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Food Security and Insecurity

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Food Security and Insecurity

By Mr Promise Amahah

Let’s take a cursory look and possibly an uncommon comparison
between Guns and Tractors: Fighting rising insecurity with Food Security.

The rising cases of insecurity is fast turning Nigeria into a theatre of the absurd.

The rising numbers on unemployment and poverty are key indicators to possible reasons for rapidly growing security concerns.

Let’s consider a few familiar statistics in a bid to unravel the “mystery” and identify root causes.

2.6% annual population growth rate (world bank)

Nigeria’s 2020 budget % on agriculture 1.4%

Nigeria’s 2020 Defence budget – over N878bn which is second highest allocation

Reduced budgetary allocation to agriculture by 47%

Agriculture still highest employer of labour in Nigeria

2020: Military, police to spend 91% of budgets on salaries, others

The information above gives a clear insight on a lot of issues driving insecurity in Nigeria.

It’s clearly obvious that the huge investment in fighting insecurity through military hardware as against agricultural  machinery and equipment is a critical cause for concern by any right thinking person.

Going further, let’s take a look at these reports by OXFAM (international aid agency) and the Punch (national daily)

“The Federal Government’s annual average of 1.4percent budgetary allocation to the agricultural in the last six years has failed to improve farmers’ output as low yield per hectare of most food and cash crops persist, according to a report by Oxfam.

The yearly poor budgetary allocation to Nigeria’s agriculture cannot at the barest minimum address issues relating to mechanisation, insurance, and research, and development among others that have continued to impact farmers’ productivity negatively, the report said.

“If the Federal Government had implemented the 10percent Maputo Declaration benchmark, the national agriculture and food indices would probably have been better,” the report said.

The report says that the sector has fallen short of N3.65trillion investment if the country had adopted the 10% agric funding treaty it signed in the last six years, adding that the amount it about six times the amount allocated within the period.

In 2003, Nigeria signed the Maputo agreement to allocate 10percent of its annual budget to the development of agriculture in a bid to promote food security and maximise growth, but the country is yet to implement the treaty.

“At the sub-national level, budgetary allocation to agricultural interventions is grossly inadequate.  In nearly all the states where this study was carried out, agricultural investment is remarkably low, and falls short of the 10 percent Maputo declaration recommendation,” the Oxfam report added.

The report notes that states continuous reliance on donor financing of its agricultural sector remains an unrealistic revenue projection.

“However, due to Nigeria’s crude farming practice, productivity is low and far in-between. The estimated 45,000 tractors in the country translate to a density of 5.7 tractors per 100 square kilometers, far short of what is required, the report further said,”  the report states.

However, in a separate report by the Punch, Amid the prevailing insecurity in the country, the military and the police would spend a whopping 91 per cent of their budgets on recurrent expenditure, comprising overhead and personnel costs, while the remaining nine per cent would go to their capital expenditure, estimates in the 2020 Appropriation Bill have shown.

Saturday Punch analysis of the bill revealed further that the chunk of the recurrent expenditure goes into personnel cost, comprising salaries, wages, allowances and social contributions, while a meagre amount goes into capital expenditure, forcing some of the security agencies to make part payments for security items they would have used to fight insecurity.

But analysis of the Appropriation Bill revealed that the Ministry of Defence, comprising different operational units like the Army, Navy, Air Force, Defence Headquarters, Nigerian Defence Academy, Defence Intelligence Agency and 11 other units got a whopping N878,458,607,427 total allocation, the second highest allocation.

I refuse to rest my case at this point even with very clear evidence before us that something is fundamentally wrong with our approach as a nation.

It really does appear sometimes that we generally and deliberately turn a blind eye to doing the right thing just for selfish purposes that lack common sense. If the country eventually goes up in smoke as likely to if we don’t retrace our steps, every selfish gains will not be spared.

We must understand that public wealth enriches everyone while individual wealth impoverishes everyone.

Pursuing Food Security through enhanced investment in the Agricultural sector remains the most potent tool in addressing insecurity.

A reasonable percentage of the huge investment made on military hardware will reduce insecurity if channeled into agriculture.

We must sit down to compare and analyze the impact of guns vs tractors, the number of jobs created through heavy Defence investments and the number of jobs that can be created through ramping up investment in agriculture considering their sustainability potential.

Unemployed individuals provide an easy fodder for crime. The urgent next step is for Government to immediately review their investment on agriculture for food security as a dependable approach in addressing insecurity.

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Chile’s Constitutional Referendum: A Roadmap to ‘Unchaining Nigeria’s Democracy”

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By Senator Dino Melaye (SDM

A beautiful thing just happened in the country of Chile on 25th October 2020 that gives me hope for troubled Nigeria going forward. By an overwhelming majority of over 78% the People voted to do away with an oppressively undemocratic constitution midwifed by the military dictatorship of General Augusto Pinochet, but conceived form the intellectual loins of libertarian political economists and Nobel Prize winner James Buchanan. It was a radical rightwing dictated social contract misleadingly called the Constitution of Liberty and approved by rigged referendum. It was legislative concrete around the feet of the people.

As the Professor Kristen Sehnbruch of the London School of Economics wrote for the Guardian October 28th, 2020 ‘for over 30 years’ Chile’s rightwing constitutions, ‘played a significant role in creating political elites who kept themselves in power, and prevented political reforms from keeping pace with social change and expectations. A more educated middle class lived highly precarious lives: unemployment or illness brought many to the brink of poverty.”
You would be correct to think that this looks and sounds like Nigeria under the 1999 Constitution. Sehnbruch continues “Trust and confidence in institutions were eroded by political and institutional corruption scandals. Multiple inequalities and the powerlessness to confront them characterised the lives of many.”
Like Nigeria, Chile’s Police force regularly violated the human rights of Chileans. President Augusto Pinochet was arrested and charged in Spanish courts for torture, murder and the disappearances of Spanish citizens in Chile. Tortures and disappearances carried out by Pinochet’s ruthless secret police. Sehnbruch continues “an unreformed police force was persistently violating their human rights. This month Sergio Micco, the director of Chile’s National Human Rights Institutes, presented a report that detailed 3,203 alleged human rights violations from the past year, explaining: “Chile is facing the most serious human rights violations since the transition to democracy … We are particularly concerned about … eye injuries, the abusive use of riot shot
guns, and the inhuman, cruel and sexually degrading treatment of victims.”
Sounds familiar? Police, military and institutional reform under the Chilean constitution, required super majorities that were virtually impossible to achieve. The radical libertarians had created a constitution that the common people cannot override political control by the rich and powerful. It is a ‘vetocracy’ being the elite obstruction of the will of the masses. It is authoritarianism clothed in elections. It is dictatorship by stealth. Such constitutions are marked by casual cruelty and entrenched corruption. And where obstruction proved too unjust obfuscation under the legal morass of a constitution that never reflected nor was ever intended to reflect the will of the people.
Nigeria’s 1999 constitution is the cloned child of the 1979 Constitution. Both are product of military directives to a constitution drafting committee. And both are cut from the same dictatorial cloth that marked Chile’s constitution. As Chile’s constitution paid lip service to human rights but made it virtually impossible to enforce some of these rights, so to Nigeria’s constitution, in Chapter 2, provides for fundamental human rights that citizens cannot bring claims to court under. In their haste to throw off the colonial shackles, the Murtala/Obasanjo Regime did not even consider whether any other type of government than the presidential system of government would be better for Nigeria. We rushed headlong into cloning the American system of government. However, like the Buchanan inspired Constitution of Liberty in Chile, we gave the president far more powers under our constitution than the American president and leader of the free world enjoys under the American Constitution. This level of constitutional authoritarianism encourages rule breaking and norm busting, as this government has repeatedly done for example when it brazenly flouts court orders. Or when its agencies engage in flagrant and brutal violations of human rights such as SARS’s regular brutality and disappearing of our youth as I repeatedly warned, even in the Chamber of the Senate. Or the military and other security services when they open fire on peaceful demonstrators.
That both the 1979 and 1999 constitutions begin with words to the effect that “The Federal Military Government hereby decrees” already gives the game away, that these were more dictated constitutions than deliberated ones. Professor Ben Nwabueze, one of our most eminent constitutional scholars and member of the constitution drafting committee of 1976 has come to regret the part he played in saddling Nigerians with this albatross. Noting the many flaws and errors in the constitution, he confessed “I was partly responsible” in an interview with the Vanguard Newspaper March 22nd, 2013. “One of the cardinal flaws in the constitution is the concentration of powers in the centre.” The Committee basically took most of fiscal and revenue generating powers under the concurrent and residual lists of the 1963 constitution and gave them exclusively to the Federal Government. “And the result is the almighty Federal Government” that has produced disunity because of the intensity of the struggle to control the centre, concluding that “that has remained the feature of the Constitution up till today”.
The arrogant impunity of Federal Government can be seen in the high handed and contemptuous way it relates to weak client state governments as Professor Itsay Sagay, renowned legal scholar and head of this administration’s anti-corruption task force observed.
The centralization of power and ‘fiscal hyper centralisation’ being the tight grip Federal government holds on tax, revenue and spending has allowed federal government to largely ignore the agitations of the people at state and local level. The youth have awakened and the government for all its bluster cannot buy its way out of this one, or blast its way through it the predatory SARS, Customs and other agents of government that the brave youth have confronted are just the beginning. Meaningful Police Reform is a good start. But following Chile’s Lead we need a meaningful debate to create a constitution that in the words of Professor Sehnbruch forces “the political elites to be more inclusive and accountable, as well as enabling politicians to negotiate and implement necessary reforms.”
In other words, we need a constitution made by ‘We, all the Peoples of Nigeria”. Not one that has been prepared earlier, as cooking shows reveal, was ‘decreed by political, intellectual or military elites’ earlier. A Constitution that anyone reading can immediately see a national conversation taking place and national consensus as to where Nigeria is headed. A Constitution that creates the Nigeria the old have yearned for and the Nigeria the Young can proudly look forward to. A constitution to govern us in this Promised land.

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SARS and SWAT as a metaphor for a failed government: Thumbs up for our visionary Nigerian Youths!

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SARS and SWAT as a metaphor for a failed government: Thumbs up for our visionary Nigerian Youths!

By Chief Mike Ozekhome, SAN.

For decades, I had strindently beckoned on the Nigerian youths to join some of us patriots in the dangerous Nigerian trenches, to win the heart and soul of Nigeria, and take  their destinies in their own hands. Many of the rulers of today have tenaciously glued themselves to government (like aradite), either directly or indirectly. They stay put in Aso Villa through their proxies, minions, acolytes, agents, servants, friends, school mates, kinsmen and kins women, or even kindred family members. Some of these sit – tight rulers were only in their 20s and early 30s when they were already military Generals, Governors, GOCs, Brigade Commanders, Ministers, Commissioners, etc. They have never had any professional or occupational address. Only political addressses. General Yakubu Gowon, for example, was only 32 years old when he prosecuted the 3 year bloody Nigerian fraticidal civil war as a military General and Head of State . And wait for it: he was a mere  bachelor. He only married his wife, Mrs Victoria Gowon, when he was already Head of State. Late Dr Matthew Mbu was minister of Labour at a mere 24; and High Commissioner to the UK at 25!. Today is an age where the youths are still struggling through tears, sweat, pains, pangs, blood and sorrow, to go through 100 or 200 level; or merely gain ordinary admission into our tertiary institutions.
SARS or SWAT, by whatever name called, are the same 6 and half a dozen; the same moinmoin, akara and beans; the same Hamlet and the Prince of Denmark. For the entire lifespan of this clueless and highly propagandist government, I have been screaming on roof tops about its bad governance style and its irredeemably corrupt posture. I dripped oceans of ink, writing tons of articles, press releases and giving countless lectures. I made dozens of television and radio appearances on possible solutions or panacea to our national malaise . I was ignored, barely tolerated. Some rabidly politically partisan persons were even unleashed on me as raving attack dogs. Their social media cliques, those Prof Wole Siyinka derisiveky described as “crawling but unseen Internet millipedes” (some of them grand mothers and grand fathers), insulted any and every Nigerian that dared criticise their deity, nay, their infallible god, President Buhari. Kakaaki were used to herald his exit from and entry into Nigeria. Aircraft maintained by Nigerian tax payers’ money were packed for months at Heathrow Airport, while their pilots and crew luxuriated idly in 5 star hotels. They all patiently awaited the full recovery from health challenges of their idol and totem of messianic redemption. The government, through its attack dog, the EFCC (where is Magu today? ; the ephemerality of power!!! ), then decided  to intimidate, browbeat and overaw me. I refused to bend to their arbitrariness, whimsicality and capriciousness . I valiantly criticised, critiqued and interrogated the impunity of this government. I challenged raw power and dared the viciousness of the government and its awesome security aparatchic. I knew I was on the right path. Thank God He has kept me safe under His bedspread canopy, from their rampaging goons. Some government apologists and spokespersons came roaring, but defensive. They said the Buhari government was the best thing to have ever happened to Nigeria. They wondered why we couldn’t see what they were seeing. To them, there is no hunger, desease, squalor, depression or melancholy in the land. These were merely simulated by haters of Buhari and his government. These views were merely peddled by corrupt politicians and ‘defenders’ of corruption. Indeed, ‘corruption was fighting back’. They said ‘Sai Baba’ was the messiah Nigerians have been patiently waiting for. I reminded Nigerians of Buhari’s first disastrous outing between December 31, 1983 and August 27, 1985. It was indeed the locust years. It was 20 months of regrets, gnashing of teeth and mass poverty. It was an era when Nigerians were openly flogged on their bare buttocks in the name of War Against Indiscipline ( WAI). It was a  shameful era when Decrees 2 and 4 reigned supreme; an era of detentions without trial; when truth was punished once it embarrassed the imperious government of the day. Tunde Thompson and Nduka Irabor are still alive to narrate their horrific experiences of their seering gulag days. This was the better – forgotten days of mass scramble for unavailable essential commodities ( “essenso”). Commodities, such as bread, milk, sugar, tea, flour, eggs, rice, beans, palm oil, meat, vegetable oil, pepper, tomatoes, tarodo, tatashe, fuel, kerosene and even garri, simply disappeared from Nigerian homes. The present fawning and bootlicking Buharists and Buharideens would hear none of these historical facts. They argued that the maximum dictator had changed completely from his autocratic and totalitarian nature and had suddenly undergone some form of Saul – to – Paul trasfiguration, to become a born again democrat. To them, Buhari would even teach Abraham Lincoln the true meaning of democracy (not Lincoln’s1863 Gettysburg Declaration). These obsequious sycophants and flatterers readily showed us Buhari’s newly well starched agbadas and babaringas, expensive eye glasses and designer wristwatches and skin shoes, as signs that he had undergone permanent metamorphosis. I told them it was never possible for a leopard to change its spots, just as it was impossible to jump into the river without getting wet. So, the youths were getting agitated and tired. They had been out of school for many months. The Covid-19 lock – down had compounded their problems. Young girls took to prostitution, standing by the kerbs of major hotels on cold lonely nights, looking for paying’ customers’, to eke out a living with their suffering parents. Many of the youths, frustrated, travelled across deserts and seas seeking greener pastures and  perishing in the process. Some took to internet scams, becoming ‘yahoo boys’. Eye-serving anti-graft agencies went after them with the ferocity of a hurricane Katrina. They were happy to display these boys as a diadem of their ‘achievements’ on their so called ‘war against corruption.’ Meanwhile, they were merely pursuing butterflies while their house was on fire. They conveniently turned their eyes away from the real pen robbers, the historical revisionists, the re-looters of recovered loots. They readily forgave any Nigerian politician who decamped from the opposition to their party. Like Naaman  the leper who dipped himself in River Jordan 7 times and became cleansed of his leprosy , such thieves of our common patrimony became deodorised of their lecherous and thieving sins. The despondent youths watched with amazement from the sidelines, how their future was being stolen bare-facedly, by instalments, by shameless fathers, grand fathers and great grand fathers, whose children were idling away in ivy schools abroad. They knew the day was nigh for them to bare their fangs. They had become tired of broken promises, smothered hopes and    serial deceptions. They suddenly remembered Thomas Jefferson’s immortal words:” when governments fear the people, there is liberty. When the people fear the government, there is tyranny. The federal government is our servant, not our master “. They became convinced about another Abraham Lincoln ‘s famous quote : “you can fool all the people some of the time, and some of the people all the time, but you cannot fool all the people all the time “.
The youths feel cheated by a government driven by executive lawlessness, legislative thievery and rascality and judicial injustice, where justice is rationed to the highest bidder, especially money – wielding and influence – peddling political bucaneers. They became more convinced that SARS killings, extra judicial murders, accidental discharges, illegal toll – collecting road blocks, extortions and police brutality and bestiality, would never stop except they acted. They knew it was time to take charge as a mass movement that required no leadership that would easily compromise and sell to government nichodemously at night.They couldn’t understand why the NLC would suddenly capitulate after raising hopes of mass action by angry Nigerians against a compassless non – performing government. The youths knew they were already on the ground, and that he who is already on the ground fears no further falling. They knew they would go below ground zero, far far below India, as the poverty capital of the world, except they acted. They were convinced Nigeria does not deserve to be the number 148 out of 180 most corrupt countries in the world, and number 3 in West Africa. They could no longer tolerate the ceaseless banditry ravaging the country ;  the increased boko haram insurgency, heightened kidnappings, murders, armed robberies and suicides. They became tired of joblessbess, stigmatisation as” lazy youths”, when all they desire is fair and equal opportunities to actualize their dreams in a directionless and unsympathetic contraption called Nigeria They knew enough was enough, because their “mumu don do”. So, the Nigerian youths have been on the streets and in the trenches for nearly 2 whole weeks now, and still counting, using “#ENDSARS” as a metaphor and allegory of a failed, wobbling, groggy, fumbling and crumbling government and nation. I commend the Nigerian youths for standing up to their rights, with eternal vigilance as the only price they have to pay for their liberty (Learned Hand). Never again will any government take the civil populace, the people, for granted. The people are the real owners of power. Those in government are their servants. The dog wags the tail. The tail does not wag the dog. Kudos to the Nigerian youths, as they continue their genuine struggle of liberation and emancipation from despotism, fascism, autocracy and absolutism. God bless the Nigerian youths. God bless Nigeria.

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North: The silver lining through Zamfara gold

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North: The silver lining through Zamfara gold

By Yusuf Abubakar

It’s not all gloomy after all for the North. Away from the dark cloud of insecurity fostered by the insurgents and banditry activities, comes the rays of light across the horizon. First came the cheering news of the discovery of oil, gas and condensates in Gombe State and the stretch of Gongola basin by the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation(NNPC) and its sister agency, the Department of Petroleum Resources(DPR), which threw the doubting thomases who believe nothing positive could come from the region off balance in 2019.

The landmark uncovering of the treasure specifically along Kolmani River region at the border community between Bauchi and Gombe States, ought to have ordinarily silence the anti-north elements, but some still questioned the effort, describing the breakthrough as political. However, the planned exploration of the oil and gas from the basin for commercial purpose would clear all misconceptions, even as it would no doubt put the affected state on the list of oil producing states with consequent fallout.

As the region basked in the euphoria of the oil discovery comes another silver lining from Zamfara through its rich gold deposits which has hitherto fuelled bandit activities in that state. The bandits, as it was widely reported, were taking advantage of the situation by acquiring gold at cheap rate and use same to acquire arms and ammunitions for their nefarious activities.

But as it were, Governor Bello Matawalle is turning the tide against these agents of darkness and their sponsors. The governor had approached the nation’s apex bank, the Central Bank of Nigeria(CBN) and by extension the Federal Government for the possibility of boosting the mining sector in the state under the anchor-borrower scheme. The bank will invest the sum of N5 billion for the state to supply it with gold as a proceeds of the investment over time, while under the arrangement, the state government is to purchase the gold from the miners and supply it to the bank.

Already, the federal government has commenced the process of licensing the companies that have indicated interest in mining in the area. What this means for the state is that the gold will no longer be used to fuel the activities of the bandits with the governor stylishly cutting their hold on the supply chain. The second fundamental advantage Matawalle’s gesture throws up is that the state government would have more fund to embark on more projects as he works relentlessly to build a new Zamfara State.

But as usual, those who were profiteering from the seeming lucrative “banditry business” were uncomfortable with the turn of event and have resorted to campaign of calumny against the governor. The sworn anti-north elements are fuelling the misconception that the state government is taking over the minerals within its domain, even as it is public knowledge that mining is exclusive right of the federal government. Their charade has needlessly attracted resources control agitators who are already shouting themselves hoarse in response to the mischief.

But they are bound to fail because the governor’s action is within the ambit of the law as due process was followed in the purchase of gold from artisanal miners. “Individuals, corporate bodies, including states and local governments, are free to buy any mineral product, as long as you go through the normal process. We have what we call private mineral buying centres. We issue licensees so that anyone that is interested will come to us, and once you meet the criteria, we give you a license to purchase these minerals.

“And that is the angle that Zamfara State is exploiting. From their own funds, they are buying gold from their people.” This clarification by the Minister of Mines and Steel Development, Arc. Olamilekan Adegbite in the face of the uproar by the elements over the matter should suffice.

It is sad that senior lawyers who should be abreast of the stipulation of the constitution have joined the misconception foray by creating discontents across the land.

They claimed that the governor’s gesture may trigger other minerals endowed states to deny federal government access to same, while urging the FG to shut down the initiate entirely. This is totally absurd and tended to give credence to the already entrenched speculations that powerful forces who were aiding illegal mining of gold deposits in the state were using bandits as alibi to shield their nefarious activities.

It is public knowledge that some highly influential and prominent personalities, including top politicians, security agents are fully involved in gold mining business in the state, thereby denying governments revenue that would have accrued from the proceed for a very long time.

More disturbing is the fact that these activities have been going on illegally without the federal government’s backing through licenses from the federal government. The situation also denied the state government any commission as its source of generating revenue directly or indirectly. A mining survey report indicated that the federal government lost about N3.23 trillion equivalent to $9billion in revenue accruable from gold exports due to the activities of illegal miners across the country, including Zamfara in 2017.

This is the anomaly Matawalle met on ground and is working hard to correct through collaboration with the federal government, and expectedly, those who have been benefiting from the situation are fighting back. it is therefore the responsibility of all well-meaning Nigerians especially pressure groups in the north to rally round the governor in the ongoing effort to make the state uncomfortable for the bandits and their sponsors who are using our commonwealth to fight us.

Abubakar is of No1, Jama’a Street, U/Rimi, Kaduna, Kaduna state.

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