, educational and agricultural sectors have not been given adequate recognition.

From NYSC doctors to teachers that are rendering invaluable services in public hospitals and schools to the deployment of corp members during elections in the country. While it is sad that some paid the supreme price in service to the country, it does not by any stretch of imagination diminish the fact that the Corp members are the true national heroes.

One needed to tour rural communities in parts of Nigeria and see the level of bonding exhibited between corp members and members of the host communities. In most cases, despite the language barrier, corp members find a way to interact and live in peace in their host communities.

I dare say corp members live the life of patriots, who leave the comfort of their homes to places, they have not visited before in most instances and blend to their culture and way of life throughout their service year, making contributions to the growth and development of the area.

If this is not an act of patriotism, I don’t know what else to call it. Call it the life of sacrifice. You won’t be wrong too, because we are availed daily with tales of corp members doing exploits in their places of primary assignment. It’s on record that schools have been built, vocational centres erected and a host of other notable projects mainly executed by corp members from their savings and donations from charitable individuals and organizations. Corp members have also been active as first-line responders in times of crisis, as evident in times of the coronavirus pandemic, the Ebola epidemic and cholera outbreaks in some parts of the country.

It is also on record that some communities in Nigeria depend on the services of corp members in their education sector because of the value they bring to the table year in and year out. The list is endless and why every corp member must rise in defence of the NYSC scheme.

Most times, I wonder how the country would have fared without the services of corp members who dot the nook and cranny of the country working tirelessly during their service year. But we can’t all but be grateful that the leadership of the NYSC in recent times has been actively introducing reforms that further empower corps members to be well equipped as entrepreneurs through its skill acquisition and entrepreneurship development programme.

The proposed NYSC Trust Fund would indeed be a game-changer because the full manifestation of the potentials of corp members would be availed the country. And Nigeria would be better for it. I think it is time for every corp member to take their pride in place as true national heroes in the scheme of affairs in the country. Your sacrifices towards a great and better Nigeria are outstanding and appreciated. Needless I say more, the corp member is an embodiment of strength, resilience and dexterity. We must admit and recognize this much in our quest for greatness as a people and as a country.

To all the corp members out there giving their best, I salute your courage in the face of danger; I salute your contributions to the socio-economic development of Nigeria, now and always. And to all prospective corps members, may your road be rough!

Abe is a former PRO of NANS and wrote from Akure.

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Corps Members As The Unsung National Heroes! – By David Onmeje

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It takes a great dosage of patriotism for anyone to be glorified as a national hero for his country. Experience has indicated that patriotism to Nigeria is a rare virtue among Nigerians. But it is an essential ingredient and the self-sacrifice every citizen must make to build the anticipated virile and strong nation.

In recent times, members of the National Youth Service Corps ( NYSC) have exemplified the rarest spirit and courage of patriotism to Nigeria during the mandatory one year service to the nation. They have dared deadly territories and conquered multiple daunting challenges for the sake of serving Nigeria, their fatherland.

Particularly, under the leadership of the incumbent NYSC Director General, Brigadier General Shuaibu Ibrahim Ph.D, Corps members and the scheme have assumed new dimensions of reorientation and excellence. And in tandem, corps members have consistently dispensed themselves as patriotic heroes and heroines of the national struggle for stability and have been admirable partners in moments of national emergencies.

As foresighted Gen. Ibrahim’s agenda since 2019, when President Muhammadu Buhari entrusted him with the leadership of the NYSC scheme, he enunciated an agenda for himself. He proclaimed his vision of the NYSC as to “…sustain effective utilization of the potentials of Corps Members for optimal benefit; to pursue a technologically driven organization to deepen effective service delivery; to improve on the welfare and security of corps members and staff; strengthen existing collaboration with stakeholders; and reinvigorate NYSC ventures and Skill Acquisition and Entrepreneurship Development programme in line with the NYSC Act for greater impact.”

Today, Corps members have blended with this vision in service to Nigeria. Former American President, Theodore Roosevelt explained the clearest meaning of patriotism. He said, “Patriotism means to stand by the country. It does not mean to stand by the president or any other public official, save exactly to the degree in which he himself stands by the country. It is patriotic to support him insofar as he efficiently serves the country.” This is the exact manifestation of Corps members in Nigeria today.

As first kicker, Corps members are the greatest symbols and steady manifestations or consummation of Nigeria’s efforts at national integration, unity, togetherness and peace! Some Nigerians hardly pay attention to scanty details. But it is exemplary that Corps members forsake the comfort of their homes and accept posting to serve their country in completely strange lands, far away from their home states.

Corps members unreservedly interact and blend with their new hosts, by learning and exchanging new cultures and traditions. They freely make life-time friendships which are not deterred by the sentiments of tribe or religion. Also, they render appreciable community services to Nigerians in these new domiciliary abodes in the spirit of love and fraternity.

Youth Corpers also take incredible risks for the sake of their country. Available statistics have shown the intervention and active participation of these young Nigerian graduates in national health crises emergency, such as their conscription into the control of epidemics like Lassa fever, Ebola, and Cholera among others.

But most impressively, Corps members throughout the federation were at the forefront of the battle against combating the wild spread of COVID-19 pandemic in the country. Corps members, embarked on penetrative sensitization campaigns; whlist most Nigerian communities enjoyed free hand sanitizers, facemasks, liquid soaps et al, courtesy of serving corpers as their contribution in bringing succour to the distressed populace.

The administration of President Muhammadu Buhari launched an ambitious policy on promotion of robust agriculture with various initiatives. There are scores of NYSC farms dotting the landscapes of many states in Nigeria; from North to South measuring over 60, 000 hectares and still expanding. Corpers have actively picked up the challenge of President Buhari’s rice policy by cultivating tens of thousands of rice plantations every cropping season, which is have harvested and processed in NYSC Rice Mills for consumption. It is a welcome development that serving Corps members are contributing to national food sufficiency and security.

Furthermore, the knowledge corps members acquire through the scheme’s partnership with Access and Unity Banks to fund Business Plan Development programmes for Corps Members, alongside, the British American Tobacco Nigeria Foundation (BATNF) is also fruitful. The agricultural skills and business training, farm internship, mentoring and farm input supplies extended to serving corpers have tuned around the farms fortunes of some rural communities in agro-businesses and other investments.

Many Nigerians are oblivious of the pleasant reality that countless Corps members have also been indirectly enlisted into the FGN’s campaigns to tackle the prevalent and frightening unemployment rate in the country in their post-service years. Through the experience acquired during Orientation Camps through the Skills Acquisition and Entrepreneurship Development programme (SAED) has equipped most Corpers with self-sustaining practical skills, which many have converted into real time advantage in the post service years.

SAED has enabled thousands of Corps members to venture into investments and employed the services of other Nigerians. Those Nigerians who have benefited from these gestures have sustained their applause for the scheme.

Additionally, the engagement of Corps members by INEC as adhoc staff in the conduct of general elections in the country has significantly reduced the prevalence of connivance with dubious politicians to rig or manipulate the electoral process. While its undeniable that the electoral system in Nigeria is still flawed with malpractices, Corps members who serve in the capacity of adhoc staff during elections have substantially conferred credibility on the electoral process in many troublesome areas.

This is most times done at the risk of the personal lives of Corps members or they face dangers which would not have come their path ordinarily, just because they are patriotic citizens, with an overriding zeal to see a better Nigeria.

In most rural communities, Corp members market themselves as the Ambassadors of Nigeria! They serve as bridges between rurality and modernity, without grudges because the interest of the nation is paramount in their hearts. So, in remote communities, where regular teachers reject postings, a Corps member accepts the challenge to serve as a teacher. He or she endures all hardships and deprivations to serve the country and performs the assignment of imparting knowledge to tender Nigerians committedly and distinctively.

Therefore, in or out of the service year, Nigerians with the imprimatur of the NYSC make Nigeria and her citizens proud. Corps members truly represent the idealistic posturing of true patriots in the arduous task of Nation-building. It is only Godly for Nigerians to support Corps members in order to continue to bridge the gulf in critical areas of the economy in this collective journey of existentialism for a greater nation. Youth Corpers are undoubtedly, the unsung heroes and heroines of Nigeria.

Onmeje wrote this piece from the United Kingdom.

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