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Revisiting The Security Card In The Nation’s Politics Under Buhari By Peter Claver Oparah​

Sahara Reporters - 23 April 2019 - 9:14am


One area the opposition in Nigeria played their ill-fated but desperate politics en route the 2019 general election was security. They played the security card to the hilt in their desperate search for a comeback. Together with their allies in retired army generals, religious leaders, tribal groups, corrupt displaced share reapers, the opposition tried to create a hopeless security situation so as to turn the table against President Buhari in the just concluded presidential election. They said that Nigeria had never faced a direr security situation, even when evidence point to the contrary. They said that Nigerians are being killed in their millions, that life had been cheapened, that Armageddon had been let loose on Nigeria. They did everything within their power to recreate a state of hell in Nigeria and these were to discredit the Buhari government and shred its re-election chances. They dramatized and celebrated every mundane case of crisis as hell let loose and ensured that the headlines ripple with their noisome celebration of what they termed the breakdown of security under the Buhari government.

But, let us ponder a bit and do a little check. Is the security situation under Buhari worse than it was when he came? Are Nigerians being killed in millions under Buhari as the desperate opposition sought to impress on us, than before he came? Is Buhari’s era witnessing greater security challenges than when he came? There is no way one can answer these questions in the positive without deliberately indicting truth, fact and reality. The crux of what the opposition tagged serious security challenges under Buhari was the notorious herdsmen versus farmers clash that was celebrated far beyond its realm and effects by the opposition in cahoots with their conniving religious leaders, ethnic and tribal leaders, retired and corrupt military leaders, the displaced corrupt chieftains who were ruing their loss of exploitative power with Buuhari’s coming and of course the manipulated bigots who were frantically seduced to chorus such syndicated mantra to improve the political fortunes of their desperate masters. 

What was certain in this antic however was an attempt to slay the truth, obfuscate fact and mangle reality to benefit those that in reality, ran Nigeria to what was an intractable security miasma before Buhari came. This was a deliberate effort to swindle the entire country just for the illicit gain of the displaced political mandarins, their religious and ethnic collaborators who remained in utter pain for the loss of power with which they impoverished and subdued a well-endowed nation since independence especially in the sixteen-year period from 1999 to 2015. In the noxious herdsmen politics, attempts were made to desperate pin what had been an age-old problem to Buhari and his government and this obtains I what was actually a well-orchestrated plot to re-enact constant clashes between itinerant herdsmen and farmers so as to sustain a dubious campaign against the government. 

But then, herdsmen crisis predates the Buhari government and recorded its worst cases before Buhari came. However, these array of corrupt forces listed above managed to make it seem as if it started when Buhari came and tagged a “Fulani’ label on it to make it stick with Buhari who is a Fulani. Every case of criminality and insecurity in every part of Nigeria became a Fulani herdsmen attack and in this deliberate perforation of truth, the opposition basked and reveled as it lasted. Extensive public burials and shows were organized by a combination of these forces where high pitched sermons that incite rather than tame passions were delivered and ethnic warlords who have been angered by the stoppage of their sources of corrupt freebies by Buhari, would follow by issuing a fatwa on the government and its supporters. The press that has been feeling with bad with the capping of corrupt patronage by corrupt politicians keyed in and blew these slanted efforts out of proportion. Corrupt retired soldiers who couldn’t come to terms with the fact that Buhari ended the fonts through which they siphoned our national patrimony would follow up with moratorium on the government and incitement on the supposed victims of these clashes.

What curiously played out in the entire scandal was that as soon as Abubakar Atiku, a fellow Fulani emerged the presidential candidate of the PDP, under whose platform these nefarious forces played their deadly game, the issue of Fulani herdsman attack, suddenly screeched to a curious end and politics around it squelched. The Fulani no longer gets painted in the damned colour of a blood-thirsty vagabond that shed blood at the drop of a hat. What more, arrests made of the ‘Fulanis’ that carried out most of the purported herdsmen attack in Benue that became the hotbed of this absurd phenomena pointed to a collaboration between the state government and the attacks, even as the same state government made the most illicit capital from it. These shocking realities would have forced a curious nation to weigh in and establish the sure link between this orchestrated security crisis with the politics of 2019 but because most of the zealous instigators and perpetrators of this crisis know what they were doing, they now waited to latch unto any of the other ageless communal crises that are as old as the nation to charge Buhari with not doing anything to tame insecurity.

But then, even in the height of its mischievous usage by the damned corrupt tendencies in Nigeria, the total casualties of the syndicated herdsmen attacks under Buhari were not as much as the 5,000 people that were killed in a three-day blitzkrieg by Boko Haram in Baga, Bornu State during the era these locusts were running their ruinous affairs here and which they are seeking to re-enact. What is most troubling is that the dubious religious leaders who have fixated their evil sermon on how Buhari had killed more Nigerians have forgotten how churches worshipped with full security compliments in even the remotest parts of Nigeria during their avowed ‘peaceful’ period they are desperately trying to re-enact. Yes, it was all too easy to lie, obfuscate and slay the truth because of base selfish interests. It was so easy to conveniently forget how a chunk of Nigerian territory (an area The Economist Magazine reported was more than the size of Belgium) was firmly put under the control of Boko Haram while the satanic movement was almost taking control of Abuja, Kaduna, Bauchi, Gombe, Taraba, Niger, Kano, Kogi, and even audaciously pushing frantically down south before Buhari came. It is all too easy to forget the thousands that were killed in a Christmas day bombing on St. Theresa’s Catholic Church Madala, Abuja, the Abuja motor park, the Nigerian Police Headquarters, the United Nations Building, etc; all in the country’s capital Abuja in the period these rodents want us to go back to. Yes, it is all too easy to forget these because Boko Haram has been degraded and we can afford to play mischievous politics around the security issue.

It is just too easy to forget the thousands of churches and mosques razed by Boko Haram before Buhari came. It was too easy to forget the hundreds of thousands that were massacred by Boko Haram, the thousands that were kidnapped, among which were the Chibok School girls and that Boko Haram constituted real threats to far flung villages in the South before Buhari came. It is so easy to forget that millions were made desolate in their states and had to flee to live as internally displaced people in other states, even in the southern parts of Nigeria. It was easy to forget the multi-billion Naira ruins of Boko Haram and rant of how security had worsened under Buhari. Why won’t dubious religious leaders who no longer partake in the filthy feast from stolen wealth of the nation dubiously rant about Buhari worsening the security situation in Nigeria since they no longer worship under heavy security cover because Boko Haram now seems a forlorn and distant story? Why won’t corrupt retired military generals who no longer have a free dip into our treasury complain that Buhari has worsened the country’s security? Why won’t ethnic irredentists who had been denied of illicit flow of funds since Buhari came not seek to incite Armageddon so as to remove Buhari? 

However, in the face of the heightened antic and conspiracy of these dark forces, Nigerians especially the common masses, are not deceived on the realities of issues, especially as it pertains to what the security situation was and is and this was why they rebuffed all these antics by the rotten corrupt interests to return President Buhari with a wider margin than in 2015. Nigerians know quite well that Boko Haram that was one of the five most dangerous terrorist groups in the world before Buhari came had been reduced to cowardly fire-fighters that relish in carrying out irregular attacks on soft targets as they retreat into oblivion. Nigerians know that Buhari is doing his possible best to tame age-old cases of friction and insecurity, which were worse before he came and he certainly will win the battle. Nigerians know that insecurity in Nigeria, as in any other country, is a component part of statehood and the best approach remains to keep it in check as much as possible otherwise, they wouldn’t have existed and flowered more before Buhari came. One may ask why successive regimes in the United States have not been able to stop mass shooting in the country. Most importantly, the North East where Atiku hails from and where most of the most asinine cases of insecurity played out, know what Buhari had been able to do to the issue and which was why they massively returned votes for Buhari as against the total rejection of Atiku who is the mascot of the rotten desperate forces playing the security card in the nation’s politics.

All said, Buhari who made security one of the cardinal thrusts of his election campaign in 2015, has done so well in this regard and within a space of four years, the nation has been totally recovered from terrorist’s grips and the fearful visage of a nation totally under attack from terrorists had been tamed. Whatever the dubious mischief of a corrupt displaced opposition, their collaborating soiled religious leaders, the angry corrupt retired army generals, the hurting ethnic champions and all other forces of vice, Nigeria is far more secured than it was before Buhari came and this was affirmed in his re-election in the just concluded election. The remnant of security issues that gnaw at the soul of Nigeria are ageless and are quite in tandem with our riotous group living and is normal with any country that has the kind of chequered history Nigeria has. Buhari is doing enough to tackle and reduce these and will surely do a greater job in this regard in the next four years.
 
 
Ikeja, Lagos.
E-mail: peterclaver2000@yahoo.com

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Apostle Suleiman Acquires First Private Jet — Like Oyedepo, Oritsejafor, Adeboye

Sahara Reporters - 23 April 2019 - 9:07am


Apostle Johnson Suleiman, General Overseer of the Omega Fire Ministries, has joined the league of Nigerian super rich pastors who own a private jet.

In a short video that has gone viral, the Apostle is seen seated in the new aircraft, with another audibly praying: “Every ear that will hear of it, Lord even if they were bound by generational problems, it will solve in the name of Jesus. I thank you for the workforce that walks with your son, this is proof that there will be next direction."

Aquired last week, the new jet is said to be a Hawker BAe 125-800 that reportedly costs between $1,095,000 to $2,895,000.

       
View this post on Instagram                  

Congratulations to our father on his new Acquired private jet #GreatGrace #GodisGoodAndAble #MoreBlessings

A post shared by Omega Fire Ministry New York (@ofmnewyork) on Apr 22, 2019 at 2:48am PDT

With this new development, Apostle Suleiman has joined the likes of David Oyedepo, who acquired a Gulfstream V jet for US$30 million as part of his four fleet collection of Aircrafts; Pastor Enoch Adeboye, the revered overseer of Nigeria’s largest congregation, The Redeemed Christian Church of God, who spent $30 million on a Gulfstream jet; as well as Senior Pastor of Word of Life Bible Church, Ayo Oritsejafor.

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Man Who Couldn't Feed Sets Himself Ablaze in Ebonyi

Sahara Reporters - 23 April 2019 - 8:12am


 

The Police in Ebonyi are investigating the self-immolation of 37-year-old Chinedu Nweze over his inability to feed.

Nweze was rushed to the Alex Ekwueme Federal University Teaching Hospital, Abakaliki for treatment after he allegedly set himself ablaze beside a classroom block after tying his own legs at St. Patrick’s Primary School, Kpirikpiri, Abakaliki.

Lovett Odah, spokesman of the Police in Ebonyi, said the Command was investigating the incident to ascertain whether it was a suicide attempt or not.

Nweze, who hails from Umuogharu, Ezza North Local Government Area of the state, had complained to his neighbours of frustration and inability to feed himself a day before the incident.

“The Command dispatched an ambulance to the scene of the incident and took the man to hospital after it received a distress call from a member of the public," Odah said.

“Police are currently carrying out investigation into the incident; but for now, we have very sketchy information about the incident and cannot confirm if the act was a suicide attempt or not."

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Seven Roads To Be Affected By Traffic Control As Buhari Visits Lagos On Wednesday

Sahara Reporters - 23 April 2019 - 7:35am


President Muhammadu Buhari will visit Lagos on Wednesday to inaugurate projects.

The one-day working visit was announced in a statement issued by the Lagos State Ministry of Information and Strategy on Tuesday.

According to the statement, the itinerary of the President will include declaring open the "rehabilitated 10-lane Oshodi/Murtala Muhammed International Airport Road, and the 170-Bed Ayinke House (Maternity Hospital) at the Lagos State University Teaching Hospital in Ikeja.

Other projects to be unveiled include the Lagos State Theatre at Oregun in Ikeja, the new 820 Mass Transit buses and the multi-level Oshodi Transport Interchange on the Apapa-Oshodi Expressway.

"The presidential visit would hold between 9am and 3m on Wednesday, during which traffic on some routes will be diverted in order to ensure a free flow of traffic," read the statement. said.

“The presidential visit would hold between 9am and 3pm on Wednesday, during which traffic on some routes will be diverted in order to ensure a free flow of traffic," it said.

According to the statement, the routes to be affected by traffic control include the Mobolaji Bank-Anthony Way (coming from the presidential wing of Murtala Muhammed Airport to LASUTH under bridge); Kodesoh Road; Obafemi Awolowo Way; Kudirat Abiola Way and Ikorodu Road (between the Ojota Intersection and Anthony Interchange).

Other routes are the Oworonshoki-Apapa Expressway (between Anthony and Oshodi Transport Interchange) and the International Airport road through the Local Wing of the airport to Mobolaji Bank-Anthony Way and back to the Obafemi Awolowo Way.

“Roads highlighted above shall only be cordoned-off when necessary, Obafemi Awolowo Way and portions of Mobolaji Bank-Anthony shall be closed to traffic on three occasions within the specified period, as they are central to the President’s itinerary," it said.

The statement, therefore, advised motorists to avoid the above-listed roads where necessary and make use of alternative routes of their choice.

It advised that where motorists find it unavoidable plying the afore-mentioned roads, patience and cooperation with traffic managers should be their watchword.

It solicited the support of motorists and commuters for all inconveniences as a result of the diversions, saying that traffic managers, enforcement and security agents will be positioned at all strategic intersections to allow orderly vehicular movements.

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On The Making Of A People's Constitution By Femi Falana

Sahara Reporters - 23 April 2019 - 7:34am


(Being a Review of the Minority Report & Draft Constitution for the Federal Republic of Nigeria, 1976, by Olusegun Osoba and Yusufu Bala Usmanat the  Public Presentation in Lagos on April 23, 2019)

The historical context of this occasion of the public presentation of the Minority Report & Draft Constitution for the Federal Republic of Nigeria, 1976 is bound to generate hope with an admixture of regrets.  

As part of the initial steps towards the transition to civil rule in 1975, the regime of General Murtala Mohammed gave a committee of 49 eminent Nigerians the job of producing a draft constitution for the Second Republic, which was scheduled to begin on October 1, 1979.  Two members of the Constitution Drafting Committee (CDC) fundamentally disagreed on ideological grounds with the report supported by the majority of 47 others.

On the question of human progress, the philosophical divergence between the minority and the majority within the CDC was too wide to expect a compromise. Hence, the minority came up with the document under review today.

By the time the report was ready, Murtala had been killed in an abortive coup and his second-in-command, General Olusegun Obasanjo, was now in charge.  Regrettably, the Obasanjo regime rejected, in a most hostile manner, the Minority Report, as it is now known in Nigeria’s political history. The report of the majority was decreed into the 1979 Constitution, the basic content of which has formed the nucleus of the subsequent constitutions including the Decree 24 of 1999 otherwise called the 1999 Constitution.

Let us quickly dispense with the regrets, as the actual spirit of this occasion is to engender hope about the future of Nigeria. A critical reading of the publication being presented today would bring to the fore the radical diagnosis   and the extraordinary   prescience in the prescriptions for the Nigerian condition made by the authors. This is despite the fact that the authors, Dr. Olusegun Osoba and Dr. Yusufu Bala Usman, both radical historians, wrote 43 years ago that they never pretended to put forward “a perfect document.” In the true tradition of self-criticism that is the hallmark leftist thinkers, they readily admitted “faults and inadequacies” in the document.

Besides, the dynamics of Nigeria’s political economy would compel an update of a few of their propositions as Dr. Abubakar Siddique Mohammed, director of CEDDERT, rightly puts the matter in the highly instructive forward to the publication. Yet, Nigeria could possibly have avoided the current obstacles to genuine democracy and sustainable human development if some of the questions posed and the answers provided by Osoba and Usman, two leading lights of the Nigerian Left, in their unambiguously progressive Report and Draft of 1976 had been considered.

Take a sample!

Unknown to the Not Too Young to Runcampaigners (who sometimes make a fetish of age in politics), Osoba and Usman had recommended in Section 145 of their own Draft Constitution way back in 1976 the minimum age of 30 as part of the qualifications to contest for the office president or governor. Forty three years later, the same provision is being celebrated by youths who now see the man that treated the Minority Draft then as “non-existent,” Obasanjo, as a pathfinder of their future!

Similarly, it is significant that the constitutional immunity for the president and governors and their respective deputies was hotly contested by Osoba and Usman during the making of the 1979 Constitution. According to them the immunity provisions “ contradict violently the fundamental principle of the equality of all citizens before the law and is an unwarranted attempt to shield these high officials of the state from the full rigours of the law as would apply to the other citizens of Nigeria in similar situations of misconduct or improper conduct.” If you ask the anti-corruption agencies the main roadblock in their work today, they would readily tell you that it’s the constitutional immunity for this category of public officers.

Other similarly remarkable provisions encapsulated in the Draft, but were regrettably rejected by the Obasanjo regime, include those on accountability by those in power; the purpose and management of political parties as well as the appointment of a prime minister by the elected president for the purpose of diffusing power.  Now, talking about the atmosphere of hope that should be created at this period of our history, the leading spirits of the Centre for Democratic Development Research and Training (CEDDERT) should be saluted for their keen sense of historical purpose in resurrecting at this time a document that was once “killed” by a military dictator. The basis of hope is that those desirous of fundamentally confronting the deteriorating Nigerian condition would be equipped by the contents of this publication.

In the fresh introduction to the publication entitled “The 1979 Constitution and its Legacy of Catastrophic Succession of Governments, 1979-12018,” Osoba posits that given the enormity of the  “crisis of governance” in the land the constitutional reforms intended in the 1976 proposition might prove inadequate in the circumstance.

In fact, given the progressive ferments of the 1970s, these two progressive constitution writers could not have imagined the current crisis of the economy, society and politics.  Osoba has, therefore, proposed a “minimum agenda for change” based on the “root and branch” strategy. The proposition ought to stimulate honest discussions among those sincerely working for a progressive transformation of Nigeria.

Yet a few areas should be isolated in the 1976 efforts of Osoba and Usman that could provide clues on how to tackle the contemporary problems of poverty, inequality, social injustice, insecurity and the dangerous clogs in the wheel of national integration. As far as the making of a people’s constitution goes, compared with the 1979 Constitution the draft put together by Osoba and Usman is indubitably richer in content (from the viewpoint of the genuine interests of the people). And the style of the draft is admirably accessible. Many great constitutions are, in fact, slim in volumes!

As Osoba and Usman rightly put it, the 1979 Constitution is a deliberate effort at mystification for the selfish interests of the bourgeoisie. The constitution is verbose. It is laden with technical loopholes. It is unwieldy with some contradictory provisions. As a matter fact, the pull for the Chapter II of the 1979 Constitution, which is also incorporated in the 1999 Constitution, was actually the Minority Report of Osoba and Usman that we are celebrating today. Although the undeniably progressive provisions of the Chapter II have been cynically made non-justiciable, the whole chapter itself was a backhanded response to the ideological and political pressures generated by Osoba and Usman’s report and draft in their own categorically radical draft. It was a concession the majority members of the CDC were forced to make to Osoba and Usman.

So, the majority members of the CDC gave the people socio-economic rights in Chapter II of the 1979 Constitution with one hand and took away the rights with the other hand by the non-justiciable Clause.  Since then the struggle has been shifted to the courts and the push for enactment of laws to back up policies tailored securing socio-economic rights for the people. Hence we have had the emergence of legislations backing funding of basic education and primary healthcare and policies on social housing, social insurance and financial inclusion. It must be admitted that all these are at best palliatives and they are never a substitute to the constitutionally enshrined provisions for social- economic rights.

The principle underlying the divergence of the progressive document from the 1979 is well articulated by the authors in Part 1 of the publication. Osoba and Usman embark on a sharp critique of the Majority Draft for making “elaborate provisions to protect the  ‘Right to Property’ contained in Section 36 and 37” while declaring the socio-economic rights of the people to be “non-justiciable.”  Here we are talking of the people’s rights to education, healthcare, social housing, mass transit, social protection, water supply, sanitation etc.

In contradistinction, Osoba and Usman spell out the  “Fundamental Economic and Social Objectives” in Chapter IV of their draft without the pernicious provision of non-justiciability. Now, if Nigeria had been constitutionally and philosophically run on the basis of the Minority Report with socio-economic rights of the people reigning supreme, the scourge of poverty would not have been ravaging the land so ferociously as it is doing today.  In Section 36 of the Minority Draft, Osoba and Usman propose as follows: “The Federal Republic of Nigeria is committed to a rapid, even, balanced and self-reliant economic development and the state shall direct and plan the national economy. Appropriate planning authorities shall be created at village, district area, state and national levels to ensure closely integrated planning based on the genuine needs and interests of the people and their full and active participation.”

In retrospect, if the running of the Nigerian political economy had been informed by such a constitutional provision in the last 40 years, the scandalous social inequality plaguing the Nigerian society could not have arisen.  Instead, Nigeria could have at least evolved into a social democracy without a bloody revolution. The Scandinavian countries that are always rated higher in human development than the richer capitalist countries actually apply these social democratic principles in running their economies.

Besides, the devolution of powers embodied in the Section 36 of the Draft cited in the foregoing is the type for which the people should struggle and not the devolution of powers to governors who are emperors and looters, as the ethnic and regional champions of “restructuring” are unwittingly framing the question.

The Nigerian federalism should be made to work for the people and not only for the factions of the ruling class located in the various regions and ethnic groups. It is remarkable that Osoba and Usman rigorously make this genuinely federalist argument in the 43 –year old report. Indeed, if the provisions of the Chapter II of the 1999 Constitution (an inherited item from the 1979 Constitution) had been made justiciable, governments in Nigeria would be taken more seriously in tackling poverty and inequality.  

In the same vein, the profundity of the argument of Osoba and Usman in their debate with the authors of the Majority Draft on national integration should command the attention of those approaching the National Question from a progressive perspective.

The Minority Report argues against “state citizenship” which contradicts the “national citizenship.” If the formula provided by Osoba and Usman in 1976 had been assimilated in the economy, polity and society the bloodletting arising from the episodic wars of the “indigenes” versus the   “settlers” could probably have been avoided. Today, the advocates of ethnic and geographical restructuring dominate waves. 

In fact, restructuring is presented as the panacea to all Nigerian problems. National unity is becoming an anathema in some quarters dominated by ethnic and regional champions. The voices of the separatists are getting more strident.  This is a clear degeneration from the 1976 situation when Osoba and Usman were even criticising the authors of the Majority Draft for advancing the cause of the unity of the elites only as against unity of the whole people. This is how they put the matter: “This is not unity or consensus based on a minimum agreement by all concerning the need to protect and promote the real interests and well-being of the masses of Nigerian people of whatever origin. It is our view that no genuine political unity or consensus is possible in the Nigerian context without such an honest and firm commitment among the various sections of the national  leadership to the genuine interests of all our people…”

Chapter II of the Minority Draft defines Nigerian citizenship. According to the draft, a person could become a Nigerian citizen by birth, registration, and naturalisation. Significantly, dual citizenship is prohibited while spouses of Nigerian citizens not wishing to be Nigeria are to be given a special immigrant status at the discretion of the president, who should also have powers to deprive a disloyal person citizenship. The ambiguity on the citizenship by birth which is a subject of the APC response to Vice President Atiku Abubakar’s petition at the tribunal might have been unwarranted if the 1999 constitution had made the provision as simple as the Minority Draft.  

It is always intriguing when members of the ruling class rationalise the manipulation of religion by saying that the word secularity is not in the constitution. They insist that the intent of the constitution is to say that Nigeria is a multi-religious country and that the government should promote tolerance among adherents of the two main religions of Christianity and Islam especially. If only Obasanjo had listened to Osoba and Usman 43 years ago, the seeming ambiguity would not have been in the public sphere as the Minority Draft states clearly and simply in Section39 as follows: ‘The Federal Republic of Nigeria is a secular republic and the state not be associated with any religion but shall actively protect the fundamental right of all citizens to hold and practice the religious beliefs of their choice.” 

So it is clear that with this publication CEDDERT is illuminating the discussions about the future of Nigeria from a most credible vantage. And the intervention is quite timely. After all, the light that could arise from the enormous heat generated so far in the restructuring debate is the possibility of the proposals being distilled into the process of making a people’s constitution.

This publication should be a useful material in the hands of those interested in writing a people’s constitution. Since the completion of the work of the CDC in 1976 in which Osoba and Usman valiantly defended the people’s interests from the viewpoint of the Left, some other genuinely progressive interventions have been made in national debates. The interventions might not have been politically decisive, but   they have been ideologically significant. It is hoped that this important publication would reawaken the tradition of putting at the centre of national debates credible alternatives   for building a humane and just society. It is even more crucial that such perspectives should inform the organisations working towards the building of such a society.

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EXCLUSIVE: Osinbajo’s Man Gbadebo-Smith 'Running Down NISER... Sells Off N30m Generators For N700,000'

Sahara Reporters - 23 April 2019 - 6:55am



Dr. Folarin Gbadebo-Smith, Director-General of the Nigerian Institute of Social and Economic Research (NISER), has been accused of incompetence, fraud and running down the research body.

NISER, which has been in existence since 1906, was established as an autonomous institute under the presidency by the NISER Act No. 70 of 1977 (now Laws of the Federation of Nigeria 2006 CAP 115) to serve as a Think Tank in the field of social and economic development for the country.

But a source within the institute told SaharaReporters that since Gbadebo-Smith, a former Chairman of Eti-Osa Local Government in Lagos, took over in 2017, the institute has become a shadow of itself.

The source said Gbadebo-Smith  (pictured below with the microphone) has been running the institute with recklessness because he was hand-picked by Vice-President Yemi Osinbajo, who once served as his lawyer in a corruption allegation case.

“He has abandoned the primary purpose of NISER, which is to research and proffer solutions but what he does is that he says we should engage in people research, that we do not need to go to the field," said the source, who has seen many DGs at NISER.

"The research we used to go on and they used to give us N500,000 for, and we would go to the field and distribute questionnaires, he now gives us N50,000 for and says all we need is to do desk research. But desk research cannot be reliable or a substitute for field research.

“If members go for conferences, in the past NISER funded them. Now, he doesn’t fund anything; you have to pay for participation in conferences and publication of your papers so everybody is discouraged.”

The NISER website explicitly states: “One of the statutory functions of NISER is to organise seminars and conferences on problems of economic and social development in the country, whether on its account or on behalf of the Federal Government of Nigeria (FGN) and sub-national levels of government or  their agencies. For this reason, the Policy Engagement Division is charged with coordinating and managing conferences and other such engagements with relevant stakeholders."

No power, no work…

Gbadebo-Smith is said to have auctioned three of the institute's big generators to “his people”, leaving the agency in darkness for long spells every day.

“The three big generators we have that service NISER, he sold all, claiming that he wants to invest in renewable energy for the agency; but if you want to go into renewables, you must first provide a substitute. The generators that were bought for N25million to 30million, they sold to their people for N700,000 each. If there is no light, nobody works at NISER. There is just one small generator that is used for the conference room and the office of the DG. As for the library and offices, if there is no light by PHCN, we all sit down idly, making small talk."

Internal Rancour

“Many members of staff now come to work only once, it is not inspiring," the source added. Last month, a member of the management resigned because he claimed at management meetings, the DG takes all the time to talk without allowing the contributions of professors who know about the place and about research.The whole place is just upside down. Please help us expose this to the media before NISER is run aground” the source added.

When SaharaReporters contacted the DG on the phone for his reaction, his personal assistant said he was unavailable and asked our correspondent to call back in two hours. When the call was made two hours later, she asked for a letter of enquiry to be sent to to the Institute for official response.

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37 Executed In Saudi Arabia For Terrorism Offences

Sahara Reporters - 23 April 2019 - 6:23am

Saudi Arabia has executed 37 people in connection with terrorism crimes, its interior ministry has said.

"The death penalty was implemented... on a number of culprits for adopting extremist terrorist ideologies and forming terrorist cells to corrupt and disrupt security as well as spread chaos and provoke sectarian strife," the state news agency said in a tweet.

All 37 were Saudi nationals.

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I Won't Run An Adult Daycare Centre Because Of Tinubu, Says Dogara

Sahara Reporters - 23 April 2019 - 5:40am

Yakubu Dogara, Speaker of the House of Representatives, has responded to Bola Tinubu’s budget padding allegation, but with a strong warning that he “won't run an adult daycare centre anymore on matters like this”.

As reported by SaharaReporters on Sunday, Tinubu, National Leader of the All Progressives Congress (APC), had accused Senate President Bukola Saraki and Yakubu Dogara, both former members of the party, of budget padding, saying: “Just look at the way Saraki, Dogara and their ilk hijacked the budget process these past four years,” he said in a statement released by Tunde Rahman, his spokesman.

“National budgets were delayed and distorted as these actors repeatedly sought to pad budgets with pet projects that would profit them. Even worse, they cut funds intended to prosper projects that would have benefitted the average person. After four years of their antics halting the progress of government, we should do all we can to prevent a repeat of their malign control of the National Assembly."

Saraki replied Tinubu on Monday, saying it is "unfortunate" that after 22 months in the legislature, Tinubu does "not have a better understanding of how the legislature works".

“Since we have taken it for granted that Tinubu’s attack on Saraki every three months (quarterly) will come as expected, we would just have ignored his statement but for the fact that it was filled with untruth, fallacies and misrepresentations,” he had said. “It is unfortunate that a man like Tinubu who had been in the Senate (though for 22 months and under a military regime) should not have a better understanding of how the legislature works.”

On Tuesday, Dogara sent his own response, asking Saraki to provide evidence of his claims.

“...we advise Asiwaju Tinubu to be circumspect in his use of language. In this case, he spoke as a spokesperson of depravity,” Dogara said in a statement released by Turaki Hassan, his Special Adviser on Media on Public Affairs.

“Our reaction must therefore be seen as a provoked counter-punch. Anyone can descend into the gutter if he so wishes but no one has a monopoly of gutter language. We won't run an adult day care centre anymore on matters like this.”

Dogara maintained that the National Assembly “is not a rubber stamp parliament” and therefore “reserves the right, working cooperatively with the Executive to interrogate projects unilaterally inserted by the Executive branch without the input of or consultation with Parliament”. 

He also queried Tinubu’s academic qualifications, saying: “The legislature cannot be accused of padding a budget it has unquestionable constitutional power to review. The budget is a law and the Executive does not make laws. 

“Therefore, it's only the ignorant and those who hold dubious academic certificates that say the maker of a document has padded the document that only he can constitutionally make. In the words of his lordship, Hon Justice Gabriel Kolawole of the Federal High court, in suit No.FHC/ABJ/CS/259/2014 delivered on March 9, 2016, ‘the National Assembly was not created by drafters of the Constitution and imbued with the powers to receive ‘budget estimates’ which the first defendant is constitutionally empowered to prepare and lay before it, as a rubber stamp parliament.”

THE FULL STATEMENT

Only the ignorant with dubious academic certificates will say the maker of a document has padded the document that only he can constitutionally make

We have noted the statement issued on April 21, 2019 by Asiwaju Bola Ahmed Tinubu wherein he stated his reasons for sponsoring or supporting some aspirants to various leadership positions in the forthcoming 9th Assembly. Ordinarily, this would not have elicited any response from His Excellency, the Speaker of the House of Representatives, Rt Hon Yakubu Dogara, as  Asiwaju is entitled to sponsor those he believes will have no choice but  answer to his dog whistles anytime he blows same in his capacity as the self acclaimed National Leader of his party.

If Asiwaju had confined his intervention to stubborn facts, this response would not have been necessary. He, however, used the opportunity to manufacture falsehoods and paint a non-existing picture of the stewardship of Mr Speaker and the work of the 8th House of Representatives under his watch. It is therefore, incumbent on us to set the records straight for posterity.

Asiwaju Tinubu accused the leadership of the National Assembly of stymieing “the APC  legislative initiatives while attempting to hoist noxious reactionary and self interested legislation on the nation”.  He said further: “Just look at the way Saraki and Dogara and their ilk hijacked the Budget Process these past four years. National budgets were delayed and distorted as these actors repeatedly sought to pad budgets with pet projects that would profit them”. He continued, “Even worse, they cut funds intended to prosper projects that would have benefited the average person. After four years of their antics halting the progress of government, we should do all we can to prevent a repeat of their malign control of the National Assembly”. He generously used the usual unexplained words like installing a  progressive leadership and so on.

We do not expect Asiwaju Tinubu to dwell on brazen mendacity, much less  murder facts and decorum in his rabid bid to justify his patently clear facist agenda of controlling all levers of power in Nigeria. Asiwaju Tinubu's nocturnal agenda has no parallel in the history of any democracy and it is more loathsome when he throws caution to the winds and maligns government officials who are doing a yeoman’s job of stabilising the government of President Muhammadu Buhari, even in spite of political differences.

It is on record that the Rt. Hon. Speaker has done more to stabilize this government more than Asiwaju Tinubu and his ilk whose stock in trade is scheming, manipulation and subversion especially when they feel they cannot be caught. When the history of Buhari's administration is written by those who know the truth of what really transpired in the last four years, Asiwaju's pretentious loyalty to President Buhari will then be exposed. We won't say more but no matter how long it may last, the truth will one day overtake lies. Perhaps,  Asiwaju is still bitter about the leadership contest for Speakership of the 8th Assembly, even though the actors have moved on culminating in Speaker Dogara magnanimously facilitating the appointment of his opponent in the race and Tinubu's protege as House Majority leader.

The chief cause of delay in enacting the budget is the persistent refusal or neglect of the Executive to present it in good time.
For the records, in the last four years, there was no urgency or plan by the Executive to achieve a January to December budget cycle. For the avoidance of doubt, we will show the dates the Budget estimates were submitted by the Executive in the last four years below.
- 2016 Budget was submitted on December 22, 2015, exactly nine days to the end of the  year.
- 2017 Budget submitted on December 14,2016, just 17 days to the end of the year.
- 2018 Budget was presented on November 7, 2017, the earliest even though it also fell short of the 90 days stipulated by the Fiscal Responsibility Act.
- 2019 budget was presented on December 19, 2018 exactly 12 days to the end of the year. 
As if the late or delayed submission of budget estimates wasn’t enough, in most cases, Ministers and heads of agencies contributed to the so-called delay  by consistently refusing to appear before National Assembly Standing Committees to defend their budget proposals in line with the provision of the Law.  At some point, the leadership of the National Assembly had to take up the issue with the President who advised his Ministers to honour legislative invitations to defend their budgets. 

What Nigerians don't know is that the Executive, through the various Ministries, continued to propose additional projects to be  included in the 2018 budget even as at April and May  of 2018 which further delayed the passage of the 2018 budget. These were communicated officially and if anyone is in doubt, we will exhibit the letters with the dates they were written and received. In any case, the National Assembly inserted a clause in the Appropriation Bill consistent with S.318 of the Constitution which allowed the Budget to last for 12 months after Mr President’s Assent. This enabled the Executive to spend more of the capital component of the Budget as it still had 12 months protected by law.

As an activist legislature, the National Assembly effected an amendment to S. 81(1) of the Constitution to compel Mr President to present the Budget estimates not later than 90 days to the end of a financial year in order to solve this problem but unfortunately, very unfortunately, Mr President declined  assent to the bill which was passed by both the National Assembly and over 2/3rds of the State Assemblies.

The National Assembly made a further attempt to make the Budget process much better by improving the institutional capacity of the Parliament to process and pass National budgets by passing the National Assembly Budget and Research Office (NABRO) Establishment Bill into law. It was loosely modelled after the American Congressional Budget Office (CBO). Again, Mr President declined  assent to the Bill.

It is important to emphasize that the National Assembly is  not a Rubber Stamp Parliament and reserves the right,  working cooperatively with the Executive to interrogate projects unilaterally inserted by the Executive branch without the input of or consultation with Parliament. The legislature cannot be accused of padding a Budget it has unquestionable constitutional power to review. The Budget is a law and the Executive does not make laws. Therefore, it's only the ignorant and those who hold dubious academic certificates that say the maker of a document has padded the document that only he can constitutionally make. In the words of his lordship, Hon Justice Gabriel Kolawole of the Federal High court,  in suit No.FHC/ABJ/CS/259/2014 delivered on March 9, 2016, “the National Assembly was not created by drafters of the Constitution and imbued with the powers to receive ‘budget estimates’ which the first defendant is constitutionally empowered to prepare and lay before it, as a rubber stamp parliament. The whole essence of the budget estimates being required to be laid before Parliament is to enable it, being the Assembly of the representatives of the people, to debate the said budget proposals and to make its own well informed legislative inputs into it.”

The parliamentarians are representatives of the Nigerian people  and you don’t expect them to rubber stamp budgets that are heavily skewed and lopsided against most sections of the country. It is their responsibility to ensure equitable and even distribution of capital projects across all the nooks and crannies of the country, if the Executive fails to do so.  In any case, it is false to state that legislative intervention in the Budget Process is to benefit the legislators and not their constituencies. We challenge Asiwaju Tinubu to prove otherwise. He should also show in what way the 8th Assembly acted differently from other Assemblies of the past to warrant the kind of language used. In any case, all the aspirants to the Senate Presidency and Speakership he is sponsoring are majority leaders in the 8th Assembly and took part in the Budget Process that he made the chief basis of his crude attack. This proves beyond doubt the hypocrisy of Asiwaju’s stated reasons for supporting his candidates. He should find better reasons other than the lies being peddled about the Budget and obstructing government business.  Asiwaju shouldn't take better informed Nigerians for fools. Otherwise, when he sought to take control of the 8th Senate and 8th House in 2015, was it because of any Budget Saraki and Dogara had delayed or pet projects they had inserted into any Budget before 2015? Asiwaju must come clean on this matter. He should let Nigerians know why he wants to install both the Senate President, the Speaker and leadership of the 9th Assembly. He may yet win the support of some of them if he comes clean on this matter.

The 8th National Assembly is on record to have supported Mr President's requests on critical issues of governance. We backed him by Resolution on the issue of fuel subsidy, we backed him on the National Minimum wage, even though we were more sympathetic to workers' rights. In security matters, we never cut any proposal from Mr President save our refusal to rubber stamp a clear constitutional overreach of spending $1 billion in arms purchase without appropriation.  We have passed more Bills than any Assembly before us including Bills  that are helping the government improve the ease of doing business in Nigeria, and there were times we passed Bills within 2 legislative days. Is Tinubu genuinely ignorant of all these?

We challenge Asiwaju Tinubu to list out the Bills he claimed were not passed by the National Assembly. The oil and gas or petroleum sector is the most important and critical sector of our economy which accounts for over 70 percent of our earnings, the Executive  didn’t forward a single Bill to the National Assembly to reform and reposition the sector in the last four years even when repeatedly urged to do so by Mr Speaker in his first year in office. The lawmakers waited in vain and had to take the bold initiative of crafting a Bill - Petroleum Industry Governance Bill (PGIB) among others, passed it in record time and transmitted same to Mr President for assent. This Bill was vetoed without an alternative Legal framework proposed by the Executive. Did Asiwaju miss this also?

Asiwaju Tinubu should mention the so-called bills the Executive sent to the National Assembly and were delayed to show he is a man of honour or forever keep his peace.
Could someone also challenge Asiwaju to list all the “ noxious reactionary and self interested legislation on the nation”? Can he name the bills that are reactionary and not in the national interest? Is this how wayward lust for power blinds the reasoning of people we should ordinarily respect? Is it not most unfair, unpatriotic and wicked  for Asiwaju Tinubu to have resorted to factoids in promoting his known fascist agenda which he mistakenly thinks he is keeping secret.

Finally, we advise Asiwaju Tinubu to be circumspect in his use of language. In this case, he spoke as a spokesperson of depravity. Our reaction must therefore be seen as a provoked counter-punch. Any one can descend into the gutter if he so wishes but no one has a monopoly of gutter language. We won't run an adult day care centre anymore on matters like this.

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Ogun State Police Arrest 25 'Involved In' Burning Deputy Speaker's Office

Sahara Reporters - 23 April 2019 - 3:39am


The Ogun State Police Command has confirmed the arrest of 25 persons in connection with the setting ablaze of the office of two politicians in the state.

During Sunday's incident, hoodlums burnt down the office of Kunle Oluomo, Deputy Speaker of Ogun State House of Assembly, and the constituency office of Hon. Ibrahim Isiaka, the Ifo/Ewekoro Federal House of Representatives member. See Also CRIME Hoodlums Set Ogun Deputy Speaker's Office, Vehicles Ablaze 0 Comments 2 Days Ago

Disclosing the arrest to journalists, Abimbola Oyeyemi, Ogun State Police Public Relations Officer, described the act as pure criminality that wasn't warranted at all.

“Some people mobilised themselves and attacked the office of the Deputy Speaker, burnt down the office and five vehicles in that area. The correlation between the incident that happened and the reaction of the people is what we cannot establish. There is no nexus between the two attacks,” Oyeyemi said.

“For now, we have arrested 25 suspects. The case of arson is what the people have committed. That act is pure criminality, there is nothing that warrants the spontaneous action. Those 25 suspects have been handed over to the State Criminal and Investigation Department.”

He stated that those arrested would be screened while those who are not directly involved in the attack would be released.

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Akeredolu Gives Cryptic Facebook Response To Suspension From APC — Then Deletes It

Sahara Reporters - 23 April 2019 - 3:14am

Rotimi Akeredolu, Governor of Ondo State, has a special message for his political persecutors — but it’s not one just anybody can understand.

On Friday, multiple sources in the Ondo State chapter of the All Progressives Congress (APC) confirmed to SaharaReporters that Akeredolu had been suspended by the national leadership of the party.

Earlier, on March 1, SaharaReporters had reported how the National Working Committee (NWC) of the APC queried Akeredolu over his “glaring anti-party activities, which greatly affected the fortunes of our candidates in the recently-conducted presidential and national assembly elections in the state".

"It is true; the Governor has been suspended from the APC due to anti-party activities after he was issued a query by the national leadership of the party over anti-party activities,” a leading member of the party had said. “Although the APC at the national level has not made an official announcement, we are 100 percent aware that he has been suspended."

A second APC source in Akure, capital of Ondo State, who also requested not to be named, confirmed the suspension, telling SaharaReporters: “I can confirm to you that Akeredolu has been suspended from the party over anti-party activities and many of his commissioners in the state are aware of this already. Well, maybe they don't want to tell you the truth or they are all afraid.”

A day after the story was published, Akeredolu took to his official Facebook page to write, in Yoruba and all in caps: 

“Ogorun ogbon

“Egberun ete

“Ehin ni won ma to

“Kadara

“Yanmo o gbo ogun

“Ori ni elejo.”

This, loosely translated to Yoruba, means:

“Hundreds of wisdom.

“Thousands of tricks.

"Will all fall behind destiny.

“Predestination has no cure.

“The creator already has His say.”

The post was made on Sunday. However, when SaharaReporters checked back on Tuesday morning, it had been deleted.

This isn’t the best of times for the lawyer-turned-Governor, as only on Monday, multiple party members told SaharaReporters about their anger with the Governor’s decision to withdraw campaign vehicles he gave to them as donations in the lead-up to the general election.

The Governor’s aide on political matters denied it, though, saying the vehicles were not really "gifts" but were only given out to aid campaigns and were meant, from scratch, to be returned.

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Buhari Not Asleep, Garba Shehu Replies Catholic Bishop

Sahara Reporters - 23 April 2019 - 2:29am

Garba Shehu, Senior Special Assistant to President Muhammadu Buhari on Media and Publicity, has disagreed with the submission of Rt Rev Fr Stephen Mamza, the Catholic Bishop of Yola Diocese, that President Muhammadu Buhari has been “sleeping on duty as the Commander-in-Chief”.

During the Easter homily he delivered in Yola, the Adamawa State capital, on Sunday, Mamza had criticised the Buhari administration for lack of action on the killings in the country.
 
“We are really in a dilemma. We are feeling that we don’t have protection. From all indications, there is nothing being done. There have been calls from all over the country. Look at what is happening in Zamfara State; look at what is happening in Benue periodically, in Nasarawa State and now in Adamawa (Southern Adamawa),” he had said.

“If there was a government in place, then the government should listen to the people and address the security challenges. We have mass burials from time to time and there is no sign the government cares about what is happening.”

Reacting to this, Shehu said the situation would haave been worse in those states had the President truly been asleep.

"There is so much that has changed in the past three to four years in and around Yola, and the Catholic Church in particular that a true assessment would show that, but for the change administration of President Buhari, things would have continued the way they were, or even get worse. These could not have happened if a Commander-in- Chief was asleep,” he said.
 
“Bishop Mamza was, and is still a strong member of the Adamawa Peace Initiative, API, composed of religious and community leaders, which did the lovely work housing and feeding 400,000 displaced people from Northern Adamawa and Borno states in 2015. The API also did the extraordinary work of easing tensions between Muslims and Christians during that period and ensured that both groups did not turn on one another based on suspicion.

“As widely reported by the local and international press, in the premises of St. Theresa’s Cathedral where Rev Mamza ministered, there were more than 1,500 IDPs, mostly women and children on whom the church administered food rations and issued bags of maize, cooking oil and seasoning. We are truly touched and very grateful for the work that the Bishop and the others had done in that difficult period."

Shehu said that now that Boko Haram has been degraded, the more than 400,000 displaced people absorbed by the Adamawa community have all gone back to Borno State and to those council areas in northern Adamawa. He also urged community leaders to take more responsibility for the killings in their spaces.

He continued: “In addition to the capital, Yola, the towns of Michika, Madagali and Mubi, which had been occupied by Boko Haram during their military advances, have since been retaken by the Nigerian military, whose personnel are also clearing litters of Boko Haram’s carnage and are, through the support of the administration as well as local and international partners, rebuilding roads and bridges, power lines, burnt schools, markets, destroyed churches and mosques.

“Without an iota of doubt, the North-East is better off with President Buhari than it was under the previous administration. That should explain the massive turnout of voters in the region, in spite of threats to life and property, to vote for the return of the President for a second term of four years.

“Sadly, one of the realities of today’s Nigeria is that it is easy to blame President Buhari for the violence all around us. Community leaders are too scared to blame the warlords and the sponsors of killings we live with because they fear for their own lives.

“What is happening in several communities racked by inter-ethnic and religious violence is arising from the refusal of community leaders to point at known criminals in their midst for the law enforcement agencies to act against them. They rather blame President Buhari for their woes.

“It is indeed an irony that in the week that Bishop Mamza was speaking, another Bishop with a known commitment to peace, and results to show for his work in neighbouring Plateau State, is being dispatched to go to Taraba, Adamawa and Benue states to work in collaboration with security agencies in mending broken inter-communal relationships.

“This senseless violence can never be condoned by the administration and we sympathise with the families of those who lost loved ones as well as those injured. The administration’s intense security efforts and peace building will not only continue, but will expand in response to such explosions of violence in the country.”

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Now That The Police Has Been Reformed: What Next? By Wilson Wilson

Sahara Reporters - 23 April 2019 - 1:27am


Coming at a time when the Police Force is struggling so hard to redeem its battered image, and being viewed by the general public as the worse institution of government due incessant extrajudicial killings and other negative vices connected therewith. 

We appreciate the efforts of the 8th National Assembly for making sure the laws establishing and guiding the operations of the police that existed over seven decades ago is now finally reformed. 

The main purpose of every reform is to improve the functioning and the operational capacity of the system that is being reformed to make it more efficient and productive. 

Over the years, we have had many reforms in Nigeria; be it Health, Agriculture, Education, Sports, Power, etc. What has been the level of implementation and effects of those reforms?

From 1999 when democracy returned to Nigeria, the National Assembly has had some pockets of reforms for the Police Force; and from that period till now, the Force has had about ten Inspector Generals. Were those pockets of reforms implemented, and to what stage? 

Yes, accepted that the laws establishing the Force are so archaic and outdated, how many modern laws are functioning effectively in Nigeria? I think the problem is not the law itself, but the managers of the law.

It is one thing to reform the Police Force, yet, it's another thing to reform the mindsets of the Police Management Team ( the hierarchy of the force ) and its lower cadre personnel.

Nigeria Police Force is not a private institution, it is a creation of the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria (section 214 {1}), makes it an institution of the Federal Government of Nigeria.

Over the period, how much commitment has the Federal Government put into the running of the Force in terms of welfare, adequate funding, operational logistics and the rest?

I have been monitoring budgets in Nigeria for some years now and have observed that Police Budgets has always been the most miserable and, the level of disbursement, implementation, often times the lowest.

Few years ago, Police proposed N300 billion, National Assembly approved N16 billion and the executive released a paltry sum of N7 billion. No wonder the Senate fortnight ago, describes Nigerian Police as miracle workers.

Today, Nigeria is having the military usurping the primary duties of the police because Police Force has been abandoned by the government for too long to the point that police seems to have lost its senses of responsibility.

For us as a people to have a more robust, efficient, effective, peoples oriented and globally accepted Police Force, as we are all yearning for; governments at all level must wake up to its responsibility by rejigging the funding of the Force through improved budgeting, appropriate disbursement and proper implementation.

Now that the much anticipated Police Reform Bill has been passed by the Senate, what next? Will President Buhari do the needful by assenting to it when the bill gets to his table, to make it law for full implementation.

But till then, the document might just be a mere academic exercise that may ends up joining other likes documents in the dustbin of history. 

 

I am Wilson Wilson, just thinking aloud!

E-mail : sirwilsjnr@gmail.com

Twitter: @sirwilsjnr

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Niyi Osundare International Poetry Festival Holds July

Sahara Reporters - 23 April 2019 - 1:09am


Niyi Osundare

The 2019 edition of the Niyi Osundare International Poetry Festival (NOIPOFEST) will hold from July 15 to 17 at the University of Calabar, Calabar, Cross River State.

The eminent critic and academic, Professor Biodun Jeyifo, who recently retired from Harvard University, will deliver the keynote speech entitled ‘Popular Poetry and the Search for Development in the Modern State’.

According to a statement signed by the Festival Director, Tunde Laniyan, other academics who will speak at the fifth edition of the festival include professors JOJ Agbada, Saleh Abdu and Joe Ushie. Others are Dr Obari Gomba and poet Odia Ofeimun.

Laniyan added that the festival would, as usual, feature poetry, music, theatre, dance and drumming. 

NOIPOFEST started five years ago in honour of the multiple award-winning Osundare, a world-class academic, dramatist and poet who previously taught at the Department of English, University of Ibadan.

He is the author of exciting poetry collections, including ‘Songs from the Marketplace’, ‘Village Voices’, ‘Waiting Laughters’, ‘Tender Moments’ and ‘City without People: The Katrina Poems’.

 Professor Tunji Olaopa, Executive Vice Chairman of the Ibadan School of Government and Public Policy, delivered the keynote address at last year’s festival held at Lead City University, Ibadan. It had ‘Literature and Governance: Finding the Convergence for National Development’ as its theme.

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Adamawa's Alarming Poverty Index 'Rises' To 75%

Sahara Reporters - 23 April 2019 - 1:00am


Poverty level in Adamawa State has hit a record 75% high, Dr. Buba Bindir, Secretary to the State Government (SSG), has confirmed.

Bindir made the shocking revelation in Yola at the weekend at a town hall meeting organised by Aisha Buhari, wife of President Muhammadu Buhari. 

Before now, the outgoing administration of Governor Jibrilla Bindow had prided itself on executing "a social change policy that has lifted over 50% out of the poverty level".

Leadership deficit and fallen standard of education were identified as top factors responsible for the alarming poverty rate.

Mohammed Buba Marwa, former Military Administrator of Lagos State, made a caricature of the new poverty index, saying it is the reason Bindow failed to secure a second term.

"We now know why our party failed to retain power in the state," Marwa said. "I'm not making this up, the SSG just announced to us that 75% of the people in Adamawa State are below the poverty line." 

So far, Bindow is Adamawa's only incumbent Governor who could win a second term of office.

Mrs. Buhari, who was visibly disturbed by the poverty rating, lamented the state of retrogression and wondered why "our state is still this poor despite huge federal intervention by the Buhari government".

She recalled the First Republic up to the mid-80s to explain how sound education delivered by public schools and good leadership were the drivers of a robust economy.

The First Lady then advocated a holistic approach to changing the fortunes of the state, stressing that "Adamawa could only reclaim its lost glory, if the political class close ranks".

The meeting was attended by prominent indigenes of Adamawa from all political party divides.

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'I'm In Police Custody After Oracle Claimed I Kidnapped My Son'

Sahara Reporters - 23 April 2019 - 1:00am


The Nigeria Police Force has arrested and detained one Tosin Ojuola, a farmer whose child was abducted at gunpoint, over divination from the oracle that allegedly indicted him in the kidnap of his child.

According to the father, the Police detained him on the account that the community leaders claimed that the village oracle revealed that he masterminded the kidnap of his child in his home in Ijagbe, Mopa-Muro Local Government Area, Kogi.

NAN learnt that the incident occurred around 8pm on Thursday, April 11, when the gunmen invaded the home of the Ojuolas and forced the wife at gunpoint to surrender the child to them.

At the Nigeria Police Force headquarters in Lokoja on Sunday, Tosin said he had just left home, when the gunmen invaded his apartment, beat up his wife and took away the child.

He said: “I left home and was on my way to church for vigil on that night when I suddenly heard my wife’s voice crying and shouting for help.

“I quickly ran back to my apartment and my wife told me that two armed men had forcefully taken our baby away and run into the nearby bush.

“I shouted for help and some youth immediately joined me to go after the gunmen to rescue my baby; but all our efforts yielded no result as we were not able to get them.

“We searched all the nearby bushes to some kilometres away, but because it was late, we could not go very deep into the bush."

The baby’s father said he reported the abduction immediately at the Divisional Police Station in Mopa, where the police promised to investigate the matter.

Tosin added that the following morning, more villagers were mobilised to search for the baby in the bush, including farms and Fulani settlements, but that all efforts were abortive.

He explained that the police came to his house the following day to arrest his landlord and a Fulani man, who was a tenant in the house.

Tosin said the matter took a twist on April 14, when the police invited him for questioning and later detained him.

“The police told me that the community leaders demanded my arrest, claiming that the village oracle (Ifa) revealed that I had a hand in the stealing of my own baby.

“Meanwhile, before my arrest, three of the community leaders came to my house on the third day and said that they were going to make sacrifice to their gods to expose the perpetrators and recover my baby.

“They asked me to provide axe, cutlass, hoe, palm kernel oil and fresh yam, which I did, and they asked me to take them to the spot where I buried the placenta of my baby.

“I took them there and they did some incantations and poured the oil on the spot and assured me that my baby would be found.

“To my greatest surprise and shock, it was the same people that asked the police to arrest and detain me for allegedly stealing my own baby."

Tosin stated that the case was later transferred to the Criminal Investigation Department at Police Headquarters, Lokoja.

“I have been in police cell for seven days without food and without any hope of finding my stolen baby. My image has been tarnished. Why will I do such evil against my own baby?

“The stolen baby was my sixth child. I am still owing N4,000 at the clinic where I took the baby to after he was delivered at home.

“I have spent over 11 years in the community. My aged parents are in the same community; I have never been involved in any crime in my life.

“I am innocent; I am a devoted and committed Christian. How will I steal my own baby?”

Shade Ojuola, his wife, narrated the incident in tears.

She said she had bathed the baby, laid him in bed and was receiving fresh air outside with the landlord’s wife when the gunmen emerged.

“They flashed their torchlights and commanded us to hands up. I started shouting when they brought out guns and ordered me to shut my mouth; they forced the door open and carried my baby away. My husband had just left the house for church not up to 10 minutes when the kidnappers came,” she explained.

Shade called for the immediate release of her husband to enable the family to continue the search for their baby.

“We have been married for 11 years with five children and he loves me and all our children; I don’t want to lose him,” she said.

The aged father of Tosin, John Ojuola, 74, said some people in the community were conniving with the Police to implicate his son.

Amushin Adeleye, the traditional ruler of Ijagbe, denied any involvement in the matter. Adeleye said the two people the community suspected after findings and consultations were Ojuola’s landlord, Johnson, and a Fulani man, Isah.

He said the community later reported the duo to the police.

Hakeem Busari, the state Commissioner of Police, said he was aware of the matter.

When told that the complainant in the case had been in detention at the CID section, Busari expressed shock and asked for time to enable him to find out the real situation from the officer-in-charge of the CID.

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Omotola And Our "Hellish" Country! By SOC Okenwa

Sahara Reporters - 23 April 2019 - 12:47am


Mrs Omotola Jalade-Ekeinde is a combination of brain and beauty. In the vibrant Nigerian entertainment industry she has, over time, demonstrated her natural talent making money and name for herself and garnering local and international awards for distinguishing herself in her chosen endeavour. In Nollywood film industry in particular and elsewhere in general this brilliant beautiful lady has proven her mettle. 

Nigeria is, of course, blessed with both human and natural resources to the extent that Providence must have been disappointed at our collective failure to turn these abundant resources into making our people live better lives.

Earlier last week an innocuous tweet by the popular elegant Nollywood superstar had sparked controversy online generating some favourable and unfavourable responses by concerned Nigerians. Lady Omotola, not known for her radicalism or activism, had sent out a tweet online lampooning the Buhari/Osinbajo regime and denouncing the frequent killings of innocent Nigerians by the over-zealous security agents and decrying the economic hardship and lack of cash in circulation. She described living in Nigeria as amounting to a 'hellish' experience!

The controversial tweet went thus: "The country under your watch is Hellish! @YOsibanjo @MBuhari @NGRPresident.. The lack of Money in circulation, Now coupled with the Continuous Assault n Killings by Uniformed men will make this Country implode!!! It is Unbearable! Do something! Insecurity! Fear n Desperation everywhere". Of course uniformed men are constantly assaulting innocent Nigerians killing some and throwing others in detention, the situation remains unbearable, insecurity, desperation and fear are ubiquitous.

Soon after the tweet went viral online the Personal Assistant to the President on New Media, Bashir Ahmed, had reacted in a derogatory tone. He had sent out his own tweet that countered what Omotola said taking the expected position in defense of his principal(s). Ahmed had said via his official twitter handle: "Madam Omotola those who are working for CLEAN money are not complaining and will never refer our dear country as ‘hellish’... In Kano State alone, from 2015 to 2018, no fewer than 200 medium and small scale rice milling centres emerged. For that, billions circulated among millions".

Omotola, seemingly disgusted by the PA to the President's insinuation of 'clean money' or dirty money or whatever had fired back thus: "As long as you're not insinuating that I am not working CLEAN for my money... I hear you. Its good that there are some progress... Do you truly want to say you dont see all that's really wrong? Can we fight for our future in truth for once? Without being partisan?".

To the best of our knowledge Omotola could be classified as one of those Nigerians whose source of livelihood could be vouched for. She is among many making 'clean' money out of a legitimate verifiable source. If Ahmed meant associating Omotola with crooks and scoundrels making money by hook or by crook then he must have hit a trailer-load of sand! He failed to sound reasonable but his position could be understood in the sense that crimes and criminality are not alien to Nigeria and Nigerians.

In a corrupt and compromised system run by his masters in Abuja it would seem that Ahmed was telling us that we could still find paragons and/or angels in the FCT or elsewhere around Nigeria. They claim they are fighting corruption but the international agencies monitoring the global graft index are saying otherwise by their annual reports. They say we are safe under their command but thousands have lost their lives just for their Nigerianness! They tell us that the economy is sound and doing well but we are rated as the poverty capital of the world!

Lady 'Omosexy' was damn right by labelling our country as "hellish". Come to think of it, nothing could be more hellish in a country where citizens are daily killed extra-judicially by the unprofessional police force, armed uniformed bandits et al, where hunger and starvation stalk the land and where corruption and mediocrity of politicians have conspired to rob us of our destined national greatness and glory. If saying so online constitutes a crime then all of us are guilty indeed.

With mounting security challenges, economic stagnation and social discontent we have made it clear that Buharism in the 'first level' was nothing much to write home about. And the so-called 'next level' may well turn out to be worse! What is happening in Nigeria right now is worse than what happened (or is still happening) in Algeria and Sudan leading to revolutionary regime changes. But unlike the Algerians and the Sudanese we are not only docile but revolution-shy. We are suffering yet smiling happily! We are known globally as a 'happy' people afraid to confront the evil ravaging our land. We love living it big celebrating what others in saner climes hold in absolute scorn: corruption. We celebrate foolishly our collective failure as a nation bogged down by arrested development.

Madam Omotola spoke the minds of the silent millions toiling daily to eke out a living in an atmosphere of injustice, intolerance, infrastructural deficit, terrorism and organized looting of the commonwealth. By saying that Nigeria is a living hell Omotola struck a resonating chord that was in sync with the reality on the ground. As a people united by poverty we pretend a whole lot feigning ignorance of what majority of our compatriots go through on a daily basis in order to survive. Yet the rich is getting richer and the poor poorer!

During the giddy Jonathanian presidential era some years ago some presidential aides (including the beefy Doyin Okupe) were branded "attack dogs". Today, Buharism is brimming with attack dogs and pussy-cats: Shehu Garba(ge), Lauretta 'mermaid' Onochie and now the Bashir 'online viper' Ahmed. Indeed, they are good at what they do: calling a spade by another name, defending the indefensible and insulting our collective sensibilities. Pleasing the master in Aso Rock and the cabal aiding and abetting his presidential mediocrity could be a hard job featuring hypocrisy, sycophancy and playing the phoney Joseph Goebbels.

Nigeria is not only a 'hellish' place to live in, one fraught with miseries and mysteries, but more aptly a basket case of hopelessness. Let those like Bashir Ahmed living in fools' paradise provide evidence to the contrary!

Happy Easter to all Nigerians at home and abroad who, like us, believe, with patriotic conviction, that Nigeria is a hellish jungle. May the remission of sin for which Jesus the Christ died and ressurected heal our dear nation!

SOC Okenwa
soco_abj_2006_rci@hotmail.fr

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It's Sad That People Blame Buhari For Violence In Nigeria, Says Garba Shehu

Sahara Reporters - 23 April 2019 - 12:41am


Garba Shehu, spokesperson to Nigeria's President Muhammadu Buhari, has defended Nigeria’s President Muhamadu Buhari against a comment credited to Bishop Stephen Mamza, the Catholic Bishop of Yola Diocese, who accused the president of "sleeping on duty".

Shehu made the rebuttal in a statement issued on Monday night, stating that the religious leader’s statement was not a fair comment.

He also said it was unfair for people to be quick to blame the President, despite efforts by the present administration to address insecurity.

The statement read: “There is so much that has changed in the past three to four years in and around Yola, and the Catholic Church in particular that a true assessment would show that but for the Change Administration of President Buhari, things would have continued the way they were, or even get worse. These could not have happened if a Commander-in-Chief was asleep.

“Bishop Mamza was, and is still a strong member of the Adamawa Peace Initiative, API, composed of religious and community leaders which did the lovely work housing and feeding 400,000 displaced people from Northern Adamawa and Borno States in 2015. The API also did the extraordinary work of easing tensions between Muslims and Christians during that period and ensured that both groups did not turn on one another based on suspicion.

“As widely reported by the local and international press, in the premises of St. Theresa’s Cathedral where Rev. Mamza ministered, there were more than 1,500 IDPs, mostly women and children on whom the church administered food rations and issued bags of maize, cooking oil and seasoning. We are truly touched and very grateful for the work that the Bishop and the others had done in that difficult period.

“Now that Boko Haram has been degraded, the more than 400,000 displaced people absorbed by the Adamawa community have all gone back to Borno State and to those council areas in northern Adamawa.

“In addition to the capital, Yola, the towns of Michika, Madagali and Mubi which had been occupied by Boko Haram during their military advances have since been retaken by the Nigerian military, whose personnel are also clearing litters of Boko Haram’s carnage and are, through the support of the administration as well as local and international partners, rebuilding roads and bridges, power lines, burnt schools, markets, destroyed churches and mosques.

“Sadly, one of the realities of today’s Nigeria is that it is easy to blame President Buhari for the violence all around us. Community leaders are too scared to blame the warlords and the sponsors of killings we live with because they fear for their own lives.

“What is happening in several communities racked by inter-ethnic and religious violence is arising from the refusal of community leaders to point at known criminals in their midst for the law enforcement agencies to act against them. They rather blame President Buhari for their woes.

“It is indeed an irony that in the week that Bishop Mamza was speaking, another Bishop with a known commitment to peace, and results to show for his work in neighbouring Plateau State, is being dispatched to go to Taraba, Adamawa and Benue states to work in collaboration with security agencies in mending broken inter-communal relationships.

“This senseless violence can never be condoned by the administration and we sympathize with the families of those who lost loved ones as well as those injured. The administration’s intense security efforts and peace building will not only continue, but will expand in response to such explosions of violence in the country.”

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Udenwa, Imo's Worst Governor, Says Okorocha

Sahara Reporters - 23 April 2019 - 12:25am


Rochas Okorocha, Governor of Imo State, says former Governor Achike Udenwa, is the worst governor the state has ever had.

In a statement issued by Sam Obwuemeodo, the Chief Press Secretary to Okorocha, the governor challenged Udenwa to publish his achievements in the eight years he served as governor for Imo people to compare notes.

He described the former governor’s reign as a waste. 

Okorocha said apart from paying special attention to gossips and frivolities, Udenwa scuttled the political dreams of many young men who served under him.

Okorocha, who decried the recent incessant attacks on him and his immediate predecessor, Ikedi Ohakim, by Udenwa, said he had earlier chosen to ignore him because sometimes silence was golden.

The statement read: “In less than four weeks, Chief Achike Udenwa who governed Imo State from 1999 to 2007 has launched unprecedented media attacks against Governor Okorocha, Chief Ohakim and President Buhari.

“While Chief Ohakim had replied him, we decided to hold our peace because we believe that at times, silence is golden. But the two-term former governor has continued the attack on Imo governor for reasons that could only be known to him.

“Chief Udenwa is adjudged the worst governor Imo State has had; both military and civilian. He blew away the eight years he held sway as governor and should not blame anybody but himself.

“If he feels that this claim is false, let him be patriotic enough to publish his achievements for the eight years he was governor and let Rochas Okorocha publish his own achievements for eight years also, since it is now eight years versus eight years. In fact, he is envious of Okorocha because while he left no footprint behind, Rochas Okorocha is leaving behind enviable footprints as Imo governor for eight years.”

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Zamfara Chiefs Didn't Apologise To NAF Over Killing Of Innocent Villagers

Sahara Reporters - 23 April 2019 - 12:22am


The Zamfara State Council of Chiefs has debunked reports that it had made a u-turn and apologised to the Nigerian Air Force over its allegations of airstrikes on civilians in the state.

Attahiru Muhammad Ahmad, the Emir of Anka who is also the chairman of the state council of chiefs, said the report was baseless.

Addressing newsmen on Monday, he said: “I have received an entourage led by Air Vice Marshall Idi Lubo who was in the state to condole and sympathise with the entire people of the state over a mistake made by the NAF that consumed innocent lives.

“In my recorded remarks, there was nowhere I apologized for making it public that NAF had mistakenly killed innocent lives during its bombardments on targeted camps operated by bandits across some villages in the state recently. But, I rather used words of respect as done by the August visitor which had been our tradition when receiving guests."

As a ruler, he said he was not afraid of saying the truth.

He continued: “Our council meeting had, based on credible reports, believed that the killings of innocent people had occurred, and if later, I would come back to make a u-turn on that matter, then, I should not remain as emir.

“As the Council of Chiefs, we did not intend to smear the hard-earned reputation of the Nigerian Air Force; we only cited the killings of innocent people as an example in a reaction to the claim by the Minister of Defence, Brigadier-General Mansur Dan Ali who, on baseless reasons, accused traditional rulers of aiding banditry activities in the state."

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Our Universities Are Glorified Secondary Schools, Says Tunde Bakare

Sahara Reporters - 23 April 2019 - 12:19am


Tunde Bakare, Serving Overseer of the Latter Rain Assembly, says Nigerian universities are "glorified secondary schools".

He prayed to God to help President Muhammadu Buhari employ the best for his cabinet as he begins his second term in May 29, 2019.

He also urged the President to ensure the development of the youth in the country.

He said this during a chat with Channels Television on the Easter celebration.

He said: “We have neglected the greatest asset of any nation, human capital. Our educational system has gone down the drain; we need to revive all that. Our universities are glorified secondary schools; let us solidify the ones we have. It’s okay to start a university, but let us maintain a standard.

“It is in our interest to ensure that there is a future for our children, ensure good health care delivery, and ensure transportation system that is flawless. There are so many assets in this country and I pray President Buhari would do his best in the second term to appoint the best, brightest and fittest, so we would see Nigeria turn around as we maximise the potentials of the nation.”

Speaking on the consequences of unemployment, he added: “Insecurity is not new; we are being invaded from outside and from within. What do you think will happen to millions of jobless youths who have no way of providing themselves? We need to create more jobs.”

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