Wednesday, November 25, 2015

Anambra: The Strange Case Of 75 Billion Naira

By Ugochukwu Ejinkeonye
 In March 2014, while handing over to his successor in Awka, former Anambra State Governor, Mr. Peter Obi, announced that apart from ensuring that all salaries and allowances of public service workers and pensioners were paid up to date, he was also leaving behind N75 billion in “cash and investments” for the in-coming administration.  In a normal country, where accountability and responsible governance are normal expectations, where public service has not been crudely reduced to mere organised banditry as is largely the case across Nigeria, this should not attract any applause.

But we live in an abnormal country where criminal accumulation and wasteful spending have long been accepted as normal features of public service, where public officers ensure that they empty government treasuries and erect pyramids of debts before they leave office.  And so Mr. Obi’s rare example was widely applauded, and has been extensively held up by several commentators to underline what decent and conscientious public service ought to look like. 

But last week, nearly two years after he was sworn in as the Governor of Anambra State, Mr. Willie Obiano, sought to insert a sharp pin in the balloon of public excitement about what many have come to accept as Obi’s exemplary tenure.  At a press conference in Awka, the Secretary to the Anambra State Government (SSG), Prof Solomon Chukwulobelu, declared that “The N75 billion [which Obi claimed he left behind] was not there; it was not handed over to anybody. At best it can be half-truth…In the real sense, what the Obiano administration inherited from Obi was N9 billion cash and N26 billion near cash.”
He explained further: “…to provide a true and fair picture of the state’s net position on March 17, 2014, the investments handover notes ought to have captured current liabilities and contingent liabilities also borne by the previous administration as at the time of handover. To put this in context, the total portfolio of inherited projects valued at approximately N185 billion was however not captured in the breakdown of the handover notes.”
According to Prof Chukwulobelu, out of the N185.1bn owed contractors, Mr. Obi only paid the sum of N78.9bn as at March 2014 when he handed over to Obiano, leaving a debt of N106.2bn.
These are indeed very weighty disclosures, and if they turn out to be true, they can only destroy whatever value Obi’s N75 billion was expected to add to the Anambra purse.
But Obi’s media aide, Mr. Valentine Obinenyem, has called for a public, televised debate on this contentious issue. I think this call is important and very necessary so that Nigerians can know exactly who is saying the truth about this matter. The accusing party should, therefore, put together a forum where both sides can come together with their facts and figures before television cameras to prove the truth or otherwise of their different positions. If they demonstrate any reluctance to organise this, a national television or civil society organisation should (as part of its patriotic duty to Nigeria and Nigerians) take the initiative to organise this debate right away and invite them. Although Channels Television has done well to feature spokespersons of the two regimes separately in its breakfast show recently, there is need for a moderated forum where they will meet together to iron out the differences in their individual accounts. And should any of them develop cold feet and shun the debate, the organisers should announce the party that absconded to Nigerians and we will then know who among the two leaders has been doing willful damage to truth and a badge of shame would promptly be put on him. This is how matters of this nature are usually resolved in civilised societies.

In a statement published in the media last week, Obineyem stated that on coming to office, Obi spent his first year to complete all the contracts awarded by his predecessors. In some cases, he had to start from scratch. Obi, for example, paid over 35 billion in arrears of pension and gratuity. Though they [Obiano’s spokespersons] inflated the figures, but the point to note is that the debt they are talking about in their press conference is contract sum on projects yet to be executed.”

According to him: They said that Obi left 106.2 Billion (wrong figure) overhang on contractual debts alone. I challenge them to publish the schedule of the debts and the companies being owed. As at the time Obi left office, he paid for all the certificates generated on contracts awarded. Certificates are generated on the basis of work completed. Are they saying Obi ought to [have paid] for contracts yet to be done? The same man saying this awarded 35 fresh [contracts for the construction of] roads within his first year in office at the total cost of over 81 billion Naira out of which he has paid 10 Billion Naira. On the other hand, Obi awarded [contracts for] roads totalling 93 Billion [naira] in his last year in office and paid a total of over 51 Billion on those roads before leaving office. Most of those roads were used to campaign for him during electioneering on the premise of continuity.”       
Obienyem gave the breakdown of the “cash and investment” Obi left for his successor as follows:
N27billion in local currency;
N26.5 billion in foreign currency investment (foreign bonds);
N28.1 billion in Certified State/ MDS balances.
Then he said: “Even in the final handover document, Obi deducted N10 billion approved federal government refund as well as the salary, pension, gratuity, money on certificates raised on contracts for the month of March, which all amounted to N5 billion before arriving at the balance of over N75 billion he bequeathed his successor. As a financial expert, Obi went to his end-of-tenure event with Gov. Willie Obiano and said all this in the presence of all the Bank MDs in whose banks the monies were. In fact, as at March 17th when he handed over, he got all the certified statements of Anambra’s accounts from the banks these monies were and handed them over to his successor.”

*Obi and Obiano
I think that these are claims that are easily verifiable, so why the needless noise and generation of bad blood in Anambra? By the way, did Obiano make any attempt to get Obi to clarify anything that required some explanation in his handover note before asking his SSG to do a press conference? Also, people have asked why Gov Obiano had to wait for nearly two years into his tenure to make these damaging disclosures. While his principal secretary, Mr. Willie Nwokoye, said on Channels Television last week that Obiano was too busy with his work to start addressing such matters, the National Publicity Secretary of the All Progressive Grand Alliance (APGA), Chief Ifeatu Obiokoye, told reporters in Awka that the reason was that Obi was all the while still a member of their party and so it would not have been proper to embarrass him with a rebuttal. 
This is how he put it: “I believe Governor Willie Obiano was being cautious by coming up with the truth now which, if he had done before now, would have embarrassed his predecessor.” In other words, this has more to do with politics than the need to ensure accountability. What one can deduce from this assertion, therefore, is that no one in Awka would have bothered himself making these astounding revelations were Obi still in APGA.
Well, I think that this ought to be very simple matter if Obi’s accusers would bother to   answer these few questions. Was there any project completed before March 2014 that Obi did not pay for before leaving office? How exactly do Obiano and his advisers define debts? Was anyone expecting Obi to have paid for projects not yet completed as at the time he was leaving office? Wouldn’t that be termed an unwholesome act? Is government no longer a continuous process where a successor is expected to take over the responsibilities of the office from where his predecessor stopped and ensure they are fully and successfully discharged?  Okay, can Mr. Obiano get the Managing Directors of the banks where these contentious funds were lodged to issue certified statements contradicting Obi’s claims? Why should they expect any reasonable person to believe their mere words of mouth refuting  Obi’s claims without any credible documentary evidence?
One point one has noticed in this controversy is that whereas Obi had announced that he left N75 billion in “cash and investments,” the Obiano people are harping on the misinformation that he actually claimed to have left N75 billion cash only. And so, Obiano’s principal secretary could question whether it amounted to good governance to have left such an amount while there were some things to be done in the state. He also accused Obi of announcing that he left the billions of naira for the state without also disclosing  the obligations he left behind? 

I do not know if Obi did not give to his successor the list of the projects that were yet to be completed as at the time he was leaving office (because that would really be quite strange in a handover note) but my feeling is that these fellows were hoping to come into government to play around and do nothing? Because, what is governance if not the discharging of obligations? Haven’t the Anambra State government been getting monthly allocations from the Federation Account and Internally Generated Revenue (IGR) since Obiano took over? Or were they thinking that there was a tree from which Obi was plucking money and which he carefully cut down before leaving office? In fact, there is even only a marginal difference between the figure Obiano’s principal secretary acknowledged on Channels TV that Obi handed over to them and what Obi had announced which they are challenging. In fact, one could easily see that the people interviewing him were grossly unimpressed by his theatrics. I thought I saw relief on their faces when his session was over.
When Obi assumed office, he wasted no time in clearing the arrears of pensions and gratuity he inherited to the tune of N35 billion and he seemed happy and fulfilled doing so. He also hastened to complete all the projects left behind by his predecessor. But when Obiano took over, he met no arrears of salaries, pensions and allowances waiting for him to defray. He had no debts arising from completed but unpaid-for contracts to offset, so what is his problem? Was he expecting Obi to have paid the contractors upfront? What if Obi had gone ahead to do that and the contractors later defaulted, who would carry the can?  
Obiano announced in Mkpor last week that he was seeking a second term in office. “I am going to stay eight years in office and nobody can stop me!” he said.
That is a legitimate ambition which is within his rights as a Nigerian. But he stands the chance of being the one to stop himself because of the kind of needless, if not, puerile war he is waging against his predecessor. If he thinks that the only way to stamp himself on the minds of the people is to rubbish Mr. Obi, he would wake up to realize that he has been trapped in a very long dream. Indeed, Obi may have left office but given his sterling performance and noble character which have been widely acknowledged, he still has his teeming admirers who remember his tenure with immense delight.  Engaging in a pointless combat with their hero may compel them to cast their votes in a way that might effectively bury Mr. Obiano’s ambition. After all, Obiano could not have forgotten so soon that he rode on the record of this same Obi to power, because, by the time he became APGA’s governorship candidate, only few people could recall having ever heard his name anywhere, yet he was able to defeat a formidable candidate like Dr. Chris Ngige.  
Now is it not demoralizing that at a time when the stories emanating from most of the states of the federation are mainly about months of unpaid salaries, empty treasuries, mountains of debts and strivings to obtain bailouts from the Federal Government, we have in Awka a governor who  could find the time to engage in a pointless battle with his predecessor who had handed over to him a healthy state with NO arrears of unpaid salaries and NO mountains of debts; a predecessor who instead of billions of debts handed over to him a purse full of billions in “cash and investments.”  One of the foreign investments made by Obi, according to his aide (and which has not been refuted), has even yielded about N10 billion profit to Anambra State.
That’s probably why Obiano could find the whopping sum of N5 billion (as also alleged by Obi’s aide) to mark his hundred days in office and buy all those fleets of posh Prado SUVs and luxury pick-ups for each of these his officers going about now running their mouths on his behalf. If Peter Obi had wallowed in the kind of revolting profligacy allegedly flourishing in Awka today, would he have been able to leave Anambra in such a healthy state?  In Oyo State today, for example, Gov Ajimobi is even saying that the bailout he got from the Federal Government is not enough to lift the crushing debt burden weighing the state down and that he needs more. In Katsina State, Gov Bello Masari had to lie to obtain an eleven billion naira bailout from the Federal Government. Other more disheartening stories are oozing from several states, but Anambra, because of Obi’s prudent management of resources, does not have such tales of woes.
If many Nigerians today hold Obi up as a model governor, he truly earned it. It was clear that he believed that governance should be a more serious business than most people viewed it; it should be about quality service delivery, instead of an opportunity for infantile and ostentatious display of power, influence and glamour as seem to have become the norm in this country. The “normal” Nigerian politician who was used to vulgar bacchanals, obscene squander-mania at Government Houses, long, reckless, siren-blaring convoys and fear-instilling bodyguards would probably find Peter Obi something of an odd fellow. Instead of investing all that energy, resources and time in needless and distracting advertisement of one’s obsession with indecent fanfare, infantile exuberance and depraved pleasure hunting, he would rather wake up daily and simply go to work. 

One thing he was, however, regularly accused of during his tenure was his firm refusal to “carry long” the so-called elite in the state. Now, one might think this was one serious charge if one did not know what it meant. Indeed, what that meant was Obi’s blunt unwillingness to continue the unsightly tradition of throwing lavish parties for and sharing out Anambra money to an army of parasitic elite who also exist in several other states of the federation, and who depend on public funds to maintain the wasteful lifestyles they have become used to but lack personal resources to sustain. Obi’s philosophy that public funds were only meant for the execution of public projects and not to be squandered by a few privileged parasites won him some very bitter enemies, but it also won him the respect of decent Nigerians who mean well for the country.

At a time, Obi was almost the only governor one could meet queuing at the airport to board an aircraft like “ordinary” passengers like us (he also always flew economy class) while his colleagues, some of whom would not have qualified to serve as his P.A. before he and they became governors hopped about in private jets and wallowed in unspeakable profligacy. This is one thing that deeply pains and causes prolonged sorrow to decent and responsible Nigerians about public officers, and the likes Peter Obi is a kind of consolation that all is, perhaps, not entirely lost, that the whole place has not been totally overrun by ferocious locusts.

In his statement, Obi’s aide alleged that the bacchanals and lavish reveling abhorred by Obi during his tenure at the government house have returned in full force; the current governor charters private jets to take him around (and this costs a fortune) and engages in several wasteful spending that can make the hearts of Ndi Anambra who are used to Obi’s meticulous and scrupulous use of funds to bleed?  Now if all these avoidable expenses succeed in gulping the billions left behind by Obi, is the sudden proclamation that the funds never existed the most responsible response?

Before long, Obiano would go to the polls to seek a second term as he has announced. The last time, it seemed almost a walkover for him because of the solid reputation of his predecessor with which he was marketed to the people. Today, he should realize that he is entirely on his own and facing a no mean challenge. Right now, some people are asking whether his party, APGA still exists; so, what is Obiano doing to refurbish and refocus the party or is he planning to run on a different platform? Also, given the nature of the elections already conducted under the ruling APC, he should know that he would be facing a very unusual opponent. Even if the APC finds it difficult to browbeat the Anambra people to give it their votes (due largely to President Buhari’s undisguised unfriendly disposition towards the South East), the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) will not be any easy opponent to confront. I think that this should constitute more worry to Mr. Obiano than devoting precious time and resources hauling weak and often contradictory and self-damaging allegations at a man who is not running against him in an election (since he is longer constitutionally allowed to run for the office of governor) and whom he has not been able to accuse of any form of financial mismanagement. 

*Ugochukwu Ejinkeonye, a regular contributor to this blog, is a syndicated columnist (; twitter: @ugowrite) 

The Emeka Odumegwu-Ojukwu I Knew

By Nnanna Ijomah
On this day the 26th of November three years ago Chief Emeka Ojukwu passed away, and on this third anniversary of his death, I want to join millions of Nigerians to honor and celebrate his life. In 1988, I was an unemployed young Political Science graduate, resident in Lagos, when I first met Chief Emeka Ojukwu, by way of recommendation and introduction by some mutual friends, one of whom was my cousin, who had informed me that he, the Ikemba was looking to employ a Personal Assistant.
The odds of my getting the job was further enhanced and I would say virtually assured when during the interview at his Villaska lodge residence, the late Dr Chuba Okadigbo walked in and practically vouched for my intellectual ability and competence to do the job for which I was about to be hired. For those who might be wondering how Dr Okadigbo came into the picture. It so happened that a few years earlier during the commencement ceremony of the University of Benin, the late Dr Okadigbo had taken note of me when I was presented with an award, as the best Political Science student in the degree exams.
On that fateful sunny afternoon, 22 years ago, I found myself standing before the Ikemba, a larger than life figure, whom I'd heard so much about all through my teenage years during the civil war. But now in my early twenties, standing before him, I was not only scared and nervous, but also full of admiration and respect, while at the same time experiencing an overwhelming feeling of excitement, just for being in his presence. As I gazed at those bulging eyes, each time he made a point of emphasis, I could not but feel a sense of accomplishment, just for achieving this great feat of being there. At that moment in time as I remember it today, whether I ended up getting the job or not, I was going to savor this once in a life-time opportunity for all it was worth. After a few pointed questions and a detailed explanation of what the job entailed, he proceeded to ask me if I was ready to start work right away. Thus began my association with the Ikemba. A job which I can truthfully say afforded me the most learning experience of my life.
During the period I worked for him, Ikemba was more than just my boss. He was a father figure in the sense that he treated me like a son. He was my mentor and was very protective of me. When I decided to leave for the United States, he did not try to dissuade me from doing so. Rather he encouraged me to leave, since at that point in time some government officials were snooping around, making inquiries regarding the contents of the book we were working on. The general impression at the time was that he the Ikemba was writing a book about the Civil war. 
The book generated so much concern in certain quarters that he, Ikemba got worried about my safety, and in his own words, said to me " they can never do anything to me, but they can come after you in their attempt to know what the book is all about and I would not want you to get into any kind of trouble on my account'. Months later in 1989, he sent me an autographed copy in New York

Boy Killed As Ebola Returns To Liberia

 Monrovia (AFP) - A teenager has died in Liberia in the first such death since the country was officially declared free of the virus in September, an official said Tuesday.
"The 15-year-old has finally died. He died yesterday," Dr Francis Karteh, head of Liberia's national Ebola crisis unit, told AFP.

He added that the teenager's parents had also tested positive for the virus and were under observation in the capital Monrovia.
It was confirmed last week that the boy and two of his relatives had contracted Ebola, which has left more than 11,300 people dead since December 2013 in its worst ever outbreak, mainly in the west African nations of Guinea, Liberia and Sierra Leone.
Liberia was first declared Ebola free in May, only to see the fever resurface six weeks later. The country was declared to have officially beaten the epidemic for a second time in September.
The World Health Organization previously reported that the boy was 10 years old, but Karteh said he was in fact 15.
He fell sick on November 14 and was hospitalised three days later in Monrovia, the WHO said, adding that 150 people who had been in contact with the family were being monitored.
Since the beginning of the outbreak, Liberia has registered more than 10,600 cases and more than 4,800 deaths, according to a WHO situation report published last week.
The teenager's death comes days after Guinea's last known Ebola case, a three-week old girl, was declared cured on November 16.
That announcement triggered a 42-day countdown -- twice the incubation period of the virus -- before Guinea can be declared Ebola-free.
Sierra Leone was declared to have beaten the virus earlier this month.


Tuesday, November 24, 2015

President Buhari's Biafran Contradiction

By Chuks Iloegbunam  
Nearly six weeks after it started, President Muhammadu Buhari finally reacted to the agitation for Biafra, which has been sweeping through some cities of the South East and South South geopolitical zones. The President chose two events inside last week to make his position known. The first was the investiture of His Royal Majesty, Igwe Alfred Nnaemeka Achebe, as the 7th Chancellor of the Ahmadu Bello University, Zaria. The second was the graduation ceremony of the National Institute for Policy and Strategic Studies (NIPSS), Kuru, Plateau State.

These following sum up the President's position on the Biafran agitation:

* "Government would not fold its arms and watch, while some individuals and groups create unnecessary tension in the country in the guise of seeking to break away from Nigeria."

* "Let me again call on per­sons or groups in the country who have some grievances to submit to peaceful and dem­ocratic means of expressing themselves."

* "I therefore sound a note of serious warning that the corporate existence of Nigeria as a single entity is not a sub­ject of debate and will not be compromised."

Now, the fact that it took the President nearly two months to comment on a matter that had elicited three specific threats of military re­sponse by his field command­ers probably makes the point that, in his graph of national importance, the Biafran agita­tion is no more than a vexa­tious distraction.

But, it is still welcome that he spoke late than not at all. What if he de­cided against uttering a word on the subject? After all, he has so far treated all the substanti­ated reports of the rampage and wanton killings of Fulani herdsmen across the length and breadth of Nigeria with a deafening silence. He has also treated in the same manner all the calls for his government to address the report of the properly constituted National Conference of 2014.

Now, it is assumed in quar­ters that claim comprehensive understanding of President Buhari's brand of politics that the man is not given to talk­ing glibly. He is said to expend enormously in the critical sec­tor of consideration before he ever deems it necessary to make a public statement. This means that it is in the best interest of those who have heard to accept that what the President has said on the Bia­fra agitation is his irreducible stance.

How To Resolve The Kogi State Constitutional Conundrum

By Inibehe Effiong
The sudden death of Prince Abubakar Audu, the governorship candidate of the All Progressives Congress (APC) in Kogi State, on Sunday, 22nd November, 2015 has undoubtedly ignited a constitutional crisis. The tragic news which was first published by SaharaReporters has instigated controversy on what will be the possible legal implications or consequences of his death. 

Among the issues arising from the death of Prince Audu are the following:
1. Whether the running mate to Prince Audu and the APC deputy governorship candidate can assume the position and status of the deceased as the candidate of the APC;
2. If the question in 1 above is answered in the negative, can the APC substitute the deceased as its governorship candidate; and
3. Whether it is legally permissible in the circumstance for the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) to cancel the inconclusive election of Saturday November  21st 2015 and conduct a fresh throughout Kogi State.
This is unarguably a novel case. This is the first time in the course of a democratic transition that a validly nominated candidate of a political party in Nigeria will die after an inconclusive election but before and without paricipating in the supplementary election. It is unprecedented. The result is that there is no precedent that can be referred to which could aid in the resolution of the present case.

Who Really Wants Biafra?

By Ikechukwu Amaechi
In one of his recent articles, my brother and colleague, Oguwike Nwachuku, posited that based on the rabid anti-Igbo sentiment that seems to have become the all-consuming pastime of some Nigerians, there may well be a school where they are thought how to hate the Igbo.
Oguwike wrote in the wake of the Eze Ndigbo controversy in Akure, Ondo State and the resort to ethnic profiling by some Afenifere chieftains who derogatorily labelled Ndigbo “migrants” in their own country, even as they insist that the idea of one, indivisible, indissoluble Nigeria is non-negotiable.
In the last four weeks since some members of the Movement for the Actualisation of the Sovereign State of Biafra (MASSOB) and the Indigenous People of Biafra (IPOB) mobilised supporters to take to the streets, I have come to feel the intensity of the hatred against Ndigbo.
Given the opportunity, some people would not bat an eyelid in chasing the Igbo into the Atlantic Ocean as they wished before the April elections.
But just as I noted in my reaction to the Eze Ndigbo saga, those who call Ndigbo names and stoke the embers of morbid hatred against them across the land have not bothered to ask how many Igbo support the agitation for secession.
How many Igbo actually want another civil war? How many Igbo want to abandon their property again for those who were busy sleeping while they were sweating under the bridges, in the scorching sun to inherit?
The military, perhaps reading the now famous body language of the President and Commander-in-Chief, Muhammadu Buhari, has warned pro-Biafra protesters to stop or face the consequences.

Monday, November 23, 2015

Nigeria: Death, An Inconclusive Election And The Law

 By Kennedy Emetulu

If, as is likely, Prince Abubakar Audu, the gubernatorial candidate of the APC in the ongoing Kogi election has passed on, then a legal question to be decided by INEC and the courts is unquestionably before us, because the Constitution and the Electoral Act seemingly make no provisions for death of a candidate at this point of an inconclusive election. It’s the sort of challenge that the new INEC leadership under  Professor Mahmood Yakubu would not have prayed for.

*Late Abubakar Audu 

Let’s consider where we are. We have had an election held on Saturday, November 21, 2015. INEC has come out to announce that the election is “inconclusive”, because, according to the Returning Officer, Professor Emmanuel Kucha, the collation of results from the 21 local government areas of the state showed that the cancelled votes were higher in number than the margin between the leading candidate, Prince Abubakar Audu of the APC and the PDP candidate, Captain Idris Wada who was the runner-up. The Commission therefore decided on a supplementary election to determine the winner, but with no date fixed yet. So, in a de facto and de jure sense, the election is still ongoing. But then, something happened after this decision was taken. One of the candidates, Prince Abubakar Audu reportedly died before the conclusion of this election or before the proposed supplementary election that should have concluded the whole process.

So, what does our law say? Here is what the Constitution says:

Section 181(1): “If a person duly elected as Governor dies before taking and subscribing the Oath of Allegiance and oath of office, or is unable for any reason whatsoever to be sworn in, the person elected with him as Deputy-Governor shall be sworn in as Governor and he shall nominate a new Deputy-Governor who shall be appointed by the Governor with the approval of a simple majority of the House of Assembly of the State”.

Clearly, this provision does not apply to the situation on the ground, because Prince Abubakar Audu was not the Governor-Elect before he died. So, Abiodun Faleke, his running-mate was not elected the Deputy-Governor and therefore cannot be sworn into office in line with Section 181(1).

 How about the Electoral Act 2010 (as amended)? Here is what it says:

Section 36 (I): “If after the time for the delivery of nomination paper and before the commencement of the poll, a nominated candidate dies, the Chief National Electoral Commissioner or the Resident Electoral Commissioner shall, being satisfied of the fact of the death, countermand the poll in which the deceased candidate was to participate and the Commission shall appoint some other convenient date for the election within 14 days”.

Again, technically speaking, this section does not seemingly apply to the situation we are in. This is because the poll has already commenced, but is yet to be concluded before the candidate died.

Further, with regard to the change or substitution of a candidate by a political party, the Electoral Act in section 33 says: “A political party shall not be allowed to change or substitute its candidate whose name has been submitted pursuant to section 32 of this Act, except in the case of death or withdrawal by the candidate”. Section 32 (1) of the Electoral Act referred to above says: “A candidate for an election shall be nominated in writing by such number of persons whose names appear on the register of voters in the constituency as the Commission may prescribe”. So, what section 33 is saying is that a political party cannot substitute the name of anyone duly nominated under section 32(1) with another name or candidate except in the case of (1) death and (2) withdrawal.

Audu’s Death Created Strange And Novel Constitutional Scenario

By Festus Keyamo
The reported death on Sunday, November 22nd, 2015, of the APC candidate in the Kogi State Governorship elections, Prince Abubakar Audu, is extremely shocking and sad. I would like to express my condolences to the entire family of Audu and to the people of Kogi State. However, the real question agitating the minds of everybody is the legal implication regarding the inconclusive Governorship elections at the time of his demise.

 Late Prince Abubakar Audu
To state it correctly he was said to have died AFTER the announcement of the results by INEC and after INEC had declared the elections inconclusive. Admittedly, this is a strange and novel constitutional scenario. It has never happened in our constitutional history to the extent that when an election has been partially conducted (and not before or after the elections) a candidate dies. What then happens? This is a hybrid situation between what happened in the case of Atiku Abubakar/Boni Haruna in 1999 and the provision of section 33 of the Electoral Act, 2010.

In the case of Atiku Abubakar/Boni Haruna [which is now a clear constitutional provision of section 181(1) of the 1999 Constitution (as amended)] the Supreme Court held, in effect, that “if a person duly elected as Governor dies before taking and subscribing the Oath of Allegiance and oath of office, or is unable for any reason whatsoever to be sworn in, the person elected with him as Deputy governor shall be sworn in as Governor and he shall nominate a new Deputy-Governor who shall be appointed by the Governor with the approval of a simple majority of the house of Assembly of the State”.

Saturday, November 21, 2015

Change, Nigeria’s Political Challenges, And The Canadian Example

By Nduka Otiono

The generally peaceful conduct of the March 28, 2015 Nigerian presidential election and the gracious acceptance of defeat by the incumbent President Goodluck Jonathan of the People’s Democratic Party (PDP) strongly signaled that Nigeria may have turned a new page, politically.

Other indicators of a new turn for Africa’s largest democratic country and economy are the following firsts in the country’s annals: the widespread innovative use of technology for the process—the use of card readers; the overthrow of the ruling PDP by the General Muhammadu Buhari-led All Progressives Congress (APC) through the ballot box after 16 years of dominance; the election of four none indigenes of a state (Lagos State) as members of the Federal House of Representatives; and the above-average performance of the National Electoral Commission in ways that suggest considerable independence of the electoral umpire.  

Although news reports suggested a poor turnout for the second-tier of the 2015 elections into governorship and state parliamentary positions, the relative voter apathy did not becloud the overall plaudits that the current political process has earned locally and internationally. So, too, did the reports of violence leading to death in sections of the country and the localized electoral malpractices not detract from the respectable scorecard of the electoral commission.  

Friday, November 20, 2015

Remembering Ken Saro-Wiwa

By Banji Ojewale

We are prepared to fight to the last cup of blood…
The Ogoni people are determined: everyman, woman and child will die before Nigerians will steal their oil anymore
–  Ken Saro-Wiwa (1941-1945)

20 years ago on November10,1995, more than two years after he made this grim prediction, Ken Saro-Wiwa, renowned writer, TV producer, newspaper columnist and irrepressible minority and environment rights campaigner did indeed die. But not a natural death. He was executed along with eight others by a Nigerian state in the grip of military dictator Sani Abacha who felt he had run out of patience with the man that pummeled Nigeria for her tragic ecological record in the Niger Delta notably, Ogoni land.

Ken battled the reckless degradation of Ogoni as no one else did. For years before he was arrested and subjected to a kangaroo trial that ended with his execution, Saro-Wiwa stood on the tripod of intellectual discourse, writing and peaceful protests to lash out at the conspiracy of government and the oil companies that despoiled his people. He argued that this infernal bond between an “irresponsible” government and “indifferent” oil companies resulting in death-dealing blows on his kinsmen was unacceptable. Big money came from the frenetic oil exploration (exploitation). But Ogoni had nothing to show for being the bird that produced the golden eggs. Instead Ogoni had pain. Saro-Wiwa lamented that these arose from the fact that in a so-called federal set up the rights of the minority were appropriated by the state and added to the rights of the majority ethnic groups.

So quite early in his life, Saro-Wiwa decided to fight the system that encouraged this arrangement. He studied the writings of the great Chief Obafemi Awolowo, for whom he had a god-like reverence. Awo’s philosophy on how to handle the minority question-detailed in three of the major books he wrote between the 50s and 60s-warned against a contraption justifying or allowing for the economic and political suppression of the small groups by the ethnic ones. The system must accommodate the minorities as equal partners enjoying the same rights as the majors; they must have autonomy and be allowed control of their resources and their environment in the same way the majority was allowed. He predicted calamitous outcome if the minorities were not so permitted to be. The collapse of Yugoslavia and USSR proved Awolowo right.

Alleged Missing 105 Soldiers: Report Grossly Exaggerated – Nigerian Army

Press Release 
The attention of the Theatre Command Headquarters Maiduguri has been drawn to various releases on social media on the operation at Gudumbali , northern Borno State. Most of the publications are not only fictions but imagination of the writers that have no iota of knowledge on military operation. Unfortunately, this is coming at a time when the military has created several avenues for them to get first hand information on our activities.

In the quest to be on the same footing with each Nigerian, Media centre was established in the North East. Additional to this is the open door policy of the leadership style of our chief of Army Staff Lt Gen TY Buratai where he carries throughout his operational engagements media personalities. For the records Gulumba was captured by own troops on 10 November 2015 and our troops deployed to secure and weed off Boko Haram terrorists.

President Buhari Dupes The United States!

With the glitter of fool’s gold, Nigeria’s recently elected  President Muhammadu Buhari arrived in the United States in July uttering time-worn democracy vows to President Barack Obama and his administration. Among other things, he pledged at the United States Institute for Peace to combat graft with procedures that would be “fair, just, and scrupulously follow due process and the rule of law, as enshrined in our constitution.”
Skepticism is in order— a conclusion reinforced by the ongoing persecution of  former National Security Advisor Sambo Dasuki for alleged money laundering and illegal possession of firearms.
But first some background.
Mr. Buhari initially tasted power as a military dictator following a coup de tat in 1983. His dictatorship was earmarked by chilling human rights abuses. Take the word of Nigerian Nobel Prize laureate Wole Soyinka.
Among other things … Mr. Buhari’s draconian edicts, exemplified by Decree 20 under which the judicial murders of Nigerian citizens Lawal Ojuolape, Bernard Ogedengbe, and Bartholomew Owoh were authorized. Mr. Obedengbe was executed for a crime that did not carry the death penalty at the time it was committed in violation of the universal revulsion of ex post facto laws…
Mr. Buhari turned the nation into a slave plantation, and forbade the slaves from any discussion of their enslavement—especially a return to democracy. He favored the north over the south, dividing rather than unifying Nigeria after the convulsions of the 1967-70 Biafran War. He lent support to the introduction of Sharia law in the North—a major source of strife and disharmony.
Mr. Buhari’s brutal military dictatorship was overthrown in 1985. Mr. Dasuki played a key role. Dictators do not forget. Fast forward to today.
After celebrating fairness, due process, and the rule of law last July to win the good will of the United States, Mr. Buhari returned to Nigeria to mock all three in a vendetta against the Dasuki, the immediate past National Security Adviser.
He placed Mr. Dasuki under house arrest. He confiscated his passport. He charged him with firearms and money laundering violations. He sought a secret trial to prevent independent scrutiny.
He opposed Mr. Dasuki’s pretrial application to the Federal High Court sitting in Abuja for permission to receive urgent medical treatment for cancer in London, but it was nonetheless granted.
Justice Adeniyi Ademola explained that an accused is presumed innocent before trial, and that a citizen’s health is paramount before the law. Mr. Buhari was ordered to release Mr. Dasuki’s international passport.
Mr. Buhari defied the order. He put Mr. Dasuki’s house under siege, a microcosm of the Bosnian Serb siege of Sarajevo. Mr. Dasuki returned to court. Justice Ademola reaffirmed his order, asserting “My own orders will not be flouted.”

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