Nigerians love football. Many followers of the game crave for results, no matter how it comes. The patience for development is not there, rather many prefer a quick fix and that is why the administrators of the game adopt a ‘fire brigade’ approach to achieving results.
The senior national team, the Super Eagles, remains the biggest brand in Nigerian sport and that is why it is not a surprise that the Nigeria Football Federation (NFF) has been enjoying the support of Corporate Nigeria in recent time. We acknowledged that the good work of the NFF and the Eagles’ Manager, Gernot Rohr, earned the country the Russia 2018 World Cup ticket and the team’s qualification has helped the federation in its sponsorship drive. Going forward, we believe a good performance in Russia is very important for the Super Eagles and that can only be guaranteed with adequate preparation with all departments of the team in good shape.
The NFF deserves commendation with the number of friendly games arranged for the team and this will start with the March 23rd game against Poland. However, one key area of the team that deserves attention is the goalkeeping department. Former Skipper, Vincent Enyeama, fell out with the former national coach, Sunday Oliseh, and in anger, he quit international football.
Enyeama did that in 2016 and, till date, he is battling with injury and form. Though some people are clamouring for his return, but since there is no template to currently evaluate his fitness, he cannot be considered as an option for Russia. Wolves’ Goalkeeper Carl Ikeme who stood in well after Enyeama’s exit was diagnosed of leukemia on July 6, 2017 and he is currently undergoing treatment. Ikeme’s absence has thrown the number one shirt open to other keepers.
Ikechukwu Ezenwa has been on the forefront of the quest for the shirt. Daniel Akpeyi was given an opportunity against Argentina in a friendly, but he made a couple of schoolboy errors. Ezenwa has done very well, but also has shown weaknesses with crosses and set pieces. In the friendly encounter against Argentina which Nigeria won 4-2, Deportivo La Corona goalie, Francis Nzoho, made brilliant saves and kept a clean sheet for 45 minutes.
He was, indeed, promising but he must be tested again to prepare him for the mundial. During the semifinal of the just-concluded Africa Nations Championship, Ezenwa was injured and taken out during the 1-0 win against Sudan. This incident has brought to the fore the goalkeeping ‘crisis’ in the team.
Ezenwa’s assistant at the CHAN tournament, Dele Ajiboye, was fantastic in that encounter. He exhibited a man-of-the-match performance. Eagles’ keepers’ trainer, Alloy Agu, believes there is no cause for alarm over the goalkeeping situation in the team. Manager Gernot Rohr also reaffirmed that the goalkeeping department of the team would not be an issue in Russia. The Eagles boss took a step further by engaging another foreign keepers’ trainer for the team.
Ajiboye’s exploits in Morocco was a good manifestation of the quality of goalkeepers the country has in the domestic league. Theophilus Afelokhai of Enyimba, Suraj Ayeleso of Nasarawa United and Ojo Olorunleke of Akwa United are other very good goalkeepers in the Nigeria Football Professional League. Ayeleso was particularly enterprising in the last football season with 15 clean sheets, but he was not in the team to CHAN We, however, charge Rohr and his technical crew to put faith in one of the keepers on the cards in the national team. There should be a deliberate keepers’ session for some weeks to determine the best.
During the session, former goalies like Peter Rufai, Ike Shorunmu and Joe Erico could be invited as observers to make input while the national trainers drill about six keepers on the cards.
The five international friendly matches are good to test the goalies further, but we advise strongly that Rohr should name Eagles’ number one goalkeeper early enough so that the person will be getting ready psychologically for the World Cup. So far, Spain-based Nzoho who gave a good account on his debut have an edge because of his European exposure even though he is in a lower division team.
The weather and modern facilities he has been exposed to are very huge advantage, while his calmness and agility in goal could be developed. Ezenwa and Ajiboye are also very good, but the other ones who are currently doing well should be given a chance.
The injury of Ezenwa is a lesson for the handlers to be sure that the country has four solid goalkeepers warming up for the mundial. We recall that in the past, the keepers in the Super Eagles were almost of equal quality, but for experience.
The keen competition is good, but there is a need to name a number one who will grow to become great afterwards. For example, Enyeama was a young goalkeeper in the domestic scene when he became number one. He made his mistakes and gradually became very solid in goal. The time to put trust in o
End health workers’ strike now
The game being played by the Federal Government and health workers under the auspices of the Joint Health Sector Unions (JOHESU) is dangerous to the health of Nigerians and the economic wellbeing of the Nigerian nation.
On April 17, JOHESU called out its members, which include the Senior Staff Association of Universities, Teaching Hospitals, Research Institutes and Associated Institutes (SSAUTHRIA), National Association of Nigerian Nurses and Midwives (NANNM), the Non-Academic Staff Union (NASU), Medical and Health Workers Union (NHWU) and the Nigerian Union of Allied Health Workers (NUAHP), on a nationwide strike to force the hands of the Federal Government to accede to its requests.
JOHESU’s demands include the implementation of the adjusted Consolidated Health Salary Structure (CONHESS), the payment of specialist allowances to deserving health professionals, payment of arrears of the skipping of CONHESS 10, increase of retirement age of health workers from 60 to 65 years and the review of the composition of the Boards of Federal Health Institutions (FHIs), as well as the abolition of the position of Deputy Chairman Medical Advisory Committee (DCMAC), among others.
But the Federal Government, from all indications, is not ready to accede to the striking workers’ demands.
In one of his reactions to the strike, the Minister of Health, Prof. Isaac Adewole, said JOHESU’s demand to be on the same pay level with doctors was not realistic. Adewole, said instead, salaries and wages of the health workers would be adjusted.
While the altercation between the union and the Federal Government is going on, the Nigerian Medical Association (NMA) threw its hat in the ring.
The association threatened to embark on strike if the Federal Government acceded to JOHESU’s demands. Both the F e d e r a l G ov e r n – ment and the NMA seem to be on the same page in terms of their stand on the JOH E S U ’ s strike. But while the Federal G ov e r n – ment and the medical pract i t i o n e r s have taken healthcare to the chess b o a r d , many people, the majority being the poor, are paying the price.
While patients have been sent away from public health facilities, those who could afford to pay have gone to seek medical attention in private hospitals.
But those who could not pay have resigned to fate. It may be difficult to get the number of those who might have died because of lack of data in Nigeria. But certainly, a lot would have needlessly lost the battle to stay alive, albeit due to what could be termed minor health challenges, because of the ongoing strike. The strike has claimed lives. We sympathise with the 19 members of JOHESU who were injured in an accident on the Benin-Auchi Road on Saturday.
About 40 health workers, said to be staff of the University of Benin Teaching Hospital (UBTH) chapter of the union, were on their way to a function in line with the strike in Auchi, when the accident occurred. An engineer with an information technology firm reportedly lost his life.
The man, a victim of armed robbery, was reportedly rejected at a private hospital because there was no police report, but there were no health workers to attend to him at the government-owned health facility he was later taken to.
So the breadwinner of a family lost his life because of the strike. Several others are dying but their deaths are probably not reported. Unfortunately, the strike came when the President also had to take a medical trip to the United Kingdom. But apart from the leaders, how many Nigerians could afford to go outside the country for medical attention?
That probably explains why the leaders may not be keen in addressing the demands of the striking health workers.
While we cannot deny workers, particularly those in the health sector, the right to take steps to seek redress to their perceived short-change in the hands of their employers, going on strike at the slightest opportunity does nobody no good. In other climes, strikes have gone out of fashion. We encourage workers’ unions in Nigeria to devise new but proactive means to get employers to accede to their demands.
It is also pertinent to note that JOHESU was yet to comply with the directive by the National Industrial Court (NIC), Abuja, which, last Thursday, ordered the union to suspend its strike and resume duties within 24 hours.
Justice Babatunde Adejumo, who is president of NIC, gave the order after listening to the submissions of Mr. Okere Nnamdi in an ex-parte motion filed by a non-governmental organisation, Incorporated Trustees of Kingdom Human Rights Foundation International.
Adejumo ordered the Ministers of Health, Labour and Employment, among others, to immediately set up a committee to address issues raised by labour.
The judge ordered that the parties should arrive at an acceptable and amicable solution in the interest of Nigerians who are bearing the brunt of the strike action. We also implore the Federal Government to immediately find a lasting solution to the incessant strikes in the health sector.
This is necessary in order to safe many more souls which will be lost to the strike. A failed nation is it which cannot provide for the economic and health needs of its citizens.
Ikorodu-Sagamu road: Beyond the N20bn approval
The Ikorodu-Sagamu road, which used to be the only road connecting Lagos with other parts of the country before the construction of the Lagos-Ibadan expressway, had been in a deplorable state and total neglect for many years.
The strategic nature of the road makes it to bear heavy vehicular traffic, mainly petrol tankers and other haulage vehicles servicing Ikorodu Industrial Estate and the Ogijo Industrial hub, said to be the second most industrialised area in Ogun State.
The economic importance of this road is not in doubt: 42 communities and 45 industries are situated along this road and its adjourning areas. Of note among the industries are PZ Cussons at the Lagos end of the road, the Nigerian National Petroleum Company (NNPC)’s Mosimi depot and Lafarge’s Cement factory at Sagamu at the Ogun State end. The Lagos State Polytechnic is among the educational institutions situated along this road, while the road also serves the 174 Battalion, Nigerian Army barracks.
The movement of essential goods and petroleum products take place along this road and the arduous transit often leaves broken down trucks in its wake and the delays, which results are significant economic losses for those involved.
The road remains an alternate route linking Lagos to other parts of the country, especially on such days when there is heavy traffic on Lagos- Ibadan expressway. That this road is economically significant is an understatement. Successive administrations in the country have ignored calls for the rehabilitation of this road.
Claims by a former Minister of Works under the Chief Olusegun Obasanjo’s regime to have rehabilitated the road turned out to be untrue. Since the inception of the Muhammadu Buhari administration, however, there had been cries from different quarters for the reconstruction of the very important road, necessitating visits by the Minister of Works, Power and Housing, Mr. Babatunde Fashola.
One of such calls was by a member of the House of Representatives representing Remo Federal Constituency, Hon. Oladipupo Adebutu, who noted on the floor of the House that the road, which hosts several strategic installations and industrial plants such as the Pipelines and Products Marketing Company Limited (PPMC), is in “deplorable condition” and “continuously poses great danger to lives and property in the surrounding communities.”
The lawmaker noted that “the situation had caused high rate of fatal crashes, created gridlock and provided ample opportunities for armed robbery attacks on commuters and residents.” Also, on May 9, 2016, the Lagos State House of Assembly urged Governor Akinwunmi Ambode to repair portions of the Ikorodu- Sagamu Road to alleviate the suffering of the over 42 communities, estates and industries along the axis.
It did not, therefore, come as a surprise when, on March 28, 2018, the Federal Government announced the reconstruction of the road at a cost of N20 billion. A few weeks before the reconstruction nod by the Federal Government, however, Ogun State government suddenly commenced work on a portion of the road. Laudable as the move would have been, we make bold to say that the job being done, to say the least, was shoddy, as the already asphalt portion started giving way, two weeks after, necessitating patching.
This calls to question the ability of the construction company handling the job for Ogun State government to deliver the expected standard if allowed to continue the work. We believe that before any tier of government will embark on reconstruction of a federal road, agreement should have been reached on the quality and scope of work to be done, but in this instance, this definitely is not the case.
Considering the importance of the road to the nation’s economy, the need for an internationally accepted standard in road construction cannot be over emphasised. We hope the eventual outcome of the recent disagreement between the Federal Ministry of Power, Works and Housing and Ogun State government on the scope of work done and its quality will not result in compromise on standard construction work, which will be to the detriment of the larger society as anything short of a standard and long lasting reconstruction of the Ikorodu-Sagamu road will portray the Federal Government as a deceit.
With the flag off of the project yesterday, we think it is imperative to alert the construction firm on areas of expected concentration such as the fly over on the slope before the Lagos State Polytechnic, the front of Ogijo Community High school, which requires a deep and wide bridge to discharge flood water from the adjourning areas, another suspended bridge at Labori Oloja, among others, should be specially attended to.
The firm expected to undertake the reconstruction, ARAB Contractors, which moved in and out of site four weeks ago and is again back as at last Saturday night, needs to maintain its insistence on reconstructing the entire stretch, including the areas being given a semblance of road construction presently.
We equally expect that the right of way, which had already been compromised in many areas in Ogijo township, would be corrected. Anything short of this will amount to a waste of public fund and a lost opportunity for Fashola to write his name in gold.
AIB’s damning verdict on pilots
Aircraft accidents have remained the most tragic in the history of disasters across the world as the ratio of survival is often times zero to 100. This fear has even discouraged some people from flying.
And it was a shocking revelation recently by the Nigeria’s Accident Investigation Bureau (AIB) that over 85 per cent of accidents in aviation are caused by human errors with inexperienced pilots/engineers even doing more damage to the sector.
Such errors include mistakes, oversights, lapses in judgement, gaps in training, adverse habits, and failures to exercise due diligence in a pilot’s duties.
The situation has become so scary as a number of newer, less-experienced pilots manning the cockpit is growing, and that increases the risks of an accident. This is the more reason each time an airline loses a captain there is need to train two pilots; a first officer needs to be upgraded, while a new pilot needs to be hired and trained.
Apart from outright crashes leading to fatalities, we are also familiar with cases of aircraft colliding on the runway during take-off.
From the accident reports released recently by the AIB, a vivid insight into what happens inside the cockpits of airplanes unveiled the extreme and avoidable carelessness that leads to fatalities.
More striking is the report of Associated’s Embraer 120ER, a charter flight, with registration 5N-BJY, which departed Lagos to Akure on an Instrument Flight Rules (IFR) as well as three others released by the AIB Commissioner, Akin Olateru, an aircraft engineer.
The chartered aircraft, which bore the remains of a former Minister of Aviation and Governor of Ondo State, Dr. Olusegun Agagu, came down at 118 meters after take-off, killing all onboard with the exception of four people who sustained major injuries.
The report of the sad and tragic accident that occurred on October 3, 2013 stated that take-off should have been aborted when the crew noticed defects with the airplane but decided to continue with the flight.
The report further revealed that the Captain of the aircraft completely ignored warnings from the cockpit and that the airplane had defects. He also ignored the advice of his co-pilot to abort the flight, which eventually led to the plane crashing almost immediately after take-off, landing near the aviation fuel depot at the Lagos airport.
The flight crew was said to have acted unprofessionally and exhibited poor company culture as even the aviation regulatory body, the Nigerian Civil Aviation Authority (NCAA), was not spared.
The agency deserved to be indicted for its inadequate regulatory oversight on airplanes, which was parked for over a year before the charter service was carried out without re-certification.
It was actually a period serious regulation took flight occasioned by a high level of interference by the then minister of aviation, whose unsavoury attitude helped to greatly compromise safety and security.
For instance, the Dana plane crash of 2012, like that of Associated and many other plane crashes that have happened in Nigeria and around the globe, are caused by inadequate or lax regulation and pilot error who most times do not adhere to safety rules.
It is saddening that while accidents occasioned by pilot/crew error can still be accepted as one of the few mistakes, what is unacceptable and one that can be categorised as huge crime or even manslaughter is for airlines to operate airplanes that are defective and for the regulatory body to abdicate its responsibility to air safety.
It equally clearly shows that Crew Resource Management (CRM) is often times lacking, an indication that carriers do not take it seriously.
It is heartwarming that the AIB is living up to its responsibility at the moment and is also going further with plans to hold a stakeholders’ summit soon on CRM to help reduce the incidence of pilot error, non-coordination of the crew inside the cockpit.
While no one can assess how many lives have been saved or crashes averted as a result of CRM training, the impact has been significant.
Although policies put in place to reduce pilot error are not universal across the world, there are varying guidelines about how long a pilot could captain a flight, how many co-pilots should be present and how many hours a pilot can fly before taking mandatory breaks.
While it is not out of place to bring into the fold and allow them to gain more flight hours through diligent training before handing them delicate opportunity of manning the cockpit, almost all major international airlines, especially in Nigeria and Africa, are eager to exploit the cost advantage of employing younger, less experienced – and therefore cheaper – pilots.
Wherever the pendulum swings to, we believe that a stronger collaboration among AIB, the regulator(s) and other stakeholders would go a long way in checking cockpit errors, and subsequently curtailing airline disasters.
We call on the AIB and regulatory agencies to implement the recommendations of the various accident reports.
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