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How my team secured $57 million for Water Projects in Ondo State, By Tunji Light Ariyomo

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On Saturday 9th March 2024, scores of my friends and brothers from across the globe including the US-based talented visual artist, Sunday Oluwasomi, the scion of the late Olisa Raymond Olusoga (Prime Minister of Akure Kingdom) Engr Taiwo Olusoga, Aquinarian Tunde Aladenola, and a host of others called my attention to a negative counterclaim of an individual on one of my team’s best legacies in Ondo State. It was about our success in the financial closure of the sum of US dollars 57 million and the actual collection of the first tranche of the money into the purse of the Ondo State Government as well as my team’s accomplishment in securing AfDB first preliminary approval for an additional $112.72 million ($82.72 million for water, $20million for power, and $10 million in grant) whilst I served as the Special Adviser on Public Utilities, supervising Water Resources and Energy at cabinet level before my redeployment. Unknown to me, several other people who admire me had shared screenshots of the apocryphal claims with me via my Whatsapp inbox. My friend’s Dad, one of our political leaders in Ondo State, Chief Ademola Ijabiyi, was also very concerned and requested that it was important I be added to the platform where such dubious claims were made so I could lay them to rest. I was, however, encumbered with a professional assessment report that I had to submit on behalf of one of my mentees and could not react or respond immediately. I promised Chief Ijabiyi and the others that I would respond comprehensively.

In the interim, I did what was the most basic, I called witnesses! I left the duty of articulation of the roles played by my team to eyewitnesses who were part of the process. Today, there are at least one hundred civil servants who played one role or the other and are still in active service. So, individuals like Sunday Oluwasomi, Taiwo Olusoga, and Tunde Aladenola had the privilege of hearing truthful accounts of what happened directly from those who were involved. Even aspects of our patriotic escapades that I had forgotten were brought back to memory. Those who were directly and actively involved in the processes exposed the carefully orchestrated lies of those who desired to piggyback on the success of our sweat and have perhaps been surreptitiously deceiving others about their fabled roles. If individuals could outrightly tell bald-faced lies and deny what just happened only a few years ago where the hard records are still available and the dramatis personae are all alive, then this comprehensive account of what happened is necessary to set the records straight and for posterity.

For the benefit of the reader, the counterclaim against our legacy is that two commissioners under the previous administration of Dr. Olusegun Mimiko were responsible for securing the funds for Ondo State and that all our team did was get there, cash the cheques and begin to spend the money. The claim asserted that they brought in the sum of $75 million from the World Bank for the construction of the transmission mains of the Owena Multipurpose dam and its reticulation to the state capital. I hate to be seen to be addressing issues in a way that appears to pit me against Dr. Mimiko who is an iconic leader in the state in his own right. I will want this not to be misconstrued as that is not my objective. I am only setting the record straight.

Upfront, I herein state unequivocally that when I took over as the de facto leader of the state’s water project in October 2017 (by the Governor’s written directive, I covered the duties of the Commissioners in charge of Water Resources and Electricity Matters), I did not meet any record of the sum of $75 million World Bank fund whether in cash, cheque, bank lodgement, or approval-in-file. I concede that for about 8 years prior to my taking over, there were attempts to secure funds and several offers probably flew around just like I also got the first offer from the AfDB for $112.72 million. But offers are what they are. The real job is being able to develop the business case document, financial models, and ancillary technical documentation required to meet the conditions precedents attached to a serious offer. The serious efforts of those who laboured hard to achieve that must never be dismissed on the altar of cheap politics.

I must also hasten to add, that ever since I even left the water project, not a single kobo in new funds has been added to the state programme. In fact, the most anticipated fund in the state’s water sector today is the AfDB $112.72 million (now negotiated to circa $104 million) which is solely the benefit of the robust foundation laid by my team.

For the avoidance of doubt, the following individuals were part of my team on the state water project as of that time, Engr. Jimmy Akinrimade MNSE, then General Manager of the Ondo State Water Corporation, Engr. Steve Adesemuyi MNSE who was in charge of procurement, and Engr. Toba Akinde MNSE, who I later recommended to the Governor for appointment as the State Coordinator of the project. Other members of my team at the Office of Public Utilities (OPU) which had ministerial supervision of the Ondo State Water Corporation as of then, were Princess Abike Bayo-Ilawole, Engr. Olumayowa Ajumobi, MNSE, Mr. Deji Akinwumi, Dr. (Mrs) Tolulope Pius-Fadipe, Mrs. Doris Adekale, and others. I mentioned these names as they are all alive and well. These are mostly civil servants. They were committed to our success then. They supported me and were active witnesses to all that we did to secure the funds.

By the way, I was not “only part of the government negotiation team that held meetings with the World Bank and Federal Ministry of Water Resources” as claimed in one of the infantile comments, not at all. Rather, I was the leader of the Ondo State Government team that negotiated the funds with the French Development Agency (AFD), and the International Economic Relations Department of the Federal Ministry of Finance where an Ondo State son, Mr. Timothy Komolafe, ensured we were properly guided to abide by all due process requirements among others. My team simply fast-tracked the processes with our proactiveness and became the first state to execute the SLA on the 26th of March 2018. The claim that “(they) were at the point of accessing the money that (sic) (they) left the government and Akeredolu’s government continued from there” is therefore totally simplistic and untrue. No money could have been accessed by anyone without fulfilling all the conditions precedents, negotiation of terms, as well as the execution of the principal and subsidiary agreements. The agreement indeed marked the definitive period of the effectiveness of the fund for the state. My team delivered all these.

I can thus speak authoritatively about what the team I led did, how we did it, the amount of money involved, and why – at the risk of sounding boastful – what we did to secure that money within a limited time is purely the stuff of legends. Indeed, the last hurdle for us to cross was how to bypass the petition by a private company that had found a way to ensure that AFD inserted the settlement of its claim against the state government as a condition precedent to disbursement. Governor Akeredolu in the presence of the company’s representative gave me the carte blanche to resolve the issue. We took up space at the Heritage Hotel in Akure with the company and spent about four hours without success. They insisted on a payout of as much as N4 billion. It didn’t make sense to me. I reported to the Governor. Time was of the essence and I took permission from him to resolve it the way I could. All we had to do was convince the AFD to drop that requirement as a condition precedent. AFD stood its ground.

Then the epiphany dawned on me of a concept in law called the statute of limitations that we learnt as student engineers in our only introductory contract law class. The contract over which the company was imposing a claim upon Ondo State was already 9 years old. I immediately tried my best to again research the subject of the statute of limitations. The more I did, the more pleasant it sounded that I had found the holy grail as the contract was statute-barred. Having learnt proper legal referencing style from my former Special Assistant, Mrs. Babagbenga Alalade Esq, years back, I decided to produce a draft legal opinion on the subject. I focused extensively on Nigerian laws as my primary authority, followed by copious quotes from the legal jurisprudence of both the United Kingdom and France. Incidentally, the three countries (Nigeria, UK and France) each retain 6 years as the bar for a business-related claim. I inserted the French law deliberately since the AFD legal officers who would review the legal opinion in France were more likely to be French nationals.

After I was done, I decided to call two lawyers who were very close to me, my big Egbon, Rotimi Aladesanmi Esq as well as my good aburo Mrs Sandra Ogunmola, Esq. I told them about my quackery and apologised to them that my office did not have the money to secure the service of a lawyer. Out of patriotism and solidarity with the state, Bar. Aladesanmi asked me if the State Water Corporation had been maintaining correspondence with the company. I told him I had a hunch some months back that we might have insiders acting as fifth columnists and I had thereafter insisted that any correspondence on the matter must be solely by the state Ministry of Justice. I let him know that on several occasions afterwards when the GM approached me to allow him to send a polite letter to the company, I had always declined insisting instead that only the Ministry of Justice should issue any communication to them and that he and I must stick to engineering only. I added that to prevent any mistake when the GM told me that the legal officer of the Corporation was in support of a polite letter, I quickly got the Justice Ministry to write the Corporation to desist from any correspondence. Both lawyers appeared to substantially think I was already making sense. That gave me confidence and I decided to take the draft legal opinion to Mr. Kola Olawoye, SAN, the then Attorney General and Commissioner for Justice, a fantastic administrator who would go to any legitimate length to assist us on our processes. The distinguished SAN read the draft and asked me who produced it. I jokingly told him one ‘charge and bail’ guy did. The Attorney General assumed a friend of mine did and chastised me never to refer to my friend as a charge and bail lawyer because he had produced a brilliant legal opinion! He told me he was adopting it verbatim – no correction.

My Special Assistant, Dr. (Mrs) Tolulope Pius-Fadipe made eye contact with me. I pretended I didn’t see her. The Honourable Commissioner for Justice executed the instrument and handed same to me. By 2 pm, we had scanned and forwarded it to the headquarters of the AFD in France with copies to the country representative in Nigeria. We had the hard copy dispatched by courier. Not quite 30 minutes after the email, I received a phone call from AFD’s Country Manager in Abuja who sought my permission for a conference call with France. Their legal officer in France had reviewed the legal opinion (our letter) and had concurred with us that the requirement that granted an advantage to a private company to more or less put a lien on our request and demanded N4 billion from the government of Ondo State be dropped! Yes. It happened in one day. They apologized and assured me to await an email giving us all clear so we could proceed to the disbursement stage.

The email came and the important line was “There is no more issue on this point as my legal department took into consideration your last letter and agreed to clear the condition precedent”. That was how we resolved the last hurdle on that fund. It was only after I succeeded in removing that final obstacle that I forwarded the ‘all clear’ good news from the then Country Manager of AFD, Ms Jeanne VANUXEM-MILLELIRI, to the then GM of the Ondo State Water Corporation (Engr Akinrinmade) and the then State Coordinator of the Water Project (Engr Akinde) on August 24, 2018 at exactly 3:03 pm.

Ayo Sotinrin who was with the Governor when I passed the news via phone later told me that the Governor asked him, “How did Tunji do it?”. As the late Governor Oluwarotimi Akeredolu SAN later acknowledged in a private letter to then President Muhammadu Buhari, “Engr. Olatunji Ariyomo, FNSE, led the team that negotiated and secured the $57 million AFD funding for our administration… His team succeeded in scaling “18 No Objections” under 12 months which was a record by any sub-national government even by AFD standard”.

As if by divine intervention, the AFD sent me a dusburement schedule confirmation for the $57 million (with dates) on the very day we were receiving the Federal Minister for Water Resources. Mr. Yemi Olowolabi, a veteran journalist of the Tell Magazine era who was the Commissioner for Information had to break protocol to get the great news across to Governor Akeredolu carrying my mobile phone with him to enable both the Governor and his guest to read directly the giant leap Ondo just made.

Essentially, ahead of other states that were part of the NUWSRP III scheme, Ondo State reached financial closure in a manner that earned our state the direct commendation of the French Development Agency (AFD). How did we do it?

We were proactive. We did not wait for the AFD to spoonfeed us. During the development of the programme appraisal document, we fast-tracked the process by spending endless sleepless nights to ensure we crafted a programme that would serve the interest of the people of Ondo State. Working with the AFD country office and officers from their headquarters in France, we developed a PAD and Programme Information Manual that would be difficult for anybody to breach. When we eventually secured approval to commence implementation, the least of the RfPs that we produced was that of the PMS and the cartography which contained a minimum of 130 pages. We were yet to select a consultant (PMS), so we did all these by ourselves. I led from the front, drafted and poured through all the pages and knew everything that went into each line. We submitted to all world-class financial probity and accountability processes. We shielded the programme from the vagaries of politics and external influence. This was why I could boast when I was suddenly removed from the project that I was certain that the vile characters that were plotting and scheming to oust me from the project because they were eying the money instead of the goals were on a futile zero-sum mission. I was that certain. Yes, the processes can be delayed at a great cost if incompetent individuals are saddled with anchoring the project or positioned to lead the project. This is why the project is currently 2 years behind schedule. Though time itself is costly. That is the worst that can happen. The money for the project cannot be stolen or looted. They may not even be able to access the funds due to the stringent conditions we imposed from the very beginning. I secured the first tranche of disbursement before my exit from the programme. That was the only tranche accessed up until December 2023. The programme almost went into sleep mode afterwards. Governor Akeredolu had to beg the duo of Ayo Sotinrin and Tope Runsewe to step in and help as the leadership that took over after me was simply unable to understand the programme.

When the Governor announced a cabinet reshuffle and had me assigned to solely Energy, some people suggested that I should write a petition to the AFD and allege political interference in order to stop the project. I refused bluntly. I have never fought over money in my life. The money we secured was for the benefit of the people of Ondo State. Phase one of the project was solely for Akure metropolitan area. As a child, I enjoyed pipe-borne water in Akure. My sole motivation was therefore to help Akure regain that lost era. I have never been a fan of borehole drilling as I saw it as an unsustainable workaround that must not be encouraged because it takes the average aquifer years to recharge adequately. Upon realization that not a single community along the transit route of the water mains from Igbaraoke to Akure was included in the project, I held meetings with notable traditional rulers from Ifedore, particularly the Olowa of Igbaraoke, Oba (Dr) Adefarakanmi Agbede OFR in his palace. I assured Kabiyesi that we would leave no stone unturned to ensure that the water project was extended to all communities adjoining the route of the transmission mains such as Igbaraoke, Ipogun, Ilara, Ibuji, Ijare etc and that we would leverage that advantage to take reticulated water to places like Ondo East and Ondo West. The business mogul, Chief Michael Ade-Ojo also placed a phone call to me, offering to fund the T-off of the water from the mains to Ilara. I thanked Baba Ade-Ojo for his selfless offer and informed him that the governor had already approved my proposal to extend the reticulation to all towns along the mains’ transit route.

This is what led to our additional effort to secure the $112.72 million from the African Development Bank (AfDB) starting in May 2019 with an earlier Mission Visit by the AfDB team. This second fund was to address (i) the outstanding 50% reticulation coverage of Akure metropolitan area under the AFD’s sponsored Owena Multipurpose Dam Water Project and reticulation to all satellite towns and communities along the water transmission route from Igbara-oke to the state capital, (ii) the reconstruction of the collapsed spillway and the restoration of the raw water line and the High Lift Pumps for the new intake at the Owena–Ondo road (Elegbudu agba) water supply scheme with design capacity of 19,800m3/day of treated water, which was originally built in 1965 but had since been in deplorable conditions, (iii) rehabilitation of treatment plants and augmentation scheme for Owena Ondo road, (iv) rehabilitation of Olokuta booster station serving the Owena Ondo road scheme, (v) construction of booster station for the rising mains serving Idanre and Ondo towns (in Ondo West and East LGAs) in addition to the relocation of transmission pipelines on that route, (vi) rehabilitation of Owo-Osse water supply treatment plants and augmentation scheme, (vii) repair, relocation and reconstruction of Owo Township water distribution pipes, (viii) upgrade and rehabilitation of the 2,115m3 service reservoir in Owo, (ix) replacement of damaged transmission mains to Owo and adjoining satellite beneficiary communities, (v) as well as critical intervention in Ilaje local government areas in Ondo South. Our engineering estimate for these projects at the time was USD 82.72 million. In addition, the state government was providing off-grid electricity supplies to communities in Ondo South that were far away from the national grid. We, therefore, made an allowance of USD 20 million for the implementation of commercial mini-grid power projects in 10 communities with distribution infrastructure, metering and other ancillary services. The late Governor fully supported my initiatives and via a letter with reference number H.E/VOL III/138c dated 3rd of June 2019 presented a formal request to the Federal Ministry of Finance and the AfDB for a total sum of USD 102.72 million with an additional grant component of USD 10million to enable the state government implement quick-win water and power projects across the state. The Governor put the state’s Office of Public Utilities which I headed, the state’s Technical Team and Steering Committee on Urban Water Supply which I chaired, the state’s Water Corporation which I supervised, the state’s Electricity Board which I supervised and the state’s Technical Team on Power which I headed, in charge, with the duty to midwife the processes. We secured the preliminary concurrence of AfDB shortly after. Of course, following my exit from the programme, I learnt that these clearly defined project pipelines that cut across the state were altered and the estimates for off-grid power intervention in Ondo South were completely expunged despite their detailed communication to the AfDB and the Federal Ministry of Finance.

The AFD and not the World Bank gave Ondo State the sum of $57 million for the construction of the transmission main and the reticulation infrastructure in the state capital. The project is ongoing. The money cannot be looted – not with the way we designed the programme. The World Bank invested in a lot of institutional strengthening and water sector governance being spearheaded by the Federal Ministry of Water Resources. Incidentally, an engineer and an Ondo State son, Engr. Benson Ajisegiri was the Director at the Federal Ministry of Water Resources as of then. The World Bank provided the sum of $2.3 million for each of the 9 states on the NUWSRP III programme with a substantial works component. I worked with other Commissioners and Advisers on Water Resources to correct the attempt by the Ministry to target that money solely at institutional governance at the expense of tangible works programmes. In fact, I spoke on behalf of the others. I showed the officials of the Federal Ministry of Water Resources from the principal approval by the World Bank that the $2.3 million was structured to substantially address works – physical output specification, tangibles that the ordinary people on the street could appreciate and that could further engender confidence in political leaders to support water-related programmes. Officials of the Federal Ministry of Water Resources led by Engr. Ajisegiri concurred with my argument. For Ondo State, we agreed that ahead of the effectiveness of the AFD fund, we would rehabilitate parts of the Owena Ondo Road water scheme as a Quick Win and have the water transmitted to a ring-fenced and commercially viable place in the state capital since the residents were adjudged in the entire Ondo State by our survey as the people most likely to pay. It was agreed that it would be our opportunity to practically assess water commercialization ahead of the full-scale reticulation project.

So, let’s put it in context, ever since my exit from the state water project, there was no new fund attracted to the water programme by any of my successors. The funds expended on water-related projects in Ondo State were solely the ones my team succeeded in creating, attracting, initiating or fast-tracking. This included the $2.3 million which the procurement was eventually done by the Federal Ministry of Water Resources, the N702 million counterpart funding that I secured from Access Bank Plc with procurement done in Ondo State, and the first tranche of $5 million being part of the larger $57 million from the AFD. Indeed, because the project was lagging, the new handlers could not access any more money from the $57 million until December 2023! Likewise, the biggest funding prospect for future activities in the water sector in the state is the AfDB fund that I initiated! Essentially, years after exiting the state’s water project, I have earned the bragging right to say that my efforts continue to pave the way for the state in an enduring manner. I have been part of a Federal Government project worth $7.1 billion, yet, I will defend a legacy that costs only $1 if it is threatened by folks who know nothing about the sweat quotient that goes into project development.

By the way, it must be stated that the whole Owena water transmission and reticulation project was inspired by the late Dr. Olusegun Agagu. He birthed the vision and succeeded in getting President Olusegun Obasanjo to cede the water distribution aspect of the Owena Multipurpose Dam project to the Ondo State Government. Dr. Agagu already paid half of what was required to the contractor before his sudden exit from the government but the project was subsequently bungled and frustrated.

I have done my best to stick to issues that celebrate the accomplishment of my team in this piece. I could never have achieved any of these without the support of those earlier mentioned and my friends in Abuja who provided accommodation on those occasions when my office could not fund same or those like Taiwo Olusoga who repaired my ‘dakudaji’ official car. I wasn’t provided an official car while in government. I walked into the old yard of the Water Corporation and picked an abandoned ‘SUV’ I learned was bought by Boye Adegbemisoye several years back when Dr Agagu was the Governor and I enjoyed using it, no doubt, bar the incessant breakdown. I am sure I am still owing mechanics on that ‘SUV’ including Engr Taiwo Olusoga! Nonetheless, I am leaving the motive behind my removal from the water project after I successfully secured the first tranche of disbursement into the Access Bank accounts that I opened for the project to history to judge.

 

■ Engineer Olatunji Light Ariyomo, FNSE, is a former Special Adviser on Public Utilities/Energy to the Government of Ondo State.

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As we continue the wait for 5G services

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By Sonny Aragba-Akpore

Nikolai Gogol’s “The Inspector General “ told a story many years ago that resonates today.

Apart from painting a picture of mockery in his satirical rendition, it tells us about the frailty of humanity and its foibles despite the pretences.

Ben Jonson,s “ Volpone” brings the story home and giggles at its consequences as capsulated by the hunchback displaying greed and pretentious lifestyle in society.

But more instructive is Gogol,s “The Inspector General “ which depicts deception in its entirety.

In 1978,Nigerian playwright, a very big example of his generation, Femi Osofisan, published
“Who is Afraid of Solarin” adapted from Gogol’s “The Inspector General “ and brought the story home painting a lurid picture of the deception that goes on in government.

Osofisan never envisaged our present state of affairs but his picture of the future was clear for all to see as we experience today.

But was he a visionary, who could predict the things to come. Perhaps so.

Solarin as a public complaints commissioner in the old western state was revered by all and his name struck awe in society as he had his eyes on integrity and so like Gogol’s character, Solarin was a change agent.

But Ofcourse many people used his name, dropped it in order to create awe on society, hoodwink the people and make them accept “defeat as fate” to quote Osofisan.

What has happened to integrity in public service and how do we situate this in telecommunications services especially with regards to poor quality of service, drop calls and data fleecing yet no one seems to care and questions not being asked and no answers in that regard.

If we have managed to live with the drudgery of poor services, how do we begin the story of fifth generation (5G) telecommunications services which allegedly entered Nigeria nearly three years ago without drawing inference from the pieces of literature highlighted above?

The materials talk about life and everyday living. So are telecommunications services because they are integral parts of everyday living and when government decided to introduce 5G into the country,those familiar with its workings saw it as promises of life abundance.

It’s nearly 30 months since its launch but the noise and euphoria that welcomed it have died down, and the people have little or nothing to show for it except government which was the biggest beneficiary having collected $273.6m each from the three licenced operators and while we await the services ,the government, indeed everyone looks elsewhere for the much hyped 5G to take proper root.

If anything at all, there are pockets of services so far, offered by the three supposed operators for the services: MTN Nigeria, Mafab Communications and Airtel Nigeria but as things stand today, it appears 5G was mere noise and hype as Nigerians await in their various corners for the much talked about 5G services that Karl Toriola, MTN Chief said will be a game changer.

Strangely too,no one is asking questions as to the existence or not of the 5G services.

Have subscribers become so complacent that they have accepted defeat as fate in the face of corporate docility?

Even the once vibrant pressure groups-Association of Telecommunications Companies of Nigeria (ATCON),Association of Licenced Telecommunications Companies of Nigeria ( ALTON) among others have lost their voices.

Are we now confined to accepting anything simply because we are afraid to face the consequences therefrom if we shout?

Everyone yearns for heaven but afraid of dying. But like Osofisan said somewhere, ”is this death so horrible that we all must compromise with injustice in order to live?”. The future is our judge.

While we agree that providing services is purely a business decision but are business people not in business in their own interests and that of society?

And no one is talking about the services yet nobody is worried or are they experiencing subdued worries until the services come or have they completely given up on the expectation of the services?

On June 19, 2023, the last of the three to acquire the 5G licence, Airtel, kicked off its fifth generation network rollout in four locations, Lagos, Ogun, Rivers and Abuja, and the firm, is targeting coverage of the entire country by the end of the current financial year.

Unsuspecting Nigerians who joined in the excitement of the alleged entry of 5G services are now unsure of their expectations.

Licences were awarded on December 21, 2021 to MTN Nigeria and a little known Mafab Communications. They had a roll out timeline of August 2022 but the regulator granted an extension of five months to Mafab Communications to get ready. Thus the regulator changed the rules in between the game thus sending the first signal that all was not well. There have been several red flags.

MTN tried to weather the storm despite the challenges (even when it will not admit it openly) and “launched” a semblance of 5G services in parts of Nigeria. But that is where the excitement stops. Airtel, a late arrival shows some promises as we wait.

And so, the hype built around 5G has left everyone including the operators and regulators speechless as there is very little tangible evidence of availability of services so far. We have now accepted our fate as the wait goes on.

Nigerian Communications Commission (NCC) data show that 5G subscriptions in the country increased to 2.3 million in December 2023.

This, however, represents an insignificant 1.04% of the country’s total active subscriptions for telephone services, which stood at 224.7 million at the end of 2023.

International Telecommunications Union (ITU) Mobile Network Coverage facts and figures 2023 says “Since commercial deployment began in 2019, 5G coverage has increased to reach 40 per cent of the world population in 2023.

Distribution, however, remains very uneven. While 89 per cent of the population in high-income countries is covered by a 5G network, coverage remains limited in low-income countries. Europe boasts the most extensive 5G coverage, with 68 per cent of the population covered, followed by the Americas region (59 per cent) and the Asia-Pacific region (42 per cent). Coverage reaches 12 per cent of the population in the Arab States region and less than 10 per cent in the CIS region (8 per cent) and Africa region (6 per cent).

Ninety per cent of the world population is covered by 4G, and where 5G is not available, this remains a very good alternative. However, 55 per cent of people without access to 4G live in low-income countries. Whereas 95 per cent of the population in high-income and middle-income countries is covered by 4G or above, the proportion drops to 39 per cent in low-income countries, where 3G remains the dominant technology, and often the only technology available to connect to the Internet.”

The overall pace of 5G growth in the country remains sluggish, underscoring the complexities associated with transitioning to next-generation networks.

However, the data showed that 2G subscriptions continued to dominate, representing 57.78 per cent of connections in January 2024.

The ITU recently revealed that Africa maintained the lowest 5G coverage rate globally, standing at only 6 per cent as of December 2023.

It attributed the low 5G coverage rate on the continent to the ongoing significance of older mobile technologies, particularly 2G and 3G networks.

The ITU report highlighted the persistent reliance on 2G and 3G networks in many African countries, including Nigeria, where those technologies offer a cost-effective means of delivering essential mobile services, especially in regions lacking access to 4G and 5G networks.

In 2022, around one tenth of all connections worldwide used 5G technology, with this share set to surpass one half by the end of the decade. However, regional disparity is expected to persist, with the availability of 5G infrastructure, high costs imposed by network operators, and the availability of 5G handsets continuing to impact consumer uptake.

The North America, Developed Asia Pacific, and Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) regions are set to have surpassed 90 percent adoption by 2030, while adoption in Sub-Saharan Africa is projected to remain below 20 percent.

However, it has been suggested that 5G could play a key role in bridging the digital divide in the form of fixed wireless access (FWA).

5G FWA services use 5G networks to deliver high speed broadband internet in regions without fixed broadband infrastructure. As of 2023, almost a third of service providers in the Middle East and Africa offered a 5G FWA service.

The Global System Mobile Association (GSMA) says by 2025, 5G networks are likely to cover one-third of the world’s population. The impact on the mobile industry and its customers will be profound.

5G is more than a new generation of technologies; it denotes a new era in which connectivity will become increasingly fluid and flexible.

5G Networks will adapt to applications and performance will be tailored precisely to the needs of the user.

Working closely with the mobile operators pioneering 5G, the GSMA is engaging with governments, vertical industries including automotive, financial services, healthcare providers, transport operators, utilities and other industry sectors to develop business cases for 5G.

5G remains an exciting new technology that consumers and service providers are bracing up for.

5G statistics reveal projected volume growth for 5G smartphones as well as for revenue for 5G chipsets. Leading original equipment manufacturers are also beefing up 5G patents in a bid to be first in the 5G wars.

There are currently hundreds of millions of 5G global subscriptions. Subscriptions are forecast to reach three billion by 2025. (5G Americas and Omdia, 2021)

As of April 2021, there were 683 total 5G and Long Term Evolution (LTE) deployments made worldwide. (5G Americas and Omdia, 2021)

There are currently 135 5G networks around the world that comply with 3rd Generation Partnership Project (3GPP) standards. (5G Americas, 2020)

5G smartphone shipments comprised 40% of global volume by 2021. This is expected to grow to 69% in 2025. (IDC, 2021)

In 2021, there were 89.5 million 5G smartphone units shipped to the United States. 5G smartphone shipments will reach 153.3 million units in 2025, at a CAGR of 35.6%.

Consumer electronics and automotive applications are forecast to both have a 21.7% share of the 5G infrastructure by 2025. Meanwhile, industrial apps will have a 20.1% share while energy and utilities will have a 15.7% share. (Statista, 2020)

The 5G chipset market reached $3.55 billion in 2021 and $22.86 billion by 2027, at a CAGR of 41%. (Statista, The Insight Partners)

Samsung has a 74% market share of the 5G smartphone market in the US. This is followed by LG at 15% and OnePlus at 11%.

Huawei has a 15.39% share of 5G families with patents. Huawei is followed by Qualcomm (11.24%), ZTE (9.81%), and Samsung (6.7%).

Data presented by Bankr indicates that the 5G technology global coverage will grow by 253.84% in the next five years. By 2025, about 53% of the global population at 4.14 billion will have access to the technology.

Few regions are driving 5G technology uptake
In 2021, the network coverage reached an estimated 1.95 billion people representing about 25% of the global population. In the last two years, the network access progressed to 32% of the global population at 2.5 billion.

In 2023, 5G network reached about 39% of the global population at 3.05 billion people. By 2024, an estimated 46% of the global population at 3.6 billion will be using the network.

According to the research report: “The over one billion access to 5G coverage in 2020 is a culmination of a joint clear consensus on the 5G network by major players in recent years. The coverage is significant however, it is being driven by a select few regions in Asia, the US, and Europe.

Other regions are still building the infrastructure to accommodate the technology. Notably, Asia is a current leader in 5G after undergoing a rapid migration in mobile broadband networks and smartphones setting the perfect ground for 5G adoption.”

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The Police And Akpabio’s Sermon On The Mount

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By Hon Eseme Eyiboh

84-year-old renowned Belgian painter and writer, Erik Pervernagie, says: “People die from lack of shared empathy and affinity. By establishing social connectedness, we give hope a chance and the other can become heaven (“Le ciel c’est l’autre”).

No institution has been so disparaged and stigmatised as the Nigeria Police. It is treated with so much contempt and neither appreciated nor celebrated. Rather, anything bad or despicable is attributed to the police. An average policeman is held in utmost and never enjoys any empathy or affinity from most Nigerians. Although the police are the friend of the people, the mutual reciprocity from the people is seemingly non-existent. The compensation is abysmal while the motivation is infinitesimal.

That is why in its years of existence, no one has remembered to honour its men and officers who have excelled in their professional outings until the coming of IGP Olukayode Egbetokun. Hence, the maiden edition of the Nigeria Police Awards and Commendations Ceremony held in Abuja last Monday was long overdue and an emotion-laden event. This was the first time the Nigeria Police celebrated itself by recognising gallantry, rewarding excellence and professionalism, thereby boosting the morale of officers and men, which has over the decades been at an all-time low.

By this maiden award, the present Inspector General of Police has jump-started a new Nigeria Police Force whose personnel are ethically compliant, professionally focused, and stable with a strong reward culture and post-service incentives. The IGP has also, through this event, instituted a reward system and reputation management process that will ultimately change the general perception our people hold about the Nigeria Police. Going forward, the men and officers of the force will be motivated and energised to give their all in spite of the negative reception from the public and compete to be recognised and honoured.

Putting the icing on the cake was the effervescent President of the Senate of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, Senator Godswill Obot Akpabio, CON, who stole the show. It was, however, devoid of an elaborate sense of humour or trademark jokes nor hilarious laughter. It was the underpin of the inspirational remarks by the number one Legislator in Nigeria.

In a delivery reminiscent of the oratory of a Barrack Obama, Luther King, William Churchill or Nelson Mandela, Akpabio’s speech evinced the feelings of empathy and affinity. Call it Sermon on the Mount, and you will be damn right! Because he gave the Nigeria Police Force a thump-up for the timely, strategic, and innovative strategies it has adopted in the cutting-edge reputation management of the organisation and the morale-boosting initiative adopted to foster professionalism, innovations, competition, and courage amongst its workforce.

The admonition of Senator Akpabio falls within the prism of constructive stakeholders’ engagement and an urgent demand to integrate the force into a citizen-police cubicle. Drawing allusions from the Holy Books (the Bible and Koran) to drive home his message, Akpabio said, “I see hope in today’s event. The story is told of how Prophet Elijah (known in the Koran as Ilyās), after three and a half years of drought, asked his attendant to go and look for a rain cloud. After seven attempts, the assistant came back and told him that he had seen a small cloud, the size of a man’s hand. Not minding the size of the cloud, Elijah declared that a torrential downpour was impending”.

Continuing, the Senate President was eclectic: “In this country we have had a deficit of heroes. Not because Nigerians are not heroic but because we do not celebrate our heroes. Yet heroes play a vital role in society through the provision of inspiration, motivation, hope and serving as representations of values and character. Celebrating heroes could bring the much-needed change we need in the fabric of our society and make our country a better place.

“So today, I can see in this award ceremony a small rain cloud, the size of the hand of a man. But I declare, like Elijah, that out of this event shall come a mighty downpour of recognition of heroes and heroines in all sectors of the public service, law enforcement and allied service”.

Delving into the literary world, Akpabio navigated the thoughts of one America’s finest naturalist, essayist, poet and philosopher, Henry David Thoreau. He said, “It is apt that the police should set the ball rolling for us in this hero’s recognition affair. Many have sought to hang the police to dry for all our many vices. But the truth of the matter is that the police are all members of our society. Down the ages the popular philosophical thinking was that man could not be better than the society because the society makes the man, socialises man, and orients him with a sense of right and wrong. But Henry David Thoreau came with a counter narrative that man can surpass societal limitations, and rise above societal norms and expectations”.

According to Akpabio, “This is what the police are trying to do with this event under the current leadership. This leadership understands that the role of the police in a democracy cannot be overstated. They are the custodians of law and order, and they ensure the safety and security of the citizens.“

In a democratic society, it is imperative that the police uphold the highest ethical standards in carrying out their duties. They are entrusted with the responsibility of protecting the rights and liberties of the people, while maintaining law and order.

“Once again, I commend the police for this maiden effort in organising this awards ceremony. It is a testament to IGP Egbetokun’s commitment to giving honour to whom it is due. By recognising the gallant, selfless, and patriotic contributions of individual officers, will not only motivate them for higher performance but also reinforce the new policing agenda of the force. This agenda focuses on internal ethical regeneration, restoration of professional standards, and the enhancement of the anti-corruption drive”.

He left some words of admonition: “However, let us not ignore the challenges faced by the police in Nigeria. The ever-evolving landscape of crime and the increasing sophistication of criminal gangs pose significant obstacles. More so, as we honour the good officers, let us weed out the bad ones because a chain is as strong as its weakest link. We must address these issues and work together to find solutions. The police need the support and cooperation of all stakeholders, to overcome these challenges and build a stronger and more effective police force.

“I congratulate the awardees who have excelled in their respective fields of policing. Their dedication, bravery, and integrity have set them apart and made them deserving of this recognition. I commend every one of them for their outstanding performance and commitment to the service of our nation. I urge them to remember that to whom much is given, much is expected.“

As the leader of the National Assembly, I pledge our full cooperation and support for the better policing of Nigeria. We recognize the importance of a well-equipped and motivated police force in ensuring the security and well-being of our citizens. We will continue to work tirelessly to provide the necessary legislative framework and resources to enable the police to carry out their duties effectively”.

This is what our institutions need now, this is the quality Nigeria is looking for and the leaders that deserve to be at the helm of affairs. Senator Akpabio was generous in the act and in the heart of his personal support to the families of the posthumous awardees.

Hon Eseme Eyiboh is the Special Adviser on Media and Publicity and the official Spokesperson to the President of the Senate.

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ABEG, WHERE IS “WHITE LION”?

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*By Tunde Olusunle*

There’s always the tendency to ascribe our failings and flailings in our developmental and democratic growth as a nation, to our amoeboid leadership recruitment process. I differ slightly though from this perspective. My contention is that prospective leaders must first be identified and groomed before they can be deployed to the various sectors we expect them to function. Tunji Olaopa’s 2022 essay titled “Nigerian Civil Service and the Trajectory of Public Administration” illuminates the evolution of Nigeria’s civil service which was inaugurated in 1954. He alludes in the paper to “a very strong and professional civil service regarded as perhaps the strongest of the colonial legacies bequeathed to Africa.” Olaopa speaks to the “quality of the officers who founded the civil service and the institutional quality of the public service itself.” He lists Nigeria’s “civil service pioneers” to include: Simeon Adebo, Jerome Udoji, Samuel Manuwa, Ahmed Talib, Abubakar Koko, Sule Katagum, Joseph Imoukhuede, Ojimiri Johnson and Fola Ejiwunmi. This generation of public servants Olaopa notes is what we now describe as the “golden age of the public service in Nigeria.”

The second generation of public administrators and civil servants who grazed the limelight between the 1960s to the early 1970s are those popularly described as “super permanent secretaries.” This is the generation of Allison Ayida, Sunday Awoniyi, Liman Ciroma, Philip Asiodu, Abdul Aziz Atta, Festus Adesanoye, Olu Falae, Solomon Akenzua, Francesca Emmanuel, Ahmed Joda, Gilbert Obiajulu Chikelu, Gray Longe, M.A. Ejueyitchie, among others. Olaopa reminds us that the actual core of this generation who were festooned with the broche of “super permanent secretaries” were so described because they were called up at a period of grave national emergency. It was during the Nigerian civil war and they were requested to avail the country their “administrative acumen, competencies and wisdom,” to steer Nigeria through the war and stabilise the polity thereafter.

Olaopa observes that beginning from the 1975 civil service purge by the Murtala Mohammed/Olusegun Obasanjo government and onwards to the era of the Ibrahim Babangida Structural Adjustment Programme, (SAP), a de-institutionalisation process had begun. The concomitant value-orientation of the inherited civil service had been damagingly eroded. He laments that his own generation of permanent secretaries came at an age when, according to him, the service “was already deeply embroiled in the dynamics of the bureau-pathology that had debilitated the civil service.” He laments that his generation of public servants was mentored by the icons of decades past who connected them to the ideals of the golden age “in terms of their passion, professionalism and knowledge-propelled zeal for service.” Such was the archetypal stuff the pioneering Nigerian civil service was made of.

I needed to lay this background to underscore the rigour, the exertion, the perspiration which typified the discovery and grooming of those who operated the levers of public administration in decades past. They were an integral part of the conceptualisation of government policies and also contributed largely to their actualization. I should equally remind us that the famous, now ancient, “fattening rooms” of the Kalabari, Efik and Ibibio in south south Nigeria admitted women in their puberty and prepared them for womanhood. Among others, they are grilled on marital etiquette, their culinary capacities improved upon even as they were tutored in acceptable social customs and comportment. They were usually admitted in facilities away from their families and could be so boarded for various lengths of time, the minimum being for one month.

Reports in recent weeks and months have alluded to the disappearance of Yahaya Bello, the immediate past governor of Kogi State from the prying lenses of the public and press. The initial rumour was that he had made himself a permanent guest of Lugard House, Lokoja, the government house of the intriguing state capital which sits at the confluence of Nigeria’s two largest rivers, the Niger and the Benue. Not satisfied with the eight full years of his despotic, even demonic over-lordship in Kogi State, he has chosen to encamp permanently within the same facility on an extended post-disengagement vacation. Elsewhere in the media, it has been suggested that Bello is now a permanent member of his successor, Usman Ododo’s convoy on all his travels. Ododo is his official shield from investigators on his trail.

After hectic, sweaty public service immersion over long spells, the tradition has been for public officers to embark on extended holidays and rest. Willie Obiano, immediate past governor of Anambra State, left for the United States on extended rest, immediately after he handed over to his successor Chukwuma Soludo in March 2022. Babatunde Fashola was chief of staff in Lagos State; governor of the state for eight years and minister under the Muhammadu Buhari regime for eight years. He served notice during his valedictory conversations that he wanted to return to be “president” of his home, after being a virtual absentee for 20 years! The practice of former governors pursuing “residency programmes” in the very same addresses where they operated from for years, is novel.

As governor of Kogi State, Bello hailed and serenaded himself, by himself with his own *oriki* whenever he had a microphone. He introduced himself with flourish as “His Excellency, Alhaji Yahaya Adoza Bello, CON, the Executive Governor of Kogi State.” Humility, civility and restraint had no place in his thesaurus. He beaded himself with the moniker of “white lion” and rechristened Government House, Lokoja the “lion’s den.” Yahaya Bello apologists and boot-lickers defaced the public space with billboards celebrating their idol, throwing him in the face of a populace so mercilessly trampled upon by him. He never left people in doubt about his limitless powers as a governor cum demigod who could do whatever he wanted and get away with it.

Bello cast a permanent pall on the people of Kogi State. Mentions of his name were in cover-mouthed whispers. Remember the depiction of the former Ugandan carnivore, Idi Amin Dada in the film titled *The Rise and Fall of Idi Amin.* The character, Maliya Mungu was his undisguised hitman. Bello reportedly recruited spies in various WhatsApp groups who reported the direction of discourse to him and fed him with the names of his critics. He mutilated the payrolls of hapless civil servants and paid them preposterous percentages. Workers and pensioners dropped dead like flies during his reign, unable to cater for the basic needs of their families. By its very characteristic the economy of Kogi State is fuelled by the civil service. Staccato remittances of workers salaries was therefore going to affect the burgeoning business community in the state.

Elections were weaponised in the vilest of fashions. Bello’s goons were condemned to win every and any election “by force, by fire.” There were mortal consequences for failure. His aides moved around on election days with platoons of vagrants and policemen, scaring voters with gunshots, seizing ballot boxes and rewriting poll results. For dissenting with poll riggers in her unit, hapless woman politician, Salome Abuh was on November 18, 2019, burnt to death in her home in Ochadamu. Bello’s men reportedly dug trenches around Natasha Akpoti-Uduaghan’s community, Ihima, all in a bid to disenfranchise her during the February 2023 senatorial election which she contested. Yahaya Bello indeed corroborated the action saying he was helping to build a security hedge around her during the election.

Yahaya Bello is the first governor I ever heard about, who launched a post-disengagement media and public relations salvage project. Some officials and members of the Nigerian Guild of Editors, (NGE), about a month ago honoured an invitation to visit Kogi State to tour some of Bello’s so-called legacies. Curiously, for all the time the team led by the President of the NGE, Eze Anaba spent in the state, the most senior state official they encountered was the Kogi State information commissioner. They could neither meet Bello at whose instance they visited, nor his successor, Usman Ododo. I sent private notes to some of our colleagues who went on the needless voyage asking them a few questions: Apart from being herded through so-called Yahaya Bello’s achievements, did you go to the streets to find out the last time civil servants and pensioners were paid their monthly entitlements 100%? Did you check about the last time workers were promoted after writing promotion exams? Did you find out how many Permanent Secretaries own official vehicles? Did you try to obtain contract award documents about Yahaya Bello’s so-called “legacy projects?” Did you endeavour to compare with the costs of similar projects elsewhere? Did you ask for example to be driven through the “State Secretariat/House of Assembly/DSS road”? Do you know that all through his years in office, Yahaya Bello didn’t rehabilitate that all-important road?

Bello is validating the title of a classic novel by the legendary American thriller writer, James Hadley Chase. Back in 1957, Chase wrote *The Guilty Are Afraid* a blockbuster which gained global appeal and readership in its days. This is the same Bello who was showcasing his boxing skills to the world on social media, virtually calling for a match with Anthony Joshua. We have seen him working out on the treadmills too, thumping his chest as he reminded us that he will flatten Mike Tyson in a fitness contest. So why wouldn’t Bello move around freely, “flex” as we say in contemporary Nigerian lingo, the way his former contemporaries are free birds? It is uncharacteristic for the lion, king of the wild to be mirrored cringing beneath the bed of his successor.

We are indeed talking here about a “white lion,” a very rare *albinoid* species native to the *Timbavati* region in South Africa. Public discourse in recent weeks has thrown up the thesis about Bello evading arrest by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, (EFCC) for the monumental heist his regime committed against Kogi State during his reign as *King Herod.* The weekend edition of *Aljazirah* newspaper of April 6 and 7, 2024, had Bello’s photograph and that of the EFCC chairman, Ola Olukoyede with the headline: *Ex-Gov Yahaya Bello Seeks Safety in Kogi Govt House.* Bello is said to be reaching out to former first lady, Aisha Buhari, even as the EFCC is hot on his trail. The President, Bola Tinubu is said to have distanced himself from Bello’s plea to be given a soft landing in his matter.

Yahaya Bello is a very good example of the post-1975 degeneration of the public service to which Olaopa alluded. He was neither scouted for leadership nor was he trained for the job. He was reportedly an anonymous personnel of the Revenue Mobilisation and Fiscal Allocation Commission, (RMFAC). He reportedly made good for himself ostensibly through corrupt enrichment and floated a transport company, *Fairplus Transport* with a handful of mini vans. With this, he sold the impression of a nouveau riche to delegates to the 2015 gubernatorial primary of the All Progressives Congress, (APC). Bello emerged second behind the late governor Abubakar Audu in that contest. He was hoisted to the gubernatorial high stool courtesy of some unprecedented judicial interpretation of the constitution, upon Audu’s mysterious death before the results of the governorship election! We must revert to the leadership grooming process of the pre-independence era and its immediate aftermath to begin the sanitisation of governance and leadership. And beyond the EFCC, Bello should have his day in court to defend his appalling human rights record during his eight year sojourn in Government House, Lokoja. Hopefully, victims of his queer and insensitive governance model will have the last laugh.

*Tunde Olusunle, PhD, is a Fellow of the Association of Nigerian Authors, (FANA)*

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