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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

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Good Governance Or Waste Of Dialogue? By Prince Charles Dickson.


By Prince Charles Dickson

A person with two minds does not kill a lion.

Indeed, we are all talking even the before talk, the ranting is coming from everywhere. We want equal representation, the dialogue is a diversion, it is welcome development…to emphasize the task ahead, the 13 man plus woman committee will have to even define a nomenclature.

While we are already talking before the dialogue, the National Assembly has come out to its own terms for the seminar|workshop|conference or whatever name.

My admonishment this week dwells on the phrase ‘good governance‘. I believe that good governance is the only guarantee to peace, progress, stability, free, fair and credible elections, in fact I view it as the only passport to delivering the dividends of democracy not dialogue.

For the power, telecom, the manufacturing sectors, education and largely for the nation to work, we need good governance, in order to maximise our potential, improve the general welfare of the Nigerian people and even development in geo-political terms, there must be good governance.

But like the late Okadigbo puts it, asked to define good most Nigerians will waffle and babble. Most of our leaders that pride themselves as operating under the parameters of good governance cannot explain how.

What we have in our democracy is a battery of contradictory description or proposition as to what good governance is, as a matter of fact the term good is difficult to define and in the essential contexts of the Nigerian condition yet to be attained and no amount of talk will do us the desired good.

Before I go far, defining good in relation to governance has often been a difficult task, to categorize it for decision makers and policy executors, so we say in political science that good is that to which everything tends, and in that regard indefinable and a naturalistic fallacy.

In the Nigerian context, our situational ethics sets the tone to the effect that we have relative dysfunction, what is good in one place may be bad in the other, there must be a given situation, time and space.

So for a dialogue/talk to hold in a nation with over 300 representing legislators, governors, state legislators, council heads and ward representatives is one that won’t go far because it is not in context with good–

Any talk, whether by ethnic nationality or professional groupings or traditional institutions, the talk of good governance in and for Nigeria, past, present and future is idle, not lending itself to any objective and precise analysis.

Until good governance is viewed as the process of decision-making and the process by which decisions are implemented (or not implemented). We are still far off simply because the way and manner public institutions conduct public affairs, manage public resources, are corrupt, and without due regard for the rule of law.

We lack good governance because despite political activity under the guise of democracy we are yet to find the balance; we still operate a political economy of state robbery, rather than popular democracy, it is a national malaise not a group or ethnic or class matter.

Good governance within the confines of a popular democracy should be anchored on two things, one, a constitution suited to the special needs and circumstances of Nigeria as multi-dimensional ethno-socio and econo-political structure: and two a leadership suited not only to the exigent needs of Nigeria as an unlawfully under-developed but also to the smooth operation of the same constitution.

We should stop glossing and know that by and large good governance require no ordinary type of leadership; tolerance; breadth of outlook, intellectual comprehension; hardwork; selfless devotion; statesmanship; a burning sense of mission are some of the virtues that are necessary to make a success of leading this nation.

Unfortunately past administrations have lacked these virtues or at best have possessed one at the expense of the other and as such led them to groping in the dark on how to deliver good governance.

We have refused to cultivate a regime of leadership that has shown a knack to develop a mental magnitude, as clear as our problems are, there seems a lack of ability in appreciating and grasping the salient details as well as most of the temporal and practical implications, of a given situation or problem, and in our own case the problem is a lack of good governance.

In my honest thinking while we keep debating on the morals or otherwise of a dialogue, and how we need to co-exist, the fact of the matter rather will be because the Fundamental Objectives and Directive Principles for which government exists remain non-justiciable; thereby the issues of good governance remain platitudinous rather than obligatory on our leaders.

So instead of providing good governance, the problem of political in-direction will continue, and indeed we will talk but achieve little.

A continued economic morass in the polity, an inability to have an ideological notion of destiny. An absence of a coherent body of thoughts; a lack of heroes, nobody to look up to, all our dialogue will exist only in a vacuum.

Good governance may be difficult to achieve in its totality, but for Nigeria to grow, for popular democracy to be entrenched we should work on; fair legal frameworks that are enforced impartially. Full protection of human rights, particularly those of minorities.

It also requires a long-term perspective for sustainable human development and how to achieve the goals of such development. Ensuring that all members of the society feel that they have a stake in it and do not feel excluded from the mainstream. This requires all groups, and especially the most vulnerable to have opportunities to maintain or improve their well being.

Processes and institutions produce results that meet the needs of society while making the best use of resources at their disposal. It also means sustainable use of natural resources and the protection of the environment.

Governmental institutions as well as the private sector and civil society organizations must be accountable to the public and to their institutional stakeholders.

In general organizations and institutions are accountable to those who will be affected by decisions or actions. The only minus and indeed the major constraint is that all that I have enumerated as a recipe for good governance is what we lack, in all best intents and to all purposes that are good, no matter for how long we talk, if it is not about ‘good’ we will be wasting time.

The small monkey completely shaves its head and breaks the razor; it thinks that its hair will not grow out again. All talk not centered on good governance, all dialogue without good governance, the hair will grow again, its only a matter of time, do we want good governance or just talk–only time will tell.

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

On A Nigerian Sovereign National Conference And The Permission Of The National Legislature.


There are facts that only a few Nigerians, against the unrelenting witness of
their conscience, can either ignore or dispute:

Fact number 1: Not all ethnic nationalities are represented either at the state
level or national level. And there are some ethnic nationalities that have no
elected or selected representatives at even the local level. Take, for instance,
the Etulo people of Benue state, where I proudly come from. That great
ethnic group faces the threat of extinction, not least because they are
subsumed within a Tiv-dominated local government area, Katsina-Ala. They
have no voice at the local, state, or national level. Almost all Etulo people
speak Tiv language without an accent. There are many such ethnic
nationalities in Nigeria. I am a Tiv man, but it is saddening to see a situation
such as I have described. If members of Nigeria’s national assembly claim
that they are the only ones that can approve or write a new constitution for
Nigeria, what about representatives of ethnic groups such as the Etulo (who
may emerge through any process of their choosing)?

Fact number 2: Nigerians did not approve the decree 24 of 1999 that created
the 1999 constitution, which set up the bicameral legislature that is so
expensive, unwieldy, and very ineffective (one evidence is that for more than
twelve years the national legislature has not been able to effect amendments
that will bring about social justice and prudence in government expenditure).
The national assembly does not possess either the courage or capacity to
carry out the “amendments” that it may claim it is their responsibility to do.
For instance, can the national assembly make an amendment to scrap the
Senate, leaving only the House of Representatives, composed of all ethnic
nationalities, and whose members will serve part-time and be paid
accordingly? Can the national assembly amend the constitution to scrap the
huge number of government departments wrongly called States that cannot
even pay their workers’ salaries without allocations from the federation
account? Can the national assembly either scrap local government areas in
some parts of the country and create some in other parts of the country or
remove local governments from the list of levels of government that can
partake in revenue sharing in order to bring about social justice? Can the
national assembly bring revenue derivation to at least 50 per cent in order to
provoke productivity at the state level and competition among states?

Fact number 3: The second chapter of the 1999 constitution, entitled
Fundamental Objectives and Directive Principles of State Policy provides
great benefits for citizens of Nigeria even as it encourages waste through
provisions such as the requirement that at least one minister from each state
of the federation should be appointed into the central government.
Unfortunately, section 6 of the same constitution absolves government of
responsibility in the failure to provide those benefits to Nigerians. Can the
national assembly correct this? For instance, can the national assembly
either reduce the number of states to about six (according to geo-political
zones) while increasing derivation to at least 50 per cent for local
communities and the six states [See my article—Re-Engineering Nigeria,
part 1, 2010; available online]?

Fact number 4: There are 68 items on the “Exclusive Legislative List” of the
1999 constitution which inhibit rapid development at the state level. For
instance, the Odua rail line was to be built between Lagos and Ibadan and
completed in 2006 (Odua consists of the Yoruba states of the south west of
Nigeria). The Nigeria Railway Corporation (NRC) stopped this because the
matter was and still is on the exclusive legislative list (item 55). The chairman
of the NRC (he died shortly in a plane crash in 2004) stood against this,
relying on the 1999 constitution, which in more ways than one is a document
that has impeded development in Nigeria rather than facilitate it. Yet, we have
a national legislature that has refused, failed, and neglected to amend such
chimerical provisions that are deleterious to Nigeria’s development.

Fact number 5: Many of Nigeria’s legislators have deliberately made
themselves inaccessible to their constituent members. At the risk of
sounding immodest, if someone in my position cannot reach my supposed
representatives on phone then what is the argument that a legislator such as
Senator Abaribe (Chair of the senate committee on information) making when
he urged Nigerians on Channels TV to rather send their views about
constitution amendment to their legislators than insist on a sovereign national
conference? I looked up the phone number of my senator, Chief Barnabas
Gemade on his website during the fuel subsidy protests; I could not find a
single contact phone number to use. And Mr Gemade is not the only senator
that has placed himself in an island of isolation. In 2010 I wanted to reach a
senator, Suleiman Nazif (a former student of mine) to discuss with him some
ideas I had about national renewal. I tried to use a phone number he listed on
his website as a constituency office contact phone number. It was a dead
number! I even sent him an email using an address I found on the website of
the national assembly; I have not received any responses since then, not
even an acknowledgment from a secretariat staff or an automated message.
How can the national assembly accord itself the sole responsibility of writing
a new constitution as the “representatives of the people” when it is not
accessible to the same people it should represent? I am not a registered
member of any political party in Nigeria. But does any Nigerian need to be a
party member to have access to their “representatives”?

I must state unambiguously that we the people do not derive our powers from
the national assembly; rather, the national assembly exists by our grace.
When we talk of the people, technology has afforded us a simple way of
gauging the mood and mind of the people. Our social network sites and the
numerous responsive comments made by Nigerians on websites of our
newspapers provide clear evidence that the Nigerian people do not have
confidence in the ability of the national assembly to lead in the efforts
towards national renewal or rebirth. With more than 112 million Nigerians
reportedly living below the poverty line and the ineluctable continued state of
insecurity in Nigeria, the national assembly should be careful about their
continued resistance to Nigerian people sitting and talking about methods
and principles of forging a more perfect union. Legislators should not
mortgage the future of Nigeria on the altar of their limited mandate and
selfishness.

We the Nigerian people are not begging the national assembly to allow a
sovereign national conference; we are demanding and we shall have it. Has
power ever conceded anything without unrestrained demand? If the national
assembly continues in its state of unbridled obduracy and self-confessed
knowledge of what is best for the country, very soon they shall have neither
the luxury nor safety to sit in plenary at Abuja. And failure to sit for at least
181 days as required in section 63 of the 1999 constitution shall lead to a
state of emergency that must call for a sovereign national conference willy-
nilly. So, a sovereign national conference, whose decisions shall be
subjected to a national referendum item-by-item, is a truth no one can stop.
President Jonathan cannot stop it. By the way, is the Niger Delta not
clamouring for a sovereign national conference? A man must have questions
to answer when he returns home soon having ignored and even frustrated the
central issue agitating the minds of his people.

We of the Middle Belt Alliance are in support of a sovereign national
conference. We are not afraid to sit and talk with our Nigerian brothers and
sisters across the aisle. We do not believe that a sovereign national
conference shall precipitate the dissolution of Nigeria; rather, we are of the
view that the fear to talk is ominous.

Leonard Karshima Shilgba is an Associate Professor of Mathematics with the
American University of Nigeria and President of the Nigeria Rally Movement (www.
nigeriarally.org). He is also the Chairman of the Middle Belt Alliance (MBA).

By Leonard Karshima Shilgba, PhD.

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