The Time For The Nigerian Revolution Is Ripe – By Elias Ozikpu

Since securing political independence from Great Britain in October of 1960, Nigeria has consistently churned out political oppressors armed with the sole objective of raping the nation and its people to a state of nothingness. Nigerians, primary victims of this persistent grand scheme, have been overly malleable to challenge the atrocities of these villainous men and women.

The placid nature of Nigerians toward their political oppressors is not a deliberate choice by the people, it is a result of the defective orientation codified into our bloodstream soon after independence. This, for example, comes to life when a Nigerian looks another in the face and says:

“O boy, NEPA don try today o!”

The above is a typical reaction one elicits from a Nigerian after experiencing two or three hours of uninterrupted power supply. In Nigeria, such a duration of supply is a miracle because the people are used to only five to ten minutes of power supply in an entire week. This questionable commendation as seen above becomes necessary because the oppressors governing our country have told us, and we have gullibly agreed, too, that it is impossible for uninterrupted power supply to exist in our country. With such a damaging orientation embedded in our DNA, it is sometimes a herculean task to make some Nigerians see things differently.

However, the rising privation in the country resulting from the extreme mismanagement and pillaging of public resources by our elected oppressors has recently turned Nigerians into a questioning people. It started with the subsidy scandal in January of 2012. In fact, the public awareness and consciousness about the deceptive conduct of our political office holders is growing well and fast these days. It has acquired a broader shape and size with the woeful and disastrous administration of President Muhammadu Buhari, who rode to power on the back of ‘change’ and a well-publicised campaign against corruption. Curiously, not only has the Buhari government aborted the promise to wage an unrestrained war against corruption, the President and his accomplices have now produced what is obviously one of the most fraudulent government administrations Nigerians have had since 1960.

The recent demonstrations across the country indeed confirm that the expiration date placed on our collective foolishness and docility is approaching its last days. Although the crumbled administration of President Buhari may have arranged a counter-protest through an indoctrinated set of Nigerians who have equally been impoverished by the ineptitude and overly corrupt APC government and the successive ones, what this administration is yet to learn is that there is no force on earth capable of stopping a people who are ready to take charge of their destinies. And when a people have reached such a firm decision, they will move with one strong voice knowing that they have nothing to lose in their fight for justice and self-emancipation.

Now that we have realised that the goats we trusted with our yam barn have depleted and left the barn in a state of obliteration, there is a need for us to change the conversation from peaceful protests to organising a major revolution which should consume the oppressors. What is deducible is that the drums of peaceful protests are too weak to salvage the Nigerian ship from the path of perdition which the calamitous administration of Buhari has chosen to face.

At this time, oppressed Nigerians must begin and continue to mobilise for major mass action with a united mind until the country is fully rescued from the jaws of a vicious group of sharks threatening our collective existence on our own soil.

What invokes more vexation at this time in our grief-stricken history is just how the current administration of Muhammadu Buhari, in a desperate attempt to keep the people in check, has made spirited efforts to shut down unwavering media organisations and outspoken citizens who continue to question the anti-people policies of the administration and its endemic state of corruption. Sadly, President Buhari and members of his battalion are yet to realise that with the acute economic austerity they have imported into the land, the people have suddenly realised that there is dignity in speaking and marching on the streets than dying beneath their beds with sealed lips.

Indeed, the Nigerian revolution is ripe and the time for it is now. The oppressed must rise in their numbers to liberate their nation from the gaping abyss of shame and disaster.

In rounding off this treatise, I shall leave you with the words of American activist and preacher, Martin Luther King Jr. Hear him:

“Every step toward the goal of justice requires sacrifice, suffering, and struggle; the tireless exertions and passionate concern of dedicated individuals… Change does not roll in on the wheels of inevitability, but comes through continuous struggle. And so we must straighten our backs and work for our freedom. A man can’t ride you unless your back is bent.”
Elias Ozikpu is a literary author, thinker, essayist and an activist.

OPINION: The Railway Revolution We Need – By Senator Gbenga Ashafa

Dear Nigerians, Let me seize this opportunity to once again wish you a Happy New Year. Indeed 2016 was a very challenging year for all of us, but I believe that with the efforts of both the Government and the private Sector, we should experience a more prosperous 2017.

 

Towards the end of last year, Nigeria was and is still faced with a major transportation challenge to wit: the impending closure of the Nnamdi Azikiwe International Airport in Abuja. This impending closure is attributed to the urgent need to rehabilitate the only runway servicing the airport.

 

From Thursday 12th January 2017 to Tuesday, 17th January, 2017, the Nigerian Senate engaged the stakeholders in the Sector with a view to considering other options available to the millions of Nigerians that would be affected by the Six Week Closure of the airport. The whole essence of this engagement was to find the least stressful alternative that would benefit the country.

 

I have given the forgoing preamble mainly to further underscore the need to quickly and speedily reinvigorate our Rail Transportation Sector, in line with the provisions of the Nigerian Railway Bill, 2016. To achieve this, our counterparts in the House of Representatives will have to hasten up to pass their version of the Bill so that the harmonised version can then be forwarded to Mr. President for his assent.

 

You will recall that the Nigerian Senate on July 21, 2016 passed the Nigerian Railway Corporation Bill, 2016. The new bill is poised to replace the antiquated Railway Corporation Act of 1955.

 

The new railway bill sponsored by Senator Andy Uba from Anambra state laid the ground work for the reengineering which the Senate Committee on Land Transport which I chair had to do to achieve the quality of the legislation that was eventually passed. I must once again commend my colleagues on the committee and the technical committee that worked with us leading to the passage of the Nigerian Railway Bill, 2016.

 

Basically, the passed bill is a departure from the old order, which shut private investors out of the railway business. The new bill, among other things, seeks to open up the railway business to private investors, and to distinguish the regulator – which is the government – from the operator.

 

I remain a strong believer in the primacy of the railway. It is my belief as well that the Railways remain a critical infrastructure that will extenuate Nigeria’s motley transportation problems. Hence, I am dedicated to leading the charge for the “revolutionalisation” of the system.

 

Last year, I expressed my thoughts on the same subject in an essay entitled, ‘Time has come to open up our railway to private participation’, which was published a few days before the passage of the bill in July 2016. Given the situation we have found ourselves in now, I deem it necessary to quote some of the thoughts expressed therein, hereunder.

 

“Government after government has invested even more in road expansion projects. The result as can be observed in the case of Lagos and Abuja has been a gradual occupation of the expanded roads with more cars. This is attributable to rural-urban migration as well as population explosion across the nation,”.

 

“Mass transit remains a very pivotal aspect of the development of any city. It plays a critical role in enhancing productivity of the state by ensuring the movement of the largest number of people from point A to Point B within the shortest possible time. It also reflects the quality of life and the value placed on the unit citizen by any responsible government.

 

“You will agree with me that the most effective means of transporting large quantities of humans, goods and services within any country is via rail. This is why whenever the topic of mass transit is discussed; rail transportation must be given its pride of place.”

 

Now, with the impending closure of Nnamdi Azikiwe International Airport, a frontal focus on the railway is more than ever germane. The goal is not to have just functional railways, but to have trains that are as fast and effective as those we see outside Nigeria.

 

I believe that the private sector has a pivotal role to play in turning around the fortunes of the Nigerian Railway System. To achieve this, the Senate has taken the lead in giving the executive the requisite Legislative Support to attract Foreign and local investments into the sector. This was the prime goal, when the Senate committee on Land Transport, worked round the clock to ensure the passage of the Railway Bill in good time.

 

The imminent total closure of the second busiest airport in Nigeria has caused unrest for many Nigerians and foreigners going by their outcry. Imagine if we had an effective rail system whereby cities, states and communities are linked.  A sturdy railway system or a faster train traversing the Abuja to Kaduna corridor, the consequences of the total closure  of the Abuja Airport would be minimal and frequent travelers might not feel much pain or discomfort.

 

The time for linking every Nigerian artery by rail is now.

Senator Gbenga Ashafa represents the good and industrious people of Lagos East Senatorial District in the Senate. He is also the Chairman of the Senate Committee on Land Transport.

Fidel Castro: An Unforgettable Revolutionary Icon, By Rauf Aregbesola

Fidel Castro has completed his earthly assignment but the ideas for which he struggled, defended, sacrificed, lived and died, like his other immortal colleagues, will live forever.

“Died in beauty, like a rose blown from its parent stem” – Charles Doyne Sillery

 

At last the curtain fell on the exemplary life of the Commandante of The Army of the oppressed and dis-inherited people world-wide. Fidel Alejandro Castro Ruz has passed on after 90 eventful years, 49 of which he held sway as the Prime Minister and later President of Cuba. Indeed, Castro became a permanent feature of political and ideological discourse in the past five decades, such that we almost thought he would live forever.

 

The feeling is mixed. Yes mixed! To lose such an inspiring and profound personality is eternally painful but for such a legend to depart at such a ripe age of 90, deserves a huge celebration in a world where the average life span hardly surpasses 50 years, but not more than 70 years for men in the most advanced nations on our planet.

 

On behalf of the government and people of the State of Osun, and in recognition of the historical and cultural bond between the Cubans and Yoruba in the State of Osun in Nigeria and worldwide, we salute the courage, determination, vision, resilience and revolutionary zeal of Fidel and his companions, the indomitable spirit of Cubans, and solidarity of all people of the world committed to human dignity, freedom and happiness.

From the July 26 movement of 1953, the Granma Expedition of November 25, 1956, the ultimate victory of the revolution on January 1, 1959, to his final departure from our realm at about 10 pm, November 25, 2016, we are sure that our Commandante lived a fulfilled life that history will never forget.

 

Millions of people – students, academics, poets, politicians, trade unionists, artisans, revolutionary cadres and humanists – including my humble self, drew inspiration from him, his rhetorics, writings, reflections, dedication, integrity and commitment to building socialism. There is no doubt that the world is a better place because of him, consequently a gem has been lost indeed.

 

He was a symbol of resistance to injustice and oppression, as all the oppressed people of the world drew inspiration from him. He held the unenviable record of being the man with the most assassination attempts on his life, without any succeeding. He stood for what he believed in and not for once did he flinch in the face of the most formidable military encirclement and daunting economic and financial strangulation. Ironically, the man who the greatest powers on earth could not break finally succumbed to illness and ultimately the cold hands of death, in the way of all mortals.

…we join the people of Cuba in their national grief and urge them to renew and redouble their commitment and duty to the struggle and ultimate victory of socialism.

As Africans, we remember the solidarity, partnerships, high level of discipline and sense of DUTY of the Cubans to the liberation struggles, healthcare delivery, education, sports and youth development and political consciousness in Africa under the leadership and direction of Fidel and his administration. Although Castro’s Cuba is a nation with modest means, yet she has a gargantuan spirit of internationalism, support and assistance to the poor and exploited peoples and nations of the world. We proudly acknowledge the heroism of Cuba in this unparalleled show solidarity and humanism.

Nevertheless, in death, Castro has joined the pantheons of immortals whose ideas and praxis continually dominate and influence their world and therefore live forever in the hearts of people, in literature and politics, and in the physical monuments that will be named after him all over the world. Millions will carry on the struggle from where he left it.

 

Fidel Castro has been rightly described by The Guardian of London as a ‘revolutionary icon’. It is expected that well deserved encomiums and heartfelt tributes will pour in for a life of struggle, Spartan discipline, selflessness and sacrifice that he lived.

 

As we mourn and celebrate the passage of this international revolutionary legend, hero of the oppressed, fighter of oppression and exploitation, promoter of social justice, soldier and Commandante of ideas, we join the people of Cuba in their national grief and urge them to renew and redouble their commitment and duty to the struggle and ultimate victory of socialism.

 

Fidel Castro has completed his earthly assignment but the ideas for which he struggled, defended, sacrificed, lived and died, like his other immortal colleagues, will live forever.

 

Long Live Cuba !
Long live the revolution !!
Till Everlasting Victory !!!

The Rice revolution has started – Emefiele

Governor of the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN), Godwin Emefiele has disclosed that rice revolution has started in Nigeria.

The CBN governor also said the apex bank does not have foreign exchange to continue to support importation of farm produce, including rice, wheat, tomato and poultry products anymore.

“We in Central bank do not have foreign exchange to continue to support importation of these items. We need to be able to grow them since our land is fertile; our climate is good to support the growth of these products,” Emefile said while inspecting a CBN supported rice farm under the bank’s Anchor Borrowers’ Programme in Ugboro Bekwarra local government area of Cross Rivers state recently.

Reacting to a publication where it was said that it would take Nigeria another five years to achieve its target of self-sufficiency in Rice production, Emefiele said “I’m going to tell him that he has a bad news,” adding that “my selfish interest is because, there is no forest and because reserve is down; we need to be able to grow rice in Nigeria to feed ourselves. Not just rice, Cassava, Wheat, palm oil and even poultry products.”

According to Emefiele, the CBN has disbursed about N3 billion to the Cross River state government, which is meant to support the Anchor Borrowers’ Farmers that are involved in the programme. He promised that the apex bank is ready to assist more states and individuals that are ready to participate in its Anchor Borrowers Borrowers Programme for rice production.

The CBN initiated programme has helped to establish 50 rice farms of 40kilometres each, with a bi-annual production capacity of 4-5 tons per hectare in Cross Rivers since Novembers last year when President Muhammadu Buhari launched the programme.

Speaking during the national assessment tour of the farms in the state, special adviser to the CBN Governor on development finance, Paul Eluhaiwe said 40 integrated rice mills of about 5-metric tons per hour have been acquired to aid rice milling in the state. This was as he said, “we have 36 silos of storage capacity all over the country. We are working on a programme to be able to store up to 100 metric tons of rice that can last the nation for a minimum of six months if there is crisis in this country.”

At least, 2,183 farmers are said to have enrolled for the CBN/federal government intervention scheme in the state.

Delighted by the level of progress recorded in the state in rice farming, Emefiele assured them of the support of the CBN to make the programme grow bigger in the state. “Whatever support you need to make this programme grow from this level, the Central Bank of Nigeria stands ready to give you that support. Yes we are using our Micro Small and Medium Enterprise facilities to support these small farmers, we cease this opportunity to encourage large scale farmers of all farm produce that whetever they do along this line, you will receive our support,” he stated.

In his remark, the state Governor, Senator Ben Ayade told the delegation that “People of Cross River state support your Rice Anchor Borrowers’ programme. We support it fully. We support the dream of Mr. President Buhari who believes that this country should be self-sufficient in rice production.”

Professor Ayade said part of the N3 billion the CBN has given to the state has been set aside to set up “a very wonderful mill – mill that for the first time we have a mill that has a provision for vitamin 9 rice – so that the broken pieces can be vitamin to be given to children to make them grow tall and healthy”, saying that the mill will serve as an off-taker for all the rice that will be harvested.

“Because there had been no mill at all in Cross River state, 80 per cent of the rice that is grown used to be evacuated into Ebonyi state and processed from there and taken as Abakaliki rice; all of that will stop with the intervention of the CBN through this programme,” Ayade enthused, adding: ‘I believe that this farm is the beginning of their dream which President Buhari had conceived well with the support of the CBN Governor. I believe that we are in a right direction and success is our own.”

Kebi State Governor, Atiku Abubakar Bagudu, who is also the chairman, national task force on rice and wheat said the visit was part of the national assessment tour by the presidential committee to determine the level of success so far in the state.

Commissioning Ayade’s 1000 htrs farm, which is located in Obanliku LGA of the state, Governor Bagudu applauded Ayade for leading by example. He expressed satisfaction at the achievements of the CBN Anchor Borrowers’ Programme in the state, saying that his delight was born of “the experimental work that is being done in Cross River state. Ayada is leading by example. This has shown that Cross River is going to give any state in Nigeria a good run.”

The minister for Agriculture, Audu Ogbe, was represented by Alhji Aziz Muyiwa, Director Agric business in the federal ministry of Agriculture and rural development at the event.

Rice Revolution Has Started– Emefiele

Governor of the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN), Godwin Emefiele has disclosed that rice revolution has started in Nigeria.

The CBN governor also said the apex bank does not have foreign exchange to continue to support importation of farm produce, including rice, wheat, tomato and poultry products anymore.

“We in Central bank do not have foreign exchange to continue to support importation of these items. We need to be able to grow them since our land is fertile; our climate is good to support the growth of these products,” Emefile said while inspecting a CBN supported rice farm under the bank’s Anchor Borrowers’ Programme in Ugboro Bekwarra local government area of Cross Rivers state recently.

Reacting to a publication where it was said that it would take Nigeria another five years to achieve its target of self-sufficiency in Rice production, Emefiele said “I’m going to tell him that he has a bad news,” adding that “my selfish interest is because, there is no forest and because reserve is down; we need to be able to grow rice in Nigeria to feed ourselves. Not just rice, Cassava, Wheat, palm oil and even poultry products.”

According to Emefiele, the CBN has disbursed about N3 billion to the Cross River state government, which is meant to support the Anchor Borrowers’ Farmers that are involved in the programme. He promised that the apex bank is ready to assist more states and individuals that are ready to participate in its Anchor Borrowers Borrowers Programme for rice production.

The CBN initiated programme has helped to establish 50 rice farms of 40kilometres each, with a bi-annual production capacity of 4-5 tons per hectare in Cross Rivers since Novembers last year when President Muhammadu Buhari launched the programme.

Speaking during the national assessment tour of the farms in the state, special adviser to the CBN Governor on development finance, Paul Eluhaiwe  said 40 integrated rice mills of about 5-metric tons per hour have been acquired to aid rice milling in the state. This was as he said, “we have 36 silos of storage capacity all over the country. We are working on a programme to be able to store up to 100 metric tons of rice that can last the nation for a minimum of six months if there is crisis in this country.”

At least, 2,183 farmers are said to have enrolled for the CBN/federal government intervention scheme in the state.

Delighted by the level of progress recorded in the state in rice farming, Emefiele assured them of the support of the CBN to make the programme grow bigger in the state. “Whatever support you need to make this programme grow from this level, the Central Bank of Nigeria stands ready to give you that support. Yes we are using our Micro Small and Medium Enterprise facilities to support these small farmers, we cease this opportunity to encourage large scale farmers of all farm produce that whatever they do along this line, you will receive our support,” he stated.

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