“Facts are stubborn things; and whatever may be our wishes, our inclinations, or the dictates of our passions, they cannot alter the state of facts and evidence.” John Adams, 2nd President of the United States.
-Lord Denning in Leonard MacFoy v. United Africa Company Limited 1962 AC 153.
“My lords, the issue of jurisdiction is over and above any legal manipulation. There is no doubt that a court of law is fundamentally competent when it is properly constituted. If a court is not properly constituted, when there is a defect in its membership then that court cannot be said to have been properly in place. It lacks jurisdiction to properly adjudicate. Whatever decision it reached is going to be a nullity:
-Chukwudifu Akunne Oputa, JSC. in Oniah v. Onyia (1989) 1 NWLR (pt. 99) 514.
hen political and ideological opponents articulate and voice their opposition to certain developments in the polity, it admirably serves the corporate good when such articulated opposition and criticisms are grounded and founded in the consequential facts backed by a full appreciation of the underlying principles. Otherwise, no public good is done, and the universe of the polity is further polluted, if not poisoned.
The anxious quest for such unfounded and ill-conceived criticisms and innuendoes not to pollute the polity informed the writing of this piece.
In the 7th July 2019 edition of the Nigerian Tribune newspaper (both print and digital), Mr. Yinka Odumakin, a vocal and well-known political opponent of the All Progressives Congress (APC), put his name to an article titled: “Osun Verdict: Technicality Defeats Justice.” The overarching point of the article is evident from its title, namely that the Supreme Court of Nigeria failed to do substantial justice in the appeal emanating from the Osun State Election Petition Tribunal and the Court of Appeal by allowing a ‘technical point’ raised by the All Progressives Congress (APC) and its candidate, His Excellency, Alhaji Gboyega Oyetola, to defeat the petition of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) and its candidate in the September 22 and September 27, 2018 Osun State gubernatorial election, Senator Ademola Adeleke.
Mr. Odumakin admittedly wrote beautifully, alluded to fascinating historical events and quoted respected jurists. However, he wrote under a mistaken appreciation of the legal principles involved and the fundamental principles of judicial adjudication. While the Supreme Court does not need a spokesperson to defend its judgements, the insinuation in Mr. Odumakin’s article that the bias of some of the justices made them elevate what he termed as ‘technicality’ above justice, is one that is indeed capable of poisoning the polity by diminishing the faith of political actors and citizens in the judiciary or by suggesting to other political actors that the APC is undeserving of its victory at the polls and at the Supreme Court. Hence, this rejoinder.
Of course, the right place to begin is exactly where Mr. Odumakin got it wrong: the supposition that the Supreme Court decided the appeal from the Osun State Election Petition Tribunal on a ‘technical’ ground while ignoring the substance of the case. This is far from correct.
Respectable lawyers know so well, and jurists in all commonwealth jurisdictions agree, without exception, that jurisdiction is of fundamental importance to any adjudication process and further that one of the salient ingredients that confer jurisdiction on a judicial body is that it must be properly constituted at all times. Otherwise, it is not a body with vires to conduct a judicial act.
In the case of Nwankwo v. Yar’Adua (2010) 12 NWLR (Pt. 1209) p. 518, at p. 560, the Supreme Court restated the time-honoured principle of jurisdiction laid down in the celebrated locus classicus, Madukolu v. Nkemdilim thus:
“The law is indeed trite that a court is only competent to exercise jurisdiction in respect of any matter where-
1. It is properly constituted as regards numbers and qualification of the members and no member is disqualified for one reason or the other.
2. The subject matter of the case is within its jurisdiction and there is no feature in the case which prevents the court from exercising its jurisdiction.
3. The case comes by due process of the law and upon fulfillment of any condition precedent to the exercise of jurisdiction. See Madukolu & Ors. v. Nkemdilim &Ors.(1962) 2 SCNLR 341.”[Emphasis ours]
It is that first ingredient of jurisdiction listed by the Supreme Court that Mr. Odumakin and other ill-informed commentators or opportunistic opponents of the APC fail to appreciate. For the sake of genuinely intrigued members of the public, one should adumbrate on it.
It is not only a legal principle of procedural law or a mere ‘technical’ requirement but a foundational principle of justice that a judge or tribunal member is not qualified to write and deliver judgement when he was absent at any of the sessions during which the trial of the matter held. Absence at trial is tantamount to not hearing the case in person. This principle is simply giving life to the commonsense position that, without being at all sessions of the trial of a matter, a judge cannot be regarded as having heard the matter so as to be qualified to write and deliver the judgement in the matter.
Indeed, this cardinal principle is codified in almost all the laws setting up trial courts in Nigeria, including, for example, section 23 of the Federal High Court Act which provides that: “every proceeding in the Court and all business arising therein shall, so far as is practicable and convenient and subject to the provisions of any enactment or law, be heard and disposed of by a single judge, and all proceedings in an action subsequent to the hearing or trial, down to, and including the final judgment or order, shall so far as is practicable and convenient, be taken before the judge before whom the trial or hearing took place.”
This is because the trial judge in Nigeria as well as the members of the election petition tribunals are both judges of facts and law. Hence, the requirement for them to be present at the trial in order to be competent to write and deliver judgement. For, how can a judge properly apply the law to the testimonies of witnesses he did not personally see or hear?
As earlier mentioned, this is not some principle of law invented out of thin air but a principle of justice recognised in all mature legal jurisdictions. In the United States case of the Matter of Whisnant, 71 N.C. App. 439, 441 (1984), Judge Tate presided over a termination of parental rights hearing. At the close of the hearing he announced his intended order and asked one of the attorneys to “prepare an order with the appropriate findings…reflecting the broad findings that I announced.” A couple of months later, however, Judge Crotty—not Judge Tate—signed the relevant order, which included detailed findings of fact and conclusions of law. The Court of Appeals reversed, citing Rule 52 of the Rules of Civil Procedure, which requires a court in a non-jury trial to make written findings of fact and conclusions of law. Because these findings and conclusions reflect the role of that judge as “both judge and juror,” they cannot be performed by a judge who did not hear the matter. (Emphasis mine).
Again, the second point that Mr. Odumakin failed to appreciate is the salient difference between the role of an appellate court and that of a trial court. The Osun State Election Petition Tribunal is, to all intents and purposes, a trial court which has the duty to sift through the evidence, listen to witnesses, listen to the oral and written arguments of lawyers and then deliver its judgement based on the evidence evaluated, the witnesses heard and observed and the legal arguments canvassed.
On the other hand, the role of the appellate court is, generally speaking, to review the proceedings and decisions of the trial court and the role of a higher appellate court is to review the proceeding and decision of the lower appellate court. In other words, an appellate court merely reviews what the trial court has done. It cannot substitute its own views for that of the trial court because it did not evaluate the evidence nor listen to the witnesses. With respect to the instant matter, the question submitted to the Court if Appeal was whether Justice Peter Obiora was competent to deliver the judgement of the tribunal notwithstanding his absence at one of the tribunal sittings.
Of course, the Court of Appeal could not deliver a judgement beyond the question submitted for its consideration. Similarly, the Supreme Court could not but answer the main question or issue placed before it, namely, whether the Court of Appeal was right in its decision that Justice Peter Obiora was not qualified to deliver the judgement of the tribunal having been absent on one of the days that witnesses appeared before the tribunal.
I am certain that a better appreciation of the issues would have restrained Mr. Odumakin from penning the July 7, 2019 article published in the Nigerian Tribune. The only competent body that can conduct gubernatorial elections in Nigeria is the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC). INEC is also the only competent authority that may declare results. It is therefore pedestrian to argue that the courts ought to have assumed the powers of INEC, extrapolate figures and arrive at what Mr. Odumakin considers the ‘correct’ result of the Osun State gubernatorial election.A court of law must act within the ambits of the law.
So, we may end this discourse exactly where we began it: John Adams was right in his observation that facts are stubborn things that cannot be altered by our wishes, inclinations and passions. And yes, the fact that Justice Peter Obiora, who wrote and delivered the judgement of the Osun State Election Tribunal was absent on a day when witnesses appeared before the tribunal, is so stubborn that it cannot be wished away by anyone. It is fact. A fact that goes to the competence of Justice Obiora to carry out the judicial act of writing and delivering the judgement of the tribunal. A fact that essentially denies him of jurisdiction and vires to deliver the judgement. As the erudite Justice Oputa rightly observed: “An act done without jurisdiction is a nullity” and, as the immortal Lord Denning espoused, one“cannot put something on nothing and expect it to stay there. It will collapse.”
Let the Yinka Odumakins of our country know that that is not a mere ‘technical’ point of law. It is a universal and foundational principle of justice.
Akinyede is a legal practitioner based in Osun State
Taraba killings: Time to invoke esprit de corps
On Tuesday, many Nigerians were aghast on hearing the news of the shooting deaths of three police officers, and a civilian, by men of the Nigerian Army.
Ideally, the incident which happened in Taraba State, where men of the Nigerian Army are involved in counterinsurgency operations, might not have ever happened but for the perilous state of insecurity across the nation, which has now meant that the military has had to be drafted in to help their fellow uniformed personnel, in the form of the police, carry out their own duties.
Had the situation not degenerated to such appalling levels, the police, who have the statutory function of handling internal security, would not have been shunted aside for the better equipped and trained khaki uniform wearing soldiers. In truth, it was only a matter of time for what in military parlance is called ‘friendly fire’ to happen, especially since dating back to the time the military called the shots at the center, the police had always played second fiddle.
Repeated efforts by Inspectors General of Police to beef up their force had always been stonewalled by the military, who according to reports were afraid of having another force that could rival them.
Thus, over time, while the Army had been readily able to train her men and officers to an appreciable level, the same cannot be said of the police force, which directly deals with civilians.
Even just looking at the barracks from which both operate from shows the vast dichotomy between the two – most police barracks are completely run down, while those of the military, while not ideally what they should be, are still in the main much better than their police counterparts’ own.
Equally, the uniforms worn by the two security arms of the government cannot be compared. While it is very common to see policemen in tattered or threadbare uniforms with equally battered shoes or even no police shoes at all; hardly would one see the same thing amongst army personnel. What is, however, of big surprise is that while the men in uniform have handed over power more than 20 years ago, the situation for the police had barely improved in all this time!
Now back to what happened in Taraba, according to the police account, an undercover team of the Inspector General’s crack Intelligence Response Team (IRT) had gone to successfully effect the arrest of a notorious kidnapper, one Alhaji Hamisu Wadume and were taking him to the state headquarters in Jalingo when they were attacked at a military checkpoint.
The police officers had no time to react as the bus they were riding in was riddled with bullets from their assailants, who sadly were supposed to be on the same side with them. By the time the smoke had cleared, three of the IRT team lay dead while some of them managed to escape with bullet wounds; while the kidnap suspect was released by the soldiers!
A video of the incident makes for very painful watching showing the depravity to which we have descended as a people as one of the surviving police officers were then attacked and killed by the blood baying mob.
But the army swiftly disputed the Police Force’s version of events, insisting that they had received a “distress” call that kidnappers were making away with someone they had abducted, which prompted the men of the 93 Battalion to swing into action and “stop” them from carrying out their operation.
I am yet to see where the army also explained how the notorious kidnapper in question was not only able to escape being hit by the bullets fired by the army personnel, but also had both his handcuffs and leg chains removed, and later disappear into thin air!
Another question floating around is, even if they (army) thought the bus conveying the occupants belonged to the “suspected kidnappers” would it not have been more proper to have demobilised the bus and capture the occupants in order to interrogate them?
But of course, we all know the popular adage “dead men tell no tales” so killing them would ensure that they would not be alive to tell the whole world what had truly transpired on that faithful day.
Predictably the police hold the moral high ground having clearly been victims in this case, although they too have often left “sorrow, tears and blood” in their wake as last Saturday’s incident in the Ijegun area of Lagos shows when a bullet fired by one of them struck and killed an innocent woman, Busayo Owoodun, in her shop.
The simmering anger, people have towards them (police), exploded into violence which left an Assistant Superintended of Police (ASP), Victor Ugbegun dead and two others brutalised after they were attacked by people in the victim’s neighbourhood.
However, although the back and forth between the two government outfits have been going on for a time, it is the alarm raised by the Chief of Army Staff, Lt. General Tukur Buratai that should send shockwaves through government and ginger them to take more decisive steps to put a lid on the face-off. Although President Muhammadu Buhari has ordered an investigation into the Taraba incident, with passions running high, the move has obviously not done anything to stop it. Buratai’s fear that his men could become the victims of reprisal attacks from policemen add a new frightening dimension to the whole sordid saga.
The President needs to deal decisively with this latest problem since if the COAS’ fears do come true there is every chance that civilians may again be caught in the crossfire between two weapon-carrying government agencies. Already they (citizens) are dealing with a lot on their plates, including general insecurity, poor economic among other issues to now become cannon fodder for the rampaging men in uniform. As Commander in Chief, Buhari just has to reign in both parties before it blows into a full-blown crisis of which no one will know how it will end.
Besides, with so many things he is already contending with, he should know that this is one more problem he must avoid.
How silent is the silence of the silent killer? (1)
The scene Mr JJ is the Executive Director of a multinational corporation, he’s had about 20 years experience on the job and he’s been happy doing it because it’s been very rewarding.
He sits an average of 9-10 hours at his desk, seldom visits a hospital because he always has this overwhelming feeling of wellness.
A day came like every other, he was active at his desk as usual, but suddenly…suddenly, he felt a coldness/heaviness on the left side of his body, he tried to lift the left hand and leg, alas! he could not. He moved the entire body to get up but fell since there’s no functional ‘’left body’’ to balance the movement.
Then, he tried to shout, but his speech was slurred with saliva drooling, the mouth having been deviated to one side.
The hard working JJ just suffered a Stroke! For him, this was the first and only indication of being hypertensive (the blood pressure was severely high when checked).
Why is hypertension a “silent killer”? Most of the time, high blood pressure ( or hypertension) has no obvious symptoms to indicate that something is wrong. But why the ‘’silent killer’’ appellation?
• Many people with high blood pressure don’t even know they have it. Often the signs and symptoms are misunderstood.
• High blood pressure develops slowly over time and can be related to many causes.
• High blood pressure cannot be cured. But it can be managed effectively through lifestyle changes and, when needed, medication. Is hypertension an absolutely silent killer?
Though most patients with high blood pressure have no symptoms to alert them to the elevated pressure, over time, high blood pressure jettisons its silence by displaying tell tale signs on its victims such as ones of stroke, congestive heart failure, heart attack, and kidney failure.
What is blood pressure? Blood pressure is the force that a person’s blood exerts against the walls of their blood vessels. Each time your heart beats, it pumps blood into the arteries .
This pressure depends on the resistance of the blood vessels and how hard the heart has to work What is high blood pressure?
High blood pressure is a long-term medical condition in which the blood pressure in the arteries is persistently elevated. Classification of blood pressure for adults Blood Pressure SBP DBP Classification mmHg mmHg Normal <120 < 80 Pre hypertension 120–139 80-89 Stage 1 Hypertension 140–159 90-99 Understanding blood pressure readings
Two numbers create a blood pressure reading:
• Systolic pressure (SBP): This is the first, or top, number (numerator). It indicates the pressure in the arteries when your heart beats and pumps out blood.
• Diastolic pressure (DBP): This is the second, or bottom, number (denominator). It’s the reading of the pressure in the arteries between beats of the heart. Key facts (WHO)
• Hypertension – or elevated blood pressure – is a serious medical condition that significantly increases the risks of heart, brain, kidney and other diseases.
• An estimated 1.13 billion people worldwide have hypertension, most (twothirds) living in low- and middle-income countries.
• In 2015, 1 in 4 men and 1 in 5 women had hypertension.
• Fewer than 1 in 5 people with hypertension have the problem under control. • Hypertension is a major cause of premature death worldwide.
• One of the global targets for noncommunicable diseases is to reduce the prevalence of hypertension by 25% by 2025 (baseline 2010)
Types For about 95 percent of people with high blood pressure, the cause of their hypertension is unknown — this is called essential, or primary hypertension.
When a cause can be found, the condition is called secondary hypertension.
• Essential hypertension. This type of hypertension is diagnosed after a doctor notices that your blood pressure is high on three or more visits and eliminates all other causes of hypertension. Usually people with essential hypertension have no symptoms, but you may experience frequent headaches, tiredness, dizziness, or nose bleeds.
Although the cause is unknown, researchers do know that obesity, increasing age, smoking, alcohol consumption, lack of exercise, diet (junk and high salt intake), and heredity all play a role in essential hypertension. • Secondary hypertension. The most common cause of secondary hypertension are diseases of the kidneys.
Other causes include airway obstruction during sleep (sleep apnea), diseases and tumors of the adrenal glands, pregnancy, hormone abnormalities and thyroid disease, congenital heart disease and long term alcohol consumption.
Drugs can also cause secondary hypertension; cocaine, over-the-counter medications such as ibuprofen, steroids etc Diagnosing hypertension It is done mainly by measuring the blood pressure.
Measurement technique Poor technique is the main cause of misdiagnosis. Blood pressure measurement should be done in a quiet room (applies to both manual and electronic measurement) so the medical professional checking the blood pressure can hear the appropriate sounds;
• Proper blood pressure measurement requires the person whose blood pressure is being measured to sit quietly for at least five minutes which is then followed by application of a properly fitted blood pressure cuff to a bare upper arm.
• The person should be seated with their back supported, feet flat on the floor, and with their legs uncrossed.
• The person whose blood pressure is being measured should avoid talking or moving during this process.
• The arm being measured should be supported on a flat surface at the level of the heart. The blood pressure cuff should be deflated slowly (2-3 mmHg per second) while listening for the appropriate sounds (applies to manual measurement).
• The bladder should be emptied before a person’s blood pressure is measured since this can increase blood pressure by up to 15/10 mmHg.
• Multiple blood pressure readings (at least two) spaced 1–2 minutes apart should be obtained to ensure accuracy.
When ‘all your mates’ are married (part 1)
These days, some unmarried person is always depressed and discouraged when reminded by the inner self that all his or her friends, associates, age-mates, or colleagues are married while he or she has remained single.
The other person has had broken engagements or courtships several times and is devastated. The inner voice now says: “Look at yourself. Of what use is it living this life? You are a failure and life is useless.
Why don’t you just find a way of packing everything up?” Are you this person? If yes, listen! A guy woke up in the morning and went jogging. On his way back, he saw someone ahead of him and made up his mind to overtake the guy. But the more he pursued the guy, the farther the guy’s distance from his went. He kept pursuing this guy to overtake him. At some point, he came back to his senses and discovered that he had long passed his house, his destination without knowing it. If you perceive life as a competition, you will lose focus and miss your destination. This is the kind of life that many people are living today. One of them is you who is depressed because most of your contemporaries are getting married while you are not. In Jeremiah 1: 5, God said: “Before I formed thee in the womb. I knew thee.”
In 29:11, he said: “For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.” The Message Translation of Jeremiah 29:11 says “I know what I’m doing. I have it all planned out – plans to take care of you, not abandon you; plans to give you the future you hope for.” When God sent you into this world, he gave you a definite assignment and specific timing for each activity. It is so for every individual.
This is why it is not everybody that will eventually get married and bear a child even when they do everything to achieve this. The voice that tells you to kill yourself because you have not married anybody belongs to somebody. If you obey that voice, then, you have fallen into the description that Jesus gave in John 8:44. “You are of your father the devil, and your will is to do your father’s desires. He was a murderer from the beginning, and does not stand in the truth, because there is no truth in him. When he lies, he speaks out of his own character, for he is a liar and the father of all liars.”
The devil is the father of all liars but you must not accept him as your father because he hides truth from people. He will not give you any encouraging words. He will not tell you that many of the people born on the same day you were born never lived to enjoy what you have enjoyed so far in life. There are too many people that do not have what you have. Are you a school graduate? Many people tried to achieve it and even had all means to achieve it but could not do so, even after getting married.
The fact that you can read this article and understand it is a testimony because many of your mates are mentally deranged or have lost their minds. So, marriage is not even the topic for discussion concerning such people. Some millionaires are currently on admission in the hospital. After being on a hospital bed for years and spending a lot of money without getting healed, what is on their minds right now is far from marriage. Just last night, some of your mates went to bed just the way you did but they are no more.
Tell me! How is their marriage to be discussed now in their absence? Some of your mates that married earlier, are today wishing they were you, still single. Why? Joy, peace and happiness are very far from their lives.
If getting married and having children are the only determinants of how joyful and fulfilled one can be in life, the, Catholic priests and Nuns would have all committed suicide. None of them would have been fulfilled enough to be preaching and encouraging people with troubled marital relationships. It is a good thing to aspire to get married and have children. As a matter of fact, it is scriptural.
However, these are not the only things that define your success as a human being. They don’t even determine God’s approval of your spirituality to give you a license to heaven. There is more to life than getting married and having children. God’s expectations are much more than that. Stop losing your self confidence and seeing yourself as a lower mortal just because all your mates are married and you are not. Imagining suicide because of that is even a foolish act that can annoy God the more. So, my dear! Next time the devil or his agents attempt to mock you about marrying or not marrying someone, resist the devil and he will flee from you. If you give the devil attention, he will give you direction.
Bayelsa 2019: Sylva holds the ace in APC
As the race to Creek Haven, the Bayelsa State seat of power, gathers momentum ahead of the 16th November governorship election, the focus of Bayelsans is firmly fixed on how the main opposition party in the state, the All Progressives Congress (APC), can create a major upset at the governorship polls. Bayelsa, the oil rich coastal state, has been under the dominance of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) since the current democratic dispensation began in 1999, thereby creating the notion that it is a PDP state.
That old wife fable may soon be exposed for what it is, as it passes through the crucible of Bayelsa electorate. From all indications, Bayelsans are fed up with the deceit and grand larceny of their common patrimony by the PDP. An irredeemable divorce is imminent between Bayelsans and the party that has treated them with utmost contempt.
The apparent disaffection with the PDP in the state, arising from its gross insensitivity toward the plight of Bayelsans, is an opportunity begging to be seized by the APC in the state. But how this golden opportunity, presented by the ineptitude of the PDP administration in the state can translate into an electoral fortune for the party at the polls, is dependent on who the party chooses as its standard bearer.
Though the Bayelsa State chapter of the APC boasts of an array of eminently qualified personalities, who can hold their own against any candidate thrown up by the PDP, only Timipre Sylva can be said to possess the needed strength of character and structures across the state, to beat the PDP in the November 16th, 2019 governorship election.
On paper, Heineken Lokpobiri, a trained lawyer and a top contender for the party’s ticket, boasts of an intimidating political profile, but in reality, his political credentials when subjected to a popularity test in an election, where the stakes are high, would turn out an abysmal result. Lokpobiri’s political trajectory from 1999 to date has seen him pocket some key political offices, but that has not earned him the kind of electoral capital required to win a highly competitive contest like a governorship election.
As a onetime Speaker of the Bayelsa State House of Assembly, a former senator and the immediate past Minister of State for Agriculture and Rural Development, one would have expected that he would have spread his political tentacles across the state, but unfortunately, that does not seem to be the case. Aside Lokpobiri’s seemingly intimidating political credentials, he also boasts of a huge financial war chest. This, he has been using to position himself as a top contender for the party’s ticket.
How his quest to clinch the party’s ticket would materialize remains to be seen, because the structure of the party is clearly beyond his reach. And if truth must be told, it takes more than having a deep pocket to win an election. Apart from Lokpobiri, the other gladiators who have indicated interest in the party’s ticket are in their own rights top contenders. Preye Aganaba for instance, is a founding member of the party, who could be said to have made his contributions to the party as far as his capacity could provide.
But many in the party do not see him as a match for the PDP, so getting the nod of the party to fly its flag is very unlikely. Diseye Nsirim Poweigha, the retired police commissioner is relatively unknown within the party. It would take a miracle for a party facing a familiar foe in a make or mar contest, to entrust its mandate to a candidate whose capability to manoeuvre and beat its opponent in a tough political terrain has not been ascertained. There is no questioning the fact that Timipre Sylva’s popularity and acceptability transcends the APC.
It is no surprise therefore that even as a minister-designate, majority of the party adherents are still rooting for him to throw his hat into the ring for the governorship race. And this is borne out of the sincere belief in his ability to not only win the November 16th election, but also in his ability to bring the desired development to Bayelsa State. Many believe that what has made Sylva remain politically relevant many years after leaving office, is the men and women he built while in office. Sylva holds the ace in determining the fortune of the party.
He commands an unassailable followership within the party, and this fact was demonstrated at the recently held stakeholders’ meeting, where the mode of primary to be adopted in deciding the party’s standard bearer was decided. At the said meeting which held on 16th July, 2019, all the three members of the party at the National Assembly aligned themselves with Sylva’s preference for the direct mode of primary. Also, three out of four of the party’s members at the state House of Assembly also queued behind Sylva’s choice for the direct mode of primary, while six out of eight of the local government chairmen of the party also signed up for the direct mode of primary.
At the ward levels, 90 per cent of the ward chairmen are also on the side of Sylva. Sylva, a minister-designate, has kept mum over the deluge of calls from his supporters to join the governorship race. At the moment, no one can say with precision if Sylva still has an ambition to govern the state again.
Some have opined that he jettisons his ambition of returning to Creek Haven, and allow other gladiators slug it out for the party’s ticket. But of course, those promoting this line of thought are those looking forward to displaying their dancing skills in the absence of the party’s biggest masquerade at the party’s primary election. It remains to be seen if Sylva would heed to the voice of his supporters within the party. Many party supporters see him as the only one at the moment who can lead the charge against PDP, and emerge with the coveted prize.
Should Sylva decide not to run, whoever would emerge as the standard bearer of the party would definitely need his support to clinch the party’s ticket and be at the forefront of the battle for the soul of Bayelsa State. As we edge closer to the close of sale of governorship forms, party supporters are waiting to see if Sylva would join the race or not. And if he is not running, who would get his backing for the party’s ticket? Does Heineken Lokpobiri stand a chance even in the absence of Sylva in the race for the party’s flag? What happens if Sylva opts out of the race and gives his blessing to another, other than the already known gladiators? Time ticks, and soon that which is veiled shall be revealed to all.
- Newman is a public affairs analyst based in Yenagoa.
Of Akume’s ministerial voyage and Benue leadership question
Joseph Tarka lived for only 48 years. His life and times were eventful. He defined his eon with the magnitude of his individuality and politics. He produced and offered to the Benue people a visionary, pragmatic, inspiring and focused leadership. Since his demise on March 30, 1980, no Benue politician of Tiv ethnic stock after him has been able to command the kind of reverence, public approbation, sympathy and support that he enjoyed in the political space of Benue. Tarka left behind a legacy of loyal and committed leadership. He was loyal to his followers and sensitive to the yearnings of his people.
It is arguable whether any Tiv politician has been able to surpass Tarka’s record of accomplishments that were packed full into his short existence. Except David Mark from the Idoma ethnic stock that had been governor, minister and senator (senate president), no other Benue politician towers above Tarka in terms of strategic public offices occupied. By the time Tarka died, he had been a minister of commerce and a senator in the second republic. He died while in the Senate.
Today, the only Tiv politician that is set to surpass Tarka’s record of occupying strategic public offices is George Akume who had been governor of Benue for eight years, senator for 12 years and has just been appointed as a minister of the Federal Republic of Nigeria. Barnabas Gemade, another Tiv politician, had only been a minister and a senator. A former governor of Benue, Gabriel Suswam, had been a member of the House of Representatives and now a senator.
The incumbent governor, Samuel Ortom, had been a minister. Akume’s impending ministerial voyage places him ahead of them all of Tiv ethnic extraction. That also positions him strategically to appropriate Benue’s political leadership, depending on how well he can deploy his ministerial position to utilitarian performance in service delivery.
Indeed, Akume’s political cruise has been phenomenal. He had taken the Benue political scene by storm as governor between 1999 and 2007 on the platform of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP). His brand of politics of inclusiveness and accommodation resonated well with the vast majority of the people. He ensured the economic empowerment of men and women in the state and democratized the dividends of democratic governance while in the saddle as governor. He was very popular among his people.
To be sure, Akume has enjoyed rare reciprocal and episodic gestures from the people who have always rewarded him with their massive votes during elections. While he won the election to the Senate in 2007 as an outgoing governor, his move in 2011 when he dumped the PDP for Action Congress (AC) in the Senate and went ahead to win his re-election was remarkable.
It simply showed that his popularity among his people and influence on them were not a fluke. He worked hard to achieve their trust, confidence and goodwill. Apparently, Suswam as governor was going to deny him the senate ticket in the PDP. It was a battle of wits and grits.
Akume proved that he had the people on his side. It was in 2015 that his politics and politicking blossomed and became prodigious. His planned re-election to the Senate was a foregone conclusion. He did not really campaign. But he was rather engrossed with his plan to produce a successor to Suswam as governor of Benue State.
While Suswam denied Samuel Ortom the PDP ticket and gave it to his crony, Dr. Tehemen Tarzoor, Akume had, single- handed, paved the way for Ortom to cross over to the All Progressives Congress (APC) and rewarded him with the governorship ticket of the party. He ensured that Hon. Emmanuel Jime, who was favoured to clinch the ticket, was pacified with a federal appointment.
That was sheer political dexterity that paid off handsomely. But in the build-up to the 2019 general election, the relationship between him (Akume) and Ortom had become conflicted, resulting in their parting of ways. Ortom returned to the PDP where he sought for re-election and won.
Akume could not ensure the victory of Jime who was the party’s governorship standard bearer in the election. And, in a controversial circumstance, Akume who had become a household name in the politics of Benue Northwest Senatorial Zone, was “defeated” in the 2019 election.
A former member of the House of Representatives, Emmanuel Yisa Orker- Jev was deployed by the PDP leadership guard in the contest against him (Akume). The scenario was tantamount to a fight between an elephant and a cow. Akume was understandably overconfident and dropped his guards in the belief that he was going to overrun Oker-Jev even without electioneering. In fact, on a good day and in a free-andfair election, Oker-Jev would not be an obstacle to Akume’s victory in the political cosmos of Benue Northwest zone, but by the time the other camp was done with its shenanigans, Akume discovered too late that he had been electorally undercut and manipulated out of victory path and celebration. But to be sure, Oker-Jev, who is not half as popular as Akume in the political space of Benue, was a proxy in the witty and gritty battle of supremacy and survival.
The leadership question was about to resolve itself to the disfavour of Akume and possibly to be thrown open for contestation and appropriation by the likes of Ortom and Suswam, when providence beckoned on him (Akume) to commence his second missionary journey in the executive arm of government but, this time round, at the federal level. That gives Akume national visibility. He becomes effectively entrenched and reinforced as the leader of the APC in Benue. He remains a formidable hub around which a viable opposition against Ortom and the PDP revolves in the state.
In fact, it goes without saying that he seamlessly fits into his providential role as a leader of his people. Significantly, oiling of APC political machinery in Benue becomes easier ahead of the 2023 general election. With his cosmopolitan disposition to politics, having traversed both the PDP and APC terrains as an influential leader, Akume’s capacity to step in the driver’s seat of the vehicle of political leadership is not in doubt. As a minister of the Federal Republic, the burden is on him to provide political leadership to the entire Benue State.
- Ojeifo writes from Abuja via email@example.com Opinion
Ogun and its new security strategy
On Friday, August 2, 2019, the General Overseer of the Redeemed Christian Church of God (RCCG), Pastor Enoch Adeboye, announced the abduction of five pastors of the church on their way to the annual Holy Ghost Convention. Although Adeboye did not reveal the identities of the victims, they were reportedly abducted at the Ijebu-Ode end of the Sagamu-Benin-Ore Expressway on their way to the religious gathering. Before then, on July 23, 2019, kidnappers struck at the Ajebo axis of the Lagos-Ibadan Expressway and kidnapped three persons.
The incident involved the son of the Chief Medical Director of the Lafia Hospital, Ibadan and two members of staff of the hospital. Of course, one common denominator those two criminal activities shared was that they both occurred in Ogun State territory. That has prompted the Ogun State government, under the administration of Governor Dapo Abiodun, to announce a review of the state’s security strategy. Speaking to reporters at a briefing about the security situation in the state, the governor reeled out some new measures to tackle kidnappings and general insecurity in the state.
At the briefing, which had in attendance the state’s Commissioner of Police, Bashir Makama, and Director of Department of State Services (DSS), David Tuksa, Governor Abiodun declared that his administration would present a draft amendment of the state’s Security Trust Fund to the state House of Assembly to strengthen the safety of lives and property. “We are going to be relaunching our security trust fund.
We have an amended bill that is on its way to the House of Assembly now, because we look at the existing bill, we compared it to other bills in other states where the security trust fund had worked very effectively and efficiently; we’ve identified the gaps in our bill and we have sent an amended version of the bill to the House of Assembly.
“The new security trust fund will have all the governance that it requires, it will have a Chairman, Executive Secretary, board, it will have a commitment from a few financial institutions of note and a few people from the private sector that are committed to serving on the board.
We are also committed to funding this fund,” the governor said. Also as part of the review of the state’s security strategy, the governor declared that his administration would demolish houses sheltering criminals or being used to perpetrate crimes and the owners of such houses would be arrested and prosecuted as accomplices. Of course, the security challenges recently experienced in Ogun State are not peculiar to the state. Lately, there has been an increase in criminal activities such as banditry, kidnapping and other violent acts in the South-Western part of the country.
The murder of Mrs. Funke Olakunrin, daughter of Pa Rueben Fasoranti, on the Kajola-Ore Road in Ondo State, sparked a public outrage about the security situation in the region. In response, the governors of the six states in the South-West met in Ibadan at a security summit where they pledged to find a lasting solution to the lingering security challenges in the region. And although there are indications that the region could have a joint security patrol team of law enforcement agencies across the border of the region, it is easy to see why the Abiodun administration is leading the charge for better security in his state and the region.
First, providing leadership when there is a crisis is a mark of commitment and a vital note of assurance to the public that the governor understands the situation and is working to address it. Also, considering the strategic location and positioning of the state, a sense of insecurity in the state would have a ripple effect on the security of other states, especially Lagos which shares its only internal boundary with Ogun. As Governor Abiodun himself noted, Ogun State is the gateway to entering Nigeria’s commercial capital and gateway to exiting it. For once, it is refreshing to see that a governor exists who doesn’t just dump issues of security at the feet of the Federal Government.
The world over, citizen’ sense of security is not in the absence of criminal activities but how their government responds to the crisis and reassure of measures taken to forestall the situation. As a seasoned administrator and private sector executive, it is unsurprising how Governor Abiodun has responded to such a delicate challenge and with the support of relevant stakeholders, it is not hard to see why his determination will lead to a safer and more secure Ogun State. More so, Abiodun is mulling sending a bill to the State House of Assembly to make kidnapping a capital offence in the Gateway State.
- Somorin is the Chi
Nigerian leaders’ children’s education overseas
Recently, the fad of celebration of graduation ceremonies of Nigerian rulers and their class-members’ children in foreign universities, especially in USA and Britain has taken up humongous amount of space in the several news media especially in social media platforms.
In social media platform, I have seen where some Nigerian rulers have proudly showcased the graduation ceremony of their children with both parents and one of them standing by the child in photographic displays, grinning from ear to ear in apparent satisfaction.
There was President Buhari’s wife, Aisha, standing with her son and daughter, Vice President Osinbajo and his wife with their son in foreign university graduation ceremony, former Senate President Bukola Saraki and his wife with their son at his graduation, House of Representatives’ former Speaker Yakubu Dogara with his daughter proudly displaying their academic accomplishments in foreign universities, former Vice President Atiku Abubakar with his wife showcasing their daughter’s graduation overseas, former Governor Rochas Okorocha with his wife displayed their son’s graduation in foreign university, Governor El-Rufai’s daughter with him advertised their uncommon triumph, former Governor Rotimi Amaechi was not left out just. Former Governor Bisi Akande recently went to Britain to attend his grandson’s graduation. In all these proud displays, there has not been reported any Nigerian ruler attending his child’s or children’s graduation in any Nigerian university.
There is none because their children do not attend any Nigerian university. But what is wrong with Nigerian rulers’ children’s education in foreign university and colleges? Is anything wrong with it? Legally nothing! However, even though there is certainly nothing legally wrong with Nigerian rulers taking their children to foreign schools for the purpose of university or college education, but there is everything morally wrong with the practice. The practice of Nigeria’s rulers’ craze for foreign university education for their children is grossly wrong and as they are the ‘custodians of public morality’.
Being in position of trust which requires that they keep and maintain good standard in public education, their practice of not embracing Nigerian educational facilities is certainly wrong because it proves that they are not patriotic in managing public trust.
The wrongfulness of the rulers’ craze for foreign education for their children and wards can be established on following grounds: as an outright vote-of-no confidence in Nigeria; as subversion of the sociocultural ethos of Nigeria; as proof of hypocritical leadership and gross irresponsibility.
Rulers of Nigeria’s habit of training their children in foreign schools is tantamount to a vote of no confidence in Nigeria. Where rulers are leaders, they lead by personal examples. In that wise, if they believe in Nigeria they will show and establish it by their conduct. If things appeal to them, they will show it by embracing such things, be it education, goods and service produced in Nigeria. Education is a social service produced by government and individuals. Education is also a pivotal socio-cultural service which is fundamental to the socialization of the populace by way of training and indoctrination of the key values of Nigerian society. The key values, norms and ethos of the nation are articulated as socio-cultural, economic, political and educational policies and implemented chiefly through educational studies in civics, history literature, etc.
Being a vehicle of social integration, mobilization and acculturation, education is a key project of any purposeful nation. So, where the rulers of Nigeria intentionally or otherwise run-down the educational system into a dysfunctional state only to run away from it by taking their children to foreign countries for educational development, the country is at best, a failed state. In the first place, the future of Nigeria in that circumstance is mortgaged and destroyed as the products of such foreign educational training are nothing but empty shells having no Nigerian content. They cannot fit into the socio-cultural milieu of Nigeria and may never generate home-grown ideas that are capable of transforming Nigeria into a balanced and prosperous society.
The rulers of Nigeria in rejecting Nigerian educational social service in preference for foreign one are subverting the state. In the first place, these are men to whom the people supposedly entrusted the government with the mandate to organize, produce and distribute social service for the people’s consumption. Of these, education is paramount.
Then, by sabotage, these rulers run-down social-service factory, which now produce substandard or even poisonous goods which they distribute and force the people to consume. Meanwhile, they could not patronize the same goods and services they produce.
They rather take their children to foreign schools to acquire good educational services at the expenses of public-trust vested in them, they are the custodians of public moral authority of Nigeria and that being the case, it is incumbent on them not to cheat or betray the people by running down the school system entrusted in their care only to run away with their children to patronize foreign educational service. What can be morally odious than this practice? By such conduct, the rulers of Nigeria who are educating their children overseas are subverting socio-cultural, economic and political well-being of Nigeria.
Their argument that it is their fundamental right to access educational services overseas for their children does not hold water because as public officeholders sworn to uphold the integrity and wellbeing of Nigeria such act of betrayal cannot be anything else but treason and subversion of Nigeria. As rulers of Nigeria daily serenade the country with their ultra-patriotism, their patronage of foreign educational services for their children is a proof of hypocritical leadership and gross irresponsibility in government.
All hypocritical leaders are treacherous to the genuine cause of the nation. This is because they are not true or sincere with the state and the people. They say one thing and do another. Whereas they espouse their love for the county, it does not go beyond lip-service only meant to deceive the people.
How can a ruler of Nigeria say he generally love Nigeria but does not patronize the good and services which he superintend the production? How can he galvanize and mobilize the people to give out their best in the service of the nation through excellent production of goods and services.
There are two areas this hypocrisy has been proved beyond doubts; the first is the areas of education where after running down Nigerian educational institutions they run to foreign countries to access good educational development for their children. None of their children are in Nigerian secondary and tertiary institutions as seen from the graduation events listed at the beginning of this essay. Second like it is the health sector where after destroying the facilities they run away to patronize health facilities in Britain, Germany, USA, Israel, Saudi Arabia, Dubai, South Africa and even Benin Republic.
How can we continue to pretend to be a country of serious people when our rulers run-down the country with their words and conducts and reduce it in the words of Major Nzeogwu, “a big-for-nothing” in the comity of nations? Nigeria can only be retrieved from these rapacious leeches and parasites when the people compel their leader to be civic, rule-bound and servant-of-the people not their conquerors and masters who are above the rules and public moral bar. Nigerian rulers must by rules and convention be forced to educate their children in Nigeria.
Digitalizing the civil service payroll system
The Nigerian civil service system has in recent times been deeply characterized by a bunch of cankerworms known as ‘ghost workers’. The syndrome, which isn’t peculiar to the federal level, is indeed ubiquitous that no certain level/unit of government is exempted whenever its scourge is being discussed.
Funnily enough, the anomaly has lingered that anyone could insinuate that it’s a norm.
Three years ago, precisely on Thursday, 5th May 2016, during the meeting between federal ministries and Newspaper Proprietors Association of Nigeria (NPAN) in Lagos State as organized by the then Minister of Information and Culture, Alhaji Lai Mohammed, the then Finance Minister, Mrs. Kemi Adeosun, unequivocally disclosed that the ongoing N165 billion monthly salaries cum allowances of federal civil servants was overbloated, thus could no longer be sustained by the Federal Government (FG).
Adeosun who was speaking on the economy reform agenda of the Muhammadu Buhari-led administration, stated that the said fund represented about 40 per cent (40%) of the total spending made by the FG.
According to her, the figure was outrageous, hence government was pursuing aggressive measures towards detecting as well as prosecuting ghost workers and other saboteurs in the system.
She landed with a mind-boggling revelation that the Nigerian Railway Corporation (NRC), which wasn’t fully functional, still had names of about 10,000 workers on its payroll regularly serviced by the FG’s coffers. In a related development, in the same 2016, a huge sum of N4 billion fraud was reportedly discovered in Aso Rock, the Nigeria’s Seat of Power.
The discovery was made by President Buhari’s National Security Adviser (NSA), Maj.-Gen. Babagana Monguno (rtd). Aside his alleged shocking discovery, which was made after a general security auditing and verification exercise ordered by Mr. President, the NSA further disclosed that names of 29 ghost security personnel had been on security payroll in the Presidency over the years.
In spite of the war against corrupt practices by the Buhari-led government since inception, the payroll of most government MDAs, and even that of the pensioners, at various levels are still presently influenced by the enemies of the society.
This very societal ill, if not aptly tackled, is liable to degenerate into a colossal economic mayhem in no distant time. It’s so baffling that at this digital age, Nigeria is still lagging behind as regards Information and Communications Technology (ICT). We can’t continue indulging ourselves in retrogressive issues in an era when ICT or Hi-Tech has succeeded in simplifying everything, or unravelling every mystery related to information.
Opinion Most times I wonder; is it that Nigeria cannot afford the services of IT, or that she can’t boast of or source for the required IT personnel? This is a candid question we must attend to with every manner of sincerity.
The answer, of course, is No. Nigeria can afford all of the above.
Her plight ab initio, has been lack of orientation and corruption. The people she had had in positions of authority refused to be convinced that ICT is the only way forward concerning the lingering payroll palaver in the country, perhaps owing to lack of political will occasioned by corruption.
However, we ought to be immensely joyful that the current administration apparently detests graft profusely. But it does not stop at just having an interest in a certain cause, but ensuring that the needful is aptly considered and done.
Hence, as the Buhari-led government is ostensibly interested in getting it right, it must acknowledge that obtaining a comprehensive database for all the federal workers is long overdue. Such measure can only be actualized via a forensic approach.
To this end, a special unit/department must be created by law under the Ministry of Finance.
The proposed unit is subject to be manned by well qualified and reliable IT experts; and no one ought to have access to the department, except its staff and the director/ HOD.
Additionally, an agency comprising thoroughly scrutinized individuals ought to be set up by law to monitor or oversee the day-to-day activity of the department.
The agency would ascertain whenever a worker dies or retires, as the case may be, among other likely events, and thereafter ensure that the record is duly implemented by the unit. Moreover, from time-to-time through their oversight functions, the federal legislators should invite the members, particularly the chairman, of the agency to keep them abreast of happenings.
This must not be compromised for any reason whatsoever. For the above unit to function tactically and properly, every federal MDA must equally boast of a competent and reliable IT unit that would regularly update that of the Finance Ministry being the umbrella body, on matters relating to employment, death, retirement, expulsion, retrenchment, or what have you.
The agency would assist in monitoring the genuineness and adequacy of the aforementioned cooperation. For efficiency’s sake, the unit must engage a viable and reliable software consulting firm toward ensuring holistic update of its software maintenance.
The measure ought to as well be replicated on the part of payment of pensions and gratuities. And, the various state governments should, on their part, endeavour to borrow a leaf from the overall proposed approach. It’s arguably time the governments at all levels fully embraced ICT towards enjoying forever. This is an inevitable sacrifice the concerned authorities need to make towards salvaging the entire system of this monster that has already eaten deep into our bone marrow. Think about it!
Trump and the fear of American whites
For many people outside the United States who have not been closely following events in Donald Trump’s country, the utterances and policies of the American president have been difficult to understand compared to what they have been used to from his predecessors. While his style is abrasive, the political undertone is clear.
As the population of American whites dwindle and non- White population skyrocket through a combination of birth rate and immigration, President Trump is posturing as the defender of white American interest as the struggle to redefine the future of the United States gathers pace. The bitter truth is that American whites are in the process of becoming a minority racial group in a country they believe belong to them.
White Americans are frightened of the threat to their vantage position as the top dog in the food chain.
While the United States originally belong to Native Indians before the arrival of white people from Europe, the country is generally considered to be a white man’s country.
That is the backdrop of the political incorrectness of the Trump administration as frantic efforts are being made to avoid the inevitable change to the demographic map.
To non-whites, Trump’s slogan of Making America Great Again (MAGA) has been interpreted as an attempt to reclaim America for white people, while the concentrated efforts to build a wall in the American southern border is a catchphrase not only to deny entry to the hordes of illegal Hispanic immigrants swelling up at the Mexico-U.S. border but to reduce the population of non-whites in the United States. As it stands today, the U.S. population is 329 million which is roughly about 4.27 per cent of total global population.
White Americans constitute roughly 66 per cent of U.S. population. Hispanics otherwise known as brown people account for 17 percent, blacks constitute 13 per cent, while Asians are 4.8 per cent of the population. But that is changing very fast as the population of non-Whites swell every day, while there is increasing reduction in White population.
The U.S. Bureau of Labour Statistics estimate that by 2032, people of colour will make up majority of the American working class, while white Americans will become minority ethnic group as United States move towards a majority-minority society by 2043.
A birth rate of not less than 2.1 children per woman is required to replace the current white population of the country. White women however are simply not making enough kids.
The situation is worsened by the higher birth rate among women of colour, these estimations are coming to reality faster than earlier projected. This is creating panic among white people as the prospect of losing control of the country to an emerging non-white majority is unacceptable to some.
The imminence of the American majorityminority society is being fast-tracked by the unprecedented influx of illegal immigrants from Mexico and Central American countries.
These illegals are crossing the border into U.S. either by just walking across unguarded portions of the long southern border or by presenting themselves as asylum seekers to border patrols.
Many others especially Africans, enter the United States on visiting or student visa and upon the expiration of their visa simply refuse to leave. According to the U.S.-based Migration Policy Institute, the illegal immigration population in the United States jumped from 3.5 million in the 1990s, peaking at 12.2 million in recent years.
Of this number, Mexicans account for half of the illegal immigrants, while about 15 per cent came from Central America and Asia.
Not much is known about the number of illegal immigrants from Africa, but it is believed that their number has greatly increased as the economies of African countries worsen. One solution that has been mooted is to pay White women to have more kids. But there is no way of implementing such policy without including women of colour. Another way is to encourage greater immigration of Europeans.
But the only people who seemed to be interested in coming to America in droves are people of colour from impoverished regions of the world, particularly from Latin America and Africa. To resolve the demographic conundrum, different measures have been suggested among which is mass deportation of illegal immigrants of colour.
Another is to ensure fewer number of such people enter the United States. There are also extremists like the White Nationalists who have proposed radical means to reduce the population of non-whites such as embarking on a race war, a violent strategy to drastically whittle down the population of people of colour.
This has been reflected in the motive behind some of the mass shootings that have taken place in the United States in recent years. But this has not gained traction with majority of white people who are appalled by the sheer audacity of killing innocent people in this modern age without a moral justification. Nonetheless, concern about the future of the United States and its fast-changing demography continue to be a major national topic.
For Nigerians, the implication of the simmering discontent over the ongoing demographic shift is that there are going to be more restrictive measures to reduce their influx into the United States.
This is meant to reduce the number of people who travel to the United States on visiting visa and refuse to go back home at the expiration of their visa, thereby swelling up the illegal immigrant population. Obtaining student visa to study in the United States will also be affected On the other hand, the future of the visa lottery programme by which many Nigerians have been able to migrate to the United States in search of green pasture is yet unknown.
Even if it is not scrapped, the number of intakes from countries like Nigeria will be reduced as part of the overall efforts to reduce the number of non-White immigrants in the United States.
For the numerous Nigerians residing in the United States illegally, these are unhappy times as the hunting down of illegal immigrants intensifies with the apparent consequence being forceful deportation. The United States is a massive, complicated country. And it is only by embracing racial and ethnic inclusion rather than fragmentation that can secure its long-term future.
But for now, America is at the crossroads and the struggle for its soul is well and alive and the looming 2020 presidential election will be a referendum on who wins between the apostles of racial integration and defenders of fragmentation.
Dr. Raufu, a former Managing Director and Editor-in-Chief of National Mirror Newspapers, teaches at the Texas Southern University, Houston, Texas, United States
OML 25: HISTORY IS CALLING IN KULA
The people of Kula community in Rivers State are quietly rewriting their terms of citizenship with the Nigerian state. And they need our support.
Kula is an oil-rich community that has been the source of billions of dollars for the Nigerian government and for Shell, the multinational company, over the past 40 years.
But despite its stupendous natural wealth, Kula has no pipe-borne water and children die from all kinds of intestinal diseases.
There is no standard hospital in Kula, and studies show that like in most Niger Delta communities, life expectancy in Kula is twice below the national average.
Children sit on bare earth to learn in roofless and dilapidated schools.
As a fishing community, Kula’s once vibrant marine ecosystem is now a paradise lost; a victim of Shell’s remorseless environmental pollution.
The Oil Mining Lease (OML) 25 operated by Shell in Kula is the cruelest metaphor for corporate greed. But Shell is not alone. It is in collusion with a rent-seeking State that seems bent on grinding it’s own citizens to dust, in exchange for oil rents.
But all that is about to change.
Two years ago, the women of Kula began to occupy the oil platforms, in protest against Shell’s apocalyptic presence in their community, and to challenge the company’s decades-long environmental impunity.
Three decades after the Ogoni uprisings, the showdown in Kula dramatizes once again the crisis of Nigeria’s petro-dollar modernity, and our inability to invent a grammar of citizenship based on egalitarianism and respect for community property rights.
But as indigenous people, Belema and other oil-bearing communities have rights which are recognized by the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous People.This momentous Declaration was made on the floor of the UN on September 13, 2007.
Governor Nyesom Wike’s so-called mediation effort on behalf of Shell was dubious and politically tainted from the start, and the Kula community is right to reject it.
How could a Governor goad a long-suffering community to barter it’s rights in exchange for a fraudulent and exploitative “peace” with Shell?
Governor Wike is negotiating a peace process that allows a rapist to return gleefully to a battered and beleaguered victim.
Why did the Secretary to the State Government, Dr Tammy Danagogo, a sensible man by all accounts, permit himself to be part of such a macabre and cynical plot against the people of Kula?
Since 1999, the Federal Government has allocated over 12 trillion Naira as 13 per cent oil derivation funds to Rivers State.
As Governor, Mr Wike has received nearly two trillion Naira in revenue on behalf of Rivers State, since May, 2015.
What has the Wike administration got to show to the people of Kula, the people of Abua, the Ogoni, the forgotten people of Ogbakiri, Okrika, and other communities in the State, for these oil money receipts?
According to the National Bureau of Statistics, Rivers State has the highest rate of unemployment in Nigeria, and Kula is one of the hardest hit communities.
In Rivers State, Demonstration school teachers have not been paid for four years by the Wike administration. All scholarships and bursaries are cancelled, and the State’s per capita school drop out is the highest in the region, under Mr Wike’s watch.
It takes a particular kind of moral blindness for a Governor to trade off the future of the children of Kula, the way Mr Wike seeks to do through his dangerous collusion with Shell.
Last week, the elder statesman, Chief E.K. Clark was alarmed enough to publicly condemn Mr Wike’s outrageous gamble in Kula.
The people of Kula are right to take their destiny in their own hands. They have history and natural justice on their side.
As they try to reclaim their ancestral dignity, the Kula community needs our support. And they need the moral comradeship of the United Nations.
– *Dr. Austin Tam- George is a former Commissioner for Information, Rivers State*
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