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Tuesday, 30 July 2013


Prior to the appointment of the then firebrand university teacher Professor Attahiru Jega as the Chairman of the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC), the public image of this body had nosedived just as majority of Nigerians viewed that institution as one of the most fatally corrupt public institution next to the discredited Nigerian Police Force.
The nomination by President Goodluck Jonathan of the boss of the electoral commission and his confirmation only few years back, was greeted with unrestrained optimism from critical segments of the Nigerian society who felt then that the media generated larger-than-life image of the erstwhile national president of the 'progressive –minded' Academic staff Union of Universities (ASUU) would impact positively on the electoral commission.
 Recall that Attahiru Jega led the Academic staff union of Nigerian Universities during the infamous military contraption of a regime under the dictator-turned self made military President-General Ibrahim Badamasi Babangida [rtd] and the union was on record to have waged relentless industrial war against the military elements who neglected the funding of the nation’s universities to an all time low. Abacha later emerged as the successor to the military tyrant-General IBB and dragged the administration of Nigerian Universities to the mud of infamy with the appointment of serving military Generals as Vice Chancellors of Federal Universities. Even ivory towers like the Ahmadu Bello University and the University of Nigeria Nsukka were desecrated by the then late General Sani Abacha-headed military contraption. ASUU went to the trenches to battle these military gangs to a standstill.
 About two years since this former radical university teacher was elevated to the position of chairman of the electoral commission, several botched and heavily compromised elections have been conducted whose outcome ended up been jettisoned by the competent election petition tribunals with damaging verdicts against the conduct of such elections marred by irregularities.
It is also on record that Attahiru Jega rolled out series of programs aimed at bringing about sanity in the conduct of elections even as his leadership severally told Nigerians that the era of electoral crimes and impunity were over but months after these series of propaganda it is clear to even innocent toddlers that no significant electoral regime change for the better has happened under Professor Jega's watch.
Instead, politicians have devised better and much more opaque ways and strategies of manipulating the outcome of elections in active partnership with some rogue officials of the electoral panel. Till date, no ‘bigman’ in INEC has been prosecuted for the monumental frauds that led to the nullification of several election results.
 After the 2011 elections which was relatively adjudged freer than most elections, the electoral commission promised to bring to trial all arrested and indicted officials and registered voters accused of committing one infraction or the other just as the electoral panel stated that it has compiled a record of electoral offenders.
As I write, it is not on record that any electoral offender is behind bars for the offences committed before, during and immediately after the conduct of the 2011 election. Again, and sadly enough, no official of INEC has been prosecuted for the electoral atrocities that characterized aspects of the 2011 general elections.
Aside apparent failure to introduce any workable reforms within the rank and file of the officials of INEC, Professor Jega not long ago committed a major blunder or [ hara-kiri] when out of the blues he announced the deregistration of over two dozen political parties for partly failing to win any seat in all the elections conducted since 2011 general elections.
But I ask – why take dictatorial decision of choking up the political and democratic space through military – styled deregistration when the electoral commission failed to check excess pre-election campaign expenses of those few political parties in government that used their influence to get contractors to bankroll the 2011 general election campaign for these parties to the clear detriment of the weaker political parties now being witch hunted by INEC?  
A situation whereby ruling parties at the center and the various federating units used their political might to convert public fund to campaign for re-election in the 2011 election without INEC wielding the big stick in line with extant statutory electoral provisions, the same agency cannot at the same time be seen flogging out of existence those marginal and ‘powerless’ political parties who have no political area of conquest from which to deep their hands to enrich their campaign fund with filthy lucre .
When INEC announced this deregistration, some of us denounced the action but Professor Jega maintained his unpopular and undemocratic stand as if to say 'IAM-HOLIER -THAN-THOU'.
Jega instead insisted that the act of infamy of deregistering weak political parties was in line with powers conferred on it by the Nigerian law. Interestingly, the ruling parties who have used their intimidating financial muscles to muzzle out other lesser political parties, praised the electoral commission to high heavens and the officials of INEC grinned from both sides of their mouths.       
According to a statement signed by the then commission’s Secretary Alhaji Abdulahi Kaugama and made available to journalists, INEC said the action was in exercise of its powers conferred on it pursuant to the I999 Constitution (as amended) and the Electoral Act 2010.
The statement read: “In the exercise of the powers conferred on it by the 1999 Constitution (as amended) and the Electoral Act 2010 (as amended), the Independent National Electoral Commission has today, Thursday, December 6, 2012, de-registered the following political parties: African Liberation Party (ALP); Action Party of Nigeria (APN); African Political System (APS); Better Nigeria Progressive Party (BNPP); Congress for Democratic Change (CDC) and Community Party of Nigeria (CPN).
Other political parties de-registered include: Democratic Peoples Alliance (DPA); Freedom Party of Nigeria (FPN); Fresh Democratic Party (FDP); Hope Democratic Party (HDP); Justice Party (JP); Liberal Democratic Party of Nigeria (LDPN); Movement for Democracy and Justice (MDJ) and Movement for the Restoration and Defence of Democracy (MRDD).
 Others are: Nigeria Advanced Party (NAP); New Democrats (ND); National Majority Democratic Party (NMDP); National Movement of Progressive Party (NMPP); National Reformation Party (NRP); National Solidarity Democratic Party (NSDP); Progressive Action Congress (PAC); Peoples Mandate Party (PMP); Peoples Progressive Party (PPP); Peoples Redemption Party (PRP); Peoples Salvation Party (PSP); Republican Party of Nigeria (RPN); United National Party for Development (UNPD) and United Nigeria Peoples Party (UNPP).
“The commission hereby reiterates its commitment to relating with political parties in accordance with extant laws and for the benefit of our electoral democracy.”
Those political parties affected by this apparent unpopular decision of INEC headed to the court of law to seek redress in compliance with section 6 of the constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria of 1999 (as amended).
On Monday 29th July 2013, the Federal High Court, Abuja division gave a good verdict voiding the infamous action of Jega-led INEC.
This spectacular judgment of the Federal High Court has effectively derobed this once larger-than-life 'big masquerade' whose beautifully qualitative professional antecedents won him several accolades upon his elevation by President Jonathan to mount the mantle of INEC chairmanship.
The court, presided over by Justice Gabriel Kolawole, also declared section 78 (7) (ii) of the Electoral Act 2010, as amended, which stipulates that political parties must win seats  during  state  and  National Assembly elections,   as null and void.
INEC had while announcing the deregistration of  the 28 parties on December 6, 2012 reportedly  predicated  its action on the section and the 1999 Constitution.
 It is on record that one of the deregistered parties, Fresh Democratic Party, and its presidential candidate in 2011, Rev. Chris   Okotie, challenged the action at the Abuja FHC. They argued that it breached their fundamental rights as guaranteed by the 1999 Constitution.
INEC, the Attorney-General of the Federation, the National Assembly and the Inspector-General of Police were listed as defendants in the suit in which the plaintiffs asked the court to make a declaration that the electoral body lacked the power to  deregister  the FDP  except in accordance with the provisions of the constitution.
Another relief sought by the plaintiffs in the suit filed  by Fred Agbaje,  was  a declaration that section 78 (7) (ii) of the Electoral Act, 2010 as amended,   was unconstitutional, invalid, null and void to the extent that it breached   the provisions of section  40 as well as sections 221 to 229 of the constitution.
They also asked the court to declare that the purported reliance by INEC  on section 78 (7) (ii) of the said  Electoral Act in deregistering FDP   violated the provisions of sections 36, 38 and 40, as well as sections 221 to 222 of the constitution.
In his judgment, Justice Kolawole noted that those who drafted the 1999 Constitution did not contemplate deregistration of political parties.
He upbraided the National Assembly for its inexplicable decision to introduce the provisions in section 78 (7) (ii) of the Electoral Act  as an instrument for the deregistration of political parties.
The judge described the provisions as legislative arbitrariness and mischief, noting that they could encourage a win-at-all-cost mentality by the political parties.
The judge held that while the National Assembly has the power to make laws, it has no power to “smuggle in” a provision that a political party which fails to win seats in state and National Assembly elections should be deregistered.
He also held that INEC should have given the FDP a hearing before going ahead  to deregister it.
Kolawole  said, “INEC would not have lost anything by issuing the 1st plaintiff (FDP) with a query to enhance the integrity of its decision. The statutory powers conferred on the 1st defendant (INEC) can be described as ministerial but when such power concerns deregistration of a political party, it becomes a quasi judicial power because after registration, a political party becomes a legal entity and acquires a legal right and you cannot   take away such legal right without according the political party a hearing.”
Concluding, he  said, “Section 78 (7) (ii) of the Electoral Act 2010, as amended, is hereby declared null and void, in so far as the 1st plaintiff (FDP) was not heard before the decision was taken.  The said decision is null and void.
“The 1st defendant’s decision dated December 6, 2012 is declared invalid and is set aside.”
The presiding judge refused to grant the plaintiffs’ prayer that the court should order the defendants to pay them N10m as compensatory damages.
As the court rose, INEC   signified its intention to appeal the verdict, saying three earlier judgments validated the deregistration of the parties.
“INEC is appealing the judgment. Don’t forget that there have been three previous judgments affirming the correctness of our action.
“This fourth judgment is different and it will be appealed,” said  Kayode Idowu,    Chief Press Secretary to the INEC Chairman, Prof. Attahiru Jega.
One  of the affected political parties, the Peoples Salvation Party,  welcomed the court’s  decision in its own reaction.
It said the judgment would make the electoral body to realise that it must operate within the confines of the law.
INEC had better not waste public fund to embark on another miserably meaningless voyage of discovery in a futile attempt to get the appellate court to rule that it was just for a creation of the constitution like INEC to flagrantly abuse the Constitutionally protected fundamental right to association based on the now discredited section of the electoral Act which was smuggled in by the anti-democratic forces in the National Assembly.
As Oprah Winfrey would wisely say; “real integrity is doing the right thing, knowing that nobody’s going to know whether you did it or not”.
INEC should leave the smaller political parties alone; resist attempt to stifle growth of democracy but instead should introduce policies to restore credibility to this badly dented commission so as to meet the overwhelming wishes of Nigerians to see reforms and positive changes introduced by the once feared trade unionist-Professor Attahiru Jega and his management team.



Wednesday, 24 July 2013


At a time the generality of Nigerians are very angry with the members of the Senate for violently failing to protect the fundamental human rights of the Nigerian girl child by out rightly refusing to state in black and white the universally acceptable age of consent and/or marriage in order to save the Nigerian girl child from ferocious attacks by paedophiles and sexual predators who are prowling round like roaring lion looking for innocent girl child to devour, the other side of the national assembly- federal house of representatives was last week presented with a historic opportunity to right the obvious institutional wrong about to be done by the Senate when it had a public hearing on a proposed bill to amend the extant law setting up the Nigeria's Consumer Protection Council to make it stronger and more effective to protect the rights of all Nigerians.  

The Consumer Protection Council is the apex consumer protection agency of the Federal Government of Nigeria established to amongst other things promote and protect consumer’s interest in all areas of products and services, provide speedy redress to consumers’ complaints, inform, educate and empower consumers to act as discerning and discriminating consumers in the market place. Since it was set up, this agency has faced several challenges among which are what experts have identified rightly as inherent weaknesses in the enabling law which include but are not limited to non definition of consumers’ rights and inadequate provisions for their enforcement; lack of a specific institutional framework for the defence of consumers’ rights; undefined relationship with sector regulators leading to some confusion as to the role of the agency; an over-bloated and unwieldy 43-member governing board and many more.

At the public session attended by the crème de la crème of the society including the minister of Trade and investment, the urbane looking Mr. Olusegun Aganga, and Mrs. Catherine Dupe Atoki, the newly appointed Director General of the Nigerian Consumer Protection Council, a consummate human rights expert clearly  told her audience that the agency since it was established has had to contend with lots of teething operational impediments even as she rightly pointed out that, over the years, emerging technological changes, new trading methods, patterns and agreements have brought about new challenges to consumers of goods and services in Nigeria making it necessary to develop and employ further innovative ways to protect the interests of consumers.

According to her, these challenges necessitated the desire and clamour by Nigerians for the comprehensive legislative review of the enabling law, a difficult but necessary process this government agency commenced since 2003. The first effort spearheaded by the then Senator Jonathan Zwingina faced the presidential huddle when the then President Chief Olusegun Obasanjo failed to sign the passed bill into law thus necessitating the presentation of this bill afresh. This bill for the review of the enabling law setting up the Consumer Protection Council didn't scale through in the last sixth session of the national assembly which automatically transmitted it to the current seventh session. Nigerians are looking up to the Federal House of Representatives and their counterparts in the Senate to see this and many other human rights friendly proposed bills as their chance to redeem their waning image by passing them on time to enable the President assent to them so as to broaden the horizon and frontiers of human rights respect in Nigeria.

The struggle to actualize the review of the law setting up the consumer protection council should be seen as a national priority by all and sundry particularly because of the fact that the consumer rights of all Nigerians are most times breached fragrantly by major businesses and most times a lot of Nigerians are not even aware that they have inherent rights as citizens and importantly as consumers. Even the popular slogan that the consumer is king is most times seen as a huge joke by even the consumers who often sleep n their rights and allow manufacturers; traders and service providers to violate their rights as consumers with reckless abandon. Others who are aware of their rights do not want to pursue it to the highest level because of the belief that the agency charged with these onerous tasks is institutionally and structurally weak. These are the challenges that this on-going review seeks to tackle.

In her characteristic candidness, Mrs. Atoki said the purpose of the review is to re-enact the Consumer Protection Council Act to provide for a broader and more effective Council, clearly define consumer rights and ensure the removal of fake and substandard products from the market, ensure the protection of Consumers and their access to easy and speedy redress through the establishment of an elaborate consumer redress system, establishment of institutions for the protection of consumer rights and among other things complement laws governing unfair competition and deceptive and fraudulent practices.

When this bill is passed into law here are some of the specific benefits that will accrue includes the expert formulation of clearly written Fundamental Consumer Rights   which for the first time in Nigeria certain specific rights of consumers are defined for codification even as the Part 6 of the proposed amendment will state that Consumers’ right to disclosure and information; right to choice; right to fair and responsible marketing; right to fair and honest dealing; right to fair, just and reasonable terms and conditions; and the right to fair value, good quality and safety are hereby guaranteed and protected by law.

These rights represent the basic rights of consumers in the United Nations declaration of 1985 and this amendment makes those rights an integral part of Nigerian law. 

Importantly, experts say that clearly defining consumer rights is important to consumer awareness and the enforcement of consumer rights.  Mrs. Atoki who has practiced law at the highest level in Nigeria for over two decades told Nigerians that  under the proposed bill before the national legislators, the consumer has a right to return and collect a refund for an unsuitable or defective product which he had purchased notwithstanding exemption clauses like ‘once tested and taken away cannot be returned’. This was hitherto a challenge as suppliers hide under such clauses to refuse to refund or make good defective products. It is noteworthy to state that in the United Kingdom and other developed climes, such clauses are strictly enforced even by the sellers without much recourse to the law enforcement mechanism. 

Another salient quality of the proposed bill s that an elaborate and well articulated redress system dedicated specifically to consumer issues is set up under Part 8. By the proposed amendment, consumers may enforce their rights either by themselves or through the instrumentality of the Council, Civil society groups, the Courts or an ADR Agent. These provisions will address the legal lacuna usually seen in many legislative frameworks whereby Nigerians are clearly disempowered from initiating moves to enforce observance of the beautiful provisions enshrined in the laws. A law no matter how beautiful and edifying, if there are no clear provisions on how they can be relevant if enforced, will increasingly become a huge scam. Agencies such as the Public Complaint Commission falls within the realm of those bodies that Nigerians see as bogus and unworkable.

Shedding light on the ease of enforcement of the proposed bill if passed, Mrs. Atoki stated thus; "the bill makes the enforcement of consumers’ rights by the consumer or the Council faster, cheaper and less time consuming. Hitherto, consumers were constrained to go to court with the attendant delays and costs. Under this bill they have alternatives. "Institutions dedicated specifically for the protection and enforcement of consumer rights are established under part 10. These include a Negotiation, Mediation and Conciliation Tribunal, mobile courts and small claims courts", She stated.

It is generally believed that when this proposed bill scales through and the President assents to it, the Consumer Protection Council will become operationally and financially independent to more effectively battle the scourge of violations of the consumer rights of Nigerians and the National Assembly and state legislators will be clearly assisted by this new law to more effectively protect the rights of their constituents as the elected representatives of the people. The new law should therefore be considered as a priority bill in the ranking of the National Assembly.

+Emmanuel Onwubiko; Head; Human Rights Writers Association f Nigeria and blogs;


Tuesday, 16 July 2013


Chinua Achebe, the sage and philosopher who though has transited physically to the great world beyond but whose monumental intellectual heritage will live forever, has clearly told us in very plane language that Nigeria’s problem is purely and squarely that of leadership since in his refined thinking, the Nigerian nation does not have problems with its climate or geography.

Conversely, one time information and communication minister Mrs. Dorothy Akunyili once introduced a sobriquet which says 'Nigeria- good people; good nation".

In the last fourteen years that we have experimented profusely with democracy and civilian rule, emerging facts have shown beyond the shadow of doubt that Nigeria gets the kind of leadership that it deserves just as it is pragmatically impossible for Nigeria to progress above the quality of our political leadership since even the latin adage says that nobody can give what he/she does not have (nomen dat quod non habet).

That the Nigerian nation-state is still bedeviled by multi-dimensional developmental challenges such as the crippling effects of mass poverty; youth unemployment; high crime rate and deteriorating state of basic infrastructure such as educational; health; and road network, goes to show that the quality of political leadership is poor in vision and policy implementation.

Both at micro and macro levels, Nigerians are witnessing varying degrees of developmental challenges even as certain political administrators have over time worked out meticulous and result-oriented panacea to peculiar problems of underdevelopment and poverty afflicting their people in their respective spheres of influence.

In this piece, I will take critical look at two approaches adopted by current political administrations in Kano, the North Western State and Abia, the South Eastern commercial gateway, especially in the last eight years.

In Kano State where a professional engineer who was once defence minister holds sway as governor (Rabiu Musa Kwankwaso), in the last six or so years, over five thousand youth selected from the local councils across political, religious and ethnic divides have all but being flown to different world capitals in Europe, America and the middle East to attend on state government scholarship scheme, different specialized and professional academic trainings in the fields of rare engineering courses and other sciences with a view to returning to help build vibrant educational and academic environment in Kano in the foreseeable future. Thus an observer can rightly say that in Kano today, the youth are witnessing an upswing in positive governance paradigm shift.
In Abia state where Theodore Orji, a man who has worked for over three decades in different capacity in the State civil service and rose to become chief of staff to former governor Orji Uzor Kalu [OUK] before being railroaded to the prestigious office of governor, another kind of youth empowerment program has being launched with fanfare but with much emphasis on vocational skill acquisition and distribution of taxi cabs to youth for commercial activities as taxi drivers. This, to a lot of observers is surely a fast decline in good thinking and positive visioning process of governance and thus can be classified as a negative paradigm shift in governance.

Here lies the irony: Abia is in South East Nigeria which is ranked as one of the most educationally frontline states with some of the highest secondary school leavers seeking for admissions into higher academic institutions of learning.

On the other hand, Kano state is in the North West which is ranked as educationally backward and disadvantaged. While Kano state governor takes up the issue of comprehensive investments in the educational capacity building of thousands of its youth, Abia state on the other hand is paying much attention to the production of youth artesans including commercial drivers, carpenters and tailors and apprentices in other vocational skills acquisition schemes.     
 In the last six years, the current Kano State governor has established what is considered as one of the best equipped science university which has attracted the attention of some very rich enterpreneurs of Kano state origin including the World's richest Black African Alhaji Aliko Dangote.  But Abia State has failed within the same  six years under review to properly fund the Abia State university and the derelict state polytechnic in Abia. Abia state polytechnic in Aba still looks like glorified secondary school even as students from poor homes are left to their design to fund their education without any form of scholarship to the best of my knowledge. [May I be proven wrong].

Before delving more extensively on the two most astonishing ironies of governance in contemporary Nigerian society as represented by Kano and Abia states let me borrow some wise comments on youth proper educational empowerment from the versatile scholar and a reputable catholic Priest – Reverend father George Ehusani (Phd).

In the volume one of the beautiful and intellectually edifying book titled “Reverend father George Ehusani in conversation”, Dr. Ehusani has these to say; “For a nation that sincerely aspires to be among the 20 most developed economies of the world by the year 2020, one would naturally expect to see a solid foundation for this aspiration by way of a vibrant educational infrastructure, a stable political system and workable economic blueprints that would be followed through with discipline and commitment. But such is not the case with us today. See the quality of professionals across the board-from Medicine to Architecture, from Auditing to Security, from the Legal Profession to Journalism. It is a tale of incompetence and ineptitude, corruption and mediocrity. We cannot continue in this way and hope to find our place in a fast changing global society.”

Aware of the enormity of the challenges facing the nation’s educational infrastructure and standard as rightly observed by Reverend George Ehusani, the current political leadership in Kano State has set out to build enduring legacy of good, qualitative and science-based tertiary schools for the academic and economic empowerment of the youth for a better tomorrow.

Governor Kwankwaso told a Nigerian journalist why his administration is focused basically on educational investment and anchored the reason on the sacred fact that education holds the key to radical development of the people and society.

“Without education it is very difficult for a society or country to develop. Education is number one and first agenda of our administration. We started right from primary education where we reintroduce the issue of free feeding of pupils in schools 5 times a week; we also give each pupil two sets of uniform. In fact we have spent billions of Naira in providing infrastructure and other materials. WithN8 billion, we were able to achieve so much especially in terms of building classrooms. We have over 1,800 classrooms with reasonable amount of offices. The schools are designed in such a way that in each block there are 4 classes and two offices. The teacher- student ratio is now reasonable. We are also converting some abandoned projects into training schools. Training and retraining our teachers is now mandatory.”

On why his administration is spending public fund well to train Kano state youth in their thousands abroad in professional and specialized courses, the Kano state governor said the meaningful human capacity building of the youth holds the key to peace, stability and economic growth of Kano state now and in the future.

His words; “We are deliberately creating avenues for our citizens to acquire education in all fields of human endeavor owing to the fact that investing in knowledge brings about accelerated social change and sustainable technological progress”.

He continued; “There some capacity buildings and skills that we believe are better acquired in some selected institutes abroad. We are therefore encouraged to send our people to go there to study. In less than two years, we have offered overseas scholarships to hundreds of Kano citizens to go for graduate and postgraduate courses, based on the conviction that the level of greatness of the state depends squarely on the level of education of its citizens".

"We have awarded special scholarship worth N1 billion or $6.7 million to 100 young graduates from the state, for an 18 months professional pilot training course at Mid-East Aviation Academy, Jordan. The programme is a watershed in the history of the state, is in line with the human capital development agenda of his administration", Kwankwaso stated.

He further stated that; "Our vision is to equip Kano citizens to face the challenges of globalization and to take advantage of abundant local and international opportunities to improve their lot. The foreign training will expose beneficiaries to best practices in aircraft management in addition to fostering global citizenship.” 

As the Japanese commercial advertisement slogan states that; "good thinking; good product", one is left with nothing but to applaud this academic revolution going on in Kano state.

In Abia State, the reverse is the case where critical thinking and visionary leadership attributes were lacking in the formulation of the so-called youth empowerment program by the current administration which has placed so much emphasis on production of commercial drivers rather than training the Abia youth in some rare professional and scientific fields that will turn them into World class experts who will not only bring pride to Abia State but will create comprehensive economic spaces for the active economic advancement of Abia state.

Does Abia governor wish that the state produces more commercial drivers and touts who may one day be forced by circumstances to work as commercial and private drivers of those Kano youth now being trained abroad as professionals by the Kano state government?

Here are the reasons given by Abia state government for ('dashing') awarding refurbished taxi cabs to Abia youth as part of youth empowerment program.

The Chief Press Secretary to Governor Theodore Orji, Mr. Ugochukwu Emezue said the programme was to engage the youth in the state with useful venture.
He said that the government embarked on the empowerment programme in order to secure the youth of the state, insisting that it has no political attachment.
Emezue who spoke with a Nigerian media said that the youth have done a lot for the state in the area of security.
“With this youth empowerment scheme which will be carried out in all the local government areas of the state, many people will be empowered and those who have been empowered will also employ others like conductors and others in their different areas”.
“We want our youth to be celebrated like others in the transport industry, which is why we have given them vehicles to help start their own transport garages like others before them in that industry, and in future, they will say they started with Abia youth empowerment programme".
“The concern of Abia government under the leadership of Chief T. A. Orji is to see that youth of Abia get meaningful economic opportunities and as well stay out of crime".
My simple reply to Abia state government is that they should go back to the drawing board; put on their thinking cap and deploy public fund in training of selected Abia youth in some rare professional courses both home and abroad so they can compete favourably in the global market place with their contemporaries rather than being trained as commercial cab drivers in this increasingly globalized World.
I am of the belief that it is better to train ten medical doctors and pilots than give out ten thousand rickety and refurbished taxis to Abia youth because human capacity building by way of specialized professional courses is more enduring than few naira and kobo and the rickety vehicles that will give way sooner or later to the wear and tear of the weather. A word is enough for the wise. If Abia state government wishes, they can unleash their usual public relations half baked rejoinders rather than do the right thing for the benefit of Abia youth.

* Emmanuel Onwubiko; Head; HUMAN RIGHTS WRITERS ASSOCIATION OF NIGERIA blogs@www.huriwa.blogspot; com;



Once more Nigeria is in the global picture over issues relating to the activities of the International Crimes Court in The Hague, Netherlands following the visit on Monday of the Sudanese President General Omar Al-Bashir who is facing indictment and a subsisting international arrest warrant over war crimes he allegedly committed against the people of South Sudan which gained Independence only last July. 

The Sudanese dictator is visiting Nigeria to attend the global health programme on HIV/AIDS and the scourge of malaria which is being hosted by Nigeria at the behest of the African Union. Nigeria was urged by the International Crimes Court to arrest and hand over the visiting Sudanese President but Nigeria resisted on the ground that the African Union's resolution which grants General Al-Bashir immunity from arrest as a sovereign head of state is pending and subsisting.

In my column today, I am not concerned about the international politics of the International Crimes Court and the so-called indictment against some African leaders including that of Sudan and Kenya but my pre-occupation is n the practical ramifications of the concept of RIGHT TO DEVELOPMENT vis-à-vis the current government's transformation agenda and the fact that an enterprising young Nigerian citizen by name Mr. Timothy Onwughai has embraced this beautiful United Nations concept of Right to development to create a thriving business which is similar to a paint revolution to create employment opportunities for many young and upwardly mobile Nigerians in line with the transformation agenda f the Nigerian Government which is a salient component of the global concept of right to development.

Right to development was first recognized in 1981 in Article 22 [1] of the African Charter of Human and Peoples Rights as a definitive individual and collective right. Article 22[1] provides that; "all peoples SHALL have the right to their economic, social and cultural development with regards to their freedom and identity and in the equal enjoyment of the common heritage f humanity". Right to development was subsequently proclaimed in the United Nations resolution as a Declaration to Right to development and adopted by the United Nations General Assembly under Resolution number 41/128. The right to development is a group right of people opposed to individual right ad was reaffirmed by the 1993 Vienna Declaration and programme of action. Nigeria has consistently mainstreamed the right to development into the formulations and implementations of various policies aimed at encouraging and creating the enabling environment for the private sector to establish businesses that will create employment opportunities for the Nigerian youth and contribute significantly in the collective development of the nation's economy. 

It is with a view to maximize the benefits derivable from the right to development that Mr. Timothy Osaho Onwughai, a remarkable man doing remarkable things has become the arrowhead of the ongoing paint revolution in Nigeria. Armed with a top quality paint brand known as Sherwin-Williams, he seeks to give the city of Abuja and indeed the whole of Nigeria a fresh colorful look with his range of high quality imported paints. Looking unassuming in his Maitama office, he shared his vision for a colorful city of Abuja courtesy of the Sherwin-Williams range of specialized, durable paints in an interview with this columnist.

It is truly an awesome product. My company is introducing this new range of paint products into the Nigerian market. The name is Sherwin-Williams Paint Products, produced in the United States of America. It is on authoritative record today that Sherwin-Williams is rated the No. 2 paint brand, both in USA and across the entire globe.

Asked to relate the product to the all-important concept of right to development, Mr. Onwughai said "Yes, of course. The brand is the second best in the paint sector; the company employs the latest technology for paint-making".

He continued thus;   "Its uniqueness lies in the fact that Sherwin-Williams paints are 100% acrylic. This means they are of a far higher quality and more durable than most paint brands. It is also important to state that this range of paints is VOC-free. VOC is an acronym for ‘volcanic and organic components’. What VOC-free means is that these paints are free of these toxic materials that have the potential to harm human beings. You know that most times, when houses are painted, they have to be left vacant for days to enable the pungent fumes disperse away. However, with Sherwin-Williams paints, there is no need for this. House owners can pack into their houses the same day that the houses are painted."

He was full of praises to the President Goodluck Jonathan for creating the enabling environment for enterprising business persons to establish cottage industries to create economic multiplier effects on the nation's economy.

Timothy Onwughai used the opportunity of our meeting to educate my audience on how environmentally friendly his range of business products are to the nation's environment given the fact that emphasis is now on green environment to reduce the effects of climate change and global warming.  His words; "We have paints for automobiles and for aircrafts too. We have marine paints specially designed for ships and oil rigs, oil tankers, and for pipelines. This is very useful to the oil and gas sector. This paint eliminates the need for annual maintenance as it coats the pipes effectively, also acting as sealant. It prevents corrosion and seals all leakages in the pipeline".

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