Death of African Leaders in Office, What Is Responsible?

It’s rare for the leader of a country to die in office. Since 2008, it’s happened 13 times worldwide – but 10 of those leaders have been African. Why is it so much more common in this one continent?

Large crowds carrying candles ran alongside the hearse carrying the body of Meles Zenawi, as it made its way through Addis Ababa, on Tuesday. He had died, aged 57, after a long illness.

Earlier in the month, tens of thousands of Ghanaians attended the funeral of their late President, John Atta Mills, who had died suddenly at the age of 68.

Four months earlier, a national holiday was declared in Malawi to allow as many people as possible to attend the funeral of the late president, Bingu wa Mutharika, who had died of a cardiac arrest, aged 78.

And in January, the president of Guinea Bissau, Malam Bacai Sanha, died in a military hospital in Paris after a long illness. He was 64.

So, four African leaders have died in office this year alone. Disruptive for the countries concerned, tragic for the leaders’ families. But spare a thought also for the reporters.

“I seem to be getting an awful lot of calls in the night telling me an African president has died,” says Simon Allison, a correspondent for South Africa’s Daily Maverick website. “Why do African presidents keep dying?”

The question led him to take a close look at their survival rate.

“Go back just a little bit further and the list of dead sitting African presidents gets alarmingly longer,” he says. Indeed, since 2008, 10 African leaders have died in office.

Continue reading the main story

Leader Age Cause Leader Age Cause
Meles Zenawi Ethiopia PM, Meles Zenawi 57 “Sudden infection”, August 2012 John Atta Mills Ghana president, John Atta Mills 68 Throat cancer, July 2012
Bingu wa Mutharika Malawi president, Bingu wa Mutharika 78 Cardiac arrest, April 2012 Malam Bacai Sanha Guinea Bissau president, M B Sanha 64 Long illness, January 2012
Muammar Gaddafi Libya leader, Muammar Gaddafi 69 Killed, October 2011 Umaru Yar'Adua Nigeria president, Umaru Yar’Adua 58 Kidney, heart problems, May 2010
Omar Bongo Gabon president, Omar Bongo 73 Heart attack, June 2009 Bernardo Vieira Guinea Bissau president, J B Vieira 69 Killed, March 2009
Lansana Conte Guinea president, Lansana Conte 74 Unspecified cause, December, 2008 Levy Mwanawasa Zambia president, Levy Mwanawasa 59 Stroke, August 2008

Continue reading the main story

It’s certainly true that leaders are dying in office in higher numbers in Africa than on any other continent. In the same period, only three other national leaders have died in office – Kim Jong Il of North Korea, Polish President Lech Kaczynski, who died in a plane crash, and David Thomson of Barbados, who had cancer.

The obvious answer is that African leaders are just older than those of other continents, an explanation Simon Allison favours. He believes Africans like their leaders to be older – respect for elders is embedded in the culture of many of the continent’s countries.

But are they?

Actually, the average age of African leaders is 61 years – the same as in Asia. European leaders are, on average, 55 years old, while in South America, it’s 59.

But another thing to consider is life expectancy which, among the general population, is lower in Africa than in Europe, Latin America and Asia. This is partly because of problems like the prevalence of HIV/Aids and also poor medical care, which leads to high rates of death in childbirth.

But poverty in childhood and early life can also have a lasting impact, as Dr George Leeson, a gerontologist from the University of Oxford, explains.

“African presidents, before they have been elected, will have led a relatively disadvantaged life, and disadvantageous lifestyle, and that will impact on their life expectancies at subsequent ages,” he says.

“So once they get into the presidential office, even though they will be living a lifestyle far far far removed from their fellow citizens, which would increase their life expectancy in relation to those fellow citizens, they do have an accumulated disadvantageous lifestyle which they have to pay back on at some time.”

Although of course, not all African leaders will have had poor childhoods.

But is there another factor to take into account – politics? The stereotypical African leader clings on to power until he drops. But the facts don’t seem to fit that explanation.

“This is true of some of the leaders who died in office, particularly Omar Bongo, Conte and Gaddafi,” says Simon Allison. “All of them were old-school dictators who were never going to leave voluntarily, but the others are different – Meles Zenawi had clung on to power for a long time, but he was only 57. And all the others were in their constitutional time limits and hadn’t even fiddled with them yet.”

It’s important to note that, our calculations only take into account the deaths in office of world leaders since 2008. It could be that the number of African deaths in this timeframe is just a statistical blip.

But whatever’s going on, such a death toll creates uncertainty. Deaths in office create power vacuums, which can be dangerous and destabilising.

“Look at what happened in Guinea-Bissau,” says Simon Allison. “When Sanha died, a coup followed very shortly afterwards. This is a difficult situation for Africa to find itself in because it, historically, has not done very well with power vacuums.”

However, he believes there is some cause for optimism.

“In Zambia, in Malawi and Ghana and in Nigeria, the death of the president was followed by a constitutional succession with a minimum of violence and dispute, and I think this is a very encouraging sign for Africa’s development.”

Culled from BBC


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The TEN Commandments For Nigeria

God has finally handed over to Goodluck Jonathan, some special commandments for Nigeria. The 10 commandments come to us from Goodluck 20:1-17. Here is the verse…

And God spoke all these words, saying:
“I am the Lord your God, who brought you out of the land of JUNTAS, and out of the house of BONDAGE. I) You shall have no gods, godfather, syncopates, lobbyists before thy constituents.

II) You shall not take the name of thy CONSTITUTION in vain, for the Lord will not hold him guiltless who destroys Nigeria’s Nationhood.

III) Remember the INDEPENDENCE DAY, to keep it safe. October FIRST, you shall labor and do all your work, but this day is thy UNITY day.

IV) Honor your founding fathers and mothers, that your days may be long upon the land which the Lord your God is giving you.

V) Honor only ONE constitution, one COURT, for the Lord will not hold him guiltless who destroys Nigeria’s secularity.

VI) You who are chosen to lead shall declare your assets to the public.

VII) You shall not steal public fund, for the Lord will not hold him guiltless who divert public money out of the Land.

VIII) You shall not bear false witness against thy neighbor and shall not torment thy political opponents.

IX) You shall not murder.

X) You shall not covet leadership; you shall not covet the COUNTRY, nor her oil; nor her treasury; nor her economic prosperity; you shall not covet your PARTY; nor anything that is your party’s.”

By ANTHONY OGBO
Managing Editor, News Publication
Guardian News Inc

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Jega, INEC and the Burden of Credible Elections by Abubakar Usman

Prior to the appointment of Professor Attahiru Jega to head the Independent National Electoral Commission INEC, the election conducted under Professor Maurice Iwu was one that lacked credibility in all ramifications. There were reports of massive rigging in the form ballot box snatching and stuffing, multiple voting and falsification of results. Aside the wide condemnation that greeted the outcome of that election in the home country, the international community also lent their voice to denounce the election as any that meets international best practices, such that hopes were lost in the democratic process.

However, with the coming on board of Professor Attahiru Jega, the lost hope was rejuvenated largely because of the antecedents of the new helmsman particularly at Bayero University Kano. Prior to his appointment as the Chairman of INEC, Professor Attahiru Jega (OFR) was the Vice Chancellor at the Bayero University, Kano. He was at one time the president of the Academic Staff Union of Universities during the military regime of General Ibrahim Babangida. During the Military regime, he was one of the few unrepentant optimist that fought and believed that Nigeria will one day be freed from the shackles of the military; and that democracy will not only prevail but will become a way of life and when the country embraced democracy, he also was a factor to reckon with. Events that trailed his appointment as INEC Chairman however, presents a perfect opportunity for those records to be messed up.

The registration of voters, which was the first major assignment he carried out since his appointment, was fraught with a lot of problem. While eligible voters trooped out en masse to exercise their civic responsibility, Jega’s INEC fell far short of what was required to get every willing persons registered conveniently. I personally had to go to my home town to get registered after several efforts at registering in Abuja. the sad side of the story was that I couldn’t vote when the time for elections came, because I don’t reside in my home town.

The 2011 general election  conducted by Jega, although adjudged to be an improvement to the 2007 elections conducted by Professor Maurice Iwu, which I consider as unworthy of been used as a basis of comparison,  did not meet the expectations that greeted Jega’s appointment.  The elections were marred with the usual ballot box stuffing, ballot box snatching, multiple voting and falsification of election results usually associated with elections in Nigeria. The words of consolation is usually that there is nowhere in the world where elections are perfect.

Some school of thoughts will argue that Jega did not have the time to adequately prepare for the 2011 elections, but did he not have time to conduct elections of states which did not participate in the General election, especially considering that they were staggered?  The recent gubernatorial elections in Edo state is a perfect example. There were reports of election officials not deployed in sufficient numbers in some polling units, prompting party agents to step in and assist the election officials in the accreditation of voters. There were incidences were many prospective voters were disenfranchised following the omission of their names or photograph in the voters register. The problem of late arrival of election materials and delay in the commencement of accreditation and voting, which has plagued Nigeria’s elections in the past, was also observed in many polling units.

Although, the Edo election was a great improvement to the others conducted in recent times, one had expected to see a near perfect election given the ample time INEC had to prepare and the number and caliber of personnel drafted to oversee the election, because little incidences like those highlighted above are strong enough to cast doubt on the credibility of an election. According to Agbo Godwin “Credible elections are elections conducted free of any form of malpractice, acceptable by the voters, other countries and the losers convinced”.

My believe is that Professor Jega and indeed INEC have learnt from these myriads of problems that have confronted elections in Nigeria, particularly the ones he organized. The 2015 elections is another opportunity for him to prove to Nigeria’s that he has what it takes to conduct elections that are credible and acceptable to all Nigerians. Jega has recently assured Nigerians that the 2015 elections will be the best ever conducted in the country, but he must realise that the task of conducting a credible election goes beyond mere promises. He must put in place strategies to block all loopholes that have bedeviled previous elections in Nigeria.

Jega must realize that the conduct of a credible election starts with the voters register and therefore should work hard in consolidating and updating the existing voters register to accommodate all eligible and willing prospective voters. The voters register should be seamlessly integrated in a data base and the process of continuous registration institutionalize so as to ensure that no voter is disenfranchised on the day of election.

One of the major problems that have marred elections conducted by INEC is the issue of logistics, especially in the delivery of voting materials to election venues. INEC must look critically into this area by developing a model in which election materials and personnel can be delivered to the remotest village at the required time.

The need for the conduct of a credible election in Nigeria is not only apt, but expedient if really we are desirous of overcoming the enormous task and challenges confronting us as a nation.

“If Africa’s most populous state can hold a credible process, it would help signal an end to a democratic reversal in which governments have gone through the electoral motions but rarely offered the real thing.’’ – Financial Times.

I am Abubakar Sidiq Usman

Follow me on twitter with @abusidiqu

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How To Change Government Peacefully And Make Society Better- Pastor Tunde Bakare

Fellow citizens of our great country, household faithful at The Latter Rain Assembly, Gentlemen of the Press, and every other person present, welcome to this special occasion. At the beginning of this month, during the Father’s Day celebration, an invitation was extended to every concerned citizen of our nation to attend this special lecture – our humble contribution towards nation building. We would like to place on the register our gratitude to God and our profound appreciation for the leadership and members of The Latter Rain Assembly for the provision of this auditorium. After all, in matters of public enlightenment, the church should be in the forefront of such efforts, going by the definitive proclamation of Jesus concerning the church.

Jesus said in Matthew 5:14-16 (NKJV):
14 “You are the light of the world. A city that is set on a hill cannot be     hidden. 15 Nor do they light a lamp and put it under a basket, but on a     lampstand, and it gives light to all who are in the house. 16 Let your light so     shine before men, that they may see your good works and glorify your     Father in heaven.
In addition, for those befuddled in their minds about our role in this process, let me again rely on the words of Prophet Malachi written exclusively to those in priestly garments who have forgotten their God-ordained role in matters of nation building:
Malachi 2:1-9 (NKJV):
1“And now, O priests, this commandment is for you. 2 If you will not hear,     and if you will not take it to heart, to give glory to My name,” says the     LORD of hosts, “I will send a curse upon you, and I will curse your     blessings. Yes, I have cursed them already, because you do not take it to     heart. 3 “Behold, I will rebuke your descendants and spread refuse on your     faces, the refuse of your solemn feasts; and one will take you away with it.     4 Then you shall know that I have sent this commandment to you, that My     covenant with Levi may continue,” says the LORD of hosts. 5 “My covenant     was with him, one of life and peace, and I gave them to him that he might     fear Me; so he feared Me and was reverent before My name. 6 The law of     truth was in his mouth, and injustice was not found on his lips. He walked     with Me in peace and equity, and turned many away from iniquity. 7 “For     the lips of a priest should keep knowledge, and people should seek the law     from his mouth; for he is the messenger of the LORD of hosts. 8 But you     have departed from the way; you have caused many to stumble at the law.     You have corrupted the covenant of Levi,” says the LORD of hosts.     9 “Therefore I also have made you contemptible and base before all the     people, because you have not kept My ways but have shown partiality in     the law.”

For those questioning our intentions and the use of this platform to disseminate truths that will unblock the minds of our citizens and set them free from limiting thoughts that produce self-defeat, there you have it in black and white in the Holy Writ:
     Malachi 2:7 (NKJV):
“For the lips of a priest should keep knowledge, and people should seek     the law from his mouth; for he is the messenger of the LORD of hosts.”

Ladies and gentlemen, brothers and sisters, saints and strangers, do I then have your permission this morning to perform this noble role of a messenger to a nation on the road to perdition and self-annihilation?
Having given me an overwhelming yes, please permit me to quickly add that, beyond the church being a lighthouse to a dark world, and beyond the role of the priest as a messenger whose lips should keep knowledge and from whose mouth the people should seek the law, there is an additional burden of the watchman and his message that is totally lost on the prosperity merchants and their crowd. Please turn your Bibles with me to the Book of Ezekiel the Prophet, chapter 33:1-20:

1 Again the word of the LORD came to me, saying, 2 “Son of man, speak to the children of your people, and say to them: ‘When I bring the sword upon a land, and the people of the land take a man from their territory and make him their watchman, 3 when he sees the sword coming upon the land, if he blows the trumpet and warns the people, 4 then whoever hears the sound of the trumpet and does not take warning, if the sword comes and takes him away, his blood shall be on his own head. 5 He heard the sound of the trumpet, but did not take warning; his blood shall be upon himself. But he who takes warning will save his life. 6 But if the watchman sees the sword coming and does not blow the trumpet, and the people are not warned, and the sword comes and takes any person from among them, he is taken away in his iniquity; but his blood I will require at the watchman’s hand.’ 7 “So you, son of man: I have made you a watchman for the house of Israel; therefore you shall hear a word from My mouth and warn them for Me. 8 When I say to the wicked, ‘O wicked man, you shall surely die!’ and you do not speak to warn the wicked from his way, that wicked man shall die in his iniquity; but his blood I will require at your hand. 9 Nevertheless if you warn the wicked to turn from his way, and he does not turn from his way, he shall die in his iniquity; but you have delivered your soul. 10 “Therefore you, O son of man, say to the house of Israel: ‘Thus you say, “If our transgressions and our sins lie upon us, and we pine away in them, how can we then live?”’ 11 Say to them: ‘As I live,’ says the Lord GOD, ‘I have no pleasure in the death of the wicked, but that the wicked turn from his way and live. Turn, turn from your evil ways! For why should you die, O house of Israel?’ 12 “Therefore you, O son of man, say to the children of your people: ‘The righteousness of the righteous man shall not deliver him in the day of his transgression; as for the wickedness of the wicked, he shall not fall because of it in the day that he turns from his wickedness; nor shall the righteous be able to live because of his righteousness in the day that he sins.’ 13 When I say to the righteous that he shall surely live, but he trusts in his own righteousness and commits iniquity, none of his righteous works shall be remembered; but because of the iniquity that he has committed, he shall die. 14 Again, when I say to the wicked, ‘You shall surely die,’ if he turns from his sin and does what is lawful and right, 15 if the wicked restores the pledge, gives back what he has stolen, and walks in the statutes of life without committing iniquity, he shall surely live; he shall not die. 16 None of his sins which he has committed shall be remembered against him; he has done what is lawful and right; he shall surely live. 17 “Yet the children of your people say, ‘The way of the Lord is not fair.’ But it is their way which is not fair! 18 When the righteous turns from his righteousness and commits iniquity, he shall die because of it. 19 But when the wicked turns from his wickedness and does what is lawful and right, he shall live because of it. 20 Yet you say, ‘The way of the Lord is not fair.’ O house of Israel, I will judge every one of you according to his own ways.”
I invited all and sundry here this morning because I can see the sword already upon this land – shall I then blow the trumpet? Not to do so would be a disservice to my nation and outright disobedience to God – a luxury I cannot afford. Therefore, lend me your ears.

For the sake of clarity and to keep within the boundary of the subject of our contemplation this morning – ‘How to Change Government Peacefully and Make Society Better’ – I have arranged this lecture under four major headings:

1.    WHO TRULY RULES IN THE AFFAIRS OF MEN?
2.    THE PURPOSE OF GOVERNMENT IN A NATION
3.    HOW TO CHANGE GOVERNMENT IN A PEACEFUL MANNER
4.    THE WAY FORWARD

I will take the headings one by one.
HEADING 1: WHO TRULY RULES IN THE AFFAIRS OF MEN?
Today, it is common practice among pseudo-intellectuals worldwide to mock biblical teachings on God, Satan and demons. But to those who are wise and discerning, it is clear that behind the socio-political and economic evils of our time lie supernatural powers.
It is true that God Almighty is “the blessed and only Potentate [Sovereign], the King of kings and Lord of lords” (I Timothy 6:13-16). It is also true that honour and everlasting power belong to God. Nonetheless, in the wisdom of God who rules in the affairs of men, He allows or permits the lowest of men to occupy apex power positions in order that the living may know and hopefully learn.

The New Testament’s perspective on the grip of evil over our socio-political and economic systems comes from the Old Testament prophet, Daniel. Daniel was a young man when Babylonians invaded his city Jerusalem, destroyed it, brutally massacred his people and carried their royalty into slavery in Babylon. Later, they returned to destroy God’s temple and placed God’s sacred vessels in the temple of their god.

This humiliating horror raised disturbing theological questions: Who really rules in the affairs of this world? Who is in control of history – at least at this moment? Why are the kingdoms of this world at times so cruel, brutal, exploitative and oppressive? From the Book of Daniel come three clear answers that can help us navigate our own murky political waters and deliver our nation from imminent bankruptcy and balkanization:

1.    GOD IS THE SUPREME POTENTATE:

Daniel 2:20-22 (NKJV) –
20 Daniel answered and said “Blessed be the name of God forever and ever,     For wisdom and might are His. 21 And He changes the times and the     seasons; He removes kings and raises up kings; He gives wisdom to the     wise and knowledge to those who have understanding. 22 He reveals deep     and secret things; He knows what is in the darkness, and light dwells with     Him.

2.    GOD, THE SUPREME POTENTATE RULES IN THE KINGDOM OF MEN AND GIVES IT TO WHOMEVER HE WILL AND SETS OVER IT THE LOWEST OF MEN:

Daniel 4:13-18 (NKJV) –
13 “I saw in the visions of my head while on my bed, and there was a watcher, a holy one, coming down from heaven. 14 He cried aloud and said thus: ‘Chop down the tree and cut off its branches, strip off its leaves and scatter its fruit. Let the beasts get out from under it, and the birds from its branches. 15 Nevertheless leave the stump and roots in the earth, bound with a band of iron and bronze, in the tender grass of the field. Let it be wet with the dew of heaven, and let him graze with the beasts on the grass of the earth. 16 Let his heart be changed from that of a man, let him be given the heart of a beast, and let seven times pass over him. 17 ‘This decision is by the decree of the watchers, and the sentence by the word of the holy ones, in order that the living may know that the Most High rules in the kingdom of men, gives it to whomever He will, and sets over it the lowest of men.’ 18 “This dream I, King Nebuchadnezzar, have seen. Now you, Belteshazzar, declare its interpretation, since all the wise men of my kingdom are not able to make known to me the interpretation; but you are able, for the Spirit of the Holy God is in you.”

3.    WHENEVER THE LOWEST OF MEN OCCUPY APEX POWER POSITIONS, IN THEIR NAIVETY, THEY YIELD TO DEMONIC POWERS WHO THEN RULE THROUGH THEM:
As Daniel humbled himself, fasted and prayed for understanding, he was given a glimpse of the supernatural realm. He saw clearly that behind the socio-political and economic evils of his time lay supernatural powers.
For example, in Daniel chapter 2, King Nebuchadnezzar dreamt about a statue made of gold, silver, bronze and iron, each representing four successive empires: Babylonian (gold), Medo-Persian (silver), Greek (bronze) and Roman (iron). After their rule, a mere stone – the kingdom of God – brought all the evil kingdoms of this world to an end.

Curiously, in chapter 7, we read that Daniel, a captive turned learned governor and president, humbled himself in fasting and prayer, seeking to understand where history was going and God’s role in its unravelling. He was given the vision of the same four kingdoms Nebuchadnezzar had seen earlier, except that Daniel saw them not as a dazzling statue of precious metals but as beasts that devoured: the lion (Babylonian), the bear (Medo-Persian), and the leopard (Greek), and the “fourth beast [was] dreadful and terrible, exceedingly strong”. It had large iron teeth; it crushed and devoured its victims and trampled underfoot whatever was left (Daniel 7:7). This fourth beast was Daniel’s vision of the Roman Empire.

Ladies and gentlemen, brothers and sisters, the kingdoms of this world were and are beastly, because behind them were and are evil supernatural forces. This understanding of evil as something more than natural, human or socio-political did not begin with Daniel. Israel’s first king became evil, despotic and murderous, and the Bible explains that God’s Spirit had left him and an evil spirit began to torment him (I Samuel 16:14-23).

Likewise, in the Book of Judges, socio-political evils are seen as a direct result of spiritual evil, specifically the operation of the spirit of ill will sent by God when Abimelech hired worthless and reckless men to kill all the seventy (70) sons of Gideon so that he could become king.

Judges 9:22-23

22 After Abimelech had reigned over Israel three years, 23 God sent a spirit of ill will between Abimelech and the men of Shechem; and the men of Shechem dealt treacherously with Abimelech…
Each of the above mentioned biblical texts and a plethora of others affirm that God remains Sovereign over His creation even when He allows evil spirits or devils to hold sway. Apostle Paul explains in Romans 1:18-32 that God gives whole cultures over to evil when humans choose to suppress truth with wickedness. This is where we are in Nigeria today. To the discerning, the nation has been thrown to the dogs of pervasive corruption and disruptive, perennial insecurity. The question begging for an answer is: Who will deliver us from this self-induced chaotic disorder?

HEADING 2: THE PURPOSE OF GOVERNMENT
The purpose of any meaningful government is the welfare and security of the people. In our clime, neither welfare nor security of the lives and property of our people seems to matter anymore. Our malady is not new. History holds records of nations who were bled to death by their rulers and tells how such leaders were ultimately dealt with when the oppressed could no longer bear the heavy weight of their oppressive and insensitive leadership. Biblical history also alludes to this. While the people kept suffering in the midst of plenty in the days of King Solomon, who used his wisdom to satisfy his unquenchable thirst and hunger for material acquisition and outlandish women of all shapes and shades, a day came in the life of the nation when the people kicked and shouted, “We have no inheritance in the son of Jesse. To your tents, O Israel!” (I Kings 12:16). The rebellion did not only stand, God also rubberstamped it and said “this thing is from me”(I Kings 12:24) — it was orchestrated by the GREAT ORGANIZED DESIGNER (GOD).

It is unfortunate that our people are crying today for change, but they are expecting the change to either fall from the sky or come from sources that cannot produce it. It is simple logic that when a corrupt leader is in office, he corrupts those he leads. This is true of a family, true of a church, and true of a nation. A corrupt father will ultimately corrupt his family as he cannot distinguish between his wife and his son’s wife. A corrupt pastor will corrupt, influence, affect and infect his church as he prioritizes outreaches, programmes and projects executed with filthy lucre flowing from the perverse and the corrupt above the spiritual welfare of the congregants. And a corrupt elected official will infect his nation with corruption. I cannot but borrow a leaf from the profound lecture delivered by Prof. Niyi Osundare recently on the state of the nation titled: ‘Why We No Longer Blush: Corruption as Grand Commander of the Federal Republic of Nigeria’. He said, and I quote:

“Watch out, Nigeria: a new Jonathan seems to be emerging, one who confuses cockiness with confidence, tactlessness with toughness, strong-manship with statesmanship.”

President Jonathan’s combination of naivety and amorality is as profound as it is injurious to the health of this country. Can a corruption-compliant ruler really lead a corruption-free country? If change – positive change – will ever come to our clime, it will not be engineered by those who are benefitting without conscience from the present cesspool of corrosive corruption. It will and can only come from a new breed without greed and a radical opposition to corruption. True, genuine change can only come from those not infected by the present corruption malaise; it can only come from positive agents of social change who are totally sold out to public good.

HEADING 3: HOW TO CHANGE GOVERNMENT IN A PEACEFUL MANNER

Every time I have considered this subject, only one thing flows from me towards President Goodluck Jonathan – genuine pity. Anyone who has had the privilege of sitting with Mr. President, as I sometimes have, will feel the same for this simple soul who has become a victim of circumstances generated and orchestrated by his bramble predecessor, who, in his bid to be king of all trees, used his position to force on the nation the sick, the weak, and the ill-equipped in an attempt to dominate the polity and maintain his larger than life status out of office (Judges 9:8-15). So, it did not come as a surprise to me at all when, two days ago, the minority leader of the House of Representatives, Mr. Femi Gbajabiamila cited Section 143 of the 1999 Constitution, saying that any action of the President defined as “gross misconduct” by the National Assembly was “sufficient grounds to initiate impeachment proceedings against him.” Let me quote verbatim from Friday July 20, 2012’s Punch [‘Budget: Lawmakers threaten to impeach President’] to buttress my point:

Gbajabiamila had proposed the amendment to a motion before the House     on the poor implementation of the 2012 budget.

 “If by September 18, the budget performance has not improved to 100%, we     shall begin to invoke and draw up articles of impeachment against Mr.         President”, he said.

Members shouted aloud “yes”, “yes”, “yes” and clapped for the minority     leader as Gbajabiamila made the proposal.

He accused the executive of allegedly breaching the Appropriation Act,     2012    by engaging in “selective implementation” of the budget.

Gbajabiamila added, “What we have in our hands today is a budget of     abracadabra; a budget of voodoo economy.

“I like Mr. President, he is a fine gentleman, but I like my people, the     Nigerian people more.”

Indeed, Mr. President may be a fine gentleman thrust into a position of leadership by circumstances beyond his control who is now facing a barrage of problems he is incapable of solving. He deserves our sympathy, our prayers, and whatever else we can honourably and legally do to make sure he gets back to his home-base safely.

Perhaps a few suggestions may change the course of our rapid descent into the abyss, since free, fair and credible election is presently alien to our polity. In all honesty, I perceive very strongly that our next general election will be better, though it may come earlier than expected.

Now, a few suggestions:

1.    First and foremost, THE UNQUESTIONABLE GOD FACTOR: From both biblical and human history, sometimes – if not at all times – God moves behind the scenes in unimaginable ways and fosters changes that are beyond human comprehension – especially when all hope is lost. Indeed, God changes the times and the seasons, He removes kings and raises up kings (Daniel 2:21 & 22).

The same God who raised David the shepherd boy from the sheepfold and made him king over Israel, and deposed the insane King Saul, still does what pleases Him in the nations of the earth. Oftentimes, when citizens are pushed to the wall and rulers boastfully think they are irremovable due to their political sagacity and ‘matter of cash’ policy, a Jehu type of prophetic revolution is in the making. Other times, God replaces the mighty and the powerful with their own appointed palace administrators. One biblical example is sufficient for our time and our clime.

Hear the declarations of God as recorded in Isaiah 22:15-25 (NKJV):
15 Thus says the Lord God of hosts: “Go, proceed to this steward, to Shebna, who is over the house, and say: 16 ‘What have you here, and whom have you here, that you have hewn a sepulcher here, as he who hews himself a sepulcher on high, who carves a tomb for himself in a rock? 17 Indeed, the Lord will throw you away violently, O mighty man, and will surely seize you. 18 He will surely turn violently and toss you like a ball into a large country; there you shall die, and there your glorious chariots shall be the shame of your master’s house. 19 So I will drive you out of your office, and from your position will pull you down. 20 ‘Then it shall be in that day, that I will call My servant Eliakim the son of Hilkiah; 21 I will clothe him with your robe and strengthen him with your belt; I will commit your responsibility into his hand. He shall be a father to the inhabitants of Jerusalem and to the house of Judah. 22 The key of the house of David I will lay on his shoulder; so he shall open, and no one shall shut; and he shall shut, and no one shall open. 23 I will fasten him as a peg in a secure place, and he will become a glorious throne to his father’s house. 24 ‘They will hang on him all the glory of his father’s house, the offspring and the posterity, all vessels of small quantity, from the cups to all the pitchers. 25 In that day,’ says the Lord of hosts, ‘the peg that is fastened in the secure place will be removed and be cut down and fall, and the burden that was on it will be cut off; for the Lord has spoken.’”

By the way, Eliakim the son of Hilkiah was a palace administrator lifted by God to the status of a king. God placed upon his shoulders the very keys of David to open and shut as he willed (Isaiah 36:3; NKJV). With God all things are possible — so he who has ears to hear, let him hear.

2.    RESIGNATION: Even for a seasoned, well-cooked and well-equipped UK prime minister like Margaret Thatcher, the Iron Lady, the moment the people rose against her policy, she did the honourable and noble thing – she resigned and returned to the parliament before retiring from politics. Resignation is not a sign of weakness – it is a sign of patriotic truthfulness. It is giving opportunity to those who can do a better job in the interest of the nation to carry on with nation-building where the exiting leader stops.

3.    IMPEACHMENT: This can only be carried out by the National Assembly and the process has begun. It may be aborted, or it may be carried to its logical conclusion. Either way, it is a worse option and carries a load of shame with it compared to resignation. Come to think of it, Mr. President should not wait for the conclusions in the court of law and the court of public opinion for the rape and atrocities committed against the Appropriation Act 2011 in respect of the subsidy scandal (a ghost that still haunts his administration and will not rest in peace until the truth is made known and justice is served). The admission of extra-budgetary spending of over N2 trillion without appropriation is another impeachable time bomb that can explode anytime. It would be a total disgrace if resignation comes after that explosion as was the case for Richard Nixon following the Watergate scandal.

At this juncture, I cannot but wonder what is going on in the minds of those who falsely accused us of crying for regime change in January during the fuel hike crisis. It is the House of Assembly that is now championing same with overwhelming shouts of “yes”, “yes”, and “yes” from the floor members. History truly is lived forward but is written in retrospect. Today’s headlines and history’s judgement are rarely the same. Those who are too attentive to today’s headlines will most certainly not do the hard work of securing a positive verdict from history. Whether or not the President resigns or allows himself to be impeached is his call. In the words of Lord Chesterfield:

“A weak mind is like a microscope which magnifies trifling things but cannot receive great ones.”

If I were Mr. President – unfortunately, I am not, and I do not envy his tottering position, but if I were he – I would give no thought to what the world might say of me, or the drum the hangers-on and political jobbers benefitting from the present chaotic disorder might be beating. I would not “give a damn” if I could only transmit to posterity the reputation of an honest man thrust into the boxing ring to fight enemies I am ill-equipped to fight, and I would therefore resign before I receive a death blow.

4.    THE PEOPLE’S REVOLT: I seriously wish and fervently pray that it will not get to the stage of a people’s revolt before positive changes begin to happen in the north and south of Nigeria. Without a doubt, if corruption remains king, violence its deputy, and insecurity the treasurer of the ill-fated status quo Federal Republic of Nigeria, we might as well write the gravestone epitaph today:

“Here lie the remains of a potentially great country whose ruin came because leadership did not give a damn; her filthiness was in her garments, her collapse was awesome, because she did not consider her destiny.”

HEADING 4: THE WAY FORWARD
Without a doubt, the catalogue of scandalous mismanagement of national resources, the unbridled stealing of public funds, and the bewildering exposure of the level of corruption in almost every arm of government as well as governmental agencies and parastatals, call for a change of guards – more so when the president has openly admitted that the security situation in the country has changed his pre-election agenda. And in spite of the president’s promises to deal with insecurity head-on, this government appears helpless because it cannot see the linkage between corruption and violence.

During the fuel hike protests in January this year, neither the threats to our lives nor the tanks that were rolled out brazenly to suppress genuine agitation against oppression, were scary to me. Rather, it was the bold placard held up in Abuja and Ojota Freedom Park by people unknown to me. The placard contained this startling message: “ONE DAY THE POOR WILL HAVE NOTHING LEFT TO EAT BUT THE RICH”; that was very scary to me, “because no nation, no matter how enlightened, can endure criminal violence. If we cannot control it, we are admitting to the world and to ourselves that our laws are no more than a facade that crumbles when the winds of crisis rise.” (Alan Bible)

For that not to happen is the reason for this message. This is no time for false accusations and counter accusations. Mr. President may be doing his best but the impact is not felt anywhere except in the bank accounts of oil vultures, his corrupt political allies and corporate cowboys. We have a patriotic duty to educate our people and we will continue to do that until light replaces the darkness in foggy minds, since education is considered a better safeguard of liberty than a standing army. In the words of Henry Peter Brougham:

“Education makes people easy to lead, but difficult to drive, easy to govern, but impossible to enslave.”
If this message does that, our expectations would have been fully satisfied.
The starting point of any great enterprise is reality. If we are all ruthlessly and brutally honest about our inventory as a nation, Nigeria requires better handling than we are presently experiencing.
May the good Lord in His infinite mercies look down upon our affliction as a people, burst the gloomy cloud of despair over our nation, and raise for us visionary leaders imbued with wisdom, integrity, justice, courage, temperance and fortitude; leaders who we can trust and who can inspire confidence in our people for the rebuilding of our nation. Let me end this message by quoting Joseph Addison:
“There is no greater sign of a general decay of virtue in a nation than a want  of zeal in its inhabitants for the good of their country.”

May the zeal of God consume us as a people for the good of our country.
Thank you so much for your attentive ears. And may the good Lord heal, save, and make Nigeria great in our lifetime.
Once again, thank you all.

Dr. ‘Tunde Bakare
Serving Overseer,
The Latter Rain Assembly

 

 

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10 Signs to Know Your Government Gives a Damn About You by Dada Olusegun

Whether we choose to accept it or not, the word “damn” has come to become a part of our country’s political dictionary, just like “I Had No Shoes”. I have been able to narrow it down for everyone should the question of if your government gives a damn about you or not ever comes up. Signs to know your Government gives a dam about you;
1)  You know your President gives a damn about you if you know how much he makes each year and how much he is worth as required by the provision of the constitution which expects him to declare his assets.
2.)    You know your government gives a damn about you if those in the National Assembly have initiated an impeachment proceeding on the president for failing to declare his assets as required by law.
3.)    You know your governor gives a damn about you if you know how much he collects as security vote from the monthly federal allocation he receives from Abuja. On the average, they collect about 10percent from the money meant to run the state. This unaccounted money runs into hundreds of millions of naira in states where many live on less than $1 a day. They stash the money in Swiss banks, use part of it to rig at the polls, victimize opponents, and use the rest to take the wives of house of assembly members on a spending spree abroad.
4.)    Your know your government gives a damn about you if they know how much crude oil is taken out of Nigeria every day. That nobody in government can tell the exact barrels of oil that is drilled out of Nigeria’s land and sea is an insult to our general knowledge
.5.)    You know your judiciary gives a damn about you if it treats the former state governor who cleans out billions from the state treasury the same way it treats the poor woman in Osun state who stole a 5sachets of Indomie noddles
.6.)    You know  your police force gives a damn about you if they obey the laws of the land which includes treating every suspect with respect, following due process, denouncing torture, rejecting bribes, making sure that they are fit like policemen of the rest of the world and, most importantly, keeping their barracks clean and sending their children to school
.7.)    You know your president gives a damn about you if he holds periodic press conferences where he answers questions that are of high importance to the citizenry. Holding a stage managed press conference where questions are sent in advance does not count as giving a damn. Neither does refusal to debate his political opponents show respect for the voters.
8.)    You know your soldiers give a damn about you when they subject themselves to the orders of civilians who run our democratic government and respect the laws of the land. It is not happening when soldiers are beating up civilians on the street or when soldiers are busy standing on Birni-gwari road collecting N50 through fare from drivers
8.)    You know your government gives a damn about you if there is transparency about how oil blocks are given out and who owns what oil block. The most precious resource of your country should not be handed out to friends of the government. You have the right to know who owns what block and how and why he or she got it.
10.)  You know you president gives a damn about  you if, once in a while, especially in moments of national crisis, he wipes that crazy smile off his face.

My name is Dada Olusegun
Follow me on twitter @Dolusegun

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Civilian Rule: Few Gains, Many Pains – Nasir Ahmad El-Rufai

In the last twelve weeks, this column has focused attention away from analyzing governance of our nation at federal level to the 36 states and their budgets. We analyzed ten state budgets – statistically-significant sample from which some stylized conclusions about the quality of governance will be presented next week. Today, we want to look at the thirteen years of experience with civilian (rather than democratic) rule. I am reluctant to use democracy at this point.

The starting point for an assessment of civil rule since 1999 is a deserved tribute to the many Nigerians from all walks of life whose efforts and sacrifices compelled the military to retreat to the barracks. It was a titanic effort, a struggle for which many died, countless were bloodied and many lost livelihoods and liberty. Freedom stirs in the hearts of humanity; neither blandishments nor the whip of tyrants can extinguish these stirrings or even deter a determined people from securing it. Freedom is a wonderful value, and the events of the last 15 years of military rule ought to have convinced everybody that democracy, anchored on fair elections, the rule of law and good governance, is the way to go. In 1998, Nigerians overwhelmingly decided that never again will we accept the shortcuts of military rule and the long nightmare of tragedy that accompanied it. It seems that in 13 years, we have forgotten all that and we seem to have mostly evil emperors at the helm that are more banal than the military dictators, but far less competent in governing.

Those of us privileged to have contributed in the design of the transition program after Abacha’s death in June 1998 are proud that it ended with President Olusegun Obasanjo taking the reins in May 1999. Six moths later, I was leading the federal privatization effort and in 2003, administering the FCT. As a private citizen since 2007, I have reflected on our country’s journey, and my view is that while we have many things to celebrate, where we have ended up now gives us much more to deplore.

Warts and all, we have preserved some prospect for genuine democratic governance. Some fraudulent elections have been overturned and illegal impeachments quashed. Nigerians even united to surprise and defeat the third-term attempt of a sitting president. With vigilance and will, we can invest real substance into the democratic structures that we have and make real the vision that our people can prosper in freedom. The notion of the citizenship rights is getting reinforced, despite the prolonged hangover afflicting sections of the security establishment. This increased awareness of human rights has sometimes been upheld by the courts that have survived the onslaught of a destructive chief justice that should have never been allowed near that exalted office.

While democracy satisfies the intrinsic desire for freedom, it is its instrumental value that ultimately matters for the quotidian realities and longer-term interests of most citizens. People want freedom, but that must include the freedom not to be bombed while worshipping or shopping, and not to starve. It includes freedom to live in dignity, with equal access to social services and to realize the potential their talents can legitimately secure.

Civilian rule sold off fiscal drain-pipes owned by government that were arrogant, insular and provided poor services. The telecommunications sector was liberalized bringing in private investment, creating ancillary businesses, over 60,000 jobs and putting a telephone in the hands of virtually every citizen that wants it. We saw the beginnings of a consumer credit system, and even a pilot mortgage scheme that assisted many buyers of Federal Government houses in Abuja. Nigeria won external debt reliefs, consolidated its banking system and witnessed rapid economic growth, no doubt assisted also by high oil prices. Our foreign reserves grew and we even created a ‘rainy day’ fund called the Excess Crude Account (ECA).

By 2007, the Yar’Adua-Jonathan government inherited vast foreign reserves ($43bn), on-going power projects (NIPP-$5bn), new rail systems from Lagos to Kano ($8bn) and Abuja Metro ($800 million), a healthy ECA ($27bn) – in short a basis to hit the ground running, complete on-going projects, initiate new ones and continue addressing Nigeria’s infrastructure deficits. Alas, after $200bn had been earned and spent, that did not happen. What happened?

Despite these accomplishments of the Obasanjo government, it was by no means a perfect government, just an effective one. It’s attention to the rule of law was uneven. We recall the brazenness with which a well-connected thug sponsored arson against government buildings in Anambra State as an assault against Governor Chris Ngige from whom he was estranged. That thug was not called to account; instead he was elevated to his party’s board of trustees. If people consistently escape justice because of their connections to power, it is an open invitation to people of lesser quality to seize the state and suitably defile it. Impunity then replaced even-handed common sense and decency.

We also managed to compound impunity by assaulting the very basis of democratic legitimacy: free and fair elections. It is a fact that elections in Nigeria have been progressively worse since 1999. International and domestic observers gave devastating verdicts on the conduct of the 2003 elections. Those of 2007 were so awful that the key beneficiary felt compelled to admit as much in his inaugural speech as president. Despite the initial façade, the 2011 elections turned out to be not only similarly flawed, but one of the most deceptive and divisive in our electoral history.

Yet true democracy ought not to make people frightened of the consequences of not being in power. With term limits, losers are guaranteed another stab in just a few years. And where the rule of law prevails, an electoral loss is not the same thing as exclusion from the political space and vigorous participation in the process. But such political sophistication prevails only when there’s certainty about electoral integrity and where the respect for the rule of law has become part of the DNA.

Simply put we have lost the opportunity to routinize the spirit of democracy while we stay busy observing its formal rituals. It was perhaps inevitable that the words of Plato that “the punishment we suffer, if we refuse to take an interest in matters of government, is to live under the government of worse men” would catch up with us.

Since 2000, there has been an unacceptable mayhem and bloodshed in Nigeria. The exacerbation of religious and ethnic tensions expressed in violent hues has been one of the most disappointing features of the new civilian era. Democracy would have offered a civilized way to negotiate and manage differences without breaking bones. It thrives on the ability of contending factions to work out a consensus and to summon sufficient coherence to make things work. It is disheartening that virtual apartheid, based on religion, is beginning to divide cities like my hometown of Kaduna, with people being restricted to their respective ghettoes of faith. At the heart of democracy is a universal idea, but a key feature of present-day Nigeria is an astounding narrow-mindedness.

It is necessary that we reflect on the probability that by giving undue credence to ethnic and religious group rights, we imperil not only individual rights but also destroy the possibility of building a nation where everyone belongs and feels safe everywhere. Our political elites have encouraged divisions that keep them in office, forgetting that the depletion of trust and cohesion will make it difficult if not impossible for them to enjoy the fruits of the office! This created the insecurity we now suffer all over the country.

We have a centralized police force afflicted both by little self-respect and a limited sense of its mandate. The efforts to contain Boko Haram’s terror has shown that our intelligence gathering apparatus is not fit for purpose, and our security agencies lacking in internal capacity and capability beyond harassing those of us in opposition. The pathetic manner public streets are blocked in the vicinities of security and defense establishments makes the citizens wonder – if those trained and armed to defend us are so scared of the terrorists, how can we expect them to defend the realm? Are they concerned only about their safety and that of those in power?

We have not built as much infrastructure as our development requires, and we have failed to moderate our escalating cost of governance. More importantly, democratic Nigeria is yet to grow in a way that can democratize its fruits through the creation of jobs for our youths. As we dither, divide our citizens, and condone fraud and corruption, the world just leaves us behind.

There is no doubt in my mind that we need to give our people a stake in keeping democracy aglow. History shows that even in the developed societies, extremist groups attract more support in moments of economic hardship. And when this is compounded by corruption and politics of self-advancement of a few, and the economic exclusion of the many, only the peace of the graveyard can result. How do we reverse these tendencies and make democracy work for the greatest number of Nigerians?

Our political culture must change from one of self-enrichment to true public service. The situation in which we spend almost the entire federal revenues for the running cost of government is unacceptable and will crash this democratic experiment – albeit a thirteen year one. Elections must be credible, free and fair because that is what will guarantee the ejection of those that fail the electorate. It is entirely up to INEC and the authorities to ensure these happen otherwise the consequences will be dire.

Insecurity is the front-burning issue. It is the primary responsibility of any government which can neither be abdicated nor outsourced. Community leaders and civil society can support the government, but not replace it. The government must adopt a multiple approach that includes enhancing the intelligence-gathering capacities of our security forces and creating an environment for job creation for the hopeless youths that are being recruited by the terrorists. The administration should therefore stop behaving like a victim and get on with the job!

Finally, a single-minded focus on development – physical via infrastructure build-out, human by providing equal access to public education and healthcare, and social services that enable citizens the opportunity to realize their full potentials. Those that are in power that cannot do this at all levels should do the honorable thing – resign and allow others that can . We need people that stay awake thinking, and investing the time and effort to get our country working even just a little bit. Apart from fraud and corruption in government, compounded by hatred and suspicion amongst the populace – nothing seems to be growing in Nigeria today.

 

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The Latest on Fulani/STF Standoff – By Dr. Aliyu Tilde

(All editing errors regretted. There isn’t time to proofread the article thoroughly this late)

When it became clear that the Defence Headquarters are bent on carrying out its security operation in the areas it announced, we put our heads together to see what best we can make of the situation to ensure minimum difficulties for the Fulani that were to be affected. Saleh Bayari, the Protem National Secretary of Miyetti Allah Cattle Breeders Association who was just released yesterday after a four-day detention by the SSS, was very handy. I got over to him and together with some Miyetti Allah leaders from the affected areas we visited the Special Task Force (STF) Headquarters near Hill Station Hotel, Jos, to iron out some issues regarding how the operation would affect the Fulani.

Principally, we wanted to, one, finalize on the camps to relocate them temporarily should we be successful later in the day in convincing them to the relocate for the period of the operation. The Defence has that evening given the nation the assurance that the displacement is temporary and not a design to evict the Fulani from the area totally. The three camps listed in the day are all located in areas heavily populated by Beroms. The Fulani will just not accept to go there. Also, moving the Fulani is not like moving other people. Their masters – the cows – must be taken into consideration. The cows have to graze in a secure place, away from farms. Otherwise, na another wahala kuma.

Two, we also wanted to ensure that the Fulani are secured in their camps, along with their cows. Their property back home must be secured also. Without this assurance, the possibility that the Berom attacking them and the houses they would leave behind should not be ruled out completely.

Three, we also wanted to know what arrangement was made to deliver adequate relief materials to their camps to cushion the harsh experience of displacement and avert humanitarian crisis. Speaking to one of the local government chairmen around 2.30am earlier, he confessed a colleague that this would be the first time in the history of Plateau crisis that they would be camping the Fulani. So they do not have the full picture of their humanitarian requirements, he said. In previous situations, typically, the Fulani simply left to other areas on their own without seeking any assistance from the Plateau State government they amply mistrust. Even in this case, they refused to communicate with officials until Malam Shehu Buba from Bauchi intervened.

Four, the reassurance from the STF commander that these IDPs will return to their homes immediately the short operation is completed.

In our meeting with the commander, Maj-General Henry Ayoola, he and his team assured us that all he wanted is to restore peace to the Plateau. It really took them a good deal of explanations to convince most of us that they are not playing the game of Jang, the Berom state governor.

The secret of the matter, they told confided in us, is that they do not believe that the people they encountered in the mother of all battles last Tuesday in the area after a policeman was killed were Fulani. Our Fulani, they said, do not have that firepower. Boko Haram, they strongly suspect, could be behind this. So they want to go into the places those people are using as hideouts to flush them out, within a period of one day or – maximum – two. “If I can do that without firing a single shot,” Ayoola assured us, “I would be very glad.”

Though many of us are not privy to the intelligence information that is available to the commandant, there is the general belief amongst us that the exercise is unnecessary if its aim is just to flush out the perceived outside attackers. They must have left already because tomorrow it would be two weeks and so much information on the intention of government has been made public. If the security challenges of the country are anything to go by, the attackers must have thought ahead of government and left since.

Honestly, being at the middle of a situation like this is extremely difficult for us. Maj-General Ayoola himself is just recently posted to head the STF in Jos. He is a young man in his forties, I believe, except if he is looking younger that his age. He may not be in the full picture of any hidden machination that may be employing the STF to dislodge the Fulani, now or in the long run, from the place after the Berom have failed to do so for over a decade. The level of deceit played in the crisis on the Plateau is really unprecedented in this country. Everybody that attempted to bring peace to the state will tell you the same story. I will be glad if Ayoola will prove me wrong.

This is a suspicion shared not only among the Fulani but also among many international organizations that have been discussing the matter since the evacuation order was given. Leaders of this country have proved to be pathological liars who cling to power through deceit, preoccupy themselves with looting the treasury and leave the country to run on autopilot. This is the result. The world has been watching them all along. The UN is particularly serious about this operation. Only God knows how many emails were flying last night between New York and Geneva on this matter, an official of a UN body told me. Ayoola and Defence Headquarters must therefore know the gamble they are making. If in the end of the operation or even in the long run it is proved that the operation was done to place the Fulani at a demographic disadvantage in the area or make them vulnerable to attacks by the Berom, heads will definitely roll at the Hague in addition to the internal crisis it will generate. Then as I said in my previous article we will be faced by a crisis worse than Boko Haram.

Despite our misgivings, we decided to be on the side of hope, based on the assurances the STF gave us and left the rest to God, the Able that knows what the hearts conceal and what they reveal. Four vehicles were arranged to convey us to the place to prove to the STF that there were still thousands of people in the vicinity of Mahanga. This was necessary because Ayoola and Col. Abdulmumin Jimoh, one of the field commanders, were emphatic that not up to 10% of the population remained there. Ayoola said he was in all the places yesterday and he did not see people. Those of us from the area refuted the claim out rightly and told him that thousands of people were still there. Of course, he was right that the Berom since a week ago have fled from most of the villages in the area into the neigbouring Kaduna State and other towns.

It turned out that our going to Mahanga, the epicenter of the faceoff between the STF and the Fulani, averted what would have been a major humanitarian catastrophe. If we had left Ayoola with his belief that people have already left the place, his soldiers would have killed thousands of Nigerians there after the start of their operation, when they would declare anybody seen in the place a potential target of elimination. In just less than five minutes of our arrival, we were able to prove our point. Families started trooping onto the high ground we stood on from all directions. The Deputy Commander of the STF, DSP Umar Magiri, immediately became convinced that people have not left. He informed the commandant instantly. The task of convincing them to evacuate then started. I leave you to imagine how difficult it was to disabuse their minds and reassure them that no ill was intended, more so when the Berom did not help matters. The Fulani complained that the Berom were beating drums of victory throughout the previous night in the neighbouring villages, jubilating that the Fulani will finally be evicted from the area. See?

We overcame these difficulties. In the end, we got their leaders to agree on the evacuation and allowed them to choose the locations of their camps, separate from those of Berom which, in any case, were too far. They chose the nomadic primary schools at Dogo and Sharuk in Barikin Ladi LGA and those at Diyan and Rim in Riyom LGA. These are places on the rim of the Mahanga Basin from where the Fulani can see the happenings in their dwellings that are dispersed in the undulating valley of Luggere below.(One of the locations, Rim (Makaho) was where my maternal grandfather, Ardo Shehu, once lived for many decades. It was there my mother raared cows as a small girl in the early 1930s. I used to visit him with my uncle Bello in the mid-1970s before the Ardo agreed to relocate back to Toro around 1980 where he died five years later. Huh! The old man was really hot-tempered. Kai Kai!)

Then the commander promised that no further molestation and plundering of their property by soldiers would take place. We later returned to the crowd for the address by the DC.

The DC’s speech composed of the following six points:

(1) The reason behind the operation and the assurance that it will hardly be for more than a day or two.
(2) The assurance that everybody will be allowed to return to his house immediately after the operation.
(3) That the STF personnel will immediately arrive to provide security to Fulani properties.
(4) That nobody should run away when faced by a soldier. He should stop and surrender instead for his safety.
(5) That the operation is in no way aimed at driving them away from the area.
(6) The announcement of the locations of the camps as agreed by their leaders.

We have him on videotape, not for Youtube, but just in case.

Movement was to begin immediately. It was already 4pm. The operation could start any time after the deadline of 12pm later in the night. Contacts were immediately made with officials of State Emergency Relief Agency (SEMA), which were in the waiting already. The locations of the four camps were immediately passed to them. They promised to start delivering relief materials right away.

We returned to the STF headquarters in Jos around 5.30pm. We told the command that leaders of the Miyetti Allah will be monitoring the camps during the period of the operation until the IDPs return to their homes safely as promised.

Before I close this update, I would like to express our gratitude to the individuals and various local and international bodies that showed serious concern over this issue. They have understood that this is a matter that borders on gross war crimes and violations of the Kampala convention. For the first time, the nation was united against government arbitrariness to the weak. It is left to the government to fulfill its commitments to the people it is displacing intentionally. If in the end it proves to be a deceitful, then its officials will have themselves to blame. Nobody – from the field commanders to the President – will claim ignorance because they have been adequately reminded by local and international organizations about their obligations under the international conventions that it ratified. It got away with the massacre of Muhammad Yusuf and his group. It will not get away with this.
Our lawyers are already placed on notice. Combined with a catalogue of previous evidence of genocide on the Plateau, a convincing case will not be far-fetched at the Hague.

We are humbled by the gross support the Fulani received from their brethren including many dignitaries across the country and the thousands of youths in the social media. The solidarity expressed for the Fulani cause by the entire Hausa community in Jos town is unprecedented. The township was empty. Though the city calm and banks and offices have opened, virtually all shops were closed. We appeal to people to remain calm as we update them daily with the happenings on the matter. The entire Fulani community in the country remains indebted for the high level of support they received.

Finally, the cooperation of the STF team is hereby acknowledged and highly appreciated. We hope they live to their promises. We will commend them if they live to their promises and behave professionally. If they do not, apart from inviting our condemnation, they will definitely have themselves to blame.

Bauchi
16 July 2012

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Open Letter to General Charles Airhiavbere by Brodricks Abumere

I don’t know you personally hence i can’t judge you. My sincere advice for you as a brother is to call Adams Oshiomhole the governor elect of Edo state and congratulate him. Just in case you don’t know the reasons why you lost the election, let me enumerate them for you.

(1) PDP doesn’t have a good record in Edo state. Eight years of lucky
Igbinedion in Edo state was a waste.

(2) Anehni’s history of retrogressive politicking in Edo state. Were you not surprised Anenih couldn’t deliver Esan land for you. Alli brought university to Esan, Aikhomu brought Irrua specialist hospital to Esan; Tom Ikimi transformed Igueben. What has Anenih with all his glory and majesty as the leader of PDP the ruling party for over twelve years contributed to the social, political and economic development of Esan land and Edo state in general? Nothing!

(3) Another reason why many of us have issues with you is ” birds of the same feather they say flocks together” I mean how could you in the world pitch tent with Anenih, considering his pedigree? That makes most of us equate you with Anenih. You may be a nice guy, like i said earlier I don’t know you personally; but accepting to run as Anenih’s candidate makes you look really bad. You will need to do a lot of damage control to redeem you image back for that singular miss-step.

(4) The people couldn’t trust your judgment to lead; I mean if you lack the common wisdom to discern between what is right for Edo State (ACN developmental policies) and what is wrong for Edo State (PDP retrogressive, corrupt and vision less policies)

Anenih probably assured you the Esan people will follow him like fools regardless. He was wrong. Anenih also thought the Binis will vote for PDP because you are a Bini man, which was why he anointed you as his candidate; he was wrong again. The Bini people are Esan people can discern between right and wrong. We have moved beyond voting on the ground of backward mundane motivations of ethnicity and money. Majority of the people that collected money from PDP used the money to transport to voting center to vote for Oshiomhole.

My dear brother, this election has come and gone; and as you rightly said, this is the most peaceful election in this history of Edo state. And just in case you didn’t know or forgot to include it in your write up; it’s also the most free and fair election in the history of Edo state. Anenih fooled you the first time; please don’t let him fool you the second time. Don’t allow him or political sycophants or hungry lawyers to deceive you into going to court to contest the result of the election. You we all know the contest wasn’t close by any standard; it was a colossal defeat. Anenih his self was trounced in his ward. You and I know there is no way anybody can out rig Anenih in any election; let alone his own ward. On that note I dare to say to you it was a legitimate victory. Going to court to challenge that result will make us think you are out of touch with reality. Going that route will take away whatever you have left in terms of dignity, integrity and credibility; because you lost lots of those by pitching tent with Anenih and his PDP.
I hope you listen to my sincere advice and not those political praise singing parasites that are looking for ways to take whatever you have left. Politics is a game of numbers; someone has to win; and that person happens to be Oshiomhole this time. It may be you next time.
Let me also commend you for not following in the tradition of PDP by sponsoring thugs to intimidate, disrupt and or perpetuate violence during the election. For that I think you are a fine gentle man. I hope you will join hands with other well meaning people of Edo state to help the governor elect move the state forward. That is the most honorable thing to do at this time my dear friend and brother. Going to court to challenge the result will be a drag on Edo state progress and development and the people of Edo State will dislike you for that. You lost this election because of PDP and Anenih; just remember that. The people of Edo state don’t have anything against you. I wish you well in and god bless you.

Brodricks Abumere
Dallas Texas USA

 

 

 

 

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Micheal Egbejumi-David: It Is Time to Give Up on Jonathan

It is a poorly kept secret that, in the Jonathan’s household, the Mrs, Patience, is the one who wears the pants.  She rules the roost.  She is the one in charge; the boss.

In some cases, the woman being in charge is not actually a bad thing.  In fact, it can be a good thing.  However, I’m not sure if this is the case with the first family.  It certainly isn’t proving to be the case now.  When you look at Jonathan, when you behold and have been thoroughly put off by Goodluck’s docility, his lack of vigour and rigour, you would understand why Patience had to take charge.  It’s just a shame that she doesn’t know where to draw the line.
It was recently reported that Mrs Jonathan has remained on the payroll of the Bayelsa State civil service despite the fact that she hasn’t turned up for work for even one minute since her husband became the Deputy Governor in 1999.  Regardless of all that, she was still considered an active staff member and was being paid in full by the Ministry of Education (of all places!)
I was still digesting that appalling news and wondering when Reuben Abati would come out and announce that Mrs Jonathan has returned all the salaries and allowances she has been pocketing since 1999, when worse news floated in.  This one came directly from the Head of Bayelsa State Civil Service, Gloria Izonfo.  She announced that the same Mrs Jonathan has been appointed a Permanent Secretary.  I can just imagine Don King’s hair standing on end as he shouts, “Only in Nigeria!”
For one, this is sycophancy gone out of hand.  People will recall that the current governor, Seriake Dickson was one of the Abuja politicians who were used to fight the previous governor, Timipre Sylva to a standstill until his election was annulled in April 2008 by the Court of Appeal.  Back then, Dickson, a House of Representative member, avowed that the majority of PDP stakeholders in Bayelsa would not support Sylva’s candidacy to run again at a new election that was mandated after 90 days.  He called Sylva “unacceptable” and a person lacking in skills to “build consensus.”
A Loyal Jonathan disciple, in 2012 Dickson was rewarded with the governorship after his oga became President and Sylva had been kicked hard into exile.  Dickson was declared the winner of the governorship election by the State Returning Officer, Prof Joseph Ajienka.  (More about him later)
As per our culture in Nigeria, Dickson is now thanking his oga through madam, however, he is doing it all wrong.
But, there’s a larger issue:
Mrs Jonathan stopped going in to work sometime in 1999.  That is some 13 years ago.  Let us do the math:  According to her own bio, Mrs Jonathan got her NCE (Teacher training) diploma in 1989.  Then she proceeded to the University of Port Harcourt for a 3 year Bachelor’s programme in Biology and Psychology, finishing, presumably, in 1992.  Then she became a teacher at a Secondary School where she was until 1997.  In 1997, she left and went into Community Banking.
Then things become sketchy.  At some point, post 1997, Mrs Jonathan left the bank and returned “to the classroom briefly again as a teacher.”   Then “she was transferred to the Bayelsa State Ministry of Education, where she served until 29 May 1999 when her husband became the Deputy Governor of the State.”
So.  Ok.  Let’s say Mrs Jonathan stayed in the banking sector for just one year.  That would mean that she returned to teaching in 1998.  A few months later, she joined the Ministry of Education in Bayelsa.  To be generous, let us say she was with that Ministry for a full calendar year before she became Second Lady of Bayelsa.  Once they were in office, Mrs Jonathan never darkened the doors of the Education Ministry again.  However, she continued to draw a salary.  On 12 July 2012, with just one single solitary practical active year experience in the Education Ministry, she was made its Permanent Secretary.
Please stop laughing.
So, what are the duties and responsibilities of a Permanent Secretary?  The number one job of a Permanent Secretary is to run the department on a day-to-day basis.  Effectively, the Permanent Secretary is the chief executive of a particular government department, overseeing its operations including, budgets, personnel, training, etc, etc.  The Permanent Secretary also provides reports and advice to the political head of the Ministry, the Commissioner.  Permanent Secretaries are also the accounting Officers for their department, which means they are directly answerable to the Legislature for financial matters.  Furthermore, Permanent Secretaries chair their departments’ Management Boards.
Mrs Jonathan will do all of this and more with just one year of entry level experience under her belt; an experience acquired some 13 years ago.
Please now.  I told you to curtail your laughter.
We have been told however – in an attempt at clarification – that Mrs Jonathan will do this in absentia.  A brand new concept; a Permanent Secretary in absentia.  Only in Jonathan’s Nigeria.  In effect, Mrs Jonathan was just awarded a title for later use.  The First Lady appellation would appear inadequate.  A further attempt at clarification was made on 14 July 2012 by a Special Assistant to the governor, Daniel Iworiso-Markson.  He said, “The State government believes that the services of the First Lady to the development of Bayelsa State and Nigeria qualify as essential service, which should be recognised and rewarded.”
Good God!  You cannot make this up, even if you were writing a very bad movie script.  Provincial outlook is being nationalised.  We are being force-fed parochial backwater thinking and behaviour from the riverside.  Lack of refinement and outrageous buffoonery has been elevated to statecraft.  God help us all.
As a man, when your truculent wife comes to you with news of such “promotion,” you are supposed to quickly pour deserved ice water on it.  You are supposed to show her the million ways in which it is wrong and inappropriate.  As a Head of State, you ought to then go further and insist on decency, pick up the phone, call the bloody governor of Bayelsa and tell him to keep his Greek gift.  Tell him not to ridicule further a government that is already struggling to convince people that it is a serious one.  I just don’t understand:  Is it that some people simply lack the ability to see what everyone else can see or they just don’t care?
But it is clear Mrs Jonathan calls the shots at home.  Clearly, the President is not able to curtail her overbearing and flagrant impulses.  He gave up trying long ago.  Our Jonah is just too happy for her to go do her thing at any cost and leave him alone with all her wahala.  In any event, they own the day now, so anything goes.  Weak, distasteful and very unseemly.
Not too long ago, ‘twas for the same Jonathan that an Italian construction company, Gitto Construzioni Generali, built a huge church in the heart of his village.  Jonathan even saw it fit to defend such farce and obvious corruption.  Why didn’t the same firm build churches in other villages before or after Jonathan’s?
Just last month, Mrs Jonathan was awarded a Doctorate by the University of Port Harcourt.  On hand to confer that honorary degree on her was Prof Ajienka, the Vice Chancellor of the University.  Yes, the same Prof Joseph Ajienka, State Electoral Returning Officer who declared Dickson governorship winner.  Same day, President Jonathan approved N3 billion for the development of the University of Port Harcourt.
These are just the ones we know about o.
This is where we now find ourselves.  Everything is so gauche.  There is a complete absence of shame.  No decorum, no circumspection.  It is Idi Amin declaring himself the King of Scotland all over again.
And the sovereignty of 150 million souls is entrusted in the care of this man?  Wasn’t it Fela who sang that ‘Upside Down get them meaning too?’  Nigeria we hail thee.  This poor country just cannot catch a break

By Michael Egbejumi-David
demdem@hotmail.co.uk
Twitter: @demdemdem1

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Uncle, This Is Why I Don’t Own A House by Ugodre

If you are above 30 and have worked for between 5 to 10 years then you may have heard questions like this? “when are you going to own your own house”? “Do you want to keep paying rent”? “Look at James your age mate, he has already built a house in his village and in town”. These questions come from people you know very well, especially those you care about? Like your mum, dad, aunt, wife, uncle or even boss? Well, I have and quite recently as such. I recently moved into a house in a suburb of Lagos called and being a rented duplex I received a barrage of calls and advice from folks “who know better” insisting that I begin to build my own house. Naturally, I respond to advice like this in a pious manner retorting that soon the divine will make way. But why don’t I have a house after over a decade of working and why do I need one right now? Have you asked yourself that question too? I did and here is what I found out?

Why do I Need to own a House?

Everyone desires to own a house but have you ever thought why? What makes a rented apartment/house less appreciated that an owner occupier house? Does owning a house mean you have financial freedom? Do people who own houses fare better than those who do not on the long run? Does owning a house make a man healthier than those who do not? Does it take you to heaven? I have no answers to these questions but I do know why I do not own a house and why I should own a house.

So first of all, why should I own a house?

I know there are many but this are the fundamental reasons why I think one should own a house;

1. Pride – The first reason why any one should want to own a house is the pride that comes with it. For most it is a reflection of one’s success in life and a statement of manhood. Even the bible acknowledges the need in Jeremiah 29,5 saying “Build ye houses, and dwell in them; and plant gardens, and eat the fruit of them”. So if pride is important to you then you must own a house provided you can afford it

2. Comfort – Some also own house because of the comfort that comes with it. Most spend loads of money designing a house that fits their desires, style and taste. And such can hardly be gotten in a rented apartment as it may mean reconstructing another man’s property. Some also own several houses in their villages, vacation spots, business spots, recreational houses etc. These are all meant to give a level of comfort that only gets limited to the insatiability of the owner. So if you are one who desires a unique form of comfort then owning a house or houses is a necessity.

3. Capital Gains/Investments – Some also own houses for Investment purposes. These are property owners like land lords and Real Estate Investors who build houses to derive some form of capital gains from them. Houses can also be used as collateral to borrow money and invest in other businesses which could ultimately increase the benefit of the owner. For real estate investors and property speculators, owning houses is a means to eke a living.

4. Financial Independence – One can also own a house to be independent from the state, landlords or anyone else who’s accommodation may infringe on his dependence on his money. He needs not pay rent to a landlord, government, community etc. If you hate paying rent and want to hedge against increase of rent from shylock landlords, then owning your own house and living in it is necessarry.

Now there may be other reasons but you will agree these are the most important reasons why one should own a house(s). But why don’t I own a house yet. To answer that I will have to ask myself one important question. How can one own a house?

I believe there are four ways and these are;

1. Inheritance – One can own a house if the house is passed on legally from a relative, friend, acquaintance. This is usually written in a will or sometimes can be determined by culture and tradition that is passed on from generations before.

2. Income/Savings – Another way that one can own a house is through personal savings or income. Income derived from salaries or investment can be used to purchase a house outrightly. However that depends on how much the income is and if it is enough to buy the house of your choice

3. Mortgage – This is probably the mostly popular and widely used method of owning a house. By borrowing from a bank or mortgage institution people can buy houses and pay back over time. In Nigeria, this can range between 4 – 10 years, in developed economies its probably between 15 to 30 years.

4. Gift/donations/raffle – One can also own a houses through gifts, donations, lottery or raffle. They are all in the same category as they individually do not require you to pay for the full value of the house or put some money down as in a mortgage or inherit from a relative. It simply involves someone giving you a house for next to nothing.

With the above it is easy to explain why I do not on a house. If I am yet to inherit one or can afford to by one from my present income or get an affordable mortgage or gifted one then I may just have to rent one lest I remain homeless. And since the only reason I probably want to own a house now is more of pride, it however does not surpass the more important desire which is comfort. Meaning, I rather pay rent a comfortable house than own and live in a house in Mowe which my salary may probably afford to build in about 4 years. I know people who own houses but still live in rented apartments.

The ODD Scenario

But then there are some who earn as much as I do, some who earn much lower and some without a defined source of income who own house(s). How is that possible when they did not inherit it and neither was it a gift. They obviously did not pay for it from their income as the math wouldn’t just add up. This only leaves me with perhaps one answer….CORRUPTION. The quickest source of making money in the Nigeria and indeed the world. So presently, if I am to own a comfortable home using my present income I may as well have to steal public or private funds to afford it. And if I refuse to steal or defraud, the only available option will be to rent which is what I am doing now.

That’s the tragedy of Nigeria, where people have severed the link between success and it’s source. The source of success never comes to mind so far as you have not been caught. If I did not have a job or a steady source of income then people can easily infer that the source may have been fraudulent. Thats different for one with a steady source of income. No one ever thinks the money was obtained from stolen wealth. It is seen as share hardork and a sign of progress. “He/she is doing well” as they often say. Finally, to my dear Uncle, I may not be “doing well” enough to own a house in your opinion. But in my opinion if the source of funding a house does not meet the four conditions above or the reasons do not meet the four above as well, then I amy well continue in my rented apartment so as long as my income can pay it.

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Why National Assembly Must Consent to the Petroleum Industry Bill?

Satellite view of a typical Niger delta oil community

The idea behind the enactment of the Petroleum Industry Bill (PIB Bill) originated about fourteen years ago under former President Olusegun  Obasanjo when he set up an  Oil and Gas Reform Implementation Committee (OGIC)  to assess modality for the reformation of the oil industry. The committee was saddled with the responsibility to carry out a comprehensive reform of the oil Industry with a view to bring Nigerian system under the international best practices and to replace the opaqueness haunting our oil industry with transparency. The Act is to establish legal and regulatory framework, institutions and regulatory authorities for the Nigerian petroleum industry and to establish guidelines for the operation of the upstream and downstream sectors.
The Act which was generally applauded by Nigerians was somehow prevented from not seeing the light of the day hence it was fraught with myriad of problems militating against it. This includes multiplicity of oil reform Bills at the National Assembly and lack of political will by the Federal Government to push through the PIB Bill. In addition, are the activities of multinational companies who wanted the status quo to be maintained in respect of Pre-PIB Joint Venture Agreements with the NNPC/Federal Government.. They are afraid that tampering with the Joint Venture Agreements will cede too much control to the Federal Government. .The multinational oil companies are not comfortable with the fiscal regime and increased Royalty Payments in the PIB. Some provisions of the “PIB” were poorly drafted and not well articulated and some salient important issues not addressed at all and/or included in past draft versions of “the PIB” .For instance:
• Fiscal regime for gas not touched and/or addressed at all;
• Fiscal regime for offshore drilling is poorly drafted and omitted ultra deep offshore drilling;
• Blueprint for NNPC privatisation is completely superficial –need to include strong provisions for commercialising and privatising NNPC in line with international best practices;
• The role of Minister of Petroleum Resources in the post PIB regime is not properly defined – for instance:
• Who oversees the reform implementation process?
• Should the minister’s discretionary power to award and revoke licenses be retained?
• Should the minister’s role be restricted to policy making and setting directives for the industry only?
Despite the aforementioned obstacles on the way of the Bill, Nigerians breathed a sigh of relief when President Goodluck Jonathan in his national broadcast in commemoration of Nigeria’s democracy day on 29th May 2012 promised that a new PIB would be ready in June 2012 for onward transmission to the National Assembly.
Subsequently. Minister of Petroleum Resources, Mrs. Diezani Alison-Madueke inaugurated a task force chaired by former senator and chairman of the Board of Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC), Udo Udoma  Udo, was also expected to work alongside a technical sub-committee headed by the Director-General of Department for Petroleum Resources (DPR), Mr. Osten Olurunsola, which was charged with reviewing all former versions of the bill and come out with a draft within the next 30 days. They were saddled with the responsibility of drafting a new PIB Bill.
Thus, the new PIB Bill presented by Minister of Petroleum Resources Mrs Allison-Madueke to the President recently is meant to change everything from fiscal terms to overhauling the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC), promote Nigerian content and significantly increase domestic gas supplies, especially for power generation and industrial development. The ultimate aim of the PIB was to refine the Petroleum laws, after more than 50 years of oil and gas operations in Nigeria. This was taking good care off by consolidating the 16 existing laws into a single set of provisions, leading to an overhaul of the legal, fiscal, commercial and governance frameworks.
The core principles of the new PIB, are to imbibe global best practices of openness, transparency, good governance, indigenous participation and sustained revenues for Government. Under the new PIB Bill two new institutions would be formed to replace the NNPC once the draft PIB was passed. These are the National Oil Company (NOC) and National Assets Management Company (NAMC).
These institutions and the petroleum industry would be under the supervision of the petroleum minister. The NAMC is expected to be 100 percent government owned, while the government is to adequately capitalise and progressively sell government’s stake in the NOC, down to 49 percent.
A critical study of the Bill revealed that it   reaches into all the facets of the petroleum industry and it liberates the sector from all the government constraints and impediments which hitherto rock the industry, rendering it unattractive to both local and international investors. It gives incentives to both small and big players in the industry through transparent and fair rules of participation. The concept of good corporate governance is also evident in the provisions of the Bill, which also features strong fiscal framework beneficial to the country. In a nutshell, it moves Nigeria clearly towards the international best practices in the extractive sector.
Furthermore, the Bill has far reaching provisions on the issues of Nigerian content. For example, it provides that no project can be approved without a comprehensive “Nigerian Content Plan” which must include obligations on the part of the investor to purchase local goods and services, increase employment, as well as to focus on training, education research and development. It also requires the foreign investors to follow guidelines in order to assist local companies. Adherence to the provisions of the Bill will surely boost the purchase of local goods and services leading to higher employment opportunities for Nigerians.
Series of landmark provisions are also addressed in the Bill to correct the anomalies of the current petroleum regime. For example, it is a notorious fact that the Deep Sea Water Blocks contract that Nigeria entered into in 1993 with foreign investors is one of the worst contracts any oil-exporting nation can enter into as it seems to foster unilateral advantages only on the foreign partners with Nigeria having very little or no gains under the production sharing formula in the agreement.
The royalties accruable to the country are Zero per cent! The foreign partners take I00 per cent of the products. Even the taxes system under the said “bad deal” contract does not provide much benefit for the country as the tax regime included generous tax credits to these foreign investors which wiped out a great percentage of the collectible tax by the Federal Government. Now under the Bill, there are a number of provisions on ventures like Deep Water operations that are much more beneficial to the countries and comparable to what other oil exporting nations do collect under such contracts.
In totality, the Bill would both eradicate the practice of discretionary award of licenses and contracts in the upstream sub-sector of the industry, as well as ensuring that only genuine investors with appropriate technical and financial capacity get the oil licenses.
In spite of all the advantages described above, it is very surprising and worrisome that the National Assembly, since 2008, has not given it the urgent attention it deserves by passing it into a law. As a matter of fact, there is a school of thought that believes that some cabalistic vested interests are the brains behind the non-passage of the bill through underground machinations. There is a belief that a regime of openness and transparency the Bill would usher in would erase some accruable gains under the present shady regime.
No doubt, the government must be losing billion of Naira daily as a result of non passage of the Bill by the National Assembly .Only a few days ago, Regional Executive Vice President, Sub-Sahara Africa, Shell Upstream, Mr. Ian Craig, who spoke at the opening of the 2012 edition of the Nigerian Oil and Gas, in Abuja, said Nigeria loses approximately 150,000 barrel per day to theft – an amount translating to a whopping N2.9 billion daily!
The pertinent question here is that “Is the prolonged delay in the passage of this all-important Petroleum Industry Bill attributable to underground manipulation of the vested interests or is it just a case of unpatriotic nonchalance on the part of the lawmakers?
Whatever maybe the situation, Nigerians are appealing to the law makers saddled with the responsibility of passing the Bill into law to as a matter of urgency save Nigerians the billions of Naira lost daily for the delay of the Bill by assenting to it  once it is passed to the Chamber by President Goodluck Jonathan.
Oghenekevwe Laba a Lagos based journalist
08023773039
labakevwe@yahoo.com

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Fast Tracking Development In The Niger Delta By Oghenekevwe Laba

Shell in the Niger Delat

Before now, poverty, illiteracy and high rate of criminal activities ranging from militancy, piracy, armed robbery, oil pipeline vandalism and incessant attack on oil pipeline and platforms were the order of the day in the Niger Delta Region.
Today, the situation looks different. Environment experts say the damage done to the Niger Delta Region fragile natural environment and to the health of the people was due largely to uncontrolled exploration and exploitation of crude oil and natural gas, which led to numerous spills, gas flaring, the opening up of the forests to loggers, indiscriminate canalizations, flooding, coastal erosion and earth tremor.
Criminal activities in the region resulting from the degradation of the region led to speedy decline of the nation’s economy as the oil production which is our main source of revenue generation dropped to all time low rate of 700 barrels per day.
Reasons for the criminal activities in the region were not farfetched.  The indigenes of the region felt that as the ‘chicken that lay the golden eggs’, they ought to feel the impact of the resources drained from their area. Successive governments from military rule to democratic government
neglected the region.
But the people breathe a sigh of relief when Alhaji Musa Yar’Adua became the President of Nigeria in 2007.   The President saw reasons with the people of the region and decided to implement programmes that will ameliorate their sufferings. Thus, he introduced the amnesty programme and urged the warring youths of the region to embrace the programme by denouncing hostility and handling over their illegally acquired fire arms to the government. Unfortunately Yar’Adua did not live long to see the programme the fruit of the programmes he started.
However, President Goodluck Jonathan, who took over from Yar’Adua as the President of Nigeria did not let his late boss down as he implemented the programme to the latter. Thus, three years after the amnesty programme for Niger Delta militants, the man at the helm of its affairs, Kingsley Kuku, is handling the glory to President Goodluck Jonathan, whom he said had pursued the programme with a single-minded tenacity. Kuku, Special Adviser to the President, said the President’s attitude for the success of the programme was all part of his greater picture of leaving behind a united country with a robust economy, where the citizens and foreigners would be
free to live and pursue their trades under a safe environment. According to him, the success of the programme had seen the growth of oil production in the Niger Delta Region from a mere 700 barrels per day at the peak of the crisis in the Niger Delta area to the current 2.6million barrels per day, and a leap in its earnings. The militants, who had been targeting oil installations apart from engaging in other forms of activities that made the area unsafe to live and do business have all been evacuated from the creeks and have been rehabilitated at various institutions in Nigeria and abroad, where they are learning both formal and informal skills.
A total of 5,204 ex-militants are currently undergoing various forms of skills acquisition training or formal education in Nigeria and other parts of the world. The career choices selected by the delegates range from marine, heavy duty operations, welding,  agriculture, boat building, oil
and gas technics, entrepreneurship, automobile technology and aviation among others. The Amnesty programme’s trainees are spread across 28 foreign training institutions in 15 countries across the globe and 36 local training institutions in 10 states of the federation. No fewer than 5,067 of the beneficiaries had already graduated in skills acquisition fields such as welding and fabrication (1,847), entrepreneurship (1,609), pipe fitting (150), carpentry & plumbing (206), oil drilling (32), electrical installation (232), ICT (125), marine related courses (564) and others (302). Already, 95 delegates have been offered direct employment in various governmental and private establishments. Beside, the Amnesty Office is putting finishing touches to mentoring programmes that would see many of the graduates becoming self-employed and employing other Nigerian youths.
In addition, 6,280 delegates had already been processed for deployment to local and foreign training institutions to undergo courses ranging from aviation technicians, oil and gas technicians, marine technicians, entrepreneurial development programmes as well as formal education.
The rehabilitation of the militants has resulted in the creating of peace and security in the region which has lead to the production  of  between 2.4 and 2.6 million barrels of crude oil per day as against the abysmally low between 700,000 and 800,000 barrels per day at the peak of the Niger Delta crisis in January 2009, the nation and its Joint Venture Partners are currently making production savings of up to 1.9 million barrels per day.
When computed with prevailing exchange rate of about N160 to $1, daily production savings for Nigeria and the JV partners currently stand at a minimum of N33.4 billion per day.  Given that oil production in Nigeria hovered between 2.4 and 2.6 barrels for all of 2011, it would be safe to
emphatically assert that savings for Nigeria and the JV partners for year ending 2011 is estimated to be a whopping N6 trillion.
As for infrastructural development, Jonathan through the Niger Delta Development Commission (NDDC)   and other intervention agencies has provided good roads which link the adjoining communities of the area.
This has lead to improvement of trade and social activities among members of the various communities. Dilapidated school buildings are renovated to standard while new ones were constructed to meet modern standard. Bridges are constructed to link riverine areas.
Beside, the Niger Delta Development Commission (NDDC)  is fast tracking the completion of 57 ongoing projects valued at N1.3 trillion spread across the oil-rich Niger Delta region. The Managing Director of the commission, Dr Christian Oboh, stated recently in Port Harcourt that the new board had resolved to award fewer contracts and speed up the completion of the 57
ongoing projects inherited from the previous board.
Although critics may argue that enough has not been done in the region, but critical observation showed that ever since Jonathan mounted the saddle of power, there has been serious development in the region, particularly in human, infrastructure, economy and social aspect. This development has led to increase in the financial balance sheet of the country.
Laba, a journalist, wrote from Lagos.

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