June 12: The MKO Abiola Legacy

By cattnews on June 13, 2017

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Abiola
Abiola

On Monday, friends, family and civil rights activists gathered to pay tribute at the residence of the winner of the 1993 Presidential Election, Chief Moshood Abiola in Ikeja, Lagos.

By circumstance, this year’s remembrance came up after two events shook the country to its marrow, the ‘Sit-At-Home’ protest in the South-East and the ‘Quit Notice’ issued to the Igbo residing in the North by some elders and youths from the region.

Aside these are the plethora of problems the country is currently grappling with, Boko Haram’s leader, Abubakar Shekau, released another video, this one very grim and gory; the economy is still bad; the Niger Delta still awaits the ‘clean-up’ of Ogoni environment and President Muhammadu Buhari is ‘now’ communicating from abroad.

Probably now, the only gain from the June 12 saga has been the democratic governance the country now enjoys.

Unfortunately, the forces behind the mystery surrounding the death of the actual winner of the June 12, 1993 Presidential Election, Chief MKO Abiola, have, totally, hijacked the reins of government.

*Going against the grain, a former military head of state of the country, in the person of Chief Olusegun Obasanjo was forced on the country instead of a more ‘progressive’ minded candidate in the person of Chief Bola Ige.

That was the beginning of the country’s woes all over again.

What would have been a scrap of sanity got further eroded when Obasanjo sacked five governors from the Advance for Democracy (AD) party in 2003, remaining the lone figure of the, then, governor of Lagos State, Asiwaju Bola Ahmed Tinubu.

He (Tinubu) remained the only visible candidate with ‘progressive’ leaning.

And should there be anything ‘progressive’ about Tinubu, it is safe to say that it was in his first term as governor in Lagos State.

The more he consolidates his position as a formidable politician in the country, the farther he drifts from being ‘progressive’.

By the time he moved from AD to Action Congress (AC), to Action Congress of Nigeria (ACN) he was, already, ‘progressive’ only by identification.

And, by the time the All Progressives Congress (APC) came to be, it was politics all the way.

Nothing could ever be termed ‘progressive’ in a party that has elements like Obasanjo and former military president, Ibrahim Badamosi Babangida (IBB) and some characters from the north in the background.

Worse still, the party preferred another former military head of state as presidential candidate, in the person of Muhammadu Buhari.

It was, truly, a party of too many strange bedfellows and it shew when it, eventually, gained power.

One of the many policy somersaults the party made was to jerk up the pump price of petroleum products. 

As if that was not enough, Nigerians nearly suffered another heart attack, when they found out that, the hapless members of the Nigerian Senate were on to a bill titled ‘National Roads Fund (Establishment, etc) Bill 2017’, which proposes that N5 to be paid per litre of fuel imported into the country. They saw the move as a ploy by the Federal Government to impose more hardship on them.

In his account, the Senate President, Dr Bukola Saraki explained that, "There is a Bill called the National Road Funds Bill. Our roads around the country are not adequately funded. If we are banking on the appropriations process, we will not be able to adequately fund and refurbish our roads.

“Anybody that read the full report would have known that after the public hearing, which involved stakeholders from the road and transport industry, it was recommended that N5.00 (five naira) from each litre of petrol should be channeled towards our roads. However, this is not going to be additional five naira, but five naira out of the present price of N145 that Nigerians are currently paying at the pump.”

Nevertheless, the pricing of the pump price of petroleum products is still too high, considering a party that would not let one rest with its ‘change’ mantra.

Two preceding administrations that were hopelessly not ‘progressive’ in leaning were still much more sensible.

Since Obasanjo emerged as the presidential candidate of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), and won, nothing could be said to be ‘progressive’ about the party.

But late Umaru Yar’Adua was good enough to remove N5 from the pump price of petrol, same was, ‘confused’ Goodluck Jonathan, who, at least, gave the Chairman of Capital Oil, Ifeanyi Ubah the leeway to sell kerosene at N50 per litre, most households now struggle with only a coke bottle measure of kerosene to survive.

Interestingly though, some organisations are still active in the country.

On Wednesday 7th June 2017, the Council of the Lagos Chamber of Commerce and Industry (LCCI) met to deliberate on issues impacting on the business environment.

The Chamber’s findings include: 

“Security of lives and Property

Council commended the progress made in the fight against terror.  Many internally displaced persons are now returning to their communities.  Council however expressed concern over the escalating security problems perpetrated by the herdsmen across the country.  It urged the security agencies to step up their vigilance and live up to their mandate of protecting lives and property across the country.  The meeting noted that activities of the herdsmen are already taking a toll on agricultural activities in the country.

Access Roads to Lagos Ports

Council expressed concern over the deplorable state of access roads to all Ports in Nigeria.  Given the strategic importance of the Lagos ports in the Nigerian economy, Council has therefore called for an urgent response by the government to fix the access roads to the Lagos ports.  Lagos ports account for about 70% of the total revenue generation from import duties in the country.  The pace of cargo evacuation is being affected by the state of the roads.  This in turn results in high demurrage charges, high rental costs by the terminal operators and high cost of freight.   

Naira Liquidity Challenges

Council expressed concern over the increasing liquidity challenges in the financial system.  Some companies are not able to draw from facilities to fund their forex requirements.  This is taking a toll on the business of these companies as some of them cannot provide the cash backing for forex demands.  The liquidity problem is a consequence of the mopping of liquidity in the financial system, the tight monetary policy stance and the increasing crowding-out effect of the private sector by government borrowing in the financial system.  Council stress the need for financial system liquidity to be relaxed.

Valuation Queries by the Nigeria Customs Service

The Council expressed concern over the indiscriminate and arbitrary queries raised by officials of the Nigeria Customs Service on the value of imports. The meeting noted the frequent disregard of the Pre-Arrival Assessment Report (PAAR) issued by the Customs Headquarter often arbitrary valuation are imposed on importers leading to much higher import payment. 

The Council suggest that the PAAR issued by the Customs headquarters should be respected by Customs officers at the ports as far as evaluation is concerned. The use of discretionary valuation by Customs officers at the port is not consistent with the vision of this administration to improve the ease of doing business. 

Presence of Customs Officers on the Highways

Council expressed concern over the presence of officers of the Nigeria Customs Service on the highways stopping containers and raising fresh valuation issues. This has caused profound frustration to many business owners. The meeting also expressed concern over the practice of the Nigeria Customs officers on the highways, demanding Customs papers from vehicle owners. Council request that this is not in line with best practices. 

This practice by the Custom officers that resulted in numerous harassment of citizens on the highway and there is need to put an end to it. 

Shutting down of Base Stations and Vandalization of Telecoms Infrastructures

Council expressed concern over the frequent shutting of telecoms base station by the state and Local Government authorities in their drive for Internally Generated Revenue (IGR). This has affected the quality of service delivery by many telecoms operations. The meeting also noted the complaints about high cost imposed on telecoms companies for Right of Way (ROW) for the laying of telecoms cables. Concerns were also expressed on the vandalization of telecoms infrastructures by miscreants across the country. Council therefore urged the urgent intervention of the relevant authorities including the ease of doing business secretariat to protect the telecoms industry.”


Maybe, the ruling APC could start with the following, so that Nigeria could ‘progress’ towards the real ‘change’.

 


*Footnote: Obasanjo ran against Olu Falae, who won the AD Presidential Primary.

Source cattnews

Posted 13/06/2017 01:57:24 AM

 

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