By Ben Ikari
By Ben Ikari
Americans strive for a more perfect union; Nigerians strive to unbundle a federation some of them view with great disdain. Restructuring is the innocuous term used to describe this endeavour; the effectuation of which, in the form it is presented, will undoubtedly lead to the balkanization of the country. It has been the political talking point this last quarter-century, ever since the late Mr. Alao Aka-Bashorun sought the convocation of a sovereign national conference, in imitation of events taking place in neighbouring Francophone West African countries then seeking the dethronement of dictators.
The annulment of the June 12, 1993 presidential election provided the fertile ground for the idea to grow, uniting its promoters and the opposition to the late General Sani Abacha dictatorship. NADECO galvanised the opposition to Abacha, while PRONACO took the lead in the emerging campaign for restructuring. It even undertook to provide a draft constitution alongside a new structure that resembled a rabbit warren and was a model example of gerrymandering.
However, the strength of the agitation for restructuring varies with the political climate and how its protagonists fare therein. Advocating restructuring helps rejuvenate ailing political careers, provides oxygen to moribund organisations and keeps political dinosaurs in the public eye. Concepts have been developed to “explain” restructuring and copious literature issued on its two main planks: true federalism and fiscal federalism, with “resource control” the latter’s philosophical underpinning. These are explained through a mix of sophistry, misleading information and false analogies.
First, there is nothing like “true federalism.” There are only variants of the political arrangement described as federalism. As most people are aware, there are currently several countries in the world that answer to the name federation, none of which resembles the other, each the product of the circumstances of its founding, all with varying degrees of central government control over their component parts. For instance, the first federation in the world, the United States began life as a confederation after winning its War of Independence, but soon found it unwieldy and ineffective in uniting the peoples. A new arrangement that has come to be known as federalism was therefore arrived at, together with a system of government that distinguished the country from the Old World.
Nigeria as a post-colonial country has similarities in origin and composition to the rest of Sub-Saharan Africa, being “multinational, linguistically and culturally diverse,” with its “component ethnic nationalities territoriality separated.” Yet it was not fated to be a federation by these very facts, otherwise Africa would have been a continent of federal states. The British penchant for administering their colonies as much as possible on the cheap caused the Amalgamation of 1914 while Nigeria’s territorial expanse and huge population necessitated local rule by colonial officers acting on behalf of the central government.
The introduction of regional government provided the foundation upon which the founding fathers negotiated the federation that heralded independence and the First Republic, though they did toy with the idea of a confederation at some stage during the constitutional talks. Nigerian federation is therefore a product of serial acts of a central authority, the British colonial government, not of any “federating units” agreeing to come together as it is being repeatedly presented.
The protagonists of restructuring have seized upon both the Independence and the Republican Constitutions as the ideal constitutional arrangement for our country. It is claimed that those constitutions “allowed regions to retain their revenue, remitting agreed portion to the federal government” and “allowing each region to develop at its own pace,” etc. in a false presentation of the past. The Republican constitution had 45 items on the exclusive federal list and 29 on the concurrent list, upon which both federal and regional governments could act.
The fact is that leaders of the First Republic who were visionaries did not view that configuration as constraints. For instance, when the Premier of the Northern Region ventured into foreign affairs by declaring his non-recognition of Israel, the Prime Minister promptly checkmated him and went on to receive the then Israeli Foreign Minister, the late Golda Meir. The exclusive federal list has since expanded to 68 items in the 1999 constitution against 30 in the concurrent list, mainly because of the challenges the country was facing at that material time.
The 1979 Constitution (to which the current one hews closely), especially was drafted by a stellar assembly of politicians and legal luminaries while the military rulers who were the approving authorities did not so tamper with what was presented to them as to void its fundamental thrust. Nevertheless, save for the power to declare war, the shortened concurrent list still grants states enough powers to deliver the required service to their constituencies.
The revenue allocation question is the real reason for the campaign for restructuring, not the preponderance of exclusive federal list. As a former United States’ President famously once declared, “It’s the economy, stupid!” And it is in this area that misleading statements are regularly dished out. There was no time the regional governments controlled their “own resources” let alone remit agreed portion of revenue to the federal government. The fact was that mineral resources, revenues from which are the issues of current contention, were under the federal government; it is useful to remember that before Oloibiri, tin and columbite were the principal export minerals.
The revenue allocation formula in operation in the First Republic was the one based on the Reisman Commission Report (1958). It added to the sole parameter identified by earlier Commissions on the issue – derivation – the factors of minimum responsibility, population and balanced development of the Federation. It also introduced the Distributable Pool Account (DPA) into which specific percentages from the various revenue heads were paid to give effect to the new parameters.
A chapter in the book by F.A.O. Schwarz, “Nigeria: The Tribes, The Nation or The Race” (MIT Press 1965) revealed interesting details about fiscal relations between the federal and regional governments in the First Republic. For instance, the federal government collected most of the taxes for the country, even as it remitted most of the proceeds to the regions as provided for under the revenue allocation formula. Secondly, the revenue so received by the regional governments outstripped internal revenue collection in the fiscal years 1959/1960, 1960/1961 and 1961/1962. Even now that is the case.
A most interesting thing in this section was the observation of the author that as oil revenue, derived from mining rents and royalties (50% of which was remitted to the region of origin), became more prominent in the revenue profile of the Federation, the more the likelihood of “political controversy” arising from its distribution. How prophetic!
The Niger Delta has been racked by militancy and pipeline vandalism these past 20 years, to protest neglect and press for increased revenue/ resource control. A disturbing aspect of the current situation is that both the established leadership elite and the elected public officials have surrendered the initiative to militants who have unleashed economic terrorism on the country, receiving unseemly applause from some media outlets.
What is often ignored is that the plethora of initiatives and institutions brought to bear on the developmental challenges in the Niger Delta has not yielded significant fruits because of non-uniformity in the motivations of the various stakeholders. Otherwise, tangible improvement in the standard of living and the environment could have been recorded in the last 15 years with the unprecedented revenues available for that purpose.
Another issue is the centralised police system now in operation which is seen as antithetical to federalism. It may well be so, but it must be viewed against the country’s experience in the First Republic when the local (N.A.) Police were used to oppress opposition in the regions. Nothing precludes local/state police being similarly used in the current dispensation. It is indeed worth recalling the case where an Assistant Inspector-General of Police (ordinarily under the command of the IGP) connived with some local political godfathers to kidnap a sitting governor in order to force his resignation. For sure, local knowledge and flavour could be injected into the policing system by ensuring that at least 50% of personnel deployed to any state are indigenes. But under the current climate, it is difficult to envision an apolitical state police force which will maintain law and order without interference from state authorities.
Now to the proposed “solution”: Neither the National Political Reform Conference (2005) nor the National Confidence (2014) passes the test of purity of motives. President Olusegun Obasanjo hoped to achieve the removal of presidential term-limit, while President Goodluck Jonathan’s was to galvanise his support base and tempt the South-West politicians who live by the idea of “a Sovereign National Conference.” Besides, most of the recommendations have been in circulation for ages and could be put into effect by administrative action or through constitutional amendment(s).
Like the position of derivation factor in the revenue allocation formula; it is an issue that could be handled via legislative action rather than constitutional amendment. It is a good sign that the House of Representatives will adopt the National Conference Report as a working document in its constitution review. A determined effort on its part would see the National Assembly effect necessary amendments to the Constitution that will reduce areas of dispute.
The geopolitical zonal structure is another step advocated in aid of restructuring. A charitable view of this construct is that it is a reaction to the mindless state-creation exercises of the 1990s. Otherwise, the political class is its only “beneficiaries.” They have used it to build party bureaucracies that would be the envy of Communist Parties of old – BOT, NWC, NEC, etc. The practical effect of the geopolitical zonal structure however will be the creation of ethnic lagers, a situation even its supporters warned against but know will happen. Regional government will just add another layer of administration to a country some would consider over-administered.
It is amazing that in all these discussions about restructuring no thought is given to the issue of good governance, which by some measure is more relevant to our current realities. If the country had witnessed good governance in the last decade and a half, we would have been truly on the way to the El Dorado we all crave. Restructuring is not a substitute for it. Granted that it is a legitimate undertaking for any ethnic group to seek political solutions that could better reflect their aspirations and protect their interests, such a quest should be without inducing mass hysteria or the mass-marketing of hate and prejudices against those who hold contrary views.
Nigeria has been badly served by the various elite groups (from both the North and South). Most of these people have articulated no vision for the country; rather, they work its many fault-lines to satisfy personal ambitions. Yet, a country that consistently receives negative ratings from its own ruling elites cannot hope to survive, let alone prosper. Nigeria is in that unhappy position today.
* M.T. Usman wrote from Kaduna, Nigeria.
*The post, ''What are we restructuring'' appeared first on THISDAY
Disclaimer: Views expressed in any piece we publish do not represent or reflect our editorial policy. DailyGlobeWatch shall , therefore , not be held responsible for any of the contents or any of its part thereof.
This might prove to be the foundation for a new, effective and efficient policing system in Nigeria. We will get there one day. It is certainly an improvement, forward-looking action and assures the public that it is doing its best to move with the fast-changing world of both environmental and technological changes. Whoever are the new breed of police officers in today’s Nigeria Police Force who are driving this change and movement into 21st Century policing need to be commended, but should also be reminded that the Nigerian police still remains in the Dark Ages (due to many factors, of course) and they have a lot of work and improvement to undertake to truly catapult this primordial police force into engaging with the international police community and regain the trust, loyalty, cooperation and assurances of the people they are employed and entrusted to police, in terms of service, security and safety of lives and property.
This is the current Nigeria Police official WhatsApp number: 0805 700 0003 for reporting and addressing infractions, complaints, concerns and queries regarding activities of officers and men/women of the NPF
They say it is fast and effective to deal with distress calls or when your rights are legitimately wronged by law enforcement officers. It is discrete and safe.
I have tried the Nigeria Police Force WhatsApp No for reporting and addressing infractions, complaints, concerns and queries regarding activities of officers and men/women of the NPF, and BRAVO, it is TRUE and it WORKS. I got instant response within a minute, chatted with an unseen officer, who seems to know his/her onions and is very respectful and polite, and I congratulated them on this initiative and idea.
To cap this good initiative, the officer I chatted with gave me TWO other numbers for the purpose of reporting Crime:
They are: 0805 700 0001 and 0805 700 0002 (these numbers are not for WhatsApp, but voice calls) which he/she explained are dedicated for expressly reporting criminal behaviours, crimes, felonies, etc. It is also discreet and safe.
Yet another good foundation, even if only three numbers for 160 million people, for now, so bear with them.
Just like a friend wrote to me, since they came up with the 999 in the UK or 911 in the US, those services had evolved through feedback, experiences, monitoring and re-appraisal into a formidable service. So peace-loving Nigerians should welcome the service even if it is not working up to scratch at the moment. We can all help the Nigeria Police to work for the improvement of that service if they are serious about it.
First we want a memorable and more user friendly phone number like 222 or 777. The service needs to be manned 24/7. There is technology in place to route calls to hundreds or thousands of call operators who are monitored. The members of the public must be able to register their displeasure or satisfaction with the service through customer satisfaction surveys and complaints. In addition to the service phone number, there is a need for a dedicated internet website where members of the public could register their encounter with corrupt, brutal and unruly police officers.
Even video evidence could be posted on such a website. I urge all contributors to use this opportunity to offer their advice on how the police live up to modern expectation. The Nigeria Police, Customs, Immigration and the civil services are currently a disgrace. We need the input of everyone to make those services be those the public could rely upon.
I am a Happy and Proud Nigerian.
BUT we should plead with the Nigerian public not to abuse this service, and to the Nigeria Police Force (why don’t we change the “Force” to “Service”) to sustain and improve on the service and strive to make it more effective , efficient, user-friendly and not to relent on their efforts to make our society better.
Please share and broadcast.
Akintokunbo A Adejumo MSc, Dip Mngt, CIHM, MCMI, FITP, MIH Food Safety & Hygiene Trainer and Consultant www.affinitylibra.com.ng
Disclaimer: Views expressed in any article we publish are solely the author's and do not represent the editorial policy of DailyGlobeWatch
"There is not a truth existing which I fear or wish unknown to the whole world." - Thomas Jefferson
“When it comes to the truth, the real bias is thinking any one side has a monopoly on it.” – A Barton Hinkle.
Three events or incidences prompted me to write this article.
First one was the wide dissemination of an article purportedly written by our esteemed professor and Nobel Laureate, Wole Soyinka in tribute to Asiwaju Bola Tinubu, heaping praises on him and giving reasons why he, Tinubu, is such a great political strategist, even though not a saint, and great Yorubaman who rescued Nigeria from the clutches of the evil PDP. When I read the article, I immediately suspected it could not have been the handiwork of Kongi; I responded to my friends, most of who are in the same political persuasion as I am. I was immediately chastised by most of them, their rationalization being that it does not matter who the author is; it was the content that we should accept. I was aghast! So if Prof Wole Soyinka decided to sue the people wrongly ascribing the article to him, what would they then say? Or if the real author decided to sue Prof Soyinka for plagiarism, what would my friends say or do in his defence? We have since learnt that the said article was indeed written by someone else.
Second was the case of Col (rtd.) Sambo Dasuki, the besieged erstwhile National Security Adviser to ex-President Goodluck Jonathan who is now embroiled in a fight for his freedom after being accused of mismanaging billions of Naira and Dollars meant to purchase arms for the Nigerian military to fight Boko Haram. I remember when this man was appointed, there was so much encomium heaped on him. He was this, he was that; the next best thing to sliced bread; expert in internal and external security, counter-terrorism, counter-insurgency, best soldier in the Nigeria Army, highly regarded world-wide, blah, blah blah!! His CV was as long as my two arms extended; attended hundreds of courses, degrees, certificates, trips abroad, conferences, workshops, seminars, etc. I said to myself then, "This is the end of Boko Haram in Nigeria". Alas, it turned out he was just there for his pocket and/or to enrich some interested individuals or groups.
It goes the same way with 99.9% of our government officials - elected or appointed. They all have the best education and achievements comparable to any and even superior to many in the whole world, but unfortunately with no sense of responsibility and commitment to service to their country and people; ONLY to their own pockets and family. Their education, achievements, accolades and success are then exposed as only a means to get to power and loot the treasury or defraud and oppress their own people; a dearth of leadership, responsibility and sincerity of purpose in this potentially great country that is only too obvious anywhere and everywhere you look.
And third, the case of the “29,000 Nigerians awaiting deportation from the United Kingdom, and 500 of them deported in one day, in one chartered plane to Nigeria just a day ago”. Again, I wrote that this is not possible! 500 Nigerians who are unwilling to go home packed in one plane, with how many guards? At what cost to the British Government? I was again buttonholed by some people who think they are more patriotic than I am (the same trait that our rulers have always had, yet loot the country and deprive their people the dividends of democracy and a developed nation). As it turned out, only 48 Nigerians were deported that day, with probably more to come in batches. Where did our journalists and reporters get the 500 figure from? Nowhere, but they just have to enhance or embellish the news so that they can sell papers, and the gullible people swallowed the lies, as they know they would.
The more I read our newspapers and the social media, listen to our politicians and civil servants, and notice often knee-jerk, misinformed reactions of my people, I have come to believe that my people just do not want to hear the truth. They really just want to be lied to, beautiful lies that make them feel good, make then forget their sorrows and the sins committed by them and against them, that make them seem to be part of their often corrupt and totally immoral governments and fit with what they really want to believe.
Trying to tell the truth to our people is absolutely futile. Trying to tell people the truth after they have been lied to their entire lives, as Nigerians have been lied to almost since their Independence, isn't really worthwhile at all, it just gets you called a reactionary. In fact, they turn you into the Liar, and make you start questioning your own insanity and integrity. Many people only hear what they want to hear. Anybody that provides them lies is telling the "truth". It is a psychological trait.
I will admit that in philosophy, Truth is very relative. There is no absolute Truth, but in saner societies, some kind of Truth-based ideology and tenet has been the defining and engaging foundation to their development as better societies for their (and other) people to live in. I have never before encountered a people and country where Truth is so much in short supply as to be completely non-existent as Nigeria. There is a deliberate dearth of Truth and fact, not the least aided by devilish politicians, unconcerned civil servants, selfish businessmen/women, and, wait for it, the society (people) itself.
I have always written that there is no Truth in Nigeria; nobody tells the Truth; nobody wants to hear and accept the Truth; the Truth is often hard to find or discern from the loads of information, or misinformation that is often spewed out on a daily basis by all sectors of the Nigerian society. We all want to hear what we want to hear, and this is what our rulers use to keep us ignorant and in bondage. Most of our leaders are intelligent (intelligent only enough to know how to pull the wool over the eyes of the rest of us and how to loot the treasury and still appear like heroes); but why are they like that? We were clamouring for a graduate President a while ago; then we had one with late Yar ‘Adua (B Sc Chemistry) and then, presto! Another one with a PhD in Zoology, Dr Jonathan; and Nigeria suddenly became an educated elite country; then what happened? Education is not a prerequisite to good governance, I have come to appreciate. It helps, but ONLY if the person has a good heart towards his people. That's leadership.
Nigerians like sensational news and the ruling class knows this, so they spin us load of lies and we buy it hook line and sinker. They ALL TELL LIES. The newspapers that are supposed to feed us with correct information are even worse, bunch of lazy journalists who are easily compromised to write stories that suit the ruling elite, but manipulative of the gullible masses. All they know how to do is cut and paste. Imagine publishing that 500 illegal immigrants deported when in actual fact it was only 48. They cannot even verify the news before going to print.
We as a people don't like taking responsibility for our own actions; someone else has to be blamed for their inadequacies. Hence Dasuki now was trying to implicate his boss and others. Examples abound in Nigeria. Have we ever heard of any ruler, ex-ruler (president, governor, LG chairman, minister, etc.) come out and admit culpability for their actions or inactions? No, they are all hiding under some cover or the other, shifting blames to one another and obfuscating and perverting the course of justice. Some even go as far as seeking court injunctions from corrupt judges to prevent investigation and arrest. Some cases against these so-called leaders have been in courts for over 10 years with no end in sight as to logical judgement or even a decision. Is that the Truth? But our leaders and even followers will cling on to the “Rule of Law”. Why does the rule of law apply when it comes to prosecution but does not apply when the crimes are being perpetrated?
The truth forces one to question the foundational beliefs one holds. If enough erroneous foundational beliefs can be manufactured in one's belief system, the harder it will be for them to accept the truth when it stands right in front of them. People adhere to religion because they don't want to have to change their foundational beliefs. I think everyone is guilty of feeling susceptible by some facet of the world around us, something out there could indeed force us to look at the world differently and we are all uncomfortable with that idea. Fear of the unknown is a powerful stimulus to continue in the same direction even if doing so is a bad idea. In present times, continuing down our shared road to ruin just to feel contented with ourselves is a really bad idea.
The truth should set you free; that is the familiar tenet. So why do our people actually choose to keep themselves imprisoned? Why do we consider the truth to be a menace? Most importantly, who made us think this way and why? What are being kept secret from us and why?
Why do we desire CHANGE, but are not ready to CHANGE? Your guess is as good as mine. I shouldn’t care anymore, but I cannot help myself. It is my country and my people, anyway I look.
Tell the Truth always!!!!
By Akintokunbo A Adejumo
MSc, Dip Mngt, CIHM, MCMI, FITP, MIH Food Safety & Hygiene Trainer and Consultant www.affinitylibra.com.ng
Disclaimer: Views expressed in any article we publish are solely the author's and do not represent the editorial policy of DailyGlobeWatch
By Tony Ogunlowo
PARIS, JANUARY 2, 2016: What is a friend? A single soul dwelling in two bodies.” This quote is attributed to the ancient Greek philosopher Aristotle, who wrote extensively about the notion and importance of true friendship as a determinant of “meaningful” living. In Psychology, “a meaningful life is a broad term encompassing a varied number of definitions having to do with the pursuit of life satisfaction. Meaning can be defined as the connection linking two presumably independent entities together”. (Wikipaedia)
The notion of “friend,” of course, is used rather loosely in the online world of Facebook. Alex Pattakos, in his article, “The Meaning of Friendship in a Social Networked World” asked “What is happening to true friendship? Is it dying away? Or are the various social media “platforms” such as Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn simply redefining or transforming our modern-day notion of friendship? If so, what are the implications for life as we know it on this planet? Will we be happier? Will it promote the kind of meaningful existence that Aristotle was seeking and advocating?”
In the days before social media , we were likely to get twenty or thirty phone calls per day and forty or fifty emails, excluding hundreds of spams, of course; now we’ve traded the telephone for other connection points (I only get 2-3 landline telephone calls per day, and if I get more, they are likely to be my creditors asking for their money back or salespeople trying to sell one thing or the other to me), but now, I interact mostly via social media with friends, family, colleagues, and even people I don’t even know.
The number of “messaging inboxes” we have is overwhelming: email (I have three accounts), Twitter, MySpace, Plaxo, Facebook, Facebook messages and chats, LinkedIn and its messages, Google + messages, blog remarks, BlackBerry Messenger, Yahoo Messenger, WhatsApp, Viber, imo, Skype, text messages, Instagram, phone, voice mail, and several topically or geographically specific forums, groups and social networks. That’s a lot of relationship.
How do we justify this? We do it because we believe that more relationships provide more opportunity. The fact is, social media has made a big world become smaller. That is one usefulness of it. Why, politicians all over the world have made use, and continue to make use, of social media to campaign and win elections. President Obama was most notable. Businesses and organisations now use it to sell their services and goods. Friends and long-lost family use it to connect and reconnect.
So now, about my personal predicament! Come to think of it, do I need 5000 friends on Facebook, social media or no social media? I had reached 5000 limit over four years ago. So I opened another account, me being a vain man. I quickly closed the second account down after a year or two, when I realised my folly and vanity.
So how many of the 5000 friends do I really interact with or need? Even in real life, do we have that many “friends”? Acquaintances, work and business colleagues, people we meet casually once or twice, maybe, but not friends; and how large can one’s extended family be to net you 5000 of them? If you are a politician, or you have your own “blog-site”, those following you are not your friends.
The first thing I do in the morning is check Facebook’s Birthday Calendar and wish all my friends and family, whose birthdays come up, Happy Birthday wishes individually. This takes me up to one hour sometimes, depending on how many friends and family are having their birthdays on that day.
It was then I devised a new way of spotting inactive and/or unconcerned friends. Just do the “See Friendship” and this will give you an indication of how a friend has been interactive with you.
When I do this, I discover those who I post birthday wishes and other greetings to over the course of being friends on Facebook; friends who never acknowledge your compliments, prayers and well-wishes, and/or friends who never send you any compliments, well-wishes and prayers. Nor interact with you in any way since you became friends. There are also friends with absolutely nothing on their Profile, and no Profile or other pictures, or with fake names and nicknames, making them anonymous and a risk or hazard of being friends with – they know about you, but you know nothing of them. Then there are friends who want you to comment or Like their posts, but will never comment or Like your own posts. Friendship goes both ways – give and take. Friends who never greet you even when you greet them; are those really “friends”? Maybe Facebook should change that term - Friend.
So why do I do it? Do I need to do it? It is has become my nature. How would I not wish my friend Happy Birthday, and why would a supposed friend not wish me Happy Birthday? I don’t understand.
I suppose it is the Human Engineering trait in me, my love of people, making friends and enjoying it.
But now, with great relish and no regrets, I am daily reducing the numbers of friends I have on Facebook. I don’t block them, I just unfriend them. I am aiming to have as few as 1000 very good friends in 2016.
We don’t need 5000 friends; we need a few quality and reliable friends, who appreciate us as we appreciate them; who add value to our lives as we think we do them, and who are responsive to us. They don’t even need to share our views and criticisms on politics, religion, life, culture, tradition, etc. In fact, for me, I want them to be critical of my views, if they feel so, because I will also learn from them. I don’t have a monopoly of knowledge or ideas. I am human, so I can be wrong, or uninformed or ignorant of issues. A man, who does not make a mistake, they say, does not make anything. Correct me if I am wrong.
I have made some really good friends on Facebook since in I joined around 2008 or so. I have met several friends personally only after we have met on Facebook, and we have become great real friends. There are some friends, males and females, who, despite having never met face to face, are like we have been friends for ages that I trust and they trust me; we chat and call on the phone, WhatsApp, Skype and other interactive communicative media. I will still meet more of them in future.
I will continue to take a knife to my “Friends List” until I am satisfied with the quality and quantity of friends and family that I have. I don’t need 5000 Facebook friends – Quality, NOT Quantity.
To ALL my social media friends and family: In everything there must be a season, a time to come and a time to go, I pray that this New Year 2016 brings to you and your family happiness and joy forever and ever. Amen.
Akintokunbo A Adejunmo writes from London, United Kingdom.
Disclaimer: Views expressed in any article we published remain entirely the author's and do not necessarily reflect the editorial policy of DailyGlobeWatch
By Iredia Osakue
By Yushau A. Shuaib
On December 12, 2015, my phone displayed missed calls from the Army Spokesperson, Colonel Sani Kukasheka Usman. Such missed calls from security spokespersons, can signify ‘fire on the mountain.’
I had been in Maiduguri the previous week on a special assignment where I encountered a team of Lt General Tukur Buratai, the Nigeria’s Chief of Army Staff. They had been regular in the North-East zone probably in anticipation of meeting the presidential deadline to rout Boko Haram terrorists by December 2015.
There is this general impression of Buratai from not only his team but ground troops and the local community who refer to his exemplary conduct of humility, simplicity, probity and integrity. A son of a soldier, General Buratai is a Soldiers’ Soldier who is passionate about soldiering.
I gathered that he hardly stays in the cosy Army Headquarters but at the battlefield coordinating military offensives against terrorists. Rather than merely directing the commanders, he leads in some daring military campaigns of pursuing terrorists, recovering villages and rescuing captives from Boko Haram’s dens.
His troops have become accustomed to his trademark infectious smile and can readily vouch for its genuineness.
They are also at home with the fact that his words are constantly reassuring and his promises especially on welfare are kept. In the thick of the battle, he stays close to his troops, interacts, eats and sleeps with them – a risky undertaking for his rank and position. But like a leader who matches his words with actions, he does that to prove his sincerity and share in their critical moment of sacrifice for the nation.
When I returned the missed call on that Saturday, Colonel Usman Kukasheka narrated an incident that happened in Zaria when the convoy of Chief of Army Staff on a courtesy visit to Emir of Zazzau was obstructed by protesters. As we were talking his line went off and I could not reach him again.
I reached out to an embedded journalist in the convoy who narrated the incident. He said that some miscreants blocked the convoy of the Chief of Army Staff and that they remained adamant despite the pleadings and admonitions of Col Usman and other senior officers who pleaded that they allow the convoy a passage.
The journalist disclosed that General Buratai had cautioned his team not to shoot but to plead even when the protesters were shouting and brandishing arms like Knives, catapult and clubs, in most provocative manner against the military convoy. He added that “The officers prevented the Army Chief from stepping out of his vehicle, to avoid being harmed by the protesters…”
I,therefore,sent a text to Colonel Usman requesting for an official Press Release on the incident for syndication by PRNigeria which he obliged with photos and video clips from the incident.
After the episode of December 12, 2015 with fewer casualties, the following days witnessed unfathomable confrontations that claimed over 300 lives of men, women and children, based on official estimates by Kaduna State government.
Many had expected an immediate response from the government. In the previous administration of Goodluck Jonathan where similar incident occurred in July 2014, the former National Security Adviser and Sokoto Prince, Sambo Dasuki led a government delegation to empathise with the community, sympathise with the victims and condole Sheik Ibrahim ElZakzaky whose children were also killed then.
At that time, the then opposition leader, Nasir Elrufai tagged the incident “Genocidal Jonathanian Army kills Once Again” on his facebook page. But as a governor of the state one year after, his (Elrufai) state officials were prompt in demolition of residence, institutions and places of worship belonging to the Shiite group.
Meanwhile before the December incident in Zaria, there were some official releases by the Army that cautiously warned about attempts by undesirable elements to frustrate the war on terror. For instance, the Army Press Release of September 8, 2015 disclosed that it had “uncovered plans to thwarts efforts on War on Terror” by some organisations to create situations for human right abuse.
In another Press Release of September 25, 2015, the Army warned “prominent individuals and political groups who hailed from Borno State in particular and North East generally… over plans to undermine and scuttle the fight against terrorism and insurgency in Nigeria.” It went further to state that the individuals and groups “are employing the services of marabouts and other unethical means in order to frustrate our efforts and the operations in addition to campaign of calumny.”
Similarly, there was also a final warning to terrorists in October 20, 2015, where the Army cautioned “All Boko Haram terrorists wherever they are, to desist from all acts of terrorism, surrender themselves and face the law (and that) … failure to surrender will result in serious consequences as our troops have closed up on them.”
Finally, on November 23, 2015, the Army issued an alert on impending smear campaign by some disgruntled elements. The release clearly stated that “The Nigerian Army has received report of some elements both within the Nigerian Army and outside… to ridicule the Nigerian Army and the person of the Chief of Army Staff for reasons best known to them. They intend to execute this plan as from next month, December 2015, using all means possible….”
The release also alluded to the existence of fifth columnists in the system when it added that “the Nigerian Army has identified some of the officers involved and their collaborators. The officers are being investigated to unravel their motive and motivation.”
Going by those warnings and alerts, could it not be possible that some undesirable elements infiltrated the protesters in Zaria by acting the ugly script since the Shiite group are claiming that they had been holding such processions and demonstrations for more than 30 years? Can the speedy action of Kaduna State Government in the demolitions of Shiite’s places have other motives? Apart from the military presence could there be some unknown forces remotely triggering the reported carnage? Were some members of the community who are now blaming the Shiites for nuisance in Zaria be directly or indirectly involved in the whole shoddy incident?
I was delighted to accompany the management of Centre for Crisis Communication (CCC) on a visit to the Chief of Army Staff in Abuja last week with the hope that General Buratai would say something on the issue. During our interaction however, the quintessential General narrated the successes of the military campaign in the North-East and other initiatives on human right compliance in the armed forces. When the issue of Zaria incident came up, his countenance changed: his head bowed with jaws resting on his hands. For some seconds the room was silent.
When he raised up his head, looking towards our direction, his smile had disappeared, and with emotion, he merely said: “I don’t want to join issue with anyone…. But I must state that by our culture and professional training, soldiers don’t just attack anyone arbitrarily without provocation and justification. We abide by the rules of engagement which guide every action we take. We have a responsibility to protect our citizens from insecurity and impunity.
“We have been fighting terrorism with all our might, spirit and energy and would avoid anything that will distract our efforts.”
“How can anybody accuse a responsible armed agency of government of murder? On the contrary, the people were attacking the soldiers with petroleum bomb and other weapons. In actual fact, not all of them knew how to handle Molotov they were trying to use against the Army and it back fired on them.”
After his words, I realise that there is an urgent need for a thorough, independent and unbiased investigation on Zaria carnage to unravel the mystery behind the sad incident.
Disclaimer: Views expressed in any piece we publish remain entirely the author's and do not reflect our editorial policy. DailyGlobeWatch shall, therefore, not be held responsible for any of its contents or any part thereof.
The decline in government funding of higher education, the economic downturn, the long decades of unforgivable neglect, along with rapidly rising costs of the different services and products that universities have to provide, have led to steady increases in student and parents outlays over the last two or three decades. There are no indications that costs will go down, neither are there signals that one day university education will be free – as called for by many segments of the society.
All institutions should consider a number of factors to determine the students’ full cost of study.
According to some studies, the major cost drivers are academic and administrative salaries, the rise in the costs of municipal services, including electricity, water, the cost of powering laboratories, libraries and other teaching and learning amenities, and maintenance of infrastructure. The impact of rising costs has also been felt from the naira-dollar exchange rates on the cost of library holdings, as a result of most books and materials for libraries being bought from dollar-denominated countries.
In Nigeria and many other African countries, higher education is recognised as a public good and is therefore, expectedly and understandably highly subsidised by the state. However, increases in student fees have had adverse consequences on students’ ability to access higher education.
While Nigerians find higher education in the country expensive, the cost of university education is comparatively low compared with international institutions. Viewed in dollar terms and the fallen Naira value, Nigeria’s degrees will be perceived as much cheaper in comparison.
There is no doubt that universities are very expensive to run, especially in developing countries such as Nigeria. In most cases, close to 65% of costs are associated with highly qualified and experienced staff, while a further major cost is the provision and maintenance of the university’s domain. Costs also include a wide range of support services such as libraries, laboratories, transport, security, counselling and healthcare services, in addition to the cross-subsidisation of financially disadvantaged students, i.e. university-funded scholarships.
I grew up in the 60s and 70s. I went to four secondary schools in the old Western Nigeria where the standard of education was so high, no matter where the location of the school, urban or rural. I ended up with a good School leaving certificate result that enabled me to, and got an opportunity to go to the University of Ibadan, through passing the entrance “Preliminary” examination, thereby bypassing the old Advanced Level certificate, where I got both an undergraduate degree, and many other unquantifiable skills, experience, abilities and most importantly, a very sophisticated outlook in life, dignity in labour and an expansive view of the world. On the way, I received students’ loans, grants and state bursaries, and now I can hardly say I was disenfranchised, but I used what freedom this great country gave me: an opportunity.
Jon West, “If You Think Education is Expensive…”, This Day, 5th March 2016, write, “With the advent of the military regimes that( mis?)ruled Nigeria from 1966 – 1999, there was a great onslaught on education, knowledge and intellectualism in all facets of national life, due perhaps to the fact that, unlike in other parts of the world, African armies were recruited by the colonialists as internal oppressors of their own people, and what better oppressor is an illiterate or poorly educated person in command of the educated. Officers and other ranks were recruited from the pool of the illiterate and antagonistic ethnicities, in a divide and rule process that ensured the pacification of educated and nationalistic agitators for political and economic Independence. The most horrendous products of this colonial agenda were Idi Amin of Uganda and Jean-Bedel Bokassa of the short-lived Central African Empire”.
We are still living victims of the above, and we seem to be still entrapped and unable to escape. In fact, Nigeria and some West Africans were a bit fortunate to be spared totally from Jon West’s account.
This now brings me to my initial lines of thought.
I have always been one of those who criticise the high fees charged by private universities in Nigeria, especially the ones owned by the Pentecostal and other religious organisations. But another look at this convinced me they are not entirely wrong. Most of the criticism directed at them had been that the members of the congregation, who actually funded the universities through tithes, contributions, Sunday collections, etc., are usually the ones who cannot afford to send their own children to these schools, supposedly owned by them. Another is that the heads of those churches are exploiting the congregation in the process, diverting funds to themselves.
While I agree with the two evidences above, the fact remains that establishing and maintaining those universities were always not going to be cheap. When I attended university in Nigeria, there were only about six universities, all owned and 100% funded by the Federal Government (University of Ibadan; University of Ife, now Obafemi Awolowo University; University of Lagos; Ahmadu Bello University; University of Nigeria, Nsukka; University of Benin; these were later joined by converting University of Ibadan, Jos campus to University of Jos; Universities of Ilorin, Port Harcourt, Maiduguri, Sokoto, and Calabar and Ado Bayero University). These universities were established and built when Nigeria was still “good”, most of them immediately after Independence and during the oil boom era; the people who established them were committed and sincere Nigerians; money was available and international cooperation and collaboration was easily sought and available; and Nigeria was not as corrupt and degenerate as we have now. – things were done at almost 90% altruism.
Then with the creation of more states in Nigeria, come the proliferation of state-owned universities, which, because of our innate political immaturity, often fall victim of discontinuity of government, even during the military tenures. A new governor comes in, jealous of his predecessor, and refuses to continue funding of the state-owned universities and other institutions.
So, when the Federal Government decided to liberalise the education sector (and with some entirely selfish reasons, because those in government who were supposed to facilitate our educational progress, were in fact the ones, who after looting the treasury, now started establishing their own private universities. What an irony!), the churches and other religious organisations started their own venture into the education, or rather, tertiary education sector.
Ordinarily, this would have been greatly commendable. In fact, it is still commendable, as they are complementing the efforts of the federal and state governments in the education sector; but, being Nigerians, their motives have not been entirely holistic or altruistic. It has been full of hypocrisy and self-promotion. However, as I mentioned above, I have now tended to be a bit sympathetic to their situation.
Establishing and maintaining an institution of higher learning (and in fact even primary and secondary schools – ask the mushrooming private operators who have capitalised on government indifference, neglect and lack of focus and vision) in Nigeria is not cheap, and is no mean task. Even the conditions they have to meet before they are granted the licence to establish are usually very daunting. This is evidenced by empty acquired lands going nowhere, university buildings that look more like secondary school classrooms, lack of teaching and library resources, infrastructural problems, lack of IT facilities, and inability to maintain standards for some of them, resulting in the Nigeria Universities Commission coming down hard on several of them and refusing to accredit courses, departments and faculties, thereby leaving many students in limbo.
The Federal Government universities are still highly subsidised to the point that it is ridiculous, and with the downturn in the economy without recourse to oil income, the government might soon have to reconsider its level of subsidisation of tertiary university in Nigeria. The same goes for state universities and other tertiary institutions; these are even finding it difficult to pay staff salaries, so how do they want to equip classrooms, libraries, laboratories, and other services they are expected to provide as institutions of higher learning, which must be of world standard?
So university education is not cheap, and these Pentecostal and other religious operators must be spared some criticism and flagellation. However, one would have suggested that the way out for them to avoid the scathing criticism that their own congregation are not able to afford sending their children to schools that were built with their money, is to give financial concessions to them in terms of reducing fees for members.
But I shudder to think of the abuse that will follow, knowing my country-men and women. That is when pastors and imams will start making more money by falsely attesting that non-members are members; and people will start flooding the already-full churches just to get their children into these schools.
A Catch-22 situation, if you ask me, but a solution, or at least, a compromise, must be found. Some of these private Pentecostal universities are of very high standard. High standard means a lot of investment and funding, and must always be maintained because of competition and world recognition. I personally will not send my child to a university that the world academic community does not recognise, as I would not send him/her to a university where they come out more illiterate than literate.
The corruption in Nigeria is not helping either. With the examination bodies, e.g. WAEC, NECO, JAMB, UTME and whatever names they call themselves all ridden with corruption; the universities engaged in scams, e.g. selling 30,000 forms for only 3000 places, hence university lecturers and non-academic staff involved in all sorts of bribery; parents cutting corners by paying someone else to write exams for their children and offering bribes to get their children in by all means even if those children have not met the minimum or cut-off marks; thereby, all denying legitimate and more hard-working and successful candidates the opportunities that should rightly go to them first.
Finally, like Jon West cited, “If you think education is expensive, why don’t you try ignorance”.
For me and many other Nigerians, I know the value of good education. Both my parents were great educationists in Nigeria, and I know what they imparted to me and my siblings, and indeed, to thousands of students who passed under them.
Those were those days, but I still cherish the legacy and I have passed them on to my children with the prayers and advice that they need to pass it on to their children too.
President Muhammadu Buhari
On May 29, 2015, there was a change of government in Nigeria. That day at Eagle Square, Abuja Nigeria's capital the world witnessed a peaceful handover of power by the iconic former President Jonathan who saved our beloved country from degenerating into another Syria.
Today the world focuses its eyes on that embattled country and events playing out today could spell out a possible conflagration and this, doubtless, hangs over our heads like the ancient sword of Damocles. World powers and rogue regimes are converged there each shouting for its voice to be heard or to also feel important on the world stage calling to mind the rogue regime of Iran in deciding the future of that country and we all know what intransigence brewing from Assad's country would amount to in the long run - igniting the nukes and incinerating all life's forms.
That is what would have taken place in Nigeria had former President Jonathan unlike other sit-tight African leaders not conceded defeat in the hotly contested 2015 presidential election in Nigeria. You will all agree with me that a situation dangerously close to anarchy was only averted by that magnanimous display of statesmanship in spite of the highly doctored results that came from the north which gave President Buhari that unjust, unfair and undeserved victory.
Years and later months prior to that historic election, Nigerians were told to prepare for bloodshed and disorder calling to mind President Buhari's coinage which soon gained currency at the time:
''the dogs and baboons will be soaked in blood'''
My heart jumped into my mouth on hearing that brazen threat! This was against every standard of decency. Sensing an imminent danger many Nigerians and I had no option but to take flight from Nigeria before all hell would be broken loose. But as luck would have it the ominous cloud of bloodshed that hung over Nigeria like a crowd began to disperse following the decision of one man who had consistently declared that his political ambition 'is not worth the blood of any Nigerian'.
Now that Jonathan is back in Otueke his ancestral home thus paving the way for a new cast of actors to mount the saddle of power it must be borne in mind that government is none other than a social contract, that is relinquishing one's rights in return for protection and improvement in the overall well-being of the citizenry. The present administration has spent too much time brooding over the 'misfortunes and mistakes' of the past with nothing on the ground to face tomorrow's challenges staring us ominously in the face. I think it is high time we marched forward. How long will these complaints take? We are really pressed for time!
Every now and then, this present administration gets increasingly picky about nothing, I dare say; I ask yet again; how long will President Buhari continue to brood over the problems that never existed? Is it not about time he started to deliver on his campaign promises? Under the former administration, Nigeria rose from behind to become Africa's largest economy which doubtless is a rare feat. Paradoxically, the ruling party says the former ruling party lied to Nigerians and the world about the state of our economy when Nigeria emerged as the biggest economy on the continent after a rebasing calculation of the GDP. Nigerians, mind you, former President Jonathan does not control or have any influence on any of the supra-national institutions that authenticated the figures that made Nigeria the economic powerhouse of the continent.
A bad workman, they often say, blames his tools. Now the die is cast and President Buhari has taken charge as Nigeria's chief representative to the whole world. Nigerians look to him to deliver on his campaign promises. He did expressly say that the Nigerian Naira will be made equal in value to the US dollars. We are patiently and anxiously waiting. Of course, we know he needs some time to right the wrongs of the immediate past administration. We are not complaining. It is about six months now and activities have just risen off the ground following the naming of his ministers to help him in the day-to-day running of his government.
One fact must be borne in mind under the existing circumstances that time flies very fast. What Nigerians want to see is the 'change' which they voted for en masse. The change from the way things are going is still miles away following the departure of competent technocrats in the immediate past administration. The International Monetary Fund, (IMF) reports say, is pressing for further devaluation of our domestic currency barely six months President Buhari took over power and the economy has suddenly plunged into recession. This is stranger than fiction!
The President should as a matter of urgency address the problems plaguing Nigeria instead of the ongoing blame game. What we need is a lasting solution to the myriad of problems on the ground which his six months of inaction have compounded instead of deafening complaints.
Iyoha John Darlington, an opinion leader and public commentator on national and global issues, lives in Turin, Italy.