Oct 21, 2009

Survey of Nigerian Core Values

Given the amount of resources that has been available to the nation, Nigerians admit that the nation has not done enough between independence and toady. It is however common knowledge that if any individual, organization or nation must succeed, he must have certain core values to which he attaches considerable significance. In Nigeria it is generally accepted that the core values of discipline, integrity, dignity of labour, social justice, religious tolerance, patriotism and self reliance have been eroded
The National Orientation Agency (NOA) in Nigeria is shouldered with the responsibility of consistently raising the awareness, provide timely and credible feedback, and positively change attitude and values amongst Nigerians. It is also responsible for accurately and adequately informing and sufficiently mobilizing citizens to act in ways that promote peace, harmony and national development. The NOA in collaboration with the National Institute for Policy and Strategic Studies (NIPSS) in Kuru Plateau State on 20th October 2009 presented a book titled ‘A Survey of Nigerian Core Values. As the name implies, the book is a survey of the level of perception of the values of the nation among its citizens in the 36 states of the nation and Abuja. According to Idi Farouk the Director General of NOA, the 269-page book is an intellectual exercise whose aim is to articulate a set of national core values that would enhance and promote positive value re-orientation, national integration and cohesion. He said that these values have been weather-beaten over the years thereby leaving us in the state of confusion in which we now find ourselves.
Farouk drew a direct line of transmission between material resource and the quality and attitude of human resource. In that wise he says, the level of progress of a nation is a direct consequence of a favorable combination of these two broad factors. He thus played up the significance of the patriotic duty and responsibility of Nigerians to ensure that the vision 202020 of President Umar Musa Yar’adua succeeds. Thus his agency has a twin responsibility of enlightening Nigerians on the significance of the president’s vision and the pursuance of value orientation and attitudinal transformation of Nigerians. NOA is hence delighted that the book will provide the needed reservoir of data to back up its effort towards addressing the specific needs in the attitudinal gaps of the various social spectra of Nigeria.
The collaboration between NOA and NIPSS according the DG was necessity by the common responsibility the two have. While NIPSS addresses the same subject at the leadership level, NOA does the same thing albeit at the grassroots.
Earlier, Nigerian orator and one of its few remaining nationalists, Yusufu Maitama Sule, the Dan masanin Kano electrified the gathering when he addressed the same issue. In his speech, Maitama dwelt on Nigerian traditional core values whose erosion is responsible for the chaos in which we find ourselves.
The Dan Masanin Kano noted that a number of countries which include Brazil and the Asian tigers had about the same level of progress as Nigeria at its independence. Today, he noted, these countries are far ahead of Nigeria on the global development index. He attributed the steady progress of these nations to the reverence they attach to their traditional values.
Despite Nigeria’s diversity he says, there are more similarities than differences in our traditional values and should have served as the basis for national integration and cohesion, core values the nation has not adequately been able to preserve.
The orator did not fail to mention the role of another core value, discipline towards the progress of the nation. According to him, Nigeria’s past leaders have been conscious of the modest level of discipline among Nigerians and the fact that it has contributed enormously to our chameleon speed of progress. That he says explains why every administration since the mid-seventies had war against indiscipline as part of its agenda to building the nation.
The former Nigerian Ambassador to the UN noted that democracy differs from nation to nation even in the western world. This is because there is the need for democracy to reflect local cultures. When this fails to happen, it results in the state of events in which Nigeria has found itself today. Thus he advocates an African derivative of democracy to be known as Afrocracy which must be preceded by a bloodless cultural revolution.

Oct 13, 2009

Education Is Indeed Neglected In Nigeria

The primary school I attended in Nigeria was built during the colonial era. It is an eight block structure. Two were actually built during the colonial era while the other four were built in the post colonial era, precisely in the seventies and eighties.

There is no doubt that we lack a maintenance culture in Nigeria. For unpatriotic Nigerians however, the lack of maintenance culture is either deliberate or encouraged as it serves their purpose. The structures have continued to wear away as a result of the lack of maintenance. Those built during the colonial era have been able to stand wear and tear for a longer period of time since they were built with a deliberate aim of ensuring they lasted for a longer period. No matter how strong a building is, it will eventually begin to wear out however. That is what is happening to even the colonial blocks of my primary school presently.


Of these eight blocks only three are adequate enough for the population of the school thereby confirming the suspicion that the classroom blocks are built primarily to get some people rich.


In Nigeria, it is an open secret that authorities hate maintaining school buildings as it is the only way of ensuring that contracts are awarded for the construction of new ones during which money is made by contractors and the members of the administration awarding the contracts.


The other day as I passed around the school I saw the blown roof top of the most solid structure built with rocks derived from the rocks which are available in my community. It has been like that for the past three years. It then dawned on me that the local authority whose responsibility it is to maintain the structure is determined not to undertake that responsibility.


I decided to see certain prominent persons who went to that school hoping that their show of interest in seeing that the structure is rehabilitated will compel the local government education department to see to it that the building is given the desired attention. On arrival at the house of one such individual I first met with his son who is known to me. I then asked if he could arrange a meeting between me and his dad. He asked if all was well. I answered that I wanted to see the man in my position as a journalist. He told me I have to go and come back some other time to enable him arranged the meeting. I responded by calling his attention to the fact that the man is around and people are seeing him and why not me. I then went ahead to tell him the exact reason why I wanted to see the father by revealing to him the situation of the school. He responded by saying that why the school is like that is that people are only trying to get some money for themselves and doubts if his father who happened to be an ex-security official would want to attend to such an issue. The guy who said this claims to be a graduate of sociology. Seeing that he didn’t have any intention of letting me see the man, I left to the house of a second individual who was also educated in that school. I also met with a son of his who was sweeping the yard when I arrived. I told him to tell the father that I am a journalist. When the man came he asked why I wanted to see him. On hearing the subject of my mission, he simply told me he doesn’t talk to journalist and opened the door for me to find my bearing. He actually banged the door behind me. This is a man who had been the chairman of a local government during his period in the service.

Oct 8, 2009

Chris Hassan and NAPEPS Successes

Chris Hassan became the Plateau State Co-coordinator of the National Poverty Alleviation Programme just six months ago. Accepting this position automatically placed on his shoulders the responsibility of the implementation of the new blueprint of National Poverty Eradication Council (NAPEC) for the eradication of poverty across the nation. The new policy became imperative in view of the shortcomings of the previous programme where trainees were more interested in the monthly stipends but not the skill, which is necessary if poverty must end.





Challenges



Chris says the biggest challenge on his assumption of office, as the Coordinator of the programme, was the absence of communication between his office and the people the office is meant to serve. According to Chris, a lot of people even in the immediate neigbourhood of his office in Jos South were oblivious of the organization. Those who knew were skeptical of the financial assurances of the organization to help them bid farewell to poverty. His office was then compelled to commence investing huge financial resources on jingles. It also had to create offices in all the seventeen Local Government Areas. There was also the recruitment of the manpower made up of people of grade levels nine to ten to run these offices with the sole intention of reaching all the districts across the states.



Programmes



The Coordinator said the policy guidelines of NAPEP are designed by NAPEC, which is chaired by the President. It has, as its members, seventeen serving federal Ministers, the National Coordinator of NAPEP and the national economic adviser. Two of the programmes of NAPEP in Plateau State are the ones drawn by NAPEC at the national headquarters in Abuja. They are the primary programmes that all states branches must adhere to. These include the Village Economic Development Solutions, VEDS and the Micro Credit Scheme. Having studied the peculiarities of Plateau State, his office decided to bring in additional programmes to compliment those of the federal office. Thus at the state level, the Mandatory Attachment Programme for unemployed graduates, the Skill Acquisition and Widowhood Schemes were added.



Loan Disbursements so Far



Under VEDS individuals are not qualified to apply for loans. A group made up of a minimum of ten people and a maximum of thirty must register as a cooperative group according to the terms stated by the Ministry of Commerce and Industry. These cooperative groups then apply on behalf of the members. So far 149 cooperative groups have benefited from the loans in the state. The total financial loan disbursement to these groups now stands at N146 million. Under the Widowhood and Micro Credit Schemes, N2 million have been issued out to each of the seventeen Local Government Areas of the state amounting to a total of N 34 million. In addition to these there is also another N6 million from an NGO known as the Grassroots Women and Men that has also been disbursed evenly to the seventeen Local Government Areas. The grand total of loan disbursements now stands at about N186 million.



Repayments of the Loans



In view of the fact that Nigerians have often seen public funds within their reach as a piece of that Nigerian national cake, it could be the reason why there may be difficulties in the repayments of the loans. Chris says there is usually the pre-assessment of potential beneficiaries, which is undertaken by the monitoring department of his organization in addition to that undertaken by the micro-financial institutions nearest to them and through which the loans are issued. They must show an existing venture they intend to use the loan to improve. Besides the pre-assessment, there is also the post assessment usually undertaken using standard means of appraisal such as templates to ensure that beneficiaries remain committed to the ideals of the scheme.



In the event of failure of repayments by beneficiaries, his organization will resort to a memorandum of understanding that involved a legal document singed by the guarantors of beneficiaries.



Funding of NAPEP



Funding of the organization comes primarily from the Federal Government through the Millennium Development Goals office. In addition to that is counterpart funding from the Plateau State Government. There is also the NGO, Grassroots Women and Men. The state branches across the nation never receive allocations in the year 2008 however. The money that has been used in 2008 is a rolled over of the financial resources that was meant for 2007 in addition to the N50 million from the state government. In 2008, the Grassroots Women and Men also gave N6 million.



Plan for the Next Six Months



The next six months is a period during which the organization will continue to give out loans says Chris who pointed a stack of application files at a corner of his office. This however depends on the availability of money to give out to beneficiaries. The Coordinator thanked the Governor for his commitment to the poverty alleviation programme through prompt action whenever it matters. The NAPEP boss says the indication from the 2009 budget is that they may get more than they got in 2008

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