The issues ahead of 2019 general elections are many and the candidates must talk through them for the people to make an informed choice. In some countries, political debates are often cumbersome to undertake. Nigeria is one of such countries because candidates in a Nigerian election are usually too many to engage in any meaningful debate.
Since their introduction in 1960, televised debates have been a key component in American presidential races. Even in the first debate, the implications and importance of it were clear. Writing on ‘The Role of Presidential Debates’, the Bill of Rights Institute, a United States-based organisation, devoted to educating individuals about a free society, gave a catchy and rather instructive description of the 1960 debate between Richard Nixon and JF Kennedy as a critical marker of that year’s electrifying campaigns. It further contended that even the mere demeanor of the candidates weighed heavily on the results posted at the end of the day.
First, ponder this bit: “In 1960, a sweaty, nervous-looking, and makeup-free Richard Nixon squared off against a youthful and energetic looking John F. Kennedy in the first nationally televised presidential debate. Historians generally agree that this televised appearance had a profound effect upon the result of the election. Since then, the importance of these debates has grown immensely. For many, these debates are what they rely upon to decide upon which candidate will receive their vote.”
Political debates present an opportunity that is expected to be enthusiastically utilized by all; particularly small or poor political parties who cannot afford huge electioneering expenses on advertisements to publicize their activities. Rather than do that, Nigerian political parties, particularly those in the opposition, prefer to chase shadows, by leaving the debate proper for the politics of the debate. Rather than participate in every debate and use each to increase their political leverage, the opposition candidates in the 2015 elections ill-advisedly boycotted the only debate that has a national platform.
We can only hope that the 2015 experience will not arise in 2019. We should also look forward to more robust candidates who will this time embrace to debate rather than its politics. Such people must be different from some of the present ones who plan to study the Nigerian problem only after getting into office. 2019 beckons on those who can do it differently and not those who also promise to be effective with the old methods they currently run.
Organizers of the political debates at all levels should exercise the various candidates with a broader range of issues, which must include the structure of Nigeria; the share of the federation account between the federal, states and local governments; agriculture and water resources; the environment; citizenship; devolution of power; and youth, labour and sports. Others are energy; economy, trade and investment; foreign policy and diaspora matters; the rule of law and human rights; law and judiciary; public finance; property rights and land legislation; security. They should interrogate the place of the legislature and whether our democracy should continue to model the presidential system or revert to the parliamentary system of the First Republic.
Citizens expect from not just the candidates alone but also the political parties clear outlines of policy on these significant issues. We should discern from them a direction and continually ask questions. The people should be able to hold them accountable for the promises that they make.
A growing and prosperous citizenry ensures the survival of democracy by its greater independence and capacity to hold government accountable. The citizens are better informed and have access to all levels of government. We must stop leaving it to chance. Political debates matter and have changed and have become ever more involving and citizens-centric with the candidates as well as the parties and they will continue to do so for the foreseeable future.
The recently released voters register breakdown by the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) forty days ahead of the 2019 general elections exercise, caught many Nigerian unawares with the perceptibility realities from the published data.
The body said the official total number of registered voters for the 2019 General Elections is: 84,004,084 ( Eighty Four Million, Four Thousand, and Eighty Four). On its verified Twitter handle, INEC revealed, earlier in the week, that its chairman, Professor Mahmood Yakubu, made the presentation at the quarterly consultative meeting with political parties.
INEC statistics shown that, ahead of 2019 general elections, the North-west and South-west geo-political zones lead with the highest number of registered voters. It revealed that Lagos State comes first, with 6,570,291 while Kano State comes in second place with 5,457,747. With youth between 18 and 35 years constituting the highest number of voters with 51.11% at 42,938,458 voters.
Of the total, there are more registered male voters (44,405,439) than female voters (39,598,645). The male population of registered voters make up 52.86% of the total voter register with registered female voters making up the remaining 47.14%.
As Nigeria heads to polling units to elect political leaders on February 16 and March 2, 2019; how prepared is the electorate for the Herculean task ahead? Many observers have welcomed the release of the voters register breakdown, because it will give INEC and politicians ample time to plan and prepare for their exercise.
There are, however, some identified issues that may constitute hurdles for the electoral body, if not tackled promptly.
Are there going to be strict adherence to internal party democracy by our political parties? Will there be issue-based campaigns? Will the voter turnout be high? Will the media reportage be unbiased and professional? Will our courts be spared of being dragged into determining party candidates? Will the elections hold as scheduled?
In INEC's official report on the last general elections held in 2015, the commission identified nine challenges it faced in the lead up to the polls.
They were: Rising insecurity in the North-East of the country, due to insurgency; looming threats of violence in the elections particularly linked to the intemperate attitude and rhetoric of politicians; tortuous process of procurement, which could jeopardise timely preparations for elections; non-finalisation of amendments to the electoral legal framework namely, and inability of the Presidency to assent to the amended Electoral Act.
Others were: Persistent incapacity of the commission to effectively prosecute electoral offenders to serve as deterrent to those who may plan to engage in electoral malpractices; delay in the finalisation of the guidelines for the elections which particularly affected the production of the training manual; and lingering challenges of maximising the impact of voter education.
A critical look at these challenges will reveal that some of them are internal to the electoral management body while others are external to it. Issues of insecurity, legal reform, hate speech and heating up of the polity are all external to INEC. Of all these external issues, the most worrisome is that of the legal reforms. It is very worrisome that less than 40 days to the next elections, the legal framework for the conduct of the polls remains uncertain.
Ahead of Nigeria Decides 2019 polls, active citizens, including local and international civil society groups have begin to raise concerns over financial inducement for votes which characterized the gubernatorial elections in Ekiti and more recently in Osun, especially by the two major political parties, the All Progressives Congress (APC) and the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP). The desperate attempts by the incumbents in both state(s) to retain power at all cost fatally derailed the freedom of the voter, one-man one-vote and the electoral value.
Aside cash inducement in Ekiti, some politicians were also alleged to have influenced voters with gift items such as television set, phones, food stuffs, recharge cards, more embracing is the polarization of the trader moni initiative by the Federal Government in Osun during the build up to the election.
The PDP in Ekiti was said to have allegedly deposited the sum of N4, 000 into the personal accounts of all serving and retired civil servants (pensioners) in the state, as part of its ‘stomach infrastructure’ strategy. In Osun, the state government allegedly gave cash ranging from N3, 000 to N5, 000 to anyone with a Permanent Voter Card (PVC) in different locations across the state, ward by ward.
In the build up to the elections, each party tried to outdo each other through campaign strategies in an attempt to ensure victory for their candidate. The parties were said to have nicknamed the vote buying strategies in different tags such as “as agreed” and “see and buy.” The APC government wants to win elections at all cost; the Ekiti and Osun elections leave little to be desired. There was reckless buying of votes, deployment of security agents, use of religion; this is totally unacceptable, every right thinking Nigerians should condemn this rampaging scourge in our polity. Desperate politicians should not push the button too hard ahead of the 2019 general elections in the country.
So, as a Nigerian citizen, when next a political aspirant comes asking for your vote, tell them there are communities in your state that lack access to health care and ask about their evidence-based plans to provide for them. Tell them that families are thrown into poverty over high out of pocket payments for their children school fees and ask them what their plans are to remedy this. Tell them about that family member who died because of the deplorable road network to the general hospitals which has been left to rot away and ask them how they plan to bring that help to you. Tell them about your hospitals where there is no power, no water and inadequate equipment. Tell them about your brothers and sisters who have been denied quality and affordable university education due to the incessant strike actions by varsity workers and ask them how they plan to tackle strike action.
Ask them how they are going to change these things. Remind them that your vote is your voice and that you plan to vote for a new order in 2019.
Ahead of the 2019 general elections, the decision-making process of citizens is tied with their perception and desires. It is often not a logical path of judgment, rather guided by their impression of the candidate. Naturally, the campaign has to use that to create a candidate profile that appeals to eligible voters. This is done through the use of voter communication material like speeches, literature and mail addressed to the voter. All these communication methods have to stick to a single message.
However, political parties in Nigeria are not ideology based, but instead, are influenced by wealthy individuals and elected executive office holders who fund party administration and usurp powers of party leaders. This trend prevents political parties from exercising their independence and truly representing the consensus within the political party.
Undoubtedly, political parties lack the incentives to oversee and hold elected officials accountable or engage their constituents on issues of concern and as a result, elected officials are not accountable for budget expenditures and basic services are often ignored. Party politics maintains a status quo where elected representatives are often encouraged or even coerced to vote along ‘party lines’, even when this betrays promises they have made to their constituencies.
Elected officials tend to legislate based on their own interests, rather than, party loyalty, and meanwhile, the party fails to serve as a uniting force to inform and drive forward a common policy agenda. More so, there is no framework for regular interaction between political parties and citizens in an effort to seek their input into party policies and assess government performance.
So, whilst we need dramatic change, we also know that alongside a manifesto we need a process that is likely to deliver it. We need a politics that contrasts to party politics by attracting politicians who are experts and professionals on the issues and who work directly with the electorate and with the citizens to develop and deliver meaningful change across board.
An Issue Based Political campaign ahead of the 2019 general elections would accommodate an enlightened step towards direct democracy whilst maintaining the advantage of representative democracy in that it gives us dedicated full-time politicians who are accountable in facilitating and delivering change.
We have just about three months until the general election. If you think you are unto something to change the narrative in Nigeria, get involved. So, active citizens, what do you think? Do you think issue based political campaign would help sort out the problems in the country that matters to you?
There is no better way to subtly impoverish and, most likely, kill a people than to drastically reduce their purchasing power. This is aptly what the managers of the Nigerian economy are doing right now.
As at the dawn of the 21st Century when the administration of former President Olusegun Obasanjo, introduced the N18, 000 minimum w age, which he tagged ‘living wage,’ the Naira exchanged about N90 to the dollar; which implied that the minimum wage was about $200. With the exchange rate currently at N360 to the dollar, the minimum wage is now less that $50 per month.
The implication of that to the average Nigerian worker, today, is that he is four times poorer than he was when Obasanjo introduced the minimum wage. This seems to be the realization of the NLC President, Wabba. It is a tricky situation, but it is doubtful if the government realizes the implication of a highly battered and weak currency on the economy and the citizenry. Besides, will the plight of the worker be assuaged with an increased salary package in the face of a badly managed currency, and by extension, the economy?
Though the NLC may be asking for wage review as a soothing balm for the immediate problem, what the organized labour and indeed leaders of the various sectors of the economy need do is to seriously engage government on how to tackle the dwindling economic fortunes of the country, with a view to strengthening the Naira. For a country with an import oriented economy, such as Nigeria, the national currency cannot afford to be battered as the CBN has subjected the Naira; the consequences of which now stare us on our faces.
With the prevailing economic circumstances, where most of the 36 states owe a backlog of salaries and cannot even undertake any major project in infrastructure development. It is obvious that the economy is not functioning well; with or without the falling oil price and the managers of the economy are not endeavoring to make it work. Suffice to say, they are contended with sharing oil proceeds among the three tiers of government.
Worried, it seems, President Buhari might have inadvertently accepted the reality of worsening economic situation in the country through the reported agreement to a partly N30, 000 minimum wage; if it is not meant to achieve cheap political point ahead of the 2019 general elections.
The challenging economic indicators in the country, creates an immense opportunity for the Federal, State and Local governments to engage the workers under the umbrella of the NLC constructively. To achieve a common front on the new proposed minimum wage imbroglio, it will call for collective sacrifice from both ends at this time, transparency, accountability and integrity from the government and sacrifice, dedication and loyalty from the workers.
The Nigerian Labour Congress the major trade union of Africa’s largest economy, on Tuesday November 6, 2018 suspended its planned nationwide strike. Comrade Ayuba Wabba the President of NLC speaking on the strike said the decision was borne out of the need to prepare for fair and reasonable engagement with the Federal Government, to address the key issues that led to the industrial action.
In this blog we take a look at the issues around the strike, new minimum wage and the legislation. From an economic perspective, increasing the minimum wage drives household consumption across the country and produces room for investments. It could also affect employment as the government will be looking at their wage bills across the three tiers (Federal, State and Local) particularly at a time when there are challenges in revenue.
Some States have experienced challenges in paying the N18,000 minimum wage and analysts are worried about how they will cope with the new wage. There will be tough choices ahead for the Federal Government who from the political-economic angle will not want labour issues as the 2019 general elections approaches. As the NLC and the Federal Government meet, President Muhammadu Buhari eventually agreed to labour’s demand of N30,000 after union leaders made it clear that anything below that would lead to national shutdown.
Although, expectations are that there will be a realistic engagement with the states and national assembly with an executive bill to be presented that will take into consideration the economic realities in the country.
On one hand N18,000 is no longer tenable for the workers in Nigeria, while on the other leg the N65,000 minimum wage should be negotiated to a level that all Federal and States can apply with clear timelines. In this regard the Federal Allocations Accounts Committee (FAAC) principle will have to be reviewed to empower the States, currently the Federal has 52% share, States 27% share and Local Governments 21% share. This will enable wage adjustment to be part and parcel of the economic management process. Indeed, that was why the Wages and Salaries Commission was set up.
Notwithstanding what happens eventually at the end of the wage imbroglio, the debate will almost invariably shift to the saner and more practical issue of which state can or cannot pay. About 30 of the country’s 36 states record miserable internally generated revenue (IGR) that is so low as to be practically useless for the purpose of meeting small and sundry basic state needs, let alone salary bills.
The implication is that they all unreasonably depend on their portions from the federal allocation to meet salary and developmental needs. It is simply untenable in the short or long run. While many states do in fact demonstrate no understanding of how to meet the needs of their workers, nor why those needs ought to be met, the NLC itself has been indifferent to arguments that seek a better understanding of state economies and the structures that would make regular and decent wage payment sustainable.
The unions appear to have forgotten that negotiations raised minimum wage to its present unsustainable level, and that a raise, when it is coaxed from the government, does not necessarily make wage payment foolproof, as everyone now knows. Even if an agreement is reached on what is fair, there is nothing in the states to indicate that it can be paid on a sustainable basis.
Campaign financing refers to all funds raised to promote candidates, political parties, or policy initiatives. Political parties, charitable organizations, and political action committees are vehicles used in aggregating funds to keep campaigns alive. Elections campaign financing therefore refers to funds used to promote the interest of political parties and candidates.
In Nigeria, the framework governing political campaign finance is the Electoral Act. According to Section 91(2) and 91(3) of the Electoral Act, the maximum election expenses to be incurred by a candidate at a presidential and governorship election shall be one billion Naira only and two hundred million Naira only respectively.
Also, Section 91(4) of the Electoral Act states that the maximum election expenses to be incurred by a candidate for a Senatorial and House of Representatives election shall be forty million Naira only and twenty million Naira only respectively. Independent political campaign finance experts have frequently noted that Nigeria’s president, governors, senators and members of the house of representatives spent much more than the amount allowed by the Electoral Act.
Elections cost money. The political party has to set up a party secretariat in virtually every ward, state, and at the national level, pay staff, promote its brand and its agenda, organize meetings, pay sitting allowances, support candidates, run media advertisements, arrange receptions and entertainment, pay for logistics, buy vehicles, pay for air travels and road transportation, the organization of rallies and campaigns, reserve some tidy sum for lobbying at all levels including the lobbying of the media and other groups in civil society.
Win or lose eventually, every political party be it in Africa, Europe, America, or Asia knows that money drives the game of politics. This is no rocket science, no matter how unfortunate the implications may be. It is nonetheless for this reason that political parties write into their constitutions, means of raising funds. These include membership subscriptions, payment for expression of interest in elective positions, donations, fund raising activities, and support from friends and the corporate sector.
This commercialization of the political process is a universal dilemma and part of the crisis of what seems to be the perceived end of liberal democracy. If money makes all the difference, and politicians have to acquire and repay monetary IOUs, then where does that leave the big, liberal, ideas about choice, sovereignty and the power of the majority? Where really, are the people in the entire democratic equation?
Before the 2019 elections, on election-day and even after, the electorates in states across the country, expect to be paid in cash and kind with the resultant vote-buying syndrome experienced in Edo, Ondo, Anambra, Ekiti and more recently in Osun State. The people are encouraged to embrace democracy with cash, they are induced to vote in the same manner and their loyalty is maintained only when it is procured. Worse still, the leaders themselves do not give a hoot. In short, they brazenly encourage the violation of the campaign laws. Nations where democracy still seems to be putative or uncertain are the worst hit and many of them are in Africa with particular interest in Nigeria as we march forward to the 2019 general elections.
The Nigeria’s Electoral Act is explicit on campaign finance. Very importantly, the Act contains relative consequences for violations. Interestingly, even as the candidates openly violate the campaign finance laws, including spending without limitation and open buying and selling of votes; none of the agencies entrusted with enforcement of electoral laws seem to care. Whatever happens, the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) can make all the difference by choosing to be independent and effective in the discharge of its monitoring and sanction powers as contained in the Constitution and the Electoral Act.
Few years ago, Nigerians were anxiously concerned on how the federal government can tackle the corrosive and caustic corruption, education, agriculture and power failure, but the recurring spate of hapless killings in the Northern parts of Nigeria diverted the minds of Nigerians to make the federal government to concentrate on tackling security threats in the country. Government is meant to protect her citizens and property but in Nigeria the reverse is now the case. Over 10,000 people had been innocently killed while property worth millions of naira destroyed for no just cause and the federal government has abysmally failed to bring the unsympathetic committers to book.
It is very demoralizing after experiencing success stories of harmonious coexistence between the citizenry of Kaduna, Plateau, Benue and other recent crisis-ridden states to have woken up back to the black-dark days of bloodbath of the past. After critical and careful perusal of the sad and painful happenings of the recent horrific carnage especially on the Plateau, which was observed with dismay that the most recent attacks on the Plateau were well orchestrated with political and religious mindset. Despite the fact that in the past three years, there has been success stories of peaceful coexistence between the inhabitants of Plateau state. It is disheartening that once again, human life does not matter to some disgruntled elements within the nation. Aren’t we making ourselves a laughing stock before the comity of nations? Why must we allow ourselves to be used by miscreants and senseless politicians at all cost? As a matter of fact, the dastardly acts went on for some days unabated and why?
The Nigerian state appears clueless. Ironically, the North was once a place of peace, brotherliness and low crime rates, a common awareness among its 200 plus ethnic nationalities. Ahmadu Bello, the founding father of the defunct Northern Region, despite the domineering influence of his Fulani-Hausa nationality, sought, through the “One North, One Destiny” slogan, to foster a common identity and development. Things, however, went awry when succeeding leaders of the region began from the 1970s to play a game of exclusion, using ethnicity and religion.
The result is the growing sectarian savagery. The famed “melting pots” of northern Nigeria, among them Jos, Kaduna, Zaria. Kafanchan and Yola/Jimeta, began to explode in horrendous massacres. Political intolerance, religion, very poor governance and bad leadership have left the North with the world’s most dismal indices. In its ranking of the country’s 10 poorest states, using poverty levels and internally generated revenue based on data by the National Bureau of Statistics in 2017, nine Northern states including Sokoto, Katsina, Adamawa, Gombe and Jigawa led with only one state from the South, Ebonyi, coming in seventh place. While poverty rates in the 17 Southern states average less than 50 per cent, national average reaches over 70 per cent when added to the figures from the North. A recent finding that Nigeria has the world’s largest number of persons living in “extreme poverty” also locates most of these 81 million wretchedly poor in the North.
The North has become so violent because poor leadership is manipulating religion and ethnic chauvinism to advance and sustain elite interests. In a country where poor governance and inept, corrupt leadership is near universal, the consequences in the North have, however, been more devastating. Shettima, Governor of Borno and chair of the Northern Governors Forum, said the North had become a laughing stock, a centre of insecurity, terrorism and poverty and had become a drag to the rest of the country. Concurring, Balarabe Musa, former governor of old Kaduna State, told a newspaper that if the educational disparity between North and South continued, “… there’s no way we can have national unity, there’s no way we can have even development, there’s no way we can avoid the North being the problem of Nigeria…”
The only way to curb the slaughter in the North is for the region’s elite to embrace a more liberal political culture that drives “the world’s most prosperous and successful societies,” according to Obama. Ordinarily, religion, if handled rationally and responsibly, should not be an impediment to progress and development, as can be seen in some few Muslim countries like the United Arab Emirates, Turkey and Malaysia, that have been able to walk the delicate tight-rope between good governance and religion.
Illiteracy and fundamentalism will only drive away potential investors and leave the North and, by extension, the rest of Nigeria perpetually impoverished. It is the responsibility of today’s Northern leaders to lead their people to prosperity and end the cycle of deprivation and violence.
"Unity can only come when there is better co-ordination and mutual understanding in the society; when there is no friction of thoughts and clash of ideologies. We should therefore follow the ideals established by the scholars and engage ourselves in virtuous deeds". ~Atharva Veda
Life returned to the polity with the eventual resumption of plenary by the National Assembly on October 9th. Both chambers of the National Assembly went on recess on Tuesday, July 25, instead of Thursday July 27 on a controversial note, after what was considered a botched attempt to remove Saraki and Ekweremadu. The recess which lasted for nearly over two months, it goes without saying that the plate is full for the federal legislators, as much is also expected of them from Nigerians.
Before the resumption of legislative duties by the lawmakers, a lot of mind bugging issues that border on unity and security of the country have been on the front burner. If it is not violent protest from youths of some major ethnic groups, it is agitation for the country to be restructured to ensure fairness and balance in the federal character. The adverse result of the recent flood disaster in some part of the country have prompted widespread reactions from many Nigerians. Lives and property were lost and damaged, just as scores of persons are displaced.
Meanwhile, serious national issues have been stalemated because of the Assembly’s recess. Just before they went on recess, Saraki read a letter from President Muhammadu Buhari asking the lawmakers to approve the Independent National Electoral Commission’s budget for the 2019 elections. The presidency appealed to the Assembly to reconvene in order to pass this budget, but the threat to impeach Saraki as well as the Department of State Services’ [DSS] despicable siege on the Assembly Complex on August 7 fouled the atmosphere and the plan to reconvene early was jettisoned. Since then, the two chambers’ committees have worked on INEC’s budget and reduced it from N189billion to N143billion. Yet, it can only be passed into law by the two chambers.
There is also the stalemate over the Electoral Act. President Buhari complicated matters by not assenting to the bill, saying there were errors in it. It is surprising that a government which controls both the executive and legislative arms of government has been unable to pass such critical legislation less than six months to the general elections. Unless the amended electoral act is passed into law, key tools such as the card reader will not be covered by law and could jeopardize the integrity of the 2019 elections.
As it stands, now that the country is faced with numerous challenges that are seeking urgent remedy, the National Assembly has now resume and it is incumbent on the lawmakers to quickly set in motion rapid legislative actions to ensure that the unity of the country is achieved and the unwavering ethnic agitations are put to rest. It is imperative for citizens to vote in capable legislators into the National Assembly instead of merely endorsing the options provided by the so-called large parties.
Credible elections are characterized by inclusiveness, transparency, accountability, and competitiveness. Inclusive elections provide equal opportunities for all eligible citizens to participate as voters in selecting their representatives and as candidates for election to government. This right to participate is a broad concept and can only be subject to reasonable restrictions that are provided by law. Authorities must take steps to assess and remove any barriers to the participation of all citizens. This includes removing barriers for traditionally marginalized populations such as ethnic, religious or linguistic minorities; women, youth or elderly citizens; and persons with disabilities. Reasonable restrictions on participation should be narrow, like a minimum age for voting and standing as an electoral contestant.
Elections are transparent when each step is open to scrutiny, and stakeholders can independently verify whether the process is conducted honestly and accurately. The principle of transparency is linked to the fundamental right of citizens to seek, receive and impart information (which are elements of the freedom of expression), as well as the right to take part in government and public affairs. Elections present eligible voters with important choices. Whether it is a local government area that will affect your community or a national election that could change the direction of the entire country, now is the time to consider the issues which you care about and decide which candidate you support and who get selected in the almost concluding political party primaries as mandated by the electoral body.
Enough is Enough Nigeria (EiE) core campaign towards Nigeria's elections process remains R|S|V|P - Register | Select | Vote NOT Fight | Protect. It is a play on the popular acronym stating that young Nigerians intend to be at the table to determine Nigeria’s future. This campaign continued with the 2015 General Elections and several activities towards the 2019 general elections. The RSVP campaign focuses on ensuring young Nigerians have an opportunity to determine Nigeria’s future. RSVP stands for the four letters that represent the activities young people need to successfully complete in other to have a positive impact on Nigeria’s governance.
At election time we inevitably hear earnest pleas for everyone to vote. Voter participation is a data point often cited in political studies, along with an assumption that the higher the percentage, the better: 100 percent participation is the goal. But in a democracy voting is communal, not individual. Sovereign power is in the citizens as a whole, and your vote has weight in this political era. Even though it’s utterly unlikely that an individual vote will decide a large-scale election, the group of all voters will do so.
Therefore, we all have reasons to vote so far our goal is to have good governance in Nigeria Ultimately, elections are competitive when citizens have reasonable and equitable opportunities to select who get elected to public offices. Political competition is a central component of elections that truly reflect the will of the people. The principle of competitiveness relates to aspects of the election throughout the electoral cycle. There must however be a legal framework that allow citizens to come together present their interests, and provide access to spots on the ballot for independent candidates. Parties and candidates must be able to campaign and allow voters to cast their ballots free from illegal influence, intimidation or violence.
Active citizens! Vote for candidates with these 3 values – Competence, Capacity & Character.
It is hereby accordingly declared that sovereignty belongs to the people of Nigeria from whom government through this Constitution derives all its powers and authority.
-Section 14(2) of the 1999 Nigerian Constitution (as amended)
Four months ago, the President Muhammadu Buhari-led Administration signed the “Not Too Young To Run” bill into law. An initiative which received a lot of encomiums and mixed reactions from political analysts and observers within and outside Nigeria.
Thanks to the Not Too Young to Run Act, which reduces the age of aspirants by five years across board, enabling young politicians to run for any political office, including the highest one in the country. Much has been made of the newly passed bill, but young people remain unable to contest for the various positions due to the exorbitant amounts that some political parties are demanding.
Take for instance, two of the young presidential aspirants – Omoyele Sowore, publisher, Sahara Reporters, and Kingsley Moghalu, former Deputy Governor of the Central Bank of Nigeria, have been talking about what they intend to do. The former said he would scrap the Senate and fix the Lagos- Ibadan expressway in six months. The latter dreams of employing one million police men in one month, among others.
Their aspiration may remain a mirage if our current political system continues in this manner. High cost of nomination forms, godfatherism, money politics and lack of experience are some of the factors that may stand against their aspirations. Many of the youths lack the financial resources with which to campaign even if they can afford the nomination forms and get their parties’ tickets.
At the last nationwide vote in 2015, the People’s Democratic Party (PDP) of then-President Goodluck Jonathan charged 22 million naira (US$61 000) per nomination form. The All Progressives Congress (APC) of the eventual winner Muhammadu Buhari asked for 27.5 million naira (US$76 000) just to stand in the Party’s Presidential primary.
Now, as both parties prepare for polling in February next year, the APC wants an eye-watering 45 million naira ($125,500, 108,000 euros) per presidential primary candidate, according to an online source.
Individuals wanting to be selected to run for a governorship post have to pay 22.5 million naira, up from 10-million-naira last time round. The PDP has reduced the cost of its presidential candidate forms to 12 million naira and the selection for a tilt at a governorship from 11 million naira to six million naira. But both are still significant sums in a country of more than 180 million where some 87 million live in extreme poverty, according to the World Poverty Clock.
For a country with a high unemployment rate and a monthly minimum wage of US$50 (Naira 18 000), how does one reconcile such a wasteful amount for getting a party ticket to serve the people?
Clearly, the political system in Nigeria is one that still hinges on who has the most money and not who has the best ideas. The recycling of corrupt members of the House of Representatives, senators, governors and presidents becomes what the country gets stuck with. For a country that is supposedly bent on fighting corruption, the fight has certainly started in the wrong place.
It is easy to read between the lines: Making power expensive to get is equal to keeping power at all expense.
In Nigeria, the Not Too Young to Run group, which successfully campaigned for a reduction in the lower age limit for elected representatives, already raised concerns that the fees are still “exorbitant” and would disqualify potential candidates. It claimed the main parties had reneged on a promise to cap the cost of nomination forms for all elected posts.
The current system obviously favours the wealthy and fosters cronyism and corruption, as sponsors who often pay for a candidate’s forms expect pay-back once they are in power. Politics may not be cheap, but if we claim we are practicing democracy as a country, it must be free and fair enough for young aspirants to be fully involved especially now that the Not Too Young to Run has been signed to law.
Democracy provides the opportunities for the people to freely exercise their voting rights in the selection of representatives who govern them. Democracy depends on parties to survive, since the structure of elections right from citizens participation to candidates’ selection and presentation of competing political programmes is done by political parties. It is on this note that political parties occupy a special place in the democratic equation.
Critical examination of Nigerian political parties from 1999 to date reveals that Nigerian political parties did not possess basic features of political parties such as ideology, party manifestoes, likeminded people as well as viable opposition party. All parties are engaged in intra party conflict rather than embarked on programmes that would benefit the masses. The result of undemocratic conduct of political parties such as candidate’s imposition, unclear manifestoes, gave rise to assassination that portrayed Nigeria as one of the riskiest nations in the world.
The struggle for democratic government in Nigeria during military era is almost the same as anti-colonial struggle. This is because both the promoter and supporter of democracy in Nigeria are highly committed and dedicated before the transition comes to reality. In the process of achieving it, many of them lost their lives, some were even detained while those who escaped the two went on exile. Now that democracy becomes Nigerian “Public good”, credible institutions are required to defend the system.
A political party can simply be defined as organized group of people with at least roughly similar political aims and opinions that seek to influence the public, policy by getting its candidate elected to public office. The existence of political parties according to this definition must be based on the principles of promoting national interest. This is because political parties are often expected to have their membership spread across the country. This explain, for instance, why Nigerian constitution required parties to reflect federal character before they can be registered.
Political Parties are integral part of the process of institutionalizing democracy. Thus, political parties according to IDEA (2000) produce the candidates, set the parameters of issues and agenda within which elections are to be held and they are expected to perform these duties periodically. The functions of an ideal political party can thus be summarized as:
(i) Stimulating the citizenry to take a greater interest in election and activities of activities of government. (ii) Defining political issues of the day and sharpen the choice between alternative paths. (iii) Presenting candidates who are committed to announce position with respect to issues. (iv) Majority party provides basis upon which government can be operated. (v) Accepting responsibility to govern upon winning election.
As a result of these functions, it can be inferred that: Political parties remain important if not essential instruments for representing political constituencies and interests, aggregating demands and preferences, recruiting and socializing new candidate for office; organizing the electoral competition for power, crafting policy alternatives, setting the policy-making agenda, forming effective governments, and integrating groups and individuals into the democratic process.
Juxtaposing the above highlighted functions of an ideal political party to what we have in Nigeria, its obvious that we are far from getting it right. Citizens’ participation at the primary elections is not without some level of biasness and some elements of “what’s in for me” which influence their choice to a great extent.
In order to perform these functions positively, political party should be guided by distinctive ideology which will sell them to a core set of electorates and distinguish them clearly from other political parties. At this juncture, ideology becomes important feature of political parties.
Party ideology, is the moral systems that enshrine the sanctity of contact and promise between them (parties) and electorate; it constitutes the political doctrine from which a programme of political actions emanates and on which basis citizens choose how they will like to be ruled.
Ideology is very important aspect of politics, not only by serving as a cognitive structure for looking at society generally and providing a guide to individual action and judgment, but as a powerful instrument of conflict management, self-identification, popular mobilization and legitimization.
Right from the formation period, fourth republic parties are the composition of people from diverse opinion. Similarly, the activities of godfather in political parties render the parties ineffective in the process of discharging their responsibilities. These godfather impact negatively on democracy by restricting citizen participation as a voter or candidate.
Also, in an undemocratic way, they imposed candidates’ right from local level to national level, on agreement that they surrender the state treasury to them. These kinds of agreement explain why the dividend of democracy becomes mirage in our society. Thus, democracy has no meaning once it failed to improve on the life of citizens.
The trend of internal crisis within the part since 1999 shows that parties in Nigeria spend more time on reconciliatory process, than on a programme that would benefit the electorates. It is equally deduced that failure of political parties to embraced dialogue in resolving their internal crisis is antithetical to democratic consolidation. Since the principal tenet of democracy is the possibility it offers to resolve crisis through dialogue, without recourse to violence, even when they are irksome.
The undemocratic conduct of political parties also contributes in no small measure to the political violence and political assassination in Nigeria. As party abstained from healthy intra-party rivalry in the process of candidates’ selection, the venue of party primaries were mostly turned into violence gathering.
In Benue state, for instance, fight erupted in Aliade town, on 9 December 2006, after PDP allegedly reversed the result of the state assembly primary, replacing the winner, Tsetim Ayarger with Ashema Chado.
On the issue of opposition, the current number of political parties, suggesting a more democratic polity, a widening of political space and more options for voters. But most of these parties are composed of individuals whose personal interests are threatened by the existing governments and thus decided to join the opposition party.
The existing opposition’s party in Nigeria today lacks the integrity to stick to their stance on some salient political issues as it affects the citizenry. The priorities of all these parties is what they will gains in politics. Opposition parties in Nigerian democracy remained ineffective due to their failure to form coalitions that will give a strong opposition to the ruling party them and obey the rule of the game for people to enjoy the dividend of democracy, scholars emphasized the need for alternative policy in Nigeria.
If ruling politicians are failing the people, it is the responsibility of the opposition to step in, in a credible, robust, articulate, clear and coherent manner, to provide alternative policy options on how to deal with the challenges that confront the country and the majority of the Nigerian people.
Once the elections are over, the interest of common man in no longer in the opposition party’s agenda. They will be struggling to be part a unity government initiated by ruling party. Members of Nigerian Peoples Party (ANPP), after 2007 general elections for example, abandon their party and presidential candidate to be part of the Unity government introduced by the then ruling party (PDP).
Conclusively, with respect to the conduct of political parties since 1999, parties are not engaged in the issues that will consolidate democracy in Nigeria. It is highly recommended that all political parties should be reformed. The area of reformation should include the procedure for admitting new cross carpeting members. The transparency in the procedure of selecting party flag bearers as well conducting direct primary election. And a well-designed and meaningful party manifestoes should be developed by all parties. By so doing, the parties outside government can criticizes the policy of ruling party base on their programme.
Taking a deep scrutiny at the way our political system in Nigeria is structured since the adoption of democracy, it is more than obvious that our political parties in Nigeria lack ideologies.Truly our political parties bear different names but if looked critically, there are no too much differences among them.
The conflict between All Progressives Congress (APC) and Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) is a good example that can be used to carry out reality check about our political status as a country. For instance, At the moment, the APC (All Progressive Congress) who used to be the destination of all sojourners, has seen many of its member cross-carpeted to other political parties when they noticed that other people have taken what they wanted.
The practice of carpet-crossing, defection or party switching appears to have become an undying attribute of party politics in Nigeria. Carpet crossing by Nigerian politicians is dated back to the First Republic particularly in 1951, a decade to Nigeria’s independence in the defunct Western Regional House of Assembly.
It was an overnight affair when several members of the defunct National Council of Nigeria and Cameroon (NCNC), led by the late Dr. Nnamdi Azikiwe decamped to the Action Group (AG), led by late Chief Obafemi Awolowo, purposely to deny Zik and his party, the majority in the Western Region House of Assembly, which he required to form the government in Western Region.
Most politicians today are ‘bread and butter’ ones or, simply put, ‘stomach infrastructure’ people. A good political leader must stand for something. On what basis can a politician who jettisons his party, and renounces all that he has stood for over the years be justified? These things are becoming norms in our country especially when elections are fast approaching.
Upholding the core values and ideologies of these political parties by her drivers and policy makers will go a long way in upscaling our democratic system of government.For example, the Imo State governor and his party do not believe in rotation of power among the three senatorial zones. When you join his party from PDP (the People’s Democratic Party), you must renounce all ideas about rotation.
He believes It does not portend good will for our democracy, because such politicians will cut of their noses to spite his faces. Such politicians are lily-livered, men of straw and like a rolling stone, will gather no moss.
The late Chief Obafemi Awolowo, Asiwaju Bola Ahmed Tinubu, etc never abandoned their parties for not winning elections.Generally, this absence of ideology in Nigeria’s political parties is really of great concern. Parties are no longer after the doctrines, myths or beliefs; they do not offer anything special to differentiate them from other parties.
All they talk about is the pitfalls of the opposition party. They use this as bait for the citizens without any clear definitions of how they intend to achieve what is inculcated in their own manifestoes. Some of them lack even manifestos; they clearly rely on the ability of their party’s ability to rig elections for them. It does not even stop at that; they also go as far as blackmailing each other all in a bid to gain the upper hand going in the elections.
Since political parties are essential components of a democratic machine, it is imperative that they be democratic in their internal operations as one cannot give what he does not have. This, therefore, makes internal (intra-party) democracy a crucial feature which political parties must possess in order to be able to make fundamental input to any democratic arrangement and speed up democratic consolidation.
Nigeria has not fared well in party politics and democracy. Many decades after the introduction of the elective principle by the Clifford’s Constitution and the formation of pioneer political parties, the country has had a chequered history of party politics. Nigeria has struggled without success, to evolve virile political parties that will fit into the role of what parties do in other democratic polity, which is, to advance national interest through well thought-out policies and programmes. Political parties have, in our clime, remained mere platforms for the advancement of individual interests and ambitions.
The citizens are becoming more enlightened; they are making wiser decisions than in the past. As the saying goes once beaten twice shy, the people cannot afford to be played over and over by political gimmicks.
Conclusively, it is imperative that all activities and systems within parties should be guided by internal rules and procedures consistent with the expectations of party members and the legally established statutory organs; holding of democratic, periodic elections of party leaders, and a non-personalized leadership that willingly submits itself to these periodic elections. Thus, the question of life chairman or life patron should never arise; internal debate of issues and democratized decision making; equal and open participation of all members in the decision making process in such a way that various interests are more or less equally represented, especially disadvantaged groups such as women and youth; transparency and accountability in the administration of the party; democratization of party funding, such that the party does not rely on a few wealthy individuals only for its financing, and equally fundamental, there should be the adoption of inclusive, democratic processes for the holding of party conventions, and the selection of the party’s election candidates, that is, the use of primaries.
A strict adherence to these prescriptions will reposition Nigerian political parties and enhance their contribution to democratic consolidation in Nigeria.
Using a Supreme Court judgement, EiE and some partners have sued the recent decampees to vacate their seats as it is illegal to retain a seat after decamping if your party, as an organization, is not factionalized.
An online encyclopaedia basically defines National security as the security of a nation state, including its citizens, economy, and institutions, and it is regarded as a duty of government.
Governments rely on a range of measures, including political, economic, and military power, as well as diplomacy to enforce national security. They may also act to build the conditions of security regionally and internationally by reducing transnational causes of insecurity, such as climate change, economic inequality, political exclusion, and nuclear proliferation.
The concept of national security remains ambiguous, having evolved from simpler definitions which emphasised freedom from military threat and from political coercion.
Conversely, the rule of law has been defined as the "authority and influence of law in society, especially when viewed as a constraint on individual and institutional behavior; (hence) the principle whereby all members of a society (including those in government) are considered equally.
In a keynote address delivered at the beginning of the 58th annual conference of the Nigerian Bar Association on Sunday, President Muhammadu Buhari spoke on various issues, most prominent of which was his view about the rule of law on issues of National interest.
The President, in his speech, urged lawyers to put national security over and above the rule of law. “Rule of Law must be subject to the supremacy of the nation’s security and national interest our apex court has had cause to adopt a position on this issue in this regard and it is now a matter of judicial recognition that; where national security and public interest are threatened or there is a likelihood of their being threatened, the individual rights of those allegedly responsible must take second place, in favour of the greater good of society,” Mr President said.
Although the president did not specify current cases in court for which his administration views the need to uphold “national interest” above the rule of law, but some notable Nigerians and senior legal practitioners linked the president’s stance on rule of law and national interest to Mr Dasuki’s case.
Dasuki was arrested in 2015 for alleged possession of firearms and diverting $2.1 billion while he was National Security Adviser. Speaking during an interview on July 13, 2018 about the continued detention of Mr Dasuki, the Attorney-General of the Federation, Abubakar Malami, has given that the reason behind the government’s refusal to comply with repeated court orders for the release of former National Security Adviser (NSA), Mr Dasuki is because the allegations against him were related to “issues of public interest.” Mr Malami has been largely condemned by lawyers and notable Nigerians for his view on Mr Dasuki’s prolonged imprisonment.
Similarly, various lawyers and political actors criticized President Buhari’s for his views, stressing that nothing justifies the government’s disobedience of court orders. Most of Mr President’s critics lamented that the country has headed the path of dictatorship. Lawyers, who kicked against the President’s statement include Professor Ernest Ojukwu, SAN, Chief Mike Ozekhome, SAN, Abeny Mohammed, SAN, Mr Solomon Bob, a lawyer and Governor Nyesom Wike’s aide, Dr. Kayode Ajulo, Mr. Ugochukwu Ezekiel, Mr Joseph Otteh, Executive Director, Access to Justice, Mr Monday Ubani, out-going second Vice President of NBA, and Mr Gbenga Ojo, Senior Law Lecturer, Lagos State University, LASU.
One of the Mr President’s critics, Prof. Ernest Ojukwu, SAN, said: “It is unfortunate that our President made that speech. I think there is a fundamental problem which we need to address on that issue. “If our President says that rule of law must be subject to national interest, then it is an ominous sign that our democracy has failed. The civil society needs to rise to reverse that speech whether it is in substance, form or reality, otherwise we will be in trouble.”
The rule of law is the father of national interest. “As proposed by Professor A.V. Dicey, it means equality before the law by all persons, observance of all laws by persons and authorities and, of course, obedience to court orders made by competent courts of law. “Once a court of law has made an order for the release of a citizen on bail, the president, government and all authorities must obey the order of the court. It is not for the government to pick and choose which order to obey and which not to obey in the so-called name of “national interest. “This is because in arriving at a decision to release an individual on bail, the court must have first heard the facts and argument of the case of both the government and the citizen. “It is tantamount to executive lawlessness and governmental capriciousness and whimsicality to sit on appeal over a court decision to determine what amounts to national interest. Such a stance is a clear descent into anarchy and chaos.”
Similarly, Abeny Mohammed, SAN, said: “What is national interest that rule of law must be sacrificed for? Rather, it is in the national interest of any government to obey and subject Nigeria to the rule of law. Where there is the rule of law, every interest, including that of the nation is safeguarded. A country without the rule of law is a lawless jungle.
Nobel laureate, Wole Soyinka, also criticised President Muhammadu Buhari for apparently saying his government is willing to violate the law for national security.
In a statement Thursday, Mr Soyinka mocked the president by saying Mr Buhari had obviously given a deep thought to his travails under a military dictatorship and concluded that his incarceration at that time was also in the ‘national interest.’
The president, however, found support in Sagay, who said he would prefer rule of justice for Nigerians. Sagay said: “I agree with him absolutely. I will even go further because people are saying that he is referring to the case of the former NSA, Col. Sambo Dasuki (retd) and Ibrahim El-Zakzaky, my own goes beyond all that. ‘’My own extends to robbers and looters and criminals in the society, who jump at human rights and the rule of law, forgetting that there should be rule of justice. When you loot and subvert the economy of the country, and millions of Nigerians are suffering, then the interest of the country should override any rule of law that you claim.
‘’You should not be secure in the arms of the law when millions of your countrymen are going down because of your depredation and sabotaging our economy. So, I even extend it to corruption and not just those two, I agree absolutely with him. What I am saying is that rule of justice for Nigerians is superior to rule law for individuals.”
Meanwhile, Mr Wale Ogunade, Convener of the group told the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) in Lagos, that President Buhari‘s statement was a restatement of the provisions of the laws of the Federal Republic of Nigeria. According to him, the President’s statement takes its foundation from the fact that, the rule of law can only exist when the national interest and security is secured in a state of peace and tranquillity. Otherwise, it is a farce.
Ogunade said that section 45 sub-section 1 of the 1999 constitution is clear on the issue .According to him, the power to determine what constitutes a threat to national security and national interest is solely vested in the executive arm of government for now.
”Section 45 (1) of the 1999 constitution states explicitly that: “Nothing in sections 37, 38, 39, 40 and 41 of this constitution shall invalidate any law that is reasonably justifiable in a democratic society (a) in the interest of defence, public safety, public order, public morality or public health; or (b) for the purpose of protecting the rights and freedom of other person’s.
Therefore, instead of dissipating energy of whipping up emotions and sentiments in condemning Mr President’s statement which is in alignment with provisions of our constitution, we will be more interested in extensive public engagement on this matter if and only if genuine and legitimate concerns are directly focused towards curtailing the abuse of power likely to arise from the power to determine what constitutes a threat to national security and national interest which is solely vested in the executive arm of government for now.
Ever since the fourth republican government that brought Chief Olusegun Obasanjo to power in 1999, the political baton of power had been with the People’s Democratic Party (PDP) for 16 solid years before the emergence of All Progressives Congress (APC). The latter was formed in February 2013, as a result of an alliance of PDP’s three biggest opposition parties – the Action Congress of Nigeria (ACN), the Congress for Progressive Change (CPC), the All Nigeria Peoples Party (ANPP) – and a faction of the All Progressives Grand Alliance (APGA) – merged to take up the ruling power from the People’s Democratic Party.
The emergence of All Progressives Congress (APC) in 2015 looked like answers to citizens long aged prayers as the political party came with gospel of “change”. An average citizen of Nigeria had high expectations and believed in the party’s manifesto. This explained why President Jonathan Goodluck was massively voted out of power in 2015.
It is more than obvious that the President Muhammadu Buhari led administration has failed to perform to citizens’ expectation. It is also not surprising that usual gale of defection which see some politicians cross carpet to other political parties is already in atmosphere even as 2019 general election is fast-approaching. Recent experience with the 2 major political parties – APC & PDP – looks more like Siamese twins who are connected to each other and have the same characteristics.
In response to the various economic challenges, political uphill and security threats in Nigeria, A coalition of like-minded organizations did partner to host a gathering termed the: “Summit of the Alternatives” (SOTA).
On Monday, 12th August, 2018, SOTA held a conference in Abuja. The conference is made up of coalition of Civil Society Organizations across Nigeria.
“The Summit of the Alternatives, (SOTA) saw the need to merge so as to put an end to the seeming recurrence of incompetent persons being elected into political offices. The group is believed to be working on a political coalition to restructure Nigeria’s leadership ahead of 2019”. Oby Ezekwesili, one of the members of the group, and convener, Red Card Movement, made this known at a news conference on the SOTA summit in Abuja.
Ezekwesili said that the move became imperative because since 1999, several political parties had exhibited a distinct lack of ideology, thereby merely using politics as a platform to seek electoral offices that translated to personal wealth.
She also said that the group would partner with the other 66 political parties besides People’s Democratic Party and All Progressives Congress to change the leadership narrative in the country. “SOTA” will start a paradigm shift in the mindset of Nigeria’s political class and a convergence of credible, competent and capable alternatives to lead by developing a framework for the right political system that crafts the Nigeria of our dream.
Ezekwesili said that Nigeria was in a precarious situation and needed a sense of urgency to take action, considering the citizens demand for quality leadership. She said that if Nigerians did not immediately fix the leadership crisis that its democracy had continued to suffer, citizens should have absolutely no basis to expect anything different from previous elections. She said that the missing link to Nigeria’s development had always been the quality of leadership.
Director, Kenya School of Law, Professor Patrick Lumumba; Senior Economic Advisor, Africa Economic Development Policy Initiative (AEDPI), Oby Ezekwesili; and other experts from BudgIT, Centre for Democracy and Development (CDD), YIAGA Africa, Enough is Enough, among others, said there must be alternative to the current political cabals in the country.
Speaking at the Summit of the Alternatives (SOTA), Lumumba said the political elite had continued to hold Nigeria back, despite its huge resources and human capacity. He concurred with other stakeholders that a paradigm shift in the mindset of Nigeria’s political class and a convergence of credible, competent and capable alternatives to lead the country were urgently needed.
“A new Nigeria is possible and can emerge,” Ezekwesili said, urging citizens to get involved in dictating the future of the country. The South East representative of the movement, Emeka Okoye, raised the alarm about challenges that await Nigerians if they continue to vote wrong leaders into political offices.
According to the technology expert, with the growing rate artificial intelligence and import of robots, over 60 per cent of current jobs in the country would be gone by 2030.He insisted that a sensitive government that would be guided by data and mitigate looming global challenges “is needed in Nigeria.”
The News Agency of Nigeria reports that the coalition comprised of Centre for Democracy and Development, Enough is Enough, Youth Initiative for Advocacy, Growth & Advancement-Africa, Nigeria First, among others.
If the citizens of Nigeria can look beyond stomach infrastructure and join this new movement, maybe the change we crave for is already coming to play.
As 2019 general elections are fast approaching, so many political drama have been reported in the country, especially at the hallowed chambers of the National Assembly.Following the recent mass defection that swayed the National Assembly which got some of the law makers (including the Senate President) cross-carpeted from the All Progressives Congress (APC) to People’s Democratic Party (PDP), several tons of reactions have been going on among the political cabals in the country.
As early as 7a.m. on Tuesday, 7th August 2018, it was reported across various media channels that operatives of Department of State Services (DSS) had thrown a cordon off the National Assembly premises in Abuja. Lawmakers, journalists and staff were allowed to enter from the main gate but were prevented from entering the gate that leads to the National Assembly complex where legislative businesses usually take place.
First to arrive was the Kwara South Senator, Rafiu Ibrahim followed by Senator Ben Murray-Bruce. They confronted the officers but the answer they could only get from the leader of the masked DSS operatives was that the siege was “an order from above”.
More PDP senators and members of the House of Representatives were left standing. By this time, the lawmakers were not sure whether their APC colleagues had taken another route to enter to commence the removal process. After over an hour, the lawmakers were allowed to enter. Yet, it was not clear to journalists what was happening inside the National Assembly.
Meanwhile, the National Assembly Clerk, Mr Mohammed Sani-Omolori was unable to gain access into the complex. Mr Sani-Omolori told journalists he would still turn back even if he was granted entrance as his workers were stranded outside.
Senators and Reps members who spoke with journalists all tied the siege to plot to remove the Senate President, Mr Bukola Saraki.
“We got here this morning to go into our office as usual; I work very early. During recess we do committee works and our own writings. I’m writing a book, so I go in there almost every day,” Rafiu Ibrahim, a Senator from Kwara State said.
“We got here and DSS has taken over all the gates, all entrances to the National Assembly and they said it is order from above. We asked them why, they said there is no reason. As it is today, it means Nigeria is under siege.” Bayelsa East Senator, Ben Murray-Bruce, said he had commenced action on asking the US and UK to revoke the visas of the perpetrators.
The first attempt at challenging the DSS officers was by a member of the House of Representatives, Boma Goodhead who dared the operatives to shoot her and others prevented from entering the National Assembly. However, none of the APC senators appeared at the National Assembly. No principal officer of the two houses, except the Deputy Speaker of the House of Reps, Lasun Yusuff, came to the National Assembly during the blockage.
Some political icons such as the former Vice President, Alh. Atiku Abubakar and the Senate President, Dr. Bukola Saraki have reacted to the incidence and described it as highly undemocratic act.
According to Saraki, “The ensuring standoff was a show of shame that played itself out over several hours in full view of the country. In no circumstances should this have happened. And we as a nation reaped the bitter fruits instantaneously, as evident in media images relayed around the world, images that shame us as a democratic nation. The siege was also an act of cowardice by those seeking to carry out an illegal impeachment of the leadership of the Senate in flagrant disregard of the law. People who seek control at all costs, by whatever means, never minding the injury to democratic norms.
While the siege was ongoing, the Acting President, Yemi Osinbajo, directed the termination of the appointment of the Director General, State Security Service, Lawal Daura. This was after meeting with Mr Daura and the Inspector General of Police, Ibrahim Idris.
The sack is believed to be related to Mr Daura’s role in the siege on the National Assembly on Tuesday. About an hour after the termination, SSS officers drove out of the National Assembly, and thus, ends the siege.
From the reports gathered thus far, both APC and PDP have been pointing accusing fingers at each other on the recent blockade of National Assembly. Democracy they say; is the government for the people by the people. There should be no reason, under any circumstances for causing harm to the democratic system if truly citizens’ interest is being defended and fought for by our legislators.
On June 7, 2018, an online media channel, Premium Times reported that the Nigerian Minister of Finance, Mrs. Kemi Adeosun, did not participate in the mandatory one-year national service, National Youths Service Corps (NYSC), despite her eligibility for it, but went on to forge an exemption certificate.
The year-long service, organized by the National Youths Service Corps (NYSC), is compulsory for all Nigerians who graduate from universities or equivalent institutions at less than 30 years of age. In addition to be a requirement for government and private sector jobs in Nigeria, the enabling law prescribes punishment for anyone who absconds from the scheme or forges its certificates.
Eligible Nigerians who skipped the service are liable to be sentenced to 12 months imprisonment and/or N2, 000 fine, according to Section 13 of the NYSC law. Section 13 (3) of the law also prescribes three-year jail term or option of N5,000 fine for anyone who contravenes provision of the law as Mrs. Adeosun allegedly done. Subsection 4 of the same section also criminalizes giving false information or illegally obtaining the agency’s certificate. It provides for up to three-year jail term for such offenders.
Kemi Adeosun’s official credentials obtained by Premium Times show that the minister parades a purported NYSC exemption certificate, which was issued in September 2009, granting her exemption from the mandatory service because of age.
It is a well-known fact that white society, particularly the British, is a very meticulous one. Their system is almost water-tight. They always insist on propriety. Things must be done in certain prescribed ways. Once there is an infraction, the law must take its course. Their society is not like ours where anything goes; where systems are compromised and where laws are freely broken. The British society is an organized one and those who are nurtured by the system necessarily imbibe those values that place the British society on a higher plane and pedestal than the rest. That is why those who have the privilege of that foreign exposure always recoil in anguish whenever they are confronted with opposite values. They find Nigeria particularly shocking and laughable. They do not understand why Nigeria has no abiding standards, why the abhorrent is ignored or condoned and why the system is systematically beaten and circumvented.
Adeosun, the British-Nigerian born whose speech is full of affectation, ought to be a good ambassador of what the British society represents. But her actions and inactions here do not bear her training and exposure out. If Adeosun were what she ought to be, she would not have relied on a third party to carry out an official business on her behalf. She would have known that the right thing to do is to approach the NYSC herself and find out the right steps to take in obtaining an exemption certificate, if she qualified for one. Would the tongue-twister of a minister have taken such underhand step if she were in Britain? Certainly not. Rather than be a good example of what the British society teaches and preaches, Adeosun preferred self-help.
What minister Adeosun has come up with is an afterthought. She did not have a response to the infraction. Those who were defending her could not lead us by the nose. They ran into a blind alley. Adeosun had to make desperate moves to wriggle out of the mess. That is what has taken her to where she is now. But the minister has continued to prove at every point that her British training did not sink. She learnt nothing and she imbibed nothing.
That is where her British background should come in again. Where Adeosun is coming from, the most immediate response will be for the offender to resign honorably. Once Adeosun’s mistake became public knowledge, the next line of action for her was to quit her job and apologize to Nigerians. That way, we could connect with her story. Rather than do that, she chose to play the ostrich. When she could not find a place to hide, she concocted the lame excuse, which does not, in any way, free her from any wrong-doing. Adeosun, by her action, has not acquitted herself responsibly. She has not given a good account of her British training. And she has not, by British or Nigerian standards, proven that she deserves the high office she is occupying. The honorable thing for her to do in this circumstance is to resign because she got to where she is by false pretense. If she fails to do that, she should then be shown the way out by the President. That is where we are.
The lawmakers at the National Assembly, who were supposed to vet every document belonging to ministerial nominees critically, also failed to deliver their mandate in that regards. It was reported in a public post published by Premium Times that the certificate scandal was turned into a tool for blackmail by a National Assembly cartel that used it to coerce the finance minister to keep releasing funds to the lawmaking arm. Some federal lawmakers revealed to this paper that the discrepancy was detected by the Senate during the minister’s confirmation hearing. But rather than probe the issue, they turned it into a tool against Mrs. Adeosun. The report linked the certificate scandal to the minister’s excessive, even illegal, funding of the lawmakers, including recently funneling an N10billion generosity to that arm of government.
Several current and former officials of the NYSC scheme affirmed that the NYSC would never issue an exemption certificate to anyone who graduated before age 30 and did not fall into the categories of persons exempted by the corps’ enabling Act.
By that law, there are four categories of Nigerians eligible for exemption certificates. The first are those who graduated after turning 30. The second are holders of national honors. The third are persons who served in the armed forces or the police for up to nine months. The last category are staff of intelligence agencies, or the armed forces.
Therefore, having graduated at 22, and with no record of national honors or service in the intelligence or armed forces, Mrs. Adeosun is not qualified for exemption.Yet, the so-called exemption certificate she holds gave age as the reason for her exemption. The Minister has failed to either accept or deny the accusations since inception of the allegation.
In a terse statement signed by NYSC’s Director of Press and Public Relations, Mrs. Adenike Adeyemi, the Scheme said available records indicate that Adeosun did apply for an Exemption Certificate. NYSC, however, did not disclose whether the Minister was issued with an Exemption Certificate in response to her application.
Interestingly, the government of the day says it is keen on fighting corruption. One of its own, Kemi Adeosun, has run afoul of what it stands for. The Presidency, therefore, has a moral obligation to hold her to account. If it fails to do so, it would have succeeded in reinforcing the impression among many Nigerians that the fight against corruption is selective. Acquiescence by government will also lend credence to the feeling that the anti-corruption war is mere pretense and a well-worn political tool to witch-hunt enemies of government, real or imagined.
It was a tumultuous moment for members of the People’s Democratic Party, (PDP) on Tuesday, 24th July, 2018 as a gale of defection swept through the National Assembly with 14 leading senators from All Progressive Congress (APC) defecting to PDP, some of whom happened to be the main opposition to the ruling party.
The APC have also been reduced significantly in the House of Representatives, where 32 of its members switched to the side of the PDP. In similar vein, the ruling party (APC) also lost four of its members to the African Democratic Congress (ADC), while one other resigned without stating which party he will join.
President Muhammadu Buhari and the APC attempted to downplay the gale of defections, wishing the defected legislators well in their future endeavours.Efforts to impede the defections had collapsed on Monday night as the angry members of the APC massed in the reformed All Progressives Congress (rAPC) had refused all entreaties to persuade them to stay back.
The first sign of hostility was the invitation to Senate President Bukola Saraki by the police, asking him to report at one of its stations in Guzape, Abuja for interrogation of the April 2018 Offa bank robberies. Saraki had responded that the invitation was a political game to prevent the impending defections from the APC. Tuesday morning, he was proved right as the police blocked his convoy from leaving his Maitama, Abuja residence around the same time security operatives laid siege to Deputy Senate President, Ike Ekweremadu’s house in Apo, Abuja.
The security efforts were futile as Saraki made it to the Senate to preside over the day’s proceedings that witnessed the reconfiguration of the power blocs in the upper legislative chamber.
The APC senators, who defected as contained in a joint letter written to that effect and read at plenary by the Senate president, were Dino Melaye (Kogi West), Barnabas Gemade (Benue North East), Abdullahi Danbaba (Sokoto South), Mohammed Shaaba Lafiagi (Kwara North), Rafiu Ibrahim (Kwara South) and Suleiman Hunkuyi (Kaduna North).
Others were Hamman Isa Misau (Bauchi Central), Monsurat Sunmonu (Oyo Central), Usman Bayero Nafada (Gombe North), Rabiu Musa Kwankwaso (Kano Central), Suleiman Nazif (Bauchi North), Lanre Tejuoso (Ogun Central) and Abdulaziz Nyako (Adamawa Central).
While these seemed to be a difficult moment for the ruling party, The National Chairman of the ruling APC, Mr. Adams Oshiomhole, was less conciliatory as he dismissed the defectors as big masquerades without electoral values.
In further engagement with him, when asked what the implication of the defection could be on the ruling party which has become the minority in the National Assembly, Oshiomhole replied, “If there are implications it is for the Nigerian nation not for APC.”
When asked if the Senate adjourning till September does not have implication of the party, the APC National chairman said, “No, No, No”. The business of the Senate or the National Assembly is not to legislate for the good governance of APC. It is to legislate for the good governance of Nigeria.
“If people have chosen that it is more politically convenient to suspend the process of legislation ahead of time because it is not convenient for their political interests and choose to insubordinate the Nigerian national interest for that purpose, it is their choice”. He added.
Sequel to the mass defection, of National Assembly members from the ruling All Progressives Congress, APC, to the Peoples Democratic Party, PDP, Akwa Ibom State Governor, Mr Udom Emmanuel, has described the development as beneficial to the nation’s polity. Governor Emmanuel made the remarks while fielding questions from Government House Correspondents, shortly on arrival from National engagements, at the Hilltop Mansion, Government House, Uyo.
More so, a former senator of Ogun State, Sen. Gbenga Kaka who represented Ogun East at the senate from 2011-2015 commented on the recent defection saying it would not augur well for the “stability” of the nation’s politics. He also expressed worry that the action of the lawmakers could erode the power of political parties to achieve supremacy over members or enforce discipline on them. He, however, admitted that what the defectors had done was covered by the law of the land, especially if there is an alleged division within one’s political party.
However, it is saddening that our political parties in Nigeria has little or no ideology that can revamp the nation’s image. The occurrences going on at the house of assembly in Abuja is an arranged and already mastered script that is just being acted.
Our lawmakers defection stemmed out of safety and defense of their personal interest because it seemed threatened and not the interest of the populace. If this game continues, its result on the nation’s polity would be catastrophic. This is because being disunited would impair the balance of the house. Hence, making scalable decisions that would leapfrog the nation’s looming economy and its image in the outer world would be almost impossible. It is high time Nigerians arise and wake up to realities of voting for a personalities rather than being caught up in the web of one particular political party.
The NASS Open Week is a platform which attempts to widen the public understanding of legislative gatherings and procedures as well as interface with legislators and legislative aides; the event seeks to highlight the good work being done by The National Assembly to Advance Legislative Openness. Also, the event aspires to create an Avenue for interaction between legislators and key stakeholders (legislative monitoring civil society organizations, media, traditional rulers and socio-cultural groups from the six geo-political zones) to bridge the gap and address the perennial negative public perception of legislators; In addition, NASS Open Week hopes to improve public confidence in democratic institutions, particularly the legislature.
Senator Ahmad Lawan, the Senate Leader and Chairman, Open Week Planning Committee of the National Assembly, iterated during the NASS Open Week held between 16th - 19th July 2018, the aim of the Open Week is to improve public confidence in democratic institutions, particularly the legislature and to broaden public understanding of legislative functions and processes of the National Assembly.
Sen. Lawan believes public engagement has become a key role for parliaments. According to him, three key principles of public engagement of the Nigerian National Assembly are to inform, to involve the public in its work, and to empower the public to help shape and set the agenda. “Transparency strengthens democracy, promotes efficiency and effectiveness in governance. Despite these efforts, a lot more can be done by the National Assembly to improve public confidence in the institution of the legislature and encourage public engagement because very few citizens understand the nature of the work of the National Assembly and the breadth of its activities.” He added.
Public perception has largely been shaped by what the media covers, particularly relating to plenary. The Open Week therefore open up the National Assembly to the public and the inner workings of the legislature. More importantly, there are no fora that bring the general public close to legislators, this week long event is meant to bridge that gap. The week serve as a platform to showcase the work of NASS to a broader audience, raise awareness of NASS initiatives, and generate momentum towards legislative openness.
Similarly, the Director General, National Institute for Legislative and Democratic Studies (NILDS), Prof, Ladi Hamalai while making his remarks, said the NASS Open Week helps facilitate good interaction between legislators and key stakeholders in a series of events including interactive sessions, exhibitions, tours as well as questions and answer sessions over the 4-day period to raise awareness on NASS initiatives and activities.
Some of the activities held during the week included several interactive sessions for different days as follows: Interactive session with the Executive arm of Government on The Economic Recovery and Growth Plan (ERGP); interaction with the Judiciary on pre-and post-elections adjudication and constitutional Separation of powers; interaction with State Assemblies on constitutional separation of powers; interaction with trade unions on economic growth and industrial relations; interaction with traditional rulers and pressure groups and interaction with civil society organisations on accountability and service delivery in governance. And interaction with women groups, youth groups and student bodies among others.
The participants included Committees of the National Assembly, MDAs, the Judiciary and State Assemblies and CSOs and NGOs. Others are Members of the private sector, media groups and organizations, researchers/academia, traditional representatives, religious leaders, development partners, trade unions and pressure groups. Others are socio-cultural organizations, pressure groups, students and students groups, Nigerians in the Diaspora and lobby groups.
In Nigeria, there is a major disconnect between the elected representatives and the general voting population outside of the electoral process. This is seriously hampering the strength of our democracy because officials make decisions and vote on issues with limited information from their constituents, and with little oversight from these same constituents. Legislators should vote in line with their constituencies’ priorities, and should also be held accountable by these same constituents based on their voting record, particularly as it pertains to the National Assembly’s role regarding:
• Appropriations – they pass the country’s annual budget. • Lawmaking – they make laws that promote peace, order and good government. • Oversight – ensure the executive arm of government is delivering on the projects monies had been appropriated for.
Most Nigerian Citizens lack the basic understanding of the Nigeria Parliament and how it works. In a statement made by the Senate President, Dr. Bukola Abubakar Saraki, which reads “We hope that through this process, more Nigerians will be able to understand our role and responsibilities — the work that we do; the bills that we pass; the process that it takes; and the procedures that are required in the legislative system.”
It is high time citizens leveraged on this Open NASS week platform not only to know about the inner workings of the National Assembly but to also relate the societal burdens, and remind them of the Open NASS demands that are yet to be cleared. It is also imperative for both arms of government to better understand one another through compromise, consultation and engagement.
History plays a role and shapes our future. Today, I share with you critical issues, facts and matters arising as the people of Ekiti State prepare to exercise their franchise in electing its 9th Governor & 4th Democratic Governor on Saturday, July 14, 2018.
According to Executive Director, YIAGA, Samson Itodo; “Let us not remain statistics, let us not remain figures, let us use our thumbs to vote and that is what democracy is all about.”
Ekiti State with a population of 3.27 million (Nigeria Bureau of Statistics, 2016) is one of the six states in the South-West Geopolitical Zone of Nigeria and was created on October 1, 1996 out of the old Ondo State. It consists of eighteen (16) local government areas with Ado-Ekiti as its capital.
As the two front runners for Ekiti Guber poll – the ruling People’s Democratic Party (PDP) and All Progressives Congress (APC) – in rounding off their campaigns, pundits would have began an uneasy permutation about the possible outcome of Saturday’s contest with no one ready to place a bet on any of the two leading candidates: Prof. Kolapo Olusola (PDP) and Dr. Kayode Fayemi (APC).
The outgoing governor, Ayodele Fayose of the ruling People’s Democracy Party was elected in 2014 with 203,090 votes against the APC and LP with 120,433 and 18, 315 votes respectively.
In deciding who succeeds Mr. Fayose as the Governor of Ekiti State come Saturday, July 14th, the citizens have to make a choice between the 34 INEC Approved Candidates that would participate in the July 14th governorship election in the State.
With 919,513 Registered Voters that are expected to vote in the 2,195 Polling Units across the State with Smart Card Readers deployed by INEC for the election. There are over 220, 662 Unclaimed Permanent Voter’s card as at June 14, 2018 despite the CVR exercise by the electoral umpire in Ekiti State.
With the economic recession currently pervading the country, Domestic Debt Profile of Ekiti State as at December 31, 2017 stood at N117.5 billion with External Debt profile of $78 million as at December 31, 2017. The State is currently running with the Budget of N98.6 billion for the year 2018.
Governor Ayodele Fayose alleged that the All Progressive Congress (APC) already brought in security operatives who are mercenaries to rig the election. He also made public a video of alleged preloading of card readers in Ekiti by APC. INEC has however debunked the claim as all card readers are in their possession.
Armed policemen on Wednesday, July 11th sealed off Ekiti Government House and prevented supporters of Governor Ayodele Fayose from entering. A rally scheduled to take place at the new pavilion located at Fajuyi, which was within the vicinity of the Government House, was reportedly botched as policemen allegedly teargassed the participants including Governor Fayose.
Some of the critical issues that engulfs Ekiti State, the Land of Honour and Integrity of Nigeria ranges from Unpaid workers’ salaries between five to eight months, Unpaid pensions of six to nine months, Debt to revenue ratio of 475.7% with 14.5% unemployment rate and perennial history of election violence.
Coalition of Civil Society Organizations, under the auspices of Joint Civil Society Committee, on Wednesday, 4th July, 2018 stormed the streets of Abuja alleging that Nigeria has turned to a slaughter field under the administration of President Muhammadu Buhari.
This, they said can be gleaned from killings of over 5,000 people from different parts of the country in six months by herdsmen, bandits and cattle rustlers, without any practical steps taking by the government to end the bloodshed, but have been busy making policies that protect cows and their herders.
The group that assembled at the Unity Fountain and marched through Shehu Shagari express way to the Presidential Villa gate, accused President Muhammadu Buhari of non-challant attitude towards the killings that has made Benue, Taraba, Plateau and Zamfara states “killing fields”.
Prof. Chidi Odinkalu, former Chairman National Human Rights Commission, who protested with the group, said that the country is in danger, because the killer’s have returned to the Federal Capital Territory, with the seven police officers who were murdered at their duty post.
Odinkalu reiterated further that if Nigerian government has value for human lives, the National flag should have been lowered to show respect for the murdered police officers.
The groups, in a joint statement read by Yemi Adamolekun, Executive Director, EIE Nigeria, while accusing Buhari of failing to fulfil the mandate of the oath he took on May 29, 2015, which among other things include to ensure safety and protection of all Nigerians, also demanded that he should take responsibility of all the killings and stop it immediately.
CAN has also described the statement attributed to Presidency that it was better for citizens to give land for cattle colonies than be killed in the recurrent herders/farmers clashes as reprehensible. It called on all well-meaning Nigeria to rise up and speak against such a position, saying “Those who use violence to take away what belongs to others are unfit to be called humans.”.
The Christian Association of Nigeria, CAN, has announced to join a nationwide protest tagged “Enough is Enough” slated for July 11th, to protest the unending killings across the country. It called on all peace-loving Nigerians with value and sanctity for human life to join the protest.
CAN has however postponed the planned protest till further notice due to some circumstances beyond its control.
Despite the cancellation of CAN’s protest, you can join other active citizens on Wednesday, July 1th as we march to the Villa again to hold our public office holders accountable!
Today’s survivors are tomorrow’s victims.
President Muhammadu Buhari despite having presented the 2018 Budget of Consolidation on the 7th of November 2017 to a joint session of the National Assembly; It took not less than seven months for the nation’s budget to be finally assented to by Mr. President. The expenditure plan as passed by the lawmakers, was sent to the Presidency on May 25, 2018 after the N8.26 trillion estimate sent in by Buhari was jacked up to N9.12 trillion, representing an increment of N508billion.
Amid expression of grief and outright displeasure, President Muhammadu Buhari on Wednesday, 20 June, 2018 in Abuja signed the 2018 Appropriation Bill into law. “I am concerned about some of the changes that the National Assembly has made to the budget proposals that I presented,” he told the nation in a speech that evidenced bottled up anger, he added: “Notwithstanding the above stated observations, I have decided to sign the 2018 budget in order not to further slowdown the pace of recovery of our economy, which has doubtlessly been affected by the delay in passing the budget.”
The reaction of the National Assembly to the veiled presidential indictment was swift and concise that same Wednesday with the Senate Deputy Majority Leader, Bala Ibn Na’Allah, who was at the signing ceremony, saying the legislature did its job in the national interest, explaining that not being a rubber stamp of the executive, its estimates could not have returned to it without adjustments.
According to a similar post made by an online TV, not only did it take the lawmakers longer than expected to pass the budget, the final outcome was not what was expected said President Buhari.
“When I submitted the 2018 Budget proposals to the National Assembly on 7th November 2017, I had hoped that the usual legislative review process would be quick, so as to move Nigeria towards a predictable January-December financial year,” he said. Regardless of the setback, the President is determined to continue working with the National Assembly to improve the budgeting process and restoring Nigeria to the January-December fiscal cycle. This, he explained, is because although the Federal Government’s budget represents less than 10 per cent of aggregate yearly expenditures in the economy, it has a very significant accelerator effect on the financial plans of other tiers of government, and even more importantly, the private sector, which mostly operates on a January-December financial year.
The president had presented N8.6 trillion estimates with $45 per barrel of oil bench mark price to the National Assembly in November last year, but the federal legislators increased the figures to N9.1 trillion having revised the oil price benchmark upwards to $51. The president had hinted his objection to the upward review, preferring that the upward swing in oil price and its attendant extra cash to the national treasury ought to be used to reduce the budget deficit rather than increase expenditure since the shortfall was going to be financed by borrowing any way. This conceptual disagreement had tactically delayed presidential assent to the appropriation bill. But fearing that the impasse could slow down the already sluggish economic recovery, the president’s economic advisers urged him to sign the money bill with a caution.
However, some Nigerians have reacted saying that President Muhammadu Buhari should not have signed the 2018 budget, which he did amid claims that the National Assembly “tampered” with the document.
Buhari had lamented that the 2018 Appropriation Act, which he signed into law on Wednesday, would be difficult — if not impossible — to implement because of the alterations members of the National Assembly had effected on the document he submitted to them on November 7, 2017.
He also accused them of injecting 6,403 projects of their own totaling N578bn into the national budget, while making cuts amounting to N347bn in the allocations to 4,700 projects as submitted to them. Projects from which cuts were made include the Mambilla Power Plant, Second Niger Bridge/ancillary roads, the East-West Road, Bonny-Bodo Road, Lagos-Ibadan Expressway and Itakpe-Ajaokuta Rail Project, totalling an aggregate of N11.5bn. They accused the ministries and federal agencies of frustrating the passage by failing to submit the breakdowns of their budget proposals, forcing a presidential order to that effect.
Nigerians have since taken to Twitter to express their views, as they confronted their elected officials via Buhari’s verified Twitter handle —@MBuhari. Below are few of the documented tweets:
“I’m disappointing in you sir, people voted you to bring divine change not acting weak with hardened criminals. — Lefty against rogues. ”. --(@kakra68) June 20, 2018
“Since the budget has been signed, what is the moaning about then? Scared of failure? Your claims can’t hold water because if you are sure that the budget was tempered with unreasonably then you should have not signed up. Deliver what is the budget and stop playing future excuses”. -- (@YoungerClue) June 20, 2018
Irrespective of the political imbroglio from both the execute and legislature that marred the passage of the 2018 budget, Nigerians are more concerned and believed that since the budget has now been passed and assented to, very soon they would begin to experience development in service delivery across the country.
The dramatic and heart-rending incidence that brought about the popularity of the date, ‘June 12’ in Nigeria can never be eroded in the nation’s chronicle if Nigeria still exists as a nation. Nigerians gathered at the polls on June 12, 1993 to wipe out dictatorship and usher in progressive leadership. The election was widely believed to be the freest, fairest and most credible presidential election till date. It was widely presumed that Chief Moshood Kashimawo Olawale (MKO) Abiola of the Social Democratic Party (SDP) was the winner ahead of Bashir Tofa of the National Republican Convention (NRC).
However, the election was annulled by Gen. Ibrahim Babangida led military regime. MKO Abiola was later imprisoned by the then Head of State and hard-hearted military dictator, Gen. Sanni Abacha till he died in a questionable manner on July 7, 1998. What made 1993 elections significant was the fact that every tribe massively voted Abiola. He even had more votes than Bashir Tofa, in Kano State where his opposition hailed from. Besides this, Abiola-Kingibe ticket was a Muslim-Muslim one, and Nigerians were unbothered, they voted massively for persons of the same religion to become President and Vice-President. This probably may never happen again in Nigeria because religious sentiments have beclouded prominence that any party hoping to win a presidential election must balance the Muslim-Christian religion semantics.
On the evening of Wednesday, 8th June 2018, the declaration of June 12 as the nation’s democracy day became the talk of town. President Muhammadu Buhari, declared the change of date of Nigeria's democracy day from May 29th to June 12th, just few days after the celebrations of the initial democracy day in Nigeria for the year 2018. He also posthumously confer Nigeria’s highest honor, Grand Commander of the Order of the Federal Republic, (GCFR), to late Chief Abiola. His running mate, Ambassador Babagana Kingibe and the well-regarded human rights activist, late Chief Gani Fawehinmi were both conferred GCON (Grand Commander of the Order of the Niger), the second highest honor in Nigeria. It is not really surprising that this shocking executive order has gathered kudos, knocks and questions from both the apolitical and the political class. Many believe that the President has taken the step to curry the favour of the south-western parts of Nigeria as we approach the 2019 general elections.
Indeed, it was a surprising turn of events, not because the date June 12, does not deserve to be Nigeria's democracy day, but because President Muhammadu Buhari was the man least expected to venerate the importance of June 12 and the happenings attached to it. Buhari, who once served as PTF Chairman under the Abacha regime that jailed Abiola had never clamored for the restoration of the June 12 mandate. Abiola wasn’t even acknowledged in the democracy day speech he delivered on May 29. Therefore, Buhari’s sudden move to honor June 12 makes many to question the sincerity of this declaration.
Nonetheless, Mr President’s decision to honor Abiola, Kingibe and Fawehinmi and other actors of the 1993 imbroglio is indeed a commendable show of extraordinary statesmanship. Preceding democratic governments neither honored Abiola nor esteem the significance of June 12 to Nigeria’s democracy. President Jonathan unsuccessfully attempted naming the revered University of Lagos (UNILAG) after MKO.
Abraham Lincoln defined democracy as the government of the people, by the people and for the people. And indeed that was what should have happened in the 1993 general elections. If not for the annulment, maybe our democratic government would have had a better foundation. May 29, 1999 marks the transition of power from military to the currently practiced democratic government. These two dates seemed significant such that choosing a day as democracy day could be quite confusing. Although it seems a lot of South-Western politicians were happy with the announcement of ‘June 12’ as Nigeria's new democracy day, but the question that should linger in our hearts is how positively such commemoration can affect the entirety of Nigeria as a country.
The declaration of June 12 as democracy day is a double edged sword. It is a subtle attempt to right the wrongs of the government and subjectively humiliates former President Olusegun Obasanjo and General Ibrahim Babangida (as perceived by several commentators), the vandals of June 12 and foremost critics of the Buhari administration. Obasanjo’s consistent open letters and criticism of the current administration also makes the reviving of June 12 a political masterstroke for President Buhari. It is an open secret that Obasanjo’s emergence as President in 1999 was to compensate the Southwest region on the annulment of Abiola’s mandate. Nigerians were thus dismayed that Obasanjo completely distanced himself from June 12, despite being the greatest beneficiary. Obasanjo disregard the pleas of Yoruba leaders that June 12 and the Abiola family be celebrated. He refused to honor Abiola throughout his eight years as President.
Suddenly, the Buhari presidency been discredited by Obasanjo scored a hat-trick by honoring Abiola has the man who championed Nigeria’s democracy. Babangida’s overthrow of Buhari’s military government in 1985 and the plot against his 2019 reelection bid would naturally make anything that would humiliate Babangida appealing to Buhari. Politics is a game of calculated gains. Honoring MKO Abiola to shame his two prime antagonists – Babangida and Obasanjo – was a strategic political decision Buhari gladly took.
Immortalizing the dead – no matter how adored – is insubstantial to revive a political goodwill that is drowning due to poor performance. Buhari’s immortalization of ‘June 12’ may not yield the expected electoral gain in 2019. Buhari can only garner votes if his government act right to address the yearnings of the people. Nigerians crave for a government that would (also) for political gains fix the bad roads; provide affordable healthcare; obey court orders; reduce petrol price; eradicate poverty; provide electricity; clean-up Ogoniland; stop kidnappings; provide employment; rejig the lopsided appointment of service chiefs; fulfill the restructuring campaign promise and; stop the killings by bandits, herdsmen and terrorists.
Nigerians are of critical minds and their electoral mandate in 2019 and beyond would be given to anyone with the moral and intellectual competence to lessen the sufferings of the citizens.
It is no longer news that the longly awaited ‘#NotTooYoungtoRun’ bill has been finally signed into law by President Muhammadu Buhari. The bill was initially championed by a PDP member, Hon. Tony Nwulu, representing Oshodi Isolo, Lagos at the Federal House of Representatives. Hon Tony Nwulu presented the bill before the National Assembly in 2016. Ever since then, the buzz around the campaign was strongly felt across major social and new media channels.
The hashtag, ‘#NotTooYoungToRun’ trended in the last couple of days on social media after the Presidential Assent. The new law adjusts the Nigerian constitution through reduction in age qualifications for certain elective offices as promulgated by the constitution. It is noteworthy to commend Mr. President’s courage for assenting to the bill. This will not only encourage the youths to be fully involved in the electoral process but also give the electorate more choices as to who to be voted for.
However, beyond the ‘#NotTooYoungtoRun’ rhetorics, youth generally need to be informed that there is more to be done if truly they want to make the signed bill an achievable feat. More than trending the hashtag, pragmatic roles need to be played actively by them. Beginning from joining a political party and attending their ward meetings, getting involved in the party primary elections as delegates, to collection of their respective Permanent Voter’s Card (PVC) and participation in other electoral processes. Piloting the affairs of country like Nigeria is not fun fare. Besides the age factor, it takes consistent effort, good financial back-up, intelligent planning, strong track record among other noteworthy attributes as young people.
Political aspirants or candidates do not win elective positions because they are young or old. Youth should not believe they can automatically handle the affairs of the country simply because they are young. Instead, they should begin to take initiatives especially at grassroots level using the diverse resources at their disposal to change their community for better. This would surely build their credibility and make them have a foretaste of what to expect when operating at higher levels of government.
Getting youths elected in political positions is not an issue, the main point is to get responsive and responsible youths who would contribute meaningfully to the development of our dear nation, Nigeria and not those who want to consume out of the national cake or aspirants with any other wrong motives.
In addition, there is a serious need for the reorientation of citizens’ mindset so as to bring in more quality representation to the electoral and governance process. Citizens need to regard their choices of who lead them as revered, to be given to the best possible candidate wholesomely screened rather than deciding impulsively by sentiments or provision of immediate and short time gratifications as termed stomach infrastructure by the masses.
On the 29th May, 2015, President Muhammadu Buhari was sworn in to office as the President of the Federal Republic of Nigeria and recently marked his 3rd year as the democratically elected president. Using the “Change” mantra, President Buhari won the hearts of Nigerians with many campaign promises ranging from crushing Boko-Haram, fighting corruption in public offices, massive job creation and general economic improvement. As being said in Nigerian parlance, many waters have passed under the bridge in these last three years.
As usual, analysts and political watchers are bound to do critical examination of his policies with a view to evaluating their successes and foibles; achievements and let-downs using the parameters set by the President himself three years ago while receiving the baton of power. It is customary for teachers to set examinations for their students after which they mark same based on a set marking scheme which form the basis for the grading or assessment of their wards.
In this case, the President set three tasks before himself; revamping the nation’s economy, addressing the challenge of insecurity in the land and fighting corruption which had become a culture in the land. It is from these perspectives that the Buhari’s administration would be examined and evaluated. Evidently a lot has been done in the onerous task of repositioning the nation’s economy especially considering the manner in which it exited recession. Progress is being made in diversification of the economy. Agricultural and solid minerals sectors, hitherto been neglected, have been rejuvenated.
The bug of grow-what-you-eat campaign championed by the President has caught up with discerning populace and today, the country is self-sustaining in the production of some staple food items, especially rice. Several billions of dollars annually used in the importation of rice is being conserved and used for the benefit of the country.
With over N300 billion investment in the Rice Value Chain through the Anchor Borrowers Program of the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN), rice production in the has increased from 2.5 metric tonnes to about 4 metric tonnes making Thailand lose billions of dollars as revenues from Nigeria which used to her mega importer of rice.
The gloom, which followed the economic recess occasioned by the sharp drop in earnings from sale of crude at the international market, caused some heartache in the country. With frugal management of resources, the government was able to reflate the economy by increasing government spending on infrastructure. The sum of N1.219 trillion was released for capital expenditures in 2016. In 2017, the capital budget release was N1.476 trillion.
However, the Buhari administration must take more than a passing look at the rate at which inflation has made nonsense of the income of an average Nigerian and consider the proposal for increment in workers’ salaries as a palliative.
About the security of lives and properties, it is important to highlight that although the Buhari administration has recorded a significant landmark in the fight against the dreadful Boko Haram insurgency that terrorized the north-eastern part of Nigeria, the general state of security in the country has not changed considerably in average terms. Nigerian citizens across the country are not safer today than they were during the Jonathan administration. Both the land and coastal borders are still poorly guarded, allowing high influx of arms. Armed robberies, killings and kidnappings still happen in broad day light with the Abuja-Kaduna axis being notoriously known for these. The Shiite crisis in Nigeria is still a fresh wound that has not healed since the aftermath of the Zaria massacre carried out by the Nigerian Army. The herdsmen-farmers clashes over land has intensified especially in Benue, Taraba and Kaduna states leaving hundreds of persons dead. With all these happenings, there is yet to be a thorough analysis of the issues to minimize the security challenges facing the nation. Nevertheless, the Buhari’s administration has listed security as part of its achievements the return of more than a million displaced persons to their homes in the north east since 2015.
Buhari administration has the reputation of being the first with the political will to confront the menace of corruption in the country. Though other administration preceding him fought the menace haphazardly, Buhari left nobody in doubt of his determination to extirpate corruption in the country. While some of those suspected to have soiled their hands in the last administration under the opposition Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) are being hunted by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC), critics have continued to point out that major players in the regime of the locusts are being exempted because they found wisdom to join the ruling party. Looters have been made to return stolen loots with some having their properties confiscated.
In fact, a new evidentiary proof of Buhari’s insouciance and patronage for corruption is perceptible in the way corrupt government officials in his administration enjoy matchless impunity. The former secretary to the government of the federation, Babachir David Lawal, is a case in point. Lawal was so corrupt that he was said to have made 270 million naira from a “grass-cutting” contract for internally displaced Boko Haram victims. Lawal has not yet been prosecuted or jailed; he was simply allowed to go and sin no more. In spite of claims by the Nigerian minister of labor and productivity, Chris Ngige that the Buhari administration has created up to seven million jobs as at November 2017 the soaring unemployment figures were contrary to that claim. In line with data from Trading Economics, the unemployment figures in Nigeria have increased continuously from January 2015 to the present; and they are projected to go up even higher in 2018.
In the wake of a piercing insecurity and an unrestrained corruption in Nigeria under the Buhari administration, it is hardly possible for any of the job creating sectors such as agriculture, mining, manufacturing, education, health, defense, utilities, etc., to flourish. Nigeria will progress when true democracy exists!
It was more of rhetorical questions on April 18, 2018 as many Nigerians queried the sufficiency and competence of security arrangements in the National Assembly, which made it easy for thugs to enter the hallowed chambers of the Senate and snatch away its symbol of authority, the Mace.
A surprise presence in the Senate on that fateful day also, was Senator Ovie Omo Agege. His presence was an element of surprise, because, earlier on, he had been controversially suspended by the Senate. Needless to say, popular accounts, particularly, accounts from Senate sources, now insist that the invaders were brought in by Senator Omo Agege. Senator Omo Agege has of course denied the allegation.
Nigerians will be concerned that they get to the bottom of this matter. However, while it is proper to condemn the invasion, we must be left wondering why a similar serial abuse of people’s elementary rights, even in the Senate, manages to pass unnoticed.
Senator Omo Agege had been controversially suspended for ninety legislative days, for among things, taking the Senate to court over a disciplinary matter. As the invasion of the Senate is an observable physical event, it was easy for it to create spectacle and produce shock amongst a broad spectrum of Nigerians. He was expected to resume plenary and other legislative duties on Tuesday after a federal high court last week quashed his suspension from the Senate.
The victims of the prevailing highhandedness are also Nigerians; they have people who will ask questions and who must demand answers. It is important that we establish a regime of fairness, whether it is at the executive level or in the legislature or wherever else. The violence on the floor of the Senate is primitive and dishonors us all. But the rising convention of high-handedness in the leadership of the Senate also mocks our claims to democracy and good order.
President Muhammadu Buhari on Tuesday, May 8th, 2018 took another four-day trip to the United Kingdom to see his doctor. The presidential spokesman, Malan Garba Shehu, stated that the doctor requested the president to return for a meeting which he (Buhari) agreed to do.
It is important to stress that Nigeria needs someone who would be at alert 24 hours not someone that would be sleeping while the country is on fire. President Buhari is not doing what he is preaching, he told Nigerians that he won’t be travelling abroad for medical treatment but that is exactly what he is doing now.
More worrisome is that Prof. Isaac Adewole, Nigeria’s health minister who for more than 24 months can hardly lay claim to any significant impact on the country’s health sector. As a matter of fact, on more than one occasion last year, various medical unions, including the Nigerian Medical Association, which he belongs to, raised questions about his effectiveness in office.
An umbrella body of health workers, the Joint Health Sector Unions (JOHESU) has embarked on an indefinite strike which has paralyzed activities in all health institutions across the country. All federal government health institutions in Nigeria including federal medical centres, specialists’ hospitals, orthopedic hospitals, psychiatric hospitals among others have been forced to shut down due to the latest industrial action while President Buhari is in London attending to his own health condition.
On the website of the Federal Ministry of Health where Prof. Adewole is honcho, there is a list of 44 tertiary health facilities comprising 20 teaching hospitals and 24 federal medical centres, a number of which should have been able to handle the condition of President Buhari upon which the health minister sits on a team of experts in a private hospital! But these medical institutions have remained that only in name. Two years ago, it was widely reported that budgetary allocations to all these facilities were dwarfed by the provision made for a sole facility known as the Aso Rock Clinic, so they have remained mere skeletons of the ideal.
What has happened to the implementation of the National Health Bill, 2014 for example? How much has been achieved with the penetration of the National Health Insurance Scheme and the expansion of the programme to include ordinary Nigerians, what are the plans of this government to improve Nigerians’ access to health information as an important ingredient for preventive care?
Another important issue is the welfare and conditions of service for medical personnel in the country. Just recently, Chairman of the Lagos State Chapter of the Nigerian Medical Association, Dr Olumuyiwa Odusote, raised the alarm about the exodus of doctors from Nigeria.
According to him, while more than 40,000 of the 75,000 registered Nigerian doctors, practise abroad, 70 per cent of those in-country are actively seeking more profitable outlets.
Odusote put out such alarming figures that have not been contradicted by any other authority to the effect that 100 doctors resigned from the services of the University College Hospital, Ibadan, in 2017 while about 800 doctors left their jobs in Lagos State hospitals in the last two years! The implication for this, he explained, is that the average new patient in Nigeria needs to wait for two weeks to see a doctor. That is a period within which a lot of cases would be beyond redemption.
Now, the emigration of these doctors and medical personnel is not just due to insufficient wages but also about the parlous and tedious conditions of work. While the rest of the world, including countries like India and South Africa, parade first class medical equipment that aid diagnostics and treatment, Nigeria relishes in obsolesce. One dangerous effect of this is that negligence and errors, which largely go unpunished, have become a regular occurrence in the health sector.
It is hoped that the Buhari's led federal government with a year before the expiration of this current tenure will be able to do the needful to use the surgical knife in rescuing the nation’s decaying healthcare system.
The talk of Nigeria’s success or genuine federalism can no longer hold waters giving the state of internal insurgencies, divisiveness, ethnic and religious schism witnessed in several parts of Nigeria. Efforts at wishing away the problem associated with Nigerian federation have only resulted into several tribal, ethnic and religious movements that have even metamorphosed into terrorist syndicates.
It’s a sad reality that Nigeria today has become a country galvanized with bloodshed, hate speeches, incompetence and poor dynamics of governance at the centre reflecting in every beam and spectrum in our daily discussions. The media has not stopped feeding us with these details because where we ought to be is still a dream to the generation at hand and it seems our hope is still a mirage.
As the lingering challenge continue to unfold, we are called to reflect on why Nigeria was amalgamated in the year 1914 and the set goals that made Nigeria a giant of Africa at present in the world today.
Painstakingly, the northern, southern, western and eastern regions worked together to build the country. Nevertheless, as the country continues to strive forward, the government needs to do more by creating a structural framework, that is, understanding the times and giving attention to the need of it citizenry, and by identifying innovation and skills in various part of the country that can enhance wealth creation and employment for the rising population.
Allowing hate speeches and incompetence, nepotism will never yield positively rather, promoting fairness, justice and peaceful coexistence among the rising population should be the watchword of all and sundry.
One can, therefore, no longer fold his arms but engage some of the issues that have confronted us as a nation and threatened the Nigerian federation. That Nigeria could survive despite predictions to the contrary by the World Powers not only portrays a ray of hope but also demonstrate that Nigerian Federation has come to stay.
Nigeria is far behind many Nations and everything possible should be done to take Nigeria to where it rightly belongs among the comity of Nations given her huge and rich minerals and agricultural resources, and population.
It is therefore incumbent on the federal government to fashion out our own type of federalism that is best suited to the people and to local circumstances. There should be genuine efforts to build the nation. Therefore ethnic, religious and sectional agenda should take back place. The essence of federalism is to foster unity and development. This has however, not been achieved.
Consequently, the recruitment processes of our elective office holders are being re-visited in the Electoral Amendment Bill to ensure that the system can recruit the best at all strata of leadership, more importantly and worthy of note is the Not-Too-Young-To-Run Bill. We need leaders who are visionary, selfless, prudent, intelligent, indefatigable and having integrity and honour to serve.
There is the need for massive awareness to change the mindsets of the rulers and the ruled. I challenge our tertiary institutions to break the disconnect between them and the political institutions and industries not only to fashion out the appropriate curriculum to drive this new orientation to confront our political and economic malaise but also to lead cutting edge research in providing correct local solutions to our diverse of problems.
The power sharing between the Federal Government and the states needs to be revisited and the issues of the autonomy of local governments in Nigeria which state Houses of Assembly keep voting against is saddening. Also, the issue of resource control must be properly addressed. The communities where those resources are found should be adequately compensated. The call for resource control may by implication have a semblance of territorial devolution.
For Nigeria to move forward, unity most be our watchword. Our votes in 2019 should be the option for our collective progress. Let’s say no to passing of bucks and blame games. We should rather fix our country collectively.
Let’s make proper use of our votes by not selling it, we need to continuously advocate to all young people to register in the ongoing voter’s registration exercise by INEC. Our quest for perfect democracy is not dependent on any cyclic cabals or leaders but on our responsibility as an active citizen. Let’s salvage ourselves and regain freedom from sections of fallacy and failed promises of the past.
Making Nigeria great is our collective responsibilities, that is, it should not be limited to social class or political class. It should be demanded using the appropriate measures by all Nigerians. This gap that amount to the lingering challenges can be fix if we understand the need for a clarion call of one voice.
In the last few days, no issue has been more debated than the recent declaration by President Muhammadu Buhari that he would seek re-election in 2019 during the All Progressives Congress National Executive Council meeting in Abuja before departing the country for London.
President Buhari’s re-election bid is only normal and it is his legitimate right. Nothing stops the President from seeking a re-election within our Constitution. The only snag is that many politicians are going to gang up against him because they see him as an outsider in politics who has benefitted from their massive support but in return has been messing things up for them.
While several members of the APC and the President's close allies have welcomed the news, former President Obasanjo, Prof. Wole Soyinka, Chief Dele Momodu and a host of other notable Nigerians would not want him as President in 2019.
Obasanjo has warned President Muhammadu Buhari against taking part in the 2019 presidential election saying that ‘the situation that made Nigerians to vote massively to get his brother Jonathan off the horse is playing itself out again.’ And that at this point President Buhari should consider a deserved rest.
Reacting to the development, Chief Dele Momodu, publisher of Ovation for instance, recently wrote a public letter to Buhari urging him to take the ‘Mandela option’ so he can rest and look after his health. In a similar vein, Professor Wole Soyinka, who was courted aggressively and won over by the Buhari government, a few days ago took an unusual swipe at the President after his New Year’s message in which he sought to blame marketers and everyone else but his government for the re-appearance of queues in petrol stations during the Christmas period.
Just as there are forces that will work in Buhari’s favour, several will contend with him. These include the people who believed he performed below expectation and those who worked hard for him during the 2015 general election campaign but felt that Buhari dealt harshly with them after ‘using them’. There are also Many of such people may find his re-election bid an opportunity to even the score.
Will President Buhari win or lose if he contests in 2019? The answer is in the hands of the electorates.
The beginning of good governance which is the responsibility of all arms and all the tiers of government is openness, engagement and transparency. It does not matter what else we try to do as long as one arm of government shrouds its activities, administration and management in opaqueness and practices rife with corruption. Only very little, if anything at all, can be achieved in putting Nigeria on the path of sustainable and enduring democratic system, development and progress if Nigerian politicians continue with this trend.
It is no more news that, the member of the House of Representatives representing Bali/Gassol federal constituency from Taraba State in the lower legislative chamber, Garba Hamman was pelted with stones last week by his constituents for allegedly abandoning them for two years only to show up to present a car and motorcycles to a few people.
In a similar vein and still on this trajectory of angry attack from constituents in the last few days, Joshua Lidani, the Senator representing Gombe South was held hostage by protesting members of his constituency. The protesters demanded answers to why he had abandoned them for ages, only to 'sneak into town' on Monday, April 2nd.
Governance without engagement they say will be a mockery of democracy. The angry youths in Taraba already vowed not to reelect Garba Hamman Julde in 2019. It is in the light of this agonizing experience and demands by active citizens that they should begin to continually engage with their elected public officials constructively.
Active Citizens’ can identify and engage with their representatives by texting ‘SYE’ & the ‘Polling Unit Number (top left corner of your voters card) to 20050. Example: Send SYE 24/10/07/03 to 20050; citizens immediately get the contact details of their federal lawmakers through the mobile phone number as an SMS or even visit www.shineyoureye.org.
Citizens can also recall their legislators if dissatisfied with their conduct and performance. Visit: bit.ly/RecallProcess to understand how to recall your legislator.
Rather than result to unrest and heating up the polity, Active Citizens’ should begin to organize themselves in a more civil manner and not agonize. Engage with your elected representatives through Phone Call, SMS, Email or Town Hall Meetings, recall lawmakers when dissatisfied with their representation and performance.
By so doing, we will be breeding a community of concerned and active citizens which is essentially what Nigeria requires for social justice and equity to prevail.
Ask questions anywhere and everywhere!
It is no longer news that the people of Kogi West Senatorial District have approached the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) seeking for the removal of Mr Dino Melaye through a recall process. A recall is the power of voters to unseat a serving lawmaker before his/her tenure elapse.
The unfolding debacle of Mr Melaye's recall process has no doubt elicited curiosity amongst Nigerians about one of the most obscured but powerful constitutional instruments in Nigeria’s evolving democratic system.
Although, the recall process was commenced by INEC last year, but Melaye headed for the court to halt it, he lost at the High Court and thereafter appealed. Following an appeal court ruling which dismissed the appeal filed by Mr Melaye against the judgment delivered by Justice Nnamdi Dimgba at the Federal High Court in 2017, on grounds that there was no cause of action, the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) in Kogi State has now announced the commencement of the recall process of Dino Melaye, he has however vowed to proceed to the Supreme Court to challenge this decision.
Though, the process is now like a herculean task, Nigerians must be ready to toy it as enunciated by the electoral law and the constitution. There has not been a successful recall of any lawmaker in the history of our democracy. They believe that once they receive the people’s mandate, no Jupiter will truncate their tenure. This encourages and promotes recklessness, indifference and nonchalant attitude among them.
If the recall succeeds, it would signal the emergence of true representative democracy that is accountable. If he loses out, his errant colleagues will become jittery and readjust, so as not to fall victims, especially those who turn their backs on their constituents after they are elected into office.
Mr Melaye's recall will make other members of the National Assembly to jettison their toga of arrogance and those who have skeletons in the cupboards will begin to make amends. We will be better for it democratically in Nigeria.
There have been several calls for transparency in the budget details of the National Assembly to allow a glimpse into the financial allocations of both parliaments. Many Nigerians considered President Muhammadu Buhari’s proposed budget of N125 billion for the National Assembly in 2018 as a case of ‘daylight robbery’, particularly because the budgeting process lacks details on how the vast sum is to be disbursed when finally passed. The National Assembly has since the commencement of the Fourth Republic in 1999 received a total of approximately N1.2 trillion.
The new media was agog last week over a recent revelation about the N13.5 million "running cost" allowances that senators receive monthly. The revelation, which was made by Shehu Sani (APC, Kaduna Central) has stirred up a lot controversies within the polity, the senator also revealed that the running cost "does not include a N700,000 monthly consolidated salary and allowances which they also receive" and other perks, leading to too many conjectures about how much exactly each federal lawmaker takes home every month and annually. Since the revelation of what the senators earn as running cost on monthly basis, there have been strident calls from all walks of life for a downward review.
For instance, the remuneration as approved by the Revenue Mobilisation, Allocation and Fiscal Commission (RMAFC), for every senator annually, excluding estacodes of $1,200 per night (where applicable), Duty Tour Allowance of N45,000 per night and other sundry allowances paid as necessary, is about N19.66 million; while for every member of the House of Representatives, it is N18.26 million. In addition to this, every senator and House of Representatives member collects N1.01 million and N1 million respectively for domestic staff.
Despite all these mindboggling take-home pay, what the federal legislators pay as tax to the coffers of government is insignificant, as their taxes are calculated based on their basic salary. Salaries and allowances of the leadership of the two chambers of the National Assembly are slightly higher than what are enumerated above. Apart from these RMAFC approved salaries and allowances as stated above, the federal lawmakers also pay themselves N13.5 million monthly what they termed 'running cost’ as revealed by one of the federal lawmakers, Senator Shehu Sani (APC, Kaduna Central). They also receive constituency allowances, which very many of them see as their own share of the national cake. How much this runs to, nobody has been able to say.
The call for Transparency in the NASS budget is a worthy call that should be heeded. In the words of Atifete Jahjaga, “Democracy must be built through open societies that share information. When there is information, there is enlightenment. When there is debate, there are solutions. When there is no sharing of power, no rule of law, no accountability, there is abuse, corruption, subjugation and indignation”.
On Tuesday, 7th of November 2017, President Muhammadu Buhari GCFR presented the 2018 Appropriation Bill to the National Assembly. This was in keeping with the provisions of the Constitution which requires the legislature to pass all bills including the Appropriation Bill. However the National Assembly has not pass the bill, almost after four months it was presented. This delay is one that is bound to have grave consequences for the governance process and ultimately the economy of the country.
The use of the phrase “Delay of the 2018 Budget Appropriation Bill” as we are all aware that the passage of the Act involves both the executive and legislative arms of government and that the current delay in the coming effect of the law has been attributed amongst others to the failure of the two arms of government to work in synergy in the overall interest of the citizenry.
When there is a delay in signing of the budget, it affects economic growth and many jobs would be lost, thereby saturating the labour market and endangering the economy. The implication is that government may not be able to spend or execute 40 percent of the capital expenditure. There would be low aggregate of income as government borrows to pay salary; and it may not be able to spend 50 percent of the budget of 2018. This will make the full implementation of the budgets unrealistic. Another negative effect of delayed budget is that it discourages foreign investors from coming in to invest and that could make them to divert their investment capital to other countries.
One cannot but wonder why there is annually a delay in the process of passing the budget in Nigeria. In 2017, the budget for that year was not signed until May 11 although it was presented in December 2016. Ideally, the process of the passage of the budget should be seamless as stated by the Central Bank in one of its publications as follows:
“In Nigeria the fiscal year begins on January 1st and ends December 31st. There is, however, no time limit for the National Assembly to consider and approve the budget set before it, although, there is a time limit for the President. This process starts in June with the issuance of a Call Circular from the FMOF to MDAs to submit their expenditure proposals, which are set within the spending limits. A draft Bill is prepared by October by the FMOF and sent to the NASS through the Presidency. Technically, before the legislature’s December recess, the Bill could be passed with any agreed amendments. The President could then be able to authorize the Bill to become law in January. A clause also allows the President to spend from the previous year’s budget, which has to be within the time limit of six months, although there has to be an awaiting appropriation act for the current fiscal year.”
To prevent the unsavory effects of the constant late passage of the Budget, Nigeria may borrow a leaf from other countries that have evolved efficient ways of passing their budgets.
The current situation has not been helped by argument on both sides of the executive and legislature as to the extent to which the National Assembly can tinker with the bill sent to it by the executive. Such unnecessary issues only serve to bring about further delay and as current events show are not in the best interest of the citizenry.
The National Assembly Conference Committee on Electoral Act (amendment) Bill last week Tuesday adopted the reordered sequence of the 2019 General Elections, making presidential election last. It may be recalled that the House of Representatives had few weeks ago, began process to amend the Electoral Act 2010 with the inclusion of section 25(1) in the law.
This was to reorder the sequence of the elections, to commence with National Assembly, followed by governorship and State House of Assembly, and Presidential as last. This is against the sequence rolled out by Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) late 2017, which put Presidential and National Assembly elections first and governorship and state assembly to follow.
No doubt, if the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) wants to conduct free, fair and credible elections in the country devoid of rigging, the commission should listen to the voice of the representatives of the Nigerian people, who are working hard to reduce bandwagon effects in voting.
Members of the National Assembly are not only experienced lawmakers but major stakeholders in the outcome of the elections. We don't put in place an electoral process in place with one man in mind because if another person comes in, the process will be inherited by the person.
The process should be to do the right thing and follow the path that can deepen democracy rather than a party that will ultimately destroy all democratic tenets we have all labour to build. The reordered election is the best thing the current National Assembly has done for Nigeria and democracy in the country. Anyone against it is a hater of Nigerian democracy. The issue is not about President Muhammadu Buhari's re-election bid. It is about Nigeria after President Buhari.
It is hope that politicians in Nigeria will work together to save democracy and unite the county rather than working for selfish purposes, with destruction as its end.
Political observers have begin to raise some questions on the motives and implications of some political heavyweights joining the ruling party less than one year to the 2019 general elections. The dominant questions here are: will their decision to join the ruling party take them to their promised land? Will the influx of these people into the APC not cause crisis within the ruling party ahead of the 2019 general elections?
Although, over the year’s politicians in Nigeria have been seen decamping from one political party to another as a tool for expressing dissatisfaction at intra-party matters and also when they lose party nominations for elective or appointive posts.
The current defection by various categories of politicians in the country has again confirmed their vulnerability to changing platforms even under questionable circumstances. Like the Biblical Moses leading Israelites on mass exodus out of their land of captivity, former Governor Adebayo Alao-Akala of Oyo state led scores of members of opposition parties to the ruling All Progressives Congress (APC) in the state, at a carnival – like political rally that took place in Ibadan.
Majority of the decampees, which included Alao-Akala, former Deputy Governor, Taofeek Arapaja; former Senate Leader, Teslim Folarin; former Speaker of the state House of Assembly, Asimiyu Alarape; former Secretary to the State Government, Ayodele Adigun and Senator Brimoh Yussuf, were of People’s Democratic Party (PDP) origin.
For the avoidance of doubt, the 1999 constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria (as amended) recognizes the right of politicians to change platforms but this has to be done within the province of the law.Accordingly, sections 68(1) (g) and 109 (1) (g) of the constitution copiously guaranteed the right to decamp in event of factions or crisis. Unfortunately, many politicians have exploited this constitutional provision by wittingly and unwittingly precipitating intra-party crisis to pave way for incessant cross-carpeting.
It is a truism that “in politics there is no permanent friends, no permanent enemies but permanent interests”. One veritable instrument by which politicians give eloquent expression to this concept of permanent interests as against permanent friends is through cross-carpeting from one political platform to another whenever the politician’s interest is threatened or appears no longer protected by the party.
Citizens beware; it’s another season of electioneering period in Nigeria. The politician you die for today may join the opposition party tomorrow. #VoteNotFight and ultimately, Shine Your Eye!!!
Fulani herdsmen or Fulani pastoralists are nomadic or semi nomadic Fulani herders whose primary occupation is raising livestock. The pure Fulani pastoralist engages in random movement of cattle while the semi-nomadic makes transhumance migration and return to their camps or homes. The Fulani herdsmen are largely located in the Sahel and Semi-Arid parts of West Africa but due to changes in climate patterns many herdsmen have moved further south into the savannah and tropical forest belt of West Africa. The herdsmen are found in countries such as Nigeria, Niger, Senegal, Guinea, Mauritania, Mali, Burkina Faso, Ghana, Benin, Cote d’Ivoire and Cameroon. In Nigeria, the livestock supplied by the herdsmen provide a bulk of the beef consumption in the country.
Fulani pastoralists have grazed in lands around the Arid and Sahel regions of West Africa particularly in Nigeria because of the environmental conditions that limit the amount of land for agricultural purposes leading to intense competition for land between farmers and herders. However, after recurrent droughts in the Arid and Sahel regions, Fulani pastoralists have gradually moved southwards and the tropical forest areas resulting in conflict for grazing routes with farmers.
Fulani pastoralists’ started migrating into Northern Nigeria from the Senegambia region around the thirteenth or fourteenth century. After the Uthman dan Fodio jihad, the Fulani became integrated into the Hausa culture of Northern Nigeria. Thereafter, during the dry season when tsetse fly population is reduced, Fulani pastoralists began to drive their cattle into the middle belt zone dominated by non Hausa groups returning to the north at the onset of the rainy season. But while managing the herd and driving cattle, cattle grazing on farmlands sometimes occur leading to destruction of crops and becoming a source of conflict.
Nigeria's implementation of the Land Use Act of 1978 allowed the state or federal government the right to assign and lease land and also gave indigenes the right to apply and be given a Certificate of Occupancy to claim ownership of their ancestral lands. This placed the pastoral Fulani in a difficult position because most did not apply for lands of occupancy of their grazing routes and recurring transhumance movement will lead to encroachment of the properties of others. The Nigeria government designed some areas as grazing routes but this has not reduced clashes. In 2017 alone, about 73 people lost their lives in Benue state as a result of conflicts between pastoralists and farmers.
As Nigeria is still reeling from the Boko Haram insurgency and its numerous atrocities, the country plays host to another terrorist group as yet unrecognized. Fulani herdsmen, nomadic cattle grazers, have been named one of the deadliest terror groups in the world comparable to Boko Haram, ISIS, the Taliban and al-Shabaab. The group has wreaked enough havoc to be acknowledged by the global community as the fourth deadliest terror group in the world.
The “Fulani militants”, as they have come to be known, is made up of members of the Fulani or Fula ethnic group, a tribe of over 20 million people, 70 per cent of whom are nomadic grazers, who are native to at least seven West African countries. The tension between Fulani herdsmen and farming communities has been in existence for many years, but has seen a dramatic escalation in recent times to include attacks, kidnappings and killings by the nomads.
It is unfortunate that this level of criminal impunity is happening in a sovereign nation with a constitution which declares that the security and welfare of the citizens shall be a major responsibility of the state. Perhaps we need to ask why the police and the military are incapable of protecting the farmers from violent attacks by Fulani herdsmen. Is it true that the Fulani militia is better armed and sometimes outnumbered the police? Why is it difficult for the federal government to curtail the terror of the Fulani militia? Who are those arming the Fulani cattle rearers to unleash mayhem on innocent and defenseless Nigerians?
Most people think that the herds of cattle that the Fulani herdsmen roam around with are their own. No, not in all cases. The herds of cattle are often times owned by rich Fulani men and women. The Fulani herdsmen in most cases enter into an agreement on how the calves or milk will be shared. This reason also makes them powerful since the herdsmen know that they are the major source of meat in Nigeria and they have prominent people to shield them. Hence, we call on all the Fulani herdsmen to adapt to the modern worldview and engage in activities that will be beneficial both to them and to society in general.
Nigeria has been plagued by the menace of fuel scarcity and the exorbitant cost of purchasing the product increases above the regulated price whenever the demand for petrol far outweighs its supply.
It has been a consistent cycle of depression for most Nigerians who have had to endure the hardship associated with fuel scarcity which has had them spending long hours at petrol filling stations during the yuletide season late last year and which still persist into the new year in major cities across Nigeria.
An increase in the rate paid for bus fares is one of the adverse effects of the menace that has defined Nigeria yearly. Commercial drivers have seen the scarcity as an avenue to exploit road commuters who are made to pay 75% higher than they normally would for the price of being conveyed around the metropolis. It tells a story of a society losing its ability to show compassion to the plights of its members.
That been said, the promised change offered as the campaign theme of the President Muhammadu Buhari-led administration has so far been a fantasy to a lot of Nigerians. Has there been a change when the citizens of a country with vast petroleum resources have to suffer to get what is naturally available in their environment?
But, in the midst of the hardships and stress caused by the non-availability and scarcity of petroleum in Nigeria, could there a light at the end of tunnel? Could there be some possibility of deriving positive externalities from the pain of fuel scarcity? Is it plausible that one can unravel good reasons why Nigerian government feels fuel scarcity is beneficial to its Citizens?
Two years into the seat of power, the idea of his change mantra has not been served and the citizens have grown justifiably impatient of the endless wait. They will rather prefer President Buhari who also doubles as the Minister of Petroleum put a stop to many of the issues plaguing the society as opposed to making promises. So far, this has not improved their livelihood nor ended the long queues at the petrol stations. So basically, what has changed?
In a nation of plenty, nothing is beyond eventual shortage – except, of course, the common place endowment of pre-emptive planning and methodical execution which of course is lacking with the present day government in Nigeria.
The decision by President Muhammadu Buhari to borrow $ 1 billion to fight against the Boko Haram sect in the North East is causing a lot of ripples in the country especially as another general election cycle is in the offing.
It would be recalled that the money approved by the National Economic Council, NEC, last week would be sourced from the Excess Crude Account, ECA.
It is however hard to say if the move is justified or not to spend such a huge amount of money to continue to fight Boko Haram. But one sacrosanct thing is that even great nations of the world have continued to spend a lot of money combating terrorists. The United States has been spending a lot of money to fight terror and it is believe the fight against terror is an endless fight.
But we don’t know how long it will take Nigeria to fight Boko Haram and if truly they are fighting terrorism. If we have some competent hands with great strategies fighting this war, then we can say the war will be won one day.
Even with timeline of Boko Haram attacks below in Borno between the month of June and July in 2017 alone and the circumstances surrounding the use of such huge amount to tackle Boko Haram insurgency which it claims has already been defeated requires critical scrutiny:
• June 8 – 13 killed, 24 injured in three suicide attacks on Jiddari/Polo general area of Maiduguri metropolis. The incident takes place as Acting President Yemi Osibanjo launches FG’s Food Intervention Programme for IDPs in the Borno State capital.
• June 19 – 17 persons, including five female suicide bombers, dead and 11 injured in Kofa village attacks.
• June 20 – 14 women, mostly police officers, are kidnapped while scores are killed as insurgents ambush motorists along Maiduguri- Damboa- Biu Road while conveying the corpse of the late Seargent Rahila Antakirya to Lassa village in Askira -Uba LGA for burial.
• June 25 -16 persons, including a security guard attached to UNIMAID, killed in separate attacks on the campus and surrounding communities of Kaleri, Muna Garage general area.
• July 7 – Security operatives repel suicide attacks on UNIMAID, leaving two bombers dead.
• July 12 – 4 female suicide bombers, 12 Civilian Joint Task Force (CJTF) members and 7 villagers are killed while 23 others are injured in Molai Kura on the outskirts of Maiduguri metropolis.
• July 16 – Boko Haram kills one and injures another in a clash on a grazing land on the outskirts of Maiduguri.
• July 25 – Over 40 people, comprising of 16 CJTF members, 20 soldiers and five UNIMAID, staff are killed, scores injured while three UNIMAID staff are abducted in Boko Haram ambush on their way home after participating in in oil exploration mission around Bornoyesu village of Magumeri LGA of Borno State.
The terror war continues and it consumes a lot of money, time and even precious lives are lost combating these people. But those in the government must know that they hold power in trust for the people and that is why they have to do everything in the interest of the people. The anti-terrorism fight will consume a lot of resources, but our leaders must not use that as an opportunity to milk the nation dry.
Governor Rochas Okorocha of Imo state has conferred his younger sister, Ogechi Ololo (nee Okorocha), as the Commissioner for Happiness and Couples' Fulfillment. She was among 27 new commissioners and 27 transition committee chairmen for the 27 local government councils in the state sworn in by the governor on Monday, December 4. What sin did Imo people commit to deserve this embarrassment as their Governor?
Before her new appointment, she served as the governor’s deputy chief of staff and special adviser on domestic matters. She was also the All Progressives Congress (APC) candidate into the House of Representatives for the Owerri federal constituency seat in 2015 and has served in various capacities since Okorocha became the state governor in 2011.
With this recent episode in the dramatic life of Governor Rochas, one is no doubt left with little choice but to conclude that Rochas Okorocha is a perfect example of why all aspirants to high offices in Nigeria should submit themselves for psychiatric evaluation before being permitted to contest.
But coming back to reality though, these are the types of tales you expect to see being dramatised in badly written Nollywood movies of the Idumota variety. Now I know what people mean when they say that no matter how strange fiction is, reality is often stranger than fiction.
We say congratulations to all the people of Imo state on this development. Happiness is the heartbeat of life. Henceforth, nobody in Imo state has any reason to be sad again. There is now a whole Ministry devoted to making you all happy! Because nothing comes reassuring like spending N520 million on statues and appointing 27 mediocre to further spend Imo state funds at the moonlight of another election cycle.
Not too worry, the governor already urged the new appointees to prove their worth in the service of Imo state and her people. He also assured the citizens of Imo State that his administration’s achievement surpasses those of all the previous administrations in the state, both civilian and military put together.
Citizens of Imo State must take notice that the their state ranks near the bottom in all important indices of socio-economic development despite the leader’s grandiose schemes and appearances and despite all the tall tales that we are told by propagandists of the state in several media channels. It is time for the citizens to shine their eyes to the misdoings of the Statue Erecting Governor by demanding for accountability, transparency and good governance.
Ndi Imo, your Governor has done it again. When will you say ENOUGH IS ENOUGH?
Delays in judicial process are endemic in most court systems throughout the world and affect negatively a number of development objectives. In some cases, delays are so extreme that they effectively deny justice, particularly to disadvantaged groups who may not be able to "grease the wheels" of the justice system.
Delays of cases in the judiciary have been an historical event which needs the serious attention of not only the judicial officers but the government in general.
The delay tactics adopted by lawyers and judicial officers to stall progress in the dispensation of justice, especially in the ongoing fight against trials of corruption suspects in Nigeria is not just worrisome but for calls for urgent attention of all and sundry.
The backlog of corruption cases in Courts of Nigeria is on the increase despite the various measures the government has taken so far to reduce it. Several reports show that corruption has been the major obstacle for this war. Despite the attempts, corruption still remains the most serious problem in courts of law; its trend has increase more with every successive government in 2011 and 2015 respectively.
With this menace of case delay and corrupt practices people lose confidence with the Judiciary; this has prompted President Buhari to caution that judicial officers ought to observe their code of conduct.
In Nigeria, we arrest before we investigate whereas investigation ought to have been done before you make an arrest. The moment you arrest a suspect, you should confront him with charges. When you have enough evidence, a suspect would either beg for leniency or plea bargain. This is a fundamental problem. Arresting before investigating someone promotes injustice.
The eradication of corruption is a joint task involving not only judges and members of the legal profession, but literally all stakeholders, including all branches of government, the media and the civil society; we cannot expect to make any gains in the war against corruption in our society when the judiciary is seen as being distant from the crusade.
In justice, integrity is a necessity, hence judicial officers and all other members of this arm of gevernment must always demonstrate manifest integrity.
History plays a role and shapes our future. Today, I share with you critical issues, facts and matters arising as the people of Anambra State prepare to exercise their franchise in electing its 14th Governor & 7th Democratic Governor on Saturday, November 18, 2017.
According to George Orwell; “A people that elect corrupt politicians, imposters, thieves and traitors are not victims…but accomplices.”
Anambra State with a population of 5.53 million (Nigeria Bureau of Statistics, 2016) is one of the five states in the South-East Geopolitical Zone of Nigeria and was created in 1976. Enugu was carved out of Anambra State in 1991. It consists of twenty-one (21) local government areas with Akwa serving as its capital.
As the five front runners for Anambra Guber poll – the incumbent All Progressives Grand Alliance (APGA), the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), the All Progressives Congress (APC) which controls the federal government, the United Peoples Party (UPP), and the Progressives Peoples’ Alliance (PPA) – in rounding off their campaigns, pundits would have began an uneasy permutation about the possible outcome of Saturday’s contest with no one ready to place a bet on any of the five leading candidates: Willie Obiano (APGA), Oseloka Obaze (PDP), Tony Nwoye (APC), Osita Chidoka (UPP) and Godwin Ezeemo (PPA).
The political debate organized by Channels Television in partnership with EiE Nigeria, Policy Legal Advocacy Centre & National Democratic Institute (NDI) in which the five candidates participated in, appears to be generating some kind of effect that could spring a surprise on Saturday. But everything will depend on how the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) and security operatives decide to handle the exercise. For the security flash points, it is observed that there will likely be election day violence and post-election violence in some locations such as IPOB strongholds Ekwulobia, Nnewi North, Nnewi South, Ihiala, Ozubulu, Ubuluisiuzo, Okija, Ekwusigo, Nkpor, Obosi, Ogidi, Awka and Agulu. The Election Day violence will likely result from clash between IPOB members and security agencies if non-coercive security approach is not deployed. It is possible that post-election violence could crystallize if APGA loses the election to APC.
In deciding who gets elected as the Governor of Anambra State come Saturday, November 18th, the citizens have to make a choice between the 37 INEC Approved Candidates that would participate in the November 18th governorship election in the State.
Over 2.1 million Registered Voters are expected to vote in the 4,608 Polling Units across the State with about 6,200 Smart Card Readers deployed by INEC for the election. There are over 21,084 policemen needed and 2,128 Adhoc Staff to be deployed by the electoral umpire in Anambra State.
With the economic recession currently pervading the country, Domestic Debt Profile of Anambra State as at December 31, 2016 stood at N4 billion with External Debt profile of $85.4 million as at June 30, 2017. The State is currently running with the Budget of N115.5billion for the year 2017.
Some of the critical issues that engulfs Anambra State, the Light of the Nation ranges from Unpaid bursary allowances for Anambrarian students in tertiary institutions, Indigenous People of Biafra (IPOB) crisis, Fulani herdsmen clash with host communities, Poor urban planning and lack of good access roads in Onitsha, Epileptic power supply in the industrial city of Nnewi and Osumenyi, Nnewi South, Poor drainage system in Ezira, Nanka & Obosi communities which has led to erosion and flooding.
With the outcome of the just concluded local government elections conducted by the Enugu State Independent Electoral Commission (ENSIEC) in the State on Saturday, November 4, 2017, the ruling political party in the State wins by sweeping all the votes, both politicians and the electorate have a chance to now evaluate the degree of independence of the electoral umpire that have been seen in the conduct of local government elections which were reformed in 1976 with a high level of autonomy.
Section 7 (1) of the 1999 Constitution states: “The system of local government by democratically elected local government councils is under this Constitution guaranteed; and accordingly, the Government of every State shall, subject to Section 8 of this Constitution, ensure their existence under a Law which provides for the establishment, structure, composition, finance and functions of such councils.”
To ensure credible elections into local councils as stated in the Constitution, the power to appoint chairpersons and commissioners of the State electoral bodies should be removed from the governors.
Through the ongoing constitutional amendments at the National Assembly which is now before State House of Assemblies (SHoA) across the country, there should be concerted efforts to free local councils from the clutches of the state governors. As the situation stands, there is some ambiguity as to whether the state governors can dissolve local councils before elections are conducted at the expiration of their tenure, but often, state governors capitalize on this ambiguity to dissolve local councils at the end of their tenure, and appoint Caretaker Committees. Often, these Committees are staffed with cronies and party sympathizers.
Although democracy is not about election alone, nevertheless, it is very important to have hitch-free elections and transition process, particularly with the grassroots administration as a way of getting sound and well meaning citizens to lay very sound foundation for the socio-economic and political growth of the country.
All hope is not lost and there could still be light at the end of the tunnel. We however need to get the local government elections right just in the same way we are struggling to get the national elections right. We should continue to strengthen the processes and the procedures. The lack of transparency on the part of State’s Independent Electoral Commission (SIEC) in conducting local government polls can be reversed if Nigerians, including politicians, civil society organizations, the electorate and the national electoral body resolve to embrace due process in discharging their civic responsibilities.
"We also believe that we will like to see more cases of electronic voting as opposed to voice voting". - Bukola Saraki (Chairman, National Assembly) May 19, 2017.
Friday, November 3, 2017 makes it exactly 100 days after the National Assembly voted clause by clause in the ongoing amendment to Nigeria’s 1999 Constitution; the voting records are yet to be made public.
The demand for an open government which is transparent is crucial; the revelation of identity of lawmakers who voted against passage of some crucial bills that have some bearing on the question of restructuring for citizens in both chambers of the National Assembly should be done forthwith, as it is at the heart of an open legislative process. Legislators are public officials and are expected to honour the principles of transparency and accountability which the Senate President promised severally to adhere hitherto in replacing voice voting with electronic voting so citizens can track their representatives.
Non disclosure of list of lawmakers who voted YES or NAY and the failed amendments in devolution of powers, state creation and boundary adjustment, indigeneship and citizenship, and deletion of the Land Use Act from the constitution, are biggest misses by the 8th National Assembly.
The National Assembly has voted on the Constitution Review Bills, citizens are however demanding that #OurNASS makes public the voting details of the entire constitution review bill considered. Why is it taking the National Assembly an eternity to make public their voting records on #ConstitutionReviewBills? #OpenNASS demands that the National Assembly makes public their voting records.
We have a Senate with 109 Senators with each of the 36 states represented by 3 senators and the Federal Capital Territory (Abuja) with 1 senator. The House of Representatives has 360 members with the number of representatives from each state dependent on land size and population.
Primarily, these representatives should vote in line with their constituents’ priorities, and should also be held accountable by these same constituents based on their voting record, particularly as it pertains to the amendment of Nigeria’s Constitution. Over 20,000 Nigerians have signed the petition demanding for an #OpenNASS. Lend your voice and sign the petition to put more pressure on the National Assembly to open up its activities via: http://opennass.ng/petition/
Public outcry continues to trail the turn of event in the Nigeria’s polity, this time, over the recent reinstatement of the former Chairman of Presidential Committee on Pension Reform Task force Team (PRTT), Abdulrasheed Maina, into the federal civil service, thereby accusing President Muhammadu Buhari of aiding corruption in his government by earlier feigning ignorance of his reinstatement and promotion only to sack him after continuous public vituperation.
Mr Maina was posted a few days ago to the Ministry of Interior by the Office of the Head of Service (HoS) in an Acting capacity to fill a vacancy created following the retirement of the Director heading the Human Resources Department in the Ministry. It will be recalled that Maina’s last posting was with the Ministry of Interior, and that is probably why he was re-posted back to the Ministry.
In 2013, Maina was declared wanted by the Economic and Financial Crime Commission (EFCC) in connection with N2 billion pension scam in the Office of Head of Service of the Federation. A check on the EFCC’s website shows Mr Maina is still wanted for the alleged stated crime.
“The public is hereby notified that Abdulrasheed Abdullahi Maina, former Chairman of Pension Reform Task Team (PRTT), whose photograph appears above, is wanted by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) for offences bordering on Procurement Fraud and Obtaining by False Pretence,” the EFCC stated on its website.
While Nigerians are still asking questions as to what has happened to the report of the committee that investigated the $43 million discovered in an apartment at Osbourne Towers, Ikoyi, Lagos, allegation of $25 billion was made by the Minister of State for Petroleum Resources, Ibe Kachikwu, Suspended Secretary to the Government of the Federation, Babachir Lawal probe’s report and as usual, the allegation like others before it, is being treated as family affairs.
When is PMB’s government turning its anti-corruption searchlight on members of the All Peoples Congress?
With this and other corruption cases, citizens are concerned about how it seems corruption is gaining upper hand in the country. Although President Buhari promised to fight the malice with all his willpower, but it looks like the table is now turning around.
This situation among others is making the citizenry to ask why some corruption cases in the current government are yet to be resolved. It is however hope that the fight against corruption is not lost yet.
On Saturday, October 14, Nigerians woke up to see a statue of Jacob Zuma, the South African president unveiled by Rochas Okorocha‚ the Imo state governor. He erected the bronze statue and named a street after President Zuma during his two-day visit to the state. During the unveiling, Governor Rochas also conferred Zuma with a chieftaincy title and the highest Merit Award in Imo State.
Governor Rochas tried to justify the present gaffe but his explanations sound hollow and false: “We in Imo State have chosen to identify with this great leader in person of President Jacob Zuma who meant well for his people…” We? Which ‘we’ is Okorocha referring to, please?
Did the state House of Assembly deliberate over the decision to establish a political Jurassic Park in Owerri? And who discussed and approved the honour’s list? We? Is Mr. Okorocha referring to his own sycophantic State Executive Council or the traditional rulers who gave Zuma the title of Ochiaga?
Is it not embarrassing that a state government controlled by the All Progressives Congress which is fighting corruption could play host to Mr. Zuma, allegedly a corrupt leader in the current assembly of heads of state in the African Union and portray him as a hero before a group of African youth?
Is Governor Okorocha not aware that Mr. Zuma has been found guilty of corruption by the courts in South Africa and has been ordered to refund the $500,000 stolen from the public treasury to expand his private house to accommodate his many wives? The people are no longer as stupid as African politicians assume. They are tired of being used as stepping-stones. I put myself in their shoes and I share their pain.
It is hoped that the duo of Zuma and Okorocha will stay away from casting of funny bronze statues and castles of personal glorification. When in doubt, let them read Percy Shelley’s sonnet – Ozymandias. Statues will crumble, brought down by the opposition or ruined by the vagaries of weather and the ravages of time. But good deeds will endure and history will speak.
President Muhammadu Buhari vowed to frontally fight against corruption and nepotism amongst others during his election campaign in 2015. Since his election in April 2015, anti-graft war by the administration solely remains media trial, lopsided and inconclusive. In the two years of Buhari’s government, there has been no institutional structure that has been laid to fight corruption. What we have simply had is media circuses accusing people of corruption.
It is always said that, you cannot fight corruption with corruption. And corruption is more than just the stealing of money. If you disobey the rule of law, you have corrupted the system. If you create an avenue where you have a big margin between the official foreign exchange rate and the parallel market rate, there’s going to be corruption.
If you have children of the rich getting job into the Central Bank of Nigeria on nepotistic grounds, the corruption is still with you. If you have a budget that is padded left right and centre, and after this was revealed you passed it and say only a small amount changed in it, and we do not know what is in the new budget, you can’t say you are against corruption.
Thus far, President Buhari’s war on corruption seems to involve only the members of the opposition party. The majority of the corrupt officials that have been arrested are People’s Democratic Party (PDP) members. The names that have been mentioned in relation to the $2 billion arms deal, including Bode George, Peter Odili, Attahiru Bafarawa, and Sambo Dasuki, are all prominent members of the PDP. Does this mean that there are no corrupt APC members?
While Nigerians are still asking questions as to what has happened to the report of the committee that investigated the $43 million discovered in an apartment at Osbourne Towers, Ikoyi, Lagos, allegation of $25 billion was made by the Minister of State for Petroleum Resources, Ibe Kachikwu, and as usual, the allegation like others before it, is being treated as family affairs.
When is PMB’s government turning its anti-corruption searchlight on members of the All Peoples Congress? Until then, he needs to stop distracting Nigerians with his anti-corruption war and focus on the economy that is falling apart.
There is a controversial bill now making its way through the National Assembly. Titled “Non-Governmental Organization (NGO) Regulation Bill”, it has already passed first and second readings in the House of Representatives and is now at the committee stage. It is sponsored by Deputy Majority Leader of the House, Hon. Buba Jibril. Going by the letter and spirit of the bill, it constitutes a deliberate violation of the Nigerian citizens guaranteed freedom of thought, opinion and expression, and freedom of association, as contained both in Nigeria’s 1999 Constitution (as amended) and in international law to which Nigeria is a signatory.
The NGO Bill plans to set up a Commission for regulation of NGOs in Nigeria on all thematic areas. The Bill proposes a Commission with board members made up of several government representatives with three NGO representatives, where latter members must be approved by a National Voluntary Organization Agency before they can be appointed as members of the board. It is of course submitted that a discriminatory method of appointment singled out for NGO members is undemocratic and should not be considered.
The proposed bill creates bureaucracy for the enjoyment of a free and civil society, not mindful of Constitutional guarantee to exist in association whether registered or not. For instance, Sec. 11 of the NGO Bill requires all NGOs to be registered with the commission and issued a license to operate in Nigeria. However, Sec. 13 (1) of the Bill gives broad powers to the NGO commission to receive, approve or refuse registration of the NGO, if it so pleases, thus making it near impossible to associate. The proposed bill does not acknowledge the registration covered on the Company and Allied Matters Act, 1990 (CAMA) which is the law that incorporation of companies in Nigeria.
In that regard, an “un-registered NGO due to refusal of the commission, cannot operate in Nigeria even if such an NGO has already been registered by the Corporate Affairs Commission and deemed a body corporate entity with legal powers to sue and be sued. Again issuing another registration certificate to an NGO that has been registered under CAMA is a duplication of work by government agencies and a waste of tax payers’ money.
Another major concern with the NGO Regulation Bill is its possibility of affecting citizenship rights, when it provides a blanket clause on the requirement for “work permit in respect of prospective employees of a registered NGO” before such employee can work with the NGO.
The law does not here differentiate prospective employees as “expatriate/foreigners” from citizens. According to Wikipedia, “Work permit is the permission to take a job within a foreign country.” Invariably therefore citizens working in Nigeria cannot be heard to have obtained work permit before exercising their citizens’ right to work free of immigration laws.
No doubt, as any other human endeavour, NGOs can engage in excesses, such as corrupt practices and the promotion of strange foreign traditions such as same-sex marriage or behaviour which are against our laws and lore. There is however enough laws and regulations already existing to bring errant NGOs and their promoters to book. We do not need any additional effort in this pursuit, so the NGO Regulation Bill should be rested.
Sadly, this dangerous NGO Regulation bill came at a time when the federal government was toying with the idea of creating a commission to regulate social media content for citizens. A similar measure earlier sponsored by Hon. Jibril’s counterpart in the Senate, Deputy Majority Leader, Bala Ibn Na’Allah, had failed to pass through the upper chamber. But ironically, citizens on social media channels are routinely persecuted across the country with the public space being increasingly circumscribed by a government that came to power on the agenda of “Change”.
This obnoxious bill does more than merely seek to stifle free speech, freedom of association and freedom of assembly of Nigerian citizens. It will kill the incredible network of voluntary organizations holding the nation together. At a time of lean resources, the bill also seeks to create another meaningless agency that will add to the already bloated government overheads. It is hoped that all stakeholders in the national democratic project will work collectively to ensure that this bill does not see the light of day.
There have been several calls for transparency in the budget details of the National Assembly to allow a glimpse into the financial allocations of both parliaments. Many Nigerians consider NASS’s ₦125 billion budget in 2017 as a case of ‘daylight robbery’, particularly because the budgeting process lacks details on how the vast sum is disbursed. The National Assembly has since the commencement of the Fourth Republic in 1999 received a total of approximately N1.2 trillion.
Nigerians have information about how half of this amount (N600 billion) was spent, the other half is estimated to go towards basic salary/personnel costs which remains shrouded in secrecy, leading to too many conjectures about how much each federal lawmaker takes home every month and annually. Since the rumored revelation of what the federal lawmakers earn as salaries and allowances, there have been strident calls from all walks of life for a downward review.
From the foregoing, the remuneration as approved by the Revenue Mobilisation, Allocation and Fiscal Commission (RMAFC), for every senator annually, excluding estacodes of $1,200 per night (where applicable), Duty Tour Allowance of N45,000 per night and other sundry allowances paid as necessary, is about N19.66 million; while for every member of the House of Representatives, it is N18.26 million. In addition to this, every senator and House of Representatives member collects N1.01 million and N1 million respectively for domestic staff.
However, despite these mindboggling take-home pay, what the federal legislators pay as tax to the coffers of government is insignificant, as their taxes are calculated based on their basic salary. Salaries and allowances of the leadership of the two chambers of the National Assembly are slightly higher than what are enumerated above. Apart from these RMAFC approved salaries and allowances as stated above, the federal lawmakers also pay themselves what they called 'office running cost.' They also receive constituency allowances, which very many of them see as their own share of the national cake. How much this runs to, nobody has been able to say, as the lawmakers have kept mum over it.
Coalition of Civil Society Organizations’ (CSOs) also wrote to the 8th National Assembly leadership demanding urgent explanation to Nigerians, if it is true that a Senator gets N29 million in monthly pay, and over N3 billion a year.’’ Over the week, the media aide of Senate President Bukola Saraki has however invited CSOs to a roundtable over the “contentious” salaries of lawmakers at a date convenient for all parties in the next few days.
The call for Transparency in the NASS budget is a worthy call that should be heeded. In the words of Atifete Jahjaga, “Democracy must be built through open societies that share information. When there is information, there is enlightenment. When there is debate, there are solutions. When there is no sharing of power, no rule of law, no accountability, there is abuse, corruption, subjugation and indignation”.
Over 20,000 Nigerians have signed the petition demanding for an #OpenNASS. Lend your voice and visit opennass.ng/petition to sign the petition.
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The National Bureau of Statistics (NBS) announced earlier this week that Nigeria’s economy is out of recession. According to the NBS, in the second quarter of 2017, the nation’s Gross Domestic Product (GDP) grew by 0.55% (year-on-year) in real terms, indicating the emergence of the economy from recession after five consecutive quarters of contraction since Q1 2016.
For academics, the National Bureau of Economic Research (NBER) defined a recession as "a significant decline in economic activity spread across the economy, lasting more than a few months, normally visible in a real Gross Domestic Product (GDP), real income, employment, industrial production and wholesale-retail sales".
The GDP figures however give grounds for cautious optimism especially as inflation has continued to fall from 18.72% in January 2017 to 16.05% in July 2017. Foreign exchange reserves have similarly improved from a low of $24.53 in September 2016 to about $31 billion in August 2017. In the same vein capital importation grew by 95% year-on-year driven by portfolio and other investments but also notably by foreign direct investment which increased by almost 30% over the previous quarter.
Overall, the end of the recession is welcomed but economic growth remains fragile and vulnerable to exogenous shocks or policy slippages.
It should be noted that Nigerian citizens cannot take what the NBS has said hook, line, and sinker without asking questions as to the authenticity of the report. What indices did the NBS use in getting their findings and conclusion? How can they sit in the comfort of their offices and say Nigeria is out of recession when the opposite is the case? Is Nigeria the only country experiencing economic recession? No! But, Nigerian government at all levels is not doing much to resolve it with all available indices and they need to do more to better the lives of common man on the streets.
Few weeks ago, the Vice President of Nigeria, Prof Yemi Osinbajo declared that henceforth, the Federal Government of Nigeria will classify hate speech as specie of Terrorism and offenders will be charged under the Terrorism Prevention Act, as amended.
He said the intimidation of a population by words or speech is an act of terrorism and will no longer be tolerated by the President Muhammadu Buhari administration. He warned that the government intends to take the matter seriously. Albeit, the Defence Headquarters has however denied reports that the military is monitoring hate speech promoters in order to arrest them.
Examining Section 39(1) of the 1999 Constitution which provides that “Every person shall be entitled to freedom of expression, including freedom to hold opinions and to receive and impart information without interference.” Similarly, Article XIX of the United Nations Universal Declaration of Human Rights provides that “Everyone has the right to freedom of opinion and expression; this right includes freedom to hold opinions without interference and to seek, receive and impart information and ideas through any media and regardless of frontiers.” By the same token, Article IX of the African Charter on Human and Peoples Rights provides that “Every individual shall have the right to receive information and the right to express and disseminate his opinions within the law.”
Beyond passing laws that will criminalise hate speeches, the government should not by design or default encourage extreme behaviour. The notion of the modern state is still in a flux, subject to tinkering as time and circumstances dictate. Even the Constitution of the United States of America, the bastion of democracy, has accepted 27 amendments over the years.
There is nothing therefore sacrosanct in the 1999 Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria that cannot and should not be exposed to debate. An atmosphere of peace and freedom to express views as enshrined in the constitution guarantees freedom of speech. But it does not encourage speeches that could inflame passions and lead to a breakdown of law and order.
However, there is an urgent need to develop, in conjunction with critical organs of the society such as media owners and practitioners, taxonomy of what constitutes hate speech. Media houses through their unions should incorporate these as part of good journalism practice and impose sanctions on erring members who publish or broadcast hate speech-laden materials.
The National Orientation Agency, in concert with civil society groups and community leaders, should also embark on a campaign against the use of hate speech. In the same vein, Internet Service providers should be encouraged to bring down blogs and websites they host which publish, promote or give unfettered space for the expression of free speech.
Above all it should be impressed upon the political leadership at all levels that a deep distrust of the government is at the heart of the sort of free speech jurisprudence you have in the United States and that Nigerians have the same level of distrust of their governments.
The Nigerian National Assembly in response to the yearnings of their constituents for development/ federal presence demanded and got “Constituency Project” fund. Since the inception of constituency project in Nigeria there have been misconceptions and misinterpretations of the constituency project implementation. This and some other factors have painted the hallowed chambers of National Assembly in bad light.
A major concern is the issue of who actually implements constituency projects. Is it the legislature or the executive? A critical check on the process involved found out that members of the National Assembly merely identify the needs of the constituents and recommend same to the executive during budgeting. Ultimately, they have no direct control over their implementation aside from oversight; hence the award. Financing and supervision of constituency projects are the preserves of appropriate agencies other than the National Assembly.
Perhaps this explains why there is more interest in what is called the constituency project. This should not be so as every project in the budget is located in Nigeria and every part of Nigeria belongs to a constituency. This implies that every project is a constituency project. Whether or not a project is nominated by a legislator, once it is in the budget, the legislator in whose constituency it is located ought to show the same patriotic interest in such project.
Legislators are better positioned to perform oversight function on the execution of projects. If they get too involved in the execution, they can easily be compromised and become incapable of calling government officials to order. This is the reason active citizens are encouraged to active their office of the citizen as the employer of all elected public officials in the land.
Every citizen in Nigeria has an office in the government. Active Citizens have a right to call for the books and demand that things are done rightly. If we could all stand up for our right the power brokers will soon find out that it is no longer business as usual when adjudicating over constituency projects funds and its implementations.
With the recent release of the breakdown of 2017 Constituency projects allocation across the 360 federal constituencies and 109 Senatorial districts, rather than venting, active citizens should now collaborate, track and give feedback via: www.tracka.ng on public projects in their community.
Active citizens in Nigeria should engage their respective reps! Call them to effectively execute these constituency projects. You can identify your elected representative by texting SYE & your Polling Unit number (top right of your voters card) to 20050. Example SYE 24/10/07/03.
Engage your reps as an active citizens; Call, SMS, Email by finding their contact details via: www.shineyoureye.org and see other actions you can take as an active citizen via: www.opennass.ng.
Ask questions anywhere & everywhere as an active citizen!!!
This is an open letter from me to all undergraduates of Nigerian public universities and their families – catalyzed after reading some comments on a popular student leader Facebook page. You are not getting any younger. You would probably be graduating at an older age than your peers in Ghana, Singapore, Kenya and Taiwan.
Fact: Students in Harvard University have not stopped learning because your lecturers are on strike. Fact: Your future employer(s) may also not understand why you lack certain fundamental skills essential for the workplace.
Fact: Those who have the ability to make your education count have long gone to sleep on the job. It’s your life: You must now make your own way and fast! Great enterprises have always been born out of great adversity. There is no excuse to watch your life fritter away. Now is the time to pause and ask yourself these hard questions:
If there were no certainty that you would get a job after leaving school, would you still go to school?
Is what you are studying at the risk of being taken over by developments in technology? If yes, what’s your response plan? Would what you are studying today still be relevant in 2-3 years after you graduate? How do you plan to stay relevant in your career over the next 2-3 years? Do you have any vocational (hands on) skills that can earn you money right now or after you graduate even in the absence of a white-collar job?
Are jobs in your profession likely to be lost to non-specialists within your country and/or specialists outside your country? How many transferable skills do you have?
On a scale of 1-10, how would you rate your organisational, business writing, verbal and non-verbal communication, marketing, selling, customer service, critical thinking, creative thinking and facilitation skills?
In Stephen R.Covey’s “Seven Habits of Highly Effective People” he introduced the concept of an outer, larger Circle of Concern, and an inner, smaller Circle of Influence. In this case, your circle of concern would be what affects all students in public universities – “when would the strike end?
When would I graduate? Would my course be accredited? Would I get a good job as soon as I graduate?” You have no control over your circle of concern.
Your circle of influence involves things that you can do something about. For instance, “how can I ensure that I graduate with a good grade? How can I ensure that I develop the skills that organisations would be willing to pay a premium for?”
Rant on Facebook if you must, quarrel about the system and lament about the rot in the Nigerian society but remember all of these falls into your circle of concern. What are you going to do right now about the things that you can do something about (your circle of influence)?
Today’s formal educational system may not get you to the Promised Land. The question is not where you stand right now but in what direction you are headed.
It is time to build your “Circle of Influence” – What is your plan to transform your skills and create your own opportunities – even through this period of relative inactivity? Someone once said, “When Nigerians students are pushed to the wall, they don’t fight back – that they break down the wall and keep running.” They may take away your years but they cannot take away your choices. In an age of technology, there are thousands of teachers willing to teach you practically anything for free. You have no excuse to fail.
Most people fail for lack of pluck and not lack of luck. There are opportunities to learn from an artisan near you. You can do some quick internship, to finally put to practice some of the things you have learnt. This is the time to brush up on your research skills.
“Life is too fleeting to wait for the next unforgiving minute.” Someone around you needs some help, an extra hand to support the business they are running. Would you step up to the plate? You must redeem the times for the days are evil.
With the outcome of the just concluded local government elections held in Lagos on Saturday, July 22, 2017 as conducted by the Lagos State Independent Electoral Commission (LASIEC) where only the ruling political party wins by sweeping majority of all the votes, both politicians and the electorate have a chance to now evaluate the degree of reverses that have been seen in the conduct of local government elections which were reformed in 1976 with a high level of autonomy.
Section 7 (1) of the 1999 Constitution states: “The system of local government by democratically elected local government councils is under this Constitution guaranteed; and accordingly, the Government of every State shall, subject to Section 8 of this Constitution, ensure their existence under a Law which provides for the establishment, structure, composition, finance and functions of such councils.”
To ensure credible elections into local councils as stated in the Constitution, the power to appoint chairpersons and commissioners of the State electoral bodies should be removed from the governors because all the state electoral bodies and the local councils throughout the thirty six states of the Nigerian federation are under the control of the state governors.
Through the ongoing constitutional amendments at the National Assembly, there should be concerted efforts to free local councils from the clutches of the state governors. As the situation stands, there is some ambiguity as to whether the state governors can dissolve local councils before elections are conducted at the expiration of their tenure, but often, state governors capitalize on this ambiguity to dissolve local councils at the end of their tenure, and appoint Caretaker Committees. Often, these Committees are staffed with cronies and party sympathizers.
Although democracy is not about election alone, nevertheless, it is very important to have hitch-free elections and transition process, particularly with the grassroots administration as a way of getting sound and well meaning citizens to lay very sound foundation for the socio-economic and political growth of the country.
All hope is not lost and there could still be light at the end of the tunnel. We however need to get the local government elections right just in the same way we are struggling to get the national elections right and we should continue to strengthen the processes and the procedures. The lack of transparency on the part of State’s Independent Electoral Commission (SIEC) in conducting local government polls can be reversed if Nigerians, including politicians, civil societies, the electorate and the national electoral body resolve to embrace due process in discharging their responsibilities.
No one is born a good citizen; no nation is born a democracy. Rather, both are processes that continue to evolve over a lifetime. Young people must be included from birth. A society that cuts itself off from its youth severs its lifeline; it is condemned to bleed to death. –- Kofi Annan, Former Secretary-General of the United Nations.
With the dynamism, energy, innovation and resilience of youth, the #NotTooYoungToRun Bill if passed will increase the competitiveness of electoral politics in Nigeria. It will enhance issue-based politics and build a culture of civic participation and engagement in youths.
It would be recalled that, Hon. Tony Nwulu representing Oshodi/Isolo II Federal Constituency of Lagos state sponsored the bill otherwise referred to as the #NotTooYoungToRun bill. The bill seeks to alter the Section 65, 106, 131, 177 of the 1999 Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria (as amended) to reduce the age qualification for the office of the President from 40 years to 30 years; Governor 35 to 30, Senate 35 to 30, House of Representatives 30 to 25 and State House of Assembly 30 to 25.
Through the ongoing constitutional amendment, the bill if passed will address the legal challenge posed to young people seeking to run in elections thereby guaranteeing inclusion in our political process. The amendment will not only create a level-playing field for young people; it will enhance the competitiveness of electoral politics in Nigeria due to the innovative, creative, dynamism and resourcefulness that youths bring to the electoral process. Furthermore, the Bill will deepen intergenerational dialogue as more youths will gain access to the political process for more adult-youth engagement and partnership.
While we must commend the 8th National Assembly for passing the bill during its consideration of the harmonized report of the Special Ad-hoc Committee on Review of the 1999 constitution ( as amended), at least 24 state houses of assembly need to pass the bill before it can scale through for presidential assent. As the processes of domesticating this law in states gets down to the state Assemblies, we, watch with kin interest to see those, the real enemies of our future are. Their response to this law will speak volume. It is, however, important to maintain that this bill was conceived not only to encourage youths to seek elective offices but also to ensure youths participation in governance.
It is not time to go home and rest. There is greater need to synergize together in order to implement the spirit of this law.
President Buhari’s health and his inability to steer the ship of Nigeria has increasingly overshadowed political discourse on different fora, particularly in the last four months because of the lack of update on his wellbeing.
It would be recalled that President Buhari was last seen in a photocall with 82 of the chibok girls just before he left for London on May 7, 2017.
You will recall that in 2009, former President Yar’Adua was away from the country for 3 months due to ill-health without disclosing the state of his health. We are faced with similar circumstances again.
As expected, citizens have gone on several social media channels to engage President Buhari and his cabinets on the status of his health which they aptly tagged #AbsenteePresident and already raised some pertinent conversations on what the constitutions says in this situation.
Nigeria's 1999 constitution talks about the health of the office of the president, his incapacity in office, and other relevant requirement on the subject matter.
This is explained in Chapter VI, Section 144. Which says:
(1) The President or Vice-President shall cease to hold office, if -
(a) by a resolution passed by two-thirds majority of all the members of the executive council of the Federation it is declared that the President or Vice-President is incapable of discharging the functions of his office; and
(b) the declaration is verified, after such medical examination as may be necessary, by a medical panel established under subsection (4) of this section in its report to the President of the Senate and the Speaker of the House of Representatives.
(2) Where the medical panel certifies in the report that in its opinion the President or Vice-President is suffering from such infirmity of body or mind as renders him permanently incapable of discharging the functions of his office, a notice thereof signed by the President of the Senate and the Speaker of the House of Representatives shall be published in the Official Gazette of the Government of the Federation.
(3) The President or Vice-President shall cease to hold office as from the date of publication of the notice of the medical report pursuant to subsection (2) of this section.
(4) The medical panel to which this section relates shall be appointed by the President of the Senate, and shall comprise five medical practitioners in Nigeria:-
(a) one of whom shall be the personal physician of the holder of the office concerned; and
(b) four other medical practitioners who have, in the opinion of the President of the Senate, attained a high degree of eminence in the field of medicine relative to the nature of the examination to be conducted in accordance with the foregoing provisions.
(5) In this section, the reference to "executive council of the Federation" is a reference to the body of Ministers of the Government of the Federation, howsoever called, established by the President and charged with such responsibilities for the functions of government as the President may direct.
In Turkey, Cemal Gürsel's presidency was terminated by the TBMM (Turkish Grand National Assembly) in accordance with the Constitution on March 28, 1966.
Hopefully, FEC will do the needful if Buhari stays longer in vacation than necessary.
“Revolutions are brought about by men who think as men of action and act as men of thought”. –Kwame Nkrumah
In a democracy, the citizens have dreams and aspirations about what they would like their country to be like. The political party system is the mechanism by which those dreams come true by way of policies, rules and regulations. Therefore, politics cannot be separated from a country’s development.
The 2019 election cycle is already here and some think it’s too late to change the rules. We must be aware of how the system works and what needs to be done which was why Enough is Enough – Nigeria (EIENigeria) – a coalition of individuals and organizations committed to instituting a culture of good governance and public accountability in Nigeria through active citizenship hosted a thought provoking conversations on ‘Party Politics 101: The Good, Bad & Ugly’ last weekend in Lagos.
The event which held on Saturday, 8th July at the Muson Centre featured three speakers and a moderator. The three distinguished speakers have a range of experience in running for public office:
AYISHA OSORI, Federal House of Representatives aspirant in Abuja on the platform of the PDP in 2015. She has written a book, Love Does Not Win Elections, documenting her experience. In her book, she states that “money is important but it provides no guarantees”.
BOBO OMOTAYO, Ogun State House of Assembly aspirant on the platform of the PDP in 2011. He wrote a part fictional and part factional account of the experience in a book titled “The Honourable”.
AKINYINKA AKINNOLA, Ondo Gubernatorial aspirant on the platform of the APC in 2016. More importantly, the discourse aptly tagged #NigeriaPost2019 raised some thought provoking conversations on why we have to belong:
Like this one: "You need 3 people to run a successful campaign - a money manager, a politician and a 'mad man'." - @akinnola2016
And this one: "One hilarious truth about politics and politicking is that most people just want to sing and dance."- @boboomotayo And these ones: "Miracles are not going to happen. If we don't participate, things are not going to change." - @boboomotayo
"There is no way the country is going to change at the speed we want it to until we actively participate." - @akinnola2016
"It's not enough to be a Twitter warrior in politics. You need to go out and get involved." - Ayisha Osori
Apparently, citizens make up political parties; citizens vote for candidates; citizens hold them accountable. Little wonder we say, the ‘Office of the Citizen’ is the HIGHEST office in the land! God bless the Federal Republic of Nigeria!
Within two (2) years into the current 8th National Assembly, about four (4) federal lawmakers are facing the recall process largely because of their failure to engage with the citizens at their respective constituencies while in Abuja for the primary purpose of representation and lawmaking for the nation.
DINO MELAYE What do they say is his crime? The constituents, led by one Cornelius Olowo, said the move to recall Melaye is based on his “abysmal performance”. For the past two years, Dino Melaye representing the people of Kogi West Senatorial District under the platform of the APC has not organized one town hall meeting anywhere in his District to meet with the people to present his scorecard or stewardship. The ‘Ajekun Iya’ senator has however asked the court to issue an order of injunction restraining INEC from commencing the process of his recall.
SUNNI OGBUOJI In the case of Senator Sunni Ogbuoji of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) who represents Ebonyi South Senatorial Districts in the Senate. His constituents alleged him of “Criminal abandonment of his Senatorial Districts” and already gave him three (3) months to become more responsive.
BOLARINWA BAMIDELE Bolarinwa, a serving member of House of Representatives, representing the people of Idanre/Ifedore Federal Constituency, in Ondo State under the ruling party, APC. After several media tussles between him, the youth of the constituency and the party elders no recall process has been initiated yet. It is hope that the youth will active the office of the citizen they occupy and demand accountability and good representation.
SULAIMAN HUNKUNYI On the list also is Mr. Sulaiman Hunkunyi, the Senator representing Kaduna North Senatorial District on the same APC ticket. Whose constituents had reportedly alleged loss of confidence in his ability to represent his senatorial district at the National Assembly. Signatures of constituents’ gathered so far not yet up to the required amount by INEC and process already marred with insinuations of alleged threat to life as reported on several media channels.
Will any of the legislators join the league of lucky lawmakers who had in recent times escaped recall or have their names go into the history book as the first set of lawmakers to be sacked by the citizens? Only time, will tell.
Nigeria and its citizens have become so sharply divided with emotions running high on the call for federal restructuring. For many ethnic nationalities, the solution to the country’s multifarious problems is restructuring. Their campaign for true federalism did not begin today. But the campaign keeps reoccurring and became more rampant under the President Buhari led-administration.
Firstly, most agitations for restructuring today are designed to spite the north, to make them look like they are finished without the Niger Delta oil. The resistance from the north is also fuelled by the fear that they are finished without the oil (this is changing, though).
Yet, the indisputable fact is that we are all parasites on this oil. Not too long ago, the downturn in oil prices, coupled with militant activities, brought the nation’s economy to a standstill. We were all in soup. If oil prices had not recovered and militancy had continued, Nigeria would be paralyzed by now. We must however liberate our minds to see the possibilities that exist for everyone.
Another very disturbing fact is that we seem to concentrate so much on Abuja that we don’t even know what is going on in our states. We complain about “budget padding” in the National Assembly but hardly look at “budget padding” in the state houses of assembly. We protest about federal roads being in bad shape but ignore the state of the local roads. We shout all the time about federal universities and ignore the state of schools that are not under the federal government. We grumble about nepotism in Aso Rock and forget about the one in our backyard. We are so Abujacentric that our governors are getting away with murder.
The federal government takes 56% of the federation revenue while the 36 states of the federation take 24% and the 774 councils take 20%. Apparently, we have to restructure this vertical sharing formula urgently. Abuja will continue to insist on keeping 56% because of the responsibilities it is saddled with, but we can also relieve them of these responsibilities.
No one government or administration can provide all the answers to the myriad of problems and challenges confronting us as a country; no matter how determined, resolute, committed and motivated such a government is at the centre.
The citizens have their roles to play, and their obligations to fulfill in order to motivate the government in achieving its stated goals and objectives. Governance is a function of the leadership and the followership. It is a two-way traffic that demands certain responsibilities from those involved and Democracy, anywhere in the world, is a work in progress; and one that is subject to constant evolution and debate. The drums of war are easy to beat, but their rhythms are difficult to dance.
On Wednesday, 14th June 2017, Danladi Umar, the Code of Conduct Tribunal judge, said the Senate President, Bukola Saraki did not have a case to answer on the false assets charge. He dismissed the 18-count charge for failure of the Federal Government to prove essential elements of all the allegations it leveled against Saraki.
Beyond the grandstanding of the President Buhari’s administration on matters of corruption, the case could not have been decided otherwise. Analysis of the case reportage since it commenced in September 2015 show that it was destined for the dustbin. From allegations without diligent investigation, late-coming prosecution witness, burnt evidence which a bank, Guaranty Trust Bank, adduced in its affidavit, and inept prosecution witness, no court worth its name could have convicted Saraki.
Let us not forget the side drama of the usual senators’ large entourage which accompanied Saraki to the court sessions, led by the “controversial lawmaker” facing recall debacle from Kogi State, who is also a member of the ruling APC. Those who prosecuted the case should be asked to look for another job as prosecution is definitely not their forte. Or maybe they deliberately decided to bungle it after coming to a political arrangement with the Senate President for the administration to have a smooth ride in a chamber its party has the majority.
Justice Umar himself showed signs he was relenting and prepared to ‘play ball’ after he offered Saraki water to drink during a session of the trial. Saraki rejected the offer. By this time rumours of corruption had been swirling around the judge himself. It must be clear now to Umar that he had been used for a job he did not understand. Saraki now has the last laugh.
The Buhari government should look at itself too as the war should begin at home. Allegations against its own officials often go uninvestigated and when an investigation is done, a rare occurrence, the citizens are not informed of the outcome. A case in mind is that of the suspended Secretary to the Government of the Federation, Babachir Lawal. The nation is still waiting for the report of the committee headed by the Vice President, Prof. Yemi Osinbajo now acting president, on the suspended SGF.
All is not lost, but the government should do more and keep its house in order instead of pointing an accusing finger at others.
According to a recent survey conducted by BudgIT which shows that ten (10) states can’t pay workers’ salaries and pension despite double bailout funds received from the Federal Government at different intervals. The survey that covered primary school teachers, secondary school teachers, local government workers, state independent workers, pensioners and state secretariat workers also showed that six (6) states of the federation have not paid their workers in 2017.
The civic tech organization in the report of the survey also disclosed that workers in about 20 states were being owed while pensioners were yet to receive their entitlements ranging from one to thirty six months.
States like Kogi, Abia, Benue, Oyo, Ekiti and Ondo have not paid their workers’ salaries for this year 2017; they are owing at least 4 months’ salary. However, the likes of Lagos and Rivers have been consistently impressive with their up to date and full payment of civil servants’ remuneration.
In the same vein, the Organized labour has accused the Federal Government of owing civil servants a whopping N290 billion promotion arrears, lamenting that all efforts at making the government pay had not yielded any positive result.
Matters arising firstly, President Buhari, in his wisdom, gave bailout to governors and state governments to ameliorate and palliate the sufferings of Nigerian workers. It would be recalled that the President addressed the nation and specifically said the bailout funds was for the payment of salaries arrears.
The first set of bailouts was given to governors. Again, a second set of bailouts was given to state governments. As if that was not enough, Paris Club (loan) refund was also released to state governments.
Unfortunately, despite all these tranche of funds; releases of Bailout 1, Bailout 2 and Paris Club refunds, salaries are not been paid by the state Governors, public tertiary institutions in many of these states had been shut for several months now due to strike actions by various staff unions over non-payment of their salaries, co-operative deductions, amongst others.
It is however very pitiable with the paltry N18,000 minimum wage which is grossly inadequate for Nigerian workers considering the current economic situation in the country will still not be paid as at when due. It is even more worrisome with the case of the pensioners, those who have served their fatherland conscientiously.
No doubt, the dwindling state of revenue from the oil has refused to stop. States have continued to struggle to pay salaries of workers despite the bail-out funds it received from the Federal Government through the Central Bank of Nigeria.
It is hoped that, “the labours of our heroes either past or present shall never be in vain”.
On April 27th, the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) commenced the continuous voters’ registration exercise at its 774 local government offices across the country and remains continuous all year round.
The Continuous Voter Registration (CVR) is an exercise meant for the registration of citizens who turned 18 years of age after the last registration exercise; or those who for one reason or another could not register in the previous exercise.
The 2010 Electoral Act (as amended) mandates the electoral body to carry out CVR process nationwide and after each year, the names and addresses of each person registered during that year should be made available to every political party within 60 days.
The main activities of the ongoing Nationwide CVR are to make fresh registration, transfer and distribution of Permanent Voters Card (PVCs).
Focusing on the logistics and operational mode of the electoral umpire, the Continuous Voter Registration exercise is been carried out at the INEC Local Government offices and designated centres between the hours of 9.00am and 3.00pm daily, Mondays to Fridays, excluding public holidays.
To be considered eligible for the CVR, the followings are required:
• Be a citizen of Nigeria.
• Attained the age of 18 years, on or before the registration day.
• Above 18 years and could not register in any of the previous registration exercise.
• Resident, works in, or originate from the LGA/Area Council or RA/Ward covered by the Registration Area Centre.
• Not subject to any legal incapacity to vote under any law, rules or regulations in force in Nigeria.
• The person must present him/her self to the CVR officers for registration and is able to provide proof of identity, age and nationality, if requested.
In cases where citizen has registered before but his/her name/photograph/fingerprints were not captured; such a person must provide his/her Temporary Voters Card (TVC) and such a person has PVC or TVC but names not on Register of Voters.
It is hoped that citizens who have not registered before now will avail themselves the opportunity of the CVR and get registered so they can exercise their electoral franchise as a citizen and those who are already registered not to do so again as registering more than once, is an offence.
President Muhammadu Buhari clocks two years in office, it is very imperative to take an assessment of the regime in terms of its performance in the critical areas of its campaign promises viz-a-viz combating the security challenges, anti-corruption crusade, revamping the economy and in those areas that Citizens wanted action taken.
It remains unforgettable that PMB came to power based essentially on the allure of his character and the very strong and successful de-marketing of President Good luck Jonathan by the APC campaign machinery.
In assessing PMB’s mid-term regime, the landslide achievement would be in the area of security. Boko Haram has been substantially contained such that none of their leaders or spokespersons is issuing statements frequently in recent times unlike the last administration of President Goodluck Jonathan.
Over one hundred of the abducted Chibok school girls have been released to the government and are getting reunited with their parents. This is a great achievement for which Nigerians will never forget this government.
The fight against corruption is also steadily going on. The Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) has recovered over N17 billion through the whistle – blowing policy. Some past untouchables are being brought to book. The former National Secuirty Adviser, Col. Sambo Dasuki and other former top military officials are being investigated in the misappropriation of funds meant for procurement of arms for the fight against terrorism albeit, the Central Bank which helped in dispensing all these outrageous sums has been shielded from probe. The all-important petroleum sector where ridiculous theft took place in the last regime is yet to be investigated let alone prosecuted.
In the critical dimension of the economy, quality of life, public service delivery and even the rule of the law, the country has not fared much better. Yes! Some significant progress has been made to counter the Boko haram but other security issues like Fulani herdsmen and host communities bloody clash and incessant kidnappings still remain. True, the anticorruption campaign has achieved a higher level of consciousness among the people; the results are yet mixed and look limited in scope.
Much of what PMB regime has done in the last two years is clearing the Augean stable and laying the foundation – the super structure that will support the structures that are sure to come with the coming years. From the ease of doing business, the alignment of monetary, fiscal and trade policies, strategic engagement with the Niger Delta, National Economic Recovery and Growth Plan, TSA, Budget reforms, Open Government Partnership, whistle-blowing policy and all are software that would support the hardware that is expected to unfurl in the coming years. But whether that is enough to win him re-election if the FG were to call election today, is left to conjecture.
The beginning of good governance which is the responsibility of all arms and all the tiers of government is openness, engagement and transparency. It does not matter what else we try to do as long as one arm of government shrouds its activities, administration and management in opaqueness and practices rife with corruption. Only very little, if anything at all, can be achieved in pulling Nigeria on the path of sustainable and enduring democratic system, development and progress if Nigerian politicians continue with this trend.
It is no more news that, the member of the House of Representatives representing Bosso and Paiko Federal Constituency of Niger State, Salihu Adamu was beaten into a coma by aggrieved youths of his constituency. The youths accused him of not attending political meetings since he was elected about two years ago.
Still on this trajectory of Citizens’ Actions, angry youths attacked Katsina State Governor, Bello Masari, the Senator representing Katsina South, Abu Ibrahim and a member of the House of Representatives representing Bakori/Danja Federal Constituency, Amir Tukur on April 15, 2017. They were attacked at a political event organized by the state chapter of the All Progressives Congress (APC) in Funtua, Katsina.
Governance without engagement they say will be a mockery of democracy. Active youths protested the lack of support for the Federal Government’s anti-graft war by the lawmakers representing Niger State on April 18, 2017. The aggrieved youths vowed to initiate the recall process for all the Senators from the State if they failed to support the Federal Government’s anti-graft war.
It is in the light of demands for active citizens to continually engage with elected public officials, voters under the aegis of the Concerned Citizens of Northern Kaduna Senatorial District have initiated moves to recall their Senator, Suleiman Othman Hunkuyi. They petitioned the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) Chairman, Prof. Mahmood Yakubu to request that a referendum be conducted to recall the Senator. The voters explained that the recall process was initiated as a result of their loss of confidence in his ability to represent their interests at the National Assembly.
Active Citizens’ can identify and engage with their representatives by texting ‘SYE’ & your ‘Polling Unit Number (top left corner of your voters card) to 20050. Example: Send SYE 24/10/07/03 to 20050.
Citizens can also recall their legislators if dissatisfied with their conduct and performance. Visit: bit.ly/RecallProcess to understand how to recall your legislator.
Rather than result to unrest and heating up the polity, Active Citizens’ should begin to organize themselves in a more civil manner and not agonize. Engage with your elected representatives through Phone Call, SMS, Email or Town Hall Meetings.
Ask questions anywhere and everywhere!
Despite persistent outcry by active citizens for #OurNASS to open its financial books to the public, the National Assembly on Thursday, May 11, successfully published details of its 2017 budget.
The NASS shared a document of the budget which amounted to N125 billion. A budget of N125 billion ($409 million) for a house whose total population is 469 members can be adjudged to be bogus and unpatriotic.
Findings revealed that the National Assembly 2017 budget is larger than that of some states in the country. For a more appropriate description, the budget is larger than a combination of 2017 budgets of two states in Nigeria (Nassarawa – 67.103 b, Anambra – 58.9 b among other states budget that could be peered).
The National Assembly is regarded as one of the world’s most expensive when measured against the standard of living of an average Nigerian, and the government’s total revenue and spending.
The N125 billion spending for 2017 is three percent of the entire federal budget, while the United States, for instance, spent only 0.17 percent of its total budget to run its Congress the same year.
If efficiency will begin in government, the National Assembly has to show example as the highest organ of accountability. Why so much money for photocopiers, vehicles, insurance, legal services, travels and training?
Some people are of the opinion that the national assembly is too expensive to maintain. They even advocate it should be reduced to part time duties, others assert it should be scrapped and I just wonder why some people lack sense of humor. All the walk outs, the grammars, the back and forth decisions, the quarrels and the fights are simply enough to relieve us of the pains of recession.
If National Assembly spends N7.7bn on cars at an average of N25m each, that’s 300 cars. Is National Assembly planning to do Uber car hire service? Why is the National Assembly spending ten times the budget of a university and a teaching hospital? Why do legislative aides earn more than the entire personnel cost of a university in Nigeria?
Active Citizens, #AskQuestions!
It’s over! The era of secrecy surrounding the details of budgetary allocations to the National Assembly is now well and truly over. The four-year-old advocacy for accountability in the spending of the legislature finally climaxed last week with the release of the National Assembly’s budget breakdown. As you might expect, there are a few interesting discoveries — it’s not for fun that this is the first such public release in eight whopping years. We’ve learnt many new things, but we’ll share just 10 with you.
National Assembly gets statutory transfers: One thing you should first realise is that the National Assembly gets statutory transfers. This means that to guarantee its independence, funds must be compulsorily released to it. These funds are not subject to revenue performance and there is hardly a history of National Assembly returning funds to the treasury. You can actually take the National Assembly budget as actual spending. Federal Audit recently indicted the National Assembly management for irregularities with the reconciliations and returns. However, no punishment has been given,
Overhead over salary for NILS: The National Institute of Legislative Studies (NILS) has a personnel cost of N285.5m but runs an overhead that is four times the salary of its workforce. The agency plans to spend N489m — more than its personnel cost — on trainings, and another N250m on travels. Don’t forget that this same agency has only N285m earmarked for its personnel costs. The agency also plans to spend N237m on purchase of motor vehicles in 2017 and its permanent office is expected to gulp N2.42bn. Inexplicable!
National Assembly ‘cleaners’ are millionaires: The General Services of the National Assembly will cost N12.6bn, with National Assembly expected to spend N4bn on parliamentary conferences and bilateral meetings. This is more than the combined capital allocation for 10 federal universities. Engineering Maintenance services has an allocation of N1.13bn and there are layers of such in the budgets of House of Reps and Senate. A sum of N640m is appropriated for constitutional amendment, NASS Information Technology Connectivity will gulp N694m and Insurance of properties will cost N1.62bn. But here’s the most interesting part: cleaning services for the National Assembly will gulp N606m. Want to hit it big without really sweating it? Set up a cleaning company — and get contracted to the National Assembly. Easy!
Photocopying machines aren’t that cheap: National Assembly Office or Management has staff whose personnel cost is nearly equal that of a standard University or teaching hospital in Nigeria. A sum of N6.7bn was allocated for the management office personnel costs. Provision of vehicles is to cost N657m, that’s another 33 new cars in a year! Photocopying machines and “other office equipment” will cost N369m. Now you know — in case you didn’t — that photocopying machines, the original ones, are not as cheap as you must be thinking. Security equipment will costs N440m. The costs of travel and training for these agencies will cost over N2bn. Material and supplies and maintenance cost will gulp N1.59bn, N467m is meant for consulting fees and N471m is allocated for insurance premium. The sum of N451m meant for miscellaneous expenses includes refreshment meals, medical expenses and publicity. For a management office of the National Assembly, there is a total sum of N15bn — higher than the allocation for University of Ibadan. Staggering!
‘Miscellaneous’ has suffered: After the National Assembly Management planned N657m expenditure as shown above, the purchase of vehicles by the National Assembly Service Commission will gulp N224m. The same agency will spend N275m on travels and N206m for trainings. “Miscellaneous” expenses, which include direct teaching costs and medical expenses, will cost N278.6m. It will be good to mention that there is a functional National Assembly hospital and also a federal government-funded National Health Insurance Scheme. At this rate, even “Mr. Miscellaneous” must be surprised by his own versatility, that ubiquitous ability to surface whenever questionable expenses are being made. Abuse!
Professors must be getting jealous of legislative aides: Apart from the huge cost in the National Assembly Service Commission, legislative aides will spend N9.6bn, with N8.9bn being costs for salaries. Why will the entire aides that serve 469 lawmakers get paid more than all professors in a university? Professors must be jealous already! Any undergraduate out there mulling a career in the academia? Think twice, because legislative aides are some of the highest earners around. Incredulous!
Public Accounts Committee filled with gluttons: It’s hard to think any any different when the Public Accounts Committee will spend N262m, and the bulk of the funds goes to N89m for honorarium and — you heard right — refreshment. Only plausible explanation for spending so much on food is that the committee members have a voracious appetite for food. The Public Accounts Committee that oversees the Office of the Auditor-General and usually headed by an opposition member has not considered the audit reports over the years and has not recommended sanctions. Of what benefit, then, is this huge expenditure to the country if the committee rarely considers audit reports submitted by the Auditor General of the Federation? Incomprehensible!
National Assembly TV is wasting away: The total allocation to the House of Representatives is N49bn but 10% of this is for personnel costs, showing compliance with the RMAFC-approved remuneration. The devil is in the overheads with N39.6bn allocation. This means it costs Nigeria N110m every year to service the House of Reps members. A bulk of the overheads goes to committees activities and investigative hearings to which N8.8bn was allocated. The lower chamber has another budget of N3.845bn for vehicles. Live coverages cost N1.55bn and welfare packages will gulp N398m. Meanwhile, there is a fully licensed and equipped National Assembly TV not being utilised; this huge cost on live coverage to gulp another N2.25bn can reduced by putting that TV to use. Suspicious!
We’re serving senators, they’re not serving us: The Senate is no different. It has a budget of N2.76bn for vehicles and N1.247bn for purchase of security equipment. A sum of N10.9bn is allocated to legislative activities, N424m to photocopying machines and N1.27bn to legal services. The senate personnel line has a total cost of N1.86bn but N25bn for overheads costs. N25bn as overheads means it costs Nigerians N229m to service a senator annually. Gone are the days when leaders serve the people. Times have changed. These days, the people serve their leaders; and the Senate is one fine example. Pathetic!
National Assembly not yet leading by example: If efficiency will begin in government, the National Assembly has to show example as the highest organ of accountability. Why so much money for photocopiers, vehicles, insurance, legal services, travels and training? If National Assembly spends N7.7bn on cars at an average of N25m each, that’s 300 cars. Is National Assembly planning to do Uber car hire service? Why is the National Assembly spending ten times the budget of a university and a teaching hospital? Why do legislative aides earn more than the entire personnel cost of a university in Nigeria? Questions!
Indeed, office of the citizen is the highest office in Nigeria. After 4 years of continuous advocacy (protests, FOI requests, media engagements and citizen education) for an open, transparent and accountable National Assembly, the National Assembly has eventually made details of its 2017 budget public, though it failed to publish details of its 2016 budget.
Also, owing to rising inflation and the depreciation of the naira, the National Assembly has increased its 2017 budget in this year’s Appropriation Bill to N125 billion from the initial proposal of N115 billion. It seems the N10 billion increase is what the National Assembly charge Nigerians for demanding an #OpenNASS.
With N23.347 billion in 2003, the National Assembly’s budget stands at about N115 billion in 2016, representing over 492 per cent rise in 13 years. They decided to take it a bit higher in 2017.
The advocacy and demands of #OpenNASS has remained in the mainstream of discussions over the past 4 years. Goal 1 – make public details of its annual budget – of the #OpenNASS advocacy campaign has been achieved. However, there are 4 other goals of the #OpenNASS campaign. The other advocacy goals are:
Maintain a functional website and make public attendance records at plenary.
Replace voice voting with electronic voting and making voting records public.
Work with the Revenue Mobilisation Allocation and Fiscal Committee (RMAFC) to review and reduce allowances of legislators.
Provide an audit for the N1.15 trillion ($5.75 billion) it received from 2005 – 2014
As active citizens, we’ve got the power and the advocacy is not yet over! Call the #OpenNASS campaign hotlines – 08139861001 or 08139861002 – to learn about more actions you can take to demand for an open, transparent and accountable National Assembly.
We implore the citizens to continually demand for transparency and accountability from their elected officials and keep them on their toes to ensure that governance works for all Nigerians, not for selected few.
The 2017 International Workers’ Day was commemorated on Monday, 1st of May 2017, and declared a public holiday by the Federal government to allow Nigerian workers join their counterparts from all over the world to celebrate the International Workers’ Day also known as Labour Day.
Amidst events to commemorate the day, the leading trade union organizations in the country - the Nigerian Labour Congress (NLC) and Trade Union Congress (TUC) – have heightened their call for the Nigerian government to address issues pertaining to the wages and welfare of Nigerian workers.
Last year, NLC and TUC had submitted a proposal of N56,000 and N90,000 to the Federal Government as new minimum wage and admonished the government to urgently set up a committee to discuss the proposed new minimum wage, but this is yet to be officially bargained, to arrive at a consensus.
Recent figures from NBS put unemployment rates at 13.9 percent, representing a rise in the level of unemployment from Q4 2015 (6.4 percent) to Q4 2016 (10.4 percent). With a population of about 190 million people, from which over 50 per cent are between the ages of 15 to 34 and about 47 per cent of this number is unemployed, experts say the rate of unemployment in Nigeria among this demographic group is dangerous. The National Population Commission also noted that there is a high rate of growth of youth unemployment because every year the universities send thousands of youths to the society in search of jobs.
Similarly, while unemployment has remained at the front burner in most policy discussions in Nigeria, Labour Unions have also argued that strengthening the country’s manufacturing sector could serve as a panacea to resolving the unemployment crisis in the country. In a recent interview, a Labour leader urged the government to re-invest in all the moribund textile factories and steel rolling mills as a way of kick-starting the nation’s economy back to life.
Despite the fact that various programmes have been set up to address the issue of unemployment in the country, only very few of these programmes have recorded maximal impact, compared to the number of youths who are still unemployed till date and sometimes such programmes are mere jamborees, which open a window to fraudulent enrichment of those recruited to implement the programme.
It therefore behooves on stakeholders concerned to bridge this huge gap by thinking out of the box to create some solutions youths in Nigeria can relate with, considering their cultures, peculiarities and their environmental upbringing.
The anti-corruption drive of Mr. President got more kudos upper week when the Director-General of National Intelligence Agency, NIA, Ambassador Ayo Oke, and Secretary to Government of the Federation, Mr. David Babachir Lawal were both suspended. In some quarters, the suspension of these principal figures is long overdue as corrupt acts have been directed towards them. What did they do?
Oke was suspended over the $43 million, £27,000 and N23 million cash found in a luxury apartment at Osborne Towers, Ikoyi, Lagos. Lawal was suspended over involvement of his companies in the controversy surrounding the welfare of Internally Displaced Persons, IDPs, in the North-East. Earlier before now, allegations have been leveled against Lawal on the issue of mismanagement of IDPs’ finances.
To be honest enough, the Presidency has been trying as much as possible to fight corruption, which has been its main focus. On the other hand, it is just unfortunate that some entities are also trying as much as possible to frustrate the anti-corruption efforts. Oke, the NIA boss, had claimed the money belonged to his agency and was approved by the former President Goodluck Jonathan for some covert operation.
The Presidential spokesman, Mr. Femi Adesina, said investigations are going on to find out the circumstances in which the NIA came into possession of the funds. It would also seek to discover how and by whose or which authority the funds were made available to the NIA as well as to establish whether or not there has been a breach of the law or security procedure in obtaining custody and use of the funds. Is Nigeria a Sorry State?
As expected, reactions trailed their suspension. Senator Shehu Sani (APC, Kaduna) described the suspension of the Secretary to the Government of the Federation, Mr. Babachir David Lawal as a welcome development. Sani’s committee had in December last year indicted Lawal in a grass cutting contract scandal worth N200m involving the Presidential Initiative on North East (PINE). Who cuts grasses for that exorbitant amount? The Senate in a unanimous resolution requested President Buhari to sack the SGF. Until now, in a civilized society, the SGF should have been asked to resigned compulsorily; waiting till now is another means of embezzling public funds before they go.
Even beyond their suspension, are they going to go scot-free? Does that mean that if public officials are found wanting in any case, it is only their position that they forfeit? How about facing the wrath of law for their inhumane and unconstitutional behavior? If the SGF, for example, was a man of integrity, he should not have waited to be suspended, he should have asked the President to allow him step down for proper investigation.
It is a sad case that it is only in Nigeria that thieves are being glorified and celebrated. No wonder it is being said that, it is better to be a big thief, who steals millions, rather than a thief who steals little amounts.
Above all, the suspension of these men is “a right step in the right direction”. However, there shouldn’t be delay in adjudicating justice. As the case may be, it gives room for more stealing. Also, replacing these men shouldn’t engulf our precious time unnecessarily because we don’t want delay in governance. We, as active citizens should continue to demand fairness in governance. Also, proper security must be given to whistleblowers because it has exposed a whole lot of things since the whistle blowing policy gained relevance in the country.
We hope that as time goes by, more corrupt officials will be fished out and made to face the wrath of the law.
God bless Nigeria.
As a result of the incessant rise in the rate of corruption In Nigeria, the Obasanjo administration established a special anti-graft agency that will see to the total reduction or eradication of corruption to its barest minimum. Up till now, the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) has been trying its best in seeing that their mission is being carried out judiciously without bias. However, as a delicate governmental organization, has it been able to perform its duties without any iota of doubt or form of blemish?
On Monday April 3, 2017, the Federal High Court in Lagos lifted the order to unfreeze a Senior Advocate of Nigeria, Chief Mike Ozekhome money in Guarantee Trust Bank account for 120 days which means that the Federal government, through the EFCC, lost a case against a senior citizen. Before that, the EFCC lost its cases against the former First Lady; Dame Patience Jonathan, a senior member of the Bench and his wife; Justice & Mrs. Ademola and even Mr Godsday Orubebe, all on corruption charges.
So far, this has caused a stain on EFCC as in due course, people may not take their activities as serious as before. What is the essence of throwing media trail against a citizen only to face series of blame from the Nigerian populace as a whole?
This is where the issue of professional investigation comes into play. Literally, it means that the horse should be placed before the cart and not the other way round. In the words of Yusuf Ali SAN “Proper investigation is the proper foundation for a criminal trial”. In the case of the EFCC, it is not professional to arrest a suspect before investigation. A well detailed investigation will expose the suspect itself which will make it easier to arrest such person and for prosecution. Nigerians are tired of all these discoveries that lead nowhere. Once you do not get your investigation right, you can never get a conviction.
Another issue is that EFCC reveals much of the facts of its cases to the public, especially through the social media, before getting to court. For the fact that this act may attract accolades from people, the court of law doesn’t dwell on that. Judgments are based on facts and the law. Allegation does not translate to conviction. They are two different things. That is why agencies investigating criminal acts must shield the facts from the media except the ones that come out in court. Throwing a lot of findings may actually give room to the defense to find loopholes within a short period of time.
Furthermore, it is highly necessary that the EFCC should be able to eat its humble pie once an investigation shows that there is no case against a person. It should let the case go rather than foot-dragging issues unnecessarily for a long time. Let the EFCC focus its attention on important investigations, not investigations whose evidence cannot be relied upon by any court of law.
We should always remember that no matter how brilliant a person is, an experienced person may prove better most times, if not all the time. The issue of fielding counsels from the police department may not hold water against a team of senior advocates who is representing the defense. Even in law, much respect is accorded to a senior person as against the junior ones. In essence, the government should use the resources at its disposal in employing the services of more capable and experienced “ogbologbo” lawyers who will represent them at the court of law.
Corruption is usually being described as a cankerworm that has eaten deep into the fabrics of our country. Hence, it may be challenging to get an incorrigible individual even in an anti-graft agency. Therefore, the prosecuting teams must consist of trusted persons who believe in fighting corruption – persons, who will not allow themselves, to be corrupted.
Another issue we should thoroughly look into is the issue of strengthening our existing laws. In the words of Macdonald Akhirome, “How best can the laws be reviewed and upgraded to meet with the nature of the crime and the changing trends? The world is becoming a global village and our society is advancing and so is crime. The laws must be reviewed to be able to catch up with modern day realities”.
So true that we still practice some obsolete laws that should have been reviewed or even go down the drain. A lot of innovations have taken place in the world today so it is not a bad idea to have some reforms in our legal system.
Still, we charge our anti-graft agencies to be hardworking as ever .Though the road may look tough as usual, but with proper investigations and an effective team, there is always a light at the end of the tunnel which is winning the much needed victory against corruption.
God Bless the Federal Republic of Nigeria.
One of the reasons why Abdulmumin Jibrin was suspended is not far from the fact that he “whistleblowed” the excessiveness of House of Representatives where he was an active member. For a long time, the masses have been raising alarm over the way corruption is being practiced as a norm in the legislative arm of government. Padding of National budget, siphoning of public funds, irregularities and inconsistencies has thoroughly become the culture they practice over there. Some of the legislators have expressed concern that the National Assembly might not only be weakened by the harsh portrayal in the press, it might also be exposed to public incitement.
While millions of workers are pining away on meager wages and millions more are either unemployed or are being owed salaries for months, legislators are having a good time. They compete with celebrities to flaunt the latest toys in their garage and even find time to make mocking videos. That is why the #OpenNASS campaign has been agitating transparency at the National Assembly.
As expected, there was a show of drama this week between a Chief Executive and as usual, a legislative leader. In particular, between Mallam Nasir El-Rufai, the governor of Kaduna State and Speaker Yakubu Dogara. Yakubu Dogara meant it as a joke when he dared El-Rufai, to remove the log in his own eye by publishing the state’s security vote and how local government funds were disbursed.
Let us be explicit here: the environment of Nigerian politics is littered with presidents and governors who pocketed billions of naira of state funds in a brazen fraud called “security vote.” When security vote is the issue, no names are mentioned and one talks about the details in public. Some people have actually argued that it is a major source of public embezzlement where these politicians get the means of stealing public funds because nothing is usually done at the long run.
When Dogara challenged El-Rufai on Friday the 5th of April, he knew the usual routine, what he didn’t know was that the other guy is one die-hard who won’t give in easily. Even though El-Rufai might be disliked for many reasons, when it comes to clear, forward thinking and getting the job done, you’ll be flawed for underestimating him. After publishing the breakdown of his State spending security matter amongst others, El-Rufai immediately challenged the principal officers of the National Assembly to follow suit.
As if he was expecting it, Dogara released his pay slips for six months showing the breakdown of the speaker’s salary for October, November, December 2016 and January, February, March 2017 to which he earned around 300, 000 naira monthly. Nice one but however, Dogara played a half-game by not releasing the details of the House’s budget and the allowances they enjoy overtime.
In the words of El-Rufai, “The call to #OpenNASS is not a personal one. It is one which the leadership of the national assembly owes to all Nigerians. It is therefore disingenuous for the speaker to use state government budgets as the excuse for the opacity of the NASS budget. There is no state government in Nigeria with a budget nearly as opaque as that of NASS. In March 2016, this National Assembly, led by its chairman, promised to provide a detailed breakdown of the national assembly budget. Nigerians are waiting.”
To be sincere, the issue of #OpenNASS is not the basic pay of the Speaker. Infact, the 6 months’ pay slips that were made public had stamps that read 11th of April, 2017, who is fooling who?
Quoting the spokesman of the Speaker, “Salaries and allowances of about 3, 000 legislative aides and salaries, allowances". So let us calculate, 3000 aides amount to an average of 6 aides per NASS member. Are 6 aides not too much for just one person? Logically, if a member of the House needs an aide, he should do that from his purse, not public funds! That way, the fund for 2,062 could be saved. Making education affordable, embarking on useful skill acquisition programmes and training people to be gainfully employed are means why which they can create good governance for the people that elected them, not accumulating aides like a football bet!
On the other hand, the way the “security vote” is being spent should be properly looked into. How for instance can a governor budget and spend N1.5 Billion Naira on CCTV alone? ...in a country where no suicide bomber or herdsman has ever been identified using CCCTV? Nigeria is becoming a joke!
Conclusively, we enjoy the fact that these leaders are keeping themselves on toes; we however demand that the National Assembly open its books or wallow in its filth as their excess is becoming unbearable. We should all remember that power belongs to the people!!!
CHIBOK AND THE MIRROR IN OUR FACES: SOME REFLECTIONS ON GENDER IN OUR SOCIETY
HIS HIGHNESS MUHAMMAD SANUSI II, CON SARKIN KANO
[Being Text of Speech given at the 1st Chibok Girls Annual Lecture, Transcorp Hilton, Abuja, Nigeria, April 14, 2017]
In the Name of Allah, the Beneficent the Merciful.
It is a great honor for me to have been invited to speak on this landmark occasion of the third year of the atrocious and barbaric attacks in Chibok that led to the capture of hundreds of young girls from the school. In three years Nigerians have been horrified by this act and the consequent crimes of forced marriages, forced labour and may be even sale into slavery. Let me begin by congratulating my sister and friend Oby Ezekwesili and all the other sisters and brothers in BBOG who have kept this issue alive and remain committed until we see all the girls back.
As we remember the girls captured in Chibok three years ago, we must remember that they constitute only a fraction of the victims of this insurgency. I would urge BBOG, while you keep this issue of Chibok on the table, to broaden your message to cover all girls and boys abducted by BH, and also draw attention to the condition of girls and women in our society in general.
To give you an idea of the extent of this problem, as at today, in Dalori 2 IDP camp near Maiduguri alone, there are over 1,500 BH-abducted girls who are either pregnant or carrying babies, who have been freed by the military. Hundreds of orphaned children are being carried away to unknown destinations and they are all gone into oblivion due to society’s neglect. It is therefore critical, for the BBOG to gain much broader support in the populace and be more effective, to use the dramatic case of the Chibok girls as a referent and a plank, but not the exclusive focus of its struggle. Our interest should be in Bringing back all our girls. But after these girls are brought back, shall we ask ourselves as well: where are they being brought back to? What kind of society? How much better is the “normal” environment we all take for granted than Boko Haram camps?
These questions ultimately force us to face the reality that the kind of society we have created in fact is the root cause for the emergence of groups like Boko Haram and occurrences like the Chibok tragedy.
All my life, I have been engaged deeply with the question of women and the oppressed and marginalized groups in our society. I have come to accept, like you, that remaining committed to this discourse is a risky and potentially costly venture in this environment. The elite consensus is about a culture of silence and complicity, where everyone remains in his or her comfort zone, and where the voiceless majority are allowed to remain where they are.
The argument, it seems, is why should you care about poor rural women when you are able to educate your own daughters in the best schools in the world? Why should you hold up a mirror to our faces, expose our unclean underbelly and remind us of the brutish life to which, over many decades, we have subjected a large mass of our population?
Our colleagues and compatriots among the elite do not like statistics. Numbers are disturbing. I recently gave a speech in which I said the North-East and North-West of Nigeria are the poorest parts of the country. This simple statement of fact has generated so much heat the noise is yet to die down. But what really are the facts? The oxford Poverty and Human Development Initiative (OPHI) and the UNDP in 2015 published data on the incidence of poverty in Nigeria showing that, on average, 46% of Nigerians are living in poverty. This is based on the UN’s Global Multi-Dimensional Poverty Index which focuses on Education, Health and Living Standards. Although this average is in itself bad, it masks even more serious internal inequalities and incidences of extreme poverty by region and gender. So for example the South-West of Nigeria has less than 20% of its population living in poverty while the North-West
has more that 80% of its population living in poverty. In the North-East the figure is 76.8%. Over 90% of the people in Yobe and Zamfara States are living in poverty compared to 8.5% in Lagos and around 11% in Osun and Anambra states.
The response to this speech has been a barrage of personal attacks and insults aimed at silencing any voices that dare shine the light on the society to which we are saying Bring Back our Girls. There are those who believe these attacks are aimed at discrediting me personally but even if that is the objective it will not work. I can only be discredited by what I have done and not by insults and lies on the Social-media. And in any event, personal criticism has no impact on the issues.
These attacks are aimed at diverting attention from the issues raised and all of us who are involved in this struggle must remember a few things. We are dealing with an anti-intellectual environment, and with people whose failure has bred a sense of insecurity which leads to incomprehensible, almost insane, reactions to simple advice. Secondly, that these problems are deep-seated and have been there for a long time so changing mind-sets will be a difficult and painful process. Finally we must never succumb to the temptation to join our opponents in the gutter. You may say what you like about me for as long as you like, so long as you address the issues. As Michelle Obama famously said: “when they go low, we go high”.
Instead of hiding these statistics and being scared of repeating them, what we need to do is bring out even more of these data. These are already published and easily verifiable but not often discussed in the public space. But these data help us understand what poverty means for girls and women.
According to published research:
Over 70.8% of women in North-West are unable to read and write compared to 9.7% in the South-East zone;
More than 2/3 of 15-19 year old girls in the North are unable read a single sentence compared to less than 10% in the South;
In 8 northern states, over 80% of the women are unable to read and write
Only 4% of females complete Secondary schools in Northern Nigeria;
78% of adolescent girls are in marriages in the North West, 68% in the North East and 35% in the North-Central-these numbers clearly mirroring the poorest regions in the country. The statistics in the other zones are 18% in SS, 17% in the SW and 10% in the SE.
Apart from the huge loss of productivity and incomes caused by the lack of focus in education, especially for girls, adolescent marriages have led to serious social and health outcomes. One Nigerian woman dies in childbirth every 10 minutes. The NE zone has maternal mortality rate of over 1,500 per 100,000. This is more than five times the global average. I can go on and on.
These statistics are not flattering. And they speak to a truth that is inconvenient to most of us. But the culture of silence must end. We have a problem. In fact we have an existential crisis. And all of us in this country, politicians, intellectuals, Emirs and traditional rulers, religious leaders, businesses, NGOS have to come together to solve this. The real patriots in the North are those who are honest enough to accept this reality and insist on change.
The consequences of ignoring this crisis are unimaginable. And I wonder if the public generally recognizes this. It is a vicious cycle. Children of educated mothers are 50% more likely to survive beyond the age of 5, and educated mothers are more likely to send their own children to school. Meanwhile every extra year of education for the girl child could increase her earning capacity by 10%. Infants born to a mother under 18 suffer from 60% higher risk of dying in the first year of their life when compared to infants born to a mother aged 19 or older. Girls who become pregnant below the age of 15 in poor countries have double the risk of maternal death and obstetric fistula than older women. In addition, girls under age 15 are 5 times more likely to die from maternity related causes than women under 20.
The statistics that are provided therefore represent the tragedy in the lives of real human beings. This problem is most severe in the NW and NE but the North-Central zone also fares worse that the three zones in the south.
Let me state at this point that the issues faced by women go beyond girl-child education, early marriage and poverty. Educated women still have to deal with issues of equal opportunities in the work-place, and unwritten but no less real gender discrimination.
As Governor of Central Bank and Chairman of the Bankers’ Committee I forced the question of addressing the gendered work-place to the fore. We officially adopted a policy of aiming for at least 50% of employees of banks and the CBN being female by 2014. Also to address glass ceilings we pushed for at least 40% of Senior Management in the CBN and banks, as well as 30% of the Board of Directors being female.
By the time I left Central Bank I had ensured that the myth that women were only good enough to run Human Resources and Medical Services which are more suited to what is called, rather condescendingly, their “nature”. In addition to these two departments, I appointed women as directors in charge of core technical areas in the Central Bank including Banking Supervision, Risk Management, Consumer Protection, Internal Audit, Branch Operations and the Governor’s Special Adviser on Environmental, Sustainability and Governance Policies.
By deliberately pushing for the promotion of outstanding and highly competent female staff, we showed the Industry what could be achieved by women. We also developed and launched in 2013 a N220 billion MSME development fund with a condition that 60% of it is to be devoted to female entrepreneurs and businesses. I declared 2012 as ‘’the year of women economic empowerment’’ and trained NDIC and CBN employees and Management Staff on sustainability and gender. Also, in collaboration ILO, we launched FAMOS (Female and Male Operated Small Business) toolkit specifically to measure how financial institutions serve their female clients.
I am going over this now to make the point that my engagement with issues of gender and opportunity for women did not begin when I became emir, and my current engagement with forced marriages, domestic violence, arbitrary divorce, property and maintenance rights for women etc. is not new. It is also not a politically-motivated attack on any group.
The point I seek to stress is that BBOG needs to transform itself from a group defined by the narrow focus on an incident, to one that addresses the broader social reality of African women, and particularly women in Nigeria, especially the North.
We all claim to be horrified by what BH has done. We all call this primitive and barbaric. They forcefully took young girls out of school, forced them into marriages without their consent or love, impregnated them and turned them into mothers at a young age and exposed them to serious health risks, may be inflicted beatings and verbal abuse on them.
We are all horrified. Really. But let us pause a little. These things that horrify us, do they not happen every day in every village in northern Nigeria and some parts of the South? Do these girls complete their education? Do they all grow up and give their consent to marriage when they are old enough to? Does domestic violence not happen?
It is often not the fault of the girls or their parents. What do they do if there are no educational and health facilities made available to the poor? So the discourse on gender has to be looked at in the context of the discourse on poverty and governance. And this is why many people are not comfortable. The fact is that poverty in the North and in Nigeria, is not inevitable but a result of decades of failed social policy. It is only by recognizing this and accepting it that we can even hope to make progress. If we do not, then the society to which these girls are brought back will be no better than where they are now.
Let me conclude with a few remarks. Anyone who challenges a system or fights for the voiceless must be ready for a serious backlash. Character assassination, slander, blackmail and intimidation are the normal tools employed by those who defend and profit from the status quo.
The poor people for whom you fight are voiceless by necessity. Those of us who are fortunate to be part of the elite and who choose not to speak for them are voiceless by choice. We want to protect ourselves and our loved ones from the pain of being insulted and abused on social media. We want to hold on to the small comforts of our status. We want access to power and to be seen as friends of those in power and members of our inner-circle. We are afraid of being destroyed by ruthless state machinery. We have a morbid fear of being isolated, of not belonging to an exclusive club close to power.
The reality is that everything in this world is fragile. Life itself will come to an end and we lose money and position and loved ones all the time. The only thing we have control over is who we are, what we stand for, what we represent. Being a coward or a sycophant will not add one day to your life or one day to the term of any of the things you hold dear. The worst silence is that which happens in the face of injustice. Do not be intimated. Do not be silenced. Do not betray your conscience or sell your soul. Do not fear any human being. Stand up and take all the bullets that are fired at you but never kneel down. If you have to die, please die standing and not on your knees. Most important, ignore the noise. Do not defend yourself too much against personal attacks because they want your person, not the issues you raise, to be discussed. I know it is tough, I go through this every day, but I have learnt that after all the insults and blackmail the issues remain and will not disappear until they are addressed. That is your task, put these issues on the table and do not walk away until they are resolved.
Thank you for your kind attention and we pray that Allah return all our girls and boys safely to a better society.
Just like we highlighted last week, the drama continued. As ever, our hallowed chamber is the scene of attention with different gladiators politically arm-wrestling each other. For a long time it seems as if the essence of governance and the role they have to play has been forgotten or swept down the drain. Just like it happened in January, a gladiator was caught, this time aware unlike the other time.
Senator Ali Ndume (Borno South) was suspended by the Nigerian Senate for triggering investigations into allegations of forgery against the Senate President, Bukola Saraki, and Kogi senator, Dino Melaye. News reports accused Mr. Saraki of importing a Range Rover SUV without paying appropriate import duty, and attempting to clear the vehicle with falsified papers. On the other hand, Mr. Melaye was accused of falsely claiming to have graduated from Ahmadu Bello University.
According to Ndume, the Senate has integrity to protect as those allegations were published on the front page of newspapers hence, the house must duly investigate those issues and take necessary measures. In response to Ndume’s call, the Senate dismissed both allegations, and sanctioned Mr. Ndume by suspending him for six months. Your thought is as good as mine, for suggesting the Red Chambers to investigate issues surrounding its integrity?
As expected, the suspension raised a lot of eyebrows especially among the people of Borno. Not long after his suspension, delegations were seen going to visit the Senate President, all in a bid to reinstate Ndume. Quite alright, some schools of thought believe that Ndume should have properly investigated the issue before presenting it before the whole house but really, he belongs to the Senate and he has the right to raise whatsoever issue is bothering the integrity of the institution and even if he should be penalized for the ‘false alarm’, it shouldn’t be for a long period because the 6 months would be calculated based on the number of days the senate sit for plenary. For the purpose of democracy, he was elected by the people of Borno South because they felt he is going to represent them well at the upper chamber, now that he is on suspension, who will defend their interest for over a calendar year?
Still, we cannot but link these scenarios to the 2019 race. At one point or the other, every political principal is trying as much as possible to be relevant and probably eliminate the chances of a prospective opposition. You either join the train or you remain discarded, partially or totally. Right from the period Ndume was politically replaced by Lawan as the Senate Majority leader, the handwritings were gradually becoming obvious even to a blind man. The people Ndume accused are strong men of the legislature who belong to a powerful caucus in the house to which Ndume belong before now. So it is right to say he played into their hands and he was dealt with accordingly.
Definitely, the end will always justify the means. As a Distinguished member of the Nigerian Senate, bringing the matter up at plenary was too open and tends to cast aspersions on the integrity of the Senate. Still banking on his experience, he should have employed the right means in tabling his concerns. We may rightly say he is aware of the outcome before saying it out.
Whatever happened to lobbying? As it stands, he has held the people of his constituency to ransom. He belongs to the Senate and he has to obey the rules of engagement at the chamber. On the other hand, if he feels the suspension is unjust, he can seek succor from the judiciary, it is democracy anyway.
Moving forward, this is a clarion call to all eligible voters across all constituencies in the country to properly select or elect those who represent them at various political positions. Once voted in, these politicians should actually project the concerns of those who they are representing and not dive into unnecessary personal political brouhaha which ultimately distort the process of good governance.
In a case where a particular arm of government is displaying excesses in their conduct, the principle of checks and balance must be put into place. Though we practice a democratic system, the people that occupy those democratic positions must do that with openness, fairness and with utmost sincerity leaving room for good governance.
In pursuit of a corrupt-free society, we hope the President will see to ensuring that sanity prevails in the land, transparency, accountability and #OpenNASS will be guiding philosophy of the legislative arm of government so as to maintain the proper doctrines of good governance as soon as possible.
The masses are however still expecting the change they voted for.
Nigeria’s Senate on March 30, passed the Electoral Act No. 6 2010 (Amendment) Bill 2017. The amendments are the most ambitious and wide ranging attempt at further enhancing the provenance of electoral conduct in Nigeria.
In one of its more consequential decisions, Nigeria’s Senate on March 30, passed the Electoral Act No. 6 2010 (Amendment) Bill 2017. This follows years of mostly unsuccessful attempts - the current amendments are aimed at instituting more reform in the electoral process and make it freer, fairer and credible.
The Electoral Act, 2010, which replaced a 2003 law, was first passed by the National Assembly on 29 July 2010 and signed into law by President Goodluck Jonathan on 20 August 2010. The law provides the basic legal framework for regulating the conduct of Federal, State and Area Council elections in the country. Before now, there had been two successful amendments to the 2010 Electoral Act. The first amendment, the Electoral (Amendment) Act 2010, provided for adequate time for the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) to issue notices, receive nomination of candidates from political parties and ensure the proper conduct of political parties. The second amendment, the Electoral (Amendment) Act (No.2), 2011, contained only one amendment aimed at abridging the time within which INEC should stop the registration of voters before any general election under the Act from 60 days to 30 days.
Last Thursday’s amendments are the most ambitious and wide ranging attempt at further enhancing the provenance of electoral conduct in Nigeria. The new provisions, amongst other things, abolish arbitrary fees for nomination forms fixed by political parties, provide a clear process for a political party whose candidate dies after commencement of an election and before the declaration of the result of that election, and perhaps most importantly, grants the electoral umpire “unfettered powers” to conduct elections by electronic voting – a provision that many had called for but proved controversial enough to stymie the last two attempts at amending the electoral law. Thus, a presidential aspirant in a Nigerian election will pay no more than N10 million as a nomination fee during the political primary process. As context, President Muhammadu Buhari paid N20 million to obtain his All Progressives Congress nomination form during the 2015 election cycle, an event made memorable by his regular quips on the campaign trail that he had to take out a loan in order to purchase it. For state governors, that figure is now N5 million.
Other important provisions include the introduction of a full biometric accreditation of voters with smart card readers and other technological devices, the instant transmission of accreditation data and results from polling units to various collation centres, with an imprisonment term of at least five years without the option of a fine attached for non-compliance, the introduction of an electronic register of voters which must be published on the INEC website at least 30 days before a general election as well as a national electronic register of election results as a distinct database or repository of polling unit by polling unit results for all elections conducted by INEC. Card readers were first used during the 2015 general elections, but the Supreme Court, in its rulings on the Abia, Delta, Rivers and Akwa Ibom governorship votes, famously criticised its use. Although INEC continued to use card readers to accredit voters in rerun elections that followed the 2015 polls, this is the first time the technology is receiving full legislative backing.
On political party conduct, a key aspect of INEC’s work which has drawn criticism in the past, the new amendment makes some important interventions. A political party whose candidate dies after the commencement of an election and before the declaration of the result of that election now has a 14-day window within which to conduct a fresh primary in order for INEC to conduct a fresh election within 21 days of the death of the party’s candidate. This move is aimed at preventing the kind of crisis that followed the 2015 Kogi governorship election in which Audu Abubakar, the candidate of the All Progressives Congress who was leading the poll, died before the final returns were made.
Political parties’ polling agents are now entitled to inspect originals of electoral materials before the commencement of an election.
Crucially for fundamental rights advocates, no political party is allowed to impose qualification/disqualification criteria, measures or conditions on any Nigerian for the purpose of nomination for elective offices, except as provided in the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, 1999. That is, the election of a winner of an election can no longer be challenged on grounds of qualification, if he, the (winner) satisfied the applicable requirements of sections 65 (which provides for age limits, educational attainment and political party affiliation for elections into the Senate and Federal House of Representatives), 106 (same as s.65 but for state Houses of Assembly), 131 (for the Presidency) or 177 (for a governorship) of the Constitution. While the amendments are silent on it, it seems that the new rules also prevent INEC itself from attaching additional qualification/disqualification criteria for the elections it conducts and supervises.
Considering the history of electoral practice in Nigeria, many of the new legislative provisions are overdue, and are a vindication of the public campaign led by former INEC Chairman, Attahiru Jega, to push electoral reforms through the National Assembly – he had called for many of the new rules, especially on e-voting, the e-register and the arbitrary nomination fees charged by political parties which essentially devolved into a race-to-the-bottom, fundraising endeavour. The devil, as with many laudable initiatives introduced in Nigeria will be in the application. On electronic voting, the infrastructure is only being rolled out, and while INEC in the past has said it is working on training full and ad-hoc staffers on how to properly deploy and use these devices, the mostly botched experience with the card readers in 2015, as well as other e-initiatives as the National Identity Card scheme and the introduction of electronic examination testing by government testing bodies are a cursory reminder that Nigerian officialdom has a chequered and unsatisfactory track record of utilising technology to achieve its aims.
On paper, Nigeria has some of the most robust electoral rules of any emerging democracy. Unfortunately, most of them are primarily observed in the breach. A prime illustration of this trend are the campaign financing rules under the current Electoral Act 2010. The Act provides spending curbs for all electoral contests in the country. However, there is anecdotal evidence from the 2010 and 2015 elections that the primary political parties all breached their upper spending limits – capped at N1 billion for the presidential contest, N200 million for governorship votes, N40 million for the Senate and N20 million for the Reps races respectively. According to the The Westminster Foundation for Democracy, the Peoples Democratic Party spent N8.74 billion during the 2015 Elections. Furthermore, a report by Compliance and Content Monitoring Ltd, the PDP accounted for about N2.5 billion or 77 percent of the total spending with APC shelling N728 million on political campaign advertisement. Estimates by civil society group, Centre for Social Justice show that the PDP expended N3.5 billion on publicity between December 2014 and February 2015, the campaign high period, while the APC spent N1.42 billion during the same period.. A significant portion of spending on fiercely contested votes in the country, especially at the national level is in US dollars – an occurrence which partly explains the notable drop in the country’s foreign reserves following the 2015 elections. In addition, while the new rules contain stiff imprisonment terms for illegal activities by INEC officials and political actors, it does not prevent persons convicted of electoral offences from recontesting for office.
Political uncertainty may yet claim this latest effort at electoral reform as a high profile victim. The political hurdles that this Bill still needs to scale may be significant considering the current tensions between the executive and the legislature. The new provisions need to be passed in the exact form by the House of Representatives before presidential assent will confirm them as law. The fact that the Bill is not an Executive Bill, but one primarily put together by lawmakers who have frustrated some of the President’s efforts at getting key nominees confirmed (including, rather ironically, resident electoral commissioners for 21 of Nigeria’s 36 states) may set the stage for the executive to exert some retribution on the Senate and possibly, the House of Representatives.
Nigeria is gradually becoming a theatre, not of dreams, but that in which plays and drama become the order of the day. In recent times, the media is often portraying one scandal or the other. Our elected officials digress and shift their attentions away from the necessary things that make up a government. Instead, they focus on unnecessary frivolities at the expense of those who elected them to take up political positions. Ibrahim Magu’s re-confirmation took a long time, the non-wearing of uniform by the Customs became another big issue.
In a tweet on the 20th of March, Sahara Reporters (a major media brand) accused Senator Dino Melaye (Kogi West), of not graduating from the Ahmadu Bello University. Quoting the tweet “In 2016 DG DSS Daura met with one of the Exam Officers from ABU, a DSS team investigated and concluded @Dino_melaye didn't graduate”. His name was not even on the list of convocation and even on the alumni list.
“Exams Officers at ABU, Zaria insist that @dino_melaye never graduated from Geography Department, they said Dino’s name was not on the graduation list.
“Exam officers stated that @dino_melaye failed GENS 201, GEOG 307 (Long Field Trip Course), GEOG 404, GEOG 411 and GEOG 426.
“At least 3 Exam Officers at ABU, Zaria insist that @dino_melaye never graduated from Geography Dept, DG DSS alerted but covered it up.
“@dino_melaye didn’t graduate from ABU, he applied for a PG programme at UNIJOS, he came to ABU for transcript, none could be provided.
Also the media outfit debunked his claim of having 8 degrees including the ones from the London School of Economics & Harvard Business School. As expected, Dino Melaye also responded on twitter insisting that he can never be cowed and he is expecting indictment from the media body. To save himself from the accusations, he released the picture he took during NYSC in ‘1999’.
In response to Sahara reporters’ claims, London School of Economics and the Harvard Business School confirmed that Dino never obtained a degree from their respective institutions only that he attended some events on their campus. As expected, Dino became the subject of discussion as the people expected Ahmadu Bello University to give their own side as regards Dino’s status just like other institutions. It took the intervention of the senate to invite the present VC of the institution who disclosed that Dino graduated with a 3rd class from the Ivory tower in 2000.
That is a major blow on the way we run things in this country. It took those foreign institutions some minutes to deny Dino’s certificate from them. Unlike a top institution in the country where they were so inconsistent, dragging their feet in dishing out their own side of the story that it took their VC a whole week to confirm if a student finished from the school. Can we emphatically say that money really ‘changed hands?’ How can Dino graduate in 2000, as claimed by the VC, and go for youth service in 1999? NYSC is after graduation not before. The credibility of the university is totally in doubt.
Undisputedly, Senator Dino Melaye fulfilled the necessary requirement as contained in S.65 (2) of the 1999 constitution. But this saga exposed the fact that most of our leaders are not loyal and they don’t care about the feelings of the masses that elected them. Infact, some of them can do without getting power without the use of dubious means like forged certificate etc. Not forgetting reports from the foreign institutions, it has indeed showed that these politicians are always in the habit of showing power. Most of them are hypocrites, lying that they have what they don’t genuinely have. Instead of bragging everywhere, Senator Melaye should actually cover his eyes in shame because the inconsistencies that were uncovered are just embarrassing, personally and nationally.
For Sahara reporters, kudos must be given to them in the course of investigative journalism. However, adequate and enough facts must be released so as not to give these corrupt officials the chance to exonerate themselves. We hope the media house try its best in defending themselves in court, following the inconsistencies that were obtained from this saga.
Sadly, we have a long way to go. We hope Senator Dino Melaye collects his long overdue “certificate” so that we can focus on better things.
Instead of unnecessary frivolities, our focus should really shift to national development and accountability. This same Senate is yet to pass the 2017 budget since December so as to fast track release of funds for capital projects and other national developmental programmes. It is so sad that developed countries are focusing on better things but we are placing our own focus on retrogressive things.
Nigerians, we had better wake up and demand for good governance because these people are time wasters.
The separation of power, as postulated by Baron de Montesquieu, has totally explained the role of each arms of government. Once these roles are performed, the essence of government comes into place. In our democratic society, since the executive arm needs to execute laws and policies, more “hands” are needed to which the Chief Executive can assign roles to a specific body or person. However, the acting capacity of such entity depends on the confirmation of the legislature.
The Economic and Financial Crimes Commission is an executive agency with the outlook of reducing financial corruption to the barest minimum. They are usually seen as impartial hence, they cannot judge those who they apprehend- the work of the judicial arm. As it is expedient that an organization has a head, President Buhari nominated Ibrahim Magu to be the acting czar of the anti-graft agency upon the final ratification of the Senate, which is the Upper legislative chamber. He was rejected by the senate the first time and in a second attempt on Wednesday, March 15th.
Why was he rejected by the upper chamber? The senate said he was rejected as the Chairman of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) on the basis of a security report compiled by the State Security Service. The DSS, another executive agency, had said Magu was unfit to lead the commission because he had failed an integrity test. The report said Magu lacks integrity and would constitute a liability to the war against corruption.
Apart from the public, this issue has generated a lot of controversies even within the Senate itself. Faulting the actions of the senate, Senator Ali Ndume, said “We have all been accused, I have been accused of sponsoring Boko Haram, the senate president is still going to court. Same as other members who have cases in court, yet they occupy seats in the senate. So, if you say because of the allegations he (Magu) should not be confirmed, then I should not be a sitting senator and Saraki should not be there as senate president.”
Reacting to this, the Senate President, Bukola Saraki, said “I don’t think there was anywhere we said Magu was rejected based on accusations. Now the EFCC chairman came and he did not pass the screening. Someone else will come and may pass. This is our constitutional role and I don’t think we should personalize or politicize this.”
Logically, how is it possible to confirm the nomination of Magu when some of the senators are under investigation with the EFCC? It would be the case of a thief, inviting the head of police into his apartment. Such relation won’t last for long.
Federal agency undermined an appointment made by the presidency. And presidency keeps mute. If presidency truly wanted Magu confirmed, they would have called the DSS to order even before the integrity report came out.
Moving forward, even if the Senate is not forthcoming on the confirmation of Magu, there are over 150 million Nigerians out there. Magu can duly be replaced with a more competent official who would be confirmed as early as possible so as not to dance to the tunes of these corrupt people. Truthfully, nobody is indispensable; we should build efficient and capable institutions not just individuals alone.
Now that the President is back, we still await the promise of good governance, the unequivocal respect for human rights, the provision of basic welfare needs of the common man and most importantly, the security of our lives and properties. Nigerians demand that all arms of government should work towards actualizing the goal of a good government. We refuse to be distracted by unnecessary issues.
Delay is dangerous, Mr. President.
The story is almost the same; On 23rd November 2009, Former President Yar'Adua left Nigeria for medical attention abroad, his state of health was unclear, but there were further speculation that he was on a life support machine. We lost him not long after. Fear arose in the minds of Nigerians when President Buhari extended his medical vacation in the UK indefinitely. Has something happened to Mr. President? Why are his aides hiding the necessary information about the welfare of our dear President? When will the President address the country from where he is? These questions amongst many others became the “matter arising” until he physically alighted from the Air Force 001 aircraft on the 10th of March, 2017.
There were wild jubilations across Nigeria especially on the social media. Crowds shouted “Baba Oyoyo” locally meaning “Baba welcome” in cities and some villages across the country. Suyas were distributed for free while some commercial transport owners offered free services that day. Certainly, many were frightened. Some were traumatized. Many have been shamed. Others will surely but secretly apportion blames. Some will overtly trade blames. Government continues anyway.
In his words: “I have rested as much as humanly possible, I have received, I think, the best of treatment I could receive. I couldn’t recall being so sick since I was a young man, including the military with its ups and downs. The best way to pay back Nigerians is to rededicate myself to serve the country and protect the nation’s interest in order to keep the trust.” On the powers of his vice to which he constitutionally handed over, President Buhari said “I am pleased that the Vice President enjoyed this break and he has to do much more. Youth and intellect is squarely behind him, age and purely military experience is behind me.”
At this point, it is pertinent that we shower encomium on Prof. Osinbajo, the Vice-President, who worked assiduously on an economic overhaul aimed at securing a World Bank loan to help the government cope with a deficit caused by the drop in oil revenue. The Nigerian economy gained a lot of strength when the Vice President took over on an interim as the Acting President. In fact, there was decorum in the war-torn North and even the militancy in the South-South region. Mr. President is indeed blessed to have a dependable assistant like Prof. Osibanjo.
Welcome back, Mr. President! However, the challenge for the delivery of dividends of democracy has been reactivated, the expectations from the citizenry have been rekindled and the political will to deliver has been pricked and repackaged as your appearance will speak a lot in the status quo. On the issue of health, the government should look into building or equipping medical centers, hospitals all over the country that will provide the type of care he received in UK hospitals. Having such hospitals in every state will, undoubtedly, be a major accomplishment. A nation gains nothing when their leaders do not provide them with adequate healthcare as majority of the populace cannot afford healthcare abroad.
Mr. President, attention should strongly be focused, as ever, in fighting treasury looters, recovery of national assets and rebuilding the national economy. The economy is gradually recovering from recession; we need the appreciation to be as swift as possible.
It’s a good idea that the President intends to reshuffle his cabinet. To be candid, some individuals have no business being in that government from onset. The reshuffling should however be carried out in such a way that partiality won’t be a factor. The masses are in dire need of good governance. Our stand as the giant of Africa must continue to take its position without any delay.
Welcome back, Mr. President! Let justice and fairness in governance prevail.
The present administration came on board with the outlook of reducing corrupt practices to the barest minimum, if not totally. “Change begins with me” became the slogan the government adopted. The “Change” mantra however, is supposed to cut across every sphere of the society be it those in government and those that were governed.
In relation to the #OpenNASS campaign, which clamors for transparency and accountability within the National assembly, facts were revealed by the Auditor – General of the federation while the account of the NASS was audited. Infact, the Auditor-General reportedly uncovered a financial fraud to the tune of 2 billion naira in the National Assembly expenditure for 2016. The document as seen by a major newspaper revealed that the illegalities were perpetrated in 13 transactions. Reports had it that the transactions involved both chambers of the National Assembly, the Management as well as the National Assembly Service Commission (NASC), and the National Institute for Legislative Studies (NILS).
The report said House of Representatives’ incurred the highest infraction of N1.1 billon followed by the National Assembly Management, N347.8 million; NILS, N246.5 milliion; the Senate N205.7 million; legislative aides N70 million and NASC, N30 million. The annual report for 31st December 2015 was laid on the floor of the Senate on Tuesday by the Senate Leader, Senator Ahmad Lawan.
As usual, the Senate President, Bukola Saraki referred the financial statement to the Senate Committee on Public Accounts for further legislative actions. The committee was given four weeks to look into the matter. We all know that this is their usual culture. We may as well know that this may be the last time we will hear about this report as these political elites exhibit the practice of closing matters like this. Thanks to the revelation made by the office of the Auditor-General, we may as well not have heard anything.
As explained earlier, the National Assembly has been under increasing pressure to make its budget expenditure open despite the promises made by the Senate President, Dr. Bukola Saraki to do so before assuming the position. By the way, is this not the chamber filled with people who embezzle the funds meant for their constituency projects without recourse to their pre-election campaigns?
Truth be told, the expenses incurred by the Red and Green Chambers are at the expense of the masses who they are meant to serve. Many occupants of the National Assembly are actually there to protect their selfish interest. According to the truism, he who comes to equity must come with clean hands. Tell me, why would you keep your actions to yourself if they are transparent enough? A just man will always want to showcase his sincerity to those who care to listen.
The National Assembly has directly or indirectly, contributed to the downfall of our economy through these financial misappropriation and embezzlement.
Still, the #OpenNASS campaign must go on. It is a known fact that the Office of the Citizen is the Highest Office in the Land. If we are able to speak out on the #OpenNASS campaign with one voice on a regular basis, we will definitely keep them on their toes. Till then, let us always engage our elected official at any chance, the world of social technology has even made it easier for us to #AskQuestions.
Amongst all things, one good thing we need to appreciate about Nigeria is the observation of constitutionalism, which is the strict adherence to the provisions of the constitution. For close to 3 months now, President Muhammad Buhari left for the United Kingdom on the grounds of health issues. As a considerate leader, he immediately delegated powers to his Vice President, Professor Yemi Osinbajo, on the capacity of an Acting President.
Since then, the media(traditional & digital) has been filled with different reactions and all. Funny enough, most of them are of encomiums. He deserves some of them actually. But it got to the stage at which people started comparing the effectiveness of the president and his Vice. Like it was reiterated before now, we need to recognize the fact that the Acting President has taken some drastic and developmental measures that has lifted the spirit of Nigerians.
Retrospectively, he had to leave the World Economic Forum to lead a 7-hour meeting with the Federal Executive Council members, which came as a surprise to many people. Subsequently, he visited and commissioned various projects at the South eastern region of the country especially in Rivers state which the President obviously has issues with. He also set up a crucial committee which had the outlook of solving the increased rise in the prices of goods and services. A key decision was a directive to the governor of the Central Bank of Nigeria, CBN, Godwin Emefiele to review the country’s foreign exchange policy which seems to be yieldingresults at the moment, judging from the Naira value appreciation over the Dollar. The result has confirmed the hopes that Nigerians have in this present administration.
On the issue of Separation of Power, Osinbajo had also forwarded the name of the Acting Chief Justice of Nigeria; Walter Oonneghen to the Senate for confirmation contrary to the Buhari’s perceived reluctance since appointing the CJN in acting capacity in November, 2016. Justice Oonneghen has long since been confirmed as the Chief Justice of Nigeria. He also visited the major Airport in Lagos which led to the dismissal of some top aviation officers.
We need to state the obvious, Osibanjo is still under Buhari. For emphasis, this is still the Buhari’s administration. In quick reaction, the presidency has also frowned at the speculation tending to score the performance of the Acting President, Professor Yemi Osinbajo higher than that of President Muhammadu Buhari, saying it was a calculated mischief to cause a division in the current administration.
At this point, Nigerians should stop placing the Acting President on a pedestal that he didn’t place himself. It is becoming as if the encomiums are ploys to break the ruling party which will ultimately divide the administration. We should rather look into making the administration run successfully thus, making the common man on the street happy to be a Nigerian. If there is any need to chastise the government, all of them should be included and vice versa.
On the other hand, the Acting President should distance himself from those who are happy in creating division in the administration in the name of praising his efforts. He has been doing exceptionally well, no doubt, but a lot needs to be done.
We wish the President quick recovery,
God bless the Federal republic of Nigeria.
Just like Garri, the rate at which the dollar appreciates over our naira especially in the world market, makes it so alarming for every parties involved. Even in a local marketplace, it is no news that the prices of goods and services have sky-rocketed and according to these local traders, “the dollar is now expensive” is the response they give each time people ask. Is it this dollar that equals to a naira at some point in the 90s? How pathetic to know that in our present day Nigeria, this same one dollar is above 500 naira not to even mention other international currencies.
The reason for this isn’t far-fetched – most times Nigeria prefer import to produce, and export; and as the country’s population increases the demand for imported goods increased. Due to the unbalance of import to exported goods, the demand for dollar is always on the rise, which generally causes a continued depreciation of the naira. Depreciation is steadfast at the parallel market and the gap between naira’s value at the parallel and official market widens easily due to this imbalance. To checkmate this, the CBN has devalued the currency a number of times, only for the same thing to happen years later.
Also, the demand for goods is ever present and needs to be met. If there isn’t infrastructure to support poultries, toothpick-making factories, rice farms, and so on, the need to export these produce will always be on the rise. This will cause the naira to continue depreciating against the dollar. The attitude of Nigerians to locally made goods is appalling. There is a truism that a lot of Nigerians prefer imported goods to those made locally. We prefer to buy things made in foreign lands, which can easily be produced locally. It’s generally assumed that Made-in-Nigeria goods are fake and of substandard quality, quite saddening.
In an effort to further ease economic gridlock, the Central Bank of Nigeria late last year released new foreign exchange policy actions. For School and Medical Fees while understanding the challenges face by parents, guardians and sponsors, the CBN appropriated about $20 million dollars weekly for commercial banks to cater for school fees payment and others, but in order to check banks’ excesses, commercial banks were mandated to pay directly to the institution specified by the customer so that as many customers as possible get the foreign exchange they genuinely demand.
In order to further ensure that travelers access forex at a more competitive exchange rate and ease their burden, the CBN has directed commercial banks around the country to open forex retail outlets at major airports. This will not just ease traveler’s burden but significantly reduce parallel market patronage and gradually close the gap between the official rate and black market’s rate, since commercial banks are instructed not to sell above 20 percent of the official interbank market rate.
Well, it is rather impressive that the Central Bank of Nigeria is giving tangible responses which are actually long overdue. People make policies but it is highly imperative that these people are capable and knowledgeable enough to make effective policies. At this point, if the apex bank team run out of ideas on how to regulate the economy, it is rather advisable to leave the stage while the ovation is loudest. The present economic team, as led by the Acting President, Prof. Osinbajo has been taking drastic measures to address the economic challenges. Our hope is that their efforts turn into success as soon as possible because Nigerians are losing their patience by the day.
Conclusively, until Nigeria starts producing standard goods and Nigerians have a different mentality, the demand for dollars will always be on the high demand curve and the naira will keep depreciating. Local production of goods and services in mass and at affordable cost will ensure em-masse consumption by the citizenry. Nigeria needs to be stable economically, politically and socially for the currency to stabilize. Clashes between rival tribes, political instability and lack of definite economic direction will ultimately make the country look unstable to outsiders, disrupting foreign investors and investments. At this point in time, it is highly important for the President Buhari-led administration to sincerely undertake the issue of diversification of the economy; we cannot continue to run a mono-economic system.
The essence of a budget is very important especially if it is addressing what should be addressed, which is ultimately serving the government’s purpose of aligning the interest of the common man and make the country serene for all to be happy. Not to be mistaken, a budget is a spending plan. It is the financial structure of how a government seeks to perform its constitution and societal obligations.
Well, the legislators do pass the budget in Nigeria also. The bone of contention is if it serves its purpose, which is ensuring proper welfare packages for her citizens. Many people, if not all, will attest to the fact that the greedy elected leaders we have only fine-tune the provisions in the budget only for their frivolous lifestyles. They wallow in utmost splendor to the detriment of the people who languish in abject penury.
Each time the government brings out its budget plan for a new year, the reactions it generates from the citizens are not of good tidings. In fact, when this present administration came on board, the first budget plan it drafted in 2016 was not anyway better than the previous government.
Public outcries have been made to the National Assembly to undertake a thorough scrutiny of the budget document so as to eliminate the frivolities and wasteful estimates in the document. Funny enough, is it this same national assembly which is a top party to financial misappropriation, regular budget padding and even refusing to make public its own budgetary allocations.
According to an analysis made by Citizens Wealth Platform, CWP, a civil society organization in Nigeria, “a total savings of N145.907 billion would be recorded by the country if the wasteful items are expunged”. What a huge sum of money!
It was stated that N9.525 billion was budgeted for computer software acquisitions and N4.303 billion for the purchase of computers, irrespective of the fact that almost the same sum was budgeted for the same purpose in the 2016 budget; the question is; what happened to the ones they budgeted for in the previous financial year plan?
To make the matter worse, the Office of the Secretary to the Government of the Federation (OSGF) has allocated the sum of N432. 193 million for the purchase of cars for the nation’s seven former Presidents/Heads of State and four Vice Presidents. A whopping sum is being used to celebrate the already made men who milked the country dry during their tenure and are even still milking the country of her resources.
The high point of the frivolous budget allocation is that of the State House. The 2017 budget shows that the State House budget for the fiscal year would be N42 billion, with expenditure on food, cooking gas and kitchen utensils expected to gulp well over N850 million. Specifically, N100, 820,300 would be spent for the purchase of kitchen utensils such as forks and knives for use in Aso Rock. The breakdown of the budget for Aso Rock also shows that expenditure on kitchen utensils will be N431 million, food stuff and catering materials will swallow N360 million while cooking gas is expected to take N63 million; making a total of N850 million.
For Office of the President, N114,967,140.00 has been voted for food stuff, kitchen utensils or equipment to take N100,820,300 while cooking gas will consume N21,600,000 million. The budget breakdown further shows that the Office of the Vice President will spend N53, 494,992 million on food stuff, N12,470,000 on kitchen utensils while N246,000 million would be spent on cooking gas. The expected food related expenditure for office of the Chief of Staff is N16, 282,000 while Lagos Liaison Office of the Presidency will devote N140, 418,300 on food and other related items in the 2017 fiscal year. The rehabilitation and infrastructure of security quarters in the Aso Villa would take N284.587 million.
Let’s be frank with ourselves, over 100 million naira to be spent on buying kitchen utensils? Is it that they buy golden plates, forks and knives every day? The hardship bites harder on the streets with people finding it tough to eat meal per day? Do such kitchen utensils expire and rot in a few months, that they needed replacement every year? Sheer wastefulness!
Specifically, in relation to the budget of the Aso Rock Villa, some major differences have been highlighted. These are;
• For cooking gas/fuel, its allocation was 6.3m in 2016 however in 2017; it has skyrocketed to 21.6m adding up to a 242.9% increase. We understand that the world oil market is not smiling but then, proper explanation must be done on how the allocation has risen so much.
• On the issue of electricity charges, 45.3m was allocated to it in 2016 but it has been increased to 319.6m in 2017. A high increase of 605.5%. Wow! We demand to know what happened to warrant this increase between 2016 and 2017!
• Newspapers had 10.2m in allocation in the year 2016, it however sky-rocketed to an increase of 28.3m in 2017 with an increase of 177.4%.
We have said it and we will continue to speak our minds. Nigerians are no dummies; We however call on our legislators to ensure proper scrutiny of the budget before its passage. All crooked ways must be made straight as possible. The hunger on the land is unbearable and highly uncalled for.
The bitter truth be told, this country will never develop until the high cost of governance is reduced to the barest minimum.
As law-abiding citizens, we love our dear country but we hope the leaders reduce the excesses in governance. Till then, let us continue to #AskQuestions and demand a thorough explanation on the increase of the items in the budget. God bless Nigeria!!!
The video of a man, who has four kids to take care of in Lagos, went viral after he uttered a statement in an interview. He actually promised to “carry gun” once the government do not find something positive to do about the hardship in the country as soon as possible. In short, he will establish militancy in Lagos, replicating those in the South-south region. To be candid, the man spoke the minds of many Nigerians who are finding it difficult to cope with the recession.
It saddens to know that the “giant of Africa’ is not actually taking its used-to-be forefront position as regards some stances in the continent of Africa. The economy is going down the drain, insincerity, corruption’ marginalization, insecurity etc are the order of the day to the pain of Nigerians. All of these led to the expression of Innocent Idibia, a legendary musician with the stage name 2Baba, who doubles as an advocate of peace. 2Baba declared he would lead a protest on the 6th of February, 2017 in order to express his bitterness and grievances towards the hardship people are facing in the country. However, 2Baba pulled out of the protest after series of threat, especially from the Nigerian Police. Reactions followed as notable civil society organization, EIE-Nigeria, tweeted that they respect his opinion but then, the protest must go on! And it did!
On the issue of pre-protest threats, we practice elective democracy with a clearly defined constitution which defines the rights and privileges Nigerians can enjoy hence; citizens must be able to express their displeasure with their elected representatives in a lawful manner. To be candid, if as much attention was paid to good governance, our circumstances would be much better as there won’t be need for any government to intimidate protesters to which they have rights.
The change that Nigerians were promised has not been delivered and a road map to the desired destination are yet to be communicated. Agreed, looted funds were partly refunded and ‘some’ politicians have been facing the wrath of law, but how has that brought food to the table of the common man?
It is highly uncalled for to have elected legislatives, who are concerned with how they can continue to siphon their constitutuency allowances, display regular showoffs with continual changing of exotic cars. Many atimes, crucial questions on pertinent issues are left unanswered especially as it concerns constant review of their allowances. The issue of the budgetary process is also there; padding has become a norm and these law-makers are actually making laws to enrich their private pockets. Quite alright, it is normal for people to go broke, not excluding states too. The pathetic thing is how these state governments misappropriate the bailout funds. Where is the case of the governor who kept the bailout funds meant for his state, with his girlfriend in the United States? Swept under the carpet as usual. Inhumanity at its peak! Proper monitoring should be maintained on how states spend these bailout funds, a governor should never receive these funds and continue to pay his workers half salaries.
Speaking with One Voice, Nigerians are totally against the irregularities that are being perpetuated by those in power. The government must be as transparent and accountable as possible. We can’t continue to preach anti-corruption when some people are diverting the foods meant for Internally Displaced Persons (IDPs).
Also, the issue of insecurity has been a bane on our societal progress. The fact that the government seems to be sluggish in making some decisions pertaining to the issue of security is highly worrisome. The incessant killings in Southern Kaduna and the rate of kidnap in Nigeria is alarming.
Even Ghana celebrates constant power supply. On the other hand, the giant of Africa can boast of having generator-made electricity than any other thing. The importance of power supply cannot be over-emphasized. Uninterrupted power supply encourages industrialization thus, providing job opportunities and increasing Nigeria’s GDP. At this point in time, the government should roll out an emergency power plan that will see to making epileptic power supply, a thing of the past. Better still; a round peg should be placed in a round hole.
Undoubtedly, the cost of governance is too high. The people who actually need these funds are not getting it. It is hilarious to know that a Nigerian legislator in a developing country earns more than the chief executive of a developed country. There is the urgent need to reduce cost of governance across board and improve the standard of living for the common man. The budgetary process is also poor and allows for fraud. An open contracting data standard should be looked into, so that the budget and procurement data are linked in a way that allows citizens see clearly what has been funded. There is also the need to have citizen consultation so that citizens have a direct say in the budget process.
In short, a vital observation we got from the protest is that once Nigerians speak with one voice, it will go a long way in making the government act responsibly.
Fellow Nigerians, the time has come to remain as unified as ever. When we speak with one voice, we will go far in making our grievances known without any form of hindrance. Indeed, the excesses of these politicians must be checked regularly. They are there to serve us, not themselves. A house divided against itself will surely not stand.
As Nigerians who love the country, we will continue to demand for transparency, accountability and good governance.
We need to be frank with ourselves, there is plenty in Nigeria. I mean, in terms of resources be it human or material. But then, we are experiencing difficulty in the economy of our country which has ultimately led to unemployment, underemployment and an increasing rise in social vices. They call it recession. Despite the “plenty” we shouldn’t be going through recession. Even if there is recession, it shouldn’t last for long once the government sets its priorities straight. As usual, the mismanagement of funds is unexpectedly the order of things in the society. Corruption and unnecessary nepotism dictates the way we do our things. Why won’t there be recession? No wonder the issue of misplaced priorities comes into mind when financial mismanagement pops up. The people who need it most don’t get it. The rich get richer at the expense of the poor, who get poorer by the day.
As an open secret, it is no news that former state chief executives in the country are enjoying series of humongous payouts which they term as pension allowance. These former governors, despite irregularities in their states, get massive allowances as being past governor bearing an exerting pressure on national development with pension payments and other entitlements draining billions of naira every year from development funds for the states. These allowances include amongst others: Vehicle renewal & maintenance, housing allowance & salaries.
Let us go into facts and figures. Nigeria spent close to N40 billion on pension of former Governors and former Deputy Governors in the last couple of months. According to a major newspaper in the country, over N37.367 billion was expended on servicing 47 former governors from 21 of the nation’s states in pension payments and provision of houses, staff and motor vehicles replaceable between three and four years. According to the report, payment of pension to former governors over a four year cycle are highest in Bauchi, Rivers, Akwa Ibom, and Lagos States with former governors drawing N23.18 billion N2.795 billion, N2.043 billion and N1.606 billion respectively over four years. Even Bauchi which is one of the poorest state in the country? Talk about misplaced priorities or continuous greed?
Funny enough, these former executives “arm-twist” their state legislatures while in office for the purpose of these entitlements once they leave office. To even think that this scenario occurred in Edo state which had a former labor union leader as its governor. While in office, Comrade Adams Oshiomole was able to pass an obscene pension law for himself and his Deputy which entitled them to the provision of a building valued at about N200 million for a former governor and N100 million for his deputy.
Reports has it that these pension benefits for former State Chief Executives are aside the prescription of the Revenue Mobilization, Allocation and Fiscal Commission, RMAFC which prescribes 300 per cent severance for the Governors as stated in the Certain Political Office Holders and Judicial Officers Remuneration Act. According to the provisions of the RMAFC, these people enjoy:
(a). Brand new cars renewable every three to four years.
(b). Accommodation at the State capital and sometimes in Abuja;
(c). 30-day-paid holiday outside the country and free medical treatment for the former Governors and their immediate family members.
From another dimension, twenty-one senators are currently receiving pensions from government as ex-governors and deputy governors. Some questions really need to be address, while occupying those positions, are they there to serve or loot? (Even after their tenure) Are they not holding that position for, at most, 8 years? Is that a reason to be entitled to pensions for life? Even if it is till death, must it be to the detriment of those they served while in office? As if that is not enough; how on earth can any public servant with conscience collect salaries and allowances as a senator or minister, and still have the audacity to claim pension’s equivalent to the salaries of a serving governor in Nigeria?
Unfortunately, the entitlements they enjoy are far more than what political office holders in developed & rich countries enjoy. More of why we would continue to be a developing country.
To be candid, all is adding up to the political and economic exasperation of the masses. For God’s sake, a lot must be done to change the value orientation of these politicians. If indeed they have the interest of people at heart, there are some over-enjoyment they amass for themselves. Drastic actionable points must be looked into.
As concerned Nigerians, we pray the allowances of the legislative members are reviewed and these funds should be pumped into the economy. In fact, once these former executives hold an official position after their tenure ends, they should be stripped of any benefits they should get as being ex-governors. Even if they do not hold any post, it is of serious necessity that their benefits are being reviewed on a regular basis. Our fight against corruption won’t be complete if we don’t access these things, people are really suffering.
Instead of inviting the finance minister to address the economic recession, our different arms of government should call themselves to order. Their “living large” is at the expense of the common man whom they claim they are protecting.
As law abiding citizens, Nigerians should continue to observe their human virtues and their fear of God. Even religion has said that we are taking nothing to our grave once we are dead. Change shouldn’t exempt our elected serving and non-serving public officials.
Our dear politicians, we hope you’d yield to your conscience and stop amassing public funds to the detriment of ordinary Nigerians.
It is even logical to a visually impaired person that a 10 year old can’t handle the steering of a car. In actual fact, 10 year olds are given toy cars or better still, taken to an amusement park for those whose parents can afford. Giving a 10 year the opportunity to drive a big wheel is akin to declaring a period of mourning for his/her family members. In practical sense, one should be giving responsibilities that he/she can handle. Once there is the inability to communicate and familiarize with tools, it ends in disaster.
As usual, Nigeria was thrown into a situation of mourning few days ago. Citizens in the Northeastern part of the country were killed again, this time by men of the Nigerian Air Force. A military plane “mistakenly” bombed Rann IDPs Camp in Borno State, killing a lot of arm-less civilians. In other news, survivors of the attack said the bomb was “dropped’ three times.
As expected, reactions trailed the incidence which drew attention from people all over the world, including Nigerians too. Not to think of the fact that the victims were persons who escaped death from the Boko Haram terrorists and were also camped in a location as a result of the insurgence. Apart from those killed, aid workers, volunteers and more than 200 IDPs were injured. The military high command took responsibility for the accidental air strike and apologized. However, the incident raises a fundamental question over the Air Force’s inability to differentiate IDPs camp from that of insurgent territories.
The President, in solidarity, cancelled the federal executive council weekly meeting that was scheduled to hold the next day and he also designated a high level team made up of Ministers and top government functionaries to Maiduguri on a condolence visit. Without any form of sentiments, we should appraise the Nigerian government for the efforts it is making in ensuring that civilians are secured or at least in its provision for affected persons. However, it is so pitiable and pathetic to note that these people fled their homes in order to avoid being killed and still ended up facing something as terrifying as this. Many of the people in the IDP camp have a look of dejection on their faces as a result of the loss of their loved ones to the insurgence.
Nevertheless, we shouldn’t be much political about this matter, also not erasing the possibility of politics in the incident. For God’s sake this is human lives we are talking about, why should we actually play political cheese with human lives? No wonder Nigerians called upon the House of Representative committee that was set up to critically investigate this matter.
A point worthy of note is the fact that some of these dignitaries and security chiefs actually went to visit the Governor of Borno State. There is nothing bad though, he is the chief security officer of the state but then, his family was not involved in the unfortunate incidence. Their sincerity should have been well channeled to visiting the survivors and injured ones who are in the hospitals and even the others that are still in the camp. If most of these political leaders are sincere, why make the visit to the Governor a priority which has the guarantee of a “transport fare”? It is just quite unfortunate that these IDPs ran from their enemy and died in the hands of perceived “friends”.
While sympathizing with the affected victims, we cannot but chastise the military arm that carried out this attack. Quite alarming, the Military sent its deep regrets immediately after the incidence; their sorry shouldn’t cover up for the costly mistake.
For a while, people have been commending men of the armed forces for the wonderful job they are doing to curb the insurgence, a little miscalculation shouldn’t de-reap their efforts so far. Information circulated in recent time that a foreign country provided false intelligence to Nigeria on the location of Boko Haram terrorists leading to the accidental bombing of an IDP camp. This same foreign country has been giving credible disclosures before now in fighting these terrorists especially the Operation Lafiya Dole.
According to sources, surveillance mistakenly picked the IDP camp as a result of the fact that the camp was just formed without updating it on the list of IDP camps with the military. With this, we must recognize that communication is key in combating the dreaded Boko Haram sect. The Military, the Borno state government, the Federal government, International organizations and other relevant agencies must develop a stringent, proper and secure framework of communication in order to forestall future occurrences because they are the only trusted entities these people have. Human life’s they say is sacred.
Again, we assume that the incidence was mistakenly carried out and the men of the armed forces are working hard to end insurgence in the nation, we however commend the probe of the operation by the Nigerian Armed Forces. To be fair, some people will have to pay for this to prevent future reoccurrence. The Nigerian Armed Forces are known for professionalism and they should ensure they totally continue with that culture. Nigerians should shy away from all forms of political, ethnical and religious sentiments as this is a trying period for our country.
Lastly, we urge all concerned authorities to take necessary precautionary measures and ensure that everything humanly possible is done to save the lives of those on the danger list.
Taking a look at the gruesome pictures of people who were murdered in an inhumane manner, a sense of grief and total pity for fellow human beings will becloud one’s emotion. Such is the case of Southern Kaduna in recent times. Let us take a quick view on what the southern Kaduna is in recent times.
Dated to the 1980s, what started like a skirmish in “Godogodo”, a hitherto busy town along the Jos-Kaduna-Abuja highway, sometime in 2016 has now grown in leaps and bounds leaving on its trail anguish, sorrow, tears and blood. The untamed wildfire kindled by deep seeded animosity amongst the people of the area for God-knows-how-long now has been further fueled by the blood of those caught in the web. Human beings have been slaughtered like animals in an uncountable, unconfirmed manner, properties have been destroyed and the demographic setting is presently living in its shadows. The Catholic Archdiocese of Kafanchan said that the unrest in southern Kaduna State has claimed 808 lives with 53 villages attacked and 57 people injured while the Federal government, in response to this, said 204 people were killed. Even if a person was killed, do we value-less the human life in our society now?
However, the Chief security officer of the state, Governor Nasir El Rufai, said the attackers are foreign Fulani herdsmen, who were avenging past attacks on them and their livestock. Sadly, a curfew declared on 3 affected local governments didn’t reduce or pause the heartlessness; it didn’t change anything at all. In response to this, the Assistant National Secretary of the Miyetti Allah Cattle Breeders Association of Nigeria (MACBAN), Dr. Ibrahim Abdullahi believed that peace can only return to Southern part of Kaduna State only if both parties involved in the killings forgive each other and stop reprisal attacks. Addressing a press conference at a weekend in Kaduna, he called on the people of the area to forget about what has happened in the past and move on. “We call on the entire people of southern Kaduna to forgive what has happened. Both parties should learn to forgive. “This crisis will never end if you think you would go and revenge what happened to you , so we’re appealing to all parties to sheath their swords and embrace peace” Abdullahi said. He retrospectively, went into details of how the rift started between two nomads and a farmer which led to the death of an Ardo. In quick succession, peace meetings did not stop the revenge mission of the Ardo people. Anytime they see a Fulani-related entity, it won’t go scot free. Both the Fulani and theirs cows were killed randomly.
Just like it is inherent in them, the Fulani didn’t take this lightly at all. As fate would have it, the rift between two parties escalated to a communal clash thus, resulting to the death of hundreds, both old and young. As expected, groups and associations gave their reactions to it- Religious bodies especially. The Christian Association of Nigeria relayed to those who cared to listen that the attack was targeted at Christians living in Kaduna, all in a bid to carry out the intention of the President and the Governor which is to Islamize the country as a whole. To another quarters, it was seen as a war of jihad which is to “eliminate all infidels”. Sadly, the President did not say anything on the killings for a long time, which raised the confirmation of their suspicions. This is the same President who will quickly send a condolence message to his foreign counterparts even when it's only one person that got killed.
It is high time these political leaders go through a whole lot of exposure on governance. Being in charge of a government- be it local, state or federal is not about sharing its income. Once the government is not able to preserve the natural right (life, liberty and property) and privileges of its people, it has failed-John Locke (1632-1704). From start, the government should have given a quick reaction to these issues when it was gradually expanding its inhumane tentacles. The Chief executive of any society should be encompassing. For example, Nigeria is a multi-faceted society and it is expected of the chief executive to remove all forms of bias in discharging his/her duties. Many people didn’t see this in the Kaduna state governor, Mallam Nasir El-Rufai and President Muhammadu Buhari. In a bid to foster peace and unity, once they don’t give their positions, people may read different meanings to those signs.
As a body of religious people, it is a known fact that Nigerians are emotional when it comes to religious matters. As at when due, religious leaders should preach the peace that we need and also call their fellow “faithfuls” to order once the need arises.
So far Nigeria is made up of 36 states; with each exercising their state powers with appropriate measures suitable to the running of their laws. It is also a fact that in a bid to satisfy their cattle business, the Fulani herdsmen usually go in search of fertile lands in other states. Though we are “one nation”, individual states shouldn’t go into actions and inactions that will mitigate their peace. It is high time they took a good look into their laws and ordinances and possibly, modify them when the need arises. Ekiti State in recent time took a major decision by barring the movement of Fulani herdsmen in the state through the anti-grazing bill and so far, they have strictly observed this provision. Some other States are yet to do this, but in order to maintain orderliness, desperate time calls for desperate measures.
Bearing in mind that the media are the fourth realm of any government structure, they should always try to carry out its specialized duties with objectivity, sincerity and without bias. While carrying out their investigative journalism, their reports shouldn’t be one-sided. People tend to be sympathetic to what they hear and see from these journalists and reactions would have gone far before corrections are made to these things.
Conclusively, while sympathizing with the affected families and communities, we totally condemn the barbaric and inhumane treatment of the people at Southern Kaduna. Human life is valuable, minor rifts are inevitable and as a peace-loving country, we should always strive to settle our differences in an amicable manner. We should look into generating more power instead of dead bodies. As a nation, we are stronger together.
Controversies continue to trail the removal of Senator Ali Ndume (Borno South) as the senate leader upon the resumption of the Nigerian Senate from recess for the New Year holiday. “I don’t know what happened and I cannot say what I do not know,” Ndume told reporters after he was removed as the senate majority leader.
During its plenary session, the Senate President, Bukola Saraki, announced Mr. Ndume’s removal shortly before the upper legislative chamber adjourned on Tuesday. Saraki read a letter from the All Progressives Congress caucus of the red chamber, asking for leadership change. Interestingly, Senator Ali Ndume had stepped out of the chamber to observe his early afternoon prayer when Mr. Saraki read the letter. According to the APC caucus, the decision was taken during the party’s caucus meeting held on Monday, January 9th.
According to the APC caucus, Ndume should be replaced with Ahmed Lawan from Yobe North, who contested against Saraki for the post of the Senate President at the in-house election in 2015.
Just like English Proverb would say, “there is no smoke without fire”, the removal of Ndume is prone to political calculations. Mr. Ndume’s predicament might not be unconnected to the Senate’s rejection of President Buhari’s nomination of Mr. Ibrahim Magu as Chairman of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC). Mr. Ndume had claimed the Senate did not reject the request, prompting a counter reaction by Senate spokesperson, Aliyu Abdullahi. It appears Mr. Ndume, who hails from Borno State, like Mr. Magu, is being punished for disagreeing with the Senate over the way the EFCC acting Chairman’s nomination was handled by the upper legislative chamber.
But really, Ndume has a point, even if he is protecting the interest of his kinsman. The Senate cannot reject the nomination of a person if the affected party is yet to clear the grounds on any allegation leveled against him. As it stands, Magu is yet to be invited to clarify issues against his personality. Well, the Caucus has the final say on this matter. What really can a tree do to fight other trees in the forest? Hon. Jibrin’s case is a perfect example.
However, the political game behind his removal is somehow obvious. If Ndume is going against the wish of the caucus, why was he replaced with Lawan? Lawan who lost against Saraki? Is this really a form of political compensation? Undoubtedly, the All Progressives Congress (APC) has been trying to hold itself in this present time of internal turbulence and it can be seen that this move is indeed to pacify the Lawan’s group. If not for the obvious display of calculation, he should have been duly replaced with another person.
Saraki, probably under the pressure of removal, obviously has to dance to their tunes because he won the election with the help of the opposition party, PDP. The same scenario which happened at the level of the House of Representatives where Hon. Femi Gbajabiamila, who also lost to Yakubu Dogara, was made the House Leader.
In a bid to maintain the house leadership, another feeling is that if the Deputy Senate President remains in PDP for a while, it is likely they replace him with an APC Senator. Who knows, maybe Senator Magnus Abe who is from the South-South region? Call it another round of political pressure; this may also be linked to the passing of the 2017 budget and even the forthcoming general election.
In conclusion, all can still be linked to internal politics. Obviously, APC politically compensated Ahmed Lawan, all in a bid to ensure the party stands unified. There is an English saying, “united we stand, divided we fall”. If such happens not, just like the Gbajabiamilia/Dogara case, APC may never have the political unification they need in order to respond to the coming external political pressures. So as it stands, APC has finally harmonize the leadership tussle in both legislative chamber. As for Senator Ndume, it’s high time he sheathed his sword as it is obvious that no one would fight the party for him, he was unanimously removed by the Caucus as many APC Senators were said to have endorsed the letter before it was forwarded to Saraki for announcement. He, consciously or unconsciously, played into their political game in the Magu’s case, which gave the Senators perfect chance to replace him with Lawan. Ndume has been “offered as a political sacrifice” and as it stands there is no going back. The interest of the party supersedes that of an individual.
At this point in time of national life, enough of this party politics imbroglio and President Muhammadu Buhari’s administration needs to move Nigeria from the current economic doldrums without delay and not unwarranted distractions from his party stalwarts.
The demand by active citizens of the Federal Republic of Nigeria for the National Assembly to open up its budget to a level that provides full details and also to ensure that both the Nigerian Senate and House of Representative explains how approximately N1.3 trillion has be allocated to the National Assembly (~ $4.2 billion) between 2006 and 2016, and there are no records of how most of this monies were spent.
The National Assembly is statutorily entitled to N115bn and N150bn in 2016 and 2017 respectively as a first line deduction, which means top priority is granted to the needs of Nigeria’s lawmakers. Regardless of the dynamics of Nigeria’s finances at the relevant time, the lawmakers get their allowances and salaries. The details of this transaction, as significant as the funds are, remain shrouded in secrecy; no public details exist on how the funds are spent and a proper audit is not made available to citizens.
In the typical budget of most Ministries, including the Presidency, it is clear how much is budgeted for cutlery, travels and salaries. However, the National Assembly does not disclose a single item on how it allocations are spent and its budget is higher than individual budget of 23 states in Nigeria.
Even more remarkable and inimical to our democracy is that the same respect accorded to the National Assembly where taxpayers’ monies are disbursed as a matter of priority into lawmakers’ pockets has not been accorded to Nigerians. Sixteen years and 5 elections into our democracy, no one seems ready to let the people know precisely how their money is being expended, much less if the lawmakers are providing value for money to the populace.
We will be increasing our engagement using mobile technology and additional media platforms to enable Nigerians to get engaged, informed and most importantly, take action. A toll-free line is now available for citizens to sign the petition on the National Assembly budget breakdown and get other information on governance issues.
The ‘flash’ service toll free lines to call are 08139861001 and 08139861002. 'Flash' service meaning upon dialing, the call drops up and calls you back immediately. The hotline is in English, Igbo, Pidgin, Hausa and Yoruba. Through the hotline and our engagements on social and traditional media, we will promote three advocacy goals:
The National Assembly should publish the breakdown of its 2016 and 2017 budgets;
Maintain a functional website, provide contact information of its members, activate the switchboard in the National Assembly complex so citizens can engage their representatives and make attendance records public;
Replace voice voting with electronic voting and making voting records public.
The National Assembly is a critical institution in our democracy and we will ensure that it is repurposed to serve all Nigerians, not just a few. They are currently on recess until January and we encourage citizens to engage them at home and demand for accountability so they can start the New Year delivering on their promise.
God bless the Federal Republic of Nigeria.
The refusal to confirm Ibrahim Magu as chairman of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) was a rancorous power-play involving the Nigerian Senate, the State Security Service and the Presidency.
At a hurriedly arranged press conference, the spokesperson for the Senate, Abdullahi Sabi, announced that Mr. Magu’s nomination by President Muhammadu Buhari as EFCC chairman had been rejected. He cited “security report”, and said the president would be informed of the decision.
The Senate refusal belongs to the region of high-wire intrigues. The principal charge against Magu was the allegation that the chief corruption fighter himself is alleged to be tainted himself.
If there is any aspect of our national life requiring urgent surgical operation that endeared President Muhammadu Buhari's candidature to millions of Nigerians both at home and in the diaspora prior to the 2015 general election and which contributed in no small measure to his being voted into office, it was the peoples alignment with his anti corruption posture and belief in his ability to arrest the hemorrhaging of the country by corruption.
Ever since the appointment of Mr. Ibrahim Magu as the acting EFCC chairman, he has left no one in doubt about his commitment and sense of purpose in discharging his responsibility by frontally going after corruption in line with the provisions of the constitutions, not minding whose ox is gored and this has won him admiration and commendation both at home and abroad and gained political capital for the President Buhari administration.
In repositioning the EFCC to act responsibly and conscientiously on its mandate, it was not lost on the government, Nigerians and even Mr. Magu, that when you fight corruption, it fights back on various fronts using every arsenal at its disposal. This has been the lot of the anti corruption war which has been labelled as witch hunt, persecution, vendetta, etc just to distract, but to the glory of God, all these blackmail, mudslinging and intimidatory tactics have failed as the war has remained on course for the collective good of Nigerians.
In recognizing the fact that the anti corruption war will not be a tea party, Nigerians have queued behind the government and the EFCC in recognition of the fact that the reward for hard work, is more work, by demanding for the confirmation of Mr. Magu as EFCC chairman to enable him appreciate the goodwill of Nigerians for the commendable performance of the organization under his stewardship of which we have demanded more.
Unfortunately, a spanner has been thrown into the wheel of progress of the anti corruption war of President Buhari's administration by the rejection of Mr. Magu as EFCC chairman by the Senate on grounds of alledged security report.
The sad development from the Senate whose action in this regard is very unrepresentative of the wish and aspirations of Nigerians has further thrown up the debate about the seriousness of the Nigerian state to tame the cankerworm of corruption which has made us the object of international ridicule and undermined our peace, progress and development.
The non confirmation of Mr. Ibrahim Magu by the Senate has further called to question the sense of responsibility and sensitivity of national institutions and agencies to our collective interest.
Thus is it becomes imperative for us as a people desirous of our dear country taking its rightful place in the comity of nations, to ask some salient questions thrown up by this issue and they are:
Whose interest are national institutions established to serve, is it national or parochial interests?
Doesn't the President get security clearance before presenting a nominee for Senate screening and clearance?
Didn't Mr. Magu go through security clearance before being presented to the Senate for confirmation?
If Mr. Magu did, then how come the Senate based its rejection on an indicting security report?
If Magu didn't, then we need to know who compromised his office to assault national sensibilities?
Is the rejection of Mr. Magu by the Senate based on security report not an indictment of the executive arm of government?
To which arm of government does the security agencies belong and to whom do they report directly?
By this development in the Senate, is it that we have two different security reports on Mr. Magu?
If the answer to question 8 above is in the affirmative, does it not amount to gross misconduct by the office concerned?
Or is it that the security report on which the Senate based its rejection of Mr. Magu, was the same one submitted to the Presidency, but was ignored for reasons that we must demand an explanation?
Can the Senate committee on corruption and other related matters not be accused of dereliction of duty in the discharge of it's oversight functions by this revelation?
The answers to all the above questions can only be provided by the executive via Mr. President summoning the Director General of the DSS to explain the role of his agency in this whole drama which has the tendency to cast doubt on and undermine the government's anti corruption war in which the majority of Nigerians have keyed into.
Nigerians, the ball is in your court!
The people of Rivers state will on Saturday, December 11, vote those who will occupy the state and National Assembly seats that were declared vacant by the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC).
The elections, according to the commission, would hold in all three senatorial districts, eight federal constituencies, and 10 state constituencies and would deploy 10,294 staff to conduct the elections in Rivers State.
In the face of the claims and counter-claims, including allegation that Governor Nyesom Wike had been targeted for assassination, the National Youth Service Corps, NYSC, have pleaded with frightened Corps members, who earlier volunteered to supervise the elections, not to back out ahead of Saturday’s parliamentary rerun elections in Rivers State.
Meanwhile, the All Progressives Congress (APC) and the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) have continued to trade accusations over acts capable of causing violence during the exercise.
The Rivers State Police Commissioner, Mr Francis Odesanya has placed restriction on movement in all parts of the state from 12 midnight on Friday to 8pm on Saturday.
It is hope that security agencies would douse the tension currently ravaging Rivers State and ensure a conducive atmosphere for elections to be conducted on Saturday.
History plays a role and shapes our future. Today, I share with you critical issues, facts and matters arising as the people of Ondo State prepare to exercise their franchise in electing its 17th Governor & 6th Democratic Governor on Saturday, November 26, 2016.
According to Benajmin Todd Jealous; “The right to vote is the right upon which all of our rights are leveraged and without which none can be protected.”
Ondo State with a population of 4.02 million (Nigeria Bureau of Statistics, 2011) is one of the six states in the South-West Geopolitical Zone of Nigeria and was created on February 3, 1976 out of the defunct Western Region. It consists of eighteen (18) local government areas with Akure serving as its capital.
As the front runners for Ondo Guber poll – the ruling People’s Democratic Party (PDP), Alliance for Democracy (AD) and All Progressives Congress (APC) – in rounding off their campaigns, pundits would have began an uneasy permutation about the possible outcome of Saturday’s contest with no one ready to place a bet on any of the three leading candidates: Mr. Eyitayo Jegede (PDP), Chief Olusola Oke (AD) and Mr. Rotimi Akeredolu (APC).
The outgoing governor, Olusegun Mimiko before defecting to the People’s Democracy Party during the buildup to 2015 general elections was elected in 2012 under the platform of the Labour Party with 260,199 votes against the PDP and ACN with 155,961 and 143, 512 votes respectively.
In deciding who succeeds Mr. Olusegun Mimiko as the Governor of Ondo State come Saturday, November 26th, the citizens have to make a choice between the 28 INEC Approved Candidates that would participate in the November 26th governorship election in the State.
Over 1.66million Registered Voters are expected to vote in the 3,009 Polling Units across the State with about 3,694 Smart Card Readers deployed by INEC for the election. There are over 330, 218 Unclaimed Voter’s card as at October 31, 2016 despite the CVR exercise by the electoral umpire in Ondo State.
With the economic recession currently pervading the country, Domestic Debt Profile of Ondo State as at December 2015 stood at N26.6 billion with External Debt profile of $51.7 million as at June 30, 2016. The State is currently running with the Budget of N123.7billion for the year 2016.
Some of the critical issues that engulfs Ondo State, the Sunshine State of Nigeria ranges from Unpaid bursary for Ondo students in tertiary institution since 2014, Unpaid worker’s salaries for about five months, Over 2 years power outage in Okitipupa Local Government Area, Six suspended lecturers from Adekunle Ajasin University, Akungba, Alape Bridge which links Okitipupa, Irele, Ilaje and Ese together has been abandoned/uncompleted for over 8 years.
Amid the hard-biting economic downturn in the country, the National Assembly has paid a whopping N3.6billion for 360 exotic cars which the House of Representatives has taken delivery of no fewer than 28 units of the Peugeot 508 series. The 28 were among the first batch of 50 cars supplied by the Kaduna-based Peugeot Automobile Nigeria Limited.
Active citizens have overtime argued that, for the legislators to prioritise buying for themselves some luxury vehicles at a time most Nigerians are going through difficult times demonstrates a high level of insensitivity and recklessness.
The cars will cost taxpayers an estimated N3.6billion that could be spent on vaccinating newborns and save them from dying or on providing electricity for remote communities so kids stop doing school assignments using paraffin lamps.
The lower legislative chamber is buying the vehicles at a time millions of Nigerians are facing severe economic hardship, including nonpayment of salaries.
Indeed, at a period when there is a compelling need for the elected representatives of the people to ensure robust and timely legislation and oversight so that Nigerians can begin to enjoy the benefits of good governance, the lawmakers seem to care more about their privileges.
Indeed, this current National Assembly, especially the House of Representatives, is about to set the standard on how a legislature can become a subversion of all the ethical aspirations that ought to drive a society.
If these exotic cars are needed for necessary oversight trips to difficult terrains as being touted, why not buy a dozen of such vehicles and put them in a pool that the lawmakers can sign for when such official trips become imperative?
The sheer lack of transparency that shrouds this transaction and the magnitude of the financial outlay are reflective of the enormous rot in our polity. While it is doubtful if the lawmakers who have already taken possession of the vehicles will return them, hopefully they will understand that they are fast losing credibility with Nigerians they are expected to serve.
The Senate penultimate week sent a shock wave down the spines of Nigerians and aviation industry, as it declared that multiple air crashes are imminent. It was like saying the turbulent aviation Year 2005/6 with worst cases of plane crashes in the country, is sudden upon the country again!
A single air crash, from antecedent, is enough to ground an airline and two or three of such will bury an entire sector that ordinarily offers the safest means of traveling around the world.
The scary outburst followed a motion tagged; “Disturbing Development in the Nigerian Aviation Industry” by Senator Dino Melaye which was backed by Senator Godswill Akpabio.
While the National Assembly has the right to its observations particularly in the area of adopting policies and making laws through the process of deliberation which are the bedrock of good governance, it becomes worrisome when the upper chamber decides to complicate issues affecting the aviation sector under the pretense of finding solutions.
It is true that all is not well with airline business and even the sector in general, but for the upper chamber to come out to shout of imminent plane crashes is a disservice to the country’s aviation sector.
The wrong signal sent out not only to the travelling public and the outside world of imminent crashes, the lawmakers have indirectly indicted itself by failing to assist the sector in times of difficulties they have listed out only to come out to raise the alarm.
What does #OurNASS stand to gain by coming out to create tension in a sector that is struggling to remain?
Agreed that the sector is facing a lot of challenges, but coming out with such an alarm falls short of expectations from the lawmakers. Like Nigeria, other countries have their own challenges but their leaders will never destroy the entire system through such an unguarded statement.
If the lawmakers know that much about the problems confronting the sector, they should be more proactive in finding solutions to them rather than make remarks that will further compound issues.
The Senate last week Thursday amended the Code of Conduct Bureau and Tribunal Act (CCB/CCT Act) respectively, which is to effectively transfer the President’s regulatory power over the bureau and tribunal to the National Assembly.
We are no doubt taken aback that just months after the red chamber initially suspended the move to amend the Code of Conduct Bureau (CCB) and the Code of Conduct Tribunal (CCT) Act, the National Assembly subtly passed the amendment Bill into law.
The Senate also reintroduced a provision which authorizes the CCB to invite anyone found culpable in asset declaration to make necessary correction as against being charged to the tribunal for trial – a provision that had earlier been expunged from the extant law.
For many who don’t know, the 3rd & 5th Schedule to our constitution of 1999 as amended emphasizes on important parts of CCT’s existence and only a constitutional amendment can make changes to it.
This constitutional amendment can’t be done by just the Senate, it must be consented to by 2/3 of all our 36 State Houses of Assembly; without which, the provisions of 3rd & 5th schedule stands, the Senate can’t make any changes or modification to the Act as it so exist right now.
Never mind that the Senate went ahead to making amendments that doesn’t comply with the provisions of CCB/CCT as provided by the 3rd & 5th; It will mean the constitution will be invalid, null and void to the extent of its inconsistencies. The amendment can’t stand.
Now let us highlight some of the salient part of the invalid amendment of CCB/CCT Act by the National Assembly and point out where it fails…
The ‘SHALL’ clause in the constitution makes the 3rd & 5th law Mandatory and NEVER optional.
– National Assembly altered the tenure of CCB Chairman to a term of 5yrs renewable once. This is inconsistent with Paragraph 17 (1) of the 5th Schedule in our constitution.
The Paragraph also says the Chairman SHALL vacate his office at the age of 70 years. The word used is “SHALL” and very mandatory.
Therefore the amendment by The National Assembly limiting term of CCB Chairman to 5yrs renewable once is hereby NULL and VOID for being inconsistent with the constitution.
It is crystal clear that the amendment is in conflict with the Nigerian constitution and that those in the senate are not studious enough, even the 1(3) schedule provides that any law that is inconsistent with the provisions of the constitution shall be null and void.
The National Assembly can only amend a constitutional Act if amendment is made and supported by 2/3 of all 36 States House of Assembly.
Interestingly, this same National Assembly that has delayed the passage of the Petroleum Industry Bill (PIB), which could create jobs for many unemployed Nigerians, was quick to amend the CCT/CCB Act, arrogating to itself the power to control both the CCB and CCT, because it serves its interest.
Overall, the amendment process is perceived as an exercise by the National Assembly to take away the role of the executive in the appointment of Judges of the body due to the ongoing travails of the Senate President with the tribunal, no more, no less!
The ambassadorial nominee from Kastina state, Usman Bugaje, has turned down his appointment nomination by President Muhammadu Buhari. Dr Bugaje, an academic, rights campaigner, former member House of Representatives was also one of the gubernatorial aspirants in Katsina State.
Bugaje is the second nominee to reject the offer, after Pauline Tallen, a former deputy governor of Plateau state and associate of Aisha Buhari, wife of Nigeria’s president turned down the offer as well.
It could be recalled that President Buhari recently submitted a list of 46 non-career ambassadors designate for confirmation by the Senate.
While Pauline Tallen rejected her nomination on the grounds that there was no “proper consultation”, a decision she announced in public, Usman Bugaje prevailed upon by top government officials not to announce his rejection of the offer as reported in some section of the media.
The culture of placing a square peg in a round hole must stop in our nation’s polity. Non-consultation of nominees for appointment is a show of incompetence and arrogance on the part of those in charge of affairs now. You could accuse former President Goodluck Jonathan’s government of incompetence. Those steering the state ship now have added arrogance to it.
Even more disappointing is the way people are being allocated appointment without taking into perspective of what they can offer. Example is the way portfolios were allocated to ministers. They don’t even have the share of minds to know where people could fit in, they don’t consult but just go ahead to make announcement. It is very disappointing and Nigeria needs to be safe of this future embarrassment.
Mrs. Aisha Buhari, wife of the President and First Lady of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, can’t be confined to “the Kitchen, the living room or the other room”, whatever her husband, President Muhammadu Buhari, says. It already appears one can’t keep a pretty, ambitious woman down, even if you are President of the most populous black nation on earth.
Nigeria’s First Lady, Aisha Buhari unforgettable interview spoilt one of her husband’s rare promising moments—Boko Haram’s release of twenty-one Chibok schoolgirls. In a BBC Hausa interview, she expressed her displeasure in President Buhari’s government, saying that the President does not know most of the appointees in his cabinet and that PMB’s government is currently been controlled by the Aso Villa Cabals. She succinctly emphasized that the Presidency had been hijacked by a few people, who were behind the presidential appointments.
In the interview, Mrs. Buhari said, “The president does not know 45 out of 50, for example, of the people he appointed and I don’t know them either, despite being his wife of 27 years. Some people are sitting down in their homes, folding their arms, only for them to be called to come and head an agency or a ministerial position.”
With this media outburst from Nigeria’s First Lady, somebody we believe should know her husband too well. It therefore paint the clear picture that a good number of people in the President’s cabinet are misfits and square pegs forcing themselves into round holes. So to that extent, I agree that a lot of the cabinet members should simply give way. What if a man who says he is not corrupt is incompetent, what good is he to us?
Nigerians are suffering, yet people are pretending as if everything is fine. The value of naira has dropped by 70 per cent over one year, yet President Buhari and his cabinet members are still blaming the previous administration.
President Buhari no doubt confirmed his wife’s depiction of a man who is so bewildered by the demands of his office that he has ceded control to others in his graceless response which of course the Presidency handlers had effortlessly tried to pass off as witticism.
The recent call by Aliko Dangote for the sale of the national shareholdings in the NLNG and the suggestions by the senate president that the shares, along with other sovereign assets in the oil and aviation sectors, be sold to stem the current economic recession are suspicious, unacceptable and unpatriotic, there seems to be a sinister motive behind the call for the sale of our common patrimony.
Those angling to sell or buy Nigeria’s cherished national assets don’t seem to believe in Nigeria. They don’t seem to believe that there is a future for Nigeria. For them, the Nigeria they know and believe in is the Nigeria of today. What you call Nigeria, in their mind, may evaporate into another “there was a country”, in the words of Chinua Achebe.
That is why they want to sell off whatever assets belong to the country so that when it comes to pass that there was once a country called Nigeria, they will live and own those assets in whatever new political entity they find themselves. Otherwise, why should any patriotic citizen contemplate selling of our national assets in the guise of tackling recession? In whose interest is this selfish agenda?
Investments in the NLNG and Joint Venture oil upstream operations are profitable and represent potential sources of revenue in the future. These calls are more worrisome when one considers the history of sovereign assets divestiture in the past. Where are the proceeds from sales of the assets in the power sector for instance?
Latching on the current economic downturn as reason to sell the assets is just a ploy because Nigeria is not the only country currently in recession. Nigeria is just one out of a host of countries that are now in “the recession club”. None of those countries has put up its priced national assets for sale. What the countries are engaged in is critical thinking to devise creative strategies to boost production. Selling of national assets is tantamount to cutting the head because one has headache. The Igbo say a madman sets his house on fire to allow more light!
Countries that have had recession often come out stronger due to the proactive policies put in place that wouldn’t have been there without the recession. Therefore, recession is not a death knell on any country. All that is required is unrelenting thinking devoid of egocentric or ethnic maneuvering.
On Tuesday, 4th October, 2016; Enough Is Enough Nigeria (EiE) with other partner organizations started the #Office of the Citizen radio programme that had been in the making over sometime in Abeokuta, the Ogun State capital. Thanks to Sweet 107.1FM crew, especially Mr. Toye Arulogun and Olaitan Bakare, we finally got a 60-minute weekly slot to discuss various issues that are of great concern to Nigerians in English and Yoruba Language.
These issues may revolve around Access to Power, holding public officials accountable, getting good services from government and privately owned agencies, and other topical issues that may be relevant to the host community. We hope that every listener will soon believe that the Office of the Citizen they occupy is actually the highest office in the land!
Unlike other call-in programs, the distinguishing factor of the ‘Office of the Citizen’ radio show would be its singular objective of educating listeners and helping callers solve problems related to the focus areas. Callers will be allowed to vent, but ultimately, the focus will be on how to help them turn their anger/frustrations into action and results.
Every Tuesday from 11am-12noon, EiE in partnership with Women Advocates Research and Documentation Centre (WARDC) and BudgIT will discuss various governance - related issues including engaging government officials, budgets, gender based violence and other women’s rights abuse.
Guests on the first episode were Ishola Adebayo of EiE Nigeria, Emmanuela Azu of WARDC and ‘Funso Oladapo of BudgIT Nigeria. Alongside our wonderful co-hosts Akinwande Ogundele and Ayinla Egba. We took our listeners on a 1-hour ride through the overview of the show and of course issues around Local Government Administration in Nigeria and the forthcoming LGAs/LCDA elections in Ogun State.
Join us every Tuesday by 11am on SWEET 107.1 FM as we take on topical issues of concern to Nigerians. Tweet with the hashtag #OfficeOfTheCitizen or call in: 09020931071, 09020941071, 08148444994 to join the conversation!
Fifty six years in the life of a nation is, indeed, a milestone worth celebrating. Within this period, the country, Nigeria, and her people passed through many phases of ups and downs and survived the heat of a desiccating crucible. The immediate post-2015 election process presented its own challenges as the leaders and the citizenry grappled with the demands of nation building. The initial false steps were, at first, dramatic resulting in upheavals that not only scared us in what seems not only to truncate the democratic structures, but threatened to dismember the nation. Yet, the country survives still. Though not without its democratic experiment. It was a testy time for a nation that survived 16 years of democratic misrule and struggling to pick up the gauntlet of self-governance.
Whether we like to admit it or not, we are living through troubling times. After 56 years of independence, Nigeria remains a story of false starts, a nation on reverse gear. With all the huge human and natural resources that God has endowed us with, there is absolutely no reason why we should be where we are today. Many years of bad government and failed leadership gave rise to an entrenched system of corruption, mediocrity and impunity.
There are hundreds of people who die every day in this country because they are simply too poor to stay alive. They have no jobs, therefore, no means of sustenance for themselves and their families. When they are sick they cannot afford to go to the hospital or to procure medication. A lot of Nigerians cannot afford to pay the school fees of their children. These are not numbers; they are human beings whose dignity have been bruised and battered because of the burdensome weight of life’s unbearable challenges. In virtually every sector of our economy, the indices are at an all-time low. Social infrastructures including schools, hospitals, roads, electricity, water supply, and even prisons are at their worst state than at any other moment in the history of this country.
While the independence anniversary for many nations of the world is a privileged time to celebrate progress and prosperity, for Nigeria, it is always a sober moment for lamentation. After the last general elections that brought a new government to power, Nigerians have once again expressed their resilient hope and undying optimism that things will be better this time around. However, we are yet to see an overwhelming commitment from the generality of Nigerians that we are really prepared for the sacrifices that change entails.
We are still living with warped values, from things as minute as obeying traffic rules, proper sanitation, and respect for decency, order and protocol in public places. We are yet to shed all manner of brazen wrongdoing from corner cutting, queue jumping and rule breaking that have made this country a republic of organised anarchy. We are still living with a culture of militarisation where the security agencies of the state continue to terrorise hapless citizens with the might of their guns, sirens and uniforms.
After 56 years of independence, Nigeria has no single world-class university, airport, tourist attraction site, industry or product. How can a nation rise on the ladder of social prosperity without these trappings of modern economic development? All we see on a daily basis are ethnic rifts, political polarisations and religious divisions. Is this how a nation becomes great? According to Lee Kuan Yew, the first Prime Minister of Singapore, “A nation is great not by its size alone. It is the will, the cohesion, the stamina, the discipline of its people, and the quality of their leaders which ensure it an honourable place in history.”
I believe that at all levels of government and society, Nigeria needs an ethical leadership to inspire, articulate and drive change, an individual who will echo the rallying cry and hunger for substantial dialogue and justice; a leader who has a soul, who is committed, competent, and courageous; with a core vision and sense of mission and willing to sacrifice for them by taking on vested interests and anti-democratic forces.
For the country and the people, it has been 56 years of hard work, fears, anxieties, hopes, aspirations, successes and failures. Most importantly, it has been a period that gives everyone reasons to believe in a bright and prosperous future.
Certainly, we have not reached our final destination as regards our march towards growth and development but we have made significant gains and cannot afford to destroy what we have toiled to build.
Looking into the future, we must continue to focus our attention on having a cleaner government by voting for a less corruptible leader. Nigeria is where we are because of incompetent and corrupt leadership that has governed us for far too long. We, as active citizens, must endeavor to get involve in electing incorruptible leaders to govern the affairs of the country.
While some may disagree that there were no reasons to celebrate, it cannot for one minute be lost on us that we as a nation have come a long way and have had a lot of experience, good, bad and ugly. The pace of growth and development may actually lack some sense of determination and urgency, the results so far may be mixed, but the HOPE that is in the horizon which engulfs our nation as the pride of the entire continent after some 56 years of numerous challenges is what I choose to celebrate.
After all is said and done, the only way to shut those naysayers, will be our resolve to remain hopeful and believe in the course we are charting. Hence, in spite of all, I celebrate our achievements in the past 56 years, because I believe they are the foundational blocks of our development.
Therefore, above all challenges, I choose to remain hopeful. Nigeria will join the league of great nations someday, a day not too far from now.
When the talk about part time legislature is been debated, people’s minds go to allowances, salaries and other benefits. But that is not really the issue. The issue is the overhead cost. If the overhead cost is not controlled — as it relates to the executive, legislature and the judiciary — we cannot achieve a reasonable reduction in the cost of governance. Even if somebody works for two months but run a very high overhead cost, we would not achieve any cost reduction.
Full-time legislature is a waste of resources and time. The work of a legislator does not justify his being there on a full-time basis. I have had the opportunity to serve the country there through the youth corps programme. To be honest, the work could be better done on part-time. The enormity of work in the Senate — which is the highest level of lawmaking — is not enough to occupy the Senate every day of the week.
That is why they work three days –Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday. Yet, the three days are not fully utilized. Most of the time, they are busy with their personal activities. They spend much of the time discussing exorbitant allowances.
They can achieve both legislative and oversight functions working on a part-time basis. By the way, what is the essence of oversight responsibility? They use the opportunity to make money for themselves. Rather than keeping ministries, departments and agencies on their toes, they go about soliciting for money.
Many Nigerians are of the right opinion that many of the legislators are short changing the country and the National Assembly with regular absenteeism, irregular and untimely arrival for sessions which result in low productivity.
Pitiably, Nigerians watch with dismay how members stroll into the legislative chamber when the proceeding in the Red and Green Chambers is almost concluded without visible respect for the time schedules in the parliament, yet these are leaders whom we are expecting to lay good examples, serves as models for emulation.
In all developed countries Nigeria is trying to emulate, members of the legislature have their professions and they don’t resign their appointments to become lawmakers. Part time legislature would be good if the Federal Government wants to attract high-calibre people to politics.
There is nothing stopping an accountant, lecturer or banker from venturing into politics and do it part time. This would enable them to still hold on to their jobs and do politics. It will be beneficial because all these people are coming with skills and experiences from their own professions. So why can’t we use these skills and experiences in shaping our country?
The decision to postpone the Edo State governorship election slated for last week is a clear indication that the police lack the desirable capacity in policing this country. The controversy generated is a clear testimony that the police and the other security agencies are part of election malpractices in the country.
It is no longer news that some senior security officials were retired or dismissed over the roles they played in the last general election. But it appears that the current administration has yet to learn to do things differently. A similar scenario played out during the botched senatorial rerun in Imo State, where the election was postponed in a controversial manner.
Obviously, we are no doubt reaping the tragedy of the decision by a former National Security Adviser, Col. Sambo Dasuki (retd.), who used insecurity to blackmail INEC into postponing the presidential election so that his party could gain an advantage. Dasuki became openly partisan. I find such an act extremely abominable.
If, indeed, Edo State was a target for an attack and the police and the DSS could not uncover that before the President visited, then we are in trouble. If the huge number of policemen and soldiers deployed could not secure the state, then Nigeria is in a serious problem.
The implication of this for our nascent democracy is that our security operatives are not trained to combat security challenges. They are not prepared to protect the country. We do not have a security apparatus that can be relied upon.
Beyond election, we must equip the Nigeria Police Force to be able to combat security threats. We are not serious about policing. How could we expect the governors to equip the police but dismiss state policing? In terms of the number of personnel and equipment, the NPF is not ready to protect the country.
We did not realize how poorly equipped the military was until Boko Haram emerged. We only realized that our arsenal was empty when Boko Haram started bombing the North. That is how terrible we are in terms of security. We must beef up our security in terms of armory and personnel.
History plays a role and shapes our future. Today, I share with you critical issues, facts and matters arising as the people of Edo State prepare to exercise their franchise in electing its 10th Governor & 5th Democratic Governor on Saturday, September 10th,2016.
According to Benajmin Todd Jealous; “The right to vote is the right upon which all of our rights are leveraged and without which none can be protected.”
Edo State is one of the six states in the South-South Geopolitical Zone of Nigeria and was created on August 27, 1991 out of the old Bendel state. It consists of eighteen (18) Local Government areas with Benin serving as its capital.
On 20 March 2008, an election tribunal nullified the election of Oserheimen Osunbor of the People's Democratic Party,(PDP) and declared erstwhile labour leader Comrade Adams Oshiomhole of the Action Congress as the winner of the 14 April, 2007 governorship election. The judgement was based on several electoral malpractices observed during the election. Oshiomhole was voted for a second term in 2012. Governor Adams Oshiomhole was re-elected under the platform of the then Action Congress of Nigeria with 477, 478 votes against the PDP and ANPP with 144, 235 and 3,642 votes respectively.
The Governor of Edo State is elected using the Open Secret Ballot System. The outgoing governor, Adams Oshiomhole, is ineligible to run for a third consecutive term due to term limits established in the Fifth Amendment to the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria.
In deciding who succeeds Comrade Adams Oshiomhole as the Governor of Edo State come Saturday September 10th, the citizens have to make a choice between the 19 political parties that would participate in the September 10 governorship election in the State.
According to the INEC Approved Candidates, 19 gubernatorial aspirants; 15 male running mates and four female running mates will be participating in the Guber poll.
Over 1.92million Registered Voters are expected to vote in the 2, 627 Polling Units across the State with about over 400, 000 Unclaimed Permanent Voter’s Card as at August 2016 despite the CVR process by the electoral umpire.
With the current economic recession trend in the country, Domestic Debt Profile of Edo State as at December 2015 stood at N66.2 billion and the state is currently running with the Budget of N116.6billion for the year 2016. Some of the critical issues that pervade Edo State, the Heart Beat of Nigeria ranges from Unpaid salaries for Local Council Workers, Pension & Gratuity Arrears, Stalled & Uncompleted Projects across the state.
On Tuesday, the Nigerian Bureau of Statistics (NBS) confirmed what we all suspected: Nigeria is in recession. The economy contracted by 2% in the second quarter, and unemployment is also on the rise. Many have lost their jobs in the formal sector as firms have cut staff or folded up altogether. Many of us know people who have been let go in all sectors, and hiring has slowed to a trickle.
Unemployment has risen for the seventh straight quarter, and is now 13.3%. For the first time since 2009, Nigeria’s service sector has shrunk by -1.25%. That sector had managed to keep growing in spite of the condition of the general economy, but it has now succumbed. It is a sector that employs a huge number of people, we must hope that this contraction is short. If not, many more jobs could be lost.
The positives are that Agriculture and solid mineral sectors have continued to grow, at 4.53% and 2.5% respectively, and their contribution to GDP has also increased. Hopefully, this continues.
Education, Electricity, Oil and Gas, Agriculture and Technology are critical issues that touch the life of every Nigerian fairly, either directly or indirectly.
And of course, the favour of Almighty God on Niger-Delta region for situating the oil in the Niger-Delta is for a purpose that must not be turned into a curse. Mortals can only delay the purpose but cannot definitely abort the purpose.
Let us make the best use of the “new digital economy” golden opportunity, beckoning for the umpteenth time on us, the coming generations will remain eternally grateful for not allowing the opportunity to slip by, evident to this is the visit by the Facebook Founder, Mark Zuckerberg to Nigeria.
The summary of this is that right now, the bad news still outweighs the good news, and this should not be allowed to continue for long. Nigeria has too many unemployed people to be in a recession, and even the current situation was avoidable if the Presidency had heeded initial good advice. That advice is being heeded now, albeit belatedly and unevenly, and it will take time for the situation to improve.
The National Assembly management has said they are groaning over the harsh economic situation and weighed down by unbearable debt profile which has subjected them to serious suffering and almost pitched them against staff and contractors.
Contractors and suppliers are grumbling over the inability of the National Assembly management to liquidate the accumulated debts.
It was gathered that the situation has forced the management of the National Assembly to take cost cutting measures including the slashing down of salaries of legislative aides by about 70 percent.
A source familiar with the workings of the National Assembly told newsmen that the management is now taking inventory of the debt stock.
The source said some of the debts were incurred through contracts that might not have been executed. “It is a yearly occurrence,” the source added.
“There are huge debts, no doubt. They’re still in the process of compiling,” said the source.
One legislative aide said, “The situation is so worrisome that the new Clerk to the National Assembly, Alhaji Mohammed Sani-Omolori, has demanded for the comprehensive details of the debts profile.”
Asked about the major contracts being awarded by the National Assembly, the source said they included office facilities, vehicles, and maintenance.
“You’ll be shocked if you know the monumental corruption taking place in the management of the National Assembly. They change office equipment every year on paper, but you don’t get to see anything.”
“You can imagine even the maintenance being carried out by Julius Berger at the time was done on credit. It was because of the way they were going about the whole thing that Berger backed out from the contract of maintaining the NASS complex.”
“There are a lot of things my brother. Some of them would raise fake vouchers just to divert the money. Somebody would say he has travelled to somewhere, whereas he was in his house.”
“They also have ghost workers among the NASS staff, but because nobody probes them, people don’t get to know. With this kind of things, how do you expect the country to change?” said the source, who did not want to be named.
With several public outcries by active citizens for #OurNASS to #OpenNASS campaign, the National Assembly budget is still shrouded in secrecy despite repeated promises by the Senate President, Bukola Saraki to make the details public.
The budget of the National Assembly that was ₦23.3B in 2003 went up to as much as ₦150B for four years (2010 to 2013) but was slashed to ₦120B in 2014 and ₦115B in 2015 and 2016.
It is unimaginable that the National Assembly is broke, owning lawmakers and contractors in spite of the ₦115B budgetary allocations in the current year with all the unofficial padding here and there, chairman of this committee here and there.
If the National Assembly management is really broke, then they should be strongly advised to start cutting their bogus allowances and begin to claim the 18,000 minimum wage standard, if majority of the people who elected the Senators and House of Representatives members to represent them are on 1-1- 0, 0-1-1 meal formula daily and can’t afford $1 per day or are being paid 18,000 wages and still being owed by their fellow public officers in the executive arm, why then the cry on the electorates?
Electorates did not elect the National Assembly members to become overnight billionaires but to make laws for the peace, order and good governance of the Federal Republic of Nigeria.
They are expected to sit for 181 days in a year. How effective and efficient are they on the bills and motion sponsorship which is their primary role at the red and green chambers respectively?
All of the 109 Senators and 360 Honourables should carry out a self assessment!
Count the number of days they’ve spent since they were elected including the numbers of days on paid-recess and holidays, number of times they escorted the Senate President Bukola Saraki to CCB, the number of times they’ve engaged themselves in physical battles for leadership position, et al. In fact, NASS members should be paid pro rata simply…No work, No pay!!!
Certainly, Nigeria’s problems did not start with the adoption of the Presidential System of Government. And neither has the Presidential System of Government solved our problems. In retrospect the Presidential System of Government has created more problems for us leaving only the executives, legislators and their aides to operate the system.
On May 27, 1967, by virtue of state creation and Transitional Provision Decree 14 of 1967, General Yakubu Gowon created 12 states in the country – six from the old Northern Region, three from the old Eastern Region and three from the old Western Region. By Decree 39 of June 24, 1967, he created the Interim Common Services Agency to take over the assets of the old Northern Region and the Eastern States Interim Assets and Liabilities Agencies to take over the assets of the three states of Rivers, East Central State and South Eastern State.
There is another story elsewhere.
On Tuesday (January19, 2016), at the Cocoa House (Ibadan), the governors of the owner states of Oodua Investment Company met in Ibadan, the Oyo State capital. The current Chairman of the Oodua Investment Company, Dr. Olusegun Mimiko, the governor of Ondo State announced that the company had invited Lagos State to join the company as the sixth shareholder of the conglomerate. At present, the company is owned by the governments of Oyo, Osun, Ogun, Ekiti and Ondo. Twenty four hours after the announcement, the governor of Lagos State, Akinwunmi Ambode, accepted the invitation and declared his support for the growth of the company.
The company recorded a revenue growth of N4.2B last year as against N4.5B in 2013. The spokesman for Mimiko, Kayode Akinmade disclosed that the company targeted N20B asset base by 2019. He disclosed further that the proposed payment of gross dividend of N167M at its Annual General Meeting was approved and paid to all the owner states.
No doubt Oodua Investment Company has been a huge success and kudos must be given for those who have kept the flag flying for that company from 1976 till date, including premiers, sole administrators, governors (both civilian and military), in spite of their ideological and political differences.
Sadly, unlike the era of Awolowo, state governments of the old Western Region cannot pay salaries of workers now let alone establish industries and factories, a bad legacy of the present generation.
Nigeria is not structured to succeed. It is structured to perpetually continue to wobble and fumble (apologies to Mr. Fanny Amun, the football coach). Hope cannot help it. Good intentions cannot help it.
Many Nigerians have refused to come to this realisation and reality. No man – no matter how powerful and good-intentioned – has the capacity to get things working properly in all sections of Nigeria. It is like the biggest lion in the jungle trying to stop a cackle of hyenas from seizing its kill. As it charges at one hyena, other hyenas will swoop on the kill from another side. When the lion turns to that side to stop the hyenas, other hyenas will sneak in from another side and tear off some part of the kill. After exerting itself for a while, the lion will accept the fruitlessness in its action and abandon its kill for the hyenas and run away, to avoid getting hurt and becoming unable to hunt again. But it will be a different story if there are up to 10 lions feeding on the kill. The hyenas will only hang around, drooling and praying for some leftovers.
We either restructure this nation and move forward, or refuse to do so and remain with the age-long mediocrity and regression, comforting ourselves with the hope of a better tomorrow that a “good leader” will give us. It is our choice.
Dogara (August 6, 2016):
I studied law; I have been a legislator… I have never heard the word 'padding' being an offence under any law
I am not Chairman of Ethics of the House, so I wouldn't know (if Jibrin will be sanctioned)
Jibrin (August 7, 2016):
I have been consistent with the choice of the word 'insertions'
Even though the law allows it, I raised an observation that the insertions were being too much. The intention of the constitution is not for you to do senseless insertions
I know people will be asking me now, why didn't you raise it then? It's a difficult system and the institution is much more complex
I saw the number of insertions in 2011 (to 2015). In 2016, it went completely off the board
A couple of things need to add up to make it a crime
I wasn't part of the insertion
On 2 occasions, the Speaker directed that the appropriations secretariat be taken away from me
Psychologically, you are made to believe that when you are Chairman Finance... Chairman Appropriation, you are practically a custodian of secrets and there a lot of things you must not open up
Because we are talking of our own side does not mean there is no problem with the budget team or the budget office
Ado-Doguwa (August 8, 2016):
When you are alledged to have committed what you have not committed, why should I be worried?
When you expect a legislator to work on a bill, he has the constitutional (supreme) right to deal with that bill at any level... And at whatever level a legislator engages a budget (which is a bill...), he is doing nothing but his legitimate responsibility
Daniel Reyenieju (August 8, 2016):
There are certain criteria that make a Parliament very strong:
A Parliament must be responsive
A Parliament must be accessible
A Parliament must be representative
A Parliament must be accountable
And a Parliament will demand accountability from its executive
And a Parliament that is… in immorality can hardly demand accountability from its executive
The Parliament belongs to the PEOPLE, it does not belong to the executive, it does not belong to the Judiciary, it does not equally belong to the Speaker, it belongs to the PEOPLE
That it (padding) has always been there doesn't make it right. That is breaching the trust that is being entrusted to you by the Nigerian people
In 1952, the Nigerian team made their first appearance and since then, Nigerian athletes have always participated in every tournaments of the summer Olympic games except for the 1976 Summer Olympic Games which held in Montreal due to the African boycott. Though, Nigeria has never participated in the Winter Olympic Games.
As usual, the Nigerian team was billed to compete at the 2016 Summer Olympics in Rio de Janeiro from August 5 to 21, 2016, however, not without controversy.
If we as a country with vast Human and material resources can't find a way to successfully manage and finance our team to the Olympic without late preparation, corruption and bribery, racketeering, drug performances and other demanding vices accompanied with the recent Olympic outing, how is the purpose of the outing to our Nation's corporate image (Internationally) going to be achieved? Actually, 'Olympism' is a way that "seeks to create a way of life based on the joy of effort, the educational value of good example, social responsibility and respect for universal fundamental ethical principles." Does this definition define our latest Olympic outing?
Disgraceful as it is, we heard about the case of the U-23 football team who were stranded in Atlanta and almost made us lose the opening match against Japan before Delta Airline came to the rescue, as if this isn't enough, another one rubbed our face and dent our global image as the much publicized new kit that was unveiled before President Buhari at the Aso Villa on the day Team Nigeria was officially handed over to the Nigeria Olympic Committee, NOC, failed to arrive Rio on time for the Opening Ceremony on Saturday. As a result of the non-arrival of their kits, Team Nigeria athletes had to march in tracksuits with one foreign journalist, Alexander Wolff of American Magazine, Sports Illustrated, taking to twitter to ridicule the country thus: “Nigeria, marching in sweats because official outfits didn’t make it to Rio. Can we agree that they’re a country to pull for these two weeks?”
The Youth and Sports Development Ministry was sent to the cleaners through social media outbursts from Nigerians as a result of the poor dressing. One of the quotes read “Shame on Nigeria. Shame! Shame! Shame! We are not capable of doing anything right. It is impossible to do the right thing. We are always coming up with stupid excuses that no one else seems to have. I could not find the right words to explain to my daughter here in Houston why we dressed like no other country. I was embarrassed. The opening ceremony was exciting until we appeared shamelessly and I did not need to be told that they left their official attire in Nigeria. We are ridiculous and shameless.” In truism, despite the near-exaggeration of the comments, they summarize the state of our nation and the depth at which corruption has eaten into our systems, in the comity of other countries, we still showcase our lackadaisical and obscure attitude to pressing international competition like the Olympic. This is utterly outrageous!
As various embarrassing happenings have continued to surge on Team Nigeria like a tsunami, the Nigerian Government (as usually said and not always done) promises to investigate the rot in the Olympic mess that brought international discomfort to the Nigerian team. Investigation isn't enough but bringing the culprits to book will go a long way in putting things in the normal way they should be.
Be it as it may, we equally call on the government to take swift actions to stem the tide and avoid future occurrence because we can't afford to have this crucial issue swept under the carpet as it is normally done in some other cases. If we can't get it right by organizing a shame-free Olympic outing, when and what can we get right as a country?
The decline in the nation's economy has forced governments to look inwards and explore areas they have great strength and limitless advantage. This may be the reason why Governor Rochas Okorocha gave a paradigm shift and came out with a policy thrust on the ‘Back-to-Land for Agriculture’ policy of the state government which will enable public servants engage in agriculture as a way to be self-reliant. Governor Okorocha instructed public servants in the state to now work from Mondays to Wednesdays, and use Thursdays and Fridays for agriculture (farming) while Saturdays can be used for ceremonies. And the directive took effect from August 1, 2016.
There is no controversy in the life-saving opportunities in agriculture, especially in this sardonic economic recession period. Farming remains a fundamentally beneficial job for the individual and the society. When the food supply improves, the standard of life increases and cost of life reduces, but I have reservations in making civil service seem as if there isn’t much work to be done by civil servants. Private Multinational firm won't reduce the work days of his workers from the five days to three and expect the same productivity and outcome. The assumption that a large percentage of civil servants are part-time farmers and agricultural business owners, does not justify the reduction of their work days, and possible further decline in productivity.
We all know, the sum of ₦2 Billion was set aside for the program and it is already becoming a norm to have such money mismanaged in our clime through distribution of fertilizers and farm equipments which has always remained a racketeering business in Nigeria. Over the years, full-time farmers have had to lament the poor handling and mismanagement of the fertilizer distribution because past governments failed to destroy the racketeering scourge.
Responsively, in a bid to curb the racketeering syndicate in the distribution of fertilizers, the last administration introduced Nigeria Incentive-Based Risk Sharing Systems for Agricultural Lending (NIRSAL) by the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) which involves de-risk lending to the agricultural sector. It will be a great move for IMO state executive council to take from the portrait of this.
Importantly, I think the State Government would have been better placed if the Government massively invested in training and sensitization of the 'civil farmers' about Agricultural Science, economics, extension, harvesting, cropping, soil testing and other fundamentals, before kick starting the program. The sudden and furious commencement only mirrors the intention of the state government to supplement workers salary and give reasons if perhaps, in subsequent months, there occurs the inability to pay the workers 'Mondays - Wednesdays' salaries.
"Nemo dat quad non habet - You can't give what you don't have", non-farmers can't successfully practice farming without basic knowledge of the basics. And if we are relying on the crude and primitive farming ways for this program, indeed, something is wrong somewhere.
On another note, if teachers, nurses, doctors and those involved in Internally Generated Revenue (IGR) drive can be exempted from this policy and relieved of the farming rigors, what made other portfolios non-essential to get same exemptions? The state government needs to come bold on this and explain the reasons for the exemption so as not to send some core and relevant disciplines to the back seat owing to the 'Back to Land for Agriculture' policy.
To ensure that the objective of the program is met, I suggest the four core principles in executing the programmes. The first principle hammers on the Agricultural training and empowerment to the civil farmers. The second approach is creating a synergy and strong partnership with the private sector, civil society, non-governmental organizations and particularly full-time farmers. The third principle is to see farming as a worthy investment and endeavor so that the practitioners won't be psychologically dejected by the wretched lens we usually use in viewing farming. While the fourth borders on constant monitoring, evaluation, assessment and transparency on the part of the state government and the civil farmers.
The Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) has declared Ben Uwajumogu of the All Progressive Congress (APC) winner of Imo North Senatorial District rerun election held on July 28.
Mr. Uwajumogu scored 56,076 votes to defeat Athan Achonu of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) who scored 43, 815 votes.
Arinze Agbogu, the INEC Returning Officer for Imo North Senatorial District, who announced the result in the early hours of Friday, said the outcome was a summation of scores of July 23 and that of July 28 exercise.
The News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) recalled that Mr. Uwajumogu, had scored 48,921 on July 23, while Mr. Achonu of the PDP scored 40, 142 votes which made INEC to declare the rerun inconclusive.
Mr. Agbogu said available data before him showed that Mr. Uwajumogu had majority of lawful votes cast, and therefore returned elected for the Imo North Senatorial District.
Similarly, INEC declared Nkenna Nzeruo of the APC winner of Oru East State Constituency, while Collins Chiji also of APC was declared winner for Isiala Mbano State Constituency.
The two state constituencies' elections were equally declared inconclusive due to reported cases of violence that marred the exercise in some communities in the two areas on July 23.
Mr. Uwajumogu told journalists in Owerri that he was highly elated by the victory, adding "my gratitude goes more to Gov. Rochas Okorocha whose structure helped me to win this senatorial election''.
There seems to be no end to the controversy surrounding the recent sack of Chairman of Appropriation Committee in the House of Representatives, Hon. Abdul Mumuni Jibrin.
This is because he has said that his refusal to support immunity for presiding officers as well refusal to approve the ₦40 billion for principal officers out of N100 billion approved for members of the House for constituency projects led to his removal.
Mr. Jibrin according to media reports said Speaker Dogara had repeatedly victimized him for being an independent voice in the lower chamber, saying he would work to ensure that the Speaker either resigns or is disgraced from office.
To achieve his aim, Mr. Jibrin said he would reveal to Nigerians all the corrupt practices involving Speaker Dogara, which he said were well documented.
In the latest media onslaught, Mr. Jibrin said the fraudulent tendencies of Speaker Dogara and some other House principal officers had become so pervasive that President Buhari would not hesitate to isolate and investigate them if he were to be briefed about them.
Meanwhile, despite the growing demand from several quarters for the National Assembly to open its legislative proceedings and financial transactions to the citizenry for them to unravel the circumstances under which all these scandals were perpetrated, Speaker Dogara has maintained silence, saying he would rather allow the House to deal with the matter as an institution instead of engaging in political mudslinging with Mr. Jibrin.
It will be recalled that Mr. Jibrin was at the centre of allegations by House members during the 2016 budget exercise when it was alleged that the N60 billion earmarked for the Calabar–Lagos rail project was diverted to other projects leading to calls for his sack.
For daring to write a petition to the Osun state House of Assembly to commence impeachment proceedings of Governor Rauf Aregbesola and his deputy, Mrs Titilayo Laoye-Tomori for allegedly mismanaging the state’s resources, Justice Olamide Folahanmi Oloyede of the High Court in the state has been recommended for compulsory retirement by the National Judicial Council (NJC).
The council under the lead¬ership of the Chief Justice of Nigeria, Justice Mahmud Mo¬hammed, took the decision at the end of its meeting last Friday. The NJC in its statement reads in part: “Justice Oloyede crossed the fundamental right of freedom of speech and created a negative perception of the Nigerian judiciary to the public. The allegations against the judge constitute misconduct contrary to Section 292(1) (b) of the 1999 Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, as amended and Rules 1(1) and 5 of the 2016 Revised Code of Conduct for Judicial Officers of the Federal Republic of Nigeria.”
The call for the sacking of the judge began when the Osun Civil Societies Coalition petitioned the National Judicial Council, NJC, alleging that she over-stepped her limit as she failed to conduct herself in such a manner as to preserve the dignity of her office being an impartial and independent organ, thereby exposing the judiciary to ridicule and disrepute.
It will be recalled that the petition written by the judge in 2015 was said to contain political statements, unsubstantiated allegations and accusations aimed at deriding, demeaning and undermining the government of Osun State, the person and character of the governor (as one who is cruel, a liar and a traitor), his deputy and aides. The council also found that the petition contained statements calculated to incite the residents of Osun State against the state government and its elected officers.
Against the backdrop of Nigeria’s huge security challenge, Vice President Yemi Osinbajo on Tuesday gave his support for the introduction of state police. The vice president spoke through his Senior Special Assistant on Media and Publicity, Mr. Laolou Akande in a radio programme monitored in Akure.
He said that the fear of abuse of the force by state governors, which critics had regularly held as part of the reasons for their opposition to the establishment of state police formations, remained untenable against the backdrop of the persisting allegations of the abuse of the Nigerian Police Force (NPF) by those who currently run and control it.
Well, I want to align with the thoughts of the Vice President. I believe that we are more than ripe for state police in today’s Nigeria. What is happening in Nigeria now demands not only the state police, but also local government police because in those days as far back as 1950s, we used to have the constabularies who were the local government police and they were very effective, dedicated. The question is where did we miss it? We missed it when the military decided to jettison the true federalism we inherited from our colonial masters and now replaced it with unitary system of governance.
Now, I don’t know how it will be possible for a Gbenga to be posted from Ogun State to Potiskum and you expect him to understand the social, cultural and religious sentiments of the people and be able to police them effectively. The same thing applies to a Paschal posted to Daura in Kastina or a Mohammed posted to River or Abia. This is just not normal if you are really practising true federalism. It should be such that the state should have their own security apparatus and manage it, given the realisation that it is the state governments that are actually funding the police.
The allocation to the police is usually mismanaged to the extent that nothing is provided for the police except their uniforms and monthly salaries. So, the kitting, the vehicles they use and other running costs are being shouldered by the state governments. What then stops us from decentralising it? In view of what is going on now in the country, anybody saying we are not ripe for the state policing must be absent-minded. And that is why the call for State Policing by Vice President Osinbajo is a sign of hope for a new Nigeria in the making.
Without mincing words, same over-centralisation is not only affecting the police, it is also affecting the Federal Civil Service whereby the issue of budget implementation becomes a problem. How do you expect a director or permanent secretary that sits down in Abuja to know what is going on in Imo or Delta? It is not just possible.
There can never be effective supervision. If you are to run an efficient government, whoever is employed in any particular local government should be made to start his career and end it there. The same applies for the state. Then at the federal level, as much as possible, most of what you call exclusive lists should be devolved in some of the states. Then let us eliminate those on the concurrent lists from the federal arrangement. Let it be exclusive for the states so that they will be able to do it most effectively.
Considering the state of insecurity in the country, if the police within a border town, say Ijebu, arrest someone for a criminal offence and it is supposed to be at the inter-change with Oyo, the normal thing is to hand the criminal over to the police in Oyo town, and if the crime committed is of national magnitude, then he should be handed over to the national police.
There is no problem without solution. But running away from it is to keep postponing the evil day. And we have postponed it now to the level where quality lives are being lost every day. It is very unfortunate we are where we are but hope is not totally lost for the country. State Policing is working in other climes, and if it is, there is no reason why it cannot work here in Nigeria.
Ahead of the September 10, 2016 governorship election in Edo State, the Markafi-led Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) faction has picked a former local government chairman (Esan North East), Hon. John Yakubu, as running mate to its governorship candidate, Pastor Osagie Ize-Iyamu.
It will be recalled that the PDP had earlier zoned the position of the running mate of its governorship candidate to the Edo Central senatorial district.
Media reports confirmed that the governorship candidate of the party, Pastor Ize-Iyamu; Edo State chairman of the PDP, Dan Orbih and leaders of the party across the three senatorial districts of the state were also at the meeting where the decision was taken over the weekend in Benin at the residence of a former Chairman of the Board of Trustees (BoT) of the PDP, Chief Tony Anenih.
It was also gathered that a consensus agreement was reached to pick Yakubu as running mate as majority of the leaders of the party endorsed his candidacy.
Meanwhile, Ali Modu Sheriff faction of the PDP has vowed to submit the name of Matthew Iduoriyekwemwen to the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) as PDP candidate for Edo governorship election.
It is however hoped that the festering leadership crisis in the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) that has polarized the party between Senator Ahmed Makarfi and Senator Ali Modu Sheriff would suffice to make the party pass through it pains and troubles and make a viable alternative to the incumbent All Progressives Congress (APC) in the State.
Barely three months after the Supreme Court affirmed his election as Abia State governor, Dr. Okezie Ikpeazu has been kicked out by the Federal High Court in Abuja on Monday. The Court ordered him to vacate office with immediate effect on the basis that he committed perjury by giving false information in the Form 8C001 and documents accompanying it, which he and the PDP submitted nominating him to INEC as the party’s governorship candidate.
In the judgment, Justice Okon Abang ordered the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) to issue a certificate of return to the plaintiff, Uche Ogah, who scored second highest number of votes during the PDP primary.
Similarly, one of the PDP governorship aspirants who filed a tax forgery suit against Gov. Okezie Ikpeazu, Sir Friday Nwosu, has faulted the judgment of the Federal High Court, stressing that he remained the rightful candidate of the party and that Dr. Samson Uchechukwu Ogah can’t be the governor.
Meanwhile, Ikpeazu has filed an appeal against the Monday’s judgment of the Federal High Court in Abuja which removed him from office as governor and asked the Appeal Court to set aside the judgment of Justice Okon Abang.
The Governor, in a notice of appeal filed by Chief Adegboyega Awomolo (SAN), raised five grounds of appeal upon which he asked the Court of Appeal to set aside the judgment and orders of the high court. Ikpeazu said that the Federal High Court lacked the power to order him to vacate his seat as Abia State Governor.
The notice of appeal reads:
The trial judge erred in law when he ordered as a consequential order that the appellant vacates his office as the Governor of Abia state immediately when there was no jurisdiction in the Federal High Court to remove, vacate the occupier of the office of the governor of a state or order the removal of such officer after the unsuccessful challenge of the result of the election at the Tribunal and swearing in of the appellant as the governor.
The governor said that the only power, authority and order exercisable by the Federal High Court was to disqualify the candidate from contesting the election based on section 31(6) of the Electoral Act 2010.
Ikepazu also faulted the judge when he held that he did not pay his tax for 2011, 2012 and 2013 at when due when he was a public officer whose tax deduction was under Pay As You Earn (PAYE) scheme where tax deductions were made from the source of his monthly salary by the tax authorities, which issued all the tax receipts and certificates.
He also said the Abia State Board of Internal Revenue Services that issued him with the tax certificates had not declared the certificates forged and that the trial court did not invite the issuing authorities to give evidence in the course of the trial.
Ikpeazu said the plaintiff, Dr. Samson Uchechukwu Ogah, was not a staff of the Abia State Board of Internal Revenue and did not call any staff of the board to testify that the tax certificates were forged.
He accused the trial judge, Justice Okon Abang, of violating his right to fair hearing by embarking on judicial investigation without giving him (Ikepazu) the opportunity to address the court on the issue.
Going by these political imbroglios arising from Abia State, one may pray that the Judiciary and INEC get it right before God’s Own State (Abia) is set on political fire.
At the assumption of this President Buhari-led federal government on 29 May 2015, 23 states were in arrears of salary payment of between two and 13 months, with Benue, Kogi, Osun and Cross River States reported to owe the highest number of months, while states like Ogun, Kogi, Ebonyi, Gombe, Plateau owed workers various deductions and pensioners’ stipends ranging from four and 16 months.
The Federal Government did not fare better. The former Minister of Finance and the Coordinating Minister for the Economy Dr. Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala, few weeks before the expiration of the previous regime shocked Nigerians by informing the world that the Federal Government had been borrowing since January to pay civil servants as well.
The parlous state of the economy occasioned by dwindling oil receipts made the bailout inevitable. Little wonder the federal government had in July 2015 approved the sum of ₦804.7B as lifeline for states, to enable them pay their workers several months of arrears of salaries. The first 11 states that got their debts to commercial banks restructured were Osun, ₦88.6B; Delta, ₦69.8B; Ogun, ₦55.4B; Imo, ₦37.1B; Ekiti, ₦18.8B; Kwara, ₦15.6B; and Edo, ₦11.9B. Others were Benue, ₦10.9bn; Oyo, ₦9.1B; Bauchi, ₦6.5B and Kogi, ₦0.81B.
With a second bailout initiative in perspective, the Federal Government has spelt out fresh 22 stringent conditions Nigeria’s 36 states must fulfill to be eligible to draw from the ₦90B to bail out states facing severe financial difficulties, this surely has many economic implications on the economy at large, but some of these implications are negative. Most state governors and chairmen of councils have shown that they can’t be trusted with funds of their states and councils. They received of the first bailout funds, but what happened to those funds?
Corruption on the part of many state governors and the council chairmen was responsible for the inability to pay workers and pensioners because some states whose monthly federation allocation is low were able to manage such funds judiciously, while those with huge monthly allocations and high IGR are among states who owe workers for months.
States like Ondo, Bayelsa, Rivers, Akwa Ibom, Delta and others owe salaries for months or are huge debtors to local banks or contractors. A state like Delta currently owes ₦653B despite her monthly huge allocation from the federal government and high IGR.
If Delta state that collects one of the highest federal monthly allocation and said to have third highest IGR in the country could be owing workers and N635billion debt, then the state’s former governor like governors of many other oil producing states (such as Rivers, Akwa Ibom, Bayelsa, and Ondo) have much explanations to make to their people.
It’s a paradox that Borno, Yobe and Adamawa states which are the epicenter of the insurgents do not owe and still carry out some developmental projects. States like Sokoto, Katsina, and some states in the north which receive the lowest federal monthly allocations also do not owe workers. However, oil producing states and states in the South West (the most peaceful zone) owe workers for several months. This is difficult to understand.
Between 2011 up till when the last administration left in May of 2015, the country earned about $315B from crude oil sales alone. Other revenue sources were not included; so to now find ourselves in a situation where the country is unable to pay its few civil servants is unthinkable.
Until the anti graft agencies are able to tackle corruption at the various levels, would the state governments continue to cry to the Federal Government for a bailout. The governors and council bosses who collected their allocations and the first tranche of the bailout funds and failed to pay workers cannot be trusted to manage this second bailout judiciously.
As the federal government goes ahead with the planned second bailout, with an expectation to reduce the number of Nigerians who daily commit suicide, it is hoped that states governments will develop the agricultural sector in their domain as well so as to reduce corrupt practices which have made many states poor.
It is essential that the anti graft agencies bring to book corrupt political office holders. This is in respect to the reality that most states who owe workers and are contending with huge debts had their resources looted by governors and other political office holders.
I will also expect EFCC to prosecute the former Imo, Jigawa, Adamawa and other former governors standing trial to enable the states who are unable to pay salaries or in huge debt to have their funds returned to enable them meet peoples’ expectations.
The months ahead will show if the states utilized this second bailout and loan facility judiciously or are looted as was the case in the past. It is hoped that labour leaders and top civil servants who were alleged to assist politicians to loot funds of their states and local governments must have learnt from the salary and pension debts which almost crippled economic development of several states and councils. Questions arise:
Are they ready to do this?
Is the easy money called ‘bailout funds from Abuja’ not actually a disincentive to creative thinking by most States Governors?
The Senate and House of Reps were rocked with controversy as regard filling leadership positions – Senate Presidency, House Speakership, their deputies and principal officers. Consequently, when it came to chairmanship of committees, some discontented committee chairmen actually resigned from their appointment to ‘non-juicy’ committees.
Next in line was the purchase of cars. The Senate reportedly splashed ₦4.7B on the procurement of Toyota Land Cruisers Sport Utility Vehicles for 109 members. While the House of Representatives budgeted ₦3.6B, but went for ‘Naija-made’, actually Naija-assembled Peugeot 508 Salon cars for 360 members.
The National Assembly’s budget for 2016 was released to the public as ₦115B. However, there was no element of detail as to what the money was intended for. Numerous times, SP Saraki promised and failed to make the details public. Once again, in the process of marking this anniversary, he said:
‘We have directed that the breakdown of the national assembly budget be posted on our website. It will not be business as usual.”
We wait to see!
This is arguably the most controversially vexing of all occurrences at the 8th NASS so far. It was a bid to regulate citizen’s free use of social media. Following lashings, newspaper articles, media rants and law suits, the proposed bill was withdrawn by its sponsor, Senator Bala Ibn Na’Allah.
More than ever before, young Nigerian citizens paid attention to the screening process of ministerial nominees. But it was rather disappointing as the lawmakers’ performance was far from being thorough.
Consequently, the budget proposal was presented to NASS in December 2015. The original budget size was ₦6.08T. It went down to ₦6.07T and eventually came out as ₦6.06T. Following 4 months of drama and accusations the budget was passed in April, and signed by the president in May.
Following series of violent attacks by herdsmen on farmers in the middle belt, there were reports that NASS was considering passing a bill to mandate allocation of land in all states for Fulani herdsmen. The resulting outcry led to lawmakers denying the existence of any such bill. However, 13 northern states have now voluntarily contributed land portions for grazing purposes.
Mixed with many politicizing, controversies and delays, the Senate president’s trial at the Code of Conduct Tribunal continues. Watch out for the next season.
Seeming like a bid to favour SP Saraki in the trial at CCT, the Nigerian Senate being presided by VSP Ekweremadu sought to amend the CCB/CCT Act. Citizens were quick to blast them; hence, the move was stopped by the Senate. However, the same bill was amended by the federal Reps a week later with the introduction of 10 new provisions.
In line with the provisions of Section 11 (4) of the 1999 Constitution, the House of Reps took over the Kogi State House of Assembly following unresolved conflicts among the elected state lawmakers. Nevertheless, both the state governor and the federal minister of justice questioned the legality of the take-over. Federal reps have accused the governor of encouraging five out of the 25-member legislature to continue to sit in spite of the said take-over.
The governor has been summoned to appear before a panel chaired by majority leader, Femi Gbajabiamila. The House said it derived its powers to summon the governor under sections 88/89 of the constitution. This has been somewhat questioned as well. Question is – will Governor Bello appear before the panel? If he doesn’t, what will the reps do?
The House of Representatives has emerged the first of the 2 chambers to respond to citizens’ call for an e-parliament. We still wait on the Senate. Nevertheless, the latter has done well to livetweet plenary proceedings and last week made a commitment to live streaming.
On another major note, after much lingering, the constitution amendment process is back on track. The ad-hoc committees in the two chambers are chaired by DSP Ekweremadu and DS Lasun.
We must conclude the amendment by the end of the year... Let us amend the areas we all agreed on because we may not agree on all the issues…
– SP Saraki
Hon. Nwulu is probably the most popular lawmaker among Nigerian youths right now. He is presently pushing for the reduction the age qualification for the office of president from 40 to 30 years, office of Governor from 35 to 30 years, Senate from 35 to 30 years and State Houses of Assembly from 30 to 25 years.
In the same vein, a bill to amend the electoral act has been referred to the Ad hoc Committee for constitutional review chaired by DS Lasun. This includes the possibility of granting the request of Nigerians in Diaspora to be allowed to participate in general elections.
299 bills presented
4 executive bills, 6 House bills for concurrence
182 bills due for 2nd reading
41 bills pending in committees
11 bills have been passed
4 bills withdrawn/negated
HOUSE of REPS Stats
10 of the bills came from the Executive, while 675 were sponsored by members
Over 300 petitions received by the House, but only 27 considered
More than 200 of the bills were drawn by a team of members to amend obsolete laws. Instances when 130 bills were introduced for first reading in one day and another 100 bills in one day
416 bills awaiting second reading
130 pending in committees
3 awaiting consideration in Committee of the Whole
85 bills have been passed
12 bills withdrawn/negated
63 resolutions passed
446 motions referred
Despite repeated assurances by the leadership of the National Assembly that it would ensure transparency in the management of the Assembly, the details of the 2016 budget of the federal legislature in the 2016 National budget is yet to be made public to Nigerians.
In the budget President Muhammadu Buhari assented to for both the Senate and House of Representatives on May 6th 2016, the sum of N115 billion was allocated to the National Assembly without a breakdown.
One of the areas Nigerians have been trying to engage the National Assembly to ensure openness and transparency is the details of their bogus budget. This is because since the commencement of the current democratic dispensation, the budget of the National Assembly has consistently been shrouded in secrecy.
At best, the only thing Nigerians get to hear is the amount allocated to the National Assembly; nothing is revealed about the budget breakdown. This is where the concerns stem, to the extent that the payment of the salaries and allowances of the lawmakers are drawn from the first line charge or the consolidated revenue fund of the federation.
Though, the National Assembly budget covers the salaries and allowances of the entire bureaucracy that make up the parliament, including the National Assembly Service Commission, the National Institute for Legislative Studies (NILS), budget office of the National Assembly as well as the legislative aides and ironically some spurious allocations to the lawmakers.
Like the case of the executive and the judiciary, Nigerians would want to know how the allocation to the National Assembly is shared among the various competing sectors and departments of the National Assembly.
Nigerians are interested in knowing for instance how much was allocated for the maintenance of the assembly grasses and flowers, how much was allocated for the purchase of cars for the lawmakers and the bureaucrats, how much was allocated for travels and trainings, how much was allocated for the purchase of computers, how much was allocated for repainting of the buildings, how much was allocated for maintaining security at the complex and so on and so on.
This is not asking for too much. After all, such details as the cost of providing food and entertainment for the Presidential Villa were made public by the lawmakers themselves during the last budget defense.
The point we are making here while Nigerians wait on is that the National Assembly, like the executive and the judiciary must come clean on its budget in line with the “change” mantra of the present administration and the pledge of the Senate President, Bukola Saraki.
If the details of National Assembly budget cannot be published during this All Progressives Congress (APC) administration of “change” and anti-corruption, then when would it? Would Nigerians ever know what the National Assembly does with the N115bn allocated to it in the 2016 national budget?
Ambassadors are direct representatives of a nation's president in another country. In Nigeria, the power to appoint or to remove ambassadors is vested in the President. However, any such appointment shall not have effect unless it is confirmed by the Senate.
In 2011, an ambassadorial nominee was asked to recite the national anthem and the national pledge. She failed. She also did not know the capital of Jigawa State. Nevertheless the woman was endorsed and confirmed by the Senate. Consequently, she was part of the 93 envoys posted out in 2012.
Consequent to the start of the new administration in 2015, a number of ambassadors on tour of duty abroad were recalled. 12 months after, the Senate receives a list of 47 ambassadorial nominees from President Buhari.
More than ever before, the Senate needs to do a thorough, but quick job on screening this set of ambassadorial nominees. Only competent officials should represent our nation in other countries. We need to get it right this time, and not 4 years later. You should ask your Senator how he/she intends to ensure effective screening of the following ambassadorial nominees:
After Nigeria's return to civil rule in 1999, Muslim majority states in the north imposed Sharia law. The process was marked by bloody clashes between Muslims and Christians in states with significant number of non Muslims like in Kaduna and Bauchi, many lives were lost.
Many people were displaced and property destroyed. At the end of the day, Sharia ruled -fully or partially- in many of the states. Right now the situation remains volatile. Tension and unease calm reign across the region. Hatred, division and suspicion caused by the introduction of Sharia law is not going away too soon.
At the beginning of Sharia implementation, governments in these states assured the people that the law would not apply to non Muslims; that the law was for Muslims only. But this is not the case today.
Most Sharia implementing states have become fully fledged Islamic states where non Muslims are treated as second class citizens. In fact many Sharia implementing states have made Islam a state religion and promotion of Islam a state business.
Of major concern however, is the unfortunate news that one Mrs. Agbahime Bridget was killed last week Thursday by a mob in Kano State after she was accused of blasphemy. The Kofar Wambai market woman would have been sentenced to death by beheading anyway had she been arrested by Kano’s Islamic police and tried by the state’s Sharia court. But the apparently religious mob that found her guilty of soiling the name of Islam’s holy prophet was obviously too enraged for the process of law.
More recently in January 2016, a Kano upper Sharia Court sentenced one Abdulaziz Dauda, popularly known as Abdul Inyass, to death by hanging for allegedly insulting Prophet Mohammed. The accused is appealing the verdict.
Bridget was not afforded that luxury last Thursday evening. Instead of committing Bridget to ‘their own’ Sharia law which Nigeria had unbelievably added to its “secular” constitution, the angry mob allegedly took hold of the woman and beat her to death. This reportedly happened while the woman’s husband watched on in despair and helplessness.
The woman’s death is re-igniting the debate over whether or not Nigeria should expand the reach of Sharia Law to every state in the country. Abdullahi Salame, the APC House of Rep member behind a bill to expand Sharia Law nationwide says the move would protect the Christians. If Sharia law is not expanded, Islamic extremists who attack Christians won’t find a legal deterrent, the rep stated in media reports.
In Nigeria, Sharia has been instituted as a main body of civil and criminal law in 9 Muslim-majority states and in some parts of 3 Muslim-plurality states since 1999. Kano state instituted Sharia courts and customary courts on June 21, 2001. Eight other northern states instituted the same since 1999. The move began with the then Zamfara State governor Ahmad Sani Yerima who began the push for the institution of Sharia at the state level of government in 1999.
Under Sharia law, women are flogged or even beheaded for committing adultery, and thieves are amputated. But Islamic scholars say the law applies only to Muslims.
The time has come for Sharia implementing states to call their flocks to order. They need to divest from state funding of Sharia and invest in building schools, colleges and skill acquisition centers. Sharia states should invest in schemes that create jobs, tackle poverty and empower the people; schemes that address the development needs of persons of all faiths and none.
Sharia implementing states should check the activities of Hisbah and other quasi Sharia policing organs in the region. These groups are spreading Islam-based hatred, fear and intolerance. If as they say, there is no compulsion in Islam, then there is no need for Sharia police at least in indigent Muslim majority states in northern Nigeria.
Sharia agitators declared in 1999 that the destiny and development of Muslim majority states was tied to Sharia implementation. Going by these recent developments in northern Nigeria, one may ask: Is Sharia implementation desirable in today’s Nigeria?
Beyond doubt, Senator Buruji Kashamu Senator Buruji Kashamu appeared at the Magistsrate Court in Isabo, Abeokuta. Based on rumors, over 100 awaiting citizens flooded the court premises, not for interest in the court case, but for the expected Naira rain by the famous money-bag. Immediately the Ogun-East senator stepped into the court room, he was called up as a complainant to open a case against Deji Babington-Ashaye.
Interestingly, the Senator was seeing the defendant for the first time and to his surprise, it was only a ‘young man’. In response to the judge’s call, the senator said that having now realized that he had been in a legal tussle with a young man, with whom he had no business; he would gladly withdraw the suit.
The case was struck out. And surely, the Naira rains began as the senator stepped out.
Following enquiries from the defence lawyer, Barr. Umoh, the following were revealed:
The person who allegedly made defamatory statements on the Whatsapp platform is different from who was sued
This is most likely as a result of ‘beef’ on the part of the senator’s media aide
Even the aide, on the same chat, used defamatory remarks on another senator of the federal republic.
A drizzle greeted constituents as they poured in to Mercy Hall on CMD Road, Magodo. From the gate, police men give directions to a 50m by 30m hall. Right inside, two things stand out, women in geles singing in Yoruba with passion, and ‘empowerment’ tools which filled up to one-fifth of the hall. The latter included cartons of Indomie noodles, cartons of Power oil, hair dryers, as well as mini gas cookers well branded with the senator’s photo and name.
The women’s continue to sing as ‘honourables’ are called to the high table. Consequently, the Oba of Ketu is ushered into the hall and straight to the table. Right about that time, the ‘Youth Leader’ is called up. The women began to sing:
“Eje ki omode ko wa… Jojolo, omokekere jojolo…”
A song purposed for Yoruba children aged 10 years and thereabout. Ironically, the “Youth Leader” looks well over 40.
In order to move on, the constituents urged the women to keep quiet for the opening prayer. Immediately, it was time to say the National Prayer. But some way, somehow, it was just the 1st stanza of the National Anthem that was sung.
Finally, it was time for Senator Ashafa to address the people. Firstly, he couldn’t help but show a sign of being fed up with the women’s over-singing stunts. He repeatedly stressed “Ese pupo o, ese…”.
Run-down of NASS Events
Budget presented on December 25, 2015
Extensive debate began in January
MDA budgets were thus forwarded to committees
Senator Ashafa, as Chairman of Land Transport Committee, invited all relevant parastatals for performance reports. He also led his team in visitation to the MDAs in question.
On 4th March 2016, Senator Ashafa sponsored a motion to check drug abuse among Nigerian youths.
Bills @ hand
Nigerian Railway Corporation Act Repeal & Re-enactment Bill – Public hearing held, technical committee appointed, committee report submitted on 24th May 2016 and presented to the Senate President on the same day.
National Transport Commission Bill**
Top Quotes (Senator Ashafa)**
“I don’t think there is anyone in Nigeria that is not angry”
“The desired change will soon begin to manifest”
“In my opinion, domestic violence is directly linked to the downward spiral of family values”
Following the senator’s remarks, the Director of the Office of the Public Defender stepped up to educate the constituents on the 4 possible occurrences of domestic violence – sexual, physical, emotional and economical. Right afterwards, 8 women were unveiled as survivors of domestic violence in Lagos East Senatorial District. As constituents murmured in response to the indiscreet situation, the senator handed over the total sum of ₦250,000 to the survivors.
So back to the theme of the meeting – Domestic Violence Sensitization. In order to curb this menace in the Lagos Society, especially Lagos East Senatorial District, constituents should work with the Domestic and Sexual Violence Response Team of Lagos State Government .
As the team emphasizes, your role is to report the act, protect the victim and encourage justice. All these, just by calling – 08137960048 or 112 toll free.
Media reports last week confirm that Hon. Yakubu Dogara, Speaker of the House of Representatives, has introduced electronic voting system for use in all legislative proceedings in the lower chamber of the National Assembly.
At the moment, voting in the House is done via a primitive - all in support say ‘Aye’, all who are against, say ‘nay’ - system, which is as opaque as opaque gets, and is generally a very inefficient way to do things in this 21st century.
Before now, there have been several campaigns on #OpenNASS directing the National Assembly to make its votes and proceedings on key national issues known to the public especially as it relates the National Budget, Gender Equality Bill, Cyber Crime Bill, among others.
As expected, Electronic voting system can include punched cards, optical scan voting systems and specialized voting kiosks including self-contained direct-recording electronic voting systems. It can also involve transmission of ballots and votes via telephones, private computer networks, or the Internet.
The implication of this new system is that records of each member’s punctuality and voting patterns can easily be accessed by his or her constituents and members of the public. But knowing our fantastic country, we wouldn’t be surprised one bit if a bloated contract is awarded for the e-parliament – as they’ve described it – and a few months later, we start hearing excuses like “the server is down”, when a request is made for their voting data.
Nevertheless, E-voting has been achieved. Check. Next stop, we reinstate our demand that the breakdown of the 2016 National Assembly Budget be made public.
After 7 years of running the Ondo State Government, the Governor Mimiko-led administration will conduct its first election for aspiring local government chairmen. The exercise billed for April 23 (tomorrow) happens to be just about 7 months before the end of the governor's tenure.
In response, at least 2 major political parties have opted to boycott the election - the All progressives Congress (APC) and the Social Democratic Party (SDP). The aggrieved parties plan to direct all their efforts towards the battle for the gubernatorial seat later in November this year.
Never the less, the importance of this electoral exercise cannot be overemphasized. It is another opportunity for the locals to reactivate their citizenship. This is a process that will determine who leads each of the 18 local government areas for the next 4 years. In essence, public funds will be committed to this 18 men and/or women. These 18 beings will decide the mode and level of development and progress of each local government area for the 4 years. This is greatly important.
To ensure that the exercise turns out a success, the Ondo State Commissioner of Police (Hilda Ibifuro-Harrisson) has deployed over 6000 Police officers to ensure order in each local government area. This is in addition to the 7000 ad-hoc staff already trained by the Ondo State Independent Electoral Commission.
All is set. Kick-off is less than 24 hours. Residents in Ondo's 18 LGAs have the priviledge to choose from 17 political parties. This is a decision they must make themselves. May the people win!
The Magistrate Court in Isabo, Abeokuta on Wednesday, 13th April, 2016 at 11:05am commenced hearing on the arraigned "social media activist" named Deji Babington-Asaye for calling Buruji Kashamu, the Senator representing Ogun East, a "drug baron and jail breaker".
The court said, Mr. Babington-Asaye, a member of the People's Democratic Party (PDP), made the comment on a PDP WhatsApp group chat between March 12th and 13th, 2016.
The Prosecuting Counsel, asked the Court to strike out the old charges (libel and slander) and presented a new charge/accuse of breach of public peace and threatening the life of Buruji Kashamu.
However, the defense counsel, Tayo Amowo, asked the court to grant his client bail.
The Complainant Counsel objected the defense counsel request and asked the Court not to grant the accused person bail henceforth or the Court place a stringent bail condition on the accused person for him not to abscond and must always appear in court.
The Chief Magistrate thereafter granted Mr. Babington-Asaye bail in the sum of #250,000 and two surety with evidence of 2015 tax clearance to the Ogun State Government.
The Court ordered that the complainant, Senator Buruji Kashamu appear at the next court hearing and then adjourned the matter till Friday, 29th of April, 2016.
It will be recalled that Mr. Kashamu was the mastermind behind an extensive drug trafficking ring based in Chicago, USA. He is currently wanted by the United States Department of Justice for smuggling heroin and other narcotics into the USA through O’Hare International Airport in Chicago. Mr. Kashamu's elaborate drug operation was in part featured in the American TV series Orange Is The New Black.
Thursday, April 14, 2016.
Deputy Senate President Ike Ekweremadu presides over plenary.
A Bill for an Act to amend the CCB Act CAP C15 LFN 2004 and for other related matters, 2016 (SB. 248) by Senator Peter Nwaoboshi is presented.
Lead debate by Senator Peter Nwaoboshi (Delta North).
Senator Dino Melaye (Kogi West) supports, says amendment as proposed is justified.
Senator Jibrin Barau (Kano North) – says amendment is about fairness in our judicial system.
Senator Samuel Anyanwu (Imo East) declares supports.
Senator Biodun Olujimi (Ekiti South) says 'if you don't assist your neighbour when his house is burning, it will extend to yours'.
Senator Yahaya Abdullahi (Kebbi North) supports, but says Senate should however be mindful of timing for the sake of public perception.
Senator Abu Ibrahim (Katsina South) - says the timing is right!
DSP Senator Ike Ekweremadu (Enugu West) – says that the amendment has nothing to do with SP's case at the CCT; puts the question forward and the ‘Bill for an Act to amend the CCB and Tribunal Act CAP C15 LFN’ passes 2nd reading.
…the Senate supports the CCB and the CCT and encourages them to keep doing their job
Though the majority will always have its way, let it be on record that I and the people of Lagos West don't support this amendment.
The 2016 FCT Local Council elections finally came to conclusion following rerun polls on Wednesday (April 13, 2016).
In the rerun, the All Progressive Grand Alliance (APGA) broke the northern nigeria jinx, by attaining a first victory ever in the region. This was made possible by Adamu Mustapha 's victory in Gwagwalada local government area.
Generally, the 'governing party', APC, overshadowed the PDP by winning all five of the other local government areas.
The FCT Local Council election winners are as follows:
Municipal - Ibrahim Adamu Candido (APC)
Kuje - Abdullahi Galadima (APC)
Kwali - Joseph Shazih (APC)
Bwari - Musa Dikko (APC)
Abaji - Abdulrahman Ajiya (APC)
Gwagwalada - Adamu Mustapha (APGA)
The FCT Area Council poll was logically expected in some quarters to entail a low turnout of voters. The reason was because just about 55% of 1 million registered voters picked up their PVCs. This expectation was well proven on the day, as far from many voters participated in the electoral process.
Following the exercise on Saturday, the INEC declared results for only 2 of 6 local council areas – Bwari and Kwali. APC's Joseph Shazin was declared winner of the polls in Kwali, while APC’s Musa Dikko emerged victorious in Bwari.
On the other hand, as a result of perceived occurrences of violence and nonuse of smart cards, elections were declared inconclusive in 4 area councils – Abaji, Gwagwalada, Kuje and Municipal. According to INEC, the decision was based on the fact that the number of cancelled votes was more than the votes separating the leading candidates.
The Independent National electoral Commission has scheduled a rerun to take place in 39 polling units, spread across the 4 council areas in question.
The new election date is April 13 (tomorrow).
Accreditation and voting processes are set to kick-start simultaneously at 8am.
March 17, 2016.
At 10:50am, Blue Roof Event Centre was filled with the echo “APC! APC! APC”!
Right about the same time, Senator Adeola (AKA Yayi), 50 minutes late, was squeezed in by black-vested bodyguards, as his employees (constituents) stood in ovation seeking to, if possible, look through the numerous geles.
Right after the national anthem was sung in a patriotic manner, ‘elderly’ constituents scrambled for the Senator’s publication in a manner younger men would find it hard to compete with.
And when it was time for the senator to deliver his report to his employers, the same time goody bags were being distributed, a good number of the constituents made sure to go for what was priority – scramble for goody bags!
Senator Solomon Adeola Olamilekan made sure to give recognition to Obas, Baales and Imams. More like in a bid to make up for allowing only a muslim opening prayer, he began to sing “I have decided to follow Jesus, I have decided… “.
Eventually, the speech commenced after the prolonged session of recognition.
Firstly he explained that the Townhall Meeting was delayed due to the leadership tussle in the National Assembly. How? One may ask. But he did not bother to expatiate. Nevertheless, he expressed his dissatisfaction with the fact that a member of the opposition party emerged as Vice Senate President.
According to Senator Yayi, over 50 resolutions and over 75 motions have been presented so far on the floor of the Senate. He went on to say “We have sufficient laws. Instead of making new laws, we aim to correct anomalies in them”.
As regards his personal achievement, he emphasized the successful petition for Sergeant Olaniyan who was unjustly removed from service in the Police Force many years ago.
I urge all of you with similar cases of administrative injustice to submit your petition to my office in Abuja or my constituency office in 32 Adeniyi Jones
– Senator Olamilekan
He continued by outlining his contribution to the Senate’s Legislative Agenda and his membership of committees. The Lagos West Senator is the Vice president of the Communications committee and a member of Finance, Science & Technology, Banking, Interior and Marine Committees in the Nigerian Senate.
Right after the Senator’s report, it was supposed to be time for ‘questions’ i.e. ENGAGEMENT.
On the contrary, constituents had other plans. Unbelievably, they crowded the stage and, in effect, disrupted proceedings.
Alas, Senator Yayi, after much pleading in vain, opted to move on to the handing over of transformers, sewing machines, vulcanizing machines, welding machines, tricycles, buses and scholarship cheques.
Even the Senator said “I am open to your suggestions”! The constituents missed a great opportunity to ask pertinent questions. How did he vote, on their behalf, in regards to the GEO Bill? As Vice Chairman of the Communications Committee, what is his stand on the Anti-Social Media Bill?
It appears Senator Yayi was honest when he said to the Obas:
I will always be there for you, always speak your mind, and always say those things that will make you happy on the floor of the Senate
But there wasn’t such a commitment to the true employers - the people. Who else will make voters in Lagos West Senatorial District happy?
View/Download the 2015 GEO Bill
The Nigerian Senate on Tuesday, 15th of March, 2016 voted against the Gender and Equal Opportunity (GEO) Bill. The bill could not pass the second reading after the Senate President, Bukola Saraki, put the bill to vote with the “Nays” having it.
The GEO Bill seeks adoption of special temporary measures to eliminate discrimination and ensure equal opportunities for majority of Nigerians, while it also seeks appropriate measures against gender discrimination in political and public life and prohibitions of violence to women.
Although, there have been controversies about the GEO Bill and the recent decision by the federal lawmakers have just sparked up another social media outcry as it will limit the female gender.
The questions on the lips of many Nigerians - How can one explain to people that our lawmakers shut down Gender and Equality Bill using ‘Aye’ and ‘Nay’ votes only? What happened to electronic voting in the 21st Century?
No doubt, this could easily affect the fundamental human right in the country and might dent the chances to prevent violence against women leading to more cases like Ese Orurus’.
View/Download the 2015 GEO Bill
Nigerian citizens in their various constituencies always wonder where the opinions and ideas their legislators’ present in the National Assembly originate from when they barely hold meetings with their constituents to discuss relevant issues.
In addition, the electorate have always complained that their elected lawmakers appear in their constituencies to only solicit for votes in the run-up to elections and disappear shortly afterwards, without ever meeting the people during their tenure in office.
Alas! This cannot be said of Senator Oluremi Tinubu who represents Lagos Central Senatorial District in the Senate. She has consistently provided the platform for her constituents to engage with her at the regular town hall meetings which have been a feedback mechanism aimed at promoting transparency and accountability.
The town hall meeting which was the 17th in the series of interactive town hall meetings by the senator since her inauguration, tagged: From Dreams to Reality – A Call to Duty, held on Thursday, 10th March 2016 at the Eko Club in Surulere, Lagos State.
The meeting which had the senator's political party members in attendance would have been a good avenue for active citizens to engage her about the raging NoToSocialMediaBill, the demand for #OpenNASS, among many other topical national issues that directly concern Nigerians.
Disappointingly, besides a representative of EiE-Nigeria at the forum, there was no record of any constituents engaging the senator at the meeting. Out of over 5 million residents in Lagos Central Senatorial District, not a single person demanded a progress report of the senator's various bills sponsored in the 8th National Assembly.
The Office of the Citizen requires citizens to play their part in this democratic process by holding elected officials accountable.
Well, residents of Lagos West Senatorial District have their opportunity to engage Senator Solomon Adeola Yayi when holds his first town hall meeting scheduled to hold on Thursday, March 17, 2016at the BlueRoof, LTV 8, Alausa, Ikeja, Lagos by 10am prompt.
Will you be there?
Speaker, House of Representatives, Mr. Yakubu Dogara, has solicited the support of the British parliament in establishing Radio and Television stations for the National Assembly.
Dogara noted that the establishment of the media outfits in the parliament would enable Nigerians to access and assess activities of their elected representatives as the stations, when established, will transmit proceedings live from the two chambers.
The Speaker said the media stations were in line with the legislative agenda of the 8th National Assembly and its commitment to encourage citizen participation in governance.
Dogara who said these when he received members of the International Development Committee of United Kingdom’s Parliament in his office on last week Thursday, also disclosed that the House of Reps had set up the Nigeria-British Parliamentary Friendship Group as part of measures to strengthen the relationship between the two parliaments.
The Speaker also told the UK Lawmakers that the House of Representatives had begun the process of amending over 130 laws of the country to meet the contemporary realities of governance with the support of the Department For International Development (DFID).
Shall we start with a lesson in Democracy 101? It was in Athens in Greece that what we now regard as Democracy first took shape. Truth however is African philosophy records elements of Democracy in Ancient Egypt 3000 years before the birth of Jesus, but History is for another day. The word parliament took its essential root also in Athenian Democracy where it was called ekklesia and was the most important institution of that system and every citizen could take part in the discussions.
Athenian democracy was not representative and this meant every adult male could participate and that differentiated it from the parliamentary system. Essentially, these assemblies had the FINAL SAY when it came to matters of elections, enactment of new statutes, prescription of punishments, declaration of war and peace, creation of alliances and every matter bordering around money, administration and foreign policy.
The history of any prosperous society can be traced more or less to its parliament. Every society that has emerged from third world into first world has had to rely on the representatives of the people come together to make their lives better through policies, rules and bills. Let me make this simpler. You cannot make a society better without the active input of its parliament. Ironically, a lot of our advocacy and civil society focus has been on the federal government and the state governments while we neglect the supposed representatives both at the national assemblies and the state assemblies.
Barack Obama’s first tenure is a good example of how the parliament is the tool for CHANGE. Whenever his achievements are detailed and indeed any successful President, the items mentioned are usually in the form of bills and acts that more often than not affect the lives of people directly. Let’s consider Wikipedia’s profile of Barack Obama.
During his first two years in office, Obama signed into law economic stimulus legislation in response to the Great Recession in the form of the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009 and the Tax Relief, Unemployment Insurance Reauthorization, and Job Creation Act of 2010. Other major domestic initiatives in his first term included the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act, often referred to as ‘Obamacare’; the Dodd-Frank Wall Street Reform and Consumer Protection Act; and the Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell Repeal Act of 2010.
It’s not about magic nor is it about miracles. Issues that affect the average wo/man in society are issues that are tied to bills and laws which when passed are bound to improve the life of that average wo/man.
Take any Nigerian politician and ask him what he has achieved since office and he will tell you about the schools he built or the markets he constructed or the roads he patched, including Legislators. It is quite true that Nigeria suffers an infrastructure deficit that will require trillions of dollars to fill but the implication then is that our politicians focus on providing what can be provided by the common people if only their lives are better for it and they are in an environment where they can prosper (for themselves, by themselves).
A documentary by the History Channel titled “The Men Who Built America” details how in under 25 years the whole of America was connected through rail lines by men who were interested in advancing their business interests while the government focused on spending on waging wars, foreign policy and R & D without which we might not even have had the 8th wonder of the world – the Internet.
Back here at home, our representatives have spent 8 months passing 3 bills with no agenda or direction as to what policies and bills that could be passed that would favour the CHANGE agenda that they supposedly have. I like to think that the 8th Assembly is a replication of representation as usual and Nigerians should not expect more than what transpired in the 7th Senate.
It is high time that this 8th Senate sits back, draw out a goal, put down some plans and start to execute the passage of bills that will make life better for Nigerians or should we have to draw out a job description for them?
Following declaration of results for the general elections in 2015, many aggrieved candidates sought to change the outcome of the political tussle that was displayed across Nigeria.
Following series of tribunal sittings, and court cases, the Independent National Electoral Commission was ordered by the judiciary to conduct 80 election reruns between Janaury and March 2016.
This Saturday, Febraury 20, schedule for 22 reruns in 8 states, marks the climax of the 80 court-ordered elections.
The 8 states involved include:
Benue, Imo, Kaduna, Kogi, Nassarawa, Niger, Plateau & Taraba
The schedule includes:
4 Senatorial elections;
3 Federal Constituency elections; and
15 State Constituency elections.
Benue South - Ado, Agatu, Apa, Obi, Ogbadibo, Ohimini, Oju, Okpokwu & Otukpo LGAs
Imo North - Ehime Mbano, Ihite/Uboma, Isiala Mbano, Obowo, Okigwe and Onuimo LGAs
Kogi Central - Adavi, Ajaokuta, Ogori/Magongo, Okehi and Okene LGAs
Kogi East - Ankpa, Bassa, Dekina, Ibaji, Idah, Igalamela-Odolu, Ofu, Olamabolo and Omala LGAs
The Federal Constituency elections:
Okene/Ogori Magongo (Kogi State) - Okene and Ogori Magongo LGAs
Lafia/Obi (Nasarawa State) - Lafia and Obi LGAs
Kurmi/Sardauna/Gashaka (Taraba State) - Gashaka, Kurmi and Sardauna LGAs
State Constituency elections will be conducted across Imo, Kaduna, Kogi, Plateau, Niger and Taraba states -
Imo State - Isiala Mbano, Oru East & Owerri West
Kaduna State - Lere West
Kogi State - Ofu, Ankpa 1, Idah, Dekina 1 & Dekina II (Okura)
Niger - Suleja
Plateau - Langtang South, Pankshin South & Pankshin North
Taraba State - Ardo Kola & Mbamga.
Barring any last minute change, the re-scheduled senatorial elec¬tions in the East and Central sen¬atorial districts of Kogi State will hold this week Saturday, February 20th.
The senators representing Kogi Central and East senatorial districts, Muhammed Salami Ohiare and Abdul Abdullahi, respectively, on the platform of the All Progressives Congress, APC, had their elections nullified by the Court of Ap¬peal sitting in Abuja last year Decem¬ber. The court also barred the two of them from participating in the fresh election.
As it stands in the central senatorial district, PDP’s Alhaji Ahmed Ogembe will be running against candidates of PPA (Senator Nuru¬deen Abatemi-Usma), SDP (Dr. Moses Wokili) and LP (Kabiru Att). However, the tussle in the east senatorial district will feature PDP’s Attai Aidoko and LP’s Ibrahim Itodo.
The Independent National Electoral Commission, INEC, had last week an¬nounced that Ohiare, Abdullahi and a member of the House of Representatives, Abdullahi Bello (Okene/Ogori-Magongo), as well as two other state House of Assembly members who contested on APC plat¬form had been barred from partaking in the poll, in adherence to the court rulings.
INEC said the ruling APC and its candidates will not participate in five constituencies in the re-run elections in the state due to the judgement of the Appeal Court. The commission also revealed that it had made arrangement to con¬duct the re-run election in 1,988 poll¬ing units in 14 local government areas of Kogi State.
Kogi State Resident Electoral Com¬missioner, Mallam HaliruPai, disclosed this during a stakeholders meeting. According to him, the re-run election will hold on February 20 in two senatorial districts of the state, Kogi Central and Kogi East.
He further disclosed that the APC will not be participating in the Kogi Central and East senatorial districts elections following the court ruling which barred the two candidates and the APC from contesting.
Mallam Pai also added that APC will not participate in the federal constitu¬ency election in Okene/Ogorimagongo federal constituency also as a result of court ruling adding that only the candi¬date of the PDP is eligible for the re-run election.
This automatically concedes victory to Hon. Tijani Damisa, the candidate of the PDP for the federal constituency.
On the Kogi State House of Assembly re-run election, the REC said APC and its candidates will not participate in Ofu and Ankpa 1 re-run elections, but said APC will participate in Idah, Deki-na Biraidu and Okura re-run elections, stressing that the Idah re-run election will only take place in one unit, Ogegele ward, unit 001.
On the readiness of the commission, Pai noted that about 9,816 ad-hoc staff including members of the National Youth Service Corps, security and assistant personnels will be participating in the re-run election.
Assuring the people of the state of free and fair re-run election, Pai said that the re-run election was as a result of non-conduct of primary by one of the party in the state which led to litigation.
It is our considered view that however the two cases, Kogi Central, East rerun polls, go; we will surely see an expansion in the scope of electoral litigations in the country. This is definitely yet to begin!
May 2003 - May 2011 - Dr. Olubukola Abubakar Saraki as Governor of Kwara State, as required by law, filed and submitted four asset declaration forms and submitted same to the Code of Conduct Bureau
The forms were duly investigated by the Bureau and other relevant agencies of government
It was found that Dr. Olubukola Abubakar Saraki:
Allegedly corruptly acquired many properties while in office as Governor of Kwara State but failed to declare some of them in the said forms;
Made an anticipatory declaration of assets upon his assumption of office as Governor of Kwara State which he acquired later; and
Sent money abroad for the purchase of properties in London and that he maintained an account outside Nigeria while serving as the Kwara State Governor.
The Code of Conduct Bureau initiated a criminal proceeding against Dr. Olubukola Abubakar Saraki before the Code of Conduct Tribunal
Dr. Olubukola Abubakar Saraki filed a motion before the Code of Conduct Tribunal challenging the competence of the charge (No CCT/ABJ/01/2015). He also filed a suit each before the Federal High Court Holden at Abuja and Lagos in which he also challenged the validity of the criminal proceedings initiated against him at the Code of Conduct Tribunal.
Dr. Olubukola Abubakar Saraki contended that since there was no sitting Attorney-General of the Federation at the time charge was filed before the Tribunal, the said charge was incompetent and that he would not appear before the said Tribunal.
September 18, 2015 – The Tribunal overrules the objection of Dr. Olubukola Abubakar Saraki, issues a bench warrant against him and adjourns the case to September 19, 2015 to enable Dr. Saraki to appear
He did not so appear
The Tribunal renewed its order or bench warrant and adjourned the matter to September 22, 2015
September 22, 2015 – Dr. Olubukola Abubakar Saraki (Appellant) voluntarily appears before the Tribunal in person and pleads not guilty. As a result, the warrant of arrest/bench warrant issued against him is revoked, he is granted bail on self recognizance and the matter is adjourned to the 21st, 22nd and 23rd of October, 2015 for hearing.
October 2, 2015 – Dr. Olubukola Abubakar Saraki (Appellant) files an appeal against the ruling of the Tribunal of 18th September, 2015 before the Court of Appeal, Holden at Abuja.
The Court of Appeal dismissed the appeal
Dr. Olubukola Abubakar Saraki (Appellant) further appealed to the Supreme Court
February 5, 2016 – Supreme Court Rules against Dr. Olubukola Abubakar Saraki
February 10, 2016 – FG writes CCT requesting for date to commence trial of SP Saraki
March 10, 2016 –
Source: Criminal Jurisdiction of the Code of Conduct Tribunal
24 Federal Ministries, 66 Senate Committees and 96 House of Reps Committees
Finance Ministry has highest number of overseeing committees in the Federal House of Reps;
while Science & Technology, Solid Minerals and Water Resources Ministries each have just 1 committee apiece in the two legislative Houses.
Budget and National Planning, with 6 committees in each legislature, has the highest number of committees in the Senate. However, Finance Ministry has a total of 15 committees, making it the federal ministry with the highest number of committees in the National Assembly
Miscellaneous committees that do not fall under any particular federal ministry are as follows:
Ethics & Privileges
Rules & Business
Ethics and Privileges
Electoral Matters and Political
Legislative Budget and Research
Rules and Business
Our persuasion is that budget offers us an un-gilded window into the soul of a government as expressed in its fiscal priorities. Is a government pro-people? Does this government wake up thinking of you or is it just another incarnate of the political class and their tendencies?
Budget is how you know. Budget is how you measure a government’s change slogan as a function of mere mantra or as a function of well-heeled intentions.
Of course this analysis will not pretend to be exhaustive. There is an explosion of information and/or civic consciousness in our nation now and there’s the possibility, in our lifetime, of information equity because of the excellent pioneering work of some civic startups.
So here’s the précis: ₦6.08 trillion Naira in total (benchmarked on 38 dollars per barrel of crude and 2.2 million barrels per day production capacity).
This shows a 70/30 recurrent expenditure to capital expenditure ratio (i.e. ₦4.28 trillion/₦1.2trillion) and a ₦2.2 trillion deficit core.
Going forward, what does this say to us of the Buhari/Osinbajo regime? Is there a peek this offers us into the core of this government? How does this speak to the years to come?
For instance, the ₦200 billion special intervention (social investment) allocation speaks not only to the heart of the Buhari/Osinbajo mandate (as a government of the mekunus/masses). It signifies, as it appears to me, a clear economic philosophy departure from the preceding Obasanjo/Jonathan years.
You will recollect that these preceding regimes were essentially proponents of trickle-down economics i.e. the believe/policy thrust that more waivers, concessions, local content support or other government stimulus package (Aviation Fund, Rice quotas) for the big monies, for instance, an Alhaji Mondogo of the Mondogo Sugar Refinery Company, will inexorably lead to expansion and more jobs through which a semi-skilled Mr. Sule might be employed and empowered to pay his daughter’s school fees and set up his wife in a micro fried fish business. The wife in turn will buy and sow more clothes from Iya Kabiru etc. Trickle-down economics!
With the 2016 proposed special intervention package however, trickle-down economics will be bypassed directly to offer dignity and prospect nets for the most vulnerable in the society. The possibilities this proposes for a sub-demographic of our population is so vast if considering the scaled down vulnerability index of CRC 2008/2009:
• Insecurity (ranging from insecure environments to conflict and violence)
• Limited citizenship (lack of a meaningful political voice)
• Spatial disadvantage (exclusion from politics, markets, resources, etc., owing to geographical remoteness); and
• Social discrimination (which traps people in exploitative relationships of power and patronage)
Most of these funds will be channeled through micro credit grants/loans, school feeding and nutritional supplement programs, welfare stipends and conditional cash transfers which will find expression as Basic Income Guarantee (BIGs) and Poverty Reduction Accelerator Investment (PRAI) etc. Women, children and rural households will be the biggest beneficiaries. Unemployed youths are also targeted.
The argument for social protection/investment is straight up simple. I have made it a couple of times. It is not socialism or communism. For the children involved, it is the nation as a father to all. It is government saying look we understand that the circumstance of your birth or nurture or lack thereof has put you in a position of disadvantage.
And by God we wish we could give you the Dubai vacations and the merry things the Lekki kids have but we can’t. What we can give you is a good school, if you are willing to go; a great teacher and books to put the world within your grasp, if you promise to pay attention.
We will feed you so that hunger doesn’t break your spirit, we will give you healthcare so that you stay alive. And if you work hard, there will be paths and steps that lead ahead so that you can transcend the deficiency of earlier circumstances into a brighter life because let’s face it, the parents or grandparents of those Lekki kids started in circumstances much similar to your own.
It’s a simple bargain.
Hence, an opportunity of a reset button across generations. Your father’s lack doesn’t have to be yours if you are willing to work hard. It is the wheel of greatness, the very possibility of upward mobility across two or three generations.
And it is smart economics too.
You remember there is a per capital dimension to the GDP of nations? Social investment increases the return on investment/value on humans. The fish seller young woman could have been a doctor, I tell you. Education and opportunity is the gap.
More of our people will be included in a productive space of skills and capacities where they can provide and support families, break the cycle of poverty and illiteracy and the adjacent indexes that flow with them (maternal and infant mortality etc.). But this budget is not just about social investments (I could go on and on about social opportunities though; it is one of the central arguments of my life).
For instance, the 70/30 recurrent expenditure to capital expenditure ratio (as against 88/12, 77/23, 68.72/31.28 in the 2015, 2014 and 2013 budgets respectively) doesn’t in anyway, for me, rouse ovation. A huge chunk of this recurrent expenditure is bloated overhead/personnel cost.
Some fall disproportionately within the presidency itself where for instance the ₦3.9 billion budgeted for annual routine maintenance of Aso Rock far outweighs the ₦2.6 billion allocated to the construction of hospitals across the length and breadth of the entire nation.
But what is most shocking for me is that of the ₦2.2 trillion deficit, over 400 billion would be frittered on recurrent consumption. Awh! Who does that?
This is like you borrowing money from a shylock neighbor and then heading off to Chicken Republic to order two chicken laps, three large kegs of Yoghurt, four hot dogs and five meat pies and eating everything in one sitting.
Who does that?!
There is something even worse, and I suspect it’s the cause of the ache I have been feeling in my left lung for some time now. It will shock you too. This budget is only about 9 percent reduction in the recurrent expenditure of the Jonathan regime. Just 9 percent!
This is shocking.
There is something else, a highly deficient forecast capacity. The 2016 budget benchmark of 38 dollars per barrel is already under water as global oil price has already fallen to 27 dollars as at last week. The recent aggravation in the Niger Delta has already started, though not yet really statistically significant to scissor into the production benchmark.
The international Energy Agency has said things could bottom out with the price falling as low as 20 dollars per barrel. How do we run this budget if this happens?
It gets even worse. I’ll tell you why: the recent lifting of sanctions on Iran (and this was a long time coming, as early as the 2008 Democratic primaries debate when Obama said he would be willing to negotiate with Iran and Cuba with no pre conditions, you remember?) the oil glut will increase. South Africa and India might veer towards Iran for their energy supplies. What do we do then?
Things, however, are not all grey, okay? With proposed massive government fiscal intervention in infrastructure, education, health and social opportunities, there should be some cushioning effect/lag phase that stalls the day to day living harsh effect of recession on the people and perhaps to a large extent (not totally though) confine our woes to macro-economic details.
On a concluding note, a couple of weeks ago when the budget went missing, we were all aghast. When it was returned, the difference was largely the 1 billion Naira reduction in state house overhead and 3.2 billion reduction in what was budgeted for BMW saloon cars and SUVs for the presidency.
Was it the outrage of the people that got Mr. President to reconsider that exorbitant allocation or was it that he was never privy to the arrangement in the first instance? Was it that the people around him had just gone ahead with business as usual in architecting the budget for the most part?
And that leads to my most salient point and this is it:
Can we be sure that the handlers along the corridors of power will not infuse their own tendencies into the appropriation of this budget or policy spin offs?
In a budget, where the main thrust seem to be massive social investment and stimulus spending, the real crux will not lie with just an obviously determined and perhaps well intentioned president. It will be up to his aides (handlers), cabinet members and civil servants to make things happen. Can we count on them to execute and implement these policies with sheer tenacity and love for country?
Social policies fly on the back of a great civil service. Do we have one in place? The logistics is always an uphill task (you should google the initial hiccups of OBAMACARE). Can we surmount this, can we mobilize enough human resource, will power, private sector grade of discipline and drive to achieve this in a space essentially mottled by a sub-climate of self-love and averageness?
Please, don’t say: let’s wait and see.
![Week Review January 15, 2016](
/file_archive/WeekReviewJan15-2015 "Week Review January 15, 2016")
President Buhari's 2016 “Budget of Change” went missing due to political reasons, a news report has stated. Several thousand of hard and soft copies of the important document allegedly disappeared from the National Assembly, going by media reports on January 12th.
Several senators said they couldn't find their copy of the budget and thus couldn't discuss or pass it during resumption to plenary on Tuesday after their Christmas and New Year recess.
The incident generated a lot of noise in the nation with several individuals pointing accusing fingers. Some alleged that President Buhari submitted an empty box when presenting the budget to a joint session of the national assembly in December, 2015. International media has described it as a humiliating experience for the Nigerian government.
Senate leadership has however denied the reports and said the matter would be discussed soon. The Red Chamber added that it aims to pass the budget before February.
Following the melee, reports have it that the document deliberately went missing so some changes could be made to it. “Both the leadership of the National Assembly and the presidency, as well as Ministry of Finance and the Budget Office, were working to discreetly change certain parameters of the budget proposal following the slide in the global oil price,” the report said.
The current price of oil has fallen $8 below the oil benchmark for the 2016 budget, hovering at $30 per barrel. Other benchmark, the naira exchange rate, might also be adjusted. The Naira has come under intense pressure and many investors see devaluation in the corner.
Seven months into the life of the 8th Senate, the senators have so far considered 125 bills and 48 motions on issues relating to various aspects in the country. Out of the bills considered, only three were passed, eight are in second reading and 114 are in first reading.
The National Assembly, comprising the Senate and the House of Representatives is charged with the responsibility of making laws for the country through bills. Section 58 (1) of the1999 Constitution, says “The power of the National Assembly to make laws shall be exercised through bills passed by both the Senate and the House of Representatives...”
Inaugurated on June 9 last year, amidst what people saw as a controversial manner, the first bill that was passed by this Senate was on December 1, 2015. It was the supplementary budget, an executive bill from President Muhammadu Buhari. On the 17 of the same month, the senators also passed the “Electronic Transactions Bill (SB.15) sponsored by Senator Hope Uzodimma (PDP, Imo West). Before embarking on the Christmas and New Year break on 22, December, the senators passed the third bill, the 2015 Appropriation Amendment Act, which was also an executive bill from President Buhari.
The bill, which has since been assented to by President Buhari, extends the capital component of the 2015 budget to March 31st, this year.
Of all the bills that are being considered on the floor of the red chamber, no bill attracted the attention of Nigerian masses as the one sponsored by Senator Bala Ibn Na’Allah (APC, Kebbi South). The bill, which scaled through second reading on December 2nd set the lawmakers against the social media public. Named, “an Act to prohibit frivolous petitions; and other matters connected therewith”, the bill was renamed the Anti-Social Media Bill. The prescription of ‘two years jail or a fine of N2m or both’ for social media abusers was the main contentious part of the bill.
One area that attracted several bills sponsored by the senators is the 1999 Constitution. So far, six bills have been sponsored to amend various section of the constitution. From all indications, amendment of the constitution will feature prominently on the agenda of the 8th Senate.
Recall that efforts by the 7th Assembly to review the constitution under the chairmanship of the Deputy Senate President, Ike Ekweremadu, hit the rocks after billions of naira were reportedly sunk in it. Already, a new committee has been set up by Senate President Bukola Saraki with Ekweremadu as chairman.
Aside from lawmaking, the Senate also carried out probes in the period under review. Out of all the investigation undertaken by the legislators that of the erstwhile chairman of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC), Ibrahim Lamorde, chairman of the Code of Conduct Tribunal (CCT) Danladi Umar and that on Treasury Single Account (TSA) got unequal attention.
The commencement of the probes of Lamorde and Umar at a time issues affecting Saraki were being probed by the duo created an impression that the Senate President was fighting back. Lamorde’s probe commenced when the Senate President’s wife, Mrs Toyin Saraki, was facing corruption charges at the EFCC, while that of Umar began when Saraki was facing charges at the CCT over false declaration of assets.
It was at the peak of the Senate investigation that Lamorde was sacked at the EFCC and since then his case has been hanging on the Senate. Similarly, the pace of Umar’s case at the Senate has been slowed as that of Saraki at the CCT.
The dust raised by the legislators on the one percent commission being deducted under the TSA by Systemspecs, owners of the remita software that is used for the TSA transactions opened the eyes of federal government to the magnitude of money the company is making in conjunction with the Central Bank of Nigeria and commercial banks.
The probe on the TSA is still ongoing but the one percent charges have since been stopped. The confession of the CBN governor, Godwin Emefiele, that he got to know of the magnitude of the commission being deducted under the TSA through the Senate blossomed the ego of the lawmakers.
Speaking on the floor of the chamber, a day after the investigative hearing was carried out on the TSA, Saraki said; “The outcome of the investigative hearing has punctured the claim that we are not doing anything for the good of the country. I want us not to be derailed, if by one singular action, we have saved this country N8.8bn, this shows we are working,” he said.
Senate Leader Ali Ndume while commenting on how they have fared so far, said they have done creditably well in the performance of their constitutional responsibilities. He said all hanging probes and bills would be dealt with in the second half of the 2015/2016 legislative year.
“We have passed three bills, eight are in second reading and 114 are in first reading. We have also considered 48 motions. All the probes that are being carried out by ad hoc committees will be continued by the standing committees and we are even going to continue with those that were started during the last senate,” he said.
A survey conducted by a group monitoring the activities of the National Assembly, showed that the lawmakers are already in breach of Section 163 of the 1999 Constitution, which requires the legislators to sit for a minimum legislative days of 181 every year. The survey showed that in the first half of their first year, the Senate sat for only 47 days. Same also applies to members of the House of Representatives. It is therefore doubtful how the lawmakers would make up for the shortfall in the second half of the year.
Interestingly, both chambers of the National Assembly preoccupied themselves raising multiplicity of motions on both floors of the congress. The unfortunate thing about those motions is that some of them were not well thought out and frivolous to say the least. Besides, almost all the motions without exception were not thoroughly, painstakingly, seriously or conscientiously debated before arriving at resolutions on them. The implication of that is that those resolutions, like the ones in the previous assembly, will not command the authority of the executive or President for implementation.
So far, in both chambers of the National Assembly, it has been difficult to single out star legislators to look up to, to distinguish themselves in the current 8th assembly as was the case in the previous 7th assembly.
It was however, not all gloom in the first half of the year in the National Assembly. There were some highpoints. In the Senate for instance, the Senate President, Bukola Saraki led a strong delegation of the Senate to visit the Internally Displaced Persons (IDPs) in the insurgency-infested Borno State. The Deputy Senate President, Ike Ekweremadu undertook a similar mission in Adamawa State.
Also, through the proactive action of the Senate, the lawmakers were able to unearth and halt the sum of N25 billion, being the one per cent commission on the N2.5 trillion collected from the Treasury Single Account (TSA).
As the lawmakers resume on Tuesday, January 12th, Nigerians are watching how they would dispense the probes and the 2016 budget proposal presented by President Muhammadu Buhari.
Governor Seriakae Dickson was on January 9th returned as the winner of the Bayelsa State governorship election. This followed the declaration of the results of the supplementary elections conducted in Southern Ijaw Local Government Area and 101 polling units in six other local government areas.
The supplementary elections followed the cancellation of the election in Southern Ijaw and the 101 units due to irregularities in the governorship election conducted on December 5, 2015. Dickson, who was the candidate of the Peoples Democratic Party, PDP, polled 134,988 votes to triumph over his predecessor and candidate of the All Progressives Congress, APC, Chief Timipire Sylva who polled 86,852 votes. A total of 232,167 votes were cast in the election out of which 6,647 votes were rejected as invalid.
Moses Siasia, a younger brother of Nigeria’s Under 23 football coach, Samson Siasia, who was the candidate of the Peoples Democratic Movement, PDM, took a distant third with 1,572 votes despite a high-profile campaign.
Sylva, who had earlier predicated his possible victory in the governorship election to amassing significant votes to wipe away the 30,000 plus lead of Dickson, garnered last December, however, failed to record the upset in the local government area. In the end, he got only 10,216 votes out of the 33,607 valid votes cast in the local government area that is also the base of Dickson’s late patron and first civilian governor of the state, Chief Diepreye Alamieyeseigha.
Although it was an election, it seemed more like a war. Intimidation, ballot box-snatching and shooting were rampant. A coalition of 60 Civil Society Organisations condemned the PDP and the APC for their actions and statements in the run-up to balloting. It beggars belief that these criminal acts occurred in spite of the fact that Solomon Arase, the Inspector-General of Police, deployed 5,000 officers, boats and helicopters for the polls. There were also military and 4,000 Nigerian Security and Civil Defence Corps personnel on duty.
Yet, on January 7, hoodlums were able to bomb the country home of the Speaker, Bayelsa House of Assembly, Konbowei Benson, destroying part of the property in Korokorosie, Southern Ijaw. A former speaker of the state legislature, Boyelayefa Debekeme, the Chairman of Ekeremor LG, Billy Tobiye, and the traditional ruler, Agbodo Gbaseimo, were attacked on the eve of the election.
Following the declaration of the results, Barrister Otiotio, agent of the APC candidate immediately renounced the declaration of Dickson as the winner, saying the election should have been declared inconclusive on the claim that the difference between the two leading candidates was less than the number of cancelled votes. He also alleged irregularities in voting in some sections of the state. His claim was immediately dismissed by Agbedi, the PDP agent who blamed the irregularities on the APC even as he acclaimed the performance of Dickson as the reason for the PDP victory.
However, the Deputy President of the Senate, Senator Ike Ekweremadu, the highest elected PDP official in the Federal Government, congratulated Dickson saying the victory was sweet. He said: “It is a sweet victory, coming against all odds. It is a testimony to the performance and popularity of Governor Seriake Dickson and our great party, the Peoples Democratic Party, PDP.
“I commend the people of Bayelsa State for standing up to be counted, for protecting their democratic rights to freely choose their leaders. They have made a resounding statement to the effect that the state remains a PDP enclave and that they are committed to keeping it so.” He, however, charged Governor Dickson to repay Bayelsans for their faith in the PDP and his leadership credentials with greater transformation in his second term. He also enjoined him to reach out to his opponents for the peace and progress of the state, while ensuring that every part of the state is fairly treated irrespective of their political choices.
The state chapter of the PDP, however, rued what it described as the cost of human lives it took the party to achieve victory. The party stated this through the Director of Publicity, Restoration Campaign Organisation, Jonathan Obuebite, shortly after the declaration of the results. “It’s painful that this victory has come with so much pain because we lost dear ones. Those who died are our brothers. So many are yet in the hospitals nursing life threatening injuries because our opponents wanted to win at all cost. We wish to express our deepest condolences once again and to assure them that their death will not be in vain”, it stated.
In his acceptance speech, Bayelsa State Governor, Henry Seriake Dickson, thanked the electorate for ensuring his re-election for another four years, but said there would be no celebration because of the number of lives that have been lost. The governor in an emotion-laden statement signed by his Chief Press Secretary, Daniel Iworiso-Markson, released to journalists in Yenagoa, however, vowed that he would do everything possible to identify the perpetrators and bring them to justice. He promised to work tirelessly to justify the mandate given to him “as we tried to do in the first four years to almost universal acknowledgement and approbation.”
The crusade for peaceful polls and the integrity of our elections should start with the prosecution of the offenders in the Bayelsa poll. And it is a step in the right direction that Arase has vowed to prosecute all those who committed criminal acts in the Bayelsa election.
They must not get away with their savagery. The President should compel Arase to enforce the provisions against violent conduct, murder and criminality as enshrined in the Electoral Act 2010 and the 1999 Constitution. This move will serve as a good lesson to sponsors of violence and hired hands ahead of the 2019 general election.
The Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) will tomorrow, Saturday (January 9), conduct supplementary elections in Southern Ijaw LGA and some polling units in three other LGAs (Nembe, Ogbia and Brass) where elections were cancelled.
A new date was fixed for the polls after a consultative meeting with leaders of political parties who fielded candidates in the December 5, 2015 Bayelsa governorship election and the candidates who contested the election at the INEC headquarters.
The INEC had on Monday, December 7, 2015 cancelled the election in Southern Ijaw, following widespread violence, ballot box snatching and abduction of electoral officials.
Since the cancellation of the elections, tension has remained high in Bayelsa, with supporters of the two main contenders engaging in verbal war and reports of residents fleeing Southern Ijaw local government area
Responsively, the federal government has deployed hundreds of soldiers, policemen and other security agents to ensure safety of the electorate. Southern Ijaw has a total of 120,827 registered voters, which makes up 18% of Bayelsa state’s 663,639 total registered voters.
From the first ballot, the incumbent Governor and candidate of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), Henry Seriake Dickson leads former Governor and candidate of the All Progressives Congress (APC), Timipre Sylva, based on election results declared so far.
Sylva won only in his locality –Brass, while Dickson won in 4 of 5 local government areas announced, garnering a total of 81,929 votes against Sylva’s of 56,514 votes. 25,415 votes currently separate the 2 aspirants as they head on to tomorrow’s rerun both aiming to garner needed votes from the Southern Ijaw voters.
The aftermath of the Ekiti State Local Government election held in 16 councils of the state, where the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) was declared winner of all the seats, was quite predictable, as the All Progressives Congress (APC) had declined to participate in the election.
The Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) won all the 16 chairmanship and 177 councillorship positions contested in the local government elections held in the state on Saturday, December 19th 2015. Five political parties contested in the election as the PDP made a clean sweep at the poll.
Reacting on the conduct of the LG election, Duro Faseyi, senator representing the Ekiti North Senato¬rial District in the National Assembly, praised Governor Fayose for installing demo¬cratic structures in the 16 council areas of the state by conducting local gov¬ernment elections, say¬ing this would guarantee some level of indepen¬dence for the third tier that he described as piv¬otal to the country’s devel¬opment. He lambasted the All Progressives Congress (APC) for boycotting the council polls.
However, Taiwo Olatunbosun, the APC publicity secretary in Ekiti state, commended voters in the state for boycotting the Saturday election. Olatunbosun said that the people behaved honourably for staying away from the election boycotted by all political parties except the PDP. He described the exercise as a mockery of democratic election, saying an election with a single party participating while also raising PDP members to pose as candidates of obscure parties would never pass the test of representative poll.
The party added that across the state, Ekiti people spoke with one voice by staying in their homes and watched from distance as PDP members engaged in multiple thumb-printing to give the impression that there was massive turn-out of voters.
Consequent to the Ekiti Drama, the All Progressive Congress (APC) won all the chairmanship positions in Zamfara State local council election held on Saturday, January 2nd 2016.
The Chairman of the Zamfara State Independent Electoral Commission, Garba Muhammad, noted that all the candidates of the APC in the 14 councils had met all the provisions of the electoral law and had been declared winners of the election in their respective councils. He said 14 political parties including the Peoples Democratic Party, participated in the election.
The PDP, however, in a statement signed by its State Chairman, Hassan Nasiha, on eve of the election, said it was boycotting the election. The party also said since it was still challenging the election of Governor Abdulaziz Yari at the Supreme Court, it would not participate in the election.
Mr. Muhammad, Zamfara Electoral Agency boss, commended all stakeholders, including security agencies, for ensuring the success of the election.
Further to the polls in Ekiti and Zamfara, the Sokoto State Independent Electoral Commission (SIEC) has announced the postponement of the local government council’s election earlier billed for this Saturday, January 9th, 2016.
The Chairman of the commission, Alhaji Usman Abubakar noted that the postponement was due to the non receipt of the card readers they wanted to borrow from their sister agency, the Independent National Electoral Commission, INEC.
This was due to the bye-election which the federal commission is set to conduct in Bayelsa on the same date. According to the SIEC chairman, the commission may likely conduct the postponed polls before end of the first quarter of 2016.
”Nine political parties are participating in the elections and we intend to conduct free, credible, transparent and acceptable polls,” Abubakar, promised.
There will be equity. We are going to be fair to all parties as we are going to give them level playing ground. We will not be biased
-- Justice Kayode Bamisile (rtd) (Ekiti SIEC Chairman)
The first of local government elections in this new political dispensation will take place tomorrow in Ekiti State.
However, the timing is precisely 14 months after the governor was sworn-in.
Initially, the All Progressives Congress (APC) filed a case in the High Court in a bid to stop the conduct of the local government election, based on the allegation that the chairman of the State Independent Electoral Commission (SIEC) is a card carrying member of the governor’s party, Peoples Democratic Party (PDP).
The suit was adjudged baseless and without merit.
As the APC decides to appeal the judgement, 5 political parties will participate in the polls tomorrow –
Peoples Democratic Party (PDP)
African People’s Alliance (APA)
United Progress Party (UPP)
People’s Party of Nigeria (PPN)
In Ekiti? You can observe and let us know about the electoral process.
Another set of elections have come and gone. The same problems and symptoms have emerged. It is unnerving that at this stage in our development, we still cannot get our elections right. It is obvious that the people in authority do not want free, fair and credible elections.
We have undergone biometric voter’s registration exercise and Permanent Voters Card (PVC) verification through Smart Card Readers (SCR). Nigerians are not too dumb to utilize electronic voting.
Kogi State supplementary elections and Bayelsa State governorship elections were held this past weekend. Smart card readers failed again and there were incidences of election violence.
According to news reports, thugs disrupted voting in Anyigba at Eti Aja 2 – Dekina LGA in Kogi State. Apparently, thugs stormed some of the polling units in the area, shooting sporadically into air shortly after accreditation, but normalcy was returned to the polling units by security agents only for the thugs to appear again and chased the voters on queue away, disrupting the entire voting arena.
Independent national Electoral Commission (INEC) ad hoc staff and prospective voters ran away for their safety. Clearly, the results from those units should be cancelled if the story is substantiated.
Already, the All Progressives Party (APC) governorship Candidate, Alhaji Yahaya Bello, has emerged winner in the Kogi State governorship supplementary election polling 6,885 votes to defeat incumbent governor and Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) candidate, Mr Idris Wada, who got 5,363 votes.
Bello was declared Governor-elect by the state Returning Officer, Professor Kusa Emmanuel, having polled a total of 247,752 as against PDP's 204,877 votes.
But in Bayelsa, the story is not much different as it relates to election violence and failure of the card readers. It was a tight contest between the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) candidate, Hon. Seriake Dickson, and his All Progressives Congress (APC) rival, Chief Timipre Sylva, in the Saturday State governorship election that claimed at least four lives and injured several others as violence broke out in part of the state.
The additional factor in Bayelsa is that there appears to be voter apathy. Bayelsans may feel the result is pre-determined from the Oga at the top (nationally). Interestingly, the Bayelsa election puts the immediate past PDP governor of the State Timipre Sylva (now in APC) against the current governor and PDP candidate, Seriake Dickson.
The venom and animosity between the two is only matched by the desire for vengeance by the one who feels unjustly kicked out. The results were still too close to call by Sunday evening before it was declared inconclusive by the state Resident Electoral Commissioner, Baritor Kpagih.
Once again, any Nigerian that engages in election violence, including ballot box snatching should be subjected to the death penalty, if not just for the impunity, but also for the stupidity.
Edo State governorship elections, Anambra State elections and other States will come before the big one in 2019. INEC and security forces must get their act together. We are all tired of the same problems repeating themselves.
The current INEC chairman Prof. Mahmood Yakubu who took over from the acting Chairman Hajia Amina Bala Zakari on Monday, November 9th, 2015 has enough seasoned staff and the process is neither new nor is it rocket science. Also, before handing over, Amina Zakari assured Nigerians ”that INEC will use the opportunity presented by forthcoming Kogi and Bayelsa governorship elections to continue to display its improved processes and rigour” and “ that the Commission was raising the bar during the Kogi and Bayelsa outings.”
We are worried about the “stand alone governorship elections in Anambra, Ekiti and Osun states, and the General Elections”.
See INEC WILL USE KOGI AND BAYELSA GOVERNORSHIP ELECTIONS TO DISPLAY IMPROVED PROCESSES AND RIGOUR – Amina Zakari” posted on INEC official website www.inecnigeria.org.
The citizens are not deceived. There has been no high profile prosecution and conviction for election violence or malpractices since the return to democracy in 1999. In other words, we are indirectly encouraging election rigging by failing to prosecute and punish violators.
The 2010 Electoral Act as amended is replete with penalties for election offenses. For example, concerning disorderly conduct at elections, Section 128 0f the 2010 Electoral Act (as amended), states that “Any person who at an election acts or incites others to act in a disorderly manner commits an offence and shall be liable on conviction to a maximum fine of N500,000 or imprisonment for a term of 12 months or both.” Has anyone been convicted and imprisoned in the last sixteen years for disorderly conduct at elections in Nigeria?
It is interesting to note that you get a stiffer penalty for snatching a ballot box than for possessing a weapon. Compare the following subsections of Section 128:
“(3) A person who contravenes any of the provisions of this section commits an offence and shall be liable on conviction to a fine of N100,000 or imprisonment for 6 months for every such offence. (4) Any person who snatches or destroys any election material shall be liable on conviction to 24 months imprisonment.”
Subsection (3) includes penalty for “ (1) No person shall on the date on which an election is held do any of the following acts or things in a polling unit or within a distance of 300 metres of a polling unit … (f) be in possession of any offensive weapon or wear any dress or have any facial or other decoration which in any event is calculated to intimidate voters;”
The nation awaits the prosecution of election offenders and their co-conspirators, no matter how highly placed. More so, there is no reason why the card readers are not working 100% by now – unless, there is a premeditated reason with a pre-determined outcome in mind.
It is our considered view that however the two cases, Kogi and Bayelsa, go; we will surely see an expansion in the scope of electoral discussions in this country. This is definitely yet to begin!
Since the 4th republic began in 1999, Taraba North had produced Rev. Jolly Nyame as governor (8 years), Taraba Central produced Danbaba Suntai who was to end his 8 years tenure in 2015.
Taraba South was the only zone yet to produce a candidate to attain the position. It is in view of this that agitations kept arising from different quarters, especially the southern district that zoning would play a key role in ascertaining who succeeds Governor Suntai by 2015.
Danbaba Suntai’s health problem started on October 25, 2012, when a plane he piloted crashed in Yola. He endured brain injuries in the air crash and was transferred from a hospital in Yola to the National Hospital, Abuja, on October 26, 2012, and later flown to Germany and U.S. where he spent about a year in hospitals receiving treatment.
After a period of political crisis in the state based on claims and counterclaims over his health status, it was revealed that the governor was not healthy enough to live in Nigeria without adequate treatment, or to govern a state.
Due to his state of health, his deputy, Alhaji Umar Garba, was confirmed as the acting governor, pending when the governor would be fit enough to resume full leadership of the state.
Finally in Nov. 10, 2014, Governor Danbaba Suntai returned to the country after a period in the United Kingdom. Suntai arrived Jalingo when the acting governor (Garba Umar) was away in Abuja.
Many people in Jalingo were taken unawares as there appeared to be no prior information about the governor’s return to the state. Reporters at the airport confirmed that Suntai looked physically and mentally sound, and even recognised all his supporters who gathered to receive him at the airport by their name.
However, as Suntai’s supporters were happy and jubilating at his coming, the group in support of his deputy, the Acting Governor, Garba Umar, in Jalingo was in a bad mood as his return did not go down well with them.
Some saw his return to the state as a good omen while others believed he was back to stop Umar from achieving his goal of becoming the governor come 2015.
Incidentally, on November 21, 2014, The Supreme Court ordered that the Taraba State acting governor Garba Umar be removed and the allegedly impeached deputy governor, Abubakar Danladi to be sworn-in.
As it had initially occurred, Danladi was impeached by the Taraba State House of Assembly in September 2012 for gross misconduct and engaging in private businesses. This was just about a month before the governor of the state, Dambaba Suntai, was involved in an air accident in the year 2012.
In a unanimous judgment, the Supreme Court held that the impeachment panel set up by the House of Assembly to investigate the allegations against Danladi violated his rights to fair hearing.
Mr.Garba Umar, as it happened, was appointed to replace Danladi, and later elevated as the acting governor, following Suntai’s ill health that resulted from the crash.
On assumption of office, Danladi nullified all political appointments made by the former acting governor, Garba Umar, from November 14, 2012 to November 21, 2014.
Danladi revealed “After consultations with Governor Danbaba Suntai, the governor has ordered me to nullify all political appointments made in the state from from November 14, 2012 to date.”
The reinstated deputy governor, Danladi, who is from the same village and zone (Nothern) with Umar did not purchase the PDP nomination forms before the deadline for the submission of the forms and did not contest, but his close link with Suntai’s camp, which provided him with moral support and logistics to come back to power, was interpreted by political analysts to favour the candidate of the group who is from the Southern zone.
This is based on the fact that prior to 2012, Governor Suntai was reportedly said to have assured the people of Southern zone that he would ‘transfer’ power to the zone upon completion of his second term in 2015.
The political pendulum in Taraba PDP incidentally favoured former Minister of Niger Delta Affairs, Architect Darius Dickson Ishaku and David Sabo Kente.
These two had to slug it out with Umar in the primaries to determine who to confront Mama Taraba (Senator Aisha Jummai Alhassan) who hails from Taraba North Senatorial District (the same zone as Umar), of the All Progressives Congress (APC).
In the general elections, there were great expectations by Nigerians across the nation that history would be made with Nigeria getting her first female governor.
This hope was further strengthened when the election was declared inconclusive and later concluded 14 days later. However, hopes seemed dashed as Ishiaku was declared winner with a total of 360,318 votes to Hassan’s 275,985.
5 months later, when there seemed to be no hope in sight, the 3-member tribunal ruled that Ishaku was not validly nominated as the candidate of the PDP, and hence didn’t qualify to contest the election in the first place.
The tribunal held that PDP conducted the reported primaries with no clear delegation from the state’s local government areas.
There was great joy in the camp of the now confirmed minister of the federation. Likewise, many legal professionals have turned up to give their opinion on the accuracy of the tribunal’s verdict. PDP and Darius Ishiaku have vowed to appeal the verdict.
Could there still be more political drama in store from Taraba? Whose desire will finally win out, history-mongers or Taraba Southerners? Time will reveal!
President Buhari nominates Prof. Mahmud Yakubu as INEC Chairman.
New INEC Commissioners have also been nominated in line with the Constitution - Amina Zakari (North West), Anthonia Okoosi-Simbine (North Central), Baba Arfo (North East), Mohammed Lecky (South South), Soyebi Solomon (South West)
Native of Bauchi State
The 1st and only first-class graduate of history from the North (trained in Cambridge and Oxford Universities in the UK)
Professor of political history and international studies
Expert in guerrilla warfare, terrorism and counter-terrorism
Former Executive Secretary of TETFUND
(1st academic ever to head the funding Agency)
Once lectured at Nigeria Defense Academy
He was a member of Oby Ezekwesili's Educational Transformation Team
It's another plenary day!
All eyes are on the Senate, as the ministerial Screening is to continue today.
As a build up to the process, the National Prayer, a much needed exercise, was well said:
ALMIGHTY GOD, Ruler of Heaven and Earth, we beseech Thee to inpire and guide all our counsels and actions, so that we may always walk in the path of justice, love and charity to one another,
Help us with Thy Grace to do only those things that will promote the unity, happiness and prosperity of Nigeria.
Citizens can also participate in the questioning process by using the hashtags -
AskTheNominee or MinisterialScreening
You can join the live stream of the plenary session at:
/file_archive/Ministerial-Nominee-2015 "Ministerial List 2015 (First Set)")
Week Review (September 4, 2015)](/file_archive/WeekReview4Sept2015 "Week Review (September 4, 2015)")
Speakers = 46,
Deputy Speakers = 45
Political Party Representation (Speakers):
APC = 22,
APGA = 1,
PDP = 13
![Debtor States in Nigeria (June 2015)](
/file_archive/DebtorStates "Debtor States League")
‘We shall strengthen our capacity for public engagement as well as broaden access for inclusion’ – Bukola Saraki
On Tuesday, the 8th Nigerian National Assembly was inaugurated with PDP’s Ike Ekweredu (Enugu West) retaining his position as the Deputy Senate President.
Former Governor of Kwara State, Bukola Saraki, who now represents Kwara Central at the senate, was elected unopposed as president of the 8th Senate in a session which had 51 of 109 senators in attendance.
The House of Representatives’ chamber on the other hand, had 358 members present for the election process. In a tight contest, Yakubu Dogara (Bagoro/Dass/Tafawa Balewa) defeated Femi Gbajabiamila (Surulere I) to become the Speaker of the 8th House of Representatives.
Consequently, Yusuf Lasun (Irepodun/Olorunda/Osogbo/Orolu) was victorious against Mohamed Monguno (Marte/Monguno/Nganzai) in the tie to decide the Deputy Speaker.
Following President Goodluck Ebele Jonathan's historic feat by being the first Nigerian sitting president to concede defeat and congratulate his opponent, a number of governors have also sought the look of statemanship. Nevertheless, there was no stopping some aggrieved candidates/stakeholders from calling for cancellation and opting for court cases:
Results from 2 states in South East are yet to be declared (Abia and Imo)
3 0f 7 aspiring ministers succeeded: Samuel Ortom (Benue, APC), Nyesom Wike (Rivers, PDP) and Dairus ishaku (Taraba, PDP)
8 of 10 Incumbent governors declared victorious (Borno, Gombe, Kwara, Nasarawa, Ogun, Oyo, Yobe and Zamfara)
1 incumbent governor declared to have lost (Kaduna)
1 Incumbent governor awaiting result declaration (election declared inconclusive in Imo)
![2015 Guber Candidates](
/file_archive/GuberCandidates "Nigerian Guber Candidates 2015")
On March 28, across all federal constituencies and senatorial districts in Nigeria, citizens voted to decide their representatives in the 8th National Assembly.
At least, five governors, Jonathan Jang (Plateau North), Godswill Akpabio (Akwa Ibom West), Theodore Orji (Abia Central), Mohammed Kwankwaso (Kano Central) and Aliyu Wamakko (Sokoto North) have won their election bid into the Nigerian Senate.
Likewise, David Mark (Senate President) and Ike Ekweremadu (Senate Vice President) also got re-elected, but they both won’t be retaining their current positions. After spending eight years as president of the Senate, David Mark’s best bet will be the Minority Leader post.
The is because the All Progressives Congress have won more seats than the Peoples Democratic Party in the March 28 elections, and therefore, will be the major political party at the 8th National Assembly. As a result, the APC will produce the Senate President, Senate Vice President, Majority Leader and Chief Whip.
Some PDP senators who lost to APC in the election include Ahmed Makarfi (Kaduna North), Abdul Ningi (Deputy Senate Leader, Bauchi Central), Smart Adeyemi (Kogi West), Hosea Agboola (Oyo North) and Zainab Kure (Niger South).
Notwithstanding the majority status the APC will enjoy in the 8th National Assembly, it will also lack a two-third majority (73), needed for key decisions.
The election results also reveal that the next Senate will be male-dominated, as only eight of the 109 elected will be females.
Three of the eight women-senators are of the APC - Oluremi Tinubu (Lagos Central), Alhaja Monsurat Sunmonu (Oyo Central) and Binta Masi Garba (Adamawa North). The other five women are from the PDP - Uche Ekwunife (Anambra), Stella Oduah (Anambra), Abiodun Olujimi (Ekiti South), Fatima Raji-Rasaki (Ekiti Central) and Rose Okoh (Cross River North)
In the House of Representatives, about 302 out the 360 members will not return to their seats in the 8th session of the National Assembly.
This includes Aminu Tambuwal (Speaker), Emeka Ihedioha (Deputy Speaker), Mulikat Akande-Adeola (House Majority Leader), Ishaka Bawa (Chief Whip), Sampson Osagie (Minority Whip), and Abdulrahman Suleiman-Kawu (Deputy Minority Leader).
While the speaker, deputy speaker and some other principal officers vied for either governorship or senatorial positions, most lawmakers lost their re-election bid either at the primaries of their political parties or after the March 28 National Assembly election.
Over 155 lawmakers lost out at the primaries of their political parties, while 147 lost at the general elections. Hence, only about 58 scaled through the hurdles, a relative decrease from 2011 when 99 lawmakers returned from the 2007 set.
Prior to the March 28 elections, the PDP had less than 160 members, a decrease from initial majority strength of 208 in June 2011, as a result of mass defection to the All Progressives Congress. Furthermore, the performance of the PDP at the poll paved way for a further decrease to a membership figure under 150.
Even though PDP cleared all the seats in the South South, South East and had good showings in Taraba, Plateau, Ekiti, Lagos and Benue states, the APC was dominant in the North and several South West states and won at least 200 of the 360 seats.
Intriguingly, for the first time, a non-indigene, Oghne Egoh of the Peoples Democratic Party, won a federal constituency seat in Lagos. The House of Representative elect for Amuwo Odofin Federal Constituency polled a total of 29,761 votes to defeat the incumbent, Ganiyu Olukolu of the All Progressives Congress (APC) who scored 20 616 votes.
![Postponement - Anatomy](/file_archive/Postponement
"Election Postponement (Anatomy)")
INEC’s intention to put card readers to use in the forthcoming elections is in fact a tech-driven and innovative problem-solving approach. This further re-enforces the hope that each vote cast will represent an eligible voter.
As the cards have been introduced, the period for accreditation has been extended for 1 hour (now 8am to 1pm rather than 8am to 12pm) while voting will be from 1pm to 6pm. 145,000 card readers will be put to use across 119,973 polling units nationwide, hence making available just 25,027 back up card readers available. This means that only 20% of polling units will have back up card readers.
Batteries in the card reader are said to last up to 10 hours when fully charged, still, back-up batteries will be made available at each polling unit. At least this information deals with power issues, however, will this process essentially lead to voter satisfaction?
At the INEC Youth Summit in January 2015, an INEC staff showcased a practical use of the card reader. According to those present, the time taken for the process per person was at least 3 minutes. As a result, with just about 1 card reader in use at most polling units, just about 20 people might be registered within 1 hour.
Now let’s fast forward to Election Day when accreditation is supposed to last for 5 hours. By 1pm, will we have just 100 people accredited in most polling units? What will happen to the remaining 400 people lined up to vote?
The success of the forthcoming elections definitely lies on the shoulders of the electorates, especially the youths. The need to protect votes and maintain peace in the most civil of ways can be met by this demography. With access to mobile phones, relevant reports can be made and prove to be evidence of claims later in the court.
A perfect tool for use is Revoda, a mobile app with the purpose of making voting social. With ReVoDa, EiENigeria seeks to potentially turn the 100 million+ Nigerians with mobile phones, 45 million+ with internet access and 4.6 million+ on Facebook into informal election observers.
Currently, over 1000 registered youths are ready to help observe the forthcoming elections. Obviously, more need to join in order to cover all 120,000 polling units nationwide. Using ReVoDa Mobile is easy, and it starts with the download which you can do here. Choose the version you prefer between ReVoDa Lite (for regular phones) and ReVoDa Smart (for smart phones)
The Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) rescheduled the Niger East senatorial by-election initially for August 30.
All political parties that indicated interest to join the race agreed with INEC for changing the date of the by-election from August 16th to 30th with the exception of APC which disagreed with the commission over the new date.
The following individuals were part of the candidates:
Dr. Shem Zagbayi Nuhu (Peoples Democratic Party, PDP)
Barrister David Umaru (All Progressives Congress, APC)
Isa Mohammed (All Progressives Grand Alliance, APGA) and
Abdullahi Shuaibu Dikko (Social Democratic Party, SDP).
Eventually, the August 30 by-election was declared inconclusive due to electoral malpractice in some polling units. Hence, a re-run was held a week later (September 6) in polling units located at Bosso, Chanchaga, Munya, Paikoro, Rafi and Shiroro local government areas.
Consequently, the election result was announced by the returning Officer, Professor Wole Morenikeji. After collation, Shem Zagbayi Nuhu (PDP) was declared the winner with 92,056 votes while David Umaru (APC) closely followed with 87,405 votes. Isa Bello (APGA) had 2,185 votes while Abdulahi Diko (SDP) scored 419 votes.
However, David Umaru of APC petitioned the tribunal challenging the declaration of Shem Nuhu of PDP by the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) as the winner of the by-election.
In a judgement that lasted for hours on friday, the National Assembly Election Petitions Tribunal in Minna upturned the result of the election and decided that the APC candidate was the winner of the election
As a result, Niger state now has 2 APC Senators (Niger East and Niger North Senatorial districts), while PDP holds on to its control of Niger South Senatorial district.
Senator Dahiru Awaisu Kuta died on June 12, 2014, leaving the seat vacant.
The debate was organized by PRTVC, YIAGA, Amplified Radio and EIE. It was attended by the three candidates of Labour Party – Amb. Bagudu Hirse; All Progressives Congress – Rt. Hon Simon Lalong; and the People’s Democratic Party — Senator GNS Pwajok. The debate was moderated by Dan Mallam.
The moderator first began by reading out the profiles of the respective candidates; their educational background and work experience.
The debate was formatted in three sets, with questions from a prepared set; social media; then the audience. The questions ranged from education, security, health, infrastructure, economy…
Bagudu Hirse of Labour Party said that improving the fortunes of education starts with primary education; Barrister Simon Lalong said a lack of payment of workers’ salaries is the reason for Plateau’s educational woes; GNS Pwajok responding to question on education said more budgetary provision must be made for education.
Debating the question of security in Plateau, the APC candidate was of the opinion that the crisis stem from elections and a lack of unity amongst Plateau people; GNS Pwajok said Operation Rainbow had to be revamped to help in security of the state while also advocating for state policing; Bagudu Hirse of Labour Party’s take was to encourage elders across the state for more security.
A range of issues were discussed with Bagudu Hirse of Labour Party providing comic relief as he got the audience laughing over his continuous stress on how the answers to all questions posed to him were available in his “7 point agenda” and also his constant reminder of his “international connections.”
Simon Lalong of the APC was for me the most disappointing, he was unprepared and looked to deflect rather than answer questions. On a number of times, he made attacks at the current PDP led government rather than provide solutions to the issues raised.
The PDP’s candidate, Senator GNS Pwajok was by far the most impressive, he made articulate points and was also the most prepared, providing statistics and figures in response to questions.
At the end, the three candidates shook hands, hugged and pledged to work together regardless of the outcome; they also all signed a peace accord pledging to resort to legal channels should they feel aggrieved over the election results and shun violence.
Follow Faisal Adamu on twitter @notfaizzy
29 Governorship elections,
10 incumbents recontesting: Borno, Gombe, Imo, Kaduna, Kwara, Nasarawa, Ogun, Oyo, Yobe and Zamfara
12 Governors aimed for senatorial offices: Abia, Akwa Ibom, Bauchi, Benue, Delta, Ebonyi, Enugu, Katsina, Kebbi, Niger, Plateau and Sokoto
7 Governors didn’t seek senatorial offices: Taraba, Rivers, Lagos, Kano, Jigawa, Cross River and Adamawa
![Nigerian Governors in 2015](/file_archive/NigeriaDecides2015-Governors
Many of the 74 defendants in a suit seeking an order to set aside state laws prescribing pension for former governors and their deputies did not show up at the Federal High Court in Abuja on Thursday when the matter came up.
The plaintiffs, comprising EiE Nigeria, 35 other civil society organisations and two activists, Ayodeji Kolawole and Tunde Asaju, had asked the court to nullify the laws enacted by the various state Houses of Assembly prescribing pension for former governors and their deputies.
The governors are the 1st to 36th defendants, the various state Houses of Assembly are the 37th to 72nd defendants. While the Attorney-General of the Federation, Mr. Mohammed Adoke (SAN) and the Revenue Mobilisation, Allocation and Fiscal Commission are the 73rd and the 74th defendants respectively.
The plaintiffs claim that states’ Houses of Assembly lacked the legislative competence to enact pension laws for public officials when the constitution had conferred the Revenue Mobilisation, Allocation and Fiscal Commission with exclusive power to determine the remuneration of public officials.
They further claim that governors, their deputies and other public officials are not entitled to pension as their retirement benefits are already part of the remunerations being paid to them while in office.
The counsel for the 38 plaintiffs in the suit, Mr. Chino Obiagwu, confirmed during the proceedings that 70 out of the total 74 defendants in the suit had been served with the originating summons. However, about 56 of the defendants were absent in court even though they had been served with the originating summons.
Among the 74 defendants, Obiagwu said only the Gombe State governor, his Taraba State counterpart and their respective Houses of Assembly, sued as separate defendants, had not been served because they were not accessible by courier. Obiagwu, therefore indicated his intention to serve them through substituted means.
The absentees included the legal representatives of governors of Lagos, Abia, Kaduna, Anambra, Bauchi, Bayelsa, Borno, Cross River, Delta, Ebonyi, Edo, Enugu, Jigawa, Kaduna, Kano, Kebbi, Nasarawa, Niger, Ogun, Ondo, Oyo, Yobe states and their respective Houses of Assembly. In similar fashion, the Attorney-General of the Federation and the Revenue Mobilisation, Allocation and Fiscal Commission failed to show up in court on Wednesday.
Responsively, the trial judge, Justice Ahmed Mohammed, adjourned till January 28, 2015 for mention. He ordered that fresh hearing notices be served on the defendants that were absent. He also directed the plaintiffs’ counsel to file his intended ex parte application seeking substituted service of the originating summon on Gombe and Taraba State governors and their respective Houses of Assembly, before the next adjourned date.
Apart from seeking an order nullifying the various pension laws, the plaintiffs also want the court to order the 36 state governors to recover from former governors and deputy governors what they have received in excess of the amounts stipulated by RMAFC as pension.
They are seeking, among others, “a declaration that the pension of a governor and deputy governor of a State is a “remuneration of a Public Office holder” in terms of Section 32 (d) of the Third Schedule to the 1999 Constitution and “condition and welfare of labour” in terms of Item 34 of Part 1 Second Schedule to the 1999 Constitution.
The Speaker of Taraba House of Assembly, Mr Josiah Kente has resigned his position.
He told journalists on Monday in Jalingo that he had forwarded his resignation letter to the Clerk of the assembly, stating that the decision was for personal reasons and in the interest of peace in the state.
Kente was elected speaker in November 2013, following the death of his predecessor, late Mr Haruna Tsokwa. He thanked the people of the state and members of the seventh assembly for their cooperation during his one year tenure as speaker.
"I write to tender my resignation as the Speaker of the Taraba State House of Assembly, Jalingo from today, 24th day of November, 2014. My resignation is personal. I want to seek this opportunity to thank members of the 7th Assembly for giving me the opportunity to serve as Hon. Speaker for the past one year. I pledge to remain loyal and would always contribute my best to the well-being of the Hon House", he stated.
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Shine Your Eye or SYE is an initiative of Enough is Enough Nigeria (EiE). It’s an online platform and SMS-based app that aims to provide complete biographical and contact information for elected officials at all levels of government; tracks performance relative to campaign promises & ranks officials.
EiE hopes to incorporate elements of the US platform – POPVOX – which will increase SYE’s capacity to provide a database of information about bills introduced in the assembly, including official information from the government and position statements from stakeholders. Users would also be able to participate easily in petitions and polls (performance & policies).
SYE’s goal is to increase accountability in governance by making it easier for Nigerians to follow the activities of elected officials and connect with them.
The website is already live – www.shineyoureye.org but not fully functional and the team needs more financial resources to pay for staff and research.
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On October 25, Delta State Independent Electoral Commission conducted local council elections across Delta State. Consequently, results were released for 23 council areas out of the 25. The other two were Ndokwa East which was cancelled and Ethiope East whcih was declared inconclusive.
The chairman of the commission, Mr. Moses Ogbe said the election was free and fair throughout the state , and pointed out that some politicians attempted to disrupt the smooth conduct of the elections in Ethiope East, but a few others were quickly checkmated with the assistance of security officials.
According to him, the election in Ndowka East was cancelled following a crisis which led to non-conduct of the exercise in the locality, whereas elections held in 12 wards out of the 20 in Ethiope East. Hence the run-off elections will be conducted in Ndowka East including the remaining eight wards in Ethiope East.
Confirmed Winners include Chief Edwin Clark (Burutu), Ifeanyi Osakwe (Ndokwa West), Chuks Obusom (Oshimili South), Francis Mauka (Warri North), Francis Eyiyere (Okpe), Solomon Pome (Udu), Kesena Kenneth (Ughelli North), Olukarefemi Felix (Bomadi), Paul Otega (Ughelli South), Baro Henry (Uvwie), Emmanuel Ebagbor (Isoko North) and George Ekpemupolo (Warri South-West).
The Senate was unable to immediately form a quorum a day after the House of Representatives voted for constitution amendment. This occured because the number of senators present were not up to the two-third requirement of members' attendance.
Consequently, the situation was remedied at the Senate proceedings on Tuesday (October 21, 2014). The senate formally consented to 23 of the 71 new amendments to the 1999 Constitution. On the contrary, a major amendment they rendered invalid is the removal of immunity for executive office holders.
However, support was given for autonomy of local governments, independent candidacy for future elections, exclusive jurisdiction on the Federal High Court for trial of election offences, as well as civil or criminal sanctions for failure or neglect to obey summons issued to anyone by the National Assembly.
Furthermore, in order to ensure accountability and efficient service delivery, the amendment enables funding of the Office of the Auditor-General of the Federation, Office of the Attorney-General of the Federation, National Security Agencies, the Nigeria Police and the Revenue Mobilisation and Fiscal Commission directly from the Consolidated Revenue Fund.
The process leading to the amendment of the 1999 constitution continues. This new amendments are to be forwarded to state houses of assemblies, where each item would require the concurrence of two thirds of the 36 state assemblies.
The House of Representatives on Wednesday (October 15) in Abuja voted to effect 71 amendments to sections of the 1999 constitution. Areas covered by this include legislative immunity, local government autonomy, state creation, indigeneship and citizenship, independent candidacy in elections, budgetary process, revenue allocation, life pension for National Assembly heads and role for traditional rulers.
The new amendment makes it mandatory for the president to address a joint meeting of the National Assembly once a year and for the house to bypass the president if he failed to sign a bill presented to him within 30 days. On the contrary, they rejected the amendment of Section 9 to allow for a referendum in determining the fate of the National Conference recommendations.
To amend the constitution, a two-third vote (240 of the 360 members) is required. 261 of the 360 house members participated in the process. Of these, 252 members voted in favour of the amendments, eight voted against and one abstained.
A major highlight of the endorsement was the removal of the immunity clause for the President, the Vice President, the governors and their deputies. By implication, occupiers of the offices can be tried for criminal offences while still in office.
The report is to be forwarded to the 36 state Houses of Assembly for their concurrence. Within seven days, the President of the Senate shall convene a joint sitting of the National Assembly to reconsider the bill. If passed by two-thirds majority of members of both Houses at such joint sitting, the Bill shall become law and the assent of the President shall not be required
This is the single largest amendment in the history of constitution review in Nigeria.
The Federal High Court sitting in Abuja has ordered the Chief Judge of Adamawa State to immediately swear-in Mr Bala Ngilari as the Governor of the State. This is just three days to the bye-election scheduled by INEC in the state. The initial governor, Nyako, was impeached by lawmakers after reviewing the report of a panel of inquiry set up to investigate allegations of financial impropriety against him and his deputy (Ngilari ).
Mr Ngilari was earlier reported to have resigned from office to avoid being impeached by the lawmakers alongside Mr Nyako. While Mr Fintiri was sworn-in as the Acting Governor after the House impeached the Murtala Nyako. However, Mr. Ngilari, whose office was declared vacant on July 15 by the state’s lawmakers after he purportedly resigned, later challenged the legality of his resignation and filed a suit before the Federal High Court in Abuja, seeking an order compelling his swearing in as the governor of the state.
He revealed that his resignation letter was in breach of the provisions of sections 306(1), (2) and (5) of the 1999 Constitution because it was addressed to the Speaker and acted upon by the House of Assembly. But based on constitutional requirement, a deputy governor can only resign by submitting his letter of resignation to the governor.
Justice Adeniyi Ademola of The Federal High Court, while delivering his judgment, ruled that Ngilari’s letter was written at a time when Nyako had not been removed, thus implying that the letter ought to have gone through Nyako as then governor, which it did not, thus rendering the resignation null and void.
The Judge declared Fintiri’s occupation of the Governor’s office as illegal and ordered the State’s Chief Judge or President of the Customary Court of Appeal to swear in Ngilari forthwith. The court also ruled that the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) should not conduct the bye-election scheduled for October 11. The oath of office was administered by the President, Customary Court of appeal Justice Andu Lagre and Ngilari has appointed Mallam Chubado Tijani as his chief of Staff. Meanwhile, Governor Nyako’s suit challenging his impeachment by the Assembly is still on going.
The bye- election to replace the impeached Governor Murtala Nyako has been slated for October 11, in accordance with Section 191(2) of the 1999 Constitution.
The Independent National Electoral Commission has issued a time table for the schedule of activities associated with the bye-election.
Where the election is unable to produce a winner, a run off is expected to come up seven days after the announcement of the election’s results.
As we approach 2015 elections, now more than ever, we should look at the records of our elected officials. Have they really kept their promises?
The following article appeared in the Y! Naija publication and discusses some of the factors that will affect how people will vote, particularly in Northern Nigeria.
In the week of Christmas 2013 the People’s Democratic Party (PDP) in Jigawa held rallies in the three senatorial zones of the state to drum up support for the local government elections – to hold on 18 January this year. As the ruling party in the state, the PDP was not prepared to concede ground in any of the 25 local government areas.
Like most of the states, the tenures of the local government chairmen had expired long ago, with interim chairmen put in place as a stopgap, and as political tactic to consolidate the hold of the party in the local governments.
To ensure maximum effect at the rallies, the PDP rolled out all the big names in the state chapter, with the three senators from the state on the speaking roster.
Power to the people
They didn’t bargain for Birniwa.
At the rally for the North-West Senatorial Zone, when it was time for Senator Abdulmuminu Usman Zarekeu to speak, a low murmur began to rise from the crowd.
It soon turned to a chant.
“Bamayi, bamayi (We are not in support of you)!” the crowd repeated the politician’s nightmare in Hausa.
Undeterred, Senator Zarekeu continued to make his way to the makeshift stage. And so the chants rose higher – and the message more urgent.
“Bamaso, bamaso (We don’t want you, we don’t want you)!”
And then, the water sachets began to be thrown – at the Senator. The hitherto well-behaved crowd was on the verge of a mob.
That was when the good Senator got the message. He stepped back and dropped all notion of stirring the people up for his party’s candidates in the local government elections.
At almost the same time, the exact same scenario was playing out in the North-East Senatorial Zone; Senator Zarekeu’s colleague, Abdulaziz Usman Tarabu the target of the chants and heckling this time.
He was supposed to speak at the rally in Miga, the headquarters of Miga Local Government Area. At that gathering, the PDP candidates of the seven local government areas that make up the Dutse Emirate Council were to be presented to the electorate by the state governor, Sule Lamido.
But as he mounted the podium, the crowd, mostly of young people, started chanting:
“Bamaso, kasauka, ba ka yi mana komai ba (We don’t want you, come down, you have done nothing for us; we do not want you)!”
Tarabu was the more courageous of the two however, stubbornly mounting the podium and proceeding to speak… until the chanting became so intense, it all ended up an embarrassment to the personalities present, led by the governor. He had to step down.
The evidence would appear to be clear, despite grumbling about opposition warfare – not only is there a deep sense of disenchantment with the senators among the electorate of Jigawa’s North-West and North-East Senatorial Zones, but the disregard for the slew of politicians present makes clear the verdict of the states votes: the elected are performing well below expectation.
That disenchantment however is not peculiar to Jigawa.
Minding our business
Being a legislator in Nigeria is a tricky job – on the one hand, it comes with much less pressure than, say, the governor or the president. A senator or member of the House of Representatives is not in charge of large budgets and governments. On the other, it is difficult to explain their utility to a large section of electorates suspicious of paying people simply to talk.
The result of this is an increasing focus on the amounts they earn as salaries and allowances, considered excessive by a large section of the Nigerian public, and the budgetary allocations they are given to develop their constituencies.
Therefore, while the job of parliament across the world is to deliberate on laws for the betterment of their people, and oversight over the executive, anecdotal evidence now proves that a legislator in Nigeria who concentrates only on lawmaking, no matter how excellent he is at that, may risk losing an election.
In between ethnicity, faith, zoning and other narrow factors that influence elections in Nigeria, a smart politician in the legislature knows that he also has to make his presence at the legislature felt beyond making laws which the bulk of the voting population may not understand (with adult literacy rate in Nigeria at 61% – at least 30million Nigerians of voting age can neither read nor write, which is almost half of the registered 73.5million voters in 2011).
He has to come home frequently to embark on projects such as building school blocks, donating books, launching water projects and any other project that puts him in direct touch with his constituents and shows him to be working – not to mention the ‘stomach infrastructure’ projects, where he issues monetary handouts directly to the people.
The most effective Nigerian legislators therefore are those excellent both at legislative duties – being vocal on the floor and in committees, raising motions and sponsoring bills – as well as constituency duties.
With limited constituency budgets however, yet a larger-than-life image, it is no wonder so many are so disenchanted with their representatives.
But its not just the legislators – disenchantment is now an accessory to democracy across the North, if not across the whole country.
Kano’s emerging war
Kano is undoubtedly the most important state in Northern Nigeria – and one of the most in the country. The last population census, 2006, identified the state as the most populous state in the country with 9.32million.
It is also the economic capital of the North; its own capital, Kano the second largest city in Nigeria with a history of commerce that stretches back several centuries pre-colonisation – when the city of Kano served as the southernmost point of the famous trans-Saharan trade routes, with textile materials, leather and grains being the principal exports to North Africa.
It is also the birthplace of radical Northern politics, most notably, the Northern Elements Progressive Union (NEPU) and the Peoples’ Redemption Party (PRP) in the First and Second Republics, led by the late Mallam Aminu Kano.
They styled themselves as the anti-establishment party loved by the mass, in contrast to the Northern Peoples’ Congress (NPC) in the First Republic led by the Premier of Northern Nigeria and Sardauna of Sokoto, Sir Ahmadu Bello and the National Party of Nigeria (NPN), which produced the former president, Shehu Shagari in 1979.
Kano is highly coveted during elections – it has a voter population of 5.1million (as at 2011), only second to Lagos with 6.2million. It, naturally, also has the highest number of seats in the House of Representatives – 21.
At the onset of Nigeria’s return to democracy in 1999, the PDP had a vice-like grip on the state – it had after all won the governorship, all three senate seats and 18 out 23 seats from the state in the House of Representatives.
However, in 2003, the combination of former Head of State and presidential candidate for the All Nigerian People’s Congress (ANPP), General Muhammadu Buhari, easily the most popular politician in the North since Sir Ahmadu Bello, and sympathy votes for the ANPP governorship candidate, a certain Mallam Ibrahim Shekarau who had been demoted to rector of the State College of Arts, Sciences and Remedial Studies from his position as permanent secretary in the state civil service, led to heavy losses for the PDP.
Not only did the then (and present) governor, Rabi’u Kwankwaso lose his seat, but votes were cast for the ANPP across all the elective positions. It was such a heavy hit that the PDP, which had held all but 23 of the seats in the lower house, was down to eight, with the ANPP winning the remaining 14 seats.
In fact, to hear them tell it, one of the elected senators – very confident of winning -was sleeping in his house on Election Day when he was informed he had won election. The ANPP was also so sure of victory, it only needed to seek a candidate.
This was to repeat itself in the 2007 elections, as the ANPP once again swept 21 seats in the House, and two out of the three senatorial seats in the state.
The bandwagon voting didn’t lead to the same effect in governance, however. Many of the legislators were lame ducks in the National Assembly, with no record of impact, through project or lawmaking. They were ripe for a change in the next elections.
In 2011, the competition was intense: Kwankwaso was taking another shot at the governorship as his successor; Shekarau had reached the constitutional two-term limit. Shekarau had also his denied his deputy governor, Abdullahi Gwarzo, the governorship ticket of the ANPP, causing him to move to the now-defunct Action Congress of Nigeria (ACN), and Buhari’s party, the CPC, was participating in its first elections, hoping to ride on the General’s popularity to win.
Added to that was increased voter awareness. 12 years of uninterrupted democracy had taught the citizens not to vote en masse from one party. The result was winners cherry-picked at different levels, from different parties.
The PDP won 11 seats in the House of Representatives and all three senate seats. The ANPP won eight seats while the CPC won the last two.
So far, only one federal legislator from the state has been undefeated since 1999. Hon. Farouk Lawan (Bagwai/Shanono) whose national reputation was brought down by his ignominious role in the fuel subsidy bribe scandal of 2012 suffers no such deficit at home. In the north, he is one of the National Assembly’s most prominent faces in the National Assembly, vocal within the House and also popular at home courtesy of numerous – effective – projects.
“I believe that now that Kwankwaso has joined the APC, the combination of his popularity and that of General Buhari will enable the party to sweep the federal legislative seats in the state,” Salihu Tanko Yakasai, a radio broadcaster and member of Nigeria’s new opposition coalition, the All Progressives Congress (APC) says of the 2015 elections.
Kwankwaso was one of five PDP governors that defected in November 2013 and is already being mentioned as a possible presidential candidate for the party. His popularity within the state is built on numerous infrastructural projects including two flyover bridges within the city.
“Although the PDP has been trying to shore up the loss of Kwankwaso by wooing his predecessor, Shekarau who is said to be unhappy with the way he is sidelined in addition to the presence of Mohammed Abacha, it will still be an uphill climb for the party in winning the state,” Yakasai says. “The biggest risk for the party will be if it imposes candidates during the elections, which may cause the voters vote for the PDP in protest.
“This had happened during the transitional program of former military president, General Ibrahim Babangida in 1992 where the imposition of Magaji Abdullahi by party bigwigs as the candidate of the Social Democratic Party (SDP) made people vote for Kabiru Gaya (now the senator representing Kano South) of the National Republican Party (NRC)”.
No peace for the plateau
Unlike Kano, which upheavals are caused primarily by political calculations, Plateau is buffeted by crisis over which it might have no control.
It is almost a cliché now, but no less true for that. Plateau, once famous only for its scenic beauty and cold weather, has now become one of Nigeria’s most troubled states due to constant ethno-religious conflicts and mysterious, unsolved nighttime raids on villages where entire families have been wiped out.
The crises, which began in September 2001, have been on and off, getting so severe that the Olusegun Obasanjo administration had to declare a state of emergency in 2006, removing the governor, Joshua Dariye and installing an administrator to stabilise the peace in six months.
Dariye, like the president, was a member of the PDP, which has always had a solid grip on the state, winning all four governorship elections, and all but one senatorial race out of 12. It has also won 17 out of 24 House of Representatives elections in the state from 1999.
The strongest challenge to the dominance of the party came via the 2011 gubernatorial election. The Deputy Governor and former Minister for Industries, Pauline Tallen committed political suicide when she challenged her boss, Jonah Jang for his position. She moved to the Labour Party, a hitherto unknown party in the state, no doubt bolstered by the candidacy of former governor, Dariye for the Plateau Central Senatorial Zone through the same party.
Dariye won, but, as expected, Jang defeated Tallen resoundingly. Expected because the governor has become popular thanks to a slew of infrastructural projects executed and completed.
The state’s defining crisis also played a crucial role. There were rumors that Tallen had gone into alliance with the minority Hausa Muslim community, considered to be settlers within the state, who many accuse of fomenting the crises.
When Tallen took her campaign to Angwan Rogo, a predominantly Hausa area in the state capital, Jos, and wept openly on what she termed ‘injustice to the Hausa people’, the indigenous people did not need to look further for evidence of the ‘said alliance’. She ended up winning 35.37% of a total of the 1.3m votes cast in the elections. To complete the humiliation, when the results were declared, women famously trooped out en masse to sing songs celebrating her defeat.
The Plateau people have showed themselves very engaged beyond this. It is in fact one of the very few states in Nigeria where there has been a serious attempt to recall a legislator. In 2006, the Deputy Senate President, Ibrahim Mantu, who was representing Plateau Central, found himself battling to keep that seat.
Unfortunately for those behind the recall attempt, they were unable to get the required one-half of signatures of all the registered voters in the district. So the voters simply waited – and voted him out at next elections.
“It cannot be said with certainty if the present set of legislators will win (next year),” said Ibrahim Faruk, a civil society activist based in Jos.” A lot depends on what will play out within the parties, where some legislators might likely not win the tickets to run for re-election.
“The PDP still remains highly rated to win most of the seats in the 2015 elections: apart from its lone senator, Dariye, who is tipped to retain his seat, the LP has gone back into the obscurity from where it emerged in 2011; the APC might likely win the Wase Federal Constituency as usual (it used to be the ANPP that always won), which the PDP has found it a nut too hard to crack. A major factor behind the inability of the PDP to win this constituency has been due to the overwhelming Fulani Muslim population, where it is perceived as a Christian party, although the PDP is said to be working hard to win the constituency in 2015.
“Most of the battles will be within the PDP. As at yet, no one has formally declared for any of the positions, although that does not mean that the politicians interested are not strategizing for the offices of their choice. Most are waiting upon Jang, who as the party leader shall install the candidates of his choice to run in the election.”
There are rumors Jang – also factional chairman of the Nigeria Governor’s Forum – is also interested in running for the Senate. A source close to the governor, who declined to be named, confirmed this to me.
“When the winner of the 2011 senate election for Plateau North, Gyang Dantong died in July 2012 and a bye-election was held, Jang was said to have installed his Chief of Staff, G.N.S. Pwajok as the PDP candidate who went on to win the election, to hold the office for him till 2015, when they will likely swap offices, as Pwajok has also been mentioned as a possible successor to Jang, who is very popular within the state,” he said.
For Plateau South Senatorial Zone, its representative, Victor Lar, is reportedly preparing for a run for Government House, Jos – no matter the risk of losing his seat in the process.
Another legislator that is popular with his constituents is Bitrus Kaze, who represents the Jos East/Jos South Federal Constituency. However, he faces a common challenge: an agitation by a section of the Berom ethnic group to have one of their own replace Kaze, who is of the Anaguta ethnic group and has been in the House since 2007.
Another possible intense race will be for the Mangu/Bokkos Federal Constituency, where a rumored interest from the Secretary to the State Government, Professor Shedrack Best, who is a close Jang ally, might scuttle the re-election chances of Hon. Aminu Jonathan.
Rumble in the Savannas
An hour and thirty minutes from Jos, Bauchi, capital of the state by same name, has been birthplace of legendary political careers from the North, including Nigeria’s first Prime Minister, Sir Abubakar Tafawa Balewa and radical Northern politician, Mallam Aminu Kano.
At the inception of the Fourth Republic in 1999, the state was won by the PDP at all levels. The party couldn’t repeat that feat in the 2003 presidential elections howewver. The ANPP’s candidate, Muhammad Buhari swept most of the states in the North, including Bauchi.
PDP proceeded to lose the state governorship for the first time when the former Minister of Aviation, Isa Yuguda was schemed out of getting the party ticket by his erstwhile political ally and the governor, Ahmadu Mu’azu. Yuguda decamped to the ANPP and combined his popularity with that of Buhari’s to win the Government House. The party also won two senate seats and most of the federal constituencies.
Not that the people have much felt like winners over the same period.
There have been two attempts to recall legislators in Bauchi State: the first in 2009 to recall the senator representing Bauchi South Senatorial District, Bala Mohammed. Mohammed, who was an ANPP member, had consistently tongue-lashed Governor Yuguda for decamping to the PDP after being elected on the platform of the ANPP, and accused him of betrayal. This did not go down well with Yuguda who is said to have begun the drive to recall Senator Mohammed.
He was reasonably assured of succeeding before Mohammed’s saving grace – he was appointed minister by President Goodluck Jonathan in 2010, a reward for his role pushing through the doctrine of necessity that brought Dr. Jonathan into office. Ironically, Senator Mohammed did not take too long to join Yuguda in the PDP after he became the Minister of the Federal Capital Territory. He is now working hard to succeed Yuguda as the governor, even constituting a 12-man committee to visit all six emirates.
Ibrahim Adamu Gumba was the second target for recall. The senator presently representing the Bauchi South Senatorial Zone, a group called the Youth for Democracy confronted Adamu Gumba. The group claimed to have gotten close to half the signatures required as at May 2013. Then it disappeared. Nothing has been heard since.
What shall we hear from the electorate come 2015 though?
“It is very hard to predict specifically how the elections into the National Assembly will play out in Bauchi State, as the ruling party, the PDP and the opposition APC is still quite in flux,” said Jafaru Idris, who hosts a political-affairs radio show.
“Within the PDP, there is no assurance that the incumbents will get the chance to fly the party’s flag in the elections; like every other state, the governor calls the shots within the party. Also, some incumbents are looking to move up politically, such as the Deputy Majority Leader in the Senate, Abdul Ningi, representing Bauchi Central Senatorial District who is said to be eyeing the Government House, as Yuguda has exhausted his two-term limit. With this ambition comes the risk of ending up with neither his senate seat nor the governorship.
“At the same time, the APC is said to be making overtures to the incumbents to switch parties and promising them automatic tickets to contest the elections. If this happens, it will likely force those within the APC interested in running for the Senate and National Assembly to move in the opposite direction to the PDP.”
State of Gombe
The perception of political performance is almost the same in Gombe State, which was one of 6 created out of old Bauchi State by the Abacha regime in 1996.
Its first taste of democracy came in 1999. Since then, three governors have been elected, including the first, Abubakar Habu Hashidu of the now defunct ANPP, who lost his re-election to Danjuma Goje. Goje spent two full terms and is now in the Senate.
Its citizens give conflicting reports on the state of democracy dividends – legislators, for instance, spend a lot of time at home, but their presence is hardly felt in terms of constituency projects. They are conspicuous in ‘human development’, interpreted as the basic doling out of money to all who approach, but that is all.
You would think this dissatisfaction has led to a citizen reaction, at least such as Mantu faced. But that is not (yet) the case. The only attempt at recalling a legislator came for Goje, who is now representing Gombe Central Senatorial District. Don’t get too excited though – the state government led that attempt, after Goje fell out of favour with his successor and the incumbent governor, Ibrahim Dankwambo. Goje now feels so safe in his seat; he recently joined the bandwagon to the APC.
“A lot of the politicians will follow Goje to the APC as he is still very popular,” said Ibrahim Yusuf, who runs Society for the Future, a youth activism and development organization in the state. “While no one can deny that Dankwambo is performing especially in terms of infrastructural development, politicians and top civil servants are not enjoying his government because money is not flowing to them. The governor’s experience as an accountant seems to have influenced his frugal nature.”
Is there any sense of certainty as to how the state will vote?
“The fate of politicians is really unsure, as there is a lot of realignment in the politics of the state,” Yusuf explained. “More defections are certain to come, and it is not sure if the incumbents will even secure their re-election tickets. However, one legislator who is the man to beat will be Usman Bello Kumo, representing Akko Federal Constituency in the House of Representatives on the platform of the PDP. He is so popular that he can win no matter the party he runs on.”
There are many politicians across the north who desperately wish the same could be said of them. Unfortunately, the average Northern citizen has gotten more difficult to please with each election cycle.
Or, as some will say, fortunately.
If your community and you are unhappy with your lawmakers, there are steps you can take to engage them. You can attend their meetings, call them on your mobile or even visit their constituency offices to share your grievances. However, if your lawmaker has blatantly failed in their duties, you can find an answer in recall. To recall a lawmaker, you first need the signatures of more than half of the registered voters to submit the recall petition to the INEC Chairman. If signatures are approved then INEC can conduct a referendum. The referendum will pass if the majority of people that vote during the referendum vote for recalling the lawmaker. Then the lawmaker is recalled and a by-election is held to elect a new lawmaker.
_Thinking it has never been tried before?
The following article appeared in Daily Trust, and focuses on some people in Nasarawa that are partaking in the process.
FYI- Since the article's publication, the charges against the lawmakers have been dropped in a court of law, but citizens can still continue with the recall process.
IMPEACHMENT: NASARAWA SPEAKER, 5 OTHER LAWMAKERS FACE RECALL FROM CONSTITUENTS
Published on Sunday, 03 August 2014, Written by Hir Joseph, Lafia
Six of the 20 members of the People’s Democratic Party (PDP) including the speaker of the Nasarawa State House of Assembly (NSHA), Musa Ahmed Mohammed (PDP, Nasarawa-Central), who signed the impeachment notice against Governor Umaru Tanko Al-Makura are facing recall from their constituency over allegations that they did not consult with the constituents to commence the process of removing the governor.
The other five members are: the deputy speaker Elisha Agwadu (PDP, Obi II), Mohammed Baba Ibaku (PDP, Udege/Loko), Abdulkarim Usman (PDP, Wamba), Francis Orogu (PDP, Keana), and Mohammed Sidi Bako (PDP, Obi I).
In two of the constituencies, namely Nasarawa-Central, and Udege/Loko where the speaker, and Ibaku are representing, respectively, the recall process has clocked two weeks and has reached the level of collecting signatures from constituents. But the other constituencies are merely beginning the exercise, apparently inspired by the two constituencies which pioneered the recall plot.
In Nasarawa-Central, the constituents have already set up a central committee headed by the chairman of Nasarawa Local Government Area, Tijjani Ahmed, who is coordinating the recall process with three sub-committees headed by a former LG chairman, Barrister Mohammed Sani Bawa for Nasarawa-Central sub-committee, and the state commissioner of Agriculture, Danladi Madaki heading the sub-committee for Udege, while Alhaji Ibrahim Gambo and Nuhu Abubakar, a former councilor, are heading the sub-committee for Loko axis.
The council chairman, Tijjani Ahmed, who disclosed the detailed process of recall in the two constituencies in his area, told Daily Trust, yesterday , that there are also Seven sub-committees for the Seven wards of Nasarawa-Central, as there are 44 sub-committees set up to coordinate signatories in the 44 polling units of the constituency.
He also said the two-week old process has seen the setting up of Eight sun-committees for the Eight wards of Udege/Loko, as well as 89 sub-committees for the 89 polling units in the area.
“We are on course, and signatures have started coming in from constituents against the two lawmakers representing the two constituencies of Nasarawa LG,” Ahmed said.
The state commissioner of Agriculture, Madaki told Daily Trust that constituents are “falling on each other to append their signatures against Ibaku,” just as Sani Bawa said the process first saw signatures pouring in from Angwan Dalatu polling unit where the speaker voted in 2011.
But Ibaku, who confirmed he is aware of the process initiated to commence his recall, said in a swift reaction that he is not bothered when the minority APC chieftains of his area made the moves. “I was voted by 43,500 PDP members of my constituency in 2011. My opponent polled only 13,000. If the 43,500 people who elected me say they want me out; I will be bothered. If disgruntled APC members in their microscopic minority are initiating a recall against me, I will be sleeping and waiting for 90 days our people to go a referendum to decide who is more popular in Udege/Loko,” Ibaku said.
The speaker’s spokesman, Tanko Ibrahim told Daily Trust on the telephone that “frankly speaking, I have no comments.”
When asked for his reaction, Francis Orogu confirmed the moves against him, but insisted that the process is not one to give him sleepless nights. “I have 100 percent support from my constituents to go ahead with the impeachment against the governor. I consulted my people, and they gave me the go ahead. Today, they are promising an automatic ticket because I did them proud by appending my signature to the impeachment notice because this government has come to introduce misery in their lives and those of their children,” Orogu said.
This is just as Lanze Kassim Ujah, a legislative aide to Honourable Usman of Wamba said he is aware there are plans by the minority APC members in his area to recall his boss, but added that “my boss consulted his constituents and got their approval. He is still in touch with his constituents if not for the threats on the lives of lawmakers by sponsored APC agents. The provisions of the constitution are clear on the role of my boss, and he applied them to the latter.”
The deputy speaker, Elisha said he got the mandate of a majority PDP constituent to represent the area in the state assembly, just as he insisted that he had the approval of the electorate to sign the impeachment notice against the governor.
Sidi Bako could not be reached at press time.
Enough is Enough Nigeria will be hosting a youth focused debate in Osun on Sunday, August 3, 2014. The main topics are education and employment/enterprise. This is your opportunity to hear from the candidates and make the best decision for you and your community.
The event takes place at Leisure Spring Hotel, Iwo/Ibadan Expressway at 3pm.
There is free seating.
If you have questions for the candidates email email@example.com or send an sms to 08076468401.
The debate will be aired live. please be on time.
EiE Nigeria is committed to promoting good governance and civic engagement and encourages everyone to Register | Select | Vote | Protect.
You cannot vote in the upcoming 2015 elections, if you do not register to vote (CVR) or do not collect your permanent voter’s card (PVC). Registration and PVC collection is spread across three phases. Phase 1 is over, but you still have a chance if your state is in Phase 2 or 3.
Bauchi, Jigawa, Sokoto, FCT, Kwara, Anambra, Ebonyi, Ondo, Oyo, Delta, Cross River, Yobe
Permanent Voter’s Card Pick Up: August 15 – 17
Continuous Voter Registration: August 20 – 25
INEC has not announced the dates for Phase 3 yet. We will share that information, when it becomes available.
The 11th Annual Lagos Central Town Hall Meeting was held on Wednesday, June 11, 2014. The purpose of the meeting was to encourage civic engagement and to report on the achievements and status of projects and programs enacted by Senator Tinubu. Unfortunately, the event was not as dynamic and open as most would have thought. Citing issues of having to meet a flight, it was said that Senator Tinubu would only be taking two questions from the public. One of the questions answered focused on the issue of the nearly 300 girls missing from Borno state and the inability of our government officials to facilitate their retrieval. Senator Tinubu began to answer the question from the angle of party politics, via her insinuation and blatant outcries against the current presidency and non APC members of the National Assembly. Enough is Enough Nigeria, CEO, Yemi Adamolekun, took the opportunity to stress the importance of cohesion in the nation to ensure the safety of all citizens and to bring back our girls as a response to Senator Tinubu's statements.
Several incidents occurred at the end of the event that were disheartening and further demonstrated the need for reform in the nation around the interaction of government officials and citizens. In what was a violent display of malfeasance, a colleague of Senator Tinubu was bombarded at the end of the event and money was eventually shared to "area" boys that proceeded to physically fight over how to share the money.
As we near election season, let us try to spread the vote that your vote and support for candidate is worth more than 500 naira. Let us actively push ourselves and engage our neighbors to realize that we all deserve good roads, access to quality education, ensured safety and security and better healthcare services. These are civil liberties and we should hold our government officials accountable.
RSVP focuses on ensuring that young Nigerians are at the table to determine Nigeria’s future. The four letters represent the activities young people need to complete to successfully in order to have a positive impact on governance in Nigeria.
**R - Register to vote
S - Select credible candidates
V - Vote
P - Protect your vote**
Will you RSVP? If so, INEC has begun voter registration. If you are already registered to vote, make sure you pick up your permanent voter’s registration card. Here is the schedule:
Distribution of Permanent Voters’ Cards and Pre-CVR display of Register
Date: Friday 23rd May – Sunday 25th May, 2014
Venue: Polling Units where you registered
Time: 8am-4pm daily
Date: Wednesday 28th May – Sunday 1st June, 2014
Venue: Designated CVR centre in each Registration Area (Ward) of every Local Government Area
Phase One States: Taraba, Gombe, Zamfara, Kebbi, Benue, Kogi, Abia, Enugu, Akwa Ibom, Bayelsa
Distribution of Permanent Voters’ Cards and Pre-CVR display of Register
Date: Friday 18th July – Sunday 20th July, 2014
Venue: Polling Units where you registered
Time: 8am-4pm daily
Date: Wednesday 23rd July – Sunday 27th July, 2014
Venue: Designated CVR centre in each Registration Area (Ward) of every Local Government Area
Phase Two States: Yobe, Bauchi, Jigawa, Sokoto, FCT, Kwara, Anambra, Ebonyi, Ondo, Oyo, Delta, Cross River
Distribution of Permanent Voters’ Cards and Pre-CVR display of Register
Date: Friday 22nd August – Sunday 24th August, 2014
Venue: Polling Units where you registered
Time: 8am-4pm daily
Date: Thursday 28th August – Sunday 31st August, 2014
Venue: Designated CVR centre in each Registration Area (Ward) of every Local Government Area
Phase Three States: Adamawa, Borno, Kaduna, Katsina, Kano, Plateau, Nasarawa, Niger, Imo, Lagos, Ogun, Edo, Rivers
Global Days of Action is a #BringBackOurGirls initiative to draw global attention to the abduction of over 200 girls and the terrorist attacks that continue to plague Nigeria. As a part of global days of action, we urge you to participate in Speak-Out-Saturday, May 24 and 31.
Contact your National Assembly Members and urge them to promote safety and security in the nation by doing all they can to bring back our girls. Here are some officials that you can contact, but please search the site and engage your own legislatures as well.
Chairman-Magoro Mohammed - -08034080004
Chairman - Sekibo George Thompson - 08034003048
Vice Chairman - Jibrilla Bindawa - 08033118844
Chairman - Bello Maradun Mutawalle - 8032888899
Vice Chairman -Eddie Mbadiwe Ifeanyichukwu - 8132426669
Chairman - Aliyu Muktar - 07034022555
On Monday, April 14, Nigerians woke up to news of another heart-rending carnage at Nyanya Motor Park after a bomb detonated. Over 100 people were injured and over 70 people died. That same night, over 200 school girls were abducted in Chibok, Borno State. This was enough to jolt most citizens out of nonchalance.
Tired of mere condemnations and the usual blame game, citizens on social media platforms responded to a call for suggestions on ways to combat this surge of terror. Over 1,000 suggestions were received in two days, with the hashtag #CitizensSolutionToEndTerrorism trending on Twitter on both days.
A further review of the suggestions and internal discussions has resulted in 10 key ACTION POINTS outlined below.
1. FINANCING THE SECURITY APPARATUS
The Nigerian public is concerned that the resources allocated to our security apparatus (N922 billion in 2012, N1 trillion in 2013 & N845 billion in 2014) do not seem to correspond with the results delivered by those at the frontline to prosecute the war against terror. While it is understandable that security operations are mostly classified, citizens believe that some degree of transparency, accountability and disclosure is essential to gaining public confidence and achieving optimal results.
Citizens are concerned about the size, strength, training, and will of our security agencies to effectively fight insurgents. Similarly, citizens want to be assured that the welfare of our troops is given upmost priority by the government and military leadership. This includes, but not limited to, provision of (1) premium life insurance cover for security agents deployed to fight insurgency, (2) adequate compensation for the families of agents killed in the line of duty, (3) adequate care and support for agents injured in the line of duty, and (4) adequate reward for gallantry. Finally, reports indicate a disconnect between the troops on the ground and the command center. Our ground troops need the most empowering base support functions to be effective with their counter insurgency role and we expect that they are fully supported morally and with adequate resources.
The misinformation around the abduction of school girls in Chibok raises serious concerns about information sharing within the security agencies. Citizens want to know the technical capacity of our security agents to prosecute the war on terror. Citizens request that an independent committee comprising members of the Senate and House Committees on Defence as well as eminent retired military personnel be established to conduct an audit of the Joint Task Forces responsible for combating insurgency. The objective of the audit should be to ascertain the state of weapons, intelligence gathering and logistics in executing the war on terror.
While State policing is a contentious topic, we cannot ignore the fact that community policing is operational in various parts of the country. Citizens believe that government and the military leadership have not maximized the opportunity of well-designed local community participation in the fight against terror.
Communities should be encouraged to set up Community Safety Groups / Neighborhood Watch Groups. Community members know their communities better than the security agencies. They need to take an interest and connect with security organisations. There needs to be support and protection for the communities that are supporting the security agencies.
Citizens call on government and the military to design a robust plan of action and negotiate a unified template with local communities for participation in security& intelligence gathering. Such a plan should adequately provide for (1) anonymous reporting of suspicious people or situations, (2) protection of informants who feel threatened, (3) rapid response to actionable intelligence, (4) feedback between military and communities, and (5) measures to mitigate abuse of mandate by civilians. Governors have a critical role to play as they currently support federal security agencies but there is room for more collaboration and streamlining of efforts. This issue of state policing must also be addressed urgently by the National Assembly and the National Conference.
‘Member of Boko Haram’, ‘Boko Haram financier’, and ‘Boko Haram supporter’ are labels that have been thrown around in a political war to embarrass certain citizens. The ease with which these labels are used, especially from the government, belittles the seriousness of the security challenge we face and the attendant death of innocent Nigerians.
The Senator for Borno South was once ‘charged’ for sponsoring Boko Haram and yet the result of the case remains inconclusive. The government has a duty to promptly prosecute alleged sponsors, and must be seen to be serious about it. It is not enough to promise ‘action’ while citizens watch themselves slaughtered daily. Citizens encourage the executive and judiciary to work closely together on speedy trials for the critical impact of deterrence. Prosecuting at least 5 cases in 2014 would be a major milestone and would boost the confidence of citizens.
There has to be a defined protocol for obtaining information and sharing information with citizens. During such cases of domestic terrorism, a public system through which information can be passed between citizens and the security forces must exist. The presence of such a protocol is essential to the protection of Nigerian lives.
It is unacceptable that in the last 4 years, despite many discussions, Nigeria still does not have a functional nation-wide emergency number. The 112 phone number that is being shared is not active in most states as it only works in states that have set up their own emergency services. Furthermore, in light of what happened to Yusuf Omisani, who was picked by SSS agents and kept incommunicado for 12 days, citizens need to be assured that when they share information, they will not be arbitrarily assumed to be members of Boko Haram and intimidated or victimised.
In addition, we suggest a monthly meeting between security operatives and community stakeholders in communities most affected by these acts of violence. We need an alternative that encourages more collaboration and information sharing to bridge the gap of communication. For the larger populace, the National Assembly should host Quarterly Public Hearings to keep citizens reasonably updated on the status of counter insurgency operations.
5. FOLLOW THE MONEY
The violence is being financed with cash. Terrorism involves the transfer of money in order to fund the procurement of equipment and manpower. The government must make efforts to ensure that financial services such as the banking sector’s Know-Your-Customer initiative is tied to its anti-terrorism strategy. Perhaps, through such efforts, we might be able to cut off their financial supply and trace the sponsors.
6. IMMIGRATION AND CITIZENS’ IDENTIFICATION
Our borders are porous and Nigerians do have family and allegiances to nationals of Niger and Cameroon. As a matter of urgency, we need to streamline the various types of data we have into a comprehensive database – SiM-Card registration (NCC), Immigration, National Identity Card, Civil Service Commission, Driver’s License/ License Plates (FRSC), Voters’ Register (INEC).
A central database where the identities of all Nigerians can be easily verified must exist in order for Nigeria to significantly make progress in fighting terrorism.
7. RESPECT FOR THE DEAD
Nigeria’s Constitution assures us that the security of lives and property is the primary responsibility of government. Given that lives have been lost to terrorism, the government needs to demonstrate respect for the citizens who have lost their lives in this act of violence.
The appropriate agencies of government should within 48 hours of any attack, publish the names of as many victims as possible using formal and informal identification. The National Human Rights Commission should be given adequate resources and support to create and maintain a database of victims of violence.
And, we must learn to remember them as a nation. Reporting victims as mere statistics is dehumanizing our dead brothers & sisters and desensitizing our society, including our children.
8. RISK CALCULATION AND MITIGATION
For public spaces prone to attacks – markets, schools, and parks – a standard package of protection should be designed to protect citizens. Once made public, citizens can also be vigilant to ensure that their spaces have the required services.
9. PROMOTION OF PEACE EDUCATION
Government, religious institutions, private sector and civil society groups should invest more resources in promoting peace education. Peace education will help to redress the culture of violence and aggression and inculcate the value of peaceful coexistence and non-violent orientation on every citizen. Peace education should be integrated in the educational curriculum of Nigeria, from primary to tertiary education.
In addition, the problem of youth radicalization and extremism could partly be curbed through proper sensitization and enlightenment programmes using special designed radio and television programmes, jingles and group discussions. A robust countering violent extremism (CVE) programme should be an integral part of peace education. The Nigerian government, civil society groups and the private sector could partner with Nollywood to produce home movies in the three major languages (Hausa, Igbo and Yoruba) designed to specifically counter the narrative, rhetoric and doctrines of violent radicalization or religious extremism. The private sector can play a crucial role in providing financial support for these programmes.
10. SOCIAL WELFARE
The world over, there is a clear and direct link between uneducated and unproductive women and poverty. Statistics have it that 2/3 of the 102 million poor people in Nigeria live in the Northern region of Nigeria, where women are the least literate and empowered. The North East & North West zones have half of all the poor people in Nigeria, with more than 50 million people living in abject poverty and the insurgency has widened the gap even more. Incidentally, over half of the women in the North are married off before they attain the age of 16 and commence childbirth within the first year of marriage. Of the 16 million births by girls below the age of 18, 9 out of 10 of them are married. These poor human development indices only portend massive economic development costs for current and future generations. Governments, at all levels, need to consciously invest in women, if only to increase productivity, promote sustainable growth, their children’s wellbeing, as well as engender healthy livelihoods and establish peace, stability and security, in all of our rural communities. In seeking to harness the energies of the youth in a more productive and meaningful manner, a deliberate focus on education and empowerment for women as a significant strategy of concern is critical as they remain the foremost catalysts for rapid growth, peace and development in our country.
The Nigerian government must embark on effective poverty alleviation and human capital development programmes in order to empower its large youth population who are most vulnerable to recruitment and radicalization for violent extremism and terrorism.
The Nigerian government should fund appropriately the National Council for the Welfare of the Destitute (NCWD) to enable the agency formulate and implement robust rehabilitation programmes for destitute children in Nigeria. Government at all levels (federal, state and local), especially working through the NCWD should partner with credible civil society organisations to design and implement effective reorientation programmes to reconnect these destitute children with their parents or provide them the necessary training that will help them function effectively in the society. Such rescue, rehabilitation and reintegration intervention is expedient given the finding that children who were not brought up by their parents are more disposed to using violence in propagating their religious views.
Due to the high level of illiteracy in Nigeria, most young people have become easily susceptible to manipulation and recruitment into criminal and extremist groups. Although the right to education is one of the basic rights of every Nigerians, access and entitlement to this right is hardly attained. To reduce the number of people who are likely to fall prey to radical preaching and recruitment into violent groups, primary & secondary education should be made free and compulsory for every child in Nigeria. Thus, what is needed is for the local and state government to muster sufficient political will to deliver quality and accessible education to more children in Northern Nigeria through enhanced allocation and judicious utilisation of funds in the education sector.
In summary, as we’ve seen in other countries, we cannot overemphasise that insurgency is not restricted to a particular part of the country – it is not a North East or Northern problem. It is trans-border and can move easily. The number of casualties in the last 3 years is estimated at almost 20,000. In the first 4 months of this year, we have lost almost 1,500 Nigerians, especially students, and hundreds of women and children remain unaccounted for.
We call on the Federal Government to ensure that our security agencies are equipped adequately for the task; engage communities; provide a national emergency number; honour the dead; prosecute swiftly and harmonise our databases for ease of identification.
The assurances given by the Federal Government are no longer sufficient and they MUST match their words with visible action to rebuild the confidence of the citizens in the efforts to protect lives and property. Nigerian citizens are desperate to see that we are winning this war on terror and for us, results are defined by the absence of abductions and deaths; cutting off financial flows; capture & prosecution of terrorists, especially before they strike.
We call on Mr President for leadership that mobilises Nigerians to fight collectively against a common enemy. Mr President must extend a hand to ALL stakeholders in this war – governors, political party leaders, the National Assembly, traditional and religious institutions, civil society and citizens – and communicate clearly that this is not about party politics, ethnicity or religion, but about pursuing the common good of ALL Nigerians.
Our hearts go out to members of the Chibok community as we pray for the speedy return of our daughters.
May God bless the Federal Republic of Nigeria.
Signed, NIGERIAN CITIZENS
The above document was prepared by EiE Nigeria, a coalition of individuals and youth-led organizations committed to instituting a culture of good governance and public accountability in Nigeria through advocacy, activism and the mobilization of the youth population as responsible citizens. EiE was supported by CLEEN Foundation, a non-governmental organization with the mission of promoting public safety, security and accessible justice through the strategies of empirical research, legislative advocacy, demonstration programmes and publications, in partnership with government and civil society.
The edited tweets can be found online here –