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RAMP and Nigeria rural roads

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RAMP and Nigeria rural roads

By Ahmed Mohammed

The Rural Access and Mobility Project (RAMP 2) is a six-year World Bank project focused on the rehabilitation of rural roads and associated capacity building of institutions mandated to provide and maintain rural transport infrastructure. The project commenced in February 2014 and operates in six states: Adamawa, Enugu, Niger, Osun, Imo and Cross-River.

The objectives of the project include increasing the share of the population with access to an all-season road, increasing the share of the total classified roads in good and fair condition and increasing the number of roads receiving adequate levels of maintenance. There is no doubt that the programme has greatly assisted in transforming the rural settings, creating access and expanding frontiers in areas hitherto inaccessible.

In Niger State which has the highest landmass in Nigeria and equally higher number of hard to reach communities, the programme has become the fulkrum that drives the state government’s rural transformation policies aimed at creating economic and social equality among the urban, semi-urban and their most rural counterparts.

The past two phases of the tripartite programme focused on rehabilitation of rural roads , community based road maintenance and annual mechanized maintenance and project management and strengthening of state and federal road sector institutional , policy, and regulatory framework.

Through the RAMP activities coordinated by Hassan Etsu 391 communities across the state have benefited. The efforts show that 519kilometers of roads have been constructed with about 230 km targeted for surface dressing on going.

The breakdown shows that 117 kilometers were constructed in the first phase, while 402 kilometers including 30 river crossing bridges were put in place in the ongoing effort to improve movement of people and goods within and outside the rural communities especially in the hard to reach areas.

Some of the roads to include Wuya Suma – Lemu , Mokwa – Jaagi, -Kudu, Sabon Wuse-Ijah Gbagyi, Sullu –Tafa, Suleja-Abuchi-IzomAuna –Tungajika-Shafini, Wawa-Malali, in the first phase with the projects were completed and handed over to the state project implementation unit.

Key bridges such as Maza Kuka, Adogon Mallam, Ibeto-Gyengi, Gganran sagi, Ragadawa-Baban dogo, Kutriko-Salawu Cikan, Mukugi- Ajitupa, Eyangi-Liman , Wuya- Kanti, Emi egimazi, Dabban, Sabon Daga, NAkpankuchi river, Maikera- Beji Labude among others were constructed.

According to the coordinating office a total of N9 billion have been spent cumulatively within the first and second phases of the programme. This is aside the N6 billion approved by the state government for surface dressing of 230 kilometres of the rural roads earlier constructed under RAMP .

At the flag off of the surface dressing of the Izom-Abuchi-Suleja road recently, he Governor Abubakar Sani Bello, who was represented by Commissioner of Agriculture Hon Zakeri Jikantoro at the event, spoke on the reasons why the state government has to go out of its way to release extra funds to aid the programme, saying the move was to ensure that the quality of the rural roads were upgraded to withstand the volume of traffic.

According to the governor, the traffic on the roads become unprecedented beyond what the earthen roads can withstand, necessitating urgent steps to upgrade the roads. ” This has prompted the state government to engage surface dressing of these roads to increase their durability in serving the people. We have to do this to ensure that the huge investment in constructing the earthen roads does not go down the drains,” he had opined.

This intervention was in addition to 169km of rural roads that were also rehabilitated under the Spot Improvement and Annual Mechanized Maintenance Intervention of the World Bank (WB) and French Development Agency (AFD) co-financed initiative to improve transportation in the Rural areas.

It must be noted that six roads earmarked for surface dressing have the potential for high volume of traffic and are spread across the three-geo-political zones of the state.

The affected roads were Suleja – Abuchi- Izom road , Wuya Suman – Lemu road, Old Gawu – Farindoki road, Kampanin Bobi- Bangi road, Kutigi- Tashan Hajiya road and Wuya Kanti – EtsuTasha road

These efforts are estimated to cost the state government the sum N6,067,554,358.34 and the cumulative result of the government’s back up initiative is that the implementation of Rural Access Mobility Projects II (RAMP2) programmes has reduced rural mortality by 60 percent.

Jikantoro himself confirmed the feat at forum, stating that the mortality rate has been reduced by 60 percent in intervention areas because many communities can now access secondary and tertiary health facilities due to availability of roads constructed by RAMP 2.

According to him , the benefits of the programme included the construction and rehabilitation of 176km roads in the first phase and 403 km roads in the second phase of the project, adding that the programme has greatly assisted in the economic empowerment of the rural dwellers by enhancing movement of farm produce to markets.

It is really gratifying that governor Bello has continued to meet the state’s counterpart obligations through realy releases of funds for the project and also assured of the state government’s commitment towards punctual release of the same as the project enters the third phase.

The National Coordinator of RAMP, Engineer Ubandoma Ularamu had always commended the state for taking the best position in the successful implementation of RAMP projects in the country, acknowledging that there has been unprecedented growth in agriculture in the state. I therefore urge the state government to continue to support the programme to enable more communities to benefit from it.

It is because of this feat that he assures that the state will be enlisted to again participate in the New RAMP that will commence soon.

Overall, the project has so far constructed over 600km rural roads and has empowered the local capacities through the community based rural roads maintenance model which entails the engagement of the rural people along the corridors of rural roads rehabilitated by the project thereby creating employment opportunities in the state.

The project also intends to institutionalize rural roads maintenance activities, management and funding as part of its deliverables and making it last beyond the implementation period of 2020 .

With Participating States of Niger, Osun, Enugu, Adamawa and Imo states and Donor fund: USD60million(IDA:45M, AFD:15M Niger state has indeed trail the blaze to open the rural areas.

The Special Adviser political and strategy Alhaji Mohammed Nma Kolo whose office has been monitoring the progress in the implementation of the project noted that the success story has indeed changed the political dynamics in the Rural areas.

To him, the success has further increased the confidence of the people in the government and the desire of the government to change their lives for better.

Mohammed is of the office of Special Adviser Political to Niger State Governor.

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Opinion

TRUMP WASN’T BAD AFTER ALL

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TRUMP WASN’T BAD AFTER ALL
By Frank Tietie
Preceding the American Presidential elections, in October, 2020, I was invited to join a Zoom Meeting hosted by Nigerian-Americans who had the right to vote in the US elections.

Listening to both sides of the argument between the supporters of incumbent President Donald Trump and former Vice President Joe Biden, I became persuaded that Trump would be better for the USA as a second term President. He probably earned it.

I got to know how much Trump revived the American economy and subsequently created an unprecedented number of jobs for people of African descent in pre-COVID times.

In that Zoom Meeting, Trump was said to have stood up against bare faced official hypocrisy and corruption in Washington. Also, he ensured funding for Black colleges and did many more revolutionary yet, positive things for the Black American community.

I was impressed with reasons given why Black celebrities like Ice Cube, Lil Wayne, 50 Cents, Kanye West and many others support Trump. They do acknowledge that he talks ‘trash’ but they claim that he is sincere, makes things happen and does exactly what he promises. Ice Cube said that Trump represents the American spirit of freedom and success.

Later that week, I was privileged to be interviewed by a correspondent of the Voice of America (VOA) on why Nigerians took interest in the US Presidential elections. I was not allowed to mention a preferred candidate. So I told the VOA that Nigerians somehow believe that the USA is a very powerful country and that whoever became its president would determine interests in such matters as Nigerian immigration to the USA and regional security in Africa.

Also, I got to know that Joe Biden, in his 47 year career in government has done more harm to the Black people in America by enacting a law that has put a large number of black men in prison compares to any other people of different racial backgrounds.

Many Nigerians hated the Trump presidency because of its tough stance on preventing immigration to the US, from certain countries in the Middle East and Africa. But you can’t take it from Trump that he minded American interests and didn’t care what the world thought about him. He said after all, that “America First!”. Who can really say: Nigeria First?

Really, how can a Nigerian hate Trump for building a wall to prevent illegal migration when South Africa whose liberation from Aparthied, that was literally paid for by Nigeria, yet it chose as a people to systematically chase away Nigerian immigrants from South Africa? That country has exhibited the worst yet, most undeserving form of xenophobia against Nigerians. We shall never forget so quickly.

How can Nigerians blame Trump for building a wall? Everyday, many Nigerians, especially from Southern Nigeria cry on both the social media and traditional media that the government of President Buhari is allowing Fulanis from all over Africa to easily move into Nigeria in order to cause mayhem, carry out land grabs and change the demographics of native Nigerian communities with the plan to dominate and take over Nigeria. What then do you have against a president who wants to define the citizenship of his country by preventing illegal migration?

On LGBT. I don’t have anything against gay, lesbians, bi-sexuals and transgender (LGBT) persons. So I don’t have any apologies for defending their rights whether in court or in public because they are human. But I sincerely believe that there is something is wrong with them!

Firstly, humbly, as a liberal-conservative, with values that are shaped by African trado-cultural beliefs and Judeo-Christian indoctrination, I will never promote LGBT lifestyles. Also, I do not support abortion and same sex marriage. Very many Nigerians share this same position with me yet they support Joe Biden and Kamala Harris who are staunch promoters of LGBT culture.

Both Biden and Harris have officially conducted same sex marriages in America. The Catholic church once rebuked Biden for his support for same sex marriages. How would Nigerians want those kind of leaders over themselves?

The Democrat led US government of Barrack Obama and Joe Biden scolded Nigeria for enacting the Same Sex Prohibition Act. They so hated former Nigerian President, Goodluck Jonathan and refused to sell arms to him, to fight boko haram. They mobilized resources against Jonathan’s re-election and sent John Kerry to execute their plan. It is not that they love Buhari, they just hated Jonathan. They didn’t know that their hate for Jonathan was akin to hate for Nigeria. These were the same people who had always wished that Nigeria gets into a political conflict. They even went ahead to predict that Nigeria would break up in 2015. Frankly, I don’t like US democrats!

Alas! Trump became US president and invited Buhari to the United States and unconditionally agreed to sell arms to Nigeria, to fight boko haram. Against political correctness, he inquired of the Nigerian President why he was allowing the killing and persecution of Christians in his country. Yet someone wonders why some Nigerian Christians hold street processions for Trump in Nigeria?

Many Nigerians do not understand the issues in US politics and like I told the VOA correspondent, many Nigerians take interest in American politics, particularly with regards to who becomes the US president, wishing their own country could have such powerful and influential persons running things in Nigeria at the highest level of governance.

Really, who would Nigerians prefer to be President of Nigeria? A Trump or a Biden?

Frank Tietie,
Human Rights Lawyer
writes from Abuja

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Opinion

JUSTICE ISHAQ BELLO & THE ICC BENCH: A CASE FOR NATIONAL SOLIDARITY

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JUSTICE ISHAQ BELLO & THE ICC BENCH: A CASE FOR NATIONAL SOLIDARITY

                                

BY LEMMY UGHEGBE

Many unsavory comments have trailed the nomination of the Chief Judge of the Federal Capital Territory (FCT), Justice Ishaq Usman Bello for a seat as a judge at the International Criminal Court in The Hague by President Muhammadu Buhari. It is disheartening when such comments come from Nigerians, who ordinarily rally support for their fellow citizens when they are involved in regional or international contestations against other nationals. It is a notorious fact that, the country enjoys an unprecedented level of solidarity during such regional or global contestation as citizens of various ethnic groups pull together, unmindful of differing tribes, tongues and religion, but united in a common purpose – to see Nigeria win. At such a time and stage, the people do not see the nominee as Isoko, Yoruba, Hausa, Ibo, Ibibio, etc. In recent times, the admirable level of national solidarity and bonding for a common purpose came to the fore. In recent times, the successful unified national clamour of Nigerian citizens with one voice to lobby international support for the second term re-election of Dr. Akinwumi Adesina and the on-going support for Dr. Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala for the office of Director General of World Trade Organisation (WTO) exemplify the apogee of national solidarity in pursuit of a common objective – to put Nigeria first on the regional and global landscape. In both cases, their nomination was backed by the government and people of Nigeria. And while Dr. Adesina has been successfully re-elected, Dr. Okonjo-Iweala is in the final lap of the race with bookmakers tipping her to clinch the top job. No Nigerian raised questions as to the tribe, tongue or religion of either personality.

However, this was not the same cup of tea for Justice Ishaq Usman Bello when President Buhari nominated him to represent Nigeria as a Judge at the International Criminal Court (ICC) in the Hague. Rather than enjoy the customary national solidarity and endorsement, he got the contrary for no fault of his. The Judge is merely what you will call a collateral damage owing to the criticism that has become a recurring decimal whenever Buhari announces his political appointments. In this case, critics have also wondered why Buhari must nominate a northerner, accusing him of always giving advantage to the north in terms of appointments. While one cannot dismiss that with a wave of hand, given Buhari’s clannish nature evident in his political appointments in the last five years, it does come across as an unfair basis to deny Justice Ishaq Bello the national support, which he deserves and obviously would have received had his name been anything close to Adesina or Okonjo-Iweala. As qualified and competent as Bello may be, the track records of lopsided of Buhari’s political appointees have clearly seen him, literarily, in the line of fire with false narratives against him, which include the claim that he is deficient in the knowledge of criminal law justice. Justice Bello is not just a sound and courageous judge, he is knowledgeable and passionate about the administration of criminal justice and this IS evident in how innovatively he has tried to make the Administration of Criminal Justice Act (ACJA) 2015 more effective and goal scoring in terms of accelerating the dispensation of justice. Specifically, the Chief Judge signed an order of Practice Direction (PD) for the ACJA as a direction on how to apply the act to ensure more efficiency in prosecution and investigation. The said PD is to give life and fervor to the said Act and give the toothless bulldog some teeth to bite.

For instance, the PD confers authority on a judge to award cost against a counsel that is absent in court on an agreed date. According to Paragraph four, Order Seven, “Where a counsel who was present in court and agreed on the next adjournment date fails to attend the hearing without good reason or sufficient notice, costs may be awarded against him.” Parapraph 7 0f the said order also provides that “where a counsel, holding brief for another counsel is unable to proceed with the business of the day, due to his unpreparedness, costs may be awarded against him personally.” Another piece of ingenuity in the Order signed by Justice Bello also almost completely discourages a defendant from jumping bail because his head will be shaved in his absence. The provision that relates to that reads: “Where a defendant who has been granted bail, or having due notice of his trial date, fails without reasonable explanation to attend or refuses to attend court for his trial, and a summons and/or warrant as the case may be, has been issued to compel his attendance without success, the trial shall continue in his absence.” The Practice Direction also empowers a judge or magistrate to award cost against any lawyer personally who files applications that have no foundation in the law in any criminal proceedings and such cost cannot be passed to his client. This caveat is very innovative as it is an incontrovertible fact that lawyers are at the heart of long delays of trials through the constant barrage of frivolous applications they throw at the court.

Being a forward looking progressive, on the 30th day of October, 2017, Justice Bello introduced the new High Court of the Federal Capital Territory, Abuja (Civil Procedure) Rules 2018 and the Rules came into force on the 15th day of February, 2018. Under the new rules, Order 37, Rule 4 is truly commendable as it provides for fast track procedure in civil cases. Under the fast track, the period from commencement to conclusion of trial in fast track procedure shall be within 30 days, the filing and adoption of final addresses is within 14 days, judgment shall be delivered within 7 days and the issuance of certified true copy of judgment shall be within 4 days. The ingenuity of this provision is made clearer when you take into cognizance the fact that cases that take 10 to 15 years could begin and conclude within 55 days under the new rules. As great as this fast track procedure may be, it is a bit too wide in scope as cases that go there are subject to the approval of the Chief Judge. But a criticism against the fast track procedure which provides that an applicant must pay a filing fee of One Hundred Thousand Naira is that it makes quick dispensation of justice the preserve of only the rich, yet the say the court is a place for the common man. Perhaps, the filing fee may require a downward review to make it more accessible to the common man. The new rules also provides for a place for electronic services of court processes and document. This has helped to checkmate those who evade services of court processes as the courts now accept substituted services electronically. The tales of how lawyers and their clients evade service of processes is public knowledge and therefore makes that provision expedient. Justice Bello has also created the enforcement procedure rules for the Child Rights Act, which has seen to even as he is documented to have enhanced the welfare of judicial offices.

Despite these laudable efforts by the eminent jurist, his nomination has been greeted by criticism within the Nigerian shore; and that portends a negative impact to his quest to sit on the bench at the Hague. What makes it more worrisome is the fact that it is coming from his fellow countrymen who are until now famed for national solidarity at a time and in circumstances like the instant one. Even the African Bar Association (AFBA) had recently warned against the negative comments from the region against Justice Bello and other nominees from the region, saying it would work against the continent’s interest at the ICC and called for a sheathing of swords. Nigerians may do well to heed that advice and rally behind their country’s nominee – Justice Ishaq Usman Bello for the common good of the country

Ughegbe, a journalist, Public Opinion Influencer & Human Rights Advocate writes from Abuja.

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Opinion

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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