Nigerians from all walks of lives are apprehensive that the Federal Government, through the Department of State Security Services, DSS, may fritter away a great opportunity to deal fatal blows on entrenched economic vampires and saboteurs in the country with the seemingly lack of diligent investigation and prosecution of the suspended Governor of Central Bank of Nigeria, Mr. Godwin Emefiele. This concerned is further accentuated with the spirited attempts by the legal team of the ex-henchman of the apex bank to tie the hands of the Judiciary in ensure the enforcement of the bail out of the former Governor and prevent the State from subjecting him to prosecutions.
The National Observatory as a civic engagement body with mandate to prick the conscience of humanity on sensitive issues as they often affect the survival citizens view the various illegal, social, and political transgressions of Mr. Godwin Emefiele during the pendency of his tenure as Governor of the Governor, Central Bank of Nigeria as not only Crimes against the State, but indeed, Crimes against the Citizens, if not against humanity.
Under Emefiele watch, lives and means of survival of millions of Nigerians were destroyed, his harsh policies – particularly the Naira Re – Design provoked monumental social convulsions leading destruction of properties, businesses, and legacies. Yet, enforcement agencies saddled with responsibilities for bringing Emefiele to justice for his malfeances are obviously handling his prosecution with golden, kid’s glove ! Months after Godwin Emefiele suspension from office in June 10, his Lawyers are taking advantage of the inexcusable dithering of prosecutors to seek his reliefs from the Federal High Court, Abuja for Security Agencies to respect the bail granted him and stop the Federal Government, the Attorney General of the Federation from prosecuting him on any charge.
Needless to delve on the seemingly deliberate trivialization of the essence of its prosecution. It may be apposite at this juncture to highlight the main accusations levied against the Governor before his suspension, which include–
#. Terrorism funding unknown gunmen, ESN, IPOB; .
#. Mismanagement of Nigeria’s social investment program (NISRAL and the Anchor Borrowers Scheme);
#. Money Laundering; Round Tripping; Illegal economic crimes and threat to national security; unwholesome activities through proxies; and, Criminal conspiracy, diversion of Government resources.
To the chagrin of all conscientious Nigerians however, he was merely brought to court with charges of illegal possession of arms and ammunition !
No matter the parameters that is employed to evaluate the locust years of Godwin Emefiele in helms of affairs of the apex Bank, the verdict remains that he terribly compromised the nation’s economy and shortchanged its revenue base, He remains the worst Governor of the Central Bank of Nigeria since inception in 1957. The global standard and principle for Central Bank operations spelt out its key functions to revolve round “ regulation of money supply, management of the foreign exchange and gold reserve of the country, managing the cost of credits and its availability, and it exercises these functions quietly without publicity hypes or partisanship”. All these indices, Mr. Godwin Emefiele failed in way never before recorded in our apex banking history – from Roy Pentelow Fenton, 1958 -63 at inception to Alhajji Mai Bornu, 63 -67; Dr. Clement Nyong Isong, 72 -75; Malam Adamu Ciroma, 75 -77; Mr. Ola Vincent, 77 -82; Alhajji Abubakir Ahmed, 82 -93; Dr. Paul Agbai Ogwuma, 93 -99; Chief, Dr. Oladele Sanusi, 99 -2004; Prof. Charles Soludo, 2004 -2009; Malam Sanusi Lamido-Sanusi, 009 -2014 – all respectable, trustworthy gentlemen Captain of the country’s financial industry. None as individual, was as garrulous or reckless as the reign of Mr. Godwin Emefiele, or, even combined !
The crimes of Mr. Godwin Emefiele against Citizens and State are legions, these include :-
#. Alleged infractions in the Management of Stamp Duties, which the DSS initiated machinery to investigate his undermining of President Muhammad Buhari, terrorism sponsorship, money laundering, amongst others but stopped the investigations with court orders and was subsequently allowed to be guarded by military personnel.
#. Emefiele’s subterranean purchase of All Progressive Congress, APC Presidential Nomination Form in May 2022 for whooping N100 Million. Whilst he later ignominiously denied the Presidential ambition after intense public outcry, he had earlier gone to court to seek a restraining order against the Independent National Electoral Commission, INEC and, the Attorney General of the Federation claiming that “ he is not a political appointee but a Public Servant”. Perhaps, he was unaware that he was in gross violation of the Public Service Rule which stipulates Neutrality and Non-Partisanship of all public servants. More importantly, his ambition was also in contravention of Global Ethical Standard Principles for the management of Apex Financial Institutions !
#. Cruel, Illegal execution of Naira Re-Design policy on N200, N500 and, N1000 denominations which the then Minister of Finance, Zainab Ahmed, Nigeria Bar Association President, Yakuba Maikyau kicked against, the National Assembly for the extension of January 2023 deadline declaration of old Naira notes as default legal tender. Three State Governors of Kaduna, Kogi and Zamfara had to approach the Supreme Court to stop the Federal government, Attorney General and Central Bank on the implementation of the new Naira notes policy alleging that the “ CBN is conducting a currency confiscation program that has wrought immeasurable sufferings on NIGERIANS”, yet Emefiele instigated Federal Government disobedience of Supreme Court Order to halt the program !
Thus, on June 10, 2023 when the President Bola Ahmed Tinubu announced the suspension of Mr. Godwin Emefiele as the Governor of the Central Bank, as well as his prompt arrest and detention by the DSS, all expectations were that the security and enforcement agencies should have been adequately prepared for full blast prosecution of Emefiele on numerous crimes bordering on “ National Economic Sabotage” , not a melodramatic charge of unlawful possession of arms and ammunition.
Now that facts are emerging that investigation are still going on Mr. Godwin Emefiele infractions during the period he held sway as the points man of the apex bank in the country, the entire Nigerian citizens must be vigilant to swing into affirmative civic actions if there is any ploy for miscarriage of justice. We are not faced by the reports that many high temperature, We are confident that the ongoing audit of the accounts of the Central Bank which has not been done in the last Seven years would expose mind boggling, dirty, shady deals. Politically Exposed Persons are complicit in the crimes of Emefiele. President Bola Ahmed Tinubu should be audacious enough to garner requisite political sinew to confront this monster. There is no gain emphasizing that the gory, injurious financial mis adventures of Mr. Godwin Emefiele and unpatriotic gangs are responsible for the precarious, sordid conditions of our national economy. A lot of public funds are in the pockets of these criminals in our corridors of power. They must be fished out, if the nation is to survive.
There is no rule that a sacred cow must be slaughtered with golden knife ! In saner, democratic climes like the United States of North America, USA, former President Donald Trump was duly investigated, prosecuted and indicted, in South Africa, another former President Jacob Zuma was investigated, prosecuted and jailed..
The Nigerian poor must not only remain alert but mount vigilant guard by rising in mammoth rallies whenever Emefiele appears in court. It should be turned into a tribune of the people for his heinous crimes against citizens. President should demonstrate absolute commitment to bring Mr. Godwin Emefiele and his felons Economic Saboteurs to Justice without minding whose Ox is gored !
The Centre for Anti-Corruption and Open Leadership, CACOL, has called on anti-corruption agencies for necessary investigation of corrupt practices of job racketeering involving some members of staff and management of Federal Character Commission (FCC).
In a release issued by CACOL and signed by Tola Oresanwo, the anti-corruption organization’s Director, Administration and Programmes on behalf of its Chairman, Mr. Debo Adeniran, he stated, “It would be recalled that while testifying at the ongoing investigative hearing by the House of Representatives ad hoc committee investigating federal Ministries, Departments and Agencies, Parastatals, and Tertiary institutions on mismanagement of the Integrated Payroll and Personnel Information System (IPPIS), one Mr. Haruna Kolo, an ex-aide to the Chairperson of the Federal Character Commission, Muheeba Dankaka, confessed to selling federal employment slots to job seekers at the directives of his former boss”.
Haruna Kolo who was a former Integrated Payroll and Personnel Information System desk officer at the Federal Character Commission, in his testimony, alleged that Ms Dankaka set up a job racketeering ring, collecting money from job seekers. He stated that to avoid digital trails, the FCC boss instructed him to transfer all the money to his (Kolo) personal Ecobank account and pay her in cash which he did a couple of times in her house.
On the allegations of job racketeering, Kolo alleged that the FCC Chairman instructed him to liaise with one Mr Shehu who is a personal driver and Personal Assistant to the Taraba State Commissioner. He also claimed that Shehu is the one that brought those who paid money to his (Kolo) account for job, some paid N1m, others N1.5m, all to his personal Ecobank account which he later gave to the Chairman in cash through POS, so there is no evidence of transfer. Mr Kolo also said the chairperson compensated him, alongside three others, with a job at the Asset Management Company of Nigeria (AMCON) for the assignments he carried out. He also claimed that one of the beneficiaries of the AMCON job is a sibling of Mrs Dankaka.
As much as we agree that the testimony of Mr. kolo is highly revealing, we are not in any way surprised by his allegations and confessions. The reason is because we had stated in one of our past releases that job racketeering is now the other of the day in virtually all the Ministries and Parastatals of government. It is far easier for a camel to pass through the hole of a needle than for a qualified, young and academically sound Nigerian to secure employment in any of these Ministries based on merit or even Federal Character which in some cases has been used to employ job seekers at the federal level. It is now a norm to sell employment slots, promote mediocrity, employ those with god-fathers, and perpetually keep the children of the poor in the unemployment web just because they cannot afford the humongous amount of money being demanded by these racketeering syndicates domiciled in all federal, state and even local government services, thereby impoverishing them and their parents who have invested a lot on their education.
It should be noted that the Federal Character Commission is a creation of the Constitution with the power to ensure that the composition of the government reflects the federal character of the country. The commission serves as a clearing house for employment by all government agencies.
Section 14(3) provides that “The composition of the Government of the Federation or any of its agencies and the conduct of its affairs shall be carried out in such a manner as to reflect the federal character of Nigeria and the need to promote national unity, and also to command national loyalty, thereby ensuring that there shall be no predominance of persons from a few State or from a few ethnic or other sectional groups in that Government or in any of its agencies.”
Section 4 of the Federal Character Commission (FCC) Act gives the commission the power “to work out an equitable formula, subject to the approval of the President, for the distribution of all cadres of posts in the civil and the public services of the Federation and of the States, the armed forces, the Nigeria Police Force and other security agencies, bodies corporate owned by the Federal or a State Government and Extra-Ministerial Departments and parastatals of the Federation and States.”
“However, over the years, the Federal Character Commission (FCC) has been embroiled in a number of corruption allegations and its primary responsibilities as quoted above has been abused, misused and denigrated contrary to the original intent of those that conceive the idea of its formation in the first place. The noble idea of fostering unity in the area of distribution of all cadres of posts in the civil and the public services of the Federation has now been shamefully and highly commercialized in a way that the highest bidders get the best of positions in these MDAs. This is official Bazzar at the federal level!!!
The anti-graft czar added, “We would have called for total scrapping of the Commission but considering the strategic and critical role of Federal Character Commission (FCC) operations in the country, we are seriously concerned about the enormity of corruption going on in the administration and operations of the Commission, therefore, we would like to commend the House of Representatives for carrying out this investigative hearing, we would also call on the federal government to quickly wade into the Commission’s administration with a view to sanitizing it. We would recommend immediate suspension of the Chair of the Commission and bringing all those responsible for these shameful and despicable acts to book. This is not the time for Anti-graft agencies to slumber; they should rather swing into action and prosecute all those that have been fingered in this revelation so as to serve as a deterrent. More importantly, we hope the allegations will not be swept under the carpet and that the House of Representatives ad hoc Committee should also beam its searchlights on all other MDAs of government.
BUHARI’S SPEECH: A PRECURSOR TO AUTOCRATIC GOVERNANCE
The Centre for Anti-Corruption and Open Leadership, CACOL has bemoaned President Muhammadu Buhari’s speech in which he regarded the N500 and N1,000 notes has ceased to be a legal tender in the country.
In a release issued by its Director, Administration and Programmes, Tola Oresanwo on behalf of the organization’s Chairman, Mr. Debo Adeniran, he stated, “In the last couple of weeks, Nigerians have been facing the reality of scarcity of cash. Our banks are overwhelmed by angry customers demanding money, the ATMs are flooded with furious Nigerians struggling to withdraw cash, and some spend the whole day hoping to get a few Naira notes to pay bills. POS operators complain of lack of money; a few have charged between 15% and 20% to customers to get some cash”.
But to make matters worse, President Buhari in his recent speech to the nation illegalizes the N500 and N1,000 notes despite the Supreme court ruling extending the period the notes can be in circulation.
The CACOL head noted that “The Supreme Court can make pronouncement even on the President or whatever policy that emanates from the executive and because the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) is part of the executive, any pronouncement from the Apex court relating to the monetary policy of the land in particular and the CBN in general must be obeyed to the latter. The presidency is fast turning itself to the Judiciary. Since the pronouncement has ordinarily extended the period with which the old naira notes could be used, the president doesn’t have to review it pending the ruling of the Supreme Court. What the president has done is tantamount to contempt of court which is a kind of impunity and it is a precursor to rule of the thumb instead of rule of law”
Moreover, the principle of separation of powers clearly defines the limit of each arm of government. Taking the President’s speech into context, it shows president Buhari is gravitating towards dictatorship. The President ought to know by now that he cannot and he is not in a position to nullify the decision of the Supreme Court. If the executive is not pleased with the decision of the Court, the Attorney General of the Federation has the opportunity of going back to the Supreme Court to ask for a review of the earlier decision not that by Presidential fiat he would kind of set it aside without going back to the court.
Furthermore, the Attorney General who is supposed to be the Chief Legal Adviser in this administration doesn’t seem to deserve his license to operate as a legal practitioner anymore as he has become an embarrassment to the legal profession which he claims to represent. His credentials should be recalled and he should be sanctioned by the Body of Benchers.
The nonchalant attitude of the government which was displayed by the carefree speech delivered by the president has heightened the initial protests to full-blown riots in different parts of the country as we speak and the country is sliding rapidly into a state of anarchy. State governors are now giving counter directives to citizens of their states on what to do with the old notes and if different states are carrying out different policies as diverse and distinct from that at the centre then we can say that a state of anomie is imminent.
We at CACOL will like to use this medium to implore all stakeholders to respect the rule of law and the principle of separation of powers while urging the citizens to remain calm in the midst of the present uncertainties and allow the government to find a lasting solution to the present impasse.
PRESS BRIEFING ON THE STATE OF THE NATION ORGANIZED BY THE CENTRE FOR ANTI-CORRUPTION AND OPEN LEADERSHIP (CACOL) AS PART OF THE PROJECT ON PRIORITIZING ANTI-CORRUPTION AND ACCOUNTABILITY ISSUES DURING THE UPCOMING 2023 ELECTIONS IN NIGERIA HELD ON TUESDAY 31st January 2023.
Gentlemen of the Press, you’re welcome to today’s Press briefing.
CACOL is an aggregate of human rights, community based, and civil society organizations and individuals with an anti-corruption and openness in governance agenda across Nigeria. It is a non-political, non-religious, non-sectarian and non-profit organization. The Centre is a national organization with membership across the 36 states of the Federation.
We are all aware that the nation is confronted with some challenges that we believe are not too difficult to solve with collective will. It is rather unfortunate that corruption is at the root of most of these challenges.
Insecurity is a major concern for everybody in Nigeria and this has created a lot of fear and uncertainty in the society. Every region in the country is battling with various challenges of insecurity which include the activities of Boko Haram in which millions of lives have been lost and the increasing cases of kidnapping. In the last eighteen years, the Federal Government earmarked not less than N10 trillion for the defense of the territorial integrity and internal security of the nation. Recently, President Muhammadu Buhari said his administration spent over one billion dollar on military equipment to recover territories in the North-East captured by Boko Haram. The various state governments equally allocated hundreds of billions of Naira to maintain law and order.
In fact, individual citizens and communities pay levies and salaries to young men and women engaged to secure them and their properties. In spite of the huge funds spent on security, it is common knowledge that the country is currently grappling with the menace of kidnapping, hostage taking, terrorism and armed robbery. We still remember how some terrorists attacked an Abuja-Kaduna passenger train on March 28, 2022, in which about 14 persons were killed and 63 officially declared abducted. Although all the abducted victims of the Abuja-Kaduna train attack were later released, over six billion naira was allegedly paid to the terrorists to set most of their captives free.
On Saturday, 7th of January, this year, no fewer than 31 passengers and staff of the Nigerian Railway Corporation (NRC) were abducted by gunmen at the Igueben train sub-station in Edo State, while several passengers were injured.
The deﬁciencies in regular security forces and shortage of personnel have led to upsurge of private security outﬁts. These security entities are hired by banks, oil companies, educational institutions and hospitality businesses to fortify corporate security arrangements. There is no gainsaying that Nigeria has formidable security challenge as insecurity is reported daily in electronic, print and social media.
We believe that high level of insecurity leads to low life expectancy rate, low level of development in education and low investment in economy to promote sound economic growth and development as a result of absence of local and foreign investments that cannot operate in an unsecured environment.
With the lingering security challenges and the inability of the security apparatus of the government to guarantee safety and security of lives and properties in the country, the question that borders everyone in Nigeria today is “can there be security?” Is security of lives and properties achievable now? Is there a safe haven anywhere in the country? Despite huge budgetary allocations to security and subsequent establishment of various units under the various security agencies to control the activities of criminals, armed banditry, kidnapping, child rape, ritual killings and food insecurity are still the order of the day.
At the start of 2022, Nigerians hoped that, with less than two years to the end of
President Muhammadu Buhari’s administration, the government would ramp up its efforts to reduce poverty and unemployment among the populace. In his 2022 New Year message to Nigerians, Buhari was effusive about his intention to secure the country and address its socio-economic challenges.
The National Bureau of Statistics (NBS) recently released the highly anticipated multidimensional poverty report. The report put Nigeria’s poverty index at 0.257, with about 133 million people being multi-dimensionally poor. Sokoto, Bayelsa, and Jigawa States led the list of states in Nigeria with the highest multidimensional poverty index, having an aggregate of 14.18 million impoverished people.
Factors such as healthcare, food insecurity, education, nutrition, and access to cooking fuel contributed the most to the national poverty index. According to the NBS, over half of the Nigerian populace is multi-dimensionally poor and deprived of cooking fuel.
The highlights: 65% of the poor people in Nigeria, which translates to 86 million, live in the Northern part of the country, while 35% (47 million) live in the southern part.
Nigeria has been grappling with high cost of living, which has further widened the gap between the rich and the poor, seeing many more Nigerians fall below the poverty line. This calls for serious concern even as we are now in an election year and most politicians are either vigorously campaigning to win election or supporting their preferred candidates to win while ignoring these pressing issues.
Although the Nigerian economy rebounded after the difficult years of COVID-19, growing 3.5% in the first three quarters of 2022, the recovery has wrought more hardship on Nigerians. This is because the main drivers of growth in Nigeria – oil production and services – don’t usually benefit most Nigerians in terms of jobs and business opportunities. The country’s inflation rate increased to 21% in 2022, compared with an average of 10.6% for emerging and developing economies and 8.8% for the world. This level of economic hardship could present further risks to Nigeria’s security.
Young people have had it worst. Youth unemployment is 43%. It was below 10% prior to Buhari’s administration in 2015. University students were forced to stay at home for nine months during the prolonged strike by the Academic Staff Union of Nigerian Universities. Till now, the rift between the government and ASSU has not been laid to rest.
The year 2022 has also been unkind to poor and unemployed Nigerians. Rising inflation has raised the cost of living and pushed many into poverty. Because over half of Nigeria’s inflation is driven by rising food prices, many poor individuals and families face hunger. The risk of hunger has been heightened by the recent flooding in many parts of Nigeria, which saw over a million people lose their homes and means of livelihood.
With no insurance, social protection and other safety nets, most of these Nigerians are left to fend for themselves.
While 2022 will be remembered as a very difficult year for youths, workers and the poor, the cabal that controls the Nigerian oil industry were having a field day. Buhari promised to end the corruption-infested oil subsidy, but this cabal secured a postponement. Nigeria spent an estimated US$9.6 billion on the fuel subsidy in 2022. This is expected to exceed $16 billion in 2023.
A greater percentage of the subsidy is likely to fraudulently end up in the bank accounts of the oil cabal. The same cabal has resorted to illegal bunkering and outright theft of oil from the pipelines. Nigeria lost $2 billion to oil theft between January and August 2022. This is about 5% of its 2021 petroleum export of $41.4 billion. Not to be outdone by the oil cabal, former Niger Delta militants now share in the oil largesse. The Buhari administration has awarded them over $100 million (48 billion naira) in contracts to “secure” the country’s oil infrastructure.
Never mind that the government has deployed thousands of government-paid security operatives whose job is to do exactly what the militants are being contracted for.
Political elites continue to live in opulence.
Despite the country’s fiscal challenges, members of the National Assembly have continued to receive their allowances and funds for constituency projects.
Following steep depreciation in the naira, currency speculators have had a field day. The naira plunged by 4% in the official market during the year and by almost 20% in the parallel market.
This has posed significant challenges for manufacturers, as import costs soar amid an acute scarcity of foreign exchange. It’s harder for manufacturers to buy raw materials and expand production. The result is a further decline in their ability to generate well-paid jobs.
Granted that corruption is a global menace. Still, it is quite prevalent in African countries, Nigeria included. For many years, Nigeria has earned a considerable sum of money from its natural resources, such as gas and oil, with a considerable portion going down the cesspool created by corruption. Basically, a considerable portion of the money the country earns finds its way into the pockets of a few, leaving millions impoverished.
As a result of corrupt leaders, Nigerian society has gradually become more and more corrupt. There are numerous institutions and departments where one cannot be served without parting with a bribe. This has made the menace one of the biggest problems facing Nigeria today.
The ranking by the global anti-corruption coalition, Transparency International (TI) of Nigeria as a country in which the corruption phenomenon is worsening should not present a surprise to keen watchers and followers of events in the country. The high economic and social instability pervading the polity surely are patent proofs that all is not well, as most of the situations bloom from corrupt practices. Indeed, the persistent refusal of governments at all levels to prune spending, avoid wasteful expenditure and focus only on projects of value to the greatest number have been attributed to corruption. The result is the very poor state of the country in all ramifications.
Rising insecurity, ethnic cleansing and unemployment are still blamed on corruption. Moreover, systemic failure in healthcare delivery and leadership failure has been found to be engendered by corrupt practices.
Corruption is hindering the country’s development, economic prosperity and it is responsible for deepening poverty in Nigeria. Corruption is gradually destroying the country and we would like to use this medium to call on the government and those aspiring for political offices to make known their anti-corruption stance as most of them have been stylishly silent on this important issue.
It should be noted that Nigeria has once again scored 24 out of 100 points while ranking 150 among 180 countries on the 2022 Corruption Perception Index (CPI) released by Transparency International on Tuesday. Although the country maintained its previous year’s (2021) score of 24 out of 100 points, there was a change in rank from 154 to 150, in the newly released index. The CPI is Transparency International’s tool for measuring the level of corruption in the systems of the 180 countries across the world, based on certain prevalent indices. Such indices are bribery, diversion of public funds, public officials using public office for private gain without consequences, ability of governments to contain corruption and enforce effective integrity mechanisms in the public sector, red tape and excessive bureaucratic burden which may increase opportunities for corruption, meritocratic versus nepotistic appointments in the civil service.
NEW NAIRA POLICY/CASH WITHDRAWAL LIMIT
While it is desirable to get all bankable individuals and businesses into the banking system and promote the cashless policy of the CBN, the timing without adequate preparation and sensitization of the critical mass that drives the economy (the SMEs and MSMEs) could prove counter-productive and further drive many below the poverty line. This is another classical example of the inconsistencies and misalignments between the fiscal and monetary policies of the Government. It is absurd to blatantly set traps of processing fees for individuals and businesses who desire to withdraw their hard-earned money from the bank for legitimate and genuine business transactions. It is also important to note that the banking infrastructure and mobile/digital facility to drive the cashless policy are not sufficiently developed. This is not only draconian but also inhuman. Inadequate information sharing/dissemination by the CBN Governor also created unnecessary panic among the banking public.
We would like to make it clear that the CBN and indeed, the Federal Government should replicate the energy and promptness used in implementing this policy to address the issues of dwindling value of the Naira, rising inflation, oil theft, ballooning foreign debt, and get millions out of poverty realm. While Nigerians businesses are groaning under the burden created by not-well-thought-out Government policies, more misery should not be placed on them.
In formulating and executing monetary policy, the governor of CBN is required to make proposals to the president of the federal republic of Nigeria who has the final power to accept or amend such proposals. It is after the presidency has approved it that the CBN’s monetary policy proposals are made as an integral part of the federal government annual budget which combines to approve monetary policy.
The aim of monetary policy may be to check inflation or to stimulate production to aid recovery from a recession. The method adopted to achieve the designed aim is through changes in the monetary supply. A policy aiming at increasing the quantity of money is inflationary, and one that aims at a contradiction of the supply of money is deflationary.
Monetary policy is mainly the concern of the central bank, but the consequences of monetary policy can be so far-reaching for the whole country that no modern government can leave the choice of policy design to its central bank. The inconsistencies in policy implementation have led us to where we are today.
MARWA’S DRUG WAR
We would like to commend the vigour that Brig. Gen. Mohamed Buba Marwa (Retd) brought into the drug war in the country. Marwa’s leadership at NDLEA has changed the country’s drug war narrative both locally and internationally. While NDLEA was becoming a shadow of its former self, during the past years, it is now visible and glaring to all Nigerians that the NDLEA is not only barking but equally biting deep, drug barons and dealers that have for years remained invincible and untouchable. Marwa’s tireless efforts against drug abuse and trafficking of illicit substances are exceptionally commendable. We would like to use this medium to call on all the arms of government to support Marwa and the Agency to succeed in making Nigeria a drug free country.
Nigeria’s 2023 Elections
With dates for the 2023 general elections now set by the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) – the presidential and National Assembly poll is set for February 25 and governorship and other subnational elections are scheduled for March 11 – the countdown is well underway for what will be the seventh consecutive elections since the return to democracy in 1999. This represents 23 years of unbroken democracy; the longest period in the country’s history.
The 2023 elections will be conducted under a new electoral framework, the Electoral Act 2022. The Act allows INEC to review results made under duress or financial inducement, extends the time for campaigns from 90 to 150 days, and provides for the use of technology to determine the mode of voting and transmission of results. Pundits believe these measures can help manage situations where inaccurate results are returned, expand the opportunity for politicians to visit the nooks and crannies of the country if they so desire and cure the chaotic, vulnerable manipulation and unnecessarily opaque process of aggregating results.
However, instead of reducing the role of money in politics, the Act has increased the campaign finance limit from N1 billion to N5 billion for presidential candidates. The ceiling for all other elected positions have also been increased fivefold, but without any efforts to improve the scrutiny of compliance limits, they are still likely to be exceeded.
The 2023 elections will be some of the most challenging to conduct in Nigeria as the country battles nodes of complex insecurity. The Boko Haram conflict that defined the 2015 election is yet to be quelled, and with bandits operating across the North-West, violent secessionist agitation spiraling in the South-East and farmer-herder clashes ongoing across the country, the 2023 election is set to take place amidst nationwide insecurity. The June 5 attack on a church in relatively stable Ondo State, in South-West Nigeria, which saw more than 50 people killed, was a stark reminder of the insecurity challenges that will make the safety of election materials and personnel a major challenge for INEC.
INEC has also expressed concerns about deliberate attacks on its facilities in some states where materials meant for the elections were burnt. Within the space of three weeks, three attacks were carried out on INEC facilities in Ogun, Osun and Ebonyi states. Attacks on INEC’s facilities have become a recurring decimal in the Southeast geopolitical zone. Two days ago, it was reported that some yet-to-be-identified assailants attacked the office of the Independent National Electoral Commission at Ojoto, in the Idemili South Local Government Area of Anambra State.
The Commission lamented that incessant attacks on its facilities might cause hitches in operations, saying, though there are no casualties, quite a number of the materials acquired and delivered for the election have been lost. We hope these incessant attacks on INEC’s facilities would stop so as not to affect the upcoming elections.
We are particularly happy that there is a high degree of interest in voting in the 2023 general elections as 79 percent of registered voters in Nigeria have successfully picked up their Permanent Voter Cards (PVCs) as of Dec. 22, according to a new survey by SBM Intelligence published by Business Day of January 5, 2023.
SBM Intelligence said 6,588 voters were surveyed in 16 states across the country midway into the PVC collection timetable issued by Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) to ascertain how Nigerians who desired to vote and who have completed the Continuous Voter Registration (CVR) process were faring with regards to the collection. The study shows that there is a very high degree of interest in voting in the 2023 elections and amongst those who desire to vote, 94 percent of them went ahead to complete the CVR and 90 percent have tried to get their PVCs, even if they have had to visit up to six times to do so.
Osun State Governorship Election Tribunal Judgment
On the judgment of the Osun State Governorship Election Tribunal which declared Alhaji Adegboyega Oyetola of the All Progressives Congress, APC as the winner of the July 16 governorship election, we commend members of the Tribunal for being professional, upright and just despite the enormous pressure they were under. The ruling of the Tribunal would help deepen Nigeria’s electoral system and democracy.
We however, urged those who are not satisfied with the judgment not to resort to violence but remain calm and allow law run its full course.
As an Anti-Corruption group, we are calling on INEC to take lessons from the petition of the APC and the outcome of the Tribunal, especially as it prepares for the conduct of the forthcoming general elections. It is important for the electoral body to note the irregularities pointed out in the judgment of the Tribunal and ensure that such anomalies do not recur in the February 25 Presidential and National Assembly elections as well as the Governorship and State Assemblies elections on March 11, 2023.
We cannot conclude this briefing without noting the recent admission by the Osun Resident Electoral Commission, Mutiu Agbokethat Bimodal Voters Accreditation System (BVAS) helped to reveal overvoting during the Osun elections. Agboke explained that BVAS helped INEC to expose those who carried out over-voting on the election day during the Osun guber polls. According to him, people were able to do overvoting because they deliberately bypass the BVAS. The politicians in connivance with INEC staff deliberately bypassed the BVAS; it was this BVAS that exposed overvoting during Osun Election. We would like to call on INEC to ensure that all these gaps are covered before, during and after the general elections so that the votes of the people can really count.
Based on our experiences, we want to recommend as follows:
There is need for increase sensitization on Anti-Corruption and Accountability in Elections at the grassroots level.
The Media need to increase their reportage and investigations on Corruption and Accountability issues before, during and after Elections period to enhance political parties and their candidate to incorporate Anti-Corruption and Accountability issues in their Manifestos and Agenda.
There is an urgent need for anti-corruption campaigns to percolate down to the grassroots and even to the level of primary and tertiary institutions to stem the tide of rising cyber-crimes (A.K.A Yahoo Yahoo) among our youths.
Political Parties must be engaged to mainstream Anti-Corruption and Accountability into their manifestos and Activities.
There is an urgent need to amplify the voices of the people at the grassroots because most of them do not even have access to their elected representatives once they are sworn in.
Civil society groups should embark on massive civic awareness of the electorates on the dangers of corruption in electoral process and its impacts on their future
There is a need for more proactive measures by anti-corruption agencies in terms of timely investigation and prosecution of offenders. In the case of Lagos State, the State Public Complaints and Anti-Corruption agency had been silent for some months now. We have not heard anything about the Commission since the appointment of Justice Mojisola Olatoregun (rtd.) as Chairman of the anti-graft commission. Considering the level of corruption we have in our society today, one would have expected the Lagos State Public Complaints and Anti-Corruption agency to hit the ground running so as to reduce sharp practices in the state civil service. It would be gratifying if the Commission can come out to say there are no reported corruption related cases among the agencies and parastatals like LASEMA, LASSAA, LASTMA, etc
Need to increase citizen’s timely Voter Education and sensitization by both the electoral body and relevant stakeholders.
The Centre for Anti-Corruption and Open Leadership, CACOL’s National Secretariat located within the Humanity Centre, 610, Lagos-Abeokuta Expressway, Ijaye Bus Stop, Ijaiye-Ojokoro, was gutted by fire early Wednesday morning.
In a release issued by CACOL and signed by Tola Oresanwo, the anti-corruption organization’s Director, Administration and Programmes on behalf of its Chairman, Mr. Debo Adeniran, he stated, “The Humanity Centre that houses headquarters of many civil society organizations, including the Centre for Anti-Corruption and Open Leadership, CACOL, gutted fire earlier today after the office closed for the day’s commitments and locked the building yesterday. The immediate and remote causes of the inferno which gutted the ante room to the Director of Administration’s office are not known but electrical surge was suspected as the likely cause. Due to the fact that all doors to other offices were securely closed, the fire did not go beyond the office where it originated from, only the smoke passed through the openings around the entrances and left thick hoots on all the office equipment, furniture, fittings, walls and the floors of other offices”.
In their bid to curtail the fire, the first responders who happened to be the good people living around the area had to break the main access door and the windows of the office where the fire was raging, and eventually put it out. This was after the fire had destroyed office equipment, electronics, furniture and fittings valued at millions of naira. The only consolation is that no life was lost in the incident.
Some of the residents of the area, the estate agent to the premises Mr. Adeyemo, and the Chairman of CACOL called the Lagos State Emergency number (112) but instead of getting a favourable response from them they were being asked some frivolous and trivial questions.
The Chairman further remarked, “I am still amazed at the level of mediocrity displayed by the personnel of the Lagos State Emergency Management Agency (LASEMA). I personally called the emergency number around 4:29 am and I was expecting to be attended to as someone who urgently need help but unfortunately despite the claim that they now have improved response time to emergencies, they were asking if I am at the scene of the incident, I told them the place is our office and we don’t sleep at the office, they further asked what is the magnitude of the fire and how sure am I that the fire is really burning the building”.
We are still at a loss concerning the cause of the fire, though we are not suspecting sabotage but the men of the fire service would have used their expertise to decipher the real cause of the fire had it been they responded to our call.
“Though we are grateful that no life was lost in the incident and we appreciate all those living in the neighbourhood who tried their best to put out the fire, we would like to use this medium to call on the Lagos State Government to go beyond the provision of safety and rescue infrastructures and equipment but also invest heavily in the area of training and retraining of the personnel of the emergency contact centre, who are the first line of contact so as to make them more efficient and responsive to the yearnings of the people during emergencies”.
CACOL CALLS FOR THE PROSECUTION OF SIEMENS AND HALLIBURTON SCANDALS’ SUSPECTS
The Centre for Anti-Corruption and Open Leadership (CACOL) has called on the various anti-corruption agencies in the country to come out with their findings on the Halliburton and Siemens bribery scandals with the aim of bringing those culpable to justice.
In a statement issued by CACOL and signed by Tola Oresanwo, its Director of Administration and Programmes on behalf of its Chairman, Comrade Debo Adeniran, CACOL said it is taking too long for the findings of the investigations into the high profile cases to be made public.
It would be recalled that sometime in the year 2016, the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) announced the re-opening and resumption of activities on the Halliburton and Siemens bribery scandals with the aim of bringing those culpable to justice. Six years down the line, no concrete action had been taken on the matter neither has there been any information on how far the agency had gone on the matter.
Commenting on the long, tortuous journey to secure justice on the two scandals, the group recalled its long pursuit of justice on them by its protests and petitions in which it specifically requested the investigation of the former Minister of Justice and Attorney General of the Federation, Mr. Mohammed Adoke (SAN) urgently for alleged extortion.
Reiterating its focus on its objectives, CACOL recalled the recent words of its Chairman, Debo Adeniran, urging the EFCC to continue the process and to vigorously pursue the cases to logical conclusions within the ambit of the law.
“The EFCC and other anti-corruption agencies involved in the cases should even look beyond the former President of the Nigerian Bar Association, Joseph Daudu (SAN); the former Attorney-General of the Federation, Mohammed Adoke (SAN), Emmanuel Ukala (SAN), Chief Godwin Obla (SAN), Mr. Damian Dodo (SAN), and Mr. Roland Ewubare for their alleged involvement in the $182m Halliburton scandal. Everyone else involved in the Halliburton and Siemens scandal must pay for their crimes, no matter who they are,’’ he stated.
One thing that is making corruption thrive in the country is the culture of impunity which is being enjoyed by many so called “Big-men” in Nigeria. Once a crime is perceived to have been committed and there is no thorough investigation and subsequent prosecution of the culprits, then there is the tendency that others would commit the same crime in higher magnitude knowing fully well that they would not be punished.
It is instructive to note that some of the cronies of the Halliburton and Siemens bribery scandals have been punished in their respective countries. It is only in Nigeria that we found it difficult to prosecute those involved just because they are influential and somehow more powerful than the state.
“We should also note that recently, the federal government said all was set for the commencement of inauguration of the first set of power equipment procured under the Presidential Power Initiative (IPP), popularly known as Nigeria-Siemens power project. This shows that the present administration is dealing with the same Siemens who happen to be one of the companies involved in the scandal without prosecuting all those that were fingered in the scandal.”
He further reiterated the need for diligence in investigations, prosecutions and procedure, stressing that “a situation where culprits of corruption escape justice based on wobbly prosecutions or investigations will only make Nigeria to be a laughing stock among the comity of nations especially as far as corruption is concerned.”
We at CACOL therefore use this medium to call on all anti-corruption agencies to rise to the occasion and make public the results of their investigations on these scandals. It is our utmost desire to see agencies of government treat all suspected corruption criminals in the same way in order to send the appropriate message to innocent Nigerians that corruption is a shameful act, pointing out that this is in line with CACOL’s mantra: Name, Nail, Shame and Shun corrupt leaders anywhere, everywhere.
CAPACITY BUILDING WORKSHOP FOR CIVIL SOCIETY ORGANIZATIONS & MEDIA EXECUTIVES.
30TH AUGUST, 2022
TOPIC: Social inclusion:
Sine qua non for peaceful co-existence beyond 2023. – Debo Adeniran
Table of contents
What is Social Inclusion and Exclusion?
Who are those Socially Excluded?
Consequences of Social Exclusion
Benefits of Social inclusion
How to Advocate for Social Inclusion
The role of CSOs and the MEDIA
What is Social Inclusion And Exclusion?
Social inclusion refers to a process by which efforts are made to ensure equal opportunities for all, regardless of their background, in order to enable full and active participation in all aspects of life, including civic, social, economic, and political activities, as well as participation in decision-making processes.
Social inclusion can be approached as a goal, an objective, and a process. Its process affects almost all societal activities, and should therefore be approached from various dimensions
Social exclusion is understood as the condition (barriers and process) that impede social inclusion.
Social exclusion is a process through which individuals or groups are wholly or partially excluded from fully participating in all aspects of life of the society, in which they live, on the grounds of their social identities, such as age, gender, race, ethnicity, culture or language, and/or physical, economic, social disadvantages.
Social exclusion may mean the lack of voice, lack of recognition, or lack of capacity for active participation. It may also mean exclusion from decent work, assets, land, opportunities, access to social services and/or political representation.
It may be described as a direct opposite of social inclusion.
Who are those Socially Excluded?
There is a substantial variation from country to country regarding which groups are subject to exclusion. In Nigeria:
Women and girls,
People living in rural communities,
Persons with disabilities,
Ethnic and religious minorities;
Migrants and internally displaced people;
People without official identification are particularly vulnerable to being excluded.
Consequences of Social Exclusion
Social exclusion robs individuals of dignity, security, and the opportunity to lead a better life.
It leads to agitations from the concerned group
Feelings of political distrust
It is an albatross to sustainable inclusive growth and popular political participation.
Benefits of Social inclusion
Every individual and member of society gains from a more inclusive society
It encourages and promotes individual development and supports empowerment.
Inclusive participation is quintessentially a bottom-up process where action is undertaken by ordinary people.
It enhances the quality, credibility and most importantly, ownership of the decisions taken.
Every one have a sense of belonging
It engenders social cohesion and reduces social vices and crimes.
That is why the principle of inclusive society or “society for all” is not an abstract notion but a very practical policy goal
The Role of CSOs and the MEDIA in Engendering Social Inclusion
Become a voice for social inclusion in your own space
Ask political candidates for their stance on issues bothering on social inclusion since democracy is dependent on the participation and representation of all citizens in democratic institutions and processes.
Collaborate and form coalitions to advocate for social inclusion.
Paper Presented by Adewale Adeoye, Executive Director, Journalists for Democratic Rights, (JODER) on 2023: Electioneering Activities: Setting the Agenda for Political Actors Through Reportage and Conversation at the workshop organized by CACOL with the theme : Election and the Troubled Democracy: The Role of the Media and CSO held in Lagos on Tuesday, August 30, 2022
Ladies and Gentlemen
I think this is a timely workshop that fits into the current socio-political milieu. The media has a traditional role that includes to:
·If a may add: To Set Agenda for Local, National and Global Sustainable Development Goals
The above responsibilities should be discharged to the public guided by objectivity, truth and transparency in the promotion of the greatest good of the greatest number.
The media has been part of Nigeria’s remarkable history, the country’s ups and downs, the country’s walk on valleys and in the mountains, through thick and thin.
Our society has a long history of media intervention which predated the 1914 amalgamation of Nigerian various ethnic groups.
I affirm that the media has performed creditably since December, 1859 when the first Newspaper, Iwe Irohin was printed in Abeokuta, now the capital of Ogun State, Nigeria. Long before Iwe Irohin, our ancestral communities employed traditional media to communicate and pass information to the people through the organs of traditional government and a vendor who broadcasted information in the night and day, in the market square or from home to home on the administration of the commonwealth.
From 1914, the media took a dramatic character with the publication of Iwe Irohin in 1859. Let me add that Nigeria has one of the most robust media traditions spanning close to two centuries.
The media played a leading role in the anti-colonialism campaign. After 1859, the Nigerian media mushroomed with speed of light. The focal point was a vigorous campaign against injustice, slavery and colonialism.
From 1880, since the outbreak of the Second World war, over 50 newspapers were published in Nigeria. Some of the newspapers were the Lagos Times, 1880,Lagos Observer, 1882, Eagle and Critic,1883, Lagos Weekly Record, 1891, Lagos Standard, 1894, Nigerian Daily Times, 1921. Indigenous newspaperswere not left out. Some of the newspapers published in indigenous language were -Eko Akete, 1922, Eleti Ofe, 1923, Irohin Osose, 1925. and West African Pilot ( 1937). The publications were not restricted to the West of Nigeria In the North, in 1939, the first Hausa Newspaper, Gaskiya Tafi Kwabo, based in Zaria, began publication. Even though the earliest journalists mostly had secondary education but they had deep knowledge about the challenges of their people. The sacrifices they made were enormous.
For instance, in 1909, there was Lagos Astrological Review published by Adeoye Deniga. He wrote his newspapers with his hand. It is important to mention that the newspaper industry flourished in the era of colonialism with chains of newspapers owned by private individuals. From 1940, Dr Nnamdi Azikiwe controlled the largest chain of newspapers in Nigeria. He owned the following newspapers: Nigeria Eastern Nigerian Guardian (PH),Nigerian Spokesman (Onitsha), 1943; Southern Nigeria Defender, (Warri, 1943); Daily Comet (Lagos/Kano), 1944; Eastern Sentinel, (Enugu, 1955), Nigerian Monitor, (Uyo, 1960). He was for 16 years the Managing Director of Zik group of newspapers (Fred Omu-Journalism in Nigeria: Issues and Perspectives-Published by Nigerian Union of Journalists, NUJ-Lagos Council-1996)
It should be observed that many of Nigeria’s most outstanding anti-colonial leaders were media practitioners like Nnamdi Azikiwe, who established the West African Pilot, Chief Obafemi Awolowo, who established Nigerian Tribune in 1948, Chief Anthony Enahoro who was Editor of Daily Times and reputed to have moved the motion for Nigerian independence, Ernest Ikoli, Herbert Macaulay and many others. This shows remarkable contributions of media practitioners to the emergence of the modern Nigerian state.
The growth in print media was trailed by broadcast media with the establishment of the Western Nigeria Television Station in December 1959, the first of its kind in sub-Saharan Africa.After WNTV, the South West region set up the Western Nigeria Broadcasting Service, (WNBS). The following year, the Eastern Regional Government established Eastern Nigeria Television in 1960. In 1962, the Nigerian Federal Authority established the Nigerian Television Service (NTS) which became the predecessor of the Nigerian Television Authority, (NTA)
Next was Wire Service. The News Agency of Nigeria, (NAN) was set by the Military Government in 1976 by Decree No 19 of 1976. The focus of NAN was purely information and news. Within a very short time, it became the largest wire service in West Africa and one of the largest in Africa. It grew to establish networks in all the major regions of the world including Asia, Europe and America providing first hand information about socio-political and economic developments in Nigeria to the world. NAN also played a major role in providing the platform for the advancement of Nigeria’s foreign policy which made Africa its centre piece as at that period. In 1992, NAN was empowered through Decree No 87 to engage in commercial activities and also to ‘Promote national unity and stability.’ The introduction of profit into its content was to ensure NAN was self independent as a long term strategy yet, the decline of NAN inability to balance commerce with public service remains a dark spot.
It should be noted that the National Broadcasting Commission, (NBC) was established in 1992 by Decree No 38 of 1992. The Decree empowered the Commission among others to advice FG on the implementation of the National Mass Communication Policy.
Today, with some 33,071 television stations in the world backed with 193million hours broadcast, Nigeria has about 120 TV stations with some 96 networks belonging to the NTA. There are some 50 newspapers across the country and a countless chain of online media. There are some 625 broadcast stations in Nigeria. Only recently, President Buhari gave licenses to 159 new Radio stations.
Today, the print and electronic media have become the most dominant sources of information that influence the actions and inactions of Nigerians and also shape the past, present and future of the country. In Nigeria, about 40 percent of the people have access to TV in their homes while over 150million Nigerians have access to radio either through their phones, their radio sets or in their car. The radio is the most influential means of communication in Nigeria.
The Role of the Media is Democracy and Good Governance.
Governing a country is largely dependent on conception, distribution and interpretation of information by the people. Information dissemination shapes the form of stability, instability and sustainable development.
For more than a century, the Nigerian media has shaped the future of the country. The impact has been more positive than negative. The media has continued to set socio-political agenda for the country. The media on many occasions have come under vicious attacks from the state. During the era of military dictatorship, the media was a target. The media did not flinch. The media was one of the few bastions against tyranny and human rights abuses at a very great cost. In the years that succeeded independence, the media took up the battle against the military which ran and ruined Nigeria between 1966 and 1999 with a democratic interlude between 1979 and 1983. In the 13 years of Gen Ibrahim Babangida’s tyranny, the media were shut down on many occasions, offices ransacked and journalists either were killed or disappeared.
The media will therefore continue to stand up to the face of repression, corruption and ineptitude that characterize governance in Nigeria.
The character of the Nigerian Media
The next 100 years after 1859, there was no single media owned by the government either print or electronic until the establishment of the WNBS in December 1959 by the Western Nigerian Government.
However, the first radio station in Nigeria was established in Ibadan in 1932 through Radio Diffusion System using wire linked with microphone. Kano followed in 1944. The first private radio station, Raypower was established in 1994 while the first privately registered Television station, Galazy TV, was established in May 1994.
The post colonial government also did not establish any flourishing print media until the forceful takeover of Daily Times and later New Nigerian Newspapers by the Military Government. While the Nigerian print media has been driven by private ownership, it is not the case for the broadcast media, until recently. There was no single privately owned TV Station in Nigeria until 1994 and there was no privately owned radio station in Nigeria until 1994.
Objectivity, Truth and The Nigerian Media
While journalism has made tremendous contributions to socio-economic and political history of Nigeria, there are challenges that we need to overcome. First, we must realize that the Journalist is a social animal, a human being and an ethnic subject. S(he) is from a particular location in time and space. S(he) naturallyown biases, emotion, feeling, aspiration that reflect culture, faith values and civilization. The temptation of substituting individual consciousness for that of the community is always there. There in the temptation to be subjective.
However, the profession of Journalism is to report phenomena without prejudice either personal or collective. The journalist is not working for himself but for the community. Today in Nigeria, one of the major challenges of sustainable development is the drift of journalism from objectivity to subjectivity. In the past one decade, journalism has suffered unprofessional viral infections and ailments that undermine the essence of the profession itself as the fourth Estate of the Realm. There are a number of factors responsible for this which I may not be able to exhaust in this presentation. I wish to state here some of the challenges that threaten the historical and professional obligations of the Nigerian media:
Reporting DIVERSITY in Nigeria
With over 180miliion Nigerians, majority of who are poor and vulnerable, the media need to design an interventionist framework that allows voices from the valleys to be heard. Some of the diversity issues relate to women, the physically challenged, ethnic minorities, religious minorities, women and children. Increasingly the media space is being dominated by the highbrow political class, the media space is being manipulated by the rich, by the ethnic majority, by religious majority and by the physically able and by men.
The media should realise that there are political minorities whose views needed to be heard to enrich the political discourse. In recent events, the media has focused strongly on its own understanding of the ‘big issues’ mainlyreflecting the opinion of influential politicians, high level personalities as if the whole world is all about them. Issues that affect the physically challenged, women, children and the impact of Government policies on vulnerable groups are largely submerged, reported as footnotes, not reported or viewed with contempt. I provide here a checklist of diversity issues that the media should necessarily address.
How do we report ethnic issues without reflecting our personal biases? Issues of ethnicity should be reported within the framework of global standards that reflect conventions and treaties of which Nigeria is a signatory, in the absence of national and local laws that strengthen self determination. For instance, the coverage of self determination activities including those who adopt peaceful means have been largely reported within the context of violence and banditry forgetting about global obligation of Nigeria to the universal Declaration of Human Rights, the ILO convention 169, the convention on biodiversity and the African charter on peoples’ right.
The media portray the issues as ‘banditry, unknown gunmen, hoodlums’ which undermined the very serious issues of self determination, exclusion, weak legal framework, absence of the rule of law, poverty and the growing resistance against over centralisation of power and politics in Nigeria. The media sometimes substitute ethnic consciousness with tribalism, supplants the right to self determination with official statements that emphanise ‘threat to Nigerian unity’ without understanding the importance of justice.
Official statements are sometimes reported without a critical appraised within the purview of human rights and available data. For example, self-determination is protected in the United Nations Charter and the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights all of which recognize the right of “all peoples” as contained in Article 1 of the UN Charter states ‘the right of self determination clearly while in Chapter 1 it also recognizes the integrity of the state. (International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights). We cannot discourse or report conflict and violence in Nigeria without a clear understanding of the history of our country, its emergence in 1914 and the various constitutional conferences, the post-colonial administrators who have failed to include the people in determining the nature and form of their constitution which is partly responsible for the crisis we have at hand today.
INDIGENIOUS ISSUES AND ENVIRONMENT
This is one of the major issues in Nigeria that demands the correct perspective of the media. Communities across Nigeria are showing deep resentment about the encroachment on their land, the threat to their language, their ancestral values and their heritage. This remains a source of conflict across Nigeria. The media has the historic responsibility to put in proper prospective the position of the indigenous communities and their ingrained fear.
The environmental is linked to the survival of the people which is connected to the prospect of peace or instability in Nigeria. Environment has to do with land, resources and spirituality.
The UN stated in the book Cultural and Spiritual Values of Biodiversity thus: ‘Spirituality it the highest form of consciousness, and spiritual consciousness is the highest form of awareness. In this sense, a dimension of traditional knowledge is not local knowledge, but knowledge of the universal as expressed in the local. In indigenous and local cultures, experts exist who are peculiarly aware of nature’s organising principles, sometimes described as entities, spirits or natural law. Thus knowledge of the environment depends not only on the relationship between humans and nature, but also between the visible world and the invincible spirit world. ‘Cultural and Spiritual Values of Biodiversity- A complementary Contribution to the Global Biodiversity Assessment-United Nations Environment Programme, (UNEP-By Darell Addison Posey-pg 4, 1999)
When reporting the environment and the economy, the media space should not be dominated by corporate institutions, multi-nationals and big time investors and their profit. Equally important are in what ways do their activities negate the livelihood of the indigenous communities, their land, their forest dependency, their spirituality and their language? How does the multi-billion dollar Federal Capital City (FCT) impact on local communities, the indigenous owners of the land? While the media report corporate activities on sustainable bases, the pains of local communities where corporate institutions make their money on a seasonal basis are undermined except when the communities have cultural festivals. Issues of environment should take into cognisance the international framework like the The Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD) which “is the international legal instrument for the conservation of biological diversity, the sustainable use of its components and the fair and equitable sharing of the benefits arising out of the utilization of genetic resources” that has been ratified by 196 nations including Nigeria. Recently, the Indigenous Inhabitants of Abuja came out to speak on their agony. Their land was taken away in 1976 with stipend paid as compensation. Today, they are threatening brimstone. We owe Nigerians the obligation to report their travails in historic context with the right perspectives.
WOMEN AND YOUTHS
We cannot deny the improvement associated with the rights of Nigerian women in the past decades, but there are many rivers to cross. On paper, Nigeria lay claim to being committed to women empowerment and there are laws that advance the course of women. But generally, the Nigeria woman remains constantly disempowered. For instance, women are employed as entertainers, cooks, dancers in political rallies. Their participation is used for photo opportunism, while political actors rarely present their actionable programmes on women rights. Politicians conceive of empowerment as giving out crumbs to women, providing cosmetic assistance that does not establish any sustainable and institutionalised policies.
The media should be the voice for women and youth empowerment. It should be the leading campaigner for greater inclusion of younger people who are today largely attracted to drugs, alcoholism and have provided a potential pool for constant recruitment by extremist groups. There are reports that some 84% of the newly registered 10.4m voters are young people, between the age of 18-30.
As the 2023 general election approaches, younger people have demonstrated their strength. Last year September, young people (18 and 34) recorded 71.33 percent registration out of which 40.63n percent were students. At the end of the last registration exercise, 8,784,677 young people newly registered out of the 12,298,944. Students were 4,501,595 out of the figure. This is an indication that reporting the place of youths in the democratic process is an obligation of the media.
Journalism and professional obligations
The journalist either conservative or progressive should discharge duties professionally. This means the journalists must never substitute personal consciousness for the consciousness of the people. The media should understand issues from their historic contexts. You cannot be a good journalist without understanding the history of your country’s political economy and the main actors. You cannot be a good journalist without a good and deep sense of history. You are not a good journalist if the people you are expected to educate are ahead, at all times and more knowledgeable than you are.
It means to educate, inform and entertain, the journalist requires constant reading, not just consuming internet information but the journalist must keep the mind open to history, to local and global information, to the changing dynamics of socio-political economy so that the media actor will be able to properly educate, inform and entertain the people.
THREAT TO MEDIA INDEPENDENCE
Political and economy influence. The media ownership in Nigeria is skewed in favour of the rich, those who control the means of production and distribution, who are anxious and even desperate to protect personal interests and provide iron cast class-shield for themselves and their contemporaries. The media is constantly confronted with the desire to balance public interests with corporate and socio-economic and political interests of the ruling class.
Increasingly, in Nigeria, politicians, some of who are corrupt are taking over the media space not just as owners but also as managersThe Nigerian state has constantly provided the environment for the domination of media ownership by the affluence glaringly expressed in the form of the high cost of obtaining licenses for either radio or television. The political elite whose actions are expected to be challenged by the media are themselves investing in the media industry.
Public Media Institutions as Political instruments
There is also a major challenge in the way publicly owned media are administered. Even though State TV and Radio stations are owned by the public, financed from public funds, they are administered as if they are the private organs of the State Governors and State Officials. The same applies to media institutions owned by the Federal Government. State owned media at the Federal and Local levels fail to provide equitable access to vulnerable communities and the opposition political parties at the state and Federal levels.
The media also faces sustained threats from economic depression which affects many publishers. Today, only very few media institutions pay sustainable wages while majority of them owe their workers. The consequences are high inter-labour mobility, brain drain, lack of access to working tools, low morale and diminishing interests of young graduates in journalism as a profession.
The State, Terrorism and Free Speech
The media also faces increasing threats from intolerant regimes at the local and national levels which come in the form of arbitrary arrests, detention and even threats to life. The recent case is that of Mr Omoyele Sowore, the publisher of Sahara Reporters who has been grounded in Nigeria by the Nigerian state since his arbitrary arrest in 2019. These are also tricks devised to subdue free speech.
Apart from state sponsored attacks, the media is facing threats from mushrooming armed gangs, terrorists and bandits who recently have made the media their targets. With a state that cannot even protect her own top officials, how can such a state protect ordinary citizens?
Summary ofWhat Agenda the Media Should set?
·The responsibility of the media is to set agenda for peace and stability, sustainable development and livelihood based on truth, the rule of law and objectivity.
·Set agenda for content and form of governance which includes but not limited to Environmental, economic, political and cultural issues.
·The media should set agenda for reporting diversity, ethnic minorities, the national question, terrorism in historic context without overlooking the class variables. The media should not only deepen the debate but also enrich it.
·The media should set agenda for the drastic reduction of corruption, electoral violence, work for ethnic conflict prevention and peace building.
·The media should set agenda for the physically unable and the challenges they face in assessing polling booths, politics, power and the dividends of democracy.
·Women and Gender issues
·Youth political and economic empowerment while challenging under-aged voting, exclusion and ensure electoral accountability.
·The administration of public media institutions to reflect the content and form of ownership.
·Corruption in the electoral process. This is a major challenge for the media.
·The Media should constructively engage the political aspirants not for the purpose of advertising their programmes but for the purpose of engaging them on their policies.
What is to be done?
·In countering the offensive from repressive institutions and violent non state actors,the media needs a very strong vision not only for collective action but for joint campaign for freedom, justice and media right.
·The pro-media rights groups, the Nigerian Union of Journalists, (NUJ) need to strengthen their capacity, network with traditional allies like the Nigerian Labour Congress, (NLC) for collective democratic bargaining.
·Training of journalists should be the kernel focus of all media institutions. Veterans should be engaged to share experiences with the younger generation of media practitioners.
·Civil society groups should invest in media ownership to stop the monopoly of the media stake-holding by the political class.
As Nigerian trudges on through exceptionally tough and delicate terrain, the media should rise to the occasion to confront corruption, mismanagement of public resources, moral decline and ineptitude in high and low places. We do this not just for the society but also to the sake of the very foundation laid by the fathers of journalism, free speech and democracy in Nigeria. Ultimately,a media that condones the errors of those in power end up as victims of the vicious system they nurture and promote.
(Being a remark presented at the “a day capacity building workshop for civil society organizations and media executives” organized by the Centre for Anti-Corruption and Open Leadership (CACOL) on Tuesday 30 August 2022 at Rights House, 43, Adeniyi Jones Avenue, Off Oba Akran, Ikeja, Lagos State)
I am delighted to be here, representing my Principal, Mr. Akinbode Oluwafemi, the Executive Director of the Corporate Accountability and Public participation Africa (CAPPA)at this occasion organized by the Centre for Anti-Corruption and Open Leadership (CACOL) to build the capacity of civil society and the media in Lagos State towards achieving the goal of bolstering support for anti-corruption and social inclusion among critical groups and strengthening policies and programs for anti-corruption at the state level as the country prepares for elections in 2023.
No doubt, the 2023 general elections will be a defining moment for Nigeria. If done right, the elections can help consolidate Nigeria’s democracy and serve as a shiny example for the West African sub-region which faces the grim reality of a recrudescence of usurpation of power by the military and other anti-democratic forces ’,.
Hence, this kind of initiative undertaken by CACOL is essential to help build citizens’ civic awareness of their civic obligations and capacity to engage critical stakeholders to ensure not only the integrity of the elections but also to guarantee that the government that emerges from this exercise work for the public good.Right from its birthplace in Ancient Athens, democracy has always been underpinned and undergirded by citizens’ participation. Therefore, the health of every democracy is directly proportional to the quality of citizens’ participation and awareness. This is why I am particularly elated by the topic of my presentation which talks about “asking the right questions” and “demanding SMART deliverables”.
Nigeria’s democracy is marked by a gross deficit of governance, Over the years, the performance of elected public officials has been seen to be below not citizens’ expectations. Also, campaign promises are rarely fulfilled once politicians are in power. This situation has led to widespread dissatisfaction and distrust in the political system. A study undertaken by the Pew Research Centre in 2019 found that “Only 39% of Nigerians are satisfied with the way democracy is working in their country, while 60% say they are not satisfied. Almost six-in-ten (59%) say the statement “elected officials care what ordinary people think” does not describe their country well. In addition, a 57% majority believes that no matter who wins an election, things do not change very much for people in Nigeria”
Asking the right questions
A major factor responsible for unsatisfactory governance outcomes is the lack of productive engagement between the electorate and the political parties and their candidates. Instead of asking the right questions, many voters prefer to settle for inducement and other largesse politicians provide during campaigns. PVCs have now turned into means of earning free money during elections instead of a powerful tool for making transformative changes. Hence, voter inducement was widespread during the recent off-cycle gubernatorial elections in Ekiti and Osun states,. For the poorest of the poor in Nigeria, election day is an opportunity to earn enough to cook a pot of soup rather than a day to define the destiny of the nation. No doubt, this is a sad commentary on the state of democracy in Nigeria.
However, while poverty may explain electorates’ predisposition to inducement, several studies show that many citizens also lack the requisite knowledge to engage political actors. For citizens to ask the right questions, they need to be informed, organized, and active. They also must be equipped with the requisite knowledge “to make decisions about policy choices and the proper use of authority, along with skills to voice their concerns, act collectively and hold public officials accountable”.
For the purpose of this engagement, I have identified six (6) broad categories of questions citizens must always ask candidates and elected public officials. These are:
(1)What is to be done? What are the issues?
(2)How will it be done? i.e., budgeting process, mode of implementation (Public, privatization, or PPP), contract system, or public works? (Lekki Epe Tollgate)
(3)Who will pay for it? i.e., will it lead to increased taxation? (E.g. Tollgates for New Roads)
(4)Who will it serve or benefit? i.e., the rich, the poor, etc. (for instance, ultra-modern markets and housing estates which are often built at the expense of the poor and to which they have no access)
(5)How will it extend to the next generation i.e., sustainability, does it come with usurious debt that will affect the next generation? Is it environmental-friendly?
(6)How will women, youth, and other vulnerable segments of society be affected?
Obviously, the above six (6) categories do not exhaust the subject, nevertheless, they can provide an important framework for citizens to engage candidates and elected officials in order to make informed electoral choices.
The acronym “SMART” stands for Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Relevant, and Time-bound. It refers to specific criteria to guide in the setting of goals and objectives for better results. The term “SMART” was first proposed by George T. Doran in the November 1981 issue of Management Review. Particularly in the field of project management, the idea is that every project goal must adhere to the SMART criteria to be effective. Therefore, when planning a project’s objectives, each one should be:
(1)Specific: The goal should target a specific area of improvement or answer a specific need
(2)Measurable: The goal must be quantifiable, or at least allow for measurable progress
(3)Attainable: The goal should be realistic, based on available resources and existing constraints
(4)Relevant: The goal should align with other business objectives to be considered worthwhile
(5)Time-bound: The goal must have a deadline or defined end
What are SMART goals?
The goal should target a specific area of improvement or answer a specific need. Because it is the first step in the SMART goal process, it is important to be as clear as possible. For example, note the difference between “I will make lunch” and “I will use wheat toast, peanut butter, and strawberry jam to create a tasty sandwich for myself to eat”. See how specific it is? This example also illustrates the importance of word choice. Not only are you noting which ingredients or tools will be used to achieve the final goal, but you are also articulating who benefits. Details like these color your goal description, making it easier for collaborators to visualize and align intentions with your project.
The goal must be quantifiable, or at least allow for measurable progress. In this step, you’ll choose what your progress markers or project KPIs are and how you’ll measure them. This might mean adopting the right tools or restructuring your KPI’s to something that you can easily monitor. You’ll also need to define who is in charge of measuring your progress, when these measurements will take place, and where the information will be shared.
The goal should be realistic and based on available resources and existing constraints. Typical project constraints include team bandwidth, budgets, and timelines. Project managers should look to data from similar past projects for insight into what’s achievable this time around.
The goal should align with other business objectives to be considered worthwhile. You can also break your project goal down into smaller, equally relevant goals that will keep the whole team focused. Be diligent about eliminating irrelevant goals and subgoals to save significant time.
The goal must have a deadline or a defined end. This can be measured in hours and minutes, business days, or years depending on the project scope. To set your project timelines, get feedback from major stakeholders about their deadline expectations, and compare it to team members’ inputs.
How does it relate to citizen engagement of political actors?
The SMART criteria provide a framework for engaging political actors whether they are candidates or elected public officials. Oftentimes, politicians make outlandish pronouncements and promise that they do not intend to implement. Sometimes, a newly elected public official announces they are unable to fulfill campaign promises because of the state of finance of the government they have just been elected to lead. By using the SMART criteria, citizens and electorates can be armed with a tool for productive engagement and for making informed political choices, and demanding accountability.
Therefore, SMART deliverables can be defined as a set of government priorities and projects that meets the criteria of specificity, measurability, and attainability and that are relevant and time bound. For example, in the area of public education, citizens must demand government projects or programmes that are:
(1)Specific: How many school buildings will be renovated or built anew and how many students are targeted to be enrolled? How many new teachers need to be recruited?
(2)Measurable: How will the project be implemented, how much will it cost and what are the Key Performance Indicators?
(3)Attainability: What is the status of the resources of the state? How will the project be funded?
(4)Relevance: What are the present level of school enrollment and the condition of school infrastructures and how does this project align with the overall objective of the state.
(5)Time-Bound: How long will this project last? Is it within the financial year or within the four-year tenure?
I do hope that I have within the limited time available been able to increase our awareness and knowledge of the tool and skills to engage and promote active citizen participation in the political process. Obviously, these discussions and engagements are so crucial and therefore ought to continue beyond the 2023 general elections. Once again, I thank CACOL for inviting me and hope for greater collaboration between CAPPA and CACOL in the effort to promote anti-corruption, social inclusion, and accountability in governance and political processes.
Policy and Research Lead
Corporate Accountability and Public Participation Africa
The Centre for Anti-Corruption and Open Leadership, CACOL, has hailed the Independent Corrupt Practices and Other Related Offences Commission (ICPC) for its planned investigation of some Ministries, Departments and Agencies for infractions on COVID-19 intervention funds and other procurement abuses.
In a release issued by CACOL and signed by Tola Oresanwo, the anti-corruption organization’s Director, Administration and Programmes on behalf of its Chairman, Mr. Debo Adeniran, he stated, “It would be recalled that the ICPC Chairman, Prof. Bolaji Owasanoye (SAN), disclosed this at the 2022 African Union Anti-Corruption Day in Abuja. The 2022 African Union Anti-Corruption Day has as theme “Strategies and Mechanisms for the Transparent Management of COVID-19 Funds”. The ICPC boss stated in his remarks that the commission had observed discrepancies and infractions in the procurement and payments made by some ministries and agencies after the release and appropriate disbursement of COVID-19 funds.”
The commission, he added, also observed that in some instances the distribution of relief materials or palliatives was chaotic, disorderly and uncoordinated. He also said, “Some implicated MDAs refused the monitoring team access to their records thereby impeding the successful inquiry into their activities. These MDAs are flagged and will be investigated for breaches and infractions of the law and COVID-19 intervention funds guidelines and other procurement abuses. Reports, according to the ICPC chairman, also showed selective distribution, favouritism, nepotism and other biases in the allocation and distribution of relief material or palliatives as well as the high jacking of palliatives by political actors, their proxies, cronies, and affiliates.
“During the height of the COVID-19 pandemic, CACOL had earlier called on relevant anti-graft agencies to probe the intervention funds disbursed to various government agencies and MDAs. We all know that Nigeria was among the first set of countries in Sub-Saharan Africa to identify COVID-19 (coronavirus) cases and implemented strict measures to contain the spread of the virus. The Government’s policy measures such as travel restrictions, lockdowns, and restrictions on economic and social activities, aimed at curbing the spread of COVID-19, negatively affected the livelihoods and food security of most Nigerians especially those occupying the lower and middle-class strata.”
The anti-graft czar added, “Alleviating the impacts of the COVID-19 crisis is vital for preventing poverty from deepening and increasing in Nigeria; before the crisis, approximately 4 in 10 Nigerians were living below the poverty line, and millions more were living just above the poverty line, making them vulnerable to falling back into poverty when shocks occur. Hence, it was so strange to notice the abysmal strategies adopted by these agencies of government in the distribution of palliatives and spending of the intervention fund that was meant to cushion the negative effects of the pandemic on Nigerians. We cannot forget in a hurry the rate of hoarding and diversion of palliatives that later led to the raids by famished and already impoverished people in different parts of the country of facilities or locations warehousing palliatives. Some of such also created widespread violence.”
“We at CACOL are happy that the ICPC is beaming its searchlight on these erring agencies now, though it is coming a bit late but it is better late than never. We hope the anti-graft agency would carry out a thorough investigation of the agencies concerned and if found wanting, the officials involved should be made to face the full wrath of the law.”