By Masterweb News Desk
Enobong Umohette( alias "Nigerian Gentleman" ), a Nigerian resident in Milwaukee, Wisconsin, is making news waves in U.S. professional boxing as a promising rising star. His Wisconsin professional boxing career will climax Saturday, March 20, 2010 when he gets a shot at the state heavyweight title.
Umohette, after a successful amateur career has progressively gained grounds in professional boxing. The "Nigerian Gentleman", with a 75% knock out ratio is the number one contender for Wisconsin State heavyweight title. He won his last five fights with four of them by knock out (TKO). Saturday, March 20, 2010 Umohette will trade blows with Lyle McDowell( alias "The Iceman" ), Wisconsin heavyweight champion, for a chance at the title.
McDowell, former IBO Inter-Continental heavyweight champion, has a record of over 40 professional fights. His numerous wins have a total of 18 knock outs. Boxing pundits are divided between McDowell and "Nigerian Gentleman"; some gave the fight to McDowell, while others predict a win for Umohette.
Umohette, outside the ring, a social crusader and public commentator, targets more feathers to his profile, which would include Wisconsin and World heavyweight champion. The "Nigerian Gentleman" believes the combined profile would serve as a source of inspiration to youths in Nigeria, especially in his home state of Akwa Ibom in the Niger Delta region. ( Continues below...... )
Photo Above: Mr. Enobong Umohette( alias "Nigerian Gentleman" )
Come Saturday, March 20, at the Crowne Plaza Hotel in Milwaukee Wisconsin, USA, "Nigerian Gentleman" will slug it out with "The Iceman". A win by Lyle McDowell(The Iceman), reaffirms his title, but a win by Enobong Umohette(Nigerian Gentleman) apart from bestowment of the title, also would boost Nigeria's image. Umohette's honour as Wisconsin heavyweight champion would set a record for emulation by Nigerians that success comes with hard work and patience.
Umohette in an interview, expressed his gratitude to Nigerians from all shades of life for their support and thanked The Executive Governor of Akwa Ibom State, Obong Godswill Akpabio for his dynamic leadership and support. He not only upheld his culture of respect for the sport of boxing and his opponent, but promised to stay determined and focused in the fight ahead and throughout his boxing career, which he hopes will be a tool to help the less privileged and support other young Nigerians to succeed in boxing and professional sports.
Nigerians and all lovers of sports are encouraged to show their support by attending the event. Details are as contained in the flyer below. Direct all phone inquiries on Enobong Umohette( "Nigerian Gentleman" ) to +1-414-795-4293 and all email inquiries to firstname.lastname@example.org
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Photo Above: Enobong Umohette(Nigerian Gentleman) Vs Lyle McDowell(The Iceman) Flyer
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*Tags: Nigerians, Enobong, Umohette, Gentleman, Lyle, McDowell, Africa, Masterweb
By Masterweb News Desk
The truck driver involved in the runover and crushing to death of at least 19 Nigerians on Ijebu-Ode/Sagamu expressway, has spoken out to newsmen. Late last month Masterweb News Desk carried an article on the highway robbery of a Nigerian luxury bus on lagos- benin expressway which led to the truck-crushing death of many people. The article can be read at http://nigeriamasterweb.com/blog/index.php/2010/02/25/nigeria_highway_robbery_aamp_gruesome_ma
The two drivers at the center of the armed robbery attack and crushing to death of passengers controversy, have been arrested by police in Abuja. The drivers are: Osayande Idahosa, 40, who hails from Edo State and driver of the crusher truck with registration number XN 808 BEN and Okechukwu Okafor, driver of the robbed Young Shall Grow luxury bus with registration number XF 285 AKD. Okafor hails from Oyi Local Government Area of Anambra State. The arrests followed recent motion by the Senate for investigations into the expressway mayhem that put in doubt police capacity in tackling crime in the country.
Osayande Idahosa, driver of the killer truck, told reporters the incident took place July 31 last year at Ijebu-Ode in Ogun State. Idahosa said on the fateful day, he was driving a Seaner Truck hired by a woman to deliver bags of garri to customers. According to him, he took-off from Benin en route Lagos in company of his conductor and the truck renter. The journey according to Idahosa met heavy traffic jam at Ore which finally paved way to lonely highway up to Obalende area of Ijebu-Ode. On sighting the headlights of a vehicle around 9.45 pm Idahosa said he became more relaxed. “When I saw the lights, I was happy. I did not know that it was an evil light that will continue to haunt me till eternity,” Idahosa told Daily Sun newsmen. According to his account, as they approached the vehicle, he sighted what seemed like barricades of logs of wood on the highway. “I thought it was a police check-point, so I slowed down. But I started hearing gun shots. I saw many people firing at me. Out of panic, I decided to run over what I assumed were logs of woods," Idahosa speaking in tears told reporters. He said all three of them in the truck panicked as he drove through in high speed, but was thrown in confusion as he heard human cries. The truck wavered through human bodies and ended up in the forest. ( Continues below...... )
Photo Above: Osayande Idahosa, driver of the killer truck
In his words to Sun newsmen Idahosa said: “As my truck ran over the ‘barricades’, I noticed that they were too soft. I also heard gun shots and agonizing cries of people. I suspected that I must have killed some people but I did not know who my victims were. I couldn’t control the vehicle and it ran into the bush. I immediately jumped down and took to my heels. While in the bush, I saw about 20 armed men in civilian clothes searching for me. They were boasting that they would soon fish me out and slaughter me in pieces. At this time, I did not know the fate of my conductor or that of the woman who hired me.” Idahosa said that while the armed robbers where searching his truck, he ran deeper into the forest and hid in a hole. He said he hid in the hole till about 6.00 am the following morning, before finding his way to the highway. He was told by a fellow driver that he had crushed to death 19 innocent lives and advised not to go near the scene of the bloodshed as he would definitely be lynched by the angry mob.
Idahosa got a ride from the driver to Ijebu-Ode junction, where he took an okada (commercial motorcycle) to Obalende police station, where he made a statement to the police. The police took his statement and told him to go back to the scene where at the time, the Commissioner of Police, the Divisional Police Officer and other senior policemen were for an on-the-spot-assessment. Idahosa said when he got to the scene and saw the havoc, shredded corpses after corpses, he wept and surrendered to the police and crowd. He explained: “But rather than stoning me to death, they all started listening to my story on how I unintentionally killed innocent robbery victims who I mistook to be robbers’ barricades. The sympathizers started consoling me, telling me it was not my fault. The policemen took me along with them and I was with them for four days before I was granted bail.” ( Continues below...... )
Photo Above: The killer truck driven by Osayande Idahosa
Okechukwu Okafor, driver of the ill-fated luxury bus, blames the tragedy on bad road condition. According to a statement to Daily Sun newsmen, Okafor said their journey started in the morning of July 31, 2009 at Enugu en route Lagos. He said the trip was smooth until 3.00 pm when they were held up in Ore for four hours by heavy traffic jam. According to him, on reaching a point between the Federal Government College, Odogbolu and Babcock University junction along Ijebu-Ode/Shagamu Expressway, their bus was forced to a stop by armed robbers numbering around 50. Okafor fearing for his life and knowing he did not stand a chance against the intimidating number of the bandits, fled into the forest. He said he heard gun shots and wailing of people in agony while in the forest. In his own words: “I thought it was the robbery gang that was killing my passengers. It was not until the following morning when I found my way out of the bush that I learnt that it was a truck driver who refused to stop for the robbers that ran over my passengers.” Okafor said he weeps when confronted with the tragedy and bloodshed of his passengers. “You know, right from the park at Enugu down to the scene of the ugly incident, we had all become friendly. In fact, in my 22 years of driving, I had not seen or heard such a story that looked like a fairy tale,” Okafor told Sun newsmen.
Police report on the incident states that: “On the 31st of July 2009, at about 11. 30 a.m, a luxurious bus with registration above, loaded with passengers travelling from Enugu to Lagos were attacked by a gang of armed bandits at a spot between Federal Government College, Odogbolu and Babcock University along Ijebu-Ode/Sagamu expressway. During the attack, the suspected armed robbers ordered the passengers of the luxury bus out of the vehicle and made them to lie face down on the expressway. An on-coming truck with reg. XN 808 BEN, driven by one Osayinde Idahosa of Ewetube Egbe Estate, Benin City, who refused to be stopped by the hoodlums, crushed some of the passengers to death. A a total of 19 passengers of the luxury bus which includes 6 females and 13 males were crushed to death by the truck and that there was no Police escort attached to the luxury bus as confirmed by the driver, Okechukwu Okafor who survived the incident. Some of the ten corpses have been collected by their relations for burial after proper identification and documentation and that some of the corpses were crushed beyond recognition and yet to be identified or collected by their relations or kinsmen.”
Force Public Relations Officer (FPRO), Mr. Emmanuel Ojukwu, speaking to reporters said: “Following some offensive photographs being posted on the internet by some mischievous people who made the incident looked like it happened recently, the force would like to inform the public that the ugly accident happened on July 31, 2009.” He said 19 passengers, including six females and 13 males, were crushed to death by the truck, and that the file in respect of the case had been duplicated and forwarded to the Director of Public Prosecution (DPP) for legal advice. Mr. Ojukwu's comments on mischievous postings on the incident does not apply to Masterweb updated news report, which referenced Sunday Tribune 2/8/09 article on the incident.
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Photo Above: Helpless Nigerians run over by a trailer after they lay down on the ground on the orders of armed robbers.
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*Tags: Nigerians, Crime, Armed, Robbers, Africa, Masterweb
By Ihejirika Peter
It is said that those their gods kneaded Fufu for, should eat it in silence. Such could be said of the first family of this nation. Hence going by the array of contestants in the 2007 Presidential election Yar’ Adua would not have been the best option. But for the entire wisdom of Obasanjo, PDP and some of their cohorts who made it possible for him to win the election. Well, everything surrounding the 2007 election is now history though Nigerians can never forget in a hurry. If not the ruse called 2007 Presidential election we would not have been in the mess we are today. President Yar’ Adua mounted the saddle of leadership almost three years ago and since then he has been sick. It would be recalled that mid way into the 2007 Presidential election he broke down and was flown to Germany for medical attention which prompted the then President Chief Olusegun Obasanjo, to humorously ask “…….Umoru are you dead………?” but in all Yar Adua succeeded and has been piloting the affairs of this great nation as President and Commander-in-Chief of the armed forces until 23rd of November, 2009 when he was hurriedly sneaked out of the country on health grounds. Since then, things have fallen apart and nobody expected the center to hold. ( Continues below….. )
Photo Above: Nigeria's First Lady Hajiya Turai yar'Adua
I am not among those who wish the President dead, nor those who are canvassing for his removal due to illness hence Yar’ Adua is a mortal and every mortal being is prone to one ailment or the other at any given time. But my point of departure is the way and manner which the President’s ailment has been politicized by individuals or groups for their self-aggrandizement. Left for me, I would not have wasted an effort to write but for posterity to vindicate me as it was Wole Soyinka who says “.……..the man died who keeps quiet in the face of tyranny…….”. So, those of us who do not go by the barrage of gun should muster as fast as possible all the arsenal in our disposal to condemn in strong terms the near anarchy the country is drifting into. Sentiment apart, if you do not know for the past three months now the country is sitting on a keg of gunpowder, you better think twice and pray fervently for God to bring the final solution to this political logjam. As what is happening in country today is an ill wind that blows no one good. This political debacle is now becoming obvious that an overambitious woman has sworn not to let the country be. A situation whereby our President has been ill and our representatives have been denied access to him. Even the thoughtful effort of the Federal Executive Council to swear in Dr. Goodluck Jonathan as an “Acting” President and Commander-in-Chief of the armed forces has been flagrantly played down. Hence the purported arrival of the president and subsequent deployment of troops was not known by the acting president who is supposed to welcome the ill president back home. ( Continues below….. )
Photo Above: Nigeria's Ailing President Umaru Yar'Adua at a Muslim prayer session in Abuja on September 29, 2009.
Well I am not against the abracadabra but my own concern is this nation. Turai Yar’ Adua and people behind her should know that power belongs only to God and nobody does the contrary. Even if they have succeeded in deceiving the people for the past three months it cannot be ad-infinitum. Very soon the cat would be let out of the bag. I remember when the former President, Chief OBJ advised that Yar’ Adua should toe the path honour and resign if he is incapacitated many agents of destabilization called for his head but now the truth is playing out and very soon all these agents of darkness who are bent on fast tracking the United States of American intelligent reports of a possible disintegration of this country by 2015 will unmask themselves. We will not be surprised that our tormentors are from our own kitchen. And anybody who thinks that the country belongs to him or that a section of this country could be seen as second-class citizens is doing so at his own peril. The first lady of this nation should know that her predecessors have come and gone and are remembered for one good thing or the other. She should toe that line of honour and work for the unity and indivisibility of this nation while we pray for the quick recovery of our President. But if she decides to play the pharaoh our time, she might leave the Aso Rock in shame or tears. God forbid! Advice they say, no be curse.
Ihejirika Peter writes from Etche, Port Harcourt, Rivers State and can be reached at email@example.com
*Tags: Nigerians, Turai, Yar'Adua, Wife, First, Lady, Africans, Goodluck, Jonathan, Political, Politics, Leadership, Masterweb
By Frank Ediagbonya
The video clips from Aljazeera TV now showing on YouTube ( http:www.youtube.com/watch?v=tlpZr81RucY ) has exposed how unarmed civilians were shot in the head and heart at pointblank by men of the Nigerian Police. These video clips has generated a lot of anger and shock from Nigerians and non Nigerians alike. The question of whether the poor and less privileged Nigerians are safe in the hand of security operatives especially the Nigerian Police Force is being critically examined by concerned Nigerians and Amnesty International.
Is Nigeria a risk society as being portrayed by that shocking video footage?
There are different types of risk; security risk, environmental risk, economic risk and social risk. Modern society have put in place institutions to deal with various risks. For example, the Central Bank or other relevant agencies has the responsibilities to avoid a country's economic risk while institution like the Nigerian Police Force or it counterparts across the globe is entrenched with the responsibilities to deal with social and security risks as well as protect lives and properties of citizenry. On many occasions the Nigerian Police have been caught in a conflicting duties of a peace makers, law enforcers and executioners.
The duties of the Nigerian Police Force which includes protection of lives and properties of Nigerians irrespective of status or religious affiliation has been seriously compromised after watching those clips of some men in noble uniforms of the NPF committing horrendous murder all in the name of maintaining law and order. The role of the Nigerian Police as a social institution established to maintain social order, enforce laws of the Federal Republic of Nigeria without fear or favour is now a subject of moral dilemma. The brutal murder of alleged religious activists of Boko Haram as seen on YouTube suggested that the poor and less privileged Nigerians are undervalued by those in authority or those who are bent on tarnishing the image of the Nigerian Police Force so to say.
It is a known fact that the image of the Nigerian Police Force amongst the Nigerian masses is tinted with notions, speculations and stigma of all unrighteousness. Not all members of the Nigerian Police are barbaric or 700 years behind modern civilization like the bad eggs in the Force who are bent to drag the image of the Force to the gutters. Nuhu Ribadu and his likes are good examples of trained and polished officers of the Nigerian Police Force.
Agreed that the Nigerian Police Force have mountain of challenges before them, for example fighting crime in a hi-tech society like Nigeria in the wake of mobile phone and Internet communication technology in all the nooks and crannies of the country; which has boosted violent crime and also taken the police by surprise. They were not prepared for this surprises when the erstwhile President Obasanjo introduced these technology hence, they were being filmed in the act of untold murder, sent to a global TV network while the Police tried to cover up their tracks with their usual tales by the moonlight or cock and bull stories.
I am not impressed that a fellow human being were killed like a chicken at the pleasure of some blood tasty men parading themselves in Police Uniforms who ought to have been detained in psychiatric hospitals. This clips has socially constructed Nigeria as a risk society not knowing who to trust. This is not a good PR for a country that is striving to gain a permanent seat in the UN. The only way to get out of this national embarrassment is to persecute all those involved in a court of law with their trail broadcast live in global media. It has also become imperative for all members of the Nigerian Police Force to be subjected to a mandatory psychiatric examination every 12 months due to their role as protector of lives and properties. (God's caretakers).
The Federal government of Nigeria should take urgent steps to enact laws banning all religious leaders from incitement, inducement, inflammatory statements capable of creating tribal tension and establish Religious, Ethnic or Tribal equality Commission to deal with tribal or ethnic complaints, nepotism, favouritism and religious inflammatory statements. These steps could reduce religious and tribal tension in Nigeria. ( Continues below..... )
The need for the Nigerian Police Force to build a new image worthy of commendation can not be overemphasised after that obnoxious killings carried out by its men in that video footage. I will strongly suggest that the Police Public Relations Officer or the Inspector General of Police should make a declarative statement disassociating the Nigerian Police Force from that wicked act against man and God. I know it is hard to change existing paradigm be that as it may, the NPF must either claim responsibility for the killings by keeping silent or disassociate itself from it outrightly through an official statement. It is like trying to change from traditional ways of thinking to modern ways of doing things isn't it?
It is time for the Nigerian Police to draw a framework that could win them back public trust which is a vital social instrument to modern policing. How? They should invest material and social resources into communities that they have taken so much from. They should invest in community projects and community empowerment. The Police should build water projects, amusement parks, help with environmental sanitation, engage individuals in the community in police-citizens sport activities and consultative forum, patrol the streets and ask the locals if they have any problems in their areas or if they need police help etc. The swift action of the new AGF of Nigeria Chief Adetokunbo Kayode (SAN) shows that the Nigerian masses is about to witness a social change package to add more value to their lives crushing all the notions and insinuations that the poor and less privileged Nigerians like the ones asked to lie face to the ground then shot is priceless under Yar'adua'/Jonathan's administration. I am pleased with the new proposal to punished any security operatives caught in the act of extra judicial killings. Kudos.
"The police is your friend, bail is free, help the police (with information) so that the police can help you" These catchphrases should move from its substantive meaning to a normative and functional meaning. There is a cloud of uncertainty and anxiety among many Nigerians as to whether the police can be trusted again, everything being equal, if the police uses the right approaches or holistic approach to woo the Nigerian masses, the spirit of forgiveness is what the Nigerian masses is Known for.
*Tags: Nigerians, Police, Governance, Abuja, Lagos, Yar’Adua, Jobs, Africa, Masterweb
By Olugu Ukpai
Professor Martha Nussbaum in her classical work Gender, Justice, Development and Rights submit that “women in developing world face numerous problems because of their sex.” Nigeria is one of the developing nations alluded to by the human right and constitutional lawyer. While there are sufficient international instruments designed to secure equality for women, the challenge lies in deciphering means of making the provisions within these instruments a reality. Although Nigeria has ratified major regional and international instruments proscribing gender discrimination, paradoxically, the constitution contains discriminatory provisions whilst legislations that overtly discriminate between sexes are rife. I argue that the first step towards surmounting the discrimination surrounding women’s rights issues is by repealing these discriminatory laws enshrined in the Nigerian Constitution, placing men and women at par by way of appropriate legislative measures backed by judicial interventions where cases of violation of the legislations to that effect arise. The philosophy underpinning my argument lies in basic constitutional principles that must be respected and implemented by the governments, as a minimum standard of what respect for human dignity requires. ( Continues below….. )
This article is divided into two parts. The first part examines some equality provisions of the Constitution, while the second part is a critical analysis of salient features of some discriminatory legislations, customs and practices that affect Nigerian women in the law in practice. But first, I will start by defining the working concept of the article. What is discrimination? Convention on the Elimination of All forms of Discrimination against Women (hereafter, CEDWA) defines discrimination against women as “any distinction or restriction made on the basis of sex which has the effect or purpose of impairing or nullifying the recognition, enjoyment or exercise by women, irrespective of their marital status, on the basis of equality of men and women, of human rights and fundamental freedoms in the political, economic, social, cultural, and civil or any other field.”
Domestic guarantees of equality
The 1999 Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria prohibits discrimination on grounds of sex. Section 42 (1) provides that: A citizen of Nigeria of a particular community, either ethnic group, place of origin, sex, religion or political opinion shall not, by reason only that he is such a person:
(a) be subjected either expressly by, or in the practical application of, any law in force in Nigeria or any executive or administrative action of the government, to disabilities or restrictions to which citizens of Nigeria of other communities, ethnic groups, places of origin, sex, religions or political opinions are not made subject: or
(b) be accorded either expressly by, or in the practical application of, any law in force in Nigeria or any such executive or administrative action, any privilege or advantage that is not accorded to citizens of Nigeria of other communities, ethnic groups, places of origin, sex, religions or political opinions.
(c) Section 17 (1) The State social order is founded on ideals of Freedom, Equality and Justice. Section 17 (2a) every citizen shall have equality of rights, obligations and opportunities before the law.
The Law in practice: Constitutionally guaranteed discriminatory legislation against women
Antithetical to constitutional non-discriminatory guarantees against discrimination, the Constitution itself contains provisions that discriminate against women, and administrative regulations and practices exist which breach these guarantees with impunity. More so, it can also be argued that the Constitution is interpreted as prohibiting discrimination in the public sphere, or by state agents, thus leaving no room for redress where discrimination is perpetuated by non-state actors. There is no known case where the Nigerian Constitution was relied upon to challenge human rights violations of women by a private person. These legislations that will be examined are some examples of statutes that have been in force since independence and/or colonial era and have not been changed, updated or reformed. For instance, most of the common law in force in Nigeria is that in force in England before 1900. This is inconsistent with the characteristic of law. Margaret Davis maintains that law should be in flux, flexible, and not static, enabling it to respond to changes in the society.
The Constitution provides in Section 26(2) that a woman who is or has been married to a citizen of Nigeria may be registered as a citizen of Nigeria, but silent as to whether a woman married to a foreign national can confer Nigerian nationality on her foreign husband. It implies that a woman is incapable to confer Nigerian citizenship on her foreign husband, and this provision exist despite the fact that such provisions have been identified and repealed as discriminatory in other parts of African nations such as South Africa and Botswana, to mention but a few. This is also in direct infringement of Article 9(1) of CEDAW, which posits equality for women in matters pertaining to nationality.
Discriminatory provisions also exist in many public law statutes. For instance, Section 353 of the Penal Code, which applies to the Southern States in Nigeria, provides that an indecent assault against a man is a felony, punishable by three years in prison. But Section 360 holds that the same offence against females as a misdemeanour is punishable with only two years of imprisonment. It is worrisome that this distinction remains on the statute books, especially when indubitable facts exists that indecent assault is an offense that is often committed against women. Here, I have no choice other than to infer that the law implies that, the offense is of less gravity when committed against a woman. Again, this is inconsistent with the cardinal principle of criminal law which stipulates that like cases should be treated alike and all persons should be protected from harm of a similar degree. More so, these provisions are antithetical to Article 2(g) of CEDAW, which requires state parties to repeal all national penal provisions which constitute discrimination against women.
Discriminatory provisions also exist in the 1963 cap 89 Nigerian Penal Code, which is applicable to the northern Nigerian states that have not adopted Sharia law. For instance, Section 55 of the Penal Code provides that:
Nothing is an offense which does not amount to the infliction of grievous hurt upon any person and which is done by a husband for the purpose of correcting his wife, such husband or wife being subject to any native law or custom in which such correction is recognized as lawful.
Thus, the Penal Code permits husbands to use physical means to chastise their wives as long as it does not result in "grievous harm," which is defined as loss of sight, hearing, speech, facial disfigurement, or life-threatening injuries. Although the constitution provides for equality and freedom from discrimination; there are no laws that criminalize gender-based violence, while some federal laws condone such violence. It is hoped that the law makers should use the ongoing Constitutional reform project to repeal the Penal Code, because women’s rights are human’s rights.
Under the Police Act (Chapter 359, laws of the Federation of Nigeria, 1990), the provisions regulating the conduct of police officers made thereunder provide that an unmarried woman who becomes pregnant shall be discharged from the force and may not be re-enlisted without the consent of the Inspector-General (Regulation 127, Police Act, 1990). Another regulation permits a serving female police officer may only marry, with the consent of the Commissioner of Police, if she has served for at least three years and her intended husband is of good character (Regulation 124 and 125, Police Act, 1990). Here, it instructive that I pause and ask, is it a crime to be borne a woman or to be endowed with the capacity to reproduce? It is hoped that the male dominant National Assembly will find answer to this question in the ongoing Constitutional review.
Nigeria’s personal taxation laws, also contains come discriminatory laws (Personal income tax decree, Chapter 104 Laws of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, 1993). Under these laws, a married woman will only be allowed to claim tax relief based on the number of dependents she has if she can show that she has separated from her husband by deed or by an order of the High Court (Section 3 personal income law decree above). This requirement does not apply to divorced or separated men. This legislation is still based on the premise that married women and their children are maintained by their husbands. As a result, single mothers and wives who bear the main financial responsibility in a household are denied the tax relief that men are entitled to. It is hoped that the Courts should start upturning such gender discriminatory laws. ( Continues below….. )
The Marriage Act (Marriage Act, Chapter 218, Laws of the Federation of Nigeria, 1990) provides that written consent is necessary where either party to an intended marriage is under 21 years. However, this consent must be from the father: a mother’s consent is only acceptable if the father is dead or of an unsound mind (Section 118, Marriage Act, 1990). Beyond a shadow of doubt, it is clear that acceptability of the consent based on the gender of the parent is unnecessary, discriminatory and serves no known practical or legal purpose other than to perpetuate the stereotype that treats Nigerian women as chattel and second class citizens.
In conclusion, the legislations detailed above are at variance with Nigeria’s domestic and international law obligations relating to gender rights. For instance, Section 55 of the Penal Code presupposes that a wife can never be considered an equal in a marriage and ought to be expunged. Likewise, in its 2003 report to CEDAW the Nigerian government described wife as ‘the man’s property and she is generally not expected to entertain any measure of equality in whatever form’. Human dignity is firmly established as an international standard and finds expression in the major international human rights instruments. Regionally, it is provided for by the African Charter and the Protocol to the African Charter on the Rights of women, and necessarily implies that a husband cannot be permitted to legally (or otherwise) beat his wife.
More so, the provisions in the Police Act limiting the reproductive freedom of female police officers are also infringement of Nigeria’s obligations under CEDAW. Policies and practices that have an impact on women’s reproductive rights constitute a form of violence against women as well as denial of a basic freedom to choose because of their sex. These regulations do not impose concomitant obligations on men. These provisions contravenes the right not to be subjected to degrading treatment as provided for under the major international human rights instruments and is contrary to the concept of human dignity and gender justice. The Nigerian born political scientist, Professor Mojubaolu Okome, insists that ‘legal and extra-legal constrains coexist in both the letter of the law and its administration.’ She avers that ‘customs and traditions still persist which prevent the elimination of discrimination against women.’ Professor Christiana Murray, a leading human rights lawyer in her work Constitutional equality for women contend that “No nation can be free [or develop] when one half of it is enslaved. I can do no better than to finish with the 1997 judgment of the Supreme Court of Appeal (Enugu Division) as delivered by Chief Justice Niki Tobi, in Mojekwu vs Mojekwu condemning discriminatory laws and customs against women based on their sex: “…In my humble view, it is the monopoly of GOD to determine the sex of a baby and not the parents. Although the scientific world disagrees with this divine truth, I believe that GOD, the creator of human beings is also the final authority of who should be male or female. Accordingly, for …a law [customs and practices] to discriminate against a particular sex is to say the least an affront on the Almighty GOD himself... LET NOBODY DO SUCH A THING.”
*Olugu Ukpai, a Ph.D student, School of Law, University of Reading, sent in this article from UK, and can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org
*Tags: Nigerians, Africans, Leaders, Woman, Women, Masterweb
By Olumide Ohunayo
Recently, the committee set up by the Federal Government submitted its report on bailout. The airlines represented by Airline Operators of Nigeria (AON) were given ten days to report back to the government on modalities for the bailout plan. It took them three months after being lampooned by the authorities for the slow pace of work. On submission, the body had two different and obviously opposite positions on the bailout issue.
One faction supported bailout, the other wanted stoppage of promotional fares and doubling of domestic fares. This is simply absurd! Asking Government to legislate or collude in doubling air fares is regimental and retrogressive in a deregulated industry. If any airline wants to triple its current fares, it can please go ahead by filing the new fares with the appropriate authorities and test the will of Nigerian passengers. It should not be legislated, neither do we want collusion.
We should be reminded that the industry is frowning at and punishing with hefty fines, airlines caught colluding in fixing fares or tariffs. Western countries started it, and it has got to Africa with the current investigation of some airlines in South Africa, who were accused of fixing fares for the upcoming 2010 World Cup. ( Continues below..... )
The promotional fares and online ticket purchase, introduced last year by some Nigerian carriers are laudable and in tandem with multiple fares regime obtained in other climes. It generally increases en-planeing, booking ahead via the internet and improves load factor. The model is a marketing gimmick with the objective of attracting passengers from other transport modes.
Though, it has a low yield initially with appropriate fare mix it generates brand loyalty, market share and becomes profitable in the long run, if properly managed. Profitable low cost carriers world over, have used promotional fares to their advantage at the peril of legacy carriers who are made to slash, burn, run or in the alternative set up competitive low cost carriers.
These airlines have gone further in developing their social media marketing network by placing promotional fares, schedules and related information on facebook, twitter, flickr, youtube e.t.c, while using same to respond to passengers’ complaints. AON also requested for some waivers and lower charges. With recent happenings in the industry, it will be difficult to monitor and ensure that only scheduled operators enjoy such waivers and relief, because the process has always been abused by operators, who have assisted the non-scheduled operators, such as charter operators, businessmen, bankers, jet age preachers, serving and ex-governors, etc to bring in aircraft, spares and other related equipments, thereby depriving the same treasury that will be doling out bailout, the juicy luxury tax and charges. Most of these private and non-schedule operators whose service are for the affluent, later give their aircraft and equipments to registered carriers to manage at a fee and are made to generate revenue for the owners and new managers.
On the issue of outstanding debt to the agencies, it should be negotiated not forgiven and tied to whatever funds that will be released, because the agencies need to meet their responsibilities too. It is also nice to hear AON consenting to Nigerian Civil Aviation Authority (NCAA) as the body to advise government on airlines qualified to get bailout. So where was the economic audit team of the NCAA, when these airlines went into a financial tailspin?
The AON surprisingly did not raise the issue of market bailout; simply put - traveling with public funds on a Nigerian Carrier. The American carriers who are happy and cover the domestic market more than the international market had ‘Fly American Act’ in 1974 and have continuously amended it till date. It protects their carriers and keeps public expenditure within the economy, despite the absence of American carriers on most international routes at that period in time. AON seems contented with the “buy some seats I operate to your state” deals with some state governors, while overlooking publicly funded international charters and travels being carted away by foreign registered carriers and aircraft with accompanying crew. ( Continues below..... )
On fuel, which constitutes a huge chunk of operating cost, it will be appropriate to consider fuel subsidies or the Middle Eastern state method of selling at a rate much lower than the market rate-with the acronym PLATTS. Airlines from this region, have quietly enjoyed it while boosting their cash reserve; they have used the cash, to ask for more frequencies and dumping excess capacities on Nigerian routes. Airlines such as Saudia, Etihad, Qatar, Emirates, and Air Arabia are beneficiaries. Also, in the USA scheduled operators pay 21.9 cents per gallon for aviation fuel, while non schedule and private operators pay 36 cents.
The operators, in their presentation preferred the fat cheques and have gone ahead to blame external factors such as fuel price, charges, taxes, meltdown, promotional fares, infrastructure while refusing to address fundamental structural problems such as ownership, management and capacity that have become glaring liabilities for our carriers. It is noteworthy that it was not total doomsday in the industry last year as we are made to believe by operators. Airlines such as American private carriers - Air Tran, Jet blue and Southwest; European carriers -Ryan Air, Easy jet and Lufthansa; South American LAN, COPA (Panama); and Ethiopian Airlines in Africa all declared profits. In Nigeria, we have not seen a financial report, yet we expect serious investors to partner with them.
In aligning with the government disappointment at the submission of the report, we really need to make it clear to AON that scheduled operators should be separated from charter operators. They must guarantee that private aircraft being managed by some of them will not benefit from taxpayers fund or the approved bailout plan and should endeavour to re-engineer their ownership and management processes to attract investors. Most importantly they must stop the ego tripping, divisive bickering and unite with one voice. Anything short of this indicates that we should rather talk of stimulus for the entire industry than having bailout for airlines without clear cut business objectives and national initiative in outlook.
*Tags: Nigerians, NAMA, FAAN, Abuja, Lagos, Africa, Masterweb
By Kola Alapinni
I remember meeting you on a courtesy call in your office in Yenagoa a couple of years ago. I was a young lawyer in the company of my bosses and we had wanted to meet your erstwhile boss DSP Alamesiegha who was unavailable. We were prospecting in your territory (Kaiama-Mbiama-Yenagoa axis) as part of our operations in the Niger-Delta. In the little time that I spent in your company you came across as friendly, unassuming and loyal to your boss. These are still character traits that you have displayed particularly in the last 100 days. A 100 days of rubbish that has been displayed to the whole world and has greatly undermined the whole black race. We have been portrayed as a collection of people who do not know their left from the right. ( Continues below….. )
Photo Above: Goodluck Jonathan, Nigeria Acting President
Enough is enough and it is time to end this nonsense. I do not know if in the last few days you have been following the news. I know that when people are in such positions as fate has thrust you into, they are cut away from the reality of the real world. A close knit of people form a tight cordon round you. The result is that you lose touch with the reality of life as being experienced by the normal citizen on the street. In my capacity as a bona fide citizen of our dear country Nigeria, I pose to you a few questions:
(1) Is it true that you as the Acting President and Commander-In-Chief of the Federal Republic of Nigeria was unaware that your 'brother', President Umaru Yar'Adua was being discharged from the hospital in Saudi Arabia? Therefore you could not make adequate preparations to meet him and usher him back home even as we hear that he was brought into the country on a stretcher?
(2) Is it true that troops whom you command with powers vested in you as the Commander-In-Chief of the Armed Forces of our nation were deployed to the Abuja International Airport without your knowledge? If this is true, what have you done about this?
(3)Have you summoned the Chief of Defence Staff, the Chief of Army Staff, the Commanding Officer of the Brigade of Guards to explain their action? Are you aware that this action of theirs borders on treasonable felony and it is perceived as such by the wider peoples of Nigeria in whom you derive your powers as invested on you by the National Assembly of the Federal Republic of Nigeria?
(4)Are you aware, that the person who instructed those troops to the airport without your knowledge can also instruct the troops to cordon you off in your Akinola Aguda residence and quarantine you from the nation? Are you aware that the implication is that foreign troops can land in Nigeria (right under your nose in Abuja) and take over the airport of the country which you preside over and you will not have a clue and proceed up to the Presidential Lodge without your knowledge? You mean nobody (right from the air traffic controller, the watch-tower where the aircraft got clearance to land, the aviation chiefs et cetera) could let the cat out of the bag to you?
(5) Is it true that Mrs. Turai Yar'Adua (the wife of President Yar'Adua) has kept you (the President and Commander-In-Chief) from physically seeing your sick friend, colleague, brother, boss et cetera? Are you telling us that one particular woman placed a restricting order on you within the Federal Territory of Nigeria? I don't think so. ( Continues below..... )
Commander-In-Chief Sir, you are playing with fire! If all these allegations are true, now you need to use your Sword of Office before it is used to behead you, so to speak. I would suggest you do the following:
(a) Redeploy all the security that are cordoning off your friend and our President. He is the President of Nigeria and he cannot be held hostage by his wife and cohorts. There must be a change of guards now! Replace them with troops loyal to you. When you do that you will be able to see the true state of health of your friend and brother. Remember that you campaigned for the Presidency together, worked together, dined and wined together. Now that he is ill, you are honour-bound to take care of him. Do as you will be done by. Anybody can take ill, even you and I at any point in time.
(b) When you see him and you are able to ascertain the true state of his health (because all you and I have been hearing is hear-say which is not admissible evidence in law) you must provide the best medical brains available in our country for him. Oh yes! Nigeria has brilliant professors and medical experts who still reside within Nigeria even though previous governments have tried to kill off all our infrastructures. If you spend what has been spent on the trip to Saudi Arabia in the last 100 days on the National Hospital in Abuja or the premier teaching hospital in Nigeria, the University College Hospital Ibadan (UCH) you will be amazed on its transformation. He can be hospitalized there. Do not transform Aso Rock and the Presidential Suites into an ad-hoc infirmary. The Presidency should project vitality, robustness, vibrancy and not this dark cloud of uncertainty, or the gloomy mood of a sick nation or that of a sick President hovering over it. It has a dangerous psychological effect on government and governance and the way we are perceived by foreign dignitaries that come to the Presidential Lodge. We love our President, but he is ill. Sick people go the hospital!
(c) Stop this 'Office of the first lady' sham. Start that by redeploying all staff to other quarters where they can be productive to the country. Instruct Mrs. Yar'Adua to continue looking after her husband as a wife, (emphasis mine) whilst the medical experts continue their job. We did not vote for a first lady. It is unconstitutional, a waste of money and a charade. In our part of the world, it is a virus that must be exterminated immediately by abolishing that office. Mrs. Turai Yar'Adua can support her husband as he recovers. She can also support him in all other ways. A good wife is a praying wife, not one struggling for presidential power with you by virtue of her association with the holder of the office i.e. her husband. The same goes for State Governors wives. The position is illegal, unconstitutional and potentially damaging to the entity of our country as we have all seen now.
Mrs. Yar'Adua and your wife as well can take a cue from Mrs. Michelle Obama of the US and Mrs. Sarah Brown of the UK. They are all supportive of their husband without being disruptive. Please end this idiotic parade. The President and Governors wives can be useful without being brash, corrupt and wasting tax payers money. You start that change by leading by example. Curtail your own wife and others will follow. However, if they are interested in power and governance it is their right as enshrined in the constitution of our country . All they have to do is to go through the ballot box. The famous Margaret Thatcher of the UK, Angela Merkel, (the present German Chancellor) and other women have done so and ruled their countries. Ellen Sirleaf-Johnson is next door in Liberia, she can offer them expert opinion in how to run for the presidency in West Africa and win. Therefore capable women will be given a chance, but you must follow the due process and the rule of law.
(d) After your meeting with your service chiefs and the Commander of the Brigade of Guards, you will have known the truth as regards who tried to undermine your authority. You must now address the nation in a very brief speech not more than 10 minutes and brief us of the state of health of the President. You must also dismiss or retire (depending on how grave the treachery was) the responsible persons for that atrocious deployment of troops. You must do this live on television and name their replacements immediately. You must also make sure that there are no unusual movement of troops within the territory of Nigeria whether for training purposes or otherwise until you have consolidated your hold and the polity cools down.
Remember that you did not lobby for this post, therefore you owe less people political favours. Shuffle the cabinet, if you need to. Surround yourself with capable hands. There is no reason why you can't call back Prof. Bolaji Akinyemi to come and reorganise our foreign policy. It is in shambles! Prof. Wole Soyinka should be speaking on behalf of Nigeria either at the UN or as your Presidential Special Envoy to the whole world. Bring back Nuhu Ribadu and Nasir El-Rufai and stop the witch-hunting. These are the kind of people that the wider world will listen to. But they will only come and serve you if you assure them of your seriousness and they know that you are truly serious. Time to get busy and send that signal to the whole world.
Fate and circumstance has thrust power on your shoulders. Now prove to us that you are man enough to lead the most populous, potentially prosperous and brilliant black nation in the world. This is the first time in a very long while that the majority of our country will rally round one man. You must remember that Nigerians are very impatient people. Move fast, swift, and decisively. Reform the electoral commission now by use of a digital biometric register to prevent fraud. Use Option A4 to ensure that people are electable by their own communities before they say they want to lead. Restructure our nation and return it to its rightful place internationally. You have been made the Commander-In-Chief for over two weeks. The only person person who can stop you is yourself. I hasten to remind you that in this instance, only 'goodluck' will not suffice. Now talk like a Commander, walk like a Commander, be a Commander. The whole world is watching. Or do you still need us to wish you 'good luck'?
Kola Alapinni is an International Human Rights Lawyer and writes from Birmingham, U.K.
*Tags: Nigerians, Ya'Adua, Goodluck, Army, Military, Africa, Masterweb
By Lateef Lawal
The Nigerian Airspace Management Agency (NAMA) said from April, all aircrafts flying within Nigeria's airspace or over-flying it, would be tracked and automatically billed. NAMA’s Operations Executive Director, Mr. Adebisi Adedara, said that the auto billing would start in April this year, when the Total Radar Coverage of Nigerian (TRACON) project becomes fully operational.
Already, Lagos and Abuja sites are fully operational. Port Harcourt site is almost ready for deployment, while Kano site has crossed 70% completion phase. Adedara said that TRACON was aimed at providing total radar coverage for Nigeria’s airspace. He said that it would enhance civil and military surveillance of aircrafts flying into the country’s airspace as well as eliminate the use of manual billing system.
According to Adedara, the Auto Billing System (ABS) is built into TRACON and can easily capture aircraft that enters or operate within the Nigerian airspace. He said that the project awarded by the Federal Executive Council in 2003 with a completion period of 36 months was 97 per cent completed. ( Continues below..... )
The project which contract was signed between NAMA and Thales S.A of France, will be completed by the end of March. "We were able to get the Federal Government’s support and today the TRACON project is almost completed. Lagos and Abuja are running and Kano will be tested on February 23", he said. Adedara also disclosed that NAMA had secured government approval for the purchase of Very High Frequency Radio (VHF) coverage of the airspace.
He explained that the VHF navigation aid would improve effective communication of air traffic controllers. He added that contract for the automation of Aeronautical Information System (AIS) unit had also been awarded, adding that the equipment would be manned by trained personnel. According to him, the agency has signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) with Nigerian Navy and Air Force on the training of Air Traffic Controllers.
Lateef Lawal (NigerianAviationNews)
*Tags: Nigerians, NAMA, FAAN, Abuja, Lagos, Africa, Masterweb
By Kola Alapinni
Initially this article would have been published two weeks ago titled 'Wishing You Goodluck President Jonathan' save for two occurrences. Firstly, events have overtaken that and secondly I lost the initial five or so paragraphs written when my computer lost power. I am trying to incorporate the elements of the lost work into this and we'll see how it turns out.
The Ignominious Role of Aondoaaka
Well, the first shuffle of cards in the Presidency was dealt the former Attorney-General Michael Aondoakaa. It was hardly a joker or a masterpiece move, it was just a purely Machiavellian strategy. It had to be done and he had to be kept within the palace, right under the ruler's nose. That explains why he was unceremoniously relieved of the most powerful political law job any lawyer can aspire to and put into the strait-jacket of the Special Duties Ministry. It seems the new ruler knew how much mischief Aondoaaka will cause if let to run loose outside the palace hence why he still has to report weekly for the Federal Executive Council meetings every week. At least, you give him the false impression of being a cabinet member when what you have done technically, is to place him under surveillance. The AG's office is one of the most cherished legal jobs any citizen can aspire to hold for his country. The AG is the Chief Legal Officer of the nation, the legal mind and brains of the administration. His word is law and woe betide any government or official that disregards it.
The Iraq War Inquiry by the British government amongst other things has revealed that the Tony Blair administration and its American allies had to practically bully the former British AG Lord Goldsmith into overuling the earlier advice given to them that the invasion of Iraq would be illegal without a UN Security Council Resolution empowering it to do so. If Lord Goldsmith had maintained his position that the war would have been manifestly and undisputably illegal. The whole course of history might have been changed because it would have legitimised the British people's position for Tony Blair not to go to war. Neither would the British have formed a coalition with American forces. Probably, Tony Blair's legacy would have been different to what he has now as a leader who led his country into an unjustifiable war based on faulty intelligence reports . The rest is history as they say. We are where we are now.
Anyway, Aondoaaka forgot that the enormous powers wielded by the AG is subject to approval in the court of public opinion. Once an AG becomes as unpopular as he or Clement Akpamgbo was under the Ibrahim Babangida regime he is a sitting-duck (ironically the late Akpamgbo called me to the Nigerian Bar in his position then as the Chairman Body of Benchers). It is only a matter of time before one in the volley of shots hit you. The AG's attempt to engage the Information Minister Prof. Dora Akunyili in a market woman style shout-at-me and I will also shout-at-you politics spectacularly back-fired. An AG must not engage in 'oyingbo market' style of politics. It will not work! Especially, not with a woman like Dora emerged to be seemingly more politically astute than the AG, not because she is more knowledgable in state matters. No, far from it. Otherwise she would not have written a memo.
History and contemporary politics teaches us that great political schemes, machinations, reconstructions et cetera are more of an unwritten nature than written. Power is brokered and consolidated in various ways and forms ranging from persuasion, blackmail, pleas, bribery, inducement, adoption, marriage and sometimes even death. The Abacha Indian girls and apple and the Abiola tea episode in Aso Rock is a pointer to the evil twists and turns in the corridors of power (I hasten to add that I am not advocating any of this). But Dora, was simply in touch with the mood of the nation that has become tired of the 'amala and gbegiri' politics that ultimately played out before our eyes particularly when we got enlisted as a terror nation. ( Continues below..... )
Photo Above: Seal of The President of The Federal Republic of Nigeria. It is the official symbol of the Nigerian President, first used in 1979 by President Shehu Shagari.
We could not fire a salvo back because there was no one at the head of affairs who had constitutional powers vested in him as the head boy. In Washington, the Americans had no one to talk to because Ojo Maduekwe had fired the Ambassador there. The replacement was refused because his son had been implicated in a criminal matter - Rape is viewed very seriously here in the West - and in Nigeria the senior prefect had simply vanished from the boarding house. Why won't they kick some sense into our heads? Are we in the position to use our oil has a weapon of international diplomacy and politics? No, we are not. Years of rubbishing the Niger-Deltans has turned them against the unbalanced union called Nigeria. The Movement for the Emancipation of the Niger-Delta (MEND) and other splinter groups has ensured an economic sabotage against the polity as symbolised by the government in Abuja.
(A) We do not export the requisite amount of crude oil to warrant that the non-exportation of the product to America would result in an economic blockade. And crucially, we do need the money, since we are not producing enough. Everyday, Nigeria loses money on refining abroad or rather buying back refined petrol from the crude oil we have exported abroad.
(B) Our refineries do not work, therefore we depend on other countries to refine our petrol, kerosine, diesel et cetera which equals to: Nigeria is not independent and therefore cannot afford to call the shots. To say that we are in a prostrate position is not far from the truth since everyone now stamps on us. They only pander to our ego when they need something badly from us. As soon as they get what they want, we are cast away like orange pips.
To conclude, Dora simply knows like the majority of Nigerians that Yaradua is unlikely to return back to the Presidency and even if he does, the office has been dealt a serious blow so much that many people would not want a sick president to lead the nation. It thus confirms the rumours that this man had been ill all along when suspicions arose at the beginning of his tenure. His response on the BBC was to challenge anyone who said he is ill to a game of squash to prove his fitness. If I were in the court, I would hereby say: My Lord, I rest my case.
Electoral Reform and A Digital Biometric Voters Register
There is a saying which says that 'A fish starts rottening from the head'. The Niger-Delta crisis, lack of petrol, lack of security, power, lack of good roads and amenities all boils down to leadership or the lack of it. Nigeria since perhaps the late Murtala Mohammed or say to a lesser extent the Buhari/Idiagbon regime has lacked a credible leader, a proper statesman who would lead us and restore our dignity as a people and a nation. Fifty years after independence, more times than not we still fill the mould of what Obafemi Awolowo termed Nigeria: 'a mere geographic expression'. How can we have our fellow countrymen and women performing and achieving outside Nigeria and the country is rubbish? Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala is a Managing Director at the World Bank, Oby Ezekwesili is VP for Africa at the same institution, Bayo Ogunlesi heads Global Infrastructure Partners, they just bought London Gatwick Airport a few months ago. And many others too numerous to mention are exceling in various fields in the developed world.
Yet, Nigeria doesn't have light, water and security. But we can send troops abroad to bring peace to other countries and serve with distinction. When apartheid fell in Namibia and Sam Nujoma became the President, the Nigerian Police Force re-trained the Namibian Police from scratch they also won accolades. That would have been the first time Namibians would have first seen black policemen en masse. That was how bad the racial discrimination was. These same Nigerian Police men of the N20 fame training another country's police and security infrastructure with distinction. Yet we are under siege from armed robbers and hired assasins at home. ( Continues below….. )
Photo Above: Goodluck Jonathan, Nigeria Acting President
Let us presume that our absentee President is not going to be fit for purpose after this Saudi trip and I do not think he will because the handwriting is on the wall. The game is over. Therefore, it logically follows that the Acting President would be foolish not to secure and consolidate his position. Secondly, even if he is not going to run for the Presidency next year- I doubt he wouldn't anyway - he needs to swiftly put a structure in place that would ensure his relevance forever in the polity called Nigeria. So which way out? There has only been one election in Nigeria that could be said to be the free, fair and widely accepted one before Babangida, the ultimate student of Machiavellian manipulations scuttled it. That was the 12 June 1993 elections and the system that produced it was the Option A4 system. The only reason which the ruling class have refused to use it again was the irrefutable power of choice it gave to the masses. The Godfathers of Nigerian politics and the tiny cabal of greedy, twisted-minds that feed fat on the endless supply of ill gotten wealth flowing from the fountain of government in Nigeria would never want an independent electorate. The lure of the easy, cheap no-questions-asked, no-anwers-given supply of money in the political structure and government of Nigeria is our bane. If Jonathan can solve this, he would be catapulted to a statesman as great as Nelson Mandela.
Reforming the electoral process goes to the very root of how we will elect a credible leader. A leader who we choose of our own volition knows he is accountable to us and not to a Godfather who has facilitated trailer loads of rice, salt, cooking oil and N1,000 notes on the eve of the elections to induce votes for his candidate the next day. Are we now surprised when the political Godfather wants to be the one appointing the Commissioner for Finance in the state, appoint the AG, appoint the Commissioner for Works and Housing, appoint the Secretary to the State Government and even appoint the Deputy Governor? He is only trying to recoup his investment.
As a matter of urgency, the Acting President must quickly ensure that the Electoral Commission not only goes digital, it must also go biometric. It does not cost much in finance, it only needs will power and sincerity. How will this work? A mechanism would be put in place ensuring that all voters are registered simultaneously and electronically nationwide. During this registration process, the voters would be registered electronically and biometrically through battery powered devices (where there is no electricity). This will all be linked to a central supercomputer. No person can register under the same identity twice, nor can anyone once register under two identities because there would be a clash of identities. Shikena! Problem solved. This is how the British authorities have resolved the issue of persons using bogus identities to apply for visas. The result for Nigeria would be that there would be no ghost voters, no stealing of ballot boxes and no need for endless printing of voting papers which would also translate into environmental friendliness. One man would equal one vote. One vote equals credible voter power. Voter power equals credible change and accountability to the electorate.
This signals bye-bye to Godfatherism, vote rigging and other manipulations at the voting booth. No need for even party agents anymore. Then it logically follows that we are able to vote for the right man and he would know that he is not indispensable or invincible. He will simply not be re-elected. Then the voted also knows that when the voter threatens not to vote for him at the next election because he has underperformed, he takes this seriously and he can sit up. The elected will know that he cannot subvert the public will by buying his way. Only then can we start having credible change from the neglected in the Niger-Delta to the unemployed 'agbero' in the various motor parks. From the disgruntled and disillusioned civil servant to the angry university youth who has lost faith in his country. From the armed forces to the Fulani cattle rearer, credible and merited change would cool the polity.
If the President needs help in this regards, all he needs do is ask. This particular help is available without much fuss. To the contrary, if there is no hope of clearing this mess once and for all even goodluck is not enough for President Jonathan, he simply will not survive the evil machinations of those who continue to suck our blood dry. A word is enough for the wise.
Kola Alapinni is an International Human Rights Lawyer and writes from Birmingham, U.K.
*Tags: Nigerians, Ya'Adua, Army, Military, Africa, Masterweb
[ FAAN Demand N293 million Refund from Maevis ]
By Lateef Lawal
The raging controversies over the concessioning agreement on revenue collection between the Federal Airports Authority of Nigeria(FAAN) and Maevis Nigeria Limited is getting murkier on a daily basis, since the beginning of this month when the media reported the later as complaining about some stumbling blocks within FAAN. The Commercial Department of FAAN was accused of giving waivers to some concessionaires running into several billion naira, against the terms of agreement on revenue/debt collection.
Labour unions in the industry, especially Air Transport Services Senior Staff Association of Nigeria(ATSSSAN), National Union of Air Transport Employees(NUATE) and Nigeria Union of Pensioners(NUP) are crying foul over the issue and have given both FAAN and Maevis February 28, 2010 ultimatum to present facts before they decide the next line of action.
At a close door meeting with FAAN management, leaders of the unions told FAAN that though they have not all along being supportive of the concession of major revenue points to contractors, there were grey areas they discovered in the agreement entered with Maevis. The union leaders said such areas included the omission of penalty in case of default by either party, especially when revenue expected to be remitted to FAAN are not forthcoming when due. ( Continues below..... )
Photo Above: FAAN logo On A Nigerian Map in Nigerian Flag Colours
Investigations revealed that at the height of buck passing, a meeting was held between FAAN and Maevis representatives on February 10, 2010. The meeting summoned at FAAN Board Room by FAAN Board of Directors, was in respect of the controversies generated over the agreement between FAAN and Maevis on October 31, 2007.
At the said meeting, FAAN pointed out the urgent need to review the agreement due to lots of inconsistencies in it, especially the "Definition Clause" and the clause regarding "Management Fee and Enhancement Fee". FAAN demanded from Maevis, a refund of N293,124,645.44 paid in error as enhancement fee. They said the error emanated from misinterpretation of the clauses in question. ( Continues below..... )
In addition, it was learnt Maevis was requested to refund the 10 per cent statutory deduction due to Nigerian Meteorological Agency(NIMET) for landing, which is obviously not part of the revenue of FAAN. Other questionable areas raised by FAAN during the meeting include:
*The training of FAAN staff as earlier agreed to acquaint them with the workings of the technology deployed by Maevis which has not materialized two years after the signing of the agreement.
*The Payment Platform.
*The need to have a performance based revenue enhancement fee and the need to have a service agreement that is measurable and other issues surrounding the Concession.
At the meeting and in response to the issues raised by FAAN, it was gathered that Maevis noted that the agreement provided a leeway for amendment and that the company was not against amendments where, it is absolutely necessary.
The National President of ATSSSAN, Comrade Ben Okewu and the Secretary General of NUATE, Comrade Simeon Ogbuji while reacting to the latest development and the outcome of the meeting held with FAAN, said they stood by the February, 28 ultimatum given to both parties. They said they would never tolerate a situation where revenue due to FAAN are not collected, short-changed or diverted in whatever guise. They argued such would eventually affect prompt payment of workers salaries and execution of developmental projects.
In an interview, Maevis Managing Director said his company had performed better than when FAAN staff were in charge of revenue collection. He said that where FAAN workers used to collect N6 billion, his company within a year raised bills for N16 billion and had been able to collect and remit N14 billion into FAAN account.
Lateef Lawal (NigerianAviationNews)
*Tags: Nigerians, FAAN, Abuja, Lagos, Yar’Adua, Africa, Masterweb
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