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INTERVIEWS

House of reps G70 Vow To Drag Gbajabiamila to Court, Alleging Vote Buying

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Femi Gbajabiamila as the Speaker of the 9th Assembly
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Certainly the last is yet to be heard concerning the election into the speakership position of the House of Representatives as the G70 lawmakers who voted against the emergence of the Speaker Femi Gbajabiamila has vowed to challenge the outcome in court over alleged vote buying and intimidation of the lawmakers on the inauguration day.

In this interview, leader of the group, Mark Gbillah further told Politics Editor, Jude Opara that the Buhari administration has succeeded in creating a National Assembly that will at best be a lame duck for the next four years.
 

You have been at the forefront of the now popular G70 legislators kicking against the emergence of Femi Gbajabiamila as the Speaker of the 9th Assembly, why are you agitating?

Thank you very much, I will tell you expressly that our action was born out of a genuine concern to ensure that only credible people using credible and transparent means were given the opportunity to serve especially at the legislative arm which in our best understanding is nothing but the conscience of democracy everywhere in the world.

Yes there is also this talk that your group is contemplating a court action, can you confirm this?

Yes, it is true, in fact we are in the process of putting finishing touches with our lawyers to immediately seek a redress in court, because in our reckoning, Femi Gbajabiamila is an illegitimate Speaker due to the fact that he compromised the process by indulging in vote buying. I spoke to our lawyers last night, we are on it, and we are going to communicate to the Clerk formerly to preserve the ballot papers, so that he will not claim to have destroyed it. We have clear and documented evidence of vote buying and intimidation which forced many members to vote against their conscience. One member who serves as the ring leader was seen conspicuously directing members on how to vote. They even created the Gbaja Green Card with serial numbers. Some members even placed their National Assembly ID cards and snapped to go and show and collect thousands of dollars promised.

The way you are talking, are you saying that the federal government is aware of this alleged vote buying because since this accusation started, nothing has been heard from them?

The much talked about anti-corruption fight of the President Muhammadu Buhari administration is nothing but a ruse, because he is more or less condoning instead of fighting corruption. It is appalling this is happening in the regime of a president and a party that boast of fighting corruption, they claim they are transparent but in actual fact they are endorsing corruption, so the question is why were honorable members forced to snap their ballots? It is unprecedented because the National Assembly has never been so desecrated the way we are seeing it today. It shows the illegitimacy of the Speaker because if he cannot win by simply convincing his colleagues to vote for him other than inducing them means he is not qualified to hold that position. People were captured on camera snapping their votes, some even placed their National Assembly ID Cards on the ballot before snapping for onward presentation to those who were top pay them thousands of dollars promised them. I can even forward to you the picture and videos of this charade.

In all this, what did the Clerk of the National Assembly, Sanni Omolori do as the man who was in charge of inaugurating the 9th Assembly when this alleged vote buying was taking place?

Unfortunately, the Clerk of the House seems to have endorsed what they were doing. He said something that day on the floor when we noticed this and I personally called his attention to it, he got up and said that his duty was to protect the sanctity of the voting system, but that if members were taking their cameras to take pictures, that it is their business if they chose to compromise their votes. What he did was like openly telling the lawmakers that they were free to go and compromise their votes. This has never been seen anywhere in the world before.

In your opinion, what is the likely impact of this on the nation’s growing democracy?

The negative impact of the vote for dollar as we saw on the floor of the House cannot be overemphasized. To say the least, it is a sad day for Nigerian democracy, and I dare say that it will only take the exit of the Buhari administration for the country to begin to rebuild its image which has already been battered by the actions and inactions of the administration. It is even more worrisome that under the present arrangement, what else should we expect from the National Assembly? There is nothing else but the fact that it is going to be a lame-duck legislature. I know that there are lacunas in our laws on how to conduct elections, but the morality of it is what we are talking about, how can you command legitimacy when you bribed your way to the office? You had to force them to snap their ballot to convince you they voted for you, so this is the intimidation that transpired and no sane society will accept this. I also know they are trying to blacklist me saying I am the one championing this cause, but I am not given to intimidation. Somebody has to stand up in this country and insist that the right things must be done. I am not alone on this struggle, but not everybody has the guts to come out art this time to speak out. We in the G70 are resolute and very soon we will begin to gather signatures of those who believe in the cause and when we are ready we will address the entire nation. That is why we are going to officially communicate the Clerk to preserve the ballot papers, it is one of the evidence we will tender in court to compel him to produce it and so he will now answer to the court, and we are doing it immediately.

Why do you say we are going to have a lame-duck legislature in the 9th Assembly?

It is very obvious, the whole scenario is very dangerous to our nascent democracy and it also shows that the government of Muhammadu Buhari appears not to be what he claims to be, he appears to be a dictator. It is only more words than action, under his watch; we have seen several acts of corruption but nothing has been done about them. Under his watch, we have seen the EFCC dropping cases against somebody they perceived was going to be an obstacle in their installing the senate president, you can see that for the first time in our history, the Deputy Senate President was kneeling down for the President and the President is okay with it. Doesn’t that tell what we are afraid of, that they have now succeeded in having a lame-duck legislature? This was further buttressed when a motion was moved to discuss the speech of the President at the democracy day celebration and the Senate President vehemently refused to take the motion. This is what we should be expecting in the next four years, that is if the leadership survives because at a certain point, those well meaning legislatures will rise up against impunity, also very soon, when they try to start sharing the spoils, all those who were made empty promises will start getting disgruntled, that is what to expect in the House of Representatives where most of the new members who do not know how the House operates were promised committees and they thought it is going to happen. It is a sad day for our democracy, the international community must be alarmed because we thought we were making progress but you can see the shameful conduct of the election by INEC and the flagrant rigging even in the selection of the leadership of the house. We will now have to salvage the country again after the end of this administration. It is a sad day because the institution that is supposed to salvage the situation and ensure a credible electoral process is itself indulged in vote buying, so what hope do we have for our democracy?

Are you not afraid that your position on this may expose you to all manners of attacks, where is your strength coming from?

As I said earlier, I am not the only lawmaker who is not happy with transpired, but speaking for myself, I will tell you that it is my disposition to follow my faith in the God that I serve. I uphold integrity and transparency, I am one politician who likes to tell Nigerians the truth all the time, I am an example that we must run elections transparently and righteously, so my intention is to ensure that the integrity of our institution was prevailed. I am not witch-hunting anybody but only to ensure that the rights were done.

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The Secret to Raising Children with Special Needs Without Exhaustion

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Raising a child with special needs in Nigeria can be extremely tiring for most parents. They also have to deal with strange ideas and theories about what caused their child’s condition, which leads to being excluded from society.

In a recent interview with DAILY ASSET News Editor, Prosper Okoye, the Executive Director of Elsali Care Foundation, Goodnews Emeka-Agadah,  discussed the severe consequences faced by these children and shared her secret for managing the stress of caring for them, among other topics.

What is your foundation about?

Elsali Care Foundation was born out of a passionate drive that began during my national youth service days.

At that time, I encountered parents with children who had special needs, and many of them were unaware of their child’s condition or the care they required. Consequently, they would confine their children at home, awaiting their eventual death.

I was able to offer assistance in some cases due to my familiarity with the conditions affecting such children, as I had a cousin who had a child with cerebral palsy, a kind of special need. Regrettably, society has yet to comprehend the distinctiveness of these children. My cousin lost her marriage due to her child’s condition, as people attributed the child’s condition to her own wrongdoing, claiming it was retribution catching up with her.

After completing my service, I joined a non-governmental organization that catered to orphans and vulnerable children, but they provided no support for children with special needs.

Upon observation, I discovered that there are numerous such children in society, and their parents are struggling. Many of these parents are unaware of their child’s condition or where to seek help. It was at this point that I told myself, “I possess significant knowledge about this condition, so let me step in and assist them.” That is how the foundation was established.

We advocate for these children since they are vulnerable and unable to advocate for themselves. We are consistently present for them, providing them with protection. Our primary focus is helping these children realize their potential.

Because we’ve known that when they receive proper care from an early age, there can be a significant improvement that enables them to maximize their potential and lead fulfilling lives.

We offer them clinical therapy, educational support, occupational therapy, physical therapy, and behavioral therapy.

We also aim to incorporate vocational support, as it is through this avenue that they can acquire skills to become more valuable members of society. However, currently, we do not possess the capacity to do so.

How can we identify a child with special needs?

Special needs is a term that encompasses both physical and neurodevelopmental disabilities. In our foundation, we primarily focus on children with neurodevelopmental disabilities, such as autism, Attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD), learning disorders and others.

In more concrete terms, although very unfortunate, society often perceives children with special needs as unintelligent because some may have difficulty speaking, while others may exhibit hyperactive and destructive behaviors.

Regarding physical disabilities, we refer to children who are physically impaired, deaf, or nonverbal.

How do you support orphans since you don’t have a home in your facility?

Apart from the special school center, the foundation takes part in community programs. During these programs, we come across some children who, just by looking at them physically, we know need help. And when we dig deeper, we find out that their parents have passed away, and they live with their relatives.

These are another group of children we work with. We assist them through the relatives they live with. For those who are not attending school, we help them get back into school.

Honestly, when it comes to providing for their nutritional needs, I must say we do very little due to lack of funds.

They appear undernourished, but in our small way, we provide them with some provisions through their caregivers because you can’t talk about children without considering their caregivers.

What has the journey been like so far?

We’ve been working behind the scenes since 2013, and we have many memorable success stories. Actually, every child we help is memorable because when we first meet them, their situation is very sad.

Sometimes it’s so bad that we can’t help but cry, especially when we see their parents’ tears and frustration.

Most parents tell us that their child was born healthy, just like any other child. But around the age of one or two, the child starts losing all their thinking and learning abilities.

The parents feel very frustrated and wonder if it’s some kind of magic or curse from their village. But after talking to them, they start to understand over time.

Despite the financial burden and surprisingly, the negative attitude from the public, we keep going because of the many successes we’ve achieved over the years.

For instance, when we go to some places to raise awareness about this condition, we often face rejection because people think these special children don’t belong there.

But they don’t understand that other children, in fact everyone else should learn how to relate to and treat children with special needs.

These children face discrimination from their own relatives and other children who should be their friends.

Some schools don’t want to accept them, and even when they do, they keep them separate from the other children.

We object to this unfair treatment and try to make people understand that they need to think like the special child does to understand why they act the way they do.

We have an amazing story of a 15-year-old child with Down syndrome. When he first came to us, he couldn’t do anything. We started helping him by teaching him to use the toilet because it was so bad that he would eat his own waste if left alone.

We also did many other therapies with him, and within just a few months, he started improving some of his behaviors. We even managed to help him stop using diapers.

There are other numerous success stories like this one. Indeed, just knowing that we could help a child and ease the burden for their parents brings us a lot of happiness and fulfillment.

What exactly could cause a child who is born without any issues to experience regression?

It is a neuro-developmental issue. It’s similar to when we have malaria and experience certain symptoms. For some children with autism, we notice these symptoms, which we refer to as red flags, as they grow up.

It is a condition that exists within them and influences their behavior, not something caused by external factors like their village people.

Some regressions can be attributed to a lack of essential vitamins or the presence of excessive mercury in their bodies. Others may be linked to low levels of certain microorganisms.

While ongoing research is being conducted, some regressions can be traced back to genetic conditions.

Additionally, problems during delivery, such as improper handling or prolonged labor, can also contribute to regression. The age of the parents can also play a role. Older parents have a higher likelihood of having a child with Down syndrome.

How do you cope with exhaustion while taking care of these children?

The issue of children born with special needs is of utmost importance to address as a matter of public concern. Approximately 10 out of every 50 children born each year are likely to have some form of special needs.

Furthermore, it is expensive and challenging to solely provide care for these children, even for parents with substantial resources.

We face numerous challenges as an organization, but the primary one is the lack of public awareness, which leads to stigmatization.

We require assistance in raising awareness to inform the public that these children with special needs are just as human as anyone else. They have emotions and experience pain.

Additionally, there is a need for improved implementation of policies by the government. While laws and policies exist to prevent discrimination, there is a lack of mechanisms for effective implementation.

Furthermore, we lack sufficient personnel in this field. Several individuals have come to work and volunteer to help the children, but they often cannot stay due to the demanding and strenuous nature of the work. In some cases, it is because the remuneration is not adequate for them, but we can’t help it because of the unavailability of funds.

For me, what prevents exhaustion is the love I have for what I do. If I were not motivated by financial gain, working with children with special needs would still be a job I would choose and strive to excel at. I see them as my own children.

However, I cannot do this job alone; we need stakeholders to assist us in extending these services to rural areas and other hard-to-reach places.

We require funds to train and motivate individuals to join us in the mission of reaching out to these special children, as it is not their fault that they were born this way.

It is also crucial to train parents on how to raise these children.

We must raise awareness in society to create more inclusive opportunities in schools, workplaces, and all other spheres of society.

We need more partnerships.

Children with special needs can grow up to become professionals, although they may lean more towards artistic pursuits and display greater inventiveness. Many celebrated musicians and footballers, such as Ronaldo, were actually children with special needs. Therefore, early interventions are crucial as the brains are still developing.

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INTERVIEWS

Japa Syndrome: Reflection on the Current Situation – Dr. Emeka

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In light of the soaring cost of living as a result of petroleum products’ hike in price and other economic woes, many Nigerians have embarked on a quest to leave the country in search of greener pastures abroad. In this interview with Prosper Okoye, the news editor of DAILY ASSET, migration expert Dr.

Emeka Obiezu discusses the intricacies that drive the Japa syndrome.
Dr. Emeka, who is also the Chairman of the Civil Society Migration Network (CSOnetMADE), sheds light on the realities surrounding Nigeria’s migration landscape.

DAILY ASSET: Japa has become a daydream for most people. How has this impacted migration in Nigeria?

Dr. Emeka Obiezu: It is evident.

The entire migration trend revolves around sustaining one’s livelihood and fulfilling their dreams. We refer to this as the driving force behind migration. The primary reason people leave or desire to leave is because they are living in an unfavorable environment and they believe that another place offers better prospects and the fulfillment of what they lack in their current situation. Nigeria has consistently witnessed a migration trend driven by economic motives, such as the lack of opportunities, unemployment, job insecurity, and even threats to personal safety and property. This is not unique to Nigeria; it is a common feature in migration trends worldwide. Out of the 281 million international migrants, 169 million are labor migrants who move primarily due to economic reasons. This means that there are either no immediate job prospects or their current employment is unsatisfactory or lacks job security. It could also involve changing jobs that motivate their move. The trend suggests that if the economic conditions in their home country improve, the migration curve will decline. However, if the opportunities remain stagnant, the graph will also remain stable, and if the lack of opportunities increases, the migration outflow will rise accordingly. Therefore, the concept of “japa” is merely a way of encapsulating the prevailing economic conditions in Nigeria and the lack of opportunities that drive the migration curve upward. Although there are other factors involved, they are intertwined. For instance, the anticipation of the outcome of the 2023 election has already instilled fear and anxiety, leading to uncertainties about the future for many Nigerians. This intensifies the desire to find a better place before the situation worsens or they become trapped here. Unfortunately, the outcome of the election did not improve matters. The implications of the political landscape reverberate through the economy. As you can see, even someone who had no prior plans to travel suddenly wants to leave this week, as the resources they have, including transport fare, are no longer sufficient. This has a ripple effect on every other aspect of life.

DAILY ASSET: What could be the implication of this trend?

Dr. Emeka: There are so many things that could come out of it. One is to look at it in terms of nation-building. If we have a high percentage of workforce outflow, then it would adversely impact the nation-building of the country in terms of jobs and quality of job. What is really disheartening is that the rise in the flow rate is higher for skilled workers and professionals. Like I heard one of the doctors’ associations demanding the new president to declare a state of emergency in the health sector, and that is just them. The labour union is on the street, and so many other sectors are also crying of losing their best. One of the presidential candidates use the term from consumption to production, so I don’t know if the skilled work population leaves whether we would achieve production against consumption. Well, the one sitting now did not campaign on that, so that may not be his concern. There is always a flip-up from the other end, Nigeria benefits so much from the diaspora engagement. We hope, this is a question of hope because diaspora remittances translate to the desire of the diaspora to contribute to nation-building and the availability to do that. We have had a good report in terms of how our diaspora is interested in giving back to the community, and so if we still maintain over $23 billion as our inflow from our diaspora, maybe this number of people that are going out may increase that poll in terms of higher remittances coming back home. If the diaspora also ventures from their different field it can also reflect in nation-building in such a way that it does amount to a complete loss.

DAILY ASSET: How would you evaluate the Nigeria Migration System?

Dr. Emeka: Our lives as migrants and actors of migrants are characterized by dynamics. We live in the moment; in other words, today speaks for itself. Not that we have cut off completely from our past, but we use today to judge how the past was utilized well, and whether the present is active enough or the future is venturing at all.

Having been in the migration sphere in the last few years, I could, in fairness, identify progress in the management of migration in Nigeria. In other words, there are more conscious efforts by actors to come together. The coming together of different stakeholders to think through what could be the best options for situations around is helping us to gain more insight and experiences from people who have worked in different spaces of migration outside our own space. It also helps us to squarely address the issues at hand. Nigeria has also come up with instruments to help in the management of migration. The policies that were made before 2018 are being reviewed, and some action plans have been developed for their implementation. Some have even gone a step further by establishing memoranda of understanding and operating procedures that would guide implementers. Migration governance instruments are a key element in managing migration. When we have all those instruments that we can fall back on, it helps both the implementers and the advocates to have something to refer to, either to push for more things or to measure what has been done. So, in that direction, I would say yes we have made progress. But, have we done enough to say that we have our migration issues under control? Not yet. I think what needs to be desired in that direction is what I call committed ownership of the migration issues in terms of framing the question, designing the plan, and following through with the implementation. Somehow, it would be fair to say that our migration governance is reactive. The reason I say that is because what we do now is spurred by what others do, particularly international partners, either governments or international organizations, who raise issues and we follow suit. For instance, the major trend in migration governance up until now has been the issue of return, readmission, and reintegration. This is because the Western world is trying to clean their environment of what they call unwanted persons, that is, migrants who are in irregular status. Because they want to push them away, they get in touch with us saying they want to return our people and ask what they should do to accomplish that. Then we tell them to design a package that when they come back, it will help them reintegrate into economic activities and others. They buy into it for their own interest and begin to design various projects and programs around it. That is what we have been pursuing for a number of years now, which is why I can say that it is reactive. Another reactive aspect of it is when our people are stuck in Libya or some other place, and then we rush in to see what we can do about it. However, we could have taken proactive migration governance that looks at the development issues that are the root causes of this movement. We have not done enough because it requires political will, which has to translate into the financial budget. We have experts who design policies, but they end up in the political space because there is no political will to implement them. Somebody says political will is simply defined as putting your mouth where your money is or putting your money where your mouth is. In other words, if I say this, there is something to back it. I would want to see an intentional act done by Nigeria’s migration governance, to say in the next quarter, we are going to do intentional advocacy or policy that will align with the government’s national development policy plan to say, “Do this or do that,” and we can observe the number of people it would help prevent from migrating. For instance, we can consciously create specific job opportunities targeting demographics that we know are prone to migrate and provide them with those opportunities. By doing so, we can assess how many would benefit from it and how many would choose not to leave. If we begin to implement such measures, we can say that we are holding our migration governance to a radical, proactive approach that allows us to design it instead of merely following the fallout from other places.

DAILY ASSET: There appears to be a deliberate effort by certain countries to keep Nigerians away from their country. What are your thoughts on this? And how can one leave wisely, as you always advise?

Dr. Emeka: I can explain that with a simple example. If you want to visit a friend, what would be the wise thing for you to do if I ask you that question?

DAILY ASSET: I don’t answer questions (chuckles).

Dr. Emeka: Alright. The wise thing to do is to call up your friend and confirm if they are available. Then the person will inform you how to get to their house and any specific instructions, such as having dogs in the house and how to ensure they don’t come after you. You would also discuss the duration of your visit and the purpose of your visit. All these details should be discussed and agreed upon before you embark on your journey. That is the right way to visit someone, even if it is a family member.

Migration is a human right for every person. You can move whenever and for any reason you want to move. However, entering the place you are going to is also the human right of another person. They need to know who is coming, what they are coming to do, and how long they intend to stay. Therefore, for this action to be completed, there must be a relationship between the person who is moving and the person receiving them. That is why we advise that the wise way to move is to obtain all the necessary documents that will enable the migrant to do so legally and safely.

So, how do you begin? Firstly, you need to identify yourself by obtaining a passport. With your passport, let’s say you, as a Nigerian, want to go to Country B. In order to enter Country B, you need to inquire about the requirements set by Country B for entry and the purpose of your visit. Based on that, they may inform you that you need a work visa, for example. To obtain a work visa, you will be given the requirements, and once you fulfill them, you can obtain the visa at the embassy of Country B.

However, having a visa to enter the country does not automatically guarantee your entry. The immigration officer at the border needs to confirm your identity and the purpose of your visit. They may also specify the conditions and duration of your stay. For instance, if you are given a 30-minute stay, it is your responsibility for the sake of your dignity and credibility to leave once the time is over. If, for any reason, you decide to overstay, thinking that the place is comfortable and you prefer to stay a bit longer, you would be violating the agreement and entering an irregular status.

The issue of a deliberate effort to prevent people from entering certain countries is one of the reasons why irregular migration thrives. If I want to enter your country and you don’t want me to, I may be unable to obtain a visa or face harsh conditions if I do. In such situations, someone may approach me and suggest an alternative way to enter the country without going through those procedures. This creates opportunities for individuals engaged in smuggling operations. However, it doesn’t benefit anyone. It doesn’t benefit the country, nor does it benefit the migrant involved. It exposes the migrant to various dangers and makes it difficult for the country to manage its resources.

As migration actors, we urge countries and everyone involved in the migration issue to make the pathways for regular migration as accessible as possible. Furthermore, we appeal that for those who are already in a country and are in an irregular status, instead of detaining or deporting them, opportunities should be created for them to regularize their status. This approach preserves their dignity and enables them to contribute positively to their home country and help those they left behind.

DAILY ASSET: Are there strategies in place by the government or civil society associations to assist those affected by conflict and victims?

Dr. Emeka: One of the primary elements of migration governance is to protect migrants throughout the entire migration process, from their decision to leave to their eventual return. The human rights of migrants are of utmost importance, and we work towards ensuring their protection. This is because they are human beings and every individual’s rights should be safeguarded regardless of their status. There are several measures in place. For refugees, there is the 1951 Convention on the Status of Refugees that provides protection. For migrants, there is a convention on migrants’ rights and the rights of their families. The International Labour Organization has established labour policies to prevent discrimination and promote fair recruitment, among others. Nigeria has also signed international conventions and developed national policies and programs to protect migrant workers. One example is the establishment of NAPTIP (National Agency for the Prohibition of Trafficking in Persons). Their responsibilities include combating human trafficking, rescuing and protecting victims, and prosecuting offenders. Some instrumental policies include the National Migration Policy and the National Policy on Labour Migration. These initiatives provide opportunities for protecting migrant workers and preventing exploitation in various ways.

DAILY ASSET: How effective are these policies?

Dr. Emeka: The effectiveness of these policies depends on the individuals and entities responsible for their implementation. The challenge we face with policies is their execution, and this is not unique to Nigeria. It is a global governance issue. Some actors may argue that policies are put in place by the government but do not lead to any tangible outcomes. However, as advocates, we see these policies as a means to hold the government accountable. We persistently push for their implementation until at least one migrant receives the intended protection. To some extent, the Nigerian government is improving its efforts to protect migrants, particularly those who are returning. We are establishing bilateral relationships with other countries to ensure that there are no detentions, reduce deportations, and provide opportunities for voluntary return with dignity. Therefore, the implementation of these policies is gradually taking shape.

DAILY ASSET: The increasing number of returnees is a cause for concern. Does your organization engage in any initiatives to support their reintegration into society?

Dr. Emeka: The reason why numbers are highlighted in the media is because there is now a structured process in place for documenting and managing these returns. These efforts are aimed at organizing the return processes. Reintegration is a crucial component of the return process, enabling individuals who have completed a migration cycle to reintegrate into their local communities in a sustainable manner. The goal is to ensure that they do not face the same fears or economic and political pressures that compelled them to migrate in the first place.

This is known as sustainable reintegration, and it begins even before the person returns. They are made aware of the conditions in their country of return and are provided with orientation and available opportunities. These opportunities may include education, vocational training, and business training. We focus on both individual and community reintegration. Individual reintegration addresses the specific needs of each person and follows their journey until they are able to rebuild their lives in a sustainable manner.

Community reintegration involves bringing together a group and engaging the receiving community. The community plays an active role, designing and managing projects that address the needs of potential migrants and aim to reduce irregular migration.

As a civil society organization, our network comprises over 240 organizations, many of which are grassroots actors. These organizations implement various projects, such as providing shelters. In fact, the first male shelter designed to receive returnees was built by a member of our network, the Patriotic Citizen Initiative. Our members collaborate with the government based on their areas of focus. Some provide psychosocial support, guidance, shelter, family tracing, and monitoring of the reintegration process. Together, they form the return and reintegration working community within Nigeria’s migration governance framework. This collaboration occurs at different levels, including the federal level, monitoring and evaluation groups, and other governance structures that bring actors together to coordinate our activities.

DAILY ASSET: There have been allegations that shelter homes for returnees in Nigeria are poorly managed, and that individuals who leave these shelters are worse off than when they entered. What is your honest assessment of the shelter homes in Nigeria?

DR. Emeka: If these are mere allegations, they should be treated as such unless there is substantial evidence to support them. Therefore, I won’t comment directly on those specific allegations. However, it is important to recognize that institutions are operated by human beings, and there may be instances where human weaknesses such as neglect or abuse occur. It is crucial to ensure that both civil society organizations and government actors maintain oversight of these centers to prevent any form of abuse or compromise of the beneficiaries. From my personal experience, the shelter homes I have worked with have been exceptional in their operations.

DAILY ASSET: Alright, is the Nigerian Migration policy keeping pace with the current migration reality?

Dr. Emeka: The Nigerian migration policy was formulated in 2015, and it did not anticipate the specific circumstances of 2023 since it could not predict the future. Therefore, it served the purpose at the time of its creation. However, the policy was not designed to be permanent and unchangeable. It included provisions for review, allowing for adjustments based on evolving policies. The review process is currently underway, taking into account the present experiences and dynamics of migration trends. This review has involved a wide range of actors contributing to the development of different processes. The ultimate aim is to address both evident and underlying issues related to migration. It is important to acknowledge that as human beings, our actions are limited by our knowledge and vision. Nonetheless, we strive to do our best and ensure that our policies align with the realities we are encountering.

DAILY ASSET: Finally, what would you recommend that the new administration prioritize?

Dr. Emeka: My advice is for all Nigerians, whether it’s the government or individuals, to work towards building a better Nigeria. The current state of migration reflects the fact that Nigeria is not favorable for many people, and we cannot deny this reality. It is not unpatriotic to acknowledge that Nigeria is not favorable to many individuals. Having experienced Nigeria outside of the country, I have witnessed the longing and regret in the eyes of those who left and wish they had stayed. They left because Nigeria is not favorable to them. It is the responsibility of everyone, whether in private or public spaces, to contribute to creating a favorable environment. Key aspects to address include security, job opportunities, social life, social services, social insurance, and everything that ensures basic comfort for individuals. This is my suggestion and recommendation to all Nigerians. We cannot achieve this overnight, but if people observe a clear direction of progress, it will be encouraging and may dissuade some individuals from undertaking forced migration. Our ultimate goal is to make migration a choice, not a necessity. Currently, it is viewed as a necessity because people feel trapped and believe that if they don’t leave, they don’t know what will happen. We are desperately seeking any opportunity to escape the limited space we feel confined in.

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Next Plateau Governor must Epitomize Gomwalk – Tanko

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As political activities leading to the 2023 General Elections are on top gear in Plateau State, Honourable Sati Tanko, Special Adviser to Governor Simon Lalong in this Interview with Jude Dangwam gave a hint on the kind of a new governor the state needs come 2023. He expressed worry that the State falling into the hands of political godfathers

Plateau State has seen different qualities of governors.

What kind of Governor did you think the State needs come 2023?

Plateau State should be expecting a leader that will be tolerant, not fanatical about tribe or religion and must be a leader that will carry all the tribes in the state along.

I said this because this idea of minority, majority dichotomy has always shown it’s ugly heads in the various leaderships we have had over the years as a state and it has not done us any good.

During the Chief Solomon Lar period when we were together with Nasarawa State, we didn’t see such division along tribes or religion, the dichotomy was about the Southern and Upper Plateau, there was no primodial sentiments as it is now.
Unfortunately, when Solomon Lar left power unceremoniously, because of the coup that toppled him, led by the current President of the Federal Republic of Nigeria President Muhammadu Buhari.
Plateau State has been devastated by a lot of crises. We have lost a lot of properties; we have lost our senses; we have lost our unity; we have lost the umbilical code that bound us as a people. Why? Because tribalism has eaten deep into the fabric of our politics. Religion has eaten deep into the fabric of our politics. We have preferred primordial interest to state interest that will unit us and build our economy.
The kind of leadership I will want is a combination of all the leaders that we had. We must have a leader with the spirit of J.D Gomwalk. Why did I say so? It is because the leadership spirit of late Gomwalk was to go out there and get. It was a competitive spirit that struggled within the then 12 states of the Nigerian nation.
That is why he brought the now University of Jos; he brought Benue Plateau Radio; The Nigeria Standard Newspaper among others. Yhat was the spirit. Solomon Lar came and had the maturity of tolerating all the various tribes of the former Plateau, covering the present day Nasarawa State. 
Virtually everybody was contented. He was able to bring all the tribes through his programme of emancipation that he developed and he succeeded in emancipating all the downtrodden tribes of the Plateau. Those tribes that were suppressed by feudal lords were emancipated and that was maturity.
We had Ambassador Fidelis Tapgun whom I consider as a stateman in his own right. He was coming from the bureaucratic setting, as a Permanent Secretary who had worked with so many military governments in the country. So, he knew Plateau State inside out because he was a student of Solomon Lar and he was able to marry some of Lar’s programmes by building schools, and paying the SSCE registrations fees for students among other things in the larger Plateau State and people appreciated those programmes because of the poverty level at that time. 
It got to the time of Joshua Dariye who was coming from the economic background as an accountant. He came in with his welfarist package and there was no hunger in the land, lifting up the standard of living of the citizens and I think he did well. The building and commencement of academic activities at the State University Bokkos is a credit to him, an institution that has raised so many people today. 
When you talk of Baba Jonah David Jang, he is stubborn to some extent. Stubborn in the sense that he did not allow other factors make his thinking overlap. He remained focused on what he want to achieve. So those factors that wanted to not just pulled him down per say but to change his thinking saw him as a very stubborn leader.
Infact he is a man that came with a kind of programmes for Plateau people. But because of the forces that were and the insecurity that time, Baba Jang became a fighting bull with the Federal authority given the power that be at that time and they tagged him recalcitrant, but to the masses of Plateau State I think he did his best too because he was able to introduce a kind of nationalism that today you find it in the minds of natives of Plateau State.
Lalong came with his peace mantra and I think, to a greater extent he has succeeded because there are no more ‘No Go Areas’ as we had before now. Business and social night activities are going on now than it used to be. Although there are pocket of attacks in hinterlands but the Lalong administration has been able to stabilize the security situation within the Jos-Bukuru metropolis.
So, the kind of leader that I would want in 2023 is someone with the combination of all the attributes of these leaders that saw each playing his part in the best way he can. But above all, somebody that can bring us unity is important, somebody that can tolerate, somebody that can build infrastructures and bring out the best in our institutions in the way they function that’s the kind of leadership I desire.
I want a leader that will focus on peace, somebody who will address our education, the agriculture, somebody who will give the desired energy to our commerce by building our economy to make Plateau economically viable. We have always been considered as a civil servants state, so I want a leader that will come and change that narrative.

Across political parties, do you see such an ideal leader amongst the aspirants for the governorship seat come 2023 in Plateau State?

For the first time in the history of Plateau State, I can see from the array of aspirants both in the ruling party and the opposition parties who can bring this to bear. Because I can see that they have a very rich credentials, and to be fair to them, there is no one that can not govern Plateau State given their credentials. 

What are your fears in the whole politicking leading to the choice of the ideal leader come 2023 considering the arrays of aspirants?

My fears is about the money bags! We don’t want money bags to hijack our political system. Where people will plant surrogates and psychophants or cohorts, at the end of the day they will be answerable to their godfathers and not the people of Plateau State. That’s my fear about the kind of leadership that is emerging. I rather want a leader that will emerge from the true reflection and the aspiration of the people of Plateau State! 

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