Pope Francis, Celibacy And The Church, By Nkannebe Raymond

The foundations of the Roman Catholic Church currently curated by the 81 year old Pope Francis is once again, struggling to recover from what has become a familiar tremor.

With the findings of a Pennsylvania grand jury last month which in a 900 page report indicted over 300 predator Catholic bishops in the state of serial abuse of some 1000 children in a systematic and organized orgy of abuse that spanned a whopping seven decades, the liberal Pope of “Laudato si” fame, is stewed in his own share of clerical abuse that has worryingly become a recurrent feature of nearly, all papal administrations. Tucked to that, is the pontiff’s  alleged conspiracy of silence over the cardinal Theodore MCcarick affair which leaves him battling to redeem himself in what would arguably go down as the greatest controversy of his papacy.

A fortnight ago, in an official visit to Dublin, the first of such papal visit to the city since after John Paul II in 1979, the soft spoken Argentine at a public mass found himself apologizing to the lay Catholics there for the decade long wider clerical sex abuse from Boston to Philadelphia to Dublin and elsewhere. Dublin, the capital of Ireland has been a hot spot of sexual abuse, exploitation of women and pedophile priests. And while over 100,000 lay Catholics lined up the streets to welcome the Pope,  protesters and those who have long distanced themselves from Catholicism  also made statements of their disaffection with the church with visible placards.

Three months ago, the Pope accepted the resignation of a Chilean Bishop- Juan Barros whom he had staunchly defended earlier in the year despite weighty allegations of cover up of clerical abuse under his watch- a move that would force the pontiff to tender a public apology to the Chilean Catholic community saying he made “grave mistake” by originally defending Bishop Barros.

Barros was among 34 Chillean Bishops who offered to resign in may this year after Pope Francis said the country’s religious hierarchy was collectively responsible for “grave defects” in handling sexual abuse cases and the church’s resulting loss of credibility, following a 2,300 page report that showed that the Catholic hierarchy in Chile systemically covered up and downplayed cases of abuse, destroyed evidence of sexual crimes, discredited accusers and showed “grave negligence” by not protecting the children from paedophile priests.

The isolated case of 88 year old cardinal Theodore McCarick who until his resignation in July, (the first of such resignation of a cardinal since 1927), was already the highest ranking US priest, sticks out like the proverbial sore thumb; and has hightened calls for the pope’s resignation by his conservative critics against the fine traditions of canon law.

Theodore McCarick resigned late July following the findings of the grand jury in Pennsylvania 2 months ago. Until his shameful resignation, McCarick was a parish priest in New York, from where he rose to become an auxiliary Bishop in the city, and then rising to become a Bishop in Metuchen, New Jersey. He was then promoted steadily, first as archbishop of Newark, and later ascending to become archbishop of Washington DC. He left his Washington post on reaching the mandatory retirement age of 75 according to canon law, but remained a vocal voice in the Catholic church and a member of the prestigious college of cardinals which advises the Pope.

In what continues to puzzle pundits and commentators alike, McCarrck’s rise in the Church hierarchy was despite ceaseless allegations and petitions written against him. A state of affairs that feed the conclusion of those who strongly believe that the octopoidal Catholic church has become a cesspit of corruption. Little wonder Pope Francis was once reported to have equated reforming the church, with  “cleaning the sphinx of Egypt with a toothbrush”.

The New York Times on the 16th of July  reported that the cardinal was repeatedly accused of sexually harassing and inappropriate touching of adult seminary students who were in training to become priests. It was told that he often invited seminarians and young priests to his New Jersey beach house and chose one man to share his bed.

The relationship between Pope Francis and disgraced cardinal McCarrick has in no small measure increased the yoke of Pope Francis.  Having influenced his emergence following the conclave of cardinals five years ago, Pope Francis must have found himself unable to rule McCarick and thus allowed him the leeway to do as he pleased. It is said that McCarrick influenced top appointments in the Vatican and even single handedly appointed his successor, cardinal Donald Wuerl who also has come under intense suspicion as part of those running the abuse cult within the Church. It is this atmosphere that must have informed Francis’ refusal to heed the advise of those who warned him about getting too close to McCarrick following allegations of sexual abuse and cover up that became synonyms with his person. Having met his Waterloo with the Pennsylvanian reports, not a few persons have called for the resignation of the Pope for what they termed a “condonnation of corrupt behaviour”.

At the forefront of the calls for the resignation of the Pope is top Vatican diplomat, Archbishop Carlo Mario Vigano, who in a damnifying 11 page testimonial charged that the Church’s leader had been aware of the allegations against McCarrick since 2013 but failed to act on them.

In the words of the conservative cleric who by the way, is no fan of Pope Francis,…” he knew from at least 23 June, 2013 that McCarrick was a serial predator. Although he knew that he was a corrupt man, he covered for him to the bitter end. Indeed he made McCarrick’s advice his own, which was certainly not inspired by sound intensions and for love of the Church. It was only when he was forced by the report of the abuse of 2 minors, again on the basis of media attention that he took action regarding McCarrick to save his image in the media”. In calling for the resignation of the Holy See, the cardinal enthused, ” Pope Francis must be the first to set a good example for cardinals and Bishops who covered up McCarrck’s abuse and resign along with them…”

Now, for all the weighty allegations raised in Vigano’s “95 theses” of sorts, which  he said he was forced to write in order to unburden his conscience, the reaction of the fairly outspoken Pope to them,  is one of silence. On his flight back from Ireland, the embattled Holy Father reluctantly responded to Vigano’s testimonials by declaring, “I will not say a single word on this”.

A silence which critics say has not been golden at all given the size of revelations with the full complements of annexures, in Vigano’s letter.

The orgy of clerical abuse that has dogged the Roman Catholic Church since the turn of the 20th century, but with renewed vigour in the last three decades, has become the proverbial albatross around the neck of the Church. And only time would tell if it would eventually become it’s Achilles Heels. The situation is rather complicated by the attitude of a Church that has become an expert in brushing scandals under the carpet and taking sides with its own, as against victims of clerical sexual abuse and molestation. A reenactment of this clerical attitude was recently seen in the disposition of Pope Francis in the case of Bishop Barros, before his mea culpa six months after he was confronted with incontrovertible evidence of the Chilean Bishop’s complicity.

16 years ago, a dark cloud gathered over the Catholic Church when the famous Boston Globe revealed the wide spread wrongdoings in the then Archdiocese of Boston following an investigation that led to the criminal prosecution of Five Roman Catholic Priests. That incident would for the first time thrust the sexual abuse of minors by the clergy into global consciousness. Not a few million dollars was was spent by the Church in the settlement of claims brought by victims of the abuse.

It is not that clerical abuse of minors is a crime peculiar to the American Church. Not at all.  Several dioceses across Europe have also had their fair of the social menace that continue to detract from the Catholic Church’s moral authority. For example in 2010, allegations of sexual abuse spread like wildfire across a half dozen countries namely Austria, Germany, Netherlands, Spain, Switzerland and Brazil-home of the world’s largest Catholic population.

Whereas Africa has not been put on the global map as a destination of clerical abuse, there is nothing suggesting that it is not to be found in the African Church. The stigma associated with coming out in the open to speak of these things may still be the reason why it has continued to fester unnoticeably for now. As a young seminarian in Zaria, Kaduna state, not a few of my colleagues and seniors alike, were caught indulging in homosexual conducts. While some were expelled by the authorities at the time, others who were absolved of any complicity but who continued in the practice graduated and are Priests today in various dioceses. It is therefore hard to argue that they have not continued in their homosexual escapedes knowing how difficult it is to drop old habits. But that is the limit one would go on that, as far as this piece is concerned.

As I have pointed out before now, what appears to be very troubling in all these, is the tendency of the Church to live in a hurtful denial by taking to  an endless defence of its own instead of confronting her demons headlong. It is this attitude that must have helped in no small measure to embolden the sexual predatory elements within the church heirrachy. And which also leaves victims of sexual abuse to live and die with the stigma of abuse knowing  before hand  that the church would discredit their petitions in order to save it’s face. Or how else does one explain a situation where elements within the church fingered to be complicit in the sexual abuse  of minors continue  to rise in the church hierarchy?

It is against this backdrop however that the latest reaction of the Pope following the recent scandal that has rocked the church merits some commendation when contrasted to the corporate Vatican reactions to clerical abuse in the past. At a recent ordination of Bishops conducted by the Holy See, he charged some 75 Bishops hailing from 34 countries of Africa, Asia, Latin America and Oceania to “just say no to abuse-of power, conscience or any type”. “saying no to abuse”, the pontiff said, “means saying no with force to every form of clericalism”.

Yet, it would be foolhardy to suggest that mere admonistions  would operate to upend what has almost become an unwritten tradition of the church. This somewhat skeptical position is reinforced by the testimony of Raman Martin, the most senior Roman Catholic figure in Ireland who told The Guardian Uk last month, that abuse was “a systemic issue for the whole church. This is not an isolated issue of 2 bad priests in a particular school or parish. This is an issue where the whole culture of our church wrongly facilitated abuse”. This  testimony of the cleric given how much information available to him as a senior member of the Church in Dublin, should give us a picture of what the church is up against. Hence why mere admonitions would be akin to the proverbial slap in the wrist therapy.

Not a few critics of the Roman Catholic Church and even senior members of the Church hierarchy have called for a review of the canon law which would see priests reserve the right to either be celibate or take spouses as with other Christians denominations to the extent that sexual gratification appears to be at the core of predatory clerical behaviour. But celibacy, like Nigeria’s unity, as we are often told, is not negotiable in the Church’s eschatology, at least since the canons of the Elvira Council of the 4th Century made it so.

The position of the Catholic church on celibacy for it’s Priests draws inspiration from both scripture and canon traditions. In St. Paul’s letter to the Ephesians as recorded in the book of Ephesians 5: 25-27, the Church was described as the bride of Christ; and in so far as the Latinism: Sacerdotal alter Christus, goes, the priest must remain the Church’s bridegroom in consonance with the teachings of Paul, the apostle.  As to be a priest, is to be ‘wedded’ to the Church, there cannot be a question therefore of another marriage for prelates in its most popular sense.

Beyond that, since canon law nominates that the priest is a personification of Christ, it necessarily follows that as Christ lived and died celibate in so far as one can gather from recorded scripture, the priest is invited to live in like manner. With the above biblical and canonical origins of clerical incontinence; howbeit in précis, one tends to get a picture of why the Catholic Church is not given to brook any idea of shifting it’s much criticized position on sexuality and marriage for her priests. A tradition which needless to say remains arguably the most distinctive feature of the prelates of the oldest church on the face of the earth.

But for celibacy to make any scriptural sense, it must come with its moral component on the part of the clergy who entertain the choice of enlisting for the royal priesthood of Christ. If the prelates of the Roman Catholic Church must bask in the euphoria of being Christ’s representatives on earth, the irreducible minimum conduct required of them, would be to live as Christ and the apostles lived. And by this, it is not inferred that the priests must live a life of pure holiness, as scripture makes us appreciate the impossibility of that.  But as it relates to total abstinence from sex of all kinds, that should not be open to any debate.

By no means is it suggested that total abstinence from sex is a walk in the park as man continues to struggle with the the lures of the flesh however ascetic they may be. It was Sigmund Freud who it in proper perspective when he observed that “sex is every man’s weakness irrespective of how prudent or puritanical they may be”. Yet, no one says the call to the royal priesthood is an all-comers-affair. The more reason why those who commit to it, must live by it’s base ethical behavioural standards or risk being defrocked.

But where does all of these leave Pope Francis as the head of the church at a very tempestuous era of her history? I do not think that is too far to seek. Beyond the admonitions to members of the clergy to shun all forms of abuse, the Pope must hasten to react to the weighty allegations in Vigano’s letter for two reasons to wit:  to make concessions where necessary, and to controvert parts of it that may have veered off into hyperbole. This would serve to limit how much of it is relied upon in the court of public opinion  to cast opporobium on the Church. Beyond that, it would set the stage for a healing process of the church assuming it is committed to wiping off this ugly chapter in her history.

The test for Francis therefore who in many respect has changed the negative perception of the church abroad through his liberal posturings in his interventions on controversial subjects namely: climate change; communion for divorced and remarried Catholics; abortion and homosexulity;  is whether he can set the all important first foot in front by moving from angling to save the image of the church and tardy acceptance of resignations to actively rooting out abuse and cover ups through an institutionalised network that would cut across the whole spectrum of the Church irrespective of where this corrupt behaviour is found.

There are no pretensions that this would be an easy one for the Pope, but how he handles this particular scandal would make or mar his papal reign.

 

Nkannebe Raymond writes from Lagos. Comments and reactions to raymondnkannebe@gmail.com.

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Always Aim High, Work Hard, And Care Deeply About What You Believe In – Hillary Clinton, By Ayobami Akanji

Always aim high, work hard, and care deeply about what you believe in – Hillary Clinton
Nigeria played host to two of the world’s most powerful women, last week. Theresa May – the British Prime Minister visited – coincidentally thirty years after former Prime Minister, Margaret Thatcher visited Nigeria; such an historic coincidence.
The Chancellor of Germany, Angela Merkel came two days after. It is important to note that the German Chancellor’s visit to Nigeria added to the number of important world leaders who came knocking in the past two months.
Indeed, looking at the tyranny of expectations millions of Nigerians had for the incoming administration, laced with a progressive mindset that anchored the campaign and finally the election of President Buhari; it permeated throughout the country and extended abroad.
 The not so good reputation we had in the eyes of the comity of nations, in the past, had been corrected and replaced with a sharpness for which cisterns are being constructed to house its praises.
In this regard, we would be analyzing what Nigeria stands to benefit from Prime Minister May and Chancellor Merkel whistle-stop visits. Already in existence between both countries, Nigeria and Britain share a substantial long-standing relationship bordering on economic partnership and military training.
However on the security front, a defence strategic partnership first of its kind was signed between both countrys’ National Security Advisers, which would see the Nigerian Armed Forces receive specialist equipment and strategic training to counter the use of improvised explosive devices by Boko Haram.
The Uk will train, for the first time, the Special Forces units collectively and they would be deployed to the theatre of operation immediately, unlike in the past when such training was done in silos.
This  would enable them wage a destructive war against the struggling insurgents in the north-east, it should be highlighted that, in the past three years, 30,000 Nigerian personnel were trained by the British Armed Forces and to compliment this agreement – an emergency response hub modeled after UK’s COBR (Cabinet Office Briefing Room) a crisis system, where the President and his security team can follow how forces in the theatre of operations deal with terrorists.
Moreover, a £13 million programme to educate 100,000 children living in the affected areas, whose teachers have fled and schools destroyed would be provided in addition to equipment and teacher training. Migration also got the required attention, as 10.5 million British pounds was earmarked to help victims of modern slavery and reintegrate them into the society. To buttress her point, Prime Minister May said “We are determined to work side by side with Nigeria to help them fight terrorism, reduce conflict and lay the foundations for the future stability and prosperity that will benefit us all.’’
Meanwhile, with Britain exiting the European Union, it is natural for Theresa May to look out for avenues to increase opportunities in Nigeria and other parts of Africa. Nigeria is the second largest trading partner of Britain in Africa, with a trade balance of 4.5 billion pounds annually.
Consequently, the second leg of the Mou is the Nigeria Economic Development Forum which shall enable both countries broaden and deepen bilateral trade and investment. Africa’s economy is projected to grow by 3.2% and Nigeria’s economy has a significant part of the growth. Prime Minister came with top executives of British companies who would be partnering with local firms in various sectors of the economy such as, water technology, energy, transportation, and create an avenue for funds to Nigeria’s Small and Medium Enterprises.
In the same vein, another key component of Mrs May’s visit was the resolve to have a civil asset recovery taskforce to help Nigeria recover stolen assets held in the UK. This is another partnership that would favor the Buhari administration. Before Prime Minister May visited, the British High Commissioner announced the repatriation of 70 million pounds to Nigeria retrieved from an ongoing investigation in Italy.
President Buhari has been consistent in his fight against corruption. He activated various mechanisms, such as the Treasury Single Accounts, eliminating thousands of ghost workers, the whistle-blowing policy, making Nigeria a member of the Open Government Partnership, and just recently the signing of Executive Order 6.
These all attest to his profound commitment to stamping corruption out of Nigeria.
Consequently, Chancellor Merkel’s delegation included experts on energy, digitalization, infrastructure and agriculture who signed agreements with NIRSAL the lending arm to farmers  and PETKUS a formidable leader in mechanized agriculture.  Volkswagen signed an Mou to turn Nigeria into the automotive hub of West Africa which shall expand the automobile market in the region and across the African continent.
Nonetheless, President Buhari has been steadfast in his commitment towards creating awareness to the shrinking of Lake Chad Basin by over 90%.
This area been identified as one of the most dangerous trouble spot in Africa, and Germany has heeded to such appeal by committing resources to recharging the Basin. Germany has been supporting the stabilisation forum for the Lake Chad basin via a diplomatic approach to this climatic challenge. An international conference on prevention and stabilisation was held in Maiduguri early this year with participants from countries of the Lake Chad, which comprises of Cameroon, Niger, Chad and Nigeria.
Incidentally, Germany and Norway just pledged more than $150m for the Lake Chad region, and will allocate an additional $116m in humanitarian assistance at a conference co-hosted by Germany, Nigeria, Norway and the United Nations; currently ongoing in Berlin. The German government has promised to provide further $46m for security projects while the Norwegian government plans another humanitarian support of $40m for the next three years.
Furthermore, President Buhari is attended the Forum on China Cooperation in China, this renewed interest from different world super powers, states unequivocally that Nigeria –  again is on the cusp of greatness.
Akanji is a political strategist and writes from Abuja
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2019: Why Governor Bindow Must Go, By Dr. Ibrahim Hamman

Just yesterday, I read a treatise by one Dr Gambo Alkali with the caption “Why President Buhari should be neutral in Adamawa Guber-Race”. In both content and context, I found the article lacking in depth and substance, with serious pitfalls and widening gaps in logic and fundamentals.

It is for this glaring flaw arising from inadequacies of political knowledge, has become expedient to critically examine the issues raised, not necessarily to join issues, if any, but to correct the erroneous impressions and obvious misrepresentation of facts that were the lot of that compromised article.

Comments like this coming from a man of “letters” with a prefix of (Dr.) to his name is to me a product of intellectual laziness that if allowed to flow, may likely cross the rubicon of decency in a normal democratic setting. There is no clear demonstration of vision and mission as that piece could only find space in a college magazine, hence the need to correct the narrative and its likely collateral damage that may influence some less endowed collective psyches.

In the said article, Alkali went on a voyage of infamy by staging a one man protest as to why President Muhammadu Buhari should pose for photograph with his brother-in-law Dr Mahmoud and one of the leading contenders to the office of Governor of Adamawa in 2019.

He said “In the picture, President Buhari was in a ceremonious mood with his brother-in-law and Adamawa Guber-aspirant, Mahmoud Halilu (Modi) after the later picked his expression of interest and nomination forms to contest for the Adamawa Governorship in 2019”.

Assuming, without conceding to the fact that the President posed for a photograph and in ceremonious mood with his brother-in-law, has there been any law in the Nigerian Constitution that prevents the President from taking photographs with family members and other ordinary Nigerians?

How does a harmless picture translate to endorsement or votes at the primaries when Governor Bindo has succeeded in handpicking delegates and pocketing same under the proposed indirect primaries?

For the purpose of records, it will be interesting to note that President Buhari is a natural leader, a mentor, a grassroots mobilizer, a bridge builder and a compassionate democrat whose love for humanity found its deepest and most profound expression in his commitment to social justice, transparency and optimum accountability in the process of good governance. The President does not compromise standards and may not likely be in sync with people with low level political culture, shallow intellectual capital and less credibility to govern a state as endowed as Adamawa.

With all the above attributes of a highly respected statesman in Sub-Saharan Africa, do we expect the President to pose for a photograph with Atiku’s in-law who purchased a PDP form to contest for the seat of Governor of Adamawa State?

Dr. Mahmoud Halilu (Modi) is not only an in-law to the PMB but is a son to the President. Since childhood up to the present, Dr. Halilu popularly referred as “Modi Buhari” has steadily and of course progressively learnt the ropes of politics, patience, good conduct, clinical human relations, loyalty, steadfastness and incorruptibility in public conduct.

Imbibing the virtues of Mr. President, Dr. Halilu grew up with the culture of fairness and high respect for the elderly. As a man of high intellect, the Guber-aspirant is distinct and respected for his unbendable principles, moral rectitude, psychological stability and above all transparency and credibility in the process of good governance.

In his article, Dr. Alkali, has failed to tell the people of Adamawa that Governor Bindo has woefully failed the state in the last three years of his administration. Here was a Governor that came with promising potentials to develop the state but due to short term vision and long term intellectual inadequacies the man bestrode the state like a colossus with deceptive impunity and utter pretenses. With a nauseating appellation of “Digital” another name for crude lies and stone-age deceit, why should a state, abundantly blessed by enviable flora and fauna with limitless potentials in human capital be governed by an intellectual “Lilliputian”?

As a Governor that relishes the presence of court jesters, coupon clippers and nay-sayers around him, who says that Adamawa should not have a viable and vibrant alternative that could change the narrative? With little or no solid personal achievements beyond the legacies of business acumen and interpersonal relations of his forebears, Governor Bindo has performed abysmally low and the state is slowly but gradually drifting to the bottomless pit of infamy. If I were to assess the Governor’s performance profile in the last three years, I think he does not have the gusto, acceptable moral template and the competent administrative acumen to successfully govern a very organized Local Government Council.

With the level of governance deteriorating from the sublime to the ridiculous due mainly to the preponderance of mediocrity and iniquity, Adamawa is seriously suffering from high unemployment rate, acute administrative neglect, crumbling social infrastructure, collapse of the education sector, social deprivation, endemic social malaise, abject poverty, filth and squalor. This typifies the frivolous, insensitive and inept leadership of a government on auto-pilot.

In this era where brilliance is uppermost in dazzling mediocrity, where scholarship obliterates darkness and public good takes over public relations, the coming into the race of Dr Modi to govern Adamawa under All Progressives Congress (APC) in 2019 should be seen as a welcome development by all men and women of good conscience.

There is no sentiment in politics and the desperate effort made by Dr. Alkali to weep up sentiments by bringing in the President and his wife into the arena must be condemned by Democrats of Conscience.

Dr. Halilu (Modi), with two Master Degrees in International Affairs and Diplomacy as well as in Business Administration from the prestigious Ahmadu Bello University Zaria is coming into the race with credible potentials and rich Resume.

With over 20 years post graduate experience in public and private sectors of the Nigerian economy, Dr Modi in  2007 ventured into the murky waters of the Nigerian politics where he contested the general elections for House of Representatives to represent Yola North, Yola South and Girei Federal Constituencies.

In his letter to the state chairman of the APC in Adamawa, on his expression of interest to join the 2019 Guber-race, Dr. Modi comes in with well-conceived concepts, vibrant ideas and promising potentials to reposition the state to meet the challenges of the new democratic order.

He state that “Adamawa state has been confronted with many challenges which could ordinarily be turned to opportunities for the general well-being of our people and my decision to contest for the office of Governor is borne out of patriotic and nationalistic desire to positively respond to our generational challenges”.

Dr. Halilu stated that he has made far reaching deliberations and wide consultations with critical stakeholders of the party in the state and has reached a conclusion based on the yearnings and aspirations of the people to offer himself to contest for the office of Governor in 2019.

Dr. Modi has a larger vision in the governance of Adamawa as he plans to provide modern social infrastructure, enhance human capital development, and improve the welfare and wellbeing of the civil servants through prompt payment of salaries and entitlements. Pension will be a matter of right, not privileges.

He said he will take appropriate action to provide functional education, modern healthcare delivery and sufficiency in food production. That, his idea of governance is not only to limit his scope of providing substandard roads that were allegedly doled out in outrageous sums and repainting of few schools but total overhaul of the system to provide the much sought after dividends of democracy and total eradication of poverty.

He promises to operate, if voted into office an open door policy and an administrative template that would operate on the fear of God, where honest, transparent and selfless approach to governance will be its focal point. He will tame insecurity, turn round the state’s economy for good governance and fiscal prudence and fight high profile corruption and monumental looting of the public till.

 

-Dr. Hamman is an Abuja based Journalist.

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Purchase of Forms For Buhari: Thisday Newspaper And Its Fake Interpretation Of The Electoral Act, By Musa Aliyu

This day Newspapers has made a subtle allegation of breach of section 91(9) of the Electoral Act, 2010 (As Amended) against NCAN and its leadership.
According to the Newspaper, expression of interest and nomination of forms purchased is a clear infraction of section 91(9) of the Act which provides “No individual or other entity shall donate more than one million naira (1,000,000.00) to any candidate”. The paper quoting the opinion of some unnamed lawyers that “if the president accepts the forms he would be liable to the punishment stipulated in S91 (10)(a) of the Act.”
However, I disagree with the opinion of the lawyers claim that what NCAN did is an infringement of our Electoral Act, 2010.  To appreciate my position we have to look at the provisions of the Electoral Act and judicial decisions to unravel the issue.
Section 91(1) and (2) provides that Election expenses to be incurred by a presidential candidate shall be One Billion Naira Only. The Act has provided the way to determine the One Billion and the One Million Naira donation. By Section 91(8)(a) no account shall be taken of any deposit made by the candidate on his nomination in compliance with the law.  In other words, the expenses of a candidate, before the primary election is, excluded.
It is the position of the law beyond pronounced times without number by all the level of court in Nigeria that in interpreting a clear provision of a statute, natural meaning shall be given, to the wording of the law. In Saraki v FRN (2016) LPELR-40013 (SC) the Supreme Court per Muhammad JSC held that “In interpreting provisions of the Constitution and indeed any statute, the settled principle is that where the words used are devoid of ambiguity, same must be given natural meaning.”
In addition to that Kekere-Ekun, Justice of the Supreme Court opines that in such situation contrary meaning should not be inserted. The object of statutory interpretation is to discover the intention of the lawmaker which is to be deduced, from the language used.
In applying the above position of the apex court on the issue at it is clear regulation of financial expenditure in election applies only to a candidate. Who is a candidate in an election contemplated in section 91 of the Act? By the provisions of section 31 and 32 of the Electoral Act, a candidate is a person sponsored by a political party to participate in an election and his name submitted to the INEC. See Mohammed & Anor v. Oriaku (2008) LPELR-4499 (CA) per Adekeye JCA (As he then was).
Based on the above decision can we refer President Muhammadu Buhari as APC candidate in the 2019 election? The answer is NO!  President Buhari is not even an aspirant. “An Aspirant is a person with a strong desire to achieve a position of importance or to win a competition. Indeed Section 87(1) of the Electoral Act States that: “A political party seeking to nominate candidates for elections under this Act shall hold its primaries for aspirants to all elective posts.”
From the above it is clear that an aspirant is a person who contested the primaries. An aspirant is thus a candidate in the primaries.” Per Rhodes-Vivour JSC in PDP & Anor v Sylva.
It is my candid opinion, based on the above provisions of the Electoral Act and judicial decisions section 91 of the Electoral Act does not apply to the circumstance hand. Members of the NCAN or any individual are entitled in law to purchase the form in the sum of N 45M. In fact, before a primary election, an individual can donate more than N1 Billion Naira to an aspirant.  President Muhammad Buhari, has the discretion, to accept the forms, and if he did that, no law, is breached. What the law prohibits, is no individual or entity should donate more than One Million Naira to an aspirant that emerged, as a candidate.
Sunusi Musa, NCAN’s action is within the law. The insinuation by the Thisday Newspaper is a bogus law which is a twin brother of fake news.
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Merkel’s Visit: Pivotal Lessons For Nigeria, By Tola Emmanuel

Last week, German Chancellor Angela Merkel visited Nigeria and two other West African countries to, amongst other reasons, discuss and implement viable economic and social strategies to tackle irregular migration to Europe from the sub-region.

Nigeria and indeed Africa has become a major origin of migrants seeking greener pastures in Europe through irregular means such as the Libya, Morocco, and Mediterranean routes which have accounted for several woes than wonders.

Just this year, over 1,500 irregular migrants are either dead or missing while attempting to cross the Mediterranean Sea into Europe, this is according to the International Organization on Migration. This figure, however, does not capture those lost in transit, as the whole process is largely undocumented. Thankfully, this is the lowest casualty figure recorded over the last five years.

While the beat of irregular migration seems to be gradually fading, several stakeholders such as Germany and Europe at large are still active in managing the situation, hence, the visit of the Chancellor. To this end, it is imperative for Nigeria to glean some lessons from Merkel’s visit and the global outlook to managing irregular migration.

Survival is at the core human existence, where and when such is threatened or unassured, a flight or fight mode is assured to erupt. The former is what many Nigerian youths have resolved to – flight to other countries perceived to possess and present better conditions of living and survival.

Undoubtedly, the state of living and surviving in Nigeria is at an all-time low cadence. This is marked by a recent international rating of Nigeria’s poverty index ahead of India, revealing that over half of Nigeria’s 196 million citizens are living below the poverty line. Therefore, Nigeria and indeed Nigerians cannot survive and sustain through a dysfunctional social space for the over seventy percent youth population of the country. This remains a critical reason for irregular migration.

The lack and limitedness of economic opportunities have been a major push factor for irregular migrants and many potential irregular migrants say they will drop their migration intent if provided with viable economic opportunities here in Nigeria, this is according to a research by the Migrant Project.

Germany has taken the lead in providing domesticated avenues to engage potential migrants and young Nigerians in general. The Nigerian government needs more forthrightness in managing and advancing easily accessible economic opportunities in order to checkmate irregular migration from the country. Social and economic opportunities are a sure component of checking human capital flight and irregular migration.

As with Nigeria, every country of the world is faced with diverse challenges. Germany, as well as other European countries, are faced with issues of unemployment and economic downturn, thereby, the remark of the German Chancellor: “There is the need to improve on the situation at home and make young people know how dangerous it is to leave their countries. Many stories told about Germany are not true.”

Over blotted and unrealistic tales of life and survival in Europe is yet another factor that pulls many Nigerians to embark on irregular journeys with the intent to also catch with such luxurious lifestyle, when in actuality, life is not always as easy as described anywhere in the world.

Communication is at the heart of social development and human change. The Nigerian government needs more human-centric and behavioural change approach to managing and mitigating issues of citizens disappointments, hopelessness and intent to migrate irregularly.

If done legally, migration is not a bad thing. But the act of traveling illegally comes with extensive repercussions including waste of time, money, safety, livelihood, resources and possibly life, with disadvantages for the country and humanity. Therefore, Nigerians must embrace safe and legal migration means o at best explore homegrown alternatives to illegal migration.

Tola Emmanuel

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2019 Presidential Election: APC Holds The Ace By Ayantunji Gbenro (@bengbenro)

I published an article with similar headline in October 2014 where I made a prediction on the likely outcome of 2015 Presidential Election. As at then, former President Goodluck Jonathan was certainly going to emerge as the ruling party’s (PDP) candidate while the opposition party (APC) has myriads of presidential hopefuls. I did an analysis and concluded that then General Mohammadu Buhari, a candidate under  the auspices of APC will emerge as the winner of the presidential election if he manage to get the APC’s ticket. With the benefit of hindsight, I was right. Buhari defeated President Goodluck Jonathan.

Fast forward 2019, barring any unforeseen situation, President Mohammadu Buhari will be the flag bearer of the ruling APC in 2019 election. All attention is now shifted to PDP’s primary election to determine his major challenger. I am not taking other political parties and candidates outside the two major political parties into consideration here not out of disrespect but because no political party outside the two major parties as of today has the spread to win a national election.

Also, most candidates presenting themselves as alternatives will hardly be able to muster enough votes to win councillorship seat from their wards. This, coupled with over bloated egos as displayed by the recent debacle (PACT) resulting from an attempt by some of the so called alternatives to forge a consensus showed that they not ready yet.

Back to the two major political parties and the quest to produce the next president. As at this period in 2014, the then sitting president and his party were losing almost all polls conducted online and offline. The failure of the administration was so glaring, especially in the area of corruption and security (Boko Haram).

The economy has nosedived with the crash in oil price and analysts within and without are all warning of doom that lies ahead. The opposition party (APC), with well oiled propaganda machine capitalized on the dissatisfaction to sell itself as a better alternative. The crack within the ruling party due ambition of various gladiators have always weakened it. All the opposition party needed was a strong candidate that can muster enough votes on his or her own and Buhari met the specification.

Once these conditions were satisfied, it was a matter of election day to kick out the PDP. As we approach 2019 elections, the PDP seems to be finding it hard to recover from the 2015 defeat. The media team of the party appears confuse. The same failed strategy adopted in 2014: fake news, fear mongering and religious profiling appears to be the modus operandi. If these failed in 2015, why should it succeed in 2019. PDP has a 16yrs of governance they can tap from to show why they are better than APC but they will rather want us to believe that every project completed by Buhari was initiated by PDP.

That in itself is telling Nigerians that PDP cannot be trusted. Aside lack of proper articulation of view by PDP, none of the candidates aspiring for PDP’s ticket today can boldly say that he/she can defeat Buhari even in his/her local government due to the fact that they are majorly from regions where Buhari has a cult like followership. Another major problem with PDP’s strategy is that it only appeal to people that will naturally not vote for Buhari. Rather than devising a strategy to break into Buhari’s area of strength, PDP is amplifying it campaign in the region where he has least support while alienating itself from areas where Buhari has majority of his supporters.

With these failures steering PDP in the face, Buhari may end up contesting against himself in 2019. However, a day is a very long time in politics and PDP can still redeem itself.

Let’s now examine what Buhari brings to the table in 2019 election. It will be unfair to examine Buhari’s or APC’s scorecard without looking at the situation that was inherited. The Buhari’s campaign in the build up to 2015 election was based on a tripod (economy, Security and fight against corruption). Why did the campaign focused on these three issues? The economy was nose-diving at an alarming rate. States couldn’t pay salary. Reserve was dwindling at a rate faster than Usain Bolt. inflation was rising etc.

On security, Boko Haram was threatening to overrun the country. Nowhere in the country is secure. Attending places of worship or social function is a herculean task, security operatives will search you to the point of embarrassment. Any bag you carry is a suspicious item. Security check points on our roads will make you to believe that you are in Syria or Yemen. Herdsmen and Rustlers were killing daily, kidnappers were having free rein and nobody seems to care because of bigger menace represented by Boko Haram. On corruption, it became a norm. The president even inform the nation that what we call Corruption is “mere stealing”. $20bil decided on it volition to work out of the Central Bank and the governor that raised the alarm was shoved out of the way with impunity. Deziani became a law unto herself. A jet was impounded in South Africa with Nigeria’s fund and nobody was punished. These are many more was the situation Buhari and APC inherited.

Where are we today? To stabilize the economy after taking over, the Buhari administration policy direction was to remove wastages by blocking loopholes, diversify the economy to improve revenue from non oil sector and to spend our way to prosperity by investing heavily in infrastructure. These efforts were at the onset of the administration hampered by dwindling revenue occasioned by drop in oil price and production. These factors force the economy that was nose diving into recession. But for the discipline of the administration, Nigeria would have today be sharing the same fate with Venezuela, Argentina, Turkey and even Egypt. However, due to astute management, the economy has been on the rise in the last eighteen months. This can be seen in drop in inflation for consecutive eighteen months. The GDP is positive. Import bill is dropping while export is  rising. We are witnessing an unprecedented investment in infrastructure across the country. Our foreign reserve has risen from about $29bil when the administration took over to about $46bil today with lower oil price and production. Recurrent bill is dropping due to weeding of ghost workers and pensioners. The naira was recently adjudged by The Spectator Index as the best performing currency against dollar in the last one year. The Yuan swap deal is expected to aide commerce. These are not happening as a result of wishful thinking but proper policy planning and implementation. In addition to these, the administration’s social investment programs is been applauded. At the end of 2018, about 500,000 youths would have benefitted from npower program. The multiplier effect of this program cannot be overemphasize. The school feeding program is feeding over 8million children across the country daily, over eighty six thousand food vendors are involve and the farmers benefitting cannot be quantified. The conditional cash transfer is putting five thousand in the pocket of the about one million poorest of the poor daily. The #tradermoni would have given a soft loan to about two million traders before the end of the year. On diversification, many have taken to farming and the anchor borrowers scheme and the recently announced 9% loan is helping out. As a testimony, Kebbi State governor recently said that the State earned about  #150bil from rice farming. We might not be at Eldorado yet, but when compared to where we were coming from, Buhari and APC have something to present to electorates. What PDP will present to counter this beyond the culture of money sharing is left for conjecture.

On Security, Boko Haram was holding unto seventeen local government when APC took over and bombs were going off like fire cracker across the country. Boko Haram has not been completely eliminated today, but they have been sufficiently degraded that an attack by Boko Haram is now regarded as an unusual news. Armed herdsmen and rustler were neglected when Boko Haram held sway. They became the news as Boko haram disappeared but the last few weeks have shown that even that is gradually becoming a history. The restive youths in the Niger Delta have been largely pacified and if the government can maintain the confidence developed, it would have achieved a lot in that regard. More can be done, but considering the immediate past, Buhari and APC government would be said to have achieved in this regard.

On fight the fight against corruption, even the greatest critics of Buhari’s administration are not denying the effort of the administration to fight corruption, the argument has always been on the mode and reach. No administration has ever recovered looted fund as this administration has done. In the area of prosecution, this administration has filed more cases against corrupt individuals than any administration in history, the judiciary can help by been more proactive in the area of conviction. Three former governors have been convicted and they are all members of the ruling party. The TSA has curb wastages from government coffers. Though the TSA was not initiated by this administration, the  commitment and political will to see that it work from the administration is unprecedented.

Overall, Buhari and APC will bring to the electorate the scorecard of their stewardship in the last 4yrs and the electorate will judge them in comparison with what the opposition have in stock. Base on performance, candidates popularity and the political party’s strength, I will make prediction for 2019 election.

Barring any last minute changes, Buhari’s cult followership, Social security shemes, infrastructural development and the degradation of Boko Haram  will secure a minimum of 70% for APC in Northwest and Northeast. NorthCentral may look like a battle ground but when the voting strength Niger, Nasarawa, Kogi which appear secured for Buhari is taken into consideration, couple with  the fact that the opposition cannot in all honesty boast of been certain of winning any State except Benue in the region, the region can be called for Buhari at a minimum of 60 %.

The Southwest is all for APC presently. Osun election may alter that if any other party wins the gubernatorial election. Even at that, Buhari should comfortable get a minimum of 60% votes cast from the region. Buhari didn’t get up to 10% of votes casted in any of the Southeast and South- South States in 2015 except Imo and Edo. 2019 will be different. APC has been waxing stronger in these regions since the 2015 election. Many bigwig politicians have moved into the party in the regions. In addition, various infrastructural projects and social investment programs may sway a lot of votes.

The PDP has also lost the instrument of coercion that was employed to dissuade people from voting for Buhari in these regions in 2015. When all of these factors are taken into consideration,  Buhari should be securing a minimum of 40% of votes from these regions on a worst case scenario. If the voting strength of each geopolitical zone is taken into consideration, Buhari/APC will win the 2019 Presidential Election by between 56% to 65%.

This prediction is done using semi-empirical process, other factors not taken into consideration may alter the final result but that will not change the eventual winner.

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Bindow’s New Approach To Raising Internally Generated Revenue, By Babayola Toungo

The relative role of state governments in public service delivery has emerged as one of the most important topics of open and vigorous debate in the democratic environment of Nigeria. There have been increasing calls for improvement of fiscal policy in the States and fiscal relations between the Federal, States and Local Government Councils to be reassessed in the light of a widespread belief that although the states and LGAs are assigned primary responsibility for the delivery of basic public services, they are not equipped with adequate revenue resources to fulfill their expenditure obligations. In some instances and in recent times the debate has been on the economic viability of some states and how the states are not financially sustainable without a robust and sustainable internal revenue generation effort.

However, there is palpable lack of discussion around whether the current practice of assuming expenditure responsibility and undertaking its implementation is such that a mere shift in resource allocation will achieve the desired objective of delivering better services to the majority of Nigerians. A real issue at stake, which has not received much attention to date, is how effectively do the different tiers of government use their existing resources to perform their functions.

In fact, it may be argued that in the context of the Nigerian economy, states and LGAs receive substantial amount of resources, with their total revenues amounting on average to over 5 percent of GDP between 1990 and 1999, and over 10 percent of GDP after the oil price increase in 1999.  Specifically, state administrations such as that led by Bindowo in Adamawa State have been the recipient of Federal Government fiscal transfers not only from the Federation Account but also from the Paris Debt Exit Funds. This has placed the Adamawa State administration in a position to make a most viable economic account of its performance in office since 2015. However, this question of accountability of the administration need not detain us.

It is in the area of development in Adamawa State and of the potential for developing non-oil local tax bases that the recent actions of the Bindowo administration appear to be displaying incompetency or a clear lack of consistent and coherent grasp of the instrument of tax policy framework – but then the administration is making a glaring display that it has not formulated a tax policy in the first place.

In Adamawa State as elsewhere in Nigeria there have been calls for developing other, more geographically dispersed natural resources, as a local revenue base. However, in an environment where the current sources are already generating government revenue in the tune of 50 percent of the country’s GDP, and conditions of actual service delivery remain poor, it is unclear whether the marginal benefit of an additional naira of public resources would justify the marginal cost of revenue creation. It may be argued, that the immediate challenge is not one of additional revenue mobilization but rather of undertaking public expenditures more effectively, under the current resource constraints.

Furthermore, since Adamawa State as other State administrations have jurisdiction over taxes like the personal income tax and property taxes, increasing economic growth may itself translate into a stronger local tax base. This therefore required the Bindowo administration to formulate a clearly enunciated tax policy framework for improving the tax base. Accompanying this is also the reforms for improving the tax collection efficiency, capacity and capability of the tax administration in Adamawa State.

It is in this context that some of us observers of the financial /economic terrain of Adamawa State were at a loss as to what to make of the recent criminal case instituted by the government against Professor Kyari, Vice Chancellor of the Modibbo Adama University of Technology, Yola and the University’s Director of the Centre for Distance Learning, who was also a former Secretary to the State Government (SSG) Professor Abdullahi L. Tukur.

What is the criminal arraignment all about? To improve revenue base? To enhance the tax collection efficiency? Or to ensure that the persons arraigned before the court are up to date in the payment of taxes due and payable by them or that they are prosecuted for default on tax payment? Yet it is on record that these two individuals have been meticulous in the payment of their personal taxes on a monthly basis as in the period of the last 20 years there was never a reported action on the part of the Board of Internal Revenue of Adamawa State to ask that these individuals pay their pay as you earn – these two individuals have their tax clearance certificate to bolster their position.

But our inquiries reliably divulged that Professor Kyari and Professor Tukur are not arraigned before the Court for a crime of default of payment of their taxes. Purportedly they are arraigned before the Court because, allegedly, they are to be held responsible for the non-payment/non-remittance of N460.0 million in pay as you earn of employees of the Modibbo Adamawa University of Technology, Yola. That, allegedly the University refused to remit to the state government Pay As You Earn (PAYE) deductions from the salaries of the University staff accrued for the period 2008, 2009 and 2010. At that time Professor Kyari was not the Vice Chancellor of the University. Also Professor Tukur was not the Secretary to Adamawa State Government, when the then administration of Adamawa State for policy considerations best known to that administration waived the remittance of the PAYE.  Both the Professors got their appointments at the University in 2014.

It has been reported that the management of MAUTECH had in 2014 made a presentation to the acting governor of Adamawa State, for a waiver of the remittance of the PAYE on the consideration that deductions of PAYE was not made from staff salaries at the time.  The then administration of Adamawa State accepted the position of management of the University and waived the remittance of PAYE on account of non-deduction.

The Bindowo administration exhibited its incompetency and lack of understanding of tax collection processes and proceeded to challenge the waiver in court, which they won at the court of first instance.  The waiver was declared null and void.  MAUTECH appealed the decision to the Court of Appeal but also opened a line of negotiation with the state administration with a view to settling the matter out of court.  Without going into the merits of the appeal – it is doubtful if the administration of Bindowo would have been able to implement that decision any way. From which salary would it demand that the reinstated PAYE in the sum of N460.0 be collected to satisfy the judgment?

Then out from the left field, the state slammed a criminal charge against Professor Tukur before a Magistrate Court.  On second thoughts, in trying to be clever by half and making it not look as if they are persecuting Professor Tukur, they amended their charge to include the Vice Chancellor.  The apparent display of lack of good intention is glaring, in bringing a criminal charge while the management of the University has an appeal on the same PAYE.  What point is the government trying to make? To arm-twist the Vice Chancellor and Professor Tukur to abandon the appeal?

The glaring ignorance of tax matters makes this action of the Adamawa State administration laughable and painful. The administration could not take a cue from the Voluntary Asset and Income Declaration Scheme (VAIDS) of the Federal Government, where the Federal Government issued an Executive Order aimed at broadening the Federal Government’s tax base and thereby offered incentive to tax evaders. It did not embark on “strong arm tactics” of criminal prosecution of chief executive officers of institutions of learning and such like.

The Executive Order provided a nine-month period, for all categories of taxpayers who are in default of their tax liabilities to declare their assets and incomes from sources within and outside Nigeria relating to the preceding six (6) years of assessment. Upon compliance the Scheme provided the following benefits for taxpayers:

Immunity from prosecution for tax offences;

Immunity from tax audit;

Waiver of interest;

Waiver of penalties; and

Option of spreading payment of outstanding liabilities over a maximum period of three years as may be agreed with the relevant tax authority.

Which of these approaches or steps did the Bindowo administration offer the citizens of Adamawa State? Including Professor Kyari and Professor Tukur before it resorted to the strong-arm tactics and intimidation of public officers discharging their statutory duties and responsibilities with criminal charges for non-remittance of PAYE that the previous administration of the State has waived?  What is very clear however is that Bindowo’s administration has embarked on wasteful expenditure actions and inefficient tax collection processes that are not in any way likely to raise the competencies and efficiency of tax collection in Adamawa State.

Kyari and Tukur have been pioneer staff of the University and each of the duo have spent over three decades moulding our youth and in the process earning positive names and reputations for themselves.  Each is a class act in his public comportment and actions.  Each served the public in different capacities and each had opportunity to leave the confines of the thankless penury of academia to greener pastures to earn a few millions but chose to remain and nurture the young.  In the process, they acquired class; they became known for their sterling quintessential qualities.  Tukur had served the state as Chairman of the State Universal Basic Education Board for four years and Secretary to the Government twice.  He acquitted himself very well on all occasions and all counts.

Now you have itinerant politicians who want to take away from the squeaky-clean reputation and upstanding character they have built over a lifetime.  Anyway, psychologists said you always try to take away what you don’t have from those who have.  When you lack class, you strive to destroy those who have.  Same goes for integrity, honesty and character.

While there may be other ulterior motives that are providing the incentive for the criminal arraignment, the actions of the Bindowo administration are not responsive to the political economy dynamics that shape state fiscal performance and accountability. The complex and still evolving revenue administration practices on this particular instance of PAYE remittance from the University is characterized by incentives and interests that can hinder coordinated and cooperative action between the management of the University, its staff and the Board of Internal Revenue of the state. Understanding the factors that drive the behavior of key actors at the state is critical for designing a policy framework or reform of the tax collection processes and mechanisms that can provide the right incentives and enabling environment for implementing technical reforms in the areas of fiscal management and accountability.

Sad to say the criminal action against Professors Kyari and Tukur are not placing the internal revenue efforts of the Bindowo administration on a sustainable path of success – alas a sad outcome for the citizens of Adamawa State.  This may be my last word on the administration of Bindowo.

 

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Gbenga Ashafa And The Call For Another Term, By Gbolahan Yusuf

The calls for Gbenga Ashafa to run for another term as Senator representing the Lagos East Senatorial District have continued unabated and that it is to be expected and respected. Coming at a time when political loyalty has become very scarce commodity, the calls only serve to further prove that loyalty is better earned than bought. And as a lawmaker in this country, Senator Ashafa has earned the loyalty of his constituents through efficient representation at the Senate and the direct investment in the lives of the people. These are the reasons he should be rewarded by his party, the All Progressives Congress, with the ticket to serve a third and well-deserved term in office.

One would be hard-pressed to find in the 8th Assembly another senator as well-mannered, eloquent, cultured and refined as Senator Ashafa. He carries, in every way, the type of progressive demeanor that the APC promised Nigerians when it took over power in 2015. Through self-discipline, he has distanced himself from scandals, whether political or personal. His soft-spoken nature has endeared him to senators on both sides of the aisles and his brilliance shines through each time he takes the floor to speak in the Red Chamber.  Never speaks a word out of place. The many bills he has sponsored or co-sponsored directly affect the lives of the common Nigerians, for whom he battles daily in Abuja. Yet, he understands the value of giving back.

During his two terms, Senator Gbenga Ashafa has demonstrated a visible mastery of the mixture of responsibilities, both as a legislator and a representative. He has been creative enough to devise new methods of reaching out to his constituents in various ways. For example, about 120 of his constituents in February 2018 acquired various skills ranging from catering to mechanical repairs in a training programme in conjunction with the Small and Medium Enterprises Development Agency of Nigeria (SMEDAN). The Gbenga Ashafa Trust Endowment (G.A.T.E) is a Trust Fund set up by the Senator and it provides funds for projects covering ICT Training, Education, HealthCare, Micro-Finance, as well as Agricultural Development. Only recently, an ICT center/Town hall in Oreyo Grammar School, Ikorodu, which he sponsored as a constituency project, was commissioned for the benefit of his constituents, who have equally displayed great approval of his efforts. These various projects have touched and continue to touch thousands of constituents. This is outside of several infrastructural interventions carried out by the Senator in several sectors, but with particular focus on Education, an area the Senator is deeply passionate about, due in part to his quality educational background, which includes a Master’s Degree in Public Health Administration from the University of Tennessee, Knoxville in 1979.

Many of such projects include construction and renovation of classroom blocks in Epe; Odomola Primary School, Eredo in Epe, Elemoro Village; Salvation Army Primary School in Ibeju, Lekki Primary School, Ikosi-Isheri Grammar School, Magodo Community Primary School, Oke-Metta Primary School in Somolu, Ajelogo Primary School in Agboyi-Ketu, amidst several other structures ranging from boreholes to electricity transformers to link secluded areas to electricity or water. Medical outreach programmes have also been carried out for widows and widowers, with the Senator also taking steps to make Bank of Industry loans accessible to constituents.

The larger point is that while Senator Gbenga Ashafa saw to all these, he remained one of the highest contributing Senators of the Federal Republic in the hallowed chambers.

Senator Ashafa has been the Chairman of the Senate Committee on Land Transport in the 8th Senate, and has, in his role, actively provided legislative support for the efforts of the APC-led Federal Government to implement reforms in the railway system of the country. In his tenure as Chairman of the Committee, he has overseen the repealing of the Nigerian Railway Corporation Act 1955 and its replacement with the Nigerian Railway Bill 2016, which was passed by the Senate in July 2016 as well as the passage of the revolutionary National Transport Commission Bill. The Committee is also midwifing the Labour Transportation Bill to provide for the transportation needs of Nigerian workers. Senator Ashafa has also sponsored other bills in the Senate, including The Nigerian Drug Law Enforcement Agency Act Amendment Bill 2016, The Charted Institute of Logistics and Transport Bill 2016, The City University of Technology Bill 2016, Sporting Tax Holiday Bill 2016, The Nigerian Postal Bill 2017, The Nigerian French Language Village Establishment Bill 2017, among others.

If the efficiency of Senator Gbenga Ashafa’s representation, just like his legislative prowess, cannot be called into question, it is really a waste of time and energy to be mooting any replacements for the Lagos-Island born politician. Trading a certain positive for uncertainty has never and will never be a sensible option.

Seeing as wisdom has never been a scarce item in the country’s commercial capital, it therefore comes without surprise that stakeholders in the Lagos East senatorial district are have continued to endorse the Senators’s re-election bid. Because good work should always come with a reward…alas, in the form of more work.

Senator Ashafa himself once said, “I’m grateful for the opportunity to serve and proud of the work I have done and continue to do in the Senate. Be rest assured that I will continue to provide legislative interventions and support towards policies and initiatives that will positively impact Nigerians and my dearest constituents in Lagos East.” #TogetherWeCanDoMore

 

Gbolahan Yusuf lives in Lagos.

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The Days Of Hegemony In Cross River APC Are Over, By Okoi Obono-Obla

The National Chairman of the All Progressives Congress, His Excellency, Comrade Adams Oshiomhole is a very blunt man who does not mince words! He says it as it without caring a hoot whose ox is gored. I like Comrade Oshiomhole very well; he is the best thing to happen to our great Party which was nearly destroyed by the incompetence and lukewarm administrative style of his predecessor.

Comrade Oshiomhole made a startling revelation while addressing leaders of the APC Kwara State when he said that the vaulting ambition of Dr Bukola Saraki nearly destroyed the APC! Comrade Oshiomhole therefore charged members of Party not to allow their personal and selfish interest to prevail over the overall interest of the Party. This warning is apt and appropriate and resonates well with me concerning the happenings in Cross River Party.

Some of us are allowing our personal ambition and selfish interest to destroy the Cross River APC. For the past four year or so, the Cross River APC has suffered intractable crisis and fragmentation purely and solely because some hegemonists and pseudo democrats have been plotting and scheming on how to seize the Party and put it into their pockets. I see no reason whatsoever why some body will want to take a Party made up of people of diverse interests and put it in his or her pocket. It does not make sense at all. This is a ugly spectre of the 17 years of PDP militarization and bastardization of our democratic values and ethos.

However, if APC truly espouse “change”, then all of us must purge ourselves of such undemocratic and dictatorial disposition. Gladly, Comrade Oshiomhole on the 5 August 2018 while addressing a cross section of APC Cross River leaders in his private office in Ado Drive, Abuja said during his administration he would not tolerate such people. He said he would not allow anybody to matter how high or mighty he or she think to seize and control the structure of the Party from the National , State to the Local Government chapter levels . He said he is working in conjunction with President Muhammadu Buhari to return power to the people! He said the days of principalities seizing and control the structures of the Party is over. He said President Buhari stand for justice, fair play and transparency; a philosophy the APC equally stands for!

This is surely heart-warming and definitely accord or strikes a chord with the change mantle of the Party. It follows that whether you are a minister or special adviser or chief executive of a Federal Government agency or a member of the National Assembly or State Legislator or Commissioner or Local Government officials, you do not have the right to dictate to the Party or to seize control of any organ or structure of the Party and impose your whims and Caprices on the Party. We are floor members and the Party is supreme!

So, those of us who still harbour such undemocratic and anti-Party tendencies must jettison them in his present dispensation. Anybody nurse   or harbours such mind-sets must become born again. The mind-sets by some people that some others who join the Party before them are inferior or not supposed to occupy positions in government or Party must be thrown to the wind!

In the same vein, those who think that because they had occupy positions of influence within the Party previously or are presently occupying positions of clout and influence in government which give them the right to dominate should also jettison such line of thinking or reasoning .

I say without fear or contradiction that those of us who are lucky to be occupying positions in the present Federal Government from the State have a bounded duty and responsibility to ensure that the Party remains cohesive and united as we slowly and steady match towards the 2019 general election .

Okoi Obono-Obla

 

 

 

 

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Thoughts On The 58th Annual General Conference Of The NBA, By Nkannebe Raymond

 

The theme of the just concluded Annual General Conference of the Nigerian Bar Association (NBA), namely, “Transition, Transformation and Sustainable Institutions” in many details, speak to the circumstances of Nigeria as a nation state still grappling with the developmental problems that overwhelm invariably all sub-saharan African countries.

To the extent that it takes off from “Transition”, it finds a harmonious intersection with the political climate in Nigeria where the citizens warm up to participate in the highest democratic ritual of electing new set of leaders in the executive and legislative arms of government; an almost always controversial exercise in many African states.

The organizers of the conference must have had this in mind when they delimited “Transition” as one of the tripodal themes of the well attended conclave of legal practitioners as well as other key stakeholders drawn from other human endeavours. As there are no guarantees that we will have a seamless transition at the centre of power (in the likely event the current government is not returned by 2019) as was seen in 2015 courtesy of the graciousness of one man, it is only being proactive that one of the nation’s brightest of men be brought under one roof, to interrogate the factors that militate against seamless transition of power especially in African societies. As by doing so, we can  be armed with the right tools to check against it, or in a worst case scenario, tackle it head on, should it rear it’s ugly head.

How can African states become transformed in order to play a leading role in global politics has agitated the minds of nearly all her greats since the wind of independence swept through sub-saharan Africa a little before 1960 and beyond. Agitations for self rule by the leading African nationalists  from Senghor to Nkrumah through  Zik, and down to Awolowo to keep the list short, was largely informed by the need to make Africa the captain of her destiny and by implication, a key stakeholder in global politics so as to negotiate for what is hers in the comity of nations.

But in the five to six decades after most African states broke off the yoke of colonialism, disillusionment  aptly captures the situation in most of her economies.  So much so that not a few of African citizens have come out to declare that African peoples fared better under white rule. Like the proverbial sore thumb, underdevelopment has sticked out in the circumstances of many African states and the statistics out there bear this out.

With rising unemployment numbers;  hunger, occasioned by food insecurity brought by desertification and climate change; excruciating poverty( with Nigeria taking the ‘lead’ in this respect); inadequate health care facilities; high maternal mortality rate; a very ugly per capita income;  rising insecurity in Nigeria, Libya, Central African Republic, Sudan, Mali, Somalia and elsewhere; a cycle of corrupt leaders that have elevated misappropriation of public treasury to a virtue; it would be understating the point that Nigeria and indeed other sub-saharan states are in dire straits and in need of socioeconomic transformation.

This is where the second leg of the theme of the conference, to wit: “Transformation”, resonates. How do we transform African societies? Why are most African states poor in sharp contrast to their European and North American counterparts? As  one delegate asked in one of the plenary sessions, “is Africa a cursed continent, that she has become the world capital of gloomy statistics in most global indexes on socioeconomic performance?”.

Why is corruption most prevalent in Africa? And why is it increasingly difficult to live a decent life here? These and many more are some of the issues that agitated the minds of all those 10,000 delegates as well as faculties who converged on the International Conference Center, to attempt a therapy to  Africa’s developmental cirrhosis of sorts. And I have no doubt within me, that they have done a good job. But that was not all.

 

 

Ever since the publication of that masterpiece on political economy- Why Nation’s Fail, by the two cerebral authors, Daron Acemoglu and James A.Robinson, the argument of strong Institutions as a sine qua non to the growth and development of states have become a chorus in in the choir of developmental politics.

 

It is the irony of Africa however, that she has replaced strong institutions with strong men and have continued to pay for this indiscretion with a stunted, nay arrested development of her governments and peoples. A very steep price you could say. To put things in some context, It is to the weakness of institutions that we owe the decrepit nature of Nigeria’s chief civil security apparatus- the Nigerian Police Force and the numerous units within it especially the notorious Special Anti Robery Squad (SARS) now supposedly under reforms. If the head of a secret police assumes powers to the irritation of the Constitution by emasculating one of the pivotal organs of a democratic state, then we are met face to face with the opportunity cost of weak institutions.

One can go on and on, to highlight the divergent manifestations of strong men at the expense of strong institutions, but that would be tantamount to a needless excercise at this time.

The point being made however is that to the extent that the third limb of the theme of the conference under reference tethers around thesustainability of institutions, it is safe to say that the NBA is alive to the problems of Nigeria of today, and has taken it upon itself to be in the vanguard of getting her out of the proverbial woods.

And it is on this score, that credit must be given to the Technical Committee on Conference Planning (TCCP) who set the tone for what was indeed an edifying encounter.

The argument for strong and sustainable institutions notwithstanding, one of the highpoints  of the conference was the seeming aversion for this theory by one of Nigeria’s unlikely figure, His Royal Highness, Muhammad Sanusi II, the emir of Kano. In the special plenary session with the commander in Chief of the Republic of Ghana, His Excellency, Nana Addo Dankwa Akuffo-Addo, the erstwhile CBN governor declaimed that Nigeria, and indeed Africa still need strong men. And posited in his trademark accent that “weak men destroy strong institutions”.

The arguments of the bank guru in many details finds accord with those of a newspaper columnist, Mr. Paul Ojenagbon, who early last month in an article published in the Sun and Guardian Newspapers, and entitled, “Africa Still Needs Strong Men”, argued that as much as Africa was in great need of strong institutions, it does not suggest that strong men ipso facto constitute an anathema to developmental and transformational leadership. And thus submitted that in the African context and especially at this stage of her history, she was in need of some good dose of “strong men”.

I like to think that the examples of Singapore under Lee Kwan Yew; China under Mao; and Malaysia under Manhatir (in his first coming), in many respects recommend the thesis of the Kano monarch and my good friend, Mr. Ojenagbon when one factors the disposition of the leaders under reference to the autonomy of state institutions under their watch.

The danger however, and which unmasks the weakness of the thesis of the inimitable economist with all due respect,  is that strong men are given to upend and circumvent institutional bureaucracies which pose a great threat to the collective civil liberties of the citizenry.

And there is no better evidence of this than the sardonic  writ of president Muhammadu Buhari, who in what Prof. Wole Soyinka has aptly termed a “pernicious doctrine” attempted to make a mockery of the rule of law, by arguing, although warply, that “the rule of law must be subject to the nation’s security and national interest”. Such a poke in the face of the cherished Rule of Law principle that would make an A. V. Dicey turn in his grave.

That said, Suffice it to say however that the eminent Kano traditionalist has set the tone for a debate that I expect political scientists to interrogate in the Nigerian context to found upon a middle ground between strong men and strong institutions by all means.

At any rate, one expects that the rich discussions that was had throughout the technical sessions around the three pillars that form the theme of the conference would further put in glaring consciousness   the amount of work that needs to be done to effect a paradigm shift in the fortunes of Nigeria, nay Africa. And there is no question about who should drive this process.

Lawyers by the peculiar nature of their training must not only be in the forefront of setting this path for a New Nigeria (apologies to Obafemi Awolowo), but must be seen to do so. It has been said ad naseaum that when a nation gets her legal and judicial architecture right, every other thing would be added onto it, like they that seek first  the “kingdom of heaven” in scriptural parlance. If the above postulation hold some water, then lawyers in their twain professional roles as barristers and judges must rise to the occasion of this momentous era of our history.

Talk, as they say, is cheap as shit. Hence Beyond the glitz and glamour of the annual showpiece therefore, is the walking of the talk. Assuming we navigate through 2019 in a seamless transition, we would have achieved one of the main thrust of what this conference set out to achieve. But that would only be of real value if it leads to the transformation of the circumstances of the common Nigerian out there struggling to eke out a living. Which can only be possible with the right leadership.

A leadership that is ingenious enough to solve problems, and not one that shifts the burden as lawyers do, in a civil trial. But the peak of these all would be the setting up of strong, robust and sustainable institutions on which the engine of state would grind  seamlessly to birth the Nigeria, nay Africa of our shared aspirations. These, in my estimation are what the Nigerian Bar Association have tried to achieve in the extant edition of its annual professional pilgrimage.

Raymond Nkannebe, a lawyer and public interest commentator wrote in from Lagos. Comments and reactions to raymondnkannebe@gmail.com.

 

 

 

 

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Saraki’s Borrowed Garment Of Honour; Vengeance And Self Imposed Recompense, By AbdulRahman Agboola

Topical among issues creating anxiety in our contemporary society is the unresolved issue of restructuring in tandem with true federalism, many among people opposed to restructuring are opposed to the idea due to avalanche of opportunity it avails boundary readjustment. One singular isolated case in Nigeria is the protection of Ilorin Emirate by strong personalities of Fulani extraction, the extra ponderous circumstance that generated the contradiction where people mostly with Crown’s Ideology and native lands are at call and beck of an emirate council.

The Ilorin surrounding environments like Ganmo, Afon, Sawo, Lao, Ote, Malete and many others, comprises of Yoruba speaking populace and headship, with Yoruba Crowns. The conquest of the leadership of Ilorin by a Fulani Family in 1824 and supported by other Islamic clerics with similar ideologies – establishment of an Islamic Society, fetched the Leadership of Ilorin the status of an Emir and establishment of an Emirate Council on Yoruba land and soil. Over the years, the people of Ilorin and surrounding environments, mostly Muslims, in love with Islamic Principles and Ideologies have continued to respect the circumstances for relative peace, harmony and love that thrives among the people.

Virtually all Northern Leaders over the years, pride Ilorin as a viable possession of the Sokoto-Usman Dan Fodio Dynasty that must be protected at all cost, never to be westernized, regarded as property of the west nor be under the control, influence or grip of any Yoruba Leader politically, and this has prevailed politically for time immemorial.

On the political front, Chief Obafemi Awolowo didn’t enjoy the support of the Ilorin people in all his attempt to win Presidential Contest, not for any rude position against their stake other than the fear of a remedy by the beneficiaries of the trade of power. He only enjoyed the support of Yoruba Leaders from Offa and surrounding towns, due to the influence of Sir Olawoyin of the blessed memory and that rivalry exist till date politically, between politicians from Ilorin and Offa. The simple blackmail that makes any political office seeker within Ilorin and metropolis to be instantly hated or rejected is to be associated with the west, as a matter of fact, he will be instantly termed as projecting “Yoruba Interest” to promote the Crowning of an Oba in Ilorin, a blackmail used against Awolowo and Former Governor Muhammed Lawal of the blessed memories.

The Emir of Ilorin and cronies have continued to enjoy the genuine support of the Fulani Leaders from Sokoto Kebbi, Katsina, Kano, Jigawa, Zamfara and so on, in protection of their hegemony on a foreign soil  and a notable family from Ilorin has benefited undeservingly from that gesture over the years.

Assuming the blackmailers among the indigenes of Ilorin maintain economic and social interest by seeking education, work, trade and partner with Northern States only, or refuse to reside, earn a living or enjoy the business opportunities in Lagos, Ibadan, Iseyin, Osogbo, Akure, Abeokuta and other Yoruba Cities, the propaganda would have become genuine. The drummers mostly have Yoruba root and lineage but for dubious tendencies of fabricating false family claims, they jettisoned their Yoruba bloodline to play upon the intelligence of the Fulani people and hijacked the political structures for personal gain. Notable example is the Saraki Dynasty.

With the report of regular negative spiritual invocations against President Muhammadu Buhari by misguided spiritualists in Ilorin under the payroll of Senator Bukola Saraki and the constant spread of negativity against the President by mischievous persons at Mosques and public discussion usually led by allies of Bukoka Saraki, it becomes wondrous why the Ilorin Palace have refused to caution against all the bad wishes and lies against a genuine Fulani man in power.

The territories of the old northern region prior to amalgamation were well determined without conflict with the southern region, outside the spread of Islamic doctrines and principles through the borders of northern protectorate to the south, most importantly the western border through Nupe land to Yoruba Land, there was respect for the western culture and orientation by the Islamic Scholars as sufficient records entails. The eventual categorization of the Igbomina, the Ibolo, the Oyo, the Ogori and the Okun people in present day Kwara and Kogi States as northerners, created identity crises for a true Yoruba Man in a Northern Nigeria, especially in politics.

Let’s assume the advocates of one Nigeria at independence had no ulterior motives against the quest of leaders of western region for proper boundary adjustment, which could have rightly placed the population of Yoruba people carved out of the region, the proposals to have them duly categorized were vehemently opposed by the northern leaders that held on to the numerical advantage not minding the identity crises. At every given opportunity, these people have been agitating for additional States Creation which could have given them some sought of relief as referenced in their request for Okun State, Ibolo State and the likes of that.

The age long African Adage that says that “if a family is enjoying absolute harmony and peace, the bastard in that family has not come of age” has just come to true manifestation in the Ilorin and Fulani family affinity. We are Africans and we can’t shy away from our love for our family and race, often at the expense of others. It is important to state categorically that no blame is placed on the Fulanis for their continued support for an Emir in Ilorin or strong affinity with people with Fulani blood in Ilorin.

The unfortunate situation is the ugly fate that has recently befell the Fulani image and acceptability as good spirited people in Nigeria due to recent occurrences labeled against the herders and blackmail of a Fulani man who is the Nigeria President at this challenging time in Nigeria. Despite obvious fact of government frontal attack against insecurity and every other efforts to advance welfare of the people, the detractors of President Muhammadu Buhari are being led by a self-acclaimed         Fulani man with borrowed garment of honour. It is highly instructive to state that those that can legitimately claim to be genuine indigenes of Ilorin have family history and pedigree dated back to 1800 and have provable records of above five generations which is not the case with the Saraki family.

Often times, when recalling the ferocious killings that declared the last administration as incapable of ending insecurity, it coincided with the decamping of those forces that called themselves new PDP from the party to join forces with the unsuspecting forces in the opposition and shortly after the emergence of the present administration, there were serious gain by the people in terms of abating insecurity until when Senator Bukola Saraki had a running battle with the Executive Arm of the FGN.

It could further be recalled that each time President Muhammadu Buhari goes on vacation, killings mostly cease like miracle and renewed once he returns and the resounding alarm was the label that Fulani Herdsmen were responsible for all killings even at locations where Fulani Herdsmen are non-existent. All these were done to label the present administration as incompetent with regular sponsor of global negative reports capable of making the President non electable again or lose his popularity and acceptability among the electorates.

The modern Ilorin comprises of many chaffs whose fathers migrated to learn Arabic and Islamic Knowledge but eventually mixed up to get an Ilorin identity in the process. The first attempt by Late Dr Olusola Saraki to hold an elective position was in 1964 when he contested for the parliament from Asa (an Ilorin outskirt) which he lost only to resurface 10 years later having entrenched himself within the Agbaji Islamic Family in Ilorin where his biological father (Muttahiru Saraki) had his Islamic Education as a migrant from Abeokuta and later to Lagos and Abidjan where he resided and trained his children.

Having understood the benefit of claiming to be a descent of Fulani in northern politics, Olusola Saraki beautified an unfounded historical linkage to Fulani as a migrant from Mali, a scheming that sustained his affinity with the North and propounded his political sophistication in connivance with the Emir of Ilorin. While the existence of Ilorin as an Islamic Society and the headship of the town by an Emir can’t be subject to review, the usual threat against anyone with different opinion against the interest of the palace must come to abeyance or complete halt.

For the spurious claim, Bukola Saraki regarded as the heir apparent to the Saraki Dynasty has been seeking opportunity to contest for the seat of President, Federal Republic of Nigeria and having infested the minds of Northern Elites with vain believe of being a Fulani Man from Ilorin, following the footstep of his biological father that failed in similar situation and knowing fully well the identity crisis, he has been offering Greek gifts and unsolicited friendship with unsuspecting young northern populace, he has been busy with damaging the image of Fulani in Nigeria through sponsored media attack as reflected in his declaration statement where he carpeted the present administration on security in particular.

Those Northern Leaders and cronies that have continued to propagate political hatred against the West by sustaining the Fulani grip on Ilorin Leadership should come forward to explain why the Emir of Ilorin has continued to support a Bukola Saraki against a Muhammadu Buhari if truly love, trust and harmony still exist among the Fulanis.

It’s time for true sense of nationalism where we will no longer have a northerner or southerner, where we will no longer have a Yoruba, Hausa, Igbo, Fulani, Ibibio and the rest, a Nigeria where every Nigerians will share the identity of being a Nigerian locally and in diaspora. Senator Bukola Saraki is not to be blamed singularly for this mischief, leading personalities from the North Central – Kwara, Kogi, Niger, Nasarawa, Plateau and Benue have been perfecting plans to throw a fight against the North West and North East in the political battle for recognition to contest and win for the seat of the President of Nigeria.

The real problem is that most people from those States belongs to ethnics or tribes that exist only in their States or neighbouring States which makes it difficult for anyone from North Central to enjoy support beyond their domain when the seat of the President is under contention because of the way we play our politics in this clime. When you observe the relationship between Governor Aminu Tambuwal and Senator Bukola Saraki, think of the Sokoto Mentality of protecting Fulani interest in Ilorin and every Fulani Man in Ilorin must be accorded the fidelity and support by every Fulani Man but now, the die is cast.

If you doubt the fact that Senator Bukola Saraki is a clear example of what the Hausa call “Banza Bokoi” ask Senator Bukola Saraki to mention just two generations preceding his grandfather named Muttahiru Saraki or investigate why Former President Olusegun Obasanjo and Governor Isiaka Amosun are his best political confidants and support base, they are from the same fore bearers in Egba Land, it’s an open secret but because Saraki has become a household slave master with many political slaves in Kwara State, he remain the political godfather in Kwara same way such exist in some other States anyway.

In the declaration remarks and other public speeches of Senator Bukola Saraki, he has always cajole his audience and spectators with his good command of communication as a pretender. He has always claimed to be a decent man with love for development, let’s go on a journey to Kwara State where he governed for eight years and has dictated the government for the past fifteen uninterrupted years.

Most roads in Kwara State are under deplorable conditions and the Civil Servants are worst paid in terms of Salary Scheme in the whole of Nigeria. If Nigeria is truly the headquarters of poverty as mentioned by Senator Bukola Saraki in his Presidential Intent Declaration Speech on 30th August, 2018, then without being immodest, he should be held responsible if any indigene or resident of Kwara State lives in penury.

The politics of gratification on better stated, stomach infrastructure where people are paid for votes and compensated with “Amala plus Ewedu and Fifty Naira” for political support was founded in Nigeria by his biological father Chief Olusola Saraki before spreading to other parts of the Country, which is a definition of poverty. In the last 15 years under the political leadership of Senator Bukola Saraki in Kwara State, despite huge allocations from the Federal Government and unaccountable Internally Generated Revenues, the projects completed are the Aviation College, Kwara State University, Malete, IVTEC Ajase Ipo, Shonga Farm and Kwara Diagnostic Centre Ilorin while the renovated structures are the Airport and Stadium. It may interest you to note that all the projects are self-serving and elitists to his personal gains as the people only benefit insecurity and hunger under his reign.

When an opportunist (that wrecked Society General Bank where depositors fund were never refunded but became extremely wealthy with peoples savings from where he served as Governor of Kwara State and impoverished the people of the State before emerging as accidental Senate President) could open his mouth wide to shift blame of poverty among the people to the shoulders of the President, he doesn’t deserve to be a President because had he governed his State well enough, that State should have been an exemption in poverty classification.

Is Senator Bukola Saraki not extremely lucky that his identity crisis tally with the mindsets of good people of North Central at political battle with North West and North East, his fraudulent ilk from the South and Peoples Democratic Party fold that he has held sway for, in protection of their interest against diligent prosecution by the EFCC and Security Agencies in the efforts of the present administration to nail corrupt past leaders and sanitize the society. Since those powerful political demagogues decamped to the PDP and received encomium for creating uproar for the administration of President Muhammadu Buhari since 2015, most killings have stopped again, thinking the sponsored blackmail media blackmail and monetized political mobilization will mesmerize the populace against the President, what a farce!!!

At least most of the fraudulent characters that mismanaged the affairs of Nigeria prior to this era are rejoicing that they are harnessing forces against a President working tirelessly to fix the problems of patriotic Nigerians, they rejoice in vain, Nigeria must be great again under President Muhammadu Buhari.

Comrade AbdulRahman Agboola

Former President, National Youth Council of Nigeria

E-mail: waledgreatking@yahoo.com 08032813279

 

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National Security Versus Human Rights: Why President Buhari Is Right, By Okoi Obono-Obla

The rash of criticism unleashed by the opposition concerning the statement made by President Muhammadu Buhari in his opening remarks at this year Nigerian Bar Association (NBA) Annual General Conference, that where there is a conflict between the Rule of Law and National Security , the latter will prevail is totally and completely misplaced and misconceived.

Undoubtedly, the position of President Buhari is based on the exposition of Nigerian Constitutional Law by the Supreme Court of Nigeria in a plethora of decided cases. In other words, the declaration of President Buhari is absolutely in line with the position taken by the Supreme Court of Nigeria in a legion of decided cases.

One of such notable cases was decided in 2007 during the Obasanjo’s administration. It is the case of Alhaji Mujahid Dokubo-Asari versus Federal Republic of Nigeria (2007) (All Federation Weekly Law Report).

Alhaji Mujahid Dokubo-Asari (hereinafter referred to as the appellant), was a one-time leader of the Niger Delta Peoples Salvation Front (NDPSF) and later the leader of the Niger Delta Peoples Volunteer Force (NDPVF) and member of Pro-National Conference Organization. Along with one Mr. Uche Okwukwu and others now at large, he signed a communique which castigated the Governors, local government chairmen and Niger Delta Development Commission (NDDC) directors in connivance with the Federal Government of looting the oil revenue accruing to the people of the Niger Delta while pursuing their personal projects and aggrandizement. They therefore threatened to take up arms against the Government after lodging their protest with the Pro-National Conference Organization.

Following the threats and plans to cause civil disorder that would lead to the overthrow of the Government, the appellant was arrested and charged to court on a five count charge of conspiracy; treasonable felony; forming, managing and assisting in managing an unlawful society; publishing of false statement and being a member of an unlawful society, punishable under the Criminal Code Act, Cap. 77, Laws of the Federation of Nigeria, 1990.

Upon his arraignment, the appellant pleaded not guilty to the five counts and prayed the trial court to admit him to bail. His counsel prayers were not granted and the trial Judge refused to grant bail to the appellant. On appeal to the Court of Appeal, the court dismissed the appeal and affirmed the ruling of the trial court.

Dissatisfied, the appellant appealed to the Supreme Court. The two issues the Supreme Court was invited to determine was thus:

  1. Whether the Court of Appeal was right when it reached a conclusion of fact that there was acceptable evidence of threat to national security by the appellant in the case put forward by the respondent.
  2. Assuming (without conceding) that the case of the respondent revealed a strong prima facie case of threat to national security, whether it suspends the right to bail as enshrined in section 35 of the 1999 Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria.

The Supreme Court resolved the two issues in the negative and against the Appellant thus:

  1. Section 35 of the Constitution leaves no one in doubt that it is not absolute. Personal liberty of an individual within the contemplation of section 35(1) of the Constitution is a qualified right in the context of this particular case and by virtue of subsection (l) (c) thereof which permits restriction on individual liberty in the course of judicial inquiry or where, rightly as in this case, the appellant was arrested and put under detention upon reasonable suspicion of having committed a felony. A person’s liberty, as in this case, can also be curtailed in order to prevent him from committing further offence(s). If every person accused of a felony can hide under the canopy of section 35 of the Constitution to escape lawful detention then an escape route to freedom is easily and richly made available to persons suspected to have committed serious crimes and that will not augur well for the peace, progress, prosperity and tranquillity of the society. The Court called in the Supreme Court decision in Echeazu v. Commissioner of Police (1974) N.W.L.R. 308 at page 314.
  2. The Court further held that a charge of treasonable felony is a very serious offence and is prejudicial to National Security and that neither the appellant nor his counsel would sit down to fold up his arms, if on the seat of power, to allow any citizen to put his reign into terror and utter hopelessness or despondency while dancing to the music of a citizen who plots a Coup detat against him. He will certainly fight it to the end.

It must be reiterated that there is no right that is absolute. Even in the United States of America which is regarded as the bastion of liberal and constitutional democracy, the tenets of the Rule of Law always bow to national security and national interest of the country in the event that is a conflict.

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