[ Masterweb Reports: President Buhari Inaugural Speech ] - I am immensely grateful to God Who Has preserved us to witness this day and this occasion. Today marks a triumph for Nigeria and an occasion to celebrate her freedom and cherish her democracy. Nigerians have shown their commitment to democracy and are determined to entrench its culture. Our journey has not been easy but thanks to the determination of our people and strong support from friends abroad we have today a truly democratically elected government in place.
I would like to thank President Goodluck Jonathan for his display of statesmanship in setting a precedent for us that has now made our people proud to be Nigerians wherever they are. With the support and cooperation he has given to the transition process, he has made it possible for us to show the world that despite the perceived tension in the land we can be a united people capable of doing what is right for our nation. Together we co-operated to surprise the world that had come to expect only the worst from Nigeria. I hope this act of graciously accepting defeat by the outgoing President will become the standard of political conduct in the country.
I would like to thank the millions of our supporters who believed in us even when the cause seemed hopeless. I salute their resolve in waiting long hours in rain and hot sunshine to register and cast their votes and stay all night if necessary to protect and ensure their votes count and were counted. I thank those who tirelessly carried the campaign on the social media. At the same time, I thank our other countrymen and women who did not vote for us but contributed to make our democratic culture truly competitive, strong and definitive.
I thank all of you.
Having just a few minutes ago sworn on the Holy Book, I intend to keep my oath and serve as President to all Nigerians.
I belong to everybody and I belong to nobody.
A few people have privately voiced fears that on coming back to office I shall go after them. These fears are groundless. There will be no paying off old scores. The past is prologue.
Our neighbours in the Sub-region and our African brethenen should rest assured that Nigeria under our administration will be ready to play any leadership role that Africa expects of it. Here I would like to thank the governments and people of Cameroon, Chad and Niger for committing their armed forces to fight Boko Haram in Nigeria.
I also wish to assure the wider international community of our readiness to cooperate and help to combat threats of cross-border terrorism, sea piracy, refugees and boat people, financial crime, cyber crime, climate change, the spread of communicable diseases and other challenges of the 21st century.
At home we face enormous challenges. Insecurity, pervasive corruption, the hitherto unending and seemingly impossible fuel and power shortages are the immediate concerns. We are going to tackle them head on. Nigerians will not regret that they have entrusted national responsibility to us. We must not succumb to hopelessness and defeatism. We can fix our problems.
In recent times Nigerian leaders appear to have misread our mission. Our founding fathers, Mr Herbert Macaulay, Dr Nnamdi Azikiwe, Chief Obafemi Awolowo, Alhaji Ahmadu Bello, the Sardauna of Sokoto, Alhaji Abubakar Tafawa Balewa, Malam Aminu Kano, Chief J.S. Tarka, Mr Eyo Ita, Chief Denis Osadeby, Chief Ladoke Akintola and their colleagues worked to establish certain standards of governance. They might have differed in their methods or tactics or details, but they were united in establishing a viable and progressive country. Some of their successors behaved like spoilt children breaking everything and bringing disorder to the house.
Furthermore, we as Nigerians must remind ourselves that we are heirs to great civilizations: Shehu Othman Dan fodio’s caliphate, the Kanem Borno Empire, the Oyo Empire, the Benin Empire and King Jaja’s formidable domain. The blood of those great ancestors flow in our veins. What is now required is to build on these legacies, to modernize and uplift Nigeria.
Daunting as the task may be it is by no means insurmountable. There is now a national consensus that our chosen route to national development is democracy. To achieve our objectives we must consciously work the democratic system. The Federal Executive under my watch will not seek to encroach on the duties and functions of the Legislative and Judicial arms of government. The law enforcing authorities will be charged to operate within the Constitution. We shall rebuild and reform the public service to become more effective and more serviceable. We shall charge them to apply themselves with integrity to stabilize the system.
For their part the legislative arm must keep to their brief of making laws, carrying out over-sight functions and doing so expeditiously. The judicial system needs reform to cleanse itself from its immediate past. The country now expects the judiciary to act with dispatch on all cases especially on corruption, serious financial crimes or abuse of office. It is only when the three arms act constitutionally that government will be enabled to serve the country optimally and avoid the confusion all too often bedeviling governance today.
Elsewhere, relations between Abuja and the States have to be clarified if we are to serve the country better. Constitutionally there are limits to powers of each of the three tiers of government but that should not mean the Federal Government should fold its arms and close its eyes to what is going on in the states and local governments. Not least the operations of the Local Government Joint Account. While the Federal Government can not interfere in the details of its operations it will ensure that the gross corruption at the local level is checked. As far as the constitution allows me I will try to ensure that there is responsible and accountable governance at all levels of government in the country. For I will not have kept my own trust with the Nigerian people if I allow others abuse theirs under my watch.
However, no matter how well organized the governments of the federation are they can not succeed without the support, understanding and cooperation of labour unions, organized private sector, the press and civil society organizations. I appeal to employers and workers alike to unite in raising productivity so that everybody will have the opportunity to share in increased prosperity. The Nigerian press is the most vibrant in Africa. My appeal to the media today – and this includes the social media – is to exercise its considerable powers with responsibility and patriotism.
My appeal for unity is predicated on the seriousness of the legacy we are getting into. With depleted foreign reserves, falling oil prices, leakages and debts the Nigerian economy is in deep trouble and will require careful management to bring it round and to tackle the immediate challenges confronting us, namely; Boko Haram, the Niger Delta situation, the power shortages and unemployment especially among young people. For the longer term we have to improve the standards of our education. We have to look at the whole field of medicare. We have to upgrade our dilapidated physical infrastructure.
The most immediate is Boko Haram’s insurgency. Progress has been made in recent weeks by our security forces but victory can not be achieved by basing the Command and Control Centre in Abuja. The command centre will be relocated to Maiduguri and remain until Boko Haram is completely subdued. But we can not claim to have defeated Boko Haram without rescuing the Chibok girls and all other innocent persons held hostage by insurgents.
This government will do all it can to rescue them alive. Boko Haram is a typical example of small fires causing large fires. An eccentric and unorthodox preacher with a tiny following was given posthumous fame and following by his extra judicial murder at the hands of the police. Since then through official bungling, negligence, complacency or collusion Boko Haram became a terrifying force taking tens of thousands of lives and capturing several towns and villages covering swathes of Nigerian sovereign territory.
Boko Haram is a mindless, godless group who are as far away from Islam as one can think of. At the end of the hostilities when the group is subdued the Government intends to commission a sociological study to determine its origins, remote and immediate causes of the movement, its sponsors, the international connexions to ensure that measures are taken to prevent a reccurrence of this evil. For now the Armed Forces will be fully charged with prosecuting the fight against Boko haram. We shall overhaul the rules of engagement to avoid human rights violations in operations. We shall improve operational and legal mechanisms so that disciplinary steps are taken against proven human right violations by the Armed Forces.
Boko Haram is not only the security issue bedeviling our country. The spate of kidnappings, armed robberies, herdsmen/farmers clashes, cattle rustlings all help to add to the general air of insecurity in our land. We are going to erect and maintain an efficient, disciplined people – friendly and well – compensated security forces within an over – all security architecture.
The amnesty programme in the Niger Delta is due to end in December, but the Government intends to invest heavily in the projects, and programmes currently in place. I call on the leadership and people in these areas to cooperate with the State and Federal Government in the rehabilitation programmes which will be streamlined and made more effective. As ever, I am ready to listen to grievances of my fellow Nigerians. I extend my hand of fellowship to them so that we can bring peace and build prosperity for our people.
No single cause can be identified to explain Nigerian’s poor economic performance over the years than the power situation. It is a national shame that an economy of 180 million generates only 4,000MW, and distributes even less. Continuous tinkering with the structures of power supply and distribution and close on $20b expanded since 1999 have only brought darkness, frustration, misery, and resignation among Nigerians. We will not allow this to go on. Careful studies are under way during this transition to identify the quickest, safest and most cost-effective way to bring light and relief to Nigerians.
Unemployment, notably youth un-employment features strongly in our Party’s Manifesto. We intend to attack the problem frontally through revival of agriculture, solid minerals mining as well as credits to small and medium size businesses to kick – start these enterprises. We shall quickly examine the best way to revive major industries and accelerate the revival and development of our railways, roads and general infrastructure.
Your Excellencies, My fellow Nigerians I can not recall when Nigeria enjoyed so much goodwill abroad as now. The messages I received from East and West, from powerful and small countries are indicative of international expectations on us. At home the newly elected government is basking in a reservoir of goodwill and high expectations. Nigeria therefore has a window of opportunity to fulfill our long – standing potential of pulling ourselves together and realizing our mission as a great nation.
Our situation somehow reminds one of a passage in Shakespeare’s Julius Ceasar
There is a tide in the affairs of men which, taken at the flood, leads on to fortune; Omitted, all the voyage of their life, Is bound in shallows and miseries.
We have an opportunity. Let us take it.
Muhammadu Buhari, President Federal Republic of Nigeria and Commander in-chief-of the Armed Forces.
*Photo Caption - President Muhammadu Buhari
[ Masterweb Reports ] – Igbo General Assembly (IGA) Spain hereby condemn in strongest terms the series of hate speeches and posts going viral in social media directed towards Igbos in Spain by one Mrs. Helen Mukoro (Helynn Harper). Mrs. Helen Mukoro in her articles posted on facebook and other media outlets accused igbos of bringing bad name to Nigeria. She wrote that all Nigerians in Spanish jails are Igbos, that Igbos never put off their eyes in quick and dirty money. Contrary to her claims, the assembly reiterated that Igbos in Spain and the world at large have always been peaceful, law abiding, blessing and light unto the. ....... Read More
*Photo Caption - Mrs. Helen Mukoro
[ Masterweb Reports: Ebun Asagbe reports ] - Isn’t it amazing that whenever some people call for the probe of Mrs. Diezani Alison-Madueke by General Muhammadu Buhari, they always find a way to drag the name of Dr Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala into the mix?
This is really unacceptable considering the fact that Dr Okonjo-Iweala has discharged her duties with a high sense of professionalism. Any perceptive observer would agree that every mess that the Petroleum Minister has created, Dr Okonjo Iweala has always been there to fix it. Take for instance the payment of subsidy to oil marketers which has been enmeshed in controversy.
It is controversial in the sense that the Petroleum Minister, who is supposed to have put in place necessary checks to curtail subsidy scam, allowed the scam to fester. Okonjo-Iweala, being a thoroughbred professional to whom integrity is of paramount importance, ensured that genuine subsidy claims were paid.
Okonjo-Iweala also ensured that marketers whose subsidy claims are suspicious are handed over to the anti-corruption agencies for prosecution. That is not the case with the Petroleum Minister. She allowed these marketers to milk the nation dry until Okonjo-Iweala stepped in to stop the rot.
It is also of note the effort Okonjo Iweala put up during the resolution of the controversy surrounding the allegedly missing $20billion in oil revenue. It was through her effort that PwC was appointed to carry out a forensic audit on the books of NNPC.
In no small way, the Minister of Finance has demonstrated that she can be trusted. She is a technocrat and a woman of strong will. She is by all standards, a distinguished economic leader both in the international community and at home here in Nigeria.
To show how highly esteemed she is across the world, she was listed among Forbes 100 Most Powerful Women in the world. She is a member of numerous boards and advisory groups, including the Clinton Global Initiative, DATA and the World Resources Institute. She serves as financial adviser to several international investment groups working in emerging markets.
In October 2005, during her first stint as the Minister of Finance under President Olusegun Obasanjo’s administration, she led the Nigerian team that struck a deal with the Paris Club, a group of bilateral creditors, to pay a portion of Nigeria's external debt (US $12 billion) in return for an $18 billion debt write-off. Prior to the partial debt payment and write-off, Nigeria spent roughly US $1 billion every year on debt servicing, without making a dent in the principal owed. It was suffocating and stagnating. The negotiations resulted in 60% or $18 billion debt cancellation for Nigeria from the Paris Club, the second largest in the club’s history. Consequently, it brought Nigeria’s external debt burden down from $35billion to $5 billion following a Paris Club deal which included an Innovative Discounted Buy Back Operation.
Furthermore, as a result of her professional experience, she also introduced the practice of publishing each state’s monthly financial allocation from the federal government in the newspapers. She was instrumental in helping Nigeria obtain its first ever sovereign credit rating (of BB minus) from Fitch and Standard & Poor's.
Job creation is another area her impact has been felt. At a World Bank meeting in Washington DC, she said: "We have an ambitious programme to create jobs. One of the several priorities is agriculture. We have very detailed plans for investment in agricultural sector.” She assured Nigerians that government would continue to pursue the agenda of growing local food aggressively to reduce food import. Dr Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala is not only a professional who knows her onions but also a true ambassador of Africa. She promotes the rich culture of the African heritage wherever she goes.
She implemented a comprehensive homegrown economic reform program that stabilised the macro-economy and tripled the growth rate to an average 6 percent per annum over 3 years. Her achievements as Finance Minister garnered international recognition for improving Nigeria’s financial stability and fostering greater fiscal transparency to combat corruption.
In truth, there are no bases for the volumes of accusation thrown at the Honourable Minister of Finance. She has worked to combat corruption, make Nigeria's finances more transparent and institute reforms to make the nation's economy more hospitable to foreign investment.
She should be commended for her dynamic, selfless and professional contribution towards revamping the economy. No Finance Minister in the history of Nigeria has done half as much as she has done. Her wealth of experience at the World Bank adequately prepared her to manage a diversified economy such as ours; as such she should be appreciated and not unduly castigated.
Dr. Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala is not a coward and has no reason at all to run out of the country because she is neither a crook nor a fraudster like some of her contemporaries. She comes across as someone who will willingly submit herself and her good office for probe because she knows she carried out her numerous responsibilities with utmost diligence and excellence. This can hardly be said of her fellow ministers. She ran her office in such a transparent and professional way than any of her predecessors. Hardly can you link her to any shady deal. Whatever she did was in the best interest of the country. Little wonder she is the toast of many global initiatives.
She is arguably the most competent and experienced economic mind of President Jonathan's administration unlike her infamous colleague who splurges on private jet flights, luxurious and wasteful lifestyles.
‘A prophet is not without honour, save in his hometown’ is still very applicable in our contemporary times. A veteran economist who is globally recognised shouldn’t be unduly denigrated. Dr Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala has painstakingly served this country; and thanks to quick measures she had taken, Nigeria’s economy would have suffered a nose-dive after the fall in oil price. She is indeed a patriotic Nigerian par excellence and an uncommon asset to the nation. She is clearly in a league of her own.
Ebun Asagbe ( Email: email@example.com ) reports from Ado Ekiti, where she lives and works as a brand consultant.
*Photo Caption - Goodluck Jonathan (Left); Mrs. Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala (Center); Mrs. Diezani Alison-Madueke (Right).
[ Masterweb Reports: Intersociety reports ] - (Parliamentary Accountability, Onitsha Nigeria, 18th May 2015)-Archaic Laws/Legislative Items Begging For Attention: There are numerous archaic Acts of the Federation and Laws of the States begging for legislative attention as it concerns their amendments or repealing. There are also hundreds of new legislative items waiting to be legislated into law for improved order and good governance of the country or any part thereof. Yet, the present legislative chambers at the Federal and State levels have turned blind eyes on them and stuck to the pursuit of illicit or ill-gotten wealth and other primordial interests. In the Criminal Justice sector, most of the criminal laws at the Federal and State levels have remained archaic. Except late minute (March 2015) passage of the Administration of Criminal Justice Act, which President Goodluck Jonathan signed into law few days ago; many others are left outdated.
The Police Act of 1930 labeled the NPF Act of 2004 is still in use. Others are the Firearms Act of 1990, the Robbery & Firearms Act of 1984, the Prisons’ Act of 1972, the Private Guards Act of 1986, the Children & Young Persons Act of 1944, the Juvenile Court System, the Federal High Court Act of 1973, the Custom & Excise Act, and the Immigration Act. There are also other Acts relating to the country’s Court and Criminal Justice systems and their procedures found inconsistent with present realities. The EFCC Act and the ICPC Act of 2004 still lack adequate penalties for convicted white collar criminals as well as other weak provisions or ouster clauses.
There are civil Acts of the Federation begging for amendment and upgrading to be brought in tune with present socio-cultural realities. They include the National Open University Act of 1983, the National Universities Commission Act of 1974 and the Nigerian Traffic Warden Act (Decree) of 1975, to mention but few. In the areas of trade, investment and management of natural resources, there are archaic Acts related to them requiring upgrading as well as new bills needed to be put in place. One of such important bills is the PIB (Petroleum Industry Bill), which has laid un-passed at the National Assembly since 2007. At the States level, similar cases are obtainable. Most of their laws are anachronistic and anti modernity. Some States still retain colonial period Magistrate/Area/District Courts and Coroner’s laws.
Abandoned International Treaties & Conventions: One of the major ways to rate and respect a democratic country regionally and internationally is its regional, international and municipal (full) involvement in the implementation of international multilateral or bilateral agreements. To do this, there are three processes called signing, ratification/accession and domestication particularly in the case of Nigeria. The non-domestication of these treaties and conventions render them inoperable and un-enforceable in the country or any part thereof. By Section 12 (1) of the 1999 Constitution: No treaty between the Federation and any other country shall have the force of law except to the extent to which such treaty has been enacted into law by the National Assembly.
Section 12 (2) states as follows: The National Assembly may make laws for the Federation or any part thereof with respect to matters not included in the Exclusive Legislative list for the purpose of implementing a treaty. By Section 12 (3): A bill for an Act of the National Assembly passed pursuant to the provisions of subsection 2 of this section shall not be presented to the President for assent, and shall not be enacted unless it is ratified by a majority of all the Houses of Assembly in the Federation. The above mentioned fundamental constitutional requirements and duties imposed on the National and the State Legislatures particularly the outgoing Seventh National and State Assemblies are grossly observed in breach and with reckless abandon. While the Federal Executive Council is charged with the task of signing and ratifying treaties, the National Assembly and the State Legislatures are constitutionally charged with the responsibility of enacting or domesticating them into law.
Despite the creation and existence of the Senate and the House of Reps Committees on Treaties & Agreements with public funds fully allocated to them as and when necessary; it is clearly observed that most of the country’s ratified treaties and conventions have not been domesticated till date. Domestication processes of any treaty can either originate from a Private Member bill initiation or Executive bill process. Combination of these has denied Nigerians rights and privileges associated with these treaties and conventions including right of individual citizens to complain and get justice. Treaties and Conventions include arms trade, environmental security and safety, trade and investment, maritime, offensive and hazardous technological and chemical substances, aviation safety, human rights and humanitarian issues.
Non-Domesticated Treaties & Conventions: Nigeria has one of the world best records of ratifying key regional and international treaties, yet it retains notoriety as one of the modern countries with least number of domesticated treaties and conventions. One of the country’s newest ratifications is the Arms Trade Treaty (ATT), which came into force on 24th December 2014. Nigeria ratified it in August 2013, yet it has not been domesticated. Another newest ratification is the UN Convention against Corruption of 14th December 2005, which Nigeria ratified on 14th December 2014. It is yet to be domesticated by the National Assembly. The Chemical Weapons Convention of 29th April, 1997, which Nigeria ratified on 20th May, 1999, is yet to be domesticated. There is also the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change of 1992 & its Protocols. Though Nigeria has ratified them, but they are yet to be domesticated. The same thing applies to the Convention on Biological Diversity of 1992, which Nigeria ratified on 27th November 1994. There is yet another important convention called UN Convention against Illicit Traffic in Narcotic Drugs & Psychotropic Substances of 1988, ratified by Nigeria on 1st November 1989. It is yet to be domesticated.
In the area of humanitarian treaties, Nigeria is yet to domesticate the UN Convention on the Status of Refugees of 1951 & its Protocol, which the country ratified on 23rd October 1967 and 2nd May 1968 respectively. The Genocide Convention of December 9, 1948, which Nigeria ratified on 27th July 2009, is yet to be domesticated. The Rome Statute for the International Criminal Court of 1998, which came into force on 1st July 2002, was ratified by Nigeria on 27th September 2001, but it is yet to be domesticated. The UN Convention on the Prevention & Punishment of the Crime of Genocide ratified by Nigeria on 29th July 2009; is yet to be domesticated. Conventions, Treaties and Statutes are legally binding on State Parties such as Nigeria.
Other humanitarian agreements that are not in practice, municipally, in Nigeria are the UN Basic Principles on the Use of Force & Firearms by the Law Enforcement Officials (28th August-7th September 1990), the UN Code of Conduct for Law Enforcement Personnel (17th December 1979), the UN Standard Minimum Rules for the Treatment of Prisoners, the UN Basic Principles & Guidelines on the Right to a Remedy & Reparation for Victims of Gross Violation of International Humanitarian Law, and the UN Basic Principles & Guidelines on Development based Evictions & Displacement. These sets of rules and principles are morally binding on Nigeria.
In the area of human rights conventions and treaties, the all important International Covenant on Civil & Political Rights of 1966 (ICCPR), which Nigeria ratified on 29th October 1993, is yet to be domesticated. Its first and second Protocols (on the establishment of an individual complaint mechanism and abolition of death penalty respectively) are yet to be signed and ratified, not to talk of being domesticated. Another important international covenant called International Covenant on Economic, Social & Cultural Rights of 1966 (ICESCR) & its Protocol, which Nigeria ratified on 29th October 1993, is yet to be domesticated. Others are the Convention against Torture & other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment (CAT), ratified by Nigeria on 28th July 2001 as well as its Protocol ratified on 27th August 2009. They are yet to be domesticated.
There is also International Convention on the Protection of the Rights of All Migrant Workers & Members of their Families, ratified by Nigeria on 27th July 2009. It is yet to be domesticated. Another is International Convention on the Protection of All Persons from Enforced Disappearances, ratified by Nigeria on 27th July 2009. It is yet to be domesticated. Yet another important treaty is the International Convention on the Rights of the Persons with Disabilities & its Protocol, ratified by Nigeria on 24th September 2010. They are yet to be domesticated. The International Convention on Elimination of All Forms of Racial Discrimination(CERD), was ratified by Nigeria on 4th January 1969, but it is yet to be domesticated by the National Assembly; likewise the Convention on Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination Against Women (CEDAW) and its Protocol, ratified by Nigeria on 13th June 1985 and 22nd November 2004 respectively. Till date, they have not been domesticated. To note also is the fact that 12 out of the 36 States of Nigeria have not domesticated the Convention on Right of the Child (CRC)of 1990.
ACJ Act Of 2015 As A Consolation To Nigerians: However, the only consolation to Nigerians from the outgoing Seventh National Assembly is the recent passage and presidential assent of the Administration of the Criminal Justice Act of the Federation 2015. This also appears to be the only Civil Society originated Private Member Bill; with the last being the Freedom of Information Act of 2011. With the amendment of the country’s archaic Evidence Act carried out in 2011, the legislative and presidential assent of the Administration of Criminal Justice Act is considered a major milestone by the stakeholders in the Criminal Justice Administration. The enacted Act seeks to repeal the Criminal Procedure Act, Cap C4 Law of Nigeria (2004) and the Administration of Justice Commission Act, Cap A3 Law of Nigeria (2004). Its aim is to abolish the dichotomy that presently exists between the Criminal Procedure Code (in operation in Northern Nigeria) and the Criminal Procedure Act (in operation in Southern Nigeria) by repealing both Acts.
The Act further seeks to establish a central criminal records registry with the Nigeria Police Force at its headquarters. The central criminal records registry system is established in Part 2, Section 16 of the Act to serve as a veritable database of all offenders in the country. The main foundation of the Act is to ensure speedy trial of accused criminal citizens and an end to judicial injustice using holding charge and detention without trial by the First into Criminal Justice System called the Nigeria Police Force (NPF).
Note: The concluding part of this Legislative Scorecard Appraisal of the outgoing Seventh Assembly of Nigeria & their States counterparts will be out in the next 24 or 48 hours.
Emeka Umeagbalasi, B.Sc. (Hons) Criminology & Security Studies
Board Chairman, International Society for Civil Liberties & the Rule of Law
Uzochukwu Oguejiofor, Esq., (LLB, BL), Head, Campaign & Publicity Department
Chiugo Onwuatuegwu, Esq., (LLB, BL), Head, Democracy & Good Governance Program
FOLLOW LINK BELOW TO READ Part 2 -
*Photo Caption - As seen
[ Masterweb Reports: Lawrence Chinedu Nwobu reports ] - In the United States, there is a strident campaign that reads “Black lives matter, ” these campaigns are reactions to the random and suspicious killing of Blacks by White Police Officers, the most recent being the slaying of Walter Scot execution style by Police Officer Micheal Slager in North Charleston, South Carolina. After videos emerged revealing the true circumstances of the brutal slaying of victim Walker Scot, the American public has been rightly enraged by the murderous act of the Police Officer who has since been arrested and charged. The shock from the cold blooded execution of Walter Scot and others before him has resulted in mass protests where the undervaluing of Black lives in America has been highlighted with the slogan “Black lives matter.”
But Blacks don’t live only in the United States, Blacks also live in Africa which happens to be their ancestral homes, but do Black lives matter in Africa? The crossing from Libya to Italy by desperate migrants from various Sub Saharan African countries including Nigeria in search for a better life is now most commonly called the journey of death and how true. Almost on a weekly basis hundreds of African migrants undertaking the perilous journey die in the course of the crossing. Even as hundreds and even thousands die hundreds more are embarking on the same hazardous trip, and this is on a daily basis. The International Organization for Migration (IOM) estimated that more than 3000 African migrants died in the course of crossing the Mediterranean in 2014. With the scale of deaths so far, 2015 is already racing to double or even triple the number of deaths recorded for 2014.
Yet, even as this apocalyptic scale of deaths by African migrants occurs before our television screens and news outlets, there is an eerie conspiracy of silence by African leaders. As hundreds are rescued, rotting corpses including those of children washed ashore and as European leaders are decrying the tragedy and holding summits on how to save lives and prevent the tragedies, African leaders are unconscionably mute. How could leaders whose people are facing such calamity be silent, while others are taking initiatives to save lives? How could African leaders have created conditions so bad in their countries that their citizens are desperate enough and willing to risk their lives to escape to foreign lands in hopes of finding a better life? Why is it that not a single African leader has expressed any remorse, regret or proffered any solution over the harvest of avoidable deaths in the Mediterranean?
The answer is simple; Black lives simply don’t matter as far as African leaders are concerned. The conspiracy of silence derives from that fundamental disregard for African lives. In the dictionary of the African leader, the commoners simply do not exist and government exists only to dispense patronage to the elites. This is why they created or sustained the inequalities, wars, injustice, deprivation, poverty, oppression, tribalism, marginalisation, insecurity, ethno-religious conflicts, misrule and corruption amongst others that forced out the migrants in the first place. The Mediterranean crisis has once again exposed African leaders for what they were always known to be. Africa never benefitted from much doubt as it concerns bad leadership and state failure on which the doctrine or idea of “Afro-pessimism” is premised. Those who dared against the obvious odds to argue or hope for a renascent Africa in the 21st century with good governance and caring servant leaders have seen their hopes dashed with the unfolding Mediterranean crisis.
It is even more tragic that as usual many Nigerian and African pundits have hypocritically added their voice to the campaign for the dignity of Black lives in the United States while Black lives don’t matter in our own climes. As the saying goes “charity begins at home” and it’s time for African leaders and all of us Africans to do some soul searching and begin to prioritise the dignity of life in our clime. Because in truth; the devaluing of Black lives in the United States and globally cannot be divorced from the devaluing of Black lives in our own climes. African leaders and Africans themselves have done more to devalue Black lives than anyone else. The ongoing Mediterranean crisis and the conspiracy of silence by African leaders is just another example of such phenomena.
Since the world is driven most often by perceptions and examples, we can’t expect to be treated very differently from how we treat ourselves. The world watches and sees how we do things and how we treat ourselves in Africa, which invariably becomes etched in popular culture and consciously or unconsciously reflects in how they see or treat us. We can only achieve the respect and equality we crave from others when we begin to give same to ourselves, if not the campaign on the dignity of Black lives can only go so far. Aluta continua!
Lawrence Chinedu Nwobu ( Email: firstname.lastname@example.org ) reports.
*Photo Caption – Map of Africa
[ Masterweb Reports: Intersociety reports ] - (Fiscal Accountability & Good Governance, Onitsha Nigeria, 12th May 2015)-It is the observation of International Society for Civil Liberties & the Rule of Law that time has come for the creation through an Act of Nigeria’s National Assembly of the Public Debts Management Commission of the Federation to centrally coordinate the compilation and management of the country’s public debts of the three tiers of Federal, State and Local Government systems.
Though the Federal Ministry of Finance on 4th October 2000 created a relatively autonomous office called the Debt Management Office (DMO) to centrally coordinate the management of Nigeria’s debts; formerly handled by a myriad of establishments in an uncoordinated manner; but it is now more desirable to create and have an all encompassing public debts management for the Federation of Nigeria. Also, the present Debts Management Office does not have legal tooth to bite. While it has substantially compiled and computed with fair accuracy the Federal Government’s domestic and foreign debt stocks, it has woefully failed to capture the actual or full local debt stocks of the 36 States and the FCT.
For instance, the DMO has for years used and still uses “estimates” in its categorization of public debts of Bayelsa State. This followed the failure of the referenced State to remit its local debt stocks with the DMO. The DMO’s substantial success in compiling and computing the external component of the States’ public debts stems from the fact that States cannot borrow externally without the Federal Government approval. But in that of local borrowings, the borrowing State Executive Council only requires the approval of the State House of Assembly to secure the said local loan leading to conspiracy and roguery of the highest order between the two at maximum public expense.
Till date, there are no records residing in the DMO; whether sound or unsound showing the local debt stocks of the constitutionally recognized 774 Local Government Areas (LGAs) in Nigeria. It has also long been discovered that the records of the local debts submitted by most of the 36 States of the Federation to the DMO are doctored and under-reported. That is to say that they are far from the actual amounts borrowed locally by the affected States. Owing to absence of compelling, mandatory and sanctionable body of law or legal instrument empowering the DMO to that effect, the body relies on persuasive and voluntary approach so as to get the States into compliance.
An example of the referencing difficulties facing the DMO is its inability to update and publicize the local debt stocks of the States for period of 2014 and second quarter of 2015 fiscal periods. In its March 2015 edition of update of the country’s total public debts, which puts the Federal Government and States’ local and foreign debt components at $63.5 billion or N12.06 trillion; the DMO noted that its compilation of the local debt stocks of the States (36 States & the FCT excluding Bayelsa State) for 2014 is in progress. Yet the same DMO has since updated the States and the Federal Government’s foreign debt stocks up to March 2015.
We had in the course of our recent investigation on the issue discovered that the amounts transmitted to the DMO by the States as their total local debt stocks are in many cases not up to 50% of what they actually owe local lending institutions. One of the ways to unearth this is to look at and calculate the statutory federal allocations received by each of the affected States in every fiscal year. When the statutory allocations of the referenced States are deducted from their total budgets of every fiscal season, it becomes easier to note the amount of loans borrowed particularly from local sources. Further to this is the fact that statutory allocations to the States from the Federation Account constitute about 70% to 80% of their non loan budgetary funds, while the remaining 30% to 20% comes from their internally generated revenues (IGRs) and donor supports. Lagos State is an exception because it is the only State in Nigeria with bulk internally generated revenues surpassing its monthly federal allocations.
Furthermore, to get a clearer picture of what a State’s local debt stocks look like, its budget size should be looked into and broken down. In Imo State, for instance, to get the picture of the total debts of the State in the past eleven years or 2005 to 2015 fiscal years, its total federal allocations within the periods should be calculated and deducted from the its total budgets within the periods. Imo State has budgeted a total of 1.269 trillion in the past eleven years. Its yearly statutory allocations from the Federation Account stand at average of N60 billion monthly and this translates to N660-N700 billion. For instance, between January and June 2014, it received a total of N29.7 billion from the Federation Account. Assuming its IGRs is N12 billion yearly in addition to estimated received donor funds of N50 billion in the past eleven years, the duo instantly translates to N182 billion. When this is added to N700 billion block federal allocations to the State in the past eleven years, the total non loan cash of N882 billion is most likely to have accrued to the State since 2005. When deducted from the total budgets of N1.269 trillion, a deficit of N387 billion is identified.
While the foregoing does not mean in the context of accuracy that Imo State owes N387 billion, it leads us to the fact that the State is heavily indebted, contrary to its present publicized local and international debt stocks which the DMO gave as N23.2 billion comprising foreign debt of $53M (N10.6 billion) and local debt of N12.6 billion as at March 2015 and December 2013 respectively. In Anambra State, the 2015 budget of N164.4 billion is very unrealistic in terms of factoring it into non loan-based budget. Whereas allocation of N110.9 billion to capital expenditures and N53.5 billion to recurrent expenditures is still commendable; its funding sources are substantially loan based. For instance, it is very unrealistic to for the State to realize internally generated revenues worth of N54 billion, which is more than projected statutory allocations of N48.4 billion from the Federation Account. The remaining N62 billion projected to come from “capital receipts” expressly means “loans and donor supports”. It is likely that the donor support component will not exceed 10% of the total figure. Also, Anambra State’s IGR is realistically in the neighborhood of N12-N15 billion per annum.
Because of indiscriminate borrowings available at local lending bodies, States have resorted to over-bloated budgets instead of cutting their coats according to their sizes. The foregoing instances in Imo State and Anambra States are also obtained in most States of the Federation and the FCT. These Explain why we are deeply worried over the absence of effective policies and actions in Nigeria to regulate the Federation’s loan borrowings, management and spending.
Creation Of Public Debts Management Commission Of The Federation: We call on the incoming National Assembly of Nigeria to enact an Act creating Public Debts Management Commission of the Federation. The law creating the Commission will ensure its membership is drawn from the country’s three tiers of Government and the FCT in representative capacity. Its leadership composition must also reflect the provisions of Section 14 (3) of the Constitution of Nigeria 1999 (equitable representation). The propose Act should make it mandatory and sanctionable within a specific time frame for the three tiers of government particularly States and the LGAs to furnish the Commission with full details of their local debt stocks. One of the sanctions will be the use of order of the court of competent jurisdiction to temporarily freeze the accounts of the defaulting State, particularly any State that doctors or under-reports its debt stocks.
There should be a provision in the Act as well compelling all local lending institutions including commercial banks to independently furnish the Commission periodically with details of loans given to the States/LGAs. The Act should expand in definition and scope the public debts to include unpaid workforce-retired and serving wage arrears including pensions, allowances, salaries and gratuities running into six months and years. Judgment and MDAs debts should also be captured; likewise contract debts for completed and certified public contracts all for their effective management and liquidation.
Katsina State Is Not A Debts Free State: Contrary to a recent public comment credited to the former Chairman of EFCC, Malam Nuhu Ribadu to the effect that outgoing Governor Ibrahim Shehu Shema of Katsina State is only the governor in Nigeria that will be leaving office without public debts, we wish to state clearly that Malam Nuhu Ribadu lied. It is not true that the outgoing Governor is leaving a debt free Katsina State, but it may be correct to say that Katsina State based on information available at the DMO is not a heavily indebted State in Nigeria. Katsina State presently owes a total sum of N15.6 billion comprising external loan of N$78.9 million (N14.8B) and local debts of N269 million. This figure does not include the 2014/2015 component of the local debts of the States in Nigeria that are yet to be updated by the Debts Management Office.
Be that as it may, if at the end, it is found that Katsina State does not have any outstanding local debt other than the foregoing, then its outgoing Governor deserves to be commended at all times with a befitting award as one of the very few non serial borrower governors in Nigeria.
Fashola’s Huge Debts Overshadowed His Achievements In Office: Contrary to celebrations going on in some quarters of Lagos State over the achievements in office of outgoing Governor Babatunde Raji Fashola, SAN; we wish to observe that huge debts of N316 billion incurred under his eight year-administration has dwarfed his achievements under reference. A governor who generated N2.433 trillion in eight years and spent N2.769 trillion with only N1.1 trillion of the huge sum channeled into execution of key infrastructures and provision of social services; as a matter of fact, has nothing to celebrate. This is more so when a staggering sum of over N1.6 trillion got liquidated into recurrent expenditures. Our question is: with high level of urbanization in Lagos State, which of its virgin lands played host to 262 new roads that were built by the outgoing administration as claimed? Is it not correct to say 262 existing roads were rehabilitated; instead of 262 new roads were built?
However, the decision of the outgoing Governor of Lagos State to heed to our clarion call of letting out publicly his governance scorecard is commendable at all times. It remains our irrevocable position that Lagos State under Mr. Babatunde Fashola, SAN, ought not to enmesh the State into serial borrowings. When it upgraded its IGRs from N600 million monthly in 1999 to over N20 billion per month from 2007 till date, the State became a reference point. A State like Anambra State at a point sent a team to go to the State to learn its IGR compilation and collection success. Yet, in spite of this enviable feat, the State messed up by earning notoriety as Nigeria’s most indebted State and Africa’s ocean of poverty in the midst of plenty. The worst of it all is that the referenced loans are not capable of repaying themselves.
This, notwithstanding, the outgoing Fashola’s administration will be remembered as an administration that made Lagos State to have the most modern and advanced body of State laws in Nigeria. It is a truism that a number of laws both criminal and civil in the State are more upgraded and advanced than their federal counterparts. The major challenge facing the incoming Ambode administration lies on the State’s huge debts of over N500 billion including N316 billion incurred by the outgoing Fashola administration. The incoming administration must avoid further borrowings and devise means of liquidating the existing ones as well as restricting its public expenditures to its non loan earnings.
Emeka Umeagbalasi, B.Sc. (Hons) Criminology & Security Studies
Board Chairman, International Society for Civil Liberties & the Rule of Law
Uzochukwu Oguejiofor, Esq., (LLB, BL), Head, Campaign & Publicity Department
Chiugo Onwuatuegwu, Esq., (LLB, BL), Head, Democracy & Good Governance Program
*Photo Caption - As seen.
[ Masterweb Reports: Olalekan Adigun reports ] - Ever since Pierre Nkurunziza, President of Burundi, declared his intention to run for a third five-year term, things have taken a different shape in the East African Country. Orders are no longer Order. Things appear to be falling apart.
The recent military coup(or rumoured coup on 13 May, 2015) is “welcomed” in some quarters as having the potential to calm the heightened tensions across the country. This could only expose the delicate balance on which the country’s political structure is based.
The Rwandan foreign affairs minister some days ago expressed her fears about the politically-charged Burundi. She expressed such fears in the light of the Rwandan 1994 crises which led more than a million people dead, and another million injured, homeless or permanently incapacitated. It does not take much to know that there are similarities between both countries. Like Rwanda, Burundi is dominated by the Hutus and the Tutsis. The hostilities involving both groups have been well documented. In fact, the Rwandan Patriotic Front (RPF), the Tutsi militia group led by, Paul Kagame Rwandan current president, trained in Burundi when the situation in Rwanda did not favour their existence in Rwanda.
For those who think the reported military coup will reduce tension, I have another opinion. The complexities involved in the crises are just too numerous to reduce to one factor. Who would have predicted a radio presentation would have left more than a million dead in Rwanda in 1994?
It appears some analyst hold a “reductionist” views on conflict management. These people tend to forget the fact that the military could not prevent the occurrence of the Nigerian Civil War(1967-70). Conflict, like water will always express itself. The case in Burundi is an accumulation of issues that have piled up over time since the 1993-95 conflicts.
The tension in the country is in fact needless in the light of the present political situation is just needless. The situation would be cooled down if the president could just drop his toga of addiction to power and save the country from this needless political turmoil.
It is on this basis that I join other African patriots to condemn unequivocally, the reported Burundi military misadventure in this dangerous period in the country’s history. Military coups ended with the 20th century. This is not a legitimate ground for President Nkurunziza’s third term attempt, an act which portrays Africans as undisciplined, uncivilised and stone-aged people.
Much lives have been lost to this needless conflict already, we cannot afford more losses. I can only pray for profound peace in Burundi and beyond.
Olalekan Waheed Adigun ( Tel: +2348136502040, +2347081901080; Email: email@example.com ), writer, philosopher, academician, political risk analyst and researcher reports from Lagos, Lagos State, Nigeria.
*Photo Caption - Map of Burundi
[ Masterweb Reports: Paul C Nwabuikwu reports ] - Contrary to reports by Premium Times and some other media, the Coordinating Minister for the Economy and Minister of Finance, Dr Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala has not disowned PriceWaterHouse Coopers, the international audit firm which carried out the recent audit of the alleged unaccounted for $20 billion.
This is because the forensic audit was actually proposed by Dr Okonjo-Iweala as the best way to get to the truth following the disagreement (and widely conflicting figures) between former CBN Governor (and current Emir of Kano) Malam Sanusi Lamido Sanusi and the NNPC over Sanusi’s allegation of unaccounted for funds.
Her proposal was accepted by President Goodluck Jonathan as well as the Senate, and the President subsequently directed the Auditor General of the Federation to lead the work. The Auditor-General later appointed PwC to carry out the audit.
Dr Okonjo-Iweala therefore respects the process which produced the audit.
But requesting the audit is of course not the same thing as hiring the auditor. This was why we made it clear in our last press release that the suit filed against Dr Okonjo-Iweala before a Lagos High Court by SIAO Partners alleging that she appointed PwC to carry out the audit is frivolous and uninformed.
We urge the relevant media to update their information based on this clarification. Many thanks.
Paul C Nwabuikwu, Special Adviser to the Coordinating Minister of the Economy and Minister of Finance reports.
*Photo Caption - Dr Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala
[ Masterweb Reports: Intersociety reports ] - (Democracy & Good Governance, Onitsha Nigeria, 25th April 2015)-The 2015 General Elections with their supplementary segments; involving one Presidential, 29 Gubernatorial, 109 Senatorial, 360 House of Reps and 1,152 State Legislative polls, have come and gone. What lies on the table of the out-going governors and the Presidency is democratic accountability and stock taking. On 19th April 2015, we (International Society for Civil Liberties & the Rule of Law) issued a public statement titled: “Revisiting & Institutionalizing Obinomics Governance Approach As A Standard Benchmark For New Governors In Nigeria”. The Obinomics remains an indisputable standard of measurement for public governance accountability in Nigeria. It involves the beginning and end of a democratic governance process.
How Obinomics Statement Unsettled Corrupt & Failed Governors: The referenced statement not only received wide readership within and outside Nigeria, but it also received gloomy ovations from the loyalists of some, if not many gubernatorial office holders in the country who saw it as an attempt to ridicule their bosses and incite the public against them. The jittery disposition of the referenced gubernatorial aides and their bosses’ camps is not unexpected. This is more so when public governance in Nigeria is largely dominated by psychology of politics (use of public sentiments and social anomalies to gain power for the purpose of running deceitful, deficit and mercantilist governance).
Governance Disasters In The Fourth Democratic Republic: The 1999 return to civilian rule in Nigeria saw military apologists, military retirees and white collar criminals including drug barons and couriers moving in droves, hijacking most of the country’s 13,483 elective public offices comprising 11, 788 LGA chairmen, deputies and councilors (8,692 councilors and 3,096 executive chairmen, deputy chairmen, etc) of the country’s constitutionally recognized 774 Local Government Areas (LGAs); 72 State governors and their deputies, 360 Federal Reps, 109 Senators, 1, 152 State lawmakers and the President and the Vice President.
The elected public office holders under reference also ensured that their likes dominated the country’s 4,070 top public appointive offices. For records, there are a total of 17, 500 top elective and appointive public offices in Nigeria recognized in the Salaries & Allowances for Top Public Office Holders’ Act of Nigeria 2002 as amended. The top public offices comprise 472 federal executives, 172 federal top judicial officers, 109 senators, 360 federal House members, the President and the Vice President, 36 State Governors, 36 State Deputy Governors, 1, 152 State lawmakers, 2, 664 State executives and 762 State top judicial officers.
The inglorious entrance of the referenced military apologists, military retirees and white collar criminals as well as their appointed puppets into Nigeria’s hallowed public governance offices brought to bear the era of disastrous governance in Nigeria’s Fourth Democratic Republic. A disastrous legacy of electoral banditry and rigging, judicial corruption, State sponsored violence, governance thievery and civil unrest was put in place leading to public governance being left in the hands of criminals and renegades. While the criminal class took the center stage in governance, the noble class stayed away for fear of contamination and violence against their persons.
As a result, public governance in the country became shapeless and directionless. Service to humanity became replaced by consumption and profligacy. Attempts by few members of the noble class to make an inroad into democratic governance were crudely resisted by the criminal class who also visited the former with death and threats of unimaginable proportions.
Obinomics As Standard Of Governance Accountability Measurement: One of the few exceptions to the democratic governance disasters in Nigeria’s Fourth Republic was the Obinomics governance concept in Anambra State. For records, Obinomics is a totality of democratic governance style used in Anambra State under former Governor Peter Obi between March 17, 2006 and March 17, 2014. It has electoral, judicial, social and economic elements and founded on input and output legitimacies. In other words, it is a democratic government that has beginning and an end. It fought enemies of democracy not through the Yorean eye for eye, but through political civility, tolerance, accountability, creativity and decency. It met the State in a state of barrenness, parasitism, mal-administration and fiscal deficit and left it in a state of self-sustenance and buoyancy as well as governance integrity and credit. It ended with a world class scorecard and stewardship contained in a 500-page book.
Governance or democratic accountability or stewardship is a leadership stock taking containing the true state of governance in the executive arm of government usually laid before the public documentarily towards the end of tenure. It involves quantum of services to humanity or fulfillment of social contract obligations delivered to the public by those elected to serve. There are credit and deficit democratic accountabilities or stewardships. Governors who run status quo or establishment governance are usually credited with deficit governance accountability whereas governors that run extra establishment or creative/innovative governance always produce credit or positive governance or democratic accountability.
The governance stewardship under reference is such that contains exploits or otherwise made in education, physical and key infrastructures, environment, health, transport, tangible and intangible security, entertainment, human rights, rule of law, job creation, private sector, investments, economy, etc. It also involves governance costs, financial receipts, loans borrowed or credits received, cleared or un-cleared workers welfare arrears, total unpaid or paid domestic and foreign loans, reasons behind the borrowings, contractors’ arrears on completed jobs as well as cash or otherwise left in government coffers.
What Out-going Governors & Ors Must Do: In the light of the foregoing, therefore, we challenge all the out-going governors in Nigeria to be excellent enough to prepare and present their accounts of stewardship to their States and the generality of Nigerians before their official handover on 29th May 2015. The affected governors are those completing their eight years in office and those who lost their second tenures. Failure of the affected governors in whole or in part to heed to this democratic clarion call simply means that they are bequeathing a disastrous legacy of governmental banditry and kleptomania to their various States and the citizens of Nigeria. Because anything that has a beginning must have an end, the affected governors are inexcusably tasked to give their governance a direction and a destination by articulating for public reading, consumption and judgment as well as for eternal records how they governed their States.
By Social Contract principles, the governors under reference are obligated to govern and render public account of their leaderships. By Section 13 of the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria 1999, under Fundamental Objectives & Directive Principles of State Policy, it commands all authorities in Nigeria including the in-coming and out-going governors as follows: “it shall be the duty and responsibility of all organs of government, and of all authorities and persons, exercising legislative, executive and judicial powers, to conform to, observe and apply the provisions of this Chapter of the Constitution”.
The Chapter Two of the Constitution under reference is Nigeria’s version of Social Contract obligations for all its elected public office holders including the in-coming and out-going governors. This sacred demand of ours is also extended to the out-going President and headships of the National Assembly and the State Houses of Assembly. The N250M & N150M quarterly allocations to the Senate President and the House of Reps Speaker in the form of overheads should be publicly accounted for; likewise all constituency projects funds of the 469 federal lawmakers and the 1,152 State lawmakers.
At the Presidency, Nigerians must publicly be put in the know of its stewardship. In 2007, for instance, the Yar’Adua/Jonathan presidency inherited $15.5 billion cumulative debts comprising foreign debts of $3.5 billion and local debts of N1.8 trillion or about $12 billion (N150.00 per US$); today, it is bequeathing to Nigeria and Nigerians a whopping sum of $55.5 billion according to its official records; showing that it has borrowed over $40 billion since then. Nigerians collectively demand to know how the earth-shaking loans were spent and conditions for their borrowing as well as the totality of its governance accountability.
Roguish Finances Of Various States: This sacred demand of ours is further necessitated by shocking discoveries we made in the course of our recent investigations on the finances of the States in Nigeria; whereby most of the States were found enmeshed in serial borrowings and other indebtedness. Public financial records of the affected States as it concerns local borrowings were also found roguish and distorted. Many of the States under reference were found owing their retired and serving workforces billions of naira. Bauchi State, for instance, owes its workforce about N11billion. For governors completing their eight years tenures, they are found in Lagos, Rivers, Cross Rivers, Akwa Ibom, Delta, Abia, Ebonyi, Enugu, Niger, Benue, Plateau, Kano, Kaduna, Adamawa, etc. For single term governors, they are found in those States won by the former federal opposition party.
Lagos State As A Case Study: In Lagos State, out-going Governor Babatunde Fashola who prides himself as Mr. Clean Governor should clearly come clean publicly by rendering his stewardship of the State he ran for eight years. Apart from public knowledge of the fact that his State is the most indebted State in Nigeria with official local and foreign debts of over N512 billion or about $2.6 billion (N200.00 per US$) comprising local debts of N278.8 billion (DMO December 2013) and foreign debts of $1. 169 billion or N234 billion (DMO December 2014); he should tell Lagosians and Nigerians where the heavy loans were channeled into and what necessitated the huge loans in view of the fact that his State generates average of N22 billion monthly and N270-N300 billion yearly from its internally generated revenues excluding its huge federal allocations with annual average of N100 billion as well as other statutory non loan earnings.
The out-going Governor under reference also owes Lagosians and Nigerians an explanation as it concerns the monthly wage bill of the State and the state of public infrastructures and social services in the State. He has to come clean publicly by disclosing in an excellent manner the true picture of the State’s local debts stocks. This is in view of the fact that they have not been updated by the Debts Management Office (DMO) since January 2014; a period of 11/4 years.
Out-going Governor Babatunde Fashola’s account of stewardship under firm demand of ours should be excellent enough to answer the following noble questions: How much does Lagos State actually owe in debts locally? Is Lagos State the best State in Nigeria in terms of provision and maintenance of key public infrastructures? Does the State parade the best medical facilities and personnel in the country? What about the costs of medical treatment and public education in the State? Through its Independent Power Project, is it the best State in Nigeria in terms of electro-density? How many children are children of the street and children in the street in Lagos State? What about its housing scheme and how many citizens still sleep under the bridges in the State? In whose possession are public properties in Lagos? Are they in public hands or hands of thieving individuals and entities? What is the state of road network and its maintenance in the State? Is Lagos State Africa’s ocean of poverty or richness? What exactly is the monthly wage bill of Lagos State? Is the cash left in the State coffers, if any, greater or less than its total debts? How much is the State’s liquid investments, if any, within and outside the State?
Governor Babatunde Fashola as a lawyer was appointed into the government of Mr. Ahmed Bola Tinubu in 2002 and he was reported to have to gone to the Alahausa Government House for his SA appointment with a 200 Mercedes Flat Booth car and a Sagem Mobile phone. If this is true as once revealed by the Afenifere Socio-cultural group per Mr. Yinka Odumakin; Governor Fashola owes Nigerians a duty and should come clearly clean publicly by disclosing his current assets and liabilities visa viz his actual worth in 2002. Other out-going governors and presidency under reference should also do same.
Rivers State As Another Case In Point: In Rivers State, out-going Governor Rotimi Amechi, who ran the State for eight years on account of judicial coronation; owes the people of Rivers State and Nigerians detailed account of his stewardship, which must include his personal worth in 2007 and his present assets and liabilities. He should also be excellent enough to let Nigerians know how much his administration borrowed internally and for what projects. The State is presently credited by DMO with official debts of N138.3 billion comprising foreign debts of $44.7 million or N8.8 billion and local debts of N129.5 billion (DMO 2014 &2013).
In view of the fact that Rivers State is the richest oil State in Nigeria receiving about N20billion monthly from its preferential oil earnings excluding other statutory earnings, it saddens our heart as why the State enmeshed in serial borrowings. Independent sources have also continuously maintained that the State cumulatively owes over N200 billion in debts.
This position is further sustained by the fact that its local debts profile has not been updated by the Debts Management Office since January 2014; a period of 11/4 years. Out-going Governor Amechi is called upon to be excellent enough by telling the people of Rivers State and Nigerians the true state of domestic loans profile of his State in terms of actual amounts owed.
Abia State & Ors: In Abia State, out-going Governor Theodore Orji should come clearly clean as well. He once alleged that former Governor Orji Uzor Kalu left the State in debts of over N29 billion. In view of this, our question to the out-going Governor is “how much did his administration borrow internally and how much was his State owing before he became the governor from the EFCC interface room? Our demand for democratic accountability in Abia State also stems from the sorry state of public services and infrastructures in the State particularly in Umuahia and Aba. Presently, Abia rivals none as Nigeria’s newest Ghetto State.
The sacred demand of ours also goes to out-going Governors Martin Elechi of Ebonyi, Sullivan Chime of Enugu, Babangida Aliyu of Niger State, Goodswill Akpabio of Akwa Ibom State, Emmanuel Uduaghan of Delta State, Liyel Imoke of Cross River State, Gabriel Suswam of Benue State, Jona Jang of Plateau State, Rabiu Musa Kwakwanso of Kano State, Mukhtar Ramalan Yero of Kaduna State as well as other second and single terms governors. The States of the out-going Governors mentioned above presently owe a total of N699.1 billion in local and foreign debts according to the official records of the Debts Management Office (DMO).
Finally, as the official handover of the baton of democratic power to the new set of crookedly or popularly elected office holders remains one month or thirty days from today, we call on all citizens of conscience and democratic consciousness to join hands in demanding from their out-going elected officers mandatory accounts of their stewardship clearly shown how they developed or under-developed the States and the country entrusted in their hands in the past eight or four democratic years. This is the only way the country and its citizens can advance democratically and socio-economically.
Emeka Umeagbalasi, B.Sc. (Hons), Criminology & Security Studies
Board Chairman, International Society for Civil Liberties & the Rule of Law
Uzochukwu Oguejiofor-Nwonu Esq., (LLB, BL), Head, Campaign & Publicity Department
Chiugo Onwuatuegwu Esq., (LLB, BL), Head, Democracy & Good Governance Program
Obianuju Igboeli Esq., (LLB, BL), Head, Civil Liberties & Rule of Law Program
*Photo Caption - Map of Nigeria
[ Masteerweb Reports ] - Masterweb yesterday received vote of thanks from Every Nigerian Do Something (ENDS) for her firebrand fearless unbiased nonpartisan news reporting that helped to educate Nigerians, paving way to the emergence of the best candidates in the just concluded elections. Below is ENDS' vote of thanks to Masterweb:
"Dear Publisher; We would like to thank you for being there and publishing our articles from a time when criticizing the outgoing inebriated, clueless, reckless kakistocratic government was not commonplace and all up till we made change happen to Nigeria and gave hope and a chance of safety to future generations.
"Thanks for braving the odds to publish our controversial articles that informed the Nigerian and global mind of the dire situations Nigeria existed under. This change would have been impossible without you. Indeed we are all already benefiting the rewards of your bravery and commitment to exposure of the truth...as at last and for once Cabal have straightened their backs.
"We also thank you for publishing articles we sent in defense of the president-elect in a time of much slander and libel and at a time when many could not risk standing for truth and justice and defending him from the Jonathan-Abati billion dollar media campaign of ... 'calumny' as Nigerians love to write.
"Injustice for one is injustice for all and justice for one is justice for all.
"Finally, we pray you continue to be there for Nigeria and larger social and societal good.
"Peace and love."
Dr Peregrino Brimah on behalf of the entire ENDS team.
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*Photo Caption - ENDS logo