The Centre for Anti-Corruption and Open Leadership, CACOL, has enjoined Nigerians to remain calm in the midst of current challenges facing the nation even as the nation prepares for the forthcoming elections.
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, stated that, “It would be recalled that the we have few days left before the presidential and parliamentary elections in Nigeria, It will be the largest democratic exercise on the continent as Africa’s most populous nation picks a new president. The election, as important as it is, would take place even as the country battles myriad economic and security problems that range from fuel and cash shortages to rising terror attacks, high inflation, and a plummeting local currency.”
Inasmuch as we would like to commend the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) for its efforts to ensure a credible election through the adoption of innovative technologies such as the Bimodal Voter Accreditation System (BVAS) we cannot but express concern about existing predicaments like logistical difficulties of fuel and cash scarcity that could impact the integrity of the elections.
We all know that Fuel shortages and scarcity of the newly redesigned local currency have stirred violent protests in parts of Nigeria as millions of people struggle to get their hands on new versions of banknotes. The rising security concerns and frequent attacks on INEC facilities in the country is a challenge to the safety of voters and the integrity of the forthcoming election which is poised to become a seminal moment in the country’s political history.
We at CACOL would like to use this medium to call on all stakeholders with one thing or the other to do with the upcoming elections to put in their best so that we can have free, fair, and transparent elections. We would also like to call on the citizens to remain calm and allow the government to fix the myriads of problems bedeviling the country.
The CACOL Boss added, “To the contestants to various elective positions, we want them to know that they can only represent the people in an atmosphere of peace and tranquility, we need peaceful elections to give democracy a boost in the country, hence the need for all the candidates, the party chairmen and members of all political parties, to respect the voice of Nigerians and embraced the politics of peace.”
CACOL COMMENDS PRESIDENT BUHARI FOR SIGNING THE BUSINESS FACILITATION BILL INTO LAW.
The Centre for Anti-Corruption and Open Leadership, CACOL, hashailed President Muhammadu Buhari for signing the business facilitation bill into law.
In a press release issued by the anti-graft coalition’s Director of Administration and Programmes, Tola Oresanwo on behalf of its Chairman, Mr. Debo Adeniran, he noted, “It was reported that the President has assented to the Business Facilitation (Miscellaneous Provisions) Bill 2022 also known as the omnibus bill and five other bills passed by the National Assembly.
Presented as an executive bill, the business facilitation (miscellaneous provisions) act, 2023, is a legislative intervention by The Presidential Enabling Business Environment Council (PEBEC), which amends 21 business-related laws, removing bureaucratic constraints to doing business in Nigeria.
The new law also codifies executive order 001 on transparency and efficiency in public service delivery, aimed at strengthening ease of doing business reforms across the country.
The CACOL Chair opined that “we hope the signing of this bill into law will mark a turning point for ease of doing business, transparency, efficiency and productivity in the country. We all know that the country has been known for various bureaucratic bottlenecks when it comes to running a business, which has impeded so many entrepreneurs who would have established businesses that would thrive and absorb the teeming numbers of jobless youth in the country.”
“We therefore commend the 9th national assembly for its speedy consideration of this bill, and President Buhari for signing it into law as this singular action would boost the delivery of an enabling environment for micro, small and medium-sized enterprises (MSMEs) in Nigeria.”
“Ease of doing business will reduce the propensity to demand and give bribes before things are done. We also believe that when people have direct access to their own business, and they can do their business and make profits, the penchant to get involved in corruption will be reduced”
“We have always opined that if there were enabling laws, policies and a strong will to implement those laws, corrupt practices, and opacity in the business environment would be easily nipped in the bud.”
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) has reacted to the judgment of the Osun State Governorship Election Tribunal which declared Adegboyega Oyetola of the All Progressives Congress, APC as the winner of the July 16 governorship election.
The Tribunal, headed by Justice Tertsea Kume, last Friday, ruled that the election was characterized by over-voting and annulled the result declared by the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC), which gave victory in the election to Mr Ademola Adeleke of the People’s Democratic Party (PDP).
In a release issued by CACOL and signed by the organization’s Director of Administration and Programmes, Tola Oresanwo on behalf of its Chairman, Debo Adeniran, it stated, “We commend members of the Tribunal for being professional, upright and just despite the enormous pressure they were under. The said ruling of the Tribunal would help deepen Nigeria’s electoral system and democracy.”
CACOL, however, urged those who are not satisfied with the judgment not to resort to violence but to remain calm and allow the law to run its full course.
The CACOL head posited that “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.”
The Centre for Anti-Corruption and Open Leadership, CACOL, has commended the ruling of the Federal Capital Territory High Court that ordered the interim forfeiture of the funds and properties recovered from the former Accountant General of the Federation, Ahmed Idris, by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission.
In a release issued by CACOL’s Director of Administration and Programmes, Tola Oresanwo on behalf of its Chairman, Mr. Debo Adeniran, he noted, “A statement recently released by EFCC spokesperson, Wilson Uwujaren, said Justice M.A Hassan gave the order on Tuesday while ruling on a motion exparte marked M/1149/2022 and filed by the commission.
The commission had asked the court for an order of interim attachment/forfeiture of the properties in the schedule to the application, pending the hearing and determination of the substantive case in charge No. FCT, HC/CR/299/2022, Federal Republic of Nigeria V. Ahmed Idris and Others”.
The properties linked to Idris which were listed in the schedule for forfeiture include Kano City Mall/Al Ikhlas Shopping Mall at Mandwawarti, Kano; a one-storey Shopping Complex at Ladanai, Kano; Corner Shops at Ladanai, Kano; a duplex at Karsana, Abuja; Royal Duplex at Deneji Quarters, Kano and a Duplex at Plot 271, New Jersey Street, Efab Blue Fountain Estate, Abuja.
Nine properties linked to the second respondent, Mohammed Usman, which are located in Abuja, Niger, and Nasarawa States, were also ordered forfeited in the interim. They include plots of land with shops in Chanchaga Local Government Area of Niger State, 37 hectares of farmland with livestock located along Minna-Bida Road in Niger State, Bungalow flats at Gwarimpa, Abuja, Bungalow Buildings at Masaka, Nasarawa State, plots of land at Dutse Alhaji Abuja and 13 plots of land at Integrated City, Minna, Niger State.
We at CACOL are elated at this ruling, we have always believed in the principle of dignity of labour. It is so shameful and pathetic that some of those our youths are looking up to as professionals in their chosen field of endeavours are engaging in sharp practices. How else can one describe the situation where someone who is supposed to be a man of impeccable character, scrupulous and a role model to million others in his profession can easily soil his reputation by dipping his hand in the national cookie jar. His likes have continually dragged the name of the country in the mud and are so bold to flaunt their ill-gotten wealth in public. This is why culprits of corruption need to be deprived of their evil accumulations, wherever and whenever they are found out, and made to face the consequence of their acts as a just supper”.
The CACOL Boss added, “We therefore hail the decision of the judge, Justice M.A Hassan to order the interim forfeiture of the said assets and funds of the accused after taking into consideration the evidences presented before the court. We hope the ruling of the court will serve as an eye opener to those who are still perpetrating this heinous crime against humanity in our various ministries and parastatals and make them have a rethink so that together we can all build and live in a corruption free society”.
THIRTEEN PERCENT DERIVATION FUND: MORE QUESTIONS THAN ANSWERS
The principle of derivation as encapsulated under the proviso to Section 162 (2) of the 1999 Constitution as amended. It is geared towards providing recompense to the producers of any natural resources for the expropriation and sequestration of their rights to control and manage same, by the Nigerian State.
The percentage of revenue paid to the oil-producing states from the oil that is produced from their areas has been a matter of contention since oil was first discovered in Nigeria. The 1999 constitution provides that at least 13 percent of the revenue derived from natural resources should be paid to the states where it is produced, though there have been substantial delays in calculating and paying these sums. The federal government only began making payments in accordance with the increased allocation in January 2000, although they fell due from June 1999, and in practice has never paid the 13 percent minimum. Nonetheless, allocations from the federal government to the oil-producing states have increased markedly since 1999, rising to 25 percent of the amount paid out to states from the “federation account” in 2001 (the equivalent of just over U.S.$1 billion), from 12 percent in the second half of 1999 (or approximately $120 million). The main oil producing states – Akwa Ibom, Bayelsa, Delta, and Rivers – have about 10 percent of the population of Nigeria. These payments have not satisfied residents of oil-producing areas who feel they still do not receive adequate benefits from the oil. Individuals and groups from across the political spectrum in what is known as the “south-south” zone of Nigeria have demanded that the oil producing states assume “full control” over their natural resources, and pay tax from those revenues to the federal government. They also demand the repeal of a number of laws that give control over land and mineral resources to the federal government.
Despite claims of neglect and abandonment, investigation has revealed that governments of oil-producing states in Nigeria had over the years, failed to utilize the resources provided them to develop their states and the region. Data obtained from a series of reports from the Central Bank of Nigeria, CBN, revealed that oil-producing states in Nigeria received N7.006 trillion as payments under the 13 per cent Derivation principle over the last 18 years, from 1999 to 2016.
The oil producing states are Akwa-Ibom, Rivers, Delta, Cross River, Edo, Bayelsa, Abia, Ondo, Imo, Anambra, and of recent, Lagos State. Analysis of the payments showed that from 1999 to 2003, N360.4 billion was paid to oil-producing states; N1.338 trillion were paid to the states between from 2004 and 2007; 2008 to 2011 saw the states receiving N2.36 trillion, while from 2012 to 2016, the states received N2.947 trillion. Ironically, the 2017 budget of all the states, inclusive of Lagos, stood at N3.165 trillion, about half of the amount received by the states from the Federation Account under the 13 per cent derivation principle.
The huge sum notwithstanding, the Niger Delta region is still suffering from massive infrastructure decay, widespread poverty and environmental degradation, among numerous others. The 13 per cent derivation fund has been a subject of controversy between the oil-producing communities and their various states government, with the former asking the Federal Government to stop paying the money directly to the communities and not into the coffers of the state.
The federal government has announced on several occasions the priority it gives to development in the Niger Delta, including by establishing a Niger Delta Development Commission. But the announcements have not led to significant improvements on the ground. In particular, little of the money paid by the federal government to state and local governments from the oil revenue is actually spent on genuine development projects: there appears to be virtually no control or proper audit over spending by state and local authorities-despite the federal government’s creation of an Independent Corrupt Practices Commission (ICPC) with the mandate to investigate such wrongdoing
Recently, the revelation of Governor Nyesom Wike of Rivers State that President Muhammadu Buhari approved and paid the arrears of the 13% derivation fund to Rivers, Bayelsa, Delta, Edo and Akwa Ibom states came like a bombshell. Wike spoke on the arrears during the inauguration of the N17billion Port Harcourt Campus of the Nigerian Law School. The governor said President Buhari’s gesture was the major source of revenue for his projects, including the flyovers, the law school and the cancer centre. He was quoted as saying: “Monies that were not paid to the Niger Delta states since 1999 mainly 13 per cent deductions, the President approved and paid all of us in Niger Delta states.” Wike repeated his comments at two other events afterwards.
Wike’s revelation has raised another series of questions such as what have the other governors who received a similar windfall been doing with their own? How much was received by each state? And did they just receive it and keep quiet? How will they expend it? Or will they just walk away with it or utilize it as campaign funds in an electioneering period like this or use it for other extraneous purposes that are not related to the yearnings and aspirations of the people of the state who are supposed to be the major beneficiaries? Another important question that comes to mind is how such conspiracy of silence was possible in a democracy and where there are a plethora of checks and balances put in place which is expected to put people in the know.
We at CACOL, would like to know the exact amount collected by each of the states involved, how the money was spent or is being spent. We would also use this medium to call on the anti-corruption agencies to investigate the governors of the states concerned including Rivers, so as to be sure that the quantity and quality of the projects executed is commensurate with the money collected.
The Centre for Anti-Corruption and Open Leadership, CACOL, has taken a swipe at the activities of some committees of the National Assembly alleged to be passing budgets for ministries, departments and agencies of the Federal Government illegally.
In a release issued by CACOL and signed by Tola Oresanwo, the organization’s Director of Administration and programmes on behalf of its Chairman, Mr. Debo Adeniran, he remarked, “It would be recalled that President Buhari, while laying the 2023 Appropriation Bill before a joint session of the National Assembly on October 7, 2022, slammed committees of the parliament who were bypassing him and approving budgets for government-owned enterprises without his approval.”
It is instructive to note that the House of Representatives’ Committee on Public Accounts has confirmed the allegation by the President, Buhari, that some committees of the National Assembly are passing budgets for ministries, departments and agencies of the Federal Government illegally.
The Punch newspaper reported that the committee, after making the discovery, wrote to the Secretary to the Government of the Federation, Boss Mustapha, and the Clerk to the National Assembly, Amos Ojo, to confirm if Buhari actually transmitted the MDAs’ budget to the parliament or not.
The action of these dishonourable legislators is not only an affront to the president but one illegality too great being committed against Nigeria and Nigerians.
Going by the principle of separation of powers, the legislators ought to know their limits when it comes to budgetary processes of the government and its MDAs. The President is expected to transmit budgetary proposals of MDAs to the National Assembly, while the clerk transmits passed budgets to the Presidency for implementation.
We at CACOL would like to use this medium to condemn the action of these legislators and call on the Senate and the House of Representatives’ Committees on Public Accounts to investigate the Chairmen of the committees involved in this illegality and report them to anti-graft agencies for appropriate prosecution and sanctions.
The country is currently grappling with so many challenges most of which are man-made and corruption is at the root of most of the country’s woes. Hence, this illegal action of these committee Chairmen must not be condoned and the allegations against them must not be thrown under the carpet. Members of the public should be put in the know regarding the outcome of investigation into the case and those found culpable should be made to face the full wrath of the law so as to serve as deterrent to others.
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.
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