The Centre for Anti-Corruption and Open Leadership, CACOL, with clear mandate for anti-corruption crusade and open, transparent governance, while throwing its weight behind the Presidency which through its Senior Special Assistant to the Vice-President on Media and Publicity, Mr. Laolu Akande, gave clear instances where three (3) persons stole US3Billion or over N1trillion during the last Administration.
The Senior Special Assistant clearly recalled how the sum of US$3billion was stolen in the so-called NNPC Strategic Alliance Contracts by Messrs Jide Omokore, Kola Aluko and the former Petroleum Resources Minister, Diezani Allison Maduekwe. It was stated inter alia that, ‘the companies of both Jide Omokore and Kola Aluko lifted Nigerian crude oil and kept the proceeds. The total sums converted is in excess of $3billion or over one trillion Naira including royalties, taxes and fees for the asset from which the crude was taken.
There was another set of illegal fund withdrawals under one week between January 8 and 16, 2015, where the sum of N1.5billion was released in three tranches of N300m, N400m and N800m respectively. The money was purportedly from the MEA Research Library Account.’
Speaking on behalf of the anti-graft outfit through its Executive Chairman, Mr Debo Adeniran, CACOL enthused “we heartily appreciate the President Muhammed Buhari’s government in exposing the unbridled fleecing of our commonwealth under whatever guise, we (CACOL) enjoin the Administration to not only retrieve all ill-gotten wealth from wherever it has been repatriated, but to ensure that adequate deterrence is meted out on those indicted for the evils of corruptive practices to take flight from our sociopolitical space”.
Opening Remarks by Comrade Debo Adeniran, Executive Chairman, Centre For Anti-Corruption And Open Leadership, CACOL, at the Exploratory Conference on the Lagos Open Parliament (Part four), LOP-4, held on 3 May, 2018 at the RIGHTS HOUSE, 48, Adeniyi Jones Street, Off Oba Akran Avenue, Ikeja, Lagos
I, on behalf of the entire members of the Centre For Anti-Corruption and Open Leadership, CACOL, am glad to welcome you all to this event. We deeply appreciate the honour you bestowed on us as demonstrated by the timely arrival of everyone here today, for this Exploratory Conference; a key component of the process that will culminate in our periodic Publication called the ‘Lagos Open Parliament, LOP’. We say, a big thank you to all for coming.
Majority of us here today, are conversant with the LOP and can simply aver that, “there goes CACOL again, doing what they know how to do best”. But some are probably just getting to know about the LOP as a Project of our Centre for the first time. It thus becomes imperative to give a background on what the LOP is all about. I therefore crave your indulgence to briefly do so.
The LOP, as a project of CACOL, focuses on the periodic analysis of government’s general performance in Lagos State. The programme utilizes public and media assessments’ of government’s performance including field work (empirical and practical assessments). The research strategy deploys government activities with the goal of ensuring transparency and accountability. The tool includes questionnaires, interviews, news analysis, visual investigations involving the usage of videos and photographs etc.
This exploratory meeting involves gathering of citizens from all local governments in Lagos State to give individual and collective opinions on governance in Lagos State as it affects budgetary implementation and to advise if the tools used and the data collated so far is adequate for such assessment, and if not adequate, this conference is meant to advise on other plausible means of assessing budgetary implementation in Lagos State.
The present LOP is the fourth in the series; the first and second editions were published in 2012 and 2014 respectively during the administration of the immediate past governor of Lagos state. The third edition was done in 2016 during the tenure of the present governor Mr Akinwumi Ambode. The present edition, LOP 4, currently under processing is the second under this administration. It is intended to assess budgetary implementation in Lagos State within the last two years. It is also to serve as an avenue to find out areas that we ought to assess and which we are yet to, as well as a channel to find out if there are areas we have over-assessed that the Lagos public would want us to adjust. This is with a view to ascertaining what the expectations of citizens are so that the State Government can make additional efforts towards meeting them.
We therefore, ask everyone here, to mobilize his or her compatriots towards indentifying the projects we are going to mention here and others that you know of that the Government is embarking on in your area and might not have been captured by what we have compiled so far.
Since our research strategy utilizes different tools to carry out what we consider to be self-assigned patriotic task of monitoring government activities; including questionnaires, interviews, news analysis, visual investigations involving usage of videos and photographs etc., we want you to utilize all the channels that are open to us to give us feedback, so that your contribution will be part and parcel of the final compilation that is going to be published as a booklet called LAGOS OPEN PARLIAMENT 4:
Everybody here is expected to respond to a questionnaire right here and whatever your individual input through the questionnaire shall be computed with the one we have earlier gathered. We also expect you to take some copies of the questionnaire of which photocopies you can also make for other compatriots back home, so they can also respond in their own way and you can transmit them back to us through electronic media if physical return of them may be difficult for you. The electronic links to the LOP-4 questionnaire are: https://goo.gl/forms/EAXMlEVPUlKZRH5C3, #
The LOP, as a Project of our Centre, was conceived to be done annually but dearth of fund and hands, it has not been easy to meet such annual target. For this therefore, we solicit everyone’s cooperation in our efforts to make our government more accountable, more responsible, more responsive to the citizenry who are the original owners of the instrument of governing that is entrusted to the government for public good.
I want to conclude by thanking you all again for honouring our invitation. Please we encourage us all to participate in the deliberations which we promise to be very incisive. We also urge you all to be diligent and candid in your responses to the questionnaires which is meant to enhance true assessment of infrastructural development of our State.
The Centre for Anti-Corruption and Open Leadership, CACOL, sadly announces the passing away of its Director of Research, Programmes and Documentation, Mr. Olawale Salami (aka, DON), who passed away at the Summit Hospital, Shasha, Lagos after a brief illness. Mr. Salami took ill while preparing for work by morning died about 5.30pm on Monday 9th April, 2018 after efforts to resuscitate him by the medical team was unsuccessful.
DON, who just celebrated his 50th birthday less than two weeks earlier, was one of the first to believe that the establishment of CACOL will thrive despite the fact that other comrades expressed their fears and disbelief in the struggle. He was a cerebral activist, a straight-forward team player and diligent worker with passion for the betterment of his society and humanity at large.
As we mourn the death of his contribution to contemporary Revolutionary Struggles, The Centre for Anti-Corruption and Open Leadership, CACOL, Executive Chairman, Staff, Friends and well-wishers join the family in mourning the departed icon in the Anti-Corruption Struggle. His contributions to the advancement of the efforts to birth a new Nigeria society will be sorely missed.
May his memories continue to be a source of inspiration to those left behind and courage not to relent in the struggle till the desired victory is taken beyond illusion but attained for the benefit of all.
Interestingly the drama unfolding in the Confluence State of Kogi is nothing but a farcical and tragic repetition of familiar build up to both the demise of the First and Second Republic and a symbolic representation of events in many other States of the Federation where individual elected officers have elevated themselves into an institution and various public agencies have become personalized properties with impunity and violence. All men of good conscience and crusaders for democratic governance and social justice must correctly interpret these situations and rise up in total condemnation as well as active resistance of the defilement of our hard-earned, cherished democratic rule.
It would be recalled that the Senator representing Kogi West, Dino Melaye has been locked in horns with several stakeholders in the present political landscape. Yet, he is a sacred cow of the parliamentary arm of governance with a special status. In recent time the controversial Senator has been involved in multiple crises commencing with his exposure of the arms catches unlawfully imported by his State’s Governor, Yahya Bello which was burst at seaport in Lagos. Almost following in macabre succession, the Senator himself was fingered as the God-father of some errant fascist armed thugs engaged in violent disruption of public order as well as kidnappings in the State. Many marvel at the creative ingenuity of Nigerian politicians to pencil series soap operas. The drama is seemingly getting absurdly interesting.
For us at this Centre, we strongly hold the view that under a genuine democratic society governed by the rule of law and strong institutions, there should have been no room for the shenanigan been displayed by Senator Dino Melaye and his constituency reserve the inalienable democratic right to withdraw him from the hallowed chambers of the Senate. We fully support that the judgment of the Appeal Court on his recall should be allowed to run its full circle but we shall never with a wink condone an attempt of what seems like a “fallacy of what about you!” to be used to frame anybody who dare to expose serving public officer to douse the germaneness of issues at hand.
The Senator’s accusation of Kogi State’s Governor’s importation of arms, ammunitions and military security uniforms has been fully documented in the mass media. We are not confused to demand that what are all relevant security agencies doing about this revelation? What does the State Government wants to do with the military paraphernalia of national security agencies? Is he raising a Federal Army of the Republic? Where did the money come from to fund this importation in a State that is owing months of salaries and pensions, where workers are consistently committing suicide? We strongly believe that no matter the toga of his support for the President Muhammadu Buhari, the Federal Government and its security institutions must carry out comprehensive probe of these revelations.
We are apt to insist and emphasise that if we as a nation fail to bring to book the dangerous developments in Kogi State, we shall be inadvertently sleeping in house with the roof on fire. It is indeed an alarming national security threat which must be decisively dealt with before general elections next year. We call on all well-meaning Nigerians and global institutions to make their voice known on this occurrence.
The organised labour has variously condemned and announced its resolve to embark on a nation-wide strike action to bring to book those who are enjoying the status of sacred cows but are behind over N30Billion fraud allegedly perpetuated by the last Board of the Nigerian Social Insurance Trust Fund (NSITF) and some Management officers of the Fund. This is a major cause of concern as it spells terrible bad omen for the senior citizens of the country at retirement, having meritoriously served their father land with the vigour of their youths.
We do not only support the intended strike of Labour but equally call for mass action against what appears as a systemic ploy to sweep this weighty scam allegation under the carpet. We note with apprehension that this fraud came into the public domain through activities of a whistleblower and the EFCC has since arranged the Managing Director, Umar Abubakar and some former Board members and Management staff for diverting money from the Funds account into private purse between 2012 and 2015 which included the N18Billion Grant given by the Federal Government to NSITF.
The Centre, while applauding the reconstitution and inauguration of the NSITF Board under the Chairmanship of Chief Frank Kokori by the Minister of Labour and Productivity , Dr. Chris Ngige following the directives of Mr. President, demands that all administrative panels and on-going prosecutions of culprits by anti-corruption agencies must not be in any way compromised. We are apt to observe that it is rather tragic the resources at the disposal of the NSITF which were supposed to be invested in long term social infrastructures were shamelessly looted and plundered by a powerful cabal. It is instructively to note that this heinous pillage was committed under the watchful eyes of even the organised labour and other social partners like the organised private sectors and stakeholders who are all statutory members of the Funds. No doubt there is a dire need for re-examination of the composition of the NSITF Board as established by the enabling Act.
Our main concern however, is that no sane thinking and responsible citizen or society would take with care free attitudes the wellbeing of its retired and pension citizens. The NSITF was established essentially to take care of the needs of these vulnerable elder citizens at retirement. It is an saving-insurance for their future. If we all allow this Fund to be pillaged and endanger the future of our senior citizens , we would be embedding a vicious culture of every man for himself, God for us all. This would invariably continue to threaten the social stability, good governance, transparency and accountability in public office. Every serving elected or and appointed workers would see a blink future except by self-help into the public tilt.
With the antecedent of Chief Frank Kokori as a social crusader, we know that heavy burden lies on his shoulders to ensure that all those fingered in the massive looting of NSITF are brought to book without fearing whose ox is gored. We pledged our unalloyed support in this respect.
BEING THE TEXT OF PRESS CONFERENCE ADDRESSED COMRADE DEBO ADENIRAN, EXECUTIVE CHAIRMAN, CENTRE FOR ANTI-CORRUPTION AND OPEN LEADERSHIP (CACOL) HELD ON THURSDAY, 8TH MARCH, 2018 AT THE HUMANITY CENTRE, OJOKORO-IJAIYE, LAGOS
“A Man stung by wasp, fears the buzz of a house-fly” – Igbo Proverb
As we welcome you; our friends and compatriots from the media, we must commence this conference with a truism. We are in the hub of sublime maneuvers by political war-horses to position themselves as likely next heir-apparent to deceive unwary electorates and gain the unfettered access to our collective patrimony. A popular saying goes that once bitten, twice shy but Nigeria has been severally bitten, serially raped by public officers of all hues, shapes and gabs that we need to be extremely cautious as we approach the 2019 general elections.
This month’s press conference coincides with the International Women’s Day, consequently CACOL is using this occasion to express our strong solidarity with the women of Nigeria, Africa and the World as the day is being commemorated across the globe. We identify with the struggles and pains of women in this contemporary World dominated by patriarchy and capitalism. We believe the engendering of gender equity, social justice and egalitarianism in society is a precursor to liberation of women and all oppressed strata of the people of the world. We thus remain in solidarity with the struggles of women focused on ensuring equity and social justice until victory forever. In line with theme for this year, ‘Press for Progress’, we call for the intensifying of the efforts of women and men to move the World, Africa and Nigeria toward an egalitarian society where the mode of co-existences amongst different classes, people and gender will be socially, economically and politically harmonious. Freedom cometh only via struggle.
As the 2019 elections approaches, we are most concerned that Nigerians are worn out with forlorn promises and hopes dangled by politicians that democratic rule would bring the country to Eldorado. Our people fought valiantly to overthrow the burden of military dictatorship demanding and rightly so their rights to humanity and democratic governance, the glorious human rights and pro-democracy crusades were littered with a lot of bloodied heads, broken bones and lost souls but the spirits of Nigerians remained high till the return of democracy in May, 1999. Ever since the entire nation watched haplessly as succeeding democratic leadership rule roughshod over the citizens.
We are most concerned that pre-general elections year has assumed a dimension when things that ought not to happen occur. The most damaging reference point is that in 2014 just before the general elections, the Chibok girls were abducted just as similarly now; in 2018 before general elections the Dapchi girls have been abducted. Is it not possible to re-write the plot structure of the tragedy of our history? CACOL mince no words at insisting that as we get nearer to the next year’s elections, we are confident that there would be daring attempts to stampede the nation into precipice by global prophets of doom acclaiming that Nigeria would become a failed State.
The alarming records coming out to the public domain from all corners of the world show a country that is seriously hemorrhaging because of the brazen looting of its treasury by its greedy leadership. The country lie permanently in a state of comatose because of the injurious activities of the past administrations especially since even the return of democracy, Nigerians now feel that there cannot be anyway out to junction out of the vicious cycle of poverty, ignorance and diseases as they even see old notorious looters being re-packaged into new national positions while many serving public officers are paying mere lips service to the present administration’s commitment to change, for economic reconstruction and anti-corruption. If Nigeria must come out of the present economic doldrums, all Nigerians must be totally and irreversibly own the process for programmatic system change.
New generations of Nigerians must arise to truly change the colour, shapes and character of leadership, far away from expired former leaders parading themselves as vanguards of a third force of leadership. If President Muhammadu Buhari really wants to stamp his foot prints in the history of the country’s search for industrial and socio-economic advancement, he must change the narratives and consciously massify his clamour for anti-corruption in the younger generations of Nigeria. This is even much more imperatives when we consider how the following global rankings have revealed that Nigeria is speedily deteriorating:
· Annual Corruption Perception Index: Nigeria’s corruption perception worsened between 2016 and 2017 according to the annual Corruption Perception Index, CPI, by Transparency International. Nigeria slipped by 12 positions in the country rankings, from 136 in 2016 to 148 in 2017. The rankings are from 1 to 180, with 180 indicating the country having the worst perception of corruption.
· International Press Freedom Index: Nigeria’s ranking in the international press freedom index has witnessed steady declined since President Muhammadu Buhari assumed office in 2015. The country is currently ranked 122 out of 180 countries according to the 2017 edition of the annual survey. The country fell from 111 in 2015 to 116 in 2016 and has fallen again to 122 in 2017, entering the “red zone” for press freedom.
· Rule of Law Index:Nigeria was downgraded by the World Justice Project (WJP) 2017/2018 Rule of Law Index. The country currently ranks 97 out of 113 countries, dropping one position from the previous ranking. The index measures the adherence to rule of law across 113 countries worldwide.
· RMB’s Africa Investment Attractiveness Index:Nigeria has fallen from the top 10 in the ‘where to Invest in Africa 2018’, Rand Merchant Bank’s (RMB) Investment Attractiveness Index. Nigeria fell from No 6 on the list to number 13. The Investment Attractiveness Index balances economic activity against the relative ease of doing business.
· Global Retail Development Index: Nigeria’s global ranking in retail development dropped from the 19th position recorded in 2016 to 27 out of 30 countries surveyed in 2017. Nigeria’s total sales from the retail sector dropped from $125bn in 2016 to $109bn in 2017. The Global Retail Development Index measures retail investments based on all relevant macroeconomic and retail-specific variables in developing countries.
· World Economic Forum Networked Readiness Index: Nigeria dropped seven places to rank 119 in the Networked Readiness Index ranking conducted by the World Economic Forum. The NRI is an indicator that measures a country’s ICT development by its ability to implement and take full advantage of ICTs.
· Nigeria’s ranking dropped to 127th in 2016 GCI analysis: Nigeria deteriorated by 3 places from 124th in 2015-2016 to 127th in 2016-2017 ranking released by the World Economic Forum (WEF). The GCI index measures the set of institutions, policies, and factors that set the sustainable current and medium-term levels of economic prosperity. The drop in ranking is attributed to two core pillars, the macroeconomic and financial market efficiency.
· Ernst and Young’s Africa Attractiveness Index: Nigeria declined to the 17th position on Ernst and Young’s Africa Attractiveness Index (AAI) 2017. This is a two-step decline from the AAI 2016 ranking. The 2017 report revealed that the number of new FDI projects in Nigeria declined to 51 in 2016 from 53 in 2015.
· World Internal Security and Police Index:Nigeria Police ranked bottom in Africa and 127th in the world, making the country, one with the worst police in the world according to the 2016 World Internal Security and Police Index (WISPI) released by the International Police Science Association (IPSA) and the Institute for Economics and Peace (IEP). Nigeria was followed by countries like the Democratic Republic of the Congo, Kenya, Uganda, and Pakistan and the report attributed Nigeria’s low rank to the rising cases of terrorism, corruption and low number of police personnel.The WISPI ranks the police based on 16 indicators around their ability to address internal security issues in their countries across four domains – capacity, process, legitimacy and outcomes.
· Worst Electricity Supply:Nigeria was ranked the second worst nation in electricity supply according to a World Economic Forum report released by The Spectator Index on the 15th of January, 2018. Nigeria suffered a power decline to 3,851 megawatts according to the ranking which puts only Yemen ahead of other countries like Nigeria, Haiti, Lebanon and Malawi.
WAKE UP CALL: These rankings were not fabricated but a sincere, statistical presentation of the continuous slide of the country, no matter the fact that officials have been accepting these only by denials. It would be recalled that the Minister of Agriculture recently claimed that Nigeria’s growth in rice production has led to decline in the export of rice in a certain Asian country which the nation immediately debunked just as the triple Minister of Housing, Power and Works claim of improved power generation is belied by the deteriorating supply of electricity situation in the country. CACOL consider this global rankings as a clarion call for Government and Nigerians to tighten up our girdle if are serious about taking Nigeria to greater heights. A cursory examination of number of contemporary social developments in the country will also validate these data.
Herdsmen Carnages and Terrorism: The nation is grappling with the orgies of violent attacks and bloodletting of herdsmen carnages and farmers clashes in several States of the Federation while government seems either incapable or without requisite political will to stem the tides. Many villages have been sacked in Benue, Taraba, Nasarawa and Plateau States with many people displaced from their homes, farmlands and workplaces. The grave implications of these ravages are very grave as the country risk high possibility of experiencing famine and outbreak of diseases from where these heinous carnages take place. Government must put in place security measures to stop these carnages and bring culprits to book.
Porous Borders, National Security Threats: Our territorial borders particularly with Chad, Niger, Sudan and Cameroun have become virile markets for smuggling of arms and ammunitions into the country. The borders are also routes for terrorists from other parts of the continent and elsewhere that daily infiltrates the country and perpetuates violent crimes. We consider this as manifest threat to our national security which relevant government’s security agencies must tackle headlong.
Greek Gift Called Minimum Wage: It is interesting to get news reports of the plans of the Federal Government to pay a new minimum wage in September this year. It is trite to state that there are statutory mechanisms for negotiation of minimum wage and it is not the business of Government to dangle the promises of a fantastic minimum wage especially when such promise is expected to come just a few months to general elections. Many patriotic observers have noted that there may be hidden agenda to this promise of Eldorado for workers. This is even more curious when most States are unable to pay the last minimum wage while many owe workers arrears of their monthly salaries. In most advanced industrial economies of the world, there is no periodic rituals of minimum wage as the priorities are always to fix and stabilize the economy so that inflationary indices does not make nonsense of the value of workers’ wages. We call on the labour sector and informal unions to think out of the box and task Government to address the ailing economy, reverse its negative downward slides so as to make the value of labour wages meaningful.
The Bulls in the China-wares Shop: Virtually all State Governors in the country can be effectively described as rampaging bulls in a China-wares’ shop except perhaps for Lagos and Ogun when it comes to the treatment of workers and retirees. The most notorious even go to the extent of not only bullying workers but sacking or threats of mass sacks and wanton terrorization of civil populace. The most notorious are Governors of Kaduna, Bayelsa, Oyo, Ekiti, Kogi and Ondo States. The Governor of Ondo State even has the brazen effrontery to contemplate privatizing and commercializing the educational sector in a State that its major vocation is education! Paradoxically, these Governors and other elected public officers smile home every month with their jumbo pay and unaccounted security votes. Nigerians should note these bullish leaders and exercise their franchise rights to take ownership of their States to secure their future.
The Outrageous Price of Development in Lagos: As much as this State has the envious record of almost been self-sustaining courtesy of its aggressive revenue drive, yet, the poor and toiling populace have no resting place as they are heavily taxed and brutally displaced from their homes and place of work. The general cry is for the State to put a human face to its developmental plans. It is demographically wrong to build a city only for the rich. CACOL has raised it at every opportunity that class is of essence in societal and city development. A mega city cannot exist without the masses. This is why CACOL joins all conscientious voices to call for the reversal of the Increment in the Land Use charge, and the re-introduction of the Tenement Rate. The economic sensitivity of the effect of the recent recession is to deliver a good level of welfarism to the people who are the worst hit and depressed so far.
Stem the De-industrialisation Slides of the Country: The major historic task before President Muhammadu Buhari is to shift decidedly from the socio-economic developmental paradigm of neo-liberalism imposed on the country by the Brettonwood global financial institutions’ hawks which has effectively turned the country into a veritable dumping ground for consumeric industrial goods of the advanced western world. Many industries in the country have winded down and the nation is presently de-industrialised by the economic policies imposed on us by the quisling ruling elites that are ever ready to be errand boys of western world in our corridors of power. These dangerous neo-liberal economic pills and those who prescribed them must be fumigated out of the Nigerian system. We must consciously embrace system change and a paradigm shift to alternative socio-economic order.
Shut Up. Make Atonement and Retire to Old Peoples’ Home: A couple of former Heads of States and their hordes have been befouling the country’s political space with their odious pronouncements in recent times. These are elements that when they were in power have boggling records of looting the country treasury dry. If they are genuine elder statesmen and men of conscience, what they should do is to beg the entire nation and public to make atonement by returning all their ill-gotten wealth into the coffers of the country. Nigerians should rise up and tell these types of bad experiment in our national leadership to atone for the lootings and mis-governance of the past because most of them apparently deserve to be behind bars.
Quintessentially, it is significant to point out that routine election as a democratic practice does not necessarily translate to collective control of the socio-economic existence of the people. Even though our constitution provides for government to ensure the socio-economic rights of the people whereby their security and social wellbeing is prioritized in a way that the wealth of the people is not concentrated in a few hands as required of a democracy, the aberration of this reality is what obtains in Nigeria.
Consequently, as the 2018 – 2019 elections approach and with the excruciating conditions of living of the majority, Nigerians must rise in unison to struggle for the assertion of their socio-economic rights as dialectically required components of a democracy under best practices. Chapter 2 of the Nigerian constitution should be the guide of the choices we make in the elections by ensuring that the governments at all levels commit to the security and social welfare of the populace before earning their votes.
The economic practice of neo-liberalism that has continued to be imposed on the country by successive governments is antithetical to democracy given that it has only succeeded in widening the gap between the rich and the poor. The Bretton Woods institution dictated neo-liberal policies which have failed almost in every country it had been imbibed must be abandoned to achieve a socio-economically harmonious existence of the people.
Beyond elections, Nigerians must invigorate the struggles for social emancipation holistically because the present status quo will perpetually ensure penury in their lives if the system is not overhauled and replaced with a more humane one that would guarantee the social welfare and security of life and property.
WE PAY OUR TRIBUTES TO BEKO RANSOME KUTI ON THE OCCASION OF THE 12THBEKO ANNIVERSARY OF HIS HEROIC PASSAGE
The Beko Rights Klub, BRK, the Centre for Anti-Corruption and Open Leadership, CACOL and the Peoples Action for Democracy, PADare paying their homage to the heroic feats of Dr. Beko Ransome Kuti in the struggle for the freedom, equity and socio-political and economic justice on the occasion of the 12th anniversary of his revolutionary passage to commune with the ancestors.
The quintessential revolutionary, dogged fighter and crusader for democracy, social justice and human rights passed on 12 years ago, precisely on 10 February 2006. For us, that incident was only a passage to the other World as his spirit is still living in us and with us; his spirit continues to guide us in almost everything we do even beyond revolutionary activism.
The dogged fighter and crusader for democracy, social justice and human rights passed on after living and leading a life of commitment to the struggle for the prevalence of a socio-economic and political order that will ensure an egalitarian and harmonious societal co-existence. His voyage on such terrains witnessed confrontations with both military and civilian regimes that deployed all means possible to make the lives of the poor working and toiling people miserable. Beko, working with other compatriots contributed monumentally to the ousting of the military from government; the struggle against civilian dictatorship, the resistance against IMF/World Bank imposed policies such as the Structural Adjustment Programme (SAP), deregulation and corruption. As a matter of fact it was during the heat of the battle against deregulation that the renowned Medical Doctor passed on barely 4 months after the activist community incurred a similar colossal loss in the passage of Comrade Chima Ubani.
Beko Ransome Kuti was a foremost pro-democracy revolutionary activist who dared all the odds to play several roles in leadership of the struggles of the oppressed peoples of Nigeria for social emancipation. His monumental contributions to the ousting of military rule, the enthronement and deepening of democracy remain epochal and serve as sources of inspiration to the BRK and Nigerians generally. An indefatigable crusader and defender of human rights, democracy and good governance with exemplary leadership and bravery, Beko’s footprints on the sands of the struggle for an egalitarian society remain indelible and worthy of emulation.
Following the demise of Beko, and in appreciation of his historic roles we found it duty-bound to carry out annual activities that will immortalize the late colleague and ingrain the memory of the Hero in the hearts of those he left behind and their yet unborn generations. This we believe is the only way we can keep the memories in perpetuity. This is done annually to immortalize the ideals of Late Beko Ransome-Kuti. Thus we are inviting compatriots to join us as we commemorate his memory as follows:
THEME:No Democracy Without Socio-Economic Rights
DATE: February 15, 2018.
VENUE: Beko Garden, Anthony Village, Lagos.
TIME: 12.00 noon
NOTE: Procession starts by 10:00am from Obalende to Ikoyi Cemetery, for Wreath-laying Ceremony, and ends at Beko Garden, Anthony Village, Lagos.
The Centre for Anti-Corruption and Open Leadership, CACOL finds the statement credited to Mr. Raji Fashola that lack of adequate electricity in Nigeria cannot be responsible for the country’s slow-paced industrial, or drop in levels of her economic growth as illogical and insensitive to the sufferings of Nigerians.
The Minister of Power, Works and Housing in a recent meeting with civil society groups to review the contents and implications of Power Sector Recovery Programme (PSRP) initiated by the Federal Government with support from the World Bank claimed that the inadequate supply of electricity power cannot be held responsible for the company’s inability to climb out of economic doldrums and slow paced industrialization. This is not only a pathetic assertion but also a cruel and criminal justification of the conscious de-industrialisation policy of the hawks in our ruling class.
The first point to note is that the country has committed a huge investment into the power sector yet there is no commensurate out-put. Contemporary African nations like Ghana, Angola and South Africa spent much less on power sector yet their citizens enjoy un-interrupted power supply. This is the reason why these countries are preferred destination points for direct foreign investment. Yet, our ruling class indulges in ludicrous justifications on why we cannot take elusive flight to become industrialised nation. Industrialisation is advanced economic phase in civilization which requires higher apprehension than the semi-feudal, lumpen-market trader economic culture that the ruling elite are foisting on the country. No wonder the easy resort to uncouth social stratification and political climate in Nigeria.
The other critical issue is that in Nigeria, neo-liberal financial institutions like the World Bank are imposing economic systems on us that stultify growth by ensuring that the vast Nigerian market remains a perpetual dumping ground for finished industrial goods from foreign western countries. Tragically, triple Minister Fashola who strongly adheres to the neo-liberal schemes of these financial agencies that are fully beneficial to foreign industrial nations but injurious to our ailing economy. The policy that government has no business in business, in providing social infrastructural facilities like health, pipe-borne water, education, roads, etc for its people.
Fashola does not only regurgitate this neo-liberal ideological platitudes, he put them into full blown practice while he served as Governor in Lagos State, he commercialized all public infrastructure, hospitals, schools, roads with toll gates just as he is planning to bring same on federal roads with the so-called public-private sector partnership.Thus, his lame claim and deliberate castration of the power sector from taking off is just in total sync with his character of serving foreign master while Nigeria bleeds. Nigeria warehouse different types of consumer goods and industrial ones from countries with lesser human and material resources like Japan, China, India, Brazil, and from Asia!
The Minister claims that the power generating companies GENCO produces 7000 megawatts of electricity while the distribution companies DISCOS distributes 5000 megawatts leaving an unused 2000 megawatts supply of electricity which could have been used for our industrialisation. Sometimes when one lies through both side of his/her mouth, many times only empty airs would be constructed as words. The reality is that if there are sufficient generation and distribution, why is most of our communities still battling with epileptic power supplies? The naked reality is that many of Nigeria industries have folded up or wound down their operations because of the high cost of operations occasioned by the fact that they have to independently provide their power supplies. Many of these companies have relocated to neighbouring countries like Ghana even Togo.
A corollary factor for industrialisation is the dire need for constant research and development of new product. No serious research institution can function well without twenty four hours uninterrupted power supply especially industrial research centres. There is no single industrial research institution in the country that is doing justice to its areas of thematic focus because of the problem with power supply. There are legions of instances where other nations have taken some of our agricultural products like cocoa, perm-kernel etc to their research institutes and refined them into commercial gold products. For elements like our Minister with three portfolios, it is better for our cassava to be processed in China while open the flood gate of our country to cheap, cheap industrial goods from this same countries.
As state earlier, constant, un-interrupted power supply, industrialisation and civilization walk together. It is our inability to get our right on this note that makes the ruling elites to seek medical treatments outside the shores of Nigeria; send their children to schools in other countries, shop for their wares in foreign and spend their holidays in industrialised nations. It reflects the fact that they are aware that without power supply Nigeria is still in dark ages. Yet, Mr. Fashola has the effrontery to rub it in our nose.
The statement credited to the Minister clearly vindicates of position that President Muhammed Buhari ought to sack him for his cluelessness, ineffectiveness and overall poor performance in the three ministries he superintend over. Fashola should be replaced a person who will be effective, creative and sensitive to the sensibilities of patriotic Nigerians and who demonstrate a firm commitment to address the deficit in the country’s power supply.
‘The labour of our living and social heroes must be fully appreciated and compensated”
Our independent, explorative investigations around various service stations, barracks and discussions with individual cadets and officers of the Nigerian Army as well as Police Force has revealed an abysmal state of living, poor work conditions and pervasive hopelessness swallowing up the dignity of work for these crucial security agencies and their families. The Nigerian government and relevant authorities need to take urgent step even if possible declare an emergency intervention program to re-invent these institutions and tackle the question of ameliorating their sordid welfare and working conditions.
The Centre for Anti-Corruption and Open Leadership, CACOL has identified the patent requirement to call public attention to the plights of Nigerian Police and Army personnel through a coordinated and intense campaign in order to sensitise and ensure that government and other well-meaning Nigerians, corporate and individuals take concrete, affirmative action. We urge the mass media organisations to beam their investigative tool kits to unearth the gory situations prevailing in these vital sectors. We observe that in close to two decades or more specifically since the return of democratic governance in 1999, the police and army have been gradually but consistently sliding into serious state of comatose. You will recall the Nigerian Police had to embark on a national-wide strike action to press home demand for better remuneration and improved welfare package. Curiously rather than address the ailments, the Government merely sacked the Inspector General of Police, Tafa Balogun. In recent time, the some army officers and rank and file had to desert their duty posts in Sambissa because of lack of provision and inadequacy of logistics necessary to prosecute their official mission. Again, rather than address the message, the State decided to court-marshal officers involved.
All these however, are just symptoms of a more devastating cancerous tumour eating deep into the fabrics of the Nigerian Police Force and Army security force. The Nigerian State seems to be treating ringworm while abandoning leprosy to fester when it comes to these security issues. CACOL’s tentative investigations reveal that it is now norm for non-regular payment of monthly remuneration of the officers and men of the army and police force while other allowances are perpetually owed. It is an established fact that when any worker is not paid his labour due as at when due, his concentration and performance on duties would be grossly affected negatively. More importantly, it gives wide rooms for devious temptations to creep in. Those who are primarily saddled with the duties to maintain our internal and external securities may inadvertently become tools in the hands of those intent on subverting our national sovereignty and territorial integrity. Today, the nation is awashed with news various transgression in our borders, the custom’s daily displayed arbitrary intransigence in combating smugglers, Cameroonian gendarmes constantly invade and raid communities; belligerent foreigners have takenover our communities from Chad, Niger and Sudan. As a matter of fact, mercenary elements from the camp of the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS) are touted to be the brain box of both the Boko Haram sect and armed herdsmen hordes;discovery of arms and ammunitions smuggled into the country are now regular occurrences.
It is not only that the Police and Army were owed months of salaries and allowances but security agencies are also starved of standard conditions that motivate security forces to work enthusiastically and patriotically. The glory of the barracks of the police and armies are tucked in past while they now live in broad-day nightmare in dilapidated, dirty, rat infested quarters. Many officers cadet are squatters in a room rat-holes shared by between two and four families. Social amenities in quarters of these security bodies like markets, schools, clinics and pipe-borne water have not only collapsed but in some instances. The truth is that it is logically impossible to force any set of people to live and work under conditions that are not befitting to human beings yet expect such group of people not to demonstrate zoological species’conducts. It is the collective responsibilities of all well-meaning Nigerians to rally round the Army and Police to rehabilitate the collapsing edifice of these institutions. Some of the sore areas seeking drastic interventions include:
· Administration: It is easier for a camel to pass through the eye of a needle than for any individual to be recruited into these security forces on pure merit alone. Then, the majority of them kit themselves up, purchase promotion, transfers etc. Army and Police men volunteered to CACOL they pay huge amounts of money running into millions before they can get promotions that has been due for years.At retirement, pension and gratuities for the personnel of these security bodies is always a mirage paid with dud cheques, and in case of death on active duties, families of the deceased are left a-sorrowing.
· Inadequate Logistics: The Army and Police Force would perform more efficiently when they are well provisioned with necessary equipment to carry out their duties and constitutional responsibilities. In fast developing technological society, Nigeria cannot keep attempting to arrest crimes and maintaining internal and external securities with analogue technology while the world around us have moved into the digital age.
· Internal Security and Food Security: The elementary need of every human being revolves round three core issues, food, shelter and housing. Any society that cannot provide food and security of lives and properties of citizens would be permanently enslaved or be in servitude to its neighbours. The deplorable living and working condition of the Police and Army can be better appreciated with the un-abating and escalated insurgencies, armed violent clashes and social dislocations across the nooks and crannies of the country. Even as the government draft the army, police and other security forces into special squads and launches special operations. The Army between 2015 to date has launched several operations such as the Harbin Kunama I and II, Crocodile Smile I and II and Python Dance I and II. The Chief of Army Staff, Lt. Gen. Tukur Buratai while appearing before the Senate Committee to defend the 2018 budget proposed by the Nigerian Army lamented that poor funding, security operation across troubled spots in the country is crippling the Army.
It is scary to imagine what the current insecurities ravaging several regions of the country imply. The middle belt region is the food basket of the country. States like Plateau, Taraba, Benue and Nasarawa have huge contributions to the country food security. If the Army and the Police Force are unable stop armed insurgence due to ill-equipment, lack of psychological motivation because of arrears of salaries and allowances, crop farmers and even those of livestock would be continue to be in great jeopardy and flee their farm settlements and villages which would inevitably lead to shortages of farm products and slow down the pace of Agriculture’s contribution in the diversification of the nation’s economic mainstay from over-reliance on crude oil.
We are at a moment of history when we must all rise to address these decadent living and working conditions of the Nigerian Army and Police Force before our internal and external security situations are gravely compromised which can provoke monumental devastations of the country. The Government should declare an emergency intervention schemes to fundamentally address the welfare and working conditions of the officers and men of the Army and Police Force. The welfare of these security organisations cannot be left for government alone especially with the meager resources at the government’s disposal but every segment of the society must make some forms of contribution because they provide social functions. We call for the establishment of a pool of funds to assist in alleviating terrible conditions of the quarters of these officers like the Lagos State Security Trust Funds. We call for the launching of Armed Security Forces Welfare Trust Funds which corporate bodies and other organisations can buy in and partner with the Federal Government.