Friday, 31 May 2013

U-Report: Ken Nnamani, Others To Honour CD President In Anambra State

Dr. Joe Okei-Odumakin(R) with Mrs. Obama

Report By Campaign For Democracy South-East Region Publicity Arm

Sen. Ken Nnamani, former Senate President of Nigeria; Ambassador Bianca Ojukwu and Chief Ralph Uwazuruike, Founder, Movement for the Actualization of the Sovereign State of Biafra (MASSOB) would storm Anambra state on Wednesday, 5th of June, 2013 to honour, Dr Joe Okei-Odumakin, President, Campaign for Democracy (CD) at Top Rank Hotel, Onitsha.

The honour is to celebrate the awards given to Dr Joe Okei-Odumakin by the U.S. Secretary of State, John Kerry and U.S. first Lady Michelle Obama for her role in empowering and restoring dignity of women in Africa.

Dede Uzor A. Uzor, Chairman, CD South-East Region, said that the event would also have Gov. Peter Obi of Anambra, Prof. Ukachukwu Awuzie, former President ASUU, Prof. Godwin Onu, Rector, Federal Polytechnic, Oko and Mr Ballah Nasarawa, Anambra Commission of Police in attendance.

Uzor said that the event would witness a colloquium on ``State of the Nation: The Way Forward’’, which would be delivered by Dr. Okei-Odumakin.

The CD South-East region chairman further said that Sen. Nnamani would present a vital keynote address before the colloquium; while Prof. Awuzie would chair the session and lead the discussant on matters arising from the colloquium.

The event, Uzor revealed would witness the launch of the CD South-East calendar.

``It would be a veritable event to celebrate Dr. Okei-Odumakin, a woman that has fought so hard for women empowerment, emancipation and political liberalization in the entire Africa. We would also unveil her latest award, which is the U.K. Recognition for Outstanding Achievement for Humanity,’’ the CD regional chief said.

Uzor also said that the colloquium would be first of its kind in the history of the South-East.

Article: Okorocha Administration And The Zenith Bank Loan Scandal

Governor Okorocha

By Barr. Emperor Nnabuihe Iwuala

Not too long ago, the Association of Local Government of Nigeria (ALGON) wrote a petition to the Economic and Financial Crime Commission (EFCC) accusing Governor Rochas Okorocha of Imo State and his team of taking an unauthorized loan that runs into many billions of naira from Zenith Bank using the monthly allocations for the 27 local government councils in the state as collateral for the loan.

Consequently, the Imo State Commissioner for Finance, Deacon Chike Okafor and the Accountant General of the state, Mr. George Eche were arrested and detained by the EFCC in relation of the accusation. These government officials were later granted administrative bail.
As an offshoot to the alleged controversial loan, there was another petition to the Attorney-General of the Federation against the Imo House of Assembly accusing the state legislature of authorizing Governor Okorocha to borrow 45 billion naira from Zenith Bank.

On the 10th of January, 2013, the Imo State Government through an official press statement issued by the state Commissioner for Information Mr. Chinedu Offor, debunked the above allegation. For a better appreciation here is an excerpt of the press statement:

The attention of the government of Imo State has been drawn to the report of the detention of the Commissioner for Finance, Deacon Chike Okafor and the Accountant General of the state, Mr. George Eche by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC). The report also alleged that both government officials were arrested for obtaining a 40 Billion Naira loan from Zenith Bank on behalf of the state government. The allegation in its entirety is false, unfounded and another campaign of calumny designed to divert attention from the probe of the former PDP administration in the state. We make bold to state categorically that the government of Imo state under His Excellency, Owelle Rochas Okorocha never obtained 40Billion Naira loan nor misappropriated the state funds as alleged. Instead, the present government has paid up all loans collected by the past administration including the 6.4 Billion Naira loan by the former Gov. Ohakim just two months to 2011 election for which EFCC is yet to investigate…’

In a related development, The Clerk of the Imo State House of Assembly, Chief Chris Duru was also quizzed by the operatives of EFCC over a purported resolution by the state legislature granting approval to the Imo State Executive to obtain N45 billion loan facility.

Consequently, the Imo State House of Assembly denied the allegation that it gave approval to the

Imo State Government to obtain loan of N45 billion from the Zenith Bank Plc. The Chairman, House Committee on Information, Chief Acho Ihim, during a press briefing dismissed the allegation, stressing that the state legislature did not authorise the executive to obtain N45 billion.

The truth of the matter is that at no point did the House authorize the executive to obtain N45 billion loan and it had since confirmed that the executive did not obtain any such loan from Zenith Bank or indeed any other bank’.

Chief Ihim, who is representing Okigwe State constituency in the Assembly stated that the clerk of the House informed the EFCC operatives that there was no resolution by the state legislators authorising the state government to obtain a loan of N45 billion from Zenith Bank.

The legislature is the only arm of government empowered by the constitution to grant approval for the executive to secure loans and other facilities. And the Imo State House of Assembly stands willing to approve any it considers necessary for the good governance of Imo State’,  Ihim summed up.

When I first heard the stories about the controversial loan, I did not believe the petitioners. I took everything as part of the usual plots by political opponents to discredit the government in power.

However, during the 29th May 2013 Democracy Day Celebration in Owerri, the Imo State Government lined up a lot of activities to mark the 14-year of unbroken civilian rule in Nigeria. The highlight of the celebration in Owerri was very grand. Incidentally, the event gave the Governor Okorocha the opportunity to give an account of his stewardship to Imo people for the two years he had piloted the affairs of Imo State.

Governor Okorocha’s speech at the occasion had a lot of hope-rising policy statements.

However, I was not comfortable when the governor in his speech, said the following:
 ‘We never took any N100B loan; it’s not true rather what we did was we took N50bn from Zenith Bank…’.

When I heard this, I knew that the governor had landed himself and his government into a deep shit. This is because of the implication of the statement.

The controversial Zenith Bank allegation was an allegation the Okorocha-Led Administration had earlier denied in its entirety. However, with this Governor’s latest confession, it goes to establish the truth of the Zenith bank loan scam.

I have always wanted Governor Okorocha to succeed in office. That was why I stopped criticizing him strongly and adopted the advisory approach in talking about the challenges of his government. That was also why I accepted working in his government the 10 months I did.

On a more serious note, just like the Governor driving himself to official functions, I have also always detested Governor Okorocha not reading prepared speeches when making policy statements. Extempore speaking is not a show that one is intelligent. It is not the best global practice for statesmen. Even government officials of the owners of English language most a times read prepared speeches. Government is a serious business and not razzmatazz. Therefore, Governor’s speech is expected to be prepared by professional speech writers who are abreast with the policy/thrusts of the administration. The implication of certain statements should be weighed before they are churned out to the public. This is because words that comes from the mouth of a statesman like a Governor is policy statement and is bonds.  Such are meant to be believed. It also form part of what the statesmen is accessed with. Therefore, consistency in the position of governments on issues of public interest is very sacrosanct. It shows that the government is organised, serious and should always be taken into great confidence.

Interestingly, former Governor Sam Mbakwe whom Governor Okorocha claims to be competing with achieved all he could in Imo State mainly from loans he obtained on behalf of Imo people and he made it clear to the understanding of everybody. Therefore, there is nothing wrong in government taking loan from banks to cater for the people. But in the case at hand here, I do not see the reason why Governor Okorocha and his team should be involved in a game of hide-and-seek over a loan he obtained on behalf of Imo people. What is the government trying to hide from the public because clear conscience fears no accusation? There is nothing wrong in accepting ab-initio that the state government obtained a loan. This is an insult to the sensibility of the people and their mandate. It is an act that is short of acceptable civilized practice especially for somebody like Okorocha who wants to rule the country.

On the other hand, there was no need for Governor Okorocha to talk about the Zenith bank in his speech at the 2013 Democracy Day event because he was no longer under pressure to do so. This is because it is an issue the state government had already taken an earlier firm stand. Moreover, the matter had long shifted to EFCC and the anti-graft body is still investigating it.

Therefore, the above positions and inconsistent statements from different highly placed government officials in Imo State on the Zenith bank loan scandal have presented Okorocha and his team as liars, fraudsters, immature, a people enmeshed in corruption, lacking in transparency and accountability.  This has really opened the administration to great ridicule and is trying to prove the opposition right. The implication is that the people may now be tempted to see all the opposition say as right. This is not good for an administration people sacrificed a lot to vote in. It baffles me why both the present Governor and government should appear irresponsible to the people.

Incidentally, Imo people are so educated, sophisticated and enlightened that they should not be taken for granted. They record every statement the Government says and the things it does.
Therefore, like the JPROS scandal, Imo people need further explanations for the inconsistent positions over the Zenith Bank scandal. They also deserve unreserved apologies for this act of disappointment and the time to do it is now before it is too late.

(Iwuala can be reached on: 08037247295.

Thursday, 30 May 2013

News Report: Nigeria Lawmakers Pass Anti-Gay Marriage Bill

Credit: Associated Press
Lawmakers in Nigeria passed a bill Thursday banning gay marriage and outlawing anyone from forming organizations supporting gay rights, setting prison terms of up to 14 years for offenders.
Nigeria's House of Representatives approved the bill in a voice vote, likely sending it immediately to President Goodluck Jonathan for him to potentially sign into law in Africa's most populous nation. Whether he will approve it remains unclear, and both the United States and the United Kingdom raised concerns over a measure that could put foreign funding for AIDS and HIV outreach programs in jeopardy.
Nigeria's Senate previously passed the bill in November 2011 and the measure quietly disappeared for some time before coming up in Thursday's session of the House. Under previous versions of the proposed law, couples who marry could face up to 14 years each in prison. Witnesses or anyone who helps couples marry could be sentenced to 10 years behind bars.
Other additions to the bill include making it illegal to register gay clubs or organizations, as well as criminalizing the "public show of same-sex amorous relationships directly or indirectly." Those who violate those laws would face 10-year imprisonment as well.
While the bill read Thursday during the House session appeared to be similar, The Associated Press could not immediately obtain a copy of the version lawmakers passed. If there are differences between the House and Senate versions, a joint committee of lawmakers will have to first iron out those differences before sending it to the president.
Presidential spokesman Reuben Abati did not immediately respond to requests for comment Thursday.
Gay sex has been banned in Nigeria, a nation of more than 160 million people, since colonial rule by the British. Gays face open discrimination and abuse in a country divided by Christians and Muslims who almost uniformly oppose homosexuality. Across the African continent, many countries already have made homosexuality punishable by jail sentences.
Nigeria's proposed law has drawn the interest of European Union countries, some of which already offer Nigeria's sexual minorities asylum based on gender identity. The British government recently threatened to cut aid to African countries that violate the rights of gay and lesbian citizens. However, British aid remains quite small in oil-rich Nigeria, one of the top crude suppliers to the U.S.
A spokesman for the British High Commission in Abuja, Nigeria's capital, could not be immediately reached for comment.
The measure also could affect HIV and AIDS outreach programs funding by USAID, an arm of the U.S. government. Nigeria has the world's third-largest population of people living with HIV and AIDS. A spokesman at the U.S. Embassy could not be immediately reached.

Special Report: Nigerian Human Rights Group Seeks Services Of A Staff Writer

Social Action (Social Development Integrated Centre) is a leading Nigerian human rights and development advocacy organization working with communities to promote change in the management of public revenues, energy and mining, trade and investments. Social Action seeks a staff writer for immediate employment. The staff writer will work as part of a communications team. 

The staff writer will be based primarily in our Abuja office and will be prepared to work occasionally in Port Harcourt and other locations in Nigeria. S/he will be responsible for conducting research on issues of interest to Social Action, writing major reports, briefing papers, press releases, develop content for our websites and social media tools, and provide editorial support for all programmes of the organization.

Our ideal candidate should possess a minimum of bachelor’s degree or its equivalent and have knowledge of a broad range of social issues. The candidate should be passionate about social transformation in Nigeria and globally and demonstrate excellence in writing and editing (in English). Working experience in journalism or the NGO sector would be an advantage.  

Social Action will provide facilities for training and career advancement and pay remuneration commensurate with experience (as) informed by available funding.
Interested candidates should send application, including a letter of motivation, résumé and sample of writing to  

Start Date: As soon as possible

Deadline for application:  7 June 2013.

Asume Osuoka
For: Social Action.

U-Report: The Future Awards’ Season 8 Goes Continental

Nominees for Young Person of the year 2012 with Obiageli Ezekwesili (1st from left) and Tele Ikuru; Deputy Governor of Rivers State (1st from right)

Report By RED Media

The Central Working Committee for The Future Awards has announced the formal calendar of activities for The Future Awards 2013, which is the 8th season of the awards – and the formal statement comes with a big announcement!

“It has been seven years of inspiring young Nigerian leaders across the country,” said Chude Jideonwo, who is executive director of The Future Project. “We have visited 23 states with the awards, the town hall meetings, conferences amongst others and we have touched thousands of lives. That legacy will remain.
“This year however, after visiting Ghana, South Africa and Ethiopia, we are excited to announce that The Future Awards will go continental for the first time – and this move is timed to coincide with the just-concluded 50th anniversary celebration of the Africa Union.”

This edition is hosted in partnership with the youth office of the Africa Union Commission, based in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, and nominations for the awards’ biggest prize, Young Person of the Year to be Africa-based.   

“We are very proud of The Future Awards because it has always been based on performance and achievement,” said Dr. Raymonde Agossou, who is Head of the Division Human Resources and Youth Development of the Africa Union Commission. “Those values have remained intact and should always be.”

(Watch Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala, Raymonde Agossou Tony O. Elumelu, Onyeka Onwenu, Frank Nweke  and others speak about The Future Awards 2013 here)

(Watch Chude Jideonwo, Executive Directore Of The Future Project, speak about the nomination process here)

(See the full list of 16 categories here)

Activities Leading To The Future Awards 2013 Include:
Official Announcement of The Future Awards 2013 + Young Person of the Year: The Africa Prize – Addis Ababa, May 2013

Release of Nominees List – Lagos, June 2013

The Future Business Master-Class – Lagos, June 2013

United States Consul-General hosts The Future Awards Nominees – Lagos, July 2013

Nigeria Leadership Initiative hosts The Future Awards Nominees – Lagos, July 2013

“Nominations are now on,” said Jideonwo. “Please nominate any inspiring young Nigerians between 18 and 31 in the categories above by going to the website Those without Internet access should call or SMS 08022226712. As this year’s campaign declares: Inspiration begins here!”
The event holds in August 2013. Judges will be officially unveiled in a statement next week. There will be no public voting for The Future Awards 2013. 

Media Partners include Channels Television, Punch Newspapers, Silverbird TV, Nigeria Info, BellaNaija, LindaIkejiBlog, Premium Times, 360Nobs, LadunLiadiBlog and Jobberman. Official Media Partners are Africa Magic, Cool FM, Wazobia FM and Y!/

For more information, visit @TFAAfrica on Twitter or the website

U-Report: "Human Rights Education Changes Lives In Africa"------Amnesty International

Report By Amnesty International Media Centre

When her husband died, Alice Beti and her two children almost became homeless.

Her in-laws had taken over all of her late husband’s property and were threatening to evict them from their house in Kenya.

But one day, Alice, a community health worker, went to a meeting organized by local activists where she learned about her right to inherit part of her husband’s property under the country’s family laws. She understood that her rights had been violated and that she could do something about it.

She took her case to the tribal Paramount Chief’s court, where she challenged her in-laws and won.

The health worker now lives with her two children in their home in Shinyalu and heads Shinyalu Widows’ Group, an organization that helps other women to navigate the local judicial system.
Alice’s story is representative of the experiences of the hundreds of women who have taken part in a Human Rights Education micro-project organized by Amnesty International and community-based organization, the Shinyalu Central and West Self-help Group in Kenya since 2009.

During the workshops, specially trained community members lead sessions on issues such as rape, incest and eviction of widows – describing how victims can seek redress.
The trainings are attended by community members, teachers, social workers, local government officials and local chiefs. The community leaders usually speak out in favour of holding perpetrators accountable, which gives women like Alice the confidence to take their cases forward.

Participation And Education:
Since Amnesty International began the wider Human Rights Education project in 2008 with the support of the UK’s Department for International Development (DFID) under the Governance and Transparency Fund, the organization has teamed up with local groups and human rights activists in countries including Mali, Benin, Burkina Faso, Sierra Leone, Ghana, Senegal, Togo, Côte d’Ivoire, Kenya and Uganda to deliver dozens of human rights education workshops.

Aminatou Sar, who leads the project, says that “participatory learning” are the key words, meaning affected individuals and communities are in charge of their own lives.

For each micro-project, communities in isolated areas across Africa decide what issues they want to address and how they would like to be trained. Workshops are specially designed and delivered to groups that bring together victims of human rights abuses and those with the power to bring about justice and change.

“Human rights education has been too elitist. In the past, people have been working more with schools and professionals, focusing on governments and high-profile people, so this project has been really instrumental in bringing in voices from the community level, involving communities in claiming their rights,” explains Aminatou.

“We work for people to familiarize themselves with laws protecting women and young girls and to change behaviour in communities, particularly amongst chiefs who are in charge of making decisions. For example when women are accused by the community of being witches; it would be the chiefs who would take the decision to ban them from the community, so it was important to talk to them. In Burkina Faso, for example, we were very successful and some of the chiefs even brought back to the villages some of the women who had been banished years ago.”

Once a workshop has been designed, project participants use art, music, theatre and other participatory methods to start discussions on human rights abuses and ways for victims to get justice and redress.

“The project has been really successful and interesting because it has brought real participation of women who wouldn’t usually speak out publicly because of the male authorities in the communities – but by playing the role in a play it gives them a platform for expression,” says Aminatou.

African Good News:
So far, Amnesty International’s Africa Human Rights Education Project has particularly focused on tackling perceptions about women and the acceptance of gender-based violence.

In Burkina Faso, for example, local activists have worked with traditional leaders in Pabré, a village located 20 kilometres from the capital city, Ouagadougou, which is known as one of the “epicentres” of female genital mutilation (FGM) in the West African country.
During the workshops, facilitators looked to sensitize community chiefs on how some of the false ideas justifying FGM were having a negative impact on women’s rights – in a country where nearly half the women suffer the abusive practice, according to the Comité National de Lutte contre la Pratique de l’Excision.

More than 300 community members have participated in the sessions, which so far have helped change perceptions on FGM.

Also as a result of the project, local leaders have set up “Alert Units” in the 22 villages of Pabré. These units aim to inform the police of any attempt to practice FGM in their villages, which has resulted in a significant decrease in its use.

Aminatou knows human rights education alone will not change the situation in the whole of Africa, but she is convinced it is a good place to start.

“I’m very moved every time I go to a community and see that even though the situation is very bad there are powerful women, men and young people doing things with the minimum means – and sometimes no means at all – but always pushing things forward. That’s very inspirational.”