Nigerian Youths And The ‘PDP’ Battle, By Whyte Habeeb Ibidapo

I remain Habeeb Whyte and I am still obliged with the responsibility that life placed on me to suggest a path deserving a collective action from Nigerian youths towards what fate have for us as Nigerians. To say that the struggles of our heroes shall not be in vain is the only basis that is making us advocating for ‘positive change’ and not just change. I have chosen not to be a silent collaborator in the guise of maintaining neutrality. The usual refrain in our clime is not to join issues with the elderly ones that have always advocated that an average Nigerian youth is not ready for leadership.  There is indeed wisdom in not joining issues; particularly in the very dicey and unfathomable political situation which is peculiar in Nigeria. However, the truth in my heart would not betray my tongue neither would my ink dry up in an attempt to face the reality on ground. The issue at hand is serious. It is far from an attempt to rewrite history but an attempt to move forward to the past with the crop of leaders that we have today.  There are many actors in the political succession stories in Nigeria since May 1999 with bogus claims of youthful contributions to the democratization struggle which cannot be substantiated. I consider this as a big challenge for my generation because an unsubstantiated claim is an adverse to the legacy of virtuous and progressive leadership which our patriarchs bequeathed on the country at independence.

Those who swear by the rule that everything has a price would have found much to contemplate. Delusions are often functional. A mother’s opinion about her children’s beauty, goodness etc., keeps her from drowning them at birth. Nigeria is Nigeria, so also we remain Nigerians but we cease to remain Nigerians when we start doing things that would bring her down. It’s only few men that have virtue to withstand the highest bidder. Most of us are doing things that have endangered and endangering the governance of this country. Few Nigerians are destroying Nigeria for the benefit of few Nigerians at the expense of massive Nigerians. This must not be allowed to stand as desideratum to be desired in our country and our generation must continue to canvass vehemently against pseudo-democrats whose only credentials are their tired and hired brain, mansions and fleet of cars must be politically, economically and socially ex-communicated from our midst. As youths, we must not see ourselves as plate-holders and at all times, we must insist on an irreducible minimum democratic credentials and antecedents as the entry point for whoever seeks elective office. We should shut our eyes to those leaders that would package ‘scams’ for us in the ‘change’ language.  The rich and highly placed are running a dreadful risk in their callous neglect of the poor and the downtrodden Nigerians. If we don’t call attention to ourselves, who would?

 

It should be noted that there is a calculated attempt to shut the youths out of governance in all forms. This is an unconscious conspiracy that has matured in the minds of some of the leaders that are rallying around the constitutional leaders in Nigeria. Sadly, some youths that has grown unconsciously to be model in such an act. This is the time to challenge bizarre and money-forces parading themselves as our representatives and put them in their rightful places in the hall of infamy are guaranteed as champions of extractive politics. This moment should be used by us to ensure that our leaders should recruit and position young people for public offices with the intention of proper empowerment towards the challenges of leadership. Most young ones that have been privileged to taste power have derailed to an extent and have turned against the very structure that bred and nurtured them from ground zero. Some youths are pseudo-activists and situational supporters of worthy causes who jump fences in the face of intimidation or in anticipation of better deals on the side of our oppressors. We have them in abundance especially on the social media platforms. We all know the sudden advocates of a better Nigeria but gone silent even when the so called leaders are not getting it right. So disappointing that some of these youths are still red carpeted upon their chameleonic attribute which is buttered with impunity.  Only a flustered mind gets bewildered by the pangs of betrayal for too long. A true ambassador of the Nigerian youth constituency would never deterred by antics of betrayers particularly when there is a historic mission to be fulfilled. Betrayers of the Nigerian constituency should never be confused with revolutionaries who are usually propelled by ideology and common good.

In spite of desperation to monopolize power to selfish servicing of the pockets, some youths with rational mind have learnt to sift, distil and situate unfolding scenarios of youth neglect in proper governance into proper context. When the concocted and empty promises are left to fester unchallenged by leaders within the same system, the public would be fed with outright mischief, half-truth and mere fabrications. The sad truth is that some youths may end up as victims of acquiescence and cold complicity which desperate and wicked leaders seek to foist on their colleagues in the system.  As the saying goes, success is meaningless without a good or better successor; leaders that believe in the notion that the Nigerian youths should be afforded a number of opportunities to participate in governance should be encouraged and supported at all times. Unfortunately, these leaders are rare and the opportunity afforded represents a paradigm generational shift from gerontocracy to youth dynamism. No doubt, this comes with challenges too.

For Nigeria to experience sustainable socio-economic development, responsible, credible governance, she need true leaders who will build strong and transparent institutions as well as leaders who are dedicated to how history will remember them for transforming the society rather than accumulation of private wealth must emerge to implant the act of good and selfless governance in Nigeria. The Nigerian youths must remain consistent with an unwavering, unflagging and unalloyed commitment in the discipleship of the movement for the emergence of an egalitarian society. Every generation, out of relative obscurity, will discover its mission, whether to fulfill or betray it. It is noteworthy that when the youths have decided to change the ‘change’, it is a step in their Personal Development Programme. With their PDP, the change begins with them.

(WHYTE HABEEB IBIDAPO is a Lawyer, United Nations Award winner, Africa International Arbitration Award winner, Coca cola/ The Nation Campuslife Award Winner, Promasidor Runner-up for the Best Future Writer in Nigeria, i-Hustle Campaign Initiative – Ambassador and Editor – Egba Youth Awards Foundation.

Email: whyte287@gmail.com

@whytehabeeb

Talking El-Zakzaky Out Of Controversy, By Ade Ilemobade

I am not a Jurist and I do not claim to have professional competence on legal matters. However, nothing prevents me from poking my philosophical proboscis into the analysis of fundamental issues within the purview of human rights architecture as regards preventive detention in Nigeria and El-Zakyzaky’s case is instructive as a starting point to flesh out this contentious, controversial methodology of protecting and preserving public interest or national security.

My intention here is to avoid unnecessary legal terminologies or cumbersome definitions in other to present a vivid clarification of my position to support preventive detention specifically in the case of El-Zakyzaky to forstall the disintergration of public order given the antecedents of IMN leadership and the delicate intra-religious hegemonic warfare between Shiites and Sunnis in Northern Nigeria not forgetting the unfortunate incident in Kaduna leading to death and wanton destruction of properties.

To preventively detain an individual is to take away his/her freedom and liberty using executive administrative order where and when circumstances come up needing such action either with the aim of protecting national security and public order or protecting the individual in question from harm. It is important to note here that no requirement of previous conviction is a precondition neither is it a necessary condition that the individual being preventively detained has committed any offence at the moment of detention rather certain antecedents of such person not necessarily legal conviction might be enough justification for such detention without trial because of the potentiality of such individual constituting national security threat.

I want to emphasize again that the most important element of justification in respect of preventive detention can be suspicion or reasonable probability. Therefore, the necessariness of previous criminal conviction based on legal evidence is of no significance. The need here is to pre-emptively stop the perpetration of action and event that can be injurious to public security and the release of El-Zakyzaky from detention in my view can probably lead to event that is injurious to public safety and a threat to national security given the state of health or medical condition of the Man since the Kaduna Shiites versus Nigerian Army confrontation.

You may disagree with me given the above explanation but the information available to me suggests that the Man El-Zakyzaky is better protected in government custody and really preventive detention is not explicitly rejected in the Nigerian constitution because there are situations wherein an individual can be detained for up to three months pending arraignment before a competent court but that is when there is a criminal charge(s) against such individual. However, in El-Zakyzaky’s case there are no charges and the constitution is silent on that because it is a matter that concerns national security beyond the purview of what the drafters of the constitution anticipated as regards the jurisdiction of the court in such cases wherein executive administrative orders predominate.

The interpretation of the Nigerian constitution in its ordinariness without imputing any externalities beyond what it means under the rubric fundamental rights has some similarities and same scenario just like what is observable in international human rights law in practice. This is so because the standard practice locally and internationally has being to use national security or public interest arguments to justify preventive detention and the international community has been finding it difficult to condemn the practice. Guantanamo, Abu Ghraib anti terrorism practices of the United State of America is instructive here.

Those chanting that preventive detention is anti-democratic must do a rethink in the light of the above because it does not matter anymore whether the institutions or governments enforcing such detention are democratic or dictatorial neither is the rule of law a panacea to stopping the application of preventive mechanism of detention in so far as there are provisions or lacks in their legal statute that allowed or not explicitly disallowed preventive detention so any attempt to hide under any claim that a democratic country cannot and should not preventively detained people is Ignoratio elenchi.

The issue here is whether there is a threat to national security and public order and if/when the answer is in the affirmative which I believe it is coupled with the awareness that Nigerian government entered reservation to most articles in international human rights treaty that have the effect of infringing on its interpretation of cetain provisions of state laws in national interest then the lawfulness of preventatively detaining El-Zakyzaky in the interest of national security cannot be challenged legally sucessfully.

Public interest is a higher goal of any statehood an important base of our social contract, any Nigerian can be detained using public interest as justification there are no legal requirements in contradistinction to Art 36 (5) Every person who is charged with a criminal offence shall be presumed to be innocent until he is proved guilty; which is about criminal offence, presumption of innocence and the prove of guilt but this is not the case with El-Zakyzaky he was taken into preventive detention which in my opinion has no explicit regulation in our constitution and the reasonableness of time for adjudication by a competent court does not apply in this case because there are no charges it is therefore mere academic going to court seeking relief.

El-Zakyzaky’s release may cause great public disorder Nigerian government has taken the right decision that is proportional to the end game of preventing public disintergration, disorder and threat to national security given the circumstances of the case under review.

Why Peace Is Becoming Elusive In Southern Kaduna, By Mukhtar Garba Maigamo

“I’m for truth, no matter who tells it. I’m for justice, no matter who it’s for or against.”-  Malcolm X

The cumulative burden and the incidence of violence in Southern Kaduna  (from 1980s to the recent one in 2011) which this present administration of Elrufai inherited now –sadly, is becoming hard nut, not in itself really, but because those self-appointed Town Criers of southern Kaduna are just two-faced characters.  They are the ones propelling this by their sheer hypocrisy and double standard.

They underreport any attack on Fulani but overblow every reprisals carry out. It has also become a point of duty for them to be hypercritical of everything and anything about the Kaduna state governor-Elrufai. While the governor is trying very hard to bring an end to this violence, they are frustrating that by their utterances and actions. They are now attempting to change the narrative of this conflict to genocidal war just to present the President, the APC and the Kaduna state governor in a bad light.

However, before I move further, let it be clear that my stand has always been that any attack, kidnapping, killings-whether reprisal or not; or any other form of crime is condemnable. Also as a student of peace, I subscribe to the doctrine of social justice as the enabler of peaceful coexistence. Social justice in this context is to be construed as the promotion of a just society by protesting injustice, prejudiced on the basis of race, ethnicity, religion, political affiliations etc, or injustice in whatever form.

Sometime in November 2016, on Tuesday weekly market of Samarun Kataf there was an attack by the Youths who blocked roads, burn cars wantonly and killed two Fulani herdsmen based on the rumors that Fulani killed one of their people. They also took to the streets with dangerous weapons, and destroyed the very signboard of the recent Kafanchan Declaration Peace Accord.

At that same day simultaneously, 2 Fulanis were also killed at Kan-Kurmi village. But surprisingly, there was a conspiracy of silence among the self-appointed Town Criers as always has been. There was no report, there was no words of reproach, no condemnation, no nothing. Just a deafening silence from them.

Now, on Tuesday, the same market day and at the same spot, 3 people were shot by some people who are suspected to be Fulani, and whose motives would be seen to be avenging the killings of their brothers that happened in the market two months ago. The act is condemnable in its entirety but the double standard of our two-faced southern Kaduna friends is too glaring because they refuse to condemn the first one perpetrated by their ‘brothers’ but they are condemning this one. They did not even stop at condemnation but they constantly employ a dangerous connotation and link it with the governor on account of his identity and creed.

Surprisingly, on Wednesday the Emir of Jamaá, Alhaji Muhammad Isa Muhammad II was ambushed and attacked by irate youths when he was returning back from Security Council meeting with the governor. CAN is quiet, SOKAPU is not only quite, it has even denied occurrence of the incident. No words of reproach from Rebuen Buhari- a new Town Crier; Moses Ochunu didn’t write reproachful article from University of Vanderbilt USA. This is the double standard we are talking about. If the very people and institutions who are thought-police and moral compass of their communities and happen to be central to the conflict resolution, but become partisan in this manner, the peace we are all seeking for will be elusive.

It is worth repeating here that governor Elrufai inherited these security problems from cattle rustling, rural banditry, and arm robbery, kidnapping and reprisal killings in southern Kaduna. But yet he is determined in addressing them. Southern Kaduna violence become a centre-stage in all the security issues since when they came on board.

Many a people know that, the violence we are facing now is a spill over of the way and manner the previous administrations handled the crisis before now- for political correctness, for political expediency; which bred impunity in our society. It started during IBB era and continued unabated.

One will have to wonder seeing Rueben Buhari now at the forefront of lambasting this government about the issues of killings in southern Kaduna. When he served in the government of late Patrick Yakowa, there were same violence in the zone, but he didn’t blame his principal. This shows clear enmity and hatred. We are seeing many of him today under the cloak of humanists and if we don’t rise and resist these people the peace we are all seeking will keeps on eluding us. We must do away with sentiments and see clearly the intentions of some merchants of conflict who profit in this one. We must also reject the so called citadels and demagogues whose actions and utterance only exacerbate the problem.

 

Mukhtar Garba Maigamo,

A Public Commentator, Conflict Resolution expert lives in  Kaduna State. 08066792996

mgmaigamo@yahoo.com

A Week Of International Diplomacy, By @DeleMomodu

“Every person in Ghana, whatever his race, place of origin, political opinion, colour, religion, creed, or gender, shall be entitled to the fundamental human rights and freedoms of the individual contained in this chapter but subject to respect for the rights and freedoms of others and for public interest…”

The Ghanaian Constitution, Section 12 (2)

Fellow Nigerians, let me apologise for my sudden absence from this page last week. It is not in my character to abdicate my responsibility at any time and if I do so at all, you can be sure that it must be with cogent reason. I’m actually totally addicted to writing Pendulum but my itinerant existence sometimes gets in the way and I’m not able to fulfil all righteousness to you. Last week was one such exceptional occasion that I just couldn’t do anything about. By the time you read the article I started on our flight to Banjul last week in the company of eminent ECOWAS leaders past and present, you will understand and appreciate why I couldn’t deliver. Please, forgive me… In the meantime, let me continue where I left off last time.

Fellow Africans, as I was saying last week (a couple of weeks ago now), the former President of Ghana, John Dramani Mahama, has decided to retire to his farmlands in the Akosombo area, about one hour from Accra by road. I had worked closely with him in the last couple of months and discovered a leader who was not desperate for power but passionate about developing his country at the speed of light. No challenge was too big for him to tackle. It was as if he knew he had little time to do the gigantic projects he had embarked on – a mere four years!

He was bold and courageous in his decisions and execution. He did not play the game of typical politicians who would lie through the teeth just to grab votes by all means. He would later suffer the consequences of not speaking the political language despite being a consummate communicator in his real life. He offended the unemployed youths by not promising to give them jobs that would never come unless certain infrastructural projects were in place. He would not borrow money to pay certain personal allowances that would have endeared him to selfish interests. However what he was prepared to do was that he would rather ensure the roads were tarred, the airports were upgraded to international standards without disrupting normal activities and modern and well-equipped hospitals where doctors and nurses and others can be gainfully employed were built. For him development was not stomach infrastructure but the electrification of Ghana including the rural areas, industrialisation of Ghana by resuscitating moribund and comatose industries, and such similar large program development projects.

What is more, JDM, as we fondly call him, is a true pan-Africanist who threw the doors of Ghana open to all Africans, particularly Nigerians. I found his affection for Nigeria and Nigerians, and his great respect for our leader, President Muhammadu Buhari, most refreshing. His was not a non-productive competition or bickering against Nigeria and Nigerians. He grew up in Kano when his great dad, a Ghanaian politician in the Nkrumah days, was forced into exile. Mahama has fond memories of Nigeria and has made many friends along the way.

He awarded a great and enigmatic Nigerian businessman, Dr Mike Adenuga Jnr., the Globalcom Chairman, the highest civilian National Honour in Ghana. Under his leadership, he gave us access to his developmental projects and Ovation International became a veritable part of his media campaign. Our team worked assiduously to showcase his phenomenal infrastructure projects which were previously under publicised for whatever reasons. It was a work that brought us into collision with some powerful forces but we were determined to promote one of the few great leaders doing wonderful things in Africa. We did what we had to do not just because of the elections but mainly because we saw it as an opportunity to permanently record the gargantuan efforts of a true patriot. Mahama’s simplicity is truly infectious. It made our task even simpler. He performed his duties without fuss, and almost effortlessly. He made us proud as Africans.

Just as he feels very much at home with Nigerians, he regards all Africans as one and is committed a united and democratic Africa comprising African States that look out for one another and champion each other’s causes.

Despite the unexpected outcome of the Presidential election, JDM was never grumpy. In fact he comforted those of us who felt sad at the results letting us know that that it was the will of God and certainly not the end of the world.  His cheerful disposition lifted the initial gloom around our team and we subsequently held our heads up high because of the great work that we had all done.  JDM bore the loss with uncommon equanimity and chose to hand over power and move on quietly with his life when he could very easily have taken the long road and either manipulated the election results or challenged their validity. But it has not been as simple as that and the solitude, anonymity and relaxation that he craved have been taken away from him.

In the last couple of weeks, JDM has started what looks like a new assignment, foisted on him by ECOWAS and our President, Muhammadu Buhari. Two days after leaving office, JDM was invited to join a few African leaders from Senegal and Liberia in Abuja. Their purpose was to discuss ways of resolving the logjam in The Gambia following the decision by former President Yahya Jammeh to renege on his previous laudable acceptance of defeat and congratulations to the victor, President Adama Barrow. I was pleasantly surprised when JDM invited me along on the trip even though he knew I was desperate to return to Nigeria to deal with urgent business and personal matters. For me it was a call to service and I knew it was imperative for me to make some personal sacrifices if it meant I could help in some way.  I saw it as a vote of confidence in me by JDM. Though we had succeeded in establishing some enviable chemistry, I still did not know the extent of our relationship. He had spent two days in Lagos last December and attended the Ovation Carol at Eko Hotel Convention Centre. I found it ironic that it would take JDM inviting me to my own country for me to enter the Aso Rock Presidential villa again. That is another story for another day, anyway.

It did not end there. Following the deliberations in Abuja, President Muhammadu Buhari, for the second time in a week, invited JDM and a few other leaders to join him in Banjul to broker a peace deal with the former strongman of The Gambia, Yahya Jameh. Again, JDM also invited me along. In fact, I began writing this piece on the plane, on our way to picking the President of Liberia, Madam Ellen Johnson Sirleaf, in a country where I was gowned nearly ten years ago and was given the Chieftaincy title of The Kiazolu of Grand Cape Mount County…

This was the point at which I stopped writing in the hope that I would complete the article on our return journey. But The Gambia proved a naughty nut to crack. Right from the airport, it was obvious President Yahya Jammeh had no plans to quit power. After a meeting between Presidents Buhari, Sirleaf and Mahama, they decided to head to Jammeh’s Palace. When we got there, he came out to welcome them before they all retired behind closed doors. When they emerged from their meeting, he saw them off again. We headed back to the hotel earlier used and that was when the leaders decided to meet with the then President-elect of The Gambia, President Adama Barrow. News later came that neither opposition nor government had agreed on anything tangible and a press conference was arranged and addressed by Nigeria’s Foreign Minister, Geoffrey Onyeama, who should be credited for creditably coordinating the elaborate peace initiatives deftly and adroitly. He was a picture of charm, calm and diplomacy and he made me proud to see a Nigerian Minister who clearly knew what he was doing and who succeeded in doing it well to the admiration of all.

Once the negotiations collapsed, it then became a matter of “to thy tents Oh Israel.” We headed back to the airport. Adama Barrow and a few others, including the Chief Justice of the Gambia, Nigeria’s own Justice Emmanuel Fagbenle, and his wife, joined us on the trip to Liberia where Madam Sirleaf disembarked with Barrow. I did not realise the significance of the presence of the Chief Justice on our return trip until this Thursday when everything clicked into place as the Chief Justice swore in President Adama Barrow at the Gambian Embassy in Senegal.

By the time we got to Monrovia, a second time on the same day, it was too late for me to finish Pendulum. But in view of the Gambian debacle and the failure of diplomacy that was the least of my concerns.  What was uppermost in my mind was the peace that had eluded a once tranquil nation known for its beaches and as a great tourist attraction and I was truly sad. Unknown to me then, the only option left was to swear in President Barrow on foreign soil which has now transpired and then return him to the Gammbia with the aid of oreign troops including Nigerian soldiers and Air Force which is ongoing. The rest is now history.

Before we left The Gambia, I had tried to check the mood of President Jammeh by chatting briefly with him. I had known and met him a couple of times since the year 2000 when we were invited by Ms Isha Tejan Cole to establish Ovation’s presence in Banjul. Jammeh and his beautiful wife were very receptive at the time with their popularity rating still high enough. I never expected him not to quit while the ovation was still a bit loud. The Jammeh I spoke to last week Friday was a shadow of himself. He was not as confident and assertive as he used to be. He appeared jumpy and fidgety. Like a thief whose hand has been caught in the cookie jar. As we shook hands and I left him, I could not but remember the proviso to section 12(2) of the Ghanaian Constitution that I have cited above in so far as it relates to “respect for the rights and freedoms of others and for public interest …”.

I was seriously convicted and compelled to pray that God would mercifully rescue the good people of The Gambia from the ambition of one man who failed to realise that he must properly respect the rights and freedom of his people to freely choose any leader that they want and the attendant public interest in doing so.  Yahya Jammeh should have known that whatever has a beginning must have an end. Thai is the simple lot of Man.  It is my fervent hope that it does not end in tragedy for him and that he will indeed quit today as he now seems to be saying having seen the noose tightening around his neck! God let wisdom and uncommon sense prevail! Amen

Towards Effective Local Government Administration, By ‘Rinsola Abiola

“The only way we can add value to local government is by giving them political and financial independence, as this will expand opportunities in the grassroots.” – Rt. Hon. Yakubu Dogara

Local Government can be described as a collective term for local councils, and/or an administrative body for a small geographical area such as a county or district. In Nigeria, local government is the third tier of government, and its statutory functions are spelt out in the Fourth Schedule of the 1999 Constitution. These include – but are not limited to – construction and maintenance of roads, provision of public conveniences, sewage and refuse disposal, the provision and maintenance of primary, adult and vocational education, the development of agriculture and natural resources (other than the exploitation of minerals), and the provision and maintenance of health services.

From the foregoing, the importance of Local Government in any democracy cannot be overstated, and it is believed – rightly so – that effective Local Government administration would help speed up the pace of development. In some democracies around the world, such as the United States (which provides a model for most), the Local Government structure is fully defined with council courts and police, while it is not in others. What most nations agree on, however, is that true autonomy – or that which is closest to it – further deepens democracy and positively impacts citizens through the attendant improvement in the quality of governance.

The topic of local government autonomy is one which has generated a lot of debate. During the Obasanjo administration, a technical committee was set up to look into the relevance, sustainability and viability of the local government system and while some advocated that it be completely done away with, the government opted instead, to maintain it.

There have also been different attempts by the legislature to grant autonomy to local governments, but such proposed amendments to the Constitution have failed to meet the required approval of 2/3rds of state assemblies. Speaking on these previous attempts, Speaker Yakubu Dogara – who is now championing the campaign for local government autonomy – recently noted that: “We [the House] attempted it in the 6th Assembly but most of the critical aspects of what we are talking about here did not scale 2/3rd votes from all the state assemblies in Nigeria. In the 7th Assembly, however, this issue of autonomy of local government got endorsement of 20 state assemblies but, unfortunately, we needed 2/3rd, so we were short of four. So, it means that even if the President had assented to the Bill on constitution amendment, that aspect wouldn’t have scaled through.”

He also described local government administration in the country as “a system in crisis”, and stated that: “since 1999, there has hardly been any local government that has lived up to its constitutional mandate.”

Pursuant to this, the House of Representatives has identified local government autonomy as a major issue in the ongoing Constitution review process. In order to achieve this, clauses which would grant financial and political autonomy to local government are being considered. This, the Speaker explained, saying that: “the only way we can rescue the local government system in Nigeria is by introducing amendments to the Constitution….What we can therefore do is to make sure that in the spirit of the Constitution, the local government administration is democratically elected to ensure that, by the provision of the Constitution, any local government that is not democratically constituted will not have access to funding from the federation account.”

Daily, citizens decry the terrible state of infrastructure in the most interior parts of state capitals and in smaller towns. Lack of infrastructural development has also been identified as one of the leading causes of rural-urban migration and many keen observers of trends in governance opine that if Local Government councils had financial autonomy, thereby enabling them to fully execute their constitutionally defined mandate, there would be more development in rural areas. Being the tier of government that is closest to the people, local governments would also do a much better job of identifying areas in which intervention is most required. The Speaker also believes that a more effective and independent local government system would increase competition at that level and attract an even better quality of aspirants.

It was in response to Speaker Dogara’s impassioned advocacy for local government autonomy, that the leadership of the Nigeria Union of Local Government Employees (NULGE) paid him a solidarity visit on Wednesday, January 18, 2017. The president of the body, Comrade Ibrahim Khalil, spoke at length on the benefits that Nigerians stand to gain if the proposed amendments scale through, and some of the things he mentioned include improved healthcare and infrastructure. The Speaker, in his response, urged the union to engage with elected officials at state level, especially in State Assemblies.

Another cogent issue that autonomy would effectively fix is the dissolution of Local Government councils and subsequent appointment of caretaker committees by state governors. The question surrounding the legality of sacking elected council chairmen and appointing caretaker committees was put to rest by the Supreme Court judgment which described the move as “executive recklessness”. The decision by the apex court has, therefore, made it clear that state executives lack the constitutional backing to sack elected council chairmen, and this provides an excellent premise upon which the argument for the independence of the Local Government may also be based.

While stressing the need for independence, the Speaker acknowledged that; “We may not achieve that [absolute independence] since ours is a strong federation. It is not a weak federation like what you have in the United States where councils and states join money and then appropriate it and pay royalties in taxes to the Federal Government.”

Therefore, in a strong federation like ours, that level of autonomy would most probably be impossible to achieve, but that still does not and should not preclude us from working to grant as much independence as possible, and there would be no better place from which to begin, than from finance and democratic composition.

Many Nigerians focus on the Federal Government and demand interventions regarding the most basic challenges, but in the words of Calvin Coolidge, “what we need is not more federal government, but better local government.”

Rinsola Abiola is SA on New Media to the Speaker of the House of Representatives, Rt. Hon. Yakubu Dogara. She tweets via @Bint_Moshood.

Cruel Treatment of Suspected Victims of Malpractice;  A Call To Reason By Nkannebe Raymond

If the misery of the poor be caused not by the laws of nature, but by our institutions, great is our sin” -Charlse Darwin (1809-1882).

One of the unpleasant realities that have over the years become a recurring decimal snowballing into the standard in citizen-government relationship, is that of a monstrous social injustice, administrative nonfeasance and the unwarranted flexing of administrative muscles in utter disregard of the interest of persons whom such nebulous relationship wield the shorter end of the bargaining stick; usually the masses. These odious and otiose acts and omissions have since taken for themselves a larger than life status and have found adequate accommodation in the quarters of Nigerian public institutions where governmental quangos who are routinely remunerated with tax payers money, carry on as Lords of the Manor who cannot be touched and whose crass dereliction of duty however inane, atrocious and unprofessional cannot be questioned or at best  treated with kid gloves.

The situation is not helped when one comes to the realization that certain institutions which ought to set the standard for others to follow  are also mired in the web of such administrative “anyhowness” and cruelty. And One such body which coincidentally forms the kernel of this intervention is : The Council of Legal Education?the sole body established to admit successful law graduates from accredited Nigerian universities and their foreign counterparts, train, and after having found them qualified in character and learning recommend them for Call to the Nigerian Bar by the Body of Benchers; the highest regulatory organ of the legal profession in Nigeria.

For starters, the Council of Legal Education (hereinafter refer to as the “CLE”), is a creation of statute having being established by the Legal Education Act of 1962 and further re-enacted 14 years later in 1976 with amendments relative to the composition of the Council and the appointment of the Director General of the law school?the academic organ of the council.

Section 2 of the Act clearly states the functions of the council namely:

The Council shall have responsibility for the legal education of persons seeking to become members of the legal profession”.

Section 5 of same Act went further to state the conditions upon which an aspirant to the bar would be entitled to qualification for the certificate namely:

A person shall be entitled to have a qualifying certificate issued to him by the council stating that he is qualified to be called to bar:

If he is a citizen of Nigeria

If he has, except where the council directs otherwise, successfully completed a course of practical training in the Nigerian Law School which (including the time spent in taking examination at the end but excluding any interval between the conclusion of the examination and the announcement of result thereof) lasted for a period fixed by the council as an academic year.

From the inception of the Nigerian Law School in 1962, it maintained a single campus in Lagos state up until 1994 when administrative convenience and the increasing number of aspirants to the Nigerian Bar, led it into floating another campus in Abuja. Since then, the campus has since produced millions of distinguished legal practitioners who both at home and in the Diaspora have continued to make the school proud through diligent professional practice, immense contributions to legal reforms, social advocacy, Human Rights activism and what not; all of which has served to sustain and develope the socio-political and economic life of Nigeria. Today, the campus is located across the six geo-political zones for administrative convenience; headed by Deputy Director Generals with the central organ of the campus currently located in Abuja, Federal Capital Territory.

We have attempted a brief deconstruction of the structure and management of the Nigerian Law School in the interest of the reader who may not be acquainted with its history, organizational structure and modest achievements.

The qualifying examination usually written at the end of the nine month rigorous program is notoriously called the “Bar Finals”— an examination very popular for the amount of awful result it can produce. Although in the last two academic sessions, a considerable level of improvement have been seen in the average performance of candidates; with the 2015/2016 class producing what unarguably could be called the best result in the chequered history of the exam.

Usually written between the hours of hours of 3-6 PM across the campuses, with the examination papers flown and returned to the headquarters in Abuja on each day of exams, the Bar Finals is arguably one of the most secured professional examinations written in the country with the lowest chance(s) of the questions leaking in any way ahead of the examinations. Myth has it to this day, that the questions are usually approved by the head of the campus on the day of each paper. Students are expected to attempt four broad questions among six, in the tiny space of three hours leading to many students being unable to attempt all the questions within the latitudinal window allowed; an often overlooked factor in consideration of the reasons for the recurring awful performance of students.

Apparently in a bid to protect and preserve the integrity of the examinations and to ensure that qualifying candidates are academically fit for the rigorous work of the typical lawyer, the CLE abhors exam malpractice(s) of whatever kind or manner like the plague and in its Exam regulations proscribes such act with a ten-year suspension from writing the exams if not outright dismissal and rustication—a  penalty which has served to disabuse the mind of too many a candidate from engaging in any such act or omission that might set them up against the Council on allegations of malpractice.

That candidates have over the years?at least in the recent past shown good examination conduct is a fact recently attested to, by the current head of the Nigerian Law School, Mr. Olarenwaju Onadeko SAN. While addressing the Body of Benchers and other distinguished guests at the presentation of candidates for Call to the Nigerian Bar on Tuesday, October 20th and 21st 2015, he said,

“…On a positive note, I must acknowledge the waning disposition of our students to the various forms of examination malpractice of the past. This is commendable and bears testimony to the emphasis which we place on character ……we shall continue to encourage our students to strive for excellence at all times”.

As a young lawyer who sat for the “almighty” Bar Finals last year and got called to the largest bar in Africa on the 29th of November, 2016, I make bold to say that the Bar Finals is one such exam approached with  total disinclination to any form of malpractice. Many students who passed through the exams would attest to not knowing who sat to their right or left throughout the duration of the tension-soaked academic showpiece, how much more engage any form of communication. Not with a swarm of internal and external invigilators gawking at you like The “Big Brother” in the Orwellian political satire, 1984. Hence why  candidates are rarely caught in the act of any form of malpractice in the examination halls.

Against the backdrop of the aforesaid, it becomes worrying therefore that despite not apprehending students “ inflagrante delicto” during the examinations, the CLE, through the Nigerian Law School virtually every year withhold the result of a number of students in the name of having been involved in one form of malpractice or the other. These unfortunate students who become victims of  a terrible stroke of circumstance are not communicated to throughout the six weeks duration of  marking of scripts, moderation , collation and approval of results at least to defend or otherwise, their scripts; only to be communicated afterwards at the publication of  results that their scripts are flagged or withheld for one form of malpractice or the other.

In the circumstance, these quite unlucky fellows miss out from the Call to the Bar ceremonies that succeeds the publication of results; are made to undergo psychological and emotional trauma that leads many of them into contemplation of suicide and substance abuse among a host of other asocial behavioral patterns that have scientifically been proven not to solve any problem. The females among them in most cases kiss goodbye to the profession while some contemplate marriage pending when the CLE jolts from their administrative slumber which it seldom does.

A senior colleague who sat for the Bar exams in 2015 and became a victim of this imagined and speculatory form of malpractice has had to sit at home in the past two years and counting without a clear definition of his professional status. One would have thought that such a sensitive and delicate issue would be treated with every urgency it begs, but it is regrettably lugubrious that the supposed panel of enquiry set up to look into the matter has sat just once with no logical determination of the logjam and no official communication from the CLE to these students or their parents/guardians as at the time of writing this piece.

Another colleague who sat for same exam last year at the Yola campus of the Law School, is currently engulfed in the web of such sweeping allegations among other victims too. In their own case, they are yet to face any such panel of enquiry where they’ll be expected to make representations that would guide the panel in coming to its verdict. He and other affected students are currently idling away at home while their colleagues have since announced their first appearance in the various courts of the federation?the highpoint in the professional career of any new wig.

The sad story of these two young men whose identities we have kept from the public domain for obvious reasons, mirrors the pains and anguish of many other such students who have had to forgo a career in law in same ugly circumstances.

One is not inclined to making a case for the allowance of exam malpractices in the Bar Finals or any other exam for that matter, but professional courtesy and due diligence demands that case(s)   of such nature because of their ‘sensitivity’ should be treated with dispatch , as it tethers around the professional career of  “unsuspecting” students who have spent a fortune materially and otherwise to earn a career in law. Torpedoing or foreclosing such dreams and aspirations through needless bureaucratic bottlenecks , nay administrative indolence, is to put it mildly, the greatest affront to their sensibilities and leaves a huge question mark on the good judgment of the council. For if the same Law school which every year inundate law students on the need and importance of a quick dispensation of justice are in themselves, the very antithesis of what they preach, then great is the plight of our justice system.

In the determination of justice, timing is always of the essence. A principle targeted at the attainment of even handed justice for litigants in the justice process and a fundamental right guaranteed in Section 36(1) of the 1999 constitution namely:

“In the determination of his civil rights and obligations, including any question or determination by or against any governemt or authority, a person shall be entitled to a fair hearing “WITHIN A REASONABLE TIME ” by court or other tribunal established by law and constituted in such manner as to secure it’s independence and impartiality” (emphasis mine).

Good enough, our courts have ad naseaum reiterated the need for, and the effect of Delay in the Dispensation of justice. In Okeke v. Federal Republic of Nigeria [2009] 9 NWLR pt 1145 94 C.A, the Court of Appeal Lagos Division , had this to say, “…A quick dispensation of justice is always paramount and of great essence. It is the duty of all parties as well as the courts to ensure that proceedings in a case and it’s determination are not unnecessarily delayed. For to do so would occasion hardship on hapless litigants….”

The Nigeria Law School should not hang on to the wide powers conferred on it by  its enabling statute ala , Legal Education Act, 1976 to work mischief on innocent candidates cum aspirants to the Bar. Wide as the powers given to the Council in section 5 with regards to qualifying students for the Call, it is a cardinal principle of equity that such powers must be exercised or discharged judicially and judiciously since equity will not allow a statute to be used as an engine or cloak of fraud.

One also suspects that that the CLE consciously or unconsciously may be goaded in its administrative nonfeasance by the supreme court Judgment in Akintemi v Onwumechili (1985) 1 NWLR 68 to the effect that in matters which border on the award of academic degrees, diplomas and certificates and matters incidental thereto like exam malpractice, an aggrieved party, be he a student or lecturer should first exhaust all the internal machineries for redress available to him before a recourse to court and when he rushes to court without first exhausting all the remedies for redress available to him within the domestic forum, he would be held to have “jumped the gun” and the matter declared bad for incompetence .

Assuming, but without  conceding that such is the case, then the CLE would also be in error for hanging onto an obviously generous decision of the Court to perpetuate injustice and a crass dereliction of duty. And what is more? The actions of the three law students of the University of Ife in the Akintemi case (supra) leading to the withholding of their results and subsequent suspension by the university authorities is completely different from those of these suspected victims of malpractice(s) in the instant case.

The Nigerian Law School is no doubt a respected academic institution and thus should not through a series of careless and needless acts and omissions tear to shreds its glowing and time honored reputation among the generality of Nigerians. The Director General of the Law School therefore, should do all within the ambits of its powers to set all the necessary machineries in motion to ensure a logical conclusion off all hangover cases of exam malpractices pending determination. And at the end of the process, let those who are found wanting face the consequences while those who receive a clean bill of health be immediately apologized to and recommended for the next Call to Bar pronto.

The current situation whereby they are left with their fate hanging on the balance and their professional career foreclosed almost sine die is most inhumane, unconscionable, atrocious and the  worst form of man’s inhumanity to man.

The CLE must know that where all avenues of diplomacy and amicable resolution such as this fail, affected persons may be left with no other alternative  but to approach the courts; the last hope of the common man to seek for reprieve and the necessary reliefs, the judgment of the court in the Akintemi’s case (supra) notwithstanding.

At law, the mantra is:  Justice Delayed is Justice Denied and accordingly, though at the risk of sounding tautologious, the sole body responsible for the training of lawyers ought not be the grandmasters of the repudiation of same time honored principle of justice. May we also put it to the knowledge of the CLE that our judicial system is adversarial and not inquisitorial nor is it accusatorial. And therefore, suspicions of malpractice however grave, cannot be a conclusive proof of malpractice. The continued withholding of the results of candidates who sat for exams as with their colleagues, we dare say is a flagrant breach of the fundamental right of presumption of innocence as enshrined and guaranteed under section 36(5) of the 1999 constitution as altered by almost presuming them guilty even without having being heard thereby subjecting them to obvious ridicule in the eyes of rightly thinking members of the public. An act that falls short of the twin pillars of Natural Justice to wit: audi alterem patem and nemo judex in causa sua.

In the final analysis, the Rule of Law  is not a loose concept reserved only for governments and the law courts but as well as every tribunal by  whatever name called set up to look into a matter and of which the CLE panel on examination malpractice belongs to; and should be bounded by. There cannot be the much vaunted entrenchment of the Rule of Law and the eternal growth of our jurisprudence if such bodies persist in the unwholesome practices of condemning suspected persons on pre-conceived ideas or idiosyncracies. As such a spectacle forebode a gloomy and inhumane future for the trio of our legal system, man and country. These suspected victims of exam malpractice(s) ought to know their fate and the sooner that is done, the better; as the seemingly indifference to their plight is the worst sin towards them.

Let reason prevail. Enough said!

 

Nkannebe Raymond, a Lawyer and Public affairs commentator wrote in from Enugu.

Raymondnkannebe@gmail.com

Open Letter To The Comrades Of LAUTECH, By Ridwan Sulaimon

Dear compatriots,

Like the military would order, Attention! I urge you to listen carefully and do not disobey a ‘constituted authority’!

Let me start with the latest episode of your woes. I heard that one small girl insulted you; that she referred to you as “Generation of mannerless students” And you are angry. I was also told that the said girl is a daughter of a ‘constituted authority’ who is proud of owing salaries of workers.

My people in Yoruba land have a way of describing a wholly wrong situation, they would say “Amukun won leru e wo, oni isale len’wo eo wo oke.” (The implied meaning is that: A man with K-Legs has an entirely disorderly condition, not just the bent load he is carrying). There are so many things wrong with that poor girl, you shouldn’t be angry about her misfiring; she has been a victim of wicked circumstances.

That poor girl really needs help. She was raised by a man who saw power and ran out of control; she was raised by a ‘constituted authority.’

Being a true daughter of her father, her upbringing remains pitiable. Just like her daddy, she must have thought that being the daughter of who she is comes with a constituted right to run her mouth like relay race. Perhaps she must have thought that her daddy’s ‘constituted authority’ comes with the insignia to manufacture English words at will; I’m still searching for the word ‘mannerless’ in English dictionary since she described you as ‘Generation of mannerless students’. You recall her daddy also asked which course a student is doing? Yes, the daddy and the girl are a constituted authority; you can’t expect them to follow the rules of English. And if you insist that the rule must apply to them, then ‘do your worse’.

Sigh! Her case is just like an obiter dictum, it’s by the way. There’s more meat to chew than breaking bones. Her case is sorted by one phrase “Like father, like daughter.”

Dear compatriots, here is the thrust of my letter; I want to talk to you about a certain ‘constituted authority’ that requires praise and worship, please pay attention. I heard that your school has been shut for over seven months and most of you have in fact developed pot bellies and gray hair as a result of the unending holiday. I heard that you were tired and thus recently peacefully protested to the office of a certain ‘constituted authority’ in charge of your school that you want your school reopened; I learnt that the outing turned to a jungle lecture titled “How to worship a Constituted Authority.”

I watched the video of the tutorial and the only title that came to my mind was ‘Shame of a Nation.’ Of course he has been owing far many people for months and none of them have dared to challenge the constituted authority. So I understand that he is used to expressions such as “yes Sir, as your lordship pleases.” No wonder he attempted to arrest you, just because you answered a yes or no question. But then, it goes to show that beyond the struggle for resumption, there are even more pressing battles to fight.

Freedom of expression is a fundamental human right guaranteed by Article 19 of the Universal declaration of Human Rights (1948), Article 9 of the African Charter on Human and People’s Rights, section 39 of the 1999 constitution of the Federal republic of Nigeria (as amended) and many other laws and instruments applicable to Nigeria. Therefore, what you have done is to express your pain to the constituted authority; it is called ‘peaceful protest’ and you are protected by law. Nobody can take that right away from you.

Back then in my days as an undergraduate of the prestigious Lagos State University, we had similar demonstrations taken to the office of the Lagos State Constituted Authorities. Some of the things they did were to call us for dialogue, to organise public hearings on the issues etc. That’s what civilised constituted authorities do.

On a final note dear comrades, I join other well-meaning Nigerians to salute your courage; you should never keep silent in the face of tyranny!

 

Yours in struggle,

Aluta Continua,

Ridwan Sulaimon.

The Endgame In Banjul, By Olusegun Adeniyi

Last Friday, leaders of the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) demonstrated an uncommon resolve when, following their meeting with a recalcitrant Yahya Jammeh, they asked Mr Adama Barrow to move with the Liberian President, Ellen Johnson Sirleaf to Monrovia. It was from the Liberian capital, according to an impeccable source, that Barrow was ferried to Senegal despite the tragedy that struck back home with the dog bite that would claim the life of his 8-year old son, Habibu.

Against the background of the dinner chat I had with President Mackay Sall penultimate Sunday in Dakar, part of which I reported in my column last week, http://www.thisdaylive.com/index.php/2017/01/12/buhari-sall-and-jammehs-defiance/, I am not surprised that Senegal is playing a crucial role in the bid to oust Jammeh. I recall President Sall saying categorically that it would be untenable for Jammeh to remain President of The Gambia by today. He even added a joke he said President Muhammadu Buhari shared with him about the situation. It is therefore safe to conclude that ECOWAS leaders had prepared their minds for a scenario now playing out in Banjul and they already have their own solution.

With a population of 1.8 million people, The Gambian National Army (GNA) boasts of just about 2,500 officers and men comprising two infantry battalions, an engineering squadron and smaller logistics, signals and intelligence units as well as the presidential guard. Ordinarily, that is not a force that can protect Jammeh from ECOWAS onslaught led by the well-drilled 19,000 men Senegalese military with support from Nigeria.

Last night, Senegalese troops were seen moving to the Gambian border. “We are ready and are awaiting the deadline at midnight,” Col Abdou Ndiaye, a spokesman for the Senegalese military. “If no political solution is found, we will step in.” At about the same time, the Nigerian Air Force also announced a deployment of a standby force as part of the contingent of ECOWAS Military Intervention in Gambia (ECOMIG). “A contingent of 200 men and air assets comprising fighter jets, transport aircraft, Light Utility Helicopter as well as Intelligence, Surveillance and Reconnaissance aircraft” were deployed and are expected to “forestall hostilities or breakdown of law and order that may result from the current political impasse in The Gambia” the statement said.

To compound the problem for Jammeh, the African Union (AU) has also turned its back against him by the declaration that from today, he will no longer be recognised as the legitimate president of Gambia. In a statement after their meeting at the weekend, the AU Peace and Security Commission went further to warn Jammeh of “serious consequences in the event that his action causes any crisis that could lead to political disorder, humanitarian and human rights disaster, including loss of innocent lives and destruction of property”.

However, there is nothing to suggest that Jammeh understands the message that the market is over. On Tuesday, “Sheikh Professor Alhagie Dr. Yahya AJJ Jammeh Babili Mansa”, as the dictator addressed himself, declared “a state of public emergency throughout the Islamic Republic of Gambia” to counter “the unwarranted hostile atmosphere threatening the sovereignty, peace, security and stability of the country”. Yesterday, he raised the stakes even higher by getting the rubberstamp Gambian parliament to extend his stay in office by 90 days. The import of those two actions is that Jammeh is not prepared to surrender power without a fight which ECOWAS leaders seem prepared to give him.

Before I continue, let me also share an interesting perspective from the Principal of the Loyola Jesuit College, Abuja, Father Joe-Stanis Okoye. A discussion with him last weekend somehow dovetailed into the situation in The Gambia and while he didn’t overly disagree with my position, he was nonetheless of the opinion that Jammeh has a valid point that nobody seems interested in listening to. He followed up with a mail. Having secured his permission, I will share his view before I conclude with mine:

“Aside his well recorded excesses, one of the reasons being advanced as to why Jammeh must go (irrespective of the integrity of the election results) is that he has ruled the Gambia for 22 years. That may well be a valid point but let us also examine a few issues, even if only in the academic sense. First, can Jammeh’s complaints (and the potential postponement of the inauguration of a new government in the Gambia) find justification in the minds of objective onlookers/bystanders?

“By objective bystanders, I mean persons of goodwill who care equally about what is just for all involved in the matter, including for the political process, for Gambians, for Jammeh and his party on the one hand; and for the opposition party/parties on the other hand–in short, persons who care deeply about all the parties to the conflict and yet do not really have a dog in the fight, as it were.

”Now let us juxtapose what is happening in The Gambia with another scenario: If America, for instance, finds out today (as it is increasingly reasonable to believe) that it is the Russians that have “elected” Mr. Donald Trump as their next president, would we have a major problem agreeing with Mrs Hillary Clinton or some other Americans who might object that Trump should not be sworn in as the next president of the United States? Would people argue against Hillary simply on the grounds that she had previously conceded defeat to Trump or that those Americans had previously accepted the outcome of the election?

“I think the major challenge is that Jammeh appears to be a judge in his own case, given that he is currently the sitting president. Therefore, no matter how he goes about his current complaints regarding any anomaly in the way the presidential election was conducted, it would likely seem to most observers that he is angling to sit-tight, not minding the merits of his complaints. Had it been he was not in power, perhaps the election umpire and/or the courts would/could have looked into his complaints and judged them according to their merits -whether he had previously conceded to his opponent or not.

“For me, while I do not support the man, what is fair is fair. To that extent, I believe Jammeh’s complaints and his insistence that they be looked into before determining whether the scheduled presidential inauguration should go ahead, is rational/reasonable. Why? Because, according to Jammeh, the assumption that led him to concede defeat has been undermined by the electoral commission’s admission of error while tallying the figures. Under such circumstances, the result of the elections should not stand. What remains though is to investigate and judge the complaints/allegations that Jammeh has made. But we are well aware that could take a very long time and a process that might end up being inconclusive.     

“At the end, that central virtue, truth or standard, which we are both pointing to, and looking for the best ways to articulate, is at the bottom of the present kerfuffle in the Gambia. Unfortunately, the same can be said of most other political conflict situations not only here in Africa but also in the entire world. The challenge really is that the problem is easy to understand, but the solution is not always easy to find.”

To address the point raised by Father Okoye, S.J., there is a saying that when you go to equity, you go with clean hands and on this matter, Jammeh’s hands are not only unclean, they are dripping with blood. While the flip-flop by the Gambian Independent Electoral Commission (IEC) is shameful, three factors stand against Jammeh. One, he has been manipulating the process for 22 years and that he failed this time was because the opposition was able to rally the people to oppose his continued stay in power. Two, the IEC statement captioned ‘Error in the Total of Final Election Results’ which Jammeh uses as an excuse for his intransigence actually reaffirmed that Barrow indeed won the election despite also admitting that “when the total votes per region were being tallied, certain figures were inadvertently transposed”. Three, in as much as Jammeh is free to seek redress in court, he cannot stay in power beyond his mandate by delaying the inauguration of the man adjudged to have won the election.

Notwithstanding the foregoing, the challenge now is to ensure Jammeh goes without doing much damage to his country. That is where President Buhari and his colleagues have to be very careful, especially when ECOWAS has no protocols for dealing with a situation like this though how the Jammeh drama ends may very well provide the new template for handling sit-tight despots in future. But the situation in the Gambia is nonetheless still dicey, except of course Jammeh chickens out and flees to Morocco where, President Sall told me, he has already been offered asylum. He could also flee to Mauritania where, I understand, he will find refuge.

Who knows, when the heat is turned on him today and perhaps in the coming days if he is still holding on, Jammeh may yet flee the Gambia to go and enjoy his loot, especially with Vice President Isatou Njie Saidy joining the Minister for Higher Education, Research, Science and Technology, Dr. Aboubacar A Senghore among other cabinet members that have resigned and fled The Gambia. But Jammeh could also decide to stay and play Laurence Gbagbo with dire consequences for himself and his country.

Like all desperate dictators versed in divide and rule, Jammeh has for long been playing the eight ethnic groups in the Gambia against one another. These are: the Mandinka (about 41% of the population); the Wolof (15%); the Fula (19%); the Jola (10%); the Serahuli (8%); the Serer (2.5%); the Aku (0.8%) and the Manjago (1.7%). But most of the critical appointments are from his minority Jola tribe: From the Inspector General of Police to Chief of Defense Staff to Minister of Interior to the Director of the National Intelligence agency (NIA) to head of the presidential guards etc. If Jammeh therefore decides to go for broke, he will likely cause a serious crisis in his small country, having already laid the foundation for that.

At a campaign podium on 1st June last year, Jammeh threatened an ethnic cleansing war against the majority Madinka tribe to which his main opponent (and eventual winner of the election) Adama Barrow belongs. “In 1864, there were no Madinkas in this country. You came from Mali. I have solid evidence that the Madinkas are not from this country. I will wipe you out and nothing will come out of it. The first demonstration, they were all Madinkas. The second demonstration was by the Madinkas and two Fullas. The Fullas have joined the bad guys, welcome to hell. I urge the Madinkas to repent to Allah for your bad deeds. The Madinkas, who the hell do you think you are?”

Jammeh ended his rambling campaign speech with a threat, before placing a ban on demonstration in The Gambia: “This time around, no police will arrest and charge you. The army would be deployed to shoot and kill anyone found in the streets demonstrating. Just demonstrate and see what will happen to you. I will not send the police. I will send the army to wipe you out and see who is going to talk about it. Wallahi Tallahi, I will kill you like ants and nothing will come out of it.”

When such a desperate dictator is cornered, as Jammeh now evidently is, he will use any and every weapon to stay afloat. That is why the ECOWAS leaders must not play into his hands. But to the extent that this is the first internal political problem they will try to resolve on their own without being instigated by Washington, Paris or London, there is so much at stake for them too. I hope they can get the tyrant out of Gambia without doing damage to the people. Yet, even with all the uncertainties about how the current drama will eventually play out, one thing is already sure: the era of Sheikh Professor Alhagie Dr. Yahya AJJ Jammeh Babili Mansa is over!

Understanding Osun Workers’ Salary Issues By abiodun KOMOLAFE

In deference to the dictates of the Holy Book, it is not my practice to jump into issues, especially, when they are laced with politics. However, turning the other eye is always not an option when an organization abandons its core mandate to regale an unsuspecting public with very tepid, hurtfully unfactual and sillily inaccurate assertions that are capable of igniting conflagrations of unimaginable proportion.

A statement, purportedly issued by the Civil Societies Coalition for the Emancipation of Osun State (CSCEOS) in which Governor Rauf Aregbesola of Osun State was accused of “illegally diverting over N7billion of N11.744bilion out of N84billion Paris Club funds accrued to the state by the federal government” (Thisday, January 6, 2017) refers.

To understand the issues, some questions become pertinent. What is Modulated Salary structure and how applicable is it to Osun state’s salary situation? Was there an agreement, Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) between the government and labour on the modulation of the latter’s salaries and for what reason? Indeed, what’s the salary status of a typical Osun State civil servant as at December 2016?

With a particular focus on Osun State, Modulated Salary structure refers “to the payment of salaries on the basis of what is available. Full salary to Workers in Grade Levels (GL) 1-7 and at least half or more to those on levels from 8 and above.”

The existence of an agreement between the government has never been repudiated by Labour. It was indeed the magic wand that bailed the state out of a protracted wage crisis in 2014. In the heat of that crisis, the Aregbesola government placed its cards on the table and gave labour an opportunity to choose between staff rationalization and salary apportionment, or modulation. After intensive deliberations by its congress, labour opted for the latter. Going by the principle behind this agreement, which is still in effect, Osun state could be rightly adjudged to have paid salaries and pensions till December 2016. But this is without prejudice the outstanding which the governor knows would have to be paid as soon as the fortunes of the state improve. Believe it or not, the governor has never stopped expressing his administration’s appreciation to the workers for their sacrifice at a time like this. These facts are understood by Osun workers and their Labour leaders and that is why there has not been any irrational action from the workforce.

Prior to September last year, workers were always paid, based on agreed rates put in place by the Hassan Sunmonu-led Osun State Revenue Apportionment Committee, comprising representatives of labour and other stakeholders. Nonetheless, certain categories of workers had their salaries jerked up in September 2016 as a result of slight improvement in allocations to the state, principal among which was the Paris Club Refunds. By way of explanation, workers from GL 1-7 were paid their September to December 2016 salaries 100 per cent; GL 8-10, at 75%;  and GL 12 and above, at 50%. Similarly, passive workers, or pensioners, on N1, 000 to N20, 000 collected 100 per cent pensions; while those on N20, 001 to N80, 000 collected N75 per cent; and pensioners on N80, 001 took home 50 per cent. Arrears of balance of 2014 leave bonus were also paid while local government workers and pensioners were not left out. Lest I forget, the Academic Staff Union of Universities (ASUU) also commended the governor for earmarking N1billion for Osun State University and the jointly-owned Ladoke Akintola University of Technology (LAUTECH). And, in the real sense of it, only a prodigal administration will not prepare for the raining day!

George Fabricius made an apposite remark about performance when he wrote: “Death comes to all but great achievements build a monument which shall endure until the sun grows cold.” If one may ask: has integrity so lost its pride of place that an elder-statesman and a labour veteran of Hassan Sunmonu’s stature and status in the society could no longer be trusted with defending the interest of labour, his primary constituency? For how much ‘shekels of silver’ could Osun labour leaders have mortgaged the interest of their colleagues? In reality, did Osun even have the financial war chest with which to have greased Labour’s palm to the detriment of those it was elected to represent?

To the best of my knowledge, indigenes and residents of the state alike, especially, those who were around, pre-November 27, 2010, will agree with me that, in spite of its socio-economic peculiarities, Aregbesola was well-prepared for the task ahead as governor. In the area of infrastructure and roads, there is no doubt Osun state has been transformed. For instance, roads from Ijebu-Jesa, my Native Nazareth, and adjoining communities were at a time so impassable that one could simply wonder if there had ever been a government in place. But to our amazement, Aregbesola came on board and changed the narrative by getting those roads fixed pronto. As a matter of fact, not only in Ijesaland were such feats recorded but other parts of the state also felt Aregbesola’s presence.

Well, while it is not my intention to bore Nigerians with rhetoric on the governor’s achievements, it is gratifying to note that this mission-minded man of uncommon courage has done excellently well in rekindling the hope of the good people of Osun State who defied all odds on August 9, 2014 to resubmit their political totality and administrative authority to him. Undeterred by the antics of pathological critics whose first instinct is to circumvent, not support, ideas, however innovative, he has to a large extent succeeded in replicating his feat as Commissioner for Works under Bola Tinubu in Osun and I’m sure he’d have done more, but for paucity of funds. Little wonder the opposition is still in shock with regard to Aregbesola’s feat in the state without taking into consideration that it was the shout of ‘Halleluyah’ that brought down the ‘Wall of Jericho’.

When the going was good – in terms of allocations accruing to the state, civil servants were paid as and when due. Indeed, Osun was not only at a time rated as the highest paying state in the country, it was also giving ’13th month’ to its workers across board. Apart from the employment and retraining of teachers to compliment the works of existing hands, his government also embarked on the training of some of our students in institutions outside the country. And, when it dawned on us that Agriculture was the way to go in the face of challenges confronting the state, his government ‘went back to land.’ So far, so fair! His administration has sent no fewer than 40 of our youth to Germany to learn technical skills in Agriculture. Of course, this is in addition to other schemes which overall intention is to restore the lost glory of agriculture. People-friendly policies and programmes were also put in place through which interest-free and subsidized loans were given to farmers. Then, everyone and anyone who had cause to be happy did; and Aregbesola was seen, even by his enemies, as the best thing to happen to our state.

Again, while one is not attempting to give approval to delay in salary as a way to go by any responsible government, the state’s present pass is, in my view, not an indefinite inconvenience but a  temporary setback which demands the understanding and cooperation of all to surmount. As things stand, Ondo, even with its 13% derivation, is, as we speak, “broke”, with not less than six months in salary arrears to its workers. If my memory serves me right, only some few weeks back, its workers protested and  picketed its Accountant General’s Office for his refusal to pay them just one out of their then-six months’ arrears in salary, pensions and gratuities. The situation is not any different in Taraba, Ekiti, Akwa Ibom, Cross River, Oyo, Kogi, Kwara, Zamfara, Delta, Imo, Enugu, even Anambra States.

At the national level, it is not a fairer tale! For example, just some few days back, the National Association of Resident Doctors (NARD) threatened indefinite strike by mid-January, 2017, over “unpaid salary, non implementation of the National Health Act and poor infrastructure in the sector”. And, officials of the Federal Road Safety Corps (FRSC) once threatened to start obtaining bribe from motorists if they were not paid their November salaries and allowances before December 25, 2016. Indeed, the list is endless!

 

But, how for God’s sake did we get here? Basically, it will be unfair and stunningly ignorant to believe that Nigeria’s slide into recession started with Muhammadu Buhari’s administration; that the events which culminated in Goodluck Jonathan’s exit from Aso Rock started on March 28, 2015; or that the unfriendly economic situation which succeeded in ‘throwing 1.7 million Nigerians into the job market in nine months’ was a product of the present administration’s ‘planlessness’. In the case of Osun, in as much as we all agree that Nigeria’s failure as a country did not start just yesterday, it may therefore amount to standing the truth on its head to assume that the only way out of this situation is by singing from the same, old hymn book of disappointment as if such is a sure ritual to accessing Bola Ige House!

At the risk of immodest, Aregbesola’s leadership style has demonstrated to us that if we put things right with regard to the resources that accrue to the state, especially from agriculture and other mineral resources, we will have enough to the extent that we’ll not have to run cap in hand to Abuja for handouts.

Yes! Our state is endowed with natural resources. But will the almighty Federal Government allow us to take ownership of them?

May principalities and powers, assigned to rubbish our leaders’ efforts, scatter!

 

*KOMOLAFE writes in from Ijebu-Jesa, Osun State, Nigeria (ijebujesa@yahoo.co.uk)

Self-Determination: What If We All Have It?, By OlalekanWaheed Adigun

Every 15th of January in Nigeria is celebrated as Armed Forces and Remembrance Day. That date is unique because of two landmark events in the history of the Nigerian military. First, it was the first time the military staged a successful coup in 1966. Second, it was a day of victory for the Armed Forces over the former secessionist Biafran forces. For obvious reasons, we should forget about the second partly because of the emotions that comes with it. The question of “self-determination” is now been chorused loud in some parts of the country that it is in fact, a right!

Last year, I wrote under the title, Can Biafra Be Achieved Through a Referendum? In response to the article, I got some obvious replies. The reply from one Chris, looks like the most intellectually sound. I decided to engage him in what I thought was an intellectual discourse on WhatsApp, but was left disappointed when Chris resorted to insults and name-calling, like many ill-educated persons that have engaged me on the subject of self-determination. At that point, I stopped replying his messages, even after saying: “I am sorry for insulting you, Lekan.”

The simple question Chris struggled with is: What will the world look like if every nation of fifty thousand people is granted the right to statehood? I will come back to this later.

After the Leave campaigners won the referendum for Britain to exit the European Union (EU) last year, code-named, #BrExit, some pro-Biafra supporters here in Nigeria celebrated it as a “major victory.” They saw it as something that should be used as a basis for a sovereign state for Biafra. That was, and will never be, because there is absolutely no relationship between both political phenomena.

For those who do not understand the issues clearly, Britain voluntarily joined the EU, then known as the European Economic Community (EEC) in 1973. Under the EU Constitution, a member state is free at anytime to exit the Union. This is not secession; neither does it look like it. The decision to leave the Union is at the sole discretion of the member state ONLY. Britain was not the first the leave the EU, and may not be the last!

The EU, just like its African counterpart, African Union (AU) has Nigeria has a member state. If Nigeria decides to leave the AU today, that is simply at the discretion of the Nigerian state, which elected to join the Union voluntarily at inception in 1963.

In parenthesis, Morocco had since 1984 left the AU, then known as the Organisation of African Unity (OAU) over the controversial issue of the status of the Saharawi Arab Democratic Republic (SADR). Till data, Morocco is yet to rejoin the Union and it is doing just fine as an independent African state. The question I asked one of those using #BrExit to justify Biafran agitation is: What is the relationship between Morocco’s exit from the OAU in 1984 and the struggle for Eritrean independence in 1993 or of South Sudan in 2012?

Those who called for referendum to determine the Biafra’s continued existence as part of Nigeria will probably have to wait longer. This is because the issues like Biafra are largely political, not legal. If it were that easy as some people want us to believe, Cataluña in Spain conducted referendum as recently as 2012, but as at when I checked this morning, Cataluña is still part of Spain. We need to add that the struggle for Catalan independence dates back to the 17th century. Can you now see why I said it is not that easy to solve like a simple algebraic equation.

In 2001, East Timor, formerly part of Indonesia, after over three decades of struggle for independence, was granted independence by President Suharto. The new country soon descended into a Civil War less than five years after its independence with the agitation for “West-East-Timor” to become a sovereign state. Those who knew (about East Timor) understood the fact that German philosopher, Immanuel Kant asked: “What if everybody did that?”

After thinking about Kant’s statement, I ask myself what the world will look like if Igbominas in Kwara suddenly make a claim for self-determination, and file to the United Nations for a sovereign state? What will the world look like if every 100,000 people file for sovereign state, there will probably be a world of complicated 8000 states. This is what happens when every group file for self-determination as a right!

OlalekanWaheed ADIGUN is a political analyst and independent political strategist for wide range of individuals, organisations and campaigns. He is based in Lagos, Nigeria. His write-ups can be viewed on his website http://olalekanadigun.com/ Tel: +2348136502040, +2347081901080
Email: olalekan@olalekanadigun.com, adgorwell@gmail.com
Follow me on Twitter @adgorwell

Oyedepo: The Folly of a Shepherd with Wiser Sheep, By Ayodele Olabisi

I had to re-title this write-up in view of the emerging feeble rebuttals of the dating of its video-data and damning acquiesce from the authorities of Winners Chapel Nigeria Limited.  I had initially titled it: “Oyedepo: Needless Self-Attrition and War of Annihilation” as a follow-up to my “Oyedepo: Caustic Order from a Worldly Investor.”

For an umpteenth time last week on Saturday, January 14, 2017, Nigerian Dailies were awash with screaming headlines such as “Oyedepo: I made those remarks in the heat of Boko Haram Crisis” (The Cable), “Living Faith Church reacts to Video showing founder, Oyedepo, urging members to ‘kill,’” (Premium Times), “Southern Kaduna Killings: Oyedepo denies inciting Christians against Muslims,” (The Nation), and “Trending: Oyedepo denies inciting Christians against Muslims” (Punch) among the plenitude of headlines.  The headlines’ screaming continued on Sunday, January 15, 2017 with The News’ “Trending Video of Oyedepo tweaked, fraudulent, says Living Faith Church,” and Daily Trust’s “Bishop Oyedepo reacts to trending video.”  Trust bloggers and other Online news harvesters, they were also caught in the frenzy with headlines such as “Video of Oyedepo circulating is old – Winners Chapel” (Naija.com), “[Video] Oyedepo denies calling out for Muslims to be attacked” (NaijaMotherland Daily Nigeria News).  As expected, all the media reported one Special Adviser to Bishop David Oyedepo had claimed that the widely-circulated caustic order least expected from a newly Born-Again Christian not to talk of a Bishop with towering reputation and earthly investments, was issued far back in 2015.  According to Dr. Sheriff Folaranmi, the embattled and now-defensive posterity-preacher, Bishop Oyedepo said that he never incited, didn’t mean to incite, wouldn’t declare war on Muslims and Islam, and never wished that Nigeria split.  Interestingly, neither the Special Adviser nor the Bishop denied the authenticity of the video which has now gone viral online.  What they contested was its dating!

 

This controversial video isn’t the first that has been linked to the Winners Chapel and the Oyedepo’s family.  Sometimes last year, specifically in the month of November, one of the daughters of Bishop Oyedepo, Joy, shared on her Facebook page the video of the ‘miracle’ she performed on herself.  In the said self-made video, Joy Oyedepo beckoned to the world to watch her as she prayed for her arms to elongate and contrast in a supposedly healing session.  This act of cheap publicity, attention-seeking, self-glorification and miracle-faking of the young Oyedepo was roundly condemned on the social media.  Critics interpreted Joy’s action as a “deliberate ploy and strategic positioning to take-over the sprawling family business of which Winners Chapel is a part.” Others said it was typical of the training the young miracle-worker had received and her initiation into the make-believe atmospheres of miracles in her father’s church. “Why did she get in front of camera to pray for her healing?,” a social media critic wondered.  Criticisms and condemnations poured out until it flooded the expanse Canaanland in Ota and got to the Oyedepos.  On Wednesday, November 16. 2016, Blogger Linka Ikeji stylishly captured the reactions like-father-like-daughter controversial self-made miracle-video as “Pastor Oyedepo’s daughter blasted online after she posted a video of her performing a ‘miracle.’  Consequently, the said ‘fake miracle’-video disappeared from her Facebook page but, too late…it has been copied, downloaded and widely shared!

 

Despite the controversies about the actual dating of the Bishop Oyedepo’s video, I have decided to revisit the said tape because its contents were never disputed.  Its animated pictures show the embattled Bishop Oyedepo exhibiting unholy anger, dramatizing unChristlike outbursts, inciting unBishoply hatred and ordering unstatesmanly annihilation of the Northerners dubbed as Boko Haram or Islamic forces.  The visibly embittered pastorpreneural Bishop was convinced that Northerners sponsored Boko Haram for political reasons and wondered why the North wants to stay in power for ever. “Must the North continue to ruuuuule?”  Jumping and stamping his feet in rage, the Bishop who lost his voice in the process of fiery-prayers with curses laced with intermittent speaking-in-tongues, ordered his congregation to kill and spill the blood of whoever tries to attack his church, his life-time investments.  Griped by the explicable fear of an investor, Oyedepo shouted: “I was told they were targeting this church, … Even if I was asleep, if you see anybody here [in my church] kill him! Kill him and spill his blood on the ground.”  And throwing all cautions to the winds, Oyedepo shouted like some battle-ready Motor Park touts: “who born their Mothers, who born their Fathers?  They are too small.” Imagine what would have happened to Nigeria if a Muslim President had ordered Bishop David Oyedepo’s arrest for inciting violence against the nation! Hell would have been let loose, as the highly politicised Christians Association of Nigeria (CAN) would declared Armageddon as well as the war of Gog and Magog! And the politically-charged Muslim Umaah as the Sultan-led Grand Council for Islamic Affairs in Nigeria (GCIAN) would countered with fatwa and fiery Jihad. Lucky us, Government ignored the Bishop’s tantrum and none of these ever resulted.

 

Until we finally get the outcome of a likely carbon-dating on the video, Shepherd Oyedepo was convinced that he had succeeded in grooming an army of morons in Winners Chapel.  He was very confident that all Living Faithers in attendance that day had been sufficiently brain-washed and reduced to mindless zombies.  His secret crystal-balls clearly told him that at his order, all the Born-Again Southerners and Northerners would be instantly launch deadly attacks on the Muslim-Northerners. The self-styled Apostle of Liberalization of the Africa Continent was highly impressed by the sporadic tumultuous Amen-choruses to his fire-declarations and hate-speeches.  “If I put fire on your tail to overrun the city, you will do it in one minute…. If you catch anybody that looks like them, kill him. … There is no reporting to anybody. Kill him and we spill his blood on the grounds,” he declared unequivocally.  The order of the ‘anointed’ Revolutionary anti-Jihadists was without any ambiguities and to which one expected spontaneous conformity.  Sadly and inadvertently, the Bishop declared a war on himself, being a Northerner from Kwara State.

 

No matter how hard the authorities of the Winners Chapel Nigeria Limited try to deny the evident intent of the video’s contents, the truth is that the embittered Bishop meant his carefully-chosen words.  Thousands of lies and denials cannot drown the truth. Whoever listens and watches the video keenly cannot miss Oyedepo’s deep-seated bitterness against the Northerners.  His grouse is that the Northerners have consistently cheated the Southerners in Nigeria by forging successive censuses to claim advantageous population and disproportionate national resources.  Hear him: “all those zeros censuses, … they are fake.  Where are the human beings?  Where are they?  We go around the place… Where are they?  We’ve never had a successful census in this country.  Where are they?”  The North’s second offense was its connivance to facilitate the escape of a captured Boko Haram member.  “A Boko Haram agent was captured and they said he escaped,” the Bishop alleged the Northerners.  With the confidence that the North wasn’t as populated as claimed, he was very sure that victory would be his army’s if they should go to war.  By converting his ‘sacred’ Altar to a bullying political platform, the Bishop has clearly breached his supposed higher Calling as an Ambassador of Christ.  His vituperations conflict with those of God’s Oracle! It was the columnist Tatalo Alamu who cautioned so-called religious leaders that “to whom much [tithes, offerings, first-fruits, covenant-seeds] is donated, much probity, accountability and fiscal godliness is expected (The Nation, January 15, 2017).  He added that religious leaders should resist the “temptation of turning their exalted platforms to bullying pulpits for…wrestling political and economic concession from the state.”

 

Were the caustic video recent, one would have expected Nigeria to be engulfed in the ethno-religious wars.  But the authorities of Winners Chapel Nigeria Limited said the video was two years old!  The contents of the video were strong enough for people to cast aspersions on the ability of Oyedepo’s God to answer his prayers.  Despite the fact that Boko Haram, Northern Forces and all Islamic Forces were cursed into extinction in the video, they’re very much active two years after their requested death.  Does God really answer Bishop Oyedepo’s prayers?  Some cynics of religions would even question God’s ability to answer any prayer considering the volumes of curses in prayer-houses and cursed-pebbles heaped on Satan regularly during Hajjs to Saudi Arabia.  In addition, the fact that Living Faithers didn’t take to the streets and city killing and maiming Northerners as ordered by their Bishop left one wondering if the congregation was actually in agreement with their Papa.  Interestingly, the Bishop who acted as if he has pocketed God boasted to his congregation that if he prayed for rain to cease, there wouldn’t be rain in Nigeria for three consecutive years!

 

Curiously, the congregation has not heeded its Papa Bishop’s caustic ordered till now.  Has Oyedepo become a Bishop without a Church?  Is Bishop Oyedepo really in charge of Winners Chapel?  Does the Bishop command any respect from Living Faithers on issues that conflict with basic Bible principles?  Is the Winners Chapel a congregation of rebels?  Has the Oyedepo’s congregation unconsciously embraced unbelief?  Is Bishop Oyedepo now a Shepherd without a Sheep?  Or is it the case of a foolish Shepherd and wise Sheep?  Does Bishop Oyedepo enjoy monopoly of access to God? These and many more questions have agitated my mind considering the evident Command-Obedience discrepancy being experienced.

 

In conclusion, I would like to commend Living Faithers in attendance that day for keeping their sanity.  I appreciate them for firmly resisting the provocation and instigations to ungodly acts wrapped and delivered from the supposedly holy altar at Canaanland.  I praised them for being wise enough to know that their Bishop has overstretched his anointing.  I thank them for selectively chorusing Amen to prayers and No to the self-serving war declared by their Papa.  My profound gratitude for saving their Papa from destroying himself with his despicable rage.  The commendable disobedience of the teeming Living Faithers have symbolically cautioned their Bishop against pulpit-bullying from which I hope other pastors in Pentecostal Assemblies would have learnt. “Papa n pa ara ?, o lo n p’aja” (Every worm’s attack on its dog-host is detrimental to its existence) and “Ida n ba ako je, ko mo pe ile ara oun lohun n ba je” (Whenever a sword tears its sheath, it invariably becomes homeless), the Yoruba always caution against self-attrition.

 

Ayodele James Olabisi, Ph.D.

January 15, 2017

Sustaining Peace Talks With The Niger Delta Agitators, By Kunle Somoye

A KALEIDOSCOPE INTO THE RECENT PAST

Pearl Buck once said “If you want to understand today, you have to search yesterday”.

Why Nigeria is in a state of recession today is not unconnected to the events in the past, in just five years, between 2010 and 2015, the last administration sold crude oil for $120 and most times $110 (the highest) earning N55 trillion in total while the total earning from sales of crude oil since independence was 96.212 trillion, please kindly do the maths.

Some of us beclouded by sentiments and hatred are quick to forget that the international price of crude began to drop drastically in the second quarter of 2014 plunging all the way down to $28 per barrel in the first quarter of 2016 and we look for who to blame, we quickly lay the bulk at the doorstep of the President Muhammadu Buhari. Well, after all he asked for this right?

Well, here is one analogy: For years you’ve been living on two million naira monthly salary, you have a family of five, you bought a house and three cars, one for you, one for you wife and one for your children, you pay their school fees, you feed them till their cheeks become chubby, and at the end of every year, you take them on exquisite vacations abroad.

Then by happenstance, the company you work for had to cut loose some workers and reduce salaries, you are fortunate they still keep you but your salary was cut down to seven hundred thousand naira, would you be able to spend the way you use to? would there not be some adjustment in the house?

So if you ask me “Why did Nigeria suffer Recession”?

My simple answer would be; the consistent pipeline vandalism and the reduction in price of crude oil in the international market.

In 2015 alone 3,000 pipelines were vandalized translating to a loss of over 643 million liters which hitherto amounts to a loss in monetary value of up to 51.28 Billion Naira.

Between January and May 2016, 1,447 pipelines were vandalized also leading to a loss of 109 million liters of petroleum products and 560,000 barrels of crude oil that could have gone into refineries. It was also at this period that our domestic gas supply dropped by 50 percent due to vandalism leading to nationwide power outage.

NNPC is targeting a consolidated approach to reviving the refineries, they want to bring in investment partners to revamp the existing refineries so the production capacity can at least move up to 75 % but that is only possible if the pipeline vandals stop their illegal activities.

Is this reading getting too long? I think so too, but please stay with me on this journey to understand the core issues…

It was reported that in the last ten years, 16,085 pipelines breaks were recorded, 398 pipelines broke due to ruptures while the vandals accounted for 15,685 pipeline breaks.

Be honest, would much be gained for our collective good if all avenues of making money are blocked by some people?

NO!

Is there a way forward?

YES! there are always solutions to problems, this year looks good for Nigeria already as oil price has been on the rise from $55 per barrel to $55.5 and now $58.37.

The 2017 budget oil price benchmark for revenue is $42.5, but with the increase in price of crude oil?—?thanks to Opec?—?a difference of $12.5, $13, and $15.87 will go into what we call the Excess Crude Account which will also in turn serve as a cushion against the plummeting Naira to Dollar exchange valuation.

Brethren, it is important to note here that the simple reason for the current Naira to dollar exchange rate is the lack of dollars in Central Bank of Nigeria’s coffers (please don’t ask me if I’ve seen CBN’s vault)

So if you were asked what caused the Forex crises, know that it was caused by the three headed monsters;

  1. Reduction in price of the only reasonable thing we produce for now (Crude)
  2. The incessant pipeline vandalism that further reduces government’s income
  3. Looting and wasteful spending when things were going good.

We can talk about the Bureau-De-Change and CBN’s erstwhile pendulum Fiscal and Monetary Policies later..

SUSTAINING PEACE 101

“Order your thoughts and you will order your life. Pour the oil of tranquility upon the turbulent waters of the passions and prejudices, and the tempests of misfortune, howsoever they may threaten, will be powerless to wreck the barque of your soul, as it threads its way across the ocean of life”. -James Allen

The above quote was drawn out of my understanding of the psyche of this country, I think we have been driven by forces that are not beneficial to us, this is the time to redirect Nigeria’s soul, This is the time to order our collective thoughts away from greed, distrust, hatred and seek peace, tranquility and economic prosperity in the Niger Delta Region and in Nigeria.

Our country currently produces an average of 1.6 million barrels of crude oil in a day at the rate of $58 but we can increase our production to 2.2 million barrels if vandalism stops.

If we are able to keep our production at this level for six months without pipeline vandalisation, Nigeria would be out of recession.

For the benefit of our collective economic prosperity, I want to quote Jalaladdin Rumi to reinforce my point on the need for the Federal Government and the Niger Delta Agitators to come to a middle ground.

“Out beyond ideas of wrongdoing and right doing there is a field.
I’ll meet you there”

If you are reading this, may 2017 be a year of economic prosperity for you, your family and for Nigeria.

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