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Curbing indiscriminate dumping of refuse in Owerri

By Chigozie Elvis Onumah

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Curbing indiscriminate dumping of refuse in Owerri

Some years ago, the city of Owerri could boast of being one of the cleanest state capitals in the country. But looking at the situation today, one can easily tell that a lot of work needs to be done if we are to return the state capital to its former glory. The Imo ENTRACO and Imo State Waste Management Agency seem to be making efforts to keep Owerri clean again, but their efforts have not yielded good results because they are yet to curb the menace of indiscriminate refuse disposal within Owerri and its environs.

An announcement was made over the radio some time ago; enamoring government’s approved refuse dumps in Owerri. I listened carefully to know the closest location where I could drop off my household refuse without any feeling of guilt. When I heard Rochas Foundation Roundabout mentioned, it dawned on me that the people who made that announcement actually expected people to dump the refuse on the ground, because there has never been a waste bin at that location which is the center connecting the two major flyovers in Owerri. One will be more worried to see that there is no single refuse bin along this long stretch.

This particular road has many other adjoining roads leading to densely populated neighborhoods like Umuodu axis, Prof Avenue, Amakohia/Works Layout and other streets. All the people in these areas are expected to dump their refuse at the Rochas Roundabout or any other location they consider closer. To many, the closest place to dump refuse becomes any place they can drop it without any interference or harassment.

Many residents tie up household refuse in nylon bags and dump them anywhere they deem convenient along the road. This makes every spot a potential refuse dump. When it rains, the rubbishes are washed into the drainages, blocking them, thereby causing flood and erosion. The few residents, whose conscience will not let them drop refuse indiscriminately, will pile the refuse behind their homes until whenever they have time and convenience to dispose the refuse. This exposes the households and the entire neighbourhood to the risk of a cholera outbreak.

Owerri is getting dirtier because the population is increasing while the few Waste Bins are disappearing.  Indiscriminate disposal of refuse will continue as long as there are no waste bins to signify government approved refuse dumps. It will only take one person to drop a bag of refuse at a particular point, and the place will turn to a refuse dump for many others.

The Imo ENTRACO and Imo State Waste Management Agency should know that they cannot enforce proper refuse disposal without providing waste bins at strategic locations, considering proximity and population of the neighbourhood. Residents should not be expected to go very long distances to dispose off household refuse, only to drop them at a so-called government approved refuse dumps with no bins.

The private sector could be partnered to bring about a more effective waste disposal and management system in the state. Smaller vehicles could be employed for the evacuation of refuse bins if they are made available in some streets where big trucks cannot easily gain access. The bins can also be manned by enforcers who will ensure that residents throw refuse directly into the bins without littering them on the ground. In so doing, employment opportunities will be created while keeping the state capital clean.

Owerri will only become clean again when the government rolls out a refuse disposal system that will bring the disposal points closer to the residents in a more hygienic arrangement. Only then can we avert the impending danger of a cholera outbreak and threat of environmental degradation occasioned by indiscriminate refuse disposal within the metropolis.

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Opinion

One Year After Lekki Massacre, Nigeria’s Devil Still Lives Within By Ibrahim B. Anoba

Whichever way the presidency, Sanwo-Olu, the army, and Malami choose to consider the Lekki Massacre or not, Nigerians must reckon with the fact that the country’s devil lives within. The real devil here is not merely the gang of leaders asserting their barbaric dictatorship on the rest of the country, but it is also in the failure of many across the country to join the fight for justice.

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It is laughable that the ruling elites hiding face in Abuja and across state capitals will tell their children that they love them while praying to the Heavens that those children live to fulfill their dreams. Yet, those same elites have gone about their political businesses as though October 20, 2020, EndSARS Lekki Massacre never happened. Only a foolish person would beg for the Heavens’ protection for their children while having a hand, in whatever way, in the massacre of others’ children. But we must leave the act of judgment and karma to the Heavens. 

We’ve listened to the federal and Lagos state governments and the military attempt to argue their ways out of the Lekki Massacre as responsible citizens. But even as these three state parties may convince themselves that they all had nothing to do with the killings, neither can convince the public of their innocence. The mere fact that they each have yet to give convincing reports or announce prosecutions directly related to the massacre can only further speculate they’re accessories to it.  

If the federal government is interested in protecting lives, it should have gone to greater lengths to create national committees or presidential investigative panels. But the absence of such interventions makes one wonder if committees and panels are only necessary when it concerns the petroleum industry bill or prosecuting political figures like Ibrahim Magu. Why would the President only be interested in calling the fire brigade on monetary and political issues rather than a national security-related event like the Lekki Massacre? 

Equally, if Jide Sanwo-Olu and those running Lagos State on his behalf are honestly consumed with the need to uncover what actually happened at the Lekki Tollgate, why haven’t they sued the presidency since the latter controls the military? More so, the massacre happened on Lagos soil and, as such, gives the state the right to sue any suspicious culprit to get definite answers. 

Of what significance has the kangaroo Lagos Judicial Panel on EndSARS been prosecuting those who fired the fatal shots at Lekki? Sanwo-Olu should summon the courage to ask the victims’ families if, to them, money equates justice. The justice that would bring those families any form of closure is in-court trials and sentencings. 

On another note, since the army has confirmed that some soldiers seen shooting at the scene of the murders are indeed registered army personnel, why has it yet to reveal their identities? Why hasn’t the defense ministry initiated emergency tribunals or ethics committee hearings to address this claim to the dot, i.e., ending in prosecution? It must be the case that those heading the military have lost it if they think that defending the country only involves fighting Boko Haram while not necessarily needing to give a dime about civilians.

Also, it is now clear that the attorney general’s office does not exist to serve the regular and the downtrodden. The deafening silence (absence of actions leading to prosecutions) from Abubakar Malami on the Lekki Massacre is disgraceful. Just in case Malami or his office needs some reminder, the attorney general’s primary job is to help secure justice for the country and its citizens and protect the constitution. Not only licking the boots of Buhari or spending time on national television threatening governors with the declaration of a state of emergency during elections. 

Whichever way the presidency, Sanwo-Olu, the army, and Malami choose to consider the Lekki Massacre or not, Nigerians must reckon with the fact that the country’s devil lives within. The real devil here is not merely the gang of leaders asserting their barbaric dictatorship on the rest of the country, but it is also in the failure of many across the country to join the fight for justice. 

To bring down a dictatorial democracy requires the subscription of a vast majority of the country. If older citizens (36 to 60 years) continue to not only remain idle in committing to advocacy but keep discouraging the younger citizens who have summoned the courage to fight for what is right, Nigeria will remain the same. 

Posterity will always tell. Fela Kuti’s posterity is golden because his actions were golden. We remember those who betrayed Biafra during the civil war today as eternal cowards, and rightly so. Memories and legacies are largely what individuals made of them while alive.

However, to those gone, we’ll forever remember your bravery. You’re the real Nigerians. We’ll keep asking for justice on your behalf. We’ll honor your memories in our hearts and tell of your gallantry to our children and those after them. You are the (s)heroes we’ll sing of in “The labor of our heroes past.” And may you all continue to rest in peace.

Ibrahim B. Anoba (‪Bàbátúndé Anọ́ba‬) is a Nigerian journalist and columnist for Sahara Reporters. He is also an Africa fellow at Atlas Network. He tweets via @Ibrahim_Anoba.

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Opinion

Buhari, South-East and claims of marginalization

By Obike Wilfred

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Many Igbos of the South Eastern Nigeria have been deeply brainwashed and poisoned to believe that any other part of the country is out to annihilate them. Far be it! What I know is their perceived problem is politics. They miscalculated politically and every political error is tackled and handled politically.

It has been well with them and the Northern Region since the first, second and third republics. They only had issues with the mainstream politics when they threw their best joker on President Goodluck Jonathan. Even though his administration had no physical impact in the region, Easterners gave him a cult fellowship. Everything then went wrong after he lost the election.

Succinctly put, Igbo youths got entrapped with the falsehood in the razzmatazz of “MARGINALISATION”. All are deception.

To buttress my points, I answer to the following:

President Muhammadu Buhari, Hausa/Fulani or 1999 Constitution is not the reason why 99% of educated Igbo youths live outside Igboland.

That 99% of Igbo entrepreneurs make their wealth outside Igboland cannot be traced to Yakubu Gowon or Obafemi Awolowo.

That no major city in Igboland has functional water supply cannot be because an Emir in Kano or Daura decreed.

That University of Nigeria, Nsukka, the foremost prominent Federal Institution in Igboland is the worst run, first generation University in Nigeria cannot be traced to any peculiar decision made by Aso Rock. The University Lands are now being sold to individuals for personal use.

That 50% of educated and skilled youths across Igboland are either unemployed or underemployed cannot be the making of Lord Lugard and his concubine.

Ndigbo must wake up. We have been deceived far way too long and the time to put to an end to these emotional manipulations must stop.

The structure or system in Nigeria is not the reason of the level of poverty in our land which is already competing with Jigawa and Sokoto levels. It is the making of our political Leaders.

We may not like this but the truth is that Igbos are also benefitting from the dysfunctional state of things in Nigeria. Pray, if not for federal allocation, how many Igbo States can pay salaries today?

Are State roads in Igboland better than the ones controlled by the Federal Government? Should Buhari or Federal Government start building inner city roads in ABA, ENUGU, ONITSHA, OWERRI, NNEWI etc?

Do you know that many Igbo politicians are unconscionable thieves in Nigeria, such that over 70% of government revenue in Igboland is stolen? Less than 50% is stolen in other regions.

How many Igbo Senators can you approach easily and get their attention for something? A young man from Kano or Sokoto can do that with a text message. Have you tried talking to any HOR Member from your place, say at the Airport or in a hotel lobby? Did he not make you look like a fool?

It is about time we begin to ask questions young men. Stop wasting your lives fighting for Biafra. If Nigeria disintegrates, it would go back to what it was like before the 20th century when every village was a country unto itself. Can we survive that?

Our rage has been misdirected at the wrong people. Nigeria will pass away but ALA IGBO would remain. We must begin to ask questions of those looting our resources. Has there been any month President Muhammadu Buhari held back Federal Allocation of any State?

Why are there no viable employment opportunities for young men in Igboland? Was there a report that any government within the region brought investors and the someone else outside the region asked them to go home?

How about the idle claim that Igbos are different from every other tribe in Nigeria? With the bad roads? Dirty streets, roads littered with refuse heaps? Can we for once tell ourselves the hard truth that we are not better than any other tribe in Nigeria, at least in terms of what is seen? Are we naturally wedded to self deception?

We must wake up. This whole nonsense must stop.

Obike Wilfred writes from Isialangwa Abia State.

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Opinion

Wale Odunsi: Facebook, Instagram, WhatsApp outage affirms Mark Zuckerberg as Tech King

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At about 16:00 GMT on Monday, October 4, smartphone users around the world noticed a lull in Facebook, Instagram and WhatsApp updates, the second time in 2021. In Nigeria, many initially thought it was the periodic outage of network services. There is high data usage in the country of 200 million people but telcos and internet providers are generally criticized for slow data connection.

Amid the confusion, phone owners restarted their device(s) in a bid to “find network”. Within an hour or two, information spread that Airtel, Etisalat, Glo and MTN were not guilty as charged in this instance. Facebook, Instagram and WhatsApp were down! Family, friends, colleagues and neighbours were left with no option but to fall back on “normal call”. The phrase was coined and made popular after the launch and subsequent dominance of WhatsApp voice and video calls.

I jokingly told a pal that telecommunications companies in Nigeria would be happy “now that people must buy call credit”; I’m sure they made hundreds of millions that day. I further observed that despite confirmation of the social media platforms dormancy, users were jittery about the chats, documents, images and information in their accounts. “An ongoing hack”, some fumed.

Eventually, the downtime, which affected around 3.5 billion people, was fixed at about 22:00 GMT. Mark Zuckerberg has apologized for the internal technical issue. “Sorry for the disruption today. I know how much you rely on our services to stay connected with the people you care about”, he said in a post.

News about his loss of $6billion in Facebook shares-dive went viral. A Facebook user in Nigeria, King Prestige, contested the figure. “It’s a lie. If this man makes such, per some number of hours, what stops him from being the richest man? The richest is worth 200bn dollars if am not mistaken.” The comment generated more than 50 interesting replies in 5 hours.

The debate of whether Mark Zuckerberg lost $6billion in 6 hours or did not will continue. One thing we can at least agree on is that the American tycoon, internet entrepreneur and philanthropist is the Tech King of his generation. The fact that he founded, cofounded, purchased or invested in the three apps that shut out close to half of the world’s population – including his “rivals” – would make him an unopposed member of the “Planet Earth Board” if there was one.

Facebook currently has a market cap of over $1trillion and 2.8 billion active users monthly. Instagram, worth an estimated $100billion, has 1.3 billion active users monthly. Facebook acquired IG for $1billion in 2012. WhatsApp, the most popular messenger app in the world with 1.6 billion active users monthly, was worth $5billion in 2020. In 2014, Facebook bought the startup from Jan Koum and Brian Acton – two former Yahoo! executives – in a $19 billion deal.

The ingenuity, rise and influence of Mark Zuckerberg and the likes should serve as a reference for countries, especially in Africa. They must heavily invest in education to boost the capacity and knowledge of hundreds of tech gurus yet to be discovered. The laxity of governments on the continent is the major factor causing brain drain.

In November 2017, President Muhammadu Buhari presented the N8.6trillion 2018 ‘Budget of Consolidation’ 2020 to the National Assembly; Education got N605.8billion (7 per cent). As expected, Nigerians complained it was below the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) “recommendation”.

Defending the allocation, Education Minister, Adamu Adamu told reporters that UNESCO never fixed a benchmark. “I led the Nigerian delegation to UNESCO and the issue came up. UNESCO said they never, at any fora and under any circumstances, suggested 26 per cent as the optimal level of funding for education for any nation.”

However, a UNESCO report, titled ‘Education for All 2000-2015: achievements and challenges’, notes: “Direct aid to education plus 20% of general budget support (aid provided to governments without being earmarked for specific projects or sectors) to represent the estimated 15% to 25% of budget support that typically benefits the education sector.”

Also, the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) Eastern and Southern Africa Regional Office Social Policy and Education Working Paper December 2020 provides that for the Sustainable Development Goal (SDG) 4 to be achieved, all countries have the responsibility to sustain a certain level and quality of public investment in education.

“While external support is critical in the short term, domestic revenue mobilization is the most sustainable way of investing in education. If anything, COVID-19 should strengthen the resolve of ESA governments to keep education on top of their spending priorities by meeting or exceeding the 20% minimum education spending as a percentage of total government expenditures or 4-6% of their GDP”, it reads.

The Nigerian government must increase budgetary allocation to education if it is truly interested in global competition. Those in positions of authority should stop gaslighting the young citizens with the “youths are the leaders of tomorrow” line. It will only make sense if adequate resources are earmarked to help them grow intellectually.

I urge the federal government, 36 states and the Federal Capital Territory (FCT) to start/renew the establishment of Special Schools. These institutions, which can be tuition-free or highly subsidized, will take in kids exceptional in different fields such as architecture, building, engineering, environment, health, information technology, natural and physical sciences.

I maintain that the insistence of being the ‘Giant of Africa’ will remain lip service without conscious effort to aggressively upgrade all facets of the economy. It’s like football: games are not won based on club status, players’ names or statistics, they are won by tactics, cohesiveness and determination.

Nigeria has many more hidden Iyinoluwa Aboyeji (Flutterwave), Ezra Olubi and Shola Akinlade (Paystack) and other young techpreneurs, their potentials must be harnessed. Millions of youths were delighted when Stripe’s acquisition of Paysatck for $200million made headlines in mid-October 2020. Interestingly, it was during the End SARS protest against police brutality.

The story of how Mark Zuckerberg attended the prestigious Harvard University and later dropped out of the Ivy League school to focus on his dream is not new. He remained loyal to his dream and is a success story. Married to Priscilla Chan, the 37-year-old is now worth $123billion. Take a bow, Mark.

Wale Odunsi tweets from @WaleOdunsi; email: wodunsi@yahoo.com

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