The Centre for Anti-Corruption and Open Leadership, CACOL, has commended the Governor of Lagos State, Babajide Sanwo-Olu for extending a hand of support for two out-of-school girls in the state. The organization however implore him to put all machinery in motion to give effect to the Child Right Act that the state has domesticated more than a decade ago, noting that if it had been earlier implemented there wouldn’t be any need for him to stop his convoy to appraise out-of-school children that he found by the road side.
In a release issued by CACOL’s Director of Administration and Programmes, Tola Oresanwo, on behalf of the Chairman of the Centre, Mr. Debo Adeniran, he noted, “We observed the interest shown by the Governor of Lagos State, Babajide Sanwo-Olu in the plight of two out-of-school girls in the state”
“It would be recalled that the media reported that on his way to an official function recently, Lagos State Governor Babajide Sanwo-Olu momentarily halted his convoy to attend to a disturbing situation. It was a sight of two underage girls on an errand for a bean cake vendor during school hours. The girls were expected to be in school. But, both Amarachi Chinedu, 9, and Suwebat Husseini, 12, were forced to skip school by their parents in order to serve some domestic assistance”.
The girls were going to deliver buckets of peeled beans and pepper to a grinder when the Governor sighted them at Anthony Village area. It was a glance that presented a discomforting image for Sanwo-Olu, who revved his convoy to a stop to find out the reason the girls were not in school.
Amarachi’s story left the Governor to shudder throughout the encounter. Her mother is a teacher, but the nine-year-old was not allowed to go to school because her parents could not afford the current session’s tuition fees. Amarachi would have to miss a school year because of this reason.
Suwebat’s mother is the bean cake seller for whom the girls were running an errand. Her parents, who are Jigawa State indigenes, relocated to Lagos months back. Suwebat’s four male siblings were all in school at the time she was stopped on the road by the Governor. But her parents preferred she stayed back home to help with some domestic chores.
The decisions taken by these girls’ parents, Sanwo-Olu said, “could rob the little ones of their innocence, their future and put them at a disadvantage among their peers”. The Governor stressed that his encounter with the girls left his heart bleeding.
Salvaging the situation, Sanwo-Olu, at the scene, told the girls he would personally take up the responsibility for their education and upbringing, promising to enrol them in school to continue with their education.
The anti-corruption Czar said “We will like to commend Governor Sanwo-Olu for taking this bold step aimed at returning these out-of-school girls to school. We believe there are many Amarachis and Suwebats out there who are not that lucky to encounter the Governor. To this set of children something drastic ought to be done to save them from the scourge of illiteracy.”
We also believe that if the Child Rights Acts which Lagos state has domesticated since more than a decade ago is fully implemented there wouldn’t have been any out-of-school child in the state because it would have been an offence for parents to engage their children in economic activities or for any child to roam the streets during school hours.
The CACOL Boss added, “.Section 15 sub section 1 of the Act stated that Every child has the right to free, compulsory and universal basic education and it shall be the duty of the Government in Nigeria to provide such education. Subsection (2) stated that every parent or guardian shall ensure that his child or ward attends and completes his primary and junior secondary education. Subsection (6) of the Act stipulated appropriate punishments for a parent, guardian or person who has care and custody of a child and fails in the duty imposed on him under subsection (2) of this section.
“We hope the state government would look into the implementation of this Act and all the needed financial, human and material resources would be put in place in order for the dictates of the Act to be fully implemented and thereby sow a good seed in the educational sector of the state by reducing the population of out-of-school children to the barest minimum”.
The Centre for Anti-Corruption and Open Leadership, CACOL, has decried the arrest of the Acting Chairman of Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) by the officials of Department of State Services (DSS).
In a release by the Executive Chairman of CACOL, Mr. Debo Adeniran and signed by its Coordinator, Administration and Programmes, Tola Oresanwo, he stated, “The Centre for Anti-Corruption and Open Leadership, CACOL, received the news of the arrest of the Acting Chairman of Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) Mr. Ibrahim Magu by officials of Department of State Services (DSS) with mixed feelings”.
“We can recall that the arrest is coming barely two weeks after the Attorney-General of the Federation, Abubakar Malami (SAN) reportedly complained to the President, Muhammadu Buhari about Magu’s conduct and advised that he should be relieved of his appointment. The AGF was said to have accused Magu of insubordination and discrepancies in the figures of funds recovered by the EFCC”.
“Though the details of his arrest is still sketchy, we believed that inasmuch as no one is above the law Mr. Magu just like every other citizen of the country can be call to give an account of his stewardship at anytime, our position is that it would have been nice if Mr. Magu was investigated by the Special Fraud Unit (SFU) or other anti corruption agency of government but not DSS that has continually shown bias towards him (Magu) going by the report submitted to the Senate by the DSS which has stalled his confirmation as the Chairman of EFCC for some years now. It is a common knowledge that there had been no love lost between DSS and the person of Mr. Magu. We have also observed that the relationship between EFCC, DSS and Ministry of Justice had been frosty over the years”.
“In view of the above, we hope Mr. Magu would be able to defend himself and come out clean from the myriads of allegations leveled against him. We are also optimistic that he will be given a fair hearing and his rights will be respected.
Since he has demonstrated extra courage in the fight against corruption in the country we hope his arrest is not a case of ‘Corruption fighting back’.”
“A situation where the Acting Chairman of EFCC is ‘invited for questioning’ with a very short notice could cost the fight against corruption serious setback, as well as much embarrassment to the Federal Government and its anti-corruption stance, hence, the need for the various agencies of government to always be mindful of their actions at all times”.
‘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.
“ A House Divided Against Itself Can Never Stand ”
In less than a month, there are several reports of incidences of inter-agencies clashes especially between officers of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) and the Department of State Securities (DSS) in a manner lacking all the paraphernalia of civil governance guarded by entrenched decorum, protocols, rules and patriotic responsibilities.
In a brazen display of national disgrace and embarrassment, the EFCC and DSS flexed muscles in gangsteric style when the anti-corruption agency wanted to arrest a former Director General of DSS, Ekpenyong Ita, and the same fiasco was displayed at the residence of the former Director General of Nigeria Intelligence Agency (NIA), Mr. Ayo Oke. The operatives of the two security bodies lay armed siege against each others, brandishing sophisticated weapons, taking pictures like yoyo kids for hours.
This act in itself is not only condemnable but it is symptomatic of a larger ailment afflicting our nation. Nigeria is held at captive in a permanent siege by the bankrupt and degenerate ruling class who do not respect the constitution and the citizens aspirations better life and socio-economic advancement in the same way the DSS and EFCC are pursuing a grand design to stalemate President Muhammadu Buhari anti-corruption campaigns. More importantly, the security forces in the country are not suffering from bringing forward the military mentality during the military absolute despoliation of governance in the country but act according to their conception. The security force in Nigeria were established by colonial dispensation as “ Forces of Occupation”, decades after, we are yet to purge these bodies from these idiosyncrasies and civilinised, constitutionalised and democratized their operations.
It is a trite fact that the EFCC and DSS are creation of laws and should be accordingly guarded without this menace of inter-agency clashes. The EFCC, like its sister organizations Independent Corrupt Practices and other related offences Commission (ICPC), was established by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (Establishment) Act, 2004 and deriving further legal sinew from the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, 1999 (as amended), African Union Convention on Preventing and combating Corruption, ECOWAS Protocol on Corruption, UN Convention Against Corruption (UNCAC). The DSS on the other hand, though as an intelligence organization, there are various enactments, Instruments and protocols given it powers and regulating its operations, mechanism and jurisdictional demarcation.
Thus under normal and abnormal circumstances, there should not be any valid reasons for the two agencies to have jurisdictional clashes. These agencies are supposed to work together, their operations are meant to be complementary not contentious and antagonistic. We are clear that there breaches by the parties leading to this clashes which must be quickly probed by the Presidency and stopped immediately.
CACOL calls on Mr. President to urgently call the pointsmen of the two organizations to order before the tear eachothers’ jugular and shred into dirty pieces this administration’s commitment to prosecute without resting the campaigns to eliminate corruption from our national psyche and menu.
“ In a place where tradition is lacking, a striking example becomes relevant”
………….. Leon Trotsky
As much as we at the Centre for Anti-Corruption and Open Leadership, CACOL fully identify with the current administration rare and audacious commitment to vigorously prosecute anti-corruption campaign, we are quick to point out that President Muhammadu Buhari need to bring culprits of corrupt practices to effective justice, not just mere negotiations to recover stolen public funds. The President and his team need to step up the ante by making stigmatizing examples of culprits of corrupt and sharp conducts through diligent investigations, thorough prosecution, confiscation of properties and real time convictions in the court of law. This will not only serve as deterrent, but also a striking stigma against corruption, signaling the absolute dedication of government to vanquish corruption.
Without any equivocation, the unbridled looting of pensions funds, attendant sack, criminal conspiratorial reinstatement and correct but embarrassing re-sacking of the former Chairman of the Presidential Task Force on Pension Reforms, Abdulrasheed Maina is one major corruption case that should not treated with kids’ glove.
BEYOND NATIONAL ASSEMBLY INVESTIGATION OF MAINAGATE
In recent time, the media has been awashed with contradictory, confusing and often laughable assertions on the unpardonable stories of sleaze and corruption engulfing the seemingly “invincible” former Chairman of Presidential Task Force on Pensions Funds, Abdulrasheed Maina. Ironically, there has been curious passing round of the bucks. One of such silly infamies claims that the Federal Government is hampered to take up Maina case because the National Assembly is already investigating the matter. This smacked like a grand scheme to find soft landing for all those that are obviously indictable for this national disgrace, we are certain that a thorough forensic investigation would consume many persons. The other comical claim is that Maina has since disappeared from Nigeria and cannot be brought to book. That. some powerful allies seem to be hiding the above the law crook is an alluring conclusion one would deduce.
As of today, the Nigeria Senate has conducted its investigation into the matter but with a veil of secrecy. An ad-hoc Committee of the Senate set up to investigate the controversial reinstatement and the embarrassing promotion of Maina in the civil service of the Federal Government invited the Attorney General, Abubarkar Malami (SAN) and the Minister for Interior, Abdulrahman Danbazau but the session were held in camera in the office the Committee Chairman. We strongly believe openness and transparency to the media and the general public is integral part of the campaign against corruption.
However, the House of Representatives is reported to have slated the commencement of its ad-hoc Committee for Wednesday, 22nd November, 2017. It promised that the session on Maina’s ill-handling of pensions funds would be broadcast live by Nigeria Television Authority. The Committee also invited Abdulrahman Danbazau, the Head of Service to the Federation, Mrs. Winfred Oyo-Ita, the acting Chaiman of EFCC , Ibrahim Magu and Chairman of ICPC, Prof Bolaji Owosanoye assuring Nigerians that Maina would come out of hiding to face the Committee.
CACOL therefore salutes the courage of the House of Representatives in slating the Committee with live coverage. We hope that would be opportunities for the general public to also interrogate this process. It is a trite truism that anti-corruption war goes smoother with openness, transparency, accountability and the rule of law. We condemn any move to shroud this critical investigation with any garb of conspiratorial secrecy – Nigerians have the right to know all details. We also call on relevant law enforcement agencies to ensure that there is no back door settlement with Maina no matter the quantum of information he revealed against his co-travellers in crime. He, along with others must be made to face the full wrath of the law – when you commit the crime, you do the time.
The investigating Committee and all other anti-corruption agencies must not only investigate all the Government’s ministries and officials responsible for the mid-night smuggling of Maina back into the public service, his promotion but also the office of the Accountant General and Auditor General must explain how they paid Maina N21Million salary arrears for a period when the judgment of a competent court of law debar him from the civil service.
The entire civilized world is watching on what would be the outcome of this case, and thus must not be handled lightly. It is our well considered view that justice must be manifestly done, we know that heaven shall not fall. All public funds must be accounted for and infractions duly punished.
57 years after independence, the clamour for ‘restructuring’ continues to resonate and as the next general elections closes in, it may seem like the call is now getting to the climax. The agitations that have surrounded what is called the ‘National Question’, which ‘restructuring’ is a component of, have gotten to crescendos and tipping edges that are akin to what we are witnessing presently in the country. The character of the political class and elites that have dominated the Nigerian socio-political and economic space, both in and out of power have no doubts constituted a huge obstacle to nation building which have led to several repeated starts, fake or transient victories.
The fact is that the discerning Nigerians who understand the history of the political intrigues of the country in the past years would apparently adduce the coming general elections in 2019; and the mostly inordinate ambitions of desperate and opportunistic politicians as the reason behind the recent calls for restructuring.
At the Centre for Anti-Corruption and Open Leadership, CACOL, when the renewed call began to gain ascendancy recently in agitations, we had said that the restructuring of Nigeria’s body polity required to be profoundly interrogated, to understand the motivations and core purpose of the seemingly justified call.
Circumspection on all the labyrinths of issues over the National question remain very imperative, so as not to fall into the pitfalls of the past. Nigeria with the apparent faulty foundations remain shaky owing to the historical reality that Nigeria and Africa in general were indeed partitioned at the bayoneting ends of the guns of colonizers; for the convenience of their political cum economic exploitation and subjugation of the people.
Again without any iota of doubt, the call to restructure Nigeria is neither the exclusive preserve of the ruling class in their intra-class fractional and factional struggles, nor is it a new call. It is a call, a demand, a bargaining weapon of choice, in their now covert, now overt intra-class skirmishes as 2019 general elections approaches.
The truth is that no matter how Nigeria is ‘restructured’, the fundamental issue will remain about the social emancipation of the vast majority of the people. Any form of restructuring that is not achieved side by side with the social emancipation of the component units of Nigeria will amount to naught. Such achievement will make no significant difference in National life and the lives of majority of the people who would still remain oppressed and exploited in any arrangement that emerges from ‘restructuring’ designed and controlled by the present ruling class i.e. the representatives of the political and economic status quo.
We are convinced that unless and until when the oppressed people of the different component units of Nigeria unite against their oppressors in their various units in a popular process that will put the destinies of the vast majority in their hands regardless of the unit/s they come from, the National question may permanently become a permanent question.
The pre-independence constitutional conferences, as well as the post-independence constitutional reform processes have all been at the heart, about restructuring Nigeria, as has been the numerous state agitation/state creation processes and the many constitutional and political conferences.
It is important to learn from the history of Nigeria’s several attempts at addressing the National question, either initiated by the Government or by the people (Civil society). From the Obasanjo staged managed National Conference to the last National Confab organized by the Jonathan Goodluck-led government, it is explicit that the call for restructuring and addressing the National question is beyond what the status quo will organize for obvious reasons.
The call to restructure Nigeria, it must be affirmed has also periodically found resonance among ordinary Nigerian citizens like National Consultative Forum, NCF and Pro-Peoples’ National Conference, PRONACO which gained traction particularly in times of deepening economic and political crisis. The more debilitating the economic crisis, the greater the instability in the polity, the louder the calls for restructuring gets.
Therefore the ongoing groupings and meetings across the country on restructuring are also not new. But the quintessential questions would be: do they have the full mandate and representative capacities to speak on behalf of the group, sectional or regional interests they lay claim to represent? What do their constituents understand by restructuring; the gains, losses and are they on the same page in terms of consensus? What would restructuring translate into practically; for the vast majority that will bear the brunt of possible gains or losses in terms of social economic development? What are the modalities for restructuring if a consensus is reached that such is expedient? These are the underlying fundamental questions and issues, the political class and elites across the country are not bringing to the fore in their present ‘agitation’ for restructuring beyond their phraseologies and sloganeering.
The story of Brexit and the consequence of superficial introspection and circumspection in process which is still fresh in global history is manifest in yet-to-be resolved dilemma-like situation that subsist between the United Kingdom and European Union where the UK have had to revisit the referendum that led to its exit from EU. We as people should take a cue from that and look before we leap beyond the apparent political bargain weaponry being wielded at presently by sections of the ruling class and elites across the country as the 2019 elections approaches.
Nigerian politicians are largely inconsistent in their views obviously because the positions they assume at most times on national issues are directly proportional to their narrow political interests’ tendencies beyond that of the country. Majority of politicians’ views on restructuring therefore cannot be far-fetched from inconsistent.
Hence the recent calls being shielded in nationalism and genuine will for nation building from members of the ruling class should be handled with ‘a pinch of salt’. This is because the ruling class factions and fractions who lost out or are losing out in the jostle for control of and access to state power at central and sub national levels proceed to mobilize existing grievances along the lines of existing cleavages, as well as co-opt existing and incipient resistance struggles of impoverished and oppressed citizens against declining living conditions and intensifying economic hardships.
Finally, we think President Muhammad Buhari’s speech on the occasion of the 57th anniversary is one that inspires hope for a better Nigeria in spite of the background of being a country facing very serious challenges almost on all plains. So we commend him for demonstrating commitment and sincerity of purpose in rebuilding the nation and particularly in the bold confrontation against corruption since he took over the reins of power.
The President’s call on the National Assembly and the Judiciary for support is nothing but presidential in act and humility exemplified and we support every move that will ensure harmony amongst the arms of government. The President outlined some ways he intends to make the fight against corruption more effective and that is what is expected of a leader and Nigerians should support him on the campaign.
Quintessentially, Nigerians must resolve on altering the socio-economic and political system which has concentrated the wealth of the collective in the hands of a tiny few that have subsisted for too long in their country. This is the fundamental task that must be done. Long live, Nigeria!