[ Masterweb Reports: Abayomi Awelewa reports ] - British American Tobacco Nigeria (BATN) Limited has restated its commitment to the successful implementation of the Lagos State Public Place Smoking Law, which came into effect on August 17. The company said that it would continue to support key stakeholders in the country to drive a fully compliant and well regulated tobacco sector in a transparent and responsible manner.
The statement came against the backdrop of a reaction to BATN's recent sensitisation of officers of the Lagos State Police Command on the Lagos State Public Place Smoking Law.
The company stated that it was surprised that a Lagos-based NGO would fault the sensitisation of enforcement agents on the recently passed Lagos Public Smoking law. Freddy Messanvi, Area Director, Corporate and Regulatory Affairs, BAT West Africa, said that the company believes that this was a task which such NGOs should spearhead.
Messanvi stated that help is needed from NGOs and other stakeholders to enhance understanding and appreciation of the law, and not a time to engage in industry de-normalisation tactics. Other issues requiring the urgent attention of all stakeholders include stemming the increasing tide of illegal trade within the sector and using the funding that the NGOs get from their international partners to build the capacity of agencies who work on tobacco control to ensure that there is compliance with stated laws and regulations.
He said that engagement with stakeholders such as the recent sensitisation event of officers of the Nigeria Police in Lagos was held in accordance with the World Health Organisation’s Framework Convention on Tobacco Control, FCTC, Article 5.3. The sensitisation of the Police was done in public and the engagement was transparently conducted.
In a welcome development and quite contrary to the norm, Lagosians have in recent times been empowered to understand what exactly the law says. The Lagos State Environmental Protection Agency, LASEPA, which is tasked with enforcing the Lagos State Public Place smoking Law, had embarked on sensitising Lagos State residents on the provisions of the law which came into force on August 17, 2014.
Recently, a public hearing was held by the Joint Committee on Health and Justice of the House of Representatives. Stakeholders at the public hearing welcomed further regulation of the sector but tasked the legislators to ensure that the legislation was balanced and enforceable. Pro-industry stakeholders at the public hearing also asked the legislators to ensure that there is balance in whatever law that is passed.
In recent times, stakeholders have asked NGOs involved in tobacco control to get more involved in consumer education and funding of research of alternative and healthier products for consumers, who insist on smoking as these areas are critically needed in countries like Nigeria.
The Lagos State Public Place Smoking Law has been generally acknowledged as a balanced law and one worthy of being a model for other such legislations.
1, Rainbow Drive, Peace Estate
Off Kudirat Abiola Way
Mobile: +234 803 390 5221+234 803 390 5221
*Photo Caption - A smoker
[ Masterweb Reports: Dr. Peregrino Brimah reports ] - Can you say Amen to my prayer? Please say ‘Amen.’ We failed to rescue our Chibok 234 girls and now we pray that they will rescue us. Please pray for the prayers of the Chibok Angels. Please say ‘Amen/Amin’ every now and then to the prayers from the jungles of Sambisa; for it is said and it is declared that the Good Lord hears and answers the prayers of the oppressed.
Psalm 10: (NET Bible) 8 He waits in ambush near the villages; in hidden places he kills the innocent. His eyes look for some unfortunate victim. 9 He lies in ambush in a hidden place, like a lion in a thicket; he lies in ambush, waiting to catch the oppressed; he catches the oppressed by pulling in his net. 10 His victims are crushed and beaten down; they are trapped in his sturdy nets. 11 He says to himself, “God overlooks it; he does not pay attention; he never notices.” 12 Rise up, Lord! O God, strike him down! Do not forget the oppressed! 13 Why does the wicked man reject God? He says to himself, “You will not hold me accountable.” 14 You have taken notice, for you always see one who inflicts pain and suffering. The unfortunate victim entrusts his cause to you; you deliver the fatherless. 15 Break the arm of the wicked and evil man! Hold him accountable for his wicked deeds, which he thought you would not discover. 16 The Lord rules forever! The nations are driven out of his land. 17 Lord, you have heard the request of the oppressed; you make them feel secure because you listen to their prayer. 18 You defend the fatherless and oppressed, so that mere mortals may no longer terrorize them.
The Lord has heard the prayers of the oppressed. He has heard the prayers of those we were forced to abandon. He has heard the prayers of those our toxic bloated government failed to secure, failed to rescue and denied us the right to bear arms to go and help. The Lord will deliver them and deliver us from the clutches of oppression. Their prayers, by the gravity of their oppression shall be the weapon that shall deliver not only them, but all of us Nigerians living under bondage. In the past, oppressed Nigerians prayed and the Lord seized the soul of our tyrant ruler. Today our hearts are impure, but not the hearts of our deserted Angels in Sambisa. Our daughters; your prayers will bring a radical miracle in this land. Your prayers will bring freedom! Your prayers will bring deliverance. Amen!
The Prophet of Islam said: "Fear the prayer of the oppressed, even if he is a disbeliever, for there is no barrier (between it and Allah [the God])." (Al-Bukhari and Muslim)
Something is happening already. We feel it. We believe it.
Dear daughters; dear Angels in Sambisa. Pray, pray, pray. We say, Amen, Amen, Amen.
Dr. Peregrino Brimah ( Email: email@example.com ) reports.
*Photo Caption - Some of the abducted Chibok girls
[ Masterweb Reports: Valentine Obienyem reports ] - There is always the ever-present tendency to see things from our own points of view. Subjectively-driven, each tribe in Nigeria considers itself as the leading light, the primus inter pares. This tendency is, however, not restricted to Nigeria ; it is a universal phenomenon.
In the Chinese myth of origin, they consider themselves, like the Jews, as a chosen people. They believe, parochially though, that God or the Divine Artificer fashioned man in a furnace as cake is baked. Whereas other peoples of the world were baked improperly, the Chinese people were a well-finished product.
Egypt is said to be rich in ancient civilization. A tale was told of a Greek who visited his Egyptian friend. During discussion, the Greek boasted that he could name his generations up to the fifteenth, whereupon, we are told, the Egyptian smiled calmly. Rather than argue, he took the Greek to his private chambers. There, he showed him the statuette of his generations up to the three hundredth. The problem with the Greek was that he forgot the possibility that other countries or peoples could be richer than they were.
The story of the Greek and the Egyptian illustrates the thinking of each tribe in Nigeria . They take it for granted that they are the superiors; the type of superiority that instigated the lunatic Hitler to try to exterminate the Jews, in order to create space for the “supreme” Arian race. InNigeria , the tribes look at and address one another in derogatory languages. Nigerian lexicon accommodates words such as Nyamiri, Ofem manu, Ofe Ose, Ngbati, e.t.c.
It is often said that the only uniting factor among Nigerians is football. But Nigerians, from the benefit of hindsight, are also united in their hatred for Igbos. They say that Igbos like money. In truth, I am yet to see the tribe that does not like money equally. If the scandal in the Senate (Mantu’s alleged demand for money from Mallam El Rufia to be cleared by the Senate as a Minister) were to involve Igbo men, tongues would have wagged on their phenomenal love of money. They say we like to be flattered. In truth, only the greatest saints are immune to the seductiveness of flattery. Some say we do not go to school. In truth, this is a fallacy of biased statistics. The truth is that JAMB statistics have consistently shown that Imo, Anambra and Delta are the leading light in education. They say that we are politically naïve. In truth we are because we do not fit into the Nigerian politics, which has remained conspiratorial and tribalistic.
The accusations of other tribes should not worry Ndigbo. Their problems with Ndigbo are understandable. Because of our resourcefulness and innate superiority of brains, we are easily objects of jealousy and envy. The other day, Governor Kure Of Niger state accused us of inordinate love of money. It has become fashionable for everybody, even those that walk on tiptoes, to vilify the Igbos unbearably.
But the hatred of Igbos by other tribes should not bother any right thinking Igbo man. What should bother us is the disunity among the Igbos. I have always maintained that the strongest incentive to progress is internal unity. When a nation is internally disunited, it will be easy to conquer it from outside. It will be easy for that nation to fall prey to the bad designs of its rivals. This, sadly, is the bane facing the Igbo man today.
Ordinarily, the question of internal quarrels is better settled within. It is disgraceful and uncalled for to wash our dirty linen in public. I consider it a bit out of place to start telling the entire country that all is not well with us. The truth, however, is that this internal disunity has so often been made manifest that it has become an open truth. The bombshell: All other Igbo States, especially Imo and Abia, hate the Anambra man. The hatred is such that, tongue in check, any fly that comes within the sphere of the radiation of that hate will fall dead.
The question has been asked again and again: What kind of man is an Anambra man? It is quite possible that Anambra people have over-exalted themselves; his enemies, including, painfully, many Imo and Abia indigenes, have slandered him. Both extremes must be avoided if a true picture is to be drawn. Let us venture a bit into describing the Anambra man. In this, I should struggle to be objective.
Anambra people are often men and woman of ability, gifted with fierce courage and industry; only so can we understand how they have continued to maintain their positions among a hostile people so overwhelmingly outnumbering them. They are sometimes coarse but jolly, and temper their piety with sensuality. They could be cruel, as manifested by some of the things they do. Their robust spirits make for bibulous humour rather than dry wit that drill their sense of logic and beauty and deny them the grace and subtlety of a people that live in abundance, with few troubles to torment them. There is a steady persistence, a disciplined industry, and a brute courage among the Anambra people. Even the lowly Anambrarians still have nimble intelligence, even when it is not highly creative in the field of thought; it is still capable of quick comprehension, adaptation and practical achievements.
If you pause for a moment, you will notice that in describing the Anambra man, I am describing the Igbo race. We are brothers and sisters, we are of the same stock, we are of sterner stuff than most people that have chosen to hate us. I am one person that believes in the equality of all the Igbo states.
Anambra is in the centre of a political storm today because some people take it as the engine room of Igbo politics. They believe that once it is destroyed, the Igbo race is conquered. The duty of all Igbo sons is to rally round Anambra. In this wise, Chief Orji Uzoh Kalu’s solidarity with Anambra people is commendable. I expect Anambra people to rally round any troubled Igbo State . This is the example of how Igbos should take one another.
It is disheartening to listen to anti-Anambra’s quips from other Igbos, especially Imo and Abia people, even among civilized circles. Have you paused for a moment to reflect on what such hatred does to the Igbo nation? Other tribes have common leaders they all listen to at any giving time. In Igbo land, some states reject a common leader because of his state. We cannot afford to remain a nation of misanthropes; that is simply doing violence to our progress.
Anambra, some say, has the highest number of distinguished Nigerians. As far as I am concerned, it is not Anambra; it is Igbo land. Ndigbo has a rich heritage, the heritage of love and excellence. It is the duty of all Igbo sons to strive to guard this heritage jealously, not through hate or rivalry, but through our resolve to see ourselves as brothers and sisters.
Upon reading this, some will question the rationale of foisting Igbo sentiments on the rest of us. On this, I owe no apology. Like me, most people believe in the superiority of their own tribes and everybody has the right to hold on to his opinion. In saying this, it is pertinent to remember again the remarks of a Moroccan traveller, who, on coming back from the tour of Europe ,exclaimed: “What a comfort to be getting back to civilization.”
Valentine Obienyem reports.
*Photo Caption - Map of Igboland (homeland of Ndigbo of Nigeria).
[ Masterweb Reports: From Abia State ] - Abia State Governor, Chief Theodore Orji, has said the opposition All Progressive Congress ( APC) , can not win a polling booth in the state in the 2015 general elections as the party " does not exist in Abia".
Governor Orji who was reacting to a recent boasting by Governor Rochas Okorocha of Imo State who said APC would take over Abia in 2015, said Okorocha is suffering from acute malaria even as he advised him to seek medical examination.
Okorocha who represented by his Deputy, Prince Eze Madumere, had while addressing a stakeholders' meeting of the South East chapter of APC held in Umuahia , said APC would sack PDP from the seat of power in the state come 2015 because " the state's fortunes have dwindled under the watch of PDP - led government".
In a statement by his Chief Press Secretary, Mr. Charles Ajunwa, Governor Orji reminded the Imo State Governor that "Imo people are still regretting their mistake of 2011 when he was voted into power under false pretense as a political messiah which he has proved not to be".
Governor Orji told Okorocha that most of his "policies and programmes which are neither here nor there have rather taken Imo State backwards" while he parades himself as a progressive leader.
" Your rescue mission has failed to rescue Imo and how do you think you can deceive Abians with your political rhetoric and gimmicks? People are now wiser, your tricks in 2011 cannot work for you again. Stop deceiving yourself South-east has no space for you and your APC in 2015".
The Governor also told Okorocha to " stop wasting Imo resources on his imaginary Vice - Presidential ambition but instead deploy them on projects that will benefit the ordinary man as exemplified in Abia ", adding that "very soon it will dawn on Okorocha that he has travelled deep into a political wilderness accompanied by sycophants who will soon desert him."
He said that contrary to Okorocha's propaganda, his PDP - led administration in Abia has posted some undeniable legacy projects across the state which "the likes of Okorocha will never be able to achieve."
He therefore, advised the Imo Governor to fight for his political survival as his abysmal performances so far in office has proved him to be a disappointment rather than the messiah he claimed to be.
Governor Orji assured that in 2015 PDP would replicate the victory it recorded in 2011 when it was overwhelming voted by the people of the state and South-east at large based on the antecedents of its candidates which they have continued to consolidate on.
*Photo Caption - Governor T. A. Orji
[ Masterweb Reports: Obinna Akukwe reports ] - Genevieve Nnaji, Nigeria's most popular and sought after actress in the ever growing Nollywood industry have demonstrated over time that audacity and tenacity of hope coupled with the grace of God can bring one to an enviable place in life despite initial difficulties and stigmatic experience.
Genevieve Nnaji, going down memory lane was that single parent at the age seventeen, put in the family way by an irresponsible prince resident in Lagos, who, according to reports, denied both the pregnancy and the paternity of the lovely daughter. Reports have it that the man came crawling back years later begging for forgiveness and seeking for love from both Genevieve and the daughter he abandoned.
Genevieve Nnaji was that young girl of seventeen who after some flings of sexual immorality, discovered, about four months later that she was pregnant.
According to her interview with a news medium years back, it took her mother
seven months to discover that her daughter was pregnant. According to Genevieve
“The pregnancy was seven months gone before my Catholic mum discovered it. She
couldn’t believe it,” How can she be pregnant when she was “very careful” according to her still remain a mystery to her till date. When a test confirmed it, her parents were disappointed but stood their ground against abortion. “I didn’t feel anything. I didn’t even know till I was about four months. It was there, but I was still in shock. I didn’t believe it”. She further explained how she blamed herself thus "I think I was pretty much hard on myself then than my parents or people. I was harder on myself, really. My parents reacted the way any parent would react – disappointed. I didn’t know. My mother discovered it for me. I didn’t know anything really. She discovered
it for me and it was too late, we couldn’t do anything and we’re Catholics and
I’m glad I didn’t do anything funny really.”
Explaining why she didn't want to commit murder and fornication all at the same time, Genevieve stated that “Getting rid of the pregnancy was an alternative then, but it was too late, because not until I was four months before we discovered it and so it was not what we could do, and my dad was like, ‘it’s a child for Christ’s sake.
God knows why he wants to bring that child into life”. We are Catholics and it’s just that conscience, you do wrong once and doing another would not make the first right. So, you either correct your mistake by doing the right thing. If I was pregnant, and then have an abortion, it would have been like murder after fornication! So, that was basically wrong.”
Genevieve with the scolding, rebuke, as well as resignation to fate of her parents, was able to rise up to become a shining star in Nigeria's contemporary film industry. Genevieve rose beyond the heartbreaking disappointment of irresponsible men, taunts of friends, condemnation of close family acquaintances, and disillusioned remarks from church members, to occupy an enviable place in the annals of the entertainment industry in Nigeria. The Abor-Mbaise , Imo State born actress from a middle class parent comprising a banker dad and a teacher mum made news between 1998 and 2002 when she became the wonder girl of Nigeria's movie industry, Nollywood. Since then she has won awards both locally and internationally and is being adjudged as the most popular actress in Nigeria. She is the most celebrated actress in Nigeria and had gotten rare reviews in international magazines and news media. She is however not new to acting, having featured in the then poplar soap opera "Ripples" from when she was eight.
This is where the audacity of hope young Genevieve came in. Everyone has one sad tale or the other to tell in life. While some are self inflicted, others are as a result of the deceptions and wickedness of men. It is easy to condemn a girl put in a family way by an irresponsible randy man, not man enough to own up to responsibility. While for some it is unwanted pregnancy, for others it is a divorced marriage and yet for others it is childlessness in marriage. Rape, early widowhood also carries great disillusionment. Some have been jobless for more than usual time and everybody in the neighborhood adjudged them lazy, suspicious, idle and every act of criminality in the neighborhood was attributed to them. That in itself cases self depression and low self esteem. Some were battered in a failed marriage and everyone attributed the crashed union to them. People make mistakes in life and it is expected that the next person who cares helps the fallen to stand. However, where nobody is willing to help, one must rise up, shrug off the disappointments and look up to God for a new beginning and surely with help from above, one is assured of a glorious bounce back.
A girl I came to know of in the year around 2007 was faced with a somewhat similar situation with our own Genevieve. This girl, a graduate of University of Jos by name Glory was betrothed to a man who refused to cut off ties with old girlfriend and after traditional marital rites began, the former lady resurfaced and the new one was abandoned with eight month old pregnancy. This girl from a decent Assemblies of God Church background, after traditional marriage, did not wait for church wedding before commencing some sexual exercise which resulted in pregnancy. The man abandoned Glory, after some domestic manhandling and she was forced to live with her brother to deliver the baby. With the help of highly understanding brother and equally understanding brother’s wife, she was shielded from a taunting mother. Also with the input of understanding gospel ministers and pastors God brought around her, Glory was able to pick up her life again with her lovely daughter and moved from jobless to a petty sales girl to a clerk in a construction site to an accounts officer in a thriving Bureau De Change and Micro finance Bank. In 2012, a man from Port Harcourt came and snatched her in holy matrimony. This homely and intelligent young girl in early twenties with lots of acumen upstairs would have been rubbished by an irresponsible man .
Another Lady by name Favour lost her pastor husband few months into the marriage in 1999 or so, then she was a student of Enugu State University of Science and Technology (ESUT). Though men wrote off the young widow of about twenty years with her four month old pregnancy, she put behind the widowhood, put her trust in God and became fervent in her church activities in Winners Chapel. Her good nature attracted some young suitors from where she prayerfully chose a handsome young man who accepted her with the son from the previous marriage. Both have been happily married since 2012 with three more lovely kids. Favour has helped lots of women having challenges in their marriage to find their footings, restoring peace to broken homes. Thus the devil that wanted to destroy he destinies of Glory and Favour failed woefully.
In contrast, a sad situation confronted me as I was stepping out of a commercial bank in, Abuja sometime around 2011. A girl who in my estimate cannot be more than 16 years of age and carrying a baby which appears slightly above one year plus accosted me. Both the girl and the baby looked unkept, tardy and distressed. This girl asked me for financial assistance so that she can go back to Umuahia , in Abia State and beg her parents to accept her back since her efforts to relocate with her Akure born runaway boyfriend had failed. This girl whose parent according to what she told me, were staunch Christians, was impregnated by an Akure man who came to Umuahia to do a sub-contract job with a firm. This man denied the pregnancy and as the contract was over he absconded from Umuahia. The parents of the girl were informed months later that the man currently owns and drives a taxi in Abuja and they threw their daughter and the son out of the house , asking her to locate the boy’s father and marry him . According to her brief narrative, she came to Abuja to
seek for her son’s father turned taxi driver but the man refused to be seen. All her efforts to locate him met brick walls and the man who should help locate the runaway friend was playing hide and seek, probably on the instructions of the taxi driver.
Having been toyed by her man's friends for some weeks, sleeping in dangerous
places with a baby boy,the distraught girl decided to go back to Umuahia and in her own words '' beg my father and mother to forgive and accept me back''. I assisted her with some thousands of naira and she embarrassingly knelt down on the kerb on a busy Gwarimpa Estate road in thanksgiving for my kind gesture, not minding that
passers by were equally embarrassed. I hastily disappeared from the scene,
pondering over her impoverished and pitiable her situation that a few thousands
of naira could bring such relief.
The world is full of mistakes, and people fall into all manners of traps that bring
regrets, embarrassments, denials and stigmatization. The devil uses such to
keep lots of people in bondage, destroys destinies and ushers in life of regrets.
Irresponsible men, women, cultures, norms, government and policies have brought
untoward embarrassment, pain, sorrow and damages to people but one must decide
not to allow such blur a glorious future.
The Bible states “Brethren, I count not myself to have apprehended: but this one thing I do, forgetting those things which are behind, and reaching forth unto those things which are before, I press toward the mark for the prize of the high calling of God in Christ Jesus.”( Philippians 3:13-14 ) I counsel those who found themselves in any situation that has brought some form of embarrassment, pain, depression, shame and stigmatization to take the advice of the Scripture, ask for forgiveness, forgive oneself, forget the past and move on with life. Parents, friends, family members, church members and colleagues must not hesitate to help out after initial corrective outbursts. All dogs eat shit, but the dog that carries shit in the mouth
is easily identified as the shit consumer, so says a Biafra proverb, therefore, beyond the compulsory initial condemnations, where necessary, those at the receiving end of irresponsible men, women and cultural practices needs all the support they can get. Where the support is not coming, the affected must not condemn self. Jesus said to that adulterous woman''Neither do I condemn thee: go, and sin no more"( John 8:11) and that should be our attitude.
Genevieve Nnaji is a classic example of how a young girl refused to give up in
herself, and with the support of disciplined but understanding parents, was able to overcome a painful past and forge on unto glory. She is the face of hope from hopeless situations. She overcame psychological, emotional and intellectual trauma to land herself a glorious future. Genevieve had shown that with God on one's side and with audacity of hope, a great testimony could come out of life's worst depressing moment.
Obinna Akukwe ( Email: firstname.lastname@example.org ) reports.
*Photo Caption - Genevieve Nnaji
[ Masterweb Reports: Ihechukwu Njoku reports ] - Nigerian Prophet T.B. Joshua of The Synagogue, Church Of All Nations (SCOAN) declared in his church service on Sunday 17th August 2014 that the killer disease Ebola currently ravaging West Africa is from ‘the pit of hell’.
According to Joshua, who led his congregation in prayer for the nations and individuals affected, time was up for the ‘strange ailment’ and life would soon return to normal for the affected countries.
“The so called strange ailment coming from three nations – Guinea, Sierra Leone, Liberia… satan is the manufacturer, the source,” Joshua defiantly declared to the faithful.
“Begin to capture the covenant of that strange sickness,” the cleric then enjoined the congregation. “Command that strange ailment to come out and go to the pit of hell, in the name of Jesus Christ!”
“Because of Christ, people of Liberia, Sierra Leona, Guinea, you are released,” Joshua bellowed, accompanied by the vibrant congregants in a service allegedly viewed by millions worldwide through Joshua’s Christian television station Emmanuel TV.
The controversial pastor boldly declared that God had spoken to him to pray for the nations affected by Ebola as its reign of fear was close to closure.
The pastor, cited to be one of Africa’s most influential individuals, decried the toll Ebola had taken on society, especially in the areas of kinship and kindness.
“People are no longer their brother’s keepers because of this strange disease,” he lamented, adding that if someone publicly collapsed from any form of sickness, people would likely abandon the invalid as opposed to lending a helping hand.
“Once satan takes love out of people, he has taken life. Satan is not happy that we are one; he is against oneness. He knows when we are not one, we can be defeated,” he fumed.
“The weapon satan is afraid of is love,” Joshua continued. “Satan can fight anything but he cannot fight love.”
The cleric then cited a poignant question asked by Jesus in Luke 18:8: “When the Son of Man comes, will he find faith on the earth?"
He added that the prayer Jesus offered for His followers’ faith not to fail indicated challenges would arise in the last days which would make many ‘abandon their faith’, Ebola being one such challenge.
Joshua made headlines this week in local and international media for sending 4,000 bottles of ‘Anointing Water’ to the Ebola stricken nation of Sierra Leone on the request of the government, alongside $50,000 in humanitarian aid.
Last week, Joshua had to debunk a rumour attributed to him that went viral in Nigeria claiming that bathing in salt water would prevent the disease. With over 1.2million followers on Facebook and 90,000 YouTube subscribers, it is easy to understand why Joshua is touted to be among Africa’s most influential individuals currently.
Ihechukwu Njoku ( Email: email@example.com ), a freelance Nigerian journalist, reports.
*Photo Caption - Prophet T.B. Joshua
[ Masterweb Reports: Intersociety reports ] - (Democracy & Good Governance: Onitsha Nigeria, August 15th 2014)-“Credibility of the Voters Register for Nigeria or any federating State or LGA thereof is not only a signpost of credible elections, but also a heartbeat of robust Human Development and Human Security direly needed now to wriggle our beloved country out of her present state of social toxemia”- Barr. Chiugo Onyekachi Onwuatuegwu, head of Democracy & Good Governance Program of International Society for Civil Liberties & the Rule of Law.
By the official information available on the official website of the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC), the second phase of distribution of Permanent Voters Cards (PVRs) and Continuous Voters Registration (CVR) will commence today being August 15th 2014 and on Wednesday August 20th 2014. The PVCs distribution exercise will last for only three days (August 15-17) while the CVR exercise is slated to last for five days (August 20-25) with the two exercises beginning from 8am and ending by 4pm daily. While the PVCs exercise will be conducted in all the polling units in the 12 States affected by the second phase of the exercise, the CVR exercise will take place in the electoral wards/registration areas collation centers across the country. In the case of Anambra State, for instance, the two important exercises will take place in the State’s 4, 608 polling units and 326 electoral wards/collation centers. The 12 States affected by the second phase of the two vital exercises are Anambra, Ebonyi, Delta, Cross River, Ondo, Oyo, Kwara, Yobe, Bauchi, Jigawa, Sokoto and the Federal Capital Territory (FCT).
A public enlightenment banner/notice being distributed and shared by the Anambra State Independent Electoral Commission (ANSIEC) reads as follows: “ PUBLIC NOTICE: COLLECTION OF PERMANENT VOTERS CARD. Date: Friday 15th –Sunday 17th August 2014. Venue: All the 4, 608 polling units where the voters registered. Time: 8.00am – 4.00pm daily. Note: The Voters has (have) to appear in person. The PVC cannot be collected by proxy. CONTINOUS VOTERS REGISTRATION (CVR): Date: 20th -25 August 2014. Venue: All the 326 Wards/Registration Areas Collation Centres. Time: 8.00am-4.00pm daily. THOSE ELIGIBLE: * Nigerians and Ndi Anambra who turn 18 years. * Those not registered in the 2011 registration exercise and 2013 Continuous Voters Registration. * Those with incomplete records like missing finger-print, missing pictures, name missing in the register, etc. Each applicant for registration under the CVR system should appear in person at the registration venue with any of the following documents: * birth or baptismal certificate. * National Passport, National Identity Card, or Driver’s License, or any other document that will provide the identity, age and nationality of the applicant.”
The importance of the two exercises is numerous to be mentioned. By the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria 1999 as amended in 2011, the INEC Establishment Act of 2004 and the Electoral Act of the Federation 2010, there are a total of 13, 483 elective public offices in Nigeria, out of which 1, 224 comprising 1, 152 State legislative offices and 72 executive offices belong to the 36 States; 11, 788 comprising LGA chairmanship, deputy chairmanship and councillorship elective offices belong to the 774 Local Government Areas (LGAs); and 471 comprising 109 senatorial seats, 360 rep seats and two presidential and deputy presidential seats belong to the Federal Government of Nigeria.
There are also 4, 017 top appointive public offices in the country spread across the executive, legislative and judicial organs mostly found in the Federal and State tiers of government in the country. This brings the total number of the country’s top public appointive and elective offices to about 17, 500. This is clearly captured by the Salaries & Allowances for Top Public Office Holders Act of the Federation 2002 as amended in 2008. By law, INEC is empowered to conduct elections into 1, 695 elective seats in Nigeria, while the States Independent Electoral Commissions (SIECs), under staggered legal provisions, are empowered to conduct same into 11, 788 LGA elective seats. For the purpose of the February 2015 general polls, which the two important exercises aim at, elections are going to be held in 1, 685. This is because 10 other gubernatorial and deputy gubernatorial offices have already had their polls conducted under staggered legal provisions occasioned by the Apex Court decision in 2007 (Peter Obi vs INEC & ors). The 10 exclusive gubernatorial polls were held in Edo State (July 14, 2012), Ondo State (October 20, 2012), Anambra State (November 16, 17 and 30, 2013), Ekiti State (June 21, 2014) and Osun State (August 9, 2014).
Challenges Before INEC: Borrowing from previous exercises such as the ones conducted in Anambra State in 2013, INEC has mountainous challenges ranging from administrative to personnel and machines. Administratively, the Apex Electoral Commission must lower its stringent conditions imposed on the target audience (registered voters and unregistered eligible voters). For instance, asking those that lost their voters cards to obtain “police extract or court affidavit” or both, etc can be very frustrating and has the capacity of discouraging them from obtaining their legitimate voters cards. Another area is the issue of limiting the CVR exercise to electoral wards/collation centers only.
This will deny hundreds of thousands, if not millions of unregistered eligible voters the opportunity of being captured in the exercise under reference owing to far distances and other artificial bottle necks. In Anambra State, for instance, rural dwellers will have to travel about five kilometers or more to locate their wards/collation centers usually located at LGA headquarters or conspicuous community facilities. Even in urban areas like Nsugbe “33” and Iyiowa Odekpe Layout, residents not yet registered as voters will have to travel distance kilometers to the Onitsha Prisons and the Odekpe Primary School respectively so as to be registered.
This is totally cumbersome and it has the capacity to deny them their fundamental rights to choose their leaders democratically and participate effectively in public governance and affairs. Also the three days mapped out by the Commission for the PVC exercise is grossly inadequate. The post polling unit continued distribution of PVCs arrangement proposed by the Commission is not enough remedy. The Commission should not only extend the time for the PVCs and CVR exercises but also create more centers across the country for CVR exercise. In the past, such exercises were marred by dearth of INEC personnel and machines. It is hoped that the Commission is adequately prepared for the two important exercises under reference especially as it concerns enough personnel and machines as well accessibility.
The issue of “missing names” occasioned by the Commission’s administrative incompetence has become a recurring decimal in the country. INEC’s ICT and pen and paper (POP) data management is still very poor. This has brought about a series of complaints ranging from missing names to in-erasure of pictures and other data of registered voters who successfully completed their “voters’ card transfer”. The watery allegation of double or multiple voter registration leveled against Mr. Willie Obiano, who is now the Governor of Anambra State, is a clear case in point. The failure of INEC in this respect is a clear violation of Section 13 (4) of the Electoral Act of 2010. The supplementary Section requires the “transferring and receiving INEC officials” to ensure that the previous data of a successful voter’s card transferee is clearly deleted from the Commission’s data bank containing the successful applicant’s previous data.
Task Before The Mass Public: Talking about the three major categories of “the public”: decision making public, attentive public and mass public”, the greatest beneficiary of the two important exercises is the “mass public”, which constitutes over 90% of the “general public”. As such, the duty lies on the decision making public (public governance bodies and policy makers) and attentive public (mass media, CSOs, church leaders, professional bodies, etc) to ensure that the two important exercises are a huge success by maximally benefiting the relevant segment of the “mass public”. The concerned segment of the “mass public” including artisans, students and traders are, therefore, called upon to come out massively so as to be adequately captured.
Getting registered as a permanent voter is one thing, voting on Election Day is another. It is shocking to observe that in the past five governorship polls held between 2012 and 2014 in Nigeria, the total number of those that voted compared to the number of registered voters is not up to 60% of the registered voters. Anambra State has the lowest voter turnout in the said polls with 25% followed by Ondo State with 40.1%; Edo State 42%; Ekiti State 50.32%; and Osun State 54.17%. Out of Anambra’s total official voting population of 1, 776.167, only 442, 242 voted. In Ondo, out of 1, 638.950 registered voters, only 624, 659 voted. In Edo State, out of 1, 555.776 registered voters, only 630, 099 voted. In Ekiti, out of 773, 776 registered voters, only 360, 445 voted and in Osun, out of 1, 411.373 registered voters, only 750, 021 voted.
This is totally unacceptable to us at Intersociety and reminds us of our earlier position that the “decision making public” as well as its “attentive counterpart” has not done enough to tame the chronic incidence of “voter apathy” in the country or any part thereof. There must be a paradigm shift from too much focus on “hard currency driven social advocacy programs” such as “poll day monitoring” that are usually selective, mercantilist, too academic or theoretical; to real public oriented advocacies such as aggressive and sustained pre election mass enlightenment advocacy programs.
For: International Society for Civil Liberties & the Rule of Law
*Emeka Umeagbalasi, Board Chairman
*Uzochukwu Oguejiofor, Esq., Head, Campaign & Publicity Department
*Chiugo Onyekachi Onwuatuegwu, Esq., Head, Democracy & Good Governance Program
*Photo Caption - Prof. Attahiru Jega, Chairman, Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) of Nigeria.
[ Masterweb Reports ] - The former Governor of Anambra State, Mr. Peter Obi has tendered his resignation letter as Leader of the All Progressives Grand Alliance and the Chairman of the Party's Board of Trustees.
In a resignation letter addressed to the National Secretary of the Party and submitted in the Party's Abuja office yesterday, Mr. Obi said he was resigning as Leader and BoT Chairman into which he was appointed in January 2014 by the National Executive Council of the Party, which, according to him, was yet to be ratified by a Convention of the party as stipulated by the constitution.
Obi cited family and personal reasons, but did not give details. He however wished the party well in her future endeavors, was reiterating the fact that he remains an ordinary APGA member.
Widely acknowledged as the man who kept APGA alive over the past decade, Mr. Obi had recently been denied appointment as a minister by President Goodluck Jonathan because he refused to defect from APGA to the ruling Peoples Democratic Party (PDP).
When contacted, his Media aide, Mr. Valentine Obienyem confirmed the development. In his words: " If you recall, my boss was nominated the Leader of the Party and the Chairman of her Board of Trustees in January. The nomination was yet to be ratified by a Convention of the Party, when he submitted his letter of resignation. Since the convention will take place next year, people have found it convenient to blame him for the woes of the Party on the reason that he had failed to intervene on matters affecting the party, not knowing that without ratification of his nomination, he had no platform under which to intervene. "
Obienyem said that his boss remained an APGA member, and would continue to support the Party at all times.
It will be recalled that APGA is presently witnessing mass exodus of her key members, who cite the appropriation of the party by one man as a reason.
*Photo Caption - Mr. Peter Obi
[ Masterweb Reports: Press Release For Immediate Release ] - Boastful Junior Minister of Federal Ministry of Education, Chief Nyesome Wike, a governorship aspirant on the platform of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), was today exposed as all noise and no substance as ‘Hurricane Amaechi’ blew across Wike’s place of origin and purported stronghold, Obio-Akpor Local Government in Rivers State. WIke’s loud boasts of being the political strongman of the area were exposed as tissues of lies by his own people as Governor Chibuike Rotimi Amaechi, the Chairman of the Nigeria Governors’ Forum (NGF) and State Leader of the All Progressives Congress (APC), stormed the local government area as part of his ‘Meet the People’ tour.
Before the visit of Governor Amaechi to Obio-Akpor, his Chief of Staff, Chief Tony Okocha, and Hon. Lawrence Chukwu, the CTC Chairman, had for the past two months toured the area and prepared the people for the visit through several philanthropic activities that earned the Chief of Staff the nickname, Chief MKO Abiola of Rivers State.
Governor Amaechi was enthusiastically received at each of the Wards by an unprecedented crowd. It was more of a home coming for the Governor, who used the opportunity to throw more light on his government’s projects in each of the Wards. Women – both old and young – chiefs, elders, men, artistes, political leaders, non-indigenes, the handicapped, youths, masquerades and even children all gathered to pay homage to a son who has redefined politics as agent of change.
According to the speakers while addressing Amaechi in most of the communities, “Developmental strides shall continue to speak for you, even in 2015 and beyond. The network of roads, schools, hospitals and healthcare centres, human capacity developments, empowerment of Rivers people by the State and Local Government councils, all these communities are beneficiaries. You have broken the jinx of underdevelopment in most of the communities in Rivers State.”
The turnout of non-indigenes was something else and, according to Alh. Usman Lamido and Mr. Chris Omerulu, who spoke on behalf of the non-indigenes, “We have seen the developmental strides in Rivers State. What you have done in the state has compelled us to say we will support you anywhere you go. We will follow you anywhere you go. Sir, your people shall be our people and our people shall be your people. We will follow you because you have established yourself as a trailblazer, agent of change, patriotic and detribalised Nigerians that have given us hope in a vibrant and united Nigeria.”
Hon. Ike Chinwo, a one-time member of the Federal House of Representatives and a political heavyweight from Obio-Akpor, observed that Governor Amaechi’s visit can only be described as a political hurricane and uprooting of any structure Chief Wike may have had in Rivers State. He further stated: “I must congratulate and commend Chief Tony Okocha for not only demystifying Chief Wike in his Local Government to demonstrate to the entire world that Chief Wike is just deceiving President Jonathan and his cohorts that he is on ground politically while he is just an empty noise-maker.”
Reacting to the encomiums poured on him in most of the communities, Chief Tony Okocha stated: “I am happy that since I assumed office as the Chief of Staff to Governor Amaechi, I have erased indiscipline, corruption, criminal acquisition, insubordination to the Governor, arrogance, nepotism and have promoted acts of excellence in the affairs of governance in the government unlike when Wike held sway as the Chief of Staff when he runs the office in a very unholy manner where corruption and other evil vices were the hallmarks. Most importantly, I have sustained the vision and focussed governance by the Governor; at least he now sleeps with his two eyes closed than when a blackmailer, saboteur and backstabber was the Chief of Staff.”
Governor Amaechi, on his part, explained at each place he visited that the tour is not political as he is the Governor of Rivers State and political leader of all the political parties in the State, including APC, PDP and others. He thus explained that he did not embark on the tour to campaign for any political party but to showcase his feats in all parts of Rivers State that include quality roads, model health centres, model primary and secondary schools.
Addressing the people of Mgbuesilaru Community, where he upgraded and recognised the Nye-Weli Chieftaincy Stool of Eze Ejike Wali to second class chieftaincy stool, Amaechi explained the role he played in the political appointment of sons and daughters of Ikwerre land and notable politicians. “I shunned ethnic politics in the Assembly when I was Speaker, which paved way for the appointment of Justice Iche Ndu as Chief Judge. I also supported the move for the election of Hon. Austin Okpara as Deputy Speaker of Federal House of Representatives,” he said.
Governor Amaechi called on eligible voters in every community he visited to participate in the upcoming voter registration exercise.
The communities visited were Mgbuesilaru, Rumuodara, Eliowhani, Iriebe, Elelenwo, Rumuokwurusi and Atali. Others were Woji, Rumurolu, Rumuogba, Rumuibekwe, Rumuomasi, and Rumuobiakani.
In almost all the communities, the people thanked Governor Amaechi for empowering the people of Obio/Akpor LGA through Sir Tony Okocha and the CTC Chairman, Dr. Lawrence Chukwu, in skills acquisition, provision of vehicles, payment of SURE-P, monetary assistance for business and trading purposes for widows and indigent persons in the communities.
Long Live APC!
Long Live Rivers State!!
Chief Eze Chukwuemeka Eze,
SSA Media and Public Affairs to the State Chairman, APC Rivers State
*Photo Caption - Governor Chibuike Rotimi Amaechi
[ Masterweb Reports: Pastor Ike Dike reports ] - As a Clergy, I will always view things in the context of the Bible. As most commentators have acknowledged, the Bible still remains a comprehensive trove of information and guide for people who need guidance, especially in spiritualism and political strategies. One would start wondering what the Bible has to do with political power. Yes, experts have posited that politics is all about acquisition and use of power. On a thorough scrutiny, you will find accurate accounts of power rumbles and intrigues in the Bible.
Though most of these accounts are about theocratic power, you will agree with me that power is power and always has to do with human beings.
In Israel of Bible times, the story of Saul is a known one. He was little known and at a point was only known and referred to as the son of Kish. Saul did not campaign or carry ballot boxes, he was divinely selected and anointed.
His disobedience in commandments from God put him into a huge disfavor. Saul’s early days were colorful. He was noted for rare achievements and almost annihilated a practice that opposed true spiritualism and the worship of God. During his time, idolatry and sorcery carried death sentences. He went as far as killing all witches and wizards to ensure the undivided worship of God.
When he lost face with God, he became desperate and wanted a divination on an impending war. As posited above, earlier in his reign, he killed all the witches but one survived and practiced in secrecy, fully aware of the dangerous consequences. Saul was desperate and subscribed to the services of a witch in the suburb of En-dor.
This is like some of our present politicians do. They involve in policy somersaults and extreme hypocrisy. Quite like a dog eating its vomit.
Saul went to En-dor and got a divination that gave him a shock that nearly killed him before going to the war front. In Saul’s words in Samuel Chapter 28, verse 15, ‘I am in sore straits as the Philistines are fighting against me, and God himself has departed from me and has answered me no more, either by means of the prophets or by dreams….’
Our politicians are desperate today, they take back their vomits and sign new deals most of the time on the enemy’s terms.
The above could be likened to one senator in Abia. This senator has legislated for more than two terms in Abuja and wants the governorship crown desperately. The zoning policy strictly adopted by Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) in Abia is in line with the party policy as enshrined in the constitution. This is equally in line with the staunch stand of the equity-loving Governor, Chief T. A. Orji. Governor Orji for many times has favorably campaigned for power shift to the Southern Senatorial Zone of Abia, but this shift doesn’t favour the senator and the senator is now carousing with a strange bedfellow. This is like riding the back of the tiger which as has been portrayed in numerous stories spell doom for the rider. The tiger by nature is voracious and carnivorous. Our rider will certainly end in the voracious belly of the tiger if caution is cast to the wind.
Power is nobody’s permanent right, life is not that way. There are times when people should withdraw and reflect. There are so many political options and positions but our senator doesn’t think of these. Some reasonable and concerned voters in Abia see it as fatal ambition.
The electorate should watch out. The chief consultant of this senator who happens to be a former governor has never delivered. He has volunteered his media outfit to the use of my senator in focus. He hardly respects conventions and sees everything through the colour of money. His mercantilist mentality is compulsive to the extent that he gains from any enterprise. It doesn’t matter who is involved whether it is the church or ten-year-olds.
Senator please, for your own sake and your family, be careful, nothing lasts forever. Please be grateful to God for the much he has done for you all these years.
Do not go to the witch at En-dor, remember Saul and his family, this piece may be prophetic. Your move is like a medical doctor consulting a quack or native doctor.
Pastor Ike Dike, Divine People’s Assembly.
*Photo Caption - As seen.