Let me welcome all of us to the year 2018. Last year was quite a trying one for most Nigerians because of the prevailing hardship and economic recession that swallowed us up. The President’s New Year message has given effect to the fact that even though we are in celebration mood, we haven’t actually been celebrating.
We have been agonizing and lamenting. It has been a game of blame and accusation. Nigerians, generally a happy people, have not really found their celebrative voices as they suffered from the unwholesome activities of ‘saboteurs’, who are determined to give government a bad name.
Some spent their time at the fuel stations on Christmas day waiting helplessly for fuel. While we were agonizing over fuel scarcity for the better part of last year December, government decided to give us a starter to whet our appetite and bring smiles on the faces of Nigerians. It announced the composition of the boards of some of the agencies of government; a total of 209 chairmen and 1,258 members drawn from across the 36 states of the federation.
What ought to have been a punch line to the frenzy of fuel scarcity became an albatross, by the inclusion of eight Nigerians who had passed on, as appointees of the newly constituted boards.
At first, the number of dead persons started from one, then two and then three, until a count of eight ended the score line.
The list generated a lot of hoopla, overhyped as it were, to underscore the missing link in a government of gerontocracy run by President Muhammadu Buhari: lack of coordination. It does appear the government was too much in a hurry to dish out Christmas package by way of appointments but ended up with more criticisms than expected. President’s spokesman, Garba Shehu, in trying to rationalize the mix-up, ended up mixing himself up.
Oh, the list was long compiled in 2016 when the President was having health challenges; hence the Secretary to the Government of the Federation, Mr. Boss Mustapha, had to just roll out what was available. The job of a spokesman could be as simple as he wants it to be. It could also be as difficult as he wants it to be if the right information is not sourced to back up claims and counter-claims.
The truth is that, the list as presented by the SGF, Mr. Boss Mustapha, was a huge scandal. It undermines the integrity of that office. It reduces the person of that office.
No matter the number of persons contained in that list, it is the duty of the SGF to ensure that ghost names do not feature prominently in a list of persons to be appointed for positions. First, the names were generated from the states’ party offices in 2016.
When it became manifest that the appointments were to be carried out, the simple administrative thing to do was to vet the list again and ensure that those persons were still very much with the party across the states.
Some persons have defected between 2016 and 2017.
So many things have happened that should ordinarily remind the SGF of the need to do proper check before dishing out the list for public consumption. Boss Mustapha is one Nigerian whose capacity I do not doubt, but I am somewhat taken aback that he could allow this simple administrative procedure to slip off his grip and cause government terrible embarrassment.
It exposes the fact that there is no coordination and synergy. It exposes the political party to outright ridicule. It tells of the breakdown of communication between the political party headquarters, state chapters and the hierarchy of government. If those names emanated from the state chapters, the onus was to reconnect with the state chapters to reaffirm that the earlier names sent in 2016 still remain valid, whilst also doing proper check on the persons so nominated to be appointed. In the fullness of such administrative lapse, I expected to hear from the spokesman in the office of the SGF explaining the lapse and giving us details of the mix-up, and not the president’s spokesman.
To make matters worse, government also announced appointees for already privatized companies. Haba, Boss Mustapha! What ought to be a Christmas gift, became a sore thumb for a government that is permanently in the news for the wrong reason. It calls to question the absence of synergy and proper coordination within the presidency. This is why I have always advocated that the party should wake up to her responsibilities of playing a stop-gap role in matters of state policies.
The APC hierarchy is too laid back in the governance process. Being withdrawn is a mark of weakness which must be corrected and not a mark of loyalty to the constituted authority. It is from the manifestoes of the political party that those seeking election derive their agenda and roadmap. If the individual fails, it is the party that fails. If the individual succeeds, it is the party that succeeds.
This is why there has to be a deliberate and conscious effort to ensure that the right synergy is created to build a robust and symbiotic relationship that will create the right mood for governance. If the party were to be active, it would have been able to do a further check before the SGF released the list.
As we enter year 2018, we expect a better deal in our shared commitment to take Nigeria to a greater height.
This year will witness a lot of politicking because 2019 is election year. The politics of 2018 will cause a lot of distraction to governance because of horse-trading, networking and permutations. The various candidates for all elective positions will be known this year in preparation for the elections early 2019. Sycophants would be at their best during this period. Hypocrites would have a field’s day.
All manners of permutations would flourish in a bid to set the tone for the 2019 elections, but Nigeria must be the ultimate beneficiary. PMB’s NEW YEAR SPEECH I listened to the president’s speech and message to Nigerians aired yesterday at 7a.m.
There is a remarkable improvement in the contents of the message when compared with his previous speeches. He has given a roadmap on what government is trying to do in building infrastructure to drive individual and collective enterprises. He has threatened to get to the root of the fuel scarcity and deal decisively with those saboteurs that have caused us pains. I just hope it won’t take him another one year to carry out this threat.
As much as I agree with the president that saboteurs were at work on the fuel scarcity issue, he needs to understand that every government has its army of saboteurs but the capacity of government to proactively handle challenges will help to reduce the pains caused by saboteurs. Let this threat not end as mere rhetoric that has become the second nature of PMB.
I just hope the president’s appointees are not feeding him lies, because the picture he painted of the rail system and road infrastructure appears to me cheering news but on ground, we are yet to take off. Our roads are suffering neglect. This dry season should afford the government the opportunity to do a quick fix on our roads before the rain sets in. Mr. President, in 2018, we must move away from theory to practice, from intangible to tangible.
Killer Spouses: Let’s halt the madness
The alarming rate of spousal murder in our world calls for collective attention and action. The gruesome phenomenon is fast assuming frenetic dimension in our family life. One begins to wonder how and why lovers who voluntarily came together as husband and wife suddenly engage in extreme hostility with each other. Attending wedding ceremonies these days often agitate my mind as scary tales of abuse and violence that emanate from some of the new homes shortly after the fanfare are on the increase.
I have written articles to address some knotty marital issues that do result in the untimely and painful death of the spouses. Initially, only women were usually the victims of domestic violence. Somewhat, the hunter has now become the hunted as wives now do hack their husbands to death in the course of fighting or as reprisals. Our media is daily being inundated with sour news of one form of spousal death or the other.
Since the June 24, 2011 case of Akolade Arowolo who stabbed his banker wife, Titilayo, to death, over a score of such dastardly spousal murder cases had been reported in the media.
This is aside the unknown or covered-up cases especially in the remote places. An autopsy report revealed Titilayo was stabbed 76 times. However, the culprit did not escape the full weight of the law. He was sentenced to death February 21, 2014.
The new lethal fad these days seems to be spousal killings perpetrated by the wives. The Nigerian Police recently confirmed the arrest of Maryam Sanda for stabbing her husband Bilyaminu Haliru Bello to death. Reports claimed she killed her husband by stabbing him multiple times after seeing text messages in his phone which suggested that he was engaged in an extra-marital affair. Also, there’s the recent case of a lawyer, Mrs. Udeme Odibi, who, after stabbing her husband to death in his sleep, cut his genitals and placed them in his right hand while his stomach ripped open with the intestines spilling out.
These are just a tip of the soaring cases of spousal murder dotting our marital landscape these days. I keep wondering what usually go wrong in loving, sweet, and honey-like affairs that now end in tragedies.
Does it mean that sweet words and ecstatic moments of romance are superficial? Despite costly wedding ceremonies, how come this sad end? I hereby offer a four-prong suggestions as a way to stem this mournful scourge:
i. The parental roles must be reactivated right from the platonic (nonsexual) friendship level as parents must care to know who their children are moving with. In the ages past, parents often determine which families their children would marry from. Customarily, they will investigate the would-be in-laws’ lineage to know if there’s any illness, mental case, premature death, poverty, bareness, marital failure, spiritual issue or social stigma that was common in the family.
More often than not, children rarely reject the choices of their parents because they knew parental decisions were in their best interest. Virtually all the marriages midwifed by parental arrangements in that era endured.
Despite challenges, the marriages survived the odds because the parents were the ‘sureties’ and arbiters at every point of need or crisis. Respect for parents, desired to be responsible couples, fear of stigma in case of divorce, protection of children and family names or reputation were pivotal to the success of marriages at that time.
Regrettably though, Titilayo’s father, Mr. Oyakhire, confessed that the Arowolos’ marriage had been characterised by violence and abuse but he never envisaged it will end in the death of his daughter. Keeping people together in hostile relationships or marriages will ultimately end in regret. Parents must get involved henceforth!
ii. The Church or religious leaders must find a solution to these murderous tendencies in the society. I want to suggest that fathers of faith should replicate what the Apostles did in Jerusalem (Acts 15) when they met to resolve the doctrinal issues bothering on circumcision.
As Holy Spiritfilled oracles of God, decisions should be reached as to how long warring or violent partners should stay together to avoid untimely deaths. Pretending not to allow separation in the name of being sanctimonious is an act of cowardice.
Couples that die during assaults or physical combats might not make heaven because they die in bitterness and wrong frame of mind. iii. The society should stop stigmatizing separated or single parents.
This wrong perception do ‘force’ couples to remain in abusive or acrimonious relationships. Neighbours and people around disputing couples should please wade in quickly to avoid stories that touch the heart.
For instance, before lawyer Odibi stabbed her husband to death, her neighbours confirmed that Mr. Odibi had earlier alerted his friends and his mother that his wife threatened to kill him which eventually happened. Police should have been invited immediately Odibi raised the alarm. Perhaps the story would have been different today.
Please let’s be our brothers and sisters’ keepers. iv. Disputing couples should seek help from relationship counsellors. Family and friends should encourage them to do so in order to salvage the families in crises.
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Uprising in APC, who is surprised?
“Blind party loyalty will be our downfall. We must follow the truth wherever it leads.” – DaShanne Stokes
What the ruling All Progressives Congress (APC) has been displaying to the country in the last three weeks ahead of its long overdue National Convention merely gives credence to the assertion of a British statesman Benjamin Disraeli that “There is no act of treachery or meanness of which a political party is not capable; for in politics there is no honour.”
But in the case of APC only persons handicapped in political punditry will express shock and surprise at the ongoing “war” in the ruling party. The squabble has yet again popularized the word parallel. The same way “inconclusive” was popularized by the Independent National Commission (INEC), under this regime.
When clouds gather the weather man tells us, the next thing is for the rain to pour and they dispatch advisories alerting us to travel dry. APC cloud have been gathering for the past three years and it’s just about to pour. All efforts by experienced hands in their system to proffer what to do to avoid the rain, fell on deaf ears as the system got hijacked by some cabals whose understanding and scope of national politics is pigeon holed in their narrow ethno-religious view point. Suddenly here we are the chicken is home to roost and the party is now right inside the rain already. In fact, it has been drizzling all the while ahead of 2019.
The inability of the ruling party to hold serious National Executive Council (NEC) meeting for over two years derives from this reality that the foundation of the house wrongly laid was cracking.
The early declaration of second term intention by President Muhammadu Buhari was intended to avert it, but from all indications it has failed to achieve the desired result. Aware that it must pour some “rain makers” wearing the garb of 20 APC state governors were brought in to prevent its pouring by proposing tenure elongation for National Chairman John Odigie-Oyegun and his team a way of shifting the evils day, but the other higher forces led by President Buhari and former Lagos State Governor Ahmed Tinubu routing for former Edo State Governor Adams Oshiohmole for the national chairmanship refused, saying they won’t mind it pouring. Buhari and Tinubu had their way and a congress was ordered and here and now the party is soaked in their own blooper.
It is pouring in torrents, the grounds are all wet, fear of slipping off the ground now grips everybody, the movement is now gingerly to avoid the great fall. The arrogance is now giving way to reason, the rebellious new PDP in their fold hitherto written off before as inconsequential is now getting a hearing, reality is now downing. Will APC survive this their new disease called “parallel congress” will it be able to reduce its 72 state chairmen emerging from its parallel congresses into 36 states as required by the constitution of the party?
How would it be able to contain the anger of some of its henchmen being inconvenienced by these developments?
We have seen from APC congresses that even the rich are also crying and that master riggers can also be rigged out.
In Imo State, Governor Rochas Okorocha who was at the forefront of the anti-tenure elongation group because he wanted the state executive not loyal to him removed so that he can replace them found himself not at the commanding position where he yells orders but at the lamentation table crying for whoever desires to listen. What it takes for the best village dancer to lose his crown in the village square is just for somebody to study his dancing steps and add one or two more calisthenics and you are an edge ahead.
Governor Okorocha the Generalissimo of Imo politics suddenly is running helter-skelter in search of platform. His inordinate desire to enthrone his son in-law as his successor and the daughter as the successor to the wife in the First Lady position appears seriously threatened. The Owelle who had crowned himself the face of APC in Igboland is now a crying baby.
In the neighbouring Rivers State, Rotimi Amaechi’s unhidden agenda to inflame the state all in desperation to stop Governor Nyesom Wike appears hooked in internal squabbles as he is dagger drawn with his own strongest ally Senator Magnus Abe. The gun movie in Port Harcourt a forth night ago by Amaechi’s supporters to shot down law court remains yet another sour point of this administration in its relationship with the judiciary.
Not even the almighty Jagaban himself, the Asuwaju of APC is having easy ride as the party’s National Legal Adviser Muiz Banire insisted on creating parallel structure in Lagos.
The fragile romance between Senate President Bukola Saraki and the Minister of Information, Lai Mohammed, established in 2015 to enable the minister scale through Senate screening has crumbled and they have all returned to their trenches as shown in the parallel congress from Kwara State.
Speaker Yakubu Dogara who has had poor relationship with his state Governor Mohammad Abubakar was hit below the belt as not even his ward was he able to influence despite the yeoman job he is reported to be doing in his constituency.
In Enugu the hitherto apolitical Foreign Affairs Minister, Geoffrey Onyeama, literally suspended his diplomatic gentleness and went about with thugs in yet another parallel congress.
Nothing less was expected from Kaduna State because of the high level of animosity already between the diminutive state governor, Nasir el rufai, and the irrepressible senators from the state led by the “deodorant and insecticide” Senator Shehu Sani.
The crisis rocking the ruling APC as validated by the ward, local government and state congresses, and most likely to be seen at its National Convention is pervasive and reflects the status of the party at the moment.
Since June 9, 2015 when it could not agree as a party on who should head the legislative arm controlled by it, APC has been jumping from one problem to the other.
Even right inside the Presidency, the much-expected cohesion and harmony have not been seen.
When early in the administration the President was accused of filling the whole position around him with his ethnic and religious allies refusing to recognize the nationality of his positions, he reacted angrily by saying he was appointing those he knows and who can do the work for him. But despite that this Presidency has been the most divided since 1999.
Few samples will suffice here; we have all witnessed the infighting among two security bodies, the EFCC and DSS all reporting to the President. Nigerians saw how the President submitted for confirmation twice Ibrahim Magu and twice DSS wrote a report that he was not eligible for the job. We all saw the show of shame when the operatives of the two agencies came on the streets of Abuja before camera with weapons flexing muscles.
Therefore, if we are not expecting biologically that a goat gives birth to a sheep why are Nigerians surprised that a party that produced such elementary performance in governance amidst apparent confusion would turn overnight to have a smooth and transparent political congresses?
It’s perhaps against this backdrop that the main opposition Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) and other political watchers are crying from the roof top, to the international community and all lovers of democracy that this administration is incapable of conducting a free, fair and credible general election.
The party is relying on some empirical points already on display lately to even warn that democracy is seriously under threat and the prevailing circumstances are not providing an enticing signs.
What has come very glaring from the APC impasse is that the great conspiracy of 2014 to grab power at all cost that gave birth to APC has crumbled? It was intended to metamorphose into a political party to change our society for the better, but all the manifestations have been showing otherwise. No wonder great players in the conspiracy like former President Olusegun Obasanjo are chickening out and the pack appears to be fragmenting. God help Nigeria.
Legal, constitutional ignorance in voters’ registration
The framers or designers of the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, 1999(as amended) and the Electoral Act, 2010(as amended) envisage that those that will be elected and eventually assume office under the constitution must be elected through the legitimate votes of the Nigerian people. The legitimate voters on Election Day are qualified registrants whose names are on the voters’ row. The legitimate voters are those that have attained the majority age of 18 years and do not suffer age disability and other disqualifying conditions.
Fidelity to the constitution and the law presupposes that on no account must anyone including the political parties, candidates in an election, the electoral management body and other stakeholders in the electoral process manipulate or skew the voters’ register in such a way as to deliver predetermined outcomes. A fraudulent voters’ row anchored on strange names, unqualified registrants and those that suffer registration disability can only deliver predetermined and strange outcomes.
Electoral democracy demands and envisages that that those that must exercise their democratic franchise are those that understand the process and the values of electoral democracy and have the capacity to make informed choices. Conscious, informed and rational choices can only be made by those that understand the electoral process, understand the demands of democracy; understand the programmes and policies of candidates and political parties; are able to decipher the real from the unreal and understands the truth as opposed to propaganda.
Unfortunately, sometimes, democracy and the electoral process can deliver bizarre outcomes and those that are seen to be rational and can make informed choices make choices that are difficult to understand and explain. But having attained the age of 18 years, the law and the constitution ascribe maturity to those that are 18 years and above and ascribe the ability to make choices to them whether those choices are really informed or not.
The Electoral Act, 2010(as amended) (designed to regulate the conduct of Federal, State and Area Council elections) has made elaborate provisions for the registration of persons qualified to vote. The framers of the 1999 Constitution and the designers of the Electoral Act built in safeguards that will ensure that only qualified Nigerian registrants are able to register. The designers of the Electoral Act understand the diversity of the country and took into consideration this diversity in the formulation of the registration procedures. The designers of the Electoral Act understand that society is dynamic and that population movement and other emergencies may affect registered voters requiring them to move from one place to the other. The designers of the Electoral Act know that some persons may decide to undermine the voters’ registration process and prescribed stiff punishment for such elements.
Section 9 of the Electoral Act gives the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) the exclusive right to compile, maintain, and update on a continuous basis, a National Register of Voters which shall include the names of all persons entitled to vote in any Federal, State or Local Government or Area Council elections.
More importantly, the Electoral Act recognises the fact that Nigeria is a big country and that on a continuous basis, the youth of our country attains the age of 18 and are qualified to be registered and to vote in an election. The designers of the Electoral Act know and appreciate the fact that it will be unconstitutional and undemocratic to insist that those that attain the age of 18 years immediately after a general elections cycle must wait for four years before growing up as voters. The issue of continuous voters’ registration is more germane with the institutionalization of “off season” elections that have become a permanent feature of our electoral process.
Election Petition Tribunals and the courts in the exercise of their constitutional, judicial and electoral duties and functions have more or less permanently rescheduled elections in some of the states of the federation. The states include Edo, Ondo, Osun and Ekiti. The National and State Assemblies have recorded deaths and removals of members and the vacancies created in these states must be filled. On the basis of these, section 10 of the Electoral Act provides that there shall be continuous registration of all persons qualified to be registered as voters.
Each applicant under the continuous voters’ registration system shall appear in person at the registration venue with any of the following documents, namely, birth or baptismal certificate; national passport, identity card or drivers licence; or any other document that will prove the identity, age and nationality of the applicant.
Ordinarily, a person shall be qualified to be registered as a voter if such a person is a citizen of Nigeria; has attained the age of 18 years; is ordinarily resident, works in, originates from the local government/area council or ward covered by the registration centre; presents himself to the registration officers of the commission for registration as a voter; and is not subject to any legal incapacity to vote under any law, rule or regulation in force in Nigeria.
Furthermore, no person is permitted to register in more than one registration centre and any person that registers in more than one registration centre commits an offence and is liable on conviction to a fine not exceeding N100, 000 or imprisonment for a term not exceeding one year or both.
The framers of the constitution recognise that Nigerians are entitled to freedom of movement and association. The movement of Nigerians from one ward, local government or state may be voluntary or involuntary. The movement from one place to another may be involuntary in the case of natural displacement caused by natural disasters or environmental factors. The movement of Nigerians may be due to conflict arising from ethnic, communal, pastoral and religious issues. The movement may be due to other factors not envisaged by the lawmakers. It is in this wise that registered voters can transfer their registration from one registration area to another. Hence, a person who before the election is resident in a constituency other than the one in which he was registered may apply to the Resident Electoral Commissioner (REC) of the state where he is currently resident for his name to be entered on the Transferred Voters’ List for the constituency. The REC shall enter the person’s name in the Transferred Voters’ List if he is satisfied that the applicant is resident in a polling area in the constituency and is registered in another constituency. Thereafter, the electoral officer of the new constituency on the direction of the REC shall assign that person to a polling unit or a polling area in his constituency and indicate in the list the polling unit to which that person is assigned; issue the person with a new voter’s card and retrieves his previous voter’s card; and send a copy of the entry to the electoral officer of the constituency where the person whose name has been so entered was originally registered and upon receipt of this entry, the electoral officer shall delete the name from the voters’ register.
It is not right and amounts to double registration and a criminal offence for a registered voter to throw away his/her Permanents Voter’s Card and queue for new registration simply because they moved from one registration area to another. Double registration may lead to the excision of the name of a double registrant from the voter’s register using improved technology that detects multiple registrants.
The INEC through the RECs and the Electoral Officers in the various local governments must use the platform of the schools, the churches, the mosques, traditional and religious leaders, the labour movement, the civil society groups and other professional bodies to educate and enlighten the public on the clear provisions of the law relating to the registration of voters.
Nigerians must not be allowed to lose their right to vote on account of legal and constitutional ignorance. It is well and fine if a person chooses not to register. It is well and fine if a person chooses not to vote. The question remains, why do certain persons and parties take special interest in manipulating and corrupting the voters’ register?
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