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Thursday, 16 November 2017

HURIWA tasks INEC ON TRANSPARENCY IN ANAMBRA POLL *Condemns Okorocha on “Magic hand” victory for APC:

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A pro-democracy and Non-governmental organization – HUMAN RIGHTS WRITERS ASSOCIATION OF NIGERIA (HURIWA) has asked the Independent National Electoral Commission of Nigeria (INEC) to be above board and totally non-partisan during the November 18th Anambra State governorship poll.

The group expressed strong condemnation of the careless statement reportedly made by the controversial governor of Imo State Mr. Rochas Okorocha during President Buhari campaign event for the APC governorship candidate Mr. Tony Nwoye in which Okorocha was reported as asking President Buhari to use his “magic hand” to make Tony Nwoye Anambra governor.

HURIWA warned the electoral commission to conduct a free, fair, peaceful, transparent and decisive election and allow the electorate in Anambra State to determine who emerges as the winner of the democratic process onNovember 18th.

Conversely, the Rights group cautioned INEC and especially the controversial National Commissioner and niece of President Muhammadu Buhari Hajia Amina Zakari to perish any likely contemplation of using her powerful position to achieve the manipulation of the process as a way of actualization of the prayer of governor Rochas Okorocha to Buhari on the use of 'magic hand' to confer electoral advantage on the candidate of the All Progressives Congress so as to avoid precipitating chaos and electoral violence.

“The current leadership of the Independent National Electoral Commission has always pandered to the whims and caprices of the presidential cabal and did not behave in a professional manner during the last two governorship polls in Ondo and Edo which the electoral panel displayed high level of partisanship and manipulations and awarded controversial electoral victories to the ruling national party". 

"The Anambra State election on Saturday will be a different kettle of fish because of the high caliber of candidates vying for the only slot of governor of Anambra State which is a very strategic state in the whole of South East of Nigeria which also has the greatest concentration of highly erudite scholars and wealthy industrialists”.

HURIWA cited legal authorities from the Nigerian Institute of Advanced Legal Studies and charged INEC to respect the constitutional rights of Anambra state electorate and carry out a transparent election because: "Human Rights are rights of men which should be legally recognized and protected to secure for each individual the fullest and freest development of personality and spiritual, moral, unobstructed, independent life. They are conceived as rights inherent in individuals as natural free willing creatures. However, some of these rights are so fundamental to man that they are reduced into writing, guaranteed and entrenched under the state’s Constitution as fundamental rights". 

HURIWA further quoted the constitutional authorities by stating thus: "The Basic tenets of Human Rights include, the Right to life, Right to dignity of human person, Right to personal liberty, Right to fair hearing, Right to private and family life, Right to freedom of thought, conscience and religion, Right to freedom of expression and the press, Right to peaceful assembly and association, Right to freedom of movement, Right to freedom from discrimination, Right to acquire and own immovable property”.

The Nigeria Military And Gender Discrimination By Arábìnrin Betty Anyanwu-Akeredolu


Various news media sources on the 13th of November 2017 carried the report of how the Nigerian Military in its newly ratified “Conditions of Service” has implemented a major policy reversal by excluding female cadets from the combatant course of the Nigerian Defence Academy. This policy reversal it has been reported was based on the recommendation of the Armed Forces Council recently inaugurated by the President.

While no official explanation has been given by the Nigerian Military, the Armed Forces Council or the Presidency as to why this policy, which is a direct reversal of a policy implemented just six years ago, was taken, the news outlets all suggest that it was taken due to pressures from northern Muslim leaders to prevent women from reaching the pinnacle of leadership within the Nigerian Armed Forces. Herein, lies the problem.
The Armed Forces has the “Regular Combatant Commission”, the “Short Service Combatant Commission”, the “Direct Regular Commission”, the “Direct Short Service” and the “Executive Commission”. All the commissions have a limited career path except for the Regular Combatant Commission. Only personnel enlisted in tis commission have the opportunity to head any service or become Chief of Defence Staff. This means that, if this policy is reversed, women will never be able to attain such heights in the Nigerian Military.

It is a shame, that in a world and society where everyone is clamouring for equal opportunities for both sexes and women are achieving great feats in various sectors, that our Federal Government would at such a time sanction the approval of such a policy that expressly and directly challenges that. It is even worse, because according to the reports, female cadets on this programme have indeed been excelling without any special or favourable treatment. The first set of graduates last year, had women winning three awards including the highest award in the Naval category.

Apart from the societal and moral displeasures, the policy is a clear violation of constitutional and fundamental human rights which frowns upon the discrimination of citizens based on gender, religion and other freedoms outlined in the constitution.

When this story was brought to my attention, it absolutely broke my heart. It came at a time when I had also read a story about a young girl who had been deeply abused and discriminated against just because she is female. Everyone knows I am very passionate about our young people and especially our girls and women and these stories are testament to the fact that here in Nigeria we are still operating a discriminatory and gender biased system despite all the gains made by women in the World, in Africa and even in Nigeria.

All over the World, even in Arab (Muslim) nations we have women enlisted in military and intelligence services, even as combatants, so it is perplexing as to why this should be an issue here in Nigeria. Limiting women from being able to enlist as combatants is also a disadvantage to the Nation. We all know that in times of war and internal insecurity, the enemy does not consider gender, everyone is targeted, and everyone is a victim. It is beneficial to the armed forces that every able and willing individual be allowed to fight and defend this nation. We have also heard stories of even Boko Haram using women to carry out their dastardly acts, but we choose to restrict women from defending the country.

I believe this policy is one that should not only bother women in the military or with interest in it or just women, it should bother all well-meaning Nigerians. This policy is one that takes us back very many years. This policy is reminiscent to segregations imposed upon African-American’s in the United States of American, Blacks in Apartheid South-Africa and Jews and Blacks in Germany. You may look at it as an issue that doesn’t directly affect you now, but segregation is segregation and once it goes unchecked, it spreads to different groups and different facets of life.

It has come to light one day after the initial reports, that the Military has denounced the existence of this policy. A press release by Major General John Enenche expresses that no such policy exists and reports of such is misinformation. If this is as a result of the public outrage, good. If indeed, it really never existed, better. We hope this continues to remain the case.

Our Senators and Representatives in the House are also charged to take a stance against such policies. We especially look to the women to lead the charge and raise their voice against such discrimination towards women.

We owe it to our mothers, wives, sisters, aunts, daughters, cousins and nieces to stand up and challenge this controversial, regressive and despondent policy that has no cogent benefit towards us as a people or in the eyes of the International community. We owe it to ourselves to stand against this policy which I consider a gateway by the Government to violate our fundamental human rights. We owe it to our nation and its future to show that we are a 21st Century Nation with values and principles of respect for individual rights and value for women in the society. We owe it to the World to challenge this policy to show that we are a nation which believes in equal opportunities and does not discriminate based on gender.

Please join me as we raise a unified voice to ask that this policy never be contemplated and thus, never be implemented and give our women a right to achieve what they can according to their ability and merit, even in Military Service.
Thank you.
 Arábìnrin Betty Anyanwu-Akeredolu is the wife of the Ondo state Governor, Arakunrin Oluwarotimi Akeredolu, SAN,

UN seeks home-grown solutions to conflicts in Nigeria


The United Nations will support home-grown solutions that will lead to the deepening of peace and stability in all parts of Nigeria, Muhammad Ibn Chambas, the UN secretary General's Special Representative for West Africa and Sahel, has said.

Speaking when he visited Governor Aminu Waziri Tambuwal of Sokoto State, Chambas said the UN system in Nigeria will continue to collaborate with all stakeholders to ensure peace and sustainable development in the country.

A statement issued in Sokoto by Tambuwal's spokesman, Malam Imam, quoted Chambas as saying that the global body firmly believes in the unity of Nigeria, and will continue to support all its organs for rapid socio-economic development.

"The peace and unity of Nigeria is very important to the global community. We commend efforts aimed at promoting peace in the country. Let me applaud the work done by the Abdulsalami Abubakar-led peace committee especially during the transition period in 2015.

"As the next election circle approaches, we expect others to play similar or related roles in ensuring peace and stability," he added.

In his remarks, Tambuwal sought support from leading international organisations for end to profiliferation of small arms not just in Nigeria, but in all conflict prone areas of the world.

He commended Chambas for his concern about peace in the country, saying as someone who spent a large part of working life in Nigeria, he has become a stakeholder in the Nigeria project.

He appealed to the envoy to support Sokoto state in key areas like agriculture, development of small and medium scale industries, education and health.  

Wednesday, 15 November 2017

HURIWA Unveils National Governance Blackbook *Condemns Nigeria's rising debt profile:


A development focused and pro-democracy group – HUMAN RIGHTS WRITERS ASSOCIATION OF NIGERIA (HURIWA) said it has compiled for launch in December a national governance blackbook that has listed all the poorly performing political office holders.

HURIWA has also carpeted the Federal Executive Council and the Senate of the Federal Republic for enslaving Nigeria to neo-liberal forces in the West by the suspicious approval of a borrowing plan of $5 billion USD to service external debts even when the propaganda machinery of President Muhammadu Buhari's administration had churned out exagerrated figures running into several billions of dollars as looted funds recovered by EFCC from government rogues in the last two years.

Besides, the Rights group decried the astronomical rise in the debt profile of Nigeria in the last two years which even by official estimates as released by the Debts management office is phenomenal.

The Rights group which links the gross violations of human rights across the country as the clearest indicator of the absence of comprehensive good governance practices in Nigeria, stated that the aim of the publication is to highlight the setbacks that democracy has faced including the near total disrespect to the sanctity of human life occasioned by the serial bloody attacks by armed Fulani herdsmen, boko haram Islamists and a range of armed freelance killers across the country.

The blackbook of Nigerian governance standards which is set for introduction on the date of World Human Rights Day on December 10th2017 will thematically serve as a guide book for discernable Nigerians to be used as a potent weapon and knowledge – based arsenal to put their representatives and elected office holders to task to fulfill the sacred campaign promises they made which elicited the votes they secured during the 2015 general elections.

In a media statement by the National coordinator Comrade Emmanuel Onwubiko and the National Media Affairs Director Miss Zainab Yusuf, the Rights group lamented that human rights violations by President Buhari and most of the 36 state governors have collectively reduced Nigeria to a laughing stock in the comity of nations and affirmed that from empirical data it collected whilst writing the national governance blackbook on Nigeria show that Nigeria is worse than Zimbabwe, Uganda, Rwanda and Burundi in terms of human rights violations.

“Our effort in writing this blackbook of governance in Nigeria is to serve as a historical records of the series of events that have happened in the last two years for the benefits of future research and documentation and to help in shaping positive directions for the future of human rights, rule of law and respect for the dignity of the human person". 

HURIWA argued further: "We devoted substantial sections of this book on the attacks of farmlands and villages all over the country by armed Fulani herdsmen and the conspiratorial silence of the relevant command and control structures of the armed forces under the direct charge of President Buhari. We also took time yo document the breakdown of law and order in some parts of Nigeria including the spread of terror attacks and activities of armed kidnappings for ransom(KFR)"

HURIWA disclosed that it held validation events in the six geopolitical zones discreetly before the blackbook was accepted for publication under the respected imprimatur of the rights group.

It however stated that copies of the book would be made available free of charge to Nigerians of all walks of life.

On the rising debt profile HURIWA recalled that Nigeria’s total debt stock rose by N8tn between September 2015 and September 2017, according to statistics provided by the Debt Management Office.

HURIWA recalled that the DMO said the country’s total debt stock as of the end of September this year stood at N20.37tn, while the figure at the same period in 2015 stood at N12.36tn.

According to information quoted by HURIWA, the aforementioned figures means that within a period of two years, the country’s total debt exposure rose by N8.1tn. In terms of percentage increase, the country’s total debt rose by 64.81 in the period.

HURIWA said that it is alarming that as of 2015, the external loan component of the country’s total debt stood at N2.09tn. However, as of September 30, 2017, the external debt component stood at N4.60tn. This means that the external debt component rose by N2.6tn or 124.4 per cent.

Besides, the Rights group quoted the officials of Debt Management office as disclosing that the domestic debt component of the total debt, on the other hand, rose from N10.27tn as of September 2015 to N15.68tn the same time this year.

HURIWA condemned the National Assembly and the Presidency for the current move to borrow $5 billion to service both local and foreign debts even as it expressed disgust that this loan would endanger the future of generations of Nigerians that are unborn. 

Monday, 13 November 2017

*It’s laughable celebrating Buhari’s visit to South East: - HURIWA *Asks Buhari to give South East its due:


A pro-democracy and non-governmental organization – HUMAN RIGHTS WRITERS ASSOCIATION OF NIGERIA (HURIWA) has described as laughable, pedestrian and disgraceful, the seeming joy and apparent celebrations by some supporters of President Muhammadu Buhari over his proposed visit to the South East of Nigeria.

The Rights group has also challenged President Buhari to display presidential statesmanship by discontinuing the implementation of policies and programmes that graphically presents him as being rabidly pro-North and pro-Islam.

HURIWA is of the considered opinion that the disproportionate concentration of all or most of the strategic national defence portfolios and internal security command positions in the North and by Moslems under the current dispensation remains a big dent in any claim by President Buhari of being a nationalist and a statesman.

The Rights group said the President must use the opportunity of this state visit to the South East to end the perennial alienation and lopsided appointments that relegated the South East of Nigeria to the background in the scheme of things especially on issues of National Defence and security architecture.

HURIWA carpeted the loyalists of the APC –led federal government for erecting a mountain out of a Mole hill by celebrating the proposed visit of President Buhari as if it amounted to the breaking of a World’s record. The Rights group wondered why some misguided and mischievous politicians holding public offices under the APC-led Federal government are dissipating and frittering public fund to sponsor advertorials to celebrate Buhari's planned visit to the South East of Nigeria.

The Rights group said by constitutional provisions, the President must view all parts of Nigeria as his immediate constituency just as the Rights group regretted that since coming into office as President of Nigeria, President Buhari established the unacceptable regional pattern of always travelling to Northern Nigeria as if he was elected not as President of Nigeria but as Sarduana of Northern Nigeria.

“May we ask with Dr. Tuanji Abayami; as follows: Does the President owe equal duty to those who vote for him as well as those who vote against him? The question can easily be answered when we understand that the President is elected by the negative as well as the positive votes within the national constituency that elects him. A candidate for the election into the office of the President cannot be deemed to have been duly elected until he has more positive votes that negative votes cast at the election for the President. It is doubtful if he can be deemed duly elected under Section 133 and 134 if he has no negative votes cast against him. The effect of the provision is that negative votes against the President are recognized and validated as necessary by the Decree in the election of the President and are thus protected. If, as it observed, such votes are protected, any prejudice or penalty against them will clearly be inconsistent with the exercise of executive powers of the Federation. It is not just that the nation is recognized as one constituency for the election of the President under Section 132(4), but the President’s responsibility to all the members of that constituency is by the provision of the section not only inherent, but also required."

HURIWA said the President must play a nationalistic card and also compel his officials in all defence related agencies to stop the nepotistic appointments of Moslem Northerners only. 

Wednesday, 8 November 2017

REMARKS By The SPEAKER, NIGERIA’S HOUSE OF REPRESENTATIVES, RT. HON. YAKUBU DOGARA, AT THE OCCASION OF THE PRESENTATION OF THE 2018 BUDGET PROPOSALS BY HIS EXCELLENCY, PRESIDENT MUHAMMADU BUHARI, GCFR ON 7TH NOVEMBER, 2017, AT THE NATIONAL ASSEMBLY.

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Protocols:
 
It is my singular honour and  pleasure and honour to once again welcome His Excellency, President, Muhammadu Buhari, GCFR, and his entourage to the National Assembly.

2. Your Excellencies, my job at this ceremony is clearly defined and that is to deliver the vote of thanks. Therefore, permit me, on behalf of the National Assembly, to formally and specifically thank Mr. President, Commander in Chief of Nigerian Armed Forces, for competently and graciously fulfilling his constitutional obligation of presenting the estimates of receipts and expenditure proposed for the next financial year for the Federal Republic of Nigeria to the National Assembly.

3. I recognize that the Constitution in Section 5 vests the executive authority of the Federation in Mr. President but with an admonition to carry out this function in consultation with the Vice President and his cabinet. It is as a result that I must also thank the Vice President, Prof. Yemi Osinbajo, GCON, and all the Ministers, particularly, the Hon. Minister of Budget and National Planning, Senator Udoma O. Udoma and the Honourable Minister of Finance, Mrs. Kemi Adeosun.

4. Your Excellencies, permit me to single out the newly appointed Secretary to the Government of the federation, Bar. Boss Mustapha who only yesterday, in an unprecedented move, visited the Leadership of both Houses of the National Assembly to canvass support for Government policies and to strengthen the often strained Executive - Legislative relations. Let me also extend our special thanks to all Heads of MDAS here present, Service Chiefs, leaders of political parties most especially Chief John Oyegun, Chairman of the ruling Party, APC, captains of industry, and distinguished elder statesmen and personalities that have all gathered here to witness this epoch making event.

5. It is important to note that if this ceremony is smooth and efficient, the credit must go to the Clerk to the National Assembly, Mr. Ataba Sani-Omolori, and the entire bureaucracy of the National Assembly and all those that provided support services including the Media, Security agencies and other unseen hands. We thank you all.

6. To our colleagues, members of the Senate and House of Representatives, I salute your patriotism and sense of national purpose in providing the peaceful enabling environment for Mr. President to deliver his Budget Address. The success of this event separates us as true Leaders who in the midst of a hazy Executive - Legislative relationship elected not to turn on ourselves but to turn to each other in the very interest of our constituents and national progress. This is the way we must go as our Constitutional Order is organized in a way that deliberately denies any of the three Arms the strength to go at it alone on any national issue. Where that has happened, it’s progress that suffers. That reminds us of the adage that says, “If you want to go fast, go alone but if you want to go far, go together”. Examples abound on how fast but not far, the Executive have gone on some national issues where they have decided to go alone. There is no national challenge we cannot overcome if we work together.

7. I crave your indulgence to allow me congratulate Mr. President for honouring the provisions of the 2016 Appropriation Act which required the budget to last for 12 months in line with the provisions of S. 318 of the Constitution, from May 2016 when it was assented to, to May 2017. This enabled the Executive to report an accomplishment of over N5 Trillion expenditure out of the N7.4 Trillion budgeted for 2016, an unprecedented record by all standards, made possible only because the execution of the budget was allowed to last for 12 months. That is what the National Assembly has always called for inline with the original intent of the framers of our constitution. 

8. Mr. President, as legislators, what agitates us is the prospects of totally abandoning the 2017 Budget and the dire consequences of doing so. The questions that must be answered include whether we have effectively enforced 2017 fiscal targets and whether managers have complied with the budget as authorized by the legislature. Our experience with the implementation of the 2016 Budget amply demonstrates that obeying our Appropriation Laws maximizes the release of our potentials while violating the Appropriation Laws caps the release of our national potentials. This means that we have to redouble our efforts in implementing the 2017 Budget, if we must retire it in January or at the very least roll over most of the projects in 2017 budget to 2018. No need to remind us that fiscal indiscipline is as grievous a problem as corruption which this Government is busy eliminating.

9. Once again, let me place it on record that the 2018 Budget preparations suffer from inadequate consultations between the MDAS and various over- sighting Committees of the National Assembly. Consequently, one can only hope and pray that it does not lead to delay in consideration and passage of the Budget.

10. May I also use this opportunity to congratulate Mr. President for leading Nigeria out of recession. Although recession has technically ended, most Nigerian families are still struggling. As a Government, we must do all within our powers to hasten their long night of panic and fear into a glorious morning. We must never allow this nation to slide into recession, not now, not ever again. We cannot therefore discountenance policy consistency and synergy between all stakeholders, if we must sustain economic growth and development, going forward. Mr. President, I urge that you take no prisoners in the implementation of your well crafted and thought-out Economic Recovery and Growth Plan, which you launched in January 2017.

11. May I conclude, Your Excellencies, Distinguished Colleagues, Ladies and Gentlemen, by once again, thanking everybody for the various roles played in making this joint Session a huge success. We look forward to a cooperative, consultative and inclusive consideration of the 2018 Budget proposals so ably presented by Mr. President.

12. God bless you and may God bless the Federal Republic of Nigeria.

Buhari’s 2018 Budget Speech is 'empty ritual': - HURIWA

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A pro-transparency and Non-governmental organization – HUMAN RIGHTS WRITERS ASSOCIATION OF NIGERIA (HURIWA) has dismissed as “empty ritual” and “political rhetorics”, President Muhammadu Buhari’s 2018 budget speech before the National Assembly in Abuja.

In a media release in reaction to the 2018 budget speech rendered before the joint session of the National Assembly by president Buhari, the Rights group said there were no evidence – based empirical proofs to show that the extant 2017 budget has been implemented optimally going by the declining standards of living by millions of Nigerians. 

The group said "in the last one year there have been more deaths by suicides caused by absolute poverty than in recorded history of Nigeria and therefore we wonder whether the outgoing budget was implemented for the benefits of aliens or for real Nigerians who are living from hands to mouths in their millions due to grinding poverty and lack of effective economic empowerment programmes and social support programmes to mitigate the unwarranted and horrendous human sufferings".

Besides, HURIWA said findings from all across Nigeria shows dilapidated situations of core strategic national infrastructures such as primary, secondary and tertiary health sector, the educational sector, roads network and importantly, the widening chasm between the few rich and over 120 million heavily impoverished Nigerians.

HURIWA said the clearest evidence that the 2017 budget has not been sufficiently implemented or that the fund released may have disappeared into private pockets of officials is the poor state of equipment and services at the presidential clinic in Abuja and the total breakdown of social amenities including pipe borne water at the Murtallah Mohammed International Airport Lagos and the Akanu Ibiam International Airport in Enugu as discovered by the National Assembly’s Aviation Committees during oversight visits to the rapidly deteriorating Aviation infrastructures last week. "Where then are the fund released for these subheads in the extant budget?"

The Rights group even lamented that the allowances of military combatants in the ongoing counter – terror war haven’t been paid up to date and wondered where the humongous budgetary releases to the ministry of Defence have gone to even as the group raised alarm that boko haram terrorists are threatening to take over many key locations in the North East of Nigeria including a sudden spike in their bombing campaigns.

HURIWA also faulted the implementation of the 2017 budget in the interior ministry and especially in the prison sector because of the overwhelming evidence that the moribund prison infrastructures erected many decades ago are collapsing whereas no new prison facility has been built even as the welfare and health conditions of awaiting trial inmates and the prisoners have rapidly deteriorated to an emergency situation with many succumbing to the cold hands of sudden deaths and there were many recorded incidents of prison breaks.

“The claim by president Buhari that a whooping N1.2 Trillion has been spent in capital budget this year is being economical with the truth because most national infrastructures have collapsed as can be seen in the pot- holes' infested federal highways all over the country and especially in the South East of Nigeria. The claim that Abuja rail project has been pushed to 98 percent completion in 18 months is neither here- nor -there because of the obvious pragmatic evidences that abounds in the streets of Abuja on the abysmal lack of efficient transportation system. The paltry N10 Billion allocation made to the second Niger Bridge is grossly insufficient going by the strategic need to complete a second Niger Bridge urgently to stop the lone Niger bridge built over half a century ago from imminent collapse.”

“The budget of consolidation valued at N8.6 Trillion for the 2018 budget may appear humongous but because of the overwhelming presence of Federal Cabinet officials not committed to the crusade to enthrone transparency and accountability in the expenditure of public fund, these sums may amount to nothing since a great chunk of it would inevitably be stolen. it may as well become the budget of consolidation of official heists.”

“We challenge president Buhari to reconstitute his bogus cabinet made up of “dead woods” to infuse fresh blood and young but committed patriots who are to be made to sign a bond of performance and strict adherence to the principle of rule of law and respect for ethical codes of transparency and accountability.”