Archive for February, 2008

HOW READY ARE WE FOR THESE FIRES?

February 21, 2008

HOW READY ARE WE FOR THESE FIRES?

 

 

When the World Trade Center was attacked some few years back, the first set of people that appeared at the scene of the attack were the Fire fighters. When an aeroplane crash landed recently in London, the Fire fighters were also the first people that responded and appeared at the airport. When the same event took place in Tokyo, Japan the Fire fighters responded and saved the situation. But can the same thing be said in Nigeria? It appears we are ready for everything but not emergencies. The truth is that no matter how positive we think or plan, we must make room for emergencies but not until they happen.

 

 

One great man said that while planning that we should put up one mindset that “whatever may go wrong will go wrong”. If we have such mindset, I do believe most of the emergencies would be taken care of. Nobody is building a house, shopping mall or open market having in mind that it would be gutted down by fire immediately after completion. But we have seen houses, cars, shopping malls, corporate and private multi-storey buildings and many markets razed down by different degrees of fire. In most cases, it appeared that the people who built those houses never thought or factored fire outbreaks into their plans.

 

 

We all know that if you light a candle or lantern in an open place or inside the house, air from our fan, our mouth or the environment can put it out. When a car or house is on fire, we need fire extinguishers or the help of men of the Fire Service to put it out. There are different degrees of fire and fire outbreaks. Each of them needs different techniques or equipments to be able to curtail or quench the degree of fire. We have seen fire raze buildings and there was little or nothing the Fire fighters could do about the situation they met on ground. Many would attribute their inability to put out the fires to obsolete equipment, inadequate personnel, late response, inaccessibility of the buildings on fire to vehicles of the fire fighters and lack of technical know how on the side of the fire fighters to the degrees of fire outbreaks.

 

 

It is said that, the more unrealistic our ideas appear, the harder it is to attain goals. It looks like the government or the relevant authorities find it hard to attain goals in the area of fire and emergency management because of how unrealistic the idea appears. Life is only a mirror, what it finds in your heart, it reflects back in your circumstance. May be the government does not have the idea in her heart. The heart is reflecting back neglect or lack of genuine interest to tackle fire outbreaks in Nigeria. Many issues that had not been tackled in our nation do not lack solutions but genuine interest on the side of the relevant authorities. Many issues had been politicized.

 

 

Recently, fire had ravaged many buildings, markets and properties running into billions of Naira and many lives had been lost to the infernos. There was little or nothing our Fire Fighters could do to salvage the situations. We had seen wild fires in California and other places like Australia. But we also saw the way each was tackled; even helicopters were used to fight the fires. Do we as big as we claim to be have enough helicopters for the Police not to talk of the Fire service? We are building mega cities and even some places that used to be rural areas are becoming cities. But do we have the Fire service that can effectively manage or tackle mega fires in those cities?

 

 

If there is one area that had degenerated so bad in our nation, it is the Fire Service. It is time to do something serious about the fire situation in our nation. Since the Local government councils also get their share of the excess crude oil, it will not be asking too much if each local government should put at least two fire stations in their area. The state government should rise to the occasion and make sure the Federal fire stations are not left to rut away. Many young graduates are roaming the streets with their papers; they should be recruited into the Fire Service. States like Lagos had procured fire-fighting vehicles in the recent past. They should move a step further by sending these men and women to undergo extensive trainings to be able to handle high degrees of fire. Functional telephone lines should be fitted, boreholes should be drilled in each station, and the welfare package should be reviewed to make the job of fighting fire attractive to youths.

 

 

The private sector can also come into the scene to make it less cumbersome as part of their own corporate responsibility. I will conclude by saying that Vision 2020 and vision for mega cities may be an illusion if we do not factor in how to tackle higher degrees of fire and other emergencies because mega cities and mega economy can be reduced to rubbles by mega fires.

 

 

 

 

ARINZE ALINNOR A.

P. O. BOX 17985, IKEJA – LAGOS.

08033001782, 01-8964893

arinze198@gmail.com

http://www.arinze198.wordpress.com

 

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DECEITFUL BUDGETS AND ACCOUNTS?

February 13, 2008

DECEITFUL BUDGETS AND ACCOUNTS?

Many are of the opinion that the problem commonly associated with Third World countries is accountability. Some said it is so because of the large number of uneducated folks in Third World nations. The elite then capitalizes on the ignorance of the large chunk of the citizens to put up falsified figures and accounts, which cannot be traced or questioned. With the emergence of technology and awareness in some quarters, the story is changing gradually.

Before the discovery of oil in Nigeria, things like cocoa, groundnut or palm oil used to be major income earners for the country. Our economy and development depended on these items. We did our projections and budgeting based on the proceeds from these items. We used the non-oil resources to even develop oil exploration. It is no longer news that the non-oil resources we used to develop oil exploration now contribute less than ten percent (10%) of the nation’s foreign earnings. It is not news that oil has put the nation’s resources in few hands and equally unable to generate widespread unemployment for the employable hands in the country.

Since the discovery of oil at Oloibiri in 1956, the expectation of improving the lots of the people has succeeded in making majority of Nigerians go cap in hand begging for their share of the oil resources. The non-oil resources have been relegated to the background all these years. All our budgets and expenditure are based on oil earning. Despite its major problems of civil unrest, political instability, border disputes, corruption and poor governance, oil companies have always seen Nigeria as an attractive area for up stream investment. The nation’s state of infrastructure had not improved even with the continuous rise in the world oil prices.

Many of us were not too shocked about the discovery of secret accounts by the government, supposedly owned not by the government but by some evil genius from another planet. Many were not too moved also when the legislators returned unused funds in the last fiscal year. Is it an indication that many waters had passed under the bridge unnoticed? All these developments are just showing that we may have had deceitful budgets and accounts all these years. Our minds and attention had been focused only on what happened in the oil market. Since the presidency had been directly in charge of the petroleum ministry, who knows what the accounts are like?

  It is alleged that huge funds were expended on electricity with nothing to show for the huge figures on ground. When I observed that many ministries were foot dragging to come and defend their budgets before the legislators, I suspected foul play. May be falsified figures could not escape the watchful eyes of the present legislators this time. May be the House noticed there was something wrong with our budget and accounting system. Since the emergence of the present administration, some former public office holders had been dragged to court on charges of corruption or financial misappropriation. The probes going on here and there are signs of deceitful budgets and accounts by the elite who were relying on the inaccessibility of the records to defraud the people.

If you look at the way the budgets are prepared and presented, you will begin to wonder whether the inputs of the other sectors are really important. Every projection is focused on oil. What happens to earnings from taxes, from customs and port charges, and non-oil exports? Do they really count? The excess crude oil money being shared between the three tiers of government seem not have added anything to the lives of the citizens because even the people do not know how much they received or what is done with what was received.

I wish to use this piece to ask the legislators at the state and national level to be very serious with their oversight functions. Let them get down to real business and forget intra and inter party politics. We just heard secret accounts were discovered. What is being done to uncover the people running the accounts and the purposes? The freedom of information bill that the present House inherited had not seen the light of day, but the bill for indecent dressing seem to be more important. Who benefits from the bill for indecent dressing? I believe we have many great minds who are not bereft of ideas in the House. They should rather tackle more serious issues especially the ones bothering on corruption and the anti-graft war because what we had have been deceitful budgets and accounts. The time to put the records straight is now!

ARINZE ALINNOR A.

P. O. BOX 17985, IKEJA – LAGOS.

08033001782, 01-8964893

arinze198@gmail.com

http://www.arinze198.wordpress.com