Wednesday, 12 August 2009

Looting Of Ondo State Treasury; Group Calls For Inquiry(News Release)

Subsequent to the much expected revelation of the wanton looting, devastation and desecration of the sacred treasury of Ondo State by your Excellency, Dr. Olusegun Mimiko, it is expected, as consistent with human liaisons and modus of Nigerian political engagement as well as scoring cheap sympathy that the opposition groups and the main culprits of the heinous crimes will enter into the frenzies of self exoneration, group abolition, spurious claims and counter claims that will generate utmost ill will and mudslinging with its attendant undue publicity.

We therefore unequivocally call for on the Governor of Ondo State, Dr. Olusegun Mimiko to immediately constitute a Judicial Commission of inquiry into the immediate and remote causes of the despicable finance of Ondo State by the elsewhile Administration to be headed by a well known serving or retired Judicial Officer of unimpeachable character.

The Judicial Commission of Inquiry can much more comprehensively inquires into the corrupt practices, recover mismanaged or embezzled funds, bring culprits to book and generally restore people’s confidence in the government and governance.

The people of Ondo State, Nigerians and majority of our poverty-stricken citizens believe that unless this measure is commenced in earnest and the present administration of the State take every step necessary to end the plunder of our dear State, endemic poverty and instability will continue to plague the State and our country for years and decades to come.

Particularly, when the perpetrators of this heinous act are not remorseful but are parading themselves in every nook and crannies of the world and are prepared to squander colossal resources to justify their years of locus.

The establishment of the Judicial Commission of Inquiry will not only afford both accused and the accusers to say whatever they know than resorting to the expected voices of Babel but will create to the populace sense of belonging and participation in the polity of the State.

Egalitarian Mission, Africa will mobilize the entire civil society to stand by the proposed commission on its noble cause against corruption and state decline.

Kayode .A. Ajulo, LL.M.(Hons.), B.L., MNIM, cfl.
Egalitarian Mission, Africa

We Hold On To President Obama's Pledge(News Release)

(Being A Memorandum to American Secretary of State, Mrs. Hillary Clinton by Aenifere Renewal Group (ARG) at a Town Hall Meeting held at Yar’Adua Centre, Abuja on August 12, 2009)

Madam Secretary of State,

Afenifere Renewal Group (ARG) welcomes you to Nigeria as part of your seven-nation tour of Africa. Shortly after the return to civil rule in 1999, President Bill Clinton visited Nigeria as the country held a bright prospect of renewed march on the path of democracy, good governance and development after years of military dictatorship. It is not a thing of joy that you are coming 10 years after to meet a country that has badly veered off the democratic lane, bogged down by misgovernance and whose developmental strides have been halted by corruption of the worst order. Your visit also coming shortly after President Barack Obama’s visit to Ghana where he gave us some food for thought is very symbolic and we hope our country takes advantage of it to mend its ways and get it right.
From the tone of President Obama in Ghana and snippets of your engagement in Kenya, we are convinced that Washington is concerned about electoral reforms and corruption. These are two of the major issues afflicting the growth of Nigeria today and we give you our views on them.

Electoral Reforms:
In the few days preceding your arrival in Nigeria, the National Assembly rolled out all manners of advertisements to give the impression that there is a flurry of activities on constitutional review and electoral reforms.
Don’t be deceived; the name of the game is re-branding. Our legislators with a budget of N1 billion (about $10 million then) have spent the last 10 months
fighting over who should chair the Joint Constitution Review Committee (JCRC) between the Senate and the House of Representatives. They had bought several pleasure cars for the exercise even when they had yet to call for memoranda. Until they suddenly assaulted us with publications on the eve of your arrival, many people had concluded that the exercise was dead.
Yet everybody, including President Umaru Yar’Adua has accepted that we have an electoral system that is not credible. The President honestly admitted that the elections that brought him to power were greatly “flawed”. He promised electoral reforms in his inaugural address and went on to make it one of his seven-point agenda.
We took the President for his word when he set up the Justice Uwais Panel on Electoral Reforms. We welcomed the panel because we saw it as an opportunity to redress the scandal of the century that was named 2007 elections in Nigeria. The international community, the United States of America inclusive, monitored these elections during which total voters turn out in the country was 20% but the result showed 60% turnout. In essence for every 1 voter who came out to make a choice, two non-existent voters were used by politicians and electoral officers with the connivance of security agents to make nonsense of his/her choice.
The Uwais Panel therefore came as a soothing balm to a people traumatized by years of electoral rape. Though containing nothing revolutionary, it however distilled all the suggestions Nigerians have made over the years after a countrywide consultations as panacea for credible elections.
But the President betrayed his lack of commitment to the project when he set up a committee headed by his National Security Adviser, Gen. Sarki Mukhtar to water down the report. Not satisfied with that, he further asked his Attorney General, Mr. Michael Andoakaa to unilaterally rework the doctored version. By the time these officials were through, it is doubtful if Justice Uwais and his members can today recognize any provision that still resembles their recommendations in the white paper that has darkened all the profound recommendations of the panel.

Our Position:
(i)We believe the ability to hold a free and fair election in 2011 will largely determine the health of Nigeria as even the State Security Service (SSS) recently warned of the possibility of bloody elections in 2011.
(ii)It is critical to have electoral reforms that take into account all the recommendations of the Uwais Panel as a basis for the new ELECTORAL LAW.
(iii)We call for the review of all the sections that require constitutional amendments as per Uwais report.
(iv)Outside the provisions that have to do with the electoral process, we are otherwise opposed to the idea of the lawmakers turning themselves into a Constituent Assembly to review an imposed constitution by the military via a decree. They were never elected to make a constitution for us.

The chairperson of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, Mrs. Farida Waziri expressed the fears of many Nigerians when she said recently that it worries her that people who are charged for corruption in Nigeria today would be waving to people in court the way Nelson Mandela would wave to a gathering of anti-apartheid supporters.
That sums up how lucrative and rewarding high profile corruption has become in Nigeria. The biggest celebrities in our society today are those who have one financial crime charge or the other hanging on their necks. The country is reeling under corruption and it is telling on the capacity of the State to function and deliver services.
For instance a country of 140 million people today has less than 1,000 megawatts of electricity to survive on. The previous administration was alleged to have spent the sum of $16 billion on the power sector with only darkness to show for it. The House of Representatives set up a panel to look into this and for about three months we were being regaled with one salacious tale of misappropriation or the other. Shortly after the panel submitted its report, corruption moved in. Before we could know it, the chairman of the panel was also enmeshed in a N6.5billion scandal involving the Rural Electricity Agency Fund. The last we heard was that the House has thrown away the committee’s report and we are left to wallow in darkness.
Washington should not be told of the corrupt practices of our rulers at home and abroad. The FBI is well acquainted with Halliburton and Siemens bribery scandals involving top government officials. It is equally aware of what corrupt officials are holding in banks and real estate from the proceeds of crime. We are almost at a point where corruption is not making news anymore in our country.
One disturbing signal that the present administration has sent to the world is that it is ready to protect people accused of corruption provided such people are properly aligned within the ruling party. The Attorney General of the Federation has done a great deal of service for some of those accused in frustrating attempts to try them for money laundering even outside the country.
President Obama rightly observed in Ghana that: “No country is going to create wealth if its leaders exploit the economy to enrich themselves or police can be bought off by drug traffickers. No business wants to invest in a place where the government skims 20 percent off the top or head of the port authority is corrupt. No person wants to live in a society where the rule of law gives way to the rule of brutality and bribery. That is not democracy, that is tyranny and now is the time to end it.”

What We Want:
(i)We want Washington to lean hard on President Yar’Adua administration to carry out comprehensive electoral reforms acceptable to Nigerians before the next round of elections.
(ii)We know the initiative to end corruption would have to come from within but we call on Washington to further strengthen its anti-money laundering drive and make it difficult for looters to hide their loot in America and its other partners across the world.
(iii)We also request that the Obama administration should continue the use of its soft power as we saw in his choice of where to visit in Africa when he came to Ghana recently. The message should always be clear to undemocratic and corrupt regimes that decent nations will not embrace them.
(v)As a lasting solution, we want a CONFERENCE of all Ethnic Nationalities in Nigeria and other social formations to produce a constitution that can really answer to the phrase “WE THE PEOPLE”. The present 1999 constitution is a fraud and is at the root of many crises besetting our country, as it is antithetical to the spirit of Federalism in most of its provisions. This is why we have thrown our support behind a suit filed before Justice N. Auta of the Federal High Court in Lagos by the oldest Senior Advocate of Nigeria (SAN) 90 year-old Chief Bankole Oki asking for the setting aside of the constitution because it is a fraudulent document!

We wish Secretary Hillary Clinton safe trip back to the United States of America at the end of her tour. We also want you to convey to President Obama that change-seeking and democratic forces in Nigeria are taking seriously his challenge in Accra where he said “You have the power to hold your leaders accountable and to build institutions that serve the people”. Nigerian democrats and patriots look forward to America’s support for democratic and constitutional change seekers in the period ahead, as President Obama pledged in Ghana.

Thank you.

Hon. Olawale Oshun
National Chairman

'Yinka Odumakin
National Publicity Secretary