*At 52 Nigeria Celebrates, Wobbles & Fumbles With Huge Debts, Corruption, Etc.
Dr. Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala
Finance Minister & Coordinating Minister of Economy
Federal Republic of Nigeria
Federal Ministry of Finance, the Federal Secretariat Complex
Dear Coordinating Minister of Economy,
Nigeria Desperately Needs Another Iweala Magic As She Celebrates Huge Public Debts Of Approximately $100Billion (N15trillion), Outrageous Recurrent Expenditures, Corruption And Under-development At 52: A Document For Records & Socio-economic Revolution
Above subject matter refers.
(Onitsha-Nigeria, 1st October 2012)-On 3rd of September 2012, the leadership of International Society for Civil Liberties & the Rule of Law, Onitsha, Nigeria, released the first part of this topic; titled: How Nigeria’s Trillions & $44Billion Public Debts Are Pocketed By Her 17,500 Top Public Officers And Criminals (ref: intersociety-ng.org).
The summary of this topic, which is a follow up to the first topic is that Nigeria, again, is a leading global indebted country and has gone back to the highly indebted poor country status (HIPC) which she exited via “Iweala Magic” in 2006; that the country’s current total public debts are approximated at $100billion or N15.5trillion; that by the end of the 2013 fiscal year, the country’s federal civilian governments would have made total budgets of N37.665trillion or $240billion from 1999, a period of fourteen years, out of which N21.7trillion would have gone for recurrent, N4.5trillion or $28billion for domestic and foreign debts servicing (excluding $12billion paid to liquidate $18billion foreign debts in 2006) and N11.3trillion for capital development; that Nigeria runs one of the most expensive public governances in the world far beyond her financial limits; that Nigeria borrows hugely and fraudulently too, to offset her huge overhead costs and service the country’s 17,500 top public officers and their approximately 24,165 inferior subordinates, thereby starving and impoverishing her approximately 160million citizens; that cabalistic criminals still dominate Nigeria’s public affairs; that corruption and social deprivations are entrenched and customized in the country’s polity; that Nigeria’s public wealth is controlled by less than one percent of the population; that approximately 60 million employable Nigerians including over 25 million higher education graduates are unemployed; that the state of public infrastructures including critical infrastructures in Nigeria is shockingly horrible; over 90% of the huge public spendings on personnel costs goes into the payment of allowances; that public governance in Nigeria has become a private enterprise with profit maximization as the end-product; that Nigeria has disastrously maintained a steady culture of budget deficit in place of balanced or surplus budget since 1999; that the last time Nigeria recorded a budget surplus was in 1997 under Abacha’s maximum rulership when N37billion was returned as surplus; and that Nigeria spends an average of 11.5% of her total federal revenues annually in domestic and foreign debts servicing, with the said debts remaining alarmingly high at all times.
In the first part of this topic, the $44billion debts figure quoted was solely obtained from the official website of the Nigeria’s Debt Management Office. But our further investigations have revealed that the totality of public debts in Nigeria is much higher than the figures given by the DMO. Besides, the DMO has updated its records on public debts in Nigeria as at end of June 2012, from end of March 2012. Also, the DMO’s public debts records grossly omitted other versions of public debts in Nigeria. For example, its records did not include the domestic debts profiles of the 36 States, the Federal Capital Territory of Abuja and the 774 LGAs (local government areas), which can “borrow and lend” for public interests under the law. The records also did not include court judgment debts owed by the Federal and State governments and their MDAs, arrears owed contractors at Federal and States’ levels on jobs certified “done and completed”. The arrears owed serving and retired public workforce by Nigeria’s three tiers of government was not included in the DMO’s calculations. Contestably, informed independent sources strongly believe that the local and foreign debts figures disclosed by the DMO as Nigeria’s total public debts are grossly under-quoted. In other words, the actual figures are higher than the quoted.
For instance, the CIA World Fact Book 2012, one of the world’s most credible sources of information believes that Nigeria’s total foreign debts, as at December 31st 2011 was $12.06billion. This excludes the foreign borrowings of 2012. It also states that Nigeria generated $24.54billion (N3.63 trillion) in 2011 and spent $32.65billion (N4.9trillion), leaving a whopping deficit of $8.1billion (N1.24trillion). The Newswatch Magazine of June 15, 2012 similarly quoted informed independent sources as insisting that the Nigeria’s total domestic debts stock should be in the region of N9.1trillion if the Asset Management Corporation of Nigeria, AMCON’s bond of N3trillion and the DMO’S bonds issued in the months of April and May 2012 were included. The Federal Government of Nigeria, according to the respected Magazine, has also concluded arrangements to borrow in the next three years a total of $7.9billion (N1.2trillion). The loan, said to attract 2.5% interest, will be borrowed from World Bank, African Development Bank, Islamic Development Bank, Agence Franciase de Development and Exim Bank of China. Out of this huge sum, $3billion (N465billion) is be borrowed from China. Already, $1.1billion (N170billion) has been secured from the Exim Bank of China. Another whopping sum of about $1billion loan has been secured from external sources including the Eurobond of $500million and another $370million reportedly secured from the Islamic Development Bank, with an outstanding balance of $600million to be taken from the same bank before the end of this fiscal year (Newswatch June 2012).
Further, according to the Debt Management Office, Nigeria’s total domestic debts as at 30th day of June 2012 stood at N6.15trillion, from N5.96trillion ($38.3billion) in March 2012, while the country’s total foreign debts within the period stood at $6.035billion from $5.9billion in March 2012. In other words, Nigeria’s domestic debts increased to N190billion while foreign debts recorded an increase of $135million within three months (April to June 2012). But the foregoing may most likely not be the true picture of Nigeria’s domestic and foreign debts profile even as at June 2012. Apart from domestic and foreign borrowings that took place between July and September 2012 and those to be borrowed before the end of the current fiscal year, informed independent sources including the CIA World Fact Book 2012 strongly believe that Nigeria’s domestic and foreign debts are much higher than figures given by the DMO. For instance, in 2005, Nigeria’s foreign debts were $36billion, out of which $30billion was liquidated leaving the balance of $6billion. Between 2007 and 2011, Nigeria has borrowed externally over $6billion, bringing the total to over $12billion. And between December 2011 and September 2012, Nigeria borrowed extra $3billion, thereby bringing the current total foreign debts of Nigeria to over $15billion (N2.3trillion).
Nigeria’s total domestic public debts are also wrongly calculated. For instance, apart from N9.1trillion believed by informed independent sources to be the actual total figure of domestic debts in Nigeria, other legitimate versions of domestic public debts are utterly excluded in the calculations. At the Federal level alone, approximately N1trillion is owed by the Federal Government and its MDAs to contractors, suppliers, consultants, etc on jobs certified done and completed. For instance, N88.38billion is owed as “judgment debts” by the Federal Government and its MDAs (Daily Trust Newspaper September 12, 2012). The Power Holding Company of Nigeria owes its contractors, suppliers and consultants a whopping sum of N400billion (Punch June 1, 2012). The Nigeria Police Force owed its contractors N7.4billion since 2008 and 2009. The contractors in the public construction sector are owed over N100billion by the Federal Government for jobs done and completed (This Day August 18, 2012), out of which the Federal Ministry of Works owes N60billion. Over N1trillion is still owed the serving and retired federal civil servants in Nigeria.
At the level of the 36 States of Nigeria, which substantially control the 774 LGAs in the country, over N3trillion debts may have arisen from reckless domestic borrowings, judgment debts and arrears owed contractors, suppliers, consultants, and serving and retired workforce. It is widely believed that an average of N50billion is domestically owed by every State in Nigeria including the FCT, Abuja. For instance, between 2011 and 2012, between N20billion and N50billion bond had been floated by many States in the local capital markets. Rivers and Delta States reportedly floated N100 billion each from local capital markets. Also Cross Rivers State maintains a domestic debt of N80billion; Akwa Ibom State obtained a bond of N50billion excluding other inherited domestic debts. Rivers State confirmed it only borrowed N30billion in October 2010 and another N20billion in July 2011. Ekiti and Osun States borrowed N20billion each within the said period (Punch August 9, 2012). Imo State owed over N100billion locally as at May 2011(Okorocha 2011). Also, Abia State owes approximately N100billion, out of which N29billion was inherited from the former regime of Orji Uzor Kalu(T.A. Orji 2010); and Bayelsa State owes locally a whopping sum of N207billion (Punch, August 9, 2012).
While Anambra State’s current foreign debt is $25.3million (N3.8billion), its domestic debts profile including arrears owed serving and retired workforce of some State parastatals such as Anambra State Broadcasting Service, Anambra State Water Corporation, Anambra State Newspaper Company, publishers of the National Light Newspaper, etc run into billions of naira as at September 2012. Though the State is one of the least locally and externally indebted States in Nigeria, its current local loan profile is largely shrouded in secrecy. Before the 2006 external debt forgiveness ably spearheaded by you, Madam Coordinating Minister of Economy, Anambra’s domestic and foreign debts stocks were over N40billion. These included $120milliom foreign debt and over N25billion local debt; out of which over N8billion was owed pensioners and serving workforce. Also part of the two sets of loan was the 2001 N2.9billion local bond for “Sir Louis Ojukwu Industrial Estate Project” (abandoned), a $10million loan for “Oba International Market Project” (abandoned) and an N650million loan for “Awka Stadium Project” (abandoned). While the $120million external loan has been brought down to $25million, thanks to the said 2006 external debt forgiveness, the present government of Anambra State has also liquidated some of the arrears so owed. It has commendably maintained a low loan policy and brought down budget deficits since 2008 except unpaid arrears above mentioned, which include unpaid local debts inherited from former regimes and the benevolent loans called “credit facilities with little or zero interest rates”, which it indisputably secures for strategic health, agricultural and educational projects. The present Government of Anambra State also does well in meeting its obligations to contractors, suppliers and consultants, with perhaps, the exception of judgment debts. In 2008, a whopping sum of N12.6billion was approved for local borrowing, but in 2009, it returned a surplus of N10billion to the State coffers without borrowing a dime. The State is an exception when it comes to reckless and fraudulent borrowings, but we wish to see it as a total debt-free State in Nigeria.
As you may have known Madam Minister, out of an estimated $15billion (N2.3trillon) owed externally by Nigeria as of date, the 36 States and the Federal Capital territory of Abuja owe a total of $2.214billion (N343billion). Geopolitically, Southwest zone owes the lion’s share of $840.9million (N131.8billion); followed by Northwest $473.3million (N77.5billion); South-south $289.9million (N45billion); Southeast $197.7million (N30.06billion), North-central $189.1million (N29.3billion); and Northeast $186.3million (N28.8billion). At the level of States, Lagos State owes the lion’s share of $517.6million (N80.15billion); followed by Kaduna $197.1million, Cross River $109.3million; Ogun $96.2million; and Oyo $78.8million. Borno is the least externally indebted State with 12.7million (N1.9billion); followed by Delta $15.7million; Plateau $20.1million; Taraba $20.6million; and Anambra $25.3million (DMO June 2012). The official exchange rate of N155.00 per USD is used by Intersociety in all its calculations in this topic.
Therefore Madam Coordinating Minister of Economy, it may be an indisputable fact to say that Nigeria’s current total domestic and external public debts are in the neighborhood of $100billion or N15.5trillion comprising the external loans of $15billion (N2.3trillion), judgment debts and Federal Government’s contractors’ debts of over N1trillion and local capital markets’ debts of N9.1trillion as well as its staffers’ arrears of over N1trillion. It also includes the States and the FCT’s local capital markets’ debts, contractors’ debts and workforce (serving and retired) arrears of over N3trillion, all amounting to over $100billion or N15.5trillion. As a result, Nigeria has again fallen back to the disastrous category of the “highly indebted poor country” status as well as one of the poorest countries in the world despite the abundance of human and highly profitable natural resources.
As you may have known Madam Coordinating Minister of Economy, Nigeria’s disastrous journey into hellish indebtedness started in 1965. By 1970, the country’s foreign debts substantially owed to the IMF stood at $970million, from which it rose to a whopping sum of $32.5billion in 2000. Through debt forgiveness of 2006, it was brought down to $6billion in December 2006, from its all time high of $36billion. But between June 2007 and September 2012, during Yar’Adua and Goodluck Jonathan’s eras, it increased to about $15billion and by the end of the 2013 and 2014 fiscal years; it would be over $20billion or N3.1trillion. For domestic debts, their increase is alarming and shocking too. As at December 2006, the Federal Government’s domestic borrowings stood at N1.8trillion (about $13billion), from N28.44billion in 1986 (Igamu Joseph Augustus (Yusuf) (2012). But between June 2007 and September 2012 they increased to N9.1trillion, an increased of 500%, thereby making the President Jonathan’s regime, under whom you are the Coordinating Minister of Economy, the most indebted regime in the history of Nigeria because under him the increase was and still is astronomical.
Also, the productivity of these borrowings is totally questionable. Apart from their provocative use for servicing the country’s 17,500 top public officers and their 24,165 inferior aides and associated profligacy, the amount being spent annually in servicing them and the high interests at which they are borrowed, in addition to their non- judicious utilization, are alarming and deafening. For instance, Nigeria borrowed from the Paris Club of Creditors as at December 2001 a total of $13.5billion and spent a total of $41.2billion within the same period on its servicing. Yet as at December 2001, Nigeria owed the same Paris Club a total of $22.092billion. Between 2007 and 2012, a period of six years, Nigeria had spent a total of $19.52billion (N3.05trillion) on domestic and foreign debts servicing, yet the borrowings have alarmingly continued with associated steady increases in interests and penalties. The branch of the public debts that attracted this huge spending is the local capital market borrowings of N9.1trillion, which belongs to the Federal Government of Nigeria (FGN) and the external capital market borrowings of $15billion shared by the FGN, States and the FCT. Despite the whopping sum of N560billion or $3.7billion provided for debts servicing in the 2012 budget, official increases of N190billion and $135million have been recorded in three months (April to June 2012) for local and foreign debts respectively. In 2011, N445billion or $2.9billion was spent on both domestic and foreign debts servicing; in 2010, N517billion or $3.35billion was spent; in 2009, N357billion or $2.34billion was spent; in 2008, N620billion or $4.05billion was spent; and in 2007, N492 or $3.18billion was spent (Appropriation Acts of the affected fiscal years).
Further, when a loan is borrowed, it carries three modes of repayment; that is to say principal, interests and penalties. According to the Newswatch Magazine of June 15, 2012, Nigeria’s local borrowings are obtained at an average interest rate of 10.5% with long unhealthy years of repayment. In 2010 for instance, Nigeria borrowed locally three major loans with twenty, five and three years’ repayment periods. Under the 20 years bond, Nigeria borrowed N412.30 with 20years interests of N1.18trillion. In other words, the country will repay a total of N1.59trillion in twenty years time in a loan of N412.30billion. For the $1.1billion (N165billion) recently obtained from the Exim Bank of China at the official interest of 2.5% with 30 years repayment period, it will cost Nigeria a whopping sum of $810million to service it excluding principal and penalties.
Nigeria’s Budgets Of The Few By The Few And For The Few:
Budget is realistic when it touches positively the lives of the generality of the people, tangibly and intangibly. Sadly, Nigeria’s budgets over the years (since 1999) have been oligarchic and anti-people’s driven. They are also loan-driven, corruption-ridden and anti-development. The greatest threat to Nigeria’s socio-economic and technological advancement is no longer her long years of military dictatorships but her years of “public machinery” budgets, which concentrate heavily on personnel and overhead spendings at the gross expense of capital developments. These reckless and outrageous spendings are also clothed in the layers of official criminality whereby substantial part of such spending is done outside the living law. Another major impediment to Nigeria’s growth and development is huge and reckless spending on allowances and overheads as well as profligacy.
Budget, as you know Madam Coordinating Minister of Economy is traditionally divided into capital and recurrent expenditures and recurrent is sub-divided into personnel and overheads. While overheads take care of maintenance of government machinery, personnel take care of the salaries and allowances of government appointees, electees and those hired to make government machinery work. Capital budget is the most productive component part of any budget and a country without dominant capital budget is doomed. Disastrously speaking, Nigeria’s capital budgets have been relegated to the third fiddle since 1999, steadily surpassed by personnel and overhead spendings.
Other organized and focused countries rarely borrow and even if they do, they borrow to enhance development and good living standards of their countries and nationals, but Nigeria borrows to pay salaries and allowances as well as to offset her huge overheads costs. Also budget has three performance indexes; that is to say: surplus, balanced and deficit. A budget surplus means excellent performance; balanced budget means good performance; and budget deficit means failure performance. Sadly, other than in 1997 when the Abacha’s maximum rulership returned a budget surplus of N37billion without borrowing a dime and after faithful implementation of the year’s budget, the successive civilian governments since 1999 have consistently run huge budget deficits. What they called “statutory transfers” at the beginning of every fiscal year are usually the remainders from non-capital releases and unspent loans, particularly the portion allocated to capital sub-sector. Sadly, recurrent expenditures usually attract over 100% implementation while capital expenditures with minute allocations attract less than 70% at the end of each fiscal year. This is despite the fact that allocations to capital development are less than 30% of the total budget. For example, as at July 2012, only N404billion (27%) had been released for capital expenditures, whereas the recurrent expenditures attracted over 70% releases.
By the end of the 2013 fiscal year, the Federal civilian Governments of Nigeria would have recorded a total budget of N37, 665trillion($240billion), that is to say from June 1999 to December 2013. Out of this huge figure, only N11.3trillion (30%) would have been spent on capital development; N21.7trillion ($145billion) representing 58.5% would have been spent on recurrent expenditures; while N4.5trillion ($28billion) representing an average of 11.5% (for each of the budgets) would have gone for domestic and external debts servicing. If the $12billion paid in 2006 for debt forgiveness is added, then Nigeria’s federal civilian governments would have spent a whopping sum of $40billion (N3.6trillion) in servicing and repaying her domestic and external debts since 1999, a period of 14 years. Yet Nigeria’s total public debts as of September 2012 including sundry arrears have remained at an alarming estimated rate of $100billion or N15.5trillion.
Also, in the six years of the military regime in Nigeria, 1994 to May 1999, a total budget of N1.305trillion was spent, whereas in the six years of the civilian rule, 2000 to 2005, a total budget of N7.22trillion including the 1999 supplementary budget of N165billion was spent. The frugal military budgets of N1.305trillion were far more public oriented than the bloated civilian budgets of N7.22trillion especially considering the fact that most of the public corporations privatized today were under the payroll of the military regime. The following breakdown of the military budgets shows that in 1994, N110billion was spent; it was N155billion in 1995; N174billion in 1996; N247billion in 1997; N200billion in 1998; and N419.5billion in 1999. In the area of the civilian regime’s budgets, 2000 to 2005, N165billion was spent in 1999 as supplementary budget; N667billion was spent in 2000; N894billion in 2001; N1.064trillion in 2002; N1.446trillion in 2003; N1.189trillion in 2004; and N1.8trillion in 2005. Also, in 2006, N1.9trillion was spent; N2.3trillion in 2007; N3.58trillion in 2008; N3.76trillion in 2009; N4.61trillion in 2010; N4.484trillion in 2011; N4.877trillion in 2012; and N4.929trillion has been proposed for 2013, totaling N37.665trillion in fourteen fiscal years, June 1999 to December 2013.
Bloated Allowances & Overhead Costs:
In 2002, the Nigeria’s Salaries & Allowances for Top Public Office Holders’ Act was enacted. The Act contained about 17,500 top appointive and elective public offices in Nigeria with majority of them located in the country’s 774 LGAs. About 13,500 of the offices are elective and 4000 others are appointive. The 17,500 top public offices include 12,788 LGAs top offices comprises 8,692 councilors and 3,096 executives; 1,152 State lawmakers and 2,664 State executives; 469 federal lawmakers and 472 federal executives, and 142 federal and 792 State judges bringing the total to approximately 17,500 top public officers in Nigeria. Their total annual salaries and allowances as at 2002 was N755billion. The passage of the said Act was done in a “commando style”. As if that was not enough, the Act was unilaterally reviewed upwards by 50% in 2008 and their total annual pay became N1.13trillion. In clear violation of the Act and the Constitution, these 17,500 top public officers also recruited approximately 24,165 inferior aides who are annually serviced with a whopping sum of approximately N20billion. The Act in line with the amended Constitution of Nigeria 1999 only recognizes special advisers and above for first class top public officers like the president and governors. The Act fragrantly allows the inclusion of personal assistance allowance clause into the motley of allowances paid to the said 17,500 top public officers.
While payment of salaries constitutes only 10% of the total annual pay for these 17,500 top public officers, payment of allowances alarmingly takes 90%. The N20billion spent annually on the 24,165 inferior aides is illegitimately sourced from both the Act and the allowances provided illegitimately in the Appropriation Acts called “quarterly allowances”. For instance, out of N592.8billion spent annually on 12,788 LGAs top officers in Nigeria, allowances account for N550.9billion while salaries account for only N41.8billion; out of N300.5billion spent on 2.664 State executives, allowances account for N272.1billion while salaries account for only N28.3billion. Out of N40.9billion spent on 1,152 State lawmakers N35.8billion is spent on allowances and salaries account for N5.09billion. Out of N98.3billion spent on 472 federal executives, N89.7billion is spent on allowances and salaries account for N8.6billion. Also, out of N60.4billion spent on 469 federal lawmakers, N54.2billion is spent on allowances and salaries account for only N6.1billion. Out of N18.5billion on 792 State judges, N15.4billion is spent on allowances and salaries account for only N3.1billion; and out of N14.8billion spent on 142 federal judges annually, N13.1billion is spent on allowances and salaries account for only N1.7billion.
In an investigation carried out by the Punch Newspaper of September 20, 2012, a Nigerian Senator earns an annual basic salary of N2.484million and enjoys fifteen categories of allowances, which are as follows: 1. Hardship allowance at 5% of his or her annual basic salary or N1.24million; 2. Furniture allowance at 300% BS (basic salary) or N7.452million; 3. Constituency allowance at 200% of BS or N4.96 million; 4. Newspaper allowance at 50% of BS or N1.242million; 5. Wardrope allowance at 25% of BS or N0.621million; 6. Recess allowance at 10% of BS or N0.248million; 7. Accommodation allowance at 200% of BS or N4.968million; 8. Utilities allowance at 30% of BS or N0.828million; 9. Domestic staff allowance at 35% of BS or N0.868million.
Others are: 10. Entertainment allowance at 30% of BS or N0.828million; 11. Personal assistance allowance at 25% of BS or N0.621million; 12. Vehicle maintenance allowance at 75% of BS or N1.863million, 13. Leave allowance at 10% of BS or N0.248million; 14. Severance allowance at 300% of BS or N7.452million; and 15. Motor vehicle allowance at 400% of BS or N9.936million, totaling N45.5million, out of which N18.1million is collected monthly, which translates to about N216million yearly. In other words, a Nigerian Senator collects a total of N498.7million in four years as salaries and allowances in accordance with the 2008 amended Salaries and Allowances Act of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, comprising monthly allowances of N216million per annum for four years, annual basic salaries of N9.93million for four years and N24.8million once in four years for motor vehicle, severance, furniture and accommodation allowances. In similar premise, each House of Reps Member in Nigeria goes home statutorily at the end of every four years with about N400million.
There are also illegitimate huge collections and allowances being pocketed by federal lawmakers and executives called “duty tour, estacodes, travel and quarterly allowances”. For instance, the Punch Newspaper of September 20, 2012 reported that each Senator is paid a whopping sum of N38million quarterly and N152million annually in the form of “quarterly allowance”. Each House of Reps Member is paid N27million quarterly and N108million annually. The Senate President is paid N250million quarterly and N1billion yearly. The Deputy Senate President is paid N150million quarterly and N600million yearly.
Using this benchmark, it may be correct to say that the Speaker of the House of Reps and the Deputy Speaker are paid N1.4billion yearly as “quarterly allowance”. The various standing committees and other principal leaderships in the Senate and the House of Reps may be collecting approximately N12billion per annum as quarterly allowance on average of N200million each per quarter. There may be over 60 standing committees and leaderships in the two houses. In all, there may be extra N60billion spent annually on the 469 federal lawmakers and their leaderships in the form of “quarterly allowances”. This huge sum is totally unknown to the Salaries & Allowances amended Act of 2008. Further breakdown shows that the 360 members of the House of Reps are paid extra N38.88billion annually (N27million each). The 109 Senators are paid N16.7billion (N38million each). The sum of about N3billion goes to the Senate President, Deputy Senate President, Speaker and Deputy Speaker of the House of Reps, while N12billion goes to their standing committees and others.
As if these were not enough, it was also reported in the said Punch Newspaper edition that the House members were agitating for further increase of N7million in the so-called “quarterly allowance” of N27million per member. The federal executive arm is also not left out in this official thievery legitimatised through criminal appropriations. It may be correct to say that the origin of the so-called “constituency projects” of N100billion in the federal budget initiated by the federal lawmakers is traced to the so-called “presidential safety net” of N100billion reportedly initiated by the federal executives, which has remained fiscally inexplicable to Nigerians for years. The conspiracy of the highest order between the federal lawmakers and the executives in this respect abounds. It may most likely be correct to say that two sets of salaries and allowances codes clearly exist in Nigeria today; the ones contained in the 2008 amended Salaries & Allowances Act and ones smuggled into the Appropriation Acts. It is no longer news that a Nigerian Federal lawmaker earns much more than each of the leaders of US, UK, Japan, France, South Africa, Germany, Belgium, South Korea, Russia, Portugal, the Council of Europe, Austria, Denmark and Mexico. In spite of these outrageous earnings and official thievery, Nigeria’s federal lawmakers’ legislative performance index is one of the lowest in the world. Their oversight duties, which are lowest in the standard legislative duties’ calendar globally, have taken over their core legislative duties because of their reported juicy nature. They no longer legislate for social change and welfare of the society but for their private pockets.
Observations & Demands:
Judging from the foregoing therefore, Nigeria has continued to wobble and fumble at 52 in spite of abundance of human and material resources. When a country is not envisioned in leadership, criminality and other social vices become the norm. Sadly, positive and democratic forces in the country such as the Nigerian Labour Congress/Trade Union Congress, Academic Staff Union of Universities, National Association of Nigerian Students, media, civil society organizations (rights & pro-good governance groups) and other socio-cultural groups have derailed from their social responsibilities of social re-engineering, constructive and developmental advocacy.
Nigeria features prominently and ceaselessly in all known negative social indexes globally and parades very corrupt, unpatriotic, criminal and visionless political leadership and very lazy, corrupt and unproductive public workforce. The country parades at least 25,000 modern medical specialists in USA alone yet her public health system remains killer-delivery. In the infant mortality, life expectancy, religional and global higher education performance, poverty reduction, security and crime, trade and investment, indebtedness and debt management, human rights records, sporting and youth development, global brain drain, foreign exchange reserves, job productivity and satisfaction, industrialization and economic development, employment and social benefits, corruption and abuse of office indexes, Nigeria has dangerously and perpetually remained in the red or danger list.
In the 1960s, China was busy destroying its cultural heritage (Cultural Revolution); today China has come from cave to become the world second largest economy with $3trillion in its foreign exchange reserves in 2012, from $700billion in 2006 and $2.3trillion in 2010. It still exports 40% of the world coal production. Japan, South Korea and Taiwan paid back their last foreign debts between 1972 and 1992, today, apart from having intimidating foreign exchange reserves, there are over 2,300 universities in China, 980 in Japan, 432 in South Korea and 172 in Taiwan including nine security and intelligence universities. In Nigeria, with the UN estimated population of 158million (2011), only 124 universities exist and none of them is research-based. Japan still sources 40% of its electricity from coal, while Nigerians spend N95.16trillion annually on powering their generating sets. Companies spend N93.6trillion; while individuals who own 60million generating sets in their homes spend N1.56trillion annually (CBN via Nigerian Compass Newspaper, August 20, 2010).
While India has 816million workforce as at 2010, Nigeria still maintains 57million workforce out of her 160million population. Most of the workers in Nigeria’s private sector are under-employed. The country still imports 98% of her human basic needs from overseas and an average Nigerian rich businessperson still engages in importation with at least N200million capital; a sum capable of building a medium scale industry with direct and indirect employment opportunities for hundreds of Nigerians. The $6.5billion (N1.04trillion) reportedly spent on 130 private jets mostly by criminally rich Nigerians has the capacity of building at least 105 large scale industries at N1billion each with direct and indirect employment capacity of 110.000 on average of 1000 jobs each. There are also over 25million unemployed higher education graduates in Nigeria. In 2000, the Federal Office of Statistics gave the total number of unemployed graduates in Nigeria as at then as 5.6million. Less than 5% of graduates from Nigeria’s 194 universities and university colleges secure employment annually. Organized crime (advance fee fraud and kidnapping), victimless crime (prostitution) and marriage are three leading alternatives to the country’s teeming unemployed graduates.
Our writing you, Madam Coordinating Minister of Economy at this year’s 52nd independence statehood of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, is expressly predicated on the foregoing. It is time to think home and domesticate Nigeria. At 52, despite the privatization of the leading and critical public corporations in the country, things have gone to worst. There is no national carrier in Nigeria; jets land in Nigeria and refuel in Ghana; the country’s 445,000 barrels of crude oil meant for local consumption cannot be refined locally; FGN’s 30,000 kilometers of trunk A roads country-wide is only better than Somalian roads; insecurity and flood disaster have become an avenue for federal legislators and executives to enrich their pockets through bloated budget and call for supplementary budget instead of an avenue for remorseful national concern and proactive action. Defence budget for 2012 is N921billion; more than monies allocated to education, health and agriculture put together.
Illicit arms are available in Nigeria from left, right and center. 371,000 persons presently people the Nigeria Police Force and plans are underway to recruit additional 280,000 persons, yet the country’s security, particularly the security of lives and property of Nigerians remains porous. When other countries are busy embracing proactive, preventive and intelligence policing, Nigeria is busy staking her neck on reactive, manual and militarized policing. Our writing you is also to remind you of your 2006 magic in the area of economy and zero debt management, which saw Nigeria bouncing back economically and exiting the club of impoverish nations within one fiscal year including raising and payment in six months of a whopping sum of $12billion to the Paris Club of Creditors. Overseeing an economy of estimated $100billion debts; a declined foreign exchange reserves of $39billion and zero rainy day savings, is a big minus to your revered international reputation.
Therefore, we prayerfully urge you to recommend and push for the following: Amendment of all existing Acts of the Federation as they concern allowances paid to 17,500 top Nigeria’s public officers and other senior public /civil servants from level 13 and above, with a view to cutting down their allowances by 60% for 17,500 top public officers and 40% for other senior public/civil servants. One of those Acts to be amended is the Salaries & Allowances for Top Public Office Holders Act of 2002 as amended (2008). For instance, our express calculation is that if the N550billion spent annually on 12,788 LGAs top officers’ allowances is cut by 60%, then N330billion will be saved and channeled into capital development. Also all duplicated allowances like “furniture allowance” and “accommodation allowance” contained in the federal lawmakers’ allowances should be identified and deleted alongside those considered irrelevant and utterly wasteful.
1. Abolition of quarterly allowances to the federal and State lawmakers and their executive counterparts (if any), under whatever names called and reduction of those allowances spent quarterly on the offices of the Senate President, Deputy Senate President, Speaker and Deputy Speaker of the House of Reps and their standing committees, etc by 60%. This should also be extended to State Assemblies and members of the Federal and State Executive Councils including president, vice president, governors and deputy governors.
2. Strict adherence to the provisions of the Salaries & Allowances for Top Public Office Holders Act 2008 (amended) and abolition of dual allowances provided under whatever names called in the appropriation Acts, etc.
3. Discontinuation of indiscriminate and outrageous hikes in the appropriation bills of the Federation especially by the National Assembly and MDAs and strict scrutiny of budget proposals of the National Assembly, especially its recurrent and overhead costs.
4. Reversion of the Federal Appropriation Bills to 60% for capital development, 40% for recurrent expenditures including 5% for debt servicing.
5. Under recurrent expenditures: reduction of all overheads by 40% including the security votes and other relevant overheads of the presidency, the governors and leaderships of the federal and State legislative chambers.
6. Cutting down the overhead and personnel spending on defence and increasing its capital spending for renovation of barracks, construction of new ones, procurement of security vehicles and modern policing tools and building of security intelligence universities. Also, the planned recruitment of 280,000 more persons into the NPF should be put on hold and serving ones re-trained on modern and scientific policing. A situation where the huge sum of N921billion (2012 defence budget) is spent to track down young physicists from some northern universities and polytechnics who make and use local explosive devices made and corked in used “coca cola and fanta” cans, with Libyan and Somalia-bound AK-47s, speaks volume of political leaders in Nigeria replicating “blood diamond” saga in Sierra Leone and Liberia, akin to merchants of death.
7. Placing a national moratorium on local and foreign borrowings and proactive management (repayment and reduction) by federal and State governments of the existing debts.
8. Merging federal ministries, parastatals and departments and cutting down the number of ministers and special advisers as well as reducing the present number of inferior public aides (approximately 24,165) in Nigeria by 60%. Huge expenditures associated with official foreign travels by the executives and the legislators in the country should be drastically cut down.
9. Exposing Nigeria’s enormous investment potentials to the outside world, not by globetrotting, but by addressing frontally problems of insecurity, awkward trade policy/legislation, and corruption and epileptic power failure.
10. Abolishing from the Appropriation Acts the so-called constituency projects that engulf N100billion annually and removing the so-called “presidential safety Net” if still found that also consumes N100billion annually.
11. Ensuring that the DMO keeps to its recent public promise of releasing the domestic debts profiles of the 36 States and the FCT by the end of October 2012, which have for years been shrouded in uttermost secrecy.
12. Amending the EFCC and the ICPC acts of the Federation to provide for stiffer sanctions especially to provide for longer years of jail sentence. A situation whereby an embezzler of N50billion is sentenced for six months imprisonment whereas a stealer of bush meat is sent to five years jail term is socially abominable and globally abhorrent.
13. Making the Chapter Two of the Constitution legally actionable or as “Fundamental Human Rights”.
14. Passing the Social Security Bill into law and ensuring that it is fully implemented.
15. Granting full autonomy to the Nigerian Local Government System and abolishing the so-called “States and Local Government Joint Accounts”.
For: International Society for Civil Liberties & the Rule of Law, Nigeria
Chairman, Board of Trustees
+234(0) 8033601078, +234(0) 8180103912
Comrade Justus Ijeoma
Head, Publicity Desk
Senator Pius Anyim
Secretary to the Government of the Federation
Photo Above: Nigeria Finance Minister Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala
*Tags: Nigerians, Intersociety, Council, Police, Service, Commission. Sack, Ringim, Africa, Masterweb
*Nigeria: Double Award for Gov. Obi on Prudence & Good Governance
Gov. Peter Obi of Anambra State has received multiple awards for his exemplary conduct in Government. The Golden Award on Prudence was awarded to him by the Methodist Church of Nigeria as the most financially prudent governor in Nigeria. The award was presented to him at the Congress Hall of Transcorps Hilton Hotel in the night of Thursday by the Primate of the Methodist Church, Most Rev. Ola Makinde.
The award, according to Methodist Church, was more of a way of encouraging him to do more for the State and the Country. The Church said it was a thing of celebration that In spite of many achievements in Anambra State by Governor Obi, that he had never borrowed a kobo nor raised a bond as is fashionable these days. ( Continues below….. )
Photo Above: Gov. Peter Obi (left), receiving the Golden Prudence Award from the Primate of Methodist Church, His Eminence, most Rev. Ola Makinde at Transcorps Hilton Hotel on Thursday.
One of the Bishops of Methodist Church said the choice of Obi was after a thorough distillation process.
In another development, The Ezeife Leadership Foundation also bestowed Gov. Obi with Leadership and Good Governance Award, for restoring peace and harmony to Anambra State, thus removing her from a pariah State to a State that Anambra people and Nigerians are proud of.
In his reaction, Obi said that he had the policy of not accepting awards, because of his belief that those in Government should ideally be honoured after leaving office when their actions and omissions should be dispassionately assessed. However, he said that he was compelled to accept some awards because of the credibility and pedigree of those behind it. "In the case Methodist award, who am I to reject it based not just on persons there, but on the institution involved. ( Continues below….. )
Photo Above: Governor Peter Obi
He thanked the Methodist Church for their service to God through serving humanity. He assured that his Government would continue to work harmoniously with the Church and pointed out the return of schools with the grant of 6 Billion Naira and the support to Church health institutions to the tune of 3 Billion as examples.
Gov Obi assured Anambra people and Nigerians in general that he would not for a second relent in his fidelity to the common good build on his ever present desire to contribute to the advancement of civilization.
*Nigeria: NEITI Releases Audit Reports in the Oil and Gas Sector
Masterweb Reports - Tuesday, September 25, 2012: The Nigeria Extractive Industries Transparency Initiative (NEITI) has recently carried out physical and process audits of Nigeria’s petroleum industry from 1999-2008. NEITI is the national version of the global multi- stakeholders’ initiative to promote transparency and accountability in the management of extractive resources with the view to aiding sustainable development with specific target on poverty reduction, elimination of social conflicts and creation of peaceful business environment.
The Audit reports showed that the federal government earned a total sum of 269 billion USD from the oil sector between 1999-2008. Within this period also, 92billion USD was received from oil specific taxes, the sum of 5 billion USD from non-oil specific taxes from oil companies while 172billion USD was received from the sales of government equity crude. ( Continues below….. )
Photo Above: Workers at work in a Nigerian oil rig
However, while this height was achieved, losses were also witnessed. The audit showed that Nigeria lost 2.6billion USD due to leakages in the system. Also, a whooping sum of 9.890billion USD which came from the failure of some companies to cooperate with the audit reports was lost.
NEITI Chairman, Ledum Mitee said that the significance of this loss which is equivalent to N1.373trillon was capable of wiping out the current fiscal deficit in the 2012 Federal Government budget financing. ( Continues below..... )
Photo Above: Nigerians queue up to buy fuel at a filling station.
Speaking on, he stated that the potential revenue loss due from under assessment/under payments has remained outstanding not just out of the refusal of the companies and covered entities to pay but also, the insufficient efforts of the concerned government agencies to recover the funds which the country desperately needs especially at this time.
He therefore pleaded with companies and stakeholders in the extractive industries including other relevant agencies of government to always cooperate with NEITI in order to ensure that transparency and accountability which it aims at is achieved.
Victor Igiri ( firstname.lastname@example.org )
*Igbo World Assembly (IWA) Holds 4th Convention In Asaba, Delta State
Igbo World Assembly (IWA) in collaboration with the apex Igbo socio-cultural body, Ohaneze Ndigbo reserved the 26-27 day of September for the IWA Convention as part of the Igbo Remembrance Day program of Ohaneze Ndigbo, 26-30 September.
This has been a yearly activity by Igbo World Assembly, an umbrella organization for all the Major Igbo Diaspora organizations.
IWA believes in the principle of focusing on development in the entire Igboland.
The theme for this year is "Actualisation of Igbo Agenda & Youths Empowerment. All roads lead to Nelrose Hotel Complex, Government House road, Asaba, Delta State where the event is now taking place. The choice of Asaba for this Year's Igbo Remembrance Day tells a lot about Igbo unity. Many people have the erroneous believe that Igbo has disintegrated as planned by our detractors, but what many do not know is that the plan to disintegrate Ndigbo will only work for a given time, because Igboness is a factor embedded in every igbo child, and it will always rear up its head no matter how down it is down pressed. This is why our elders say "Agwö apughi imu ihe di ogologo"
Ndigbo, Anioma Nine, Anyi Ekeneeo!
By Valentine Obienyem
The wise one says that education comes one-forth from others, one-forth from experience, one-forth from travel and one-forth from the classrooms. Should we agree with him, it means that any time we travel is an opportunity to broaden our knowledge about the world and its peoples. If we are critical, it also offers us the opportunity to compare our country with others in terms of progress and development. This experience is many times magnified when we venture into alien states/countries that do not share the same culture with us.
I have had the opportunity to travel to over 20 countries. I must confess that apart from Haiti, I have always felt dejected and a certain sense of regret on coming back to Nigeria from any of these trips. I cannot here talk about Arab countries. The last Arab country I visited was Bahrain and the common observation is that these people are busy deploying their oil money in building their countries. Even Bangladesh, with poverty written all over her, is much more organized than we are. Though lacking in natural resources, countries like Ethiopia and Kenya are busy building and perfecting those little things that generate income for them. All over Kenya, one sees flowers that are exported to Europe. These countries National Carriers: Kenyan and Ethiopian Airlines are study in patriotism even when we could not sustain ours. But whatever one observes about Nigeria is a call for all of us to sit up and contribute our quotas to make it work in a positive, healthy manner for it remains our country. A certain Moroccan traveler, on returning from a visit to Europe, exclaimed: “What a comfort to be getting back to civilisation.” The man, like us, had no other country and is affected by provincialism. ( Continues below..... )
If we want to be truthful to ourselves, many things are wrong in Nigeria. I am one of those who regret the timing of our independence. Events of today have shown that we were not psychologically prepared for that momentous event in history. Many of our nationalists evidently did not even understand what independence means. What was supposed to be an epochal liberation of Nigerians from shackles of slavery ended up enslaving us all the more! Let us face it, what have we achieved since independence? Colonialists, without oil money, succeeded in providing some basics things of life for our people in the spirit of the times. Look at the railway, for example, rather than build on their legacy, we succeeded in killing that institution. One can go on and on.
When one travels out, the inadequacies of our country stares one on the face. The moment we arrived Atlanta Hartsfield Airport for immigration formalities, I said to my colleague, that if any of our airports were to handle 1% of the traffic this airport handled, that it would be catastrophic for the country. One noticed over 50 immigration clearance cubicles that are professionally handled. On the contrary, on entering the Murtala Mohammed airport, one is confronted by faulty mechanized staircases, acute shortage of spaces, air conditioners that are not working and annoying cathartic reaction to situations. One notices about three or at most four cubicles handling immigration matters amidst a host of immigration officers busy prancing all over the place looking for those they will support to breach the rules for pittances. In other climes, on arrival at baggage claiming points, the luggage are already at those points, but in our own case, one is compelled to wait for hours! ( Continues below..... )
Photo Above: Disgraced and Jailed Delta State Governor, James Ibori
I have even forgotten to start from check-in formalities at the point of travel. I have not witnessed any country where today, one sees combined forces of Immigration, Customs, NDLEA and many other unidentifiable bodies, gloves in hands, searching one’s luggage menacingly. Does it mean our screening machines do not work like those of other countries?
We must at this juncture commend the present Minister of Aviation, Princess Stella Odua. In her one could see the efforts of one who was equally disenchanted with the State of our airports. If other past Ministers individually or collectively did 20% of what she is doing now, that sector would have not been a problem today.
We also commend the Inspector General of Police, Mr. Muhammed Abubakar for showing signs of preparedness to reform one of the most problematic institutions in Nigeria, the Police Force. The abolishing of road blocks is one necessary step he has taken that he will for a long time be remembered for. It signaled to observers, the first step towards the return of professionalism to the Police, which Nigerians perennially yearn for. Nigerians do not know that all those AK 47 that Nigerian Police carry are meant for war. In many countries of the world, the presence of such weapon on the street will only signify a state of war. The IG should strengthen the intelligence arm of the force since crime is better fought through intelligence than display of raw force. If not for intelligence deployed in the arrest of Ofe Akwu, at whose compound military ammunition were found, that contingent of Police that arrested him would have been over powered by the array of ammunition in Ofe Akwu’s superior amoury . ( Continues below..... )
Photo Above: Tafa Balogun, Nigeria's former Inspector-General of Police in cuffs being taken to court by EFCC April 4, 2005, after arrest for corruption.
One of the problems of fighting crime in our country is that our security personnel talk too much. The Americans prepared for the storming of Bin Laden’s abode for almost a year and yet nobody heard of it. What are the gains of telling us that the confession of Ofe Akwu led to the arrest of another armed robber at Ihiala? If there are other armed robbers connected to him and they hear this, would they not run for dear life always believing that he may have also confessed about them as well? The police would achieve more results if they even told us that the man became deaf and dumb the moment he was arrested, while secretly making use of information they got from him.
As I fiddled with my computer, light did not go off and all amenities seem to work. But vis-à-vis our country, one is bound to be angry with the system. The energy we should by now be deploying in other areas is now deployed to those things that we ought to have taken for granted. What is painful is that when quantified, you will see that Nigeria had actually sunk in more money into those areas than the countries where they are working ever did. Our critics, rather than consistently point this out, forget criticisms once a carrot is dangled before them.
One of our greatest problems is lack of genuine critics in the country. In Anambra for example, we have many armchair critics some of who have not visited the State in 6 years and analyses events only by synthesis. The more the State has a Governor ready to do the right things the more the criticisms are mounting. Those people do not devote a moment’s reflection on the future of the State. They are ready to bring down the roof on everybody once they are not benefiting, directly or indirectly. Today, rather than point out the infrastructural deficit to those that govern states, we have some who want us to believe they are critics labouring in vain and amusingly to stop the President from visiting Anambra State to lend support to obvious efforts to emancipate the State. I think that all in all, they do not actually know what they are doing and deserve our sympathy. ( Continues below..... )
Photo Above: Map and Flag of Nigeria
From a State where bedlam, rape and rapine reigned, Obi has returned it to civilization through tortuous efforts that almost consumed him as he had to fight against Principalities and Powers. Today, rather than a subject for dinner jollity, Anambra has become a changed state used as an example when one intends to discuss good and focused leadership, but the opposition he gets is from the home front. This is tragic!
Today, we also have a President who is truthful to the country and to himself. You can only appreciate him if you have followed his policies. Sometimes he treads carefully because the monster that has been created in Nigeria needs a Hercules to deal with it. Take the issue of petroleum subsidy and you will shudder at how a clique steal our common patrimony and are infinitely ready to deploy it to fight any person that challenges them. So far, the President is doing well, we only ask that he does not relent nor give in to the pressure from these buccaneers.
I laugh when some people associate timidity or naivety with our President. I was in France when he met with the President of that country. I remember that answering one question posed to him, he spoke about Nigeria in a manner that made me to be proud of him. He talked about Nigeria, including her different vegetations, from Sahel through Guinea/Savannah to tropical rainforest in a manner that made us proud of him. His comments about Nigeria are devoid of pretences. We have a President that acknowledges that Nigeria has problems created over the years and is genuinely committed to our getting it right.
We cannot solve Anambra or Nigeria’s problems through protecting our narrow interests as most Nigerians do. If you have followed development in Anambra, you will agree with me that what we need is not a Chudi Offodile, who is busy doing trubom trubom ka amaru onye o ga ato be ya with me, but genuine critics who should be ready at all times to criticise and commend, as well as offer ideas without looking at their cash values for they are priceless. Obienyem is based at Awka.
*Ndigbo Celebrate Igbo Day September 29
By Chuks Ibegbu
On Saturday the 29th of september 2012, Ndigbo from all works of life will gather at Asaba, the Delta State capital to observe the 2012 edition of the Igbo Day ceremony. This event which started in the days of the Igbo State Union as a day for the commemoration of our Igboness, took other connotations in addition to the former objective. This connotation included the remembrance of our people who paid the supreme sacrifice in the cause of nation building among others. On this day, Ndigbo take stock of the past, meditate over the present and project unto the future.
That this 2012 edition is taking place in Asaba, the capital of Delta State is doubly significant. The Igbos of Anioma extraction never shirked their responsibility and call to patriotism when it mattered most. In the dark days of our history, their courageous men stood to defend their Fatherland. Many of them died in that episode. Since the end of that era , it appears the center could not hold as it used to until recently. The leadership of Ohanaeze Ndigbo by an Anioma son, Ambassador Ralph Uwechue is a clear indication that Anioma people have never and will never shirk their responsibility to Igbo cause. The Igbo family tree is pervasive and the Anioma stock is gregarious, industrious and forward looking. In their God given natural abode they have co-existed peacefully with their neighbours which is the hallmark of Igbos everywhere. ( Continues below..... )
Photo Above: Map of Igboland (homeland of Ndigbo of Nigeria )
We are not unaware of the tremendous developments in Asaba, the capital of Delta State, a phenomenon achieved by the Uduaghan led regime in the state. It is hoped that this progress will continue in leaps and bounds. The history of Anioma Igbos will not be complete without mentioning some of their great men of the past and present. The Former Premier of the defunct mid-west region and one of the founding fathers of Ohanaeze Ndigbo, Chief Dennis Osadebey was an Anioma son. The great Chike Ekwuyasi, Major Chukwuma Nzeogwu, Chief Onyia, the legendary Col Joe Hannibal Achuzia, Professor Chike Onwuachi, Prof Edozien, Asagba of Asaba, Chief Sonny Odogwu, the legendary J. J. Okocha, Prof Pat Utomi, Nduka Obaigbena, Tony Elumelu, Jim Ovia, Emma Okocha, the Azinges, and several redoubtable military officers of the pre and post war years are great sons of Anioma land. ( Continues below..... )
Photo Above: Map of Igboland (homeland of Ndigbo of Nigeria ) - Map 2
This Igbo Day holding in Anioma soil on 29th of September 2012, is historic and has shown that the Igbo family remains one irrespective of geo-political, geographic and geo-economic circumstances. Whether in the west, north, east, or south the Igbo nation is one in the larger Nigerian family. As this event holds with fanfare, the historical importance must never be lost to Ndigbo.
*President's Visit Excites Mbadinuju, Commends Obi for Investing over N4b in Orient Petroleum
Former Governor of Anambra State, Dr. Chinwoke Mbadinuju has commended Gov. Peter Obi for the successful one-day working visit of Mr. President, Dr. Goodluck Jonathan to Anambra State. He made this commendation yesterday through a statement made available to the press.
Mbadinuju said it was a thing of joy that Anambra State had achieved such stability that our people were now happy hearing good news coming out from the State, especially the recent presidential visit to the State. "I believed most Anambra State indigenes are that happy because of many projects, mostly private-sector driven that were commissioned by the President showing that Anambra is on a serious path of economic recovery and is happily expanding her economic base", he said. ( Continues below….. )
Photo Above: Dr. Chinwoke Mbadinuju
Mbadinuju is particularly happy with the exploration of petroleum and gas at the Inland Water Basin of the State that has made her qualify as an oil producing State.
He recalled the pioneering efforts of his Government towards the achievement of this feat. He also gave kudos to all those who supported his government efforts in this respect. He particularly commended Gov. Peter Obi for his dogged commitment to the project which made it succeed particularly given the whopping sum of over 4 billion Naira of Anambra money which he invested to make the whole project a reality.
He says: "One lesson those who govern our people should learn is the value of working for the common good of everyone. When I left office, those that came after me were pre-occupied with trying to dismantling the foundation that I laid. For example, they attempted to re-locate the Anambra State University to their home towns. However, when Governor Obi came to office, rather than follow the path of destruction, he recognized that governance is a continuum and he began to build on the foundations laid by his successors, including myself. For example, he continued developing the university and erecting more structures on the campuses. He also continued supporting Orient Petroleum that is now a success story."
Mbadinuju continue, "Governor Obi is also known to have followed in my security build-up and initiatives in Anambra and our State is good for it despite occasional hiccups. The Governor has also tried to open up, allowing former Governors and Anambra leaders and stakeholders to freely visit the Government House and Governors Lodge as occasion warrants." ( Continues below….. )
Photo Above: Governor Peter Obi
He called on all Anambrarians and men of goodwill to support good governance rather than play to the gallery because of interests that are far from altruistic.
commenting on the improved relationship between Awka and Abuja, Mbadinuju said, "To the credit of Gov. Obi is breaking the jinx of a Governor "fighting" with President as against what we now have of our Governor working together as friends with the President. This friendly relationship has brought good gains for the good people of Anambra State."
Finally, the former Governor advised those coming after to try to build on the good foundation left behind, and continue "as in a relay race. Let there be no strife, for are all brothers."
*Re: Crisis Rock Ohanaeze Ndigbo Over Diversion of Funds
The attention of the Secretary-General of Ohanaeze Ndigbo has been drawn to a recent Internet posting on http/www.momentng.com/enflashnewsflash7687 with the caption “Crisis Rock Ohanaeze Ndigbo Over Diversion of Funds” which purports to be a summary of some happenings in the National Executive Committee (NEC) of Ohanaeze Ndigbo.
For the avoidance of all doubts, Ndigbo worldwide are hereby informed that the Internet publication is not (repeat, “not”) from Ohanaeze Ndigbo.
The National Executive Committee and the generality of Ohanaeze Ndigbo have absolutely nothing to do with the publication and request all well-meaning Ndigbo to ignore it. Ohanaeze Ndigbo has a procedure of making its stand public.
The Solidarity of the current National Executive Committee of Ohanaeze Ndigbo led by its President-General Amb Ralph Uwechue OFR remains unshaken.
NDIGBO NDEWONU IGWE BU IKE
Chief Nduka I. Eya fcipm
Secretary-General, Ohanaeze Ndigbo
Copy to: The President-General
“ “ All Members of the National Executive Committee (NEC)
“ “ All Chapters/Branches/Affiliates of Ohanaeze Ndigbo
Photo Above: Chief Nduka I. Eya, Secretary-General (SG), Ohanaeze Ndigbo
*Anambra And Governor Obi’s Monument
By Okechukwu Anarado
It might surprise some watchers of Anambra State politics to begin to read about Governor Peter Obi’s monument; and for the less endowed in the white man’s language, particularly those of them resident in Anambra State, passion might run wild in defense of the Governor’s current mandate. While the first group might merely be confounded by the speed of time, the second just would not see their Governor and his Government as issues that are at the threshold of history – at the verge of being permanently reported in the past. Why talk of a monument whose making is unfolding still? There is yet a third interest-class; cynics who would bite, claw and shout in efforts to attain their sworn conclusions to emasculate the novel patterns adorning the political space of Anambra State. ‘What monument?’, they would ask. But in all of these dispositions, the reality of passing time and its compelling dictates in sifting the bedrock of history prevails.
Before the end of March, 2014, Governor Peter Obi would have served Anambra State the maximum statutorily allowable period of eight years, representing two terms of four years each. This is an uncommon privilege unprecedented in the State where the political landscape is replete with ‘men and women of timber and calibre’, who in deference to their high sounding (many a time bizarre) aliases, very often jump into a fray merely for the satisfaction of drawing blood. Even in fights they could neither sustain nor win. ( Continues below….. )
Photo Above: Governor Peter Obi
Having taken a token look at the peculiarities of Mr. Obi’s Anambra, one begins to appreciate better the value of the Governor’s resilience, doggedness, ruggedness too. How else would one explain Mr. Obi’s stubborn resistance of the monster that President Obasanjo’s the People’s Democratic Party (PDP) foisted on and sought to perpetuate in Anambra State? Indeed, the PDP nausea, exemplified by the stolen mandate, seemed a blessing for Ndigbo as it exposed the post war conspiracy of clannish pretenders who not only sought to subdue Ndigbo physically but to kill their spirit. Even ‘in the very before’ of the totem of Igbo consciousness (apologies to Chika Okpala, Chief Zebrudaya Okoroigwe Nwogbo Alias 4.30) the people’s mandate was stolen by impostors to the people’s cause.
What would have been left of Ndigbo if Mr. Obi failed to lead the battle for the rescue of the heartland of the Igbo nation? The Governor’s clear headedness, his sublime understanding of the character of the deprivation and his utmost commitment to resistance, made the unyielding Ikemba of blessed memory to declare uncommon support for a young man whom he identified as fighting hegemony against an endangered nation. Mr. Obi stood, fought and conquered the marauding bunch whose resolve was a systematic emasculation of Ndigbo, using Anambra State as a pilot scheme. This early struggle signaled the relevance of Mr. Obi among Ndigbo; added to this is his seminal managing of human and material resources both in governance of Anambra State and in other spheres of leadership wherever duty calls.
Having served Anambra State for over six of an eight years stretch, and judging from the transparent structure of his government, Governor Obi’s scorecard could be reviewed with reasonable degree of accuracy. The indices for measuring success or failure are located in the responsibilities of government and to what extent government fulfills or neglects such duties.
Anambra State is one of the States in Nigeria that hardly go without press reportage. Its prominence derives from its huge pull of human resources and the inputs of Ndi-Anambra, dead or living, in the making and sustenance of the country. But for a greater part of Anambra’s 21 years as a political entity, it recorded greater negative publicity owing to loss of direction among the crop of leaders that ran its affairs. This deviation manifested in the collapse of the system while very few individuals got so robust they could sustain parallel structures that mocked the institution of government. That was why the ‘Eselus’ for instance could boast of installing what served as government in the state between 2003 and 2006, just as the ‘Offors’ did, years earlier. ( Continues below….. )
Photo Above: Map of Anambra State
While the strains over the ownership of government raged, the entire gamut of the responsibilities of the state went prostrate: education was abandoned, the health sector was comatose; there was comprehensive infrastructural decay and unrest of every kind marked the sociopolitical clime of the state. It remained largely so until the unprecedented judiciary intervention that nullified the celebration of absurdities and declared Mr. Obi of the All Progressive Grand Alliance (APGA) as the authentic governor of the state in March, 2006. From the date of that epochal declaration till date, Anambra State, under Governor Obi, has persisted in its march to recover the lost years and firmly situate itself among the comity of states with both vibrant economy and civilised polity. Pointers to this growth are identifiable in the resuscitation of all the sectors of the State’s economy through the vehicle of Anambra Integrated Development Strategy (ANIDS), which ensures a comprehensive and effective design, budget and implementation of simultaneous development in all sectors of the state’s economy.
The health sector for instance now has some government as well as private owned hospitals and institutions accredited by relevant censor organisations. Onitsha General Hospital, Our Lady of Lourdes Hospital, Ihiala; Anambra State School of Nursing and Midwifery, Npor; St. Joseph’s Hospital, Adazi-Nnukwu; Iyi-Enu Hospital, Ogidi and Charles Borromeo Hospital, Onitsha are representational of such interventions in the health sector. The construction and inauguration of Anambra State University Teaching Hospital, Awka, is also a phenomenal entry in the credential of Governor Obi’s government.
The Civil Service has its own gains from the current government of the state. Apart from workers’ increased pay package which compares favourably with what obtains in some rich states, an imposing new State Secretariat (Chief Jerome Udoji State Secretariat) which today represents the pride of Anambra State workers, stands to the credit of this administration which conceived, constructed, equipped and effectively put it to use. Today, the operations of government are run from a single pool of ministries which makes for speed and efficiency. Today, government ministries have necessary enablement like vehicles for optimal performance.
The education sector too has recorded enormous gains from the present State Government. Both primary, secondary and tertiary institutions in the state have variously benefited from the commitment of the government to sanitise the sector in a bid to preserving the future of the society. Over one hundred and fifty secondary schools have received brand new buses; many more schools have received computers and internet facilities, water boreholes, power generating set, sports equipment and many other items to enhance acquisition of knowledge. School buildings have been reconstructed, new buildings erected and school compounds fenced. Missionary schools forcefully acquired from the owners have been returned to their original owners with grants to facilitate the rehabilitation of dilapidated structures.
If today one seeks the monument of Mr. Peter Obi in Anambra, the new look Anambra State where reputable donor agencies jostle to identify with the success story of Mr. Peter Obi’s administration beckons.
Okechukwu Anarado writes from Adazi-Nnukwu
*Nigeria – The Cost and Consequences of Coerced Amalgamation – Part 2 Concluded
By Rev. Dr. C. Kingston Ekeke
Today, we see a renewed interest and courageous fight for self government, regional autonomy, secession, sovereign national dialogue, fiscal federalism, etc. The reason for this frustration, anger and fights is not only because of the economic and political injustice but lack of coherent national core value system that gives sense of patriotism and empowers the peoples of Nigeria to believe in themselves and their national leadership. Since Nigeria gained independence in 1960, she has had many kinds of government – unitary, parliamentary, Military and for the last thirteen years, a democratic presidential system. Yet, despite Nigeria’s enormous human potential and abundant natural resources, the promise of these various governments has been a dismal failure. The nation’s leaders have not kept their promises but floundered and left the Nigerian masses worse than when they were under their slave master, Britain.
Let us review compactly the history.
The Era of Military Juntas
In October 1975, General Gowon was overthrown in a coup, on the anniversary of his ninth year in office, after he could not keep his earlier promise to return power to a democratically elected government in 1976. He announced an indefinite postponement of a programme of transition to civil rule. The late Murtala Mohammed, the new head of state promised a 1979 restoration of democracy. On February 13, 1976, Murtala Mohammed was killed in the traffic on his way to work. On February 14, 1976, General Murtala Mohammed was succeeded by General Olusegun Obasanjo who pledged to pursue his predecessor’s transition programme. In 1979, Nigeria adopted and approved a new Constitution.
On October 1, 1979, Nigeria momentarily returned to democratic system of government. General Obasanjo handed over power after completing the remainder of three years of Murtala-Obasanjo military regime to Alhaji Shehu Shagari as first elected Executive President and the first politician to govern Nigeria since 1966. Five parties had competed for the presidency, and Shagari of the National Party of Nigeria (NPN) was declared the winner. The other parties were: Unity Party of Nigeria (UPN), National People’s Party (UPN), Great Nigeria People’s Party (GNPP), and People’s Redemption Party (PRP). The conduct of the general elections was criticized by opposing parties and the media. Violence erupted in some parts of the west. On September 1983, Alhaji Shehu Shagari was re-elected president of Nigeria. Three months later, following a coup d’état on December 31, 1983, the military returned to power. Major-General Muhammad Buhari was named head of state.
From August 1985 to May 1999, Nigeria was basically ruled by various military dictators and corrupt civilian politicians – namely military dictator Ibrahim Babangida, Ernest Shonekan, military dictator Sani Abacha, and Abdulsalam Abubakar. It was an era of decrees, indiscipline, ethinc cleaning, visionless economic programs that destroyed the nation’s currency-Naira and basically rubbished the Nigerian economy, which actually elevated greed, bribery, and corruption and enthroned most of the crooks, cronies and pathetic personalities we have today as political leaders in the nation. The military despots looted the national treasury and left the Nigerian economy with a horrendous national debt. During these various regimes most of the nations’ institutions collapsed.
The Return to Democratic Governments, Political Hooligans and Lawlessness
The cancellation of the 1992 democratic elections won by Chief M. K. O Abiola and his sudden demise in prison provoked riots and civil disobedience by thousands of human rights activist, pro-democracy activists, media and ordinary citizens. The return to democracy at point was non-negotiable. The political wrangling and maneuvering of that period eventually led to the surprising win of a former military ruler, Olusegun Obasanjo, a prisoner of Sani Abacha, from Southwest and same state with MKO Abiola. Many have written that Obasanjo’s civilian presidency 1999-2007 was a compensation for Chief Abiola’s mysterious death and denial of his rightful winner of the 1992 presidential elections. In 1999, Nigeria returned permanently to a democratic presidential system of government, however, political instability, poor leadership, religious ignorance and intolerance and violence, ethnic hatred, moral degradation, corruption, injustice, indiscipline and irresponsibility quickly marred the nations’ prospect for development and progress. Until today, Nigerians have not really enjoyed any genuine freedom or political peace and national prosperity, despite abundant natural and human resources God endowed but business as usual – a vicious circle of myopic, incompetent, and irresponsible politicians as leaders. In a nutshell, Nigeria has been ruled by fools and idiots as IBB and OBJ revealed to Nigerians during their squabble last year.
During the 8-year presidency of Olusegun Obasanjo, corruption, political thuggery, godfatherism, political assassinations, Niger Delta militancy, armed robbery, kidnapping, religious intolerance, radical Islamic fundamentalism and lawlessness reached its zenith. Before he completed his two-term reign, he began to campaign for Alhaji Yar’adua, the then governor of Katsina State, and surprisingly handed the presidency to a sick man, Alhaji Umaru Musa Yar'Adua, another Northerner to be the president of Nigeria. President Yar’Adua took office in May 29, 2007 and in his inauguration messianic speech , he admitted that Nigerians were going through hell and promised to create 40 million jobs within 10 years, lower interest rates, reduce inflation and achieve realistic exchange rate for Naira. His seven-point agenda was crystal clear, but then he reversed all the Economic agenda of his predecessor, refused to support the CBN monetary policy which was the second phase of PDP economic agenda. He reversed most of the economic reforms and most laws of his predecessor and re-deployed Mallam Nuhu Ribadu, the anti corruption czar to the Institute for Policy and Strategic Studies (NIPSS) in Kuru, Plateau State, Nigeria and finally sacked him. Nigeria returned to the same vicious circle of incompetence and lawlessness. ( Continues below….. )
Photo Above: Olusegun Aremu Obasanjo
During Yar’Adua’s watch, Nigeria entered into a state of hopelessness, until his demise in May 2010. Dr. Goodluck Jonathan, his VP and a civilian from oil rich South-south finished the term and then in April 16, 2011 overwhelmingly won the presidential election, which has been adjudged to be the freest and fairest election in the nation’s history. However, since his inauguration on April 29, 2011, the country has been besieged with radical Islamic fundamentalism and terrorism. Hundreds of innocent citizens have been killed and thousand displaced in several Northern states.
President Jonathan styled his leadership as transformational unlike his predecessor, the late Alhaji Yar’Adua, who called himself a servant leader. Within months into his presidency despite the challenges from opposition regarding the election, President Jonathan rather than focus on the security challenges, economy and other social problems confronting the nation, embarked on constitutional amendment with a concocted six-year single tenure for the president and governors. Public opinion fumed against such insensitivity and just within weeks, the National Assembly tossed out that part of the bill, saying it is untimely and suspicious. Just this week, the president promised that the Constitutional Amendment will be ready in June 2013 and that it will be people’s oriented constitution. The President has not performed despite that he brought in technocrats in his cabinet including Nigeria’s pride in the likes of Dr. (Mrs.) Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala, former World Bank president, Prof. Barth Nnaji and others to focus on the nation’s comatose economy and ecliptic power supply. Shockingly and surprisingly, Prof. Barth Nnaji resigned last week as Minister of Power due to conflict of interest in the privatization of the Power Holding Company of Nigeria as was insinuated. His resignation shocked millions of Nigerians including nations around the world. His resignation and forced out of office will be reserved for another article, but I suffice to say that Prof. Nnaji is not a crude politician but a scientist, an innovator, inventor and scholar of international repute. Many who he knew him, trusted his expertise and leadership, but also had fears whether he will survive in an environment filled with conflict, irritation, abuse and corrupt people.
Prof. Nnaji before his courting by President Jonathan was a professor and researcher at one of the finest universities in the U.S. – University of Massachusetts (UMASS) and a consultant to NASA. In less than one year, he assumed office; Nigerians began to see some “LIGHT” now I’m afraid, we are going back to our routine “DARKNESS “again. It’s sad that decent people can’t be good politicians and leaders in Nigeria. He was sincere and honest to declare his business interest in the privatization of the power sector. After all, it is an area of his expertise. A typical Nigerian politician will find a way to hide such business interests and continue to dupe and siphon the government and the public. During the so-called privatization exercise during Obasanjo’s administration, most of the federal business entities were auctioned off to family members, friends and to businesses where some of the ruling politicians had enormous interest in. In Nigeria, it is not a secret that many of our leaders built their private businesses with public funds while serving in government. Prof. Nnaji is an exception and now shows our corrupt politicians how to separate personal interest from public service.
And so, since the return of a democratic government 14 years of ago, Nigeria has not had good leaders but hooligans and military gangsters masquerading as politicians that piloted the affairs of the country. Nigeria as a nation has not really enjoyed any genuine political peace and national prosperity despite enormous blessings that God endowed on her but violence, bombs, terrorism and irrational killings of innocent citizens. Today, Nigeria is ruled and governed by military and political dictators that continue to deny the people of Nigeria security, order, peace and basic needs of livelihood. For fifty-two years, Nigeria has had military dictatorship, political hypocrisy, and extravagantly indulgent corrupt judicial system that oppressed the poor, women, young people, children and minority members of the nation. Despite her enormous human potential and abundant natural resources, the promises of democracy have been a dismal failure. After 13 years of democracy, people are yet to see the so-called “Dividends of Democracy”.
Niger Delta Militancy and Oil Pollution
It is because of the injustices in our nation that led some courageous men to form peaceful groups and unfortunately some militant groups to battle against the biased, discriminatory and satanic system that they live in. Today, we have MASSOB, OPC, MEND, BAKASSI, and Niger Delta militants fighting against injustice in the federal system. Today, we are witnesses of the renewed fight and courageous call for self government and peaceful division of Nigeria.
Let us forget about the 1960’s butchery of the Igbos and fast forward to the 1980’s. Military despot Sani Abacha persecuted, arrested and imprisoned many notable Nigerians including Ken Saro Wiwa, leader of the Movement for Salvation of the Ogoni People (MOSOP), for treason and punishable by death for criticizing his government. Sani Abacha carried out ethnic cleansing in Ogni, Okirika, and Adoni - oil rich Delta regions of River State. On October 31, 1995, Abacha’s civil disturbances tribunal found the writer and environmental activist, Ken Saro-Wiwa and eight other MOSOP leaders guilty and sentenced them to death by hanging. Despite appeal for mercy from the human rights organizations, statesmen, religious leaders, international governments and world leaders including the Commonwealth and iconic figure like Nelson Mandela, on November 10, 1995, all 9 MOSOP leaders and activist were hung. Ken Saro-Wiwa, a writer, playwright and environmentalist was hung simply because he called the government’s attention to the oil spillage and environmental pollution and degradation in his hometown, Ogni. The military despot, Sani Abacha and his cohorts were so ignorant and visionless, that they refused to listen to the world renowned environmentalist. Few years ago, the United Nations (UN) carried an investigation and confirmed of massive oil pollution in Niger Delta region. The report from the United Nations Environment Programme, the first of its kind in Nigeria, was based on two years of in-depth scientific research. It found that oil contamination is widespread and severe, and that people in the Niger Delta have been exposed for decades – the report said. The report provided irrefutable evidence of the devastating impact of oil pollution on people's lives in the Delta - one of Africa's most bio-diverse regions. It examined the damage to agriculture and fisheries, which has destroyed livelihoods and food sources of the Niger Delta region and its environs. One of the most serious facts to come to light is the scale of contamination of drinking water, which exposed communities to serious health risks. Amnesty International Global Issues Director, Audrey Gaughran, who has researched the human rights impacts of pollution in the Delta Region, also said, "This report proves Shell has had a terrible impact in Nigeria, but has got away with denying it for decades, falsely claiming they work to best international standards." The UN and Federal Government of Nigeria reported that it would take about a $1 billion and up to 30 years to clean. We now know it will take 50 years or more to cleanup and restore normalcy to the area devastated with oil pollution and ongoing oil spillage. ( Continues below..... )
Photo Above: Map of Nigeria's Niger Delta Region showing Port Harcourt
Eye witnesses report that the Niger Delta oil pollution is much worse than the 2010 British Petroleum (BP) oil leak in the Gulf Coast, which affected the ecosystem and fishing businesses of those that live around the coastline of Louisiana State, USA. The business owners and citizens fumed and when it is all said done, BP paid out nearly $750 million to compensate businesses, fix the leak and cleans their mess. Until today, BP is still faced with litigation, lawsuits, reparation and compensation for oil spillage in the Louisiana coastline. Oil pollution has been going on in the South-south and some Southeast communities for years. The BP oil spill was rated the worst oil spill in US history even though it was just about 7 month’s oil leak. The Niger Delta region oil pollution is been going on for 50 years. When will the Nigerian government clean the Niger Delta regions? When will the president and his environmental Minister push for reparation from Shell as well as enforce stringent laws and policies on multi-national oil companies operating in Nigeria to protect the environment? This is a challenge of this and future governments which demands a lot of capable and skilled hands as well as calls for compassion of the health and well-being of the citizens of those regions.
Boko-haram Jihadist Sect and Insecurity
Since the return to democratic government in 1999, there have been ethnic, religious, economic, and political motivated violence and conflicts that have decimated thousands of innocent lives in Nigeria. Since the last decade, we have witnessed rash of rampage and despicable acts of violence, looting, killings and wanton massacre of innocent Nigerians by Boko-Haram sect in many cities and states in the North. This ignorant, intolerable, irrational rampage and despicable acts of killings and massacre are getting worse each day. From 2007 till date, an estimated 3,000 or more Nigerians have been killed and hundreds of thousands displaced and their means of livelihood shattered. Since 1999, an estimated 14,000 innocent Nigerians have been massacred while the Federal Government, State, Local and Security agencies remain incapable of stopping the murderous sect. The government and security agencies –especially the police have failed in their basic duty to provide security and protection of innocent human lives. They all should resign and give way to competent and capable hands – including international community to handle the security and terrorist challenges that are confronting the nation.
The wise and great Ijaw leader, Chief Edwin Clark recently spoke truth to power, when he called on IBB and other Northern leaders to speak out against Boko-haram. Nigeria needs wise, courageous and compassionate leaders like him. In the last two years, check the record, go and read public statements made by many Northern politicians, religious leaders and elders – no one has had the courage and temerity to condemn the murderous activities of Boko Haram. Rather, they blame it on poverty and their past leaders. If there were any courageous politician and leader in the North, the Jihadist and murderous activities of Boko Haram would have been curtailed –if not out rightly stopped. By the way, Boko Haram is the religious-political army of the Hausa/Fulani Oligarchy. Boko Haram did not start in 2009 as stated; it has been in existence since the history of Nigeria. Boko Haram mushroomed into this militant movement to fight for return of power to north and without question there are politicians and powers behind them. And they won’t stop until power returns to the North. I wrote a few years ago, that Nigeria must brace up for the murderous activities of Boko Haram. Boko Haram is our “intifada” and their ultimate desire is to impose the “Rule of Allah” in Nigeria. This is the universal teaching of Islam worldwide – to make Islam worldwide religion. And I don’t have any qualms about Boko Haram establishing an Islamic/Sharia State, but I have serious problem about “Islamization” and “Somalization” of Nigeria and imposing Sharia and the Rule of Allah upon Nigerians who disagree with them. They should know by now that Nigeria is a multi-religious nation. ( Continues below..... )
Photo Above: Map of Nigeria showing Bakassi peninsular and parts of Cameroon
I ask, when will this despicable and wanton killings of innocent Nigerians stop? When will the Federal Government take action about these lecherous killings of innocent Nigerian citizens in the North? When will the Federal government bring to justice the perpetrators and the sponsors of these heinous killings and cowardice acts against innocent Nigerians? When will this foolishness stop in our nation? When will all Nigerians stand together, unite, and condemn this immoral and satanic massacre of innocent citizens and God’s children? When will Christian Association of Nigeria (CAN) engage in serious Ecumenical and interfaith dialogue with Islam and Muslim leaders not just a council meeting with Catholics, Protestants and Pentecostal but ecumenical –interfaith dialogue with Islam and the Imams? The leadership at CAN – especially the Pentecostal pastors and bishops shave failed woefully in their calling and divine mandate to build the kingdom of God. For decades, they had focused on prosperity and materialistic message rather than preaching the adulterated gospel of Jesus Christ – the gospel of the kingdom of God on planet earth. For years, they had been after their own selfish and worldly interests while their sheep and flocks of God are dying and perishing everyday.
Way Forward –
Amend the Constitution to Address the Injustices in the Federal Government
It is an acceptable fact that the 1999 Constitution is over due for review and amendment considering the inadequacies and anomalies in our society. Despite my skimpy knowledge on matters of constitutional matters, I have always argued that the constitution that we have today is not only deficient to the ethos of presidential and democratic system of government that we clearly copied from the United States of America, but, additionally does not accommodate the true aspirations of all Nigerians. The current political, social, economic and religious turmoil in the nation can be checked and minimized based on the quality of our constitution, patriotic legislation and honest enforcement of those laws. In fact, many Nigerians are clamoring for Sovereign National Conference to address the inadequacies and injustices in the Nigeria Federal Structure. Even, some are calling for true federalism rather than amendment of the constitution. However, the constitutional amendment can give the people an opportunity to revamp and fix the injustices in the federal structure, in order for the nation to make progress.
I also think that amendment of Constitution should not be left solely into the hands of the Legislative body. The Constitution Amendment Committee should include constitutional lawyers, judges, liberal scholars, thinkers, leaders of thought, historians, traditional and religious leaders, ex-presidents, governors, senators, diplomats and frankly fewer politicians and legislators. The current political, social, economic and religious turmoil in the nation can only be checked and minimized based on the quality of the constitution, patriotic legislation and honest enforcement of those laws. Nigeria should rethink of her current political culture and figure out the best methodology the nation can tailor and construct its constitution and political systems in order to produce credible candidates, knowledgeable electorates, build strong democratic institutions and entrench patriotic values that are capable of yielding the expected progress and dividends of democracy.
Educate the Citizens and Develop a National Core Value System (Patriotism)
The culture of learning which was strong and admired by Nigerians has eroded due to weak educational leadership and corrupt government leaders. Since the return to democratic government in 1999, the portfolio of education has been held by corrupt and incompetent politicians. Moreover, most of the governors of the various states in Nigeria have been visionless and myopic. The university campuses have become centers for raping young girls, gang activities, cultists, in addition to constant strikes, poor lecturers and lack of funds. Everything nowadays is driven by money even the university admissions are now bought by rich people for their sons and daughters. The schools are also dilapidated and teachers who cannot write simple correct sentences or speak it are teaching our children.
The picture is evidence of lawlessness and purposeless education in present day Nigeria. That is why many young Nigerians are dying to leave Nigeria – even to the nearest neighboring countries like Ghana or South Africa to attend university. Those of them who are extremely lucky to travel to the European Union and United States are excelling in their studies and academics. Why would the young people live in a nation that does not care for them, recognized as the future leaders of the country, receive proper training, developed and prepared to take over the running of the country at some point? Why would they live in a nation without job after their university education and unemployment roaring at almost 80%? President Jonathan must declare state of emergence in the education sector. Nigeria needs a massive educational restructuring. The government must find ways to tap into the uncommon Nigerians scattered around the world – by seriously fighting insecurity, providing basic infrastructure , setting up attractive incentives and conducive working environment to be able to attract some of these Nigerian geniuses in Diaspora back to Nigeria. Nigeria does not lack the brains, but the political will to galvanize and harness her God given resources - human and natural. However, I'm afraid to say that the new wave of suicide bomb blasts in Nigeria may be a clear indication that Nigeria is becoming a terrorist pariah state. The cabals – the ‘satanic cult” and "powers to be" that are so entrenched must be destroyed in order to restructure the society. The state of education sector in Nigeria today clearly points that Nigeria has become a lawless and disorderly nation. To fix these anomalies, will take some form of revolution. There cannot be strong and great leaders without massive education reform and restructuring.
Also, there cannot be strong, moral and courageous leadership without a well-defined set of core values that will shape the lives of those called to lead. Core values are constant and passionate beliefs that drive lives, business decisions or nation’s priorities. Core values determine and shape daily actions of people, business or government leaders. They are hidden motivations that dictate every decision and determine life’s priorities. Vision, passion and purpose are driven by core values. Without core values or code of conduct, people, families, businesses or even nations will have a broken focus? Dr. Mike Murdock, one of the great wisdom teachers of our contemporary time said, “The passion of our daily routine is the hidden secret for our success, people fail because of broken focus.” Daily routines are core values or value systems that drive and determine life’s success. Daily routines determine and shape our daily actions.
The same is true of a nation. Core values ask the question, why do I do what I do? Developing national core values and the passion for why we as a nation will be the secret to our nation’s success. Well-defined strong national core values will not only contribute to our nation’s success but also will also inspire people to reach their fullest potential, embrace good change, communicate what is important and enhance credible leadership. Core values are not only applicable to individuals or business organizations, families or churches, but also to nations, states and cities. Without a strong national value system no nation can flourish and be successful.
There has to be patriotic decisions and passionate actions that determine and drive our nation’s priorities. The problem is that the framers of the first Nigerian constitution were not Nigerians but slave masters. Nigeria's first constitution was written by the British people in 1922. These are people who did not understand our culture or value systems of the myriad groups that make up Nigeria. Since then, the constitution has been revised a few times without the constitutional experts but dictators and stooges of a gangster government, who evaded radically revamping the constitution to accommodate the social, cultural, religious and tribal norms of all the variant groups that make up Nigeria. The fundamental rights as defined in our constitution today does not contain defined set of core values such as character, honesty, genuine integrity, discipline, character, trust, truth, commitment, dedication, patriotism …that are capable of producing patriotic citizenry, credible leaders, spur nation building, promote good business culture and inspire people to embrace good change in-order to reach their potential.
I am convinced that in order to build a respectable and prosperous nation that we aspire and dream to have, there must be first of all a set of well-defined core values or code of conduct that will help to create an environment in which government, businesses, investment and people can thrive and prosper. Trust, integrity, honesty and sincere character are seriously lacking in our society in all levels. How can a nation make progress without trust? Trust is lacking among Nigerians. Ijaw, Igbo, Yoruba , Hausa-Fulani, etc., do trust each other instead they hate each other with passion. How can a nation make progress in such a hateful and mistrust environment?
I think the time is now for Nigerians to have a serious dialogue and discussion on how to move forward as a nation. There is too much suffering and hopelessness. There is anger and frustration everywhere in Nigeria – the Boko Haram, MEND, Niger Delta militants, MASSOB, CPC, Bakassi people of the oil rich island, and then unemployment, dilapidated infrastructure, death-trap roads, religious ignorance and intolerance, insecurity, corruption and so on. Nigeria is at a tipping point. These frustrations and disagreements must be handled courageously through national dialogue and debate.
Last year, the Nobel laureate, Professor Wole Soyinka made a direct call to the political leaders and warned of people’s anger and frustration concerning the senseless killings, corruption, and incompetent political leadership. He called for dialogue and discussion on how to move the nation forward. The former Head of State, General Abdulsalami Abubakar in an interview that month also called for all ethnic groups in Nigeria to sit on the roundtable to renegotiate their continued co-existence. Those calls are sincere, honest, and courageous calls.
The nation needs a dialogue – sovereign national conference or national dialogue, no matter what it is called; all the people groups of Nigeria must sit down to chart their destiny. The dialogue and agreed ideas must be documented and cherished as the basis of democratic system government. Any document produced from the dialogue should be used to govern the affairs of the state and its people. It should provide defense, administer justice, and order, in which people could go in safety about their business. It should have checks and balances that provide more realistic safeguards – constraining absolute power of the federal government, security of its citizens and welfare of all Nigerian people. The documents must set a well-defined set of core values that will shape the lives and especially those who are called to lead.
A lot has been said and written about the amalgamation of Nigeria as a nation. The late visionary leader, Chief Obafemi Awolowo once observed that Nigeria is not a nation, but merely a geographical expression. Many notable visionaries and leaders of thought have also referred the Nigerian nation as merely a political expression for the economic and political interest of the colonial masters. The amalgamation of Nigeria as a nation is an issue that must be addressed if we really desire to live in peace and fulfill our destiny. I believe that without genuine forgiveness and reconciliation, there cannot be order, unity and peace in our country. We cannot move forward as a nation and fulfill our common purpose and destiny until ethnicity, tribalism and injustice are addressed in our country. We truly need a national identity that harbors ethnicity but promotes national identity entity, if not we break the Union. The amalgamation of Nigeria has been costly. The impelled amalgamation of the variant groups that make up Nigeria today has been problematic and costly to manage due to ethnic jingoism and diverse dynamics of interests of the various groups. In essence, our challenges clearly shows that we have not grown-up as a people, but still immature in our way of doing business with each other and with outside world. The tendencies and acts of childishness are still evident in our everyday life and living. Since Nigeria gained her independence in 1960, she has had only turbulent periods of political crisis, religious violence and ethnic warfare that led to unforgettable genocidal civil war of 1967-1970 that claimed more than two million lives and left her surviving citizens with so much bitterness, hatred and rage against one another. At fifty-two years of self-government, Nigeria continues to flounder due to bad leadership, culture of impunity, culture of callousness, covetousness, greed, money worshippers, egotism, avarice, hatred, and rage. I think it is time for Nigerians to genuinely forgive one another, bury its tumultuous past and fractured history in-order to live together and peacefully again. Without genuine forgiveness and reconciliation, there cannot be unity, peace, and prosperity. The declaration for the end of the war slogan: “No Victor No Vanquished” should be revisited and properly implemented, otherwise Nigeria will continue to flounder and not reach its full potential.
Rev. Dr. C. Kingston Ekeke is a public theologian, author, and leadership scholar. He is the president of Leadership Wisdom Institute.
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