Project Director of Spirit of Lagos, Olaniyi Omotoso, says the memories of the old Lagos he witnessed as a child but which has been lost to evolution led to the creation of ‘Spirit of Lagos’.
He noted that Lagos has always been a land of opportunities and with these also came responsibilities. However, the development has robbed the city of its old beauty and there is a need change that trend.
He said that the focus of the Spirit of Lagos was to bring back the good old days of a safe and beautiful Lagos, and the way they are going about that would be to bring back the history of Lagos and tell it to the people as a means of inspiring the desire to want to re-enact and enjoy that mien.
A series of events have been lined up to start this mission to bring to the fore, the spirit of Lagos. Music and drama would be part of the items lined up to achieve this.
There are also series of personality modelling, in which there would be focus on the lifestyle of selected persons who represent the true Lagosian, as they intend to make Lagos residents build a better sense of responsibility in their attitude to the welfare of the city.
A consultant for the project, Professor Adeniji, was also on the programme to provide an historic angle to the mission of the ‘Spirit of Lagos’.
Prof Adeniji noted that indeed an average Lagosian would never want to leave the city despite the complaints about the stress and chaos in Lagos; a phenomenon that describes the Spirit of Lagos which draws people in a special manner.
He noted that the activities of the Spirit of Lagos are not just events but a process to create the right attitude where people need to be more responsible for that city they call home. “Do your part”, he said.
Two Delegates at the National Conference, Tony Nyiam and Bisi Adegbuyi, have both said that their recommendation at the conference is a restructuring of Nigerian government to practice the federalism that accommodates its ethnic peculiarities.
Mr Nyiam said that ethnicity is an important part of Nigeria which cannot be separated from its existence. He said that Nigerians had been carried away by the federalism as practised in America but he believed that Nigeria should have an “Ethnic Federalism” where people’s ethnicities are well recognized.
He noted that America is a country of immigrants and Nigeria should not compare itself to such country. You cannot stop a Buku man from being one. He emphasized that Nigeria needs a return to the federalism that recognises its ethnicity.
Adegbuyi, although differed on the call for “Ethnic Federalism” as he said that “federalism is federalism all over the world” but he acknowledged that indeed, the way to go was for Nigeria to try and understand the agenda of each ethnicity and not to tag ethnicity as a divisive factor.
He noted that Nigeria’s past leaders and the colonial masters knew that Nigeria was made up of different nations and the country in its current state should not pretend about this reality. Citing the developments recorded by regional leaders in the 1960s, he said that empowering regional leadership would be more productive.
Nyiam also emphasized the need to move “from Fiscal Centralism to Fiscal Federalism”, a situation whereby the count
ry moves from the culture of sharing resources at the Federal level and focus on creating those resources.
He agreed with Mr Adegbuyi’s earlier statement on the need to decentralize the government and empower regional governance. He agreed that the system of governance as practised in Nigeria in the 1960s gave Nigeria its best records of development.
Secretary of the Arewa Youth, Ahmed Tijani, representing his organisation’s position on the programme, however, said that they were supporting the
conference because they believed that “half bread is better than none” noting that what they had called for was a sovereign national conference.
He further said, “There is no point in time that Nigeria should experience a breakup”, so “whoever is in the driving seat”
would need support to ensure this. He said that he hoped that at the end of the conference, something good would come out.
One of the delegates, Tony Nyiam, while expressing confidence in the conference and in the sincerity of President Jonathan was of the view that Nigerians were paying too much attention to the nomenclature of the conference.
Mr Adegbuyi, who is a legal practitioner, quoted Section 14 Subsection 2 of the 1999 Constitution which he said, gives the sovereignty of the country to the people, stating that this was also acknowledged by the President.
He stated that there was nothing that makes the ongoing conference less sovereign and that the misconception about the sovereignty of the country having been given to the National Assembly was an exaggeration of their roles.
Northern Elders’ Forum
Reference was also made to the position taken by the Northern Elders’ Forum, who have expressed their stance not to support the conference and dissociated themselves from the delegates at the conference.
Tijani said that the difference in their positions from the elders’ was because the elders are conservative while the youths are progressive. He added that while they do not totally disagree with the elders’ views, they would not tow same line because they are young, “We want change and we have to be for the conference so that things can move on”
On the possibility of the delegates having a unified discourse without ethnic sentiments, Tijani said that the Nigerian President should have made fixing the identity issues of Nigerians a priority ahead of the national Conference, citing the branding of all Northerners as Boko Haram as one of the examples of how many Nigerians still feel different from other Nigerians.
He also complained about the representation of youths at the conference as being too low for a country whose youth population is very high.
Although Adegbuyi disagreed on the youth representation, Nyiam agreed that the youths should be given focus especially in terms of empowerment. He said that the main sectors in which Nigeria derived pride had been held by the youths – entertainment, sports. Therefore, the country needs to go back to the system that allows the youths to flourish.
Adegbuyi, in conclusion, believes that the National Conference has the capacity to move Nigeria forward but the major focus should be how to achieve unity without sacrificing autonomy.
A Consultant System Engineer, Benjamin Shemola, has warned Nigerians that technology is just a tool and its introduction into the electoral process is no guarantee of success, as the people using the tool still determine its eventual output.
In an interview on Channels Television’s Sunrise Daily, he admitted that indeed technology could be used for monitoring, communication and verification, towards making elections in Nigeria more credible, but that the Nigerian system did not seem like one willing to allow such credibility.
Speaking on the readiness of the electoral commission, INEC, to embrace technology, he berated the current process whereby voter registration has been done electronically with as much as the voters’ biometrics data captured and yet electorates would still have to go and verify their names printed on papers.
He asked, “How can I be sure the data captured will not be muddled up?”
He lectured that if indeed INEC was ready, then the introduction of electronic verification was the first step to start with, if the dream of bringing technology into the voting system would ever be a reality.
Mr. Shemola also noted that there were still challenges in Nigeria that reduces the country’s capacity to handle such upgrade in its voting system. He cited data storage challenges as one of the major challenges militating against the realistic use of technology during elections.
Asked if technology could ensure that votes are cast without the need to guard or protect the ballot boxes, Shemola revealed that this was possible, but Nigeria was not ripe for it. He explained that this mechanism would make cheating very difficult and by what is widely seen in the media, he did not see the Government initiating it.
Using Ekiti State as an example, he said that if really a new system would be introduced with a mission to make it work, then pilot exercises should have started to prepare for its successful use during the election.
He also added that factors like how upgradable the gadgets being acquired are and the budget for acquiring them were among issues that should be considered before acquiring technology for any venture, and these are challenges in Nigeria. He berated the Nigerian system whereby laptops and other gadgets used during similar exercises in the past are no more useful.
“We spend so much to raise so little” he protested.
Speaking on the issue of permanent voters cards, and condemning the re-registering of voters during every election, he said: “It is only in Nigeria that we have temporary cards for everything – driver license, voter cards, if it’s going to be temporary then the solution is not absolute.”
For Shemola to take the Independent National Electoral Commission, INEC serious, he said “I want to verify my data this time around, with my finger print, with that I will have confidence in the system.”
Shemola insisted that Nigeria has the manpower to create and deploy the required technology, owing to how many Nigerians are behind such systems overseas, but the major problem with Nigeria was the political will to allow a transparent electoral system which technology would ensure.
He also warned that technology could also be used for fraud and Nigerians would need to be careful about their clamour for it, making reference to allegations buy a political party that the spreadsheet (Microsoft Excel) formula used for collation during an election was configured to favour a particular party while deducting from opponents’ votes.
He concluded that what Nigeria needed was not a magical solution, but a gradual and consistent process, starting with an electronic voter verification process, whereby eligibility of voters would be confirmed via fingerprints.
He said that this would avoid cases similar to those witnessed during the Anambra State governorship election, where underage voters were alleged to have been found listed in the register.
The National Association of Colleges of Education Academic Staff Union, COEASU, has threatened to resume its nationwide strike action if the Federal Government fails to honour the agreement reached with the body in December 2013.
The President of the union, Mister Asagha Nkoro, said that the body insists on the implementation of the agreement on the migration of lower cadre to the same salary scale with the general cadre.
Another demand is the 2012 visitation white paper report which dealt with most lingering labour issues within the body.
The union is also seeking the approval of autonomous degree status for the colleges of education, certified competent by the National Universities Commission, NUC, among other demands.