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ANALYSIS: The Concern And Reality About N5000 Stipend

By Tajudeen Balogun, Head, African Examiner, Nigeria Bureau

Ever since the promise was made till date, I have not for once stopped asking and wondering on how far the scheme would go; as well as to what extent would the target beneficiaries be reached. It was as if I have been laden with a personal burden and after several attempts to scratch for effective solutions, none always seems to be in sight. Whether the scheme is meant for the unemployed graduates or the vulnerable, my worry over the reach and desirable result from the promised monthly N5000 across the country, especially on a long term, has curiously remained unabated.

In late January 2016, I was at a briefing called by the Minister of Information and Culture, Alhaji Lai Mohammed. Among other serious questions asked him was the effective plan by the Federal Government to properly implement payment of the monthly stipend. If the truth must be told, I was not really convinced about Alhaji Mohammed’s response to the question.

No doubt, the tone of his response was very assertive and resolute, yet, it was clear that a lot, including exchanging of experiences within and outside Nigeria and collaboration with many stakeholders must be made before any hope of (partial or total) success of the programme could be raised. Then the question is: does this government have such a luxurious of time – after almost a year in the office and still have so much to accomplish in line with her electoral campaign promises?

Moreso, given the type of Nigerian society – where many scramble for ‘free lunch’, as well as aspire to have share of the so called “commonwealth”, it can be extremely tasking before anything, meaningful and substantial is achieved, on the policy under review.

Of course, this is the reason why I was relieved when the message came last weekend whether from the President or Presidency (all to me, is semantic) that the pay had been reviewed. President Muhammadu Buhari said from Doha, the capital of Qatar that instead of paying N5000 allowance, would provide employment; improve agriculture; build and develop schools with the same money, which has been estimated at over N500 billion!

Still, another worrisome twist to Mr. President’s announcement was that he (Buhari) did not promise to pay unemployed graduates, rather, the weak. Whether he was misquoted on this or not, I do not know. But I wish to state here that, this dimension (statement) if true, is a minus to the present administration. Nigerians heard and understood very clearly from the outset, the source and content of the promise on the pay.

Be that as it may, it must be stated that care must be taken if the stipend (as now promised – only for the weak and for human capital development) must make any sense at all. Otherwise, I am afraid another failed SURE-P – social-economic-like reform initiative is imminent.

As expected, reactions have been trailing the announcement. But interestingly, despite diverse views, virtually everyone agrees to the fact the payment is far from being feasible and making significant impacts. As I established earlier, if the scheme is not either truncated by challenge of lack of trust and fairness, it is most likely to be dragged or frustrated due to lack of proper funding midway.

For instance, if the Federal Government proposed a budget of N6.8 trillion, which is non-oil based; with about 40 per cent of capital expenditure; huge vote for debts service and solely rests the survival of the country’s macro economy on alternative channels, such as taxation; solid minerals and agriculture, certainly, we need not too much of talk to realize and appreciate that proper financial planning and prudence are really what we need, to make us carry on relatively well.

However, if President Buhari and his administration still hold on to the plan to pay the vulnerable the stipend as reiterated Monday and today by his SA on Media and Publicity Mr. Femi Adeshina, then he (Mr. President) must realize that actualizing the policy is not as significant and laudable as the public opinion and perception on its successful implementation. The issue here is that if the payment of peanut is eventually politicized, the implication of such is very obvious. So, it is better Mr. President makes up his mind on the matter now before it is too late. Already, the accusation and debate on (he) moving front and back on his and party’s promises are in the air.

As for the alternative measure, it is important this government is accountable; regarding how the but unpaid stipend is utilized on human capital development projects.

Still, those who are faulting the government for shelving the plan, they must note that the promise is not totally dropped, rather reviewed. For those who argue why should a government backslide on its party campaign promise? Well, in as much as I wish to align with the view, it is equally vital that the folks must realize that, if one intends to embark on an adventure, and suddenly faced with certain realities, suggesting otherwise, the normal thing to do is to back out; modify or review the plan, either for the journey to be rescheduled or cancelled out rightly.

These folks must also note that the payment is still at the planning level. Then, if I may ask, which one is better, between announcing the change in manner of its implementation now and commencing it as promised earlier, but after about three or six months, we begin to be told the story of inability to continue? Why and when did saying obvious truth become a crime in Nigeria?

 If really we must move forward and develop as well as bequeath a good legacy to the future generations, it is very key we begin to appreciate and encourage our leaders (not only in the public offices) to always take pains and say the truth. After all, lies don’t last and are very costly.

If Buhari will become the first President in Nigeria to have the gut to say what is actually in his mind and not what he thinks his audience wants to hear, so be it. Nigeria, with its present state, needs a leader who will be in the fore front in such regard. It was the same debate that was thrown up on Mr. President’s responses to questions bordering on the where about of the abducted Chibok school girls; Col Sambo Dasuki and Nnamdi Kanu controversial court bails, during his first and last Media Chat late December last year. Then, the President told panel of journalists with him that he had no intelligence report on the exact location of the missing girls, while he declared that Dasuki and Kanu matters were serious security state issues, therefore could not afford they were let go.

Perhaps, those who kicked against Mr. President’s replies were not mindful of the fact that if he had said otherwise, the public would still not be deceived as people know and have basic facts on every public issue, albeit, they might lack the detail knowledge. It is also very certain that if Buhari had lied at the chat, among of those who criticized him for putting issues straight, would still have turned around, thrown stones and spanners for being economical with the truth.

Personally, I appreciate that every leader must be sensitive and responsive to every situation around him. This, I feel also includes saying the truth. Although, what I think might make difference is the approach and perception of individuals.

I repeat, if the culture of putting the facts and records straight is what will become one of the significant signposts of the present government, it is important the needed compliment with the necessary cooperation from the public are provided. The challenge in Nigeria is about leadership. In fact, it has been said that Nigerians are almost the easiest people to govern, but without a good leadership, they can be very ruthless and so unruly, which is the situation with us for now.

Finally, it shall be gladdened if President Buhari succeeded in re-entrenching in the Nigerian mentality, that he could be held by his words. Therefore, beyond modifying the mode of paying the token stipend, the big task before this government is to ensure that the huge vote for the scheme is judiciously expended, and the public must so adjudge. Anything fall short of that, will amount to dashing the hope of the teeming Nigerians who had been taken for a ride for long, but presently crave for a brighter and prosperous future.

Ese Oruru Tale: A Case Of Failed Parenting and System

 I wish to be excused from the debate whether Ese Oruru, the 14-year-old girl from Opolo, Yenagoa, the Bayelsa State capital, was abducted from her native land or eloped with her alleged lover, Yinusa, (Yellow). I am doing this because, given the various variables made available on the matter and present state of affairs in Nigeria, either, is very possible. Secondly, I wish not to allow the debate rubbishes the neglected fundamentals which resulted to the saga in the first place, and allowed it to linger till now.

First, Yinusa is Ese’s mother customer – used to fetch water for her, in her shop, before later turned to a tricycle operator. Now the questions: If Ese’s father is not frequent in his wife’s shop, did he know Yinusa’s business relationship with his wife? If he’s not so observant of the details, can Ese mother deny she never suspected any strange advances or moves before August 20, 2015, from Yinusa to her daughter, Ese? For whatever reason, people allege it is the woman who first had the hint of relationship of her children with the opposite sex. In Ese’s saga, it was alleged that Yinusa has been buying and sending gifts to her (Ese); so, can Ese’s mother deny having knowledge of this? Did she (Ese’s mother) also receive gifts from Yellow? Nkan ti ako ba fe je, aki fi rumu (You don’t perceive what you distaste).

I make bold to say here that Ese’s mother and father had failed in their duty as a conscious parent – not to have been able to nip the danger in the bud when it loomed. Ese’s parents are not the only one in this challenge. There are many parents who lack close relationship and effective communication with their wards. And a child who misses this will take any standard or anything that comes to his her way anywhere. In other words, when a child is not trained by the parents that it is crucial to stand for something in life, then such child can fall for anything anywhere and at anytime!

It is the same thing with Yinusa’s parents. Even if they certified him for marriage, how come they accommodated their son bringing a teenager, without information from where she (a teenager) came from or communicating with her parents? Or they imagined Ese did not have a source? I am not ruling out the fact that Yinusa might not have parents could be (orphan); or not living with his parents or that he is living with his relatives or took Ese to his extended family members. Whatever the case might be with him, they all failed in their responsibility and obligation, just like Ese’s parents did. I smell effects of ignorance and lust in the saga, on both sides.

Ese’s abduction or elope story should be an eye opener to the reckless and passive parents, who always rely on their wards’ teachers/trainers to do all the magic. Indeed, it is a warning to the naughty mothers who indulge their children so much in the name of pampering and the fathers who evade the task of taking care of the children and leave the palava only to the mothers (wives). These are discouraging trends and the earlier all parents stopped the negligence and laxity, the better and most importantly, reducing the risk of over exposing the underage children to different societal hazards. Our wards must be our best friends and companions – they must know us and we must know them too!

Again, I blame the Police and other personalities alleged to have heard about the case since, yet allowed it to lie low until the media pushed it for the global attention. Why must the Police and alleged personalities keep silent or be inactive on a serious issue like this, since August last year when the abduction or elope was brought to their attention? So without the media report, the saga would have just ended miserably? Very sad! If this is the case, it only justifies the position that there are many but not reported Ese’s cases across the country. This is what I refer to as a failed system. Nigeria is unlike US, where the security of one is the security of all. Until we change the wrong mentality, the media will still report many Ese’s cases in the future, and many regret; noise and lamentation will still follow. We can’t continue like this.

Lagos State Government; Wake Up Please!

Indeed, it is another very sad story of abduction of school girls in Nigeria. This time, of the Babington Macaulay Junior Seminary in Ikorodu, a Lagos suburb, where on Monday evening, three girls of the school fell victims of kidnapping. This is happening when Nigerians are still lamenting over the abduction, by the Boko Haram insurgents of over 200 Chibok Secondary school girls in Borno State, since April 2014. Governor Akinwunmi Ambode, I appreciate some security measures put in place in particular, in the state’s schools, by your government, last year, when information went viral that the Boko Haram terrorists have stormed the state. The Monday incident is like another red alert for your government to wake up and step up efforts relating to security around the state schools; public places and institutions. A stitch in time saves…

E-Mail: tjaysuccess10@gmail.com; Facebook: Tajudeen Balogun; Twitter: @tjaysuccess10


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