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Budget 2014: Another Ritualistic Redundancy By Law Mefor.


By Law Mefor

Budget presentation by the Executive Arm of Government to the National Assembly for Appropriation has since become nothing but an annual hollow, redundant ritual. The budget is never implemented, thus making nonsense of the time and expense deployed to passing it into law in the first place. The 2014 Budget is no exception either.
The first signs that 2014 Budget is also doomed to fail like the rest started with the President and the National Assembly disagreeing on the Oil Benchmark. Owing to this, the President had to delegate the Minister of Finance to perform the presentation ritual, the first time it is happening in Nigeria. Though the President is not duty-bound by the Constitution or any other extant law to lay the budget in person, it has since become a welcome tradition that he does so and it also offers the President an opportunity to feel the legislative arm of government and create a latitude for a sustained camaraderie and rapprochement between the arms of government. So, for the President to decline, and not for any national exigency, is indicative of impending turbulent budget year. One also can only hope that the budget get passed within the 2nd Quarter of 2014, as the First Quarter appears doomed already with the National Assembly resuming only on the 15th of January.

The content of the 2014 budget proposal is not inspiring. Over 70% of the entire budget is going to Recurrent Expenditure.  Out of the N4.6 Trillion budget for 2014, only 27% is for Capital. If passed generally as it is, out of this 27%, only about 30% will eventually be implemented, going by when the budget will be passed which can not be earlier than April, and going by the 2013 budget performance, which dismally stands at about 35%. We need to also note that things like computers are listed as Capital whereas they are not, in the strict sense. Are we really serious about exiting poverty and underdevelopment by servicing only recurrent expenditure?

The Minister of Finance and the Coordinating Minister of the Economy Dr. Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala had once promised to devise ways to drastically reduce Recurrent Expenditure and shore up the Capital. But from what she laid before the National Assembly, one can see she is not working in that direction or she has given in.

There is no way Nigeria can exit the poverty belt in the manner the issue of Budget is handled. Fact is: actual development is hinged on Capital development. There has never been a time, since the return to Civil Rule in 1999, where Recurrent Expenditure is not implemented 100% and this essentially goes for the servicing of the bloated bureaucracy and political office holders, to the detriment of the economy and suffering masses.
Recurrent Expenditure has very little if not nothing to do with the suffering masses of Nigeria. Whereas Capital Expenditure, which is where the masses can feel the impact of development and dividends of democracy, has never been implemented up to 50% since 1999.

Over the years, the rate of Capital budget performance has continued to dwindle; this year’s budget performance is clearly below 40% where it comes to Capital whereas Government has already hit 100% implementation of Recurrent Expenditure. Government does not exist for the sole servicing of bureaucracy and politicians. The people who directly benefit from these amorphous budgets are not up to 1% of Nigeria’s population, and something must be done to focus more on the rest 99%, by reducing the cost of running Government in Nigeria, which appears too expensive.

The way and manner therefore budgets are prepared, passed and implemented in Nigeria is nothing but annual ritualistic redundancy and cannot lead  to staged development. In fact, it has led to further disarticulation of the economy and making it impossible for the country to be economically independent. Neocolonial economies can become independent if production is encouraged and need of citizens to purchase mainly foreign goods put in check. But today, Nigeria is not budgeting for the stimulation of productivity and doing something to add value to the primary products the nation exports, especially oil.

The Executive Arm is also known to blatantly violate the Appropriation Act by simply ignoring it and carrying on regardless of its provisions, despite being a (pivotal) law. Examples of this abound: the President was reported days ago to have instructed the Minister of Finance to find funds for the National Confab and there is no place such funds are provided for in the budget before the National Assembly. Another example; Stella Oduah just approved the purchase of bullet proof cars and other vehicles running into  about a billion naira without any appropriation, as shown in the Report of the House Committee on Aviation headed by Hon. Onyejeocha, turned in just this week. Whereas the 1999 Constitution as amended, clearly stipulates that there shall be no Governmental Expenditure without appropriation.

The willful and flagrant violation of the Appropriation Act forms part of the culture of impunity, which is destroying the nation by fueling corruption, as institutions of Government are trampled upon by the same Government officials who should strengthen and defend them. Impunity breeds corruption and corruption breeds underdevelopment, as the funds meant for development are stolen in broad-day light.

Nigeria needs to make a clean break from the current undemocratic practice and do away with the prevailing culture of impunity and executive lawlessness, for violation of the Appropriation Act is an assault on the Constitution and therefore a  grave offense, apart from the injury it inflicts on macroeconomic planning and development of the country.

Let us make a square facing to nation building and national development and where to start is by ensuring that at no time is the Recurrent Expenditure higher than the Capital Expenditure. For a growing economy, it is the only way to ensure Staged Development.

Law Mefor,  Forensic Psychologist and Journalist, is National Coordinator, Transform Nigeria Movement (TNM) Abuja; +234-803-787-2893; email; lawmefor@gmail.com.

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

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Senator Ekweremadu insists on no referendum on confab, despite Igbo leader’s stand.


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Senator Ike Ekweremadu, a lawyer and politician is the Deputy Senate President and Chairman of Senate Committee on the Review of the 1999 Constitution. Ekweremadu, who is representing Enugu West Senatorial District in the Upper Chamber of the National Assembly, in this interview, says it is critical to subject the National Conference to legislative process. The Deputy Senate President also speaks on the progress of work on the constitution amendment exercise, among other issues. TEMITOPE OGUNBANKE reports.What is your view on the issue of single term tenure?When the issue of single term tenure came up at the level of our committee, we were mindful of the political atmosphere. We also tried to draw inspiration from what happened in other jurisdictions, especially in Latin America in the 70s, where they had circumstances in which we found ourselves where the issue of transition from one administration was a major issue and was causing crisis within their region.So, they started to amend their constitution at that time to create a single term in each of those countries and it was for a transition period. This helped them to stabilise their democracy and now some of them are amending their constitution to go back to two terms of maybe four or five years. So, we thought it was something we can recommend to our country.Do you think Nigeria can benefit from it?If you look at what is going on in Nigeria now, all the core problems we are having in all the parties are based on the issue of succession. So, we believe strongly that, that matter can still be revisited. But I think some of the mistakes we made in our recommendations, was saying that the incumbent would not benefit from it and I think there was a kind of coalition of forces to defeat it. So, I believe that one of the ways to deal with the situation is for the stakeholders in the politics to come together. It could be a win-win situation for everybody. And I believe that the way it could work is now that people have been elected for four year.Now let everybody complete the four years tenure for which they were elected and then, through the doctrine of necessity, all sort of jurisprudential approach do some kind of transition of two years in which case those present occupiers like the president and state governors who are finishing their tenures, maybe, will now do another two years that would end in 2017.I hear that the complaint of some of those fighting the president is that if the president gets his second term when they are gone, he would start to chase them. So, if we all agree that, that is a way to solve the problem, after two years, both the president and those other governors will now exit and I believe that the fear would not be there and that would bring down the temperature of politics. Of course, we don’t have much problem with the legislative positions.We can go ahead and hold legislative election in 2015.

The advantage there will be that if we do the legislative election in 2015, and then do executive election in 2017, we will have two years gap for the INEC to have a breathing space to prepare well. You can see what is happening in Anambra now. So, INEC needs sufficient time to prepare for one election before the other. In America for instance, there is this two years separation and in fact in most countries, even in Senegal, and some places in Africa they have adopted that policy of separation legislative elections from executive elections.If we create a two year gap, it creates a situation where the country would not be engulfed in crisis in the process of conducting all the elections in one period. I think it is something that we need to reflect on and see if it is something that can help to resolve some of the challenges that we are having now and I do hope that if we are able to do that and we all agree to it, that it is going to solve even some of the security challenges because I do believe that some of the security problems we are having now are from the tension arising from politically charged atmosphere.So somehow, everybody will benefit from it; both the president, governors and all we need to do is to exercise some patience and give them two more years and they will all exit and we will start on a clean slate and be going forward. After that we can move to one term tenure that can be five years, six years or seven years depending on what we all agree upon.The cost of all these re-elections and all the problems that come with it would have been resolved and people will now know that if I am a president or a governor, I have a certain number of years and when I finish, I am not going to hunt the president or stop him from running again.Right now what is happening is that if the governor wants a re-election, he will do all kinds of things to stop the opposition and on the other hand some people will accuse the governor of all kinds of stupid things because he wants to have himself elected, so it causes all kinds of problems.Even the cost of the election itself, I don’t think that Nigeria can continue to sustain that. I know how much money we have spent on INEC and besides I know that politicians themselves spend a lot of money which most of them don’t ever declare. So, it is a huge cost to the country, but if we say let there be single term especially for the executive positions, some of these costs will have to be reduced.How then can we bring the matter back for discussion?Interestingly, we didn’t know that the president and executive would come up with the idea of National Dialogue. When we were doing the present constitution amendment we came up with the amendment of Section 9 of the constitution. Now, because I said the matter was defeated, it is under our processes. And for the matter to come up again, it must come in form of formal motion to bring about that.But because we are serving the people, we would be more than willing to do that if that is what the people of Nigeria desire. If there is a debate on it in conversation and Nigerians believes that the way we are going, we need to think along that line and be able to use it to resolve the existing political tension in this country, just as we did during the ill-health of our president, we would be more than willing as a national service to have a look into it and be able to reach a level of understanding in the National Assembly. So, we will be willing to discuss it provided that is exactly what the Nigerians want. But, for now, the matter was defeated in the Senate. If we are going to bring it about again, there must be another motion to resuscitate it.What is your view on the agitation for state police as part of the measures to be taken toward solving the security challenges in Nigeria?I have my personal position and an official position because I belong to an institution. The Senate at the level of the Committee on Constitution Amendment rejected suggestion for State Police and so we could not take it, even to the floor. And as a person, it is my job and my responsibility to present the report of the committee and I needed to explain to my colleagues why we made that recommendation. And the reason we gave was that though it has its advantages, Nigeria was not ripe for State Police and it was something for the future.That is the official position of the committee which I head. Now as an individual, I believe strongly that we can never resolve our security challenges in Nigeria as long as we are doing what we are doing now. Never! Even let us continue what we are doing, in five years if we meet again, it would be the same problem that we would be having. The reason is clear.No other country is doing what we are doing in term of policing. Most countries, especially the federation, have adopted what I call decentralised policing and indeed, the issue of State Police is even anachronistic. What is done now is multilevel policing or decentralised policing.You see, the security challenges have become very complicated, so you will have to bring a complicated process to address it. We cannot have a federal type of government and then adopt the unitary system of police and expect that to succeed. Even the white men, when they came to do the amalgamation, they knew that a centralised police cannot work in Nigeria.So, the type of police they set up was the Native Authority Police. That was the first type of police we had in Nigeria and it worked. They also introduced the prison, which were Native Authority based. It was later in the years, I think in 1936, that they decided to set up a Federal Police.So, the federal police and local government police co-existed together till 1966 when the army took over. Unfortunately, when the army took over, they set up a committee to review that type of police and they came to the conclusion that people were using it to intimidate political enemies. It was bound to happen because the white men did not bother to set up a structure that would regulate that kind of level of policing. There was nothing like Police Service Commission with clear guidelines on how to structure the Native Authority Police and to be able to determine what bounds they must stop.So, they were doing things the way they liked. But instead of the army finding a way to reform that arrangement and make sure there was a level of control or regulations, what they did was to throw away the baby with the bath water. They cancelled other levels of police and set up a central police system which we have now. What happened after that?First was armed robbery because armed robbers were now going about their business everywhere because they start posting policemen from Kano to Enugu, from Enugu to Calabar, from Calabar to Ibadan. So, they bring people who don’t know the terrain of the place.So, armed robbers take advantage of that. When the armed robbers have established their reign, kidnappers now joined them. Now there are terrorists and some ritualists are also coming into the crime business. The police we have now are not grounded; they don’t know the environment they are operating. Take for instance, you send a male Southerner, maybe a Christian to Sokoto and then, in the course of his beat, somebody commits a crime and he starts pursuing the person.Once he runs into a house he cannot go further if there is a woman living in that house because he is not allowed to enter because their religion does not allow him to see the woman. So, there are cultural differences that we have to respect and the only way we can do that is to get a policeman who is also part of the culture of the area; who respect the culture and also understand the environment and who lives there and as long as he is doing the police work, he knows everybody in the area.What they do in most countries is not state police, but decentralised policing or multi-level policing, which means that in Abuja for instance, we will have the federal police in Abuja and we will also have the Abuja Federal Capital Territory Police.Then, those of us who live in Apo, will have our own police and then the University of Abuja will have its own police and these are all well coordinated. So, if there is an offence in Apo for instance, the first police you will call is the policeman who lives on your street and the man appears there in the next second.If he thinks it is something that he cannot handle, then he will contacts his colleagues who live in other areas of Apo and if it becomes too much for them, they will call the FCT Police and if it is still too much for them, they will now call in the federal police and by the time you finish all these, they would have arrested the criminal.In America they commit crime everywhere and everyday as they commit here but the difference is that no matter where you go, they will find you because they are everywhere and they know what happens within the environment they operate.But in a situation where somebody has to leave a place where he lives in the course of posting, it would not allow to know the environment in which they are operating. Part of the job of the police is prosecution and also investigation. A policeman is investigating a crime and he is going to testify in Court A, in Lagos. And he is now transferred to Jalingo.Now, what happens to that case? That is the end of the matter. Then, the criminal goes free because the policeman cannot be coming from Jalingo to give evidence in Lagos. That is how criminals go away with the offence and that is how they increase the number of criminals in the society. That is why some of them in the prison will never come out in the name of awaiting trial because of the type of police we arrange. It is so sad that we are not seeing all these.Is the National Assembly going to debate the recommendations of the National Dialogue?Legislative process is a time consuming process and it is meticulous. The product of a legislative process is expected to endure for a very long time and that is why it is painstaking. So, if it is brought to parliament it has to go through the whole process because people’s lives are involved and there is no legislation more important than the constitution.So, if some people come together and agree on a constitution and bring it to the parliament, we have to look at it line by line, to make sure that everything is right because after all, they are the duly elected representatives of the people.There may not be fundamental changes to it, but they are going to be subjected to debate because several heads are better than one. It is critical that it should be subjected to legislative process and when that happens we would be assured that the whole process has been completed. There is no way you can sit down in Abuja, bring some people together, they craft a constitution together and it becomes law. It doesn’t happen anywhere in the world.Assuming we had a military regime, it is possible that you can bring people, set up a Constituent Assembly because there is no parliament and so they can agree on whatever they want to be the constitution. But not where you have an institution recognised by the constitution as the ultimate legislative body and you go and duplicate that institution by bringing another set of people by asking them to go and do a constitution.You are asking for anarchy. We hope that those who will come for the national dialogue will realise this, and know that nobody can escape the necessity of sending the outcome to the National Assembly and even to the State assemblies so that it will go through the whole hog in accordance with the law.What is your view on creation of new states?We have never said that it is impossible. What we have consistently said is that it is very difficult and I still maintain that it is difficult. Because a situation where you have to generate certain signatures and then bring it to the National Assembly, which will then deliberate on it and then send it to the Independent National Electoral Commission for referendum within the area that wants to be a state and after that you will now send it to all the states of the federation irrespective of where the demand is coming from.If you are requesting for a state in Cross River, you will have to send it to Sokoto and when they finish, in those State Houses of Assembly, you will bring it back to the National Assembly to vote and it is only when it passes through that it now becomes a state. If that is not difficult, I wonder then what is difficult.We are not saying that it is impossible, but we encourage people to try the process, let’s see how far that they can go. Under our processes, for the matter to come up again, it has to come through a formal motion. But because we are serving the people we will be more than willing to do that if that is what Nigerians desire.

Source: Radio Biafra.

2015:Power shift to North not negotiable—Northern leaders.


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Northern Elders are not prepared to back down on the North’s demand for the presidency in 2015,spokesman for the group, Professor Ango Abdullahi has said.

“There is no going back on the presidency returning to the North in 2015, and that has remained our position,” he told The Nation on the outcome of the last weekend meeting of the Northern Elders Forum.

Professor Abdullahi accused the President of playing politics with the proposed national conference.

“As far as we are concerned, all this talk about national conference is political and geared towards 2015. It is also becoming clear that the only card on the table of Mr. President is ethnicity or religion. We are waiting to see how this will work in his favour,” he said.

But he explained that the North is not in any way against the conference.

His words: “The Northern Elders’ Forum met last weekend and we generally agreed with the direction of the North on the National Conference. And we said why not? The point we tried to make is what kind of conference?

“This is because we have had all sorts of conferences in the past from 1914 to date. All the reports of these conferences are there in the Government House. The Northern Elders’ Forum wondered what kind of conversation, dialogue, or conference that would be different from the ones we have had before.

“We agreed that the only thing that will make the proposed conference significantly different is when it is sovereign. What needs to be done is to suspend the current 1999 Constitution by the National Assembly to pave the way for a peoples’ conference. The National Assembly should vacate itself to enable the sovereign conference to take place.

“I am particularly surprised that those who have always wanted a sovereign conference are now backing out and for whatever reason, I cannot say. While the Northern Elders’ Forum may be at home with the proposed conference, as we have always maintained that we are ready for any kind of conference, I still maintain that we either have a sovereign conference or nothing else. Without that, we had better manage the system as it is. Otherwise, the proposed conference will be a mere talk shop and a jamboree.”

Source: Radio Biafra.

Four Frauds That Are Fatal For The 1999 Constitution Or Why The 1999 Constitution Must Be Jettisoned By Chinweizu.


By Chinweizu

These fatal frauds are 4: the “We the people” fraud; the “Federation” fraud; the “Fighting corruption” masquerade/fraud; and the “Socially responsible State” masquerade/fraud. Let’s examine them.

1.    The “We the people” fraud

On the 23rd of May, 2007, the Movement for a New Nigeria (MNN) launched a legal attack on the 1999 Constitution by filing Suit No. FHC/ABJ/CS/367/07 in the Federal High Court, Abuja and, in 2009, Suit No. FHC/L/CS/558/09 before the Federal High Court, Lagos Division, seeking the termination of the operation of the 1999 Constitution on the ground that it is a forgery and a fraud in that it was made via Decree by one ‘Gen. Abudusalami Abubakar’ who lied in the preamble that ‘We the people of Nigeria….’ made and enacted it.

The Plaintiffs in the Suits included Chief Anthony Enahoro, Dim Chukwemeka Ojukwu, Chief C. C. Onoh, Prof. Wole Soyinka, Prince Bankole-Oki (SAN), Bishop Bolanle Gbonigi, Alhaji Yerima Shettima, Alhaji Asari Dokubo, Chief Ralph Uwazuruike and Fred Ageyegbe, Esq. The case, I understand, is still languishing in court, a victim of endless adjournments.

2.    The “Federation” fraud
Its federalism is a fraud because:

(a)    It falsely parades Nigeria as a federation whereas Nigeria ceased to be a federation in 1966, with the abrogation by the military of the 1963 federal constitution.

(b)    With the demobilization of the earlier federating units, its present states, the alleged federating units, have no constitutions of their own, making them false federating units;

(c)    It lacks fiscal federalism: its behemoth Central Govt. (falsely called “Federal Govt.”) takes for itself a lion’s share of the country’s resources and gives crumbs to the 36 states and the 774 Local Governments; they are thus not economically self-reliant entities but subsist on allocations from the Central Government; they are, consequently, mere economic dependents and  administrative agents of the Central Government—which is contrary to federalism;

3.    The “Fighting corruption” masquerade/ fraud

The 1999 Constitution is the Godfather of corruption, through the immunity clause 308. (1), which protects, and thereby implicitly invites, looting by the highest officials who have brazenly set the terrible example that the rest of society have emulated. However, it ostentatiously declares in Section 15. (5) that “The State shall abolish all corrupt practices and abuse of power”, thus giving the false impression that it is for fighting corruption. But it then surreptitiously annuls Section 15.(5) by its ouster clause (See fraud #4, discussed next)  It is a fraud for the Godfather of corruption to give the impression that it is against corruption, and the fraud is compounded when it empowers the State to fight corruption but then surreptitiously discourages it from doing so. That’s double duplicity!

4.    The “Socially responsible State” masquerade/ fraud

The 1999 Constitution surreptitiously relieves the Nigerian State of the customary and fundamental responsibility of a state for the welfare and security of the people it rules: This is done by technically annulling the obligations clearly and ostentatiously stated in its own “Chapter II: Fundamental Objectives and Directive Principles of State Policy”. Chapter II is surreptitiously ousted in Chapter I, by section 6. (6)(c) thus:

(6) The judicial powers vested in accordance with the foregoing provisions of this section –

(c) shall not except as otherwise provided by this Constitution, extend to any issue or question as to whether any act of omission by any authority or person or as to whether any law or any judicial decision is in conformity with the Fundamental Objectives and Directive Principles of State Policy set out in Chapter II of this Constitution;

This is the ouster clause, since nobody can go to court to enforce any Ch. II provision. That is to say, if the government omits to act on Ch. II, it cannot be sued by anybody or be compelled by any court to do its constitutional duty. This clause, by making Ch. II non-justiciable, effectively makes it unenforceable, thus ousting it.

This covert ouster allows the Nigerian state to masquerade as a socially responsible state whereas it is no such thing. This masquerading gives it false legitimacy, and is a fraud.

Among the fine-sounding Ch. II provisions hereby ousted are the following admirable principles and laudable objectives (in bold):

13. It shall be the duty and responsibility of all organs of government, and of all authorities and persons, exercising legislative, executive or judicial powers, to conform to, observe and apply the provisions of this Chapter of this Constitution.

14. (2)(b):  It is hereby, accordingly, declared that the security and welfare of the people shall be the primary purpose of government:

14. (5): The State shall abolish all corrupt practices and abuse of power.

16. (2)(d): The State shall direct its policy towards ensuring  that suitable and adequate shelter, suitable and adequate food, reasonable national minimum living wage, old age care and pensions, and unemployment, sick benefits and welfare of the disabled are provided for all citizens.

Ch. II was introduced in the 1979 prototype of the 1999 Constitution. But despite these clearly stated obligations, none of Nigeria’s governments have felt constitutionally compelled to fight corruption or abuse of power, none have felt constitutionally compelled to provide security or welfare to the people; and it has been constitutionally impossible to take them to court for these failings. Finding themselves protected from legal action, they have boldly and brazenly done their utmost to deny Nigerians even minimum social welfare, to inflict chronic insecurity on them, and to block the possibility of even minimal prosperity to most of the Nigerian population. They have thereby delivered hell to Nigerians and done so with an impunity conferred by that covert and technical ousting of Ch II which is still unnoticed by most people.  Their infliction of rampaging corruption is known to the whole world. So let us briefly examine and quantify their not-so-well-known record of inflicting impoverishment and insecurity on the Nigerian population.
Wholesale impoverishment of Nigerians quantified:

Here are the figures. According to the Nigerian Government’s own “African Peer Review Mechanism Country Self-Assessment Report (CSAR) for 2007”, paragraph 88: in 1960 (the year Nigeria attained independence, which was also the year it began to export crude oil) the poverty level was 15% of the population. In 1980, (after 20 years as one of the world’s major oil exporters) the poverty level had risen to 28% of the population. In 1985 it had risen to 46%, and to 65% in 1996.  In other words, despite its huge inflow of oil revenue, Nigeria’s poverty level had steadily risen from 15% of its 45m population in 1960 to 65% of its 112m population in 1996. That is from the Obasanjo Government’s own self-assessment report for 2007: from what better horse’s mouth could this have come?

We should note that, since it is the refined combination of both its prototype, the 1979 Constitution, and the set of military decrees by which Nigeria was ruled between 1966 and 1999, this 1999 Constitution has, in one version or another, been Nigeria’s operative constitution from 1966 till today.  That means that it was the de facto constitution during 30 of the 36 years, 1960-1996, when the escalating poverty level documented in that CSAR took place. That fact probably makes the 1999 constitution the world’s most effective poverty multiplying mechanism of the 20th century. (The Guinness Book of Records should please take note!) That alone is more than sufficient justification for Nigerians to get rid of it before it gets rid of them. If they don’t discard it now, the poverty level could reach 99% by 2020!

The irresponsibility and impunity granted the Nigerian state by the technical ousting of Ch. II is manifested, not just in the impoverishment of most Nigerians (quantified above), but also in trigger-happy massacres by state agents. Here are some

Major massacres of Nigerians by the State since 1966:

1977: Soldiers burn down Fela’s Kalakuta following his boycott of Festac 77.

1978: The military Govt of Lagos State demolish Fela’s Kalakuta, while he was away at the Berlin Jazz Festival.

1980: Farmers in Talata-Mafara, Sokoto State, massacred following protests against Impresit Bakalori, an Italian Company.

1980s: Students at ABU, Zaria, and the OAU, Ile-Ife, killed by police on several occasions.

1999, Nov.: soldiers, deployed to the Niger Delta to protect the oil companies from citizens outraged by the devastation of their environment, sack Odi village, Bayelsa State, killing hundreds.

2001, Oct: Zaki-Biam, Benue State sacked by army, with more than 200 killed.

2009: The Nigerian Military’s JTF devastated villages in the Niger Delta, reportedly killing thousands in a bid to bring the Niger Delta militants to their knees. Nigerian lawmaker, Alhaji Bala N’Allah, was reported to have said at the time: “Nigeria can afford to waste 20 million people in the Niger Delta to save the remaining 100 million population.” This was a vehement statement of the genocidal intent of that JTF operation.

This list of major massacres does not include the countless victims of kill-and-go “accidental discharge” at checkpoints and demonstrations; or the numerous cases of judicial and extra-judicial executions conducted by state agents, most notoriously under Abacha.

All in all, the 1999 Constitution has been, and remains, a Guarantor of bad governance and the Mother of all evils in Nigeria.

These frauds are not victimless: In the last 50 years, they have had deadly consequences for the probably tens of millions of Nigerians who were impoverished or ruined in other ways and went off to prematurely die, unnoticed in the statistics. Some crowded the shantytowns, some lived under bridges, the lucky fled abroad to work at jobs; the most desperate and adventurous handed themselves to human traffickers to take them across the Sahara to seek survival in Libya and Europe, with many perishing along the way.

If you’ve ever wondered why corruption in Nigeria is so brazen and so unchecked by the authorities, or why “kill-and-go” police are never punished, or why kidnapping has become a plague in Nigeria ever since the official example was set in 2003, when an elected State Governor (Chris Ngige of Anambra state) was kidnapped by a privately hired police posse whose high-ranking organizer (A.I.G. Raphael Ige) went unpunished, but was merely retired with full benefits, you now know why: These crimes are licensed by the 1999 constitution which covertly removed the obligation of the state to prevent or punish them.

These frauds and their deadly consequences open up for discussion the question of the legality and democratic legitimacy of the 1999 Constitution and of the institutions based on it. We must make that issue a part of this National Dialogue. While the lawyers will have a field day arguing every conceivable side of this question, it is our duty, as the victims of these frauds, to give ourselves political protection by giving ourselves, without delay, a constitution that is not open to such frauds, doubts and endless debates. And for that we need to proceed with a political process for making a new constitution for ourselves, a Peoples’ Constitution. And the first step to that is to get on with the SNC.

Chinweizu

All rights reserved.
© Chinweizu 2013
Sundoor999@gmail.com

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

Sovereign Confab’ll throw Nigeria into anarchy – Ekweremadu.


 

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DEPUTY Senate President and Chairman, Senate Committee on the Review of the 1999 Constitution, Ike Ekweremadu, Tuesday, gave insight on why the proposed National Conference cannot be sovereign as being agitated by some people.

Senator Ekweremadu specifically said that convocation of a Sovereign National Conference without legal and constitutional framework would end up throwing the country into anarchy.

Speaking when the Chairman, Presidential Advisory Committee on National Dialogue, Dr Femi Okurounmu, led members of his committee to him on consultation, the Deputy Senate President disclosed that the National Assembly was already working on how the result of the exercise could be used to give Nigeria a new constitution.

According to him, “when we hear people talking about sovereign national conference; there must be a legal framework for it. You don’t wake up when you have a

constitutional conference in place and begin to say you want a sovereign national conference to impose the will of some people on everybody without a legal basis for what they are doing. Otherwise, we are calling anarchy.”

He further stated that, “Now that we have looked at the 1999 Constitution from 1999 till now, and we tried to do some amendments, it is therefore possible that based on our experience in the practice and the exercise of the review process, there are changes that are fundamental that must be made to make sure that this country progresses.

“And so, that is where your job comes in. My understanding from what you said is that your committee is to create framework for this exercise, to provide intellectual background to enable those who will have the conversation to do something that is seamless.

“It is not an easy job because it is difficult at this stage to determine the character of representation but that is the business of your committee so. We are not going to worry ourselves about that. We believe that you will deal with that.

Source: Radio Biafra.

Anambra deportees sue LASG for N1bn.


Ade-Ipaye

THE 76 destitute persons, who were deported by the Lagos State Government and dumped on the Upper Iweka Bridge, Onitsha, Anambra State on July 24, 2013, have dragged the Lagos State Government to a Federal High Court sitting in Lagos.

The suit was filed by seven of the deportees: Nnenna Ogbonna, Joseph Aniebonam, Osondu Mbuto, Osondu Agwu, Emily Okoroariri, Friday Ndukwe and Onyeka Ugwu as the applicants, on behalf of the 76 others, while the Attorney-General of Lagos State and the Commissioner of Police, Lagos State are the respondents.

In the motion filed by their lawyer, Ugo Ugwunnadi, the applicants asked the court to declare that they, as Nigerian citizens were entitled to the enjoyment of their fundamental rights as provided for in Sections 34, 35, 36, 37, 40, 41 and 42 of the 1999 constitution, as amended.

The applicants are also seeking a perpetual injunction restraining the respondents, their agents, workers and officers from their further deportation or refusing them free entry into Lagos and free exit there from, as well as an order mandating the respondents to tender a written apology to them by publishing the apology

in three national newspapers continuously for 30 days, from the date of the first publication, for unlawful and gross violation of their constitutional rights.

The deportees are also seeking a declaration of the court that their arrest and detention in various camps within Lagos state for no offence known to law and without trial and conviction by a court of competent jurisdiction, amounted to a serious breach of their rights as provided for in the relevant sections of the constitution.

The suit was brought as a motion on notice pursuant to Order 11, Rule 1&2 of the Fundamental Rights (Enforcement Procedure Rules), 2009, Sections 34 (1) (A), 35, 40, 45 (1), 42 (1), 46 (1) and 6 (1) of the 1999 Constitution, as amended; Articles 5, 6 and 12 of African Charter on Human and Peoples Rights.

They also sought an order of the court to declare that their deportation from Lagos State to Anambra State on July 24, amounted to a gross violation of their rights and a breach of the provisions of the 1999 constitution, as amended, adding that the court should mandate the first respondent to re-absorb and accommodate the applicants within Lagos State since they were Nigerian citizens and were entitled to reside in any part of the country including Lagos State.

Also, the applicants noted that the issue for determination is whether the action of the respondents in arresting, detaining and their subsequent deportation from Lagos to Onitsha, Anambra state was justified in law, in view of the supreme provisions of the 1999 constitution of Nigeria.

The hearing, which will be presided over by Justice Anumogobia, is set to begin on January 29, 2014.

Source: Radio Biafra.

Salvaging Nigeria: Only A Sovereign National Conference Will Suffice! By Ogaga Ifowodo.


Columnist:

Ogaga Ifowodo

Over lunch at the Ocean View restaurant on a humid July afternoon in Lagos, my good friend Yinka Odumakin sought to add a little spice to our dismal discussion of “Project Nigeria”: he had it on good authority, he said, that President Jonathan would soon surprise and confound the forces arrayed against him by acceding to the call for a national conference. It was not a matter of if but when, he said. Thus, when Senate President David Mark spoke last month of the urgent need for a national conference, I heard the voice of Jacob but saw the hands of Esau. Retired Brigadier Mark, leader of the Babangida Boys, life-time public servant reputed to be wealthy beyond belief — a reputation he may have confirmed now that he is about to build and name a university after himself in his hometown of Otupko. Mark, who until now had been vociferous in dismissing a Sovereign National Conference (SNC) as “not workable under the 1999 constitution,” who to me is a poster-boy of everything lamentable about Nigeria.

But as the old saying counsels, one must not throw the baby out with the bathwater. And soon enough Jonathan would announce in his Independence Day speech an Advisory Committee to prepare the grounds for a talkfest. If there was any doubt that Mark had been flying a kite for Jonathan, it was promptly erased. Both men have studiously avoided the all-important word “sovereign” in every reference to national conference. Indeed, Jonathan seems unsure what to call it, so he has settled for “National Dialogue or Conference.” Perhaps the advisory committee to be chaired by Dr Femi Okurounmu, an SNC stalwart, will help the president decide but we should be clear: what well-meaning Nigerians have been demanding as far back as 1989, when progressives began to suspect a “hidden agenda” in Babangida’s never-ending transition programme and worry seriously about Nigeria, is not an ordinary conference.

“What is in a name?” some might ask, and add that a “conference of the people by any other name called sounds as sweet.” Yet if the tragic fate that Shakespeare assigns Juliet despite her magical thinking that things and what we call them are two essentially different things is anything to go by, then we must insist on the proper name for this conference. After all, it matters that Satan and Archangel Lucifer do not mean the same thing though they refer to the same being. Against the guns and bombs speaking the language of bloody violence and dismemberment, words offer us the only peaceful weapon for winning the battle for Nigeria and we must choose them carefully. This is even more important given that power tends to accede to the people’s demand only when sure of turning it into a means of perpetuating the status quo under a different name. It shouldn’t be forgotten that, first Abacha, and then Obasanjo, convened constitutional conferences. Mark’s senate may be eager now to back a national conference, but how willing will it be to abide by the people’s earnest wishes and desires? This is the same senate, we must remember, that twice voted down Okurounmu’s bills for an act to convene an SNC; a senate that was denouncing proponents of an SNC as anarchists just last year.

Opponents of a sovereign conference fall into two broad camps. The first consists principally of federal legislators tortured by the dangerous illusion that the sovereign will of the people resides in the national assembly. Thus, for them an SNC would tantamount to a divided sovereignty.  Then there is the camp of entrenched interests tied inextricably to the perpetuation of Nigeria as a structurally deformed polity, the bastion of reaction served by every government in power from independence till now. Lacking any convincing argument against the most feasible option for correcting “the mistake of 1914,” as Ahmadu Bello summed up Nigeria, they brandish the bogey of disintegration at every turn. To them, Nigeria is inseparable from their narrow, selfish interests.

To the first group, the answer is a lesson in civics: Sovereignty belongs to the people, as acknowledged even by Abacha’s militarily imposed 1999 Constitution: “sovereignty belongs to the people of Nigeria from whom government . . .  derives all its powers and authority.” Government is only a means of exercising the sovereign will of the people, which means that presidents and legislators are their agents. An agent enjoys only a delegated or limited version of the principal’s full power and authority. In any case, it is the people who establish parliaments and elect legislators, then delegate powers to them, and not the other way round. To members of the second camp, we need only point out that Nigeria is already crumbling, though perhaps unbeknownst to them since they are too busy looting and raping her.

Well, then, let all who fear the unfettered will of the people to self-determination be informed: a sovereign national conference means no more than that it be autonomous, and that the constitution to embody its decisions be subject not to the whims and caprices of the president or the national assembly, but only to ratification by the people through a referendum. If Jonathan deems this goal too high, then perhaps he had better not raise false hopes. To salvage Nigeria, only an SNC will suffice. That is Jonathan’s test of sincerity.  And that is the only way he can redeem his rather catastrophic tenure in power so far and transform himself into a hero of the Nigeria of our dreams.

omoliho@gmail.com

Source: SAHARA REPORTERS.

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