Sam Nda-Isaiah’s Presidential Declaration Speech

November 25, 2014

The Presidential Declaration Speech of Sam Nda-Isaiah on Tuesday, November 4, 2014@Minna Polo Ground, Old Airport Road, Minna, Niger State, Nigeria.

Hello Nigeria!

Protocol
To the Chairman of the APC, and all APC delegates all over the Federation of Nigeria, and all the good people of this great country, I am today declaring my candidacy for the presidency of the Federal Republic of Nigeria.

I would like to begin by paying tribute to the star-studded slate of presidential aspirants of our great party: General Muhammadu Buhari, my role model and political boss with whom I have been in the trenches for over a decade since he joined politics; Alhaji Atiku Abubakar, who has lived a life of service; Dr. Rabiu Musa Kwankwaso, who has changed the face of Kano; and my friend, Rochas Okorocha, a true and proud Nigerian. Anyone of us who becomes President next year would be infinitely better than the one we currently have.

President Jonathan has been totally unable to perform the most basic responsibility of any leader, which is provision of security to the people of his country. Nigeria has been degraded to unimaginable levels. We are now laughing stock of those countries we used to laugh at.
Nigerians who are old enough know that this is not how it used to be. As a country, we are much better than this. The Nigeria we knew, even though far from being the ideal, was good enough to provide security and the basic necessities of everyday living. And we even had enough to cater for other African nations. That was when we were a regional superpower, but not anymore.

I have seen Nigeria as a child growing up in a neighbourhood not far from where I stand now; as a school pupil in a government primary school in Kaduna where primary education was free; secondary school student in Kaduna where secondary education was free; as an undergraduate at the University of Ife, when my Niger State scholarship was more than sufficient for me. I have seen Nigeria as a northern youth corps member serving in Ilawe-Ekiti and Ikere-Ekiti in today’s Ekiti State where I was treated like a special one. And I have seen Nigeria as a young graduate when I landed a very good job within one month of completion of the NYSC. I have seen Nigeria when our country’s schools and universities were among the best in the world and foreigners from all over the world trooped into this country to acquire world-class education. I have lived in a Nigeria when our hospitals were among the best, at least in Africa, and all drugs and medicines and surgeries were offered free by government. And all these happened when our revenues as a nation were far less than what we have today. That was when Nigeria fought a civil war without taking a loan; even the post-war reconstruction was carried out without a loan.
But to prosecute the war against insurgents, the Nigerian President has just taken a loan of $1 billion, even though oil sold for around $100 per barrel for as long as anyone could remember and Customs and Excise Department rakes in an average of N1trillion annually.

It is difficult to know the exact point this downward slide started but the misfortune of this country obviously accelerated from the time the PDP came to power in 1999. Many of us have seen Nigeria from different eras. We have seen our country gradually decay into one in which people are now afraid to carry on their lives as ordinary citizens. They are afraid of sending their wards to boarding schools in parts of the country because their kids could be burnt alive in their dormitories; they are afraid to send their daughters to school because hundreds of them could be kidnapped at the same time and turned into sex slaves. And there are many more who are afraid to go to church or mosque because they could be bombed out of existence. Yes, terrorism is globally a contemporary phenomenon but in no other normal country on earth would terrorists strike in the same place every other day like Nigeria and no arrests are made.

For the first time in the history of this country, Nigerian soldiers who are still among the best in the world have started fleeing from criminals. Many have had cause to flee to neighbouring countries where they were embarrassingly disarmed by those countries’ armed forces. And because the PDP government has incompetently made the military our first line of defence instead of the last, Nigerians are now in disarray, running helter-skelter and in a state of misery. For the first time, Nigerians who are normally happy, confident people have lost confidence in themselves.

Corruption under the PDP government has reached extreme levels, to the extent that the Federal Government is no longer able to pay state governments and other government units their due allocations. As a result, many state governments are now unable to pay salaries. Oil theft has reached such frightening scale that, sometimes, the oil thieves steal more than what is left for the Nigerian state. Yet, not a single oil thief has been arrested by the government. Much of the balance that eventually gets to the government coffers is also promptly stolen. Not long ago, Federal Government officials were publicly arguing among themselves – rather scandalously and in full view of the world – whether it was $48 billion or $20 billion or $10 billion that was stolen from the NNPC. This was money meant to run Nigerian state.

The North-East of the country may now be the base of insurgents but no part of this country is the safe place we would want to raise our children. Kidnappers, armed robbers and ritual killers all through the 36 states of the federation operate freely without any fear of any consequences.

Our education system has collapsed with public schools now counting for nothing because funds meant to sustain them have been stolen. Nigeria currently has 10.5 million children out of school, the highest in the world. And even those in schools here hardly pass their exams. This year, 70% of students who sat for the WASSCE failed.

Our hospitals are now where people go to die. Those who can afford it travel abroad for their healthcare needs

Nigerians no longer talk about electric power supply because, after 15 years of the PDP government and more than $25 billion expropriated on power supply, the country is worse off. Our current power supply fluctuates between 2,000mw and 4,000mw. But $25 billion has provided more than 20,000mw for other countries with more serious governments. By common consent, the President and his party have failed. The PDP has also proved to be totally incapable of presenting its best people to Nigerians. The PDP wants us to meekly accept Jonathan’s incompetence and his failures as our destiny and then continue with him. It is only a party like the PDP that will place the ego of one man above the wellbeing of an entire nation.

Nigerians from everywhere yearn for change. They cry for a new direction because the country cannot continue on this path. That is why I want to be President. I have come to offer that’ change that will change Nigeria forever. I do not seek to be President simply because Jonathan is not a good President. I want to be that President that will change the course of Nigerian history forever. That is why I come to you waving the scroll of BIG IDEAS – big and bold ideas that will move our beleaguered country into the league of First World nations. All our programmes shall be powered by big ideas and, today, I will mention only a few.

The first thing our government will do is to unite the whole of Nigeria as quickly as possible. As I have said in several fora, Nigeria is currently too divided to be called a nation. No country ever makes progress with the kind of divisions we see in our country today. Confronting this challenge is the simplest thing a serious leader can do. There is no magic about it. All a leader needs to do is be sincere about it. I will need to unite the whole of Nigeria behind me as quickly as possible in order to be able to work the big ideas that will change this nation forever. Any President who governs country with fairness, justice and charity to all will have no problem uniting his people, no matter how disparate they may be.
Under my presidency, all crimes will be punished, no matter how long it will take to apprehend the criminals. We shall send a clear message to criminals that whoever commits a crime will be apprehended and brought to justice according to the law – whoever they are, no matter where they come from and no matter how long it takes. I will not be that President who would say that people are killing themselves because they don’t like me. I will not only be in office, I will also be in power for the good of the majority of the people. All murderers will face the full weight of the law.

Concurrently with the business of uniting the nation, we shall also quickly secure Nigeria and Nigerians. Security is the most elementary duty of any leader. I will do this by retooling the entire security and intelligence infrastructure of the country and by being that President who takes his duty as Commander-in-Chief seriously. Luckily for us, Nigeria still has some of the best soldiers, policemen and intelligence service personnel anywhere in the world. All they need is competent leadership, training and re-training as well as 21st century equipment to meet the challenges of the modern world. One of our major problems is that we are still using the 1960s and 1970s methods and equipment to fight today’s crimes.

We are also going to expand the various security services to match the challenges of our current size. We are going to modernise and increase our police strength from the current 370,000 to at least 1,000,000 immediately and then gradually grow it to at least 4,000,000. We shall do most of the recruiting from among the millions of graduates that roam the streets in search of jobs. A serious nation of 178 million people should not have just 370,000 policemen.

As President and Commander-in-Chief of Africa’s largest country and its biggest economy, I will rebuild Nigeria’s military to be the most formidable fighting force in Africa. I shall rebuild the military not only for Nigeria’s security but for Africa’s stability, as I believe that Nigeria has a responsibility to lead Africa. We have a national interest in ensuring stability in other African nations. We shall also build a strong military in order to defend our currency and protect our economy. The Defence Industries Corporation of Nigeria (DICON) will also be upgraded to do much more than it is doing today to supply both our needs and export to other countries.
Under my presidency, the military will never be our first line of defence as it is today. We shall create special forces whose members would be drawn from the different services for the most difficult security challenges. The first line of defence for any country that has terrorism challenges should be its borders. Our nation’s borders are probably the most porous in the world: 1,497 illegal entry points into the country have already been identified and the government is doing nothing about it. That will never happen under our presidency.

Nigeria’s unemployment level is a bomb waiting to explode. By conservative estimates, there are 48 million unemployed Nigerians and a troubling 54% of the Nigerian youths are unemployed. Even though the economy has grown, poverty rates have increased, precisely because the sectors driving the growth are not the ones in which the majority of Nigerians are accommodated. We must, therefore, bring more youths into agriculture, online business, manufacturing and housing. Since 48 million jobs are not immediately available, they would have to be created. Only big ideas can solve a challenge this magnitude. Our government will create an army of entrepreneurs all over the country. We shall create five million small businesses in the first instance. A small business creates between two and five new jobs – that means potentially creating 25 million new jobs. That’s a heck of a big idea!

Another one. Our government shall construct one million new housing units yearly, for two reasons: one, to bridge the housing deficit and, two, to create jobs. It has been estimated that building one million housing units can create up to 30 million new jobs as several people including engineers, architects, plumbers, block makers, insurance companies, mortgage banks, estate agents, cement, tile and paint sellers, food vendors, furniture manufacturers, etc would be engaged. We will get the money for this huge project by borrowing from the pension fund which is now in excess of N4trillion; and, since the houses would be sold to the public through mortgage facilities, the borrowed funds would be paid back. We can also get the money from Quantitative Easing since a huge lot of economic activities, including manufacturing operations, will be created in the course of building the one million houses; so the risks usually associated with Quantitative Easing would be attenuated.

If we must remain the biggest economy in Africa, then, we must have the biggest seaports, the biggest banks, the biggest airports; and we must, by privilege and reason of location, be the aviation hub of Africa.
One of the very big ideas that we intend to work is the creation of a soccer economy. Nigeria has talent and Nigerians have passion for the game. There is no reason we should not profit from this as so many other countries do. We can organise ourselves to achieve this easily.

Also, we cannot be Africa’s biggest economy and the continent’s most populated nation (178 million people) and still be struggling with 4,000mw of electric power supply after squandering $25billion in the past 15 years. The world’s largest power station in a single location is the Three Gorges Dam in China which has an installed capacity of 22,500mw. It was constructed with $26 billion.

We cannot be Africa’s largest oil producer and still be importing fuel. That will stop under our government. And because oil will soon lose its critical global value due to improvements in fracking technology among the biggest consumers of oil, under our government, the country will invest heavily in non-oil sectors to diversify our economy. We shall do this as a matter of survival. It is no accident that God has endowed our country with so many resources. And we shall do it all over the country.

Our government will also aggressively encourage manufacturing, especially the small-scale manufacturing sub-sector. To do this, we will take bold and drastic steps to strengthen the naira. In the interim, we will strengthen the naira by paying the monthly allocations to all tiers of government in dollars since oil, our main revenue earner, is paid for in dollars. But instead of dishing out dollar cash which could encourage theft and capital flight, our government would issue dollar certificates to all the tiers of government. The different tiers of government would then have to convert these dollar certificates into naira in our local banks. If more dollars start chasing less naira, the value of the naira would improve at once. And when this happens, interest rates would also go down. Nigerian manufacturers would then be able to procure machinery and spare parts more easily, and, at single-digit interest rates, it would be possible for made-in-Nigeria products to compete with imported ones.
I have heard a few people say I have not had any experience in government and that, therefore, is a weakness. My answer to them remains this: Nations are today in a race for the future and nobody has the experience of the future. All experiences people claim to have are experiences of the past. And our uninspiring past cannot be a guide for our future, as we need a clean break from our past. Nigeria should be in a race to the First World and what is needed more than anything else is vision. I find my lack of experience in government a strength instead because I have not been part of the rot of the past.

In any case, I have the most important experience, which is being a serial entrepreneur. I have created institutions from Ground Zero. That is the most important experience anyone who wants to be President needs at the moment. In fact, a lack of entrepreneurial experience among those lead us has been one of our problems so far.
And talking about experience, you cannot have more experience than President Jonathan. He has been a Deputy Governor, a Governor, a Vice President, and Acting President before becoming President, and see what this huge experience has done to our dear country. So much for experience.

Most of the greatest leaders the world has had had no government experience before assuming power. South Africa’s presidency was Nelson Mandela’s first job in government. The Prime Minister’s job was Lee Kuan Yew’s first job in government. And by the time Tony Blair became Prime Minister of Great Britain in 1997, he had never worked in government. Ditto for David Cameron.
Most importantly, we intend to change how government works. Governments even in the best of countries, but especially in our country, have a problem of inefficiency, bureaucracy and, corruption impeding -well-intended plans. To change our country, we must change the way government works first. Our government will achieve this by the appointment of CEO-style ministers and heads of government agencies with clear targets and commensurate salaries and bonuses.

There are people who would tell you that it is not possible to implement all I have said. Don’t believe them. Those who know me would tell you that I am always unimpressed by what others say is impossible. Those who say certain things are impossible are continually being interrupted by those actually achieving them. All these and many more are possible but none of them will be easy. Nonetheless, we have to make the hard choices. If I am elected, I will take my election as proof that Nigerians want to change their country forever and I will, accordingly, use all the powers at my command as President to bring this about. We have seen how leadership has transformed countries ranging from small countries like Singapore, Rwanda and South Korea to the big countries like Brazil, India and China. I believe that, with faith in God, you and I together can keep this appointment with destiny.

God bless you all and may God bless the Federal Republic of Nigeria.

November 6, 2014

TRANSFORMATION TO IMPUNITY?

“If the point of life is the same as the point of a story, the point of life is character transformation. If I got any comfort as I set out on my first story, it was that in nearly every story; the protagonist is transformed. He’s a jerk at the beginning and nice at the end, or a coward at the beginning and brave at the end. If the character doesn’t change, the story hasn’t happened yet. And if story is derived from real life, if story is just condensed version of life then life itself may be designed to change us so that we evolve from one kind of person to another”. (Donald Miller) – The author of ‘A Million Miles in a Thousand Years: What I Learned While Editing My Life’.

 

Without sounding too philosophical, change is only change when it involves character transformation in individuals. We have experienced all manner of changes in this part of the world but it looks like our ‘character change’ tilted only to the negative end. And when character is lost everything automatically is lost. Transformation actually involves a complete change from somebody / something to / into something else better. We really experienced transformation but we did not become better people; we only became less human living an illusion. Probably, it may be ‘transformational grammar’!

 

Looking at the innumerable number of transformational grammar and songs in the land someone spoke up. Abimbola Adelakun said, “Nigeria, measured by nostrum of the Federal Government, is a primitive stratified nation of pretenders in power, pretenders out of power and, the insignificant others. The Federal Government, myopic for aeons, perpetuates the anomaly by deeming pretenders worthy of red carpets, security and protocols whilst the nation’s others – all who have never been in power; whose homes and addresses are a shame to humanity, and, whose stories never make the headlines – as insignificant and disposable.” So we transformed from caring for ‘the people’ to caring for ‘a privileged few pretenders in and out of power’.

 

Indeed, we witnessed transformation; we moved from people being afraid to commit crime for fear of imprisonment to people committing crimes and walking free without the law having its way. We metamorphosed from ‘judiciary being the last hope of the common man, to ‘justice for the highest bidders’. The paradigm shift is such that we actually need to approach Wikipedia and other updaters of words for the meaning of words like statesmen, heroes / heroines, leaders, achievers, and the likes as our value / reward system is below the zero line.

 

Peter Singer said, “If you go back in time you’ll find tribes that were essentially only concerned with their own tribal members. If you were a member of another tribe, you could be killed with impunity”. Nigerians are dying every day but their death can only elicit attention or stir up genuine reaction except they have relations in the corridors of power. No wonder Hon. Patrick Obahiagbon said our system of government changed but our people are still living believing in a democracy while we are practically in a ‘cabalocracy’ – government of the cabal, by the cabal and for the cabal. His comment only corroborated the earlier quote from Peter Singer clearly depicting that the pretenders on the red carpets would not mind total annihilation of the ‘insignificant and disposable’ just to make sure the potbellied hawks are satisfied.

 

Before the advent of the transformation toga, we looked forward to fixing of basic amenities and infrastructure whenever we talked about governance and peoples’ welfare. We have ‘ported’ in the spirit of transformation; governance is now all about ‘stomach’ infrastructure and very soon we will welcome a new ministry – Ministry of Stomach Infrastructure. As soon as the new ministry comes on stream probably all our socio-economic problems would be completely solved and we will find ourselves among the twenty largest and powerful economies in the world and ultimately the real giant of Africa with protruded stomachs!

 

We are in the era of denials: see nothing and say nothing. The people who died in the struggle for the emancipation of the people and enthronement of democracy are surely crying and regretting in their graves. They surely did not labour just to have civil rule instead of democracy. Even the very enemies of the struggle are gallivanting in the corridors of power to the utter dismay of the people who were either exiled, jailed or killed in their bid to resist and reject tyranny and injustice in the land. Most of them who are still alive and around in the polity (the activists and members of the pro-democracy groups) are now labelled detractors and enemies of the state by the same people who never wanted democracy. Many have been silenced but there are still a dogged few who believe that evil will continue when good people keep quiet, while others prefer living as if nothing is going wrong; stoic.

 

The people who were in the struggle for the emancipation of the neglected and impoverished Niger Deltans have suddenly abandoned the cause and have ‘transformed’ to billionaires. The amnesty programme may have stopped the incessant kidnappings and breaking of oil pipelines to an extent, yet Nigeria still loses more than 100,000 barrels of crude oil per day to oil thieves, the presence of the Navy and Joint Task Force notwithstanding. Excuses in different fora by the Minister of Petroleum Resources and the coordinating Minister of the Economy & Minister of Finance regarding the sophistication, organization and connection of the oil thieves can only mean outsourcing of responsibility or ignorance of responsibility. With the creation of the Minister of Niger Delta Affairs, have the issues raised by the ‘agitators’, ‘freedom fighters’ and environmental activists been resolved? The real issues are no longer discussed as some if not all the actors have joined the transformational train and abandoned the cause for the billions.

 

The anti-graft agency – EFCC was set up to check corruption even though it was an outsourcing of the responsibility of our Police. Many alleged it was a political tool in the hands of the former president – Chief Olusegun Obasanjo to check his political enemies. But many did not ask the right question then – Did the agency arrest or prosecute anyone for doing nothing? The once dreaded agency has been transformed to a toothless bulldog – powerful only in name. Without holding brief for the agency, the Attorney General of the Federation doing the biddings of the ‘ogas-at-the-top’ contributed in no small measure in making sure that the agency never succeeded in concluding any case in court because of vested interests. Charges are withdrawn once you come under the “Big Umbrella”.

 

In 2012 alone the defence budget for capital expenditure was N34.36 Billion with a whooping N5.71 Billion earmarked for the acquisition of equipment by the Army. If the words credited to the American Ambassador to Nigeria is anything to go by, obsolete equipment were purchased and the fight against insurgency jeopardised. If the funds earmarked back then were utilised probably the issues of going to South Africa and seizure of funds may not arise. What we keep getting is transformational grammar – “we are looking into the records, in fact a committee has been set up”.

 

It has been probe, probe and probe without probity. Teams of ‘transformational Committees’ are in place and are really doing good jobs at unraveling many cases of corruption and ‘very soon’ they will come up with their reports. If you have forgotten about the report on the Fuel Subsidy thieves, SURE-P will soon release the report. If you want the report on the allegation of bribery between Hon. Farouk Lawan and Femi Otedola, do not worry too much it will be out. Madam Stella Oduah has sorted the bulletproof cars issue and she’s free? Transformational grammar states that stealing is not corruption so the Minister of Petroleum Resources can afford to fly more private and chartered jets. Sanusi Lamido Sanusi was drunk when he alleged that some money was missing or probably was not at home with transformational economics even though he was Governor of the CBN?

 

Many have argued that the pilot of the transformational train is the best thing that has happened to the nation. If under his watch lecturers (his former colleagues) were ‘allowed’ to go on avoidable strikes and left students at home for many months, it shows how much he has transformed the education sector. Under his watch, judges are beaten and he does not come out to condemn such action, then he must be a party to it. Under his watch, stealing is not corruption. Any rating we get for corruption now is not just for corruption; it is for corruption with impunity. Many ‘criminals’ are on their way to take cover under the ‘Big Umbrella’ as there is a standing order to canonise many as saints in a bid to have the numbers.

 

We have indeed experienced ‘transformation’ but it only brought a deterioration of our values. Simply put, transformation to impunity! Everything rises and falls on leadership! If you say that you do not eat pork meat but you’re using your teeth to share it for kids — you have eaten pork and your body language shows you’re not a saint!

 

Alinnor Arinze A. 08098001782 http://www.arinze198.wordpress.com http://www.facebook.com /arinze198

WHEN THERE’S NO BRIDGE…

November 9, 2012

When There Is No Bridge…
Alinnor Arinze A.
Arinze198@gmail.com

Many of us were born in very remote settlements in the ‘Third World’. These communities, and some now cities and islands were not accessible before now but for bridges. The bridges opened up those places to the benefit of ‘both sides’. These bridges had lifespan or periods under which they must be closed for repairs or reconstruction to make for continued usage. Most of the bridges in the developing nations or third world countries were built by the developed countries.

Looking at those bridges, many would believe that they were built to help improve the living standard of people in the third world. But in most cases they only helped the developed economies get more return on their investment in those places. The interest of the masses who were hitherto alienated from the ‘otherside’ was never the reason for the bridges.

If we take a look at the countries seen or regarded as Third World, all were former colonies of the developed economies. They all literally granted their former colonies their plea for political independence but never allowed them economic independence. They do not only build and repair bridges and other major infrastructure but would want to continue to do so to the detriment of the people; they would not allow the people to develop the capacity to do those things.

No wonder the Afro-beat legend, Fela Anikulapo Kuti sang ‘Teacher don teach me nonsense’. In his song, Fela remarked that it was the responsibility of the teacher to correct his students whenever they made mistakes. But in the case of our former colonial masters, they never bothered about correcting our innumerable mistakes which emanated from what they handed down to us, because our despicable situation bettered their economic status. Many people back in the days had accused the Abami Eda of acute verbal diarrhea, but we know better now.

Our people used to have their traditional concept about leadership and politics. But our teachers made us discard them and gave us theirs perceived as superior. Their redefinition of this part of our life had only helped destroy us; they gave us democracy. They said it meant government of the people, for the people, and by the people. But Fela Anikulapo Kuti looked analytically at it and said it meant ‘demonstration of craze, or crazy demonstration. They claimed that the system would make government or governance closer to the people. Take another look at most of the countries categorized as Third World and all you would see are imprints of the colonial masters; civil rule and not democracy.

The bridge they built for us was meant to connect the leadership and the followers. But it has not translated to anything meaningful in terms of the development of the people and our teachers are ‘silent’.
Our teachers are not unaware of the situation in all their former colonies but prefer to sit on the fence and mend it. They have people in different places in each of their former colonies who update them.
They set up different organizations and agencies who they make look like they are out to fight or cushion the effects of the absurdities and the abuse of human rights. After all, it is safe to say that slave trade was not evil but purely and strictly business with our forefathers who gave our people in exchange for perishable items.

It is said that, ‘if you say you’re leading and nobody is following then you’re only talking a walk’. John Maxwell also said that everything rises and falls on leadership. In this vein, we are sort of only replicating what our teachers taught previously which cannot be called leadership. The truth is that leadership in this part of the world had been ineffective because of the faulty foundation our teachers laid. Even now, our teachers would always meet with our ‘leaders’ but just to bargain and make sure their vested interest is protected.

In the past, we had a few people who were in the frontline of the crusade for the welfare of the people. Most of these people have had the privilege of being elevated (selected or elected) to take positions of leadership either because of their commitment to the cause of the people or for being ‘garrulous’. Our teachers also were in most cases the forces behind the elevation. The very moment these ‘our people’ got to those positions of leadership, the bridge that once existed between them and their people ceases to exist; the only existing bridge would be the one between them and our teachers. The same people who were championing the cause of their people changes like chameleon; their pronouncements, stance, and policies all of a sudden become elitist. They no longer feel the pulse of the people, then there is no longer a bridge.

Our teachers must have advised our ‘leaders’ on how to appear to be close to the governed. Their advice I guess must have prompted the creation of offices without portfolios. For our ‘leaders’ to be effective or appear to be so they must hire loads of aides. These aides would serve as the bridge that should have existed. What a great idea! No wonder we have senior and junior bridges. The senior bridges should be able to carry or convey what the junior bridges cannot. In every sphere of life, there must be a Special Assistant, then a Senior Special Assistant. All the Assistants (Junior, Senior and Special) must all have their own bridges while they were brought to serve as bridges. So they the Assistants are also entitled to Personal Assistants for smooth and effective coverage of fields of endeavour.

At this juncture, let us ask, why is the teacher silent in the face of all the mistakes and absurdities? The teacher may actually be enjoying sitting on the fence and mending the same. I do not think the advice of the teacher to our ‘leaders’ to construct those bridges was a bad one. But if the revelations from Wikileaks are anything to go by, we would then understand that there is no bridge because our teacher is the bridge having influenced the building, appointment or selection of the bridge.

If there must be meaningful development in the third world countries especially in our part of the world, the bridges must be in places where none existed and reconstructed in other places. A bridge in the real sense should not be an ostrich. Failure in most assignments starts from not understanding the actual role one is called to play.
From all indications, most of the people appointing or selecting the bridges do not understand why they are doing so aside rewarding political loyalty or the seeming loquacious. And the very ones so appointed or selected do not also know what their roles are.

No leader succeeds or governs effectively when there is a disconnect between the leader and the followers. It is obvious that most leaders do not read local newspapers, watch local television stations or listen to local radio stations. How then do they claim to know what happens to their people? Their claim is based on the report of the ‘bridges’ who are no bridges. You are left to wonder whether these bridges actually read the newspapers or have time for television and radio stations and their programmes which they have to relay to their principals.

From all available records, it is clear that most people in this clime live on less than one dollar bill a day. Invariably lack, hunger and abject poverty can be easily perceived. The folks who are so appointed or selected seek to first quench their thirst and hunger before looking behind their shoulders. In order to avoid having their butts kicked they resort to organisation of solidarity visits and praise singers; to tell their principals sweet tales. Every other person or group with divergent opinions is seen as a detractor and anti-progress. There would not be any meaningful change until our ‘leaders’ stop seeing from the distorted lens of these middlemen.

The bridge looks like the missing link based on the aforementioned. If the leaders cannot reach their people because of ‘security protocol’, then the bridges must be bridges and must be seen to be so. The bridges are not these folks who suffer from acute verbal diarrhea and never mindful of the use of words when addressing the people. The bridges are not praise singers; they are actually to feel the pulse of the ‘people’ and report same. They are not the folks who label people with genuine concerns detractors. Certainly, the bridges cannot be the ones who call the governed useless critics, senseless agitators, never do wells and all sort of names. I am sure the bridges are not these ones who speak from both sides of the mouth and who stop at nothing in disparaging concerned citizens.

When there is no bridge … there is no effective communication. When there is no effective communication, visions are misunderstood. When there is no bridge, the pulse of the people is not felt and there cannot be said to be real or meaningful development but impoverishment.

Alinnor Arinze A.
Arinze198@gmail.com
http://www.arinze198.wordpress.com
Tel: 08098001782

DARKNESS IN THE HEARTLAND

November 8, 2012

DARKNESS IN THE HEARTLAND

Thousands of years ago, Isaiah the son of Amoz saw vision concerning
Judah and Jerusalem in the days of Uzziah, Jotham, Ahaz, and Hezekiah,
kings of Judah. In one of his pronouncements he declared, “Behold,
darkness shall cover the earth, and dense darkness all people”. Isaiah
in this quote may have declared it over Judah and Jerusalem but this
seems to have transcended that generation. It looked like he had the
‘Heartland’ in mind when he was making that pronouncement back in the
days.

The ‘Heartland’ – a creation of the military in 1976 along with
others, was previously part of the East Central State. The area which
is predominantly Christians covers an area of around 5,100sqkm. It is
very rich in natural resources including crude oil, natural gas, lead,
zinc, with economically exploitable flora like the iroko, mahogany,
obeche, bamboo, rubber tree and oil palm. However, with a high
population density and over farming the soil has been degraded and
much of the native vegetation has disappeared.

It is not in doubt that this area produces the largest number of
candidates for any examination in this part of the world. If not in
the spirit of federal character or quota system it can afford to fill
the whole spaces in the number of candidates to enter for both
secondary and tertiary admission in schools. It can therefore boast of
producing sound and educated minds in different fields of endeavour,
or the best around. It can also boast of producing the most highly
travelled sets of people in this part of the world; they are found in
every corner of the earth.

Based on the above mentioned, it is expected that the ‘Heartland’
would be far and above others in terms of exposure and development.
But the contrary is true based on the available indices. If human and
natural resources are anything to go by, it should be spearheading
moves towards the betterment of the wellbeing of the people in this
clime. Instead, it is trailing behind sluggishly and backward in
everything good or meaningful development. What then is the benefit of
education and exposure if the ‘Heartland’ is trailing others behind
while it should be leading the way in positivism?

You must agree with me that the ‘Heartland’ is a ‘dynamic place’, for
‘dynamic people’, and made up of ‘dynamic people’. All who had come to
administer the affairs of the place left it for dead. But for ‘Dede
Onunaka’, all (military and civilian) administrators made sure they
left it worse than they met it. All that could be felt were either
sold or liquidated. The Amaraku power station, The Statesman, Progress
Bank, Ada Palm, Concorde Hotel and many more were either sold or
brought to their knees. And the thick darkness persisted all these
years with not even a torchlight or candlelight anywhere near the
corner.

In the not too distant past, the one popularly known as ‘Onwa’ looked
at the sorry state of things and the myriad of problems that did not
seem to have solutions and arrived at a conclusion. He concluded that
there is a very big ditch in the ‘Heartland’. And this ditch cannot be
filled no matter how much you try with the ‘meager’ resources
available to throw into it. So for eight years the aforementioned
ditch could not be closed up and he did throw up his hands in
surrender. It was then the turn of others to continue the bid to close
this ditch of darkness.

Many are quick to submit that the darkness persisted because the
‘Heartland” became a haven of fraudsters and con-men. It meant that
the ones who administered the affairs of the place were con-men, their
stooges, associates or friends, whether in khaki or ‘akwa ishi agu’.
Some others blamed it on the corrupt civil service who are the ones
always left behind whenever those at the helm of affairs are booted
out. I may be tempted to believe the above mentioned as the likely
agents of this gross darkness but still have to hold my peace.

There is another ‘unique’ side of the ‘Heartland’. Credit must be
given to them that they are very ‘unique’ specie. The highest number
of autonomous communities in the whole of Africa is domiciled in the
‘Heartland’. As the autonomous communities multiply so do traditional
rulers and tussle for traditional stools. What are the qualifications?
You just need to be an ‘enterprising’ young man, have the capacity to
go to China or Dubai to import fake and substandard goods, or
containers of adulterated drugs, acquire one or two cars (fairly used
quite often) build a small house in the village, be bold enough to
cause confusion and division in your town meeting, confront your
traditional ruler ceaselessly (without cause or on infinitesimal
issues), then bolt and apply to have your own autonomous community and
one is guaranteed. It’s that simple only there!

Aside the fact that they have a penchant for investing outside their
home (okamma na ama syndrome), they resist change with all they’ve
got. They are a people not easy to please. Sometimes I wonder whether
they enjoy backwardness and lack of development. They are heavy noise
makers with their ‘big’ names but not impact. If you hear the ‘big’
names, and dare follow them down to their village you will be shocked.
In most cases, you have to transverse valleys, gullies, dusty roads
and inaccessible paths to get to their ‘country homes’. Most prefer
buying SUVs to putting the roads leading to their place in good shape.
They pride in intimidating their people with their coins just to show
off. What a people!

When a people are so used to darkness, it becomes difficult to
appreciate light. It is said that darkness disappears at the emergence
of light but it is almost looking like it is not true in the
‘Heartland’. May be because the darkness is very thick. But they truly
need emancipation from this sorry state. And it would require a
personality who is not homogeneous specie to bring light and liberty.
Many souls have been bestirred to push for emancipation and change but
they have many negative forces to contend with. And it would not come
cheap because of the fact that change would denude several forces
(internal and external forces) of their influence and vested interest.

As much as the roused souls yearn for light, the proponents of
darkness would not want anything to change the status quo. The agents
of darkness are obeying the law of attraction and have found a common
cover under the ‘Big Umbrella’. Under their cover they concoct and
conjure all manner of things to make sure they do not lose their big
enclave. They snipe at any move and anybody that looks like the
harbinger of illumination. But like in every contest, there must be
winners and losers. And the winners must be the ones who want it so
bad, more committed, and resolute in their bid.

About eighteen months ago, the voices and souls craving for change and
the light got divine attention. It was declared, “Arise o Heartland
and shine for your light has come and divine glory is risen upon you”.
Many who heard this divine declaration did not take it with any pinch
of salt because of the densely massed darkness and the ossification of
the machinations of the proponents of darkness. As the saying,
“impossible is nothing” so was the declaration to some optimists. They
hung to it and started navigating in the direction of the said
harbinger of illumination. The enormity of the hurdles on the way to
light never deterred these souls who earnestly desired departure from
the past. So they rolled up their sleeves to confront the nefarious
monster.

This team of determined people’s army nicknamed their operation – The
Rescue Mission. Rescue Mission indeed! They really needed to reclaim
the ‘Heartland’ from the forces of evil, darkness and backwardness.
But they must dislodge the forces that aggregated under the ‘Big’
collapsible shade, the incumbent emperor that can hardly lose grip of
anything in his domain, the ghost workers that milk the system dry,
pot bellied contractors who do nothing but get paid, godfathers,
pseudo ‘elder statesmen’, political traditional rulers, prayer
contractors, and a host of other proponents of darkness. Like in a
very tough football encounter, the team was declared victorious not in
the regulation time, but after extra time and penalties by the heavily
guarded umpire or referee.

The team has gone to work in their bid to salvage all the sectors. But
like the proverbial tortoise that was left in the pit latrine for a
long while until help came, they are now complaining about the stench;
they want emergency exit. Some are complaining again that so much is
going on at the same time and fear they might be abandoned. Others
fault how the change is taking place; expecting business as usual in
the name of due process. They forget too quickly that it is sheer
insanity to keep doing the same thing the same way while expecting
different result. The illumination is gradually but surely spreading
in the Heartland that used to be obscure but the dark forces are not
happy with the latest development. It is expected any way because
denuding them is ‘costly’ as their bankers are not smiling at this
time. But the truth is that darkness must be expunged so that the
‘Heartland’ can distance completely from retrogression and retarded
development. The time to move forward and lead the way is now o
Heartland!

Alinnor Arinze A.
Arinze198@gmail.com
http://www.arinze198.wordpress.com
08098001782

Nigerians need some explanations now!

January 13, 2012

 

 

1) One barrel of Crude oil = 42gallons or159 litres

… 2) Our Refineries (i.e 4) Installed
(combined) capacity = 445,000
… barrels per day

3) Actual refineries capacity due to
ageing equipment = 30% i.e. 133,500
barrels per day
.
4) . . 133,500 barrels = 21.2 million litres

5) Local required consumption (F.O.S) =
12millions litres

6) It means that even our MORIBOND
refineries can actually meet our local
consumption need of petroleum.

7) The cost structure of crude oil (i.e.
Qua Iboe Crude Oil) production;
– Findings / development – $3.5
– Production cost – $1.5
– Refining Cost – $12.6
– Pipeline/transportation – $1.5
– Distr/bridging fund Margin -$15.69

8) True cost of one litre of petroleum
anywhere in Nigeria;
– Total sum cost = $34.8
– 1ltr cost = $34.8/159 litres = $0.219
– Naira equiv. 0.219xN160= N35.02k
– Add Tax N5 + N35.02 = N40.02

9) Let FGN refute the above composition
and if not, they should tell us how
they came about N65/litre.

10) Locally refined products cannot be
sold at International price.

11) We really do not need FGN SUBSIDY
as there was NONE in the first place.

12) What is LACKING, is the WILL to
enforce LAW ON CORRUPTION.

We still stand a chance as a COUNTRY.
Analysis done by Professor Tam David West, former Petroleum Minister.

Jonathan: Man of Goodluck

December 26, 2010

 

Jonathan: Man of Goodluck

All activities in Nigeria at the moment are geared towards the general elections coming up in 2011. Many politicians are very busy combing the nooks and corners of the nation trying to convince the people to register when it’s time to register and be able to cast their votes. Many are used to these activities by politicians in any election year. The political atmosphere in Nigeria at the moment can be felt by all because of the different strategies adopted by politicians to get the attention of the electorate.

Many notable Nigerians have signified their interest to contest different offices. This signification of interest brought about the issue of zoning in the ruling party (P.D.P.). The zoning issue brought about differences amongst the members of the ruling party. Many were of the opinion that the ruling party had a zoning arrangement and it should be respected. Many also believed that the incumbent should go ahead and complete the mandate and work he started with the late President Umaru Yar’Adua. The issue of zoning dragged on until some people went to court. The court ruling left rooms for the incumbent to contest but some people were still not placated by that ruling.

It will not be out of place to say that the issue of zoning led to the emergence of a consensus candidate from amongst the other aspirants from the North. Former vice President- Alhaji Atiku Abubakar emerged as the consensus candidate and the other aspirants all resolved to join forces with him against the incumbent. The other political parties also have aspirants who they would field in the elections. We have seen the emergence of notable people like Major Gen. Buhari (Rtd.), Prof. Pat Utomi, Rev. Chris Okotie, Mallam Nuhu Ribadu, Dele Momodu, Mallam Ibrahim Shekarau, Alhaji Attahiru Bafarawa and others.

The politicians adopted different strategies including releasing of books; biographies and achievements. May be this is part of their effort to get our people back to the habit of reading books. Some people believe that the books are part of their campaign strategies. I have had the privilege of reading some of them. It is a welcome development having seen the likes of Barrack Obama’s Audacity of Hope. It is left to be seen if this approach will not be jettisoned in the near future.

Many things have been said and written about President Goodluck Ebele Jonathan. Most of the things are in the affirmative. His emergence with the late President Umaru Yar’Adua was heralded by many because of their academic background. Many were happy to see learned men take the driving seat in our history as a nation. I have the privilege also of reading the script of a seminal work on the President titled ‘Jonathan: Man of Goodluck’ about to be released and it was exceptional. It chronicles the life history of Goodluck Jonathan from his ancestral village of Otuoke, his formative years, elementary, secondary and university education in South-South Nigeria. His rise from being a Deputy Governor in his home state of Bayelsa, Governor, Vice President, the intrigues that finally led to his emergence as Acting President and President are epochal events seen by many as simply propelled by divine intervention. As events in his life and his name seem to suggest, President Goodluck Jonathan is a man staggeringly blessed with plenty of good luck. His meteoric rise to power bears testimony to what Thomas Jefferson (1743-1826), the 3rd president of the United States, once said “I am a great believer in luck, and I find the harder I work the more I have of it.” The fascinating story of this great Nigerian captivates from the beginning till the end, revealing how a delicate blend of elements of loyalty, luck, hard work and dedication to duty propelled Goodluck Jonathan to the highest office in Nigeria.

The book is a collaborative effort by two Nigerian journalists based in the United States of America; Dr Moshood Ademola Fayemiwo and Dr Jimmy Ndubuisi Imo, Publisher/Executive Editor and Managing Director/Chairman, Editorial Board of Chicago-based US-African Pointblank News respectively. The Foreword and Introduction to the book are written by Nigeria’s Ambassador to the United States, Prof. Adebowale Ibidapo Adefuye and former Minister of Water Resources and now Deputy Governor of Sokoto State, Alhaji Mukhtar Shagari respectively.

I was moved to read the script immediately I saw the names of the people behind this seminal work particularly Dr Moshood Fayemiwo. He was the man behind the Razor and Evening News -a weekly and a daily evening newspaper respectively between 1992 and 1999. The pro-democracy and anti-military postures of the two publications incensed the Nigerian military authorities with several threats, intimidations, harassments and detentions. The last straw was when he was kidnapped from Republic of Benin where he had relocated to in 1996. Initially the Nigerian military government denied any complicity in his disappearance when prominent world leaders, human rights organizations and professional colleagues across the world demanded for his release including the late Pope John Paul II who had to pay an official visit to Nigeria in summer 1998 to plead for his release and other detainees.  All efforts and entreaties by well-meaning individuals and organizations on the Nigerian government to release him proved abortive. He was tortured, psychologically traumatized and kept in an underground military detention facility/cell reminiscent of the old Soviet Gulag and did not breathe air of freedom until September 30, 1998 when General Abacha died and his military successor, General Abubakar Abdulsalam ordered his release and shortly thereafter he relocated to the United Sates with his entire family. He is an author of four published books and several journal articles.

His colleague Dr Jimmy Imo is veteran journalist and pro-democracy activist. He was very active in the pro-democracy struggles in the 1990s in Nigeria during the military dictatorships of Generals Babangida, Abacha and Abubakar was also a member of the National Democratic Coalition (NADECO) steering committee. While in Nigeria, Dr Jimmy featured regularly on several T.V talk shows to comment on various issues of national importance. He is also widely published in several Nigerian national newspapers and magazines. His latest book titled The Press under Stress: Strategies of Resistance, Journalism and Military Rule in Nigeria published in London, UK has just been released into the market this summer 2010.

I do believe that going by the background of the duo that their seminal work on Mr. President is not biased because they are not resident in Nigeria and not part of the praise singing that we are used to here. When the book is out, many would understand certain things about our President that are not part of the everyday news and see many reasons why we need to have him at the driving seat.

From what I read I believe we need the good luck that goes with the man in many areas of our life as a people. There were many policies I read about in the book that he tried during the time he was the governor of Bayelsa State which I believe if implemented in today’s Nigeria would move us to the promise land. I do believe sincerely that it is time for us to allow him move the nation forward because he has the vision and is very committed. President Goodluck Ebele Jonathan is not only a man of good luck but a passionate Nigerian who desires not just change but Genuine Transformation of the country and we need to give a change. We do not need politicians with baggage of corruption, we need some fresh air. With the likes of Goodluck Jonathan Nigeria will be great again.

Arinze Alinnor

Arinze198@gmail.com

+234-8033001782, 08098001782

http://www.arinze198.wordpress.com

STATUS AND ROLE OF THE LEGISLATURE IN A DEMOCRACY

August 16, 2010

A public lecture delivered to mark the 47th Birthday of Michael Opeyemi Bamidele, Esq. on the 27th of July, 2010.

THE STATUS AND ROLE OF THE LEGISLATURE IN A DEMOCRATIC SOCIETY BY PROFESSOR ITSE SAGAY, SAN

  1. Supremacy of the Constitution

 

We operate under a Constitutional democracy and the rule of law. This presupposes the existence of a written Constitution which is the supreme overriding law. Thus the very first substantive paragraph of our Constitution states as follows:

“This Constitution is supreme and its provisions shall have binding force on all authorities and persons throughout the Federal Republic of Nigeria”.

Then subparagraph 3 of paragraph 1 puts this supremacy beyond any doubt when it states that:

“If any other law is inconsistent with the provisions of the Constitution, this Constitution shall prevail, and the other law shall to the extent of the inconsistency be void”.

It is the Constitution that creates the organs of government, determines and delimits the scope of their powers.

With the supremacy of the Constitution and the rule of law established, a society is ready to embark on the journey into democracy.

  1. The Status of the Legislature in our Democratic System

 

As Nwabueze has noted, the Legislature is the distinctive mark of a country’s sovereignty, the index of its status as a state and the source of much of the power exercised by the executive in the administration of government. The sovereign power of the state is therefore identified in the organ that has power to make laws by Legislation, and to issue “commands” in the form of Legislation binding on the community.

Nwabueze buttressed this argument by pointing out that in our Constitution; the Legislature is dealt with first before the other organs of government. Thus section 4 deals with Legislative powers, section 5 with Executive powers and section 6 with Judicial powers. He however points out that the constitutional primacy of the Legislature is not contradicted by the fact that the head of the Legislature is not the first citizen. For the office of the President (or Governor) is distinct from that of Chief Executive. It is not the Chief Executive who is the first citizen, it is the President or Governor as the case may be; the President, being the Head of State of Nigeria, and by the same token the Governor being the Head of State of his State. It is the President as President who is the first citizen of Nigeria, not the Chief Executive. It is the Governor as Governor that is the first citizen of the State, not because he is the State’s Chief Executive. In other words, the President is the first citizen, not by virtue of being the Chief Executive but by being the Head of State. The same thing applies to the Governor. This is easily appreciated when we consider a system like the British one in which the office of the 1st citizen and Chief Executive are separated. The Queen is the 1st citizen and the Prime Minister is the Chief Executive. In Nigeria, the President and the Governors combine both positions in one person.

It is because these two offices of President and Governor symbolize, incarnate and embody the State itself that they are protected by immunity from arrest, prosecution or civil suits by section 308 of the Constitution. For any indignity inflicted on them is an indignity on the State itself.

This long detour from my discussion of the status of the Legislature is meant to establish the fact that the head of the Legislature, the first arm of government, is made to take his position behind the President or the Governor as the case may be, because of the position of the former as Head of State of Nigeria or Head of State within Nigeria, not because he is Chief Executive. The Legislature is therefore, the number one arm of government in any democratic State.

The current low esteem in which the Legislature, particularly the National Legislature is held, arises, not from lack of legislative primacy, but from its exhibition of negative values and practices, grossly against the interest of Nigeria and Nigerians.

  1. Separation of Powers and Democratic Governance

 

Any system of Government based on the Rule of Law and Democracy must consist of three great arms, the Legislature, the Executive and the Judiciary. This division of labour is a condition precedent for the supremacy of the Rule of Law in any society. The doctrine of Separation of Powers advocates the independent exercise of these three governmental or constitutional functions, by different bodies of persons, without interference or control or domination, by one on the other or others.

The doctrine as presently understood is derived from Montesquieu, whose elaborations of it was based on a study of Locke’s writings and an imperfect understanding of the eighteenth Century English Constitution. In his Second Treatise on Civil Government Locke laid the basis of the doctrine of Separation of Powers thus:

“ It may be too great a temptation to human frailty, apt to grab at power, for the same persons who have the power of making laws, to have also in their hands the power to executive them, whereby they made, and suit the law,  both in its making and execution, to their own private advantage”.

Just like Locke, Montesquieu was concerned with the preservation of political liberty and the prevention of oppression and abuse of power. Montesquieu wrote:

“Political Liberty is to be found only when there is no abuse of power. But constant experience shows us that every man invested with power is liable to abuse it, and carry his authority as far as it will go. To prevent this abuse, it is necessary from the nature of things that one power should be a check on another…. When the Legislative and Executive Powers are united in the same person or body… there can be no liberty… Again there is no liberty if the judicial power is not separated from the legislative and executive. There would be an end of everything if the same person or body, whether of the nobles or of the people, were to exercise all three powers”.

The crucial importance of the doctrine of separation of powers is appropriately emphasized in by Professor Ben Nwabueze.

“Concentration of government powers in the hands of one individual is the very definition of dictatorship, and absolute power is by its very nature arbitrary, capricious and despotic. The executive function of government the maintenance of peace, order, the security of the state, the provision of social welfare, etc. has an inherent tendency towards arbitrariness. Its arbitrariness is greatly accentuated and legitimized where the function of law-making is also reposed in the same hands. For it is not just that the repository of the combined power can pass tyrannical laws and then execute them by tyrannically; he can also act arbitrarily in flagrant disregard of the limits of his power and then proceed to legalize his action by retrospective legislation. Government in such a situation is not conducted according to pre-determined rules; it is a government not of lows but of will, a government according to the whims and caprices of the ruler. Limited government demands therefore that the organization of government should be based on some concept of structure, whereby the functions of law-making, execution and adjudication are vested in separate agencies, operating with separate personnel and procedure”.

One point needs to be emphasized. That is that there can be no complete separation of powers in which there is no interaction whatsoever between the three great arms of government. Indeed, they all function or should function by mutual co-operation. It is the executive, for example, that is charged with the enforcement of judicial Orders. The doctrine simply means that the same body or person should not be control of more than one arm.

4.         The Significance of the Legislature in Our Democracy

When referring to democratic governance, whether parliamentary or presidential, the organ of government that captures the mind most as epitomizing the concept is the legislature. For that is the place where the public sees democracy in action, in the form of debates, and consideration of motions, resolutions and bills. The closest politician to the voter is the representative of his constituency in the legislature. During Military regimes, we still see the judiciary and the executive in action. It is the Legislature that is really missing; for a supreme Military Council or Provisional Ruling Council is no different from the Military executive. Thus the most significant phenomenon in a democratic set up is to see the legislature, the Assemblies of the people’s representatives in action.

According to John Sthart Mill, it is the duty of the legislature to “to watch and control the government [executive]; to throw the light of publicity in its acts, to compel a full exposition and justification of all of them which anyone considers questionable.” If effectively discharged, the legislature’s critical function would produce an attitude of responsibility and restraint in the executive, which would oblige it to reckon with the possible reaction of the legislature in framing policies and taking decisions. For the Legislature to play the role effectively its own hands must be clean and its house put in order. A corrupt and self-seeking Legislature will not have the credibility and authority to carryout its role as the watch dog of the people. Currently in this country, it is the press that is playing this role.

5.         Legislative Powers in the 1999 Constitution

The Legislative Powers of the Federation are to be found in section 4, chapter 5, and the legislative lists contained in the second schedule of the 1999 Constitution. There are of course many other provisions giving specific powers to the Legislatures of the country in relation to specific subject matter. For example in relation to the National Assembly alone, new States and Local government areas cannot be created without appropriate Acts being passed by it. By section 252(2) the National Assembly has the power to make provisions conferring more power on the Federal High Court, than it already has. Ministers, Ambassadors, the Chief Justice and Justices of the Supreme Court, cannot be appointed without the approval of Senate. Treaties cannot come into force without an Act of ratification by the Senate. These are but a sample of the specific powers of the National Assembly outside its plenary powers in Section 4, chapter 5, and the two legislative lists.

Section 4(1) specifically confers on the National Assembly, the legislative Powers of the Federal Republic Of Nigeria. Section 4(2) then goes on to declare that the National Assembly shall have power to make laws for the peace, order and good government of the Federation, or any part thereof with respect to any matter included in the exclusive legislative list. Section 4(7) confers the same power on State Houses of Assembly with regard to any matter in the prescribed column of the concurrent list, any subject matter specifically assigned to States in the Constitution and any matter not listed in the Constitution, i.e., the residual list.

Since we are now operating under the rule of law and strict separation of powers, where there is doubt or controversy about what constitute ‘peace’ ‘order’ and ‘good governance’ (subject to the political question doctrine) is a matter for judicial interpretation, and such interpretation is final. This supervisory powers of the Courts over the legislature is confirmed in Section 4(8) as follows:

“Save as otherwise provided by this Constitution, the exercise of legislative powers by the National Assembly shall be subject to the jurisdiction of the courts of law and of judicial tribunals established by law and accordingly, the National Assembly or a House of Assembly shall not enact any law, that outs or purports to oust the jurisdiction of a Court of Law or of a judicial tribunal established by law”

It is important to stress that the National Assembly’s powers to make laws for the Peace, Order and Good Government, are limited to matter contained in the Exclusive Legislative List. It cannot be extended as in military dictatorships, to “any part thereof [of Nigeria] with respect to any matter whatsoever.”

According to Professor Nwabueze:

“The phrase “peace, order and good government” does not delimit the purpose for which the power is granted, in the sense that a law must be for peace, order and good government in order to be valid. It is simply, as the judicial Committee of the privy Council has held, a legal formula for expressing the widest plentitude of legislative power exercisable by a sovereign legislature, subject to limitations arising from the division of powers between a central and regional governments in a federal system, such as Nigeria. Thus, the legislative power of the national Assembly in Nigeria is not a power to make law for “peace, order and good government” generally, but a power to make law for “peace, order and good government” with respect only to matters specified in the Constitution. The formula, “peace, order and good government”, which is also used by the Constitution to define the legislative power of the State Houses of Assembly, confers no inherent power on the National Assembly to legislate outside the matters so specified as being within its legislative competence.

In A-G Abia State V. A-G of the Federation and others, the case concerning the defective Electoral Act of 2001, the Solicitor General of the Federation made a claim pf sweeping legislative powers on behalf of the National Assembly, namely, that the National Assembly has the power to make laws for the peace, order and good government of Nigeria on any subject matter whatsoever, in any part of Nigeria. This was rejected by the Supreme Court which held that the National Assembly’s powers to have laws for the Peace, Order and Good Government of Nigeria, were limited to subjects included in the Exclusive Legislative list. As powers over local governments are conferred on States under section 7 of the Constitution, the National Assembly could   not pass any to extend the tenure of elected local government officials. That was within the exclusive competence of the States Houses of Assembly.

6.         Some Functions of the Legislature

 

(i)         Oversight Functions

The Legislature’s Oversight Powers are contained in Section 82-89 with regard to the National Assembly, and 120-128 with regard to the State Houses of Assembly. The following discussion applies equally to the National Assembly and State Houses of Assembly.

The identical provisions state as follows:

“88. (1) Subject to the provisions of the Constitution, each Houses of the National Assembly shall have power by resolution published in its journal or in the Official Gazette of the Government of the Federation to direct or cause to be directed an investigation into

(a)                any matter or thing with respect to which it has power to make law; and

(b)               the conduct of affairs of any person, authority Ministry or Government department charged, or intended to be charged, with the duty of or responsibility for-

(i)                  executing or administering laws enacted b y the National Assembly, and

(ii)                disbursing or administering moneys appropriated or to be appropriated by the national Assembly.

(2)   The powers conferred on the National Assembly under the provisions of this section are exercisable only for the purpose of enabling it to-

(a)    make laws with respect to any matter within its legislative competence correct any defects in existing laws; and

(b)   expose corruption, inefficiency or waste in the execution or administration of laws within its legislative competence and in the disbursement or administration of funds appropriated by it.

Thus under section 88 of the Constitution, each House of the National Assembly is empowered to direct or cause to be directed, an investigation into any matter in respect to which it has power to make laws. This means that it has the general power to cause an investigation or enquiry into any of the 68 subject in part 1 of the second Schedule, i.e., the Executive Legislative List. In addition to this general power, it can investigate the conduct of any person, authority, ministry, or government department, charged or intended to be charged with the duty or responsibility for (i) executing or administering laws enacted by the National Assembly and (ii) disbursing or administering moneys appropriated or to be appropriated by the National Assembly.

The first part of this power of investigation, the general part, involving an investigation into any of the 68 subjects in the Exclusive List is unqualified. However, with regard to the second part in which the investigation is targeted at the conduct of public officers and institutions, such an officer or institution must be one (i) charged with or intended to be charged with the duty of executing or administering laws enacted by the National Assembly and (ii) in the process must have or will disburse moneys appropriated or to be appropriated by the National Assembly. In other words, with regard to the investigation of public officers and institutions, the critical factor, triggering the exercise of legislative investigative powers is disbursement of funds, appropriated or to be appropriated by the National Assembly.

These powers are not intended to be used exclusively for punitive purposes or for the exposure of misappropriation, fraud or corruption. They are also intended to assist the National Assembly to carry out its responsibilities more effectively and efficiently, although in the process misdeeds like frauds and corruption might be exposed.

Thus sub-section (2) of section 88 clearly states that these powers are exercisable for the purpose of enabling the Legislature to make laws with regard to matters within its competence and expose corruption, inefficiency, waste, in the execution or administration of laws within its  competence.

The fact that under section 88(1) the conduct of persons intended to be charged with the responsibility for executing or administering laws and disbursing public funds can be investigated, establishes conclusively that the Legislators, powers under the constitution, are both reactive and proactive (preventive).  Persons and institutions intended to be charged with such functions involving the disbursements of public funds can be investigated in advance in order to determine whether they are fit to exercise such powers.

In order to guarantee the effective exercise of these extensive powers, legislators are empowered (89 Federal and 129 States) not only to procure evidence, whether written or oral, direct or circumstantial, but also to compel the attendance of witnesses, under oath or otherwise. Any person who fails to appear to give evidence after being summoned to do so or to produce a document or other thing in his possession or control, can be compelled to appear before the appropriate committee by warrant issued by the Legislature to be served or executed by a Police Officer or any other person authorized by the President of the Senate, or in the appropriate cases, by the Speaker of the House of Representatives or of a State House of Assembly.

Failure to obey a summons could result in a fine being imposed on the person, provided this sanction has already been prescribed in the standing orders of the particular Legislature involved. Failure to pay such a fine could result in imprisonment since the fine is given the same status as a fine imposed by a court under the Constitution.

Before exercising its powers of investigation, a Legislative House is obliged to (i) pass a resolution which must be published in the official Gazette of the relevant Government or in the journal of the House, if it has one.

The outcome of any investigation is the publication of a report which is laid before the House and subjected to debate. At the end of the debate, actions are taken by resolution on matters in which the House can take appropriate action, and recommendations made, also by resolution to, appropriate bodies and institutions, e.g., the ministry of Justice and the Police, the Presidency, or Ministries of Government, for appropriate action.

(iii)               Control  and Supervision of the Budget

The Budget approval process is also another major source and basis for the oversight functions of the legislature. Thus sections 80 and 81 (National Assembly) and 120 121 (State House of Assembly) provide ass follows:

“80. (1) All revenues or other moneys raised or received by the Federation (not being revenues or other moneys payable under this Constitution or any Act of the National

Assembly into any other public fund of the Federation established for specific purpose) shall be paid into and form one Consolidated Revenue Fund of the Federation.

(2)   No moneys shall be withdrawn from the Consolidated Revenue Fund of the Federation except to meet expenditure that is charged upon the fund by this Constitution or where the issue of those moneys had been authorized by an Appropriation Act, Supplementary Appropriation Act an Act passed in pursuance of section 81 of this Constitution.

(3)   No moneys shall be withdrawn from any fund of the Federation, other than the Consolidated Revenue Fund of the Federation, unless the issue of those moneys has been authorized by an Act of the National Assembly.

(4)   No moneys shall be withdrawn from the Consolidated Revenue Fund or any other public fund of the Federation, except in the manner prescribed by the National Assembly.

81(1)          The President shall cause to be prepared and laid before each House of the National Assembly at any time in each financial year estimates of the revenues and expenditure of the Federation for the next following financial year.

(2)   The heads of expenditure contained in the estimates (other than expenditure charged upon the Consolidated Revenue Fund of the Federation by this Constitution) shall be included in a bill, to be known as an Appropriation Bill, providing for the issue from the Consolidated Revenue Fund of the sums necessary to meet that expenditure and the appropriation of those sums for the purpose specified therein”.

The power and authority of the Legislature in the approval and control of the budget is very clear in these passages. No money can be withdrawn from the Consolidated Revenue Fund of the Federation or of a State without the approval of the relevant House.

Amaze Guobadia presents the situation accurately when she states as follows:

“Of particular importance is the legislature’s role in respect of the budget and appropriations. The Appropriation Bill is the basis of the Executive’s plans for the running of government within the relevant fiscal year. The Constitution provides that the budget must be considered by the legislature and the appropriation bill passed before money can be withdrawn from the relevant funds to run government”.

“What does a legislature actually do with its power over appropriations? Can it give conditions and place limitation on spending and how funds are to be used (such as details on what may be spent under specific items e.g. travel, purchase of cars and general spending under different heads)? After all, the Constitution provides that the estimates and heads of expenditure for the financial year shall be included in the Appropriation Bill laid before the legislature. Can the legislature introduce issues outside the subject under consideration in the Appropriation bill presented to it?

The answer to the above questions is yes in all respects, with the exception of the introduction of matters or issues outside those contained in the appropriation bill presented to the House. The Constitution makes it clear that the initiative for the preparation and presentation of the appropriation bill is that of the President or a Governor. It is he as the executive, who will execute and administer the contents of the budget and not the National Assembly or State House of Assembly as the case may be. Nothing however prevents consultation between the Legislature and the Executive on the contents of an appropriation bill. The importance attached by the Legislature over its role in budgetary matters was demonstrated by the fact that non-implementation of the budget was a major ground for the proposed impeachment of the President in 2003.

7.         Audit of Public Accounts

The Constitution provides for the appointment of an Auditor General for both States and the Federal Government. The Auditor-General’s appointment by the President or Governor is subject to the confirmation of the Legislature. He has powers to conduct the audit of the public accounts of the Federation and all offices and courts of the Federation (Federal) and the public accounts and all offices of a State (States). The Auditor-General is given access to all books, records, returns and other documents relating to accounts and he has power to conduct periodic check on all government statutory corporations, commissions, authorities, agencies, etc

The annual report of the Auditor-General must be placed before the relevant House which then sends it to be considered by the committee of the House responsible for public accounts. In the exercise of its powers the Auditor-General is not subject to the direction or control of any authority or person.

The report of the Auditor-General is a potent source for the exercise of the investigative powers of the Legislature.

8.         Negative Values and Breach of Public Trust

 

The Legislature in any democratic system of government is supposed to be the watch dog of the people against the authoritarian and indeed predatory tendencies of the executive, which is the most powerful arm of government, given its capacity to control and deploy state funds and coercive forces. The legislature is supposed to check these tendencies and to generally operate to protect the interest of the people. They are supposed to be the grass-roots arm of government.

But this has not been the case. On the contrary, at least at the national level, the legislature has jettisoned the interest of the nation for self interest. Instead off serving the people of this country, they are engaged in the pursuit of self-interest, to a degree that can only be regarded as shocking. This can be demonstrated by a quick examination of legislative activity at the national level with regard to self-awarded salaries and allowances.

1.         Legislative Salaries and Allowances

 

Inspite of the dismal standard of living, poverty of the country and low income per capita of Nigeria, Nigerian Legislators in Abuja, have awarded themselves the highest salaries and allowances in the world. In other words, the Nigerian law makers in Abuja are the highest paid in the world.

In 2009, a Senator earned N240,000.00 in salaries and allowances, whilst his House of Representative Counter-part earned N203,760,000.00. in other words, a Senator earned about $1.7 Million, and a member of the House of Representative earned $1.45 Million, per annum. By contrast, an American Senator earned $174,000.00 and a U.K. Parliamentarian earned about $64,000 US, per annum. The cruel anomaly of the situation is revealed when the income per capita of these countries is juxtaposed with their Parliamentary pay as follows:

COUNTRY INCOME PER CAPITA LEGISLATOR’S PAY
 

U.S.A

U.K

NIGERIA

 

$46,350.00

$35,468.00

$2,249.00

 

$174,000.00

$64,000.00

$1.700,000.00

 

In 2009, the Federal legislators received a total of N102.8 billion comprising N11.8 billion as salaries and N90.96 billion (non-taxable) as allowances. Is the tax payer getting value for this colossal sum in the current democratic dispensation? Should 5% of Nigeria’s annual budget be spent on 109 Senators and 360 House of Representative members? In other words, should 469 Nigerians gulp 5% of our Budget leaving the remaining 150 million of us to receive about N1000 each?

President Obama, President of the richest country in the world earns $400,000 per annum. The British Prime Minister earns 190,000 Pounds. A Senator, in Nigeria, one of the poorest countries in the world, earns $1,700,000 per annum. It is absurd. It is, as someone has collected it, “a feeding frenzy”

The Senator President is reported to be earning N250, million quarterly or N83.33 Million per month, whilst his deputy earns N50 million per month. The Senate has allocated N1, 024,000,000 as quarterly allowance to its 10 principal officers, known collectively as Senate leadership. Each of the other principal officers earns N78 million every three months or N26 million per month.

This tragic state of affairs is clearly unsustainable. Those engaged in this feeding frenzy are endangering our democracy.

9.         Constitutional Amendments

 

There isn’t enough time in this short address to discuss the detailed activities of the National Assembly. I shall therefore limit myself to just one which is of current relevance, namely, constitutional amendment or alterations.

Provision is made under section 9 of the Constitution for the alteration or amendment of the Constitution. We are not here concerned with the procedure, but with the substance of the actual amendments proposed by the National Assembly. The proposed amendments included the following selected few.

1.         Amendment of section 121 (3) to give State Houses of Assembly financial independence from the Executive arm of government, by making the funds of the Houses of Assembly a first line charge on the consolidated revenue. Surprisingly, this provision was rejected by 16 State Houses of Assembly who apparently, rejected financial independence, thereby undermining the doctrine of the separation of powers. It is no surprise that Lagos is not one of them. Curiously, the State Houses of Assembly approved the amendment of section 81 (3) of the Constitution to grant financial autonomy (which they had rejected for themselves) to the national Assembly.

2.         A proposed amendment of section 65 seeking to raise the relevant legislature.

These are but a mere sample out of about 41 amendments. Obviously, some of these proposed amendments or alterations of the Constitution are beneficial to the health of the polity, whilst others are either irrelevant or even toxic. But main grievance with the whole constitutional amendment exercise is the glaring failure to address the crucial issue of true federalism. Our National Assembly has not deemed it fit, to transfer the establishment of Police forces, Census, Electricity generation, Labour Matters, Minimum wage, establishing transport by rail, etc, to the concurrent least to enable State establish police forces generate electricity, conduct State census for their domestic purposes, determine a minimum wage for workers based on their resources, etc.

Another critical area the National Assembly should have looked is the issue of creation of local governments. They ought to have proposed the complete removal of local government areas from the Constitution, and the elimination of section 8(5) and (6) to make local governments completely a State matter.

Finally section 44(3) of the Constitution which denies the people of the petroleum producing areas, their right to property should have been listed for deletion from the Constitution, and fiscal federalism put in place of the begging bowl federalism we are presently practicing. You know of course that once every month State Commissioners of Finance carry their individual begging bowls to Abuja, for Mr. Babalola, the Minister of State for Finance to drop in their monthly stipends. They then head back to their State capitals to await the return journey the following month. This is clearly an institutionalized Almajiri system.

The resources being doled out monthly by Abuja are generated by the States. Why can’t States keep what they generate and instead contribute a fixed percentage of their earnings to the center for its operations and another percentage to a distributable pool for the less endowed States. Why should Lagos not administer Value Added Tax to cater for the teeming millions that keep rushing into the State monthly and thus putting tremendous pressure on the State’s social services?

In my view, the real work on the amendment or alteration of the Constitution is yet to be commenced. From all indications such work will not be undertaken by the present National Assembly. It will be the task of a future one.

10. Conclusion

In the long term, the most important function of the legislature is the enactment of enlightened laws for the benefit of the populace and the general function of criticism, and scrutiny of executive policies and decisions. The openness of parliamentary proceedings, the transparency of all its processes, the availability of its records and debates to researchers and members of the public, all help to establish a healthy culture of democratic governance.

The greatest authority which a legislature wields in a democratic society is not its legal powers as contained in the Constitution, but its moral authority, as the conscience of the nation and protector of the sovereignty of the people. Thus members of the legislature must be men and women of high moral authority and integrity.

Equipped with such authority, a mere resolution of an Assembly could be more effective than a binding law.

This means that the legislature must suspend from their membership, anyone who by his conducts, past or present, tarnishes the image of the Assembly, or puts its credibility in doubt. If the legislature is to hold the executive to a minimum standard of accountability, transparency and honesty, it must itself purify its own systems, processes and membership. Otherwise no one will take it seriously.

For any legislature to successfully perform its role in a democratic system, its members must be empowered to do so. In order to equip our legislators to function effectively, it is essential that they be provided with professional assistance on the (i) formulation, drafting and promotion of private bills. (ii) interpretation and analysis of government bills, particularly the more technical ones on the budget, taxation, scientific matters (iii) establishing a parliamentary think tank which will provide members of the Assemblies with up to date data and analysis on relevant issues, (iv) the running of continuous seminars, workshops on major issues of national and international importance, and on the Law, practice and procedure of the legislature.

It is also important that provisions should be made for all legislators to have constituency offices, which will be open at all times even at weekends. This will enable the voters in that constituency to see their representative, when he is in the constituency, or to speak to his staff, when he is away in the relevant Assembly.

But beyond all this, the most important asset of any legislative body is the integrity of its members and their determination to provide selfless service to the Nation.

RE: IMO STAKEHOLDERS FORUM 2010

January 8, 2010

 

 

I learnt the stakeholders’ forum was meant to be an occasion for the governor and his cabinet to give account of their stewardship in the last one year. I was watching to see the achievements of the New Face of Imo with a friend who wanted to see whether my home state has been transformed more than what we have seen in the Center of Excellence. But the whole thing started on a rather chaotic note. My friend lost interest when the occasion started with the presentation by a man from South Africa who was telling us what they expect to do to the state of agriculture when the occasion was to showcase or reel out what has been done. An interpreter was needed to help understand all he was trying to say.

Another presentation was to come from South Africa – the only ‘willing’ investors in Imo state on waste management. In the absence of the presenter, a commissioner came and took us through all they also wanted to do and not what they have done. My friend said when they are through with implementation they should call our attention because we have seen many good projects that never materialized at the end of the day. The presentation on live transmission was often interrupted by the correspondent who took interviews from the organizers of the forum while we were meant to hear what was being presented. I guess he knew nothing was being presented and decided to show us people who organized the august event outside the hall.

The Chief Judge of the state came and told us what they have achieved during the last one year. He recounted the number of courts they were able to build, the ones they rehabilitated and some that are still under construction. Justice Onumajuru thanked the governor for his strides in that arm of government and expressed appreciation for the cordial relationship between the executive and the judiciary .He also noted that judicial workers were currently on strike, though the governor corrected later that the strike was a national one and not just in Imo state.

The Honourable Speaker of the state house of Assembly was the next to speak to the forum. He said it is on record that the House has remained stable and has received cooperation from the executive. One of the major achievements of the legislators in the state was facilitating the crossover of the governor to the ruling party P.D.P. They also fought for amnesty and got included as part of the Post Amnesty programme. The House also aided the inclusion of the Bureau for Niger Delta affairs into the scheme of governance. The lawmakers made sure the appropriation bill was passed before the end of December. The law on kidnapping was one of the major things they achieved in the last fiscal year. The speaker noted that they are aware of the Royal Oak refinery project. He used the opportunity to canvass for re-election on behalf of the whole House. My friend said he was surprised these were what the House was able to waste their while on for a whole year.

The compere after telling us about the influence of our governor and how they were received in Minna and Ile-Ife the previous week, called the ‘Ochinanwata’ to address the forum. Chief Dr. Ikedi Ohakim after observing all protocols narrated how he has been able to attract professionals to the state from different parts of the world to bring about transformation. The New Face of Imo does not owe contractors in the state. He said the 2010 budget is budget of job creation. The governor ran through the list of completed and on-going projects across the state. He made mention of projects like the new government house, Oguta wonder lake and others that he will embark on. IRROMA will be reorganized and a new aroma added to it to make it more effective. The ‘Ochinanwata’ narrated how the hospitality business is booming and real estate appreciating because of the ambience created by his administration. His crossing over to P.D.P was to nip ‘god-fatherism’ in the bud.

The governor asked people to visit the billboard outside the venue to see things for themselves. The compere added that pictures do not lie. But my friend said in the age of computer that pictures can lie; people can make all manner of fake picture presentation. I will suggest that we do not resort to any kind of propaganda when it comes to things like this. I was not privileged to view and see the achievements of our dear governor as displayed outside the venue of the forum, but I will tour round soon to ascertain some of those achievements. Let these be visible like the ones in Lagos which cannot be denied. Let the government in Imo state not favour selected few communities. The last time I visited many were saying the governor has blacklisted communities where his rivals come from who were perceived to have voted against him. Let the New Face give new face to those communities. I have not seen anything new in my community or the ones around it, may be we are amongst the blacklisted.

With genuine commitment and not newspaper propaganda Imo can be amongst the best in the country. Let us shun the ‘divide and rule’ attitude that stifles real development and do fair distribution of projects amongst the communities. Let us believe that as the name of Sam Mbakwe still rings bell in Imo State the New Face will dwarf the achievements of Mbakwe and ring much more; Imo has never seen any governor that can replicate what Onunaka Mbakwe did in his days. The expectation is that the Ohakim administration will bring Imo out of the squalor of maladministration of the yesteryears. It can if there is genuine political will.

ARINZE ALINNOR.

 LAGOS, NIGERIA.

Arinze198@gmail.com

www.arinze198.wordpress.com

08033001782

 

OUR ATTITUDE TO LIFE AND SECURITY

November 19, 2009

 

Many are quick to put the blame about security problems on the state of the Police and Policing in Nigeria. Attitude they say is everything. Our attitude to life and security as a people is nothing to write home about. Our actions and inactions show how much we value human life. When ten people die as a result of an accident or ailment, it makes headlines abroad but may not disturb many minds here. Some had attributed this to our value system as a people; we do attach little or nothing to human life.

 

 

In my piece “The irony of befitting burials” I tried to paint the picture of how much value we attach to burial ceremonies but not to the wellbeing of people. The attitude of many is like that of Cain (AM I MY BROTHER’S KEEPER?). When armed robbers visited our apartment not long ago, some of our neighbours were hearing their loud voices but none had the courage to alert the Police. Some were too afraid to alert the Police, while others may have felt less concerned because theirs were not penetrable or accessible to the robbers.

 

 

On our roads you will always see this attitude on display. Truck drivers do not seem to want to see any other vehicle on their path. The bus drivers, cab drivers, and private car drivers see motorcycles riders and the tricycle drivers as aliens on the road. The pedestrians are at the mercy of all. Some drivers do not display expertise but drive like they manufactured those vehicles; many would tell you how many years they have been on the wheels before your birth. You will always see pedestrians and drivers, or drivers and riders shouting or hauling all manners of weapons at each other on our roads or at the bus stops.

 

 

Many had attributed these to impatience. Our impatience can also be attributed to our attitude to time and life. We do not seem to like early preparations, we prefer to rush and make haste at the very last minute. Our fire brigade attitude is seen in all aspects of our life. Even when Africa had not manufactured a wristwatch or clock we prefer using ‘African Time’. People do not move out early to catch appointments, but try to rush their way down few minutes before the time and become part of the menace on the road. People can afford to programme themselves where there are different and functional transport system, but not here where bad roads, traffic and human factors cannot allow such. We therefore need to be time conscious and leave home early enough. 

 

 

Is it the sole responsibility of the Police to secure lives and property in our nation? I do not think so. Borrowing the lines of Mr. Ben OkeziePolice no be spirit”. Most things that happened did happen in the midst of people. But the people that were around the scene of those events would never bother to alert the Police. You might see robbers attacking somebody on the road but it is nobody’s business. Even when those people shout for help, help may not come because no one cares. Many robbery incidents would have been taken care of if the people around dared to alert the police or even raised alarm. Many would not even look in the direction of the incident for fear of being called to testify or give the police necessary information needed for proper investigation.

 

 

We may have to complain to God and to the gods about the Police and policing when we are not ready to do our part in the security of lives and property. Gone are the days when people knew their neighbours and kept eyes on their children and property. Nowadays, adults do not bother about children on the roads and their safety because they are not theirs. The spate of kidnapping in the land would not have been if we were our brother’s keeper. Most strange movements would have been noticed and tracked if we were security conscious and cared about the man next door. Even though I advocate community policing and Police living with the people, we can be eyes and ears to the Police.

 

 

If we must have GOOD POLICE SERVICE, we must also have GOOD PEOPLE’S CO-OPERATION. For us to have a people friendly Police, we may need to have a Police friendly people. Since attitude is everything we need a change of attitude to the security of lives and property. We must learn to watch our brother’s back and be more willing to give the Police alerts and necessary information to be able to arrest certain situations. May I also suggest that the authorities concerned consider changing from Nigeria Police Force to Nigeria Police Service. The Ministry in-charge of National Orientation should also look in the direction of enlightening the people about being police friendly, being their neighbour’s keeper, and releasing necessary information to the Police to help unravel criminal activities in the land. The Police authorities would also need training and re-training of security agents about their attitude to life, arms and avoidance of extrajudicial killings. People who volunteer to give information about criminal activities should not be made to look like they committed a crime by informing the Police. The Police authorities should make sure their Public Relations Officers do not insult the people’s intelligence by their defense of officers’ misdemeanor. Change?  Yes, we can!  

 

 

 

 

ARINZE ALINNOR A.

P. O. BOX 17985, IKEJA – LAGOS.

08033001782, 07029447342

arinze198@gmail.com

www.arinze198.wordpress.com

SERVICE AND ARROGANCE IN NIGERIA

November 3, 2009

Many business owners make their employees to understand the importance of good service delivery. Some even leave inscriptions on the walls to remind them that the clients or customers are the reason they are in business; the customer is the boss, and is always right. Many businesses went under owing to poor service delivery even though many attributed it to the activities of witches and wizards only in operation in this part of the world. I have also learnt that leadership means service delivery. But leadership here does not mean service. A leader here does not need to serve or be accountable. Even people in charge of customer service in different organizations do not really understand why they are there and so treat people (clients) like aliens.

 

Service in this part of the world is synonymous with arrogance. Some charged with service delivery are sexists. Some look down on you because of how you appear. Some make percipient comments yet their gesticulations or attitude show the contrary. You are left to ponder and wonder if these individuals do understand why their organization left them at the customer service section. Even the ushers in religious organizations and functions show similar traits. They fail to articulate that their actions and inactions can make huge impressions on first time callers. They discharge their duties in manners that depict arrogance and lack of understanding of what they were actually supposed to do. Most of them do not really understand that first impression matters, and may not have a second chance to create or recreate the first impression.

 

Many believe that those saddled with the responsibility of customer service in the private sector are far better than those in the public sector because of monitoring. Those in the private sector may lose their jobs if there are serious or repeated complains from customers. But in the public sector, many are even tempted to ask you if the job belongs to your father. They treat you anyhow showing you need them but they do not need you. Some times you are left to wonder whether they really applied for the job or were forced to come and work. Some would even ask you how much you think they earn from the job that would make them put so much into it to satisfy you. I dare say that any time you want to be insulted, belittled or even spat on, try going to any government agency for anything either picking a form, submitting a form or paying for any essential services or tax.

 

Leadership is supposed to be synonymous with service, but over here to lead means being in the prime position for the people to serve you. Public office holders and people in the public service do not understand why they are in office – to render service. Many things may never change until the orientation of service is inculcated into our system as a people. The peacock attitude on display at different levels may never allow real change to take place in our lives. Our problem as a nation or people may be half-solved if we can have people in offices at all levels who understand what service entails and who also can imbibe accountability into their day to day activities. The nefarious monster – corruption troubling our national life would be nipped in the bud if our youths are taught service and accountability. But teaching them may not be easy because they tend to learn easily what they see you do than what you talk about. Who will show the youths service and accountability in the present day Nigeria? Their parents or the politicians?

 

Have you watched any of our political leaders while they campaign before elections? Did you notice their pseudo humility and concern? Are they the same people who turn deaf ears to the people’s demands? Some times it is very difficult to understand why they change when they assume office but understanding that it was not your votes that put them there makes it easier. The attitude of most public ‘servants’ show that thy are not interested in the job but are there because their parents, uncles or aunties want them there and got the job for them. There is rarely any sign of passion or commitment to service and service delivery.

 

Have you watched our public office holders address the press or their people? Do you notice the verbal diarrhoea? Most of them talk like they are spending from their personal pockets. Most of them display no diplomacy in speech. Our former president while he was in office showed he had a fair share of verbal diarrhoea and was suffering from the hangover of military brutality. The minister of information who served under him in his bid to impress the Decider-in-chief was very uncultured while addressing issues. Who even gave him the D.G of the Economic summit group after all? The spokes person of our upper legislative house should try show he is there as a servant of the people. I recommend Diastop for his verbal diarrhoea. The image makers should try help the chairman of our electoral body on how to speak like a public servant. It looks like we do not have public servants any more but folks who boss themselves over the people. The rebranding team should look in this direction; rebrand the tongues and speech gesticulations of public office holders. Leadership is supposed to be synonymous with service not arrogance. Genuine public service, service and service alone can put us back on track.

 

ARINZE ALINNOR A.

 P. O. BOX 17985, IKEJA – LAGOS.

 08033001782, 07029447342

arinze198@gmail.com

http://www.arinze198.wordpress.com