Plateau: Lalong’s Impressive Development Moves

By Raymond GUKAS, Jos If the current efforts by the Plateau state government is anything to go by, then this is an indication that the administration of Governor Simon Lalong of the All Progressives Congress, APC, is beginning to find its bearing; 15 months of its four- year tenure. Among these efforts as witnessed in its recent approach is the settlement of salary arrears, obtaining accreditation for courses in the state owned university, Exploring revenue sources for Plateau self sustenance, boosting of agricultural production, improved health care, provision of physical infrastructure for industrial growth as well as peace building that has been tested since he assumed office. At inception, it was becoming glaring that the administration would be overwhelmed by the developmental strides of its predecessor who, sympathisers are quick to say, have left a mark on the sands of time and have sang discordant tunes of inaction which, among other things, they alleged, it lacks focus to drive the state to its proper place among the comity ‎of second generation states in the country; a feat, they said they have succeeded in chatting a way towards that direction, they insist. Shortly before swearing in, Lalong has made promises; especially to workers who were being owed then, but on assumption, he became indifferent to thier plight and almost ignored the sector he once promised. To political pundits, Lalong became engrossed in the political calculations on how to stay put; thereby, ignoring the trust the electorates have placed on his shoulders by chasing shadows believing that when he played along with those outside, they would be in position to make it happen for him come 2019. Ostensibly realising the fact that his base and dreams will always remain with the people in the state, he might have beaten a retreat and as it appears, this is paying off. In the history of the state, this administration will be the first to introduce a media interactive parley with the press on a monthly basis. This, according to the state commissioner of information, Mohammed Nazif, is to clear the air on what the government has been able to do so as to provide the opposition with the best alternatives to shape their criticism as to whether the change mantra is on the right track or not. According to him, the government on assumption placed high premium on the welfare of its workers and has been able to clear the seven months backlog of salaries inherited from the former governor Jonah Jang Peoples Democratic Party, PDP, administration and has cleared salaries from June 2015 to May 2016 and will soon commence payment of June 2016 salaries. The Commissioner stressed that the ministry, being the coordinating ministry of the one year three months in office of the administration, has been able to live up to its statutory responsibilities of gathering and disseminating information on government policies and had gone further to enter into retainer ship with the media. Nazif stressed that during the period under review, the state played the role of the pilot state for the switch over from analog to digital broadcasting, which the Federal Ministry of Information, through the National Broadcasting Commission and distributed 200,000 set top boxes free of charge to the people in Jos North, Jos South and Jos East local government areas in the northern senatorial zone if the state. However, the government mouthpiece was quick to add that one of the greatest challenges of the administration was the issue of finances, which he said, “You will recall that that we inherited N210 billion debt from the immediate past administration”. According to him, the government also inherited a backlog of unpaid salaries and pension and gratuity to the tune of N9.8 billion and N10.037 billion respectively, which, with the salary bailout of N5.3 billion and N5.2 billion, “we were able to pay the whole salary arrears and part of pension”. The state government, he added, also carried the 17 local governments along as it disbursed N2.5 billion to them to settle all outstanding salaries of their staff as well. “Today, all salaries from June 2015 to May 2016 have been paid, amounting to N19.5 billion, while the salary of June is being transmitted. “The sum of N1, 654,628,122.29 has been paid as pension from June 2015 to December 2015 and that of January 2016 will soon be paid. Similarly, pensions of higher institutions for December 2015 to March 2016 amounting to N116, 647,923.23 have been paid.” Nazif, who was accompanied to the maiden media interaction by his counterparts from the Ministry of Works and Transport, Urban Development, Environment, Finance, Commerce and other Directors and Permanent Secretaries form other Ministries to ditch out correct details of government business under the administration, said the briefing, which has been approved at the State Executive Council meeting will hold every first Monday of every month. Given detailed account of the finances of the government, the Accountant-General of the State, Cyril Tsenyi revealed that at inception, the administration sourced for N41.7 billion loan from banks and through federal government bonds, but has been able to access N28.4 billion of this amount. Cyril stated this while fielding questions from journalists at the monthly media forum which he disclosed it borrowed the money to settle backlog of salaries owed civil servants, complete ongoing projects among others; inherited from the immediate past administration in the state. According to him, “When this government came on board last year, we took a loan of N4.5 billion, to be specific with UBA bank; which has been converted to Federal Government of Nigeria Bond. Then in an attempt also, to get the accreditation of Plateau State University, we took N1.1 billion from Zenith Bank”. The Accountant General added that the Plateau State Government in conjunction with the Local Governments had applied for N10.5 billon for salary bailout, just like any other State and “We have another N10 billion from the excess crude account intervention by the Central Bank”. “These are the loans or facilities the state government so far enjoyed either locally or from the Federal Government. So if you add these four put together is N27.1 billion”, the Accountant-General said. He further stated that, “Out of the N27.1 billion, N20.5 billion are Federal Government intervention in terms of loan, with a single digit interest rate. You have the excess crude account N10 billion purely for infrastructural development. Not left out, the State’s Director General of Debt Management Office, Paul Sheku, said, “I’m quite sure you are well aware of what we call Budget Support Facility, it is also Federal Government assistance towards this State; they have agreed to give Plateau State Government N14.6 billion. That N14.6 billion is not coming at once, its coming in twelve trenches; first trench of N1.3 billion for three months and then nine months trench of N1.1 billion”. Sheku added that, “And there is a provision, each the Federal government or the units share more than N500 billion at Abuja, you are not suppose to enjoy that kind of budget facility, is in the condition. The Director General further explained that, “So once we share a revenue, that is among the three tiers of government, that is federal revenue that is above N500 billion, in the whole country, you don’t enjoy that kind of facility. “So far, the month before last, we were given N1.3 billion. So we have one year to process the facility”, but stressed that the State could not get that of last month, because over N500 billion was shared among the three tiers of government. To all these, the APC Government in the State says it has been able to judiciously maximised the funds that has so far accrued to the state within the last 15 months of the administration, with all the critical sectors of economy given due attention during the period under review.

Boko Haram: As The Battle To Uproot Terrorists In The Northeast Continues


Residents of Maiduguri, the Borno state capital are watching and waiting. When will the end of the Islamic militants, Boko Haram come? There was no answer to this, no one knows. Yes, just as no one knows when the world will come to an end, but the religious Books did say it would come and we all believe. The military, like the quotes in the Holy Books keep assuring us of the end to the continuous onslaught by the dreaded slaughterers and we believe them. Ours indeed is to believe, that the end will come.  Every day, there was a new hope that, this murderers will drop all tools used in butchering innocent souls, and if they would not repent our gallant soldiers would keep hunting until the last of them is seen no more. But that still was not the end. If it were so, by January this year, we will not read about attacks and killings either by the Terrorists or by our gallant soldiers, when our politicians and indeed Mr. President promised in December, 2015 that, those who took away sleep from our eyes were technically defeated.     Just as it was the duty of every Pastor and Imam to keep the faithful abreast of the end time. The General’s Sermon continuous in line with the tradition to keep the public abreast on the ongoing operation in the North East of Nigeria, But that is not again the end of the matter. When General Leo Irabor was speaking on the progress made under this progressive regime, we were again told that those who were sniffing lives out of innocent citizens are on their feet running for their very own lives, which even if the soldier’s bullet took will quickly make way for them to meet the promised virgins waiting on the other end of life. But that was not the end. They are only running. Will they come back? No one can tell, but when we heard of another attack by those fighting holy war, we will quickly remind ourselves that, of course, they only runaway to come back. Few were put to sleep by our gallant troops, the sleep that sends them to a very far journey, never to scare us with their faces again, but they are few. Others are still out there with their faces red, seeking blood to quench their thirst. In the sermon, General Irabor told us how they (Boko Haram) fled from our gallant soldiers. He mentions some of the major operations carried out with the attendant successes recorded since our last meeting. According to him, during the period under review, the following operations were conducted: a. Clearing Patrol around KALA BALGE General Area.   On 7 Jun 16, troops on patrol made contact with BHT around TILANI, RANN and KALMA in KALA BALGE general area. Consequently, in the process one was killed while others who suffered gunshot wounds fled. Among the items recovered were 3 motorcycles and a bag containing the sum of N466, 000.00 only. Additionally, 8 abducted persons made up of 2 adult females, 2 female teenagers and 3 male children were rescued from BHT captivity. However, one male minor sustained injury and has been treated at our medical centre. All the rescued persons are in our custody for further screening and profiling. b. Fighting Patrol. On 8 Jun 16, our troops conducted fighting patrols and cleared the following villages: KIRCHA, GONIYE, WUJJAL, ALKELU, KITA JIDDUM, GONIYE, JAMERI, GERIGANA, GEREKURA, JABE, HASSANA JERE AND CHACHILE. During the patrol, 2 BHT were killed while others fled. In the process, 8 Dane guns, 3 BHT flags, 2 handsets and a generator set were captured. c. Clearing Operation at ABBARI.    Following an Intelligence report, own troops carried out operation on 8 Jun 16 at ABBARI village in ALAGARNO Forest. On sighting own troops, BHT fled. However, one BHT was killed and another one captured alive. Items recovered were one Dane gun, 2 motorcycles, 2 wrist watches, gun powder, some hard drugs and the sum of N275, 060.00 only. d. Clearing Operation at YAJIWA. On 9 Jun 16, troops embarked on clearing operation to YAJIWA in ALAGARNO Forest. During the operation, 8 BHT camps were cleared. Items recovered from the camps include 2 primed IEDs, 3 pressure plates, a 36-hand grenade, 2 Dane guns, 7 motorcycles, a damaged mine detector, a vehicle and a camel bag. The 3 primed IEDs were safely disarmed by own troops while other items were destroyed. e. Ambush in MUSKA. On 10 Jun 16 after receiving an information about some BHT elements moving towards MUSKA village in NGALA LGA, own troops at LOGOMANI carried out an ambush on the suspected BHT. As a result, 10 BHT were killed and 2 others were captured alive. At the same     time, 2 civilians were rescued during the operation. Among the items recovered include: 6 AK47 magazines, 56 rounds of 7.62mm special ammunition, a bundle of detonating cord, a manual booklet on preparation of IED, 2 magazine pouches, a Techno Ipad, a Nokia handset, a Gionee handset, a digital multimeter, 6 SIM cards, 3 memory card, an Airtel modem containing memory card, a wrist watch,  2 Islamic books, an empty black bag and 2 motorcycles. f. Clearing Patrols around ALGARNO. Own troops conducted clearance operation in some suspected BHT camps located about 17.8 km east of troops defensive location in ALGARNO Forest. The troops cleared 5 suspected BHT camps and discovered a burnt Styer Armoured Personnel Carrier, 2 vehicles and 3 motorcycles but no contact was made with the BHT. Similarly on 13 Jun 16, troops conducted a long range patrol to LAWANKINARI village which is about 16 km north east of BORGOZO. In the process, troops apprehended a suspected BHT member (Abubakar Kurimi) who has won him the sum of N24, 555.00 only and a Dane gun. Giving update on Operation GAMA AIKI: He said, the ongoing operation in Northern Borno is a joint operation between our troops and those of the Multi-national Joint Task Force (MNJTF) comprising Nigeria, Niger, Chad and Cameroon which aimed at flushing out the BHT at the far northern fringes of Borno State and the Lake Chad Basin. According to him, the operation commenced on 13 Jun 16. Since its commencement, troops have made contact with BHT on 3 occasions. Two on our side and one on the side of the Chadians. In all the 3 occasions, the BHT suffered heavy casualties both in manpower and equipment. “Among the equipment captured from the BHT are 27 AK47, 3 GPMG, an LMG, 3 hand grenades and 2 RPG tubes. Since the operation started, a total of 31 BHT have been killed on our front. Unfortunately, we lost a soldier while 9 other soldiers were wounded and they are responding to treatment in our hospital. The operation is continuing. The Air Component of Operation LAFIYA DOLE is providing air support for the operation. “ He said Again, they are assuring us that the troops of Operation LAFIYA DOLE are more than ever determined to completely wipe out all terrorists from their hide out in our great country Nigeria.  “Our mandate is clear. We remain committed to this mandate”, he said However, they warned us to remain vigilant and report any suspicious movement of persons and objects to the military or to the nearest Security Agencies. That is telling us that, those wounded who took to their heels after being hit by our soldier’s bullets and their brothers who fled in all direction are likely to return. This is our fears, we have heard the sermon, we will do as they said, but when will the end come, that is the promise made to Nigerians, the people of the northeast and indeed residents of Borno. Usman Malami is an indigene of Maiduguri and student of Ado Bayero University, Kano, Nigeria

Day Of Rage And Fire Over Rice

By James BWALA

The drama over this year’s Ramadan rice started, when two suspected Boko Haram members send to spy on the strength of security operatives supervising the distribution of the wanted commodity was busted by the vigilance eye of the Civilian JTF, who are keenly watching every move in the crowd of over 30,000 people said to have come around the deputy governor’s office at the Maiduguri Government House for the yearly event. Earlier, the Ramadan rice went missing and fingers pointed at government officials for diverting the rice, but suddenly the rice reappeared for distribution. National Trail reports that, two suspected, Boko Haram spy were on Wednesday intercepted by the Civilian JTF at the Borno state deputy governor’s office, and handed over to security operative at the government house for onward delivery to the Nigerian military. It was said that, the two Boko Haram spy were at the ground to monitor as people were busy scrambling for rice with the intention of attacking them through suicide bombing. Although nothing incriminating was said to have been found on them, Civilian JTF controlling the crowd said, the suspects confessed to have come to spy for possible security lapses in other to send suicide bombers on the crowd for maximum casualty. A member of the Civilian JTF, Goni Abdullahi told National Trail that, “We saw them looking tensed and they are not trying to collect the rice but were being conscious of the security situation and we asked them to identify themselves. They could not give proper identification and they were trying to fight us, so we arrested them and took them to the security. “When they were beating they confess to have come on mission to spy the security situation for a possible attack on innocent residents who came out to seek food at the rice distribution centre at the deputy governor’s office.” On Thursday, a Policeman was reported killed by soldier over Ramadan rice, a situation which described how bad hunger has struck the northeastern state of Borno. It was reported that, as a result of the shooting, Governor Kashim Shettima was trapped in his office, as other civilians flee for their lives. Eye witness reports have it that, trouble started when soldiers who had gone to the Government House to take delivery of their share of rice, were denied entry by the police, following which they attempted to force themselves resulting into physical combat even as efforts by both the GOC7 Div and the Police Commissioner to gain entrance into the Government House for possible rescue of the Governor and other Government officials were repelled by the rampaging police and soldiers. However, while clarifying on the issue over a contain fracas between a Policeman and a Soldier at the deputy governor’s office, a joint statement by the Nigerian Army and the Nigerian Police described the clash as unfortunate a disagreement which led to the unfortunate shooting of a policeman on his foot. According to the statement, the Policeman is responding to treatment and has been visited by the theatre commander, operation Lafiya Dole, Major General LEO Irabor and the Commissioner of Police, Borno State Command, Aminchi Baraya, both of whom went together to sympathize with the policeman. Giving background to the clash, the Permanent Secretary, Government House and Security, Mr Ahmed Sanda, had on Sunday, June 19, 2019 began the distribution of rice to internally displaced persons living in the host communities of Maiduguri and Jere metropolis. The distribution was meant to take place at 28 wards of the two local government areas unfortunately, when the exercise was launched in old Maiduguri ward for Jere local government area and at Shehuri north ward for Maiduguri on Sunday, hoodlums overpowered the
committee in both instances and made away with many bags of the rice meant for the displaced persons. “As a result, officials tasked with the distribution shifted the exercise to two premises around the office of the Deputy Governor outside the Government House in order to ensure security of the food items while beneficiaries were identified and issued with allocation notes to give them access to the distribution centers. The exercise had gone smoothly since Sunday with some wards covered, until the unfortunate development on Thursday.” The statement said. It further that, while the Nigerian Army and the Nigeria Police Force in Maiduguri jointly condemn this unfortunate incident which was quickly brought under full control; The Army and the Police are jointly investigating the cause of the fracas with a view to ensuring that anyone found culpable amongst the security men are made to face disciplinary measures in line with laid down rules of the Nigerian Armed Forces. “Findings and measures taken will be brought to public knowledge as soon as possible.” The statement read. It continued that, the Army and the police operating in Borno state is assuring the general public that they will continue to collaborate and work together towards their ongoing counter insurgency and civil security efforts that have led to the emerging peace in the State. “The Army and the Police commands in Borno State call on all personnel to exercise restraint in the cause of their duties and should strive to respect one another and work together to secure innocent citizens and maintain peace.” The statement said.

Boko Haram: When IDPs Prefer To Live In Camps

By James BWALA Life in most of the Internally Displaced Persons (IDP) camps in Maiduguri, the hotbed of the Boko Haram insurgency has been in its lowest ebb. Gloom, anxiety, self pity fill the faces of people in these camps owing to the fact that they miss their homes so much but could not return. Reason is so obvious; it is not safe yet to return home. Aishatu Audu, an IDP, who also helps other women in cooking at the Dalori camp, told National Trail that life has lost its meaning because people are no longer their brothers’ keepers. She said she has been praying for peace to return to her village ‘Shettimari,’ a place synonymous with her 46 years sojourn on earth. According to her, until Boko Haram struck she never knew suffering, as all she does is farming and taking care of her children. “We do not have money neither do we have palaces. Our village has no electricity, but we lived happily in our round-hut with our children and they play happily before us. We never knew that people can kill other people for no just cause. But here we are with dashed hope. Our children, some of them are nowhere, husbands have been killed. All of us here are mostly widows; all we could do is waiting day and night for what government is promising. We really want to return to our once happy homes,” she said. In the camp along Konduga Road, government has evacuated over 300 people – children and the aged – from Bama Local Government Area. People from this area fear that the war against Boko Haram insurgents may just have begun and their hope of returning home soon may not be possible. Speaking on the recent return to Maiduguri of some of the IDPs who were return back to Bama and why she was still in Maiduguri, Aishatu said: ‘Bama is second home to Boko Haram like Gwoza, which is their former caliphate. I believe the evacuation of the remaining people in Bama to Maiduguri is the best government has done, but returning them is the wrong some people cannot forgive government. Nothing seemed to be going on in those areas, there is fear that just as the Boko Haram returned to Gworza and killed many people when the people are about packaging themselves again, they may likely head for Bama also with a mission of reclaiming it from the military forces. If they did come back, the lives of these innocent children – who are mostly orphans – and the aged who could not run out of Bama due to their aged would be in jeopardy. So, I think that informed the reason why some people desire to return among those who were said to have return. “I appreciate government for the efforts to evacuate them back, but they did not seek the consent of the people. When they first evacuated them they said it was because the lives of innocent citizens are in danger. But those who went back and return said their lives is better here in Maiduguri and they feel more safe here than back in Bama.”
She said although the evacuation is a burden on government, it was necessary if the effort of government towards ending the Boko Haram crises is anything to go by. Speaking on the problems they are faced with in the camp, Aisha said “Our major problem after food is where to sleep as there are inadequate bed spaces in the camp. Because of the poor sanitary condition, we are also exposed to mosquitoes, especially women and children, and we also have inadequate mosquito nets. Even when few mosquito nets are provided, there are no places to tie them because we sleep on the floor,” she said. Aisha also complained of lack of drugs at the camp’s clinics, disclosing that the only drug they get was paracetamol. “No matter the complaints, all you get is
paracetamol and when we go to hospitals in the town, they ask for money, which we don’t have,” he explained. But she said, for most of them, going back to their homes is like asking them to go back and have a date with death. She said, they prefer the camp for now because even when they cannot afford three square meal at least they can sleep with their eyes close because of the presence of the security operatives within the metropolis. According to her, those who were evacuated back home and return said, those areas are not habitable. Recalling when they were first brought to Maiduguri, Aisha said, “The children and the aged have suffered much at the hands of Boko Haram before soldiers took control of the local government. Some of them watched their children being slaughtered before their eyes but could not do anything. They have seen horror and lived day by day suffering at the hands of Boko Haram without help. Some of them died because of lack of care, and now that the war against Boko Haram is becoming a reality towards bringing it to an end. I think these people deserved to have peace at least and not to be faced with another bloody situation.” National Trail also observed that some of the victims who are currently housed at the 200 housing estate along Gubio road have been getting visitors regularly from well- meaning Nigerians and NGOs who brought food and medicine for them due to their conditions. Some of them who recently return back to camp said, they return owing to lack of food and fear of the unknown.

Avoiding Road Traffic Accidents In Nigeria

In general, accident is described as an unplanned, unexpected, and undersigned (not purposefully caused) event which occurs suddenly and causes injury or loss, a decrease in values of the resources, or an increase in liabilities.
As a technical term ‘accident’ does not have a clearly defined legal meaning. In insurance terminology, an accident is the event which is not deliberately caused, and which is not inevitable. For example, if a driver (who is covered under personal automobile insurance for injury and losses due to negligence) willfully drives the vehicle into a tree, the resulting injury or loss is not insured even though it can still be referred as an accident.
In other words, road traffic accident is described as accidents involving road users vehicular or human. In most road accidents, it is frequently the driver who is blamed rather than the road. Those reporting the accident have the tendency of laying the whole blame on the driver either for over speeding, wrong overtaking, over loading among other human errors.
Available statistics shows that Nigeria ranks number nine in the world in terms of road traffic accidents and number three in Africa. According to the statistics, Nigeria is behind Iran, Iraq, Venezuela, Guyana, Libya, Dominican Republic, Uganda and Burkina Faso.
A breakdown of the statistics reveals that Nigeria is ranked number nine with 35.39 points behind Libya, Uganda and Burkina Faso that have 38.69, 87.14 and 36.56 points respectively while Iran is number one with 43.54 points followed by Iraq with 41.41 points.
Others are Venezuela with 41.06, Guyana 39.80, and Dominican Republic which has 38.51 points.
Worried by this development, stakeholders in the nation’s road safety sector have expressed concern about the Global Status Report in 2015 that the total number of road traffic deaths worldwide has risen to 1.25 million annually.
They observe that although there has been progress towards improving road safety legislation and making highways safer, the pace of reducing road accidents is slow.
They also solicit urgent action to achieve the target for road safety as indicated in the newly adopted 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development.
But traffic regulatory authorities have insisted that in spite of growing concerns over the non-compliance with traffic rules and regulations by motorists in Nigeria, they have adopted measures aimed at stemming the trend.
Corps Marshal Boboye Oyeyemi, the head of the Federal Road Safety Commission (FRSC), noted that in spite of the measures, road crashes occurred due to non-compliance with traffic laws by road users.
“Non-compliance with traffic laws is as a result of lawlessness by some road users which is rampant in the urban areas,’’ he observed.
According to him, use of cell phones and jumping traffic light form aspects of lawlessness among motorists that result in road accidents in some cases.
Oyeyemi explained that the traffic law enforcement agencies were given the responsibility of restoring discipline by apprehending violators and applying sanctions.
He said there were 10 mobile courts in the Federal Capital Territory (FCT), Abuja, alongside other conventional courts where those arrested were prosecuted, observing that the commission would soon increase the number of its mobile courts nationwide.
Oyeyemi emphasised that speed among motorists had been a contentious issue in ensuring safety globally.
“Enforcement of Speed Limiting Device policy is supported by the act that sets up FRSC and for us to attain reduction in road crashes; we need to move on with the enforcement of the policy.
“Speed accounts for over 65 per cent of road crashes in the country through which lives and property are lost on daily basis; in Nigeria, speed accounts for 50 per cent of road crashes,’’ he said.
He further said that the FRSC Act was being amended to include community service so that people that had contravened the laws could serve the community as punishment instead of pay fines.
He observed that this measure would deter violators because during work hours when they were supposed to be busy making a living, they would be forced to clean the motor parks or sweep public places.
“FRSC is also working in collaboration with the National Drug Law Enforcement Agency (NDLEA) on the use of breathalyzers to check the alcohol level in the blood system of drivers.
“ Breathalyzer is for all drivers. We go to the motor parks to conduct this because that is where we have the deviants more.
“ For private drivers, we believe they are more reasonable. However, once in a while, we conduct some random checks on them,’’ he said.
He acknowledged the effort of traffic law enforcement agencies in restoring discipline by ensuring that the sale of alcohol was banned at motor parks.
Supporting the use of breathalyzers, Mr Udeme Eshiet, FCT Sector Head of FRSC Operations unit, said it was useful in detecting the level of alcohol in the blood system of drivers.
“When the instrument is used and the level of alcohol is above 0.5 milligrams, it shows that such a driver is not fit to drive,’’ he noted.
Eshiet said that drivers were expected to show a print-out of the test at the beginning of their journey normally in the morning to indicate that they were alcohol free.
He added that the weekly rally being done by the road safety headquarters in collaboration with FCT was aimed at enlightening the public on traffic regulations.
“This enlightenment rally is a wakeup call for members of the public to resist some evil acts and to make them aware that the giver and taker of a bribe are culpable,’’ he said.
All these measures notwithstanding, Mr. Okon Akpan, a driver, attributed violation of traffic rules to lack of training in driving, stress and incomplete vehicle documentation.
“I do not violate traffic laws because I am a trained driver. Drivers can violate traffic laws sometimes when they are under stress or when they suspect that law enforcement agents are pursuing them.
“They can violate by beating the traffic light while they are speeding to evade the law enforcement agents because their vehicle particulars are not complete,’’ he observed.
He, however, called on road safety personnel to help educate road users when approaching traffic lights and, most importantly, on lanes to use when approaching a bend.
Stakeholders also advise that road users should always adopt the necessary defensive driving attitude for safety.
“Defensive driving requires drivers to keep in mind the existence of road hazards and get prepared to take safety measure.
“They should make allowances for other road users to adjust to the situation, be on the look-out for traffic signs and pedestrian actions that may cause traffic hazards.
“Aside this, motorists should minimise the chances of accidents from mechanical failure by proper maintenance of vehicles.
“They must be able to quickly adapt to road conditions while maintaining proper control of their vehicles,’’ Mr Oladunjoye Ige, a motorist and civil servant, said.
By and large, the FRSC advises the public to call the emergency toll-free number 122 in the event of accident, emergency or removal of broken down vehicles.

Agriculture As Panacea For Youth Unemployment

Tilling the ground and rearing of cattle were the chief employments in ancient times. The Egyptians excelled in agriculture and after the Israelites entered into the possession of the Promised Land, their circumstances favoured in the highest degree a remarkable development of this art. Agriculture became indeed the basis of the Mosaic common wealth.
Before the advent of crude oil in commercial quantity in Nigeria, agriculture was also the main stay of economy as products like Cocoa, Timber, Cotton, Groundnut, Hides and Skin, Palm oil among others were exported in large quantities which resulted availability of foreign exchange for development and employment not only for the youth but all unemployed persons of various ages.
However, when oil was discovered in commercial quantities about 60 years ago, these agricultural products and their relevance to the development of the country were relegated to the background which eventually led to the unemployment burden Nigerians are facing in recent time.
Recently, analysts who discussed the issue of unemployment in Nigeria at different forum opine that unemployment in Nigeria is one of the most critical problems the country is facing in spite of its diverse and infinite resources.
They observe that while schools turn out millions of graduates every year, the labour market absorbs only a small fraction of them.
For instance, the International Labour Organisation says in sub-Saharan Africa, Nigeria inclusive, unemployment affects between 15 per cent and 20 per cent of the workforce.
It notes that young people comprise more than 40 per cent of the total number of the employed in most cases.
In the light of this, the Federal Government inaugurated Youth Employment in Agriculture Programme (YEAP) in December 2014 to address the rate of unemployment in the country.
The programme is intended to create a new generation of 750,000 young commercial farmers and agribusiness leaders (Nagropreneurs) that will make Nigeria’s agriculture more efficient, profitable and competitive.
The Federal Government says Nagropreneurs will become the chief executive officers of their farms and agribusinesses, creating jobs in the rural areas and reversing the trend of high rural to urban migration.
Similarly, the Federal Government is to empower 740,000 market-oriented young agricultural producers in rural areas by the programme.
Dr Shehu Ahmed, the Permanent Secretary, Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development, said the programme had begun in Bauchi State, Imo, Katsina State, Lagos State, Niger and Rivers.
He said that the beneficiaries of the project would include 20,000 school leavers and rural youth leaders from each state.
He also said the programme would develop additional 18,500 university graduates, who would be formed into young agribusiness entrepreneurs. Ahmed explained that the beneficiaries of YEAP would enjoy support from the federal and state governments in areas of access to land, technical, entrepreneurial, financial business and marketing assistance. However, he commended the efforts of the Food and Agricultural Organisation (FAO) for providing assistance for the ministry by strengthening the capacities to implement the programme in the pilot states and solicited expansion of the programmes to more states.
Stressing the importance of agriculture to creation of jobs, Ms Louise Setshwaelo, FAO Representative in Nigeria, said the Federal Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development and the organisation designed YEAP to provide necessary skills and opportunities for the youth.
According to her, the youth segment forms one of the greatest assets Nigeria can take advantage of to eradicate poverty.
She said that the organisation would continue to collaborate with the federal and state governments in the implementation of the programme. Similarly, Mr Bill Reese, the President, International Youth Foundation, said that agriculture was a potential solution to millions of unem¬ployed African youths.
He observed that although Africa boasts of seven of the world’s 10 fastest growing economies, majority of its young people lived in poverty and struggle to find employment.
“With a combination of investments, innovation and ingenuity, agri¬culture could become a driving force across Africa,’’ he observed.
Therefore, Mr Ezekiel Ogbianko, the Chairman Rice Farmers’ Association of Nigeria (RIFAN), Bayelsa chapter, urged young farmers to register with the association to accelerate more development in agriculture, reduce unemployment and boost the nation’s economy.
“I must say that this year’s programme would create more jobs for the people; presently, we have about 40 youths working with us on the 40, 000 hectares of land,’’ he said.
He urged the Federal Government to deepen youth empowerment through agriculture, saying that such move would boost job creation. Ogbianko added that enhancing youth empowerment through agriculture would not only reduce unemployment, but boost the nation’s economy and improve food supply to the citizenry.
“No nation does it well without farming; there is need to improve our food production, we cannot depend on importation of rice for us to survive.
“We need young hands in agriculture; the nation is facing dwindling revenue today because we have solely relied on oil and gas.
“The Federal Government should create a platform that can enable the youth to have easy access to agricultural loan for cassava, rice, beans, vegetable and fruits,’’ he said.
In the same vein, Mr Rotimi Oloye, the National Secretary, Catfish Association of Nigeria, Oyo State chapter, called on the youth to embrace aquaculture as a source of employment.
“To curb prevailing unemployment in the country the youth should engage in catfish and tilapia farming.
“We are imploring our youths, especially the unemployed, to cultivate interest in fish farming; they should change from looking for employment to being employers of labour,’’ Oloye advised.
He also urged them to practise aquaculture and seek employment in agricultural research institutes which has the potential to develop their interests in agriculture.
Oloye said that the result of the youth involvement in the research process would contribute to the growth of the agriculture sector.
Dr Olutayo Adenekan, the Vocational Training Coordinator, Federal College of Agriculture, Ibadan, in his view appealed to the Federal Government to train more youths in various fields of agriculture.
He noted that training and empowering youths and women, especially in agriculture, would reduce poverty and ensure food security in the country.
He said that the college had been training unemployed people, retirees and farmers, among others, on various skills acquisitions over the years through the sponsorship of the Federal Government.
Adenekan said the training included use and maintenance of agricultural machinery, cassava processing, fish, poultry and honey production.
The coordinator said that the training was aimed at imparting knowledge of modern techniques and cost effective methods of agricultural production to the trainees.
All in all, observers note that policy makers should always focus on engaging and empowering young people in agriculture as a way of diversifying the economy