The surest way to cure a sickness completely is to identify the root-cause, fight it from there, else you are like one chasing after shadow ~ Comr Princewill Azubuike lamented…
The leader of the Renaissance Movement and director of Media and Communications of Fresh Hope, Comr Princewill Azubuike has taken a swipe at the leadership style of governor Wike over his wrong approach or measure taken to fight against the appearance of black particles in the air otherwise called soot in Rivers state and its environs.
This, he posited in a press release issued in Port Harcourt, the Rivers State capital over the weekend.
He picked holes with the directives given by His Excellency Nyesom Wike in his new year message wherein he directed the local government chairmen across the state to shutdown all illegal crude oil refining sites in their domain and also report those behind the illegal crude oil refining to his office.
Comr Princewill said that the issue of illegal oil refining which is the cause of soot in the state would have been avoided if the governor was leading a people centered government like his predecessor, Amaechi.
For instance, between 1999 – May 2015, when Dr Peter Odili and Rt Hon. Chibuike Rotimi Amaechi held sway as governors of the state respectively, there was nothing called soot then? If at all there was soot; it wasn’t conspicuous as it’s today.
What was their secret then?
1They were deeply involved in youth empowerment and man-power development programmes.
2. Inflation rate then was relatively okay!
3. Unemployment ratio then was minimal.
4. The government of the day created an enabling environment for investors to come in and invest thereby creating employment opportunities for the teeming unemployed youths.
5. SMEs thrived because the government of the day created an enabling environment for and supported them greatly etc.
Taking a comparison of the cost of living then and now. You would definitely see a great difference. For instance, a bag of foreign rice then costs between N8,000 – N9,000 as at 2015. A Kg of gas (KPG) costs between 200 – 250 at most, a bag of cement was sold for about N1,500 or less, a bag of flour was sold for N5,000, a litre of fuel was sold for 65 naira among others.
The current prices of these items in the market now have skyrocketed as a bag of foreign rice is sold for N35,000 against 9,000, cement N5,500 against 1,500, gas N750 against N200 etc. Yet people have to survive.
Those who were employed in 2012/2013 for instance, probably with an initial start-up salary of 100,000 (that is, nine years ago), and still receiving that same amount without promotion or increment in salaries yet, will buy a bag of rice which was sold then for 9,000 at 35,000 now, a bag of cement which was originally sold for 1,500 at 5,500 now, a kg of cooking gas which was sold for 200 then for 750 now etc. Isn’t that outrageous?
So, it would have been wise for any government to first consider fighting against inflation, increase workers’ salaries, creating of employment opportunities for the teeming unemployed youths etc, before talking about the fight against soot. There and then, it will yield meaningful results.
Though most of the issues raised above are outside the purview of the state government as they fall under the exclusive list hence; the federal government have great role(s) to play in terms of price of fuel, cooking gas, exchange rate, among others; which are determining factors for inflation.
Comr Princewill decried that it’s probable that those youths whom the government have deliberately denied meaningful employment by their refusal to build industries and factories that would have absorbed them, have resorted to other means of livelihood which is, engaging themselves in the business of illegal oil refining popularly called ‘kpofire’ thereby resulting to the dangerous soot ravaging the state.
Those who are in this illegal refining business are fully aware of its hazard nature yet, they still get involved in it. Even the users of these ‘gbor fire’ products knows the high level of risk in using such products at hone. But for the fact that they do not have any choice due to the fact that the products seems to be relatively affordable compare to original kerosene, fuel, etc at fuel stations yet still patronise them.
Comr Princewill pointed to what the governor of Cross River State is doing HE, Gov Ben Ayade, who built a poultry farm where they breed/nurse, and train birds, produce feeds, butcher and packages them for sale in tons. You would be forced to advise the governor of Rivers State to borrow a leave from Ayade in terms of establishing industries that would generate employment to the people. I think Gov E. N. Wike should take a clue from him. Governance is not all about building over head bridges under the guise of flyovers which have no single direct economic impact on the citizenry and the state.
Again, the governor should gettison his ego, and have a rethink, then revisit the abandoned industries established and built by his predecessor, Chibuike Rotimi Amaechi which absorbed a lot of Rivers people like the Buguma Fish Farm in Asari Toru LGA, the Songhai Resort and Farms, in Nowa-Bam Tai LGA, the Banana Plantation etc. Revamp and thereby putting them to optimal use. By so doing, he would have generated employment opportunities for the citizens.
Furthermore, the governor should revamp the disbanded TIMARIV, RSSDA, recall and reinstate the unlawfully sacked workers of Ken Saro Wiwa’s Poly Technic, the sacked teachers in Rivers state owned demonstration secondary schools etc.
The governor should as a matter of urgency, prioritise civil servants welfare as well as her promotion, and be prompt in the payment of retirees gratuity and monthly pensions to pensioneers.
You recall that the governor had on several occasions in the past promised employment to Rivers people which none has come to fruition.
They include: the ministry of justice employment promise made in 2017, the Rivers State Independent Electoral Commission (RSIEC) employment in 2018, the ten thousand ministry of education teachers and none teachers recruitment of 2019, The Rivers State University (RSU) recruitment of 2019, the five thousand teachers recruitment of 2021 among others. Those are capable of throwing youths who are not well coordinated into doing bad things.
Consequently, the federal government has a lot of part to play in this regard. As a federation which operates a presidential system of government with its federating units wading less power, the president should as a matter of necessity go back to his electoral manifesto of 2015 wherein he promised Nigerians that if voted in, he will make the dollar equal to naira, that a litre of fuel will be sold for 65 naira among others.
The major reason why we have this unprecedented level of inflation in our country is traceable to the rise in dollar against the naira and high cost of petrol.
You will agree with me that Nigeria’s economy is largely dependent on importation and the exchange rate is too high while the naira keeps dwindling. And so, it has directly affected every aspect of the economy thereby having a very negative impact on the low income earners thereby pushing them into doing things that ordinarily they wouldn’t want to do just for survival sake.
And so, it behooves on the federal government since the issue of dollars and fuel prices amidst other critical national issues fall under the exclusive list of governance to see how they will remedy the situation.
Lastly, the president should create employment opportunities for the teeming unemployed youths by building industries and factories where these youths will be meaningfully engaged thereby keeping them away from engaging in illegal means of livelihood.
Therefore, Comr Princewill adviced the youths that irrespective of the insensitivity of the government of the day to the plights of the masses, do not take to crime, nor engage in activities that are injurious to humanity generally. ‘kpofire’ or whatever it’s called is not a way to go and those in it should desist forthwith with immediate alacrity.
It is like one ‘throwing a stone in the market place not knowing whose mother it will hit’.
Lastly, let me strongly advise and encourage the youths to get their PVCs ready and be ready to vote men of vision, foresight, detribalised, men who have delivered in the past and are still delivering. Those with intimidating track records. They may not be saints however but have distinguished themselves in public offices. Such like His Excellency, Rt Hon Chibuike Rotimi Amaechi and few others! Let’s go and fish them out and vote them in come 2023, with their likes at the helm of affairs in this country, there will definitely be a turn around in the country; as there’s still a Fresh Hope for Nigeria!
Comr Princewill Azubuike
Is the Director of Press and Cmmunications, Fresh Hope Media Group
Based in Port Harcourt.
Sunday 9th January, 2022