jump to navigation

Re: Fiscal Responsibility Commission: The Sleeping Watchdog July 19, 2013

Posted by seunfakze in CHANGE, POLITICS.
Tags: ,
add a comment

Nasir Ahmad Elrufai, OFR

My recent piece on the Fiscal Responsibility Commission elicited a wide range of responses on some of the key issues raised. Space will not permit me to publish every one of them, but the response below from a staff of the commission who prefers to remain anonymous raises even more salient questions.

Thank you, sir, for the above titled piece. Very precise and factual. I am a staff of the Commission and know from an insider’s experience that all you wrote about the FRC – of its inability to function according to the provision of the FRA that established it – is the true reflection of what is happening in the Commission.

But, Sir, when you ascribed the Commission’s inactive stance to the weakness of its management, I say you were understating the reality, the true situation in the Commission. The truth is that the Commission is saddled with an incompetent and corrupt management, a group of greedy people who are only out to satisfy their individual interest and nothing more.

The main problem here is that the aim and wisdom behind the establishment of Fiscal Responsibility Commission had been missed from the onset; the government appointed the wrong people to run the Commission. Of the whole six full time Commissioners plus the Chairman, only the Chairman and one of the Commissioners can be said to have full grasp of the meaning of FRA and the powers and functions of the Commission. The bulk of others are just there as appointees representing their respective geopolitical zone. You would be surprised to know that most of them lack even the basic knowledge on the FRA. And because they regard their appointment as an opportunity to further their interest including helping themselves with the Commission’s budgetary allocation, they are always at loggerheads fighting among themselves based on personal and selfish interests.

The Chairman, perhaps, due to his old age and recurrent health problem, is too weak to perform his duties. Somebody who cannot sit upright for good thirty minutes or walk few meters is definitely not the type to head this type of organization. He is always absent due to health problem; at times he runs the office from his home at Karu with staff shuttling between the Commission’s Headquarters and his house to convey files. He is always in and out of hospital among which is his frequent medical trip to India at the expense of the Commission. The Chairman is just too incapacitated to handle the job. That’s the reason most of the times he doesn’t know what is happening in the Commission as the rest of the Commissioners isolated the man, leaving him only as a figure head while they run the Commission on whims and caprices.

In fact the six full time Commissioners plus the four part time ones run the affairs of the Commission as if it is their personal property; there are no standing rules and procedures, everybody acts according to what suits his interest. They usurped everything and power concerning the activities of the Commission to themselves. The staff are reduced to mere spectators and at times treated like personal servants to the Commissioners. From their inception up to the time I am writing this, there’s nothing in place in terms of institutional framework for the working of the Commission; there are no working tools, no written condition of service, and no salary system. Since inception, the Commission conducted physical monitoring and evaluation of projects by the MDAs only once (in the 2nd quarter of this year). There is a whole directorate for monitoring and evaluation of which the staffs have been sitting idly without job to do.

The Commission is populated with bright young professionals with experience from various sectors, but the Commissioners would not allow them to work. There is general disenchantment now in the Commission; the staffs are frustrated to the highest level. There is no single staff that has been confirmed so far despite the fact that many have spent over three years in the commission. Those who can find jobs somewhere among the staff have left leaving the rest behind angry and frustrated.

How can you expect the Commission to sanction MDAs who trample the provisions of the FRA while the MDAs know that the Commission is a joke; nothing threatening will come out of it! The Commissioners, because of their glut, have turned the Commission into a corrupt, beggar-agency in front of the MDAs it is supposed to supervise. The NIMASA (among the scores of agencies that defied the Commission) you were talking about knew what they were doing when they ignored the Commission’s orders. At the end even when they were summoned to the Commission what happened? Where they sanctioned? After closed-door meeting with the Commission’s management, they all came out smiling and exchanging banters with the Commissioners! And up to today they have not submit the documents they were asked to submit, neither have they remit the monies in question.

Currently, there’s palpable situation in the Commission now resulting into mixed reactions, thanks to you write up. Just as the staffs are happy and jubilating for what you wrote, the management members are tensed and frightened. They just cancelled a scheduled meeting between the staff and the management which was supposed to hold today, Tuesday, due to fear that the staff will confront them.

Thank you, once again sir, for exposing the rot in the FRC.

KATSINA STATE’s “NO FUTURE” BUDGET by NASIR @elrufai July 12, 2013

Posted by seunfakze in CHANGE, POLITICS.
Tags: , , ,
1 comment so far

Katsina State’s “No Future” Budget
By: Nasir Ahmad El-Rufai

In the days and weeks leading up to the faux pax that became the Nigeria Governor’s Forum (NGF) election, the Katsina state governor, Ibrahim Shehu Shema was mentioned severally as a possible compromise candidate, largely on account of what some perceive as his ‘performance’ as governor. The same was said of late Umaru Yar’Adua even though most residents of the state vehemently disagreed then, and now. Shema is being touted as the likely running mate of President Jonathan if he is able to secure the nomination of his party to run for another term as president.

What is it about this man – Ibrahim Shema – that elicits such strongly ambivalent reactions? What is his style of governance and financial prudence, and why is it that so many think there is more to him that meets the eye in the way he runs Katsina state? How are the state’s finances and budget managed? If Shema is doing well in this area, why did the state house of assembly suspend the minority leader because he criticized the government’s poor budget implementation? We will analyze the 2013 budget of the state today to assist our readers answer some of these questions.

Barrister Ibrahim Shema claims to focus his administration’s six development priorities; Education, Agriculture, Human Development, Infrastructure, Health and Crafts. It appears that in Katsina lingo, human development does not equal investments in education and healthcare, as the three are treated separately. Beyond this definitional incompetence however, a look at Katsina’s 2013 budget reveals a level of policy misdirection, indeterminate political will to address the priorities of the state, allocation of funds to areas where monitoring is difficult, and level of non-implementation of past budgets that amounts to impunity.

First, a little history. Carved out of old Kaduna State in September 1987, Katsina is located in Nigeria’s North West and borders Niger Republic, Kaduna, Kano and Jigawa States. Its land mass is approximately 24,000 square kilometers with a population of about 5,801,584 people in 34 Local Government Areas. Its capital is Katsina City. The state has commercial deposits of kaolin and asbestos.

Then Colonel Abdullahi Sarki Mukhtar was the first governor of the state (September 1987-July 1988), and was succeeded by other military governors. The first civilian governor was Saidu Barda, while immediate past President Umaru Musa Yaradua governed the state from May 1999- May 2007. Katsina is home to two past presidents; Major-General Muhammadu Buhari and Umaru Musa Yaradua. Other Katsinawa dignitaries include late General Hassan Usman Katsina, Major-General Shehu Musa Yar’Adua, former Chief Justice of the Federation Mohammed Bello, two past Inspector’s General of Police: Mohammed Dikko Yusuf and Ibrahim Coomassie, and pioneer Chairman of the Bureau of Public Enterprises, Hamza Rafindadi Zayad amongst others. Katsina is home to some of the best and brightest of Nigerian public servants, politicians and military top brass. Will the state’s current budgetary practices produce such quality elites in the future? Let us present the data and you answer the question!

The total budget for Katsina State in 2013 is N112,757,487,475 (One Hundred and Twelve Billion, Seven hundred and Fifty Seven Million, Four Hundred and Eighty Seven Thousand, Four Hundred and Seventy Five Naira only). The budget would be financed through some N14, 561,712,643 or 12.9% of the proposed budget realizable from internally generated revenue and some N74.5bn (66.7%) receivable in Federal Allocation. With total revenues at N89bn, what is evident is that the state would need to borrow some N23bn or 20% of its budget from external sources – loans and grants.

The capital provision is some N80,931,809,320 (Eighty billion Nine hundred and Thirty One million, Eight hundred and Nine thousand, Three hundred and Twenty thousand naira only) which is a commendable 71.7% of the entire budget. The State has about 43 MDAs which would cost taxpayers some N31,825,678,155 (Thirty One billion Eight hundred and Twenty Five million, Six hundred and Seventy Eight thousand one hundred and fifty five thousand naira only) or 28.2% in recurrent expenditure – an average of about N700 million per MDA.

Personnel costs would gulp some 17.2% of the entire budget sum or N19,434,384,200 (Nineteen Billion Four Hundred and Thirty Four Million, Three Hundred and Eighty Four Thousand Two Hundred Naira Only) while overhead costs are N7,975,267,830 (Seven Billion Nine Hundred and Seventy Five Million Two Hundred and Sixty Seven Thousand, Eight Hundred and Thirty naira only) some 7.07% and consolidated revenue charge is apportioned N4,416,026,125 (Four Billion, Four Hundred and Sixteen Million, Twenty Six Thousand, One Hundred and Twenty Five naira Only) 3.9%.

With its projected internally generated revenue of N14,561,712,643, Katsina State has to rely on external loans or Federal allocations to fully fund its personnel cost or staff salaries which are only a part of its total recurrent budget. Plainly put, the state spends more than it earns on government bureaucracy, and falls in the class of “parastatal states” that cannot stand on their own without a lifeline from Abuja.

A sectoral breakdown of the capital allocation of the budget reveals the following structure: N31.3 billion (27.8%) for the economic sector, N16.5 billion (14.6%) for social services, N26.9 billion (23.9%) for regional development, N2.9 billion (2.6%) for general administration, N750 million (0.6%) for the legislature, a provision of N2 billion (1.7%) for miscellaneous expenses and a measly N341.4 million (0.3%) for the judiciary.

At N21.6 billion, the largest departmental allocation is for road construction, Education is allocated some N13.6 billion, Health got N1.6 billion, Agriculture which employs the majority of Katsina’s working population is allocated only N7.8 billion, and Water Supply some N9.5 billion. Are these capital investments enough to register sectoral improvements in the face of poverty challenges the state faces?

According to the Nigeria Poverty Profile (2010), the North West Zone has the highest incidence of absolute poverty in Nigeria with a 70% prevalence rate, the North East 69%, the North Central 59.5%, the South East 58.7%, the South South 55.9% and the South West 49.8%. At 74.5% Katsina State has the highest poverty prevalence amongst all states in the region and the Shema-led administration thus far has taken no deliberate steps to address this. Under the economic sector there is a paltry capital allocation of only N276 million (0.2%) to manufacturing, a paltry N214,019,000 (0.1%) capital provision for Women Empowerment under the Ministry of Women Affairs and only N100 million (0.08%) under the Ministry of Youth and Sports for the states Youth Empowerment Program (Youth Action Plan). These figures are absurd, demonstrating that there is no political will to address the endemic poverty facing most of the population in the state.

From the private sector angle, the state shows even more damning figures. The state has virtually no functioning private agro-allied and manufacturing facilities. According to the World Bank 2010 Ease of Doing Business in Nigeria rankings, the state is ranked 25 amongst the 36 Nigerian States and the FCT, it involves 9 procedures and would take 37 days to start a business in Katsina State. In light of the foregoing, it would be expected that the government would be investing heavily in small and medium enterprises, encouraging and incentivizing businesses to set up shop in the state through tax breaks and infrastructural investments with a view to creating a more conducive business climate. Sadly, this is not the case. Capital allocations for the 2013 fiscal year are N350million (0.3%) for Small and Medium Enterprises, only N280.8million (0.2%) for economic affairs, N1.3billion (1.2%) for finance, and low level of investments in providing municipal services and transportation that could lower the cost of doing business in the state.

Investments in education are ambivalent. While the Shema-led government deserves commendation for the expansion and modernization of classrooms in the state and for being the only Nigerian state with a Department for Girl Child Education and Child Development, teacher quality in the state is one of the worst in Nigeria. According to the UBEC 2010 education profile the qualified teacher to student ratio in Katsina State is 1 teacher to 208 students, its neighbor Kaduna has a ratio of 1 teacher to 58 students. And there is no indication of things getting better; in 2013, only N124,731,000 would be spent on recruiting new teachers, N55million would be spent on teacher welfare and N900million on grants and subventions. There appears to be no special and significant programme to raise teacher quality through training and other incentives.

There is a N12.5million provision for training and staff development and another N2million for in service training and workshop, however these provisions were also made in the 2012 budget with no actual expenditure as at December 31st the same year. One wonders what good these provisions are if they are simply recorded and not actually expended. Delaying or deferring training of staff is suicidal in this century. Katsina’s budget appears to be for debate and passage by the legislature but not for focused implementation!

Katsina has a JSS enrollment rate of about 33% and is the second lowest in the North West zone; Jigawa has the lowest enrollment rate with 22%. Zamfara has the highest enrollment rate with 53%, Kebbi 43%, Kaduna 38%, Kano 34%. Of 21,389 pupils from Katsina State that sat for the 2012 University and Tertiary Matriculation Examinations (UTME), only 3767 scored 200 and above. It is clear that the state suffers a grave education deficit; the government has to channel its resources both financial and physical to training and re-training teachers and increasing school enrollment rates.

The health of Katsina citizens seems even worse than education in budgetary terms. According to the 2008 Nigeria Demographic and Health Survey (NDHS), Katsina State has the highest incidence of teenage pregnancy in Nigeria with 65% of all cases recorded nationwide. In contrast, Edo State has the lowest rate at 2.9%. Mortality rate in Katsina is also high; the current teenage mortality rate is about 0.822 per 1000 women and the bulk of recorded incidences are from the North, with factors ranging from unsafe abortions, pregnancy complications, poor antenatal care that lead to the increase of birth related deaths which abound in Katsina. Katsina was one if worst places in the world to be a teenage girl based on the NDHS of 2008 under Shema’s watch.

The state has shown some efforts to stemming this tide though, even if too little too late – some N180 million is set aside for purchase of drugs and dressing, N400 million for staff training and development. A 169 bed Turai Yaradua maternal and child hospital has been completed at a cost of N860.5 million, a N552 million provision is also made for a 270 bed orthopedic hospital which would reportedly cost the state N1.6 billion upon completion. All these include about N185 million that was spent in 2009 to purchase 34 mobile ambulances which have thus far eased the provision of health services to rural communities.

The spending priorities of the Shema led government puts road construction as its first priority, this is hardly ideal considering that the state has a high disease burden, the country’s highest poverty rate and a crumbling education system. What Katsina needs more of is not roads but more education and healthcare investments. Road contracts are easy to award to party apparatchiks and well-connected construction firms, while raising quality of human capital is harder and less profitable. The choice is up to Shema to make.

The state must refocus its priorities beginning with a slimmer and cost efficient government. It must also as a matter of urgency allocate more funds to education, health and agriculture. It must invest more in providing potable water for the population as well as to farmers for irrigation. Katsina must lower its cost of doing business and evolve innovative ways to begin the exploration and export of its abundant mineral resources. That is the only way to secure the future of Katsina’s young people. The current approach only makes Shema and his small circle of political actors happy while the future looks bleak for the many.

Fiscal Responsibility Commission – The Sleeping Watchdog by Nasir Elrufai @elrufai July 5, 2013

Posted by seunfakze in CHANGE, POLITICS.
Tags: ,
1 comment so far

A few days ago, the minister of finance, Dr. Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala warned that economic activities may be shut down and that the Federal Government may be unable to pay its workforce by September if government failed to resolve the lingering problems with the 2013 Appropriation Act. The fact that the Federal Government is still talking about this year’s budget seven months into the year is indicative of weak fiscal practices and management at all levels of government. Sadly, the effects of government inertia would worsen matters for economically vulnerable Nigerians – a group that has grown significantly in size since President Goodluck Jonathan assumed office.

Considering how dependent the Nigerian economy is on government activities, it is inevitable that the budgetary inertia will further exacerbate poverty and unemployment and slow down what is essentially a jobless GDP growth in the face of increasing poverty. How did things get to this stage? Are there no mechanisms in place to check the attitude of government and its numerous agencies to fiscal responsibility?

Actually, there are several agencies of government charged with this task, except that perhaps taking a cue from the head of government, many of them are asleep, and if anything and have themselves, become part of the problem. It is therefore imperative that we examine some of these MDAs in a bid to highlight their purpose, effectiveness and productivity since their establishment. In continuance of our analysis of MDAs set up by the Federal Government, the first spotlight will be on the Fiscal Responsibility Commission (FRC).

It was then Vice President Atiku Abubakar that first persuaded the National Economic Council to approve a fiscal management framework for the federation in 2001, along the lines adopted by the Brazilian Federation. The Fiscal Responsibility Bill was thereafter initiated by the Obasanjo Economic Team (2003-2007) to ensure the coordination of national economic policy between various tiers of government, and enable monitoring of agencies that are ‘off-budget’ but whose activities have significant impact on fiscal policies. The Fiscal Responsibility Act (FRA) was enacted in 2007 ‘to provide for prudent management of the Nation’s Resources, ensure long-term Macro-Economic stability of the National Economy, and secure greater accountability and transparency in fiscal operations within the Medium Term Fiscal Policy Framework. The FRA established the Fiscal Responsibility Commission to ensure the promotion and enforcement of the Nation’s Economic objectives; and for related matters’. However, it was not until 2008 that the chairman and members of the commission were appointed, under the leadership of Alhaji Aliyu Jibril Yelwa.

The FRA in itself is a laudable legislation if it is implemented to the letter as conceived by the Economic Team. However, five years since the establishment of the commission, are there any achievements to show for it or is it just another drainpipe for the nation’s resources? Is the current administration enabling the commission to fulfill its obligations or is it a stumbling block to its overall productivity. Is the FRC an agency that is necessary or is it just another institution with substantially overlapping functions of another in existence? We shall try to answer these and assess the commission’s performance thus far vis-à-vis its statutory mandate.

In clear terms, the FRC is responsible for monitoring budget implementation in the various MDAs at both the Federal and State levels to avoid mismanagement of public funds. The commission is also responsible for ensuring that annual budgets are derived from the Medium Term Expenditure Framework (MTEF) prepared by the Ministry of Finance for a period of three financial years, and approved by the National Assembly. According to the FRA, every government corporation is required to establish a general reserve fund where 20% of its operating surplus is allocated annually while the balance is to be paid into the Federal Government’s Consolidated Revenue Fund. The commission is also required to publish, on a quarterly basis, a list of each of the tiers of governments in the federation that have exceeded the limits of consolidated debt, indicating the amount by which the limit is exceeded.

So far, attempts at implementation of the FRA are mainly at the Federal level. This is grossly insufficient given that the sub-national governments (states and local governments) control over 50 percent of nationally-shared revenue. Available data collated in 2010 indicated that only 20 out of the 36 states in the Federation had initiated the process of Fiscal Responsibility legislation. Apart from enacting the fiscal responsibility laws, there is a major problem with implementation. There still exists sickening mismanagement of public funds across MDAs with huge figures appropriated in the budget and no corresponding capital investments to show for it. The FRC which is the body responsible for ensuring fiscal responsibility and the due implementation of budgets and projects is lax about fulfilling its role.

Earlier this year, the House of Representatives revealed that 60 government agencies generated N9.3trn in three years (2009-2012) but only remitted N174.9bn to the coffers of Federal Government. In its report titled, “Poor Remittance of Internally Generated Revenue to the Consolidated Revenue Fund (CRF) by Government Owned Agencies”, the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN), the Nigerian Maritime Administration and Safety Authority (NIMASA), the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC), Nigeria Ports Authority (NPA), Asset Management Corporation of Nigeria (AMCON) and National Pension Commission (PENCOM) are among the defaulting agencies being scrutinized. It was discovered that they habitually under-projected their revenues and over-estimated their expenditures thereby ensuring that their remittances to the CRF were minimal, if any at all.

Just last month, the Federal Ministry of Finance threatened to close accounts of agencies which had failed to remit revenues to the Consolidated Revenue Fund (CRF). Apparently, the practice is for these government agencies to invest the excess funds generated in dodgy and unapproved accounts which yield high interest for the few engaged in these shady deals.

Sadly, the above cases of misappropriation of public funds were not queried by the FRC whose primary responsibility it is to carry out such activities. It is public knowledge that the FRC had sometime last year demanded that NIMASA render audited accounts, but the FRC’s demands were blatantly ignored, without any consequences. What is the purpose of the FRC if it can only bark but not bite?

Several countries such as India and Brazil have enacted Fiscal Responsibility laws to strengthen their fiscal institutions and establish a broad framework of fiscal planning successfully. In India, the union government passed the Fiscal Responsibility and Budget Management Act in 2003, a year later, all 28 states replicated the Act. Brazil passed a Fiscal Responsibility Law in 2000 which applies uniformly to the federal, states and municipal governments. The Brazilian law set out borrowing criteria and penalties for default of this rule. It placed limits on public spending, the size of the fiscal deficit, and public debt, and disallows debt refinancing between the state and central governments. It was the Brazilian success that Nigeria sought to learn from.

As expected, in India, the fiscal responsibility law positively improved the management of public debt both at the Federal and State Government levels and within the first six (6) years of its operation, India recorded a 4.4% and 4.8% reduction in Central and State Government debts respectively. Brazil on the other hand, 9 years after strict adherence to the Fiscal Responsibility laws, occupies ninth position in the league of the most 20 developed countries in the world. In the case of Nigeria, the external debt stock has doubled from $3.3bn in 2007 when the FRA was enacted to $6.7bn by March 2013. What then, is the purpose of this legislation in the Nigerian instance, if our debt stock is on the increase?

Incidentally, two years ago, the federal government set-up a committee headed by then Head of Service of the Federation, Steve Orosanye, to restructure and rationalize the public service. One of the expected outcomes was the reduction of the cost of governance by reducing the duplicity and overlapping functions inherent in the current structure of the Public Service of the federation.

According to the Orosanye report, there exists about 541 government agencies and parastatals which have huge financial implications for the nation especially when their productivity does not measure up to their running costs. Some of the recommendations of the report included merging, reversing and abolishing certain Ministries, Departments and Agencies (MDAs). It is opined that if the recommendations of the Orosanye report are implemented to the letter, it would potentially save the country N862bn by 2015, nearly a fifth of the annual federal budget.

The Orosanye Committee report rightly observed that the FRC has a similar mandate with the Revenue Mobilization Allocation and Fiscal Commission (RMAFC) whose function is to “Monitor the accruals into and disbursement of revenue from the Federation Account”. With a 2013 budget of N592m for a commission whose responsibilities are partly being carried out by the Ministry of Finance, House of Representatives and the RMAFC, it is questionable is this is money well spent.

The structure, implementation process and weak leadership are encumbrances to the FRC living up to its maximum potentials. The authority of the commission in ensuring fiscal responsibility is neither acknowledged nor adhered to. The commission on its part has been lethargic in identifying, investigating and prosecuting MDAs and tiers of government that are suspected of squandering the nation’s resources. The reported amount of funds unaccounted for in the last 3 years alone is almost equivalent to the federal budget for two years! Then again, this state of affairs may just suit President Jonathan and the party at the helm. When everybody in government is bathing in mud of funds diversion, who can point the accusing fingers?

NLC and Minimum Wage: The Task Ahead July 3, 2013

Posted by seunfakze in CHANGE, POLITICS.
add a comment

Once again the issue of minimum wage is reverberating in the Nigerian media following the consideration by the National Assembly to move it from the exclusive list to the concurrent list in the 1999 Nigerian Constitution. By that proposal of the National Assembly, Part I, item 34 of Second Schedule will be amended to move the sentence “prescribing a national minimum wage for the Federation or any part thereof” to Part II.

The NLC has registered its opposition to this proposal arguing that the “removal will unnecessarily expose Nigerian workers, especially those in the low-income bracket with grave implications for security, productivity and national well-being, as most state governments if given the latitude, will pay wages as low as one thousand Naira per month in spite of the relative enormous resources available to them.” This was contained in a statement by the NLC President, Comrade Abdulwaheed Omar.

While the position of the NLC is very understandable, it is however founded on a very weak and erroneous premise. In the first place there is the implicit assumption that there is relatively “enormous resources available” to all governments and perhaps all employers in the country. Related to that is the apparent conclusion that the “enormous resources” are equitably distributed to all employers across the country, be it public or private.

It needs to be emphasised that minimum wage law is applicable to all employers – private and public. Partly because the process leading to passage of the 2010 Minimum Wage Act was dictated by the capacity of the Federal Government to pay N18,000 should not cover the reality that many employers, including some state governments have been unable to implement the N18,000 minimum wage. This much was acknowledged in the statement by Comrade Omar. This highlights the existence of a problem which may also translate into wiping out some small employers out of business with the consequence of all workers employed by such employers thrown back to the labour market.

There is certainly both conceptual and empirical problem with respect to the framework for minimum wage legislation in Nigeria. While it may be advantageous today for Nigerian trade unions based on some faulty notion of statutory awards that would threatened employment as well as almost proved impossible for unions to enforce, it could be debated that in the long run it may be a disadvantage. Imagine a scenario whereby either price of Nigerian crude in the international market crashed or the market become smaller. If the argument for “enormous resources” is informed by current revenue from oil as determinant for minimum wage and not workers output or production levels, the NLC position with respect to minimum wage is to say the least injurious to Nigerian workers.

The point is, it is wrong to hinge argument for current statutory framework for minimum wage in Nigeria based on a pedestrian belief that there is relatively “enormous resources”. Relative to what? This is the common perception in the country today, which has impacted negatively on productivity and has virtually reduced most Nigerians to rent-seeking behaviours. The dignity of labour and the human person is commonly sacrificed on the alter cheap search for free money. Contractual responsibilities have been reduced to nothing.

It is important to emphasise that relatively “enormous resources” is a perception that is easily justifiable with reference to perhaps current levels of revenue from crude oil and not necessarily taking into account work indices, especially issues of workers output and its contribution to national wealth. Against the background that today, Nigeria earns more than N8 trn annually largely from crude oil, the temptation to conclude that our governments at all levels enjoy relatively “enormous resources” is appealing.

No doubt, with reference to our recent past as a nation whereby the total annual revenue of government was in the region of N2 trn, current levels of N8 trn is relatively “enormous”. The critical reality however is that this increase in revenue is not shared proportionately. On account of what can we regard states like Ebonyi and Nasarawa as enjoying “enormous resources” with less than N4 billion monthly from the Federation Account, while states like Akwa Ibom and Rivers receive more than N20 billion monthly. Perhaps with reference to a personnel cost of approximately N500 million for Ebonyi and Nasarawa, the argument for “enormous resources” may be sustained.

This financial profile is almost re-enforced by IGR profile of these states. Based on CBN 2010 Report, Akwa Ibom is reported with more than N1 billion monthly IGR and Rivers close to N5 billion monthly. Contrastingly, Nasarawa and Ebonyi were reported with less than N200 million monthly IGR. Now what will be the logic of equating the pay of workers in Akwa Ibom and Rivers with that of Nasarawa and Ebonyi?

With monthly personnel cost of approximately N500 million and monthly IGR of under N200 million, a situation where FAAC receipt crashed can be better imagined. How then can anyone be making a case for wages based on such a loose foundation? In many cases, one is tempted to argue that NLC argument as presented by Comrade Omar is driven by large dose of intellectual and organisational indolence. Given that Nigerian trade unions are almost completely absent today in all our national policy debates, they have lost rational reasoning and relied more on grandstanding and brinksmanship as a strategy, which has reduced NLC’s, and of course trade unions’ pre-occupation in the country to dominantly that of organising strikes. Nigerians today hardly hear of NLC and trade unions activities except when strikes are declared.

Logically and historically, this will not be defensible. NLC and Nigerian trade unions have been vibrant centres of first and foremost intellectual contestation which get reflected and manifest in the way union leaders relate with governments. That was the reality that projected union leaders as popular representatives of Nigerian people from the days of Imoudu to more recent eras of Summonu, Chiroma, Pascal and Adams. Unfortunately, that is withering away with the current generation of union leadership. It is a painful reality, which accounts for such faulty and weak arguments with respect to minimum wage. This needs to be addressed urgently.

The point is, elementary analysis would caution about the consequence of adopting a bandwagon framework for minimum wage legislation that is not informed by economic indices that are related to work output. Such a framework can only result in either shortchanging workers in high-revenue states/areas or over-stretching employers in low-revenue states/areas. Certainly, a review of wage fixing theories would highlight these challenges and perhaps dangers.

It needs to be stated emphatically and unequivocally that although there is increased revenue which has resulted in improved financial profile of especially states and federal governments in the country, it has not favourably alter the structure of government finances. The main predictable reasons would be factors of corruption. Besides, given characteristically unstable international oil market, current levels of oil revenue are hardly sustainable and therefore to plot them as determining variables for price indices such as minimum wage with long term implications would be almost suicidal.

Be that as it may, there are certainly challenges that need to be addressed. The challenges border on ensuring that there is in truth “enormous resources” to guarantee higher levels of wages in the country, in the context of which issues of minimum wage can be correctly computed taken all indices into account. NLC should approach this based on a strategy of strengthening its own organisational capacity and not look for easy quick-wins that are not sustainable, which include a faulty constitutional provision such as the provision of item 34, Part 1 of Second Schedule of the 1999 Constitution.

As it stand, item 34 of Part 1 of the Second Schedule is not is not sustainable and could only expose Nigerian workers to greater risks and danger. Being conversant with internal logic influencing leadership thinking in Nigerian trade movement, it is quite worrisome that NLC is approaching these matters less objectively. It has never been the case that workers will get justice on matters of employer/employee relations bordering on pay and entitlements with simple reference to the law. Had that been the case, there would be no need for unions. The business of unions will always be to develop strategies and carry out actions that can result in improved working conditions and better pay. These are issues bordering on workers input to the process of revenue generation. The big worry is when matters of pay and benefits are delinked from these factors, which appears to be the logic of the NLC argument with respect to national minimum wage legislation in Nigeria.

Of course it could be argued that this has been the case, perhaps since the 1970s. That it has been the case does not make it right. What has been the tradition of NLC and Nigerian trade unions is the courage to campaign for what is right especially in relation to workers benefits and welfare. It is a matter that requires good measure of intellectual and political capacity. The position of NLC with respect of minimum wage fixing in Nigeria is weak intellectually and politically unfounded.

Part of the political imperative is the need to engage our national politics in such a way that workers entitlements are not threatened by factors of bad governance which include corruption. This is where the recent NLC scorecard is low especially given the standards that it is known for. NLC’s voice on matters related to our political development as a nation has been very remote. Partly as a result of that, Comrade Adams Oshiomhole had at the TUC Conference on June 21challenged organised labour “to stand up and be counted”.

Union organisation and their political roles on matters of governance are important in this respect. Somehow, it would appear that Nigerian trade unions, including the NLC have vacated their political roles and in the circumstance their capacity to correctly assess national realities and intervene based on rational consideration is weak. In so many ways, Nigerian trade unions and NLC are very lucky to have rich reservoir of history and public goodwill on account of which currently leadership seems to be very relaxed.

In summary therefore, the message to NLC and all Nigerian trade unions is that they need to wake up and reconnect themselves with their historic responsibilities. This calls for good initiatives towards organisational strengthening, conscious effort to produce knowledgeable leadership with high integrity and above all high moral standing. Challenges facing Nigerian workers today go beyond legal provisions. It is more a capacity issue in many respect. A situation where the main business of unions is only strikes with hardly no voice on national policy and governance issues will at best project unions and their leaders as pedestrians and opportunistic, which over the years they have proved not to be.

Nigerian unions and NLC in particular have always been source of hope for our country at very trying period. So far, Comrade Omar and his team in NLC can do much more. Their intellectual, political and organisational capacity can provide much more than what they are give the nation today. The danger is that current leadership of NLC and Nigerian trade unions may be presiding over the systematic demobilisation of Nigerian workers. They need to consciously prevent that from happening.

Democracy and Leadership in Nigeria by Salihu Mon Lukman @smlukman July 3, 2013

Posted by seunfakze in CHANGE, POLITICS.
add a comment

In his book, The Age of Turbulence, economists and former Chairman of US Federal Reserve (1987 – 2006), Alan Greenspan asked the question, “How do we reform government and return money and power back to the American people”. This question is perhaps more valid today in Nigeria than could have been the case in the United States in 2006. Probably in response, President Obama while visiting South Africa remarked that “terrorism is more likely to succeed in countries that are not delivering for their people and where there are areas of conflict and underlying frustrations that have not been adequately dealt with”.

The question of delivery is certainly about the existence of opportunities, how citizens are able to access them and convert into income or welfare benefits. Unfortunately, in our case, there has been systematic contraction of available opportunities, access has been privatised and virtually restricted to functionaries of government and therefore capacity to earn income or enjoy any form of welfare benefit is correlated with access to government.

This has consistently been the situation perhaps since the days of military rule, from the mid 1980s. The coming of democracy in 1999 could have altered this but sadly has been very slow if not strongly enforcing situations of denials for most citizens. It could be argued that this is very subjective. With prohibitive levels of poverty, which the National Bureau of Statistics (NBS) estimate at an average of 69% and unemployment of about 24%, the question will be what is being done to ameliorate the situation.

It could be justified that it should not be the sole responsibility of government to ameliorate this unfavourably bad situation. However, to the extent that government responsibilities include public services and guaranteeing economic stability, government’s capacity to come with initiatives that create opportunities and widen access for citizens become important.

Two fundamental preconditions for this to successfully take place are leadership astuteness on the one hand and right sets of actions or programmes, on the other. In summary the competence of our leaders to be able to drive governance process to produce desired results – improved welfare and higher living conditions for citizens. Issues of knowledge and experience supposedly play central roles and in a democracy whereby citizens elect their leaders, these should have been the guide.

With largely money and other sentiments, cheaply ethnicity and religion, becoming primary, the possibility of leaders emerging without any understanding of the problems facing society and therefore incapable of initiating any action or programme is very common. In fact, the dominant perception among contemporary Nigerian leaders is that the country is endowed with all the needed resources. The major problem therefore is the share of it that gets to them, whether at the federal, state, local government or even nongovernmental organisations. This then means that preoccupation of government excludes issues of wealth creation.

On account of this, citizens are regarded as liabilities and parasites and exclusive in discussing resources of the country. This is informed by an ideological mindset that is revisionist and departs from the classical economic dictum that identified land, labour, capital and entrepreneurs as the four factors of production. In the Nigerian case, the only factor of production is land largely limited to the oil producing communities which is the one that generate virtually all the resources of government.

With the high foreign content of the oil sector, capital and entrepreneur are hardly Nigerian. This reduced Nigerian citizens and nearly all other parts outside oil producing areas as imaginary in the psyche of our leaders. To realise the much talked about government revenue, our leaders really don’t need much in Nigeria beyond the oil producing land.

In the circumstance, all the priorities of our leaders is reduced to simplified projects that hardly go beyond buildings and physical installations without necessarily paying attention to issues of human development focusing on education and healthcare services. Classrooms and schools get constructed that way without worrying about or recruiting teachers that can use the classrooms and schools to teach pupils and students. Hospitals, clinics and primary healthcare centres are built without concern for doctors, nurses and other medical staff to use the structures to attend to patients.

With this strongly perverted capitalist ideological bent influenced by wrong application of IMF/World Bank prescriptions, which emphasises deregulation of public services and increased role of private sector, the dominant approach is to surrender key functions of government to private operators. Through that, public resources get diverted to so-called private operators with zero value input. In terms of qualification, the most important factor is relationship with functionaries of government. Knowledge is immaterial. Thus, the resort to coercion is easy and almost given. Citizens’ willingness to respect the conduct of these so-called private operators is not stimulated by the services they provide but out of compulsion.

Yet, as citizens, we continue to hear statements about dividend of democracy and performance of governments. How can anyone be talking about dividend of democracy or performance when poverty has increased from an average of 54% in 1999 to 69% today? Where is the dividend or performance when the reward to citizens for living in a country that its government recorded increased revenue from N8 trn between 2002 and 2006 to N8 trn annually today is increased poverty and unemployment?

However considered the situation simply alienates citizens and translate to outright denial. Almost all the resources of society become controlled by the few functionaries of government and their hangers on. Citizens have very little influence, if any at all. It has been our national reality since the period of military rule and our democracy is yet to produce any alternative.

The hope of many Nigerians is that the birth of APC should translate into an alternative – the emergence of competent leaders with clear knowledge and good initiative. Should APC reduce the challenge of leadership to simple issues of ethno-religious factors, its capacity to respond effectively to the task of returning money (resources) and power to Nigerian people would have been weakened. The reality is that once ethno-religious factors are the most important qualifications, the loudest of those demanding for leadership will be empty and all they will be aspiring for is simply access these resources that are in the custody of government and covert them to privatised use.

Nigerians are hungry for knowledgeable leaders coming with good initiatives to produce a new beginning for the country. A new beginning that translates into government at all levels emerging as strong facilitators for economic activities with democratised access to opportunities for all citizens irrespective of religion, ethnicity or any other form of differences. The primacy of knowledge and experience should therefore replace ethno-religious consideration.

Our democracy should begin to produce a shift in the way leaders emerge in Nigeria from cheap ethno-religious to the primacy of knowledge.

Issues in Nigerian Leadership: Political Prospects and Challenges by @smlukman July 3, 2013

Posted by seunfakze in CHANGE, POLITICS.
add a comment

Divide and rule is by far the dominant strategy in Nigeria’s contemporary politics. It thrives on zoning and rotation of political offices with aspiring candidates for leadership at all levels of government and society cheaply brandishing their religious and ethnic credentials over any other qualification. Admittedly, in terms of educational qualifications, virtually all aspirants meet the minimum constitutional requirement. Although we have some cases whereby leaders are found to have presented wrong qualifications, often because of some manifestation of inferiority complex which made our aspirants and even so-called leaders to claim advanced educational qualifications. And given our current national pathetic proclivity for titles, some leaders have also commercially acquired educational titles such as Doctors and even B. Sc and M. Sc certificates from doubtful sources. On the whole however, it can be argued that predominantly our political leaders are more driven by ethnic and religious sentiments and hardly governing our nation and society based on knowledge and commitment to ensure that Nigerian citizens overcome challenges of survival and the quest for improved livelihood.

Thus, the big issue is whether such knowledge acquired through formal educational, which so-called qualifications comes with suggest competence and capacity to perform leadership tasks as required by the offices being aspired. Aside competence, there is also the demand for leadership vision and capacity to prioritise and take the right decisions. Ahead of all these is the critical leadership responsibility of coordinating and managing human relations in its broad context, which requires not just friendly dispositions but being open and accessible to all irrespective of differences. These are requirements that endear leaders and societies to citizens even beyond their immediate domain and are often part of the attractions that invites other non-residents to explore opportunities in communities other than their own.

A quick assessment of developments in Nigeria, at all levels since the mid 1990s will highlight remarkable departure and erosion of especially leadership values. At all levels of Nigerian society, standards have crashed and leadership requirements have been reduced to purely material (money) wellbeing. Anyone with money can buy his/her way to power at all levels, be it local governments, states, federal government and even nongovernmental organisations. In the circumstance, people with poor knowledge, without any vision, lacking of any priority and often of doubtful integrity are vested with leadership responsibility. Citizens are coerced, blackmailed or hoodwinked to support so-called leaders based on primordial sentiments with our leaders hardly challenged to win support of other Nigerians beyond their immediate narrow support base, often limited to their birth places, local governments, senatorial district, states, geo-political zone and hardly the nation as a whole.

Ethnic and religious factors have therefore emerged today as perhaps the most defining factors for contest for leadership positions in the country. As a result, there are incidences whereby leaders are produced with very narrow and parochial perception of their constituencies. In many cases, they even emerged just based on the endorsements of sections and few members. Even the practice of campaigns using posters, handbills and media hardly takes place, and if it does, it is reduced to mere symbolism. It is just simply a case of arrogance and contemptuous disrespect of the support of other sections and citizens other than so-called birth places, local governments, senatorial districts, states and geo-political zones.

This practice is widespread in many of our political institutions today. A visit to many seats of governments at all levels is enough to make any genuine Nigerian sick. Perhaps, it can be argued that this has been with us as a nation since independence. In some ways, it is an acceptable norm and little or nothing can be done about it. Yet, to the extent that it projects us as a fractured nation and promotes primordial hatred and anger, it constitutes a major national problem. How can we address this big national problem? Is there any possibility, however remote, that Nigeria can produce a leader who is not just a sectional leader? Or, is there anything that can be done to transform any of our leaders today from being narrowly perceived as a sectional leader to a national leader? By the way, what is the prospect that Nigeria’s problems can be solved by producing a national leader as opposed to sectional leaders? Anyway, what is wrong with sectional leaders? Have they not been serving their people? Do we even have leaders?

Our notion of leadership and assessment of their relevance to societal problems, in every respect, will influence our judgement with respect to these questions. To the extent that leadership is about having unregulated and unaccountable access to public resources, competition for leadership will continue to be driven by sentiments. Once leadership is blind to the issue of nurturing good human relations, our societies and nation will be highly vulnerable to reckless and crazy management of governmental and non-governmental affairs. So long as competition for leadership in our society and nation is reduced to our identity and the hegemonic drive for dominating others, knowledge and the challenge of environmental control will be a distant responsibility, if at all.

Without any doubt, if we want to survive as a nation, we must change our ways of producing leaders in every facet of our national life as Nigerians. We need a leader that is driven by knowledge, aspiration to unite our people across religion, ethnicity and all other differences, burning desire to reposition our society based on the capacity of citizens to discover their talents, respecting the values of the human person over and above any other thing and therefore recognising that the most fundamental asset of our nation is its citizens and to that extent not perceiving citizens as parasitic and the biggest liability.

How can this be done given a situation where the most important source of government revenue is the oil sector, which is a sector where government really don’t need the participation of citizens to be able to realise revenue? Why should government and our leaders respect citizens when in truth all they need is OPEC, US government, EU and other oil trading partners to be able to realise all the revenue needed to run government? With oil exploration and extraction being the direct responsibility of the Federal Government on account of which our states and local governments enjoyed huge revenue from the federation account for almost doing nothing in the process of revenue generation, why should the Federal Government not dictate to states and local governments? How can we be making any claims to federalism, when in fact our governance reality is anything but federal?

At the root of our leadership problems are so many issues that require urgent attention. It is beyond simply focusing on the individual. If the truth is to be told, government as oriented today is the source of our leadership problems. It is a situation that is known to virtually every Nigerian. Unfortunately, at best, almost every Nigerian only lament about it and conclude that nothing can be done to change it. This has given rise to a situation whereby all our governments are simply on auto pilot just facilitating importation and consumption with virtually the only production taking place being crude oil extraction.

This is a matter that calls for organised political initiatives based on selflessness and patriotic disposition. Unfortunately, most of our political actors are more driven by personal aspiration which weakened their capacity to develop the needed group approach. On account of personal aspirations, most of our political leaders are very defensive and susceptible to narrow and parochial approaches. With revenue given, all they need to worry about is not citizens’ contributions especially given zero correlation between government revenue and economic reality of citizens. All they need to worry about is perhaps their capacity to dominate citizens, which in the midst of high poverty levels money has become the main factor. The challenge therefore before anyone interested in addressing problems of leadership in Nigeria will be to initiate strategic approaches of organising Nigerian citizens around the values of re-inventing communal spirits of mobilisation and pulling resources together to drive initiative.

This is a critical rescue factor to pull Nigeria out of all the calamities facing the nation with all its varied manifestation. It is a factor that required everyone genuinely interested in moving Nigeria forward as a nation to submit and subordinate himself/herself to. This will be far more effective if driven by a superior political organisation such as a political party. The reason being that a superior political organisation would have the advantage of both legal and moral ambiance, which would engender not just commitment regarding leadership conduct by individuals but also prescribe orderly processes of nurturing citizens who subscribe to new conduct, including those of our leaders based on the need to create new outcomes that may perhaps place more premium on the welfare of citizens. Accordingly, issues of tax and how it translate into strong revenue sources for governments at all levels could then create a positive correlation between citizens welfare and governance at all levels.

Of course against the background of deep national frustration, there is often the temptation to reduce these issues to simple leadership change focusing on personalities. In today’s reality it is producing a strong clamour against the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP). Being in power, especially at federal level since 1999, such clamour would not be without justification. In fact, with rising oil revenue and at the same time geometric rise in poverty levels, the clamour against PDP is very legitimate. However, Nigerians, especially opposition politicians, need to be very clear that simply changing individual leaders without clear governance programmes to address the fundamentals that makes citizens inconsequential will not move our nation forward. In fact, from the experiences of some of our state governments between 1999 and today where new leaders emerged as state Governors after elections but end up doing worse than the PDP government they defeated, is an indication that the problem goes beyond individuals.

In a sense, combinations of programmes and good mobilisational strategies is what is needed. Endearing programmes and unifying strategy – a strategy that strongly unite Nigerians – is what is needed to defeat PDP and guarantee that such a defeat would produce new governance reality founded on respect for the contributions of citizens. This is largely because the PDP has designed power architecture for the country around divisive politics in the name of zoning and rotation and so far programmes implemented by PDP are anchored with outright disregard to citizens. Once opposition politicians relate to Nigerian politics based on PDP power architecture, it will almost be impossible to defeat PDP. If that happens, it will purely amount to Pyrrhic victory and will hardly be capable of changing the welfare conditions of Nigerians.

This is where our opposition parties working to produce All Progressive Congress (APC) need to concentrate in producing new power architecture. Somehow, it would appear that either that the PDP public relations machinery is at its best and is succeeding to force the hands of our opposition political leaders to limit their objective to producing so-called individual leaders or that actually our opposition political leaders have not realised the full weight of responsibility facing them and to that extend they are about to squander golden historic opportunity by limiting the problems of Nigeria to emergence of new leaders. Be that as it may, the issue before APC at this stage is to stimulate a national commitment to produce new power architecture for the country. Such new power architecture should be oriented to unite Nigerians, promote and proliferate competitive activities and in the process throw up leaders at different levels of party organisations and society through innovative applications of democratic principles.

As much as personal attributes are important, it must not be projected in such a way as to suggest primacy of the individual. In some ways, corresponding initiatives from citizens with good interface with our political structures, in this case, APC will be a strong catalyst to enable our opposition politicians meet this national expectation. Instead of folding our arms as citizens and waiting for our opposition politicians to rollout APC with all the risk factors of modelling it in the image of PDP, Nigerian patriots need to think more strategically and initiate corresponding political actions that would naturally compel a strong relationship and influence between APC and organised interests in the country. Absence of such initiative have the undesirable potential of pushing APC to adopt the same divisive governance architecture as PDP and in the process increased the probability of PDP remaining in power at all levels of government in Nigeria, way beyond 2015. Should that happen, both APC leaders and patriotic Nigerians should bear responsibility.

The choice is both for APC as well as for all Nigerians to make!

Uniting our People for Change by Salihu Lukman July 3, 2013

Posted by seunfakze in CHANGE, POLITICS.
add a comment

New approaches to political organising are needed to move our society and nation forward. It just has to go beyond the simple issue of producing candidates for election. We need a strategy that can mobilise our people to be innovative and in the process produce new political actors and hopefully new leaders. More importantly, the new approach should be founded on a conscious effort to unite our people and therefore halt the dominant culture of divisive politics, which has only produce violence and ethnic and religious hatred. This concern has led a group of politicians in Kaduna State to initiative some activities covering all the state. These are mainly politicians from the opposition parties – ACN, ANPP, CPC and others. The activities in the Southern parts of the country are being implemented under the Democratic Emancipation Movement (DEM) and in the Northern parts under the Movement for a Better Future (MFBF). The two Movements are working together. On June 1, 2013, DEM organised a Summit in Kagoro. It was well reported in the media. MFBF is now organising a Conference on July 6, 2013 in Zaria with the theme Uniting our People for Change. Uniting our People for Change is more than a conference. It is about re-inventing our Kaduna State. Below is the highlights of what it is. We shall give more details as we progress and welcome suggestions and recommendations.

Uniting our People for Change: What you should know!

For years now, perhaps since 1987, governance and leadership in our Kaduna State has been equated with ethnic and religious hatred. Functionaries of government have not only emerged through clear and acknowledged celebration of ethnic and religious differences but have produced consequential disasters resulting in near genocidal loss of lives and unprecedented destruction of property.

On account of this, today, Kaduna State ranked among the high volatile states in the country. Almost, all ethnic and religious crises in the country find expression in our state. Our politicians, consciously or unconsciously, appear to indulge in acts that promote religious and ethnic hatred in the state in the name of canvassing for political positions at all levels. The result is clear – Kaduna State is more or less a jungle. Nothing appears to be organised or orderly, citizens are simply on their own and everywhere, whether in the North, Central or South, is dirty and ugly!

This must change in order for peace to return to our state and our people resume their legitimate search for livelihood and glory. Uniting our People for Change is conceived to promote initiatives that would assist our people to overcome the antics of evil forces who would want to exploit our differences in order to access leadership positions in government and society. It is a partnership initiative of the Movement for a Better Future (MFBF) and Democratic Emancipation Movement (DEM). It is a partnership to mobilise all patriots and credible citizens, resident in the state, to join the crusade of uniting our people founded on love, social justice and the search for legitimate opportunity.

As Nigerians, residents in Kaduna State, irrespective of differences of ethnicity and religion, we all need to rise with one voice and say:

· No to opportunistic politics founded on ethnic and religious hatred;
· No politician or any person seeking for any office should do so based on ethnicity or religious identity, it must be based on qualification, competence, service to the people and integrity;
· Any political party promoting our ethnic and religious differences is only setting our society up for violence and mass killings of our people; and
· All our religious and traditional leaders must refrain from acts of provocation.

Meanwhile, MFBF and DEM are introducing two initiatives aimed at promoting the unity of our people through community services. These are:

1. Youth for Leadership Foundation

This is a state-wide youth competition promoting and showcasing the talent of our youths in areas of developing initiatives for community services covering all the 23 Local Governments. Two categories of prizes have been instituted – one for each senatorial zone and one for the state. Talent, skills, selflessness and capacity to mobilise people and resources is what will win the prize and NOT ethnic or religious identity.

The Youth for Leadership Board of Trustees made up of highly respected men and women has been constituted and would be inaugurated soon. The board will among other things give direction on growth and development of the youth foundation.

2. Medical Caravan

Based on the experiences of MFBF in 2008, both DEM and MFBF have finalised arrangements to resume community services of Medical Caravan. Details will be announced on July 6.

Finally, on July 6, Chief Audu Ogbeh OFR will stimulate public discussions on the critical task of uniting our people. The venue for the public discussion is Kongo Conference Hotel, Zaria, under the distinguished Chairmanship of Prof. Ango Abdullahi. Our leader, Gen. Muhammadu Buhari GCFR will be our Distinguished Guest of Honour. Governors of Zamfara and Osun, HE Abdulazeez Yari Abubakar and HE Rauf Aregbesola, together with HE Ibrahim Shekarau, former Governor of Kano State will be our Special Guests of Honour.

Political leaders from ACN, ANPP and CPC will deliver goodwill messages. It is all about re-inventing our society.

Be at Kongo Conference Hotel, Zaria exactly at 10 am on July 6, 2013.

Announcement: MFBF and DEM

%d bloggers like this: