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Sunday Musings: And What Shall We Discuss At The National Conference, Where, And For How Long? By Mobolaji E. Aluko.


By Mobolaji E. Aluko
My People: When the Presidential Advisory Committee on National Dialogue (PACND) submitted its report to President Goodluck Jonathan in December 2013, in addition to suggesting modalities for the National Conference itself, it recommended thirty-eight main topics (sub-divided into seventy-eight sub-topics).Now in accepting (in January 2014) and then beginning to act upon the PACND’s report, the Federal Government of Nigeria (FGN) specifically “accepted” only one non-topic – indivisibility of Nigeria – which “No-Go Area”  (in Nigerian parlance) I have now taken the liberty of actually making the thirty-ninth topic (See Table 2 below).

One presumes that the NC will discuss all the topics – and possibly more that are thrown up during the discussions.  However, the burning questions to me at this time when I read all of the suggested topics are:

(1) is the NC going to be a mere talk-shop – an EVENT in a hotel in Abuja  – to end in a report that might or might not see the light of day? or

(2) a serious PROCESS across the nation, at various venues,  sometimes week-days, sometimes week-ends, that will eventually end up in a Popular Constitution approved by a Referendum; and

(3) will three months (the recommended length of time for the NC), six months (my recommended period) or even twelve months be enough to discuss all-and-sundry topics?

Finally:

(4)  if it is an Abuja hotel event, which employed persons (self- or otherwise employed) will be able to devote three months of his or her time to this event – or is this an event planned for the IDLE RICH, and/or the un-employed, and/or the un-employable?

These questions are rhetorical.  Assuming therefore that the National Conference being proposed is a SERIOUS EVENT that will lead to a Popular Constitution within a period of time that serious-minded (and otherwise busy) persons can participate in within a reasonable period of time – and episodically go off to engage their constituencies as well as their primary jobs – I have outlined in Table 1, an 18-block, 38-topic list of suggested discussion topics culled from PACND’s list.  It is not that the other topics that I have cut out are not important, but they can be considered AOB – Any Other Business – and can be discussed TIME- PERMITTING.

Let the National Conference begin….after the delegates are chosen somehow, which is a separate challenge.

And there you have it.   Your thoughts are welcome.

Bolaji Aluko

 

 

————— TABLE 1:  Suggested Priority Topics to be Discussed (in order of importance) – Aluko suggestions

 

Block Priority Topic for Discussion
1 1 (No)Go Area: (in)Divisibility/Dissolution/Disunity of Nigeria
  2 Definition of Federating Units: States or Geo-Political Zones
2 3 Political Federalism
  4 Fiscal Federalism
3 5 Presidential system
  6 Parliamentary system
4 7 Choice between Uni-cameral or Bi-cameral legislature
  8 Choice between full-time or part-time legislature.
5 9 Fundamental human rights
  10 Justiciability of the fundamental objectives and directive principles of state policy
6 11 Diversification of the economy
  12 Oil and other Mineral Resources Management  (Resource Control)
  13 Poverty and wealth creation
7 14 Tenure of Public officials: President, Governors, etc
  15 Immunity of political office holders
8 16 Local (State) Policing
  17 Security Agencies: Review and re-design of national security apparatus
9 18 Fighting corruption and anti-corruption agencies — ICPC, EFCC
10 19 National Census Policy
  20 National Electoral System (INEC, SIEC, etc.)
  21 Federal Character
11 22 Review of judicial institutions
  23 Religion, Secularism and the Secularity of the Nigerian State
  24 Sharia and Customary legal system
12 25 Land use Act
  26 Citizenship/indigenes — Settlers dichotomy
  27 Boundary adjustment
  28 State Creation and Merger of States
13 29 National Education Policy
  30 National Science and Technology Education Policy
  31 National Research and Development Policy
  32 National Health Policy
14 33 National Defence Policy
15 34 Gender,  Youth and Vulnerable  Citizens issues
  35 National Youth Service Corps (NYSC)
16 36 Role of Traditional Rulers and Institution in governance
17 37 Administrative/Legislative Structures for FCT, Abuja (and Lagos? Calabar?)
18 38 Languages and Language Policy

 

 

 

Table 2: Committee-recommended Specified Items For Inclusion on the Agenda of the National Conference

 

Main Section Sub-

Section

Topic for Discussion
1   Political Restructuring of the country:
  1 a. Political Federalism
  2 b. Fiscal Federalism,
  3 c. Definition of Federating Units: States or Geo-Political Zones
2   Forms of Democratic Governance:
  4 a. Presidential system.               
  5 b. Parliamentary system;
  6 c. Choice between Uni-cameral or Bi-cameral legislature;
  7 d. Choice between full-time or part-time legislature.
3   Good Governance;
  8 a. Cost of governance;
  9 b. Corruption and National Development;
  10 c. Fighting corruption and anti-corruption agencies — ICPC, EFCC;
  11 d. Immunity of political office holders;
  12 e. Citizenship/indigenes — Settlers dichotomy;
  13 f. Justiciability of the fundamental objectives and directive principles of state policy;
4   Judicature:
  14 a. Fundamental human rights;
  15 b. Impunity of judicial officers;
  16 c. Review of judicial institutions;
  17 d. Sharia and Customary legal system;
  18 d. Delays in the administration of justice.
5   Democratization
  19 a. Deepening democracy;
  20 b. De-militarization of national psyche,
  21 c. Democratic culture and orientation;
  22 d. Mechanisms for a more inclusive participatory democracy.
6 23 Political parties, God-fatherism and the challenges of internal Democracy:
7   National Security and Security Challenges:
  24 a Security Agencies: Review and re-design of national security apparatus,
  25 b Local Policing,
  26 c Other security agencies.
8 27 State Creation and Merger of States
9   Education:
  28 a. Investment in education;
  29 b. Decentralisation and National Education policy;
  30 c. Return of Missionary and Private schools to original owners;
  31 d. Institutionalizing Tsangaya/Almajiri education system
  32 e. Nomadic Education.
10   Health
  33 a. Health Policy
  34 b. Investment in Health
  35 c. Healthcare Delivery
11   Science, Technology and Development:
  36 a. Science and Technology Education;
  37 b. Technological Adaptations and the National Economy;
  38 c .Research and Development;
  39 d. Promotion and Improvement of indigenous Technological innovations;
12 40 Restoring the National Ethics, Morals and Core Values
13 41 Religion, Secularism and the Secularity of the Nigerian State
14   Agriculture, Food Security and Rural Development
  42 a. Decentralisation of National Agricultural Policy;
  43 b. Grazing Reserves and Cattle Routes Demarcation
15   The Environment
  44 a. Environmental Degradation – flooding, soil erosion, oil spillage and desertification;
  45 b. Climate change.
16   Defence
  46 a. Nigeria’s defence policy and posture at home and abroad;
  47 b.The Nigerian Armed forces and multi-lingual challenges;
  48 c. Nigeria and International peace-keeping operations.
17 49 Tenure of Public officials: President, Governors, etc
18 50 The Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) and the challenges of conducting free and fair elections.
19 51 Population and Credible National Census;
20 52 Land use Act;
21 53 Role of Traditional Rulers and Institution in governance at national and local levels;
22   The Economy:
  54 a. Poverty and wealth creation;
  55 b. Productivity;
  56 c. Diversification of the economy;
  57 d. Industries and Industrialisation
23 58 Oil and other Mineral Resources Management, Exploration and Sharing mechanism;
24 59 Revenue Generation and Mobilization
25 60 National Youth Service Corps (NYSC);
26 61 Gender issues;
27 62 Youth Unemployment and Development issue;
28 63 Physically Challenged Persons and National Development;
29 64 Investment in Sports
30 65 Boundary adjustment;
31 66 National inland waterways issues;
32 67 Elective Mayorality Administrative/Legislative Structures for FCT, Abuja
33 68 Special status for Lagos;
34 69 Unsettled issues of the Nigerian Civil War (1967-1970);
35 70 Revising Bakassi;
36 71 Languages and Language Policy;
37 72 Pension Matters and Rights of Senior Citizens;
38 73 Federal Character
39 74 (No)Go Area: (in)Divisibility/Dissolution/Disunity of Nigeria

Source: SAHARA REPORTERS.

Not An All-Propaganda-Congress By Sonala Olumhense.


 

Columnist:

Sonala Olumhense

As a writer who has questioned the heart of the All Progressives Congress (APC), I am pleased to notice that it is clarifying its mission and character.

On December 1, 2013, I asked the question: “Is APC Less Dangerous Than The PDP?”

At that time, five governors elected on the platform of the People Democratic Party (PDP) had just joined the APC, thereby granting the latter a vast acreage in relevance and credibility.

It is a political currency called defection, and since then, the APC has made a mint of the word, which now seems to hold the exclusive meaning of someone joining the APC from the PDP.  Somehow, a defection from the PDP is being made to sound as if it justifies itself while it demonizes the PDP.

I write this article to clarify one point: that to criticize the PDP is not to justify the APC.  Every party, especially one which claims to stand for change, must earn its credibility.

It is not news that the APC hopes to become Nigeria’s dominant political force.  There is nothing wrong with seeking to replace the PDP, produce the next President, run the National Assembly and produce a majority of the country’s governors.

All of that is legitimate; it is precisely what the PDP has done since 1999.  But the PDP progressively became richer and more insensitive to the tears of our people.

It is in those tears that the APC wishes to swim on its way to political dominance.  “Those compatriots who have lost faith in our dear country because of insufficient and corrupt leadership; count on us for we represent an Agent of change for committed, transparent and focused leadership,” it says in the preamble to its manifesto.

“As a change Agent, APC intend to cleanse our closet to halt the dangerous drift of Nigeria to a failed state; with a conscious plan for post-oil-economy in Nigeria.

“To achieve this laudable programme APC government shall restructure the country, devolve power to the units, with the best practices of federalism and eliminate unintended paralysis of the center.”

These claims market the APC pretty well.  As I observed in previous comments, however, a new party can basically place anything in its shopping basket in a bid to acquire power.  The PDP did, and for 15 years, it used every such craft and every trick to snatch power, knowing it could then do whatever it pleased.

That is how we found ourselves with the monster of impunity, corruption and bad governance to which the APC says it is an answer.

Can the APC do it?  In terms of winning political power, the party is on the ascendancy, but as we have seen, winning power is not the same thing as using it for the public good.  If Nigerians have learned anything from their recent history, it is that words are not the same as intent, or even of ability.

On this count, the APC seems to be saying to Nigerians, “Trust me.”

Only a fool would trust the APC, as currently established, to be any different, let alone better than, the PDP, which is currently collapsing on its head.

However, while the opponent’s own goal may be enough for you to win the semi-final, it is not proof that you are capable of winning the final.

Let us remember that some of the APC-ers who are currently gushing with a certain pseudo-patriotic spirit were well-known clean-up men in the PDP and other parties.

In other words, if the APC is an answer to the PDP, is the APC also an answer to the APC?  Can the APC discipline itself to serve Nigeria and not the APC?

“Democracy, to be stable and meaningful, must be anchored on the principle that government derives its powers from the consent of the governed,” APC says in its manifesto.

“This means that governments are instituted on the basis of free, fair and credible elections, and are maintained through responsiveness to public opinion. In addition, the exercise of political authority is rooted in the rule of law. APC believes in the doctrine of social contract between the leaders and the led; which means that the public office holder is a trustee of the people and that power must be used in the interest of the people rather than in the interest of the public office holder.”

It is unhelpful to argue with this analysis.  In fact, those members of the ACP who travelled in through the New PDP made a stronger case during their journey, repeatedly stressing the necessity of a “democratic temperament.”  They demanded a democracy inspired by free choice, the rule of law, transparency, and accountability.

As one of those who challenged the APC to reach for enduring an enduring platform, I am pleased to learn the party will use the Uwais Report to change the electoral law, and seek to make the Independent National and State Electoral Commissions (INEC) truly independent.

If elected, the party says it will institute an anti-corruption response through deploying the relevant agencies as strong and independent bodies. Some of us also thought the APC should institute an aggressive grassroots voter-registration scheme, which it put into play last week.

While I commend the APC for these proposals, the truth is that they do not go far enough to protect Nigerians should the party win power, and it must be clear that this is the heart of the challenge.  What happens should the APC be elected and it begins to protect its looters?

Only by the establishment of clear internal standards and mechanisms, from the beginning, can the party hope to answer this question.

While it has accepted the need to provide a code of conduct, the party says such a document will be prepared by a body that has yet to be established.

That is unacceptable because such a code is the only way to tell those who genuinely want to use the APC to shield Nigerians from the rain from those who want to use it to shield themselves.  It is the only way to guarantee the level playing field the APC has often spoken about, as opposed to a level playing field for the APC to compete with other political parties.

The battle for integrity is not the battle between political institutions, but the battle between right and wrong.  That is why it is vital for any political party which proclaims change to demonstrate that it will have even higher standards for itself than is demanded by law.  That is how desperate our situation is.

This is why, in a previous article, I called on the APC to “set clear standards, and demonstrate that those standards are higher than partisan politics and the APC itself. “

This is more important now than when the APC started out.  The party is attracting an assemblage of people who ought to sign this code, as a pledge, so they know they are really committing themselves to true patriotism.

If they do not pledge to serve the people openly, they are almost certain to serve themselves privately, and that is the standard to which the APC says it objects.

Let every top member, every official at every level and every electoral prospect sign such a pledge and be judged by history.

All those who sign should get a party button which proudly proclaims: “I SIGNED!”

Source: SAHARA REPORTERS.

OFFICIAL : President Jonathan Announces Bamanga Tukur’s Resignation As PDP Chairman.


 

Bamanga Tukur
By Saharareporters, New York

President Goodluck Jonathan finally presented the resignation letter of embattled party chieftain, Bamanga Tukur, to the 63rd meeting of the National Executive Committee of the  Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) at the party’s secretariat in Abuja today.

The president took the unusual step of reading Mr. Tukur’s resignation letter to members after pulling it out of an envelope.

He praised Tukur, who was also present at the meeting, and said that he had not committed any crime to warrant his forced resignation promising to give him a bigger assignment.

Saharareporters sources stated that the President hopes to make  Mr. Tukur Nigeria’s ambassador to China in coming days.

Saharareporters had revealed last night that Mr. Tukur’s resignation will be made public today at the NEC meeting after he was barred from a crucial caucus meeting at the Aso Rock Villa yesterday.

A new chairman of the party will emerge next week Monday according to President Jonathan.

Bamanga Tukur’s Tenure As PDP Chair Laid To Rest: Barred From Attending PDP’s Caucus Meeting At The Presidential Villa.


 

Bamanga Tukur earlier today

PDP leaders arriving for an NWC meeting at the Aso Rock Villa

PDP meeting without Tukur
By SaharaReporters, New York

The drama surrounding the fate of the chairman of the People’s Democratic Party, Bamanga Tukur has come to an end. Saharareporters can confirm that the embattled party chief has not only resigned but is being prevented from attending the National Working Committee meeting of the party currently going on inside the Aso Rock presidential villa in Abuja.

Our source at the meeting said that the announcement of Tukur’s resignation will be made tomorrow after the meeting of the Executive Council meeting.

Only two days ago, Mr. Tukur was daring President Goodluck Jonathan to sack him if he could. He claimed that he was elected by a constituted convention of the party, and only another convention could sack him.

The ruling party under Mr. Tukur has been going through internal strife that led to a massive decamping of party members to the opposition All Progressive Congress, APC.

Quo Vadis: A Memo to the President By Ejiro Onobrakpeya.


By Ejiro Onobrakpeya

Mr. President :  It’s a new year and one cannot but hope, for the good of the country, that this year ends better than the last. It is understandable if in the current climate, you think this is yet another in the deluge of critical comments, some well-meaning and others orchestrated by disaffected patrons of your administration. I am actually offering unsolicited advice, for the good of the country, which might help change the trajectory of your administration. Doing this also puts to the test the veracity of repeated claims that you welcome constructive criticism and policy prescriptions. So here goes:

 
The National Mood
 
To put it nicely, your administration has not lived up to the goodwill and high expectations that marked your election as the first executive leader of the country with a college degree. Before you, Nigeria has been mostly led by poorly-educated men and soldiers whose claim to fame and leadership was mobilizing tanks and dissident troops to seize the national radio station and promoting themselves as Generals for this great military feat.
 
These, by the way, are the same men Nigeria’s political class now regard as “statesmen” who enjoy lifelong pensions, belong to the Council of State and hold the nation’s highest honours. Is it any wonder then that these individuals would arrogate to themselves the right to determine Nigeria’s political future, that they will pick who governs the country, on what terms and for how long? They imposed a self-serving constitution on the nation with the immunity clause to cover themselves and want pliant successors they can teleguide in office.
 
The citizenry is today highly disaffected by the drift and rampant corruption which, to be fair to you, was inherited from the old man and estranged political mentor but for which you must now take the blame. Owing one’s ascendancy to a political mentor should not be subordinated to the interests of the electorate who voted and even died (remember the Youth Corpers) for you to become President in the hope of making their lives better.   
 
The only thing you have going for you right now is that the political opposition is not only adopting the same template that brought the PDP into power but actually mass recruiting PDP defectors and the aforementioned ex-military autocrats for guidance on how to short-circuit your presidency. That is their stock in trade based on their jaundiced understanding of what democracy truly represents. Democracy is not derived from deal-making by a cabal of plutocrats imposing pliant candidates on the people through the agency of corrupt party and electoral processes. This is the template which the APC is now replicating right before our eyes. A cliché here defines insanity as doing the same thing and expecting a different result. We are witnessing an alliance of convenience by strange political bedfellows for the sole purpose of gaining power.
 
So where do we go from here?
 
The company you keep.
 
You may not like to hear this but you are surrounded by officials and party members some of questionable character and competence. And some have gone so far to display this “our-turn-to-eat” mentality that is tarnishing your administration. You must discourage and distance yourself from such people.  
 
I hope you still find time to read the biographies of great leaders both locally and internationally. There is nothing wrong with helping one’s people since charity begins at home. Please read how Awo empowered his people with his pan-Yoruba agenda. He did not site a University in his hometown nor did he seek to make every Ijebuman a cocoa millionaire. Instead, he availed all his people of modern and comprehensive education, developed a Yoruba intelligentsia and created the enabling environment for job creation and commerce for his people – an advantage which the Yorubas enjoy till today. That is why Awo was bestowed with the titular leader of his grateful people and remains a revered figure in the pantheon of Yoruba leaders.
 
Unlike the current pretender to that mantle, Awo actually went to school, embraced education and surrounded himself with intellectuals from every field of human endeavour. He did not achieve greatness by engaging in crass accumulation and making his wife a Senator, his daughter leader of the market women nor did he strive so mightily to ensure that nieces, nephews, in-laws and even the family dog would amass millions. The likes of Awo and the great Zik, with his pan-Nigerian outlook, provide a leadership template for you to consider.  
 
The Way Forward
 
Let me share some ideas on the way forward that might influence the narrative of your Presidency. My hope is about building a decent legacy for your period in office so that the country is not set back another wasted decade.
 
However, we must acknowledge your constitutional right to seek re-election if you so wish, unless the courts say otherwise and I see no grounds for such a ruling. Incompetence is not an impeachable offence nor is unhappiness or disappointment with a Presidency. The Nigerian voters elected you and reserve the sovereign right to vote for you or reject you through the ballot box. No cabal, back room deals or pledges made to self-appointed power-brokers should be allowed to short-circuit the democratic process.
 
The old man and his confederates are entitled to cast just one vote like all other eligible voters. Let the Nigerian people decide who governs them and for how long. Free and fair elections should be the only means of installing or removing a government and the people must thereafter live with that choice until the next elections unless in other instances laid down in the constitution. That is the basis of due process and the rule of law. I hope that every Nigerian, home or abroad will stand in defence of that principle- no matter who is President. The days of subverting a democratically elected government in Nigeria should be gone for good – so those hoping to spark an uprising are just wasting their time and should focus instead on winning elections.
 
That said, for the good of the country and building a legacy with whatever time you have left in office, you might want to consider a package of options some of which you can easily execute and others that might call for some tough decisions on your part. First the easy part-
 
–       Reshuffle the cabinet: Nothing shows that you are willing to press the reset button than to bring in new hands and technocrats in key departments of the government. Competence, integrity and requisite skills must take precedence over rewarding party loyalists. You can still meet the constitutional requirements of reflecting “federal character” by making less qualified party loyalists as junior ministers (or ministers of state as you call it). Those who don’t like it can go join the APC – you are putting the peoples’ interest above the party’s in order to rebuild the nation and your legacy.
–       A reshuffle also gives the opportunity to bid farewell to the controversial and tainted members of your team responsible for the perception of a corrupt administration. So break the news to them at the next cabinet meeting and please thank them for their service to the nation. Then inform them that anyone who has a case to answer will surely hear from a revitalized, unfettered and autonomous EFCC. That means you will not interfere or intercede on behalf of anyone facing an investigation of corruption.
 
–       And lest I forget, please also invite CBN Governor Lamido Sanusi to the meeting and inform him you are fast-tracking his retirement, with full pay and all benefits due to him, with immediate effect. There is no need keeping a flame-thrower in place a day longer, especially one who has been mostly self-serving in his approach to his job and openly ignored laid down channels of communication with his boss. If I were your appointee, sending you this public memo would be deserving of termination too. Again, that is due process.
 
–       You will need to focus on a new Justice Minister with a mandate to clean up the open rot in the Nigerian judiciary. That is going to be a Herculean effort and might require asking for the services of a retired Supreme Court Justice or the likes of Professors Nwabueze, Sagay or others of similar standing and respect with the Nigerian public. Men who know what is required to rebuild integrity and faith in Nigeria’s justice system.
–       You will especially need new and competent hands in the Petroleum Ministry, Aviation, Education (sorry, you don’t get to keep your job if under your watch, the nation’s universities are shut for half of the year, nothing personal) and Health (if the incumbent cannot head off a planned nation-wide doctors’ strike after months of notice and warnings by the aggrieved unions).
–       The new Aviation Minister should be mandated to establish a national flag carrier before the end of 2014. How a private individual came to acquire the “Air Nigeria” name deserves investigation and should be withdrawn if it involved sweetheart deals or lack of transparency.
–       Rescind the planned ban on the importation of used vehicles into the country. Give the public a four-year notice during which the domestic auto industry finds its feet and you embark on federal-state partnerships to emplace real mass transit (road, rail, ferry services) as alternatives for the public. You must begin the demilitarization of policy-making in Nigeria. You are not presiding over a conquered people who must be ruled by imperial decrees or make major policy announcements “with immediate effect”. Again I remind you that the people are your employers and voted for you to make their lives better and not impose unnecessary hardship on them for well-connected corporate interests to make money.
 
–       Rescind the renaming of the University of Lagos. This was another ill-advised move on your part despite the good intentions behind the gesture. Despite his family’s understandable sentiments about honoring his memory, the late Moshood Abiola would have been aghast at the thought of throwing away, overnight, the academic reputation and global branding of an institution that has matriculated and certified graduates for half a century.
 
–       And in the same vein, please make it federal policy to stop the renaming of our existing institutions after individuals. We have enough roads, buildings, stadia and bridges to name after deserving individuals or national heroes. If Awo had wanted it, he would have named the University of Ife he founded after himself but his goal was to put Ile-Ife on the world map as the mythical cradle of the Yoruba nation. So by renaming UnIfe, his goal was needlessly subverted by a military dictator’s bid to woo the Yorubas into supporting his intended bid to become a civilian President. He ignored the fact then that the new university in Ondo State was to be named after the Yoruba leader. In the interest of full disclosure, I am a proud alumnus of the University of Ife (as stated on my degree).
 
–       Declare June 12 Democracy Day and a federal holiday. This was the right thing to have done in the first place. Nigeria’s current “democracy” owes a lot to those who gave of themselves and their lives, in the cause of upholding the freest elections in Nigerian history and the mandate given to MKO. So honour that historic day as the old man should have done. But his ego and small-mindedness are now well-known as a person who would put out someone else’s lamp in order to make his own shine bright.
 
–       Reform the PDP – a saying here goes that when life hands you a lemon, you turn it into lemonade. The defections from your party actually provide a unique opportunity to rebuild and rebrand the PDP as a party of equal joiners and members on the same footing. The political jobbers will leave until they find out that there are not enough positions to satisfy all aspirations in the opposition. Going forward, party positions should be by open nominations and filled through transparent elections from the ward to the national level. The party’s constitution should be reviewed to attract the right membership and not crooks and scoundrels hoping to make a quick buck or feed fat at the public trough. The party constitution must include a moral turpitude clause stating that any member, elected or not, whose conduct or actions tarnishes the reputation and credibility shall be subject to expulsion from the party. That would have taken care of the degree-forgers and committee chairmen taking bribes to pass budgets or influence reports. Do that and you strike a blow against corruption in the party and by extension, the government.
 
To achieve the above, you will have to lead by example and recommit yourself to the highest standards of probity in public service.
 
 The Samson Option
 
This is the hard part but likely to be the quickest way to win back the public trust. I call it the Samson option since it calls for personal sacrifice and you taking steps you have so far refused to consider.
I am sure you remember the story of Samson in Bible and how he wasted his powers carousing rather than serving his people as God had called him to do. Well, Samson got one last chance to redeem himself and literarily brought down the temple of iniquity. So please consider the following:
 
–       You have to declare your assets and be prepared to quietly make restitution to the national treasury. No questions asked. There is precedence for this – ask for the files about a former head of state and alleged war-time looting of the Central Bank branch in Benin.
–       Doing the foregoing frees you to demand a mandatory declaration of assets by ALL public officials – going back to 1999 – just like you have done and with an offer of a 90-day no-questions-asked amnesty for those who refund or hand over ill-gotten assets to the federal treasury.
–       After the grace period expires, the EFCC, in concert with relevant agencies like the assets bureau and the Police will begin painstaking forensic investigations of asset declarations. As an incentive to expose wrong-doing, initiate a whistle-blower law so anyone who provides useful and confidential information about ill-gotten assets will get to keep twenty percent of the reported asset on forfeiture.
 
–       Retroactively revoke all import waivers granted since 1999 and demand that beneficiaries have 90 days to pay the assessed Customs duties or forfeit those items to the federal government for sale at auction. That will right a grave wrong that has seen the well-connected and those most able to pay import duties avoid it while lesser Nigerians do. We cannot be a nation with two sets of laws – one for the wealthy and privileged who buy justice and avoid taxes while the other puts ordinary citizens under the rule of law and payment of levies. Paying all due taxes is a duty for all citizens, corporate bodies and even non-governmental organizations (yes – even tax-exempt religious organizations should be levied what is known here as Payments In Lieu of Tax (PILOT) for the services they enjoy in the local governments in which they operate (religious bodies use public amenities like roads, water, power and Police services like all other citizens).
 
–       Declare a national electric power emergency with the goal of providing a minimum of 20-hours of electricity to every Nigerian home by the end of 2014. This might require a review of budget priorities and ten percent across the board budget cuts for all federal ministries and agencies, including the Presidency to fund the power sector. No new furniture, cars or aircraft for the Presidency, cabinet members or legislators.
 
–       Pay GE and the other power contractors whatever is needed to fast-track their work to meet this goal of boosting power generation. The Power minister should be required to provide a monthly update on improvements in the public power supply. To pay for this, every worker should be required to pay an additional 2% and companies 4% special “power tax” to achieve this goal. They are already paying more out of pocket to buy generators and diesel. The ultimate result will be reliable power supply, more job creation and a reduction in the cost of living, goods and services for the generality of the people. It will also mitigate the debilitating health effects of the noise and poisonous fumes from the millions of private generators in use throughout the country.
 
If providing stable electricity is the only thing you achieve while tamping down corruption, then your Presidency would have made a notable difference in the lives of the people and given you a worthwhile legacy. Bill Clinton remains a popular figure in American politics today and his presidency is remembered more for ushering a period of remarkable prosperity – 20 million new jobs and a huge budget surplus- than for his impeachment over the Monica Lewinsky scandal. Fortunately, Nigerians are a special breed of people who reward effort as much as they do results. You don’t have to do much for our people to say, in Nigerian English, “the man is trying.”
 
 
The Islamist Insurgency and Snipers
 
Lastly, I would urge you to be more open about the silly but rabble-rousing charge that you have abdicated your responsibility in fighting the Islamist insurgency and instead trained snipers to go after perceived enemies of your administration. That is the most irresponsible and infantile accusation I have ever read in a while and speaks to the desperation of those determined to railroad your presidency. Those who call for a storm forget that when it rains, it falls on everyone.
 
If your administration is training special forces to combat an insurgency that has has claimed hundreds of innocent lives and brought misery to fellow citizens in the North eastern quadrant of the nation, then say so and, in my opinion, take due credit for it. If it is a Presidential Guard, also acknowledge it. Transparency is the best antidote for such vicious rumour-mongering.
 
That and the ongoing sacrifices being made by our brave soldiers to protect the nation are worth celebrating. Again, Madam and Governors wives should devote time to visiting wounded soldiers and families of those killed in action to ensure that they are cared for and all entitlements paid to them in a timely fashion. The public at large – individuals, companies and religious bodies should be solicited to voluntarily support an Armed Forces Relief Fund as a collective gesture of supporting our troops.
 
By the way, is there anything wrong with the defence ministry putting out the names and faces of those killed in combat – following family notification? Why should they be unknown and unmourned by a grateful nation as is done in civilized societies? That should make better news than stories of ministers importing duty-free armoured sedans (at public expense) when they are thousands of miles removed from the war front.
 
The fact is that an insurgency that once threatened to cripple major cities in the North, with multiple attacks and bombs going off in places like Gombe, Kaduna, Kano and even Abuja, has now been mostly contained to two states. Governor Kwankwaso of Kano would not have had the time of day to be party-hopping or wasting scarce public funds on sponsoring mass marriages (which he and the Zamfara pedophile now take to the APC) if Boko Haram had maintained the stranglehold it once had on Kano City. Yet these are the same folks now playing politics with a national security issue.
 
In conclusion, let me explain the dead language that headlines this memo. Quo Vadis is Latin for “Wither goest thou?” in King James English or in simple English – “Where are you going?”
Since you recently visited Jerusalem and the birthplace of Jesus, I think you can relate to the apocryphal Acts of the Apostle Peter. Facing possible arrest and execution for proselytizing in Rome, Peter was fleeing from the city when Jesus appeared, walking in the opposite direction. Peter then asked Jesus ‘Where are you going?” and Jesus replied “I am going to Rome to be crucified again” Peter got the message and returned to Rome to fulfill the mission of founding the church for which he also gave his life.
 
Had Peter shirked his mission, there would be no Christianity in the world today.
 
So Mr. President, where do you go from here?
 
 
Ejiro Onobrakpeya, is a former Editor of The Sunday Times newspaper.

 

The views expressed in this article are the author’s own and do not necessarily reflect the editorial policy of SaharaReporters

Cracks in Northern solidarity against Jonathan.


President-Goodluck-Jonathan-02

There appears to be a major crack in northern solidarity against President Goodluck Jonathan’s supposed ambition to contest the 2015 elections as over 50 top politicians including former governors, ministers and senators from seven northern states met in Kaduna State weekend to strategise on how to neutralise the opposition All Progressive Congress, APC, in the area.

Those who attended the meeting said that they in full support of Jonathan and his Vice, Mohammed Namadi Sambo, and distanced themselves from the position of both the Northern Elders Forum, NEF, and the Arewa Consultative Forum, ACF, that the presidency must return to the North in 2015.

This was even as Kano State was almost thrown into crises yesterday afternoon following an attack on one of the supporters of the former Head of State, General Muhammadu Buhari, Abdul Majid Danbiliki Commanda at the popular Al Furqan Mosque shortly after the Juma’at prayers by unidentified persons.

 

The hoodlums invaded the Mosque and attacked Commanda was bloodied in the presence of the officiating Imam, Dr Bashir Umar Aliyu, former Governor Kano state, Malam Ibrahim Shekarau, Dr Ibrahim Khalil, Malam Ibrahim Kankarofi, Abdullahi Sani Rogo among other top APC stalwarts.

However, among those who attended the meeting included Senator Saidu Kumo (Gombe), Abdullahi Gumel (Jigawa), Alhaji Rabiu Bako, Senator Zeego Azeez, Bawa Magaji Kufana, and Saleh Annur- all from Kaduna State.

Others included Senators Jubrin Donguwa and Hamisu Musa (both from Kano), while Alhajis Aminu Jambo and Abdullahi Garus came from Katsina State.

From Kebbi State were Bala Gwandu, Bala Kaoje, Samaila Sambawa, just as Ambassador Ladan Shuni, Yusuf Suleiman and Ahmed Mohammed Gusau came from Sokoto State.

However, Sherrif Abdullahi Gashua from Yobe also attended the gathering for Jonathan and Sambo even as those who attended from Zamfara State included Faruk Ahmed Gusau, Col Bala Mande, rtd; Lawani Zurmi and Hon. Matawallen Maradun.

Alhaji Ahmed Gusau, who spoke in an interview shortly after the meeting said that the North had benefited a lot from Jonathan’s presidency, pointing out that the ruling People’s Democratic Party, PDP, would showcase such benefits when it was time for campaign.

He further said that the North did not belong to ACF or NEF alone as there other stakeholders, wondering where the north as a whole met and decided to vote against Jonathan as claimed by NEF leaders.

Hoodlums attack Buhari loyalist

Meanwhile, eye witnesses told Saturday Vanguard that “we are witnessing a wedding holding inside the mosque when all of sudden, thugs invaded the peaceful gathering and bloodied Commanda in the presence of distinguished guests.”

It was gathered that, “it took the combined efforts of the officiating Imam, and Hisbah Guards to rescue the APC chieftain into the private residence of the chief Imam inside the Mosque before the arrival of anti riot policemen.”

According to the sources, the ensuing mêlée caused pandemonium as the worshippers ran helter skelter for safety of their lives even as ”political temper rose to a boiling point in the ancient city.”

In an interview later, the victim of the attack, Danbiliki Commanda said that former Governor Ibrahim Shekarau of Kano State was the mastermind, alleging that “those who attacked me are Malam Shekarau’s boys and I know them too well.”

He further said, “I was in the front row where only one person separated Shekarau and I during the Juma’at prayers. I was attending to a wedding fatiha when some persons I knew to be close to Shekarau pounced on me.

“It took the combined efforts of the officiating Imam and Hisbah Guards to rescue me from the rampaging thugs. I lost my handset, personal diary and N100,000.”

But, in a swift reaction to the accusation, Shekarau’s Spokesman, Sule Yau Sule distanced his boss from the violent encounter, stressing that “Malam Shekarau is a man of peace. Certainly Malam Shekarau has nothing to do with this because when we had the instrument of power to curb the excesses of Commanda, we ignored him, how much more now that we are out power.

”You know who Dan’Bilki is and his excesses when Malam was in power, but we chose to ignore him because we were conscious that he had the right to his freedom of speech,” Sule stated

Sule then advised Commanda to look elsewhere and desist from dragging the name of his boss into the mud to curry cheap political favour.

Efforts to speak with the Police Public Relation Officer for Kano State, ASP Magaji Majia proved abortive as calls put to his telephone line could not go through.

Source: Radio Biafra.

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