Monday, 30 November 2009

Citizen Report: Last Minute Desperate Moves To Secure Bail For Jailed Nigerian Ruling Party Chieftain

                                            [Bode George]

Three citizen reporters have respectively filed in reports about the desperation of associates of the jailed Peoples' Democratic Party(PDP) chieftain, rtd. Navy Commodore Bode George, to get him out of jail on bail at the Court of Appeal when the case comes up tomorrow.

One of the reports filed in from Boston in the United States of America(USA), revealed that the son of a former Supreme Court Justice have been enlisted to "lobby" the Judges who will decide the case. The businessman in his mid 40s was reported to have arrived Abuja last friday.

The other report from Lagos indicated that a member of  Editorial Board of a prominent newspaper have been given a huge sum to "lobby" his colleagues and some vocal activists. This gentleman is reportedly finding it difficult to penetrate the ranks of the activists.

The third report from Kaduna indicated that the second wife of a former Chief Justice have been enlisted to prevail on the President's wife to placate hawks in the President's kitchen cabinet, "who have sworn that George would rot in jail."

chidi opara reports could not independently confirm these reports.

Cartoon Speak

(From Nigeria Villagesquare)

Photospeak: Federal Republic Of (Northern) Nigeria

Umaru Musa Yar'Adua, from Katsina State is the President and consequently head of the Executive arm of Government.

Senator David Mark from Benue State is the President of Senate, a position which makes him head of the legislative arm of Government.

The Supreme Court, headquarters of the Judiciary would by January, 2010, be headed by Justice Aloysius Katsina-Alu from Benue State.

Saturday, 28 November 2009

Nigerian President's Ill Health: Military Coup On The Card

                               [Coup Scene]

Whispers reaching chidi opara reports from security circles point to the possibility of military take over of government in the event that the President's ill health progresses to a point where he can no longer perform the duties of the office.

This coup buzz, we gathered, was as a result of the reluctance of the Vice-president, Dr. Goodluck Jonathan to yield to pressure by the Yar'Adua kitchen cabinet to submit a signed undated letter of resignation, "in the interest of the nation", which would be presented to the Nigerian parliament if the need arise. Dr Jonathan is constitutionally empowered to step into the office of the President, if for any reason the President is unable to perform the duties of that office.

The President is a Fulani moslem from northern Nigeria, while the Vice-president is an Ijaw christian from the south. There is presently an unofficial power sharing arrangement between the north and the south. President Yar'Adua would be occupying the northern slot for eight years from 2007.

Unconfirmed information at our disposal has it that the military coup option have been on the card of Mr. Yar'Adua's kitchen cabinet as second option, "should Goodluck Jonathan's kinsmen prevail on him not to resign".

chidi opara reports learnt that by yesterday morning when it became obvious that "the Vice-president would not walk the part of national interest", the President's kitchen cabinet had started to reach out to their contacts in the military services "to be at alert".

Although the President's medical team had reportedly assured his kitchen cabinet that his ill health could be managed for the remaining period of his first term in office, they are reported to be taking no chances.

"If the President dies or becomes incapacitated in any way to perform the duties, and the Vice-president refuses to resign, pointers are that there would be a takeover of government by the northern/moslem wing of the Nigerian military establishment"' a German security expert, who have been involved in security consultancy in Nigeria for the past fifteen years told chidi opara reports in Port Harcourt today. The security expert, a former military Intelligence officer in the German army, who presently renders security consultancy services to oil and gas concerns further posited that "Mr. VP cannot muster enough security to protect himself if eventually he was asked to take over, considering the covert ethnic factor in the Nigerian military and security sevices".

Photonews: The Annual Best Of Nigeria Awards Holding Today

Friday, 27 November 2009

News Release: Former Nigerian Minister, El-Rufai's Message



I write to inform you of my intention to return home to Nigeria in December, after a period of academic studies and rest. As you are aware, I left Nigeria last year to take up a Mason Fellowship and enroll in the Public Policy Program at Harvard. Well before my departure, the Yar’Adua administration began and sustained a campaign of calumny against my person and my record as a public servant. The government has orchestrated and reinforced such falsehoods as the alleged disappearance of N32 billion from the proceeds of the Sale of Federal Government Houses. In addition, it has contrived to declare me wanted and has filed criminal charges against me in court. Its agents have repeatedly fed the media with tales of an international arrest warrant and extradition. As an aside, I want to clear the air on this issue and state that there is no truth to such reports as I have travelled widely to all corners of the globe and continue to do so even as I write you.

Not content with efforts to damage my reputation, the government has also attempted to restrict my citizenship and my freedom of movement by denying me a passport, a move that fortunately back fired after secret memos were made public and had to be reversed. You may note the duplicity of a government that sought to sell the dummy that I was a wanted international fugitive fleeing his country while at the same time taking steps to ensure I am unable to return to the country when it got wind of my plans to return by denying me consular services.

All these desperate moves by the Yar’Adua administration have their roots in its paranoia; that its incompetence may provoke its rejection by the Nigerian people who could look the way of more viable democratic alternatives - looking up to reformers that actually got programs executed in the past instead of endless sloganeering of the present!.Since June 2007, the government has been implementing an agenda to destroy me, and my colleagues in the Economic Team. Through all these, I have stated repeatedly that no machinations can keep me out of my beloved country. Despite the deployment of its awesome powers, this administration will not procure surrender or a retreat into impotent resignation from me. A government cannot be permitted to abuse its power in resolving political differences. As such I have chosen to return home, and contribute my quota to restoring Nigeria to a path of sustainable change and reform.

I have been warned that returning home would be as dangerous to my personal health and safety as it would be hazardous to my liberty. While I fully understand the significance of these perils, I am persuaded that there is a duty to ensure that no government flouts the guarantees and protections offered by our Constitution and laws of the land as well as the customs of our people. It is my belief that the effort to make ours a truly law abiding society will not be advanced if I put my personal safety above principles, and stay away.

The majority of my friends, family and loved ones have urged me to remain abroad, for it is best to be safe than to be sorry. I therefore seek their understanding and continued support even if I am unable to accept their counsel. Instead, my head and heart believe it is the right thing to do, and connect strongly to the timeless words of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr:

Cowardice asks the question – is it safe? Expediency asks the question is it politic? Vanity asks the question - is it popular? But conscience asks the question is it right? And there comes a time when one must take a position that is neither safe, nor politic, nor popular; but one must take it because it is right.

But I have no illusions that constitutional protections just kick in on their own or that this can be undertaken as one man’s battle. It is the clearly expressed determination of the cream of any society to stand up for what is right that has throughout history safeguarded respect for the rights of all.

In returning home, I intend to continue the pursuit of the raft of cases I have instituted in the courts against the government. I also stand ready to pursue my defense in the one case the government has instituted against me. I call upon you to lend your voice to the insistence that government, its agents and all public institutions respect the constitution, and refrain from illegal acts and obstructions against my person. I do not ask for anything more than the protections our laws afford every citizen of Nigeria.

While I resolve justiciable issues through the legal system, I intend upon my return home to continue my contribution to the democratic process and progress of Nigeria. It is my goal to work with like-minded Nigerians to organize and empower our youths to participate in politics and public service. I believe that such an effort would build the momentum necessary to improve the quality of life and the life expectancy of our people by promoting accountable democracy that turns Nigerians from onlookers to stakeholders in the Nigerian project. Our people have had to endure too many false starts, with every brief dawn swiftly replaced by a long, dark night of incompetence and mismanagement.

As the first decade of the 21st Century draws to a close, the challenge is to ensure that the next decade actually delivers on the potentials that our resources and endowments as a people have always suggested. If we give it our best endeavours, ours could well be the generation that delivers to those behind us a legacy they will find worthy of emulating. My commitment to such an outcome is total and unflinching. I am convinced that Nigeria needs to be tied to her potential not her past.

When the return schedule is finalized, I will publicly announce the date of my arrival into Abuja. And I shall return, in sha Allah, trusting in the benevolence of Allah and the goodwill and prayers of the people of Nigeria that we shall once again overcome tyranny as we seek to entrench democracy and results-oriented governance.

I thank you for your patience in reading my message.

Yours sincerely,

Nasir Ahmad El-Rufai, OFR

News Release: Nigerian President Suffering From Acute Pericarditis

                                             [President Yar'Adua]

At about 3pm on Friday, November 20th, after he returned from the Abuja Central Mosque where he performed the Juma’at prayers, President Umaru Musa Yar’Adua complained of left sided severe chest pain. Preliminary medical examinations suggested Acute Pericarditis, (an inflammatory condition of the coverings of the heart).

It was then decided that he should undertake confirmatory checks at the King Faisal Specialist Hospital and Research Centre in Jeddah, Saudi Arabia where he had his last medical check-up in August.

The medical review and tests undertaken at the hospital have confirmed the initial diagnosis that the President is indeed suffering from Acute Pericarditis.

He is now receiving treatment for the ailment and is responding remarkably well.

Dr. Salisu Banye, FWACP
Chief Physician to the President

Thursday, 26 November 2009

Nigerian President To Lobby Saudi Financiers To Stop Funding For Opposition Presidential Candidates Come 2011

                                             [Nigerian President]

Inspite of the Nigerian President's mild ill health which resulted in his being flown to Saudi Arabia for medical checks about two days ago, contacts in the Saudi Embassy in Abuja have revealed to chidi opara reports that the President is scheduled to hold private meetings with a select group of Saudi financiers to lobby them against funding opposition political parties candidates in the forthcoming presidential election. The President was briefly hospitalized at the King Fahd Armed Forces Hospital in Jeddah. He is reportedly in good health and is scheduled to attend a private sallah dinner today at the palace of the Saudi king. He is believed to be preparing for a second term in office.

One Saudi Diplomat told a chidi opara reports network member in Abuja yesterday that "one of the meetings would be between your President and a relation of the King".

An Egyptian Journalist who is currently on hajj in Saudi Arabia told us in an online interaction that the relation of the King whom the President would be meeting with today or tomorrow is reputed to be "a strong financier of political parties candidates with strong Islamic ideology in Nigeria". This relation of the Saudi monarch is reported to be organizing other financiers to also hear the President out.

Checks by chidi opara reports revealed that prominent politicians from the predominantly Islamic northern Nigeria are getting ready to seriously challenge the President in the 2011 presidential election. Further checks also revealed that most of these politicians are funded by financiers from Saudi Arabia and other oil rich Arab countries. The Presidency was zoned to northern Nigeria in 2007 for eight years.

A Presidency insider informed us this morning that "this is one of the strategies of Mr. President's think tank for 2011".

Wednesday, 25 November 2009

News Release: Knock Out For “De-regulation”: The Truth From Venezuela

                                             [Map Of Venezuela]

Afenifere Renewal Group (ARG) received with excitement the sound admonition to the Federal Government of Nigeria not to hand over the economy of the country to foreigners by the Venezuelan Ambassador to Nigeria, Mr. Enrique Arrundell.

The rare advice from an unexpected quarter has vindicated genuine patriotic forces that have insisted that deregulation is not in the best interest of Nigeria and its people. Unfortunately the Government has been deaf to these calls and it has received the backings of the Senate and the House of Representatives on this obnoxious policy.

Ambassador Arrundell who was responding to the appeal by Nigeria’s Information Minister, Prof. Dora Akunyuli, to encourage businessmen from his country to come to Nigeria and establish refineries in order to reap the benefits of the proposed deregulation of the downstream sector of the petroleum industry, did point out what a responsible government should do.

“In Venezuela, since 1999, we’ve never had a raise in fuel price. We only pay $1.02 to fill the tank of a car. What I pay for with N12,000 here (Nigeria), in Venuzuela, I will pay N400… our President decided one day to control the industry because it belongs to Venezuelans”.

This great friend of Nigeria recalled that Venezuela had once toed the path of foolishness Nigeria has been traveling for 51 years. “Before 1999, we had three to four companies working with us. That time, they were taking 80% and giving us 20%. Now we have 90% and give them 10%. But now, we have 22 countries working with us on that condition”.

Nigeria, the 6th largest producer of oil in the world has placed its oil explorations in the hands of foreign joint venture partners who take away 40% and leave the country with 60% of what they declare. We have been boxed into a resource “curse” as we export crude at a price buyers determine and import refined products at a price sellers determine. We have four refineries that have been run down with billions of Naira stolen under the guise of Turn Around Maintenance (TAM) but none functioning!

Where Venezuela has gone ahead to build 12 refineries in the United States and 18,000 gas stations in the West Coast, Nigeria wants to take crude for refinement in Senegal 51 years after oil exploration.

The outcomes of the two models have been very visible. The deliveries from a responsible and irresponsible leadership have been poles apart. Most of the 60% Nigeria takes from its joint venture goes into graft while 60% of Venezuela income goes to social programmes. While most Nigerians have no access to medical facilities, in Venezuela; it is the doctors who go to people’s houses to ask if they need medical services. While the office of statistics has lost track of illiteracy level in Nigeria, education is totally free in Venezuela with no illiterate people.

And of course the ringing indictment came for the incompetent political leadership in Nigeria by Mr. Arrundell “How come Nigeria that has more technical manpower than Venezuela, with 150 Million people and very intellectual people all around has not been able to get it right? The question is: If you are not handling your resources, how are you going to handle the country?”

It is simply because these guys can’t handle the country that has thrown Nigeria to the mess it is in today. The Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) has in the last 10 years consolidated that irresponsibility by enthroning corruption, mismanagement, waste and mortgaging of our national interest.

Nigerians must give strong backing to labour to defeat the deregulation moves, which would only make life more unbearable for our people. What ever it is the present price regime must be sustained until the government is able to fix the refineries. The so called “subsidy” should be taken care of from the excess loot.

The various constituents must also begin to send strong signals to their elected or selected representatives in the National Assembly to know that, they must withdraw their support for deregulation if they want to return home and be welcomed.

By far more urgent is the need for our people to brace up for the challenge of regime change. The Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) has shown that it cannot do better than the present ruination it is inflicting on the country. It cannot manage the economy in the interest of the citizens except to mismanage it for the greed of its chieftains. There is the immediate need for a political formation that can develop a blue print that will ensure that the “resources of the Nigerian people are for Nigerians” and galvanize the people for a change.

We thank Mr. Arrundell for his “undiplomatic” truths to Nigeria in distress. Like Ambassador Walter Carrington, a monument will come up in his name when Nigeria gets it right!

‘Yinka Odumakin
National Publicity Secretary,
Afenifere Reneal Group (ARG)

Editorial: Nigerian Press And Practice Of Journalism Council Bill

The Nigerian Press And Practice Of Journalism Council Bill before the Nigerian lower Parliament, the House Of Representatives, sponsored by a two term House member, Abike Dabiri-Erewa, member of Action Congress Party(AC), representing Ikorodu Federal Constituency of Lagos State have been generating reactions, especially from news media practitioners.

These reactions are mostly negative, arising from suspicion that governments in Nigeria have one agenda in common, which is to stifle the news media, especially the privately owned ones.

What perhaps lent credence to this suspicion is the fact that  sucessive governments in Nigeria have at one time or another proscribed news media organizations, imprisoned and even killed some practitioners on flimsy accusations of "unethical practices". So when Dabiri-Erewa's bill surfaced, practitioners naturally cried persecution.

Aside from the several unworkable clauses in the said bill, we at chidi opara reports would like to point out a serious lacuna therein. The bill made no serious efforts to take into consideration, the matter of the new media.

Over the last few years, news information production have largely shifted to the Internet, thus an editor can live in United States Of America for instance, gets news reports from  reporters in Nigeria, edits same while attending conferences anywhere in the civilized world and with a press on a keyboard, publishes these news reports for the whole world to read. In the event of "unethical practices", how , if we may ask, would the council which would be domiciled in Nigeria, take actions against the editor/news media organization. We at chidi opara reports believe that the bill was dead on arrival because if it is eventually passed into law, most practitioners in the traditional media would move to the Internet.

Jounalism, we must say, has inherent checks. Aside from rejoinders, readers can now post comments on stories carried by news sites{blogs). News media organizations can be sued for damages, while reporters and editors can also be sued for libel and/or arraigned for sedition if need be. There is ofcourse the matter of self regulation, which is premised on the fact that if a news media organization looses credibility, it looses readership, which is the foundation of its existence.

The aforementioned checks in our opinion is better than the unworkable control which the bill seeks to put in the hands of the proposed council, whose chairman woud be appointed by the President on the recommendation of the Minister Of Information.

Tuesday, 24 November 2009

Citizen Report: Nigerian President Travelled Out Of Country Without Handing Over To Deputy


A citizen reporter, who is also an administrative officer in the Presidency have just filed in a report that the Nigerian President, Mr. Umaru Yar'Adua who just left the country to Saudi Arabia for medical check up, travelled without handing over to his deputy, Dr. Goodluck Jonathan as demanded by the constitution.

"It is not yet clear if Mr. President handed over to any other person, if he did, it must have been in secret", the report concludes.

chidi opara reports  have not been able so far to independently confirm this information.

Monday, 23 November 2009

Assasination: Nigeria's Rivers State Government May Engage Private Isreali Security Company To Protect Key Personnels

                                             [Chibuike Rotimi Amaechi]

The assasination on friday 20th November, 2009 of Mr. Charles Nsiegbe, a close aide of the Rivers State governor, Mr. Chibuike Rotimi Amaechi may have quickened the Oil rich state governor's decission to expand the brief of a private Isreali security outfit to include "Executive Protection Service", chidi opara reports have reliably learnt.

Well placed contacts inside the governor's office informed us that for sometime now, the governor have been under pressure from one of his very close friends to expand the brief  of the security company to include the protection of key government house personnels.

This governor's close friend, a Journalist based outside Nigeria  was reported to be the person who introduced the security company to him. The outfit presently handles tracking of kidnappers in the state.

One contact told one of our network members yesterday that " Oga is seriously considering expanding their job, my brother, we need serious security around us".

Investigation by chidi opara reports revealed that after the kidnap of Professor Nimi Briggs and the wife of the rich Ijaw Oil and Gas tycoon, Mr. Olu Benson Lulu-Briggs, the Rivers State government through this Journalist, engaged the service of the security outfit "to track kidnappers". The efficiency of the company, according to theses insiders, was proved when during the kidnap of the renowned novelist, Mr. Elechi Amadi, security personnels using the company's sophisticated gadgets, informed the kidnappers of their exact location, which made them to release the writer within twenty-four hours with no ransom paid. The company we also learnt on good authority have been introduced to the Abia State government.

Checks in security circles in Port Harcourt, revealed that the Isreali security experts mostly engage in "discreet survillance and preventive security".

chidi opara reports could not locate any office or any personnel of the security company. A middle aged male Isreali national was however, noticed yesterday shuttling between the government reserved area(GRA) five star hotel suite of the Journalist and the governor's lodge.

Sunday, 22 November 2009

News Release: We Condemn Nigeria’s Further Slip In The Ranking Of Corruption Index

                                          [Nigerian Flag]

The Movement Against Corruption in Nigeria (MAC), a not-for-profit independent conglomeration of civil society organizations, trade unions, faith-based organizations, community based organisations, the media, businesses (farmers, and artisans cooperative societies), human rights activists, academics, women, students, and youth groups from across Nigeria berates Nigeria’s further drop from the ladder of the global anti-corruption watchdog, Transparency International, ranking. The report released on November 17th, 2009 ranked Nigeria 130 out of 180 countries in the 2009 Corruption Perception Index (CPI).

This latest ranking, like the previous one, is an indictment on Nigerian government’s half- hearted war against corruption in the country. The haphazard approach of the government in the fight against corruption; the fire-brigade approaches utilized by the anti-corruption agencies; the limitless immunity enjoyed by our public office holders; and the undue connivance of the judiciary in granting perpetual injunction prohibiting investigation into graft matters particularly involving former governors contributed in no small measure to the decline recorded. In 2008 Nigeria ranked 121st with a CPI score of 2.7 and confidence range of between 2.3 and 3.0 while it presently ranked 130 with a lowly score of 2.5 out of possible ten obtainable especially if Cape Verde, a tiny West African nation emerged with a score of 5.1

It is indeed regrettable and condemnable that Nigeria has reached a threshold of rewarding corruption, dishonesty and indolence. No country ever achieved development without tackling the war against corruption seriously. The recent report of Transparency International made a mockery of President Yar’Adua’s 7-point agenda and his commitment to the fight against corruption in Nigeria.

The Movement Against Corruption in Nigeria (MAC) hereby reiterate that for the war against corruption to be successful, government at all levels must demonstrate strong political will to adequately tackle the scourge of corruption that has smitten our economic, social and political life. Until there is a holistic general reform programme cutting across all strata of our socio-economic and political systems, no real progress can be made in the fight against graft, electoral reform, constitutional review, economic reform, power generation and attainment of Millennium Development Goal.

MAC therefore calls for the government’s action in the:

• Removal of the Immunity Clause from the nation’s Constitution;

• Strengthening of anti-corruption agencies and the judiciary for effective and decisive war against corruption in the country;

• Immediate passage of Freedom of Information (FOI) Bill; and

• Passage of Justice Uwais Panel’s recommendation on Electoral Reform.

Imam Abdurahman Ahmad

20, Mojidi Street, Off Toyin Street, Ikeja – Lagos, Nigeria
Tel: 07033690566, 08085897682 Fax: 01-3451096

Friday, 20 November 2009

Citizen Report: Nuhu Ribadu Declared Wanted By Code Of Conduct Tribunal

A citizen reporter in Abuja filed in a report this afternoon that the immediate past Executive Chairman of the Economic And Financial Crimes Commission(EFCC), Mr. Nuhu Ribadu have been declared wanted by the Code Of Conduct Tribuanl sitting in Abuja, presided over by Justice Constance Momoh.

Ribadu, who is on self exile in Europe was arraigned at the tribunal for failure to submit his assets declararation form when due as stipulated by public service rules.

His failure to appear in person today to take his plea as ordered by the tribunal at its last sitting, reportedly necesitated the declaration.

chidi opara reports have since confirmed the declaration order.

The Achebe Colloquium on Nigerian Elections Holds On December 11, 2009 In Providence, Rhode Island

                                          [Chinua Achebe]

According to the organizers, "Conference themes will include problems, prospects and pathologies of 50 years of Nigerian independence; strategic interests of Nigeria and the United States; challenges of the Anambra Elections in 2010; lessons learned and problems ahead in monitoring Nigerian elections; strategies for free and fair polls in the 2010 elections and beyond".

Inaugural Edition Of West African Forum On Access To Quality Medicines Holds November 24th, 2009 In Accra Ghana


The inaugural edition of the West African forum on access to quality medicines, a programme of The Initiative for Public Policy Analysis, (IPPA Nigeria), Africanroundtable, IMANI – Ghana, the Health Access Network, and the mPedigree Network will hold on 24th November, 2009, at the La Palm Royal Beach Hotel(Homowo Conference Centre) Accra Ghana, from 9.00am to 6.00pm.

The Organizers in a statement contained in an invitation made available to chidi opara reports, said that “given the recent concern about the substandard quality of a significant proportion of the medicines sold and dispensed in the West African sub-region, the forum is urgently required to collect views of key stakeholders in the health sector about how to address these challenges”.

“Furthermore”, the statement continued, “the high prices of essential pharmaceuticals, and the difficulty marketers of medicines have in selling their products in other countries beyond their own, are also major concerns that need to be discussed”.

”These views”, the statement further revealed “will be used in a proposed draft policy paper on how to expand access to quality medicines for decision makers in the region”.

The conference will feature:

(1)Babatunde Osotimehin, (Minister of Health, Nigeria)

(2)Dr. Paul Orhii, (Director General, National Agency for Food Drug Administration and Control, Nigeria)

(3)Dr. Alex Dodoo, (President, Pharmaceutical Society of Ghana)

(4)Joseph Odumodu, (President, Pharmaceutical Manufacturers Group Of MAN)

(5)Mazi Sam Ohuanbunwa, (President, West African Pharmaceutical Manufacturers Association)

(6)Dr. Placido Monterio Cardoso, (WAHO Director-General)

(7)Dr. Daniel Kertesz, (WHO Representative)

(8)Dr. Stephen Opuni, (Chief Executive Ghana Food & Drugs Board)

Thursday, 19 November 2009

Article: Planting The Seeds Of Prosperity In Africa

                                         [Map Of Africa]

Last month, the International Monetary Fund and the African Export-Import Bank made $800-million in credit available to Zimbabwe.

This initiative is meant to help the country restore its ravaged economy. But for Zim and other nations that lack the basic institutions required to build wealth, simply loaning or giving them money is not an effective
strategy for reducing poverty. What's needed instead are programmes that foster the conditions that cause long-term prosperity and well-being.

A report just released by the Legatum Institute, an Independent development think tank, helps identify some of those conditions. The 2009 Legatum Prosperity Index was developed by a group of 13 distinguished economists and policy experts. The study ranks 104 nations by their level of prosperity.

Of the 15 countries that ranked lowest on the Index, nine are in Africa even though many African countries, from the small Guinea Bissau to the relatively large Ethiopia, were excluded from the rankings due to a dearth of data. Overall, 55% of Africa's population, and 90% of the world's population, is covered by the Index.

Africa's dismal performance can't be attributed to a lack of aid. The region received a total of $716-billion in international assistance between 1960 and 2006, after adjusting for inflation. Yet many countries in the region have failed to achieve sustained economic growth. In 1981, 53.7% of Africans were living below the poverty line. Today, that number is virtually unchanged - it's still above 50%.

While Africa's poverty has not diminished, other countries have become richer, creating an ever-widening degree of global economic inequality. In 1960, the average person living in Asia, for instance, was poorer than the average African. By 2003, the average Asian was almost 2.5 times richer than the average African.

For policymakers, then, the big question is as follows: If 50 years' worth of aid hasn't had much effect, what will? The Index points the way to an answer. It identifies nine ‘building blocks’ of prosperity - economic fundamentals, entrepreneurship and innovation, education, democratic institutions, governance, health, personal freedom, security, and social capital.

Nations lacking in these areas are at a serious disadvantage when it comes to achieving both wealth and happiness. Viewing Africa through this lens, the nature of the region's problems becomes clearer.

Look at Kenya, which ranked 95th on the Index. Almost a quarter of Kenyans live on less than $1 per day. The country's plight is exacerbated by a disastrously high incidence of HIV/Aids, with close to 5% of the population infected.

Traditional aid hasn't helped Kenya because it doesn't address the country's systemic problems. Kenya is plagued by high rates of assault, homicide and theft, due to frequent civil conflicts often caused by its repressive and corrupt government.

Or take Nigeria, which came in at 98th overall. The technology infrastructure in that country is very poor, with less than one personal computer per 100 people. Only 63% of Nigerian workers have attended primary school, and less than a third of the country's students have a secondary education. Nigerian elections are poorly regulated, and there's no independent judiciary. The result has been severe political instability that's crippled this nation of over 140-million.

Contrast the state of these two countries with South Africa which, at 51st, is the highest ranking African country on the Index, and would be higher were it not for its high crime and security concerns. South Africans have relatively robust civil liberties, including the right to freely associate with political and civic organizations’; 70% of the country's citizens report being satisfied with freedom of choice in their daily lives.

SA has exceptional entrepreneurial activity, with over 41,350 new businesses registered in 2007. And the SA school system has one teacher per 30 students - a good ratio relative not just to Africa, but to the world.

Another African success story is Botswana, which ranked 56th on the Index. Botswana has experienced consistent economic growth over the last few years. In fact, since it gained its independence from Great Britain in 1966, the country's economy has grown faster than China's by some measures. Botswana would have ranked even higher if it were not suffering from one of the world's worst Aids epidemics.

The country's progress is partially attributable to the fact that it's relatively democratic - 84% of Botswanans report that they're confident in the fairness of the judicial system, and 91% believe that the country's political elections are honest.

The Prosperity Index makes clear what many already know about prosperity: in order for any society to flourish over time, people need to feel safe, and have the freedom to express themselves, start businesses, practise their religion, keep healthy, and develop meaningful social connections.

Growth is absolutely vital for Africa. The last 50 years of development policy have shown that money alone, especially money donated, can't bring the region out of poverty. What's needed is a holistic approach that  focuses on the building blocks that empower Africans to help themselves.

By Thompson Ayodele and Roger Bate

(Roger Bate is the Legatum Fellow at the American Enterprise Institute in Washington, DC. Thompson Ayodele is the Executive Director of Initiative for Public Policy Analysis, a public-policy think tank based in Lagos, Nigeria).

Wednesday, 18 November 2009

Transparency International's Corruption Index

                                              [Interactive Map]

Every year, Transparency International ranks 180 countries to create its corruption index. Find out how each nation does

How endemic is corruption around the world - and where does it flourish?

Transparency International's 2009 Corruption Perceptions Index (CPI) is the world's most credible measure of of domestic, public sector corruption.

Figures released today show that public corruption in Afghanistan has worsened over the past two years and is now more rampant than in any country apart from Somalia. Afghanistan has sunk for the second straight year in this ranking of 180 nations based on perceived levels of corruption in the public sector.

The CPI scores countries on a scale of zero to 10, with zero indicating high levels of corruption and 10, low levels. That ranking is based on data from country experts and business leaders at 10 independent institutions, including the World Bank, Economist Intelligence Unit and World Economic Forum.

Countries which saw their ranking drop included Iran, which fell to 1.8 from 2.3 following the presidential election in June. Political turmoil also contributed to a fall in Ukraine's score to 2.2 from 2.5. Greece saw its score slide to 3.8 from 4.7, reflecting insufficient 'anti-corruption enforcement', lengthy delays in the judicial process and a string of corporate scandals that TI said pointed to "systemic weaknesses".

Fragile, unstable states that are scarred by war and ongoing conflict linger at the bottom of the index. Meanwhile, the highest scorers in the 2009 CPI are New Zealand, Denmark, Singapore, Sweden and Switzerland.

But the vast majority of countries in the 2009 index scored below five.

The full data is below.

Download Data Here

[From ]

Tuesday, 17 November 2009

Nigerian Human Rights Lawyer Writes President

Castle Of Law
4th Floor Metro Plaza, CBD, Abuja-NIGERIA

16th November 2009

The President,
Federal Republic of Nigeria
The Presidency,
Aso Villa,
Abuja, FCT.

Your Excellency,

Two-Week Unwarranted Close Down Of Public Schools In Abuja, FCT For “2009 Abuja Carnival”
(A Call For The Review Of Unjustifiable Close Down And Resignation Of The FCT Minister.)

I am constrained to write you this letter as a Nigeria Citizen, father, guardian and a lawyer with dedicated and patriotic interest in keeping a close watch on the nation’s state of affairs as well as advocating for and ensuring good governance in our dear country.

I am sure that it is within your knowledge that the seat of your government, Abuja will pay host to the annual cultural cum tourist festival tagged “2009 Abuja Carnival” with the theme “Celebrate Nigeria” which will take place between 21st - 24th November 2009 in which 36 States of the Nigeria Federation and FCT will show case their cultural heritage to the delight of the residents and tourists of Abuja.

From the past events which my family and our visitors have been graciously invited to attend, the Carnival has to do with glitz, colours and excitements; simply, it is a street party. The event is indeed fascinating and desirable but it is however not interesting and beat me hollow to understand that the Administrators of the Public Educational system in Abuja under the able supervision of the Honourable Minister of Federal Capital Territory (FCT), Senator Adamu Aliero has unilaterally declared the closure of Public Schools in Abuja for the preparation and hosting 2009 Abuja Carnival.

This therefore translate to the effect that for a mere 3 days street jamboree and party christened Abuja Carnival the learning students in public schools will be shut out from educational activities for the next 167 (One Hundred and Sixty Seven) hours; 14 days.

I am of the strong view that our education system is of great value to the development of human resources, especially at this developing stage of our dear nation.

Therefore, I with respect view the two week unwarranted closure as another reflection of the infamous Boko Haram (Detest against Western Education), a stride which is completely antithetical to the universally quest for education.

I therefore, deem it fit to call your attention to this insensitivity on the part of the Honourable Minister of FCT and therefore urge you to review this anti-education decision as well as relieve Senator Adamu Aliero of the post of Minister of FCT with other officials that are wittingly or unwittingly involved in this unprogressive decision.

Education is the bedrock of any nation’s development whereas the Minister has not demonstrated any commitment to promote this important sector, as it would be recalled that this same minister had in the past used funds budgeted for the educational sector for other purposes.

I wish to restate my commitment and support to any measures that will ensure good governance in Nigeria.

Accept, please, your Excellency, the firm assurances of my highest regards.

Yours truly,

Kayode Ajulo, Esq.

Meeting With MEND: Nigerian President Bows To Security Warnings From Super Nations

                                                 [Nigerian President]

Indications have emerged that the secret meeting between the negotiating team appointed by the Movement For The Emancipation Of Niger Delta(MEND), otherwise known as "Aaron Team" and the Nigerian President on saturday 14th November, 2009 was necesitated by security warnings from super nations namely; France, Britain, USA, Rusia and China. The Nigerian government had hitherto refused to talk with MEND's "Aaron Team".

Presidency insiders told chidi opara reports that for the past one month, the President's desk have been receiving lots of security warnings from these super nations, particularly France.

These warnings according to a senior security aide in the office of the National Security Adviser(NSA), pointed to the fact that there are lots of poor and disgruntled retired military and para-military personnels in the country who are well trained in the operation of sophisticated weaponry, who can be readily recruited by MEND to replace the fighters who embraced amnesty. This report, according to this security aide went further to conclude that illegal arms purchase outlets are everywhere waiting for any patrons with money.

One particular security warning according to a senior State Security Service(SSS) personnel also in the Presidency, "was emphatic that there are still armed militants in the creeks of Niger Delta".

These militants, our checks revealed, usually confine their movements to parts of the creeks where security boats cannot patrol.

Aside from these security warnings, chidi opara reports also learnt that Oil and Gas majors who also reportedly got the same security warnings from their home governments, issued a subtle threat to the effect that they would close shop if the government fail to establish lasting peace in the restive oil and gas region by early next year.

"Look madam reporter, we are the unseen government in this country, but please don't mention my name-o", a lady who works in the office of a senior expatriate staffer of a multi-national oil and gas conglomerate boasted to one of our network members in Port Harcourt.

Article: Deregulation, PDP Government And Development In Nigeria

                                                    [PDP Logo]

The public discussion and showmanship that accompany the inevitable and impending implementation of the deregulation programme of the right wing PDP and other governments in Nigeria are at the verge of a crescendo. The Labour movement naturally is very vocal in its opposition to the imperialist imposed programme in respect of the downstream sector of the petroleum industry. On the exploiter side of the contest stand the right wing governments of Nigeria led by the Peoples Democratic Party PDP.

The purpose of this paper is to discuss the politics involved in deregulation in all its ramifications and to propose an enduring solution to the monstrous problem that deregulation constitutes in the needed economic development of Nigeria.

What Is Deregulation?:
It is necessary to answer this question so that we will understand the issues we are actually discussing or fighting over.

Deregulation is an essential component of the Structural Adjustment Programme SAP that was slapped on Nigeria and other third world unindustrialised economies in 1985 by the IMF and imbibed by the military dictatorship led by Babangida and his cohort. It was introduced into the Nigerian state policy as an invasion by international capitalism in the name of neo liberalism peddled as market reforms or in local political parlance PPP public private partnership whereby public assets are transferred to selected private interests, usually the right wing politicians, their local funders and their foreign promoters. The other two key elements of the programme are privatisation and downsizing.

The right wing promoters of the neo liberal policies and their agents try to sell the concept that government has no business in doing business. But they do not highlight the truth that the same people who deliberately make government companies and projects to fail by stealing, fraudulent practices, project cost bloating, bribery, project splitting, pre arranged after award cost reviews, and other forms of corruption that result in non performance in the face of fee collection and other corrupt practices turn round to be the buyers of the public companies in the privatisation process.

They are the same professionals and experts who ran the public institutions aground and move on to buy Nigerian national assets cheaply and thereafter make the privatised companies work and make vast profits for the new owners.

Deregulation goes much beyond the petroleum downstream economy that merely happens to be the one generating heated discussion in the country today. It has been carried out by the military and PDP governments in the telecommunication sector and is on in the transportation and energy sectors. It is indeed being carried out in social services sectors like education and healthcare delivery.

Position Of The Right Wing Governments:
We must remember that the PDP manifesto that was clearly articulated by el Rufai at a workshop he promoted and led for PDP bigwigs on 8 January 2007 declared the intention of the party to create a class of entrepreneurs, small business owners and professionals with access to credit. The emergence of Sanusi at the Central Bank in place of the neo-politician Soludo has demonstrated the methods of access to credit by these new owners of our national commonwealth.

The promoters of the concept and practice of deregulation in the oil sector readily give the following as advantages of the scheme
• Stoppage of cross border smuggling operations that is attributed to low prices in Nigeria as against the neighbouring territories
• Utilisation of erstwhile subsidy by the government to shore up provision of facilities in education, health and transportation
• An illogically cyclical argument that the rise in pump prices will stabilise the product prices to the consumers
• The removal of artificial pegging of prices will rise by the tricks of market forces to a parity level

These stories are as old as the era of military dictatorship when the confusion in the oil sector actually started in Nigeria. That was the era when individuals in military uniform in government and their cronies in civilian robes rummaged through the national system to gain undue access to personalise the national commonwealth. Indeed, that was the start of deregulation climaxing in 1985 when Babangida took in the IMF programme hook, line and sinker and sustained by the PDP in making it a key part of its manifesto at its birth in 1999.

The Position Of Labour:
The trade unions and the civil society have been very consistent in its battles against deregulation in the petroleum downstream sector by its regular fights both in the era of military dictatorship and the current period of PDP right wing dispensation. These organisational expressions of the Nigerian working class have used the strike weapon to maintain their pro-people position.

The issue really is that the PDP right wing government is fully committed to implement an economic programme in favour of international capitalism and its Nigerian comprador agents. There is hardly any difference in the positions of the other ruling right wing political parties ANPP, AC and APGA.

The total collapse of the energy sector whereby Nigerians are compelled to spend 796.4 billion naira of their own money annually to fuel private generators in addition to the huge capital commitment to own the hardware and maintain same in working condition certainly is not in the interest of the poverty ridden pockets of our people but in favour of the foreign economies from whom we import the generators and the fuel, not to mention the vehicles and other machineries that keep our consuming and non producing economy running.

The Answer:
The answer is basically political. Indeed, I dare say that it is entirely political. It is to wrest political power from the right wing political parties and install a government that will dump the pro-imperialist and anti-people programme that promotes fuel product importation, generator importation, and similar economic postures in favour of a centrally planned economic development programme that is nationally implemented for the benefits of the working class and the generality of our people.

There is simply no rational position for a country with the enormous economic capabilities of Nigeria holding over 140 million human beings to be a prostrate economy incapable of local efforts at production but a beggar importer of fuel products, generators, phone handsets, pins and toothpicks and begging for foreign investors.

There must be a publicly promoted programme for a people oriented economic development system to reverse and replace the current imposition by the PDP and its cohorts. One does not need to claim any gifts of prophecy to know that the right wing governments will go on with privatisation, downsizing and deregulation, no matter what the people say. The only answer is to replace them. 2011 is getting close.

By Dr Abayomi Ferreira

Monday, 16 November 2009

Revealed: Association Of Nigerian Authors, Rivers State Branch "Pocketed"

                                             [Association's President]

chidi opara reports have learnt of murmurs in the Rivers State branch of Association of Nigerian Authors(ANA), also known as "ANA Rivers".

These murmurs, we reliably learnt was because of an alleged "pocketing" of the branch by a writer from the state(name withheld), who is also reported to be very close to the state governor.

A disgruntled member of the branch who requested not to be named "for security reasons", told a network member in Port Harcourt, "try and go to one of the so called meetings they hold and see if you will see anybody there, except his errand boys and mistresses".

Another network member who watched the 1a Wami street Oroworukwo Port Harcourt secretariat of the branch from an eatery opposite on a meeting day counted only nine people leaving the venue after the meeting.

This disgruntled member continued, "the notion here, even at the national headquarters is that this branch belongs to this particular writer and if you don't like it that way, you get out. I have stopped participating in their activities".

Investigation by chidi opara reports revealed that this member was once suspended because of "stubbornness" without recourse to the processes stipulated in the constitution. We also learnt that it took an appeal by the immediate past President, Wale Okediran for the suspension to be lifted.

Further checks also revealed that most members of the branch are not happy with the way the branch is being run but chose not to complain openly for fear of offending the writer in question and by extension, the state governor.

The immediate past nationl executive committee was reported to be unwilling to strengthen things out in the branch because of patronages from the state governent.

"Please don't mention constitution, because we don't see any here. His pronouncements are the constitution", a female novelist whispered to us.

"Positions in the branch are for his mistresses and errand boys", a middle aged male pioneer member of the branch volunteered.

Requests for comments sent to the branch chairman, immediate past President and the President of the Association have not been answered so far.

Mr. Chidi Anthony Opara, a member of the branch and Publisher/Editor-In-Chief of chidi opara reports declined comments when contacted.

Sunday, 15 November 2009

News Release: Nigerian Government Meets MEND's Aaron Team

                                                [MEND Logo]

The Movement for the Emancipation of the Niger Delta (MEND) can confirm that a formal first meeting between the President of the Federal Republic of Nigeria and the MEND Aaron team took place on Saturday, November 14, 2009 in Abuja Nigeria.

The parley which lasted for over two hours was frank, cordial and useful.

This meeting heralds the beginning of serious, meaningful dialogue between MEND and the Nigerian government to deal with and resolve root issues that have long been swept under the carpet.

Present for the Aaron Team were Vice Admiral Mike Okhai Akhigbe (rtd), Major General Luke Kakadu Aprezi (rtd), Professor Wole Soyinka and Mr. Amagbe Denzel Kentebe.

Mr Farah Dagogo, the former MEND overall field commander and Mr Henry Okah attended as observers.

Another member of the Aaron Team, Professor Sabella Abbide could not make it due to flight connection problems from his United States base.

We use this opportunity to thank the Aaron Team for their sacrifice in offering their time and the donors who sponsored their travel expenses but wish to remain anonymous.

Jomo Gbomo

Saturday, 14 November 2009

US Former Congressman, Jefferson Jailed For Bribery

                                          [William Jefferson]

ALEXANDRIA, Va. – A former Louisiana congressman who famously stashed cash in his freezer was sentenced Friday to 13 years in prison for taking hundreds of thousands in bribes in exchange for using his influence to broker business deals in Africa.

The sentence handed down in suburban Washington was far less than the nearly 30 years prosecutors had sought for William Jefferson, a Democrat who represented parts of New Orleans for nearly 20 years.

Agents investigating the case found $90,000 wrapped in foil and hidden in boxes of frozen pie crusts in his freezer.

Prosecutors had asked a judge to follow federal guidelines and sentence him to at least 27 years. The defense asked for less than 10 years, arguing a stiffer sentence would be far longer than those imposed on congressmen convicted of similar crimes in recent years, none of whom was sentenced to more than a decade.

Jefferson said nothing in court after he was sentenced. He was convicted in August of 11 counts, including bribery and racketeering. Prosecutors at his two-month trial said he took roughly $500,000 in bribes and sought millions more. He was acquitted of five other charges, including the one most closely associated with the money in his freezer.

The investigation started in March 2005. In August of that year, FBI agents searched Jefferson's Washington home and found the cash. Prosecutors said he had planned to use the money to pay a bribe to the then-vice president of Nigeria to secure a multimillion-dollar telecommunications deal there, an accusation Jefferson denied.

The money ended up in the freezer after a disgruntled businesswoman, Lori Mody, agreed to wear a wire after telling the FBI she had been cheated out of $3.5 million in deals brokered by Jefferson. The jury saw videotape of Mody handing over a suitcase filled with $100,000 cash outside an Arlington hotel. Most of that money was recovered from the freezer.

The defense argued that Jefferson was acting as a private business consultant in brokering the deals and his actions did not constitute bribery.

New Orleans voters had long been loyal to Jefferson, who in 1991 became Louisiana's first African-American congressman since Reconstruction. He rose from the poverty of the Louisiana Delta parishes to prominence as a street-savvy political tactician.

He was re-elected in 2006 even after news of the bribery scandal broke but was indicted and then lost to Republican attorney Anh "Joseph" Cao this past December.

(From Associated Press)

USA Special Envoy Takes Questions on Sudan

On Tuesday, I participated in the ‘Ask U.S.’ live stream video question and answer session at the White House.

Samantha Power, NSC Senior Director for Multilateral Affairs, and I answered questions posed to us by Jerry Fowler, the President of the Save Darfur Coalition, and Layla Amjadi, the Student Director of Stand (the student-led division of the Genocide Intervention Network).

In the lead up to this event, the Save Darfur Coalition and STAND asked their members to both vote on which questions would be asked and to submit additional questions for consideration.

We are eager to continue an active and robust dialogue with the advocacy community, and this unique event allowed us to engage directly with thousands of members of the Save Darfur Coalition and STAND.

The questions that Jerry and Layla posed touched upon a range of pressing concerns, inquiring about the administration's benchmarks for incentives and pressures, the circumstances in which internally displaced persons in Darfur might return home, the risks surrounding the 2010 elections in south Sudan, the importance of engaging China and Russia on the path forward, and the indispensability of including Sudanese civil society in the peace process. I found the exchange to be extremely useful and hope those who followed it online did as well.

Friday, 13 November 2009

Article: A Historical View of Nigeria’s Journey To Its Present Unitary Polity

                                          The Nigerian Flag

(Notes presented at International Centre for Reconstruction and Development Dialogue held on November 11, 2009 at the Sheraton Hotel Club)

Nigeria before 1885 was a land mass occupied by several ancient nations and civilizations, each with its own history, language, mythology, political systems, and cultural values. The pre-Nigeria or pre-colonial nations in what is known today as Nigeria include the Edo, Hausa, Igbo, Fulani, Ijaw, Itshekiri, Gwari, Nupe, Tiv, Idoma, Kanuri, Calabari, Efik, Yoruba, etc. Some of them were even acknowledged by the British colonial administrators to have built kingdoms and empires long before the Berlin Conference of 1865. Those nations include the Kanuri, Sokoto, Hausa , Benin , Oyo, and many others.

It was the amalgamation of Nigeria on January 1, 1914 that brought the multiple nations and nationalities in today’s Nigeria together into one country. The amalgamation was at the instance of Frederick Lugard, a strong believer in the principle of centralism or unitarism. Until 1922, Nigeria did not have any constitution or working document. It was ruled solely as a colony under the management of Lord Lugard. But the Amalgamation of 1914 once described by Sir Ahmadu Bello as the “mistake of 1914” was not made principally because of Nigeria or the people inside it, but for the advancement of the interests of the British government and the legacy it wanted to leave at the end of the colonial experiment. The British colonial masters were not totally unmindful of the history of imperialism and colonialism in the world. More specifically, the colonial administrators had read avidly about the history of their colonial enterprise in the United States and Canada , centuries before the colonization and amalgamation of Nigeria . Britain must have also had the ambition to be associated with the largest African nation, just as it had had the fortune of being associated with the largest former British colony in the Americas .

It was because of the need to make sure that Nigeria survived that the British colonial policymakers and administrators bent over backward to prevent the Northern Protectorate (later the Northern Region) from bringing the experiment with Nigeria to an end. On several occasions, the leaders of the North asked for concessions at every point that the British wanted to create structures and policies to ensure the survival of the experimental nation-state, Nigeria . Even with the first constitution, the Clifford Constitution of 1922, the North refused to participate in the country’s first deliberative council over nation-wide administration. To prevent the North from reverting to the situation before 1914, the Richards Constitution of 1946 tried to create three regions with some measure of recognition of the special needs of the three regions. Governor Arthur Richards once said that the best way to strengthen the unity of the country was to “encourage the regions to develop each along its characteristic lines.”

It could be argued that Richards’ recommendation was primarily to assuage the feelings of the North whose leaders insisted on a lion share of legislative seats or nothing. The consequence of this thought on Richards’ part is an implicit recognition of the failure of the Lugardian principle of centralism and the need to replace this with some measure of decentralisation or regionalisation. Richards’ romance with regionalism was later built upon by the Macpherson Constitution of 1951. This constitution gave more legislative and executive responsibilities to the three regions, while still giving more concessions to the North that was given 45 seats at the Central Council while Eastern Region and Western Region each got 33 seats, as a compromise on the initial demand by Northern Emirs, especially the Emirs or Zaria and Katsina for 50 seats to complement 25 seats each from the two southern regions.

It was the Macpherson Constitution that grew later into the Lyttleton Constitution of 1954 in which the governor tried to assuage the fear of leaders of the North about possible domination by the South, by asking that the Nigerian constitution be redrawn to “provide greater regional autonomy and removal of intervention by the centre in matters which could, without detriment to other regions, be placed entirely within regional competence” (See Kalu Ezera and Olaniwun Ajayi). The Lyttleton Constitution was the one polished to create what later became the Independence Constitution of 1960.

During the negotiation for the 1960 Constitution, each of the three regions opted for sharing of responsibilities between the federal and regional governments. Let us hear the positions of the three regions on the structure of government they preferred:

Northern Region:
Recommended that there should be a federal system of government in Nigeria and that in addition to a central legislature, there should be regional legislatures with powers to legislate on a number of specified subjects and also on such other matters as may, by legislation, enacted by the central legislature, be vested in the regional legislatures.

Eastern Region:
Recommended that there should be a federal system, with a central legislature and regional legislatures. It also recommended that the regional legislatures should exercise only such powers in any matter as the central legislature may delegate to them.

Western Region:
Recommended that there should be a federal government consisting of states formed on an ethnic and/or linguistic basis but that for the time being, there should be only three states, namely, Western, Eastern and Northern. It further recommended that there should be a federal parliament and state parliaments, and that the state parliaments should be competent to legislate on all residual matters not specifically included within the legislative powers of the Federal Parliament.

One of the Minority reports by Mbonu Ojike and Eyo Ita affirmed that “Grouping of Nigeria along ethnic and linguistic units would serve to remove the problems of Boundaries, Minority and Pakistanic dangers now threatening Nigeria .” (Olaniwun Ajayi and Tell, Nov 16, 2009 )
With respect to all the above recommendations, the Ibadan Conference was not able to adopt a linguistic basis for re-structuring the regions, such as adding the Yoruba in the North to Western Region and the Igbos of Western Region to Eastern Region. The Conference was also unable, largely because of the recalcitrance of Northern Emirs to accept the re-drawing of the political map of Nigeria along ethnic and linguistic lines, as suggested by the Western Region and the Ojike/Ita Minority report. But in all, the British colonial office was able to respond to the insistent demands of Southern nationalists for the commencement of a process of self-rule and at the same time to the demands of Northern Region for a federation that favoured their hegemonic interests. At independence in 1960, the British colonial office had achieved its aim of having Africa ’s largest former colony.

In addition, the 1963 Republican Constitution was given legislative support through acts of federal and regional assemblies. So between 1946 and 1963, Nigeria had moved considerably away from the centralist or unitary governance that the amalgamation of 1914 symbolised. It must be stated that the Republican Constitution of 1963 had entrenched in it the principle of 50% derivation for oil-producing regions.

In 1966 after the first coup d’etat, General Aguiyi-Ironsi, the head of the first military dictatorship, restored the principle of amalgamation or centralism by transforming the regions into provinces. This did not last long. It pushed the North into seeking for separation from the rest of Nigeria . The coming to power of Yakubu Gowon, a northerner, after the killing of Ironsi brought the country back to federalism. Even after the creation of 12 states by Gowon, asome measure of regional powers was still evident in each of the twelve states. It was the government of Murtala/Obasanjo that resumed the process of de-federalisation that Ironsi introduced in 1966 and for which he was removed from office by Northern troops. Under this regime, symbols of federalism were removed: regional flags, coat of arms. The Federal Military Government took over regional universities, stadium, and broadcasting houses. It also commissioned the writing of a new national anthem to replace the Independence version, in addition to taking the power of indigenous communities over their ancestral lands and vesting such powers in the government through the Land Use Decree.

Towards the end of the Obasanjo regime, a decision was taken by the military government to write a new constitution, instead of removing the suspension placed on the constitutions by the first military dictatorship and asking clusters of states from each of the four regions to customize the constitution of their region of origin. It was the constitution that was midwife by the Obasanjo regime that radically changed the ratio between items on the Exclusive and Concurrent Lists.
For example, the 1960 Constitution had 44 items on the Exclusive List and 28 on the Concurrent.

The Republican Constitution of 1963 had 45 items on the Exclusive List and 29 on the Concurrent.

The 1979 Constitution that transferred power from the military to civilians had 66 items on the Exclusive List and 30 on the Concurrent. The 1999 Constitution has 68 items on the Exclusive List and 30 on the Concurrent. Since the 1999 Constitution was also midwifed by military dictators: Sani Abacha and Abdusalaam Abubakar, like the 1979 version moderated by another military dictator, Olusegun Obasanjo, one does not need a soothsayer to confirm that the movement of Nigeria from regionalization back to centralization or unitarization came from military dictatorships between 1979 and 1999. With the 1979 and 1999 constitutions, Nigeria had been moved from federalism back to the Lugardian model of centralism or amalgamation.

I thank you for listening.

By Ropo Sekoni

Editorial: Olabode George, Prison Terms And Stolen Public Funds

It is no longer news that the immediate past national deputy chairman(south) of Nigeria's current ruling party, the Peoples' Democratic Party(PDP), rtd. navy commodore Olabode George have been jailed by an Ikeja high court presided over by Justice Olubunmi Oyewole for a contract scam of 85 billion naira perpetrated when he was a non executive chairman of the Nigerian Ports Authority(NPA). Olabode George's comrades in crime; Aminu Daboh, Zanna Maideribe, Sule Aliyu, Aminu. A. Tafida and Emmanuel Abidoye will also serve terms of imprisonment for the offence.

The jailed former PDP chieftain, according to reports, is presently adjusting to prison life at the VIP section of Kirikiri maximum security prison, while also awaiting the commencement of his appeal to vacuate the judgement.

Keen watchers of justice administration in Nigeria would however attest to the veiled partisanship of majority of the adminstrators at all levels. This is perhaps what is raising optimism in the Olabode George camp, that having been jailed by a court in an Action Congress Party(AC) controlled state, the court of appeal operating under the PDP controlled federal government would likely quash the judgement.

chidi opara reports notes here with sadness that which ever way the Olabode George appeal goes, the country would be the loser. This is because justice administration in Nigeria does not seem to have made provision for forfeiture of proceeds from crime in addition to imprisonment.

A person who stole 85 billion naira from the commonwealth and got a jail term of two and half years, in our opinion, only got a slap on the wrist.

We will like to end this piece with a recommendation that the legislature should as a matter of urgency enact a law that would make it mandatory for procceds of crime to be forfeited alongside prison terms. This, in our opinion is a better deterent against misappropriations of the country's wealth by a tiny but influential cabal.

Wednesday, 11 November 2009

Article: Legality Or Otherwise Of The Recent Deposition Of Deji Of Akureland By The Kingmakers

                                         [Entrance To Deji's Palace]

Cosmic compassion and reflection need to be exercised in discussing the legality or otherwise of the alleged pronouncement of deposition of the Deji of Akurekingdom, a paramount ruler of Akurekingdom and its environs.

While we will not make the usual mistake of jumping into sentiments and variables that led to the Kingmakers’ pronouncements, it is advisable for us at this point to limit our opinion and suggestion to what we know and what can be difficult to be faulted i.e. the principles that guided the procedures of deposing a King in Akure kingdom.

However, the principles to rely on in the deposition of the Deji of Akure are the known Akure traditions, cultures and customs and we may add any verifiable historical antecedents.

Interestingly, having painfully made researches and contact, there is no known history of deposition of any Deji of Akure which therefore means that the Deposition of Deji is alien to Akure chieftaincy practices.

Deposition of any Deji has never been done before which therefore made the recent alleged deposition by the Kingmakers without any legal and moral justification a taboo.

The question that then needs to be asked is how can a Deji be removed from office? This question lies in the Ondo State Chieftaincy Law and several other courts authority which its combine effects stipulate that it only the Governor of the state that has such exclusive power to depose any errant king.

One is bold to resolve that by virtue of the Chieftaincy Law, the essence of Kingmakers and its functionality has been narrowly reduced to Advisers.

Thus, they are meant to only play advisory role and make recommendation not on the pages of newspaper but through the proper channels to the Governor of the State on who to be appointed/removed as the King. Therefore, it is legalistic to say the only institution permitted under the law to exercise its discretionary power to appoint/remove an Oba is the Governor of the State.

In the nutshell, the conduct of the Kingmakers so far is ultra vires, unconstitutional and usurpation of the power of the Governor and is therefore has no effect whatsoever.

The Deji of Akure kingdom reigns continue untill the Governor, His Excellency Dr. Olusegun Mimiko thinks otherwise.

One cannot but expect sentiments to be accrued to disagree with this position. A careful and detailed enquiry into such opposition would invariably emanate from Moral Aura. It is clear that this is the position of the Law and it stands until and unless it properly changed.

It takes a legisperitus of able mind to understand the underlying truth beneath this line of thought.
Irrespective of the above in view of the desire peace not only in Akureland but in every place of the realm it is opined that what is paramount in the instant case is the need for the present Deji, Oba Oluwadare Adedapo Adeshina and the Akure’s Chief in Council to sit together moderated by Ondo State Government to chart a peaceful way to end the seemly imbroglio particularly when the Deji has confirmed that it is only a family matter.

By Kayode Ajulo Esq.

Tuesday, 10 November 2009

News Release: Our Worst Fear Has Come, Fashola Have Betrayed Tejuosho Traders


The Democratic Peoples’ Alliance (DPA) has upbraided the Lagos State Government for betraying market women, traders and businessmen of Tejuosho Market by ceding the burnt complex to a private developer who has offered shops at a minimum of N750,000 per square metre.

Calculating that each trader would need a minimum of N3 million to secure space in the proposed complex, Lagos DPA in a statement by its Director of Publicity, Felix Oboagwina, regarded the pricing as scandalous, outrageous, unrealistic and clearly beyond the reach of old tenants.

In the words of the party: “For traders who paid about N60,000 per year for their shops now to be suddenly slapped with a rent of N3 million for those same spaces insults the intelligence.”

Calling on Lagosians to resist this new move, DPA described it as part of the grand design to sell off Lagos assets to private holdings, recalling that a similar treatment had beendispensed to the Lagos State Polytechnic Campus at Ikosi-Ketu, School of Nursing Ikoyi and mortuaries in government-owned hospitals.

“This is not Shoprite in Lekki or Silverbird Galleria at Victoria Island . This is Tejuosho Market and Tejuosho market has always been the people’s commonwealth, a legacy. Some of the stalls were handed down from generation to generation. It is a market for the masses and a veritable neighbourhood melting-pot, where the high and mighty rubs shoulders with the lowly. This new elitist allocation is contemptible, immoral, treacherous and reprehensible. It lacks any trappings of equity; it must be stopped,” DPA said.

DPA said the new market deal would alienate the patronage of the housewife, the University of Lagos , Yaba College of Technology and neigbouring institutions who patronised the market for their daily needs from petty traders at the old market.

The party recalled that when traders staged a demonstration to Alausa Government House after the market got burnt in December 2007, Governor Fashola assured them they would get back their spaces.

“This creates a brand new confusion for the dislocated traders who trusted the government to undertake repairs and turn over their shops to them as promised,” DPA said. “This turn of events is pure treachery and absolute betrayal.”

According to the party, Governor Fashola might be regarded as an efficient administrator, but he has consistently proved he is not a Governor for the masses, because “many of his policies make life harder, harsher and unbearable for the masses and the poor.”

The party pointed out that the displaced traders had found life difficult and impossible to find their footing after part of the market got burnt a few days to Christmas in 2007. Many who had stocked for Christmas lost a fortune in the mystery fire.

According to DPA, “Where will a woman selling pepper or cow hide skin delicacy (pomo) find N750,000 per square metre? Or where will the man selling underwear and skirts and the struggling youth selling second hand clothing cough up such a sum? Yet the government suffers no moral qualms sending KAI Brigade and Black Maria to arrest them at the Yaba rail-side for street-trading and hawking. This is a terrible contradiction.”

The party asked the Lagos State House of Assembly to urgently intervene in the matter and ensure that the displaced traders did not have their hopes dashed or end up losing their means of daily bread.

DPA recalled that displaced Tejuosho traders migrating to places like Mushin discovered they needed about N250,000, a rent they saw as exorbitant, which made them to endure the long wait for the rehabilitation of their burnt facility by the state government.

The party recalled that it once asked the government to investigate fire incidents at Tejuosho and other markets, as such fires fueled suspicions they were started by arsonists bent on forcing out traders that opposed takeovers by property speculators and developers.

“The demolitions, and the way the government is handling this issue, further fuel such speculations,” DPA said. “No doubt, Governor Raji Fashola will not want to be pinned with this legacy of increasing the people’s hardship through such an ill-advised move. His government must try to find a synergy between private enterprise and the greatest good for the greatest majority.”

Felix Oboagwina
Director of Publicity (Lagos State DPA)

Citizen Report: Popular Nigerian Home Video Comedian Kidnapped

                                                      [Nkem Owoh]

A citizen reporter in Enugu just sent in a report that popular Nigerian home video comedian,  Mr. Nkem Owoh was yesterday kidnapped by armed gunmen as he was making a journey from his Enugu base to Port Harcourt.

The kidnappers, according to the report "have already demanded a huge sum as ransom". An unconfirmed information at the disposal of chidi opara reports however put the amount at twenty million naira.