• NNAMDI KANU: It's time Buhari is read the Riot Act

    08/Mar/2016 // 2092 Viewers

    EDITORIAL

    PARIS, MARCH 8, 2016: (DGW) -  Much as violence is abhorred  as an effective tool for any conflict resolution certain actions that could plunge the polity into utter chaos must be frowned upon no matter whose ox is gored.

    Nigeria operates a federal system of government with no fewer than 36 federating units. It is an established fact that the constitution makes no provision for a federal referendum to decide an important public question like the ongoing agitation for an independent Biafran state.

    Kanu has millions of followers and admirers and trying to hush a million dissent voices into silence is as good as attempting the impossible and for the government of Nigeria to resort to the use of brute force to suppress the agitation of over 70 million easterners is none other than courting  unmitigated disaster.

    The international community may yet feign ignorance under the existing circumstances but would be forced to act when it comes to the crunch. Many defenceless Biafran agitators, we have it on good authority, have been felled by Nigerian security forces with no official statement from Abuja decrying the excesses or overzealousness of the gun-totting security operatives. Silence, they often say, sometimes implies consent. Would one be right to say the Nigerian strongman did not  tacitly order the killings of  the unarmed, defenceless agitators?

    The role of the OHANEZE NDIGBO on the continued incarceration of Nnamdi Kanu is not only condemnable but also a crying shame. They are an irritating lot who have shamelessly sold their birthright for a pot of filthy porridge considering their stance on the ongoing agitation and attempt by some Kanu's kith and kin to testify against him tomorrow March 9. Our hearts bleed and there is no way OHANEZE NDIGBO could ever extricate themselves from that impending show of shame!

    Thrice, we have it on good authority, has the detained IPOB leader been granted bail by Nigerian courts sitting in Abuja. It agitates us terribly why these court orders were not heeded; the erudite judges that presided over the case in turn and granted the bail application in succession could not have erred and the president lacks the moral standing to teach these judges to suck eggs. What is likely to occur in the ongoing kangaroo trial is to give a ruling within the whims and caprices of the president who is dead against Kanu's release from detention and this we dare say is tantamount to  tyranny.

    While we condemn secret trial for Kanu we also wish the witnesses who may have been induced financially or coerced to testify to know the dangers inherent in collaborating with  agents of the state to crucify a prisoner of conscience who is already in the grips of devastation. Justice Tosho should bear in mind that dancing to the whims and caprices of one man who seemingly wields absolute power is a grave danger to the people.

    Justice Tosho must cast his mind back to the earlier rulings made by other erudite judges that first saw the need to grant Kanu's bail application and had the case struck out. Justice John Tosho, we say yet again must not allow the whims and caprices of one man to influence his ruling as the IPOB leader appears before him tomorrow. It is time President Buhari is read the Riot Act.

     

     


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  • Lessons from Edo governorship election

    16/Oct/2016 // 164 Viewers

     

    I thought we would just allow the sleeping dog to snore. It was the same candidate of yours who accosted the CO (Collation Officer) in Unit 11 with about six guns and drove him (CO) to the corner of the collation centre, forcing him to mutilate. I did not mutilate any paper; my papers are here. Number two: this same candidate went to the office of INEC to repeat the same thing on the electoral officer and later came to the collation centre, where I served, with 10 gun-toting men, threatening to kill all of us. I want to say that this same candidate several times told the man who handled that Ward 11 that he was a dead man. He repeated it three times and that was why we managed to put him (electoral officer) on the security vehicle to get him to Benin City here… For the case of the man who handled Ward 11, all the security men deserted him. For the EO, he was locked up in his room. In our own case, we were rescued by the men of the Quick Intervention Force who drove the Auchi vigilante people out of the place. They were actually coming for me when the men of the Quick Intervention Force came in. So the police are aware of it” -Prof. Adewole Atere, Collation Officer for Etsako West Local Government Area, in the just-concluded Edo State governorship election.

    Above was how we introduced “The shenanigans of Edo governorship election” last week, with a promise to conduct an analysis of it this week. Today, we seek to draw useful lessons from that election using Professor Atere’s comments above as a peg. Now, a professor is not a small person; he is someone deemed to be of immense stature in academic training as well as in comportment and character. I should think that the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) goes to the great length of contracting the services of such high-calibre staff, even on ad hoc basis, for the competence it believes they can bring to bear and also for the integrity it thinks they have. These are part of the elite that we call stakeholders, who know what is at stake to all those concerned –INEC, parties/candidates in an election, the state, the good health of our renascent democracy, as well as the reputation and integrity of the ad hoc INEC staff himself and the institution that he represents. By “institution” we mean not just the university where he teaches but the academia as a whole. Therefore, a high standard of performance as well as impeccable behaviour is expected from this calibre of people. He is expected to rise above the pettiness that has characterised the electoral system and shun the temptations that have wrecked the successful conduct of elections. Even by our present parlous condition, a professor is reasonably well paid, has tenure, and is supposed to have a name and reputation to protect.

    INEC ad hoc staff is clothed with the authority and power of the commission to perform an assigned responsibility, which we all know is onerous. He is expected to exercise this power and authority on behalf, first of all INEC, and, by extension, all of us. To do this, he and others involved in this very serious business of supervising elections are given what is considered to be full and adequate security. Knowing elections for what they are in this country, we already know, a priori, that some people would want to compromise the integrity of the election by various means, one of which is pecuniary inducement; to discourage this, we went for a high-calibre staff that we believe is not likely to, or will not easily fall for such inducement. Violence is another means of compromising elections, which is called political thuggery. To prevent or arrest this, our elections are militarised. To underline the central place of security in elections since 2015, the possibility or otherwise of adequate security has suddenly become the deciding factor as to whether or not an election would hold. The 2015 presidential election and after it Edo, were postponed on the advice of security agencies to allow them adequately prepare for the election. Imagine, then, our pain if after all this precaution and deferring to the security agencies, the security breaches reported above by Prof. Atere still took place in broad daylight, with someone as high as a deputy governorship candidate being the one fingered!

    Now, the implications of this for everyone are many and, I dare to say, dire. A hand lifted against those sent on an election assignment by INEC is a hand lifted against INEC itself. INEC, therefore, must be ready, indeed is obligated, to defend its turf or it will soon be unable to perform its sacred functions. INEC must take offences committed against its staff seriously; especially those meant to encumber them in the exercise of their onerous electoral responsibilities. Failure, INEC will soon become a toothless bulldog and laughing stock. It will find it difficult, if not impossible, to perform its constitutionally-assigned duty. This duty, we all know, is very sensitive. So much passion and resources are invested in elections by everyone concerned – the state, politicians as well as the electorate. Indeed, our collective future as a vibrant democracy rests on the conduct of free and fair elections. If INEC staff are viciously violated and the integrity of elections they have been mandated to superintend are compromised with impunity and INEC does nothing firm and decisive to ameliorate the situation, then, this is capable of many interpretations which, I dare to say again, are dire. One is that it could mean that INEC is compromised and a compromised umpire can never be an impartial and unbiased judge. Elections conducted under the auspices of such an umpire can never be free and fair. When elections are not free and fair, they ultimately wreck the democracy project. For a country like Nigeria that has suffered terrible maladministration, to put it mildly, under all manner of military goons, any attempt to consign us to that ignoble past again is a disservice of monumental proportions.

    Two is that INEC will soon find it difficult to attract quality and honest ad hoc staff. Those who manage to work for it will now be afraid to stand on the truth and dutifully and dispassionately discharge their onerous responsibilities. If they could be roughened up, their life threatened, and are prevented from performing their sacred duty and nothing is done by the organisation that had sent them, then, they will be left to their devises and resolutions. If electoral offenders\aggressors can be as brazen as Professor Atere had graphically revealed above and are pugnacious and audacious enough to tamper with elections as well as threaten to kill INEC staff and nothing happens; then, it must be noted by all that such offenders/aggressors have the upper hand. Why, then, risk your life? Why maintain fidelity to an organisation – in this case INEC – that is not able or willing to defend its own staff as well as punish the violators of its own laws?

    Three is that it calls to question the raison d’être for the avalanche of security men that are deployed to man elections. If electoral officers are still not given adequate protection by the security agencies even when “they full ground like sand,” what, then, is their use or purpose? It is either they are irrelevant or they have other purposes for manning elections. If elections are postponed at the instance of the security agencies so they could adequately prepare and give adequate security, how come they reportedly stood akimbo while the shenanigans detailed above by Professor Atere unfolded? No one was cautioned! No one was arrested! No one is being prosecuted! We must investigate to confirm or deny Professor Atere’s allegations and mete out appropriate punishment. Did he cry wolf?

    The conclusions that can be drawn are ominous. The outcome of some elections could have been pre-determined. Some elections could have been deliberately compromised, with the agencies of state meant to secure them the self-same that are used to truncate them. Those who rig elections may never be brought to book but will continue to smile their way to power. Those on election duties will, over time, learn the hard way the body language of the powers-that-be; and if you cannot beat them, you join them. The gains of free and fair elections under the past administrations of the late Umaru Yar’Adua and Goodluck Jonathan may recede badly if no urgent action is taken to stem the tide. Revelations from the umbrage reportedly taken by the Chief Justice of Nigeria (CJN) against the Department of State Services (DSS) invasion of the premises of some judges as well as his alleged remarks about spirited efforts made by some of those in the corridors of power to influence election cases and pervert the course of justice, if true, point in the same direction of perilous times ahead.

    The post 'Lessons from Edo governorship election appeared first on NIGERIAN TRIBUNE 


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  • EDITORIAL: Curbing Nigeria's official graft

    26/Jan/2016 // 323 Viewers

                                                                                           EDITORIAL

     

    PARIS, JANUARY 26, 2016: (DGW) - Nigerians voted to change the erstwhile ruling Peoples' Democratic Party generally believed to be corrupt. All eyes on the continent and beyond were focused on Africa's biggest democracy and most populous nation. The elections the world had thought will precipitate a political crisis in Nigeria and put the country on the brink but the world was proved wrong, thanks to the  statesmanlike game played  by the former leader who cast pride overboard and conceded defeat.

    The world had thought Nigeria would disintegrate at the period under review to help the Americans actualize their prediction that Nigeria will break up into fragmentary republics in 2015. As luck would have it, that ill-conceived prediction was neutralized  and the hope that Nigeria will degenerate into another Syria was punched by the wisdom of one man who far from playing the divider played the uniter. 

    I think Nigeria's former leader Dr. Goodluck Jonathan deserves a pat on the back for a rare display of diplomacy and  statesmanship by jettisoning the sit-tight syndrome typical of most African leaders.

    Today, a new government has been installed in Nigeria with Mr. Muhammadu Buhari as the president. Eight calendar months into the first tenure, the government is busy cleansing the Augean stables left behind by the former ruling party. Many of the party members that served under the former president  have been implicated in high-profile stealing especially the criminal diversion of $2.1 billion arms procurement fund.

    While the cleansing continues we do hope that Nigerians stand behind their leader to ensure that every Tom, Dick and Harry that is involved in this criminal diversion is brought to justice and not only that, it  is our fervent hope that the present Nigerian government wield the big stick on every erring Cain without fear or favour, entertain  petitions, carry out exhaustive inquiries, investigations and mete out appropriate punishment on conviction.

    While commending the President of Nigeria for this laudable initiative, we advise that this campaign be extended to the past administrations in a bid to genuinely cleanse the rot in the system because the challenges besetting Nigeria today like a series of devastating plague did not start with the immediate past administration alone that is why the war must be extended to the states and local governments if the government of Mr. Buhari is genuinely poised to fight corruption in Nigeria. 

    The problems and challenges Nigeria faces today were actually caused years back hence the war, we make bold to say, should be all inclusive as it is done in civilized societies.

    Proofs and evidence abound of the missing funds stolen by past civilian and military rulers that were stashed away in foreign bank accounts, some of which have been repatriated. The services of foreign governments and investigators must be retained in this regard and ensure the country's past leaders both civilian and military are investigated and prevailed upon to refund every cent that has been misappropriated under their stewardship or stolen from the government coffers. There should be no sacred cow or favouring party partisans in the ongoing campaign.

    Tasking and time consuming  as this may seem but it appears the right thing to do under the existing circumstances to reposition the country on the path of socio-politico development and economic prosperity.

     


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