Saturday, 22 June 2013

Photonews: Resolving Traffic Offence The Nigerian Way


Opinion: Issues In Nigerian Leadership


By Salihu Moh. Lukman

Divide and rule is by far the dominant strategy in Nigeria’s contemporary politics. It thrives on zoning and rotation of political offices with aspiring candidates for leadership at all levels of government and society cheaply brandishing their religious and ethnic credentials over any other qualification. Admittedly, in terms of educational qualifications, virtually all aspirants meet the minimum constitutional requirement. Although we have some cases whereby leaders are found to have presented wrong qualifications, often because of some manifestation of inferiority complex which made our aspirants and even so-called leaders to claim advanced educational qualifications. And given our current national pathetic proclivity for titles, some leaders have also commercially acquired educational titles such as Doctors and even B. Sc and M. Sc certificates from doubtful sources. On the whole however, it can be argued that predominantly our political leaders are more driven by ethnic and religious sentiments and hardly governing our nation and society based on knowledge and commitment to ensure that Nigerian citizens overcome challenges of survival and the quest for improved livelihood.

Thus, the big issue is whether such knowledge acquired through formal educational, which so-called qualifications comes with suggest competence and capacity to perform leadership tasks as required by the offices being aspired. Aside competence, there is also the demand for leadership vision and capacity to prioritise and take the right decisions. Ahead of all these is the critical leadership responsibility of coordinating and managing human relations in its broad context, which requires not just friendly dispositions but being open and accessible to all irrespective of differences. These are requirements that endear leaders and societies to citizens even beyond their immediate domain and are often part of the attractions that invites other non-residents to explore opportunities in communities other than their own.

A quick assessment of developments in Nigeria, at all levels since the mid 1990s will highlight remarkable departure and erosion of especially leadership values. At all levels of Nigerian society, standards have crashed and leadership requirements have been reduced to purely material (money) well being. Anyone with money can buy his/her way to power at all levels, be it local governments, states, federal government and even non-governmental organisations. In the circumstance, people with poor knowledge, without any vision, lacking of any priority and often of doubtful integrity are vested with leadership responsibility. Citizens are coerced, blackmailed or hoodwinked to support so-called leaders based on primordial sentiments with our leaders hardly challenged to win support of other Nigerians beyond their immediate narrow support base, often limited to their birth places, local governments, senatorial district, states, geo-political zone and hardly the nation as a whole.

Ethnic and religious factors have therefore emerged today as perhaps the most defining factors for contest for leadership positions in the country. As a result, there are incidences whereby leaders are produced with very narrow and parochial perception of their constituencies. In many cases, they even emerged just based on the endorsements of sections and few members. Even the practice of campaigns using posters, handbills and media hardly takes place, and if it does, it is reduced to mere symbolism. It is just simply a case of arrogance and contemptuous disrespect of the support of other sections and citizens other than so-called birth places, local governments, senatorial districts, states and geo-political zones.

This practice is widespread in many of our political institutions today. A visit to many seats of governments at all levels is enough to make any genuine Nigerian sick. Perhaps, it can be argued that this has been with us as a nation since independence. In some ways, it is an acceptable norm and little or nothing can be done about it. Yet, to the extent that it projects us as a fractured nation and promotes primordial hatred and anger, it constitutes a major national problem. How can we address this big national problem? Is there any possibility, however remote, that Nigeria can produce a leader who is not just a sectional leader? Or, is there anything that can be done to transform any of our leaders today from being narrowly perceived as a sectional leader to a national leader? By the way, what is the prospect that Nigeria’s problems can be solved by producing a national leader as opposed to sectional leaders? Anyway, what is wrong with sectional leaders? Have they not been serving their people? Do we even have leaders?

Our notion of leadership and assessment of their relevance to societal problems, in every respect, will influence our judgement with respect to these questions. To the extent that leadership is about having unregulated and unaccountable access to public resources, competition for leadership will continue to be driven by sentiments. Once leadership is blind to the issue of nurturing good human relations, our societies and nation will be highly vulnerable to reckless and crazy management of governmental and non-governmental affairs. So long as competition for leadership in our society and nation is reduced to our identity and the hegemonic drive for dominating others, knowledge and the challenge of environmental control will be a distant responsibility, if at all.

Without any doubt, if we want to survive as a nation, we must change our ways of producing leaders in every facet of our national life as Nigerians. We need a leader that is driven by knowledge, aspiration to unite our people across religion, ethnicity and all other differences, burning desire to reposition our society based on the capacity of citizens to discover their talents, respecting the values of the human person over and above any other thing and therefore recognising that the most fundamental asset of our nation is its citizens and to that extent not perceiving citizens as parasitic and the biggest liability.

How can this be done given a situation where the most important source of government revenue is the oil sector, which is a sector where government really don’t need the participation of citizens to be able to realise revenue? Why should government and our leaders respect citizens when in truth all they need is OPEC, US government, EU and other oil trading partners to be able to realise all the revenue needed to run government? With oil exploration and extraction being the direct responsibility of the Federal Government on account of which our states and local governments enjoyed huge revenue from the federation account for almost doing nothing in the process of revenue generation, why should the Federal Government not dictate to states and local governments? How can we be making any claims to federalism, when in fact our governance reality is anything but federal?

At the root of our leadership problems are so many issues that require urgent attention. It is beyond simply focusing on the individual. If the truth is to be told, government as oriented today is the source of our leadership problems. It is a situation that is known to virtually every Nigerian. Unfortunately, at best, almost every Nigerian only lament about it and conclude that nothing can be done to change it. This has given rise to a situation whereby all our governments are simply on auto pilot just facilitating importation and consumption with virtually the only production taking place being crude oil extraction.

This is a matter that calls for organised political initiatives based on selflessness and patriotic disposition. Unfortunately, most of our political actors are more driven by personal aspiration which weakened their capacity to develop the needed group approach. On account of personal aspirations, most of our political leaders are very defensive and susceptible to narrow and parochial approaches. With revenue given, all they need to worry about is not citizens’ contributions especially given zero correlation between government revenue and economic reality of citizens. All they need to worry about is perhaps their capacity to dominate citizens, which in the midst of high poverty levels money has become the main factor. The challenge therefore before anyone interested in addressing problems of leadership in Nigeria will be to initiate strategic approaches of organising Nigerian citizens around the values of re-inventing communal spirits of mobilisation and pulling resources together to drive initiative.

This is a critical rescue factor to pull Nigeria out of all the calamities facing the nation with all its varied manifestation. It is a factor that required everyone genuinely interested in moving Nigeria forward as a nation to submit and subordinate himself/herself to. This will be far more effective if driven by a superior political organisation such as a political party. The reason being that a superior political organisation would have the advantage of both legal and moral ambiance, which would engender not just commitment regarding leadership conduct by individuals but also prescribe orderly processes of nurturing citizens who subscribe to new conduct, including those of our leaders based on the need to create new outcomes that may perhaps place more premium on the welfare of citizens. Accordingly, issues of tax and how it translate into strong revenue sources for governments at all levels could then create a positive correlation between citizens welfare and governance at all levels.

Of course against the background of deep national frustration, there is often the temptation to reduce these issues to simple leadership change focusing on personalities. In today’s reality it is producing a strong clamour against the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP). Being in power, especially at federal level since 1999, such clamour would not be without justification. In fact, with rising oil revenue and at the same time geometric rise in poverty levels, the clamour against PDP is very legitimate. However, Nigerians, especially opposition politicians, need to be very clear that simply changing individual leaders without clear governance programmes to address the fundamentals that makes citizens inconsequential will not move our nation forward. In fact, from the experiences of some of our state governments between 1999 and today where new leaders emerged as state Governors after elections but end up doing worse than the PDP government they defeated, is an indication that the problem goes beyond individuals.

In a sense, combinations of programmes and good mobilizational strategies is what is needed. Endearing programmes and unifying strategy – a strategy that strongly unite Nigerians – is what is needed to defeat PDP and guarantee that such a defeat would produce new governance reality founded on respect for the contributions of citizens. This is largely because the PDP has designed power architecture for the country around divisive politics in the name of zoning and rotation and so far programmes implemented by PDP are anchored with outright disregard to citizens. Once opposition politicians relate to Nigerian politics based on PDP power architecture, it will almost be impossible to defeat PDP. If that happens, it will purely amount to Pyrrhic victory and will hardly be capable of changing the welfare conditions of Nigerians.

This is where our opposition parties working to produce All Progressive Congress (APC) need to concentrate in producing new power architecture. Somehow, it would appear that either that the PDP public relations machinery is at its best and is succeeding to force the hands of our opposition political leaders to limit their objective to producing so-called individual leaders or that actually our opposition political leaders have not realised the full weight of responsibility facing them and to that extend they are about to squander golden historic opportunity by limiting the problems of Nigeria to emergence of new leaders. Be that as it may, the issue before APC at this stage is to stimulate a national commitment to produce new power architecture for the country. Such new power architecture should be oriented to unite Nigerians, promote and proliferate competitive activities and in the process throw up leaders at different levels of party organisations and society through innovative applications of democratic principles.

As much as personal attributes are important, it must not be projected in such a way as to suggest primacy of the individual. In some ways, corresponding initiatives from citizens with good interface with our political structures, in this case, APC will be a strong catalyst to enable our opposition politicians meet this national expectation. Instead of folding our arms as citizens and waiting for our opposition politicians to rollout APC with all the risk factors of modelling it in the image of PDP, Nigerian patriots need to think more strategically and initiate corresponding political actions that would naturally compel a strong relationship and influence between APC and organised interests in the country. Absence of such initiative have the undesirable potential of pushing APC to adopt the same divisive governance architecture as PDP and in the process increased the probability of PDP remaining in power at all levels of government in Nigeria, way beyond 2015. Should that happen, both APC leaders and patriotic Nigerians should bear responsibility.

The choice is both for APC as well as for all Nigerians to make!

(Lukman can be reached on: smlukman@gmail.com)

Opinion: Oguta Constituency Re-Run Election


By Barr. Emperor N. Iwuala

On the 29th of June 2013, there will be a re-run election for the representative of Oguta State Constituency in the Imo State House of Assembly. This is as a result of the nullification of the election of Hon. Eugene Dibiagwu of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) by the court. The front runners in the election, the PDP and All Progressive Grand Alliance (APGA)/yet-to-be registered All Progressive Congress (APC) have been campaigning and mobilizing in a very big way. The battle line seems to be drawn between both parties. On the side of the PDP are Senator Hope Uzodinma, Rt. Hon Emeka Ihedioha, Senator Author Nzeribe etc. while Governor Rochas is leading the other side accordingly. Just like what happened during the re-run of Ahiazu/Ezinihitte Federal Constituency in 2012, it is being said that this battle of wits in Oguta is a true test of the political strength of both parties and a litmus test of what 2015 general elections will look like in the state.

Unfortunately, the state constituency in question has not had consistent representation in the state legislature since the beginning of the present tenure.

However, apart from the proof of political might and the fact that Oguta should have its own representative in the state legislature, I do not see the impact voting in a PDP candidate will have in the state legislature.

I know that some people may think that I am trying to have soft for APGA/APC in this discourse. My point today is far from it. For me I see the liquidation of APGA in favour of yet-to-be registered APC led by Governor Okorocha as a big political suicide. Also Okorocha’s style of politics in the state is something I suspect will boomerang. I have not seen the PDP candidate before but I have heard much about him. Any good candidate no matter his political party that commands the love of his people will always attract me. From investigation, it is like many Oguta people like Hon. Eugen Dibiagwu and I like him for that.

However, my point is that after the 2011 general elections in Imo State, PDP lost the governorship position to APGA but won the biggest number of legislative seats both at the state legislature and the National Assembly. With the above case especially in the state legislature, many thought that the majority of the PDP in the state will bring about a vibrant and sophisticated state legislature. Ironically, the present legislature in the state seems to be the worst since the creation of the state.

When the present Government in the state newly came to power, it made it open and clear that it was not going to follow the conventional method of running a state administration. It claimed that Due Process and the way governance was run by the past administrations in the state facilitated corruption, embezzlement and misuse of public fund and many people believed him.

However, from the various incessant stories that come out daily from a lot of government activities, it could be seen that corruption has gradually eaten deeper into the present administration in the state.

Ironically, sources very close to the administration say that Governor Okorocha’s lack of penchant for Due Process and obedience to rules in the conduct of government business was an intelligently and carefully designed neo-convention to facilitate another level of corruption which is not known to many. Today, corruption seems not to be found among many public offices but only among the Governor, his blood relatives and cronies and we still claim to have a legislature majority of the members are from PDP.
It is on record that the Ohakim Administration left a lot of funds in the coffers of the state. Unfortunately, Governor Okorocha denied this on assumption of office. The Governor probably did this denial because he did not want the public to know the much he inherited as he had carefully planned to embezzle the fund. However, he unconsciously admitted it when pronounced that the state was very rich.

Within two years, the Okorocha Government has received more money from the Federation Account more than what his predecessor received in 4 years. Also, the government has been receiving all the monthly allocations for the 27 LGAs in the state yet, primary school teachers who retired from 1992 down have not received any monthly pension since from August 2012 till the time of this write-up and yet the state has money in excess.

Nevertheless, the Okorocha Administration has tactically avoided telling the Imo masses how much revenue it has received since the administration came into existence.

When he assumed office newly, the Governor also told the whole world that his predecessor’s security vote was =N=6.5 billion. He also pronounced that he was going to take =N=2.5b as against the acclaimed =N=6.5b. He also slashed down the security votes of his then Deputy, the Speaker and the Secretary of the State Government. This excited some people and many believed the Governor. However, I laid my hands on the 2011 budget of the state under the passed during the immediate past Government in the state and found out that contrary to what Okorocha claims, the security vote of the previous administration was N2B and not N6.5B. The meaning of this is that rather than reduce his security vote, Okorocha reduced the security votes of other state officers and strategically increased his own to N2.5B (ie N500,000,000 on top of what the previous administration was collecting). Yet, PDP has majority in the state legislature.

The payment of stipends to wards in the state owned primary and secondary schools is allegedly handled by the Office of the Wife of the Governor. Ironically, this office is not a government institution. However, the Ministry of Education manned by the wife of Governor Okorocha’s kinsman ‘covers’ the deal. The Governor’s wife is ‘allocated’ between =N=250m to =N=300m monthly for this project. Unfortunately, the stipend is not given to the beneficiaries on monthly basis. Further, there is no statistics for the number of children that are supposed to benefit from this fund. What happens is that periodically, some political office holders are directed to give some token to children in schools that are strategically located in the state on a particular day. However, there is no arrangement to give accommodate wards are absent from school on such a day. Also, there are many students and public schools that have not gotten this so called stipend before but fund is regularly allocated on their behalf every monthly. Interestingly, allocation for this project has been made available for more than 12 months now but no student in the state can claim that he or she has received stipend for up to 12 months. The rest of the fund for the supposed stipend is not remitted to government coffers but ‘disappear’ at the end of the day and PDP is still in the majority.

Generally, the selective sharing of this stipend is just to justify the fund allocated and for political show-off and PDP is still in the majority.

Furthermore, there was no State Executive Council of Imo State meeting whereby it was discussed and agreed that the Imo State Government was procuring free school uniforms, sandals, desks et al from foreign countries for students in state owned primary and secondary schools. Ironically, there is no known contractor handling the project and an agreed number of materials to be imported. T The said importation is highly a personal and secret affair only known to the Governor and his family. More than =N=5.6b has been spent on this project and since the details of the deal is not in the public domain, whatever the Governor and his family claim on the project ‘binds’ the  state government and we still have PDP in the majority.

The contracts for the proposed 24 Storey 7 Star Chrystal Hotels the Ecumenical Center and the Monumental Tower called ‘Akachi were all awarded to one company called Cone Investment Limited (an Italian company) through the Governor’s personal nomination. The Crystal Hotels has a make-belief site along Owerri-Port-Harcourt Road close to Peace Center (Anglican Secondary School), while both the Tower and Ecumenical Center have no sites yet. The three contracts were jointly awarded to the tune of =N=18b and as at December 2011, Cone Investment Company had paid about =N=5b through Zenith Bank. This was facilitated by the state Ministry of Housing. Also, not very long ago, the Governor also publicly pronounced that the company has been given up to 50% of the contract sum which amounts to =N=9b. For the above project that has a site, nothing in the site can justify an expenditure of =N=1b while nothing done can be accessed from the two that have not yet gotten sites.

The above and other anomalies are just a little of the lot that is happening in the Okorocha’s Administration.

Now, come to think of it, when the sacked PDP representative for Oguta finally assumed his seat in the state legislature after a protracted controversy, what impact did he make with other PDP members in the state legislature to cut down all the executive impunity in the state? It did not look as if any new member was added to the PDP. Even the older PDP members are the worst. Two PDP members claim to be both the majority Leader and Minority Leader in a legislature made up of three political parties. Generally, majority of the stte lawmakers have mortgaged their integrity to the extent that they award and head state project committees of the state executive arm, which are purely executive function. Assuming they are men of honour, the story today would have been different. The number of the present legislators in the state legislature that will be re-elected come 2015 elections will vindicate me.

Therefore, if a PDP candidate wins on 29th June re-election in Oguta, nothing will change in the quality of our state legislature.

(IWUALA can be reached on: 08037247295, emperoriwuala@yahoo.com)


Videonews: “Woman President Would Send Right Signal”------Mrs Clinton

News Release: New Approach To Political Organizing In Kaduna State



New approaches to political organising are needed to move our society and nation forward. It just has to go beyond the simple issue of producing candidates for election. We need a strategy that can mobilise our people to be innovative and in the process produce new political actors and hopefully new leaders. More importantly, the new approach should be founded on a conscious effort to unite our people and therefore halt the dominant culture of divisive politics, which has only produce violence and ethnic and religious hatred. This concern has led a group of politicians in Kaduna State to initiative some activities covering all the state. These are mainly politicians from the opposition parties - ACN, ANPP, CPC and others. The activities in the Southern parts of the country are being implemented under the Democratic Emancipation Movement (DEM) and in the Northern parts under the Movement for a Better Future (MFBF). The two Movements are working together. On June 1, 2013, DEM organised a Summit in Kagoro. It was well reported in the media. MFBF is now organising a Conference on July 6, 2013 in Zaria with the theme Uniting our People for Change. Uniting our People for Change is more than a conference. It is about re-inventing our Kaduna State. Below is the highlights of what it is. We shall give more details as we progress and welcome suggestions and recommendations.

Uniting Our People For Change: What you should know!:

For years now, perhaps since 1987, governance and leadership in our Kaduna State has been equated with ethnic and religious hatred. Functionaries of government have not only emerged through clear and acknowledged celebration of ethnic and religious differences but have produced consequential disasters resulting in near genocidal loss of lives and unprecedented destruction of property.

On account of this, today, Kaduna State ranked among the high volatile states in the country. Almost, all ethnic and religious crises in the country find expression in our state. Our politicians, consciously or unconsciously, appear to indulge in acts that promote religious and ethnic hatred in the state in the name of canvassing for political positions at all levels. The result is clear – Kaduna State is more or less a jungle. Nothing appears to be organised or orderly, citizens are simply on their own and everywhere, whether in the North, Central or South, is dirty and ugly!

This must change in order for peace to return to our state and our people resume their legitimate search for livelihood and glory. Uniting our People for Change is conceived to promote initiatives that would assist our people to overcome the antics of evil forces who would want to exploit our differences in order to access leadership positions in government and society. It is a partnership initiative of the Movement for a Better Future (MFBF) and Democratic Emancipation Movement (DEM). It is a partnership to mobilise all patriots and credible citizens, resident in the state, to join the crusade of uniting our people founded on love, social justice and the search for legitimate opportunity.

As Nigerians, residents in Kaduna State, irrespective of differences of ethnicity and religion, we all need to rise with one voice and say:

· No to opportunistic politics founded on ethnic and religious hatred;
· No politician or any person seeking for any office should do so based on ethnicity or religious identity, it must be based on qualification, competence, service to the people and integrity;
· Any political party promoting our ethnic and religious differences is only setting our society up for violence and mass killings of our people; and
· All our religious and traditional leaders must refrain from acts of provocation.

Meanwhile, MFBF and DEM are introducing two initiatives aimed at promoting the unity of our people through community services. These are:

1. Youth for Leadership Foundation
This is a state-wide youth competition promoting and showcasing the talent of our youths in areas of developing initiatives for community services covering all the 23 Local Governments. Two categories of prizes have been instituted – one for each senatorial zone and one for the state. Talent, skills, selflessness and capacity to mobilise people and resources is what will win the prize and NOT ethnic or religious identity.
The Youth for Leadership Board of Trustees made up of highly respected men and women has been constituted and would be inaugurated soon. The board will among other things give direction on growth and development of the youth foundation.
2. Medical Caravan
 Based on the experiences of MFBF in 2008, both DEM and MFBF have finalised arrangements to resume community services of Medical Caravan. Details will be announced on July 6.

Finally, on July 6, Chief Audu Ogbeh OFR will stimulate public discussions on the critical task of uniting our people. The venue for the public discussion is Kongo Conference Hotel, Zaria, under the distinguished Chairmanship of Prof. Ango Abdullahi. Our leader, Gen. Muhammadu Buhari GCFR will be our Distinguished Guest of Honour. Governors of Zamfara and Osun, HE Abdulazeez Yari Abubakar and HE Rauf Aregbesola, together with HE Ibrahim Shekarau, former Governor of Kano State will be our Special Guests of Honour.

Political leaders from ACN, ANPP and CPC will deliver goodwill messages. It is all about re-inventing our society.

Be at Kongo Conference Hotel, Zaria exactly at 10 am on July 6, 2013.

Released By
MFBF And DEM