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Thursday, 16 November 2017

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

UN seeks home-grown solutions to conflicts in Nigeria


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Wednesday, 15 November 2017

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


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Monday, 13 November 2017

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


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Wednesday, 8 November 2017

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Tuesday, 7 November 2017

How Kidnappings; Terrorism fuel Irregular Migration – By HURIWA

 
A pro-democracy and Non-governmental organization – HUMAN RIGHTS WRITERS ASSOCIATION OF NIGERIA (HURIWA) has tasked President Muhammadu Buhari and the hierarchy of the National Assembly to put practical measures in place to effectively combat the hydra headed monsters of kidnappings for ransom (KFR) and terrorism.

The Rights group also charged the Houses of Assemblies of the 36 states to brace up to the challenge of the 21st century dynamics of sophisticated and organised crimes of kidnappings for ransom and terrorism which require both sophisticated technology and legal mechanisms to stamp out with a view to creating political stability and security of lives of the citizens which remains the irreducible minimum duty of government under the constitution.

The Rights group says the twin evils of kidnappings for ransom (KFR) and Islamic terrorism which have assumed larger-than-life dimensions across the country are directly responsible for the extraordinarily high rate of irregular migrations by young Nigerians and the concomitant deaths on the Mediterranean Sea.

"The high mortality rate in the Mediterranean sea of youngsters from Nigeria constitutes both global opprobrium and deny Nigeria of the scare human talents to turn around the global mess that contemporary Nigeria has become".
HUMAN RIGHTS WRITERS ASSOCIATION OF NIGERIA (HURIWA) made the observations against the backdrops of the recent spike in armed kidnappings for ransom including the killing of a British missionary in the Niger Delta and also the reported deaths of 26 Nigerian women in the Mediterranean Sea which case is currently a subject of a legal inquisition by the Italian government.

But the Rights group said the central government  alongside the 36 state governments and the National Assembly have prevaricated on the urgent need to enforce law – based mechanisms for combating two of the greatest social afflictions of contemporary times which are kidnapping for ransom by well-armed hoodlums and the resurgence of Islamic terrorism threatening the peace and stability of North East of Nigeria – a geographical area that is wider than France.

HURIWA believes that the involvement of hundreds -of- thousands of disaffected youngsters who are fleeing Nigeria could be checked if effective steps are adopted by all relevant agencies of government at both the national and sub-national levels to put to good use effective mechanisms to stamp out the two evils of terrorism and kidnappings. 

HURIWA dismissed the straight jacketed perception that irregular migrations are fueled by the collapsing national economy as intellectually lazy and challenged governmental think-tanks to come up with fresh ideas on how to encourage and motivate Nigerian youngsters to pursue their aspirations within the framework of regular and legal migration if they must export their special talents to generate the much needed foreign denominated currencies or stay back in a liberated and crime reduced Nigeria to realize those dreams without embarking on social and organised crimes. 

“The National Assembly alongside the states’ Assemblies of the 36 states including the Federal Capital Territory should meet as soon as possible to implement quick fix measures to amend relevant statutory provisions including the ambiguous anti-terrorism Act to include punitive provisions such as capital punishment for the offences of terrorism and kidnappings for ransom which are one and the same and which have constituted grave threats to national security of Nigeria and creating room for mass exodus of young Nigerians who are not confident in the capacity of existing law enforcement mechanisms to efficiently tackle and combat these social afflictions.” 

The Rights group said police reforms are urgent and critical to have a national policing institutions with the required capacities and resources to combat these sophisticated crime driving up the rates of irregular but dangerous migrations. "Too much of lips' service are paid to these two most dangerous factors causing large number of irregular but dangerous migrations". 

The Rights group blamed the Federal administration and the states mostly in the North East of Nigeria for doing practically nothing to quickly bring suspected terrorists to decisive trials and conviction but instead have chosen the politically suicidal measures of progressive releases of these hardened members of the boko haram terror network in the guise of rehabilitating and reintegrating them.

Also, on the rising cases of kidnappings, HURIWA said the central government must demonstrate good enough political will to galvanize the justice sector agencies of the 36 states so as to come up with uniform but effective judicial sanctions and to create fastrack justice administration system and the rebuilding of the prison system to effectively embark on widespread vigorous pursuits of armed kidnappers and terrorists.

HURIWA regretted that hundreds -of- young Nigerians fleeing from insecurity and instability in many parts of Nigeria have chosen the devil’s alternative of irregular but dangerous migration through Libya and lamentably, many of such young vulnerable Nigerians have fallen into the hands of human trafficking gangs in Libya who would end up wasting the lives of these Nigerians on the High seas.

"The lucky few who have been flown back to Lagos from captivity in Libya courtesy of the efforts of the United Nations office on international Migrations do often find their ways back to Libya to keep trying their lucks hoping to sail successfully into Europe through the roughs and tumbles of Mediterranean sea".

“Let the presidency set up a department to fashion out implementable policies to economically empower young but desperate Nigerians so they are not exposed to the vulnerability and tempting deceptions churned out by internationally sophisticated human trafficking gangs.”

“Sadly, the Foreign Affairs ministry is too preoccupied with banal politics rather than realistically embark on time -tested and trusted strategic engagements with young Nigerians to try to dissuade many of them from adopting irregular and dangerous migration. The anti-irregular migration advocacy campaigns are not being waged by the relevant Foreign Affairs ministers but they are deeply involved in local politics of 2019 polls.” 

The Rights group said the Federal Ministry of Foreign affairs must partner credible civil society groups to drive the process of waging effective advocacy media campaigns to check the rising ugly trends of irregular but dangerous migrations in Nigeria.

HURIWA recalled that three weeks after being kidnapped by Niger Delta militants in Delta State, a British national, identified as lan Squire, died in captivity.
However, three other Britons, who were taken along with the dead one, were freed and returned to Britain, the British High Commission confirmed in a mail to newsmen.

HURIWA recalled that records showed that lan Squire was one of four Britons forcefully taken at about 2am on October 13, prompting the Nigerian Government and the British High Commission to launch a spirited bid to free them.

Conversely, HURIWA recalled that Italian prosecutors are investigating the deaths of 26 Nigerian women – most of them teenagers – whose bodies were recovered at sea.

HURIWA which cited a report by BBC, disclosed that there are suspicions that they may have been sexually abused and murdered as they attempted to cross the Mediterranean.

Five migrants are being questioned in the southern port of Salerno, Italy.

The Rights group has therefore charged the presidency and the National Assembly to urgently organize national summits on the twin evils of terrorism and kidnappings for ransom with a view to resolving them and to implement enforceable measures to check the trends quickly and decisively.

Poor/rich Nigerians: Any Nexus? By Emmanuel Onwubiko


Just before President Muhammadu Buhari returned from his 103- days medical treatment in the United Kingdom(at public costs) recently, the National bureau of statistics (NBS) has already prepared a politically motivated heartwarming news for him. 

As we all know, Nigeria is such a place where purely non-political and scientific matters such as economics are politicized for obvious reasons. The Nigerian government is like an octopus whereby all successful persons must have a necessary connection to the umbilical chord of the central government. Politics in Nigeria is the biggest business therefore those who call the shots in both private and public sectors find their relevance and support from political power influencers. So what the NBS cooked as welcome news for the returning President can be explained from this perspective.

The cheering political news from the NBS which heralded the return of the then medically vacationing president was the public announcement that Nigeria has exited economic recession.
Nigeria had sleep walked into economic recession about two years ago when the current administration came on board and took over half a year to set the board rolling and since then, the rate of poverty has understandably quadrupled and ballooned out of control in reality.

Ironically, when the government agency announced an end to Nigeria’s troubling economic meltdown, there were wide disagreements amongst different sets of experts. From the real people facing continuous grinding poverty, it was clear that the statisticians at the National Bureau of Statistics were simply playing politics. Afterall, a certain thinker had once said that if you want to tell scientific lie then put it in statistics.

When this story broke, the overwhelming opinion was that the so-called exit from recession is not been felt by most Nigerians since poverty has continued to expand and the costs of goods and services have also continued to increase without any sign that these indices may change. Infact, 70 percent of the journalists who reported the breaking news from the perspective of the National Bureau of Statistics are owed accumulated wages by their employers who are facing hard times producing the newspapers and running their electronic media houses no thanks to the poor economic policies of the current administration that plunged the economy to disastrous economic meltdown. But trust these propaganda machines in government to always invent some reasons for why the effects of the exit from recession haven't been felt by the people.

The explanation in official quarters was that the exit of Nigeria from economic recession wouldn’t be felt immediately by Nigerians but would happen progressively.
But an erstwhile governor of Cross River State Mr. Donald Duke punctured the claim of an end to economic recession when he was recently quoted as stating that it is a big lie to propagate that economic recession ends since even himself has become increasingly broke like millions of other poor Nigerians.

As if he (President Buhari) was responding to the rising skepticism on the veracity of the claim of exit from economic recession, when he visited the head office of his political party (All Progressives Congress), the president announced that he was thinking of appointing more of his party members into his cabinet and boards of agencies because the economic recession was over for good.

The reality is far from those political statements made by both the president and the officials who are busy announcing an end to economic recession. The government needs to plough all loopholes and leakages and stop wasting scarce resources chasing unattainable goals such as the wasting of $3 billion crude oil resources in chasing for crude oil in the North of Nigeria without success. 

On daily basis, most observant Nigerians are seeing as young Nigerians are roaming the streets in their frantic pursuit of what to eat. 
Again, the costs of living are still way too high beginning from the unaffordable high cost of premium motor spirit or petrol which has in the last two years seen its pump price sky rocket courtesy of the reviews of pump prices by this federal government.
Ironically, it was the same National Bureau of Statistics that recently warned of the dire consequences of not adopting radical economic measures to drive people away from mass poverty to prosperity.

The National Bureau of Statistics had stated in a report not too long ago that 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 as researchers say is Africa’s biggest oil producer but the sector has been tainted by accusations of corruption including the new set of allegations made by the minister of state for petroleum Dr Emmanuel Ibe that the Head of the state owned NNPC Alhaji Maikanti Baru awarded $26 billion contracts in clear breach of Public procurement Act and due process. 

Corruption and misuse of public resources have continued to churn out millions of poverty stricken citizens in Nigeria coupled with the existence of weakened anti-graft institutions that are pollutted with political patronage. The report of the widening chasm between the poor and rich in Nigeria is therefore factually correct. 

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 much talked about diversification of the economy and to need to tap into the rich solid minerals deposits and grow advanced technology to improve agricultural enterprises have all ended up as political rhetorics.

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.
In 2017, the above reportage remains significantly factually correct. How come is the same NBS manufacturing fake news about a rebounce in Nigeria's economy? Do we run voodoo economy here?

Only this morning, a friend sent me a link to a story of how the wards at the university of Port Harcourt Teaching Hospital have become so derelict, and that too many poor patients are left to die due to criminal neglects.

The question therefore that has to be asked is why the political authorities in Abuja and the 36 states of the federation have failed to tackle mass poverty but political appointees have continued to accumulate wealth at the detriment of the poor.

In Kogi as well as Lagos State, the rates of suicides connected to poverty are increasing by the day just as in Imo state and most other states including Bayelsa, Kwara, Abia, Osun states, the civil servants and pensioners are owed backlogs of wages even as these governors are seen frequenting foreign countries holidaying. These States can't pay wages to workers and pensioners even when all the State have twice this year received Billions of dollars from the Paris fund refund paid directly to them from the Central Bank of Nigeria. 
Last week the Accountant General of the federation regrettably told a Federal High Court Lagos division that although the Freedom of Information Act permits Nigerians to demand accountability but insists that his office will not oblige the information on how much has been paid to states from the Paris fund refund. This lack of accountability and transparency increases poverty amongst Nigerians because information is power and if the people know how much of their money have been mismanaged by their state governors they will demand accountability. 

On this same matter of alienation and politically induced poverty, we may recall that the controversially proscribed indigenous people of Biafra (IPOB) successfully got overwhelming supports of the people of the South East of Nigeria because it is generally believed that the Zone is heavily marginalized and left behind in terms of the distribution of national strategic assets and wealth. South East of Nigeria have no good roads network; no refineries even as a crude oil producing areas whereas places like Kaduna without crude oil have refineries. 

One shocking phenomenon however is the high level of irresponsible insensitivity shown by political actors in Nigeria to the plight of the heavily impoverished masses.
It was exactly whilst contemplating on why political actors holding political offices have so hardened their minds to the realities of millions of Nigerians that a recent study emerged from the United Kingdom about how concerned the British political establishment is to the rise in poverty of some citizens.

 Dareen McGarvey a journalist wrote that the study by the Institute for Fiscal Studies predicting a sharp rise in child poverty will provoke the usual, commendable, shrieks of indignation. 

When news that more children than ever before are soon to be confined to economic deprivation, it’s sure to inspire a slew of robust dinner party debates, the reporter predicted.
The overriding emotion anyone should be feeling at news that in excess of a third of British children will soon be growing up in relative poverty is fear, the reporter stated.
"The tidal wave of social problems racing towards all of us because of this unsustainable inequality has the potential to overwhelm society".

"The cracks are already beginning to show. Take the various constitutional crises gripping Europe. Regardless of the political composition of the movement, the grievance that provokes is invariably the same: political and economic marginalization underscored by the most galling wealth polarization".

"I’m one of those formerly “poor people” vomited up from the gaping class wound at the heart of British society to offer “shocking”, “inspiring” testimony about the adversity they have since transcended. You might find me recounting the day my drunk mum chased me with a knife or see me on television looking very bored as I explain, yet again, that I managed to avoid smoking crack because somebody knocked on the front door as the pipe was being passed to me", the reporter masterfully captures.

"I’m one of structural poverty’s most comforting cultural tropes: the survivor who lived to tell the tale."

It’s now commonplace, the reporter says to point out the correlation between poverty and nearly every other social problem you care to mention. 
"Not just economic hardship, but poverty of the sort that fertilizes cultures of abuse. This problem transcends left/right politics and will eventually overwhelm any society that refuses to deal with it".

"When these problems flare up, they are rarely contained within a household or a community. Instead, they spill into our society and multiply, at a massive cost to us all." 
"They spill into overcrowded casualty and high-dependency hospital wards. They spill into six-month waiting lists to access clinical psychologists and psychiatric counseling facilities", the reporter argues. 

"They spill into overrun social work departments and inundated supported accommodation projects barely keeping their heads above water. They spill into stressful housing offices, packed to capacity crisis centres and outmoded addictions services. And, for some, they spill into police stations, courts, children’s homes, secure units, young offender institutions and prisons".

Poverty is not only about a lack of employment or opportunity but about having no margin for error while living in constant stress and emotional unpredictability, the reporter wrote.
For many children growing up in the chaos, deprivation leaves them emotionally disfigured and physiologically primed for chronic health problems, the reporter cautioned.

"What do you think is driving many of our current social problems where crime, violence, homelessness, addiction and the mental health epidemic are concerned? It all begins with a child living in social deprivation. And when it comes to the scourge of child neglect and abuse, poverty is the factory floor".

"For now, the problems remain contained, confined only to the communities we call “deprived”, where the poor can be monitored, surveyed, policed and punished. But only for so long", tge journalist warned.

The reporter urged that action on poverty will require a far-reaching, long-term political consensus. It will require compromises and excruciating levels of humility from all of us, including the poor, the reporter said. The reporter however made an interesting finding below.

"A great irony of British life is that lower-class people are often regarded, by their affluent superiors, as being a little coarse and unsophisticated, rough around the edges – when the true vulgarity on display is the apathy of many of those who regard themselves as educated and insightful; those who blindly believe, from the comfort of their economically gated communities, that this untenable status quo, built on sand, won’t soon collapse in on itself, as the coming wave of social dysfunction crashes aground and washes us all away."
In Nigeria, most people are worried that even religious and civil society leaders who should speak truth to power are busy dining and winning with the misbehaving politicians. Shan George an actress even protested the acquisition of exotic jets being bought by religious leaders and asked that rather than buy private jets the pastors should fix the bad roads in which their followers commute to and fro their houses to the religious houses. 
Emmanuel Ojeifo a Catholic Priest states that the second dimension of religion is the social dimension. 

He submitted that this dimension of religion depicts  our relationship with our brothers and sisters. 
"Every good religion tries to maintain these two dimensions: the vertical axis, which is our relationship with God who is mystery, and the horizontal axis, which is our relationship with our brothers and sisters. It is like a sign of the cross". 

Fr. Ojeifo further submitted that tge above postulation is because we cannot live in isolation. 
God, he said, created us for community, for friendship with him and with one another. 
"That is why no one believes alone, because no one is saved alone. We need to put our knowledge and love of God unto the service of our brothers and sisters."
Making reference charity to uplift humanity, Ojeifo refers to Jesus where he says that when we host a party, we should not invite our big friends who can repay our kindness, but that we should invite the blind, the lame, the deaf, the dumb and the less privileged people of society, who cannot repay us. 

"That is a corporal work of mercy - feeding the hungry poor - which is part of the social dimension of our Christian faith. We cannot claim to love God if we do not serve the poor."

"The face of Jesus is revealed in the faces of the poor and suffering. We touch the flesh of Jesus when we serve them. Mind you, the corporal works of mercy are not social work, like what NGOs do. No. The corporal works of mercy as mentioned by Jesus in Matthew 25:31-46 (feeding the hungry, giving drink to the thirsty, clothing the naked, welcoming the homeless, visiting the sick and the imprisoned) have an interior spiritual dimension, because they are the avenues where we show the merciful face of Jesus to the world".

The different segments of the Nigerian government at the center and states must implement transparent policies to lift millions of people in Nigeria out of mass/absolute poverty. 

*Emmanuel Onwubiko is head of the Human Rights Writers Association of Nigeria (HURIWA)and blogs@www.emmanuelonwubiko.com;www.huriwa@blogspot.com.