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Published On: Fri, Jun 20th, 2014

Niger: Intangible democracy dividends as tool for national building (2)

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By Ayegba Israel Ebije

A most neglected intangible is the area of managing security. Many administrations are of the opinion that security votes are meant to be the prebend of the governor and his cronies but little do they know of its resultant implication on the lives and properties of the people, which often has a very disastrous negative.

For the Chief Servant, security funds are set aside to engage in detailed security operations to mop off imminent security related challenges and to evacuate volatile situations like the Darul Islam sect in Mokwa local government Area, and the latest, the Madinatu Muheenu Bustanul Harifina Dahiratul Nibassiya Islamic sect located in a forest camp at Lapai, Lapai Local Government Area, whom were all found operating as extremism in the state. Proactive mechanisms were demonstrated in the swift evacuation of the Darul-Islam sect in Mokwa.

The community of about 18 people grew to thousands and the Government took immediate steps to arrest the situation. Should they have not been evacuated at that time, they could have formed the nucleus of insurgency today. Government continues to provide supports to security agencies in diverse ways that cannot be quantified or estimated, but the outcome is peace and serenity in the State. It cost a lot of money to remove sects or potential threats – enough to tempt some money based political leaders to overlook the import of treating security issues first.

Sadly, most states in the country have managed to play greed for actions, making it difficult for threats to be nipped while budding. A crossbreed between tangible and intangible is the case where the Niger state government has created and sustained interventions between Muslims and Christians. The administration of the Chief Servant established the Ministry of Religious Affairs which has indeed helped in creating an environment where both religious groups have opportunity of having social and psychological understanding of themselves.

The building of ecumenical centre running into billion of naira, balanced renovation of churches and mosques across the state has further raised awareness of brotherliness through one God irrespective of different mode of worship. The hate, the confusion, the stereotype, the gaps have indeed been bridged cancelling out friction or tension.

Monies have also been expended in subsidizing agriculture by a subsidy granted by the Chief Servant from 2007 to date resulted to 70% reduction annually. Now with the Growth Enhancement Support (GES) Scheme, Smallholder farmers thus have easy access to fertilizer. Hitherto, it was a cartel that handled fertilizer supply and distribution, where people made huge profits from the subsidy to the detriment of the farmers.

Agricultural subsidy in Niger state has helped to contain the social menace of rural-urban migration because most of the things they need to enjoy in urban locations or cities are now available in the rural areas. There is thus the need to recognize the rural development drive of the Government that has generated more positive and tangible outcomes.

The Ward Development Project is one thing that people are yearning for. It is now a demand and community-driven that the government provides grants to the 274 Wards, which is managed by trust worthy persons within each Ward without government interference. In the final analysis, people feel the impact of Government because they are the direct beneficiaries and participants in their own right and levels.

Many of the Interventions are based on the interest, needs and community realities. Not many have physical coloration, but socially and economically defined and sanctioned. It is, therefore, instructive to intimate that Niger state, emerge as a state with the lowest poverty prevalence record in Nigeria for 3 consecutive years on account of the quantum of monies expended on tangible and intangible achievements. The emphasis however, is on the intangibles, which many politicians often manage to forget or are more inclined to overlook on account of the perception of the society which is much more skewed towards what they can physically see.

The graduate employment scheme, which has incorporated well over 6,000 graduates into the civil service of the over 30,000 graduates registered and prepared to benefit from the state graduate employment scheme, the enabling laws for business in Niger state, the enabling social laws to encourage liveability and many more are indicators that the state has a proactive intangibles, programmed to compliment the tangibles.

The Chief Servant administration has therefore encouraged Manpower /Human Resource Development at both Civil Service and Political Realms, encouraged gender considerations in political and Civil Bureaucracy not only following the affirmative action, but new lease of life for women folk.

The state government has since 2007, engaged in FADAMA, NAMDA Community driven development interventions and poverty mitigation packages (LEEMP/CSDP Health system Development Project SACA Interventions, ARVs, SUBEB/Books Support). It has, also encouraged readership among Nigerians youth by the yearly Colloquium and book/intellectual Support to Institutions such as ANA, the University Researchers and Inaugural Challenge.

 Improvement of Welfare packages for health sector workers; Scholarship to students at various levels; Special packages for judicial workers; Special packages for Civil Servants; and Special interventions for special groups, particularly pensioners that were hitherto taken for granted. Likewise the Niger State Transport Authority (NSTA) subsidy; the KEKE NAPEP subsidy; Disaster Relief; NSEMA supports from 2007 to date; and Imam’s Forum/CAN unity of purpose for stability.

 

Ayegba Israel Ebije is the Chief Press Secretary to the Governor of Niger state.

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