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Nigeria not mature for State Police – IGP opposes Governors

The 90-day quit order ultimatum handed down to Nigerians of Igbo extraction to leave the North, by a coalition of Arewa youths rankles common sense as it runs against the 1999 Constitution, as amended, which guarantees freedom of movement, association and place of abode for all citizens, including the Igbo.

Nigerians and the world were alarmed, when, recently, a coalition of Northern youths rustled the peace of the nation when, at a news briefing in Kaduna, gave the Igbo living in any part of the North three months to leave the territory, after which, they would be mopped up.

The coalition was peeved by the agitation for a Biafran Republic by Igbo youths under the auspices of Indigenous People of Biafra, (IPOB), and the Movement for the Actualisation of the Sovereign State of Biafra, MASSOB. They were particularly miffed by the 50th anniversary of declaration of Biafra by the late Dim Chukwuemeka Odumegwu-Ojukwu and the sit-at-home order that accompanied the event.

The quit order, has been roundly condemned by well-meaning Nigerians, including governors from the North such as Kaduna State Governor, Mallam Nasir el-Rufai – who has ordered the police to arrest those behind the quit order, Sokoto State Governor, Aminu Tambuwal, who has assured the safety of Ndigbo in the state, among others.

Many have described the notice as treasonable and demanded the arrest of the Arewa youths – who issued it. Gov. el-Rufai has insisted on the arrest of those who gave the quit order.

It is nonetheless sad and regrettable that a leading light like Prof. Ango Abdullahi, a former Vice Chancellor of Ahmadu Bello University, ABU, Zaria did not see anything wrong with the idea of a quit notice to citizens of the country living in the North. He has hinged his support of the treasonable action on the grounds that Igbo elite had done nothing to stop their youths agitating for a Biafra Republic.

But Abdullahi is clearly wrong because the Igbo socio-cultural body – Ohanaeze Ndigbo – which speaks for all Igbo has never supported the call for a Biafra state as demanded by IPOB or MASSOB so the claim by him and some others in the coalition is absurd and typical of giving a dog a bad name to justify its hanging.

Dr. Nnia Nwodo, President-General of Ohanaeze, has never ceased to insist on the restructuring of the Nigerian Federation to enthrone true federalism. Like most honest and sincere Nigerians, including South West leaders have observed, the current federal structure is lopsided and unjust and can only continue to cause hiccups in the wheel of progress, development and growth of the Nigerian state.

Even at a recent public forum, Asiwaju Bola Ahmed Tinubu, the national leader of All Progressives Congress, APC, the party that produced President Muhammadu Buhari-led federal government, challenged the government to initiate moves to restructure Nigeria.

But these eminent Nigerians including former Vice President Atiku Abubakar and former military president Gen. Ibrahim Babangida do not see any reason why the federal structure being run as a unitary system of government should remain.

According to them, having operated the current system with little progress, constant stress and strains, it is only reasonable to try another system. Indeed, it is only a fool that thinks that he would obtain a different result from the same process repeatedly. This axiomatic expression is symptomatic of the Nigerian state today.

All the same, the Arewa youths cannot justify their action by the activities of IPOB and MASSOB because they have never applied any force of action and are never armed.

Despite the fact that they had, in the past, been confronted and allegedly killed by the military, they had gone about their agitation without arms and had never molested anybody, including Northerners living in the South East. Even when their leader, Nnamdi Kanu was incarcerated, their protest for his release had always been peaceful. They have also demanded for a referendum to determine their fate in the Nigerian state.

These are legitimate demands and internationally acceptable process for self-determination. Why should any citizen be vilified, hounded and discriminated against for making a legitimate demand? The unity of the country can be negotiated, in the same way that its unity is never cast in gold. The Russian Federation is a case in point.

It is therefore unconscionable for any group of persons to order another group to quit any part of the country for calling for referendum or for demanding for a negotiation of the country’s unity.

Whereas, the current condemnation of Arewa youths is a welcome development, the point must not be lost on everybody in the country that the Igbo do not need any special protection to live in the North or any other part of the country, for that matter. What has played out this period will continue to resurface insofar as the government continues to pretend that everything is well with the country.

Therefore, rather than seek special protection for the Igbo, the APC-led Federal Government should go ahead to initiate moves aimed at restructuring Nigeria. If the country is a Federation, then it must be run as a Federation, where the federating units cede certain powers to the centre while running their respective regional affairs as it’s done in the United States of America, USA, whose system of government the country has copied.

We challenge the National Assembly, NASS, to also see reason why the country must be restructured. The NASS should work in agreement with the Executive to bring about a Nigeria where every component part is not treated as a second class citizen.

Meanwhile, we demand the arrest and prosecution of all those who were behind the quit notice to the Igbo in the North. Unless this arrant lawlessness is punished, another group of persons could wake up another day to do similarly. The Arewa youths cannot be above the law.

.For a better society

 

Two years after President Muhammadu Buhari administration came on board having been sworn on May 29, 2015, certainly, all socio-economic indicators show that the average Nigerian is not faring better but groaning today under severe hardship and unable to meet basic necessities of life.

Therefore, we challenge government to redouble efforts to alleviate if not totally eliminate the suffering.

The incumbent government, we recall, rode on the change mantra to power, promising to give the economy, insecurity and war against corruption topmost priority attention. After initial long procrastination, Buhari constituted his cabinet before settling down to business of governance and the score card of federal ministries, departments and departments (MDAS) so far clearly, has fallen short of expectations of  the people who voted overwhelmingly for positive change and life in abundance.

In the economic front, the nation is still reeling on the web of recession with all the resulting negative symptoms like high inflation rate, cost of goods and services hitting the roof top beyond the reach of most Nigerians, rising job losses, dwindling industrial capacity utilization, high interest rate and workers’ low purchasing power.

Though the World Bank and the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) have been quick to predict an early recovery from the recession (latest June), we note with concern that current indices on ground do not corroborate such assertion by the two institutions.

For instance despite several assurances by the CBN Governor, Godwin Emefiele, and Finance Minister, Mrs. Kemi Adeosun, the economic recovery process has not created the touted many jobs; not relaxed the inflationary rate put at 17.24 per cent year-on-year as at April 2017, while local industrial utilization has remained abysmally low.

Regrettably also, prices of staple foods that constitute daily menu of most Nigerians including garri, rice and yam are still on the very high side with a plastic size of garri selling for N1000 in the market and a bag of rice going for as much as N18,000 in some places which unfortunately is the national minimum wage.

We also observe in the last two years that both the CBN and the Finance Ministry have not demonstrated extraordinary synergy and competence expected of drivers of a major economy and this must change if the economy must improve its fortune.

Specifically, management of the foreign exchange regime by the apex bank has been anything but satisfactory until lately and a matter of regret that the United States dollar is exchanging for almost N400 in the parallel market with far-reaching negative implications even though the naira is faring better in the official interbank market presently.

And more worrying dimension is the fact that under the current floating exchange regime as experience has shown, those who access the dollars at the official window would definitely fall to temptation of not lending to the real sector which is also the productive sector, considering that finished goods from imported raw materials will be more expensive for consumers who are at liberty to go for imported items. The urge to also channel their dollar to the parallel market where return is higher and immediate is irresistible.

We further observe that the biting recession had taken a further heavy toll on the nation’s aviation sector such that two local airlines- Arik Air and Aero Contractors- were on the brink of total collapse but for prompt government’s intervention through the Assets Management Corporation of Nigeria (AMCON), which saved the day. Similarly, there is virtually no local content addition in the sector with aviation fuel becoming more expensive in the country than anywhere else in Africa if not the world.

Therefore, we challenge the Buhari administration to take another hard look at its economic policies with a view to alleviating hardship in the land, reducing the cost of borrowing in commercial banks and further lowering the cost of doing business in order to create the enabling environment required for private businesses to thrive. This is the only way to stop continued job losses and create new jobs.

Reducing the interest rate without doubt, would serve as stimulus to local industries because they will be able to access funds cheaply, build capacity and buy more raw materials for production of goods both for local consumption and possibly export and these will have multiplier effects on the economy.

We are deeply worried also that the tottering economy has further aggravated security challenges across the country, a development that has resulted in upsurge in kidnapping for ransom, armed robbery, rape  and other criminal activities.

However, the tremendous successes by our gallant officers and men of the Armed Forces in the war against Boko Haram is commendable though the North East zone earlier overrun by the criminals has not been totally liberated of the insurgents.

Heart warming too is the rescue of about 106 out of 270 girls kidnapped in April 2014 by the Islamic sect in a dormitory in Chibok Girls Secondary School, Borno State. We demand that no stone should be left unturned by the security forces in recovering the remaining girls who are still trapped in Boko Haram den.

The high number of defenceless Nigerians lost daily to rampaging fully armed Fulani herdsmen across the country especially in Southern Kaduna and Benue State is heartbreaking and requires an immediate solution.

We demand adequate protection of lives and property of all Nigerians in line with section 14: 2(b) of the 1999 Constitution (as amended) which stipulates that “the security and welfare of the people shall be the primary purpose of government in the country which is the sole essence of government.

More importantly, policemen should be recruited as earlier promised by government and state of the art equipment and vehicles be procured as part of security architecture to tame the herdsmen and address other criminal activities.

We further demand more action on the part of the Police Service Commission that is statutorily charged with the recruitment to wake up from its current slumber to fast track the process as continued security breaches and pervasive threats to lives and property in the land will scare potential investors from investing in the country while those operating here have no choice than relocate elsewhere with conducive industrial climate.

In our opinion, the war on corruption by the Buhari administration has recorded tremendous successes with total recovered cash according to the Federal Government so far is over $160 million and N8 billion and several convictions made in the law courts.

The whistle blowing policy has not only added a new impetus to the anti-graft campaign but also aroused public consciousness while state officials are becoming better informed that there are dare consequences for looting of public funds.

However, we strongly believe that there is room for improvement in the anti-graft campaign being waged by operatives of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, EFCC, as well as the Independent Corrupt Practices and other related offences Commission (ICPC) particularly by raising their game, enthroning more accountability, transparency, making full disclosures on recovered looted funds and its utilization by government.

There is also an urgent need for the EFCC to make the war total to address the current negative perception that it is selective and targetted at the opposition which is why some politicians with corruption cases on their neck are defecting daily from the Peoples Democratic Party, PDP, to the ruling All Progressives Congress (APC) perhaps to escape the commission’s searchlight and justice. Therefore, the APC must not harbour the corrupt and criminally-minded defectors.

In the power sector, the incumbent administration has fared manifestly woefully as the epileptic power supply has remained same if not worse than it was before May 29, 2015. This is apart from not adding any new infrastructure since coming on board.  Though the APC had in course of electioneering in 2014, boasted it won’t take more than six months to fix the power sector, it is regrettable and shameful that even the government-owned Transmission Company of Nigeria (TCN) has facilities to distribute only 4,000 megawatts of electricity irrespective of the quantum generated by generating companies that had been fully privatized.

We reject the existing hiccups in gas supply to GENCOS and demand full turn-around for the sector in the months ahead as only stable electricity supply can guarantee sustainable socio-economic and industrial growth in the country.

It is also a truism that little or no visible meaningful impact has been made in upgrading public utilities like roads, rail and health facilities so far. The situation is even very pathetic given that the President is currently on indefinite medical vacation in London where he had initially spent 49 days for treatment.

Government has also fared below average and not proactive enough in the international arena such that Nigerians continue to be easy prey in South Africa where many have been killed. This must stop. We challenge the Ministry of Foreign Affairs to be very proactive and should take more active interest in the overall well-being and welfare of Nigerians wherever they may be across the globe.

By and large, we believe the Buhari administration though has made some gains in some sectors so far, much work is required for government to alleviate current hardship facing the people and this could only be achieved by thinking outside the box, implementing plans and programmes that will transform the economy in conjunction with the National Assembly which before now has not acted as reliable partner in progress with the executive. Though we commend recent passage of Petroleum Industry Governance Bill after 14 years, it is only such transformation that will engender the real change the citizens desired and life abundance for all before the APC can ask for their votes in 2019.

For a better society

 

The raging controversy over the health status of President Muhammadu Buhari is a repeat nightmare Nigerians do not deserve. For the second time in eight years, inertia, uncertainty, cabalistic intrigues and primordial divisions have gripped the country as the President grapples with an illness that keeps him away from public view and raises doubts about his fitness for the job. It is also raising questions about who is really running the government. While a cabal is bent on hoodwinking the public, the President is increasingly being portrayed as one out of touch with the public. The country must rise above this dangerous swamp, compel all concerned to take the sensible steps and save Nigeria from unnecessary upheaval.

On Wednesday, Buhari failed, for the third time in a row, to turn up for the weekly Federal Executive Council meeting at the Presidential Villa, deepening anxiety over his health. Lai Mohammed, the Information Minister, says Buhari has been advised to take some rest by his doctors. The disquiet that began last year when twice the President jetted to the United Kingdom ostensibly for medical check-up, only for the trips to stretch for longer than expected will not go away. Each time, rather than give an unambiguous report to Nigerians, the Presidency declined to give details of his ailment. On a recent trip that lasted weeks and led to alarming speculations, some party leaders and senior federal lawmakers had to visit him in London. Photographs of him from those meetings gave way to more frenzied speculations and ‘scoops’ on his true state of health. In the absence of real information beyond the cant of government spokesmen, rumours have triggered fear. One is that he has pancreatic cancer, another Crohn’s disease, yet another that he can no longer eat and drink, but is being fed intravenously. It is a rumour mill that will cease to be fecund once the truth is told.

We travelled this thorny road before between 2009 and 2010 when the late terminally-ill President Umaru Yar’Adua was spirited out of the country, paving the way for his close aides to capture the reins of power, ruling in his name and plunging the country into an unnecessary constitutional crisis. Mercifully, Buhari, unlike Yar’Adua, transfers power to his deputy anytime he travels.

We are worried, not because Buhari is ill, but that events are heading in a dangerous direction again. We strongly believe that presidents are human beings, too, and human beings do fall sick. Similarly, sometimes an illness does not mean a president cannot perform his job. However, when the illness is critical enough to affect the ability to govern and compromises mental faculties, then patriotism and fairness demand that urgent actions be taken. And this is exactly where we are on Buhari’s failing health as it is significant enough to have impact on critical decision-making. The public deserves to know the state of health of the President.

Public service entails sacrifices. And one of the things you sacrifice is your privacy. A former United States President, Bill Clinton, commenting on his own health disclosure, once said, “The public has a right to know the condition of the President’s health.” As Nigeria’s foremost public official, Buhari owes the public full disclosure. This is especially so because being president is a very stressful job beyond the ken of people with diminishing strength and failing faculties.

In the past, leaders with failing health had plunged their countries into avoidable crises, even wars. Anthony Eden, British Prime Minister from 1955 to 1957, made a mistake in dispatching British troops to Suez in 1956 because he was taking addictive, painkilling drugs that could have clouded his judgement. David Owen, a former foreign secretary, said later that “Eden would not have contemplated such an action if he had been fit and well.” According to the New York Times, some historians have blamed colon surgery in 1985, for the poor decisions Ronald Reagan made in relation to the Iran-Contra scandal while he was recuperating. Reagan transferred power briefly to Vice-President George Bush, but rushed back to work. Robert Gilbert, an emeritus professor of political science at Northeastern University, says Reagan’s aides prevented people from seeing him because he was unwell and he made decisions while hospitalised that he later did not remember.

Already, Buhari’s prolonged absence from official duties is fuelling lethargy and confusion in government. For about three weeks, the President has been absent from his desk, public functions and even religious activities; holed up instead inside the Villa from where unelected aides, accused repeatedly of pursuing their own agenda, transmit directives supposedly in his name. Some glaring acts of mischief are worrying. An attentive President would have nipped in the bud the controversy surrounding the serial extension of the tenure of the Permanent Secretary, Federal Ministry of Education, Jamila Shu’ara. She had resigned at the expiration of her tenure in 2016, but it has been extended to 2018. In a patently biased action, the State Security Service, which is headed by Lawal Daura, has just turned its recruitment programme into an ethnic bazaar.

Governance, which ran with gusto when the President was away in London for seven weeks, has slowed down, with files said to be unattended to. Infighting among operatives of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission and the Department of State Services has boiled over dangerously into the open with the latter accusing the former of shielding a corruption suspect and the Attorney-General of the Federation taking over the prosecution of some accused persons. The war against terrorism requires an active commander-in-chief. Inertia is also evident in the slow pace of appointing boards and heads of statutory agencies and in strange, lopsided appointments that reveal a lack of rigour in the selection process. Meanwhile, corruption is stubbornly fighting back, as lawyers, judges, political actors and compromised sections of the polity and the mass media launch ferocious attacks on the anti-corruption machinery. The firm hand that Nigerians voted for in Buhari is missing in action.

Socially, the President’s reclusive habit has alienated him from the people. He rarely steps out of Abuja to attend to or visit the citizens whether in joy or tragedy. Some fanatics are going beyond their brief. Sectional, religious sentiments, instead of rational considerations, sway some commentators, exposing the fragility of the Nigerian state. A police officer, Saidu Biu, vowed on social media in April to kill “at least 200 people” in the event of his death. The economy is on the home stretch away from recession amid an economic recovery programme, fresh external borrowing bids and deliberate delay in passing the 2017 budget, five months into the year, by a recalcitrant National Assembly.

As a result of his failing health, Buhari appears to have lost control of his government. He should not put politics before medical attention and the quest for, and exercise of, the powers of the office of the presidency above national interest. The late Cuban leader, Fidel Castro, despite having a vice-like grip on his country and could go on and on, said “It would betray my conscience to occupy a responsibility that requires mobility and the total commitment that I am not in the physical condition to offer,” in a 2008 letter to the nation announcing his surrender of power.

Now, Buhari will have to take some urgent decisions. He should immediately declare his health status to douse the speculative game. In accordance with Section 145 of the 1999 Constitution, he should not hesitate any further to embark on another medical vacation and transfer power to Vice-President Yemi Osinbajo to act as President once more. Above all, the mélange of socio-economic challenges facing the country cannot be addressed by a Presidency in fits and starts. If President Buhari really wants what is best for the country, the most important decision of his remarkable life is before him now: resign right away without any more fuss. He should listen to his inner mind rather than the power hawks that surround him.

For a better society

THE recent scarcity of Nigerian International Passport booklets across the country has subjected many intending travellers to untold hardship. The experience of a United Kingdom-based Nigerian citizen who came home to renew his expired passport and ended up spending over three months in a hotel waiting for the document, illustrates what most applicants went through. ADVERTISING Passport The Nigerian Immigration Service(NIS) blamed the situation on the foreign exchange rate differentials between the time the contract for its production was awarded by the last administration and the present dispensation. The high exchange rate which expectedly impacted on the cost of production, was another reason for the scarcity. Some Immigration officials engage in passport racketeering through syndicates, thereby creating artificial shortages. The Nigerian International Passport is a right of every citizen. The booklet is Nigeria’s identity in foreign countries across the world. Only a negligible percentage of the population demand for it . NIS is the only statutory agency of the Federal Government charged with the responsibility of producing the document and making it available on demand, thus, there is no excuse for its unavailability at any point in time. The development was a reflection of government’s commitment to important issues of entry and exit from the country. The Federal Government appeared nonchalant in its response to request for upward review of the contract signed with the last administration due to the Naira depreciation. Iris Smart Technology Nigeria Limited(ISLT), the sole supplier of the Nigerian Passport made the request last year but nothing was done until the NIS ran out of supply. Government’s disapproval of a demand for hike in the cost of obtaining the travel document which the NIS made in March 2016 also helped make the scarcity inevitable. A similar request by ISTL was declined. The company’s stoppage of supply since the middle of last year compounded the situation. Nigerians need not go through harrowing experience before they obtain their country’s international passport. It should be a seamless process. That applicants from neighbouring South South and South East states traveled to the Calabar Command of the NIS at the height of the scarcity to obtain passport is unacceptable. We appreciate the fact that normalcy is now restored to the entire process. Government is a continuum and successive administrations should be committed to important contractual obligations of its predecessor, especially when it concerns sensitive issue like our passport. If local resources are well harnessed, Nigeria has the capacity to produce the booklets locally without compromising its international standard and quality. It is noteworthy that the authorities are already considering that option especially when the 10-year contract signed with the Malaysia-based ISTL in 2007 expires this month. We call on the Federal Government to extend the passport life span to 10 years as it is the case in most countries. German 3 Bedrooms Breaking news stories Cartoons

For a better society

Adama Barrow, born on February 16, 1965, will be sworn in  on Thursday as President of The Gambia, having won the presidential election of 2016. He is a member of the United Democratic Party (UDP).  Prior to his presidential campaign, he was the treasurer of the UDP and operated a real estate agency. He established the agency, Majum Real Estate, in 2006 after returning from studies in London, England. He was initially going to become President on January 19, 2017, but on January 18, the Gambia Parliament, voted to extend incumbent Yahya Jammeh’s term by 90 days.

Early life and education

Barrow was born in Mankamang Kunda, a small Jimara village near Basse. He first attended the local Koba Kunda Primary School and then Crab Island Secondary School in Banjul before receiving a scholarship for Muslim High School. After graduation, he worked for Alhagie Musa & Sons and rose through the ranks until he became sales manager. Barrow then moved to London in the early 2000s, where he studied for a degree in real estate, while working as a security guard at an Argos catalogue store to finance his studies.

Business career

Barrow returned to the Gambia following his graduation. In 2006 he established Majum Real Estate and has since been chief executive officer (CEO) of the company.

Political career

In 2016, Barrow was chosen by a coalition of seven opposition parties as their endorsed candidate for the 2016 Gambian presidential election. Prior to becoming a candidate for the presidency, Barrow had not previously held any political office. He had been the treasurer of the UDP. He went on to defeat the long-term incumbent, Yahya Jammeh, in an upset. He will be sworn in about sixty days from his election, an event that will mark the country’s first change of presidency in 22 years and its first change of presidency by democratic means since independence from Britain in 1965. Jammeh initially indicated that a smooth handover of power would take place, but days later said that he rejected the election result.

Barrow has called for Yahya Jammeh to give up power peacefully. The defeated president refused to accept the elections results, as he appealed his loss to the Supreme Court. Jammeh has also vowed to remain in power, until the court’s decision, expected to be in May.

Campaign promises:

He has promised to return The Gambia to its membership of the Commonwealth of Nations and the jurisdiction of the International Criminal Court. He also promised to reform security forces, suggesting that they should be “distanced from politics”.

Barrow has said that, if elected, he would set up a temporary transition government formed of members from the opposition coalition and would step down within three years.

Personal life:

Barrow has two wives and five children. He is a devout Muslim, who says faith guides his life and politics and often invokes Allah in his speeches. He supports the English football team Arsenal.

Habibu Barrow, his eight-year-old son, died after being bitten by a dog on January 15, 2017. Barrow could not attend his son’s funeral due to staying in Senegal for security reasons, following ECOWAS recommendation.

Ethnic identity and views on tribalism

He has been reported to be a member of the Fula ethnic group, which the United Democratic Party (UDP) has said is the second largest ethnic group in The Gambia (the largest being the Mandinka). He has also been reported to be Mandinka, based on his father’s ethnicity, but more identified with Fulas in social and cultural terms, having had a Mandinka father and a Fula mother. He grew up speaking the Fula language in a village and district that are primarily Fula, and both of his wives are Fula.

When asked about the topic and his views on what he envisions for The Gambia, he said he has mixed ethnic background and that he is not a tribalist:

It would be an inclusive country where tribalism will not have a place. I am the least tribalists person you will ever see. I have mixed ethnic blood in me. I am a Sarahule, Mandinka and Fula. Two of my sisters from the same mum and dad are married to Jolas. So, tribe is not important. What is important is that we are all Gambians and should unite and work for the progress of our country.

 

For a better society.

The African continent has acquired notoriety in the use of children as soldiers in the various wars and conflict zones which litter the continent.

The call by the National Assembly on President Muhammadu Buhari to urgently address the nation on what the American  would call the state of the union address is very apt, statemanly  and  therefore , should be acceded to and used to let Nigerians know the mind of his  administration on the economy in particular and the general governance system in the country.

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