For the pioneer secretary-general, Committee for the Defence of Human Rights (CDHR), Debo Adeniran, extending invitations to citizens by security agencies is not all that matters, rather, the outcome of such invitations that should be of concern to the generality of Nigerians.
Adeniran, who is the Executive Chairman, Coalition Against Corrupt Leaders (CACOL) added that there are occasions when people make remarks or give information that are not generally available in the public space. When this happens, security agencies may think that such persons could help them shed light on the issues they raised or the remarks that they made. “It has happened to me a couple of times, even in the days of military rule.
“Of course, it is the fundamental right of every citizen to have freedom of speech, association, to hold opinion and disseminate it along the dictate of the law. What should not be tolerated is a situation whereby people who do not make inflammatory remarks, are unjustly invited. It should be noted that there is no freedom that is absolute anyway,” the consultant educationalist added.
He said even when citizens resort to protests, “as long as the protests are not violent, the government does not have any business stopping it. What government should do is to send its agents to join the protesters, listen to their demands, and take the information back to government for it to know the grievances of the citizenry. It is not the business of government to be over sensitive, and resort to stopping peaceful protests with brute force. That is not acceptable in a democracy, and is a violation of citizens’ fundamental rights.
“Even though we agree that no right is absolute. But the government should be tolerant of opposing remarks. Instead of chasing after the messenger, government should find a way of fixing the complaints and ensuring that there is good governance, accommodation and tolerance.”
Attempts to get the Presidency to comment on the travails of Mailafia, the former Presidential candidate of the African Democratic Congress (ADC) in the 2019 general election failed as presidential spokespersons, Garba Shehu and Femi Adesina failed to respond to emails or calls and text messages sent to their mobile phones.
The Centre for Anti-Corruption and Open Leadership, CACOL, has commended President Muhammadu Buhari for taking the right decision in a bid to calm frayed nerves at the University of Lagos.
In a release issued by CACOL and signed by Mr. Tola Oresanwo, the anti-corruption organization’s Acting Director, Administration and Programmes on behalf of its Executive Chairman, Mr. Debo Adeniran, he stated, “it would be recalled that due to the aftermath of the announcement of the removal of Prof. Oluwatoyin Ogundipe as the University’s Vice-Chancellor on Wednesday 12th of August, 2020 at a meeting of the governing council held in Abuja, there have been several reactions from different quarters.
On our part, as a concerned civil society organization, we tried to intervene in the crisis. It is on record that a letter was sent to the President, Muhammadu Buhari on 11th December, 2019 titled “MISAPPLICATION OF PUBLIC FUNDS AT THE UNIVERSITY OF LAGOS: MATTERS ARISING” in which we suggested that “the President and Commander-in-Chief of the Armed Forces as the Visitor to the university could also seize the constitutional provisions to, direct the National Universities Commission (NUC) to set up a visitation panel to visit and examine the state of University of Lagos (UNILAG) as at today and act upon their findings and recommendations”.
It should also be noted that in our press release dated 19th August, 2020, “we called on Mr. President who is the Visitor to the University to intervene in the ugly situation playing out at the University”
The CACOL boss said “it gladdens our heart when we read the government’s position on the crisis as contained in a statement issued on Friday night by the Director, Press and Public Relations, in the Federal Ministry of Education, Ben Bem Goong. The statement in which the University’s Vice Chancellor, Prof. Oluwatoyin Ogundipe and the chairman of its Governing Council, Dr Wale Babalakin (SAN), was directed to step aside pending the outcome of the Special Visitation Panel set up by the President, Muhammadu Buhari. The statement also directed the Senate of the university to “nominate an acting vice-chancellor from amongst its members for confirmation by the Governing Council.”
CACOL therefore commends President Muhammadu Buhari’s wisdom for intervening in the crisis rocking the University before it goes out of hand. The decision taken by the President was in line with our earlier position as stated in the letter we sent to the President and our last press release on the same issue.
We have always believed in the principle of University Autonomy which is the institutional form of academic freedom and a necessary precondition to guarantee the proper fulfillment of the functions entrusted to higher-education teaching personnel and institutions.
We hope this intervention will not in any way violate the autonomy being enjoyed by the university and also believe this will bring a lasting solution to the crisis and engender peace and mutual co-existence between all the stakeholders of the university.
Mr. Tola Oresanwo
Acting Director, Administration and Programmes, CACOL
The Centre for Anti-Corruption and Open Leadership, CACOL, has taken a swipe at the action of Former Zamfara State Governor, Abdulaziz Yari for allegedly assaulting an environmental officer enforcing the COVID-19 protocol put in place to curb the spread of the dreaded virus at the nation’s airports.
In a release issued by CACOL on behalf of the organization’s Chairman, Mr. Debo Adeniran and signed by its Coordinator, Administration and Programmes, Mr. Tola Oresanwo, he noted, “The Centre for Anti-Corruption and Open Leadership, CACOL received with concern and disapproval news making the rounds to the effect that the former governor of Zamfara State, Abdulaziz Yari allegedly assaulted an airport official who was doing what he was paid to do”.
It would be recalled that the airport officer, on Saturday at the Malam Aminu Kano International Airport in Kano State, tried to disinfect the luggage of the former governor who was a passenger but Yari pushed him away, claiming he was a very important personality.
“We condemn the attitude of this former governor in its entirety. His action is reckless and height of irresponsibility. By his action he has portrayed himself as an enemy of the state going by the enormity of the effects of the COVID 19 pandemic on the country. One would have expected a supposed ‘Very Important Personality’ to support and abide with all directives and protocols laid down to stem the tide of this pandemic”.
“It is lamentable that a man of his status would make nonsense of a well thought out arrangement and protocol aimed at curtailing the spread of the dreaded virus. His attitude shows that many of our past and present public office holders see themselves as superman and demigods that should always be revered, adored and worshipped wherever they are. Can he try that absurdity in a foreign land? Little wonder then, the reason many of them are so bold to engage in various acts of corruption and acting as if they were above the law while holding public offices and forgetting that power is ephemeral”.
The CACOL Chairman added, “Against this unfortunate aberration, we therefore call on Federal Airport Authority of Nigeria to put mechanism in place that would prevent reoccurrence of this unfortunate incidence and spell out sanctions that would be meted out to anyone who violate the COVID 19 protocols so as to serve as deterrent to others while calling on the former governor to publicly apologize for his action”.
The Centre for Anti-Corruption and Open Leadership, CACOL, has called on anti-corruption agencies in the country for necessary investigation of fraud allegation rocking the Lagos State Waste Management Authority (LAWMA).
In a release issued by CACOL and signed by Mr Tola Oresanwo, the anti-corruption organization’s Coordinator, Administration and Programmes on behalf of its Executive Chairman, Mr Debo Adeniran, he stated, “It would be recalled that Fraud running into hundreds of millions of naira has been reportedly uncovered in the Lagos State Waste Management Authority. The Punch newspaper reported that the beneficiaries were some contractors, who engaged street sweepers for the cleaning of Lagos roads. It was learnt that due to the connection of some of the culprits, who are mostly politicians, there was fear nothing would be done about the discovery. It was also reported that a former Chief Executive Officer and Managing Director of LAWMA, Dr Muyiwa Gbadegesin, was said to have been removed as storms gathered on allegations of fraud in the system. It was also reported that the running cost of LAWMA rose from about N540m to N1bn and the governor, who wanted to save money, asked the former Managing Director to step aside for an audit while the new Managing Director, Mr Ibrahim Odumboni, was asked to oversee the process.
“The report, detailed how the management of the agency had been siphoning public funds through corrupt practices of padded wage bills by contractors of the Lagos State Waste Management Authority and passed the cost to government as the salaries of their workers”.
“The PUNCH reported that trouble started when auditors got to the Ikorodu area to verify claims made by the contractor in charge of the route. She (contractor) was identified as Iron Lady and allegedly had 66 routes assigned to her. The woman, it was said, claimed to have 2,310 workers. The auditors discovered that most of the names submitted by the woman to collect money were non-existent, while a number of the routes were unkempt. Based on the figures she submitted to the government, her company was collecting over N80m monthly from LAWMA. On the appointed day, only half of the number she gave showed up for verification. In some cases, a sweeper would be discovered to own several phones documented under different names”.
The report also has it that the audit was only one week old when a protest broke out among the street sweepers, who claimed that they had not been paid for several months.
The CACOL boss also said “from our direct interactions with some of the sweepers in the State the Punch story is not far from the truth. It is also noteworthy that the Commissioner for the Environment also corroborated the Punch story by saying “there was no reason why the Agency should owe the sweepers because their funding comes directly from the Ministry of Finance”.
The anti-graft czar added, “Considering the strategic and critical role of the agency in the maintenance of cleanliness in the State, we are seriously concerned about the enormity of corruption going on in the waste management authority in the State. We, therefore, call on the anti-corruption agencies to quickly wade into the matter now with a view to sanitizing it and bring those responsible for the alleged fraud to book so as to serve as a deterrent to others while maintaining a cleaner environment for all Lagosians”.
“We, therefore, make a clarion call for the immediate handing over of the former Managing Director of the Agency to the ICPC or EFCC to answer for the allegations. The laxity, mediocrity and ineptitude he brought on LAWMA are the reasons why everywhere was flooded during the week and a few lives and property were lost irretrievably”.
“We also call on the State Commissioner for Environment to as a matter of urgency constitute an emergency Drainage De-silting Exercise to safe people from imminent floods as heavier rains are still expected before the last quarter of the year”.
The Centre for Anti-Corruption and Open Leadership, CACOL, has called for a review of the budgetary allocation usually called security votes by the federal, state and local governments across the country.
CACOL made the call while responding to a recent revelation by Transparency International (TI) that Federal and State Governments spend over N240 billion on security votes annually purportedly for tackling unexpected security issues. The anti-graft group further expressed regret that the disbursement of these huge sums of cash are not usually accounted for, nor subject to legislative oversight and independent audit.
Commenting on the revelation, Mr. Debo Adeniran, the Executive Chairman of CACOL asked the Government to capture these allocations as security allowances appropriated for chief executives of the three tiers of government in annual budgetary estimates.
He further stated that security votes were supposed to be complementary budgetary allocations- for the purpose of responding to miscellaneous and unexpected security challenges-in addition to the usual allocation to the government’s security agencies.
According to him: “The current arrangement whereby chief executives of various tiers of government disburse security votes- which is a carry-over from the military era- as it pleases them creates room for massive corruption.
“While we implore the Government to be judicious in its handling of security vote’s allocation, we also call for a proper audit into previously spent security votes to ensure there are no fraudulent activities involved and also to ensure that these funds were used exactly for the purpose they were meant for.We insist that anybody found culpable of being corrupt in the handling of security votes should be made to face the full wrath of the law through proper prosecution to serve as a deterrent to incumbent office holders.”
The Centre for Anti-Corruption and Open Leadership CACOL has strongly condemned acts of brigandage and obstruction of justice displayed by supporters of former Governor of Kano State, Alhaji Ibrahim Shekarau who was yesterday arraigned before a Kano State High Court over an alleged fraud of N950m.
The Executive Chairman of CACOL, Mr. Debo Adeniran, while expressing the Centre’s views, decried a situation whereby ordinary Nigerians who are the direct victims of corrupt practices would make themselves available to be rented as a crowd by the same politicians that mortgaged their future through their insatiable stealing of the commonwealth entrusted to their care.
Mr. Adeniran stated that: “As much as our law provides that even for corruption charges, every accused person remains innocent until proven guilty, we implore accused persons and their supporters to note that the process of justice and equity is sacrosanct and requires that caution is applied so that the course of justice is not perverted or compromised in any way.
“We deem it necessary to remind Nigerians of the fact that Corruption has neither tribe nor religion as its ravaging effects could be felt by all and sundry, especially ordinary Nigerians that are left with no cover. We therefore appreciate the fact that Alhaji Shekarau did not abscond but made himself available for trial to respond to the allegation levelled against him.
We also need to caution his followers on the right attitude to display during his court appearances. In the same vein, we want to appreciate our law-enforcement agents for bringing the situation under control without undue casualties, while we recommend speedy trial and conclusion of the case so that the course of justice is not only served, but seen to be served.”
The Centre for Anti-Corruption and Open Leadership, CACOL, received news about the allegations of mismanagement and ‘outright pilfering’ of $16b (Sixteen billion Dollars) through power projects during ex-President Olusegun Obasanjo’s tenure with a measure of caution while calling for the setting up of a probe panel to officially ascertain how much was actually spent, on what and where, and bring culprits to book, if any.
Mr Debo Adeniran, CACOL Executive Chairman, recalled how the nation was taken aback when under the erstwhile president’s successor in office, President Umar Yar’ Adua, it was alleged that Obasanjo’s government had spent about $16b on electricity without anything substantial on ground after his tenure. But a probe panel set up by the then National Assembly exculpated ex-President Obasanjo of any wrongdoing while insisting that the figure was unduly exaggerated. This much has been reiterated by the spokesman to Olusegun Obasanjo, Mr KehindeAkinyemi, who revealed that Chief Olusegun Obasanjo never claimed to have spent the bandied sum of $16b on power projects and that aside from the allegation, what was spent could be seen in the seven National Integrated Power Projects and 18 (eighteen) gas turbines. Mr Akin Oshuntokun, spokesman for the Obasanjo-led Coalition for Nigeria, CNM, also echoed a similar view by pointing out that based on several investigations that had been carried out on the matter and reports compiled, it was clear Obasanjo only spent $6.3bn (Six Billion, Three Hundred Million Dollars) on the power sector throughout his eight-year tenure.
The CACOL Coordinator went further, “Our checks revealed that during 1999-2007 when Obasanjo held sway, the Federal Government built six gas power plants now supplying electricity to the national grid. They include Afam II (276mw), Papalanto (330mw), all completed by May, 2007, a fifth plant at Alaoju, Delta State (545mw), was under construction while a sixth plant was being constructed at Ikot-Abasi, Akwa Ibom state (145mw). It was a state government partnership with FGN.
‘Also during the same period, six states initiated power projects under the NIPP Program with FGN support at Sapele, Egbema, Ehobor, Gbaram, Calabar and Omoku; rehabilitated existing power plants at Kainji, Egbin and Shiroro, which were all performing far below capacity due to accumulated neglect. In all of this, our position remains that, as an organization that prides itself as a coalition for exposing, shaming, and consigning corruption to the dustbin of history while encouraging openness in leadership without minding whose ox is gored, we hereby recommend setting up of an impartial and competent probe panel to finally lay to rest, this ghost of how much Obasanjo’s administration actually spent on power projects during its 8-year tenure and expose any shady deals therein while bringing culprits to book. This practical approach must also be patiently applied in other identified areas of corruption.
As the on-going war against corruption gains momentum, prosecution of culprits has been visibly stalled by various tricks displayed by malefactors in a desperate bid to undermine the course of justice.
Based on our own observations which recent revelations have confirmed, corruption has permeated the psyche of Nigerians so much that many have accepted it as a way of life. To make matters worse, corrupt elite facing trial across the country have delayed the wheel of justice through cleverly thought out schemes and tricks in a bid to buy time in their various cases.
These stalled trials therefore result in indefinite postponement of corruption cases and reduction in deterrent punishments meted out to those convicted. It also results in: counter attacks by those arraigned; disappearance of the alleged perpetrators and many more vices in the criminal justice system.
It is pertinent to point out that some notable corruption cases have been stalled by one shenanigan or the other, especially that of sudden illness that has been over-used by suspected corrupt leaders.
For instance, the case of former Minister of Petroleum Resources, Diezani Allison-Madueke stands out in this category. The former minister’s corruption cases have broken all known records in the past few years as she has been linked to a series of money laundering scandals that are too many to count. In order to curry sympathy for Allison-Madueke from the unwary public, a photograph of the physically-ravaged former Minister was circulated by the publisher of Ovation magazine, Dele Momodu, who confirmed that she had been receiving treatment for breast cancer. This was despite the fact that she had denied such reports before corruption allegations against her started piling up.
Also, the Former presidential adviser on Niger Delta and Chairman of the Presidential Amnesty Programme (PAP), Kingsley Kuku, was rumoured to have fled Nigeria after he was invited for questioning by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) in 2015. Kuku later responded to the rumour by releasing images of his knee operation in the United States and denied being a fugitive. He later launched an unsuccessful attempt in court to block the EFCC from arresting him as he remained at large.
And just recently, Former National Publicity Secretary of the People’s Democratic Party (PDP), Olisa Metuh, made a dramatic entrance into an Abuja Federal High Court on Monday, when he was wheeled into the courtroom on a stretcher to face his fraud trial. Metuh joins a long list of Nigerian politicians who have developed health challenges after being accused of one form of corruption or the other.
The present anti-corruption war must result in the plugging of gaping holes and the blocking of the conduit pipes of corrupt and sharp practices to avoid a backsliding to the culture of corruption we are gradually leaving behind as a nation.
As such, CACOL calls on the various anti-graft agencies operational in the country to devise counter measures to ensure that these attempts to stall the course of justice are resisted. We also implore the Federal Government not to allow tricks by those seeking to escape the full wrath of the law to dampen its zeal in the attempt to holistically eradicate corruption in Nigeria.
BEING THE TEXT OF PRESS CONFERENCE ADDRESSED COMRADE DEBO ADENIRAN, EXECUTIVE CHAIRMAN, CENTRE FOR ANTI-CORRUPTION AND OPEN LEADERSHIP (CACOL) HELD ON THURSDAY, 8TH MARCH, 2018 AT THE HUMANITY CENTRE, OJOKORO-IJAIYE, LAGOS
“A Man stung by wasp, fears the buzz of a house-fly” – Igbo Proverb
As we welcome you; our friends and compatriots from the media, we must commence this conference with a truism. We are in the hub of sublime maneuvers by political war-horses to position themselves as likely next heir-apparent to deceive unwary electorates and gain the unfettered access to our collective patrimony. A popular saying goes that once bitten, twice shy but Nigeria has been severally bitten, serially raped by public officers of all hues, shapes and gabs that we need to be extremely cautious as we approach the 2019 general elections.
This month’s press conference coincides with the International Women’s Day, consequently CACOL is using this occasion to express our strong solidarity with the women of Nigeria, Africa and the World as the day is being commemorated across the globe. We identify with the struggles and pains of women in this contemporary World dominated by patriarchy and capitalism. We believe the engendering of gender equity, social justice and egalitarianism in society is a precursor to liberation of women and all oppressed strata of the people of the world. We thus remain in solidarity with the struggles of women focused on ensuring equity and social justice until victory forever. In line with theme for this year, ‘Press for Progress’, we call for the intensifying of the efforts of women and men to move the World, Africa and Nigeria toward an egalitarian society where the mode of co-existences amongst different classes, people and gender will be socially, economically and politically harmonious. Freedom cometh only via struggle.
As the 2019 elections approaches, we are most concerned that Nigerians are worn out with forlorn promises and hopes dangled by politicians that democratic rule would bring the country to Eldorado. Our people fought valiantly to overthrow the burden of military dictatorship demanding and rightly so their rights to humanity and democratic governance, the glorious human rights and pro-democracy crusades were littered with a lot of bloodied heads, broken bones and lost souls but the spirits of Nigerians remained high till the return of democracy in May, 1999. Ever since the entire nation watched haplessly as succeeding democratic leadership rule roughshod over the citizens.
We are most concerned that pre-general elections year has assumed a dimension when things that ought not to happen occur. The most damaging reference point is that in 2014 just before the general elections, the Chibok girls were abducted just as similarly now; in 2018 before general elections the Dapchi girls have been abducted. Is it not possible to re-write the plot structure of the tragedy of our history? CACOL mince no words at insisting that as we get nearer to the next year’s elections, we are confident that there would be daring attempts to stampede the nation into precipice by global prophets of doom acclaiming that Nigeria would become a failed State.
The alarming records coming out to the public domain from all corners of the world show a country that is seriously hemorrhaging because of the brazen looting of its treasury by its greedy leadership. The country lie permanently in a state of comatose because of the injurious activities of the past administrations especially since even the return of democracy, Nigerians now feel that there cannot be anyway out to junction out of the vicious cycle of poverty, ignorance and diseases as they even see old notorious looters being re-packaged into new national positions while many serving public officers are paying mere lips service to the present administration’s commitment to change, for economic reconstruction and anti-corruption. If Nigeria must come out of the present economic doldrums, all Nigerians must be totally and irreversibly own the process for programmatic system change.
New generations of Nigerians must arise to truly change the colour, shapes and character of leadership, far away from expired former leaders parading themselves as vanguards of a third force of leadership. If President Muhammadu Buhari really wants to stamp his foot prints in the history of the country’s search for industrial and socio-economic advancement, he must change the narratives and consciously massify his clamour for anti-corruption in the younger generations of Nigeria. This is even much more imperatives when we consider how the following global rankings have revealed that Nigeria is speedily deteriorating:
· Annual Corruption Perception Index: Nigeria’s corruption perception worsened between 2016 and 2017 according to the annual Corruption Perception Index, CPI, by Transparency International. Nigeria slipped by 12 positions in the country rankings, from 136 in 2016 to 148 in 2017. The rankings are from 1 to 180, with 180 indicating the country having the worst perception of corruption.
· International Press Freedom Index: Nigeria’s ranking in the international press freedom index has witnessed steady declined since President Muhammadu Buhari assumed office in 2015. The country is currently ranked 122 out of 180 countries according to the 2017 edition of the annual survey. The country fell from 111 in 2015 to 116 in 2016 and has fallen again to 122 in 2017, entering the “red zone” for press freedom.
· Rule of Law Index:Nigeria was downgraded by the World Justice Project (WJP) 2017/2018 Rule of Law Index. The country currently ranks 97 out of 113 countries, dropping one position from the previous ranking. The index measures the adherence to rule of law across 113 countries worldwide.
· RMB’s Africa Investment Attractiveness Index:Nigeria has fallen from the top 10 in the ‘where to Invest in Africa 2018’, Rand Merchant Bank’s (RMB) Investment Attractiveness Index. Nigeria fell from No 6 on the list to number 13. The Investment Attractiveness Index balances economic activity against the relative ease of doing business.
· Global Retail Development Index: Nigeria’s global ranking in retail development dropped from the 19th position recorded in 2016 to 27 out of 30 countries surveyed in 2017. Nigeria’s total sales from the retail sector dropped from $125bn in 2016 to $109bn in 2017. The Global Retail Development Index measures retail investments based on all relevant macroeconomic and retail-specific variables in developing countries.
· World Economic Forum Networked Readiness Index: Nigeria dropped seven places to rank 119 in the Networked Readiness Index ranking conducted by the World Economic Forum. The NRI is an indicator that measures a country’s ICT development by its ability to implement and take full advantage of ICTs.
· Nigeria’s ranking dropped to 127th in 2016 GCI analysis: Nigeria deteriorated by 3 places from 124th in 2015-2016 to 127th in 2016-2017 ranking released by the World Economic Forum (WEF). The GCI index measures the set of institutions, policies, and factors that set the sustainable current and medium-term levels of economic prosperity. The drop in ranking is attributed to two core pillars, the macroeconomic and financial market efficiency.
· Ernst and Young’s Africa Attractiveness Index: Nigeria declined to the 17th position on Ernst and Young’s Africa Attractiveness Index (AAI) 2017. This is a two-step decline from the AAI 2016 ranking. The 2017 report revealed that the number of new FDI projects in Nigeria declined to 51 in 2016 from 53 in 2015.
· World Internal Security and Police Index:Nigeria Police ranked bottom in Africa and 127th in the world, making the country, one with the worst police in the world according to the 2016 World Internal Security and Police Index (WISPI) released by the International Police Science Association (IPSA) and the Institute for Economics and Peace (IEP). Nigeria was followed by countries like the Democratic Republic of the Congo, Kenya, Uganda, and Pakistan and the report attributed Nigeria’s low rank to the rising cases of terrorism, corruption and low number of police personnel.The WISPI ranks the police based on 16 indicators around their ability to address internal security issues in their countries across four domains – capacity, process, legitimacy and outcomes.
· Worst Electricity Supply:Nigeria was ranked the second worst nation in electricity supply according to a World Economic Forum report released by The Spectator Index on the 15th of January, 2018. Nigeria suffered a power decline to 3,851 megawatts according to the ranking which puts only Yemen ahead of other countries like Nigeria, Haiti, Lebanon and Malawi.
WAKE UP CALL: These rankings were not fabricated but a sincere, statistical presentation of the continuous slide of the country, no matter the fact that officials have been accepting these only by denials. It would be recalled that the Minister of Agriculture recently claimed that Nigeria’s growth in rice production has led to decline in the export of rice in a certain Asian country which the nation immediately debunked just as the triple Minister of Housing, Power and Works claim of improved power generation is belied by the deteriorating supply of electricity situation in the country. CACOL consider this global rankings as a clarion call for Government and Nigerians to tighten up our girdle if are serious about taking Nigeria to greater heights. A cursory examination of number of contemporary social developments in the country will also validate these data.
Herdsmen Carnages and Terrorism: The nation is grappling with the orgies of violent attacks and bloodletting of herdsmen carnages and farmers clashes in several States of the Federation while government seems either incapable or without requisite political will to stem the tides. Many villages have been sacked in Benue, Taraba, Nasarawa and Plateau States with many people displaced from their homes, farmlands and workplaces. The grave implications of these ravages are very grave as the country risk high possibility of experiencing famine and outbreak of diseases from where these heinous carnages take place. Government must put in place security measures to stop these carnages and bring culprits to book.
Porous Borders, National Security Threats: Our territorial borders particularly with Chad, Niger, Sudan and Cameroun have become virile markets for smuggling of arms and ammunitions into the country. The borders are also routes for terrorists from other parts of the continent and elsewhere that daily infiltrates the country and perpetuates violent crimes. We consider this as manifest threat to our national security which relevant government’s security agencies must tackle headlong.
Greek Gift Called Minimum Wage: It is interesting to get news reports of the plans of the Federal Government to pay a new minimum wage in September this year. It is trite to state that there are statutory mechanisms for negotiation of minimum wage and it is not the business of Government to dangle the promises of a fantastic minimum wage especially when such promise is expected to come just a few months to general elections. Many patriotic observers have noted that there may be hidden agenda to this promise of Eldorado for workers. This is even more curious when most States are unable to pay the last minimum wage while many owe workers arrears of their monthly salaries. In most advanced industrial economies of the world, there is no periodic rituals of minimum wage as the priorities are always to fix and stabilize the economy so that inflationary indices does not make nonsense of the value of workers’ wages. We call on the labour sector and informal unions to think out of the box and task Government to address the ailing economy, reverse its negative downward slides so as to make the value of labour wages meaningful.
The Bulls in the China-wares Shop: Virtually all State Governors in the country can be effectively described as rampaging bulls in a China-wares’ shop except perhaps for Lagos and Ogun when it comes to the treatment of workers and retirees. The most notorious even go to the extent of not only bullying workers but sacking or threats of mass sacks and wanton terrorization of civil populace. The most notorious are Governors of Kaduna, Bayelsa, Oyo, Ekiti, Kogi and Ondo States. The Governor of Ondo State even has the brazen effrontery to contemplate privatizing and commercializing the educational sector in a State that its major vocation is education! Paradoxically, these Governors and other elected public officers smile home every month with their jumbo pay and unaccounted security votes. Nigerians should note these bullish leaders and exercise their franchise rights to take ownership of their States to secure their future.
The Outrageous Price of Development in Lagos: As much as this State has the envious record of almost been self-sustaining courtesy of its aggressive revenue drive, yet, the poor and toiling populace have no resting place as they are heavily taxed and brutally displaced from their homes and place of work. The general cry is for the State to put a human face to its developmental plans. It is demographically wrong to build a city only for the rich. CACOL has raised it at every opportunity that class is of essence in societal and city development. A mega city cannot exist without the masses. This is why CACOL joins all conscientious voices to call for the reversal of the Increment in the Land Use charge, and the re-introduction of the Tenement Rate. The economic sensitivity of the effect of the recent recession is to deliver a good level of welfarism to the people who are the worst hit and depressed so far.
Stem the De-industrialisation Slides of the Country: The major historic task before President Muhammadu Buhari is to shift decidedly from the socio-economic developmental paradigm of neo-liberalism imposed on the country by the Brettonwood global financial institutions’ hawks which has effectively turned the country into a veritable dumping ground for consumeric industrial goods of the advanced western world. Many industries in the country have winded down and the nation is presently de-industrialised by the economic policies imposed on us by the quisling ruling elites that are ever ready to be errand boys of western world in our corridors of power. These dangerous neo-liberal economic pills and those who prescribed them must be fumigated out of the Nigerian system. We must consciously embrace system change and a paradigm shift to alternative socio-economic order.
Shut Up. Make Atonement and Retire to Old Peoples’ Home: A couple of former Heads of States and their hordes have been befouling the country’s political space with their odious pronouncements in recent times. These are elements that when they were in power have boggling records of looting the country treasury dry. If they are genuine elder statesmen and men of conscience, what they should do is to beg the entire nation and public to make atonement by returning all their ill-gotten wealth into the coffers of the country. Nigerians should rise up and tell these types of bad experiment in our national leadership to atone for the lootings and mis-governance of the past because most of them apparently deserve to be behind bars.
Quintessentially, it is significant to point out that routine election as a democratic practice does not necessarily translate to collective control of the socio-economic existence of the people. Even though our constitution provides for government to ensure the socio-economic rights of the people whereby their security and social wellbeing is prioritized in a way that the wealth of the people is not concentrated in a few hands as required of a democracy, the aberration of this reality is what obtains in Nigeria.
Consequently, as the 2018 – 2019 elections approach and with the excruciating conditions of living of the majority, Nigerians must rise in unison to struggle for the assertion of their socio-economic rights as dialectically required components of a democracy under best practices. Chapter 2 of the Nigerian constitution should be the guide of the choices we make in the elections by ensuring that the governments at all levels commit to the security and social welfare of the populace before earning their votes.
The economic practice of neo-liberalism that has continued to be imposed on the country by successive governments is antithetical to democracy given that it has only succeeded in widening the gap between the rich and the poor. The Bretton Woods institution dictated neo-liberal policies which have failed almost in every country it had been imbibed must be abandoned to achieve a socio-economically harmonious existence of the people.
Beyond elections, Nigerians must invigorate the struggles for social emancipation holistically because the present status quo will perpetually ensure penury in their lives if the system is not overhauled and replaced with a more humane one that would guarantee the social welfare and security of life and property.
The Centre for Anti-Corruption and Open Leadership, CACOL finds the statement credited to Mr. Raji Fashola that lack of adequate electricity in Nigeria cannot be responsible for the country’s slow-paced industrial, or drop in levels of her economic growth as illogical and insensitive to the sufferings of Nigerians.
The Minister of Power, Works and Housing in a recent meeting with civil society groups to review the contents and implications of Power Sector Recovery Programme (PSRP) initiated by the Federal Government with support from the World Bank claimed that the inadequate supply of electricity power cannot be held responsible for the company’s inability to climb out of economic doldrums and slow paced industrialization. This is not only a pathetic assertion but also a cruel and criminal justification of the conscious de-industrialisation policy of the hawks in our ruling class.
The first point to note is that the country has committed a huge investment into the power sector yet there is no commensurate out-put. Contemporary African nations like Ghana, Angola and South Africa spent much less on power sector yet their citizens enjoy un-interrupted power supply. This is the reason why these countries are preferred destination points for direct foreign investment. Yet, our ruling class indulges in ludicrous justifications on why we cannot take elusive flight to become industrialised nation. Industrialisation is advanced economic phase in civilization which requires higher apprehension than the semi-feudal, lumpen-market trader economic culture that the ruling elite are foisting on the country. No wonder the easy resort to uncouth social stratification and political climate in Nigeria.
The other critical issue is that in Nigeria, neo-liberal financial institutions like the World Bank are imposing economic systems on us that stultify growth by ensuring that the vast Nigerian market remains a perpetual dumping ground for finished industrial goods from foreign western countries. Tragically, triple Minister Fashola who strongly adheres to the neo-liberal schemes of these financial agencies that are fully beneficial to foreign industrial nations but injurious to our ailing economy. The policy that government has no business in business, in providing social infrastructural facilities like health, pipe-borne water, education, roads, etc for its people.
Fashola does not only regurgitate this neo-liberal ideological platitudes, he put them into full blown practice while he served as Governor in Lagos State, he commercialized all public infrastructure, hospitals, schools, roads with toll gates just as he is planning to bring same on federal roads with the so-called public-private sector partnership.Thus, his lame claim and deliberate castration of the power sector from taking off is just in total sync with his character of serving foreign master while Nigeria bleeds. Nigeria warehouse different types of consumer goods and industrial ones from countries with lesser human and material resources like Japan, China, India, Brazil, and from Asia!
The Minister claims that the power generating companies GENCO produces 7000 megawatts of electricity while the distribution companies DISCOS distributes 5000 megawatts leaving an unused 2000 megawatts supply of electricity which could have been used for our industrialisation. Sometimes when one lies through both side of his/her mouth, many times only empty airs would be constructed as words. The reality is that if there are sufficient generation and distribution, why is most of our communities still battling with epileptic power supplies? The naked reality is that many of Nigeria industries have folded up or wound down their operations because of the high cost of operations occasioned by the fact that they have to independently provide their power supplies. Many of these companies have relocated to neighbouring countries like Ghana even Togo.
A corollary factor for industrialisation is the dire need for constant research and development of new product. No serious research institution can function well without twenty four hours uninterrupted power supply especially industrial research centres. There is no single industrial research institution in the country that is doing justice to its areas of thematic focus because of the problem with power supply. There are legions of instances where other nations have taken some of our agricultural products like cocoa, perm-kernel etc to their research institutes and refined them into commercial gold products. For elements like our Minister with three portfolios, it is better for our cassava to be processed in China while open the flood gate of our country to cheap, cheap industrial goods from this same countries.
As state earlier, constant, un-interrupted power supply, industrialisation and civilization walk together. It is our inability to get our right on this note that makes the ruling elites to seek medical treatments outside the shores of Nigeria; send their children to schools in other countries, shop for their wares in foreign and spend their holidays in industrialised nations. It reflects the fact that they are aware that without power supply Nigeria is still in dark ages. Yet, Mr. Fashola has the effrontery to rub it in our nose.
The statement credited to the Minister clearly vindicates of position that President Muhammed Buhari ought to sack him for his cluelessness, ineffectiveness and overall poor performance in the three ministries he superintend over. Fashola should be replaced a person who will be effective, creative and sensitive to the sensibilities of patriotic Nigerians and who demonstrate a firm commitment to address the deficit in the country’s power supply.