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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.

Fashola Funding APC Registration From State Treasury – Lagos PDP.


Gov-Fashola-04

The  Lagos State Chapter of the People’s Democratic Party, PDP, has accused  the Governor of Lagos State, Babatunde Fashola, of sponsoring the  ongoing All Progressives Congress, APC membership registration from the  State Treasury, while at the same time crippling governance in order to  participate and monitor the said registration exercise.
In a statement signed by the Publicity Secretary of the PDP in Lagos  State, Mr. Taofik Gani, the party also berates what it termed  mismanagement of funds and maladministration by some of the 57 Council  Chairmen whom they alleged have replicated same act in their various  Council Areas.
“We can now confirm that the ongoing APC membership registration,  especially in Lagos State, is enjoying the sponsorship of Governor  Fashola. The Governor has also condoned the decision of the 57 Council  chairmen to divert their council funds into the clearly party exercise.
“They have spent at least 7billion Naira paying for the registration  materials, staff, massive promo adverts at all levels, and inducing  persons to register. This amount could have been better utilised to  improve the lives of Lagosians”, the statement read.
Consequently, the Lagos PDP has hinted that it may invite the  Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, EFCC, to probe the  allegations.
“This party, APC, has no membership yet and cannot claim any  financial membership as well. Who, then is bankrolling their ongoing  membership registration process? Governor Fashola must give us answer to  this question.
“Lagosians demand to know. We have stronger, direct and  circumstantial evidence for the EFCC to proof that the ongoing APC  membership registration is being sponsored from the Lagos State  treasury”, it concluded.           by: Channels Television.

Source: Radio Biafra.

Northern governors to security agencies: Stop Boko Haram killings now.


 

BH

The Northern States Governors Forum  (NSGF) yesterday challenged security agencies to put an immediate stop  to the spate of killings of innocent Nigerians in the North.Reacting to last Thursday’s killing of  22 persons in Mavo, Wase Local Government of Plateau State, the NSGF  said that the present level of insecurity in the North is unacceptable.The forum particularly deplored the  killing of people by Boko Haram and the incessant clashes between Fulani  herdsmen and farmers.Governor Babangida Aliyu of Niger State  who doubles as the chairman of the forum lamented that the Wase incident  came soon after about 30 people were killed in a similar attack in  Riyom Local Government and 18 in Kaura Local Government Area of Kaduna  State.The forum commended the Interim  Administrator of Wase Local Government, Zakari Haruna and other  community leaders whose quick intervention averted what would have been a  crisis of huge proportion.He asked security agencies to ensure that the perpetrators are caught and brought to justice, to prevent a reoccurrence.The Governors prayed God to grant  repose to the souls of the deceased and also grant members of their  families the fortitude to bear the loss.
by:  Jide Orintunsin, Minna

The Shape of Things To Come? Okey Ndibe.


Okey Ndibe
Columnist:

Okey Ndibe

I have had several sad conversations in the past two weeks with friends who, like me, are from Anambra State. The conversations have focused on the local government election held in the state on January 11.

One friend, who lives in Onitsha, rang me last week. He pointed to an aspect of my recent column on the possible electoral implications of political realignments in Nigeria. I had speculated that the 2015 elections “are bound to be another Nigerian-made mess, a fraud fest, a classic of rigging.”

“You’re living in the past,” this friend said in a mordant tone.

“How so?” I asked. I wondered whether he wanted to chide me for offering a dim prognosis of the 2015 elections. I have had encounters with Nigerians who imagine that elections in their country are of acceptable quality if not irreproachable.

“The fact that you’re still writing about rigging,” the friend explained, “tells me you don’t know where things stand. Nigeria has now moved past the stage of rigging. Rigging can only happen when there’s a pretense of an election. But we have found another formula that spares the ruling party the headache of having to rig. The recent local government election in Anambra introduced a new formula. Results were written everywhere before the election, and just announced. That’s the new formula.”

Another friend, from Nnewi, expressed a similar outlook. The state electoral commission had invalidated the polls in Nnewi North, the commission’s chairman, Sylvester Okonkwo, citing “a security report” made to him. But my friend insisted that a grim political purpose was at play. She accused the state electoral commission of cancelling the election because the voters of Nnewi would not abide the kind of impunity that marked, and marred, the local government election elsewhere in the state.

“The [Nnewi North] community decided not to allow any person or party to hijack their votes. That’s why the election was cancelled,” she asserted.

The results of the election as announced by the Anambra State Independent Electoral Commission were nothing short of astonishing. Of the 20 local government chairmanships where the results were announced, the All Progressives Grand Alliance (APGA) swept all. The only spot not claimed by APGA was that of Nnewi North, which was cancelled.

I’m willing to bet that the results represented a grave manipulation. The people of Anambra State are far from the monolithic APGA-ists that the so-called results suggest. There isn’t anything near the level of political homogeneity mirrored by the results in Anambra. In a credible election, there would have been a far more heterogeneous outcome, with the candidates of a variety of political parties winning in different places. So how did APGA manage its sweep?

By—I hazard—crooked means, period.

The state electoral commission, like its national counterpart, appeared to have become willing or innocent tools for electoral manipulators. The headline and content of one Nigerian newspaper told a sordid part of the story. “Anambra LG poll: Electoral officers, voters fight over result sheets,” was a headline in January 11, 2014 edition of the Punchnewspaper. According to the report, “Violence broke out in some parts of Anambra State on Saturday during the election held to elect local government chairmen and councilors. At Nkwelle, Awka South Local Government Area, ballot materials were burnt when a fight broke out because polling officers failed to produce result sheets. It was a similar story at Igwebeze Primary School, Ifite-Awka where some party agents insisted that voting would not commence unless the result sheets were made available. The Presiding Officer for the Igwebeze polling unit 2, Mr. Jude Onwubiko, however pleaded with the agents and voters to let the voting process continue, explaining that the results sheets were being brought by the supervisory presiding officer. There was also violence at Igboukwu Town Hall, Fegge, Onitsha, where some youths protested against alleged thumb-printing by members of a particular political party. All the polling units visited by our correspondent did not have results sheets.”

Therein—in the last line of the quoted report—was the crux. What was the electoral commission thinking? How could you presume to conduct an election when the sheets for recording the results were missing? Where were those sheets?

It all lends credence to what several of my contacts as well as most of the political parties have alleged: that the results were written ahead of the election, and announced after hapless voters had spent hours in a hollow, meaningless ritual.

Mr. Okonkwo, the state’s electoral commissioner who presided over this apparent sham, was quick to issue a standard, cynical response. He asked disaffected parties and candidates to take their case to court. He knows, this electoral officer, that Nigerian courts have on the whole given a poor account of themselves in adjudicating electoral cases. The odds are stacked in favor of the rigger, who all too often gets away with his/her stolen electoral goods. That explains part of the reason ruling parties act with particular impunity in elections. They figure that, given a judiciary packed with unethical judges willing to peddle influence, their electoral heists would be hard to reverse.

The deplorable “electoral” experiment in Anambra should disturb all enlightened Nigerians, not just those from Anambra. Each election cycle, Nigerian politicians, with the help of electoral officials, seem to come up with novel ways of thwarting voters’ will. Each new anti-people idea becomes contagious in Nigeria, widely copied. We ought to worry that what happened in Anambra State, an election in which the result sheet was missing in action, could become the norm for future elections elsewhere—and nationally.

Please follow me on twitter @ okeyndibe

(okeyndibe@gmail.com)

Source: SAHARA REPORTERS.

What Does A Nigerian Governor Do? By Prince Charles Dickson.


By Prince Charles Dickson

A Nigerian governor is Nigerian, he often than not is an indigene of the State he governs/rules/ or controls.

In rare cases, we know a state governor has actually hailed from another state, and in those cases we have kept the matter under the realm of gossip and conjectures, like one of the governors in the North whom we know originally hails from ‘agenebode’ or so in the Niger Delta.

Well, is my admonition about where governors come from? Certainly not! But let’s share this learning together in the next few paragraphs.

Now, in the case that the best man for the job is from another state, he simply is disqualified, as he is not an indigene, the only caveat is, in the case of the governor of the Central Bank, and even on that count, the man must be ethnically/regionally and religiously correct.

To the grouse then, what do these men do, what really is the job of a governor…Nigeria has 36 of them, split into the Nigeria Governors Forum (Jang faction and Rotimi Faction), PDP Governors Forum, Progressive cum Opposition Governors Forum, Northern Governors Forum, South-South Governors Forum, South East Governors Forum, South West Governors Forum, and recently I heard of the former PDP Governors Forum composed of ex-governors.

What do these men contribute to nation building or even state building.

On a personal note, these men are entitled to a four wives if Muslim, and a wife if a Christian, but scores of then keep a convent/harem of concubines, girlfriends and mistresses, at least not any has been caught ‘gaying’. In other words, as a governor in Nigeria you cannot/should not be faithful at home, by extension you owe those you govern very little and owe much to your harem/party and godfathers.

It is not so much about what these governors do, as in also what they do not do.  These governors have dozens of commissioners ranging from 30-45, they are entitled to senior special assistants/special assistants/advisers (both senior and junior)/countless aides and yes consultants on various subject matters.

This allows for governors to spend an average of 7 days only in a month at the office and in the state. The rest is spent galavanting, wedding, naming ceremony, birthday, and death-day, they attend meetings in abuja, and flex in caucus meetings of how to remove Jonathan, or how to deceive him and make more money.

Off course all these happen when they are not in Kosovo, Kabul or Khazastan seeking investors.

There is no governor in Nigeria that has in the last four years spent an average of 4 hours everyday, 15 days a month and 9 months a year in the office, taking his leave as at when due and handing over to the right person temporarily. But trust me, these ‘guys’ are working so HARD, indeed very HARD.

Have you visited a state without big billboards with one motto or the other attached to a life size photo of the governor, state mass transit buses with his picture on them, soccer clubs like Plateau United christened (the Jang Boys) which was once Dariye Boys and briefly Botmang Boys. If there’s a state similar things don’t occur, then the state has no governor, even the chief servant in the power state is top of the swagger in these art of self worship by our governors-general.

Our governors tell us how difficult the art of state governance is, and you sure would agree, contending with the opposition, with political enemies from different camps, and sure spending billions unaccounted for must be one hell of a job.

Recently I asked how much do our governors earn for all the hard work? And very few could say. No wonder everyone of them tell us how they were all millionaires before they became governors.

Millionaire state CEOs that don’t have factories yet they speak and act in millions and billions, they tell you to go and die, and if you don’t they give you N2M.

I watch people say governor X,Y,Z is doing well, and I ask where else do people praise a governor for using your money to give you utilities that are not priorities, but our beloved Nigeria.

Is there any Nigerian governor with just two cars, with kids in public schools, and less than N100M, then I will show you a lazy governor. Today in assets and cash there is no governor who is not a billionaire, and that’s 36 hardworking billionaires.

These hardworking governors spend millions on healthcare, and yet the hospitals are not good enough to check their health. In one of the progressive South West States, all of the governor’s kids are schooling in London and the governor flaunts his hardwork in the educational sector.

Have you had ‘Rochanomics’ or Kwakwasiya or Redemption, or tar ze che, the tags are countless yet all these are nothing but empty shells.

I am using these governors as guinea pigs, but it is really about our leaders, what do our councilor men/women do, how about the chairmen, legislators, how has our minister impacted our lives?

We need to start asking questions, we’re need to demand answers to issues of governance.

An old axiom speaks of not touching a blind man’s hand while eating with him…for how long our leaders will continue to touch our hands while the eat–only time will tell.

Source: SAHARA REPORTERS.

Sunday Musings: On this Matter of the National Conference By Mobolaji E. Aluko.


By Mobolaji E. Aluko, PhD

My People : The Federal Government recently announced the modalities for the much-awaited National Conference, following the submission of the report of the Okunrounmu-led  Presidential Advisory Committee on National Dialogue.

On this issue of a National Conference, despite misgivings from various quarters, I am in general support provided:

– the process is as inclusive as possible; this has implication for length of time allowed for it as well as the character, number and process of choice of the delegates  [I recommend below six months rather than three months now announced by the FGN.]

– the total number of delegates in the Final Conference should not be unnecessarily wieldy. [Well, my recommendation below reduces the total number from 492 to anywhere between 426 and 479 – not much a reduction, but now with significant re-distribution among the various categories of delegates.]

– there is greater clarity in how and who does the selection and/or election of delegates

– while not an Ethnic Nationalities Conference, sufficient weight to their views must be built into the National Conference [I recommend below that the Ethnic Nationalities representation should be one-quarter to one-third of the total delegates.  Their number should therefore be increased from 90 to 107 (for one-quarter representation) or 160 (for one-third representation)]

– government choice of delegates should be as few as possible; this actually builds in more legitimacy, not less. [Instead of 181 (or 37% of total delegates), I recommend below  only 20 (19 Elder statesmen and the Chairman of the Conference) chosen by Government (President or Governors or FGN) – that is about 5%.]

– we increase of Diaspora representation from 8 to 12 (splitting America into USA (2 delegates), Canada (1) and South America (1), and Asia into Near Asia (2 delegates) and Far Asia (2 delegates), with Europe and Africa having 2 delegates each.]

– the cost of the National Conference is minimal [N4.7 million per person per month appears too high.  A breakdown of how this N7 billion total cost estimate was arrived at would be helpful.]  However, what is worth doing is worth doing well, and if it costs high, so be it.

– it ends up in a new Popular Constitution, complete with a Referendum,  not tinkering with the current one;

– the new Constitution forms the basis of the 2015 Presidential elections

Other recommendations will be found in tabular form below.

The recently-announced Modalities for the Conference don’t all expressly allow the above – but one hopes that some or all of my recommendations below will be considered before the National Conference begins.

And there you have it.  Comments are welcome.

 

Bolaji Aluko

-The National Conference

S/N

Item

Decision of FGN

Aluko Commentary

1

Official name

The National Conference

Missing is the adjective “Sovereign”, but I can let that go

2

Venue

Abuja

Final one may be Abuja, but there should be many mini-conferences first, AT least in the capitals of each of the states to ensure greater inclusivity

3

Duration

Three months

Too short: six months are recommended

4

Discussion Topics

Almost all or any subject matter….except….

Should be ANY subject at all

5

No-Go Area

Indivisibility and indissolubility of Nigeria as a nation, therefore the unity of Nigeria is non-negotiable;

This “No Go” area not necessary.  Allow those who want division and dissolution to be shouted down – or hailed – at the NC, then we shall see.  Be assured that Nigeria is not going dissolved anywhere…..so why fret?

6

Conference management

Secretariat to manage, administer and run its affairs

Okay

7

Decision Making

By consensus; but where it is not achievable, it shall be by 75% majority

Okay

8

Purpose of National Conference

To advise the government on the legal framework, legal procedures and options for integrating the decisions and outcomes of the national conference into the Constitution and laws of the country

Just to advise integration? No – it should be to OUTLINE a new Constitution entirely, not tinker with the old one.  NBA (Body of SANs) should be drafted to technocratically DRAFT the Constitution before a Popular Referendum, which should be given to National Assembly/President for formal assent only. The Constitution should be enacted before and be the basis for the 2015 Presidential elections, otherwise it should be POSTPONED until after then, otherwise NC might be a wasted effort

9

Conference Leadership

A Chairperson and a Deputy Chairperson of unimpeachable integrity

Okay

10

Delegate Nomination Period

Begin Thursday January 30 and end Thursday, February 20, 2014

Has already presumably begun, but  the ability of “getting together” of many of the named Stakeholder groups in order to nominate their delegates is very  nebulous

11

Method of Nomination

List of nominees shall be submitted either online to www.osgf.gov.ng or in hard copy to the Office of the Permanent Secretary (Special Duties Office), Office of the Secretary to the Government of the Federation, Federal Secretariat Complex, Phase I, 3rd Floor, Central Business District, Abuja.

Okay, but nothing is on www.osgf.gov.ng is available yet to do this nomination there. At least, I visited to nominate one or two persons (don’t ask me who.)

12

Period of NC

March to May 2014

Too short – March to August 2014  minimum

13

Approximate Cost

N7.00 billion

Ehn – N14.2 million per person, N4.7 million per person per month for three months? Let’s see the breakdown in terms of cost of venue, materials, accommodation, food, general conference services,  transportation, honorarium  – and legal “incidentals”.

Modalities for the nomination of the delegates

S/N

Stakeholders

FGN Number

Of Delegates

FGN Specifications

Nominator

(according to FGN)

Aluko Commentary

Recommended number

1

Elder Statesmen

37

One per state and the FCT

President

Too many – 3 per geo-zone + FCT are enough

19

2

Retired Military and Security Personnel

18

One delegate per geopolitical zone each from the Military, Police, State Security and National Intelligence Agency

Stakeholders

Too many – one per geo-zone, mixed such that 2 each from the services

6

3

Traditional Rulers

13

Two per geo-political zone and one from the FCT

Stakeholders

Okay – but just specify (chosen from one of the Chairmen of the Council of Chiefs by them)

13

4

Retired Civil Servants

6

One per geo-zone

Stakeholders

Why?  Some of the delegates will fulfill this anyway.

0

5

Labour

24

Nigeria Labour Congress, NLC, and Trade Union Congress, TUC, to reflect Geo-political and gender balance

Stakeholders

Too many

12

6

The Organised Private Sector

8

NECA, MAN, NACCIMA, NESG, two delegates each

Stakeholders

Too many – one each enough

4

7

Nigeria Youth Organisations

12

National Youth Council of Nigeria and National Association of Nigerians Students, NANS, shall each nominate six delegates, one from each geo-political zone,

Stakeholders

Okay

12

8

Outstanding Youths and Role Models

6

One from each geo-political zone for “other”

Federal Government

Why? Government should as much as possible remove any tendency to dilute Stakeholder choice influence

0

9

Women Groups

12

National Council Of Women Society, NCWS, two per geo- political zone

Stakeholders

Okay

12

10

Market Women Association

6

One per geo-political zone.

Stakeholders

Okay

6

11

Women Organizations

6

International Federation of Women Lawyers, FIDA;  Nigerian Association of Women Journalists, NAWOJ; and Women in Management and Business, WINBIZ, shall each nominate two Delegates;

Stakeholders

Okay

6

12

Political Parties in National Assembly

10

Parties that have representation in the National Assembly, including the Peoples Democratic Party, PDP, All Progressives Congress, APC,  All Progressives Grand Alliance, APGA, Accord Party, Labour Party, LP, two delegates each

Stakeholders

Too few…all parties that have ANY representation at all in ANY state legislature. In fact, why not all INEC-registered parties – all 25 of them?

25

13

Religious Leaders

12

Christian and Muslim Leaders

Stakeholders

Okay

12

14

Civil Society Organisations

24

Across board

Stakeholders

Not necessary – are these all other named associations NOT “Civil Society?”

0

15

Nigerians in Diaspora

8

Europe, America, Africa, Asia, and Middle East,  two delegates per location

Stakeholders

Not Enough – America should be broken into three (2 representing USA, 1 representing Canada and 1 representing South America), as well as Asia (2 representing Far Asia and 2 Representing Near Asia)

12

16

People Living with Disabilities

6

One per geo-political zone

Stakeholder

Okay

6

17

Media

8

Newspapers Proprietors Association of Nigeria, Nigeria Guild of Editors, Nigeria Union of Journalists and the Broadcasting Organisation of Nigeria shall nominate 2 delegates each;

Stakeholders

Okay

8

18

Socio Political/ Cultural and Ethnic Nationality Groups

90

15 delegates each, per geo-political zone to reflect religious and ethnic diversities;

Stakeholders

Not enough at all….this number should be near to or equal to the quorum of Conference membership (assumed to be one-third)

107 – for one-quarter representation;

 

160 – for one-third representation

 

19

Professional Bodies

13

NBA, NSE, CIB, NMA, NIM, NIA, ICAN, ANAN, NIPR, AAPN, NIESV, Nigerian Environment Society and  Nigeria Economic Society

Stakeholders

Okay

13

20

National Academies

5

The Academy of Science, Academy of Engineering, Academy of Education, Academy of Letters and the Academy of Social Sciences shall each nominate 1 delegate;

Stakeholders

Okay..but no ASUU?

5

21

Former Judiciary Personnel

6

From the Judiciary not currently serving on the bench

President

Okay…but why does the President have to be the one to choose them?  NJC nko?

6

22

Former Political Office Holders

24

Former governors, Senators Forum, House of Reps Forum and the Association of Former Speakers shall each nominate one delegate per geo-political zone

Stakeholders

Okay….but how will they choose themselves?

24

23

FG

Delegates

20

At least six will be women

Federal Government

Why? A nebulous group

0

24

State Governments

Delegates

109

3 delegates each based on Senatorial District at least, while the FCT shall nominate 1 delegate, one of whom shall be a woman. The nomination shall be done by the state governors and where the state fails to nominate, the President shall nominate the required number from the state

State Governor and/or President

The number is okay, but choice by state governors defeats popular representation.  This is where LIMITED election or selection by the populace should be instituted

109

25

Former LG Chairmen

6

One from each from the six geo- political zones;

ALGON

Okay

6

26

Conference Leaders

3

Chairman, Deputy Chairman and Secretary, observing geo-political spread

President

Number okay, but President should just choose Chairman, and let the Conference choose the other two

3

 

TOTAL

492

 

 

 

426 or 479

 

The National Conference: How we got here

 

S/N

Date

Event

1

Independence Day broadcast October 1, 2013

President Goodluck Jonathan announces set up a Presidential Advisory Committee on National Dialogue (PACND)

Composition: Senator Dr. Femi Okurounmu-Chairman; Dr. Akilu Sani Indabawa -Secretary, Senator Khairat Abdulrazaq-Gwadabe, Senator Timothy Adudu; Professor Olufunke Adeboye; Professor George A. Obiozor, Professor Ben Nwabueze, SAN, NNOM (declined, later replaced by Prof. Anya Anya),  Dr. Abubakar Siddique Mohammed; Malam Bukhari Bello, MFR, mni; Mr. Tony I. Uranta,  Col. Tony Nyiam (Rtd) (later replaced by Mr. Solomon Asemota (SAN)); Alhaji Dauda Birmah, OFR and Dr. Mrs. Mairo Ahmed Amshi, MFR.

2

October 7, 2013

Date of Inauguration of PACND

3

December 18, 2013

Submission of Report of PACND

 

http://www.osgf.gov.ng/content?id=135

STATEMENT BY ANYIM PIUS ANYIM, GCON, SECRETARY TO THE GOVERNMENT OF THE FEDERATION, ON THE OCASSION OF THE RELEASE OF THE MODALITIES FOR THE NATIONAL CONFERENCE TO THE MEDIA ON 3OTH JANUARY, 2014; ABUJA

Gentlemen of the Press,

It is my pleasure to welcome you all to this Press Conference. The purpose is to share with you, the highlights of the decisions of the Federal Government on the Report of the Presidential Advisory Committee on National Dialogue. I am indeed pleased and grateful that I am joined here today by the Chairman of the Advisory Committee, Senator Femi Okunronmu and the Secretary, Dr. Akilu Indabawa. I will make a brief statement and thereafter, all of us will be available to respond to your questions.

2.      You will recall that the President of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, Goodluck Ebele Jonathan,GCFR, during his Independence Day National Broadcast, on 1st October, 2013 set up a 13-Member Presidential Advisory Committee on National Dialogue under Senator Femi Okurounmu. The Committee which was inaugurated on 7th October 2013 was mandated to advise Government on the framework for a national dialogue by consulting widely with Nigerians. The Committee was given seven (7) terms of reference and was asked to submit its report in six (6) weeks.   The Committee met that target and in many respects, it exceeded all expectations.  At this juncture, let me once again, on behalf of the President, thank the Chairman and members of the Committee for their dedication, tenacity and courage in handling the assignment.

3.      The Federal Government is satisfied that the Committee has diligently discharged its task to the nation and posterity.  This is moreso, especially as one recalls the foundational principles of their assignment as espoused by President Goodluck Ebele Jonathan at the inauguration of the Committee. On that occasion, Mr. President emphasized that, “this is a National Project, a sincere and fundamental undertaking, aimed at realistically examining and genuinely resolving, long-standing impediments to our cohesion and harmonious development as a truly United Nation”.

4.      You will also recall that the President further stressed that, “sitting down to talk is one right step in calming down tensions and channeling our grievances, misgivings and suggestions into more positive use for the good of our country”. The President stated as well that in any case, Nigerians are already talking about their national challenges through the print and electronic media. He observed that, “the only gap is that while these talks are sometimes weighty, they often lack direction”. Therefore, one of the objectives for setting up the Committee was to lend weight and direction to the National Dialogue. You may also recall that Mr. President has also allayed “the fears of those who think the National Dialogue will call the integrity of Nigeria into question”, and added that, “this National Dialogue will strengthen our union and address issues that are often on the front burner, but too frequently ignored”.

5.      I wish to thank all Nigerians for their enthusiastic response to the opportunity to structure a national dialogue in the manner offered by the President. We are grateful for the massive support and encouragement that the broad strata and all sections of our nation gave to the Advisory Committee in all parts of the country they visited.  Also, let me in particular, extend our deep appreciation to members of the press. All of you contributed in no small way to sustain free and robust debate on every platform, to promote the ideals of the national dialogue.

6.      I am pleased to inform you that Government gave the most expeditious consideration to the Report of the Advisory Committee. In doing so, we sought explanations and guidance from the members of the Committee as at when necessary. We were also deeply encouraged by the calls by Nigerians from all works of life for us to proceed with the Report of the Committee with uttermost urgency, so that the nation can be through with the Dialogue well ahead of the approaching political season.

7.      I now have the privilege to announce that the Government, after long and mature deliberations on the Committees’ Report, accepts the following recommendations for immediate implementation:

(a)          The official name of the conversation/conference shall be “The National Conference”;

(b)                   The National Conference shall hold in the Federal                              Capital Territory, Abuja;

(c)          The National Conference shall tentatively last for 3 months and shall discuss any subject matter, except the indivisibility and indissolubility of Nigeria as a nation, therefore the unity of Nigeria is non-negotiable;

(d)          A Conference Management Secretariat shall be established to manage, administer and run the affairs of the Conference;

(e)          Decisions at the National Conference shall be by consensus; but where it is not achievable; it shall be by 75% majority;

(f)           The National Conference shall advise the Government on the legal framework, legal procedures and options for integrating the decisions and outcomes of the national conference into the Constitution and laws of the country; and

(g)          The National Conference shall have a Chairperson and a Deputy Chairperson of unimpeachable integrity.

8.      Furthermore, the Federal Government has since approved the next steps necessary towards actualizing the National Conference as follows:

(i)      30th January,   2014     –        Formal release of the modalities for the National Conference;

(ii)      30th January, 2014       –        20th February, 2014                                  Nomination of Delegates;

(iii)     Inauguration of the Conference will follow soon after the delegate list is concluded.

 

9.      Pursuant to the foregoing, the modalities for the nomination of delegates to the Conference are as provided in the attached table.

 

10.    The list of nominees shall be submitted either online to www.osgf.gov.ng or in hard copy to the Office of the Permanent Secretary (Special Duties Office), Office of the Secretary to the Government of the Federation, Federal Secretariat Complex, Phase I, 3rd Floor, Central Business District, Abuja.  Formal inauguration of the Conference shall follow as soon as the nominations are received and collated.

 

11.    Thank you.

 

ANYIM PIUS ANYIM, GCON

Secretary to the Government of the Federation

National Confab Or Gathering Of Vultures? By Soyombo Ayomikun.


By Soyombo Ayomikun

A solemn gathering
Of minds burning for change
Both young and old
Seeking to light the path into tomorrow
That was my picture of the National Confab

Then I heard
That 492 souls will be gathered
Invited to come with empty pouches
As ripe gold awaits to be carted away
At the National Confab

Allegedly 9 million naira goes
To each man that gets the slot
As if it were some ‘ghost contracts’
In a land where diseases and poverty daily strikes
The weak ones labelled ‘masses’

A storm of pains
Whirled within my heart’s chambers
As I sensed that a gathering of ‘Judases’
Is about to be baptized
At the National Confab

I’m now seeing pictures
Of men gathering to drink our good roads
Of souls converging to eat our education
A buffet of deceit and lies
At the National Confab

We have journeyed
A long long way
Than to now be making a joke
Of what should be a glorious venture
A conference of Nigeria’s brightest minds

We don’t want a gathering of vultures
Devoid of passions or dreams
We don’t want an assembly
Of souls infested by greed
At our National Confab

The Confab we want is that of sacrificial hearts
With no gains of coins or gold attached
With no remuneration that will lure in ‘Judases’
A confab of the weak,the strong, & the mighty
With beautiful dream-filled hearts…for Nigeria!!!

Soyombo tweets from @alabaster85

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

Remaining PDP Senators And House Of Reps Members Demand Automatic Tickets For 2015 Race.


 

The Speaker of the House and some members last night
By SaharaReporters, New York

 

Following the threat of defection by 11 senators to the All Progressive Congress, 11 PDP governors attend a meeting Tuesday night with the leadership and 130 members of the caucus in the House of Representatives at the National Assembly in Abuja.

House of Representative Leader, Mulikat Akande Adeola told the National Chairman that members of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) would not defect to the opposition party Alliance for Progressives Change (APC) if they were given automatic tickets for the 2015 election race.

Automatic tickets are distributed to party favorites who represent the party well and are popular with their constituents.  If Senators are successful in their blackmail threat they would not have to compete during election primaries, and avoid having to confront questions on their record from their constituents.

House of Representative Leader, Adeola said this was the first time in the 7th Assembly that the PDP Chairman and Governors would be meeting with the members. She asked members of the party to be steadfast and show more commitment in moving the party forward.

PDP National Chairman Muazu responded, “There will be a regular meetings between the House caucus and party from this moment onward “.

Muazu said the lack of adequate communication and linkages between the House caucus and the party led to the defection crisis. He promised the house caucus would deal with the question of the automatic ticket.

The meeting was attended by 11 Governors: Akway Ibom State Governor, Godswill Akpabio; Abia State Governor, Theodore Orji; Anambra State Governor, Peter Obi; Ondo State Olusegun Mimiko; Delta State Governor Emmanuel Udughan; Kaduna State Governor, Ramalan Yero; Taraba State Governor, Garba Umaru; Governor of State Rivers State Liyel Imoke; Niger State Governor, Aliyu Babangida; Katsina State Governor, Ibrahim Shema, and Deputy Governor of Jigawa State.

Also, Ondo State Governor, Olsegun Mimiko and Anambra State Governor, Peter came into the venue of the meeting in solidarity with their PDP counterparts but left before the close door meeting of the party.

Police arrest 320 Boko Haram suspects in Rivers.


 

Police-militant

Harcourt, Rivers State, on Sunday, as the state police command confirmed the arrest of 320 Boko Haram suspects.
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Though details were still sketchy as of the time of filing this report, Nigerian Tribune gathered that the suspects were arrested from a convoy of 17 commuter buses, all coming from Jigawa State.

However, sources at the State Criminal Investigation Department (SCID) confirmed that the arrest was made after a tip-off.

According to the sources, the suspects, arrested in the convoy led by one Bala Marto Danbam, were all travelling in buses belonging to a transportation company owned by a former Inspector General of Police.

 

“The arrest started from about 1.00 a.m till about 7.00 a.m at different points; some were arrested as they were entering the state boundary, while others were arrested from places like Mile One and other parts of Port Harcourt.

“Three hundred and twenty of them, men and women, were arrested and the manner of the travelling was deemed suspicious; so many people in those buses and at that time of the day was suspicious,” the source said.

When reached for comments, the state Police Commissioner, Joseph Mbu, confirmed the development, adding that the state command would not comment on the matter yet for security reason.

“It’s a top security issue. I don’t know how you got the information and I won’t ask you, but there cannot be any comment now from the Rivers police command until we finish the investigation. I will make no comment,” Mbu said.

It could not be confirmed if arms or other incriminating objects had been discovered with the suspects, but they, alongside the buses that conveyed them, were inside the premises of the police department.

Nigerian Tribune observed that security had been tightened around the SCID on Sunday evening, as movements into and around the area were under close watch.

Journalists who tried to access the premises were strictly barred by policemen on guard.

It was also observed that the areas close to the SCID premises were thronged by people believed to be friends and kinsmen of the arrested suspects.

Meanwhile, the Northern States’ Governors Forum has charged security agencies to end the killing of defenseless citizens, especially in the North-East region, where suspected Boko Haram members have continued their bloody campaign since 2009.

Chairman of the forum and Niger State governor, Dr Babangida Aliyu, in Minna, on Sunday, noted that members of the forum were concerned at the renewed attacks, which had killed 18 persons around Maiduguri.

“The forum is particularly alarmed that the shooting to death of 18 persons in Njaba, Mude, Kwaljiri and Kaya villages in Borno followed the same pattern, as previous midnight attacks on towns and villages in the region,” he told the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN).

According to a statement signed by his Chief Press Secretary, Danladi Ndayebo, Aliyu described the fresh attacks as “horrendous, callous and inhuman.”

He also called on security agencies to halt the incessant clashes between Fulani herdsmen and farmers in the region.

Written by Bolaji Ogundele -Port Harcourt

Source: Radio Biafra.

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