Monday, December 31, 2012

Adamawa PDP Congresses: The Intrigues and the Losers

It is no longer news to say the structures of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) in Adamawa state has been seized from Governor Murtala Nyako. In fact, the party ward congresses held on Thursday, December 27th, 2012 have clearly given Nyako’s adversaries an edge over him. One interesting strategy that these bigwigs are using against Nyako is they are taking the battle from their local areas- using their grassroots arsenals. And this is how it is being done- Atiku Abubakar, Bamanga Tukur, Mahmud Abdulmumin, Dr. Umar Ardo and Umar Bello Kalkulat are in charge of Jada area. Senator Jibril Aminu is in charge of Song.  A.A. Gulak handles Madagali. General Haldu Hananiya, General Aliyu Kama and Aliyu Idi Hong are in charge of Hong. Former Governor David Juta handles Maiha area. Senator Paul Wannapana, John Elias and Jingi Rufai handle Mubi North and South. Michika area is being handled by Yakubu Tsala and Terri Vhella. Dauda Birma handles Gombi.  Adamu Modibbo and Alwalu Girei are in-charge of Girei. Jimeta axis is being handled by Danjuma Iliyasu, Yusuf Danumma and Sabo Bamanga. Awwal Tukur and Adamu Aliyu Mustafa supervise Yola South. Senator Bello Tukur and Joel Madaki call the shots at Fufore. Lamurde, Numan and Demsa are under the control of former Deputy Gov. Lynn Nathan and Senator Grace Bent. Makama Adamawa- Alhaji Aliyu Muhammad heads Mayo Belwa axis. Ganye and Toungo are under Mohammed Sadiq Kalu- Walin Ganye, Alh. Juli Gurumpawo, Mahmud Gurumpawo and Yusuf Janwe. While Senator Silas Zwingina and Dan Suleiman are in control of activities in Guyuk and Shelleng. It seems Nyako is at loggerheads with all the political bigwigs in the state and, the general public also defied his ban on political activities to come out for the congresses.  However, political pundits are of the view that the critical stage of this intra-party power scrabble is at the election of a state executive council coming on the 8th of January 2013. 

The election of the persons to lead the Adamawa PDP could be critical and thorny. This is because in the state, the party has a history of lack of fairness within it which stems from conflicting personal ambitions of its leaders. Moreover, the formation of the state executive will determine the success or failure of the party in the state and the government it may form.

En route the election, Bamanga Tukur has been calling for a party that will accommodate all. If this call is sincere, four groups and their allies will be accommodated in the formation of the state executive. These groups are the Bamanga Group, Nyako, Atiku and Jibril Aminu groups. So far, these groups have been working in harmony. However, going by the political history of these groups, there would still be serious horse-trading before and during the state congress as the bigwig heading each group will attempt to grab the most important positions. 

For political observers, what is happening within the PDP in Adamawa State now is history simply repeating itself. Prior to the 2007 general elections, the structures of the PDP in Adamawa state were seized from the control of the former Vice President Atiku Abubakar and former Governor Boni Haruna by Prof. Jibril Aminu with the help of Obasanjo, same was done to Prof. Aminu by Governor Murtala Nyako, yet again, same is being done to Gov. Nyako by Bamanga Tukur.  After the successful takeover of the party by Jibril Aminu and co then, they came up with what they called a representative arrangement; same claim is being made now. The ‘representative arrangement’ then was that the Governorship candidate would come from the southern zone of the state, party Chairman from the central zone, while the Deputy Governor from the northern zone. However, after the elections and the preceding events that followed, the Governor and the chairman of the party happened to be from the same zone including Local Government Area.  The big question is, would the PDP satisfy the party followers, take cognizance of the complex nature of Adamawa State and also put measures that would automatically correct any shortfall that may occur due to unforeseen political events?  

If Bamanga Tukur truly wants to usher in a representative arrangement, he would need to make sure that the organizers of the congress work cautiously to avoid the factors that have kept the party in perpetual crisis-the Governor and the party chairman coming from the same political zone and Gov Murtala Nyako cornering everything to himself and his cronies.

The present political arrangement in Adamawa State will help the PDP in the state to create a smooth course for the formation of its new state executive. The power sharing formula in place now is that the Governor is  from the southern zone, the Deputy Governor; from the northern zone, the Speaker; from northern zone, while the Deputy Speaker is from the southern zone. Political observers would opine this power sharing arrangement clearly means the Central Zone should produce the state chairman of the party. Politics usually transcends such reasoning and there is no universal formula for politicking. Nonetheless, it would be in the best interest of the party and its leaders to take that direction. Apart from the geographical consideration in choosing the right person for the position of the state party chairman, the PDP should also consider faith and ethnic background.  These factors might sound mundane; they are important for the political stability of a heterogeneous state like Adamawa.
It is worth to note that some notable politicians from Adamawa central zone who fit into above criteria for the selection of the PDP chairman are in the opposition parties. The zone, however still has competent individuals in the PDP who have the political experience to do the job. Among these are Joel Madaki, Caleb Yahya, Haske Francis Hananiya, Dr. Raymond Chidama, and Gen. Aliyu Kama. Others persons from the northern zone  who have the  political experience to lead the PDP are John Elias, Jingi Rufai, Emmanuel Dando, Zira Maigadi, Terri Vhella, Binta Masi Garba and Ayuba Terri etc. but due to the complex heterogeneous nature of Adamawa State, their zone shouldn’t in an ideal situation produce the state party chairman. But as earlier said, politics is far beyond such consideration. 
Among all of these three stand out and appear to be more suitable. Joel Madaki is Bata by tribe from Fufore LGA; he came into limelight in 1978 during local government reform assembly. He was a onetime councilor, commissioner and state party chairman of the PDP, as well as a Governorship candidate. He is very principled when it comes to voicing his opinion. Madaki has vast political experience. He is known to have no ‘godfather’. He is a very good candidate for the position.  He may be over-ambitious. For long he has been eyeing top position, so if an opportunity appears, he may try his luck. Having been in politics for over 30 years, he is among the recycled leaders.

Caleb Yahya is an astute politician of Yangur extraction from Song Local Government Area.  He is well-educated, level headed and accessible to people.  Being in his 50’s, age is on his side. He is an ideal candidate for the position. His major weak point would be his long association with the PDP national chairman and the BMT organisation- he may not have independent opinions, nor the ability to differentiate between party’s overall interest and that of the national chairman. 

A medical doctor by profession, Dr. Raymond Chidama is of the Kilba tribe from Hong LGA. He is non-controversial and level headed.  He can be a good candidate for the position of the party chairman because of his sound education and may appeal to all.  He may not be well known to many of the stakeholders who fight to seize the party structure. And, his well-known and unalloyed closeness to his mentor- General Hananiya may affect his independence of opinion.
Whichever way the pendulum swings, Gov Nyako has suffered a political defeat. The greatest blunder he will make is to leave the PDP, but the best option for him is to reconcile with his opponents. If you can beat them join them. Shikenan
Zayyad I. Muhammad writes from Jimeta, Adamawa State,, 08036070980.

Wednesday, November 7, 2012

Between Bamanga Tukur and Gov Murtala Nyako

There is an interesting power struggle within the ruling PDP in Adamawa State. Two antagonist groups are involved- the Bamanga Tukur and Governor Murtala Nyako. Though the Atiku Abubakar group is also involved, the other two groups appear to be in the fore-front. The crisis in Adamawa PDP is simply about local politics. It has been there since the time former President Olusegun Obasanjo mandated Professor Jibril Aminu to seize the party structures from Atiku Abubakar and former Governor Boni Haruna. So, the genesis of the current crisis is embedded in the foundations on which the current PDP in Adamawa State was laid- the lack of fairness within the party and conflicting personal ambitions of its leaders.

What is currently fuelling the crisis is Governor Nyako’s clever usurping of most political positions and government contracts for his friends and family members. The Governor is said to be openly working hard to place his son, Abdul-Aziz in an advantaged position to succeed him as Governor. Abdul-Aziz recently undertook a tour of the state with the full protocol of a Governor. Opponents of Nyako said his son went to the extent of making promises of what the government would and would not do. Nyako is also accused of making an attempt to appoint one of his wives as the Chief Judge of state, while his other wife is rumored to be the highest paid medical consultant in the state.

On the other hand, Bamanga Tukur is also said to be highly interested in positioning one of his sons or a close confidant- Senator Silas Zwingina as Governor, come 2015. However, Bamanga’s goal will be impossible without a firm control of the state’s party executive. The opportunity to seize the party structure came when the state chapter of the PDP conducted primary elections for councillorship positions for the local council’s elections without approval from the PDP National headquarters. The National Headquarters, apparently with instructions from Bamanga, subsequently voided the elections and stopped the primaries for chairmanship positions. Nyako, desperate to keep the party structures under his armpit, went on with the chairmanship   primaries-in his sitting room.

From the way events are unfolding, Bamanga Tukur seems determined to use the same political maneuver that brought Nyako to power to flush him out of power.  But in the end; some political scenario is likely; Nyako still has control of the government, but if he eventually loses control of the party then the PDP would be sharply divided. The opposition led by former Governor Boni Haruna stands to gain from this. Consequently, come 2015, the opposition may easily displace the PDP. Even when the PDP presented a united front during the February 2012 governorship elections, the party could only narrowly defeat the ACN with just 60,000 vote margin, which the latter claimed was due to over-voting.  And the current situation could even be worse for the PDP if the merger talks between the ACN and the CPC materialize- and if the opposition in Adamawa state is able to formulate a winning arrangement. For instance, presenting Buba Marwa or Nuhu Ribadu as governorship candidate with a deputy from the Chamber chiefdom and also presenting Boni Haruna as senatorial candidate for the northern senatorial zone, Marcus Gundiri for the central zone with P.P. Pwa for the southern zone will be a hard nut for the PDP to crack. Though there is hint within political pundits that intellectuals from Adamawa state are working hard to present Hassan Tukur the Personal Private Secretary to President Goodluck Jonathan as PDP governorship candidate, Hassan Tukur can easily win, but his likely platform, the PDP, is in serious in-house power struggle. As earlier noted, the Atiku Abubakar group is another group that can also alter the political equation within the PDP.  Whichever way the pendulum swings, this group would try to take advantage of the situation to establish a strong home support for Atiku’s presidential ambition as well for the group’s governorship hopeful- Adamu Mua’azu Modibbo.

The climax of the current fight would be when a new state executive for the PDP is to be formed – there would be serious horse-trading as each of the political bigwigs would attempt to grab the most important positions.

As observed above, the current fight between Nyako and Bamanga Tukur is all about control of local politics by four political bigwigs - Bamanga Tukur, Governor Nyako, Atiku Abubakar and Jibril Aminu.  Interestingly each one of them was one time or the other a beneficiary or a victim of the PDP’s style of using ‘Abuja power’ to have one’s way.  The fight would also have a serious effect on the PDP and would produce some casualties. For instance, If Governor Nyako insists on installing his son as his successor, but without having control of the PDP, there is likelihood he may leave the party to join another.   But the biggest casualties would be the present MPs representing Adamawa State in the National Assembly, because most of them found their ways through their godfathers. Probably that is the reason they appear to be ‘seat warmers’ at both the green and red chambers. Already, the Senator representing Adamawa central has pitched his tent with the Bamanga Tukur camp, but the Nyako camp said it is not bothered, describing the Senator as a gold-digger. The Senator was once deputy to the former Governor Boni Haruna when Atiku was in control, then he jumped to Jibril Aminu’s camp, later to Nyako’s and now to Bamanga’s. One major implication of this in-house scuffle on the entire PDP structure is that in future, most PDP governors would strongly avoid having the national chairman from their state. Especially when they recall that what Adamawa is experiencing now once occurred between  Governor Sullivan Chime of Enugu State and the then PDP National Chairman, Dr. Okwesilieze Nwodo.

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

Friday, October 5, 2012

Nigerian Police in Afghanistan

 MD Abubakar
This piece is a result of my recent visit to the ‘New Afghanistan’- Maiduguri-Damaturu axis of northern Nigeria. In the ‘New Afghanistan; the Nigeria police has found itself in a social order completely alien to its primary role- policing. The situation at that axis has clearly proven the age-long belief in the linkage between inept political leadership; dysfunctional economy and policing. Whenever the police of a nation is plagued by poor conditions of service, deplorable work environment, lack of incentives and motivation, corruption, low level of public confidence and serious lack of expertise in some specialized fields, the best option for officers when they find themselves on a tight-rope is- ‘hue, cry and run’. However, three things can save the Nigeria police. These are reform; reform; reform!

The Nigeria Police needs reform in three areas- leadership, methodology and, culture & attitude. Although the Nigeria Police had witnessed quite a number of changes in many of its segments from its inception since 1861 when it began with a thirty-member consular guard formed in the then Lagos Colony. Reform in the three areas mentioned above is imperative. But how would these reforms transform the police? - When the police itself is also a victim of the failure of the leadership of the Nigerian state.

From 1964 to date, the Nigerian police have had sixteen Inspectors General of Police (IGP), all of whom were chosen from the ranks of the police. And, nearly each of them came with his own transformative idea, which regrettably didn’t go beyond the mantra or slogan they came with.

Time has come for Nigeria to experiment an entirely different method of choosing who heads the police. After nearly fifty years of having an IGP from the rank and file of the police, let the police be headed by a civilian. Wow! Did I hear someone say “this idea must be from the outer space”? Let’s not misconstrue this suggestion. No doubt, the Nigerian police have some fine and intelligent officers who persevere with the many challenges of being a police officer. Some of them inspire the trust and confidence of the public, the current IGP Mohammed Abubakar is one of such officers. However, in general, The Nigerian Police dearly needs a new direction and different orientation. In addition, it needs modernization and massive reorganization similar to what obtains in private corporations.

A highly-experienced, private-sector-trained manager is an ideal candidate to drive towards such new direction. This is because he or she will have little or no social mentality of ‘one person is in charge of another’. He will provide junior officers who are always in the field the chances to weigh in with their view. He or she will look at things ‘off-the-police-shelves’ to see what the public expects and needs from the police. A civilian head for the police will not contemplate using imaginative ideas to strike a new resonance within the officers and men of the police. He or she would use his private sector background to bring visible functionality and efficiency in police; in addition, eliminate multiple layers of bureaucracy. Though, some individuals when given the opportunity to lead government agencies suddenly develop big egos. But most disciplined private-sector-trained person with excellent “BS meter” would have a ‘healthy’ ego to want the responsibilities of the job. Such a person would also understand that, for the reforms to succeed, it cannot be imposed on the police. Thus, all strategies and plans must be communicated and a buy-in created along the way among officers- especially junior officers. In general, a private-sector-trained civilian head for the police will come with a different state of mind. The Nigerian police have some intelligent officers; but at this crucial time of its existence, the police needs someone outside its ranks and file.

The public expects the police to prevent crime, and maintain peace and public order. However, Nigerian police job is dangerous, with highest rates of on-the-job injury and death. The police operate without up-to-date and high-tech policing equipment- you cannot fight crime with only guns, bow and arrows and jalopy pickup vans. The police should be armed with modern firearms and protective equipment, in addition to small tools like tasers, incapacitant spray, telescopic and expandable batons, etc. Communication is vital for modern policing. Thus, any existing police radio spectrums which are subject to serious interference should be gradually replaced by a new spectrum of superior quality. The police should have their entire vehicles and posts/stations installed with Terrestrial Trunked Radio (TETRA) system for effective communication, as well as for data and voice transmission. TETRA is encrypted to prevent interception.

The general management of policing equipment by the Nigerian police is very poor. For instance, most of the vehicles used by the police are in bad states. The processes of vehicle purchase, fuelling and maintenance should be redesigned- outsourcing and workable decentralization are the best options. The Police Service Commission should commission competent automobile firms to supply and maintain for the Nigerian police vehicles which are built to police specifications in factories. Fuelling of vehicles and other policing equipment should also be contracted out to responsible fuel marketers. This will eliminate corruption and usher in easy administration.

The biggest problem facing the Nigerian police is culture and attitude. The police need to create and cherish a strong culture among its rank and file. The Nigerian police should seek the services of Public Relations experts/firms to develop a modern PR plan for it- one that should go beyond the traditional police’s PR method- public display of achievements. Instead, its officers and men would be trained in many areas including, basic behaviour in the public, how to attend and talk to people, association with civilians and even posture when in public view etc. One of the most critical aspects that need urgent attention is smart dressing. Every officer in the Nigeria police should dress smart and neat- which will reflect the meaning of the yellow colour in the police flag- Discipline & Resourcefulness and the elephant in its crest- Steadfastness & Reliability. The camouflage uniform being recently worn by IGP Abubakar is nice, but some people say it reflects confrontation and have military connotation, which is not in line with the spirit of the time- a police force that is moving away from the posture of an agent of ‘legitimate violence’ to protectors of the people and for community service.

When the Nigerian police witness far reaching reforms, its officers and men will face any challenge gallantly even if it is in the ‘New Afghanistan’.

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



Wednesday, June 20, 2012

Dissecting Gov. Nyako’s New Cabinet

A commissioner can mar or make an administration in a State. The 1999 constitution of Nigeria envisaged that. Thus, its section 192 stipulates a thorough process of appointing commissioners into the state executive.

It took Governor Nyako nearly four months to form his 27-member cabinet. The opposition described the delay as indication that administration is overwhelmed by politics and patronage, while advocates of leaner government described the cabinet as bloated. However, Governor Nyako said it took him that long to form his cabinet because of his belief in putting a round peg in a round hole. His supporters also said that the size of the cabinet is an attempt to satisfy the complex heterogeneous nature of Adamawa State- in terms of ethnicity, religion, geography and gender. The big question is, has Nyako made the right choices?

First, all eyes would be on Dr. Salihu Bakari, who until his appointment as Commissioner for Local Government was the Chairman of the State Universal Basic Education Board. He has performed very well in that position, but his critics said his good performance was because of the sound foundation laid by his predecessor- Dr. Tukur Liman. Despite the accusation by the opposition that Dr. Salihu was appointed commissioner mainly because he is a son in-law to Gov. Nyako, pundits expect him to a be a high-flying commissioner because he is well-read and highly experienced.

Gabriel Hamma-Adama is returning as Commissioner of Education for the second time after serving in the first term of Nyako’s administration. Adamawa State performance in the Senior School Certificate Examinations is still abysmal- thus, Hamma-Adama’s performance in the first term was below average. With his vast experience he can develop a new approach to improve the education sector, especially in the area of matching the impressive growth in infrastructure to improvement in teacher, student and the quality of learning tools. Hamma-Adama has to bring a new sense of clear focus and intense energy to free himself from the position of a under performer. The ‘SMART’ criteria can help him to a large extent. 

One interesting and surprising appointment is that of Ms Lucy Ishiyaku as Commissioners of Agriculture. The opposition termed her appointment as ‘disaster in the making’. Lucy lacks the knowledge and experience to head such a complex sector that remains most integral to the development of the state as it provides more than 70% of employment in the state. In addition, being a commissioner of Agriculture to a Governor who is very vast and experienced in agriculture is a herculean task. To escape from this Catch-22 situation, the new Commissioner has to be an ‘emergency-student’ – seek advice and support from technocrats so as to establish herself as worthy of the her position. And that she is capable of bringing bright ideas that can further transform the sector as well as identify and implement strategies to realize the potentials of the sector. Lucy can prove her critics wrong.

Eng. Umar Atiku is among the few technocrats in the new cabinet. He is expected to continue on the impressive strides in the infrastructure development, especially in the road sector. The Ministry of Works to which he is returning as commissioner done a commendably well in improving the state’s road network. Being a technocrat, one would expect the new commissioner to pay a systematic attention to the linkage between infrastructure and poverty alleviation, i.e. introduce more projects that would require more community participation to ensure that government investments in infrastructure get to the grassroots. Eng. Umar did well during his first tenure.The opposition, however, alleges there is too much romance between him and the firms handling construction works in the state.

The health sector is very essential to sustainable development in any state. Adamawa is predominantly rural and has high maternal mortality rate; low industrial and revenue base and a wide gap in relevant skills needed by health personnel to face the health challenges on ground. A commissioner of health in Adamawa State must have the skills and technical capabilities to introduce policies and programs to improve the health care services and broaden access to basic services. Mrs Lilian Stephen is the new Commissioner of Health. She is neither a medical doctor nor a pharmacist nor a trained health administrator. Is her appointment a case of a round peg in a square hole?

In Governor Nyako’s first term, the Ministry of Finance didn’t witness much activities, as the then Commissioner was unfortunately battling with health challenges. The new Commissioner for Finance is Ibrahim Buba Vokna- a first class career civil servant and a technocrat, who started his career from the post of a clerk and rose to become the Accountant-General of Adamawa. The finance sector is his familiar terrain and experience would be his added advantage. 

Sajo Gella, a professional politician, is the Commissioner for Water Resources. Like Agriculture, the Water Resources Ministry is also very important for a State like Adamawa. A professional politician shouldn’t have been given such a Ministry, so as to avoid a situation where so much pressure and demands are being exerted on the Commissioner. We know that politicians can promise what is not there. 

From the former Gongola State, Adamawa State has never experienced massive opening of new land layouts that reach the low class than during the reign of Abdurrahman Shuaibu, who is returning as the Commissioner of Land and Survey. Abdurrahman’s performance was excellent; his re-appointment was applauded by the majority of the populace, especially the low and middle class who now have a chance of owning land. 

One of the most notable aspects of the appointments made by Nyako is his attempt in generational shift- some youths found their way into the cabinet. The one appointment that excited many youths in the state is that of Mustafa Barkindo- the first son of Lamido Muhammad Barkindo. The Prince was appointed commissioner of the newly created Ministry of Mineral Resources. He is expected to bring his experience of the oil and gas sector and the federal civil service into developing the infrastructure and manpower for the new ministry- especially in the introduction of modern technology and partnership with multinational companies for accelerated and sustained exploration of mineral resources.

Felix Tangwami and Aminu Iyawa are also two notable members of the cabinet that would be closely watch by the populace, the former is an astute politician, while the later a professional media practitioner.

On a cursory look at Nyako’s new cabinet, one could say that four factors influenced its formation- politics, patronage, past performance and attempt to suit the socio-cultural diversity of Adamawa State. However, it is one thing to appoint commissioners; and another to let them work. Governor Nyako should give more room for his commissioners in the area of decision making and budget implementation. The Governor should define clear role between the Special Project Unit (SPU) and the Ministries- this would assist in full budget implementation and periodic assessment of his commissioners based on performance. 

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

Friday, June 8, 2012

Nigerian Refineries Need a Commonsense Solution

The four state-owned refineries in Nigeria are on their knees. Though refineries in Nigeria should be consistently out-performing the average utilization rates of refineries across the globe, their performance is characterised by very low utilization and incessant downtime. This owes to the fact that they are owned and run by the government of Nigeria and, are caught within the ‘crossfire’ of corruption, persistent attacks on pipelines by oil thieves as well as the slow progress in the full-liberalization of the refining sector of the petroleum industry.

Recently, the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC) announced that it had commenced discussions with the original builders to carry out a major overhaul of the refineries. NNPC said, Chiyoda would be contracted to handle the rehabilitation of the 110,000 barrel per day Kaduna refinery, Italian firm Saipem would handled the repairs of the 125,000 bpd Warri Refinery, while Japan’s JGC Group, which built the 150,000 bpd New Port Harcourt refinery in 1988, had nominated Tecnimont to take charge of repairs of one of the two refineries in Port Harcourt.

The resolve of the government to heed the age-old suggestion of inviting the original builders to handle the Turn Around Maintenance (TAM) of the refineries is a very good and a well-thought out decision. The hope is, the refineries would witness a genuine Turn Around Maintenance (TAM), and not the usual ones they have been witnessing which has not brought any improvement on their ‘health’. The general consensus among experts in the oil and gas industry is that the fastest and cheapest way to get more volumes of refined petroleum products into the growing Nigerian market at lower cost is to rehabilitate these existing refineries. However, the big question is, after rehabilitating the refineries, what’s next?

In addition to the proposed Turn Around Maintenance by the original builders, which should also include optimization of the refineries to achieve a high Nelson Complexity Index - any refinery with a Nelson Complexity Index of 10 or above is considered a complex refinery with potential in value addition and high value products. When that is achieved, a 4-way approach is also needed to position the refineries and tackle the continuing difficulty of establishing private refineries in Nigeria. Before the completion of the Turn Around Maintenance, with the hope it would be sincerely done as promised, government should consider these four well-known commonsense approaches: grant full autonomy to the refineries, but they still remain government-owned; lease the refineries to oil companies/inventors/communities/etc; outright privatization of the refineries with highly attractive incentives, which should be extended to genuine investors willing to establish private refineries.

Being the oldest, Warri Refining & Petrochemical Company Limited can be retained by the government, but should be granted full autonomy to cater for itself- pay its bills and dividend to the government. Kaduna Refining & Petrochemical Company can be leased to any oil company or group of investors with interest in the petroleum products refining. The Port Harcourt Refining Company Limited should be fully privatized. The old complex should be sold to oil producing communities, while the new complex to interested buyers with technical and financial capacity.

This 4-way approach will take care of all the interests and schools of thought on how to revive Nigeria’s state-owned refineries. Nigerians would know which method best suites the running of the refineries. In addition, it will trigger investors’ interests in the refining sector of the Nigeria oil and gas industry.

However, implementation has to be systematic as well as systemic. i. e. experts from various disciplines should sit-down to develop win-win modalities for the approach to be acceptable to all stakeholders, especially ordinary Nigerians.

With the right approach, coupled with the available cheap and easily accessible crude oil; competent manpower and funds, Nigeria’s refineries would operate at near 100 per cent utilization with minimal downtime. Moreover, a speedy and sustainable increase in Nigeria’s refining capacity that achieves Gross Refining Margins (GRMs) that are consistently at par with Asian benchmark of ‘Singapore Complex Margins’ will generate thousands of jobs and boost the potential of the economy. This way, Nigerian refineries can compete with any refinery in the world including the world biggest refinery with Nelson Complexity Index of nearly 14 - the 1.3 million barrels per day (bpd) Jamnagar Refinery in India.

Zayyad I. Muhammad writes from Jimeta, Adamawa State,, 0803607098

Friday, April 6, 2012

Time For North To Get More Revenue

Gov. Babangida Aliyu, Chairman Northern Governors Forum

At present, all the 19 northern states cannot effectively function without the monthly allocation from the Federation Account. But can the 19 northern states ever survive without the monthly allocations from the Federation Account? - Certainly yes; if the region can wake-up from its slumber.   

The thirst of northern Governors for more revenue from the Federation Account stems from the age-long scramble for easy oil money by the Nigerian political class. It is also an indication of the poverty of ideas on how to free the region from the ‘slavery’ of   increasing reliance on the Federation Account as well as poor creativity in new ways of generating revenue apart from oil. In addition, northern leaders are not enthusiastic about utilizing the vast agricultural land and the human capital of the region.
Nonetheless, it is hightime northern states initiated new ways of generating more revenue. The new ways have to take cognizance of agriculture and human resources.
In a world where land has become a scarce resource- Northern Nigeria encompasses about 75% of Nigeria’s 993,773km2 of land area, with climatic conditions favourable for agriculture. The region has more than 400,000km2 of large array of flora and fauna, naturally fertile and arable land, water bodies and large number of populace with potentials to be agricultural entrepreneurs. Why, then does agriculture suffer setback in the region? Many factors can be said to be responsible for this, few among them are: indolence created by heavy reliance on the easy oil money; neglect and lax assessment of the place of agriculture in regional development; poor implementation of agricultural programmes and schemes; non involvement of rural dwellers, youths and real farmers in the agricultural programmes. And   lack of well-defined roles between governments at all levels. 

The North, being blessed with favourable climate for agriculture needs to redefine the implementation strategies of its agricultural programmes and policies in such a way that youths and rural famers will be the central focus.   

This writer once advocated a  ‘youth/rural farmers-centered’  agricultural programme  that  will employ an all inclusive technique where youths, local communities, local councils, states, and the private sector (financial institutions and private investors) will be active and major participants. Financial institutions and private investors will act as financiers; governments at all levels will have well-defined roles, while the youths and rural farmers will be the main targets. In addition, the programme will be designed to be four-pronged- ‘export oriented’, ‘large’, ‘medium’ and ‘small’ scales. How will it be implemented? 

Northern states collectively (through any of their regional agencies) act as guarantor of fund to be provided by financial institutions or private investors. This will be done through the issuance of either callable, par value or coupon rate bonds. The scheme will involve local councils and state governments providing lands and other logistics. The private investors or financial institutions who participate in the scheme are not to give money directly to the governments in order to receive the bond-certificates. Rather, it would a kind of batter arrangement; the investor (either financial institution or private individuals) will set up farms and put in place all structures required in  modern farms. After which a bond certificate equivalent to the cost which would have been consented to by both parties will be issued to them. This will help reduce financial irresponsibility- the main reason for the failure of most good programmes in Nigeria, as far as the scheme is concerned.

As a way of encouraging investors to participate in the scheme, the investor would take a prescribed stake, between 5% and 10% in any of the farm they setup before the maturity of the bond. This is an added value to investors since, in addition to the interest they will get from their bond when it is redeemed, they will have shares in the farm’s profit. However, after the maturity of the bond, their stake in the farm will be transferred to the host communities.

Despite the seeming complexity of such a scheme; if experts in various fields are engaged in designing its workability, it can be experimented as a tool for the implementation of numerous government programmes. It will accelerate agriculture as a source of growth for regional and national economy; improve its capacity as a provider of investment opportunities for the private sector; and a prime driver of agriculture-related industries.

There is a huge hole on the health of the education sector in northern Nigeria. Hence, a need for a shift in the way the sector is run in the north. This shift will put in place a system that provides adequate funding, help in improving standard and   quality of both teachers and students, a system that completely aids in shifting away from the status quo where- government is the provider, administer, monitor and assessor of how funds are utilized. 
This writer is a strong advocate of greater participation of the private sector in managing of public schools. However, not a ‘bulldozer’ kind of participation, where government will entirely surrender these schools to private entrepreneurs.  States in the north can introduce a ‘measured’ public-private partnership in the education sector. Where government builds new schools, equips old ones,  then take a benchmark from a well-run private school on what it costs per student head in running a school;  then a gradual entrusting of public schools to private sector, where government provides the funds, taking into cognizance  cost per student; as it is in private schools, while the private sector manages it especially in the area of infrastructure maintenance, provision of teaching tools, management of training programmes for teachers etc. 

Ideas development is also an excellent way to create employment for skilled manpower in the north, and the region can use it to generate more revenue i.e. using the well known concept of: Innovate-Create-Invent-Invest. Experts have maintained that it is the most difficult but the most effective way of creating long-term employment and wealth. Despite the seemingly low literacy level in the north, the region churns out thousands of graduates yearly. States in the north should establish innovation and invention centres across the region and in tertiary institutions. The centres should work in such a way that, graduates with technical skills and entrepreneurship passion, will have access to facilities and environment that support thinking for invention and innovation. There are many government and non-governmental agencies that can play vital roles in such a scheme. Moreover, private investors can also be major participants, as they can be fund providers for any invention or innovation with great market potentials. With this kind of scheme, it is possible to see new industries surface; the economy gradually grows and lots of good paying jobs are created.

Northern Governors should utilize the region’s agricultural potentials and human capital to generate more revenues and wealth for the region, instead of the crave for more easy oil money- which seems to be grease that runs corruption, poor creativity in revenue generation and low national productivity in Nigeria.

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