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Economy (18)

A renowned company director, Dr. Mayor Nwachukwu of Godfy Towers Nigeria Limited has called for the proscription of Enugu Electricity Distribution Company in Abia State over its inability to supply power. Nwachukwu made the call in Aba recently while making a contribution during a one day mega seminar on “Electricity Consumers Rights and Obligations”organized by Joint Action Group and attended by professional bodies, labour union leaders, market leaders, youths, civil servants and artisans, where issues bothering on crazy and outrageous bills,illegal disconnection,intimidation by EEDC staff and absence of electricity in some parts of Aba, Abia State were discussed. Dr.Nwachukwu lamented that for over one year now, he has not had electricity in his residence yet receives and pays bill every month.He decried Nigerian Electricity and Regulatory Commission for not doing enough to enlighten the public on their rights as electricity consumers.According to him, the EEDC is just out to milk consumers as nothing has changed since it came into the Power industry.He said, “they occupy the same office as National Electric Power Authority (NEPA) the same office as Power Holding Company of Nigeria(PHCN) and now as EEDC” He suggested that electricity consumers in Aba should match and inform the government of the day about the sufferings consumers are passing through. He said the issue of non-provision of electricity supply, adversely affects the overall economy and production capacity of the state in general and Aba in particular. “What EEDC staff do in Aba is to make money for those in charge and allow the poor masses to suffer the consequences, but when we match to the government functionaries, we will tell them all their atrocities” he concluded. Earlier in his key note address,the secretary, Joint Action Group,Chief Ike Opigwe said the group is a non –profit advocacy body that provides an enabling environment for the education of electricity consumers on their right as guaranteed by the Electricity Power Sector Reform(EPSR) Act 2005 and National Electricity Regulatory Commission (NERC) guideline,directive and methodology which include but not limited to the following: billing methodology,connection, disconnection procedure and rights to certified standard prepaid meter. Mr.Odu Obot,a Deputy Superintendent of Police, who represented Abia State Commissioner of Police, thanked the organizers of the seminar and said if all activities are handled this way;the police will have less job to do. He revealed that Abia State Police Command is tackling the problem of vandalization of electricity materials by creating Electricity Consumers Team to tackle all criminal activities against the provision of electricity in Abia state. Mr. Ezeocha Peter, National Electricity Regulatory Commission (NERC) Representative in charge of Ebonyi State, gave an overview of Electricity Sector Power Reform .He said the Commission (NERC) is empowered by the Electric Power Sector Reform (EPSR) Act, 2005, to ensure an efficiently managed electricity supply industry that meets the yearnings of Nigerians for stable, adequate and safe electricity supply. According to him the Act mandates the Commission to ensure that electricity Operators recover costs on prudent investment and provide quality service to customers. In a lecture on “ Overview of Consumers’ Rights and Obligations” delivered by Comrade Anele Jacobs, he said “ it is pertinent that electricity customers know their rights which include that a new electricity connections must be done strictly based on metering before connection. That is, no new customer should be connected by a DisCo without a meter first being installed at the premises” According to him, consumers have the right to electricity supply in a safe and reliable manner; a properly installed and functional meter; a right to transparent electricity billing and also that all un-metered customers should be issued with electricity bills strictly based on NERC’s estimated billing methodology. He said consumers should be notified in writing ahead of disconnection of electricity service by the DisCo serving the customer in line with NERC’s guidelines; refund when over billed and to report the issue to the NERC Forum Office within the coverage area of the DisCo. Consumers have the right to appeal against the decision if not satisfied and any un-metered customer who is disputing his or her estimated bill has the right not to pay the disputed bill, but pay only the last undisputed bill as the contested bill go through the dispute resolution process of NERC. “It is not the responsibility of electricity customer or community to buy, replace or repair electricity transformers, poles and related equipment used in the supply of electricity” he added .However, he said consumers are under obligation to pay bills for electricity consumed and provide requirements for connection as stipulated by NERC and DisCo. And also to ensure that meters and other electrical equipment within your premises belonging to the DisCo are not tampered with, or by-passed and consumers should notify the DisCo serving you of any tampering or bypass of electricity installations. In an exclusive chat with the Chairman, Abia State Civil Society Network (ASCON) Comrade Cassius Ukwugbe, he decried the crazy bills and epileptic electric supply in Aba that has touched everybody and said the messages should be taken to the appropriate authorities and solution proffered once and for all. According to him, high billings have continued to be a source of worry to many Electricity Consumers in Abia state. He called on the Federal Government to revisit its power privatization policy to check the exploitation of Nigerians by Power Distribution Companies. He said”Aba residents have made their feelings known in the area of over – estimated billings by the Enugu Electricity Distribution Company and something should be done.. In his contribution, the Chairman Hotel Proprietors Association, Aba, Chief Godwin Egbuchulam, revealed that hotels will soon sack some of their staff due to high electricity billing in Aba. According to him the cost of running hotels has increased in recent time as a result of fast consumption rate of prepaid meter. A book on Rights and Obligations of Electricity Consumers authored by Chief Ike Opigwe and reviewed by Dr. Mike Iheukwumere was presented to participants. The book; a must read by all electricity consumers, was described by Dr. Iheukwumere as the ‘Bible’ of electricity consumption. The seminar had in attendance notable Nigerians including: the Chairman Joint Action Group-Dr. Mike Iheukwumere, DSP Odu Obot, who represented the Abia state Commissioner for Police, Secretary, Joint Action Group-Chief Ike Opigwe, National Electricity Regulatory Commission(NERC) Ebonyi State Representative-Mr. Ezeocha Peter,Chairman, Hotel Proprietors Association-Chief Godwin Egbuchulam, Chairman, Abia State Civil Society Network-Comrade Cassius Ukwugbe,Comrade Anele Jacobs, Chairman, NASSI-Amb. Darlington Kalu, Manager, Hotel De L’s Paix-Mrs Celestina Asiegbu and others.

Labour leaders on Sunday expressed optimism that the Federal Government would give workers a living wage not minimum wage. President Muhammdu Buhari on Thursday approved the appointment of a 30-member tripartite National Minimum Wage Committee for the negotiation of a new National Minimum Wage. The labour leaders, who are members of the committee, spoke to the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) in Lagos ahead of the committee inauguration scheduled for Monday in Abuja. The committee is made up of persons from the public sector (federal and state governments) and the private sector (members of the Nigeria Employers’ Consultative Association (NECA) Mr Ayuba Wabba, President of the Nigeria Labour Congress (NLC) told NAN that“our expectation is that the demand of labour will be met. “We will discuss with open mind to ensure that we achieve our aims and objectives,’’ Wabba said. He said that the meeting with the tripartite committee would be a social dialogue and collective bargaining discussion. According to him, the inauguration is long overdue and effort would be made to fast track negotiations to ensure that workers and pensioners get their accrued benefits. He said that labour would discuss issues relating to rate of Naira because the present exchange rate had increased from the time N56,000 was being proposed by labour. Mr Peter Ozo-Eson, NLC General Secretary, also said that the committee would discuss many issues affecting the minimum wage and the way forward. According to Ozo-Eson, it is over two years since the organised labour proposed N56,000 as minimum wage to the government; and so will consider a number of socio-economic indices to take its action. He said that the organised labour was looking forward to the inauguration because the committee was made up of a tripartite group that would discuss issues affecting the Nigerian workers. “We look forward to the inauguration which I believe will discuss the facts and economic realities when it starts negotiation.’’ I found this interesting I didin't

The National Agency for Food and Drug Administration and Control (NAFDAC) on Monday uncovered 30 different banned and unregistered products worth millions of naira in Onitsha, Anambra, an official has said. Mrs Christiana Essenwa, a Deputy Director of NAFDAC, said this when she conducted newsmen round the uncompleted building where the contraband were discovered. She listed some of the banned products to include rice, vegetable oil, tomato paste, tomato ketchup and toilet and medicated soaps. The list includes, among others, dairy products, hand wash, creams, cosmetics, toothpaste, furniture, plastic products, electrical cables and textiles imported in a 40-foot container. Essenwa expressed concern that in spite of the Federal Government ban, some businessmen ignored the hazards the banned products pose to unsuspecting consumers. “These contraband items are written in foreign language; it is difficult for consumers to know the content of the products, making it hazardous for consumers in the country. “For instance, these foreign toothpastes contain saccharine which is not allowed in the country; the vegetable oils do not have the eye logo, signifying that they are fortified with vitamin A. “We are going to confiscate every item and get them ready for destruction,” Essenwa said. She said some of the seized products such as textiles, cables and plastics also required the involvement of the Standards Organisation of Nigeria (SON) to certify the authenticity of the items. The deputy director said the discovery was made following a tip-off and urged the public to be circumspect before picking products on display in the market. “Check whether they have NAFDAC registration number; whether the labelling is alright, whether it was written in foreign language, manufacturing address and of course, the expiry date,” Essenwa said. Also speaking, an industrialist, Mr Steve Evans, the Manager of Evans Industries Limited, decried the importation of fake products into the country, describing the act as “economic sabotage”. Evans, urged the Federal Government to step up its surveillance on fake products being dumped in the country.

The Association of Senior Civil Servants of Nigeria (ASCSN), Energy Commission of Nigeria (ECN)’s unit (ASCSN-ECN Unit) has declared a 3-day warning strike. ASCSN-ECN Unit’s Chairman, Mr Promise Chukwu, who announced the strike on Tuesday in Abuja, said it was necessitated by ECN’s management failure to implement earlier agreements. Chukwu said that ECN’s management had also consistently disregarded directives from superior authorities. “Up tenth time, the Office of the Head of Civil Service of the Federation issued clarification against the misleading and ignorant stand of ECN management on the `Non Research Institute’ status of the commission. “Up to this moment, the Prof. Eli Bala led management has continued to retain some staff who had passed the statutory retirement age of 60 or 35 years of service in ECN. “The questionable transfer of the ministerial supervision of ECN to Federal Ministry of Science and Technology (FMST) from the Presidency and Federal Ministry of Energy, then (Petroleum and Power) is worrisome. “The mandate of ECN is so peculiar that it can only be implemented with the condition and scheme of service that will address those needs; however 28 years after, the commission lacks comprehensive condition and scheme of service.’’ He said that the mandatory career progression training of staff had become a no go area as the management had turned blind eye to the skill gap and manpower of ECN. The chairman said that the implementation of earlier agreements with the management was the only pre-condition for ensuring industrial harmony in the commission. Chukwu listed some of the demands of the association in order to ensure stability in the commission: “Investigate all the financial transactions in ECN especially the one in ECN Project Account; the association is ready to assist EFCC with supporting documents. “Immediate reversal of controversial supervisory role of ECN from FMST to Presidency or at least, to one of the ministries where their function is directly related to energy such as Federal Ministry of Petroleum. “Immediate reconstitution of the committee on conditions and scheme of service for ECN to address the peculiarity of the commission. “Immediate implementation of recommendations of the Managing Committee on skipping of CONRAISS 10 salary grade; that is abolition of the post of Senior Officer 1 and 11 cadre and review the promotion issues connected therewith. “Immediately release of promotion letters of staff that are due for promotion effective Jan. 1 and fast track promotion exercise of staff due for promotion effective Jan. 1, 2018.’’ He said. He added that the management should immediately constitute a committee to look into staff welfare and liaise with the National Salaries Income and Wages commission to secure energy sector standard remuneration for ECN. Chukwu called on President Muhammadu Buhari and relevant stakeholders to intervene and save the commission. According to him, the industrial disharmony will continue until Bala is relieved of his appointment by the president. Meanwhile, Bala did not pick several calls put across to him for his reaction neither did he respond to the test message sent to him as at the time of filing this report.

An economic expert, Charles Nwekeaku, has advised the Federal Government to follow due process in getting the forfeiture of monies in accounts without Bank Verification Numbers(BVN) to the government. Nwekeaku, an Associate Professor at the Nassarawa State University, Keffi, made the call in an interview with the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) on Sunday in Abuja. The Federal Government recently instituted an action in a court for the forfeiture of any balance in bank accounts without BVN. An interim order of forfeiture was granted by the court on Oct. 17 for the various Deposit Money Banks (DMBs) to show cause within 14 days why the balances in such accounts should not be forfeited. The current practice is that banks only permit deposits into such accounts without withdrawal. Therefore, if the Federal Government succeeds, the money is forfeited permanently. According to Nwekeaku, some Nigerians opened accounts before the introduction of BVN and may have travelled outside the country. “Some of these people may have one impediment or the other that has kept them away, so it will be unfair for government to just opt and request they forfeit their funds. “I think even if the government wants to do that, government should take due process; government should make diligent effort to inform the people accordingly. “Government should also find out the kind of agreement people had with their banks when they opened the accounts and if they were not initially informed about the BVN, they should be given sufficient time,’’ he said. Nwekeaku said any rash decision now by the government would be considered retroactive, in the sense that BVN wasn’t an issue when those accounts were opened. He said that government should make conscientious effort to ensure the people were informed about the implications of not doing the BVN registration before such rash actions were taken. “I know the BVN issue is over a year now but you will agree with me that there are some people who travelled out of Nigeria and haven’t come back since then. “There are also some who are hospitalised, they have been bed ridden for a long time, making them unable to do the BVN. So do you expect them to forfeit their funds? “So I think any rash decision now by the government will be considered as breaching the fundamental human rights of the people and that is not good for our democratic nation,” the don said. On the proposed Dangote Refinery, Nwekeaku said it was a welcome development as it would help in growing the country’s economy and increase its GDP. Nwekeaku said it was impressive that individuals in the country were thinking of going into the business of refining crude oil which was not the case in the past. He noted that the norm of exporting crude without adding any value to it had not helped the country as it had increased the rate of unemployment in the country. The don said that if refineries were built and were functional, it would add value chain and generate more employment for the youth in the country. Nwekeaku said,“ a number of people have got licences to build refineries but for one reason or the other they don’t want to do that, so for Dangote to have taken the move, it is a welcome development. “And we believe that if the refinery is put in place, it will generate much employment opportunities; it may equally reduce the cost of petroleum products in the country. “Also the unit price of petroleum certainly will reduce and I think it will go a long way to improve the economy. “Therefore, government should encourage more individuals to go into establishing private refineries and I believe when that is done, it will help to stimulate the economy.’’ (NAN)

President Muhammadu Buhari has given the directive that all the 36 state capitals should be connected with rail in the ongoing railway projects. The Minister of Transportation, Mr, Chibuike Amaechi, said on Thursday at the meeting with the Chairman Senate Committee on Local and Foreign Debts, Sen. Shehu Sani. The meeting also attended by the Ministers of Finance; Budget and National Planning; and Power, Works and Housing was in connection with President Buhari’s loan request of 5.5 billion dollars. Amaechi said that the central rail line project connecting several communities of northern and southern Nigeria would be completed in June, next year. According to him, 17 coaches are expected to arrive in November and out of the number, 10 will be deployed to Abuja-Kaduna rail line while the remaining seven will be deployed to the Itakpe-Warri rail line. Amaechi said that part of the money being requested now for approval by the senate was to execute the rail projects covering Kano-Kaduna, and Lagos-Ibadan networks. Sani had earlier advised if Nigeria “must borrow, it must borrow responsibly”. Sani said: “the committee has the mandate to examine the merits and otherwise of the current loan request of 5.5 billion dollars of the president. “If we must bequeath to the future generation a pile of debt, it must be justified with commensurate infrastructural proof of the value of the debt. “The payment plan of this debt will undoubtedly last the length of our lifetimes and possibly beyond. “We must leave behind a legacy that will appease and answer the questions the next generation of Nigerians will ask,” Sani said. Also providing insight into the loan request, the Director-General, Debt Management Office, Mrs Patience Oniha, explained that the loans have sustainable benefits that would live beyond the present generation of Nigerians. “What we should take away is that we are going into projects whose benefits don’t go away. “The roads don’t go away, the schools don’t go away, and the hospitals don’t go away but all that we need to do is to maintain them properly and that is the explanation I want to make on that,” she said..

Gov. Ifeanyi Ugwuanyi of Enugu State on Wednesday inaugurated N358 million urban expansion project at Mgbowo in Awgu Local Government Area of the state. The News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) reports that the State Executive Council approved the urban expansion project of the current administration in line with the campaign promise of the governor. The project is aimed at developing additional satellite towns with a view to decongesting human traffic in the capital city. Ugwuanyi, while inaugurating the project situated at the popular ‘Aki na Ukwa’ Junction on Enugu-Port Harcourt Highway, said when completed, the facility would be a befitting gateway into the capital city from Abia, Imo and Rivers States. He said that the area would be adorned by solar powered street and traffic lights, security posts and dual carriage ways. The governor said that it was his aspiration to open up more urban centres to further attract investments to the state. Ugwuanyi appealed to residents of the area to cooperate with the contractors as they delivered the project. The President-General of Mgbowo Town Union, Mr Tony Udinya said that the project would improve the aesthetics of the community and provide market for the vast agricultural produce from the area. Udinya said that residents of the area were appreciative of the goodwill of the governor to their people, adding that much still needed to be done to bring Mgbowo at par with its peers. “The major problem confronting this community is water. Hence, your intervention in this regard will be highly appreciated. “There is a damn project in Mgbowo that had been abandoned over the years,” he said. Udinya said that it was imperative for the state government to construct a link road to connect all the communities that were the direct beneficiaries of the project. “This project will not only serve Mgbowo, but the entire Awgu and Aninri Local Government Areas. The major constraint we have is the traditional link road that connects the area. “This is where our people and those from Aninri do their farming and the road is deplorable. It will ease the flow of agricultural produce to the market,” he said. Udinya said that the people of the area were thrilled by the move to urbanise the community, adding that they would show their unflinching appreciation in due time. NAN reports that the project has a completion period of six months.

President Muhammadu Buhari on Friday assured stakeholders from the South East that the region will benefit more from roads and coastal rail projects, which are of critical importance to the economy. During an audience with leaders from the region led by the Deputy Senate President Ike Ekweremadu, the President declared that the 2nd Niger Bridge, the East-West Road and the Coastal rail project, are receiving utmost attention from his administration. The President said counterpart funding from the Chinese government would substantially fund these projects, which when completed will improve the welfare, well-being and economy of the people in the region. “I know the Chinese are very competent in handling such projects and we will ensure that we get the money for the projects to take off. “I thank you for articulating your demands and I want to assure that we are doing our best for the country. If we can stop people from stealing, then there will be more resources to put into projects that will create employment for Nigerians,’’ the President said. Responding to allegations of under-representation of Igbos in his government, the President said: “ I gave south-east four substantive ministers in the ministries of Foreign Affairs, Trade and Investment, Science and Technology and Labour. “Seven states in the North got Ministers of State and of the two Ministries headed by your sons, I cannot take any decision on foreign policy and investments without their input,’’ he said. The President also promised the leaders, comprising governors and ministers from the region, the President of Ohaneze, Chief Nnia Nwodo and representatives from the National Assembly, that he will visit states in the zone soon. “I want to assure you that I came into government with a clear conscience and I will also leave with a clear conscience,’’ he said. Earlier, the President of Ohaneze, while articulating the demands of the zone to the President highlighted the issue of state creation, restructuring, federal projects in the South East namely Enugu-Onitsha road, Enugu-Port Harcourt road and Aba-Ikot-Ekpene road, among others. Nwodo also demanded urgent presidential interventions on the Enugu Airport, reticulation of the gas-pipelines in the South East and the standard gauge plan for railway construction. Commending the President’s remarkable achievements on security and the fight against corruption, Nwodo declared: “we are ready to work with you. We are determined to work with you. We know you are a decisive leader and we know God will continue to give you the wisdom to govern Nigeria.’’ Also speaking, Governor Dave Umahi of Ebonyi State expressed satisfaction on the outcome of their discussions with the President on critical issues and topics affecting the region. “You have no hatred for any state. You have treated all states with equality. What one state gets in the north, the other gets in the south,’’ the governor said, referring to budget support facility and stabilisation fund released to states and local governments since the inception of the administration.

Over 500 tricycle (Keke) operators in Imo state, Thursday, blocked the entrance into the Imo government house, over ban order. Vanguard monitored the protest which started from Control post, World bank and Wethdral to the government House. While giving reasons for their demonstration, they said that they were surprised that they got an information, that they had been banned completely on Thursday, contrary to the deadline date earlier given to them. According to some of the keke operators that the governor gave them upto December 1st as a deadline to stop operating in the metropolis. Just as some said that suspected government officials were using the ban order to intimidate and extort money from them. Speaking to Vaguard, one of them who introduced himself as Banky, said: “They have banned us three times. I believe Okorocha is not aware of all this, some people are taking advantage of the whole situation to get money.” Another Keke drive, simply identified as King, “We want Okorocha to pity us. Let him show us where to ply within the capital city and not ban us completely. Some of us do not have jobs, except for this Keke.” Earlir in his remark, Governor Rochas Okorocha of Imo state, said that the first phase of banning tricycle operating in the capital city of Owerri has commenced. He said: “On this issue of Keke operators we have discussed with them and they seize to operate in some areas from today (Thursday) We have replaced them with taxis. “What I understand is that the taxis we bought for them, they are using them outside the state, their reason was that as long as keke still ply in the capital city, it will be difficult for them to get passengers and they cannot compete with Keke. “So fotunately enough those that got the taxis are the the same keke riders. As a result of this, they packed the taxis in their houses. “However, we have agreed with them that we should start the first phase of the ban. That reminds me as from today (Thirseday) there will be no Keke on Wethedral road and among other areas. “We are also introducing Imo black cap. It is special designed buses, that help to take away VIPs. This is to compliment the effort of taxi scheme. It is a way to give Owerri a new look.” Over 500 keke operators, yesterday, blocked Imo government House, over ban order.

A Kenya Professor of Law, Patrick Lumumba on Monday decried rising wave of corruption in Nigeria, saying that the malaise has produced thousands of elite thieves in the biggest black nation on planet. Lumumba was the keynote speaker at the 9th edition of ‘Fela, the Debates,’ with the theme: “40 years after FESTAC. 20 years after Fela…Wither the Pan-African Dream?” The event was held at the NECA House, Ikeja, Lagos, Southwest Nigeria, in commemoration of the 20th anniversary of the demise of Afro-beat maestro, Fela Anikulapo Kuti. It was one of the activities lined up for this year’s Felabration Festival. Felabration is an annual festival of music and arts commemorating the life and times of Nigeria’s foremost musical icon, the late Fela Anikulapo Kuti. Speaking at the event, Lumumba lamented that corruption has been the bane of the African continent, saying that it was roughly estimated that through the activities of corrupt individuals who were in position of authority, the continent was losing huge sums of money. He likened Nigeria to the case of the popular book, “Alibaba and the 40 thieves,” saying that the case of Nigeria has gone beyond 40 thieves but thousands of thieves. “Today in Nigeria and the 36 states of Nigeria, you read the story of Alibaba and the 40 thieves, you will discover that they are no longer 40 thieves, but thousands of thieves. Until the day we liberate ourselves from the clung of these thieves, Africa is going nowhere. “We are in a continent where the occupation of public office is a gargantuan of acquiring wealth. We have to ensure that the continent of Africa is free from corruption and it must come,” he stated. Lumumba added that when former chairman of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, EFCC, Nuhu Ribadu was fighting corruption, he was forced out of the system, saying that when the same Ribadu vied for the presidency despite his pedigree, he was rejected. According to him, the current president, Muhammadu Buhari came out with the mantra to fight corruption and was elected, lamenting that when he started fighting corruption, some people were now saying “oh let corruption come back. What do you want your president to do? “ The professor said if corruption must be won, it must not only be at the top, but that all, including civil servants, companies and others must say no to corruption. “Civil servants, don’t be corrupt, Petroleum minister, don’t be corrupt. There is no justification for corruption. Corruption undermines education, values, infrastructure; corruption destroys our being, it is the reason why Africa countries can never be allowed to sit at the UN Security council, Corruption must be dealt with. Fela saw it many years ago, Fela was a human being and not a Jewish prophet,” he said. Lumumba stated that when Fela introduced the Afro Beat music, he never meant it to be for entertainment and for dance alone, but that he wanted the nation to ‘dance’ to the Afro Beat of good education, infrastructure, good health system, among others, which he said were lacking in the system due to corruption. He also said that more than ever, the call for Pan-Africanism was louder as many nations in the continent were still under the siege of neo-colonialism after decades of exit of the colonial masters. He said since the partition of Africa at the infamous Berlin Conference of 1884 and 1885, several Africans, such as Nkwame Nkrumah of Ghana and the rest championed the course for independence for Africa, adding that after the 1963 meeting in Accra by Nkrumah for Africans to decimate neo-colonialism, Patrick Lumumba of Congo, Tafawa Balewa and a host of others were assassinated due to the force of neo-colonialists. Lumumba lamented that Africa remained the only continent where the countries had been polarized as Francophone, Anglophone and the rest, which he said had been the tragedy of the continent. He said the late Fela was right when he said ‘if they want to enslave you forever, they won’t let you know who your grandfathers are.” The legal luminary added that 40 years after the Festival of Arts and Culture, FESTAC, was staged in Nigeria, the culture of the African continent had been eroded, while the continent was still to realize its potentials. He decried that the Gross Domestic Product, GDP, of the entire two billion population of the African continent was not up to the GDP of Spain alone, asking: “are we children of a lesser God? God in His divine wisdom gave us all the resources that we need. Our presidents can’t attend our hospitals when they are sick.” Lumumba also said it was proper for every tribe in Nigeria and in the continent to know their root, saying it was only through this that they would be proud Nigerians and others. “Here in Nigeria, it is proper and right for the Igbo to know their origin, it is proper and right for the Yoruba to know their origin. It is proper and right for the Ibibio, Hausa and Fulani to know their origin because it is when they have all discovered their origins and are proud Yoruba, Igbo that they can make a great Nigeria. This must happen in all countries in Africa. “There must be unity in diversity. When I think of the music that Fela put in place, it is telling us that we should be proud of our black skin, that God was not mad in creating us black, it is telling us that there is beauty in our being negroes,” he said. Lumumba further stated that secession would not do Nigeria and any other country any good, saying that the unity of the nation could be negotiated so that everyone would be happy. “You, the Igbo and Hausa in Nigeria, your destiny lies in Nigeria, your problems can be solved within Nigeria. There is no need to slaughter yourselves. We can talk about the unity of Africa. We must have the moral courage to tell ourselves that we can resolve our problems without resolving to fight,” he added. Also speaking at the event, human rights lawyer, Femi Falana, SAN faulted Lumumba that Africans were more corrupt than their western counterparts, saying that America and Britain were the most corrupt countries in the world. He said all those rankings that Nigeria and other Africa countries were the most corrupt were being exaggerated, but agreed that it was high time Africans decimated neo-colonialism and champion the course of Pan-Africanism. Replying Falana, Lumumba said even though there is corruption in the western countries, they still provided the necessary infrastructure for the people unlike in Africa where the leaders would steal and do nothing for the masses. The panel session was anchored by Kadaria Ahmed, a media entrepreneur and season journalist, while the Editor of the Guardian, Abraham Ogbodo was on the panel along with Falana. The Excutive Editor, The News/PM News, Kunle Ajibade lamented that the abolition of history from school curriculum in Nigeria for a long time had impacted negatively on students’ acquaintance with the culture of the nation and the people they should have emulated as role models. According to Ajibade, “For more than a decade, history was taken off the curriculum, even though it has just been brought back; what happened to all the hundreds and millions of students who went through secondary schools without history? What happened to those who removed history? What were they smoking?” •

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