Monday, March 22, 2010

The Ministers Dr. Goodluck Jonathan Needs

Now that Acting President Goodluck Jonathan has finally dissolved the Executive Council of the Federation. Hopes are high that he would bring on board his best choices as new Ministers, thus, asserting full authority and putting a strong personal stamp on the government. The last 15 months remaining for this administration is crucial, this is because Nigerians’ quests for change on how things are done are strong, and their expectations are very high, but will the Acting President make the right selection that would make a difference?

When new Ministers eventually come on board, Dr. Goodluck will have to take full responsibilities of any actions or inaction of the government; as the doors of complain of working with disloyal individuals as Ministers would be completely closed.

However, for Dr. Goodluck to make any difference, he has to move with a speed commensurate with the expectations of Nigerians. The first thing he has to make sure is that; his new set of ministers is not just a team, but a collection of great thinkers- silicon-valley-thinkers; men and women who can move the government with the speed of the imagination of most Nigerians, and their sense of judgment must be centered on the challenges of un-locking the future for ordinary Nigerians. And also bring new thinking and synergy to the public sector's role in providing the needs of all Nigerians.

Dr. Goodluck’s new team has to be a propeller for greater equality of opportunities for all Nigerians. They must be able to build a system that will swing the government away from the traditional methodology of concentrating on only 'off-the-shelves' way of improving our society- each Minister must see himself/herself not only saddled with the responsibility within his/her portfolio; but a team player that would bring new feasible ideas that would trigger development in all spheres of the Nigerian economy- putting in place systems that would eradicate poverty by uplifting individuals, fight crimes with employments and opportunities rather than guns, axes, bows and arrows and fight official corruption the ways it ought to be and bring dynamism into governance.

This is the time for Nigeria to leapfrog the ladder development. It is sad that, for the past three years, Nigeria has not had a new thinking and fresh approach to governance. The country is thirsty for men and women of innovative ideas. Dr. Goodluck’s new set of ministers must be a team that will be an engine-room to provide broad variety of services to Nigerians, ranging from health and social programs, to defence, electricity, police protection, maintaining a sound legal system, and the provision of physical infrastructure including the re-invigoration of the education system, building of small scale industries and farms, roads construction and human capital development.

However, all these mentioned cannot be achieved without true political reform- a political re-engineering that would make the leadership to all the times think with the speed of the expectations of Nigerians and gradually institutionalise political, economic and social order in the society.

Zayyad I. Muhammad writes from Jimeta, Adamawa State,, 08036070980.

Tuesday, March 16, 2010

World Water Day (WWD) 2010: Africa is Thirsty

The year 2010 World Water Day (WWD) is significant to Africa’s poor population. The event will hold in Nairobi, Kenya, on 22nd March 2010, as Africa is the world’s most thirsty continent. The theme of this year’s campaign is ‘Clean Water for a Healthy World’ and its overall goal is envisaged to raise awareness about sustaining healthy ecosystems and human well-being through addressing the increasing water quality challenges in water management and also raise the profile of water quality by encouraging governments, organizations, communities, and individuals around the world to actively engage in proactively addressing water quality e.g. in pollution prevention, clean up and restoration.

The population of Africa is growing at a geometric rate, but public access to basic needs including water supply is not. With millions of Africans coping with scarcity of clean, portable and affordable water, African policy makers should always remember that, water scarcity and population growth are two correlating issues.

WWD campaign is very important to rural communities, especially those in Africa, as the attention of the world will turn to their plight in the area of clean water supply and sanitation, as well as ring a bell to those in authority of their responsibilities to rural areas.

The United Nations General Assembly adopted resolution A/RES/47/193 of 22 December 1992 by which 22nd March of each year was declared World Day for Water, which was first observed in 1993, in conformity with the recommendations of the United Nations Conference on Environment and Development (UNCED) contained in Chapter 18 (Fresh Water Resources) of Agenda 21.

Availability of clean water is a fundamental issue for socio-economic development of every nation, as Africa’s population is swelling in a geometric rate, there must be an increased effort in developing clean water allocation strategy, because as population and development increases, the quest by the public, especially the poor for clean, portable and affordable water for domestic use, increases.

Millions of Africans have no access to clean and portable water; coping with water scarcity is a challenging responsibility that requires decision makers to bringing water related issues to the top of political agenda. It is generally believed that poor communities suffer the greatest burden from inadequate water supply, but in Africa, poor communities, rural and urban areas are facing the dilemma of coping with scarcity of clean water.

For millions of Africans, the end of one tedious day marks the beginning of another, the first thing that comes to the minds of millions of Africans in the early morning of every day is where to get clean water. From rural to urban areas, women and children have to travel long distances to quench their thirst. As a result, many cannot go to school or go to school late. African children hoped for a life free of disease, but today, millions are battling with water-borne diseases, some are blinded while many are crippled. At childhood, waking–up in the morning, picking a container, rushing to queue or search for water is an activity that millions of African children think it is their culture and tradition, but in later part of their lives they realize is not. African governments have for a longtime, not made the provision of this commodity that everybody uses every day a priority.

UN World Water Development Report revealed that, in most of the largest cities in Africa, less than 10% of their inhabitants have sewer connections; only 10 to 30% of all urban households’ solid wastes are collected, the continent houses 13% of the world’s population that is without access to improved water supplies and sanitation, Africa has large disparities in water availability, and the lowest water supply in the world, despite the fact that, Africa houses four out of the five biggest water reservoirs in the world: Owen Falls located in Uganda, Kenya and Tanzania, Nasser in Egypt, Kariba in Zambia and Zimbabwe, and the Volta in Ghana

The United Nations General Assembly in 2003 proclaimed the years 2005 to 2015 as the international decade for action ‘Water for Life’; these commitments include the Millennium Development Goals to reduce by half the proportion of people without access to safe drinking water by 2015 and to stop unsustainable exploitation of water resources. At the World Summit in Johannesburg in 2002, two other goals were adopted: to aim to develop integrated water resource management and water efficiency plans by 2005 and to halve, by 2015, the proportion of people who do not have access to basic sanitation. There are no signs that Africa is on the path of achieving this, because of uncontrolled growing population, wide spread scarcity of clean and portable water, poor access to sanitation and health, limping capacity-building, inadequate financing and little or poor advocacy, poor resources management and unreliable energy.

With a population of nearly a billion people, with an average human water consumption of four litres a day, Africans need at least four billion litres of clean water a day! Although population growth projections are uncertain, but soaring rate of population growth is typical of most sub-Saharan African countries.

Political leaders who get water by a touch of a tap or squeezing of a bottle’s cap, need to know the world water day celebration has to go beyond conferences and seminars, and populations census have to be repositioned to serve only developmental purposes especially in planning for strategies in allocation of safe water. It is believed that demand for water doubles as population grows. Therefore, Africa’s strategy for provision of safe, portable and affordable water must take into reflection population growth.

For Africa’s political leaders to effectively address the increasing water quality challenges in water management and stop the increasing number of African children being decimated by water-borne diseases, a proactive and pragmatic safe water provision programme most be put in place. There is a clear need for a system that would give the poor access to clean and portable water sources that are reliable, dependable, maintainable and responsive to population growth.

As the world gathers in Africa to celebrate WWD 2010, those attending the conferences and seminars will quench their thirst by the squeeze of a bottle’s lid, while for millions of Africans to quench theirs, they have to travel hundreds of kilometers in search for water.

Zayyad I. Muhammad writes from Jimeta, Adamawa State,, 08036070980.

Sunday, March 14, 2010

Lamido Dr. Aliyu Musdafa: 1922-2010

late Dr. Aliyu Musdafa (centre)

The people of Adamawa Emirate and indeed Nigerians were in a mournful mood in the evening hours of Saturday, 13th March 2010. Dr Aliyu Musdafa, the longest serving Lamido of Adawawa passed away. Dr. Aliyu Musdafa, who would have been 88 years by April, was a spiritual and Islamic leader by nature and father of all by socialization. From the ordinary man on the street, to the elites, he was referred to as BABA. The father of all is no more today!

The late Lamido has left an indelible legacy; he maintained social harmony among his heterogeneous subjects. For the nearly six decades he steered Adamawa emirate, he extended his hands beyond the border of Islam, maintaining a balance between Muslims and Christians in his domain. For instance, Adamawa emirate has traditional titleholders from diverse ethnic, religious, educational and social background. Late Dr. Aliyu Musdafa exhibited the character of a Statesman; he spread love and compassion within his domain. He was a man that loved his people and his people loved him. It was attested by a prominent member in the inner caucus of Adamawa Emirate, Alh. Muhammadu Barkindo Aliyu Musdafa, the first sons of the Lamido, who is also the Ciroman Adamawa, he said: “the Lamido was an epitome of peace, who seek feedback about his domain from the ordinary people perspective”

Born in 1922, Dr Aliyu Musdafa was turbaned as the 11th Lamido of Adamawa on 26th July 1953; he received the staff of office from Governor Sir Bryan Sherwood-Smith of the British colonial Administration. The Lamido was instrumental in the transformation of the emirate. For the 57 years he was Lamido, he helped preserved the culture and traditions of Adamawa people, and also embraced modernization; the Lamido’s palace is today a modern edifice and also houses the Fombina Museum; where all historical monuments of the emirate are on display, and the historic Modibbo Adama mosque beautifully reconstructed. His leadership and record as one among the longest serving emirs in Nigeria, has helped in ushering a new era in Adamawa state and Nigeria as a whole.

The Adamawa emirate was founded in 1806, by Modibbo Adama bin Ardo Hassana, a disciple of Othman Danfodio. Modibbo Adama bin Ardo Hassana was born in 1771 and ruled the Emirate from 1806 to 1847, he had 11 Sons and 4 Daughters. Some of his sons later ruled the Emirate. Lamido Muhammad Lawal bin Adama who was born in 1797, was the second Lamido of Adamawa, he ruled the emirate for 25 years from 1847 to 1872. The third Lamido was Lamido Umaru Sanda bin Adama, he ruled the emirate for 18 years from 1872 to 1890, and he died in 1890. The fourth Lamido was Lamido Zubeiru bin Adama, he ruled the emirate for only 3 years from 1890 to 1903, he died on 25th February 1903. The fifth Lamido was Lamido Bobbo Ahmadu bin Adama who died in 1916. The sixth Lamido was Lamido Muhammad Yarima Iya Bin Sanda. The seventh Lamido was Lamido Muhammad Abba bin Bobbo Ahmadu he ruled the emirate for 14 years from 1910 to 1924, he died on 23rd August 1924. Eighth on the throne was Lamido Muhammad Bello bin Ahmadu, who died in 1928 after reigning for 4 years from 1924 to 1928. The ninth Lamido was Lamido Muhammad Mustafa bin Abba who ruled the emirate for 18 years, he was born in 1900 and died in 1946, and the tenth Lamido was Lamido Yarima Ahmadu bin Muhammad Bello he rules for 7 years from 1946 to 1953.

Late Dr. Lamido Aliyu Musdafa was born in Yola. He received his education at Yola Elementary School and Yola Middle School (1936-1943). He worked at the Adamawa Native Authority in 1943 and was appointed the Chief of Police in Adamawa Province in 1945 with the title of Wali. After eight years of supervising the force, Aliyu Musdafa was selected as Lamido following the deposition of Lamido Ahmadu Maigari. Dr. Aliyu Musdafa was an exemplary leader, as well as a true Nigerian, who believed in one Nigeria. His old age didn’t deter him from attending his farms at Yola, Girei, Ngurore, Mandere and Bole. Late Dr. Aliyu Musdafa together with Alh. Ado Bayaro the Emir of Kano, Alh. Bashir Usman the Emir of Katsina had served with devotion the old Northern-Nigeria native police popularly called Dan-Doka. . During his stint as the Lamido, he served under 13 Heads of State since independence and witnessed several constitutional changes and political reforms. Most of all, his tenure had witnessed an era of peace and stability in the emirate. He was on record to have made tremendous contributions to the Northern House of Chiefs where he served as a member of the Public Accounts Committee. He was also a member of the Northern Nigeria Development Corporation. He was also a member of the Council of Chiefs in North-Eastern State, 1967-1976. When Gongola State was created in 1976, he was made President of the Council of Chiefs. In 1979, in accordance with the provisions of the new constitution, he was appointed to the National Council of States by virtue of his position as President of the State Council of Chiefs. Following the upgrading of second class traditional rulers to first class status by the former Governor of Adamawa State, Mr. Boni Haruna in 2005, Lamido Adamawa was designated the Premier Ruler of Adamawa State.

Late Dr. Aliyu Musdafa, the 11th Lamido of Adawawa will be remembered for his philosophy of non-discrimination, dialogue and entrenchment of peace, love and honesty. Those were the components that marked his 57 years as Lamido of Adamawa. May Allah grant him Paradise, Ameen.

Zayyad I. Muhammad writes from Jimeta, Adamawa State,, 08036070980

Friday, March 5, 2010

2011: Nigeria Needs a Strong President

What is the cause of the current messy political situation in Nigeria? The answer is anybody’s guess- the absent of strong leadership in the presidency; perhaps, a leadership that could have produced spiralling domino effect. It appears both President Umaru Musa Yar’Adua and Acting President Jonathan Goodluck are not on top of issues of statecraft when it comes to critical political situation; especially the one Nigeria is in today. This is not an attempt at casting aspersion on them, or suggesting that they should have applied iron-hands in their styles of leadership, but it seems they have allowed their subordinates to dictate their course of actions or inactions.

Though, some school of thought may argue that, it is Nigeria’s peculiar political environment and the prevailing political situation in the country that forced the two leaders to appear too submissive to their subordinates. However, political pundits are of the view that, strong leadership know no particular situation.

There is no doubt that, both Yar’Adua and Goodluck are gentlemen of no refute and their stints as Governors have offered them some kind of training on quality leadership. But, since November 23, 2009, when President Yar’Adua left Nigeria to Saudi Arabia, to the day of his return on February 24, 2010, there is strong belief in Nigeria, that some people around the President are the ones dictating the actions or inaction of the President. On the other hand, Acting President Jonathan Goodluck’s actions and inactions from day-one of the current political crisis portrays him as too simple. Some commentators are of the view that, before his confirmation as Acting President, had Dr. Goodluck from day-one of the President’s absent, shown to Nigerians that he is in-charge, the country could have avoided the untidy political situation of which has brought confusion as to who is in-charge of the nation’s affairs, as well as prevented people from taking advantage of the situation. , we must although, admit that, Dr. Goodluck has to tread carefully to avoid plunging the country into a big political crisis. The big question here is, does Yar’Adua really know what is happening in the country? Taking into consideration that the Nigerian public has not seen Yar’Adua since September 23, when he left Nigeria and neither was he seen on the day of his return- making his whereabouts remains speculative.

Assuming the current situation was during the Obasanjo/Atiku, Buhari/Idiagbon, IBB, or Gen. Murtala administration, it would not have become this messy despite their shortcomings, because these were strong men. For instance, if it was Obasanjo, no one could have caged him from seeing or to be seen by people, not even being bungled back to the country when he is not prepared to. In addition, had it been that it was former Vice President Atiku Abubakar, from day-one, no one would need to be told he is sitting-in for the President

The current messy political situation in Nigeria has taught Nigerians a political lesson. In the up-coming 2011 elections, the country must vote and insist for a strong leader. Though, the Nigerian political environment has so much been polluted with issues that lack political progressivism, especially when it comes to who occupies the seat of the President.

It has now become rule within the Nigerian political class that who occupies the office of the President of Nigeria must fulfil some bizarre conditions- the north-south dichotomy; Muslims–Christians difference, the Yoruba, Hausa-Fulani, Igbo unhealthy race and the most disgusting issue is, one has to belong to a certain clique.

Though, Nigeria being a heterogeneous society and also an ethno-religious sensitive country, balanced power structure is desirable. It can also be said that the north-south issue especially as regards the presidency of Nigeria has been in existence for long time in Nigeria. But Nigerians have proved that all they need is good leadership, MKO Abiola won throughout the country despite the fact that he ran for the presidency on a Muslim-Muslim ticket, Gen. Murtala is an indisputable Nigerian hero and Nigerian throughout the country are today celebrating Gov. Fashola of Lagos State.

As earlier said, Nigeria being a heterogeneous society that is sensitive to some issues, balancing of power structure between the federating units is good, but it shouldn’t be at the detriment of good leadership. However, the disappointment is, it has now escalated to a dangerous path; the rule has been extended to states, local government and even wards elections. Today, ethnic, religious and geographical divides are louder than competency and good manifestoes in the Nigerian political sphere.

Few months from now, Nigeria will elect a new President, there is hope that Nigerians can turn things around and insist and vote for a strong President regardless of ethnic, religious or geographical considerations. A president with the ability to inspire enthusiasm in Nigerians with just a wink of an eye, an individual with vision for the future , who can go extra mile to get things done, one that can differentiate between reality and smokescreen and also remain positive in the public eye, no matter what the situation may be. When Nigeria has such a president development issues will quickly replace mundane ones in our polity. Though, for Nigeria to have such a President come 2011, we need an environment that breeds success. Electoral reforms and strong institutions are the keys needed to create such an environment.

Zayyad I. Muhammad writes from Jimeta, Adamawa State,, 08036070980.