A lecturer at the Federal University of Technology, Owerri, Prof. Mike Nwachukwu, has called for urgent government measures to end environmental degradation in many parts of the country.
Nwachukwu, a professor of environmental management, made the call in an interview with the News Agency of Nigeria in Owerri.
He regretted that the environment was exposed to many risk factors, hence had continued to suffer massive degradation.
He blamed the unfortunate situation on the lack of sustainable plan in handling the nation’s natural resources and infrastructure development.
He said that the activities that had been going on in the oil and gas sector from the 1970s to date had caused a lot of environmental degradation, especially in the Niger Delta region.
Nwachukwu said: “Both the soil, water ways and air have been grossly polluted.
“Today, there is a lot of gas flaring going on, which was not the case between 1960s and 1970s.
” He said that the whole of Izombe and Oguta communities were being explosed to gas flaring on a daily basis, leading to both air and water pollution.
He also said that mining activities, such as hard rock quarry as well as soil and sand excavation had contributed immensely to the degradation of the environment.
Nwachukwu argued that such activities had made the soil vulnerable to severe erosion in most communities.
He said: “This country has never had any serious waste management policy.
“Consequently, the indiscriminate dumping of waste leaves the soil as well as the surface and ground waters sufficiently contaminated.
“Also, Nigeria has never had any sanitary land field.
“Every state ought to have sanitary land field to protect the entire environment.
“Unfortunately, what we have instead is the dumping of waste all over the place.
” Nwachukwu also identified the proliferation of water wells in every community as well as road construction works as another contributory factor.
He said that the only way out of the phenomenon was for the state and federal governments to begin conscious and strict implementation of the UN’s Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).
“We have to follow those goals and create awareness about sustainable development.
“This will help to make sure that governors, ministers and presidents only embarked on projects that are sustainable.
“The UN discovered this weak point in many countries, including Nigeria, which was why it initiated SDGs,” Nwachukwu said.
Stakeholders in the water sector have advocated for a declaration of rights for all the major rivers in the country.
They said that the measure would guarantee protection for the rivers against pollution and other ecological threats.
The people made the call at the celebration of this year’s World Rivers Day on Tuesday in Owerri.
The News Agency of Nigeria reports that the event was organised by the Anambra-Imo River Basin Authority.
The theme for this year’s celebration is “Importance of rivers to biodiversity,” while the sub-theme adopted in Nigeria is “Rights of rivers”.
An environmentalist, Prof. Mike Nwachukwu, delivered a lecture entitled, “Justifying rights of Rivers in Nigeria”.
He warned that the Otamiri and Nworie Rivers in Imo were on the verge of disappearing, if nothing was done to save them.
Nwachukwu, a professor of environmental management, Federal University of Technology Owerri, said that Otamiri had declined by 63 per cent.
He blamed the unfortunate development on climate change, human activities, population growth and high rise in carbon dioxide emissions.
He spoke of the need for each basin authorities in the country to improve agricultural and rural development of irrigation control to mitigate the challenge of river pollution.
Mrs Theodora Uchenna, a Technical Special Adviser to Gov. Hope Uzodimma on Water, Sanitation and Hygiene, also delivered another lecture at the event.
Speaking on the topic, “Implementation of Water Policy and Laws in protecting the rights of Rivers,” Uchenna called for an open defecation road map for South-East states.
She also called for a regulatory agency to inspect, monitor compliance and prosecute violators of the proposed rights of rivers law.
She further expressed concern that in spite of an existing law guiding construction of boreholes in Imo, residents were not applying for licences before drilling boreholes.
The Managing Director, Anambra-Imo River Basin Development Authority, Mr Gerald Osuagwu, said the theme of the event was intended to draw attention to the degraded state of rivers in the country.
Osuagwu said that the Otamiri and Nworie Rivers within the Owerri metropolis were facing serious ecological threats.
He called for an end to open defecation, pollution of rivers and discharge of sewage and untreated effluents into the rivers.
He said that the South-East did not join the national celebration of the 2022 World Rivers Day on Monday because of security concerns.
In a remark, the Provost, Alvan Ikoku College of Education, Dr Stella Lemchi, spoke of the importance of Nworie River to the college.
Lemchi expressed worry over the destruction of the river’s ecosystem through human activities.
“Unfortunately, the sloping shores of Nworie have faced the most violent and unrelenting destruction from illegal sand miners in the last decade.
“The college has made several depositions to successive Imo Governments and other government agencies to save our natural resources.
“We urge the Department of River Basin Operations and Ministry of Water Resources to take the issue of sand mining in River Nworie as a national emergency,” Lemchi said.
In a speech, the Managing Director, Imo State Water and Sewage Cooperation, Mr Emeka Ugoanyawu, said that he was disturned that virtually every river in the state had become receptacle for refuse.
“We have so polluted the rivers in Owerri that there is no borehole that can pass any Nigeria and international water standard,” Ugoanyawu said.
He said that the state government had begun the construction of public toilets in Owerri, Orlu, Okigwe and some other urban populated areas to eliminate open defecation.
Highlights of the event included a road show, symbolic river cleanup and tree planting at the Nworie River bank.
The panel of judges for the Nigeria Prize for Science said that two outstanding scientific works have won the Nigeria Liquefied Natural Gas Ltd. (NL 100,000 dollars prize.
Prof. Barth Nnaji, a former Minister of Power and Chairperson of the Advisory Board for the prize made the announcement at a news conference in Lagos on Wednesday.
The theme of the event organised by NLNG for the 2022 edition is: “Innovations in Sustainable Food Security”.
The News Agency of Nigeria reports that the panel of judges for the Nigeria Prize for Science received 107 entries from scientists worldwide for the 2022 edition.
A panel of judges led by Prof. Christian Agbo, from the Department of Agriculture, University of Nigeria Nsukka reached the decision on the winning entries.
Other members on the panel were Ms Funke Opeke, the Chief Executive Officer of MainOne and Prof. Mohammed Magaji, from the Department of Agronomy, Usman Danfodiyo University, Sokoto.
Nnaji said that one of the outstanding works was on:”Gains in Grain Yield of Released Maize (Zea Mays L.
) Cultivars under Drought and Well-Watered Conditions” by Muhydideen Oyekunle and Shehu Ado. He said that the second one was on: “Development of Process Plant for Plantain Flour” by Sesan Ayodeji and Emmanuel Olatomilola.
According to him, the two groups will split the 100,000 dollars grand prize.
On the judges’ report, the chairman said that the works addressed food security which was a key component of the national agenda.
He said that the works were in line with goal two of the Sustainable Development Goals which sought sustainable solutions to end hunger in all its forms by 2030 and to achieve food security.
Nnaji further said that the choice of the judges reflected a multi-disciplinary approach relevant to the theme in focus.
He said the advisory board was particularly pleased that in evaluating the entries, the judges upheld the objectives of the prize which sought to identify and promote excellence in utilising scientific knowledge.
“Muhyideen Oyekunle, a Maize Breeder and Prof. Shehu Ado, an Agricultural Expert’s work on: “Gains in Grain Yield of Released Maize (Zea Mays L.
) Cultivars under Drought and Well Watered Conditions” provides us with a unique opportunity.
“The maize seeds they selected courtesy of a breeding programme has been tested to be high yielding and water stress tolerant.
” Prof. Sesan Ayodeji, from Federal University of Technology, Akure and his colleague, Mr Emmanuel Olatomilola’s work on “Development of Process Plant for Plantain Flour” is important for reducing spoilage of farm products and package for distribution as well as value addition for farm products, “he said.
The advisory chairman commended the NLNG board and management for instituting, sponsoring and sustaining what was arguably the biggest science prize in Africa.
In his remarks, Mr Andy Odeh, NLNG’s General Manager, External Relations and Sustainable Development said that the science prize was growing in strength as the 2022 verdict depicted.
Odeh said that the advisory board and NLNG were working behind the scenes to review the prize for bigger impact and inclusiveness for the good of society.
He said that science could provide solutions to most of the country’s challenges and urged relevant stakeholders and the public to continue to support NLNG through the Nigeria Prize for Science.
He noted that stakeholders could do this by making scientific breakthroughs the biggest enabler of development in Nigeria, adding that industry and public investors should consider the commercial value of the winning works.
The general manager commended the winners for the big feat and called on all past winners of the prize to synergise and become a think-tank that could generate and sustain the flow of ideas, innovation and scientific advice to the public and private sectors.
He further said that this would make scientific ideas and innovations beneficial to the people, thereby helping to build a better Nigeria in line with the vision of the organisation.
Odeh added that the winning works had the potential to significantly impact the country’s food security positively through stable, efficient and sufficient system of food production.
Dr Bashir Yankuzu, Chief Imam of the Federal University of Technology, Central Mosque, Minna has described the late Queen Elizabeth 11 as a committed royal leader that served her people passionately.Yankuzu, who spoke to the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) in Minna on Thursday expressed grief and sadness over the Queen’s death.“The late Queen Elizabeth 11 was a respected royal leader who spent her entire life in the service of the United Kingdom,Common Wealth of Nations and indeed humanity and the world in general “ he said.Yankuzu said Queen’s death was a great tragedy and a monumental loss not only to the United Kingdom, but the world as a whole.He urged the new King and other bereaved members of the royal family members to “take solace in the fact that all mortals shall taste death and we must answer the call of Almighty Allah at one time or another.” I do not think there was a more influencial monarch who witnessed Africa’s pre and post colonial eras like late Queen Elizabeth 11, hence the gap she left behind is wide.” Her moderation and tolerance in relating with Muslims and people of other faiths was worthy of emulation especially in Nigeria and other Common Wealth countries.”I join other well-meaning people across the world in sending my condolences to the King and members of the royal family.” It is our hope that Charles, known for his appreciation of certain Islamic principles will build from her good legacies,” he said.The Chief Imam says the world of today needs unifying voices, adding: ”Commonwealth countries need to deeply reflect over her life regarding the promotion of peace and tolerance in the region.”NewsSourceCredit: NAN
As the nationwide strike embarked upon by the Academic Staff Union of Universities (ASUU) persists, private universities in Lagos have shared their experiences on students’ enrolment for the new academic session.
Recall that the union had, on Feb. 14, embarked on a one-month strike, making several demands on the Federal Government.
The union had gone on strike to protest the non-implementation of an agreement it signed with the Federal Government in 2009. It said the Federal Government had failed to release the revitalisation funds for public universities and refused to allow the use of the University Transparency Accountability System (UTAS) for their payment.
The striking lecturers want the UTAS for the payment of their salaries and allowances, rather than the Integrated Payroll and Personnel Information System (IPPIS) used by the Federal Government in paying its workers.
They are also unhappy with the inability of government to produce the white paper report on the visitation panel to universities, among other issues.
ASUU rolled over the one-month strike several times until its National Executive Committee (NEC), on Aug. 29, resolved to turn it to a total, comprehensive and indefinite strike.
It claimed that despite dialogue with the Federal Government, most of the demands of the union still remained unattended to.
Dr Elvis Otobo, Deputy Director, Public Relations and Marketing, Caleb University Imota in Ikorodu, told the News Agency of Nigeria that the now indefinite strike was worrisome.
On how the strike had impacted enrolment in the private university, he told NAN that over the years, the institution had been recording considerable enrolment.
He said that this was in line with its mandate of teaching, research and community service.
“I will say that the whole issue about strike in the public universities is unfortunate.
“However, we have been on top of our game in terms of deliberate upgrade of infrastructure, moral and academic excellence.
“Coming to enrolment, I will say yes, there is an increase, but I really will not want to attribute that solely the the prolonged ASUU strike.
“We have built capacity, developed infrastructure and have been holding our own not just in Nigeria, but globally.
“Right now, I may not be able to give you the statistics of enrolment, but I think it is quite commendable,” Otobo said.
Mr Samuel Ighalo, Strategy and Communications, Anchor University, Ayobo, Lagos, on his par, said they had over 100 prospective applicants already and were eagerly waiting for them to begin.
Ighalo said that admission for the new session just started last month and the applicants so far received were across all programmes, while admission was still ongoing.
“The programmes include law, nursing, architecture, medical lab science, public health and environmental management, and toxicology.
“About 160 applicants applied last session, while this year, 100 have applied so far, with admission still ongoing.
“Our new session will kick off this September ending, but generally, the strike is also helping us to get new applicants,” he said.
Efforts to get the enrolment pattern in other private universities in the state were unsuccessful.
NAN reports that fees in public universities are generally low, when compared to that of private ones.
Meanwhile, the state-owned Lagos State University(LASU), Ojo, on Monday matriculated 6,377 students for the 20212022 Academic Session.
Two other newly-created state-owned universities, Lagos State University of Science and Technology, and the State University of Education are also unaffected by the strike.
The Federal Government, on Tuesday, in Abuja, met with Vice Chancellors and Pro-Chancellors of federal universities toward ending the protracted ASUU strike, which is nearing seven months.
At the end of the meeting, the Federal Government again set up a 14-man committee to look into the grey areas of the ASUU demands.
Mr Ben Goong, the Spokesperson of the Minister of Education, Mallam Adamu Adamu disclosed this at a press conference at the end of the meeting.
“After enormous two-hours deliberations, the meeting constituted a committee made up of four Pro-Chancellors, five Vice Chancellors and others, to be chaired by the minister of education to further look at the grey areas ASUU is demanding, particularly the areas where there has been no consensus.
“As I speak to you, that committee is meeting and they will proceed to meet with President Muhammadu Buhari on the outcome of the deliberations of that committee.
“Two basic areas that the committee will be looking at is the ‘no work no pay’ issue and the issue of remuneration of university lecturers,” he said.
On the demand of ASUU to use the UTAS, Goong explained that it was not part of the areas under consideration as government had already set up a committee to fine-tune the two payment platforms including the existing IPPIS.
He said that in few days’ time, the committee would conclude and thereafter meet with President Muhammad Buhari Meanwhile, students affected by the strike in public universities have also continued to lament the unending industrial action by the lecturers and deadlock in talks with government.
Olaseun Ajiboye,100 level Mass Communication, University of Lagos (UNILAG), said he barely started her first year in school when the disruption started.
He said it was not a good feeling, being at home without knowing when they would resume.
Ajiboye said that he waited for two years before getting the admission and ASUU and federal government decided to add more to the years of waiting.
“This isn’t the best position to be in at all, because, no classes or school activities, and I feel like I’m missing out on university life,” he said.
Olalekan Amusan, 400 level student of Mechanical Engineering, Ladoke Akintola University (LAUTECH),Ogbomoso, appealed to ASUU to reconsider the students’ delay in education advancements.
“My friends in private universities have left me behind ,we might even stay longer in schooI because we do not know when the strike will be over,” he said Adedoyin Ishola, 400 level student of Philosophy,Federal University of Technology Akure(FUTA) said the indefinite ASUU strike was depressing.
Ishola said that she was in her final year, about to defend her project, when the union announced the strike.
“ASUU turned my four years to seven years, when I’m not studying medicine; I am currently learning graphics designing.
“I pray God will touch both ASUU and Federal Government’s hearts,” she said.
NAN) Dr Bashir Yankuzo, Chief Imam of Federal University of Technology, Central Mosque, Minna, has lauded the dismissal of Lance Corporal John Gabriel for allegedly killing an Islamic Cleric, Sheik Goni Aisami.
Also found guilty by the Army was Lance Corporal Adamu Gideon, who reportedly aided Gabriel while he was attempting to steal the Yobe-based sheik’s car after killing him.
Both men served at the Army’s 241 Reece Battalion until their dismissal in Nguru, Yobe. Yankuzu said the decision to dismiss the officers is a welcome development as it would add credibility to the affairs of the Nigerian army.
” It is really sad for someone in uniform to turn to not only an armed robber but a murderer.
” Our teaching and training as Muslims tell us that Christians are not trained to kill the innocent souls that is why we did not see his act as attempt to destroy Islam.
” I hope the punishment will not stop at dismissal but the Army will also follow up to ensure justice is done.
” We wait for the law to take its course regarding murder case before competent court of law,’’ he said.
Meanwhile, Chairman of Christian Association of Nigeria (CAN), Niger State, Most Rev. Bulus Dauwa Yohanna, commended the Nigerian Army for dismissing the two soldiers involved in the murder of the Islamic Cleric.
Yohanna, also the Bishop of Kontagora Catholic Diocese, urged the military authority to follow the case to its logical conclusion to serve as a deterrent to others.
While condemning the killing by the soldiers, the chairman in a statement signed by his Media Aide, Daniel Atori, said nobody had the right to take another person’s life.
He called on the Federal Government to bring to book all those who had been involved in such acts by killing innocent lives, irrespective of their religion or tribe.
Accordingly, he said, “in a country that the law works, such things will not be condoned.
’’ ” Do you know that if the federal and state governments as well as security agencies have been acting swiftly like this over the years, such crimes would have been curbed to the barest minimum.
”Let the military authority hand over the dismissed soldiers to the police for prosecution in court of law,’’ he said.
An environmental expert, Dr Dana Omran, says there is a need to strengthen local governments and other institutions, to engender economic growth.
Omran is the Global Director, Strategy and Director, (Africa) Resilient Cities Network.
She delivered a keynote address, virtually, at the opening of the 3rd Annual Urbanisation and Habitable Cities Conference on Tuesday in Lagos.
The two-day conference, with the theme: ‘Strengthening Resilience in Africa’, was organised by the Centre for Housing and Sustainable Development, University of Lagos.
It was put together in collaboration with the African Research Universities Alliance (ARUA) Centre of Excellence for Urbanisation and Habitable Cities.
According to Omran, strengthening the local governments and other institutions will also improve the well being of citizens, as well as infrastructure.
She said that the local governments, generally, are the closest to the grassroots.
and therefore, need to be given the needed support that will impact directly and positively to residents.
Such, she noted, would create the much needed platforms to stimulate economic growth as well as improved standard of living.
The keynote speaker said that giving the local governments the free hand to take full responsibility for the running of activities by themselves would also make for proactiveness.
This, she said, would especially be so in the face of any natural disaster, like flooding, pandemic and others.
She said that compounding crisis in healthcare, economy and society had also exposed fragilities in the capacity of cities, governments, their businesses and their communities to survive and thrive.
According to her, cities have the opportunity to equally prioritize investment initiatives and projects that meet the interconnected needs of multiple urban systems and thereby yield multiple benefits.
“Resilience building requires a big tent and an all hands on deck approach.
“Universities and research institutions play a critical role in supporting cities to collect and analyse urban data, support technical project development and apply frameworks and tools to promote more sustainable and resilient long term planning,” Omran stated.
Also speaking, Prof. Timothy Nubi, Director, ARUA Centre of Excellence for Urbanisation and Habitable Cities, Centre for Housing and Sustainable Development, UNILAG, described the conference as timely and apt.
He noted that the aim of the conference was to be the hub for world-class, interdisciplinary and multidisciplinary, applied research on urbanization and habitable cities, connecting researchers to initiate, develop, disseminate and affect change in Africa’s cities.
The director said that it was also to develop a collaborative, interdisciplinary network of African researchers, highly capable of producing knowledge and interventions to address intractable issues in Africa’s urban areas.
According to him, it is also to advance impactful education and capacity-building for postgraduate researchers.
This is to be done through targeted mentorships by way of doctoral and post-doctoral fellowships and research interactions, with leading researchers in Africa and elsewhere, among others.
Nubi, who is the host, stated that the conference was the third in a series of conferences of the network, with particular reference to building resilience in Africa.
According to him, the theme of the conference is of great importance, if Nigeria and indeed Africa, are to adapt and cope with the issues around stability and post- Coronavirus (COVID-19 ) economic and social development.
“ Our previous conferences have been focused on transportation in Africa and the informality and inequality in Urban Africa.
“Our focus is to proffer solutions to these endemic challenges across our partner Universities.
“ Our partners have worked seriously in the last three years to establish and maintain contact with the public sector and private organisations and civil societies.
“This has resulted in public lectures at the University of Cape Town, titled Inclusive change in Affordable Housing and Development in African Cities, and another pathway for Healthy and Resilient Slums in Lusaka after COVID-19:“We also had another, which is Rethinking the Rationalities and Geographies of Urban Services in the era of Pandemics, which was hosted by the University of Zambia,” he said.
He added that the centre also had masterclasses hosted by the Obafemi Awolowo University, Ile-Ife on research methods, and the Federal University of Technology Minna on Technological Advancement in grant-winning proposals.
According to him, given the impacts the network has made, the U.
K Research and Innovation has extended its activities till May 2023.He said it was looking to use the opportunity to focus on supporting PhD students and early career researchers across Africa.
Listing notable achievements of the network, Mubi stated that it had presented a platform for transdisciplinary works that stretch beyond academics.
According to him, this is also part of the process of long-term policy plans and impacts directly on the environment.
He said that it had also consolidated network partners to step out and think outside the box, learning creative ways of solving emerging problems and knowledge transformation.
The centre director noted that several clusters think differently and now interface with different stakeholders.
He said that the network had helped Africans to look at climate change for example, from an African perspective.
According him, the implication is that it enables African researchers to proffer solutions to problems from their lived reality.
In his welcome address, the Vice Chancellor, University of Lagos, Prof. Oluwatoyin Ogundipe, said the university was delighted to host the gathering of erudite scholars and researchers from across Africa.
Ogundipe was represented by Prof. Bola Oboh, Deputy Vice Chancellor (Academic and Research).
He noted that such gathering would avail participants the opportunity to interact, deliberate, engage, collaborate and infer sustainable pathway toward actualising an African agenda.
According to the vice chancellor, the strength of any system, society, organisation or nation is best evaluated by its ability to withstand shocks and stresses, and get back on track.
“The central theme, RESILIENCE, is coming at a no better time than now in our national life and academic history, when resilience in all its ramification is required, to identify strengths and capabilities, engender preparedness, survival instincts and coping strategies” he said.
According to him, at the university of Lagos, resilience is embedded in the administrative structure, as well as in its rigorous and carefully crafted programmes, toward providing critical workforce to fill a manpower gap in the nation’s labour space.
“The 25-year strategic plan of the university of Lagos deliberately seeks to promote self-reliance, Entrepreneurship and Exemplary Leadership skills and capacity in our students”, thereby building human capacity beyond academic qualifications.
“As the vice chancellor of university of Lagos, the university of first choice and the nation’s pride, the culture and tradition of excellence in research has continued to anchor our engagements, collaboration, consultation and deliberations.
“The P3P agenda in UNILAG, under my humble self, Prof. Oluwatoyin Ogundipe led management, is built upon the principle of Public-Private Partnership model to attract supports for academics, research and infrastructural needs of the University.
“The P3P strategy which stands for “Pick a Project, Pick a Programme, Pick a Person” has encouraged well-meaning individuals to support the university’s quest for continued growth and global competitiveness, “ Ogundipe stated.
He added that the development had enabled the institution weather the great storms of the COVID-19 pandemic and still come out stronger than everOgundipe said that as a bastion of research in the university, Nigeria and Africa at large, the African Research Network for Urbanisation and Habitable Cities (AR-NUHC) under the ARUA Centre of Excellence for Urbanisation and Habitable Cities, UNILAG had consistently been a trailblazer.
He added that it had provided unique platforms to engage, collaborate, research, curate and co-produce local knowledge and workable solutions to Africa’s challenges.
He noted that Urban Resilience in Africa was in line with the objectives of the ARUA CoE to address seemingly intractable problems impeding the functionality of African Cities.
“As predicted by the United Nations, within the three and half decades between 2015 and 2050, about three quarters of a billion people will be added to urban Africa.
“Simply put, 750 million people within 35 years will find their way to African urban centres.
This portends serious burden on already stretched basic infrastructure, housing and other social services, resulting in relatively high percentage of African urban dwellers living in slum conditions.
“Without any intervention to these prevalent scenarios, more than 50 per cent of Africa’s population are likely to live in slums by 2025, which is just less than three years away,” Ogundipe said.
He however noted that on the brighter side of the coin, where the African strength lies, required confronting the challenges headlong to optimally maximise the vast opportunities that would propel and consolidate Africa’s growth and development.
“Indeed, Africans are resilient.
Africa is resilient but the ubiquity of its resilience need be documented, curated and theorized to change the narrative and tell Africa’s story from African’s point of view,” he stated.
The News Agency of Nigeria reports that the centre is the hub of the African Research Network for Urbanisation and Habitable Cities, a network of 10 African universities with support from researchers in UK universities.
Some of the 10 African universities are the University of Cape Town, South Africa, the University of Zambia, the University of Nairobi, and Uganda Matyrs University.
Others are, the Federal University of Technology Minna, Obafemi Awolowo University, Ile Ife, American International University of West Africa, The Gambia, University of Ghana, and the Sierra Leone Urban Research Centre at the Ngala University, Sierra Leone.
Most of the universities were participants at the conference.
Gov. Hope Uzodinma of Imo has urged the media to pay more attention to issues like the depletion of the country’s crude oil output and the unsettling security situation in the country.
The governor made the call while fielding questions from State House correspondents after a closed door meeting with President Muhammadu Buhari on Friday.
Uzodinma was reacting to a question about the choice of the ruling All Progressives Congress (APC) to go for Muslim – Muslim ticket for the 2023 presidential election.
He said the issues of Nigeria’s unity, increasing cases of oil theft and security challenges should be of more concern to Nigerians rather than granting media space to champions of religious dichotomy and ethnic jingoism.
“I think that even the media – I want to use this opportunity to invite you people to prioritize our areas of interest.
“First, the mood of the country today is not about who the candidates are.
”The mood of the country is that two or three years ago, we were producing 2.1 million barrels of crude oil every day.
“For over 12 years, that has been our main source of foreign exchange.
” He decried that because of the activities of those who are anti-national interest, Nigeria had lost over a million barrels and barely managing to produce one million.
“I think we should arise in unison to condemn the activities of crude oil theft by anti-Nigerian interest groups and bring back the economy of the country, because you have to have a country first before you have a president.
“Look at the quantum of banditry going on in Nigeria today, to the extent that bandits are courageously coming into the capital city.
”We should rise in unison and condemned these activities,’’ he said.
Uzodinma stressed that the media should concentrate more on things that would unite the diverse ethno-religious groups in the country.
He said: “We should make emphasis on things that will unite the country and by the grace of God abandon those things that are capable of dismembering the country.
“Our national interest is important.
Our national unity is important.
Our ability to live together as brothers and sisters is also important.
“The primary purpose of government is for the security of lives and property and the welfare of our citizens.
To what extent have we supported federal government in achieving this primary purpose?
“Those are things that should occupy our minds now.
But if you throw Nigeria into a situation where religious dichotomy, ethnic jingoism will be at the front burner, it means you are working against Nigeria.
“So, let us allow political parties who have chosen their candidates, no matter the religion where they come from, to go out and do their campaign.
” According to him, it is left for the electorate to reject the ticket by not voting for them or accept the ticket by voting for them.
“But, if we continue to make these things headlines, you are heating up our polity unnecessarily.
”I want to beg you in the name of God, let us save our country,’’ he said Speaking to the issue of oil theft, the governor charged the federal government to identify the brains behind the menace in the country and bring them to justice The governor said “the act is a cancer which must be dealt with to steady the economy.
’’ He warned against treating perpetrators as sacred cows, saying that anyone involved in the practice must be brought to book irrespective of the status in the society.
“Crude oil theft is like cancer to our economy and a thief is a thief, no matter his class.
“So, the process that will address the issue of crude oil theft will identify those behind it, irrespective of their class and for me, I don’t see any profile that will make a criminal not to be a criminal.
“All I will pray is the repentant mind to believe in the country and save the country the agony of this criminality.
“So, it is something that is very serious, as a matter of fact, it is something that government must take very seriously.
“Nobody should be a sacred cow; whether your profile is high, whether you’re middle-class profile or low profile, you’re considered a thief to national treasury.
”Commensurate punishment should be mated on such an individual, once identified,’’ he added.
Reacting to a recent World Bank outlook on Nigeria’s economic future, which projected that the country faces an existential threat, he said: “Even 25 years ago, before 1999, World Bank has always said Nigeria will break into pieces and today Nigeria has not been broken into a half piece.
“This country is loved by God and our faith in God has been keeping this country.
“We have had friendly enemies as partners, both internationally and nationally, but yet Nigeria continues to exist.
“There is nowhere in the world you will go and the gas stations you will see are not Shell, ExxonMobil, Texaco (Overseas), all the major oil producing companies.
“It is only in Nigeria that you will hear languages like independent market, Okafor & Sons Filling Station and all that.
What is the World Bank saying about that?
“It is only in Nigeria you talk about subsidy.
What is World Bank saying about that?
”It is only in Nigeria you hear jargons like Turn-Around-Maintenance, where else in the world do you have such language?
’’ On his meeting with the president, Uzodinma said he sought his s approval for the Federal Medical Centre, Owerri, to be converted to Federal University of Technology Teaching Hospital and for Alvan Ikoku College of Education to become Federal University of Education, Owerri.
Prof. Job Nmadu, professor of Econometrics, on Thursday blamed the rising cost of food items, on the ongoing strike by the Academic Staff Union of Universities (ASUU).
Nmadu, Dean, School of Agriculture and Agricultural Technology, Federal University of Technology, Minna, said this in an interview with the News Agency of Nigeria in Abuja.
The Dean also blamed the strike for the collapse of Small and Medium Enterprises (SMEs).
He called for an amicable resolution of the impasse between the Federal Government and ASUU to enable students and lecturers go back to school.
“One factor contributing to increased prices of food items in Nigeria today is the ASUU strike.
“People might think it is just students and lecturers that are suffering it but it is affecting everyone particularly communities around our schools that make a living from them.
“These businesses have shut down for the past six months that ASUU embarked on strike and it is not funny at all.
“Unfortunately, some of these businesses might never pick up again, contributing to more collapse of SMEs, which is not good for national development,” he said.
Nmadu said high cost of production and forces of demand and supply also contributed to the rising cost of food items and business collapse.
“A lot of small scale businesses have closed down because of high cost of production, about a month ago, we were told that over 40 bakeries closed down in the FCT because of rising cost.
“That means that if we are looking at supply of bread alone, there has been reduction in supply and prices will go up because people will scramble for the few supply,” he said.
The don further blamed the current exchange rate which he described as a disturbing trend, on Nigeria industries depended on raw materials from other countries.
Nmadu also President, Nigerian Association of Agricultural Economists (NAAE), said government needed to be particular on the country’s economic indices, Fiscal and Monetary policies among others.
“It is a complex situation but we must start from somewhere to salvage our small scale industries, which contribute greatly to Gross Domestic Product growth.
“So, we have to ensure that prices do not rise and we have to tackle other factors like insecurity, which has prevented many farmers from going to farm,” he said.
Stakeholders in the education sector have described the recent lowering of cut off mark by the Joint Admission and Matriculation Board (JAMB) for the 2022 Unified Tertiary Matriculation Exam (UTME) as “retrogressive and unhealthy”.The stakeholders from the South East said this in separate interviews with the News Agency of Nigeria while reacting to JAMB recent pronouncements on the 2022 cut off mark for tertiary institutions.NAN reports that the 20222023 UTME cut-off mark for universities in Nigeria is 140 and above, for polytechnics and monotechnics is 120 and above and for colleges of education is 100 and above depending on the school of choice and course of study.In Imo, an Assistant Lecturer at the Department of Biochemistry, Federal University of Technology Owerri, Mrs. Ogedi Ugwu, said the continuous reduction of cut-off marks would lead to poor performance in tertiary education.Ugwu said the UTME served as a tool to assess the preparedness of students for tertiary education.She said their performance in basic subject areas would go a long way in identifying the courses they were best suited for and how well they would perform in those courses.She noted that if the cut-off marks continued to reduce, the quality of undergraduates admitted to Nigerian tertiary institutions would be severely compromised.“The UTME is a tool used to assess students’ preparedness for tertiary education through an average score in basic subjects areas.“Therefore, if UTME cut-off mark continues to decrease, it will reduce the quality of undergraduates admitted to Nigerian universities.“This will result in a poor learning outcome and performance in tertiary education,” she said.Also contributing, Mr Cyril Ofoegbu of the Chukwuemeka Odimegwu Ojukwu University, Igbariam, described the downward trend in UTME cut-off marks as “appalling”.Ofoegbu said this could further lead to the fall in standard of education in the country as it would discourage students from studying in preparedness for higher education.“UTME started falling from 200, to 190, to 180, to 170, to 160 last year.This year, it went down to 140, and maybe next year, it will further go down to 130. “Soon, you just simply buy form and then you get admitted, into the university.“The National Universities Commission (NUC) should rather raise the standards above 200. Anyone who cannot attain the mark is not fit to study in the university,” Ofoegbu advised.A University Lecturer in Enugu State, Prof. Christian Madu, also said the approved lower cut off marks for students seeking admission in Nigeria tertiary institutions would lower the standard of education in the country.Madu, who is of the Environmental Management and Control Department, University of Nigeria said that the educational standard would be affected if something was not done to accommodate the students with low grade.The don said that schools that had students with low grades could groom them, especially in the subject areas they did not do quite well in their UTME so as to be at par with those with high grade.He said that if they were not groomed to meet up with the bright students, they might end up dropping from the institutions, especially after their first year in the institutions.Mrs Jacintha Nweke, an educationist said that the government should allow individual tertiary institution to decide its cut off mark as this would make students who were preparing for UTME to sit up.Nweke said that she was very sure that no university would adopt the cut off marks announced by the government, adding that it would further degrade the low standard of the Nigeria education system.Prof Ifeanyichukwu Abada of the Department of Political Science, UNN, urged the Federal Government to act fast to improve funding and give required attention to education sector in the country.He recalled that there was a time JAMB cut off mark for universities was 250 and today was lowered to 140. “Instead of Education sector going forward, it is moving backward; it’s retrogressive, unfortunate and an unhealthy development.“If nothing serious is done to arrest this ugly development in education sector, by the next three years, cut off mark for universities will be 80 and polytechnics 50,” he said.Mr George Akubue, a Lecturer at the Institute of African Studies, UNN, said the development was a dangerous indication of serious decline in the standard of education.“Federal, state and local governments should see this as a big challenge to improve funding of education in the three tiers of government before the situation gets out of hand,” he said.In Anambra, Prof Anthony Eze of the Faculty of Education, Nnamdi Azikiwe University, Awka, said that efforts should be made at enhancing teaching to enable students meet up with the standard instead of lowering it to accommodate their capacity.He said that rather than making university an all comers affair, those who lacked the intellectual capacity to access that level of education should be encouraged to go for vocational and other informal systems of education.According to him, reducing cut off marks is ill advised, it will affect the standard of education adversely.“There is no justification for lowering the cut off mark from between 250 and 300 to as low as 120; it signals a general drop in our university education standard.“University is not for everybody, those who don’t have the capacity to meet up should be encouraged to go for vocational training,” he said.Also speaking, Mrs Jane Nwoko, a parent and secondary school teacher said managers of the Nigerian education sector should not collapse the system because they wanted to accommodate everybody.According to her, though it will help more students to gain admission into higher institutions, the implication is that the quality of learning and graduates will be reduced.She called for better funding and supervision of post primary education to make them meet up with the curriculum.A cross section of academics in Ebonyi, said that the adverse effect of continuous lowering of UTME cut-off mark into tertiary institutions would be devastating to education development of the country.Mr Ejike Okoro, an educationist , said the NUC should introduce better things in the system rather than continuous lowering of the cut off mark.“We are most worried towards standard of learning, structures, educational materials, libraries among others,” Okoro said.NewsSourceCredit: NAN