Archive for the ‘Blogroll’ Category

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

PANELS AND PANEL BEATERS

October 20, 2009


When I was growing up panel beaters, mechanics and iron benders had their shops very close to our neighbourhood. We used to play inside their workshop during the weekends or in the evenings. We took them as people who work and know only about metals. Many of us could not differentiate between a panel beater and a mechanic or iron bender – we took all of them as mechanics. But much later we got to know that their works differ. A panel beater is regarded as the one whose job is to remove the dents from the outer frame of a vehicle that has been in an accident. But we need to redefine or understand panel beating from another angle.

Whenever anything goes wrong in an organization, a locality or a nation, a group of specialists are called in to give their professional advice or opinion about the area in question – a panel is constituted. The panel is usually known or named after the one heading it. It is no longer news that we have had all manner of panels set up in different sectors in the last couple of years. These panels were saddled with the responsibility of unraveling many things, recommend immediate solutions or antidote, or just make professional comments. It is rather unfortunate that over here setting up panels had been futile exercises owing to strong ‘panel beaters’.

Panel beaters are in the best position to know or describe the malleability of metals or panels. But our own panel beaters do not know anything about removing dents from the outer frame of vehicles that had been in accidents, neither do they know about the malleability of metals. Our own panel beaters can beat any panel set up any where around. They either do not make those panels sit, frustrate them or make sure the results are put in the trash can. Most of these panel beaters for fear of indictment threaten the members of these panels with whatever they have in their arsenal. The main issues are swept under the carpet and trivialities become the focal points. Even when these panels succeed in trashing major issues, other panels or committees are set up to sieve out any thing that might indict the panel beaters or their operations.

As panel beaters are in the best position to ascertain the malleability of panels and metals on the body of vehicles, the seriousness of any panel should be determined by the number of panel beaters and their activities they were able to curb or check. Before we give kudos to any panel, we must be able to analyse their activities while it lasted. We must know their basic assignment; what they were expected to unravel, the extent they went to unravel them, what they were really able to unravel, the use of the information and what they actually came up with. If we cannot boast of all these, they may have amounted to futile exercises and total waste of resources – human and capital.

Do we set up probe panels for discoveries alone? May be we do. All the panels set up so far in the polity and in different organizations had only made discoveries. We shout to the high heavens about their discoveries but do little or nothing at all with the discoveries. This might not be unconnected with the impunity with which corruption is perpetrated over here. The ones indicted by different panels either sued the panels for lack of competence or jurisdiction, refused to appear and nothing was done or bought over the members of the panels and there was no substantiated evidence against them. That informed the reason we have had and still have panel beaters around.

Who and who were indicted by the Okigbo panel? Where are they and the result of the panel? The Chukwudifu Oputa panel is another. Did all invited appear? Where is the result and who were indicted? Needless talk about the ones set up in different states and local governments; all were exercises in futility. Let us also put the power probe and the panel behind and forge ahead? The Uwais panel on electoral reforms was a gamble, a big joke or what? Should we resist anybody from setting up any new panel in the near future? I do not think so but we must dare ask for the results oh! Where is the freedom of information bill?

One of my friends would always say that there is no real movement forward without the benefit of hindsight. We cannot really make progress without addressing issues that had enormous potentials to haunt our nation in the future. The issue of panels and panel beaters must be addressed in the interest of the nation. Even though our legislators at all levels have failed to help checkmate some of these excesses – because they are amongst the beaters, we should wake up and demand for accountability from any public office holder. We should at this point ask the government and different agencies to make their reports public. We cannot really stop the panel beaters if we do not have the report of the previous panels. We need the report of the panels now to move forward. Freedom of information may help check our panel beaters.

ARINZE ALINNOR A.

P. O. BOX 17985, IKEJA – LAGOS.

08033001782, 07029447342

arinze198@gmail.com

www.arinze198.wordpress.com

WHEN THERE IS NO LIGHT…

October 8, 2009

  

 

We do know that the difference between people is in what they know and what they do with what they know. In a seminar not too long ago, I told the audience that when there is no light there is no life. Knowledge or mental illumination guarantees clarity of vision and can help keep focus in life. While trying to buttress my point, somebody made a comment amongst the audience. He said that the difference between rural and urban areas in this part of the world is also light. He meant that the light in the cities (commercial activities, opportunities, exposure and electricity) is the difference. So when you are in the cities and they are lacking the things he felt are the basics, then there is no ‘urban’ life. His point did make sense.

 

 

 

During my days in the seminary, around 10:15pm we were all expected to be in bed. By that time, all lights are put off with the exception of security lights outside. We were not permitted to be awake to read or do any other thing but to sleep because we had serious study periods. At the moment all the lights had been put off in Nigeria and only the security lights are on. The government of the day had put off the lights. Our educational system is nothing to write home about. Many had said all manner of things about the striking teachers in our school system but failed to look beyond their nose to see the deplorable state of our schools at all levels. We have glorified secondary schools as tertiary institutions and they are not seeing anything wrong about that. The government should stop painting the picture the strikes are all about salary increase. It is a calculated move by the elite to put off the lights in our public institutions of learning and leave only the security lights (private schools and schools abroad even in Ghana) so that their wards alone would have illumination.

 

 

 

The light is very absent spiritually. Many claim we are very spiritual or religious but we are in spiritual darkness. How can we have light spiritually when our minds are not right? Religious leaders shout only to gain attention of the government. Where is the light when the churches and mosques cannot produce or instill moral values in people? Where is the light when religious leaders are only architects of religious violence? Greed and selfish ambitions are the by products of spiritual darkness. Many of the religious leaders went to missionary schools but cannot boast of any school or the ones even the average can afford. Many claim their religion is that of love but we cannot trace any love in their activities. The love of God is measured in our churches and mosques by how much you can bring in. How do we claim to be very spiritual, claim to love God who we have not seen, and yet cannot give or make life good for people we can see? This certainty may be likened to the era of spiritual hypocrisy and darkness.

 

 

 

When there is no light, people walk and work in darkness. Many policies have been tried by different people in all sectors. No policy is sustained, every new person brings new policies. We lack maintenance culture. Today it is regulation, tomorrow it is deregulation. Privatising today, and rescinding the decision tomorrow. We are neither here nor there. There is gross darkness because we are trying practicing democracy without genuine democrats. We are bound to be without light because political jobbers do not want to give chance to genuine technocrats to pilot the affairs of the nation. How do we expect light when leadership had become synonymous with corruption and illicit wealth? The stability we desire may come if we can have stable policies.

 

 

 

We heard billions of dollars had been spent on power but we cannot boast of steady power supply. Is it that our government does not know that many industries had gone under, while many are relocating to neighbouring countries because of lack or epileptic power supply? Is it insensitivity or lack of knowledge on the part of the leaders? It is rather absurd that people are still going about collecting titles, doing parties, granting interviews for doing nothing and their aides would come tomorrow pleading for understanding and more time for mediocrity.

 

 

 

When there is no light, leaders count paying workers salaries as achievement. When there is no light, political jobbers automatically turn to genuine democrats and diplomats. When there is no light, sports especially football and its administration is politicized and tribalised. When there is spiritual darkness, religion is all about greed and self. The light (education) is out, prison doors are now open. Armed robbery and assassinations are prevalent because of darkness within and without. There is darkness in the land, graduates are roaming the streets because the companies that would take them off the street are closing shop and relocating enmasse. Very soon our educational or mental black out would become total system breakdown. There is no light. Who will put on this light? I do not know. Check next door. May be someone from Ghana has the answer – our new Mecca.

 

 

 

 

 

ARINZE ALINNOR A.

P. O. BOX 17985, IKEJA – LAGOS.

08033001782, 07029447342

arinze198@gmail.com

www.arinze198.wordpress.com

IS AMNESIA OUR PROBLEM?

August 14, 2009

 

IS AMNESIA OUR PROBLEM?

Recently, I was discussing with a specialist doctor and I asked him the commonest disease or ailment prevalent in Nigeria. He said we may name any other but a good percentage of our populace suffers from Amnesia. I argued that malaria seemed to be the prevalent one but that did not change his stance. If you do not know, Amnesia is a medical condition in which somebody partly or completely loses their memory. I thought about that for a while before he continued. He said if we are not suffering from amnesia that most politicians would not still be parading themselves in the polity and we would not allow most of the things that we do allow to happen over and over again. He said it is rather unfortunate that we do not know or perceive the developed democracies are not blind or suffering amnesia with us.

I am an unrepentant follower of Fela Anikulapo kuti. I may have repented from smoking hemp but not his philosophy. I do know that Abami Eda was one of the Nigerians who never had amnesia. Even when most people forget about happenings in the polity, Fela would never forget. I want us to covet this spirit of his at this time and put on our thinking cap as a people. If we do covet his spirit, then we can put a stop to many things that had been forced down our throat by politicians masquerading as democrats in the polity. Our problem remains that we have very short memory and foolishly claim to be resilient, having been adjudged by an ‘anonymous’ poll as about the happiest people on earth. Fela said, ‘we are only suffering and smiling’.

It is either we have amnesia or cerebro-spinal-meningitis which had caused us to be unable to turn our neck and see the very immediate past. We have all witnessed the carpet-crossing or defection of Mahmuda Aliyu Shinkafi from ANPP to PDP, Isa Yuguda and the New Face of Brutus (the New Face of Imo). It showed lack of character and principle. But we should not forget that our political parties are devoid of ideologies. Cerebro-spinal-meningitis had prevented us from looking back to 1956 when the first Action Group government was formed by mass depletion of NCNC to Action Group on the floor of the Assembly of the then Western House of Assembly. What had been done since then and now to curb this ugly trend? I would not rule out more people taking this path of dishonour in the near future because the cure to our amnesia is not in sight.

If not for amnesia or cerebro-spinal-meningitis how would we have had Obasanjo as president and commander in chief of the armed forces a second time at the helm of affair? Was it not the same Obasanjo that Fela sang about? The same obasanjo that Fela sang to the hearing of the whole world how he looted and handed over empty treasury to Shehu Shagari. OBJ whose Operation Feed the Nation metamorphosed into Obasanjo Farms. It was during Obasanjo’s tenure that we had ‘Ali must go’. May be it was not the same ‘Ali’ that later became the National Chairman of P.D.P (Peoples Destroyers Party). If it was not the same ‘Ali’, he would not have supported the third term bid of the same Obasanjo. Fela would always say, ‘Na dem dem’ syndrome.

The election in 1993 was adjudged the freest, fairest and best in our history. Though the winner was not announced, but recently the Professor who headed the Commission that conducted the elections released a book and told us what happened behind the scene. By that election, M.K.O.Abiola became everyone’s hero. As much as I do regard him as a hero, I am not suffering from amnesia. Is it not the same Abiola that Fela sang about in the song I.T.T (International Thief Thief) with the same Obasanjo? I was in the African Shrine before the elections in 1993. Abami Eda asked us a question. He asked, ‘Abiola-Abi na olee for president?’ – meaning ‘Is it a thief for president?’ He also said that Alhaji Tofa was ‘Too Far’, for president. Abiola only became a saint because of the stolen mandate. The same Abiola was dillydallying with the military and was swimming in wealth. The same friends in the military stole his mandate. Is it a case of what comes around goes around?

I wrote a piece many months back in 2007 – The Gospel according to David Mark. When Professor H. Nwosu released his book, we all got to know the key role the leopard that could remove his dark spots played in the annulment of June 12th 1993 election. The same individual who never saw any thing good about Abiola and the June 12th elections is our rebranded senate President? They all are beaming with smiles talking about democracy they never supported. We are all enjoying telephone services today but our rebranded Senate President was the one that said that telephone was for the elite only. I do know that Cerebro-Spinal-Meningitis would never allow us remember the case involving him and his wife in the United Kingdom and the millions of the Queen’s pounds involved. He is sitting at the driving seat of the legislative arm and the ‘Yes’ and ‘No’ are having it. The leopard has been rebranded and the dark spots are gone forever!

Many people had been pulled down and assassinated by spirits. Spirits do send thugs or security operatives to arrest or eliminate in Nigeria. May be you do not know how potent spirits are over here. Pa Alfred Rewane was killed by spirits and you cannot trace the killers. Bola Ige was killed by spirits from Venus and we cannot trace them because we do not have spaceship. Harry Marshal may have been eliminated by angels from Mars and our Police were on indefinite leave when he was hacked down. Engr. Funso Williams may have died after a brief illness or the spirit of his ancestors drew him home when the party primaries were some months ahead. The Odi people were all killed by unknown soldiers who did not receive command from anywhere but went on their own? Extra judicial killing is no longer an offence in Nigeria? Spirits from different planets are really on rampage in our nation.

We have had innumerable probes panels from 1983 and now. Some of the probes panels never concluded their assignment. The Panels that concluded theirs submitted their reports and findings. But what was actually done with those reports? The resources wasted cannot be quantified with any tangible results. The people indicated by those probe panels are regarded rather as statesmen. If you claim you are not suffering from amnesia, then you may be in coma. What happened to the Okigbo panel report? Justice Oputa panel report was fruitful and useful? Elumelu-led panel were excellent but the hunter became the hunted. Uwais panel report was also excellent but the government needed to sieve out some relevant part of the report so that it suits the game plan. Our anti-graft agencies have all done well. All the people they indicted and took to court are up there collecting Agricultural contracts and are controlling the move of things in the polity without losing immunity.

The use and dump syndrome is very much around with us. Politicians had used innocent jobless youths in the past and are still using and dumping. Many are scared about the state of things in the polity but because of amnesia had forgotten that the past leaders sowed the seed that we are harvesting from. Most of the restive youths were ‘empowered’ by the politicians by giving them guns. We should also note that complacency breeds militancy. The robbers we are scared about today were innocent youths turned into political thugs used to win elections. They were empowered to terrorise their opponents then, and now even the politicians have become their opponents. So we should not be crying when we reap from what we had allowed the politicians to sow. Let us shake off this amnesia!

I do also believe that Cerebro-spinal-Meningitis would not allow us look back at slavery and the slave masters. The same way our useless chiefs sold our people had not changed in totality. Our people are still living as slaves and working as slaves. Fela Anikulapo Kuti captured it that slave masters worked and used Africans with low mentality to enslave our people. While people up there are busy enjoying their share of what they call Foreign Direct Investment, the people they claim to represent are working as slaves. They cannot even talk because they have collected their share or may still be collecting some percentage from the activities of those companies. This gives those companies the impetus to short-change the people and the system. Most of them evade paying tax, while some enjoy duty waivers. They sit back in air conditioned offices and apartments, leave one Nigerian figure head to aid the maltreatment and manipulation of our people. Most have lost their lives, some have lost limbs and some others partially blind without any compensation or health care package. If you think slavery had ended, visit those companies or stand by a corner on the highway and take a look at the kind of lorries or trailers that convey your own citizens to work or construction sites. All these we seem not to pay attention to or even remember just because of this amnesia.

Nigeria is about the most religious nation in the world. What is the impact of all the noise about town? All the rogues who had looted the treasury at different levels are regular faces in the mosques and churches. Many people had lost their lives because of religious violence. How many people are willing to lose their lives to purge the system of corruption and corrupt leaders? This amnesia is of a high magnitude-pathological amnesia. If a large chunk can be moved to kill and destroy properties in the name of a religion, can’t they be moved to make their leaders accountable? It shows we are not thinking, and that is the reason our actions and inactions had never ceased to stink. Paupers and peasants are the ones suffering this hypnotism by the elite. How many sons or daughters of the elite had been arrested, arraigned or prosecuted by the Sharia courts? Does it mean all their children are saints? How many of the preachers we have around today did not attend a missionary or public school? Their own philosophy about education had gone the elitist direction because corrupt leaders are the pillars of the churches and mosques.

If not for pathological amnesia, we would have had governments that are responsible and accountable. There were cases of plane crashes some months and years back. They made headlines in the print and electronic media. But the magnitude of the resources and human capacity lost in those crashes were infinitesimal from the stance of the government and their body movement. What steps have they genuinely taken to forestall future occurance? What was the report of the investigators? What do we learn from their investigation and report? The main question should be asked now. Have those families that lost their breadwinners and loved ones been duly compensated? Have we forgotten how most of us cried with them then? Why do we forget this kind of things in so short a time? We are always there whenever it happens but leave those concerned to carry their cross in a jiffy. I do not blame ‘us’ but I blame amnesia that is inherent in us.

Something is really holding us around the neck area and it does not allow us to look back-Cerebro-spinal-meningitis of course. We do not seem to remember that the very people who sang to the high heavens about Obasanjo and third term are very much around in the polity. They are warming up again. Very soon they would rent the crowds and begin to sing about second term of inactivity, strikes, confusion and zero point agenda. And we would also concur with our yes! Yes!! And yes!!! The ladies and gentlemen of the press might be bought over to sing the praise of those whose tenure had been characterized by strikes, agitations, pseudo solutions and self service. The amnesty granted without even any trial or conviction is a laudable achievement. I do believe that genuine struggle by the Niger Deltans should include taking good care of their people who had hitherto collected bribes or illegal compensations from oil companies and the previous administrations. Very soon those holding brief for government and the oil companies would be known and those who are genuinely interested in the plight of the Niger Deltans would also be known. It is rather unfortunate that billions of naira would soon enter the pockets and accounts of very few people in the name of amnesty while the area remains undeveloped. Amnesia can be more potent than HIV and AIDS! Like Fela would say, ‘Na dem dem’.

I am using this opportunity to call upon all our medical practitioners, alternative or trado-medical practitioners, in particular psychiatrists and clinical psychologists at home and in diaspora to come together and fashion out a medication to take care of our amnesia as a people. If this dreaded amnesia is not taken care of, we may even forget that we are a nation. This amnesia kept us where we are now, but the foreigners even those who reside here do not show symptoms of this dreaded forgetfulness; they follow our politicians with tact. It is time to covet the spirit of Fela Anikulapo Kuti. It is time not to be forgetful of where we are coming from. Let us put on our reasoning or thinking cap. I have a feeling that our physicians and pharmacists may not come out with the medication that can take care of this amnesia in good time. So let us covet Fela’s spirit at this time of our life as a nation. Let us wake up and put a stop to the gimmicks and manipulations of politicians and pseudo democrats. We cannot move forward or go far with this amnesia. Nigeria would be great again if we are delivered from this amnesia. The truth is that only ‘us’ can deliver ‘us’.

ARINZE ALINNOR A.

P. O. BOX 17985, IKEJA – LAGOS.

08033001782, 07029447342

arinze198@gmail.com

http://www.arinze198.wordpress.com

WHO IS SERVING WHO?

August 11, 2009

I looked at the school uniform of my little Precious, and saw the motto of their school. It read thus: “To lead is to serve”. It invariably means that leadership is synonymous with service. But if you take a closer look at what obtains here, you will find out that leadership is not, cannot, would not, and may never be synonymous with service. The slave and colonial attitude and mentality are still very much with and in us as a people. Many who work with white or foreign expatriates still exhibit some funny traits associated with slavery and colonialism. To many a leader should never serve but ought to be served and feared like he made the heaven and the earth.

 

There are some kind of absurdity that had stayed very long with us as a people. Many believe that a leader or traditional rulers authority should not be questioned, likening them to God. Everything they say or do is always right and in line with the rule of law. No wonder even fraudsters and corrupt politicians all want to be crowned or installed as traditional rulers. Many had advocated for constitutional roles for the traditional rulers. I am not against that but have my reservations. It is very true that authority without accountability leads to disaster. We have few or no role models again because of unquestioned authority. Many of them have different magnitude of problems with their subjects when their authority is questioned or put under check. It ultimately shows they are not serving the people but using the people to gain access to their personal needs.

 

I was pushed to ask ‘Who is Serving Who?’ because of certain things we see daily in the polity. Leadership had been redefined by all standards in Nigeria. Some say the redefinition was informed by the fact that most universal principles do not work here because of nefarious fact – the Nigerian factor. Someone very close to me said that if Nigeria can have civil rule without democracy being in place that I should not be surprised having leadership without service to the people. There is leadership without service because the electorate had been over powered by the ‘selectorate’. The only service noticeable in the polity is debt servicing. This debt servicing is not necessarily that of World Bank or any foreign lenders but godfathers and bank managers who bankrolled the campaign and election into office. This is reasonable service!

 

When leadership is devoid of service, dictators are having a field day. Let it be clear to all of us that nobody enters into any position in Nigeria to serve the populace. Do you kill to enter to serve? Many are in their graves today because they were seen as credible candidates by their opponents or party associates. Our expectation from people in office is questionable; we expect them to favour our tribe, state or community and forget anything about Federal character. We do not expect them to be accountable either. They should amass illicit wealth and convert

 

 

many government properties to personal properties. They should steal enough to

throw around as godfathers when they leave office and leave the rest for their unborn generations. We are not making genuine noise about them and corruption because they met our definition of earnest service to the nation or state; they took their portion of the cake that is inexhaustible.

 

Service to the people should deal with unemployment, strikes, hunger, roads, hospitals, schools and security of lives and property. But these things do not bother those occupying positions of power over here because they are immune to the effect of these. Their children and siblings are not among the students on strike. Their children are not among the 90 percent of graduates that are unemployed. Their children eat bread from the bakery called Nigeria while the children and the people they claim they are serving are all over the place in search of bread. People are complaining about collapsed infrastructures and it does not bother anybody up there because their families are abroad and they can afford helicopters when the road become serious death traps. They leave the Police to quench fire with bare hands; robbers with sophisticated weapons overrun police divisions spilling blood of police personnel and civilians around. The truth is that Nigerians run their own governments daily at their offices and homes; they have personal security guards, water boreholes, private schools, generators and yet pay tax to government.

 

Where is the service? Who is serving who? It is time for us as a people to define certain things very well. A journey undefined is a destination unreached. The people up there should know that leadership is a burden, not a blessing. They should be aware that complacency breeds militancy. Values have collapsed because of their inability to give functional education system. Let us look beyond tribal sentiments; the North has enjoyed more years in ‘service’ of the nation but their people live below the poverty line; 95 percent destitute and 5 percent mega rich. Is that the benefit of service? Until we address the issue of corruption, let nobody claim he or she is rendering any service to this nation. We just have ethnic champions using their people to gain recognition and eat the cake. No one is serving.

 

 

 

 

ARINZE ALINNOR A.

P. O. BOX 17985, IKEJA – LAGOS.

08033001782, 07029447342

arinze198@gmail.com