Tuesday, 11 June 2013

Article: June 12 And Struggle For Real Democratic Tradition In Nigeria

Abiola; Symbol Of June 12 

By Jaye Gaskia

Context And Struggle:
It is June 2013, and once again it is the anniversary of the June 12 1993 election and its outcome, one that has played a quite significant role in shaping the history of our democracy, and our popular struggles since then. But this is not just another anniversary, it is the twentieth!

Perhaps now after 20 years, those who were part of that struggle can attempt a more rigorous reflection separating myth from reality, fact from fiction, and tales from history.

What made the June 12 election, the annulment of the results of that presidential election, and the political crisis and impasse engendered by the annulment such a significant and pivotal part of our struggle and democratic journey as a nation?

First we must understand the context, which is the apparent contradiction involved in a situation where the outcome of a process rejected and opposed by the popular movement and citizens’ organisations, became the corner stone of the same popular struggle waged by citizens’ organisations going forward.

The transition program of the IBB military dictatorship had become interminable and endless; the deceptive dictator had lied his way through several postponements, thus by the time of the commencement of this particular phase of the endless transition, the general populace, including elements of the ruling elite, had long ceased to trust or believe the dictator; particularly after the series of banning which excluded the leading elites of the political elites from the transition process.

So a two party system was imposed, and after the sanitization of the field, MKO and Tofa emerged the presidential candidates of SDP and NRC respectively. The elections were conducted, the mass movement urged a boycott insisting on its demand for a Sovereign National Conference [SNC]. The results were being announced, MKO was on the way to a huge victory, the regime panicked, and on the strength of a ‘bought’ court order first stopped the announcement of results, and then proceeded to out rightly annul the election.

The annulment of the election result immediately precipitated a political crisis, driven by mass protests organised and coordinated by the mass movement whose goal had always been for the end of military dictatorship and the thorough democratization of the polity and all aspects of national life.

For the mass movement the annulment was a vindication of its analysis of the inherent deception in the transition program, and the implication was the elongation of the rule of the dictatorship. Thus was the stage set for a monumental epochal and historic popular uprising and revolution of the Nigerian peoples.

After a series of mass protests, the uprising forced IBB to step aside and hand over to an illegal Interim National Government [ING] on August 27th 1993; the ING was rejected and fought by the popular movement until a court declared it illegal in November and its position became no longer tenable having lost both popular and legal legitimacy.

In Lagos, on the day that the court pronounced the ING illegal, a massive procession moved from the court house to MKO’s house in Ikeja; By afternoon, the Ikeja MKO house had become like Gani Fawehinmi Park/Freedom Square during the January Uprising of 2012. The court pronouncement and the mass movement outside the gates of the house caught the custodian of the stolen mandate and the group of ‘progressive’ ruling class elites around him off guard.

The movement came with one demand: Claim your mandate; declare yourself the president; constitute a transitional government; and convene the SNC!

The custodians of the mandate faltered, they prevaricated, and proverbs came tumbling out in rapid succession, all to the effect this demand was difficult to fulfill. A historic opportunity was missed; by June 1994 when the custodians felt confident enough to act and make the Epetedo Declaration; the moment had been lost. The declaration was made not in front of a mass movement mobilised to protect the mandate, but in hiding! This time it was the popular masses who were caught off guard. The holder of the mandate was promptly arrested and sent into detention from which he couldn’t come out until he was murdered four years later.

With the custodians of the mandate prevaricating and faltering after the ING lost its legal legitimacy, and nature abhorring a vacuum, the military struck again, led by that remnant of the IBB regime, left in position within the ING as a praetorian guard! The Abacha dictatorship was inaugurated.

Now it is important to understand the seeming immediate paralysis of the popular mass movement and popular struggles!

The Custodians of the mandate [that is the winner of the mandate and the fractions of the ruling elites cohering around him], who would later on in the course of the dark days of the Abacha dictatorship become organised into NADECO [National Democratic Coalition], had in varying degrees some level of illusion in the coupists; and had some form of believe that the Coup after all that the nation had gone through, was a Pro June 12 Coup, and that its leaders after a reasonable transition period would revalidate the results of the June 12 election and hand over power to the winner.

It is said, and has been whispered ever since that they even had foreknowledge of the coup; certainly this allegation of advance knowledge and being consulted, and that the consultation was handled by the number two person in the emergent regime.

This allegation of some level of complicity in the coup, explained why there was so much prevarication in November 1993 when the moment could have been seized in front of a mobilised masses; it explains further why the custodians of the mandate were represented in the new regime by persons which they had nominated to work with the regime; and it also explains on the mass movement side, why a section of the activist movement urged patience with the new regime. There appeared to have been an understanding and expectation among the custodians that the regime would within the shortest possible time restore the mandate; and among the section of activists, that this restoration of the mandate would also lead to the convening of the SNC. Thus in this believe around an apparent coincidence of interests laid the foundation of the historic compromise and mistake that enabled the dictatorship to consolidate its hold on power, and led it towards the trajectory of brutal repression, particularly after the custodians and the section of activists realized that they had been betrayed, and returned to join the popular movement’s offensive against the regime.

The split of the popular movement led by the Campaign For Democracy [CD] at its convention in Ibadan in February 1994 was directly precipitated by this allegation of complicity, and the mood of expectation it generated. The movement split, the two factions unable to find a consensus ground; those who felt betrayed, staged a walk out, and began their concrete regrouping in 1995 with the formation of the Democratic Alternative [DA]; a process that was consolidated, and reached a climax with the establishment of a new coalition; the United Action For Democracy [UAD] in May 1997.

The renewed struggle waged against the Abacha dictatorship tentatively from 1994, and more vigorously from 1995, gathered steam and from 1997 to 1998 reached its apogee of a near permanent campaign of civil disobedience and dissidence. Every important date was commemorated with mass protests, and the May 1st 1998 workers’ day was the moment that the dam was breached, the levees broke, and the flood of unceasing mass protests unfolded. The regime was caught in a spiral of mass protests and something had to give before the Revolution was consummated.

All fractions of the ruling class was in panic, along with their imperialist backers. A solution was designed. Get rid of the problem. Perhaps if the maximum ruler was killed, this would assuage the popular movement, and a new transition program could commence thus saving the established order from the ravages of a mass revolution. This was tried, and on June 8th1998 the dictator was killed. But rather than assuage the movement, it simply emboldened the movement, as the movement became more insistent on the restoration of the mandate, establishment of the transitional government and convening of the SNC.

Since by now positions had also hardened among the various factions of the ruling elites [pro and anti June 12]; it became obvious that the only way to get the entire ruling class to move forward on the basis of a common consensus is to also get rid of the winner of the mandate and symbol of the movement. If he was removed from the scene, then there was no longer any mandate to be restored, and a level playing ground could be achieved for all the factions to rally round. Thus was MKO also killed in July 1998.

June 12 Struggle; Results And Prospects:
So what is the significance of the June 12 struggle to our struggle to remake our country and fully democratize all aspects of our national life?

For this let us look at its character, its outcome, and the struggle that it helped to energise and reinvigorate.

The June 12 election was supposed to be the climax of a long and convoluted transition program by a deceptive military dictatorship. Instead in its annulment it became an end to one regime [IBB], and a beginning of a new regime [ING], but not the one issuing from that election [MKO].

The annulment was meant to prolong the rule of IBB, instead the crisis which emanated from it and the reinvigorated mass protests led to its termination and the stepping aside of IBB.

But even more decisively is the fact that the victorious ticket was a Muslim-Muslim ticket; a ticket that swept the votes across the country irrespective of ethnic, or religious affiliations. In that sense the election marked a new beginning, and the realization of the mandate could have helped to lay afresh the foundation for a new Nigeria, where loyalty is to Nigeria citizenship and not to ethnic or religious origins; but alas we lost an historic opportunity.

In the struggle to revalidate the results of the election and restore the mandate, we also got very close to actually concluding a life transforming revolution. Between August and November 1993 we had three governments [IBB, ING, and Abacha regimes], one replacing the other in quick succession; not even the recent Arab spring was this phenomenon achieved.

But perhaps the most significant lesson for our current situation as a country, that can be drawn from the June 12 struggle, and which was reinforced by the January Uprising of 2012; is the self limiting strategy of the movement,  including both of its wings, that is wing represented by sections of the ruling class/political elites who find themselves in temporary dissidence against a particular regime; and the other wing represented by activists and active citizens who work with and lead mass popular movements, that are engaged in a more or less permanent historical struggle with the status quo and system [not just particular regimes].

What does this self limiting strategy consist of? It consist of a theory and practice, a strategy and tactical maneuvers, which while orienting itself on mobilization of popular anger into popular acts of dissidence, nevertheless is insufficiently trustful of the capacity and capability of the popular masses to make the revolution and be the primary agents of change.

This self limiting strategy is such that it sees weakness [at least political and economic weakness] in the masses it is mobilizing, and therefore looks to external agency for change. Thus in the June 12 struggle, because the custodians of the June 12 mandate could not envisage the restoration of the mandate through any other means except the act of a sitting government; they ended up looking up first to the ING and next to the Military, and the Abacha coupists for the authority to restore the mandate.

On the other hand, many activists could also not conceive of the convening of the SNC except through the act of a sitting government compelled by the mass movement to convene it. It was lost on these activists that no sovereign authority would help its opponents to convene a parallel source of sovereign authority to it.

So these activists like the so called progressive sections of the ruling class end up looking outside the movement and outside of the popular masses for the capacity to make the decisive changes needed to consummate the revolution.

So both the custodians of the mandate and a section of activists lacking any confidence in the capacity of the masses, and fearing the repression of existing regimes, went on to perpetuate in the June 12 struggle a certain level of illusion in existing regimes with respect to restoration of the mandate and convening of the SNC.

It is the same challenge that we face today as we seek to deepen our democratic experience. Again a strong illusion in elements of the ruling class as the messiahs of the people is being unwittingly perpetuated.

The tragic mess we are in today as a nation is being attributed to fraction of the ruling class in power since 1999 [the PDP], and not to the entire class [including APC]; the problems are being seen as failures of particular policies, not a systemic failure; and therefore the ground is laid for the perpetuation of the illusion consisting in the fact if only we could exchange one wing [PDP] of the ruling elites for another [APC]; our problems will be solved and the mess cleared up.

The historic lessons of the June 12 struggle and the January Uprising need not only be learned, but also internalized; for as Saint Just said very long ago; ‘those who half make a revolution, merely dig their own graves’.

News Report: Mandela Still In "Serious But Stable" Condition


Credit: Reuters
Former South African president and anti-apartheid leader remains in a "serious but stable" condition after being admitted to hospital four days ago with a lung infection, the government said on Tuesday.

A statement said President Jacob Zuma had been briefed by doctors about Mandela's condition and was satisfied that they were "doing their best to make Madiba better". In South Africa, Mandela is commonly referred to by his clan name, Madiba

Photonews: Tight Security At Mandela's Hospital

Entrance To The Mediclinic Heart Hospital In Pretoria; Photo Credit: Getty Images

News Release: How Nigeria Murdered Democracy Since 1999……

Firstly, the International Society for Civil Liberties & the Rule of Law, Nigeria; ably represented here in Washington DC, USA, by Comrade Emeka Umeagbalasi, wishes to appreciate, deeply, the invitation of its Chairman of the Board by the US Department of State, to participate in the internationally respected and prestigious International Visitor(s) Leadership Program for NGO Management in USA & related others. We appreciate, commend and congratulate the Department of State of the United States and Its officials, distinguished members of the ECA/PE/R/V and the FHI-360 Project teams,  respected and reputable IVLP colleagues and all other institutions and persons involved directly or indirectly in the ennobled program scheduled to cover the US States and Cities ranging from Washington and Washington DC; Seattle, Louisville, Kentucky; Huntington and Birmingham, Alabama; East Lansing, Michigan; St. Louis, Missouri; to Denver, Colorado. We wish all the participants in the program and its organizers huge successes at the end. The program was opened on Monday, June 10 and expected to end on June 29. The leadership of Intersociety celebrates the nomination of its Chairman of the Board, Emeka Umeagbalasi as the only Nigerian nominated to join other 23 international personalities drawn from twenty-four countries around the world including Russia, UK, India, Mexico, China, Costa Rica, Romania and Italy.

Our Beloved Country(Nigeria) As Murderer Of Democracy, Civil Liberties And The Rule Of Law:

Nigeria; a country of approximately 160million to 170 million people with 923,000 square kilometers of landmass; 3,500 kilometers of railways; 8,600 kilometers of inland waterways; 22 airports- both domestic and international; 17% of African population; 9.2% of African landmass; 2.5% of the world population; highest populated black country on earth; 3.5% of the world landmass; roughly two times the size of State of Alaska in USA in terms of landmass; and 198,000 kilometers of federal, states and local governments’ road network; blessed with abundant human and material resources ( with over 33 solid mineral deposits), has been caught up in a crossfire of social, economic and political crises particularly since her return to civil rule in 1999; a period of 14 years and 12 days.

Though, our beloved country had been in crises since her statehood in 1960, but the present crises came about as a result of the seizure of political power in 1999 by Nigeria’s enemies within- corrupt members of the political class, which included military apologists, advance fee fraudsters and ritual cultists such as “Otokoto” occultist confraternity in Southeast Nigeria. Nigeria is akin to Cambodia of 1975 to 1979 under bloodthirsty “Comrade” Pol Pot.

Conversely, in the Union of South Africa, the political activists led by Mr. Nelson Mandela who fought for their country’s independence, foresaw the dangers of abandoning the political leadership in the hands of their country’s “black sheep”. As a result, they moved in and took control and dogmatized and systematized their country’s political leadership. But in Nigeria, the reverse was the case as her heroes and heroines of democracy struggle stayed away and allowed the criminal political class limitless access to the corridors of power. This marked the beginning of Nigeria’s current social, economic and political woes till date.

In this context, therefore, Nigeria’s crises are divided into three major areas of: insecurity & spiraled crime rates; failed governance & economy and failed justice system & deplorable human rights state.

Security & Crime:
Security threats and other unsafe conditions have remained Nigeria’s major challenge till date. Our beloved country can best be described as “consociation democracy”- a sort of a democratic country that is highly divided along ethnic, religious and political lines with high incidence of self-help method in respect of inter-personal and inter-group disputes. The mountainous and untamed security threats have converted our beloved country into a death theatre.

In December 2011, during the 63rd World Rights Anniversary, we released a report to the effect that since 1999, approximately 54,000 Nigerians were killed outside the law by our beloved country’s malicious citizens operating as “State actors” and “non-state actors”. See www.intersociety-ng.org (under press releases and newsletters) for the report, captioned: “How 54,000 Nigerians Died outside the Law Since 1999”. The said unlawful deaths arose from Vigilante killings dominant in the Southeast Nigerian States of Anambra and Abia. Others arose from the Police violent crackdown on members of the Movement for the Sovereign State of Biafra-MASSOB; intra-communal and inter-communal conflicts; ethno-religious/sectarian conflicts such as Jos killings and Boko Haram insurgency; election related violence; police custody/pretrial killings; political assassinations/killings; kidnap killings; culpable homicides; and excessive use of force by military/police against Nigeria’s malicious entities and members of the civil populace.

From the report, it was approximated that over 15,000 unlawful deaths arose from vigilante killings. The ethno-religious/sectarian killings including the Boko Haram insurgency accounted for over 16,000 unlawful deaths; police/military unlawful or extra-legal killings accounted for 21,000 deaths; and election violence took over 2,000 lives. Beyond this, the in-depth review of the continued unlawful killings in our beloved country from January to May 2013, showed that more 4000 Nigerians may most likely to have been killed outside the law, between January 2012 and May 2013. The 2011 report covered June 1999 to December 2011. This brings the total number of unlawful deaths in Nigeria since 1999 to approximately 58,000. For instance, between January and April 2013, over 1000 Nigerians were killed unlawfully by malicious elements within and outside the country’s security forces. The killings according to our public statement of 1st day of May 2013, titled: “Nigeria Is A Death Theatre: How Over 1000 Citizens Were Murdered In Four Months By Malicious Elements”; arose from police custody killings such as Ezu River Killings; ethno-religious/sectarian violence such as Jos killings; and the Boko Haram insurgency.

In the area of police pretrial/custody killings, over 200 Nigerians may most likely to have been killed between January and April 2013. The unlawful killings included over 50 young Nigerian males of the Igbo-Southeast extraction, killed by Anambra State Police SARS in January 2013 and dumped into Ezu River in Awka, Anambra State, Southeast Nigeria (see the Intersociety’s reports, titled: the Return of Anambra’s Killing Fields part 1, 2 & 3 at www.intersociety-ng.org). On the issue of Boko Haram insurgency, over 600 Nigerians have been killed since January 2013. The killings included over 220 citizens killed on 16th and 17th of April, 2013 in the Baga (Borno State, Northeast Nigeria) violent clashes between Boko Haram militant Islamists and the Multi-national Joint Taskforce led by Nigerian security forces in which 2,275 thatched houses were destroyed (HRW May 2013), as well as the killing of over 180 citizens, mostly citizens of Southeast Igbo extraction, on 18th day of March 2013 at the Sabon Gari Luxury Bus Park in Kano State, Northwest Nigeria.

Other unlawful killings that took place between January and April 2013 are the Jos ethno-religious/sectarian violence where over 200 citizens have been killed. In May 2013, alone, up to 200 Nigerians have died in unjustified manners in our beloved country. The May 2013 killings included the death of 90 members of Nigerian security forces on 8th day of May, 2013 in Lafia, Nasarawa State, North-central, Nigeria and the killing of 55 citizens including 22 police officers, 14 prisons officials, two soldiers, 13 Boko Haram insurgents and four civilians (see Intersociety’s letter to President Goodluck Jonathan, titled: “Hausanisation & Islamization Policy In The Nigeria Police Force: Igbo-Southeast As Endangered Species With The Loss Of Over 2,500 Souls Under Your Excellency’s Administration-Part Two”, dated 13th day of May,2013- www.intersociety-ng.org).

Importantly, the killings under reference (58,000 unlawful deaths) did not include those killed in motor accidents. In the five months of 2013 alone, over 300 Nigerians have been killed in motorization mishaps. Between December 19, 2012 and first week of January 2013, according to Nigeria’s Federal Road Safety Corps, 280 Nigerians were killed in road accidents. The Igbo-Southeast region of Nigeria, on her part, has lost over 2,500 of its citizens since 2010 to killers who kill outside the law. Those killed died in election violence of 2011, Jos violence in North-central Nigeria as well as in several bombs and weapons’ attacks launched by the Boko Haram insurgents in some northern parts of Nigeria. In the Kano Luxury Bus Park bomb attacks of March 18, 2013, for instance, up to 150 of them were killed. The Igbo race is the most unprotected race and targeted victims of hate violence in our beloved country.

Between January 2011 and January 2012, the number of citizens of the Igbo-southeast Nigeria killed in Boko Haram insurgency was about 510, out of about 714 Nigerians killed. See our letters to President Goodluck Jonathan, dated 18-1-2012 and 18-5-2013, titled: “Chilling Killing of 510 Igbo-Nigerian Citizens Amounts to Crimes Against Humanity” and “Hausanization & Islamization Policy in the Nigeria Police Force & Killing of over 2,500 Igbo-Nigerians Since 2010”. They are available at www.intersociety-ng.org. Nigeria has also recorded over 230 unresolved political murders since 1999 (see Intersociety’s report: “How 54,000 Nigerians Died Outside The Law Since 1999”, dated 11-12-2011). These killings outside the law have continued unabated and increased as days go by with impunity.

Further, corruption, favoritism, nepotism, ethno-religious division, primordial policing and proliferation of illicit small arms have been identified via researches as  major challenges or banes militating against effective policing in our beloved country. Out of the UN’s recommendation of one police officer for 400 citizens, Nigeria presently maintains about 500 citizens for one police officer with about 371,000 police officers and 6,651 police field formations in her police establishment, policing between 160 million and 170 million populations. Yet our beloved country and her populous citizens are still going through chronic insecurity and other unsafe conditions.

A link between police unlawful killing and police corruption in Nigeria has been indisputably established. On 11th day of December, 2011, we released twin reports captioned: “How 54,000 Nigerians Died Outside The Law Since 1999” and “How Nigerian Police Personnel Raked in N53.4Billion ($336.6million) From Nigerian Roadblocks In Three Years-2009-2011” (see www.intersociety-ng.org). The report on extortion and corruption in the NPF documented and exposed with pictorial pieces of evidence, the use of over 3,500 police roadblocks across Nigeria particularly in the Southeast zone, as an avenue for criminal enrichment and unlawful killings. There were also reports issued by other rights advocacy organizations such as “Rest In Pieces” of the Human Rights Watch, 2005;”Killing At Will” of Amnesty International, 2009; “Criminal Force” of the Open Society Justice Initiative and the Network On Police Reforms In Nigeria-NOPRIN (revised version), 2010; “Everyone’s In The Game” of the Human Rights Watch, 2010; and the US Department of State Reports on the State of Human Rights in Nigeria, of 2009 and 2012. These credible reports documented and exposed monumental corrupt practices of many police officers in Nigeria, which embolden them to kill Nigerians indiscriminately outside the law with impunity.

Though, the reports under reference, particularly our own version of December 2011, have been partly acted upon, which led to drastic reduction in the number of police roadblocks on Nigerian roads and drastic decrease in police roadblock killings since February 2012, but incidences of corruption, nepotism, favoritism, deep ethnic divisions and custody killings are still very high in the Nigeria Police Force. Promotions and postings in the Force are grossly lopsided and carried out to favour the Hausa-Fulani Muslims as well as the Yoruba Ethnic group of Southwest and North-central Nigeria, while the Igbo ethnic group and other Christian minority tribes of the South-south and northern parts of the country  are acutely sidelined( see the Intersociety’s letters to President Goodluck Jonathan, captioned: “Hausanisation & Islamization Policy In The Nigeria Police Force & Related Issues-1 & 2”, dated 06-05-2013 and 13-05-2013 at www.intersociety-ng.org) . The Nigeria Police Force is also haunted by primordial and gun-culture policing. Its intelligence network has gone moribund.  Modern preventive and gadgets’ policing are almost non-existent in its confines. Its crime investigation and prosecution managements are anachronistic and unscientific (see our public statements on Ezu River Killings part 1, 2 & 3, dated: 19-01-2013; 04-03-2013 and 11-03-2013- www.intersociety-ng.org).

Proliferation of illicit small arms and their unlawful bearers is another major contributor to insecurity and other unsafe conditions in Nigeria to date. It is the major factor aiding the incompetence and incapacity of the Nigerian security forces led by the Nigeria Police Force in crime prevention and control management. Our Organization strongly believes that there are presently over 5million illicit small arms in wrong hands in Nigeria (see our public statement of 7th day of November, 2012, captioned: “Focus on Anambra State Of Nigeria: Security & Crime Under Review”- www.intersociety-ng.org).  We in the Intersociety-Nigeria see illicit small arms as “illegally acquired technologically manufactured lethal weapons other than weapons of mass destruction, found in wrong hands, ranging from rocket launchers to AK-47 assault rifles, revolver guns and related others”.

There are approximately 8,000 to 10,000 unconventionally trained armed vigilante groups operating in Nigeria today, with dominance in Anambra and Abia States in Southeast, Nigeria. Over 2000 of them are believed to be in the repositories of the two States. Skyrocketing increase in illicit small arms proliferation and their unlawful bearers in Nigeria in recent times is premised on vigilante militancy, political thuggery and brigandage, rise in violent crimes, and the resource control and ethno-religious insurgencies. Politicians remain the largest generators of violence in Nigeria till date. The South-south, Southeast, Northeast, North-west and North-central geopolitical zones of Nigeria are strongly believed to have the largest quantities of illicit small arms in Nigeria today.

In the Southeast zone, Anambra and Abia States run neck to neck as largest bearers of illicit small arms. In the South-south zone, Rivers and Bayelsa States are leading Delta State. In the North-west zone, Kaduna and Kano States are on top. In the Northeast zone, it is Borno State, followed by Yobe, Adamawa and Bauchi States; and in the North-central zone, Plateau State is on top, followed by Benue and Nasarawa States. Though the Southwest zone is relatively free from high concentration of illicit small arms circulating in Nigeria, but Lagos State parades the highest quantity of illicit small arms in private criminals’ hands in the zone. A total of 270 people were killed in the State by violent criminals between first quarter of 2012 and first quarter of 2013 (Lagos State Police Command 2013).

There are over 300,000 of such illicit small arms in Anambra State of Southeast Nigeria alone and over 1000 unconventionally trained armed vigilante groups operating in the State to date. A 2011 UN’s Small Arms Survey, disclosed that out of 875million small arms produced by over 1000 companies in over 100 countries worldwide, Nigeria’s share hovers around 5.95million, 7million and 8million, thereby making her a dominant illicit small arms bearer in West Africa and a major world illicit small arms bearing country. Our beloved country is put in the same category with Yemen and the United States. The Nigeria’s Nation Newspaper of 9th day of March, 2013 reported the arraignment in UK of a Briton, Mr. Gary Hyde, for illegal shipment into Nigeria of 80,000 riffles and pistols and 32million rounds of ammunition. The illegal shipment included 40,000 AK-47 assault rifles, 30,000 riffles and 10,000 9mm pistols. Caches of weapons have been discovered from left, right and center in Nigeria in recent times. An Iranian was recently convicted by a Nigerian court for similar offence. Nigerian laws responsible for regulating the importation and use of small arms are very weak and outdated. Such laws are the Firearms Act, Cap F28 of 2004, the Private Guards Act of 1986 and the Custom & Excuse Management Act of 2002, etc. The controlling and regulatory agencies in our beloved country are also very corrupt and incompetent.

Failed Economy And Governance:
Nigeria’s public governance and state of economy has been in a sorry state since 1999 despite the abundance of her human and material resources. Over 33 solid minerals abound in the country. With the exception of oil and gas, others have remained at subsistence levels. Our beloved country continues to perform abysmally in every regional and international social indicator; from regional and international universities’ ratings to infant mortality; from high cost of governance to highly indebted poor countries’ status, etc. The incidence of corruption and bad governance has remained alarmingly high in our beloved country and the state of infrastructures including key ones like air and seaports, energy, health facilities, schools, roads, etc, is in steady decay, with the exception of few States like Anambra and Edo where the reverse is substantially the case courtesies of their legitimate State Governments.

Nigeria runs one of the costliest public governances in the world. In 2002, barely three years after the return to civil rule, Nigeria enacted a law called “Salaries & Allowances Of Top Public Office Holders Act of 2002”. The Law allocated N755.8billion (about $5billion) for the servicing of her 17,500 top public office holders annually. In 2008, the law was revised and the said salaries and allowances increased to N1.13trillion (approximately $7.5billion). Yet, to date, the spirit and letters of the law are not strictly adhered to. In other words, the law is totally observed in breach. This is because pieces of annual federal and states’ appropriation legislation are used to allocate and pocket hundreds of billions of naira in the form of “allowances and jumbo pay”, which are in gross violation of the subsisting pay Act, revised in 2008. The shocking part of it all is that almost half of these monies are borrowed locally and internationally with prohibitive interests and penalties. Nigeria borrows to consume and not to produce.

Nigeria, to date, has 17,500 top public office holders; out of which, 13,500 occupy elective offices and 4,000 others occupy appointive offices. According to the revised pay Act of 2008 under reference, N592billion( approximately $3.9billion using N155.00 for $1) is spent annually in servicing the 12,788 top Local Government Areas’ officials; out of this, allowances take N550billion or over 90%, while salaries account for only N41.8billion or less than 10%. There are 774 constitutionally recognized LGAs in Nigeria as of date. The sum of N300.5billion is spent on about 2,664 States’ executives of Nigeria’s 36 States and the Federal Capital Territory. The sum of N40.9billion is spent on 1,152 States’ lawmakers; N98.3billion is spent on 472 federal executives; N60.4billion is spent on 469 federal lawmakers; N18.5billion is spent on 792 State High Court Judges; and N14.8billion is spent on 142 federal judges.

In summary, two sets of allowances abound for Nigeria’s top public office holders; one is contained in the revised pay Act of 2008 and the other is criminally smuggled into the Federal and States’ annual budgets. Out of N80trillion ($500billion) shared among the Federal Government of Nigeria, the 36 States of the Federation and the  FCT (federal capital territory) and the 774 Local Government Areas from the Federation Accounts since June 1999, up to 70% of same went into payment of salaries & allowances and debts servicing, while only 30% went into execution of public-interest projects. Also, out of the total budgets of N37, 665trillion ($240billion) made by the Federal Government of Nigeria between June 1999 and 2013, N21, 7trillion (about $145billion) was spent on consumption (recurrent expenditures), while only N11.3trillion (about $70 billion) went into production (capital expenditures). The remaining sum of N4.5trillion ($28billion) was used for local and foreign debts servicing. These explain why Nigeria runs one of the costliest public governances on earth to date.

Our beloved country has also returned to the “Highly Indebted Poor Country” status with total public debts of over $100billion. This debts figure includes Federal Government’s court judgment of N188.5billion as of 2012; government ministries and parastatals ‘debts; States’ foreign and domestic debts; as well as Federal Government’s foreign and domestic debts. According to official records of the Federal Government of Nigeria, the current total public debts stand at $52billion including its 2013-2015 foreign borrowing proposals of $7.9billion; domestic debts of N6.15trillion ($40billion) and foreign debts of $6,035billion. This account did not include the Federal Government and States’ government incurred court judgment debts; their ministries and parastatals’ debts and huge local debts incurred by the 36 States, the FCT and some Local Government Areas, which are on steady increase. Nigeria’s foreign debts increased from $970million in 1970 to $36billion  in 2006. It came down to about $6billion in 2006 as a result of debts forgiveness and rose again to over $15billion in 2012/2013.

As at December 2001, Nigeria borrowed a total of $13.5billion from the Paris Club and spent a total of $41.2billion in its servicing. Nigeria’s journey to huge local indebtedness began in 1986 with a total local debt of N28.44billion ($1.3billion then using N22.00 for one USD), by 2006; it spirally rose to N1.8trillion (about $13billion then) and by 2012/2013, it alarmingly increased to over N9trillion (about $60billion) possibly excluding huge local debts of various States’ government. For fuller details, please visit our website at www.intersociety-ng.org for our two reports, dated 03-09-2012 and 01-10-2012 and captioned: “How Nigeria’s Trillion & $44Billion Debts Are Pocketed By 17,500 Politically Privileged Nigerians and “Nigeria In Desperate Need Of Another Iweala Debts’ Exit Magic”. While China; Nigeria’s economic peer in the 60s, 70s and 80s, has increased her foreign exchange reserves from $700 billion in 2006; $2.3 trillion in 2010; to $3 trillion in 2012, Nigeria’s fell from $60 billion in 2006 to $50 billion in 2013. Our beloved country has also depleted her excess crude oil sales reserves from $20 billion in 2006 to almost zero USD in 2013.

Archaic Body Of Laws:
Nigeria’s criminal and civil justice systems are in dire need of reforms. Apart from deformities inherent in her Constitution of 1999, most of the pieces of her criminal legislation are outdated.  The country has also refused to accede to numerous international rights and humanitarian treaties by way of ratification and “domestication”, in accordance with Section 12 of her Constitution. These have earned her a pariah status internationally. Section 6, sub 6(c) of her Constitution has continued to deny citizens and courts rights of judicial justice and judicial review with respect to the implementation of economic, social and cultural rights, contained in the Chapter Two of her Constitution. Nigeria’s outdated pieces of criminal legislation and court rules have continued to encourage extra-judicial killings, torture and massive corrupt practices in public establishments. Her judiciary organ is one of the most corrupt judicial institutions in the world as of date and a leading corrupt public institution in the country.

For fuller details on Nigeria’s failed justice system, please visit our website (www.intersociety-ng.org). Specifically, see the following: 1. Letter submitted to the Clerk of the Nigeria’s House of Reps Committee on Constitution Review, dated 12th day of November, 2012. 2.  Second letter to the same House on the same issue; dated 18th day of November, 2012 and captioned: “Ousting The Ouster Clauses In The Chapter Four Of The Constitution”.3. Letter to the Attorney General of Nigeria on need to drastically reform Nigeria’s criminal and civil justice systems, dated 13-12-2012.  4. Public statement, captioned: “Return of Anambra’s killing Fields- part two”, dated 11-03-2013. 5. Public statement, captioned: “Oyerinde’s Murder Investigation In Edo State: Saving The Nigeria Police Force From Media & Political Cruxifion,” dated 05-04-2013.

From the foregoing, therefore, our beloved country’s 14 years of civilian rule since 1999 has been tortuous and challenging. This has enlivened the event marking the murder on June 12, 1993 of the historic electoral free speech by the Ibrahim Babangida’s military epoch. It is unreservedly correct to say that most of Nigeria’s social problems of today are caused by tainted and criminal political class, which hijacked the political power from the military in 1999 on account of the refusal of the social saints who fought and won our hand-earned democracy to step in and nurse-maid the political governance. In-spite of these man-made woes, bright hopes still abound in our beloved country. It requires congregation of forces of the social saints with positive international supports for things to be turned around for the good of every Nigerian in no distance future.

About Intersocity-Nigeria:
We were incorporated in Nigeria in April 2008 and launched in July 2008. We operate from Onitsha, Anambra State, Southeast, Nigeria, with a mission to: protecting the civil liberties and other human rights of the Igbo-Southeast citizens of Nigeria, Nigerian citizens and world citizens at all times, in accordance with the UDHR provisions; standing at all times on the side of the abused and the victimized; standing at all times against human rights abusers and enemies of the rule of law be they State actors or non-State actors; campaigning vigorously for the enthronement and sustenance of the rule of law and judicial accountability including periodic reforms in civil and criminal justice systems; and seeking for an end or reducing to the barest minimum of official misconducts in Nigeria and the Continent of Africa including sit-tight political leadership, State murder, bad governance and corruption.

Our vision is to: become a successful, fiery and leading civil liberties and the rule of law advocacy movement in the Igbo-Southeast Nigeria as well as at national, regional and international levels; and see our beloved country quitting her inglorious killing field and economically impoverished self-initiated club. Since the inception of our Organization in 2008, we have carried out over 150 advocacy activities covering reports, public petitions, public statements, articles, researches, publications and documentaries (see our website-www.intersociety-ng.org for more). These we have done with small local assistance only. We humbly seek to be supported internationally to do more and improve upon what we have done. Our motto is: taking civil liberties (human rights) and the rule of law campaigns to the grassroots.

For: International Society for Civil Liberties & the Rule of Law (Intersociety), Nigeria

Emeka Umeagbalasi
 Chairman of the Board
Mobile Phone Nos.: 080336010078, 08180103912

Website: www.intersociety-ng.org