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The Southeast Is No Less A Burden

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Ahmadu Shehu, PhD

  • The people of the Niger Delta region (let alone the southwest) do not align with the Southeast in politics and administration
  • The Southeast is only hiding behind the shadows of other regions in the south to claim prosperity
  • The Southeast sits on one of the country’s most infertile, erosion-prone lands, is the smallest and most overpopulated region leading to congestion and resource scarcity
  • None of the southeastern states – despite the 12% derivation funds – is wealthy enough to pay salaries without the federation account
  • Southeast is the main culprit in destroying Nigeria’s image and dignity in the international community
  • People are dealers and distributors of fake, contraband medications and drugs in all the nooks and crannies of this country***

As we continue the inconvenient conversation on Biafra and what it portends for the Southeast and our country, I find the need to clarify some insinuations raised in the troupes of comments and rejoinders that trailed my previous articles. But, before proceeding, I must commend many southeasterners for their dispassionate contributions and insightful perspectives.

However, although critical, some of the comments have missed salient truths that need further explanation. This will help our generation avoid past mistakes committed mostly by overzealous politicians, leading to avoidable wars and near-disintegration of our dear country.

There is this illusion that conflates southern Nigeria, particularly the Niger Delta, with the Southeast or “Biafra”. The truth is that the people of the Niger Delta region (let alone the southwest) do not align with the Southeast in politics and administration.

For the information of our youth, the first secessionist war in Nigeria was fought between Niger Delta activists under the leadership of Isaac Adaka Boro and the Nigerian forces led by Chumeka Ojukwu, who later became a secessionist himself.

The three phases of Ojukwu’s career: from a defender of Nigeria’s unity at the battlefield to a rebel against his own country and later a senator and presidential candidate for the very country he fought to disintegrate should tell discerning minds that there are many faces to the idea of Biafra, none of which is the common interest of the Igbo people.

Please permit me to be blunter here. As far as our contemporary political and economic realities are concerned, the Southeast is only hiding behind the shadows of other regions in the south to claim prosperity. In other words, when our Igbo brothers call the northerners parasites, lazy or Abuja-dependent, they are actually borrowing the glory of the Niger Delta, and probably Lagos State, to abuse others. Because in reality, the contributions of the Southeast in the so-called feeding the nation is not as significant as they may like us to believe.

If you doubt this, let’s ask a few questions on the most critical sectors of the Nigerian economy. Since 90% of Nigeria’s foreign income depends on crude oil, what is the contribution of the Southeast in the two million barrels Nigeria makes per day? Very little is the answer. For, out of the nine oil-bearing states in Nigeria, Imo and Abia are the only southeastern states, accounting for an abysmal 1.6% and 0.68% of the total crude oil produced in the country. This is very negligible, as far as the numbers in this sector are concerned.

The Nigerian GDP, which is the bedrock of the economy and the source of non-oil revenue, primarily comes from agriculture. What is the contribution of the Southeast to agricultural production? The numbers are even more insignificant here. It is unfortunate that except for the oil-spilt Ogoni land, the Southeast is Nigeria’s least agriculturally viable region. Most states and local councils in the Southeast are not food sufficient.

By the nature of its geography, the Southeast sits on one of the country’s most infertile, erosion-prone lands. It is also the smallest and most overpopulated region leading to congestion and resource scarcity. It is no coincidence, therefore, that no one buys farm produce from there. Conversely, we see tons of raw food and livestock being transported daily to feed the region.

Some people may argue that the economic strength of the Southeast lies in its profoundly robust revenue base generated from industries and MSEs. They further postulate that the region contributes the most to the Nigerian revenue basket, albeit without evidence. Well, all the regions of the federation contribute their fair share to the federation tax revenue. However, the evidence available proves that the Southeast is neither the highest contributor nor is it self-reliant.

According to the National Bureau of Statistics, Southwest and South-South have the highest IGR per capita, and the Southeast is at par with North-Central, followed by Northwest and Northeast. None of the five southeastern states appears close to the top ten high revenue-generating states. Like any other northern state, none of the southeastern states – despite the 12% derivation funds – is wealthy enough to pay salaries without the federation account. Thus, one may ask: what kind of entrepreneurship and economic prosperity we are talking about here?

The fallacy behind the overestimated economic contribution of the Southeast is just one of the many problems. For instance, more than once, our country’s unity and cohesion are put on dangerous edges, thanks to the secessionist tendencies of the Southeast. Instead of forging ahead and pursuing alliances and friendships countrywide, the region and some of its people have continued on the path of division and segregation. The hatred propagated against anything and anyone perceived to be anti-Biafra has been phenomenal.

Furthermore, the Southeast is the main culprit in destroying Nigeria’s image and dignity in the international community. The Nigerian passport, which commanded respect a few decades ago, has become a suspect document worldwide. This unfortunate degradation of national identity and pride is the handwork of Nigerian drug pushers, physical and internet scammers, illegal migrants and human traffickers, most of whom are known to be southeasterners.

The same people are dealers and distributors of fake, contraband medications and drugs in all the nooks and crannies of this country, particularly in the North. This has always been an open secret and has been made even more vividly evident by the recent successes of the Nigerian Drug Law Enforcement Agency (NDLEA). The dangers these portend to our national development and global recognition is unquantifiable.

Therefore, if the above is true, claiming that the North is a mere burden on the Nigerian federation is absurd. For some, this might be based on ignorance, while for others, it is a deliberate attempt to malign and stereotype the region for reasons best known to the perpetrators of these dangerous narratives. But, whatever the motive is, we must recognize that all the federating units cause shared burdens to our national growth and development.

Since the North’s limitations and other regions have been overstretched in our national discourse, I believe it is equally important to remind our brothers in the Southeast that they are no less a burden than the other regions. As Nigerians, we should prepare to share both the positive and negative consequences of the actions and inactions of our fellow citizens. But, this is only possible when all parties acknowledge their limitations and are ready to embrace one another. Nigerians are siblings of a single family that are more alike than different. The earlier we accept this truth, the better.

Dr Ahmadu Shehu is a nomad cum herdsman, an Assistant Professor at the American University of Nigeria, Yola, and is passionate about the Nigerian project.

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Former Perm Sec Commissions 4.6km Damare Road, Lauds Fintiri’s Achievements

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A retired federal permanent secretary and elder statesman Alhaji Ahidjo Bamanga has lauded Governor Ahmadu Umaru Fintiri for his outstanding achievements in 3 years which have uplifted the status of the state

He was speaking during the commissioning of 4.6km ATV Damare road in Girei local government area.

Speaking shortly before the commissioning Alhaji Bamanga applauded the Governor for his commitment towards changing the fortunes of the state.

The elder statesman described Governor Fintiri as a committed, result oriented and great achiever who has salvaged the state from the shackles of underdevelopment urging all Adamawa people to support him for continuity.

Earlier Governor Fintiri said the 4.6km road is part of the landmark achievements in the deliveries of the urban renewal campaign of his administration.

The Governor said government has developed a two way approach to infrastructural strides which is urban renewal and rural infrastructure and community development and it will not rest on its oars till it achieves that.

He proudly noted that Adamawa is wearing a beautiful look and has fast become an investment hub for investors.

While pledging to continue to flag off and commission projects till the end of his tenure he reiterated his resolve to ensure that no one is left behind and nothing is left untouched.

Commissioner of works and energy development, Adamu Atiku
said the 4.6km ATV Damare road is strategic and important as it has ameliorated the plight of commuters and opened up the area for development.

There were goodwill messages from the District Head of Girei, Dr Ibrahim Ahmed Mustapha, and chairman Girei Local Government Council Judah Amisa and Baba Salam.

High points of the event was a display of three hearty cheers from corp members who are major beneficiaries of the road which leads to the NYSC orientation camp Damare.

The Governor while inspecting the road had a stopover at the NYSC camp and was cheerfully welcomed by the corp members.

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Accountability: Nat’l Lottery Trust Fund Emerges 2nd Best Compliant Agency In Nigeria

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Dr Bello Maigari, the Executive Secretary , National Lottery Trust Fund, has said that the Agency emerged the second best accountability compliant in Federal Government Agency’s Anti Corruption and Transparency Units ( ACTU) in 2021.

Dr Bello Maigari made the agency’s stand clear in a statement issued on Monday and signed by Muhammad Auwal Adam, Media and Puɓlications unit of the Trust Fund.

Dr. Maigari equally stated that the agency was the fourth best compliant among the government MDA in efficiency and transparency in the workplace.

“In less than Three years of the constitution of the Unit, the agency scored 84.45% to emerge the second best compliant in agency category in Nigeria and the fourth best compliant MDA with systems and processes put in place to promote efficiency and transparency in the workplace”. Maigari said.

According to Dr. Maigari, the success is attributed to the efforts put by the agency’s Anti-Corruption and Transparency Unit (ACTU).

The Executive Secretary stated that the development equally followed the high standards of transparency and accountability collectively exhibited by the management and staff of the agency.

Similarly, Federal Government has lauded the National Lottery Trust Fund for gigantic intervention in National Sports Development and urged other government MDAs to emulate.

According to Dr Bello Maigari, the commendation followed the giant intervention so far made by the agency in promoting nation’s sport.

He said that over N574m worth of sports equipment procured by the National Lottery Trust Fund and distributed to over 2000 selected public primary schools across the country.

He noted that the significance of the intervention would go along way in promoting good causes and sport Development among Nigerian Youths.//

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Ishaka Dedan Reelected As Adamawa NUJ Chair

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The Adamawa state Council of the Nigeria union of Journalists, NUJ Saturday held its election which saw the emergence of Ishaka Donald Dedan as the Chairman for the second term.

This was announced by the Chairman, Electoral Committee of the twenty twenty two election, Comrade Bashir Liman at the N UJ’s Secretariat, Press Centre Yola.

The returned Chairman, Comrade Ishaka Donald Dedan polled one hundred and ten votes to defeat his rival Comrade Kate Aliyuda who polled seventy two votes.

Meanwhile, Comrade Fidelis Jockthan polled one hundred and twenty votes to clinch the position of Secretary defeating his closest rival Jonathan Filibus who polled seventy three votes.

The office of the treasurer was won by Joy Diamond Leka with one hundred and sixteen votes beating her rival Felicia Amos who polled thirty seven.

Other positions of Auditor and Assistant Secretary were unopposed.

The newly elected leaders were administered oath of office by Barrister Sunday Wugira.

In an inaugural speech, the Vice Chairman, Nigeria Union of Journalist, North East zone, Comrade Zare Baba charged the new executive to carry every body along and eschew bigotry and favoritism.

In an acceptance and victory speech, the Chairman, Nigeria Union of Journalists, NUJ, Comrade Ishaka Donald Dedan who thanked God for the victory pledged to play an open door policy.

Comrade Dedan who solicited prayers and support of the members urged them to advise them where necessary.

Speaking, the Permanent Secretary ministry of information, Barrister Isuwa Misali who congratulated the new executives to work together towards forging the union forward.

Other speakers at the event who presented their good will messages include NUT state Chairman, Comrade Rodney Nathan, representative of the Judicial Staff Union of Nigeria, JUSUN Adamawa state Chapter and Radio Television Theatre and Art Workers Union, RATTAWU.

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