Dear Mr President,
Greetings to such a one as the executive president of Nigeria, and at such a time as this. I desire and pray that the president is in good health and that his soul prospers to all the extent possible in the crucible that is the Nigerian state in 2014.
Mr president, I salute you on your efforts to contain the terrorists that have set their stall in the north-eastern periphery of the nation and are presently breathing threats and violence against the whole country. It is my earnest prayer that the deliberations and actions instituted by your government bear fruit, and that, soon. The nation yearns for peace, and I believe said desire finds resonance throughout the presidency.
Let the president take consolation in the reality that the trials besetting the country are not beyond endurance nor are they unique in humanity. Certainly, where others have suffered, struggled, and succeeded, the same outcome can, and hopefully will be obtained in Nigeria. Now though is a time to doubly redouble efforts and to remain unswerving in the task “to keep Nigeria one”; such a call being even more pertinent today than when it was first coined at the time of the Nigerian civil war.
Time is of the essence though, so I must cut to the chase.
I will like to think that the government and intelligence agencies of foreign governments such as the US, UK, Israel, and others will have been trying to get a message similar to this to the president, being as they are so much more sensitive to, and aware of the dangers of un-contained terrorist activity. It would also appear that their overtures have so far failed, and so I am writing this openly; the hope being that where others have missed, this one may get through the motley of palace guards that seek to force a gap between the president and reality.
Allow me to summarise the state of the ark:
The Nigerian army has fundamental problems
Boko Haram terrorists cannot be defeated by military means only
New thinking will be required and it will involve several dimensions
The solution is not attainable from a party, ethnic, religious, or other line/alignment
The time available to procure a lasting and sustainable solution is short
One strategic strike and Nigeria could unravel
Unusual, bold and imaginative leadership is vital
The Nigerian Army
CORRUPTION: Mr president must be alive to the fact that corruption is endemic in the Nigerian army today. It is important to accept this reality and to act to arrest it, this is foundational and the army will not survive unless that cancer is rooted out quickly. The president must find a few honest officers that can be trusted, and do what is necessary to get them into the right places to clean up the mess.
MORALE: Rank and file suffer from low morale occasioned by the lack of necessities, including such basics as boots and uniforms, as well as the expected combat kit, salaries and other entitlements, training, and merit-based promotion. The presidency may like to investigate the career of all senior officers (colonel and above) and to sift out politicians and journey-men from the professional soldiers, as these meddlers contribute to corruption, compromise morale and dilute the fight in the chests of the officer cadre.
INTELLIGENCE: A modern army relies more and more on information, and sophistication in thinking and weaponry. Fitness and bloody mindedness can not be the only requirements for entry and a career in our army, there must be a greater emphasis on education, intelligence, and strategic thinking. Many soldiers remain semi-literate, and this includes some mid-ranking officers; it is important to launch a task force to eradicate illiteracy in the army.
TIME: It is clear that the changes needed in these areas will take some time, and so, expecting the un-reconstituted Nigerian army to neautralise the terrorists in a short time is unrealistic; it is time to think out of the box, and the answer is not to be found in more money, but in better thinking and judicious use of existing resources.
It is important that the presidency understands Boko Haram and how such terror evolves and manifests. Key officers within the office of the president, as well as the president must be well versed in information and intelligence on Boko Haram as this is vital. Such information and intelligence will make it clear that contrary to what the army and Gen. Chris Olukolade may be putting out, Boko Haram will not be neutralised solely by military means, and that it is unlikely that said outcome will be secured by this Nigerian army in a short time. Having first hand knowledge also helps the president to oversee the war from a vantage point, and ensure that action aligns with his vision for outcomes and an ultimate solution.
A New Mindset
It is important to start with the fundamentals and build upwards. The president must help to retake the moral upper ground in relation to security personnel by ensuring the pay for soldiers, police, DSS and others on the frontline of our security, including all arrears of salary, entitlements and other stipulated benefits. This will be expensive, but it will never match the cost of another year of insecurity. If the burden of keeping a large security force is overbearing, the president should arrange a competent team to glean out meddlers, those near retirement and others not fit for the army in these times.
It may be expedient to create sub-groups within the security services to form a new “Special Task Forces”, or if need be to create such an amalgam as a parallel structure, specifically charged with counter-terrorism, and to give priority training and funding to those forces (STF) in order to expedite the military strategy.
Information and Intelligence about the ideology, leadership, organisation, funding and operational tactics of Boko Haram must be properly analysed and organised. As much of this information must be shared with the general public to create an awareness of Boko Haram, and with awareness the knowledge and capacity to take citizen-action where necessary.
The information and intelligence must also be leveraged to launch and sustain a major propaganda offensive against the leadership of Boko Haram and their frontline criminals, and to set them in the mind of the populace as number one enemies of the nation and all citizens. The propaganda must attack their thinking with proper Islamic thought and remove the cloak of legitimate religion that they put on. Information must be used to castigate their actions and tactics and juxtapose them against faith, morality, and even sanity. The tragedy of the abducted girls and children must be turned around as weapons of information to mobilise all citizens against the madness and folly of the terrorists.
The fault lines within the motley that is Boko Haram must be explored in order to compromise the chain of command; the loyalty of foot soldiers must be examined to see if some are willing to dialogue or break rank. Intelligence on sources of their funding must lead to quick prosecutions. Such collaborators should be tried, not for murder or other felonies, but for treason. It is also necessary to infiltrate Boko Haram and to deploy the psychology of that reality to destabilise their cohesion and operational fluency. In all of this, the role of the common Nigerian cannot be overstated; the eyes, ears and intellect of everyday Nigerians must be coopted to be in the vanguard of the war against the terrorists. Here again the established police and DSS will struggle to build the confidence and trust of most Nigerians, and it may be wise to find a section of the STF that will be the bridge to the public and to funnel feedback to a central intelligence team.
Terrorism on the scale that Boko Haram has attained may take some time to eliminate, but now is a good time to revisit the strategy on national security, and the role that non-professionals can play, especially young adults. The time is ripe to revise the focus and purpose of national youth service, and to introduce paramilitary training and service in the security forces for all, as a prerequisite to working in any capacity in Nigeria. This service will avail the country of the intellect, zeal and availability of hundreds of thousands of young people passing out of polytechnics and universities as well as those that have left school early and have attained the age of 18. The duration of the service should be according to intensity: 1 year for military service, 1.5 years for police and other security-related service, and two years for civilian roles. Irrespective of choice though, the first 6 months should be reserved for military/security training. This mindset can be applied to the civilian JTF at the present time. They should be given basic education and training and should be deployed for specific tasks, with one or more STF personnel embedded within teams of about 20 volunteers.
Pathology of a Solution
This conundrum will not be resolved while holding on to considerations or loyalties to party, ethnicity, religion, or social/economic/intellectual grouping. The best thinking and strategy will come from the spectrum of citizen-types in Nigeria today, and it is only when all such identities find resonance with the articulated plan will there be success. The war will not be won exclusively on the battle ground, and a lasting peace and long term security must be hinged on the buy-in of the vast majority of Nigerians. This calls for honesty and transparency at the highest levels of government; the mindset of leadership needs complete overhaul, and if that takes a path from paranoia through schizophrenia to conscious equivocation and then clear conviction, what needs must. No price should be too high for the peace of Nigeria as a whole, and the 160 million inhabitants that live within her borders.
Time is of the Essence
The time available to procure a lasting and sustainable solution is short! Boko Haram is presently pressing in for the overthrow of Bama, a major town, not far from Maiduguri. Psychologically and strategically, the loss of that town could have a domino effect, with several northern towns following suit in short succession, and if by some ill-luck or incompetence, a band of the terrorists succeed in a strategic strike of significance anywhere in the country, the existence of Nigeria could be put into question, and no one would be safe, most especially the educated and the well off. It is time to draw a Maginot line, and to hold it fast; Maiduguri must not be allowed to fall.
Cometh the Hour, Cometh the Man
This is a time for unusually bold and imaginative leadership. In Ukraine the president has promised to do anything, even the unusual and unexpected to secure a peace. Mr president must also go out of his way to lend traction to a solution here. The president cannot do it all by himself, unlike Ukraine though, there are few that can be trusted and not many competent, so delegation must be handled with the greatest care and consideration for outcomes. This is not a time to pander to conservatives who seek to maintain the status quo and pretences of superiority, or to entertain fringe-lunatic leftists who will cede territory and power in the vain hope for accommodation of terror. The president must not be squeamish about sitting at the table with undesirables, but he must always have the end-game in mind in any and every discussion or negotiation. Expediency is key and a Machiavellian outlook may be useful in these times, for it is not the will that people judge, but the outcomes that a leader procures for their people. Mr president must be bold and courageous.
All Said and Done?
Having said all, I hope that the president will respond to this urgent message; it is an SOS, a message in a bottle, and it may be the last that is heard from this distressed ship. I am not a seer so I cannot predict 2015, what is certain though is that success in this fight against Boko Haram and terrorism will guarantee favourable mention of the president in the pantheon of Nigeria’s leaders.
On the other hand, failure also has its dividends and even more so than success, for the name of the president will be secure, but in the 13th gate of the gallery of Africa’s failed leadership, and perhaps gain even greater notoriety in the history of a country that once was, if this happens to be the last presidency of a united Nigeria. I am a messenger, and I have said that which I have to say; let those that have the power to act do as they are willed or inspired to do.
I therefore leave you as I find you, empowered but encumbered, and yet the chains and the locks are at your entire disposal, only you can decide, only you can act, and only you will be responsible. Time is now; Carpe Diem, and may God be with you; amen.
God bless Nigeria.
By: Basil Jide Fadipe
Medical Surgeon, Teacher, Social Commentator
Justin Fadipe Centre
Commonwealth of Dominica
firstname.lastname@example.orgLast night I stumbled on the article below;“Women are being left out of Africa’s stories. I want to change that” – Eliza Anyangwe – (http://gu.com/p/4t3ye/sbl).
If I had wanted all along to write about Ebun Akhigbe?, that article created added urgency. And I thought no time was better than today, another sixth; For me, …. another birthday ?. Ebun Veronica Akhigbe ( EV for short) was the first ever woman to come into my life ; And through her, i underwent no less than a ‘tran-substantiation !!!!!. EV died about two years ago in a California hospital, her chequered life shortened by an adrenal tumour. Though dead, she lives on inside me the woman who passed my way right time, right place, right purpose. The story of her l?ife is not just it’s fateful intersection with mine,
It also is the story of the peculiar challenges, biology, far less gender discrimination, has placed in the path of women all over the world. EV and I met happenstance , I, about 14, she 16. She had come home that year with her classmate and best friend ( my sister) for the Easter school break . And inside that short break was to be found the seed of my tran-substantiation. Until that time, “Sunday” ( as ?I was then known having been born on a Sunday 6th April ) was a crank. All I cared was live adventures …… endangered specie. Would sneak out of bed at night, long after my parents were asleep to go role- play ?a night guard ( security man) in the neighbourhood, dead of the night, big stick my only ‘weapon’, decked khaki short and shirt, merrily but seriously parading people’s houses uninvited, unknown , unafraid. convinced, though no older than 12 or so I could single handedly deter or even arrest thieves. I had seen police do it, so I too could. My delusion came to an abrupt end one midnight when a lady scared of footsteps behind her windows got up, cracked open her windows and flooded me with boiling water . I ran back home well charred up. But only to be more beaten up on confessing what had happened ?to my shocked parents. Another time, wanting to imitate garage touts, I got seriously hurt. I had always watched in admiration how these bus conductors ( as they were then called) would stylishly hop on and hop off their buses or ford wagons never when the vehicles were stationary, but in motion.
The mere gymnastics was for me irresistible . But so strict were my parents I could never expect them to let me out the house after school, unaccompanied. So on my way from school, I would always squeeze all the liberties I could for the day One afternoon I hopped into a ford wagon a la conductor after it has gained some speed. I giddied my way in, hitting my head on the inside ?rails That was bad enough. Worse was to come when I tried to hop out whilst it was still in motion I landed on the hard road only for the relative momentum between me and the moving bus drag me far along on the tar, knees ?and entire shins bruised up to the bones school uniform soaked in blood. The injuries were too serious to conceal I knew and reconciled myself to the idea of more beating when I got home. I’d always felt left out when I saw older boys ride bicycles ?. I couldn’t restrain the urge any longer The tenants in our house were fed up of Sunday regularly damaging their bicycles wherever they were parked. ?I had never been taught how to ride ; Who would, when my short legs could only hang mid air .
Yet I wouldn’t hesitate to sneak the bikes out of their parks, roll them into the alleys. Climbed up on them, feet many inches short of the pedals which meant I had to look for slopes. But slopes simply gave such speed to the bikes I couldn’t control. So crash was always the result ?and pay for the damage was always my dad’s cross. Once I decided I was tired of watching people smoke. I needed to be watched too. I assembled a few kids , bent on showing them not only I could light a cigarette, I too knew how to inhale through the mouth and exhale through the nose even if cough spasms would then call my bluff. As hard luck would have me I had hardly lit my cigarette one of the days when my sister showed up from nowhere. I feared she would report me right away. That fear made me to quickly and unthinkingly pocket the lit cigarette while still smouldering . My shirt began to burn my flesh whilst I tried concealing my pain . When my sister saw a smoking shirt then in turn, the cigarette in the pocket she ran to our parents. Again, the usual penalty. Disappearing into useless expeditions on remote farmlands hunting rabbits or raiding banana trees ?or fishing in troubled waters earned me so much pain when found out. Twice I was rescued from drowning by river side passersby when I jumped into a heavy river from sheer bravado thinking the waters did for you all the swimming and the floating, having seen dead leaves float effortlessly too.
Such was? the long and jaw dropping list of truancies that characterised a beleaguered childhood so much so when in my second form at high school, about age 14, poor Rev fr cloutier, a Canadian Jesuit and school principal called my dad telling him he did not know how he, fadipe got a child like me, I was hardly surprised. Fr cloutier had been instrumental to my eldest brother going to McGill University Canada ?to study medicine, the next, to the UK for arts, another next again to Germany for nursing and yet another next, to the Catholic seminary. Here would come this complete abberation called Sunday, later Basil. Every end of term results, up until my third year, you would be wasting your time looking for my name on the school broad sheet if you started the search from the top. I was hardly farther than fifth from the bottom, no matter the size of the class.
It got even worse when my maths teacher expelled me from his class on grounds of unreformable truancy and “purposeless smiling”. On his part, fr cloutier was becoming exasperated: a devoted missionary, experienced Jesuit educationist, twenty four hour teacher . Then came EV.!!!! I had fallen ‘in love’ with her the very day she showed up on our doorstep 66 aderemi road ile ife about 10 am, first Saturday in April ….. in the company of my sister ?. Dressed in their immaculate disciplinedly ?ironed pinafore uniforms, shiny leather sandals, matching stockings, elegant school caps and badges , I did not think there was beauty anywhere outside of the duo. But here was a rural j Sunday/ Basil ; No one could recommend me to no one and no one would think a 14 year old would be thinking woman. But I was. ….further evidence if you needed more, of my precocious waywardness. It took me less than a day to realize EV would have nothing to do with the likes of me.
First, I had become too scarred up to look attractive ; all my self- inflicted injuries had each left unmistakable finger prints. My shins had become my unauthorised biographies : …the stories of my life up till then written in bold graphic scars …..they still are Second, I was too coarse in my mannerism, fitted only for hoodlumic existence , not anything refined or sublime. But third and perhaps above all, my restlessness and non- scholastic tendencies have thrown me so far off academic targets that when EV and my sister discussed school work, I couldn’t have looked more idiotic when I tried to participate. All these made EV to so look down on me I was raving depressed. But I was not deterred. My physical scars were unalterable I admitted but what about the non physical. I reached into myself, propelled by little beyond desire to reinvent myself just so I could make a dent in her contemptuous take ….and pull her a little nearer.
So strong was my emotion it became an irresistible force surging towards an immovable me. In the end, I got moved. In another term, I promised I was not to look so stupid if again EV ever came home with my sister. EV was not only beautiful, ( me the beholder), look at what else she was: ….one of the regular best in her class academics …..leading member of the school relay quartet …..leading member in her school literary and debating society ……lead long jumper for her school …..lead dramatist in her school dramatic society ?……lead runner in the 440 and 880 yards races ( as they were then termed) …..prominent psrticipants in the Legion of Mary society ?and the YCS ( young Christian society) ….lead player in netball. ….and what a singer she was !! Her voice would rise, then fall, then rise again the cadence, as captivating for charm as for message. And when it was Catholic special occasions like Easter times or yuletide or priest ordinations or bishops visiting, when our two schools would have invested hours specially preparing us, ( boys and girls) ?for joint liturgies, my ears would more sniff out her voice than the celebrant’s in the cacophonies that rented the air : …. be the renditions Latin or English.
But what was I? , ….blacksheep in the block. ….notorious at home, …. notorious at school. ….. Notorious everywhere. That same year, as soon as the break was over, and we all went back to our respective schools , I came off with the resolution to do all I could to be a candidate worthy of consideration by EV. And on that resolve, i never once looked back . I raked up all my books from kindergarten ( yes kindergarten!!) and I restarted a punishing program of self revision ….all by myself,…. EV the invisible angel teleguiding the reinvention. Nights had me sprawled out at table playing catch up Day had me shaft my tumultuous energies into school sports and social activities and church programs so I could rival EV’s reputation as an all rounder. I would wake up at 5 am to attend mass in the Parish, return in time to prepare for school. Fr cloutier who also often officiated mass would see me at early morning mass and I could tell he moved from palpable shock through pleasant surprise ?to overwhelmed with emotions : the proverbial return of a lost sheep. Within a year, and with gradual improvement in my class returns , he made me the school sacristan, charged with getting the school chapel ready for school mass and cleaning up the altar after mass.
Nothing made me prouder and fulfilled when in those moments of joint liturgies, ( girls and boys) I stood high up on the altar, reverently cleaning up the chalices, well aware EV was in the crowd below watching me?. Or in my re converted energies running in the school races, collecting prizes, on the boys’side, EV on the girls’ side. The most endearing was when I managed to clinch the role of Romeo ?in a joint Shakespearan drama where EV was Juliette.
Or the “Trials of Brother ?Jero” a play written by the nigerian Nobel laureate ( wole Soyinka) where I acted Jero , ….EV …the church member who had a crush on brother jero . The highest point of my reinvented self was in our fourth form when at the British Council Drama and Essay inter school competition , I had brought home the first prize that year, robbing EV’s school, one of the other competitors of victory in the then western region high school competition. By that time EV had stopped looking down on me: she had no choice. It was not without self mortification. Nor could it have ever happened were EV not the goading force : the jewel that was the object of that struggle. When we finished high school, both of us in first division pass, EV was as proud of me as I was of her.
We had had several moments together lying next to each other in bed, late into the nights on most of the holidays she would then come to regularly spend at our home ( our home indeed became her second home) , doing nothing but hammer out school assignments . We sparred on what had now become equal terms. We slept together on each of those occasions for nearly eight years, without a moment of pubic contact, only cerebral partnership. My relationship with EV became a model for her school and her nuns ( rev sisters and mothers) regularly cited our relationship at the time as example to her peers . A- level program brought a distance between us. But it did more than distance. I went far away from base to do my A levels, she remained at base for hers ?. A level consumed me to the hilt: in all my career till date , nothing has challenged me the way A level did.
A mix of unimaginative teachers ( in some subjects), compulsory school extracurricular activities, inherently difficult physics, chemistry etc at A level pitch and my prefectorial responsibilities made 24hrs impossible for the load. I could not communicate with EV as often as she had wanted . And she now wanted lots. The situation was not helped when an excited female classmate of mine, writing to her friend described how she had found love at her new school ( ie our new school ) and went to describe in every detail who the new catch was. …..a yoruba boy, school prefect, soccer enthusiast, school runner, science major etc. Everything that also happened to have fitted me. When the letter fell into EV’ s hand, shown to her by the addressee ,
EV connected her dots concluding I was not communicating because I was busy somewhere else. Francis O and Elizabeth O had met in lower sixth science and hit it hard ?from start. I was now being mistaken for Francis O. About the same time, fate brought EV in contact with a nigerian military officer ?, ….. maturer, well positioned, same tribal affiliate ( then Midwest) , known to EV’s family. EV became vulnerable. By the end of our A levels, as I prepared for medical school, Martin ( a very handsome charismatic young army officer) had managed to convince EV to slow down on academics and consider married life.
As I raced ahead into medical program, EV, still in love with me, still a virgin by my accounts was having second thoughts going on with a boy two years younger, who played disappearing act during A levels and who spoke nothing but careers. University again separated further. EV ended up in Martin’s arms. That was to be the end of a transformative relationship ( EV/Basil) but the beginning of a torturesome another ( EV/Martin) that EV never seemed to have recovered from till her death. Martin was the dream of every woman And how he played the field!! EV was stranger to the style. Though married and the prospect of motherhood loomed, EV never was able to get pregnant whilst Martin continued to sow seeds everywhere.
Eventually the centre could not hold. EV, the woman who had dug Me out of me and who has almost single handedly been instrumental to my reinvention was now herself caught up in a mess. She wished she could be pregnant and would have easily stopped at nothing to achieve that. I could not help even inspite of what often looked like solicitous consultations. EV remained in my mind and soul as my academic jugging partner, …a rebaptismal font for whom I am eternally grateful, not an eleventh hour reproductive consort ?. In what would turn out to be her last few years, EV went into her archives , dug out all the love letters we exchanged nearly forty years earlier, packaged and mailed to me!!!
Only a year before unforeseen death took her. They remain now some of the most cherished historical records in my possession that give an instant glimpse into my very early life, some aspects would have been lost to.memory otherwise. They are now in a bolthole. EV was an incandescent star : but like most women her type the irresistible lure of marriage and motherhood took precedent over career excellence . There is an African proverb : ” the fertile woman will die from same stress as the infertile ; the former for having many children to raise, the latter for trying too hard to have ” This just about summarises the obstacle nature and hormones place in women ‘s path, less the man’s. And though EV went as far as her master’ s, her PhD attempts interrupted by the battles contingent on choices, she was never able to catch up again with her starting speed. It is this peculiar challenge of biology and reproductive impulse , far more than gender prejudice that goes a long way retarding women into positions behind their male peers in any field. Societies, where the women are beginning to make waves are also the ones where women are redefining their fecundities, choosing to be less fertile and more career productive.
To that extent, that subset which has relegated to the rear the impulse to bear and bear more, Or not bear at all, does not suffer as much disadvantage as the more fecund ones. No matter how brilliant a woman, and no matter the career, each pregnancy is a dilutional damp on the efficacy of pursuit in any chosen field ; compute the cumulative disruptive effects of the number of times a woman interjects herself with pregnancy and you can begin to see how a male peer with whom she started out in life must come to outpace her in any competitive field unless the former happens to be intrinsically foolish or poorly motivated. Not prejudice, just choices .
So when Eliza Anyangwe ( UK guardian journalist) went out on a limb wondering why African women are unsung ( my paraphrase), I had no choice responding that if the woman would make her reproductive choices reflect her overall ambitions, synchronizing same with the competitive realities around her, gender factors will not only toss less surprises and humiliations ?at her, they might be kinder EV remains as much my object of admiration as she is my proof of how a woman in front can be shafted to the rear, no reason beyond reproductive choices… lucky or unlucky irrespective ?On this day, another sixth for me, joy in my heart, gratitude all over, sombre reflections the glue.
I celebrate the woman EV, who was my personal luck and fate to have met . …..met before my losses got irrecoverable. I choose to remember our childhood partnership and the enormous fruits borne thereby. How you turned the boy into man, drift into purpose ?. I remember the races we ran together, the plays we together thrilled our audiences to the songs we sang and the harmonious chorus with which we belted them , and above all, the stimulations we offered each other stimulation so intense I was shifted from the rear to the front ?inside a 3year wonder!. ….inside a total purity, so pure it was as inebriating as it was empowering I appreciate today as all of yesterdays, the change you wrought in my l?ife. And if for no other reasons, I hope heaven? will open its doors to you for that one sheep you brought back from a futureless wander. I know this piece will reach many of our school mates and mutual friends who must but be forced down memory lanes ?. Your sudden departure came to me as surprise ?but in retrospect I’m happy just the year before we managed to again swap old war stories at the Excellence Hotel , Lagos Nigeria when I briefly visited. You had just then completed your house and had offered to coauthor a book with me.
You had also shared your plans for National politics , committing your abundant energy into supporting Tunde Bakare the then vice presidential candidate to current Buhari I was happy his ticket lost to Jonathan Goodluck . I knew you were not happy when you saw my publications …..Nigeria Best Forum ….Punch newspaper ( “Between Theocracy and Governance “.Basil Fadipe July 28 2012) arguing against his candidacy and ticket : I had written at the time convinced nigeria should not complicate secular politics, dirty as it already is, with the religious dimension Pastor Tunde Bakare wanted to import into it ?. But I also did not want you in partisan politics ; I d thought we both could remain on the analytic side of nigerian issues, any issues not its partisan. You had thought different, ready to charge in combat colors .
How could we have known that was to be the last.
Adieu my darling EV.
Your school sweet heart Basil Jide Fadipe.
“Crackdown” On Judicial Officers – Separating The Law From Sentiments
By Inibehe Effiong
The State Security Service (SSS) embarked on an unprecedented “crackdown” on allegedly corrupt judicial officers across the country over the weekend. Among the judicial officers whose houses were searched and thereafter arrested and detained are two Justices of the Supreme Court of Nigeria; Justices Sylvester Ngwuta and Inyang Okoro.
As expected, the action has polarised lawyers, commentators, the media, civil society and the public. Differing views have been expressed on the constitutionality or otherwise of the steps and procedures adopted by the SSS. Sadly, the public has been deprived of opinions that are rooted in law owing largely to the belligerent and sentimental posturing and aggressive grandstanding that has impaired commentaries on the issues in controversy.
My task in this essay is simply to offer a legal opinion on the following four issues: First, are judicial officers in Nigeria immune from the criminal justice system?; Second, is it mandatory for security agencies to seek the consent/intervention of the National Judicial Council (NJC) before investigating, arresting, detaining or prosecuting a judicial officer over alleged crimes?; Three, did the SSS act within its statutory powers and acceptable legal procedures? Four, is evidence that is obtained illegally admissible in law?
The above questions or issues are in my considered view the crux-es of the matter.
Before I proceed further, may I respectfully issue a caution: This op-ed is one of the longest that I have written in recent times. It is not for the lazy mind or for those who are easily irriated by long essays and exposition. The nature of the issues under consideration necessarily made it a detailed essay. I solicit the indulgence of readers.
Resolution of the issues:
First, are judicial officers in Nigeria immune from the criminal justice system?
The only constitutional provision relating to immunity from civil and criminal proceedings and prosseses for certain public office holders in Nigeria is Section 308 of the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria 1999 (as amended) (hereinafter referred to as the Constitution). Based on that provision, only the President, the Vice President, Governors and Deputy Governors are shielded from civil and criminal proceedings and prosseses in limited circumstances.
It is an elementary rule of interpretation that the express mention of one person or thing is the exclusion of another. The maxim is expressio unius personae vel, est exclusio alterius. In the case of Ehuwa v. O.S.I.E.C. (2006) 10 NWLR (Pt.1012) 544, the Supreme Court stated the position thus:
“It is now firmly established that in the construction of a Statutory provision, where a statute mentions specific things or persons, the intention is that those not mentioned are not intended to be included…” Per OGBUAGU, JSC.
The implication is that every person apart from the four public officers expressly mentioned in Section 308 of the Constitution are subject to investigation, arrest, detention and prosecution. Judicial Officers from the Chief Justice of Nigeria (CJN) to High Court Judges do not enjoy any special protection from criminal proceedings and prosseses. Immunity cannot be inferred, it must be specifically granted.
Those suggesting that judicial officers in Nigeria are entitled to special protection or immunity should be kind enough to cite the enabling constitutional or statutory provision that supports their position. The truth is that there is none.
Second, is it mandatory for security agencies to seek the consent/intervention of the NJC before investigating, arresting, detaining or prosecuting a judicial officer over alleged crimes?
The NJC is one of the institutions established by Section 153 of the Constitution. The power of the Council is provided for in Paragraph 21 of the Third Schedule to the Constitution. The NJC is empowered inter alia, to recommend the removal from office of judicial officers and exercise disciplinary control over them. By virtue of Section 158 (1) of the Constitution, the NJC is guaranteed constitutional independence and is not subject to the control of any other authority or person when exercising its disciplinary control.
There is no dispute on the disciplinary control of the NJC over judicial officers. What is disputed by some legal commentators is the extent of the disciplinary control. Is it correct to aver that no criminal proceedings or action can be initiated or taken against a judicial officer except on the invitation/directive of the NJC?
At the risk of repetition, where a judicial officer is alleged to have committed a crime, is it mandatory for law enforcement agencies to go through the disciplinary instrumentality of the NJC before taking actions against the erring judicial officer?
There is nothing in the provisions of Paragraph 21 of the Third Schedule to the Constitution that precludes law enforcement agencies from investigating, arresting, detaining or prosecuting a judicial officer in Nigeria for alleged corrupt practices or for other sundry offences. It is my view that a contrary interpretation will have the inescapable effect of conferring an extra-constitutional immunity on judicial officers.
In rule seven (7) of the famous twelve (12) point rule of constitutional interpretation propounded by OBASEKI, JSC in the celebrated case of Attorney-General of Bendel State vs Attorney-General of the Federation (1981) 10 SC. 1; (1981) 1 FNLR 179, the Supreme Court declared thus:
“A constitutional provision should not be construed in such a way as to defeat its evident purpose.”
The purpose of Section 308 of the Constitution as evidently enshrined therein is to protect ONLY the President, Vice President, Governors and Deputy Governors from arrest, detention and prosecution. I submit that any construction on the disciplinary power of the NJC that tends to shield judicial officers from arrest, detention and prosecution will automatically defeat the purpose of Section 308 of the Constitution.
It is my humble view that where the wrongful act of a judicial officer is merely a misconduct and nothing more, the NJC is vested with the power to recommend such offending judicial officer for removal from office and exercise disciplinary control over him. The NJC’s independence from control guaranteed and envisaged by Section 158 of the Constitution does not, and cannot be construed to mean totality or absoluteness of control over judicial officers where the misconduct complained of also constitute a crime.
Before concluding on this point, there is a widely propagated misconception that needs to be corrected.
It has been argued by some persons that the procedure on how erring judges should be dealt with requires that even when a judge is found or alleged to have committed a crime, a petition must first be written to the NJC and that the petitioner and the law enforcement agencies like the police, the EFCC, the SSS and others must patiently wait for the determination of the petition by the NJC before activating the criminal process. With respect, that cannot be the correct position.
Ostensibly, this misconception stems from a misunderstanding of the relationship between the constitutional procedure for removal of judicial officers and the liability of judges for criminal offences committed by them.
The procedure for removal of judicial officers in Nigeria is as contained in Section 292 of the Constitution. In brevity, the provision is to the effect that the NJC may recommend to the President or Governor, as the case may be, the removal from office of erring judicial officers for inability to perform the functions of their office due to infirmity (whether of the body or mind) or misconduct or contravention of the Code of Conduct. Note that the NJC only recommends, it does not and cannot remove any judicial officer solely on its own.
There is nothing in Section 292 of the Constitution that makes the removal of an erring judicial officer a condition precedent to his investigation, arrest, detention and prosecution by law enforcement agencies.
No law enforcement agency can usurp the disciplinary powers of the NJC by recommending a judge for removal or suspending a judge or exercising other form of disciplinary control over a judicial officer. Likewise the NJC cannot and should not usurp the constitutional cum statutory functions of the law enforcement agencies to investigate crimes, arrest, detain or prosecute any person, including judicial officers, for alleged crimes. Both causes of action can either run concurrently or separately depending on the circumstances of each case. Where for example a judicial officer is accused of corruption which is both an act of professional misconduct and a crime, the aggrieved party and or law enforcement agency may elect to petition the NJC for the removal of the judicial officer from office or proceed directly to subject the erring judicial officer to the criminal justice system or pursue both causes of action at the same time.
The NJC is not a court of law under Section 6 of the Constitution and has no supervisory jurisdiction over law enforcement agencies.
Third, did the SSS act within its statutory power and acceptable procedure?
The SSS is a creation of the National Security Agencies Act of 1986. The power of the SSS as stipulated in Section 3 of the Act is as follows:
(3) The State Security Service shall be charged with responsibility for-
(a) the prevention and detection within Nigeria of any crime against the internal security of Nigeria;
(b) the protection and preservation of all non-military classified matters concerning the internal security of Nigeria; and
(c) such other responsibilities affecting internal security within Nigeria as the National Assembly or the President, as the case may be, may deem necessary.
Going by the provisions of paragraphs (a) and (b) supra, it is apparent that the SSS stricto sensu ( in the strict sense) has no power to arrest judicial officers for alleged economic and financial crimes. However, a dispassionate attention should be paid to the wordings and purport of paragraph (c) above. Clearly, that provision (paragraph C) gives the President the power to enlarge the scope of responsibilities of the SSS relating to the internal security within Nigeria. Section 6 of the Act goes further to empower the President to issue an Instrument, a subsidiary legislation, on the manner the SSS should exercise its powers, etc.
In exercise of the power in Sections 3 and 6 of the National Security Agencies Act 1986, former Head of State, General Abdusalam Abubakar in 1999 promulgated the State Security Service Instrument One of 1999. By virtue of that Instrument, the responsibilities of the SSS was extended to include the prevention, detection and investigation of economic crimes of national security dimension, among other things. It is important to emphasize that the National Security Agencies Act has a special constitutional flavour being one of the four federal enactments listed in Section 315 (5) of the Constitution. The consequence is that it cannot be altered like ordinary Acts of the National Assembly. It has the same alteration procedure like the Constitution as laid down in Section 9 (2) of the Constitution.
According to the SSS, the affected judicial officers were arrested based on allegations of corrupt practices and professional misconduct. The SSS in a statement said that raw cash of different denominations, in both local and foreign currencies, assets worth millions of Naira and documents affirming “unholy acts of these Judges” have been uncovered through a sting operation. The summary of cash allegedly recovered during the “raids” conducted in the homes of the Judges was given as follows: Naira – N93,558,000.00; Dollars – $530,087; Pounds – £25,970 and Euro – €5,680.
The question is, does the grave allegations levelled against the Judges and the alleged offences committed by them constitute “economic crimes of national security dimension” to bring same within the purview of the additional powers of the SSS pursuant to Instrument One of 1999?
It is advisable for us to examine the role of judicial officers in nation building. A corrupt judge is not only a threat to justice and the rule of law but to the society and the nation. Judges are by their calling empowered to make binding decisions on behalf of the rest of the society. When judgments are obtained fraudulently, the society and the nation are endangered. A corrupt judge is more dangerous than a kidnapper or an armed robber. The worst form of corruption is judicial corruption.
Though the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) is the specialised and coordinating agency for the detection, prevention and prosecution of economic and financial crimes, economic crimes committed by a judicial officer is far more serious and damaging than those of other categories of persons and there is some wisdom is categorizing same as “economic crimes of national security dimension” for which the SSS can act upon.
On the manner the searches and arrests were conducted, I concede that the SSS acted in a rather brash and indecorous manner. However, facts are sacred and the law should be separated from sentiments. It is reported that the SSS obtained both search and arrest warrants. What is in dispute is whether the warrants covered all the affected judicial officers and the somewhat “undemocratic” manner they were executed, particularly the time.
The relevant principal law on the issuance of a search/arrest warrant is the Administration of Criminal Justice Act 2015 (ACJA). Part 18 of the ACJA is devoted to search warrants, Section 144 thereof allows for the issuance of a search warrant on any house. The warrant may also authorize the officer or other person to arrest the occupier of the house or place where any incriminating item or thing is found during the search. Where this is specified in the search warrant, there would be no need to obtain an arrest warrant separately. By Section 146 of the ACJA, a search warrant shall be under the hand of a Judge, Magistrate or Justice of the Peace issuing it and shall remain in force until it is executed or cancelled by the court which issued it.
One important provision under Part 18 of the ACJA that those criticizing the SSS should note is Section 148. It states unequivocally thus:
“A search warrant may be issued and executed at any time on any day, including a Sunday or Public Holiday.”
However, under Section 151 of the ACJA, a search warrant cannot be executed outside jurisdiction of the court or Justice of the Peace issuing it except with the consent of the court within whose jurisdiction the search is to be made. It is doubtful whether the SSS complied with this requirement before embarking on the search at the houses of some of the judges located outside the Federal Capital Territory, Abuja where the search warrant must have been issued.
It has been argued by some lawyers, including some Senior Advocates of Nigeria (SANs) that the ACJA does not apply throughout the federation and that the SSS was bound to follow the provisions of the enabling procedural laws in the States where they executed the search, especially as it pertains to the time of execution of the search warrants. This argument with respect is misleading.
Under Section 111 of the repealed Criminal Procedure Act Cap. C41 LFN 2004, the time for executing a search warrant in the South was between the hours of five o’clock in the forenoon and eight o’clock at night of any day of the week, including Sundays but the Magistrate had the power to direct otherwise. The repealed Criminal Procedure (Northern States) Act Cap. C42 LFN 2004, was however silent on the time. Both Acts have now been repealed by Section 493 of the ACJA 2015 and are no longer laws in Nigeria. Section 2 of the ACJA makes the ACJA applicable to criminal trials for offences created by an Act of the National Assembly, like economic and financial crimes, and to other offences punishable in the FCT, it is the ACJA and not the various laws of the States where the “raids” were conducted that governs the procedure adopted by the SSS. Accordingly, it is misleading for anyone to suggest that the SSS was wrong to have executed the search warrant(s) at night.
It is reported that the SSS forcibly broke into the house of one of the judges. Section 149 (1) of the ACJA states thus:
“Where any building liable to be search is closed, a person residing in or being in charge of the building, thing or place, shall on demand of the police officer or other person executing the search warrant, allow him free and unhindered acess to it and afford all reasonable facilities for its search.”
By the combined effect of Sections 9, 10, 12, 13 and 149 (2) of the ACJA the person executing a search warrant and or arrest warrant is empowered to “break open any outer or inner door or window of any house or place” where unhindered acess is denied upon demand. If the SSS had requested for unhindered access into the house of the affected judge and they were denied, the breaking of the door of the judge’s house was lawful as expressly stated in the ACJA.
Four, is illegally obtained evidence admissible in law? In other words, where evidence is recovered in contravention of the procedure for search of houses and places, will the court admit same?
Every lawyer in this country that is worth his salt knows the answer to this question. The answer is YES – illegally obtained evidence is admissible. The Supreme Court held so in unmistakable terms right from 1968 in the case of Musa Sadau & Anor v. The State (1968) NMLR 208. Also in Kuruma V. R. (1955)1 All ER 236 at 239-240, the Privy Council stated, inter alia, thus:
“The test to be applied in considering whether evidence is admissible is whether it is relevant to the matters in issue. If it is admissible…..the court is not concerned with how the evidence was obtained”.
It is an elementary rule of evidence that what determines admissibility is relevance and not how the evidence was procured. See Section 1 of the Evidence Act 2011 and the cases of Torti v. Ukpabi (1984) 1 SCNLR 214 AT 236 – 237 and 239 24O and Lasun v. Awoyemi (2009) 16 NWLR (Pt.1168) 513 at 553.
Accordingly the evidence allegedly recovered from the houses of the judges are admissible in law whether search warrants were obtained or not or properly executed or not. The court will still go ahead to admit the evidence irrespective of protestations against its illegality. This may not sound comforting, but that is the law.
By way of concluding remarks, I will like to make some points clear. The Judiciary is a sacred institution that should not be desecrated by any person. However, there is no sacredness in corruption. Judges must at all times be treated with decency and respect befitting of their office but corrupt judges should be identified and treated like other criminals in the society. Nigeria is blessed with some of the best judicial brains that can be found anywhere in the world, but the nefarious activities of the bad eggs on the Bench should never be tolerated under any guise.
Judges are not above the law.
Like other public servants, judges in Nigeria are paid in Naira, not in Dollars, Pounds, Euro or Cedis. Judges are not Bureau De Change operators and are not permitted to engage in business adventures. Therefore, the Nigerain people with whose taxes and resources the Judiciary is funded deserves to know how their Lordships came about the mind-blowing hard currencies found in their homes? The public deserves to know how their Lordships came about the assets allegedly traced to them. Judges who are living above their means should be able to answer some questions from the law enforcement agencies.
Their Lordships are presumed innocent until proved guilty and they should be given fair trial and fair hearing.
Instead of threatening the President, the Nigerian Bar Association (NBA) should tell us what they have done about the recent brutal murder of their member in Rivers State, Mr. Ken Atsuwete? Where was the NBA when a High Court Judge was assaulted in open court in Ekiti State by political thugs led by a governor? Why did the NBA not declare a state of emergency on the judiciary when Justice Ayo Isa Salami was humiliated and disgraced out of the Bench by the administration of Goodluck Jonathan despite the NJC’s recommendation that he should be reinstated? What has the NBA done to Mr. Ricky Tarfa, SAN for allegedly bribing judges? Whose interest is the NBA fighting for?
Records have shown that judges in other jurisdictions, including the United States have been arrested, prosecuted and jailed for corruption and other criminal conducts. Ghana recently purged its judiciary. If this is the time to uproot the pervasive cancer of corruption in the Nigerian Judiciary it is a welcome development and should be supported. Without checks and balances, the doctrine of separation of powers is useless and unworkable.
We cannot have different standards for the rule of law; one for the influential and another for the poor or one for the judges and another for the rest rest us.
Inibehe Effiong is a Legal Practitioner and Convener of the Coalition of Human Rights Defenders (COHRD) and can be reached at: email@example.com
Line in the Sand Gani The Porter Down and out in Korea/Japan
Challenging Indifference and Apathy
The picture below is of a fourteen (14) year old car. Now, to look at it, you may be hard pressed to tell. It has been well kept by a succession of owners and driven in a way that is consistent with the manufacturer’s guidelines of use, its performance is outstanding, and its reliability is far above average. I thank GOD that, to date, it has yet to fail me. For one to induct, from this example of a car, that all decade old cars remain in good condition and maintain above average performance and reliability, would be credulous in the extreme. There are horses for courses, and the rusk and the stable are just as important as the breed and the ancestry. A five (5) year old car is not necessarily in a better state of road-worthiness than a twenty (20) year old car.
For this reason, governments the world over have recognised that there can be no age, within reason that a car, simply on account of its age, becomes unworthy for use on the public highways. It stands to good sense that a car bought 50 years ago, and kept almost exclusively within a garage, would be in almost mint condition, while a car bought two (2) years ago and run like rain water by a hyper-active travelling salesman may begin to masquerade the appearance of an eighty (80) year old motor. By going against the grain to impose this five year rule on the citizens of this great country, the members of the legislature would suggest to the population that they are either completely out of touch with the reality that faces most Nigerians today, or worse still, that they do not care either way what happens to the common man.
Immoral, Hypocritical, Unjust, Impracticable, and Counter-Productive
This legislation is immoral, hypocritical, unjust, impracticable, and counter-productive, and it should be repealed. There is no study that backs up any reasoning behind this legislation, there was no consultative process to weigh the opinions and interests of those to be affected. There was no site study, within a controlled zone to evaluate, first hand, its potential impact, and since it was first mooted, to when it was passed as law, till date, the opposition articulated by many to this parade of legislative impunity has failed to disabuse the minds of those who promulgated it.
An Immoral Law That Opposes GOD
A statistical analysis of real income figures for the country will show quite clearly that less than half of a percent of Nigerians can afford to buy a new car, and we are not alluding here to the BMW or Mercedes Benz. Most Nigerians cannot afford to cough up for a new Skoda, not even under duress. This is the sad truth that be-straddles our consciousness like an oppressive and perservering ague. If therefore legislation is passed to deprive ninety-nine (99%) percent of a populace the freedom of access to a necessity, those behind such a law must of necessity have a quarrel with GOD.
A Hypocritical Law That Is Imposed By A Few On The Many
Given the statistics just quoted, and the number of legislators who carried the vote, one can draw safely to the conclusion that this is a law imposed on the majority, by an imperious and hypocritical minority. Why ‘hypocritical’? Hypocritical is truly apt here in that the perpertrators of this antagonism would not submit willingly to any laws that would infringe their freedom, to indulge luxuries; to undermine the established instituition and authorities; to usurp the supremacy of the constitution; and to violate the word and the spirit of the law. If the same law had been passed by a military regime, these same people would be the most vociferous in condemning it from the sidelines. Moreso, the roads are over-run by old, decrepit, and dangerously unsafe vehicles that are many times worse than the 6 (6) year old cars that are being banned from import. Given that there is no viable local alternative to fill the demand for mobility, these fellows will have the populace commuting by foot.
An Unjust Law In That Its Brunt Rests On The Disadvantaged
This law penalises those who are already punished for their failure to be born to wealthy parents, and their inability or reluctance to join the limited ranks of rogues and thieves who hold sway in the country today. It punishes those who, by hard work and persistence carry the weight of the bridge between public service and private enterprise, in providing facility to citizens seeking to function in a quasi post-traditional society. They are the ones who seek to walk where the government has feared to tread, and this law would punish them for it.
An Impracticable Law In That It Is Largely Un-enforceable
There was a man who feared neither man nor regarded the devil; but what about the practicalities of dining with gods when you have neither wings nor broomstick? Supposing that we were to damn the people and disdain eternal judgement; does this country have the means to enforce this law, of harder still, the will to do so. Is this not a boon and a bonanza to the Customs officials and the port administrators, the police, and the thousands of middle-men, criminals, and under-world operatives, in and out of government, who will now begin to feast where the government has chosen to fast? The police most certainly do not have the manpower and equipment to enforce this law, and their unpaid, demoralised personnel certainly do not have the desire nor the option to ignore a livelihood – emphasis here on livel(y) – in the pursuit of principle and order. So where does this leave us?
A Counter Productive Law That Works against Economic Progress
Yet for all this, would the desperate and the hard-bearing press on with a couter-intuitive law? However, the fingers on this one do not square up, neither for the desperado seeking a quick fix to the woeful state of road-going vehicles – better to MOT them – or for that matter, the principled and infexible soul, seeking to regulate the influx of dangerous-machinery-pretending-to-be-car. Still better to inspect new cars on arrival, and require a post arrival MOT. In the absence of a public – meaning government backed – transport system that works, citizens should (must) be given the right to choose how they get to and fro within metropolis, and they may choose not to walk. This law seeks to demobilise the nation by obreption, and so bring the economy, which is already labouring, to a resounding stop.
This law is not right, it is not fair and it is not workable. The law makes criminals out of honest citizens, by forcing them into the hands of corrupt governemtn officials. Inevitably, the law will be broken several thousand times, and much as prohibition failed in the United States, so, eventually will this too. But it would be so much better if all the blood money that is bound to be made under the auspicies of this law were staunched now. The legislature can still move now to put an end to this contradiction of aspiration and justice, and give Nigerians some encouragement in an already over-bearing and oppressive environment.
Time is now to step forward and be counted.
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This column is not for the faint-hearted, the line here is bold and brass, and this surely is the place where we call succubus by name. My gaze for now is firmly fixed on the character of the coach of the Green Eagles. I believe Mr Onigbinde owes us an explanation! My question is this; why did he choose not to use Pious Ikedia at the beginning of our two opening games, nevermind that the young man was instrumental to the goals that Aghahowa scored in the friendly matches in Ireland and Scotland, and that his lively style of play, adds colour to the front line, and, by putting pressure on the defence of our opponents, puts our defence at relative ease. So it has been with some shock and constant readjustment, that I have sat down to watch the matches played (and I mean PLAYed), by the Eagles against Argentina, and then Sweden.
The game against the Argentines should have been a warning to Mr Onigbinde, and as he quite rightly admitted, we were playing with 10 men against 11, as Kanu Nwankwo was less than fit to play from the 5th minute onwards. The question that therefore begs asking is this; “Why persevere with a player that is injured for the whole of the first half, and even in to the second? Is there no replacement for Kanu? As the game progressed, it was clear to all, that sooner or later the Argentines were going to score. Eventually, they did. Too much pressure on the defence; our inability to deal with corners that cross the goal mouth, and, I believe, most tellingly, abscence of any aggression on our part to put pressure on the Argentine defence.
Only at this juncture does the coach condescend to bring on young Ikedia, by which time of course, the match is already nigh on lost. For a man who raised our hopes so much in the friendly matches following the disgraceful performance in Mali, Mr Onigbinde has let us all down very greatly. For this very reason, and on account of the fact that he is a respected thinker, I would like to hear from him. Surely he must have an explanation! Afterall, it has not been unknown for Nigerian leaders (politicians and/or Soldiers) to force decisions down the throat of managers. Maybe the team selection was foisted upon him by the NFA, perhaps a fiat was issued to force him to use certain players, against his better judgement, or was he simply out-foxed by more wily managers, who had progressed two steps further than him in the chess-game of modern international football.
Whatever, the reason, this will go down as Nigeria’s worst performance in all our entries into the world cup tournament, and we, one and all, would like to believe that this will not happen again. The only sure guarantee though , is that we learn some lessons from this fiasco in Japan. The beginning of our learning should therefore be, the last words of Mr Onigbinde on “What happened in Korea/Japan 2002”. I for one cannot wait for the class to begin. “Otolorin” 10th February, 2002
After the storm there must be a calmTime has passed since the Obasanjo government launched out on its escapade of the third-term, a slippery route that has seen the likes of Yoweri Museveni and Robert Mugabe spending an eternity as sentinels on the road to the progress of their people. The dust has since settled and Nigerians should be breathing a sigh of relief. However, with ruction in the PDP, unabating strife in the delta region, Sharia troubles in Niger state, violence in Anambra and the never ending dirge that is NEPA-now-PHCN, there is scant time for breath-catching. It would appear that the nation lurches from the fire into the frying pan, and then back again, in the last three years. Well; at least NITEL has eventually been sold off. The power sector has now been liberalised, and all that remains is for the beast itself to be passed on to capable handlers. Add a legislative framework that guarantees rights, confers responsibilities, affords regulation and promotes competition, and the lights should be coming on soon in a room near you. Hmmmmn. Only CheatingNow, if only that was the sum or our problems in Nigeria!
Well, the truth is that things are not great; however, it could have been a lot worse. We only need to look south to Zimbabwe to see how fortunate we are to still be on the road to democracy and not on the way to Otta! As was said in the article “Third Term or NOT”, the general has shown the way to democracy, but there is much walking to do before we arrive at a new Nigeria. Now is therefore a good time to take stock, and to make a decision on where we go from here. Is it possible to look beyond the likes of Attah-Odili-Gana, or are we still ready to settle for anything, even if it is of the Atiku-IBB-Marwa ilk. For far too long we have been complacent in the face of oppression, we have almost become satisfied with being voiceless in our own land. With so many thugs in high places, with so much rigging on the high streets, citizens have had their birth-rights stolen from them. The legatees of independence have frittered away our yesterday and are a potent threat to our tomorrow. The people who should be leading the country out of the abyss are too busy cheating their fellow countrymen to see the problems or the opportunities that face us as a nation. They themselves are being cheated by representatives of other countries and international corporations. These fellows take advantage of the selfishness and greed of Nigeria’s leaders and representatives in order to cheat the country in international trade and politics as well as in business, locally and internationally. If the country is to survive in the long term, there is a need to change the quality of personnel that lead and/or represent the nation, politically and economically. We must begin to look beyond the obvious gallery of rogues, to men and women who have the intellect, as a minimum; and hopefully the passion, energy and patriotism as well. We need a new kind of person at the helm of our affairs, and we should be sufficiently bold and honest to look beyond the political caucuses for such persons – men and women alike.
Carry GoA dictionary description of the word, crisis, is “A crucial or decisive point or situation; a turning point”; another description is “A sudden change in the course of a disease or fever, toward either improvement or deterioration”. – © www.dictionary.com. Only the Ostriches (aka ‘head-in-the-sand’) among us will fail to recognise that, as a nation, we are at a critical juncture. Things could either start to get better rapidly, or we could be on our way to the bottom of the very pit that we have just clambered out of. This, if we are truly appreciative of our position, is not a time for political-correctness, or pandering to the sensitivities of individuals of groups. We need to look around us and find those people that can take us to the next level as a nation, and foist on them the responsibility of leading and representing us, and the sooner we find them the better for us all. Who then are these worthy people, who have demonstrated in the little responsibility given them, that they can be counted upon to be faithful. Who are they, so called, intelligent and passionate about the Nigeria project, who see this country not as a market but a home, who recognise that Nigeria is not just a geographic entity but also a people, over 100 million of them, and of which, more than 80 million live in deplorable conditions. Like the great Nigerian adage says; we need not go to Sokoto to find that which is in our shokoto. Akunyili, Okonjo-Iweala, et al; the nation calls! Time is now to step forward and be counted.
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