Wednesday, 23 April 2014

News Release: Nigerian Presidency Commends Main Opposition Leader

Buhari: Nigeria's Main Opposition Leader

President Goodluck Ebele Jonathan commends General Muhammadu Buhari for his very statesman-like views on terrorism and insecurity in Nigeria as expressed in his article which was published by the media over the past two days.

President Jonathan believes that the position taken by General Buhari is that of a true patriot, respected former Head of State, revered elder statesman and nationalist.

The President welcomes General Buhari’s call on all Nigerians to remain steadfast and work in unity to overcome terrorists and other merchants of death who currently threaten national security.

President Jonathan fully shares General Buhari’s view that a minority must never be allowed to “bring the nation to its knees through terror”.

He has noted General Buhari’s recommendation that the nation’s counter-terrorism strategies be further fine-tuned and welcomes his kind offer of support and co-operation in dealing with the challenge of terrorism. 

The President assures General Buhari of his Administration’s sincere commitment and dedication to the successful prosecution of the fight against terrorism and all other threats to national security.

He further assures the General of his preparedness to work with him and all other patriotic Nigerians, irrespective of their political affiliations, to strengthen national security and end the scourge of terrorism.

Reuben Abati
Special Adviser to the President
(Media & Publicity)

U-Report: Bishop Says Impeached Imo State Deputy Governor Is Symbol Of Innocence

Agbaso: Impeached Dep. Gov. Of Imo State

Report By Nnawuihe Iwuala

The Bishop of Enugu Anglican Diocese, the Rt. Rev. Emmanuel Chukwuma has described the impeached former Deputy Governor of Imo State, Sir Jude Agbaso, as a symbol of innocence among the political class in Nigeria.

The vibrant cleric made this remark during the funeral service of one of the Anglican faithful, Mrs. Jane Okeke held at the deceased husband’s compound in Otolo Nnewi Anambra State.

During the funeral service, Bishop Chukwuma on noticing the presence of Sir Agbaso at the occasion said that the public was aware that the embattled former Deputy Governor who was impeached in March 2013 on allegations of bribery and official corruption was innocent.

‘You may think we do not know what happened in Imo State last year. We are aware and the whole world knows. We followed the whole drama very well. We know you (Sir Agbaso) were innocent of the allegations that led to your impeachment. Therefore, when the Economic and Financial Crime Commission (EFCC) later cleared you of allegations, we were not surprised. We all thank God for vindicating you. Today, you carry the symbol of innocence wherever you go…’

It could be recalled that in March last year, Sir Agbaso was impeached as the Deputy Governor of Imo State in what many say was controversial. It is being alleged that the Imo State Government falsely sponsored a Lebanese Contractor Joseph Dina, to accuse Sir Agbaso of collecting a bribe of =N=458 Million for award of road contract in the state. This Sir Agbaso denied and called for proper investigation. However, the Imo State Government hurriedly went ahead to impeach Agbaso.

Recently, events turned around as the EFCC gave a report which says that in the course of investigating the said allegations against Sir Agbaso, that Joseph Dina told the commission that he never gave Sir Agbaso the above sum or any bribe as he (Dina) had earlier stated before the Imo State legislature. Therefore, the Commission later wrote Sir Agbaso absolving him of the said bribery allegations.

Meanwhile, the embattled former Deputy Governor has three suits in court challenging his impeachment. Two of the cases are already at the Court of Appeal. One will be heard on 30th April 2014.

Open Letter: Letter To Niger Delta Delegates To 2014 Nigerian National Conference

By Ben Ikari

Dear Niger delta delegates, this letter serves to respectfully notify you that although the conference isn't sovereign as the Pan Niger delta Conference (PNDC) held on January 28, 2014 demanded like other groups from the region and beyond. Many fronts, including states' representatives from the region or, all of you are present at the talk-shop.  You're there to present the region's position and reason, network to actualize same alongside working out plans for a corruption-free and equitable, just, competent and progressive country. As you and other Nigerians know, Niger delta demand is just and fair and will not deprive any region, individual or ethnic group and state, the federal government or organization in the country their fundamental rights.

I ask humbly therefore, that you please insist on revenue generation, and not allow further option to resource ownership and control nor let another chance pass against workable federation, which fairly devolves power and grant greater autonomy to the units. The conference achieving these through your efforts and those of others who believe in the above ideology will not divide or break the country. It will rather change the current armed robbery, corruption-ridden and blood infested status quo, hence strengthen the country and make its states or regions competitively functional and efficient.  As such pushing for, and achieving this demand is inductive and deductively fair. It's an expedient demand and the most holistically sound gift and legacy you can give the oppressed Niger deltans you represent and Nigerians in general. You shall owe no one apologies having written  your names in GOLD for posterity when you present this demand without chickening out to stomach the present status quo hoping that angels or God will come down to deliver in another fifty or hundred years. Fifty-seven years (1956 to 2014) of exploitation and cheating, terrorizing and killing cum environmental ruins is enough for Nigerians and the world to see that the Niger delta has endured. 

This duration is longer than the period critics will claim groundnut pyramid, cocoa and palm produce, etc., which the North, West and East got fifty percent derivation without sweat because they're affected, were used to care for the country. The number of states and development the period before oil boom created for Niger delta compared to what oil has done to the country can't be matched. Obviously many Niger deltans have been killed for the region's demand for equity, fairplay and justice. No one from the North, West and East was killed for asking and getting fifty percent derivation from the proceeds on their land. Their environment wasn't polluted and degraded in the process of growing and harvesting the aforementioned crops or produce. The experience before oil is against the measures the cabal imposed on Niger deltans. What is happening to the region and people is injustice, oppression and victimization of the highest order. The fundamental rights of the children, women, men and youths of Niger delta have been grossly violated. 

So the choice is yours (like fault shall be yours if to the contrary) to end this unjust and dehumanizing treatment once and for all at the conference. That is, whether the conference is another waste of time or attempt that will benefit political interest and deceitfully ease nerves or an opportunity to discuss and solve the country's problems in an honest and just fashion. It remains your choice, as Niger delta delegates to stand up and reject the status quo. What if things don't work out as they're hoped to, is the question many will ask. The Niger delta delegates still have the most natural and righteous responsibility, even legal duty to insist on the region's demand and should be ready to tell the conference and peoples of Nigeria that Niger delta wishes to take a leave of absence from the country since the cabal or government and people aren't ready to do what's right by allowing freedom, justice and peace to prevail. This leave of absence means breaking away from the country and become independent. Although Nigeria may not escape the fate of former Soviet Union, Crimea in Ukraine and many groups or nations today, which break away from their original countries may not be bigger or not have been more oppressed than Niger delta. 

What mattered to them is a recognition for human dignity, and so the will, determination to be free when oppression reached unbearable height. The oppression, cheating, killings and other ills forced on Niger deltans have no space to contain them. If Niger deltans, particularly the politicians and leaders, some of whom are at the conference aren't part of the conspiracy, the need and time to act is now else the pain will continue unabated. The region's just and fair demands for resource ownership and control, environmental justice aren't negotiable. Niger deltans may not appreciate the leverage or power they have, if fear becomes the recipe for a continual suffering. But once Niger delta take the first active step to make real its desire to say "Bye to Nigeria," an artificial country forced on the peoples against their wish, other groups, preferably Igbos will join to embolden many more. That is, assuming what we've been reading and seeing lately is to be laid hands on as reliable and dependable positions.

Consequently, true fiscal federalism or confederation, that comes with self-government or greater autonomy, resource generation and control should be the basis on which Nigeria will continue or disintegrate. Meanwhile, let me remind you of the resolutions and recommendations Pan Niger delta Conference made at the January pre-conference mentioned above. It’s that Goodluck Jonathan, who is the Nigerian president, and a Niger deltan, should mandate conference representation based on ethnic configuration or nationality instead of following the advice of the presidential advisory committee that was led by Dr. Femi Okurounmu.  Because Jonathan, his advisers and cabal aren't open to the Sovereign National Conference ideology many Nigerians have demanded, rather looking forward to maintaining the status quo ante. Jonathan opted for representation based on federal government and states, civil society organizations, private and government sector institutions and other groups' representation. 

As expected, one of Niger delta's pre-conference recommendations (ethnic representation) was ignored. The second important resolution and recommendation is that Nigeria should operate a true federal system of government, which will allow or create component units and guarantee them political autonomy and devolve power. The third resolution and recommendation that is core to the political, economic, social and otherwise development of the region and Nigeria in general and already pointed to, is resource generation, ownership and control without which the conference will be a ruse as usual. The fourth resolution and recommendation is referendum. That is, the conference should work out modalities that will subject its final recommendations to a national referendum. This way, the National Assembly's drama which shall be due to political differences and the predominance of the North, West and Eastern politicians will not stymied the efforts of the conference, which could come from critical thinking, hard decisions, dialogue, understanding and compromise based on honesty and fairness. 

A referendum will also not toe Jonathan's earlier referral of conference resolutions to the National Assembly for review. Now, considering how the conference is going, particularly the fear that the status quo may be protected by government and cabal's delegates since committee membership is imposed by the leadership, and the fact that northerners especially of Hausa-Fulani stock aren't willing to compromise. I request humbly and respectfully that you and other delegates who believe in and advocate true fiscal federalism that bears the four legs and head of resource generation, ownership and control to persuasively make it upon the conference/country as a demand and as of right. Now is the time to not concede further resource sharing or allocation formula, rather preach and demand, get a deal that allows all the states or regions of Nigeria, including the federal government to generate their own resources or revenue so as to better run the country. 
The task is a tough one when taking into account, the different interest and particularly the greedy cabal/federal government using their anointed delegates to playing "rub my back my back, I rub your back," thus twisting hands. Notwithstanding, it's a task that is possible, because nothing is impossible except where fear, lack of knowledge, doubt for possibilities and will, becloud the thinking of humans. The task demands energy, focus, delivery strategies, which include non-negotiable pitch. There may be no other opportunity to sit at another conference since the country can't pretend, lie to itself by doing all the wrong things, including conferences which agenda and end-result is dictated by few. These heartless brutes, cannibals have repeatedly ignored the will of the people and expect everyone, group to continue clapping and saying, “thank you, for making our lives miserable."  The bunch never stops at lying that sovereignty is of the people in the face of hyper-corruption, other crimes against citizens, including killing them for demanding the best from their so-called leaders who are exposing them to untold hardship and danger, while they parade with bags of oil money smiling with their family and friends, associates in crimes, and in convoy of armed security operatives. 
Lastly, although to signal suspected failure, the National Assembly seems not willing to amend current military imposed constitution to including referendum, so makes Jonathan not sure about the power of the conference to recommend and possibly conduct a referendum alongside the National Assembly, Electoral Commission and other groups, thus the likelihood for him to leave outcome to the partisan lawmakers, who would probably rubbish the work of the conference as originally design. Jonathan knew there is need for referendum, without which decisions at the conference shall be null and void except citizens insist and revolt, but he proceeded. He also knew consensus or seventy-five percent vote on all matters at the conference may not be possible when taking into account the issues, divide and animosity, but he went ahead to accept the idea from the cabal bent on maintaining the status quo.  It's also clear that handpicked  loyalists (so-called 50 wise men)  finally imposed a 70 percent vote on the conference as a middle ground between seventy-five and sixty-six percent. This group and the conference leadership also imposed committee members on delegates hence ignore most delegates who earlier indicated interest to serve on committees they've expertise and others.  

Irrespective of the scheming and hidden agenda, signs of wasteful exercise and failure. These issues or resolutions and recommendations should, and must be placed by all Niger delta or South-South delegates as demand without which nothing else shall be accepted from the conference. The Niger delta children must not continue to suffer in abject poverty while some from the North claims the oil at their backyard and under the graves of their forebears is theirs, so the only thing the people sitting on it deserve is environmental pollution, death and fights by few over the crumbs they throw to the presumed dogs. The right time is now to act decisively for the respect, protection and justice the Niger delta people deserve. You owe it to yourselves, the people of the region and Nigerians in general, to take this demand to every corner and committees of the conference, and insist it become the foundation for a new Nigeria or Niger delta will bid the country bye!

Tuesday, 22 April 2014

Interview: “Doctrine Of Necessity should be Invoked To Validate Outcome Of National Conference”- Barr. Kayode Ajulo

Barr. Kayode Ajulo

Olukayode Ajulo, is a prodigious lawyer, civil right activist and a Ph. D researcher at the The School of Law, Middlesex University, London. An emerging politicians in Nigeria having contested the senate seat, FCT senatorial district in 2011, he is also the Executive Director, Egalitarian Mission for Africa and Board Chairman of Ondo State Radiovision Corporation. A renowned legal adviser to Chief Edwin Clark, CON, during the political imbroglio caused by the sickness of the Late President Umaru Yaradua, he was in and out of the court to ensure that President Goodluck Jonathan was made Acting President during which he proposed the doctrine of necessity which was eventually adopted by the Nigerian National Assembly.  In this interview, he shares his thoughts on the ongoing Constitutional Conference in Abuja and on what to expect from the Confab.

Q. What in your consideration is a benefit that every Nigerian can look up to reaping from the conference?

A. The contraption called Nigeria is not a one homogeneous country because it has widely differing people, tribes and nationalities. This obvious fact notwithstanding, Lord Lugard decided to amalgamate Nigeria for economic interests. This is the commencement of the tragedy of a country and nothing is done to mitigate this, division we must bear in mind is not the only way to resolve this problem as the root cause of our national tragedies is the fundamental defects that have always afflicted the process of determining every constitutional framework of the polity as all constitution arrangements have never truly reflected the political, economic, social, cultural and religious realities of the country. 

It is therefore imperative that opportunity must be sought for a conference to consider and resolve with the sole objective of designing a new dispensational framework for the country to correct some of the fundamental defects that encourage the defect in our country. Therefore the benefits to be reaped from the Conference will be invaluable in the context above, provided we get our act right this time around. Opportunities abound therein, therefore we need to jaw jaw not to war war to articulate aspirations, expectations toward ensuring a great Nigeria we will all be proud of.

Q. The grounds for the National Conference (some call it dialogue) has been shifting, initially, the FG said its outcome will be sent to the National Assembly, now it seems to be caving in to popular pressure to validate it through a referendum. Yet others see the entire thing as a government ploy to buy time and shift focus and pressure away from the 2015 general elections; what is your own take on all this?

A. I want to believe that no ground has been shifted by the government in relation to the National Conference; we need to be sincere, as most of the perceived inconsistencies are centered on interpretations and misinterpretation of the image, President Goodluck Jonathan and his officers are trying to paint in selling the Conference to us. 

Our unity is in our diversity and we already had divergent pictures of the Conference before and after the commencement of the conference, remember some of us want Sovereign National Conference, while I believe that it’s not the hood that makes a mock. Sovereign or not, it is universally known that Sovereignty lies with the people, therefore once the Conference is people oriented whatever is resolved will supersede any known conjecture.

On the issue of referendum mentioned, it is all about permutations on the process to validate what is agreed upon at the Conference, I am of the view that it is a misnomer to be thinking of sending the outcome of the referendum to the National Assembly. Although by our extant Constitution, a referendum can only be called in limited cases of state's creation, boundary adjustment and for legislator's recall. I am therefore of a forceful but humble opinion that what should be done by the National Assembly is to invoke the doctrine of necessity to call for a referendum so that the people can have their say about the recommendations emanating from the Confab exercise.

Recall that I canvassed for same during the seemingly constitutional debacle that we experienced during the controversy of late President Umaru Yaradua’s sickness, I approached the Federal High Court, Abuja to canvassed this position and the National Assembly saw reason in the argument, I have a commendation from the Presiding Judge, Hon. Justice Gabriel Kolawole for this undertaking and today we have doctrine of necessity being invoke in an obvious situation of necessity, the imperative of the Conference if well managed is another obvious situation and I see no reason why we should not toe that part since a precedence has been created.

We need to understand this, power belong to the people, even the power of life and dead, if truly the conference is people oriented and the government and the people of Nigeria considered it inevitable, then whatever that came out of it should be treated as of necessity.

Q. Yet others see the entire thing as a government ploy to buy time and shift focus and pressure away from the 2015 general elections; what is your own take on all this?

A. I am yet to see the Conference as the government ploy to buy time and shift focus and pressure away from the 2015 general elections. Frankly speaking, I see it as one of the admittedly few courageous steps, President Jonathan's administration has taken since inception.

Even if, it was meant to be a distraction, people do unwittingly do good because of the many challenges to our nationhood the Confab would of necessity expose and address. I sincerely believe we sometimes need to come out of this politics thing because we did not have to mortgage our future with sheer politics

Since my undergraduate days in the 90's lead by late Alao Ala-Bashorun we have been agitating for the Conference to discuss our being as a Country, the main noise then came more from those now crying blue murder and I believe its quite uncharitable and rude to the sensibility of Nigerians for anybody to make such U turn when our agitation is becoming a reality.

I wanted to believe that majority of Nigerians are now reading between the lines, particularly when there is 3 months time frame for the conference and a genuine effort to adhere to the time limit, for Christ sake the election is still a year away, parties primaries have not even started, mind you, it was even after the 1999 general election that we eventually got a peep of the Constitution used. I am however not canvassing for the same imprudence but Nigerians must talk, it is our constitutional right, Nigeria is ripe for renegotiation and anytime is perfect for that. 

Q. Assuming all things are equal: that something good will come out of it at all, what are the contentious issues?

A. I foresee the issue of the right to secession which falls under a no go area as one of the issue that will raised dust, the need to maintain a six regional state structure with some boundary adjustments to accommodate persons of Ekiti stock in Kwara State to join Ekiti State, while those who are of Igbomina and Ibolo stock in Kwara State are to join Osun State as canvassed by some group from the South West of Nigeria as well as choosing  the British parliamentary system of government against the present Presidential system as what will form the bulk of contentious issues.

Ditto, full federalism, the derivation formulae and revenue allocation among the tier governments.

As it stands, the devolution of power from the centre to the federating units, will be a strongly issue that will be hotly contested between the pro-States delegates and pro-Federation delegates. 

The issue of immunity for elected officials, regional police and indigene ship, has been begging for attention, here is the time to be debated.

Q. Some have identified the so-called no-go areas as the unity of the country; yet others say everything should be on the table for discussion. Is it possible to satisfy all interest in a complex nation like ours?

A. Stricto sensu, I considered it a debasement of humanity and violation of universal human rights regulation to invite some people to discuss but to raise some issue as no-go area for them, the United Nations statutes recognize and make room for secession with some qualification and conditions. It is imperative that everything should be on the table for discussion, if not we will urge for another conference when the present one is concluded.

It is quite impossible to satisfy all interest but what matter most is the amount and larger percentage of interest that is satisfied while effort should be made to address minority interests.

Q. One area where many Nigerians are becoming increasingly critical about is the size and cost of governance. Do you support the notion that we should toe the example of Senegal that abolished its second chamber of parliament on the grounds of cost?

A. Considering all the components, factors, forms and variables that made make up what is known as Federal  of Nigeria, I did not see anything wrong in the size and cost of governance, infact there is underutilization of human resources in governance as those involved cannot be said to constitute 0.1% of our population. The problem however is the monster called corruption that made few to overlord in all ramifications others without any effective consequences.  

Those in government need to leave up to expectation to justify the resources expended on the operations of government. The reasons for the two chambers of the parliament are well spelt out, all that is needed is to ensure that they are effective for the smooth running of government. Infact some people are canvassing for more as recently stated by one of our revered king, Kabiyesi, the Olowo of Owo on the need for having House of Chiefs as part of creating constitutional roles for our traditional rulers.