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Varsity don advocates NOA’s upgrade to commission, decries Nigeria’s leadership selection process



•  Prof Obiora Okonkwo and Dr Alex Otti 
A renowned businessman, Prof. Obiora Okonkwo, has urged the National Orientation Agency (NOA) to redouble efforts in ethical and attitudinal reorientation meant to push against negative public habits such as corruption just as he faulted the leadership selection process in the country.
Okonkwo, an adjunct Professor of Business at the University of Abuja Business School, said this on Friday in Enugu at the maiden edition of the Nigeria Television Authority (NTA) – Nigeria Union of Journalists (NUJ) South-East Lecture Series and Awards.
The NTA-NUJ South-East Lecture Series and Awards was themed: “Reawakening the Age-Long Norms And Values of Our People”.
According to him, “I am happy that already, we have a governmental tool to help us drive this need for ethical and attitudinal reorientation countrywide. I am talking of the National Orientation Agency (NOA).
“What we have in our hands is not a problem exclusive to a particular geopolitical zone. It is a national problem.
“Therefore, I further recommend, and strongly too, that we must push for the expansion of the mandate of NOA to include ethical and attitudinal reorientation of Nigerians.
“If need be, let there be a name change for NOA, and perhaps an upgrade into a commission, to reflect this new mandate.
“Let us call it the National Ethical and Attitudinal Reorientation Commission with an expanded mandate to become a very effective and functional tool towards achieving values reorientation across the country,” he said.
Okonkwo, who was a gubernatorial candidate in the last election in Anambra State, said that the upgrading and name change demands legislation, there would be nothing wrong with the National Assembly, and indeed, all state houses of assembly, enacting the same to give it the necessary legislative backing.

He said: “In making this call, I am mindful of the fact that government, including previous ones, had made attempts to refocus ethical and public morality issues through such rebranding instruments like ‘Not in Our Character’ of the Walter Ofonagoro era, ‘Heart of Africa’ of the Frank Nweke era, ‘Good People, Great Nation’ of the Dora Akunyili era, and recently ‘Change begins With Me’.

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“These have been laudable attempts that failed because they were not institutionalized. Like those before it, ‘Change Begins with Me’ of Alhaji Lai Mohammed will end with his time as Minister of Information and National Orientation. This is the reason I further recommend that the next government from 2023 finds a way to institutionalize ethical and attitudinal reorientation into its programme of action for the country.”

Prof Okonkwo further pointed out that another major reason the nation must institutionalize ethical and attitudinal reorientation “is that our governmental system shows itself as bereft of character both in the leadership selection process and leadership in itself.

“Often, we have been told that the problem of Nigeria is not the absence of human capital but the dearth of leadership. However, I think that the major problem with leadership in our clime is the absence of persons whose content of character are not inspiring enough to drive the country and its people towards positive action that would berth the sort of change and growth that we all envisage. Let us not make mistakes about it, the character of some of those who we elect to leadership, from the wards to the federal levels, have always come with question marks.

“This reality begins with our leadership selection process. Ladies and gentlemen, how comfortable are we with a leadership selection process where those who elect our candidates; are themselves persons of questionable character? Is it no longer true that birds of same feather flock together?

“In some states and communities, we see persons who honed their skills from touting at motor parks, not academic institutions and environments, leading in deciding who becomes the flagbearer of political parties and indeed, who wins in the final election. This trend should worry us because it portends great danger ahead for our country. As it is said, you cannot plant mangoes and harvest apples. This is what those countries that we look up to for support have done and are still doing.”

Prof Obiora Okonkwo and Comrade Mina Adaobi Ukaobasi

Speaking on the same theme, Dr Alex Otti, a technocrat and politician, noted that years of failed and unfocused leadership in various strata of the society had led to the negativities and socioeconomic crises in the country.
Otti also deplored the rate of dishonesty and stealing of public funds; adding that it was already turning to a norm.
“Our values have become so low and it is no longer cherished in some circles and it is alien to culture as African previously known for high standards of morals and values,” he said.
He called on all Nigerians in authority to start to rethink and change the negative narrative by showing exemplary leadership and lifestyle worthy of emulation.
The former Minister of Power, Prof. Chinedu Nebo, urged the media to be in the vanguard of changing the narrative attitude of violent crime such as kidnapping pervading the country.
Nebo noted that the media have to step-up the advocacy against get-rich-quick syndrome and other vices that diminishes the value of life and good image of the country.
“I must thank the NTA for organizing such a programme and I think it is time for the media to step-up the advocacy against crime and criminality in the country, especially the pervading insecurity,” he said.

Owelle Ejikeme Odumegwu, Award recipient

Earlier, the Chairperson of NUJ-NTA Enugu Network Centre, Comrade Mina Ukaobasi, said that the lecture was meant to reawaken the consciousness of Nigerians for a need for positive attitudinal change.
“We are here to give direction to a renewed society, where age-long values and norms will be resuscitated and cherished to create a conducive society for all,” Okaobasi said.
She also called for support of NTA centres in the South-East with technical equipment to ensure effective coverage of activities within the zone.
The event featured awards of excellence to Gov. Ifeanyi Ugwuanyi of Enugu State; Most Rev. Emmanuel Chukwuma, Archbishop of Anglican Communion in Enugu and Owelle Ejikeme Odumegwu, a renowned philanthropist, who received award of “Excellence in Business and Humanitarian Efforts”.
Other recipients of the award of excellence included: Okonkwo, Nebo, Otti, Chief Ikenna Okafor, Chief Chikwado Chukwunta; Jimoh Badamosi; Chairman, Enugu State Council of NUJ, Comrade Sam Udekwe and host of others.
Responding on behalf of the recipients, Owelle Ejikeme Odumegwu, thanked the NTA-NUJ for the award and the organization’s eye to point out distinguished Nigerians.
“Good leadership begets good followership. Journalists must stand out to promote value reorientation and good governance.
“I will urge the journalists to keep it up and ensure that positive societal values and norms are preserved for posterity,” Odumegwu added.

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PDP demands probe of Supreme Court fire disaster



The Peoples Democratic Party, (PDP) has demanded a thorough investigation into the fire incident that gutted a section of the Supreme Court in the early hours of Monday.

The party raised the alarm over the incident which it described as suspicious giving the fact that a verdict on a sensitive issue of national importance is being expected.

National Publicity Secretary of the party, Debo Ologunagba made the position of the opposition party on the fire incident known in a statement on Monday.

He said, “The PDP is worried over the fire outbreak especially given heightened public apprehension of possible arsonist attack with the intent to cripple and frustrate the Supreme Court from effectively discharging its constitutional duties especially with regard to high profile electoral cases including the Presidential Election Appeals pending before it.

“Our Party demands for an immediate full-scale investigation into the fire outbreak with the view to unraveling the circumstances or possible sabotage in the incident.

“The PDP insists that the outcome of the investigation should be made public unlike those of previous fire incidents in various government Ministries, Departments and Agencies which were characteristically swept under the carpet by the All Progressives Congress (APC) administrations.

“While calling on the Federal Government to beef up security around the Supreme Court, the PDP also demands that Nigerians must be assured of the safety of sensitive documents and equipment at the Court especially at this critical time.”

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Gov. Mbah tasks FG on New Road Maintenance Model as bridge collapses along Enugu-Port Harcourt Expressway



Gov Peter Mbah (centre) and some government officials during inspection of the collapsed bridge in Enugu on Monday

…urges FG to concession roads to states

Governor of Enugu State, Dr. Peter Mbah, has called for a new road maintenance model to guarantee a better condition and longevity of Nigerians roads, regretting that the current model had failed woefully.

Dr. Mbah made the call when he visited the site of the collapsed bridge between the New Artisan flyover and the NNPC Mega Station along the Enugu – Port Harcourt Expressway.

The collapsed bridge

Fielding questions from newsmen after the first-hand inspection of the scene of the disaster, Mbah who thanked God that no life was lost despite the magnitude of the incident, urged the federal government to consider a concession of all the federal roads in each state to the state governments for proper maintenance in conjunction with the private sector.

“I think the question should be whether the current model of federal road maintenance is working or not; and I think that is the bigger question that we must ask.

“Today, we are here witnessing a tragedy that has just occurred. We are fortunate enough that no life was lost, but this could have been prevented entirely. So, the people can no longer ply this route because of this tragedy. This shows clearly that we do not have a sound federal road maintenance model.

“The bridge collapse didn’t just happen. These threats could have been identified if we had routine or regular maintenance.

“Perhaps the way to go is to find a way to concession these roads to the states. The states need to take charge of the roads within their domains and there has to be a conversation around the funding models”.

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Gov Mbah (R) inspecting the collapsed New Artisan Enugu bridge that collapsed on Monday

The said bridge collapsed on Monday, leaving commuters stranded.

Meanwhile, in a statement signed by the Enugu State Commissioner for Works and Infrastructure, Engr. Gerald Otiji, government has advised commuters to use Nza Street through New Haven or ply Ogui Road and Abakaliki Road to their various destinations, while the authorities come up with measures for immediate repair on the failed section of the bridge.

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Flyover bridge collapses in Enugu, no casualty



The collapsed flyover bridge in Enugu
The flyover bridge across the Enugu – Port Harcourt Expressway at the Enugu New Artisan market in Enugu state capital has collapsed.

The bridge collapsed Monday morning but an eyewitness said there was no casualty as artisans and residents were yet to come out from their homes for the day’s activity.

The eyewitness, an Auto Mechanic who identified himself as Nnamdi, told The Advocate that two lorries conveying goods which were on the bridge when the incident occurred were affected.

According to him, drivers and conductors of the two lorries, however, escaped unhurt.

The Advocate observed that one lane of the Enugu – Port Harcourt dual-carriage way had been blocked by the debris of the collapsed bridge forcing motorists playing the expressway to divert through alternative routes to continue their journey.

Security operatives, officials of the Federal and Enugu State Ministries of Works, Federal Road Maintenance Agency, Federal Road Safety Commission (FRSC) were sighted within the area to access the situation as well as to assist the road users plying the alternative routes.

Residents of Goshen Estate, Premier Layout, worshippers at the Dunamis Church and traders at the New Artisan market who are regular users of the bridge are likely to encounter serious traffic gridlock on account of the collapsed bridge, if an alternative route is not created as a matter of urgency.

The state government has yet to speak on the development by press time.

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