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Friday, 16 March 2018

HURIWA Tasks Peter Obi to reveal what Governors earn: *Condemns primitive nepotism amongst governors/presidency

A leading pro-democracy and non-governmental organization – HUMAN RIGHTS WRITERS ASSOCIATION OF NIGERIA (HURIWA) has challenged the former governor of Anambra State Mr. Peter Obi to disclose to Nigerians what governors earn as emoluments and allowances.

HURIWA which applauded the recent revelation of the unpardonably juicy earnings of senators as made by the senator representing central Kaduna, Comrade Shehu Sani, however urged the Anambra born political statesman and erstwhile two terms governor Mr. Peter Obi to make good his threat to make the disclosure on salaries of governors.

HURIWA said the extraordinary emoluments of senators including N200 million each as yearly constituency projects which are never accounted for is one of the reasons why the election periods are characterized by bloody violence by different political power hungry selfish Nigerians.

The group however stated that both the offices of governor and the Presidency are also administered like money guzzling machines which is why recurrent expenditures takes over 75% of annual budget leaving only an infinitesimal percentage for capital projects which are never executed qualitatively and timeously.

In a media statement issued jointly by the National Coordinator Comrade Emmanuel Onwubiko and the National Media Affairs Director Miss Zainab Yusuf, HURIWA also lambasted governors of Imo and Niger states for exhibiting what the group calls primitive nepotism and the conversion of government resources to their families as alleged by critics.

HURIWA applauded the Etsu Nupe Alhaji Yahaya Abubakar Kusodu (Ph.D)for courageously condemning the practice of serial nepotism in Niger state by the governor Alhaji Sani Bello just as the group carpeted the Imo State governor Mr. Rochas Okorocha for mismanaging the resources of Imo state, turning governance into family business and for threatening the sanctity of next year's governorship election by forcing his son-in-law as his possible successor even when this is a violation of his constitutional oath of office not to allow his private interest to override the public interests.

The Rights group also challenged President Muhammadu Buhari to adhere strictly to the constitutionally guaranteed federal character principle in appointments and stop the nepotism that has trailed his style of administration including the involvement of his Uncles, Nieces and Nephews in running key administrative duties in the presidency. HURIWA calls for the investigation of the allegation by former Representative from Kano state Dr Junaid Muhammed that a Nephew of President Muhammadu Buhari who is a Personal Assistant to the President has suddenly become a billionaire within three years of holding unmerited Presidential appointment.

Speaking on the threat by the Anambra former governor to reveal the expenditures of offices of governors in Nigeria, HURIWA told Mr. Peter obi that posterity and indeed history will be harsh towards him should he fail to publicly reveal how much the governors spend from public treasuries including the illegal security votes running into billions of Naira.

HURIWA stated that: “we are delighted to read from the erudite erstwhile Anambra state governor that he is ready to disclose how much each governor of the 36 states of the federation pick up each month. Our challenge to this gentleman is to please without further delay, disclose to Nigerians how much of public fund are spent by governors.”

“We believe that the public and transparent disclosure of these exact figures of public cash spent by governors will promote in a very fundamental way, the principles of open government, transparency and accountability and would result in systematic clamour for immediate reforms to cut down on the costs of governance so as to promote good governance.”

HURIWA recalled that Mr. Peter Obi, a former governor of Anambra State has stated that what governors earn in Nigeria will cause more outrage in the country than revelation of Senators’ salaries.

HURIWA recalled that the former governor speaking as a panelist at the dialogue organized by Ripples Centre for Data and Investigative Journalism in Lagos on Thursday said governors’ earning in Nigeria was immoderate compared to earnings of public office holders in the United States of America.

HURIWA further recalled that Mr. Obi told the audience that if he revealed how much a Nigerian governor earned, the outrage would be hotter than what trailed the N13.5 million monthly pay of senators.

HURIWA quoted Peter Obi as saying thus: “None of you knows what a governor earns, quote me anywhere if you know you won’t be here. It is something you can’t imagine. You just know the one of senators, and you are shouting, but what if you know that of the governors. America’s GDP is way above Nigeria’s but an American senator earns $174,000 (about N50 million) a year and you can imagine what his Nigerian counterpart earns in a month."

HURIWA stated that the former Anambra state governor who was of the All Progressives Grand Alliance (APGA) had also stated that: “In America, governors earn according to their state. The governor of California is the highest paid in America, and he earns $192, 000. The smallest state earns $70, 000. But in Nigeria, I can tell you because I’ve been there, the cost of just keeping convoys alone is in millions. And when people ask me why am I saying these things, I tell them that even if we made mistakes yesterday, can’t we correct it today? I asked them, why are all these vehicles following me, and nobody was able to explain to me. I didn’t stop it because of them following me, but the cost of maintaining them was high. I asked them why do we need to spend about N30 million fueling these vehicles that 60 percent are empty when following me?”

On the reported prohibitive earnings of legislators as disclosed by Senator Shehu Sani, HURIWA challenged credible civil society groups and community based groups to meticulously demand from the federal and state legislators the records of all the expenditures made in the name of constituency projects just as the National Assembly and States’ Assembly Service Commissions should be compelled to demand accountability from each law makers for proper record keeping.

HURIWA has also called for the abrogation of constituency projects fund and the pruning down of the amounts paid to legislators and governors as allowances.

On the cases of primitive nepotism in Imo, Nigerian states and presidency, HURIWA said it violates section 15(5) of the 1999 constitution which provides that the Nigerian state must abolish all corrupt practices and abuse of power just as the Rights group condemned the plot by Imo state governor to impose his son-in-law as his successor in office. HURIWA said the plots might plunge Imo state into political violence.

Thursday, 15 March 2018

Herdsmen: The rise of military’s death toll By Emmanuel Onwubiko

For three years running since the advent of the presidency of the Fulani – born major General Muhammadu Buhari, his kinsmen have escalated targeted violent campaign of arson; mass killings and deprivation of farming assets of persons in different communities all around Nigeria.

Their bloody insurgency has adversely affected the public rating of the current President just as the calculated and tacit support given to the activities of these rogue herdsmen by the current lopsided national security team made up of predominantly Fulanis has provided the needed body of evidence to conclude that it's possible that the serial attacks by armed Fulani herdsmen may have the imprimatur of some top persons within the Presidency.

The fact that the spokesman of the Nigerian Police Force called the Benue state governor a drowning man because he asked that the incompetent Inspector General of Police be removed shows that there may be more to these killings than the eyes of the ordinary people of Nigeria can see. As our imaginations run riots on the poor response mechanisms by the current administrators, the armed Fulani herdsmen have left us with an assurance that they truly came prepared for a long drawn out battles.  The evidence is in the casualty figures from these bloody attacks.

As the attacks by armed Fulani herdsmen becomes more deadly and sophisticated by the day, the critical question on the lips of Nigerians is why the commander-in-chief of the Nigerian Armed Forces has so far failed to activate military mechanisms to flush out these armed Fulani herdsmen and restore normalcy in these flashpoints made up of mostly Northern minorities and largely Christians.

In such states like Southern Kaduna; Taraba, Adamawa, Benue and Nasarawa, these dare devil and well-armed Fulani herdsmen have successfully carried out horrendous and devastating violent attacks even as the many deadly attacks by them in Benue alone has led to the killings of nearly a thousand persons.

But what has come out of the presidency is only political drama and some sugar -coated press statements.

President Buhari who came under heavy torrents of criticisms for choosing to go partying at the colourful wedding of the daughter of the Kano State governor rather than pay solidarity visits to such places like Dapchi in Yobe state whereby 104 school girls were snatched away by armed terror group of boko haram terrorists, capitulated and belatedly visited these flashpoints of frequent attacks including Benue state that has clearly become the epicenter of the armed Fulani insurgency.

Recall that Benue State is being attacked after Miyetti Allah cattle owners association rejected the anti-open grazing law and threatened actions. So there is a nexus between the anti-open grazing law of Benue State; the call by President Muhammadu Buhari on Benue to accommodate other Nigerians, the open defiance of the anti-grazing law by the IGP Alhaji Ibrahim Kpotum Idriss and the widespread killings of villagers and forceful takeover of farmlands by the marauding armed Fulani herdsmen.

However, these bloody attacks are not good enough to elicit decisive steps such as swift military deployment and the classification of the parent body of cattle owners as a terrorists group because of their documented evidential records of showing support for these bloody attacks. It took many weeks after over 100 Benue people were killed before the Military authority started contemplated possinle deployment. The IGP has also failed to disarm these armed Fulani herdsmen brandishing Ak-47 and other weapons of mass destruction but has instead gone after members of lawfully established vigilante groups to retrieve double barrel guns issued to them after licencing them to bear arms. However, armed Fulani herdsmen have increased their impunity just as they aren't hiding anymore about who is responsible for all of these attacks.

In Benue State, a leader of Miyetti Allah cattle owners association was quoted on British Broadcasting Service, Hausa section, claiming that Fulani herdsmen had to attack Benue State because the villagers were rustling their cows. In Plateau these armed Fulani herdsmen restarted their campaign of violence after Miyetti Allah Cattle Owners Association published a media statement alleging that some cows were stolen by some Plateau youth.

 However, the annoying silence of the president, his failure to take earliest decisive military steps and his assertions that the blocking of grazing routes by states is the cause of the attacks is seen as playing whilst the country burns. The President is behaving like a man whose house is on fire but who was more concerned about catching rays that are running away from the inferno.

But these armed Fulani herdsmen have upped their game by waging daring attacks not only targeting civilian soft targets but have been known on many occasions to have actually fought face -to- face with operatives of the Nigerian armed forces and police as if to tell Mr. President that they perfectly decoded his body language.

In a part of Mambila whereby the armed Fulani herdsmen and certain suspected local militia have engaged each other in rounds of bloody battles, over a dozen mobile policemen were slaughtered by suspected armed Fulani herdsmen who reportedly had attacked some villages and when confronted by the police apparently overcame the police with their superior fire power. 

The photographs of these slaughtered MOPOL operatives were splashed on social media pages even as the gory and gruesome nature of the killings of these law enforcement agents on the line of duty has compelled observers to accuse president Muhammadu Buhari of being soft with these armed Fulani herdsmen as against his hasty proscription as a terrorists group of the unarmed indigenous people of Biafra (IPOB) which never killed even a fly. Mind you, Amnesty International has it on records based on forensic evidence that the military killed over 800 unarmed IPOB members even as many were tortured during the month long operation python dance two.

Bombarded and possibly rattled by these accusations of partiality in the handling of the rampaging bloody violence unleashed by armed Fulani herdsmen, President Muhammadu Buhari then visited Benue State and other flashpoints whereby he confessed to a bewildered nation that his Inspector General of police disrespected his instruction to relocate to Benue State and beef up the tempo of counter attacks against armed Fulani herdsmen.

Buhari also issued a tepid and watery media instruction that any armed Fulani herdsmen seen with AK-47 should be arrested and prosecuted.

There is no information to demonstrate his commitment to instruct the armed security forces to crush these armed Fulani herdsmen whose activities have so far enjoyed government support at the highest echelons including the subtle justification made by Defence Minister.

Following on the heels of the not so encouraging remarks by Buhari that armed Fulani herdsmen be arrested, the military authority that had stood by and watched as armed Fulani herdsmen unleashed blood cuddling mass killings, then made what they called reading riot act on murders by armed Fulani in Benue, Taraba and other states.

The Nigerian Army warned perpetrators of the killings and destruction of property in Adamawa, Benue and Taraba states to desist forth-with, saying the Rules of Engagement (ROE) against arson and murder were to apply henceforth.

In a statement by the Director Army Public Relations, Brig. Gen Texas Chukwu, the military said it was working with other security agencies to ensure that the perpetrators were brought to book.

The statement reads in part: “The attention of the Nigerian Army has drawn to the continued disturbing, senseless killings and wanton destruction of properties in Adamawa, Benue and Taraba states.

“In view of this, we strongly warn the perpetrators of these crimes to desist forth-with. The Nigerian Army, in conjunction with sister services and other security agencies, is working assiduously to identify and arrest all those involved regardless of their disposition in the society, including government functionaries.

“We would like to unequivocally reiterate that the Army Headquarters warns the arsonists and killers to stop or face decisive action by troops.

“Our rules of Engagement (ROE) is clear on arson and murder, therefore, no such criminal acts would be allowed in any of the aforementioned states.”

But the dare devil armed Fulani herdsmen immediately made nonsense of the presidential belated directive and the so-called riot act read to the military on the unprecedented mass killings by armed Fulani attackers just as these attackers have now attacked and killed soldiers to show that they meant business.

The military outfit in Plateau, Operation Safe Haven (OPSH), has confirmed the death of two of its officers in a fresh attack following the mass burial on Tuesday of 29 persons in Bassa council area of the state.

The spokesman, Major Adam Umar, who confirmed the development, said two others were receiving treatment in an undisclosed hospital.

He said; "There was a clash between the tribes, Irigwe and Fulani where both of them were trading allegations and accusations today (yesterday) which resulted in the clash."

"The situation is under control now. Eight persons were arrested from both sides. We have also recovered ammunition. Two of our men lost their lives in the clash while two are in the hospital now receiving treatment."

"We have reinforced security within the area. We now have a fighter jet which has also been introduced to enhance surveillance so that any troublemaker is picked up by the military. There have also motorcycles to pierce through difficult terrains as well as vehicles."

"As I speak, the leaders of the two warring factions are at the Government House for a serious stakeholders' meeting at the instance of the state government."

The youths reportedly mobilized and were sighted by reporters to retaliate by venting their anger by allegedly setting ablaze houses of herdsmen in the locality. The herders, in turn, responded leading to sporadic shooting in Rafiki village.

The incident, according to an eyewitness, started around 5:00a.m. With four locals attacked before fleeing the area. He noted that one person died while the remaining critically injured three people had been admitted at the Bingham University Teaching Hospital in Jos.

According to him, what really irked the herdsmen was the arrest of four of theirs, armed with AK 47 rifles, by the police on Tuesday.

He said houses were burnt, gunshots heard, as natives flee homes for safer places.

He disclosed that the scene was close to Dong village and Wild Life Park, two kilometers away from Jos, the capital city, expressing the fear that the crisis might engulf the city if mishandled.

But as the Irigwe youths allegedly started the offensive, the OPSH (soldiers) operatives swung into action and arrest the situation.

Relatedly, armed Fulani herdsmen killed a Catholic catechist at Tse Orogbo, while his brother-in-law, Ayem Mbakuur, escaped unhurt in Benue. The two were said to be heading for the 6.30a.m. Mass when the attack occurred.

Same day, two brothers - Aondowase and Ahanbee Uma - were reportedly ambushed and killed by herders in Guma council area of the state, according to newspaper accounts.

The media gathered from locals at Yelewata that the two bodies were recovered by youths after an alarm to the police after being deposited at an undisclosed morgue.

The victims were said to be returning from Yelewata market on a motorbike around 8:00p.m. When they ran into an ambush by the herdsmen who later set their motorcycle ablaze.

A community source, who pleaded anonymity, told the media that one of the survivors, Orihyev Nyaga, shot on the left hand, said he was returning from the market on a motorcycle when he ran into a road block mounted by the herdsmen.

As death toll from armed Fulani attacks on the part of the military has now started to embark on a progressive upward swing, what is left for the imagination of Nigerians is when president Buhari will act like a statesman that his supporters claim he is, and declare armed Fulani herdsmen and their backers known as Miyetti Allah Cattle Owners Association as a terror organization. The time to act is now. Luckily, more people are beginning to mount pressures on Buhari to declare armed Fulani herdsmen as terrorists. The latest is the Nobel laureate Professor Wole Soyinka who has just been quoted in the media as stating that in Lagos. The President must take concrete steps to stop the carnival of bloodthirsty violence by armed Fulani herdsmen.

*Emmanuel Onwubiko is head of Human Rights Writers Association of Nigeria and blogs  

What are our Citizenship rights? By Emmanuel Onwubiko

On Wednesday March 14th 2018, yours faithfully had the privilege to deliver a lecture at the largest Catholic Parish within the Abuja metropolitan Archdiocese known as Our Lady Queen of Nigeria pro-cathedral.

The occasion was the year 2018 laity week which is usually marked every Lenten season as a time of prayerful reflections, spiritual mortification, and socio-political intellectual exchanges.

This particular lecture which took place soon after the Stations of the Cross had in attendance the most senior serving Catholic Church leader in Nigeria, John Cardinal Onaiyekan, who had only that Wednesday afternoon arrived from the Vatican City where he attended the fifth year anniversary events of the current papacy of Pope Francis the first.

My charge was to do justice to the all-important theme of citizenship rights just as this strategic thematic issue has coincided with the ongoing registration of voters exercise all across the country.

Naturally, to kick off such a beautiful lecture would demand that the audience is charged to individually do themselves the civic duty of obtaining their individual permanent voter’s card which in the first instance is the only passport to allow for critical questions to be asked to the political class who would emerge from the conduct of the coming elections. It is said that a country gets the kind of leaders they want.

The be- all and end -all of citizenship rights is the exercise of the right to vote and be voted for because only a very participatory democratic process can guarantee good governance which basically is gauged by how so well the principles of transparency and accountability are upheld by government officials.

This key point of mass participation in choosing the political leaders was mentioned by the Catholic Archbishop of Abuja in his opening remarks. The Archbishop also added his voice to the point i canvassed on the need for Nigerians to exercise their right to civil protests.

Fortuitously, even the framers of the constitution of Nigeria of 1999 (as amended), understood the essence of qualitative mass participation in the electoral process so much so that they devoted a section to emphasize on it.

Section 14(1) and (2)(c) states as follows: “(1) The Federal Republic of Nigeria shall be a State based on the principles of democracy and social justice; (2) It is hereby, accordingly, declared that: (c) the participation by the people in their government shall be ensured in accordance with the provisions of this Constitution.”

After clearly establishing the fundamental issue that citizenship rights start from the active participation of the people of Nigeria in deciding the caliber of political leadership that would preside over the governance processes of the nation-state, the next step is to say that a citizen as a member of a given community is entitled to all rights and privileges encompassed in both the local and international laws. Some of these rights are enshrined in the Universal Declarations of Human Rights which has thirty articles, the International covenant on civil and political rights; the African charter on human and people's rights and the Constitution of the federal republic of 1999(as amended). But then again, understanding citizenship rights will be greatly enhanced if we are able to comprehend the concept of citizenship. We will therefore approach some notable global scholars to drink from their rich fountains of knowledge.

From the Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy we are told as follows: “A citizen is a member of a political community who enjoys the rights and assumes the duties of membership".

This broad definition, we are told, is discernible, with minor variations, in the works of contemporary authors as well as in the entry “citoyen” in Diderot’s and d’Alembert’s Encyclop├ędie [1753].

The author of the material being quoted from the Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy however stated that notwithstanding this common starting-point and certain shared references, the differences between 18th century discussions and contemporary debates are significant.

Hear the author:"The encyclop├ędiste’s main preoccupation, understandable for one living in a monarchy, was the relationship between the concepts ‘citizen’ and ‘subject’. Were they the same (as Hobbes asserted) or contradictory (as a reading of Aristotle suggested)?"

This issue the writer said is less central today as we tend to take for granted that a liberal democratic regime is the appropriate starting-point for our reflections on the concept of citizenship.

"This does not mean, however, that the concept has become uncontroversial. After a long period of relative calm, there has been a dramatic upsurge in philosophical interest in citizenship since the early 1990s", the writer argied.

Then again, we are told that two broad challenges have led theorists to re-examine the concept: first, the need to acknowledge the internal diversity of contemporary liberal democracies; second, the pressures wrought by globalization on the territorial, sovereign state.”

What then constitutes the Aristotle’s take on the much talked issue of the rights of citizenship? If one may ask.

Aristotle is of the firm opinion that the state exists for the sake of a good life, and not for the sake of life only. The state for him, is the union of families and villages in a perfect and self-sufficing life, by which we mean a happy and honorable life. Political society exists, for the sake of noble actions, and not mere companionship.

Aristotle argued that whatever form a government has, it will rest upon some conceptions of justice and proportionate equality.

Writing on what he termed “The basis of Sovereign Authority”, the English Philosopher, Thomas Hobbes (1588 – 1679) states as follows:

“We do not therefore by nature seek society on its own sake, but that we may receive some honour or profit from it; these we desire primarily.”

Incidentally, the chapter three of the constitution in section 25(1) (a), (b) and (c) defines the Nigerian citizen as follows: 25. (1) The following persons are citizens of Nigeria by birth-namely- (a) every person born in Nigeria before the date of independence, either of whose parents or any of whose grandparents belongs or belonged to a community indigenous to Nigeria; Provided that a person shall not become a citizen of Nigeria by virtue of this section if neither of his parents nor any of his grandparents was born in Nigeria.

Subsection (b) says; "every person born in Nigeria after the date of independence either of whose parents or any of whose grandparents is a citizen of Nigeria; and (c) every person born outside Nigeria either of whose parents is a citizen of Nigeria.

From chapter 4 of the constitution, here are the rights of citizenship.

These fundamental human rights are; 33. (1) Every person has a right to life, and no one shall be deprived intentionally of his life, save in execution of the sentence of a court in respect of a criminal offence of which he has been found guilty in Nigeria;34. (1) Every individual is entitled to respect for the dignity of his person, and accordingly - (a) no person shall be subject to torture or to inhuman or degrading treatment; (b) no person shall he held in slavery or servitude; and (c) no person shall be required to perform forced of compulsory labour.

In section 35. (1), the law says;" Every person shall be entitled to his personal liberty and no person shall be deprived of such liberty save in the following cases and in accordance with a procedure permitted by law – (5) In subsection (4) of this section, the expression "a reasonable time" means -(a) in the case of an arrest or detention in any place where there is a court of competent jurisdiction within a radius of forty kilometres, a period of one day; and (b) in any other case, a period of two days or such longer period as in the circumstances may be considered by the court to be reasonable.
Section 36. (1) Says that in the determination of his civil rights and obligations, including any question or determination by or against any government or authority, a person shall be entitled to a fair hearing within a reasonable time by a court or other tribunal established by law and constituted in such manner as to secure its independence and impartiality.

Also section 37 says that "The privacy of citizens, their homes, correspondence, telephone conversations and telegraphic communications is hereby guaranteed and protected."

In section 38. (1) "Every person shall be entitled to freedom of thought, conscience and religion, including freedom to change his religion or belief, and freedom (either alone or in community with others, and in public or in private) to manifest and propagate his religion or belief in worship, teaching, practice and observance." The constitution additionally provides that 38(2) No person attending any place of education shall be required to receive religious instruction or to take part in or attend any religious ceremony or observance if such instruction ceremony or observance relates to a religion other than his own, or religion not approved by his parent or guardian.

The need to safeguard the most essential element of freedoms and democracy made the drafters of the Constitution to affirm in 39. (1)  That: "Every person shall be entitled to freedom of expression, including freedom to hold opinions and to receive and impart ideas and information without interference". Other crucial citizenship rights are enshrined in section 40 which affirmed that: "Every person shall be entitled to assemble freely and associate with other persons, and in particular he may form or belong to any political party, trade union or any other association for the protection of his interests". Citizenship should guarantee the right to free movements but even as the constitution has provided for this, there is this needless insertion of indignity which whittles down the essence of our commonality as Nigerian citizens. For instance, the Constitution erroneously stated that a woman born in a different place from her place of marriage cannot for instance serve in the judiciary or any other positions of authority as if she hails from her husband's place. This is contrary to section 41 which says that:" (1) Every citizen of Nigeria is entitled to move freely throughout Nigeria and to reside in any part thereof, and no citizen of Nigeria shall be expelled from Nigeria or refused entry thereby or exit therefrom". this same problems associated with the idea of who an indigene of particular communities is amounts to discrimination especially if it leads to a denial of any benefit that accrues to others considered originally as indigenes of those communities.

The above practice of discrimination is forbidden by 42. (1) which asserts that: "A citizen of Nigeria of a particular community, ethnic group, place of origin, sex, religion or political opinion shall not, by reason only that he is such a person:- (a) be subjected either expressly by, or in the practical application of, any law in force in Nigeria or any executive or administrative action of the government, to disabilities or restrictions to which citizens of Nigeria of other communities, ethnic groups, places of origin, sex, religions or political opinions are not made subject; or (b) be accorded either expressly by, or in the practical application of, any law in force in Nigeria or any such executive or administrative action, any privilege or advantage that is not accorded to citizens of Nigeria of other communities, ethnic groups, places of origin, sex, religions or political opinions.

There is another dimension whereby in the North Christians are denied access land as against section 43 which affirms that:" Subject to the provisions of this Constitution, every citizen of Nigeria shall have the right to acquire and own immovable property anywhere in Nigeria." Section 10 it would be recalled, outlaws the recognition of particular religion as state religion as is the prevalent practice in the North which has elevated Islam as state religion leading to state' denial of landed assets to Christians.

Section 44. (1) says: "No moveable property or any interest in an immovable property shall be taken possession of compulsorily and no right over or interest in any such property shall be acquired compulsorily in any part of Nigeria except in the manner and for the purposes prescribed by a law that, among other things. Importantly, section 46. (1)  says: "Any person who alleges that any of the provisions of this Chapter has been, is being or likely to be contravened in any State in relation to him may apply to a High Court in that State for redress".

The National Assembly should make hay whilst the sun shines by addressing these errors inserted in the Constitution which clearly has taken away certain citizenship rights from Nigerians who found themselves in places they are deemed as non-indigenes.

*Emmanuel Onwubiko is the Head of the Human Rights Writers Association of Nigeria (HURIWA) and;

Stephen Hawking Brief Biography

Professor Stephen William Hawking was born on 8th January 1942 (exactly 300 years after the death of Galileo) in Oxford, England. His parents' house was in north London but during the second world war Oxford was considered a safer place to have babies. When he was eight his family moved to St. Albans, a town about 20 miles north of London. At the age of eleven, Stephen went to St. Albans School and then on to University College, Oxford (1952); his father's old college. Stephen wanted to study mathematics although his father would have preferred medicine. Mathematics was not available at University College, so he pursued physics instead. After three years and not very much work, he was awarded a first class honours degree in natural science. 
In October 1962, Stephen arrived at the Department of Applied Mathematics and Theoretical Physics (DAMTP) at the University of Cambridge to do research in cosmology, there being no-one working in that area in Oxford at the time. His supervisor was Dennis Sciama, although he had hoped to get Fred Hoyle who was working in Cambridge. After gaining his PhD (1965) with his thesis titled 'Properties of Expanding Universes', he became, first, a research fellow (1965) then Fellow for Distinction in Science (1969) at Gonville & Caius college. In 1966 he won the Adams Prize for his essay 'Singularities and the Geometry of Space-time'. Stephen moved to the Institute of Astronomy (1968), later moving back to DAMTP (1973), employed as a research assistant, and published his first academic book, The Large Scale Structure of Space-Time, with George Ellis. During the next few years, Stephen was elected a Fellow of the Royal Society (1974) and Sherman Fairchild Distinguished Scholar at the California Institute of Technology (1974). He became a Reader in Gravitational Physics at DAMTP (1975), progressing to Professor of Gravitational Physics (1977). He then held the position of Lucasian Professor of Mathematics (1979-2009). The chair was founded in 1663 with money left in the will of the Reverend Henry Lucas who had been the Member of Parliament for the University. It was first held by Isaac Barrow and then in 1669 by Isaac Newton.  Stephen is currently the Dennis Stanton Avery and Sally Tsui Wong-Avery Director of Research at DAMTP.

Professor Stephen Hawking has worked on the basic laws which govern the universe. With Roger Penrose he showed that Einstein's general theory of relativity implied space and time would have a beginning in the Big Bang and an end in black holes (1970). These results indicated that it was necessary to unify general relativity with quantum theory, the other great scientific development of the first half of the 20th century. One consequence of such a unification that he discovered was that black holes should not be completely black, but rather should emit 'Hawking' radiation and eventually evaporate and disappear (1974). Another conjecture is that the universe has no edge or boundary in imaginary time. This would imply that the way the universe began was completely determined by the laws of science. Recently Stephen has been working with colleagues on a possible resolution to the black hole information paradox, where debate centres around the conservation of information.

His many publications include The Large Scale Structure of Spacetime with G F R Ellis, General Relativity: An Einstein Centenary Survey, with W Israel, and 300 Years of Gravitation, with W Israel. Among the popular books Stephen Hawking has published are his best seller A Brief History of Time, Black Holes and Baby Universes and Other Essays, The Universe in a Nutshell, The Grand Design and My Brief History.

Professor Stephen Hawking has thirteen honorary degrees. He was awarded CBE (1982), Companion of Honour (1989) and the Presidential Medal of Freedom (2009). He is the recipient of many awards, medals and prizes, most notably the Fundamental Physics prize (2013), Copley Medal (2006) and the Wolf Foundation prize (1988). He is a Fellow of the Royal Society and a member of the US National Academy of Sciences and the Pontifical Academy of Sciences.

In 1963 Stephen was diagnosed with ALS, a form of Motor Neurone Disease, shortly after his 21st birthday. In spite of being wheelchair-bound and dependent on a computerised voice system for communication Stephen continues to combine family life (he has three children and three grandchildren) with his research into theoretical physics, in addition to an extensive programme of travel and public lectures. He still hopes to make it into space one day.

Tuesday, 13 March 2018

Iwu’s mother for burial

THE body of late Nneoma Eunice Nkwoada Iwu, aged 88, would be laid to rest on Friday, March 16, at the Iwu’s family compound after a funeral mass at St Michael’s Catholic Church, Umuezeala-umukabia, Ehime-mbano LGA, Imo State, by 10a.m. There would also be a vigil mass and Christian wake on March 15 at the same venue by 5p.m. The deceased was the mother of the former chairman of Independent Electoral Commission and CEO of Bioresources Development and Conservation Group, Prof. Maurice Iwu. She is survived by children, grandchildren and great grandchildren.

Has Buhari unleashed a dragon of poverty? By Emmanuel Onwubiko

With less than ten calendar months to the commencement of the next electioneering campaigns that would herald the year 2019 general elections, two broad economic challenges confront millions of Nigerians namely, insecurity of lives and property and economic insecurity. 

The broad-based economic tortures are also replicated in the 36 states of the federation going by the current situation of substantial absence of good governance and high rate of official corruption amongst governors and failure on the part of state legislatures to offer effective oversight functions to check leakage. The problem of insecurity in most parts of Nigeria caused by armed attacks by both boko haram terrorists in the North East of Nigeria and the widespread killings of farmers in every sections of Nigeria by armed Fulani herdsmen who have been allowed by security forces controlled by Hausa/Fulani officials to run out of control. 

Three and half years ago, the different political gladiators who ran for the position of the presidency of Nigeria, made profound promises to implement core economic and political policies and programmes that are strategically meant to address the multifarious and multifaceted problems confronting Nigerians such as mass poverty, unemployment and lack of respect for the human rights of the citizenry.

Some fifteen million voters reportedly chose the then All Progressives Congress’s presidential candidate Muhammadu Buhari to head the world’s most important black democracy. Buhari was once a military dictator whose 20 long months military junta witnessed severe economic adversities that confronted Nigerians. It was in Buhari's first coming through the barrels of the gun that Nigerians had to stay in long queues to make purchases of essential commodities that were disappearing from the counters due to closures of the manufacturing firms in different parts of Nigeria. 

Three years down the line after Buhari's second coming through the instrumentality of the ballots, what most Nigerians have witnessed in torrents are the direct opposites of those lofty ideas sold to them as campaign promises. Buhari and his political party had promised Nigerians more jobs but few months after he assumed office he failed to inaugurate any economic team and when after eight months je made his cabinet level appointments, he chose persons who can be considered as dead woods and politicians without any workable solutions to the myriads of problems of unemployment, poverty, mass hunger and insecurity that threatens Nigeria's national security. 

Apart from the very ugly reality that insecurity of lives and property has expanded and the number of freelance armed hoodlums embarking on wanton destruction of lives and property of Nigerians has multiplied, the most pathetic development is the dimension that mass or absolute poverty has been unwittingly unleashed on a grand scale to millions of Nigerians. These days, our organisations gets text messages and calls from hundreds of Nigerians asking for money to feed and these callers are all university graduates who can't find employment of any colour. 

In the last three years, economic recession which resulted from the inability of government officials to grow the domestic economy, dominated the major public discourse. Due to the harsh economic environment that has been unleashed, millions of Nigerians have become sceptical and have lost confidence in the current sets of politicians to right the wrongs that they brought upon our nation and our people. For instance, Senator Shehu Sani revealed that out of the less than 400 Senators, each of them gets N200 million yearly impress, and another juicy package of N15 million Naira monthly package and another N750,000 monthly salaries. The Executive arm of government also spends about 75% of the annual budgets on salaries and allowances of political office holders and votes almost nothing for real capital projects. The high cost of governance breeds absolute poverty amongst over 100 million Nigerians. Simon Cox, who edited the book Economics (Making sense of the modern Economy) seems to have captured the overwhelming imagination of the millions of suffering Nigerians who are subjected to horrendous evil economic policies at all levels. 

Hear him: "A fashionable strand of scepticism argues that governments have surrendered their power to capitalism –that the world’s biggest companies are nowadays more powerful than many of the world’s governments. Democracy is a sham. Profits rule, not people. These claims are patent nonsense. On the other hand, there is no question that companies would run the world for profit if they could. What stops them is not governments, powerful as they may be, but markets."

He wrote further: "Governments have the power, all right, but they do not always exercise it wisely. They are unreliable servants of the public interest. Sometimes, out of conviction, politicians decide to help companies reshape the world for private profit. Sometimes, anti-market thinking may lead them to help big business by accident. And now and then, when companies just set out to buy the policies they want, they find in government a willing seller. On all this, presumably, the sceptics would agree."

The writers argued that those who made the aforementioned observation as we currently do, may have missed the next crucial step: limited government is not worth buying. "Markets keep the spoils of corruption small. Government that intervenes left and right, prohibiting this and licensing that, creating surpluses and shortages – now that kind of government is worth a bit. That is why, especially in developing countries with weak legal systems, taming capitalism by regulation or trade protection often proves such a hazardous endeavour."

"If NGOs succeeded in disabling markets, as many of them say they would like to, the political consequences would be as dire as the economic ones. It is because the sceptics are right about some things that they are so wrong about the main thing."

The grave economic recession that afflicted the nation led to closures of many private business enterprises and consequently resulted in job loses.

The National Bureau of Statistics (NBS) has said an estimated eight million Nigerians became unemployed between January 2016 and September 30, 2017.

This unemployment survey report was released by the NBS.

According to the NBS report, the number of Nigerians that became unemployed rose under the Buhari regime rose from 8,036 million in 2015 fourth quarter to 15.998 million in third quarter of 2017.

“The unemployment rate increased from 14.2 per cent in Q4 2016 to 16.2 per cent in Q2 2017 and 18.8 per cent in Q3 2017. The number of people within the labor force who are unemployed or underemployed increased from 13.6 million and 17.7 million respectively in Q2 2017, to 15.9 million and 18.0 million in Q3 2017.

“Total unemployment and underemployment combined increased from 37.2 per cent in the previous quarter to 40 per cent in Q3 2017.

“The labor force population increased from 83.9 million in Q2 2017 to 85.1 million in Q3 2017. The total number of people in full-time employment (at least 40 hours a week) declined from 52.7 million in Q2 2017 to 51.1 million in Q3 2017.”

NBS in the report blames the increasing unemployment and underemployment rates on Nigeria’s fragile economy despite the exit from recession. The report explained that domestic labor market is still fragile and economic growths in the past two quarters in 2017 have not been strong enough to provide employment in Nigeria’s domestic labor market.

“An economic recession is consistent with an increase in unemployment as jobs are lost and new jobs creation is stalled.

“A return to economic growth provides an impetus to employment. However, employment growth may lag, and unemployment rates worsen especially at the end of a recession and for many months after,” the report said.

During the third quarter of 2017, according to the report, 21.2 percent of women within the labour force (aged 15-64 and willing, able, and actively seeking work) were unemployed, compared to 16.5 percent of men within the same period.

The report also noted that underemployment was predominant in the rural areas as 26.9 percent of rural residents within the labour force in were underemployed compared to 9 percent of urban residents within the same period.

But facts coming from both the international monetary fund and from the National Bureau of Statistics of Nigeria do also confirmed the assertion I have made that the current administration, due to poor economic policies, has unleashed what looked like a dragon of absolute poverty.

On its part, the National Bureau of Statistics said 60.9% of Nigerians in 2010 were living in "absolute poverty" - this figure had risen from 54.7% in 2004.
The bureau predicted this rising trend was likely to continue.

Nigeria is Africa's biggest oil producer but the sector has been tainted by accusations of corruption, so argued British Broadcast Corporation.

According to the report, absolute poverty is measured by the number of people who can afford only the bare essentials of shelter, food and clothing.

The NBS, a government agency, said there was a paradox at the heart of Nigeria as the economy was going from strength to strength, mainly because of oil production - yet Nigerians were getting poorer.

"Despite the fact that the Nigerian economy is growing, the proportion of Nigerians living in poverty is increasing every year, although it declined between 1985 and 1992, and between 1996 and 2004," head of the NBS bureau Yemi Kale said.

Oil accounts for some 80% of Nigeria's state revenues but it has hardly any capacity to refine crude oil into fuel, which has to be imported. The extractive industry's transparency regulator of Nigeria had recently accused the management of the Nigerian National Petroleum company (NNPC) of widespread theft of billions of dollars from crude oil revenues. 

Still dwelling on crude oil corruption, last month, there was a nationwide strike when the government tried to remove the subsidy on fuel, angering many Nigerians who see it as the only benefit they received from the country's vast oil wealth, according to BBC.

The NBS said that relative poverty was most apparent in the north of the country, with Sokoto state's poverty rate the highest at 86.4%.

In the north-west and north-east of the country poverty rates were recorded at 77.7% and 76.3% respectively, compared to the south-west at 59.1%.

BBC Africa analyst Richard Hamilton says it is perhaps no surprise that extremist groups, such as Boko Haram, continue to have an appeal in northern parts of the country, where poverty and underdevelopment are at their most severe.

The report also revealed that Nigerians consider themselves to be getting poorer.
In 2010, 93.9% of respondents felt themselves to be poor compared to 75.5% six years earlier.

Mr. Kale says releasing such statistics from time to time is crucial for effective government planning.

"This kind of data helps them to know what is really happening so they can track their policies and programmes," he told the BBC's Focus on Africa programme.

"It gives them the opportunity to look at what they are doing... and if there are areas they need to change, it makes it easier to modify strategies," he added.

The dragon of poverty that has been unleashed on Nigerians must be tamed and one way to do that is to wage transparent anti-graft war by arresting the officials of the Federal and state administrations who are currently looting public fund preparatory for elections. EFCC and ICPC must wake up and carry out a very transparent anti-corruption war. 

*Emmanuel Onwubiko is the Head of the Human Rights Writers Association of Nigeria (HURIWA)

Monday, 12 March 2018

Tillerson’s Visit; North Korea and US By Emmanuel Onwubiko

The United States’ secretary of state is on whistle stop diplomatic shuttles to selected African nations with his last lap expected to commence today when he arrives in Abuja,  the beautiful capital city of Nigeria, reportedly the largest black nation globally.
Mr. Rex Tillerson is only just visiting the African continent clearly a year plus some months after his boss, the maverick Republican President of the United States of America Mr. Donald Trump clinched the World’s most coveted political office in one of the most contested elections in the political annals of the United States known as the World’s largest democracy. Donald Trump defeated all the establishment candidates in his party in which he is an outsider and also was victorious against the political party in power the Democrats which featured who would have become the first ever Woman President in America and the erstwhile Secretary of state abd wife of former US president Mrs. Hilary Clinton. Hilary Clinton was also a Senator representing New York at the Congress. 
The above prelimary facts adumbrated, but there are two imports or significant fallouts from this belated visit of the current second most powerful political office holder from the USA.  One, is that Africa matters less in the whole gamuts of political permutations and calculations of the current United States’ president Mr. Donald Trump whose major emblematic theme is America First.
Secondly, the belated diplomatic shuttles by the United States’ secretary of state may have been caused by the frightening explosive confrontations between the highly isolated North Korean regime and the United States which escalated with the rapid conducts of nuclear ballistic tests by the reclusive dictator of North Korea who has consistently repudiated the United Nations’ sanctions’ regime.
The feisty relationship in the Korean peninsula almost boiled down to the first ever Nuclear World war.
So as soon as the congress of the United States of America confirmed the erstwhile crude oil mogul Mr. Rex Tillerson as secretary of states his major diplomatic shuttles were his loaded diplomatic visits to South Korea, Japan, China and he indeed paid a visit to Russia whereby he is reported to be enjoying a robust friendship with the political authorities there headed by President Putin whose administration is being accused of interfering through cyber attacks in the elections that saw the Democrats losing to Donald Trump the outsider who became the then Presidential candidate of the Republican party.
The visit of the secretary of state to Africa and specifically to Nigeria has coincided with what is regarded as rare breakthrough in diplomatic truce between North Korea and South Korea in one hand and North Korea and the Trump’s led United States’ administration on the other. 
Mind you, as I write, the North and South Koreas are still technically at war  after the armistice declared soon after the Korean War nearly half a century ago.
Again, it was the South Korean leader who brokered peace between the reclusive young North Korean leader and the debonair business mogul turned politician Mr. Donald Trump who is the United States president. Few days back, South and North Korean presented a common team that participated at the Olympics that just happened in South Korea in which the biological sister of the North Korean leader headed. 
Trump, it would be recalled had blamed the past administrations of the USA in the last 25 years for pampering North Korean regimes which enabled the so-called rogue regime to further  advance on the building of its nuclear powers.
Mr. Tilllerson initially hinted over a period of four months now that although the USA was willing to dialogue, but he nevertheless backed the tough talking president Trump who had threatened categorically to drop the World’s mother of all Nuclear bomb on North Korea – the type never seen before in the history of ballistic weapons’ development history globally. The North Korean leader had earlier teminded the America's tweeter loving  President that the Nuclear botton was always on his desk and Trump retorted by saying that America's Nuclear botton was not just near him always but that it was more functionally bigger than that of North Korea which in any event may be fake. 
It can therefore be said that the current visit of the United states’ secretary of state to Africa could not have happened if the North Korean leadership had not  played down on war mongering rhetorics against the United States and even proceeded to offer his willingness to meet with Mr. Trump as soon as possible.
Before listing out what seems like agenda items for the visiting top official from the United States of America, we will very quickly take analytic view of the circumstances that occasioned the breakthrough between North Korea and the United States which obviously made it practically possible for the US secretary of state to visit the less strategic African continent and Nigeria in particular whose crude oil it no longer patronises. 
As stated earlier, the North Korean leader Kim Jong Un offered the opportunity of direct talk with the United States president for May 2018 and the US president reportedly accepted this offer described by international policy analysts as an extraordinary development’ following months of extensively threatening tension in the Korean peninsula.
Relatedly, the South Korean National Security Adviser Chung Eu-Yong, was quoted by media as stating that the North Korean dictator has also accepted to freeze further Nuclear tests which is the primary trigger for the verbal exchanges between president Trump and the regime in North Korea.
It would be recalled that for one year since the emergence of President Trump in the White House, North Korea had fired nearly a dozen of ballistic missiles reportedly capable of reaching all the United States even as it tested what is widely suspected to have been a hydrogen bomb.
President Trump has immediately accepted the unusual offer even as observers had warned of repercussions should the United States president simply attends such a high profile meeting with a highly unpredictable dictator if the United States does not work out all the necessary pre-conditions for such a meeting. had reported that there has never been a face-to-face meeting, or even a phone call, between sitting presidents of both nations because American presidents have been wary of offering the Kim regime the validation of leaders – level summit on the global stage.
The United States’ media is reporting that a senior White House official has stated that the North Korean leader’s message included a “commitment to denuclearization” and emphasized that the USA would demand verification that the North is meeting its obligations in any prospective deal. 
However the tough talking Trump who mellowed down significantly is however of the opinion that existing sanctions against North Korea will stay in place which his administration tightened the noose and the United Nations also imposed its range of stifling economic sanctions on North Korea. specifically confirmed that the news of the offer of a truce stunned United States’ political leadership and foreign policy analysts, who as recently as last month were fretting over the possibility of a military conflagration on the Korean peninsula. 
This writer, similarly expressed anxiety in a piece over the extensive global wide damage that any nuclear war in the Korean peninsula could have to all of mankind including Nigerians.
Thankfully, sense and rationality have overcome ego and meaningless political pride.
Speaking about the imminent diplomatic visit of the American secretary of state to Nigeria, as a continuation of ongoing African diplomatic shuttles, the generality of Nigerians are expecting a set of demands from this historic meeting which basically can be summed up to an urgency of the moment to restore respect for the fundamental human rights of Nigerians by the president Muhammadu Buhari’s administration and most especially the right to life which has come under unprecedented attacks by what looked like 'state – sponsored or rather state – sympathetic' Fulani instigated attacks on different farming communities all across Nigeria. The Buhar-led government has failed to act decisively to disarm these armed Fulani herdsmen and bring perpetrators of large scale violence to trial. Also members of the Internal security team made up of an all Hausa/Fulani officials have failed to dispassionately confront the national security threats posed by armed Fulani herdsmen. 
During his stopover in Abuja, Nigeria, the secretary of state of USA  is expected to hold a press conference at the presidential villa on Tuesday by 11.45am.
Tillerson is expected to be joined in the press availability by Minister of Foreign Affairs Geoffrey Onyeama,” the embassy stated.
Tillerson has been on a weeklong tour of Africa. He has visited the Horn of Africa just days after he announced a new $533million aid package for Africa out of which $128 million was ear-marked for Nigeria and countries of the Lake Chad region.
When Tillerson meets Buhari, both men are expected to discuss counter terrorism effort and humanitarian issues in Nigeria’s Northeast and the Lake Chad basin.
He is also expected to discuss how to advance peace and security, promote good governance, and spur mutually beneficial trade and investment with the president.
During his trip, he is expected also to meet with US Embassy personnel and participate in events related to US government supported activities.
There is little doubt that these agenda items listed out by the USA’s embassy in Nigeria for their top political office holder visiting Nigeria for the first time since president Trump emerged at the World’s political stage, Nigerians expect the United States secretary of state to demand from the Nigerian regime that it respects the democratic rights of persons with independent voices and stop the needless interferences in both the legislative proceedings and the encroachment by the security forces under the Nigerian presidency targeting independent minded judicial officials.
America should demand that the armed security forces responsible for gross human rights violations since the last couple of years like the killings of unarmed civilian protestors under the auspices of the now proscribed indigenous people of Biafra (IPOB) are prosecuted in a transparent judicial proceeding or else they should be reported to the international criminal court in the Hague, Netherlands.
Above all, the United States’ secretary of state should demand transparent and accountable electoral system for next year’s general election and ensure that it is not manipulated by the INEC made up of appointees of the incumbent president who is eyeing second term despite woeful first term.
The United States should demand that the president of Nigeria respects the constitutional checks and balances which makes for good governance and multiparty democracy just as the misuse of the anti-graft agencies to fight political opponents must be denounced. US must stop Nigeria from seeking to kill persons who believe in free speech just as the American top diplomat should discuss the incessant bloody attacks against Christians by Boko Haram terrorists in the North East of Nigeria. 
*Emmanuel Onwubiko is the Head of the Human Rights Writers Association of Nigeria (HURIWA)