[ Masterweb Reports: Dr. Peregrino Brimah reports ] – The nation is in an aggravated and unprecedented state of emergency. Our most vulnerable children who are the recurrent major victims of the nation’s severe security problems are again being subjected to severe danger. Up to 200 school girls remain captured by terrorists in the northeast. These are our children, our daughters, cousins and nieces who have been abducted by the so-called Boko Haram terrorists and are now being held at an unknown destination. It cannot be imagined what these girls, the latest kidnap victims are being put through in captivity by these known, Godless rapists and murderers.
Nigeria’s state security has proven it is incapable of resolving this latest crises as it has been in all in the past. This latest kidnap episode adds to a list of abductions over the past four years that the security establishment has failed to resolve. The deadly lies spread by our nation’s military, under the president of Nigeria, Goodluck Jonathan, the minister of defense, Aliyu Gusau and the NSA Sambo Dasuki, claiming to have freed the abducted Chibok school girls, goes further to show their insensitivity, lack of commitment and intent to further recklessly endanger the lives and fate of our missing girls. Such a preposterous, malicious lie, made to the global concerned audience was in an attempt to further jeopardize the lives of the girls and compromise local and international efforts to facilitate their release.
It is time for ordinary Nigerians to step-up in this national tragedy. Our girls in school in this tough clime, are by all means the most important corner stones of our future. We cannot and must not leave them to their fate. It has already been three days with the terrorists. These girls are suffering unimaginable and unrecoverable physical and mental harm if they are still alive.
We are making an urgent call for all able-bodied Nigerian and foreign hunters and youth to proceed to the northeast and join the parents and army in the search for these abducted children. All hands must be on deck. The parents are already combing the bushes for their wards; we cannot leave them alone in this dangerous and desperate mission. Their children are our children, tomorrow, who knows, it may be our children and their help we may solicit.
The Civilian-JTF is on the ground to coordinate our mission. They will inform of the safe methods of participation. They will also be on ground in the search to help in eliminating Boko Haram terrorists encountered. All tunnels and caves should be sought out and explored. This is a holy obligation to free our children from their abductors and oppressors.
We call for donations of supplies, walkie-talkies, torch-lights, batteries and all other financial assistance that can aid in this hunt, recover and eliminate mission. ENDS has recently donated some walkie-talkies and Taser torchlights to the Civilian-JTF which may be helpful in these hunts in outskirts where communication may otherwise be impossible.
We also call on all international bodies and even SWAT teams that can assist Nigeria to please join and assist us in this time of national tragedy and need. The governments of Chad, Cameroon, Niger are also implored to assist in this search, recover and eliminate mission. The terrorists could be hiding with these girls in areas on their territory.
Dr. Peregrino Brimah ( Email: firstname.lastname@example.org reports ).
*Photo Caption – Boko Haram leader, Abubakar Shekau
[ Masterweb Reports: Press Release For Immediate Release ] – All Progressives Grand Alliance (APGA) condemn in totality the wanton killing and destruction of lives and public properties in Nigeria, especially the recent gruesome massacre at Nyanya Abuja and the abduction of school girls in Borno state . We send our heartfelt condolence to the families that lost Dear ones in that dastardly act and we pray that God will give them eternal rest in his Kingdom.
APGA as always stands for peace, unity ,harmony and transparency ,therefore we find it difficult to understand why anybody will have a hand in the plot or participate in the act of taking out lives of human being ,be it political, religious or remonstrating purposes . Human life is sacred and should be treated as such, nobody should take it no matter the reason or provocations.
It is on record that all the states under APGA are peaceful and should be emulated by other states under different political parties. We in APGA are calling on people from other political parties ,ethnic groups and religious background to always eschew peace ,love and harmony ,they should Endeavour to live in peace and understanding ,respect others choice of party and religion.
We call on the President to use his good office and checkmate this reckless killings and also curb the menace that are springing up especially from the Northern part of the Nation.
Long live Federal Republic of Nigeria.
Long Live All Progressives Grand Alliance.
Acting National Publicity Secretary
All Progressives Grand Alliance
APGA Secretariat, No. 41b Libreville Street
*Photo Caption – APGA logo
[ Masterweb Reports ] – Distinguished ladies and gentlemen; I am very pleased to be here today amongst my friends and the good people of Bende Local Government Area. Your LGA and your people continue to play very prominent roles in the politics and economy of our State, our Government and the Nation, - and that is why I am very excited that you have chosen this day and this occasion to accord me a civic honour and reception. I thank you immensely!
When we started this journey to wrestle the governance of our State from oppressive and despotic leadership, Bende LGA and its good people were solidly with me, all the way. And through thick and thin and the rough and tumbles of the politics of our State, you have remained solidly behind and with me.
You deserve my appreciation and honor, but instead you are today raising your support and loyalty by organizing this civic reception for me. I think you deserve my immense appreciation and I thank the entire people of Bende LGA for this singular gesture.
I want to remind you that with the solid support of Bende LGA and its people over the years, we have been able to lay a solid foundation for the sustainable political and economic wellbeing of our State, where Bende LGA and its people are active participants and beneficiaries. You still deserve more and you will get more!
With your support, we have leveled the political playing field and opened-up our political space to the greater participation of our citizens, without the over-abrasive control of godfathers and godmothers. We have given back to all of you your dignities to aspire and to win political offices without administering vile idolatry oaths.
And we have stabilized and secured our environment to protect your lives and property from violent criminals and kidnappers, and you can now dream great dreams and pursue them in peace.
These are intangible values that should make living worthwhile for any man or woman. And I am sure that none of you is ready to go back to Egypt? No, forward ever, backward never!
As we prepare for the way forward come 2015, I know some of you may be pressured to try new games with promises of a new garden of Eden in Abia State. But you should never be deceived again by those whose stock in trade is to weave a veil across your eyes and lead you to Amargedon.
I urge you to stick to our winning team, stick with our great Party the PDP, and together we will do it again. I have been assured by many of you that there is no shaking in Bende LGA, and with the crowd I see today in this civic reception, I believe you, just as I have always done before!
Our Party PDP will continue to pursue the path of equity, fairness and justice, and the playing field will remain free of manipulation at all levels, without the imposition of candidates from the ward levels to the highest level.
But we will not allow our active and functioning system to be inflicted by a dangerous virus that has no political value. I urge you to be vigilant and resist such intrusions!
Once more I must thank the good people of Bende LGA for the elaborate ceremonies of this civic reception, especially the efforts you have put into driving it through. I really appreciate you, the organizers and the entire people of Bende LGA who are here. May the Almighty God continue to bless and replenish you!
One last word, our collective and individual loyalty to our great Party PDP must remain unshakeable and we will fight to maintain Abia State as a foremost PDP State in the Nation. The rewards are evident in the winds!
Thank you and God bless you.
*Photo Caption – Governor T. A. Orji
[ Masterweb Reports ] – Distinguished ladies and gentlemen; I am delighted to address this special gathering of our farmers and citizens, here to mark the commencement of the 2014 Cropping Season in Abia State. Our State is largely an agrarian State committed to the agricultural transformation agenda of the Federal Government of Nigeria. And that is why we will continue to do whatever is required to promote an agrarian culture and other events that support farming activities in our State.
The occasion of today affords us a unique opportunity to take stock of how agriculture has performed in our State, especially under our Administration, so that we can effectively plan ahead to promote activities that support agricultural growth for this year.
I therefore thank all stakeholders in the agricultural sector who are here to support today’s activities. Your presence certainly underscores the significance you attach to agriculture in the promotion of your lives and that of our citizens.
I need to mention here that since the inception of our Administration, we have left no one in doubt of our firm resolve to take agriculture to the highest level in this State. We recognized that agriculture which should be the bedrock of our Nation’s economy was relegated to the background in the era of increased oil resources, and we resolved to reverse the situation and restore our State to the path of sustainable economic growth.
We are also aware that any nation that is unable to feed its population can neither develop nor experience a stable polity, and that is why our State joined with the Federal Government of Nigeria to restore and chart a new economic future through the Agricultural Transformation Agenda, now on-going.
With the Federal Government, our State has now focused on transforming agricultural activities in our areas from a subsistence level, to a level that can provide rewarding wealth creation and business ventures.
We expect this focus to bring in a new way of doing things in the agricultural sector, especially putting a new human face to agriculture that will make it attractive to our youths and agro-investors.
We expect this to lead to a new value-chain approach in the production of agro-commodities, while providing risk-sharing and incentives that reduce the cost of inputs. That is why I urge our citizens to take more active interests in the farming sector as a way of the future, and you can begin right from here!
Besides, the agricultural transformation activities we envisage are the only sure ways to creating massive jobs to take our people out of poverty and raise new wealth builders. It is in this regard that our Administration has resolved to return agriculture to the front burner of our economic growth, and be the source for ensuring both food security and creation of massive jobs for citizens.
This is why we have resolved to put not less than 65% of our available rich and arable lands and our networks of flowing rivers and water bodies in the State to the production of surplus food, abundant fishes and other aquatic food – both for consumption and for cash. Our Administration will be there to support all genuine farmers willing to invest in the sector and take the risk to excel.
That is why I am excited today on the theme of this year’s cropping season ‘Transforming Agriculture for food security’ – which is both apt and timely and in consonance with our Administration’s agro-policy directions.
Our Administration has resolved to establish Liberation Farms – as model farm projects in the 17 LGAs of our State and we believe that this will not only expose rural farmers to the best farm practices, but will encourage farm entrepreneurs to produce surplus crops, livestock and fisheries, and through that generate enormous wealth and massive employment for our teeming youths.
Presently, our Liberation farms at Okeikpe (Ukwa-West) and Lodu (Umuahia-North) are training more than 100 youths in modern agricultural skills. I have also approved the take-off of other Liberation Farms at Isiala-Amaba (Isuikwuato LGA) and Idima Abam (Arochukwu LGA), and these will absorb more youths for training.
Our State has vigorously pursued the privatization of State-Owned agricultural concerns to improve performance output. We have brought in entrepreneurs with adequate financial and human capital to invest in such projects so as to turn them quickly into centres of agro-excellence and job creation areas.
That is why we have successfully privatived the Cocoa Estates at Agbozu Uzuakoli and the Abia Rubber Company; while the Abia Palm Ohambele (Ukwa), Nkporo Oil Palm and Ozuitem, - and Ulonna Palm Estates are now being prepared for privatization.
Other investors are also coming in to partner with us in the Cassava Production and Processing, - all with the objectives of boosting the economy of Abia State and attracting massive investment in the agro-sector.
Already, a 6,000ha Cassava Production/Processing Center in Abiriba – in partnership with the Federal Government of Nigeria is on-going, and has the potential of turning the cassava enterprise in Abia State to a gold mine. In fact, clearing and survey work is currently going on the cassava sites at Abiriba, and I use this opportunity to thank the people of Abiriba for making available their land for this laudable project.
Our State will continue to support and encourage communities and our development partners who have keyed into our agro-development agenda to ensure that farm/infrastructural activities are scaled up to serve our people. I commend especially our partners in the IFAD and FADAMA 111 Projects.
As we continue to work very hard to attain a bumper harvest from this year’s farming activities, I have directed our Ministry of Agriculture to undertake the following facilitative actions to ensure we achieve our goals:
• Ensure the registration of more Abia farmers so as to benefit from the smart input subsidy of Abia State and the Federal Government under the GES Scheme.
• Initiate and conclude the privatization of Ulonna North Farm Settlement, Ozuitem Palm Estate, Ukwa and Nkporo Oil Palm Estates, among others.
• Ensure the procurement of some tractors to be deployed to the food producing LGAs to enhance land preparation.
• Improve the skills of our farmers through seminars, workshops and improved extension services of the State ADP.
• Strengthen extension services under the ADP, with the State government, in partnership with the Federal Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development providing 22 motorcycles for distribution to extension workers at the grassroots. In fact the motorcycles are here for distribution today!
• Strengthen the task force put in place to checkmate the damage to crops by cattle herdsmen which is currently resulting to community conflicts in many parts of the country and
• Providing support services such as pest and disease control services, and improved storage system to reduce waste of farm produce.
I will continue to commend our farmers and all other stakeholders in the agricultural sector for your commitments and dedication to advancing the fortunes of agriculture in our State. I have faith that this sector has the potentials to turn around the economic fortunes of our State, our people and our Nation.
I therefore urge you to continue to make the necessary sacrifices for the realization of the agricultural transformation action plans of our State, and it is my honour and privilege to formally declare the 2014 Cropping Season open!
Thank you and God bless Abia State and the Federal Republic of Nigeria!
*Photo Caption – Governor T. A. Orji
[ Masterweb Reports ] - The leadership of International Society for Civil Liberties & the Rule of Law-Intersociety wishes to write Your Excellency over the above subject. 1.Crime Fighting & Dislodgement Of Criminal Entities: This is so far so good. Your Excellency’s efforts in this aspect are commendable. But caution should be taken to avoid giving the concerned security agencies, particularly the Anambra State Police Command sweeping powers. Such sweeping powers will not only defeat the very aim of making Anambra roundly secured, but will also put the State under police siege with accompanying abuses and corrupt practices including torture and extra judicial killings, reckless mounting of roadblocks and extortion, trumped up allegations and charges, indiscriminate and reckless arrests, unlawful detention and pre-trial extortion. It is also very important to remind Your Excellency that “a criminal” in strictest sense and according to........ Read More.
*Photo Caption - Governor Willie Obiano
[ Masterweb Reports: From Abia State ] – Distinguished ladies and gentlemen; I am very pleased to be here to inaugurate these two related committees – 1) The Committee on Fees and Levies, 2) The Committee on State Revenue Summit.
These two Committees are very urgent and important for our State at this time, especially if our State will stabilize and sustain our growing economy, and raise sufficient internally generated revenue (IGR) to support the implementation of our 2014 Appropriation Budget.
Just last week when I signed into law, our 2014 budget of N115.3 billion, I emphasized the importance of achieving our IGR target, if we are to reach our other financial targets in that budget.
It is to drive this budget and to sustain the future prosperity of our State, that I today inaugurate these two important committees.
The Committee on Fees and Levies which is made up of 15 eminent citizens, and under the Chairmanship of Chief Udochukwu G. Ogbonna (Chairman, Board of Internal Revenue), - will be responsible for reviewing the fees and levies collectible in Abia State – to ensure proficiency and easy compliance.
The report of this Committee will be further reviewed by the second Committee on State Revenue Summit, made up of 13 eminent Abians, - under the Chairmanship of Dr Philips Nto, -the State Commissioner of Finance.
The Committee on State Revenue Summit is to act as the interface between our Government and the tax-paying community in Abia State – to ensure that a formidable new road map and an appropriate tax-regime are reached to the delight of our citizens. These we believe will ensure equitable taxation and easier collection.
It is my belief that with the work of these two committees, efficiently executed, the implementation of our bank-lodgment policy and no-cash collection by intermediaries, - our State will be on the right direction to attaining a robust IGR collection, not just for now, but for the future.
As I inaugurate these two committees, I charge you to perform your assignment with utmost integrity, and with collaboration with the relevant tax-paying community. Yours is a call for service and not for self-enrichment, and you must certainly not fail our people.
May God bless you as you serve!
*Photo Caption – Governor T. A. Orji
[ Masterweb Reports: Press Release For Immediate Release ] – April 3, 2014: Our attention has been drawn to claims by the Nigeria Labour Congress and the Trade Union Congress during a joint press briefing this morning that the Secretariat of the Conference amended the records of proceedings to allow it powers to appoint Chairmen and Deputy Chairmen of Committees.
The group, in a press statement issued later, protested against what they termed “the decision of the Conference leadership to unilaterally reverse a decision consensually taken by the entire membership of the conference that Chairmen and Deputy Chairmen of Committees would be elected or selected by the Committee”.
In another breathe they blamed the 50 representatives for changing the decision of the majority regarding such appointments, claiming that it was not part of their mandate.
For the avoidance of doubt and for the information of the public, the Secretariat wishes to explain as follows:
It would be recalled that Under Order VI (6) the Secretariat had proposed that:
(a) “The Chairman shall, in consultation with the Deputy Chairman and Secretary, appoint Chairmen and Deputy Chairmen of Committees.
(b) The Chairman shall have the powers to review the performance of the Chairmen and Committees and remove them in consultation with the Deputy Chairman.
During the discussion of the draft Rules of Procedure, delegates amended that Order to read:
(a) Members of the Committees shall elect the Chairmen and Deputy Chairmen of their respective Committees.
(b) Members of the respective Committees shall have the powers to review the performance of the Chairmen and Deputy Chairmen of the Committees and remove them in consultation with the Chairman of the Conference.
At the consultative meeting between Principal Officers of the Conference and 50 selected delegates, mostly elders, representing the various interest groups to resolve the issue that arose over the voting formula, the issue of committees and leadership was also raised by delegates, who pointed out that in view of the posturing by members over the voting pattern, the earlier agreed position regarding the appointment of Committee leadership may throw up another contention.
It was subsequently agreed at the meeting of Thursday, March 28, 2014, that the principal officers of the Conference should handle the matter for the sake of achieving spread and competence. It was decided that the decision should be taken to the plenary on Monday March 31, 2014, for ratification.
At the resumed sitting on Monday, March 31, 2014 after the adoption of the position on the voting pattern, Hon. Mohammed Umaru Kumaila moved a follow-up motion from the Consultative Meeting to allow Principal Officers of the Conference select Chairmen and Deputy Chairmen of the proposed Committees to reflect competence, federal character and equity. The motion was seconded by Hon Orok Otu Duke.
A counter motion was moved by Comrade Ebuchukwu Ezike that the earlier decision reached by the conference to allow delegates select Chairmen/Deputy Chairmen of Committees be retained. It was seconded by Jaye Gaskiya.
At that point, the Deputy Chairman of Conference, Professor Bolaji Akinyemi, put both motions to voice vote. Delegates voted to retain Order VI (6) as earlier proposed, to the effect that Principal Officers of the Conference select Chairmen and Deputy Chairmen of the Committees to reflect spread and competence. A motion to adopt the Procedure Rules as amended was subsequently moved by Dr (Mrs) Hannatu Ibrahim and seconded by Ambassador Adamu Aliyu. The Conference adopted the Procedure Rules as proposed and amended.
The Votes and Proceedings for March 31, 2014 when the amendment was made, which clearly stated the issue in question, was read on the floor of Conference on Tuesday, April 1, 2014 and there was no delegate raised any issue regarding the amendment as contained in the Votes of Proceedings of March 31, 2014.
Assistant Secretary, Media and Communications
National Conference 2014
*Photo Caption - Nigeria Labour Congress (NLC) logo
[ Masterweb Reports ] – As the debate on President Goodluck Jonathan’s speech entered its third day on Wednesday, focus started shifting from issues raised in the speech to matters central to the National Conference and what to make of them.
Opinions and counter-opinions flowed as delegates deliberated on issues of corruption, security, economic development or the lack of it, religion, and ethnic nationality with focus on the minority and majority question.
While some of the speakers suggested that corrupt officers, especially those in public service, should face death sentence, others agreed that economic development with the practical consequence of job creation will check the issue of insecurity nationwide.
Former Secretary to Government of the Federation, Chief Olu Falae said Nigeria’s problem started when the military, in 1966, murdered regional government which had served as a tonic for development of zones across the country.
He also stated that abolition of Parliamentary system of government where power was with the entire cabinet and replacement with Presidential system where powers lie with an individual had caused serious political crises in the country.
Femi Falana, SAN, in a moving contribution, said the Conference, though not sovereign, has provided Nigerians with a window of opportunity “to find out why we are poor in the midst of plenty while a microscopic minority of the population is rich and smiling to the bank.”
He said corruption has endangered the corporate existence of Nigeria, and advocated political justice, social justice and environmental justice.
On the issue of ethnic minority and majority, Chief Edwin Clark pleaded with delegates to give it priority during committee discussions so that at the end of the Conference, existing controversies arising from it would become a thing of the past.
He said the natural solution to the problem remains the realization that no tribe is greater than the other, “no one is a first class citizen, and no one is a second class citizen. Everyone is qualified to rule this country.”
It was his view that in the absence of tolerance, the dream of nationhood would be difficult to achieve; “if you are a southerner and the other person is a northerner, if you cannot live together, then there will be no Nigeria.”
Dalhatu Bashir from Jigawa State noted that at creation, Nigeria came with a promise and it was that promise that moved the country in the right direction.
For instance, he said the late Dr. Nnamdi Azikiwe, an Igbo man was born in Zungeru in northern Nigeria, grew up in Igboland but went ahead to win election in the heart of Yorubaland.
It was his view that if at the end, the outcome of the National Conference makes it possible for any Nigerian living anywhere in Nigeria to have equal rights of citizenship, then it would justify the reasons it was convened.
Describing the President’s speech as stimulating, comprehensive and forthright, Ibrahim Bunu said delegates should not fail to negotiate and should not negotiate out of fear since Nigeria belongs to everyone.
On security, Abubakar Chika Adamu from Niger State said, “Nigeria is at war with itself. Security remains our greatest challenge. We must stop playing politics with it. We here must do what we ought to do and leave the President to do what he has to do to solve this problem.
On corruption, he observed that Nigerians have moved from mere stealing to looting and have graduated from looting to mass looting. His suggestion was that a soft-landing should be created for those who stole public funds to return them without being prosecuted.
“We must be serious about fighting corruption,” said Magayi Dambatta; adding that for Nigeria to succeed in this, there was need to reorganize the anti-corruption agencies followed by diligent prosecution.
A representative of Nigerian youth, Ben Dontoye demanded legal backing to the adoption of capital punishment against corruption. He believed this would be the only way to drive fear into people who have taken to corrupt practices as a trade.
Former Inspector General of Police, Ibrahim Coomasie cited the absence of sincere leadership at different tiers of governance as one problem that Nigerians are worried about.
Added to this, he said, was the intolerable level of insecurity in the country. He suggested that agencies constitutionally charged with maintenance of security in the country should be restructured and funded.
Retired General Muhammed Mansur Dan Ali informed the Conference that out of the 36 states of Nigeria, 33, if not more have soldiers deployed to the streets.
He said the National Conference should recommend complete restructuring of the Armed Forces of Nigeria and other security agencies for effective performance of their duties.
Senator Seidu Dansadau made one appeal in his comment: that Jonathan should ensure that the recommendations of the Conference are implemented and not allowed to go the way of other recommendations in the past.
He said it was time for delegates to strip themselves naked, “not just to say that we believe in the indivisibility of Nigeria but to practically demonstrate it.”
His position was supported by Professor Godini Dara who insisted that the lofty ideas and recommendations expected at the end of the Conference must be implemented to free Nigeria from the grips of economic apartheid.
On corruption, he said there was need to establish ethical standards; and on the economy, Dara strongly urged the President to free Nigeria from what he called the witchcraft of the World Bank while industrialization should take the front seat both in budgeting and planning.
Both Illiya Danga and Burus Daleng remarked on the courageous decision of the President to go ahead with the Conference in spite of oppositions and wished that with the same courage, the President would implement the decisions of the Conference without fear or favour.
Sale Dauda from Bauchi State attributed insurgency in every part of the country to the failure of states and local government who he said were totally dependent on what the federal government would do instead rising to their responsibilities of providing leadership and governance.
He said in some parts of the country, it has become difficult and even impossible to buy a piece of land for the purpose of building a church for worship and that those responsible for such prohibition were the elite.
Francis Doukpolagha from Bayelsa State told the Conference that the failure of the Nigerian State stemmed from the fact that democracy has become government of the people by the people but not for the people.
Ignatius Kevin Edet lamented what he called inequality and imbalance in the creation of local government areas in the country and urged the Conference to use the opportunity of the dialogue to correct the anomaly.
He suggested the application of capital punishment as a check against corrupt practices by public office holders, a position enormously canvassed for by other speakers.
Correct census as a basis for revenue sharing and infrastructural development was suggested by Charles Edosomwan, SAN, from Edo State who also emphasized that “we need to put power in the strata of government that is close to the people.”
Veteran journalist, Ray Ekpu, said the President’s speech constituted a new thesis for the reconstruction of Nigeria and that Nigeria as it is today requires a new architecture.
Ekpu noted that Jonathan seemed like someone who does not want “this house to fall,” still he said the house called Nigeria was too rickety and weather-beaten to be left on the wish list of a permanent structures.
Ekpu said for a country that has had 14 different administrations in 53 years, “that is cyclical stability. There is no way a country can grow in this manner.”
For Chief Chris Eluemunoh from Anambra State, “the Igbos have no other country than Nigeria; therefore the unity of this country is paramount to us. This unity must be anchored on equity and justice.”
Dr Osahon Enabulele of the Nigerian Medical Association proposed a massive national health policy that would cater for the health needs of the rural dwellers.
In addition, the NMA chief suggested that “a time has come for us to look at the mental and medical fitness of our political leaders,” as a way of ensuring that they are fit and proper to occupy public offices.
Dr Silas Eneyo from Rivers State likened Nigeria to a building with collapsed pillars and advised: “Let us not pretend to be painting a building whose pillars are collapsing.”
It was his view that the pillars of any federation lie in its justice and equity system and that the Conference has provided the delegates opportunity to rebuild the house with sound ideas and recommendations.
Gary Enwo Igariwe said Nigeria has been bleeding for sometime, has gone on its knees and though it wants to stand, it was actually going down. He urged delegates to identify reasons for conflicts and address them.
He cautioned against selective solution, “when you solve a problem in a particular area and ignore the ones in another area, you have not done anything; you are merely relocating the problem.”
He said most of the problems can be easily resolved through restructuring of the country; advising that delegates should leave their ethnic standards and discuss Nigeria.
Professor Eddy Erhagbe told the delegates that for Nigeria to move ahead, the bottom-line remains good governance because “corruption is not regional, it is not ethnic; corruption is an elite conspiracy.”
Assistant Secretary, Media and Communications
National Conference 2014
*Photo Caption - Map of Nigeria
[ Masterweb Reports ] – Debate, comments and opinions on the Presidential speech as a footpath to issues and decisions continued on Tuesday at the on-going National Conference holding at the National Judicial Institute in Abuja.
Moderated by the Conference Deputy Chairman, Professor Bolaji Akinyemi, most of the delegates described the President’s speech on March 17 at the inauguration of the Conference as agenda-setting on issues to be discussed and the outcome Conference.
For instance, former President of the Senate, Dr. Iyorcha Ayu said: “I stand not to praise nor vilify the President’s speech. It is the speech of a leader who is worried about his country. It is the speech of great expectation, and the whole country expects a lot from all gathered here.”
Delegates however observed that beyond the letters of the elegant speech lies the responsibility of translating the words into action for the benefit of Nigerians so that the report of the current Conference will not go the ways of others.
Some of them said the timing of the Conference was apt; coming on the heels of Nigeria’s centenary as a country because it would create opportunity to reflect on the last 100 years while planning for the next.
Mrs. Temitope Ajayi described the Conference as historic, “coming as Nigeria celebrates one hundred years of existence as one entity.
The courage exhibited by Jonathan in convening the Conference despite stiff opposition and criticisms by political opponents also formed a part of the comments made by delegates on Tuesday.
Dr. Amos Akingba said delegates must justify such show of courage by the President by ensuring that issues that would stabilize Nigeria occupy everybody’s mind and not ethnic interest.
A retired civil servant, Akin Arikawe, said the convocation of the National Conference by Jonathan despite threats and warnings by certain Nigerians was a demonstration of the President’s confidence in the outcome of the Conference and urged delegates not to frustrate that hope.
Former Information Minister, Professor Dora Akunyili, observed that it has taken more than political will for Jonathan to convene the conference which she said Nigerians have long clamoured for. She said the Conference was a centenary gift to Nigerians.
Elder statesman, Chief Richard Akinjide, SAN, described Nigeria as the leading country in Africa and asked Nigerians to “stop being demolition contractors, let us be building contractors” so that Nigeria can become “the greatest republic in Africa.”
Former Minister of Petroleum, Professor Jubril Aminu, said based on issues identified by the President for discussion, he hoped the 2014 National Conference would be the last of such conferences because it would help strengthen the constitution and make it better.
Mrs. Brenda Akpan, a journalist, said the centre-piece of the speech was that of inclusion as against the practice of exclusion and current discrimination against women, children and the disabled.
She said the Conference must ensure that every Nigerian has a sense of citizenship, demanding that “we must create space for their participation in governance.”
While some delegates hammered on the issue of drafting a new Constitution for the country, others said the Conference lacked any legal backing to embark on such an enterprise; and that only President Goodluck Jonathan who convened the Conference will decide on what to do with the report.
Former Governor of Akwa Ibom State, Obong Victor Attah, in his contribution, said Jonathan’s speech clearly identified the problems with Nigeria and the challenges before the Conference not only in discussing the problems but in proffering functional solutions to such problems.
He said for so long, Nigerians have imprisoned themselves in the north-south divide explaining that these differences and disparities have always been there, adding: “we may not be able to remove them, but we can make them irrelevant and ineffective.”
Robert Audu said it was time for Nigerians to stop “blaming our leaders for our woes, rather, we should now find solutions to these problems,” explaining that it was for such reasons that the Conference was convened.
Some of the delegates, like Chief Sergeant Awuse, said Nigeria as a country has no insurmountable problems but that the system it operates has not allowed ideas to become realities.
He said, “I don’t think there is anything wrong with Nigeria. I think there is something wrong with the system. If we look at the system we are running now and we think it is not good enough, we can jettison it and adopt another system. This Conference has given us the opportunity to do that.”
Bishop Felix Ajakaiye said the problem of Nigeria was not for lack of ideas towards solution but the lack of political will to implement such ideas. He urged the delegates to use their God-given talents to redeem the country by making the best out of the Conference.
Isa Ajiya told the delegates that the beauty of the President’s speech would only achieve its purpose if they reason together as Nigerians, not as northerners or southerners, not as Muslims or Christians, adding “at the end, Nigeria will shine again.”
Describing the speech as a summary of impediments that must be cleared for Nigeria to grow and “delivered confidently and convincingly” Olaniwun Ajayi said Nigeria has remained a country blessed with talents but “where the best is yet to happen.”
Nike Akande in her comments said she was more concerned about Nigeria’s march towards rapid development; a situation she said would justify Jonathan’s expectation in the Conference which she described as a “landmark journey that will make us proud as a nation.”
In the same vein, Chief Femi Akande said with the elegant speech “full of candour” it was possible to see a stronger and more stable Nigeria arising from the Conference if the delegates remain committed and focused.
Olusola Akanmode demanded of the Conference to make suggestions for inclusion in the constitution regarding the need for timeline on deadlines for submission of budgets by the executive and passage by the lawmakers at all levels of governance.
Based on the President's speech, retired Justice Peter Akere said delegates must thoroughly examine why institutions worked effectively in the past, even under colonial administration, particularly in the areas of anti-corruption, revenue and infrastructural development but collapsed thereafter.
Felix Akhabue was of the opinion that the outcome of the Conference must clear the polity of mindsets of the past so that the country can move forward; adding that a deliberate decision by Nigerians to accommodate each other beyond ethnic lines would serve as the starting point to the greatness of Nigeria.
Former Police Chief, Bashiru Albasu, lamented the poor security situation in Nigeria from the far north to the deep south and urged delegates to view it as a matter of urgent national importance.
Former Chairman of the Peoples Democratic Party, Dr. Ahmadu Ali, said the speech delivered by the President should serve as a guiding principle to the Conference; he described it as a speech from the heart of someone who loves Nigeria.
Ambassador Adamu Aliyu told the delegates that Jonathan’s speech was monumental and indicated no hidden agenda.
Esther Andrew, a delegate living with disability, pulled the crowd to applause when she called for special attention to the plight of the disabled in the country and thanked the President for making them a part of the Conference.
She said the negative attitude of the society towards the disabled was not in the nation’s interest, adding: “we don’t need sympathy, we need empathy, we need support, we want to go to school,” although she said most of the educational institutions in Nigeria are not disabled-friendly.
When the Conference resumed in the afternoon, the issue of religion surfaced as two Christian leaders, Bishop Joseph Bagobiri and Pastor Emmanuel Bosun painted pictures of constitutional issues that have created the impression that Nigeria has a state religion.
In conclusion, Bagobiri said the conference must right what is wrong about the 1999 Constitution and that except the inconsistencies smuggled into the constitution were addressed, “then what we are doing here will not bring equity to all Nigerians. We should respect the sanctity of the secularity of the country.”
Bosun, whose contribution attracted a Point of Order which was over-ruled, said Nigeria was daily producing widows and orphans in their thousands because religion has become a manipulative tool used to cause destruction and that there was need for the Conference to take a critical look at the 1999 Constitution.
An environmental activist, Nnimmo Bassey, said Jonathan’s speech was a call for the delegates to remember they are in a conference to reconstruct Nigeria and that delegates need to bury their pettiness and look at issues that would make life better for the citizens.
Tunde Bakare said, “The President has made plain his expected outcome of this Conference. If our expectations are different from his, then we are in a jamboree. It appears Mr. President knew his onions and laid them bare that the greatest problem facing Nigeria today is the issue of governance.”
Former Governor of Bayelsa State, DSP Alamiyeseigha, described the President’s speech as revolutionary and statesmanlike because it captured issues that have bedeviled the country since its amalgamation in 1914.
For Mariam Jummai Bello, the problem of Nigeria lies with the women who have refused to bring up their children in a manner that would ensure respect for the law and focus on character development.
Although Conference Chairman and former Chief Justice of Nigeria, Justice Idris Legbo Kutigi had placed embargo on clapping, Bello’s contribution was heavily applauded when she accused women of pushing their husbands to engage in corrupt act as a short cut to luxurious living.
Assistant Secretary, Media and Communications
National Conference 2014
*Photo Caption - Ex-Chief Justice of Nigeria, Idris Kutigi, Chairman of 2014 Nigeria National Conference
[ Masterweb Reports ] – The contentious issue of adoption of acceptable voting pattern at the on-going National Conference in Abuja was on Monday resolved when the Chairman of the Conference, retired Justice Idris Legbo Kutigi (CJN rtd), announced the outcome of the negotiation involving 50 selected delegates from all parts of the country.
The decision of the negotiating team, read by the Conference Deputy Chairman, Professor Bolaji Akinyemi, indicated that after a heated debate and horse-trading, all the parties involved agreed on 70% majority votes whenever any issue fails to attract a required consensus.
Part of the resolution read: “…you will recall that Tuesday 25th March 2014, the adoption of the Rules of Procedure was deferred till further notice for wider consultations due to the lack of consensus on Order VI(4), Order XI(2) and Order XII(4)(e).
“Consequently, on Wednesday 26th March 2014, the Chairman announced that Principal Officers have decided to meet with some delegates to resolve the impasse. He authorized the Deputy Chairman to announce the names of delegates for the meeting.
“The Conference warmly welcomes this commendable approach to solving contentious issues and graciously approved the membership of the Committee, comprising delegates…The Committee met on 25th and 26th March 2014. Deliberations during these meetings were cordial.
“Delegates worked in harmony to develop and put to effective use the spirit of consensus-building with the national interest at heart. At the conclusion of deliberations, members reached a decision to amend Orders VI(4), XI(2) and XII(4) as follows:
“In the case of failure to reach consensus, the matter shall be decided by a majority vote of seventy percent (70%) of delegates present and voting.”
The motion to adopt the report presented by Akinyemi was immediately moved by former President of the Senate, Dr. Iyorchia Ayu, and seconded by former Governor of Akwa Ibom State, Obong Victor Attah.
Attah went ahead to congratulate the Conference Chairman and members of the negotiating team for saving the conference from collapse and avoiding the toga of a winner and a loser.
“I think we are getting to a point where we are making progress,” he said; as the delegates applauded.
It was also announced that at the meeting on the resolution of voting pattern, the issue of who should appoint committees’ chairmen and deputies was also discussed and a fresh decision taken.
Professor Akinyemi announced that although the matter was settled last week when delegates voted in favour of appointment by committee members, recent events have indicated that such approach would create fresh problems; among them inequality.
To calm the nerves and remove any kind of apprehension, he announced the decision of the select team to allow such appointment to be made by the principal officers in such a manner that it would create confidence and reflect demography.
He said it was also resolved that principal officers must apply the yardstick of experience in the performance of their functions and the fact that such appointments must cover all the 36 states of the federation.
Responding to objection raised by two delegates who described the decision as “a subversion of the will of the delegates of this conference,” the deputy chairman explained, “If we see a problem coming, I think we owe it to you to bring it to your notice.”
With this explanation, a chorus for adoption of the changes swept through the hall. When the question was put, the changes were unanimously carried without any dissenting voice.
Immediately this was done, Mrs Aladu Ibrahim moved a formal motion for the adoption of the Rules of Procedure or the Standing Orders that would guide and regulate the affairs of the Conference. It was seconded by Ambassador Hassan Adamu.
Tunde Bakare thanked the Principal Officers and the 50 delegates for saving the Conference based on the resolution of issues, which last week, had resulted in abrupt adjournment of plenary session.
He said by certain acts of omission or commission, Nigeria as a nation has constantly put the cart before the horse, adding: “we are full of mutual suspicion either between religion or region,” and that “Nigerians are expecting something different from this Conference. We should face the issues that confront this nation….”
The day’s proceedings had earlier commenced with an announcement by Justice Kutigi of the death of Barrister Hamma Misau, a delegate on the platform of Association of Retired Police Officers of Nigeria (ARPON), who passed on last week.
Immediately after the announcement, the Chairman requested observance of one-minute silence in honour of the deceased who was an indigene of Bauchi State. It was unanimously agreed and carried out.
President Goodluck Jonathan also sent a message of condolence to the Conference on the death of Misau whom he described as an accomplished Nigerian both in public service and in private life.
The message, signed by Secretary to Government of the Federation, Anyim Pius Anyim, also expressed condolences to the Government and people of Bauchi State and prayed God to grant the deceased eternal rest in the world beyond.
On the Conference Work Plan, a lot of suggestions were made. For instance, the issue of public holidays came into focus as delegates observed that sitting were scheduled on days nationally observed as work-free days and also asked for extension of time for committee sittings.
Delegates also raised the issue of work load for each of the committees and suggested restructuring of some of the committees so that the constraints of meeting the deadlines could be removed.
Conference Secretary, Dr (Mrs) Valerie-Janette Azinge explained that most of the issues raised had already been taken care of.
She said that at the beginning, there was the constraint of Committee Rooms; “In this premises, we have only 10 Committee Rooms. When we presented this problem to the government, it was agreed that we should rent 10 extra Committee Rooms outside. So, all the committees will be sitting simultaneously.”
Still on the Work Plan, Senator Mohammed Aruwa, Chief Sergeant Awuse and Femi Falana said the secretariat should take back the document and do more work on it because most of the time-frames attached to it had been overtaken by events.
Falana specifically advised that while this happened, deliberations on other issues could continue to avoid further waste of time.
Their position was overruled with a voice vote and the Work Plan adopted after several suggestions for amendments.
Mike Ozekhome advised that discussion on media should be distinctly stated and should not be hidden under another committee; explaining that even in the 1999 Constitution as amended, the media industry has a clear presence.
The afternoon session of the Conference commenced with the debate on the President’s speech. To avoid confusion, delegates were called to speak in alphabetical order although about nine of the 39 delegates called were absent.
Most of the speakers described the speech as inspirational, patriotic and a pointer to the issues that should occupy discussions and decisions at the Conference; and what to expect in the next 100 years of Nigeria.
John Achimugu said the Conference must not shy away from the issue of religion; describing it as an emotive issue but which in many ways has been a great source of perennial problems in the country.
He said delegates must be free to discuss religion and discuss it frankly because Nigeria has reached a point where “our society is now zoned to according to faith.”
Achimugu said the refusal of conferences to discuss the issue in the past has only heightened the differences instead of solving the problems; “I urge us under God to discuss this matter for the sake of ourselves and for the sake of our children.”
Senator Abdullahi Adamu described the President’s speech at the inauguration of the Conference as the “President’s best speech ever,” and that it set the tone for the Conference.
He said the Conference must critically examine and address the issue of corruption; and come up with imaginative and effective approach towards fighting corruption.
Elder statesman, Ayo Adebanjo said the Conference must make a clear break from the past by ensuring that issues are discussed frankly and not allowing the old prejudice to over-shadow delegates’ sense of patriotism.
Promise Adewusi described the speech as instructive and inspirational.
It was his view that leadership rather than the followers were responsible for Nigeria’s problem and that “while ordinary Nigerians want to live together, political leaders are united in their greed.”
Assistant Secretary, Media and Communications
National Conference 2014
*Photo Caption - Ex-Chief Justice of Nigeria, Idris Kutigi, Chairman of 2014 Nigeria National Conference