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Wednesday, 12 June 2013


For those curious Nigerians conversant with the nation’s capital of Abuja in the last one and half decade, have you ever wondered why Abuja is now so choked up that vehicular and human movements have constituted incredible logistical nightmares necessitating the introduction of the tough new transportation policy to decongest the town of archaic and environmentally hazardous minibuses?

Again, has anyone ever wondered why majority of the self-appointed spokespersons of the various amorphous ethnic, religious and regional groups often generate much noise promoting their self –centered cleavages from the comfort of their palatial homes in Abuja or Lagos rather than reside in their country homes in the geo-political zones?
Pardon my further line of interrogation but it is necessary to ask if anyone has taken time off their busy schedules to travel to the country- sides and see for themselves the extent of rot of most public infrastructure and indeed the total absence of good governance in much of the states that make up the Nigerian federation?

These questions are necessary given the fact that while politicians from both divides were busy the whole of last week bickering over irrelevances and other mundane issues associated with the year 2015 general elections, a frightening alarm was raised in the local media by the National Population Commission (NPC) concerning the phenomenon of rural-urban migration of most Nigerians in search of the elusive greener pastures.
Upon extensive contemplation, I came up with the conclusion that the far-reaching import of that landmark report from the National Population Commission [NPC] is that Nigeria is suffering from debilitating lack of constructive politics and dearth of good governance.      

As is already a notorious fact, the consequences of lack of good governance and constructive politics in any nation is that the people will inevitably suffer from problems associated with mass poverty; mass illiteracy; corruption; and near-situation of anarchy.
From the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization [UNESCO] came another frightening report that Nigeria tops the infamous list of nations with the largest percentage of her children of school age who are out of school.  The report which was widely covered by a respected online newspaper PREMIUM TIMES stated that with approximately 10.05 million children out of former schooling, Nigeria holds the record of having the highest number of its young people out of school.

I will return to the burning issue of high rural to urban migration in Nigeria as captured by the National Population Commission, but first, let me repeat here that Nigerian politicians of all classes don't give a damn about all these so long as they have their own ways of funneling public fund in the treasury of the states they control into their private pockets. These politicians who behave like over spoilt school children are often seen quarreling in the media among themselves as was the recent public spats between the Presidential Media Adviser Reuben Abati and former anti-graft chief Mr. Nuhu Ribadu over some partisan matters.

Having established the preliminary aspects, to now let you into the aspects of that shocking but realistic report of the National Population Commission before dwelling on the adjunct fact of dearth of constructive and quality governance, has become imperative at this juncture.

Specifically, The Guardian, Sunday, June 2nd, 2013 on page 3 carried a story with the title; “Population Commission warns government on rural – urban Migration".
The warning by the population panel was contained in the internal migration survey of Nigeria for year 2010, even as the agency of the federal government sounded a note of warning that the different levels of government at the national, sub-national and local government segment must implement urgent development-based measures to discourage rural dwellers from embarking on urban migration.

The report stressed the need to develop essential strategies for job creation in rural areas, a move that would, in the long run, also address youth restiveness arising from unemployment.

The survey, which was randomly conducted among 101,939 respondents in the six geopolitical zones, revealed that 11,257 were migrants, 11,209 non-migrants, and 1801 were return migrants.

At the official presentation of the report in Abuja, Chairman of the Commission, Mr. Festus Odimegwu, stressed the need for government to adopt best practices of managing migration, so as to promote balanced growth, reduce incidences of violence and better human resource utilization.

He said: “Government should adopt some of the best practices of managing migration. Such practices include deliberate policies of discouraging over-urbanization, assimilation of migrants and proper integration of return migrants, among others”.
The survey, according to him, revealed that the highest percentages of migrants were persons with no education, followed by those with primary education, and the least were persons with post graduate qualification.

Odimegwu mentioned that the survey highlighted employment opportunity as a critical push factor that encourages migration in Nigeria, especially among youths, hence the need for a proper articulation of policies to address issues of employment and rural-urban drift for better socio-economic planning.   

Dr. Aworemi Joshua Remi; Abdul-Azeez Ibrahim Adegoke and Opoola Nurain, who had earlier in June 2011 carried out a scholarly study of the factors influencing rural-urban Migration with Lagos State as the case study, were said to have adduced profound sociological reasons why this ugly trend persist.
The study carried out by these scholars, revealed that unemployment, education, family reasons, inadequate social amenities in the rural communities, avoidance of boredom in agriculture and health reasons are the major factors influencing rural-urban migration in Nigeria.

The scholars gave a far-reaching recommendation thus; “It was however recommended that to stem down the rate of the migration, functional amenities such as pipe borne water, electricity, recreational facilities should be provided in the rural areas. Good educational facilities and qualified teachers should be made available in the rural areas. Agro-allied industries must be set-up in the rural areas in order to provide job opportunity for the rural dwellers”.

But the recommendations made by both the National population commission and the three university researchers aforementioned on how best to check the increasing trend of rural-urban migration in Nigeria, are not extra-constitutional since even the constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria of 1999 (as amended) has made several provisions on the necessity for the equitable development of all parts of Nigeria by the government.
For instance, section 16(1) of the constitution has clearly  provided that the “State shall within the context of the ideas and objective for which provisions are made in this constitution, harness the resources of the nation and promote national prosperity and an efficient, a dynamic and self-reliant economy”.

But because of the dearth of constructive politics and good governance, most Nigerians are left at the mercy of poverty, corruption and lawlessness.

Responding to the question of what role government must play to bring about development and economic happiness to the greater number of the people, Daron Acemoglu and James A. Robinson in their scholarly book titled “WHY NATIONS FAIL”, said responsibility lies squarely with government.

In their words: “To function well, society also needs other public services: roads and a transport network so that goods can be transported; a public infrastructure so that economic activity can flourish; and some type of basic regulation to prevent fraud and malfeasance”.         

There is no doubt that the Nigerian government at all levels have substantially failed to address the challenges confronting the nation’s economy to stop it from failing but worst still, officials of government have often engaged in corruption and ostentatious life style even when millions of Nigerians starve to their death for want and better jobs. The anti-graft agencies are long on media drama and short on actual prosecution of serial fraudsters in government offices.

The absence of constructive and quality governance is felt more in the states and local government areas whereby majority of rural dwellers are deprived of the basic necessities of life thereby necessitating the dangerous rural-urban drift.
Only few days back, report of massive fraud that happened in the Zamfara state Universal Basic Education Board (ZUBEB) emerged whereby the chairman Alhaji Murtala Adamu Jengebe was asked by the state House of Assembly to refund the allegedly stolen sum of N1.061 Billion back to the treasury.

Media report from the News Agency of Nigeria said following a recent report submitted by the Special Committee on investigations into Zamfara Universal Basic Education Board’s (ZUBEB) operations and financial activities, the Zamfara State House of Assembly has unanimously resolved that the embattled Chairman of the Board, Alhaji Murtala Adamu Jangebe, should no longer serve in any capacity in Zamfara state government again.

In its 184th resolutions which was also copied to all security agencies in the state, the state house of Assembly resolved that the ZUBEB Chairman and anybody found to be a party to the excessive misappropriations of public funds should be arrested with immediate effect through the office of the Attorney-general and the Commissioner for Justice of the state for prosecution.

The statement, which was signed by the House Acting Clerk, Isah Abdullahi Bayero, noted that the State House of Assembly has unanimously resolved that the Chairman of ZUBEB must return the sum of N1.061 billion against the initial figure 797.2 million naira earlier discovered to be misappropriated from the seven accounts operated by the Board.

The House reportedly stated that going by the discoveries made by the house, it was satisfied that it no longer has trust in Jangebe to administer the affairs of the Board and he therefore should with immediate effect vacate the office.

The Zamfara show of shame as stated above is only but a drop in the ocean because massive corruption go – on in much of the state capital across the country and to a large extent, one will begin to wonder why only one state government official could gain access to such huge fund belonging to the state primary universal education board as was the case in Zamfara. What makes this particular case annoying is that Zamfara state is among the Northern states said to be educationally disadvantaged and here is a man saddled with the duty of bringing quality primary education to the teeming youth who has deviated from his duty and resorted to alleged open stealing of public fund. What a big shame?

The lack of constructive governance is responsible and the outcome is that the rural people who cannot find opportunity for good education will migrate to the urban areas thereby overstretching the capacity of the infrastructure in the urban areas.

* Emmanuel Onwubiko; Head; Human Rights Writers’ Association of Nigeria; blogs @;  


Monday, 10 June 2013


 Inuwa Abdulkadir, Nigeria's youth development minister is a lawyer of several years of post-call experience.  Still in his prime, but his legendary achievements at such a young age has catapulted him to a high pedestal in the legal profession so much so that he was picked by his home state to hold the prestigious public office of Attorney General and commissioner for justice in Sokoto state for nearly five years up until President Goodluck Jonathan chose him to become the minister of Youth Development, recently.

Abdulkadir, a life member of the Nigerian Body of Benchers has settled down into the national challenge of transforming the youth ministry to be alive to its onerous responsibilities to the teeming number of Nigerian youths.  He started by highlighting the gianstrides achieved by the younger population of Nigeria to national development and described the Nigerian youth as essential building blocks.

speaking at the Nigerian conversation, Paris Edition, a youth mainstreaming initiative hosted by commonwealth youth organization which is said to positively engage Nigerians both at home and abroad, the youth Development minister noted that Nigeria is blessed with a vibrant and resourceful young population which can contribute significantly to the developmental aspiration of the country. Abdulkadir stressed the imperative for all stakeholders in the Nigeria project to harness the enormous resources latent in the youth who are about 80 million of the entire 170 million of the country's population.

according to the minister, no nation with such a huge population will over look the potential it can bring to bear on its overall development.
The youth Developmental minister pledged to painstakingly implement the program of transformation as it relates to the youth policies formulated by the President Jonathan-led federal administration.

The youth Development minister had in an interaction I had with him in his office pledged his readiness to implement the ministry's mandate.

Important aspects of the mandate are; to facilitate and coordinate the acquisition of market ready skills by Nigerian youth; to create opportunity for the youth to have a say in the management of their lives and national development and lastly, to promote values and social responsibility among the youth.

From my extensive independent investigation at the youth Development ministry, I came out with the findings that the Ministry is vigorously implementing the current government's transformation agendum of youth empowerment program (YEP) which is a short-term quick-impact intervention to provide skills and entrepreneurial trainings; job placements; business development services and concessionary credit to the Nigerian youth.

We in the Nigerian Human Rights Community are convinced that if the ministry of youth Development is able to carry through this radical program of youth employment, then a major  and indeed viable platform would have being created for redressing the unprecedented scale of youth and graduate unemployment in Nigeria. We believe that human capacity training holds the key to unlocking the solution to the disturbing social challenge of youth unemployment.

Sources conversant with the activities of officials of the Nigeria's youth Development ministry have also told me that the current minister is undertaking radical and extensive reform measures in the National Youth Service Corp (NYSC) scheme. The officials are of the considered view that the reform measures being carried out in the NYSC Scheme is done in view of its low return on investment to the country as it is the singular most important investment in youth development in the country today.
In my recent conversation with the minister,  he was of the opinion that he will surely build a veritable legacy for Nigeria through comprehensive reform of the NYSC Scheme to meet up with the high standard set for the ministry in the transformation agenda of President Jonathan.

During the course of researching for this piece, I ran into a booklet on Nigerian Youth and the transformation Agenda which was credited to the immediate past Youth Development minister Mr. Bolaji Abdullahi and was informed by officials of the ministry who chose to remain anonymous that the current minister is meticulous in the policy guidelines enumerated in that blueprint.

Going through the contents, I came across the affirmation by the youth ministry that implementation of the Youth Development programme has reached an impressive stage and that in the shortest possible time, the positive economic impacts would be felt by Nigerians.

According to the document, the sum of N1.2 billion was appropriated in the 2012 budget for the Youth employment program (YEP) even as service providers were being recruited from the private sector to provide training platforms for YEP beneficiaries.
I believe that the youth Development ministry will achieve a lot more in the area of delivering skills to the teeming unemployed Nigerian Youth if it can actively partner with the Industrial Training Fund (ITF) to comprehensively deliver skill acquisition program for the youth.

One more important sector that the youth Development ministry can provide positive intervention and provide better future for the teeming population of Nigerian youth is in the area of mechanized agriculture.

Document made available to me shows that before the resumption of office of the new youth Development minister, the sum of N200 million was made available to the Federal ministry of Youth Development by the millennium Development Goals (MDG) office towards enhancing youth capacity in agriculture.

If you ask me, I will say that not much of positive impacts have been made in this significant perspective with regard to the monetary release.

The current youth Development minister should transparently put mechanism effectively in place to activate this very strategic component of the transformation item to ensure that millions of unemployed youth in Nigeria are actively assisted to embrace modern-day agricultural profession because of  the salient fact that no modern nation has ever become developed if it relies on mono-product as we do in Nigeria whereby crude oil seems to be receiving all the attention as Nigeria's only source of foreign exchange earner.

Agriculture stands in a very good position to take Nigeria's economy to the next level but government through the ministries of Youth Development; Agriculture; Finance and the office of the Special Presidential Adviser on MDG must partner to implement wholistic youth agricultural program to recruit our teeming youth into this sector.
I see hope that with the support of all genuine and credible youth in Nigeria, the current minister has the necessary competencies and professional pedigree to bring about radical transformation.

The hue and cry lately from some persons against the recent election of the National youth council of Nigeria is politically-motivated because there are abundance of evidence to show that those rebelling against the avowed resolve of the youth minister to bring about change are the same characters maligning the minister following a recent election in Makurdi, Benue state. I am told that those who lost out are persons who are clearly no longer within the age bracket of 18/35 years which is the official age for membership of any youth group.

* Emmanuel Onwubiko; Head Human Rights Writers' Association of Nigeria    


Wednesday, 5 June 2013


Few days back, President Goodluck Jonathan made series of high profile appointments into key federal government agencies that got tremendous approval rating because of the caliber and character of the Nigerians that were so nominated.

For the benefit of those who may not be in the know concerning the appointees aforementioned, I will proceed to give few names among the most prominent.

Erstwhile Senate President Mr. Ken Nnamani, the Enugu State-born but United States of America’s trained technocrat, who-spearheaded the defeat at the National Assembly of the then infamous third term agenda/ plot by the then President Obasanjo to prolong his stay in office beyond constitutional limit, was made the chairman of Infrastructures concession Agency while former Inspector General of Police Mr. Mike Okiro from the oil -rich River State was appointed the chairman of the corruption-ridden Police Service Commission (PSC).

Perhaps, the icing in the cake concerning the recent set of presidential appointments remains the picking of a distinguished international human rights and Peace laureate-Mrs. Catherine Dupe Atoki to be at the helm of affairs at the near-moribund Consumer Protection Council (CPC) which in the last few years suffered monumental image deficit following undue fraternization by the defunct management with notorious violators of consumers human rights in the manufacturing and service sectors of the economy.

The image of the consumer protection council nosedived for the worst when the immediate past management embarked on meaningless award given events to service providers in Nigeria even when millions of Nigerian consumers are being consistently ripped off and shortchanged even as I write.

The choice of Mrs. Atoki who has worked variously as federal commissioner in Nigeria’s National Human Rights Commission and the African Commission for Human Rights is viewed as symbolizing a resolve by the current administration to put up formidable measures for the effective protection and promotion of the fundamental human rights of Nigerian consumers. Her appointment is viewed in critical quarters as a fundamental departure by Government to put the intrinsic interest of Nigerian consumers on the front burners of national life.

Before proceeding to give further credence to my views aforementioned regarding the credentials and practical experiences of the new Director General of Nigeria’s Consumer Protection Council (CPC) Mrs. Dupe Atoki, it will be logical to state without fear of contradiction that the new Chief executive has her job cut out for her given the volume of complaints and protest from consumers from across Nigeria on the flagrant disregard by service providers and manufacturers of the consumer rights of the citizenry.

For instance, torrents of complaints emanating from consumers of telecommunication services regarding the poor quality of services by the private operators of the Global service of mobile telecommunication (GSM) are never attended to and resolved effectively by both the Nigerian communication commission (NCC) and the consumer protection council. Ironically, most shareholders and/or owners of most of these telecommunication service providers are foreigners from jurisdiction whose government respect the consumer rights of their local population. Like in South Africa where most citizens are aware of their rights and are ready to challenge any infractions, the South African dominated service providers such as MTN and DSTV treat their people with courtesy but the reverse is the case in Nigeria which constitute some of the most profitable markets for these multinational companies.

Consumers of all range of products such as electronics and even services from state- run electricity providers [NEPA or is it PHCN?] are constantly short changed yet the consumer protection council behaves like a toothless bulldog that can only bark without effectively biting and the thousands of staff of this agency draw salaries monthly from public treasury.

The institution known as consumer protection council is only known to Abuja and Lagos elites even as consumers in most other places are left to the unfortunate fate of being cruelly treated by service providers because the impact, offices and effectiveness of the consumer protection council is almost non-existent. Some few years back, because of the notoriety and ineffectiveness of the agency, a certain ill-mannered government official beat up members of the management team of this federal agency that were in that state to enforce provisions of the consumer protection council law as it relates to selling suspected substandard rice to consumers in that state.

Even in Abuja and Lagos whereby the agency is usually sparsely mentioned in the electronic and print media for attending social functions organized by the same alleged violators of the consumer rights of Nigerians, instances abound whereby Nigerians whose consumer rights are violated with reckless abandon do not receive remedy. Consumer protection council for now is as unpopular as the Nigeria Police Force [NPF] except that the staff have yet to degenerate to the gutter level of collecting N20 bribe by the use of force as the NPF is known for
For the purposes of providing empirical evidence, a man in his late sixties  approached the Human Rights Writers’ Association of Nigeria (HURIWA) in Abuja to complain of violation of his consumer right by a dealer of electronics in Wuse Market, we quickly referred him to the head office of the Consumer Protection Council but two months after, his protest was still not redressed.

Cases also abound of how government agencies in Abuja and Lagos breach the consumer rights of Nigerians without the consumer protection council living up to its institutional mandate thereby creating an impression in the minds of most Nigerians that the agency is another of those offices created by powerful government officials at the Federal level to create jobs for the boys similar to the notorious Public Complaints Commission which is under the supervisory purview of the Senate/National Assembly. This impression becomes compelling when it is viewed against the back drop that the governing board is so unwieldy with dozens of person appointed to represent the 36 states of the Federation as if to say that the place is meant for the sharing of the proverbal national cake. How does government then expects the agency to work?

From the above analysis, it is now a notorious fact that the job for which Mrs. Dupe Atoki is saddled with by President Jonathan is no child’s play since she is expected to bring her formidable legal and human rights experiences to bear in meandering through the twists and turns of bureaucracy and navigate through this institutional murky water of politics in order to achieve the mandate of attending to the overwhelming complaints of Nigerians concerning the groundswell of unattended and unresolved consumer rights breaches by manufacturers and service providers whose only mantle is profit making with scant regards for human rights of consumers.

Born on October 10th 1955, in Kabba, Kogi State, Mrs. Catherine Dupe Atoki schooled variously at the Ahmadu Bello University in Zaria, Kaduna State, American University, Washington, United States and the prestigious Oxford University in the United Kingdom.      
Some of her significant national and continental assignments from Nigeria and the African Union [AU] included her stints at the National Human Rights Commission of Nigeria and as commissioner representing Nigeria at the African union commission on Human and Peoples Rights (The African Commission).

It must be noted that the African commission is the foremost continental organization mandated to monitor and ensure observance of human rights by member states of the African Union in accordance with the African Charter on Human and Peoples Rights.
At the African Commission, this distinguished legal expert from Nigeria was made chairperson of the influential committee for the prevention of torture in Africa and a special rapporteur on prison and places of detention in Africa.

She became the first woman from Nigeria to chair the African commission on human and Peoples Rights.

Ms Catherine Dupe Atoki is a human rights lawyer and activist with wide and varied expertise and experience on issues of Human Rights
and has been in practice since 1978.

Those conversant with her activities in the legal profession say her legal training and passion for the rule of law is premised on her conviction that enjoyment of human right as a panacea for peace upon which democracy and good   governance thrive.
As member of the Nigerian Human Rights Commission she served   relentlessly to ensure that the rights of Nigerians were fostered. Also appointed by the Government to serve in several Presidential Committees including those on the review of laws discriminatory to Women and on the reform of investment law.

Atoki's involvement in monitoring/observing elections in several countries in Africa particularly those emerging from conflict including Democratic Republic of Congo- 2006, Sierra Leone -2007, further concretized her credentials as a consummate lover of freedom and democracy.
As Chairperson of the African Commission she carried out many promotion missions across the continent and was received by several Presidents and Heads of State of Africa. Such missions provided the opportunity to engage them and other high government officials on their obligations to ensure the enjoyment of human rights by their citizens.

Globally, Mrs. Atoki worked vigorously to ensure that African voice is heard at the United Nations (UN) through her engagements with the various UN organs including the Human Rights Council and the High Commissioner for human rights. She has also delivered several papers in and out of Africa on diverse human rights themes including their impact on peace. Recently she won an international peace prize in the Philippines.

Nigerian consumers could not have asked for a better person but the bottom line is that a lot is expected from her during her tenure at the consumer protection council of Nigeria.

+Emmanuel Onwubiko is head, Human Rights Writers' Association of Nigeria and blogs;