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Thursday, 30 November 2017

NEITHER for Atiku nor Buhari By Emmanuel Onwubiko

Few weeks back, the media savvy governor of Ekiti State Mr. Peter Ayo Fayose inaugurated his campaign for the highest political office in the land in the election that has already been scheduled by the electoral panel for the year 2019.
Hardly had he ended his press briefing on this thematic political issue before the chairman of the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) warned him to stop the campaign.

INEC was of the opinion that it was too early in the electoral calendar for political campaign which would herald the Presidential election that is about two years away.
But since that colorful declaration of intent of Mr. Fayose of the opposition Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), many other political interest groups have heightened their open campaigns for one candidate or the other.
Those who have sprang up to urge President Muhammadu Buhari to recontest for a second term did not even listened to the warning on early campaigns as issued by the INEC seen as being excessively pro-All Progressives Congress – the party that produced President Buhari in 2015.

Then on Wednesday November 29th 2017 in far away Abidjan, cote de voire during the Summit of African Union and European Union, President Buhari gave his notice that he will indeed seek for reelection come 2019.

Buhari’s subtle declaration is yet to elicit any warning from INEC which jumped up very rapidly to warn the opposition politician Mr. Ayo Fayose to stop his presidential campaign.
Buhari’s declaration also followed the impactful departure from the All Progressive Congress of his Kinsman Alhaji Atiku Abubakar who was once a Vice President of Nigeria for eight years between 1999/2003.

Atiku’s departure from APC was anchored on what he alleged was the lack of internal democracy within the newly formed All Progressives Congress which came into political reckoning when the then incumbent president Dr. Goodluck Jonathan gave Nigeria the good luck of ceding power to an opposition party after a highly contested election in 2015.
The All Progressives Congress is an amalgamation of several parties including Buhari’s CPC; Bola Tinubu’s ACN and a remnant of All Progressives Grand Alliance from Imo State that emptied themselves into the newly formed alliance in obedience to the poorly performing governor Rochas Okorocha. 

The APC was also able to wrestle power because of the overwhelming financial contributions of some disaffected governors of the then ruling political party-Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) and some of their  Senators including the current Senate President – Dr. Bukola Saraki.

The erstwhile Vice President Alhaji Atiku Abubakar is said to be on his way back into the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP)- the party that made him Vice President for eight years.
But certain political principalities are already critical of the move by Atiku to dump the APC to find his way back to his former party homestead. 

Most of those who threw these punches at the direction of Atiku Abubakar are known to be paid supporters of President Buhari who himself had on two occasions switched allegiance from All peoples parties to set up his CPC and then the All Progressives Congress that resulted from the political amalgamation of some individuals who were bent on displacing Dr. Jonathan from office in 2015.

But come to think of it, which amongst most politicians in Nigeria has ideological discipline to stay in one political party in and out of power?

The total truth is that even from 1999 when there were only fewer political parties, almost all of these parties lacked unique identity and ideological leanings that would fundamentally make them uniquely different from each other.

At that time, one of the biggest political thinkers chief Bola Ige of blessed memory described the existing political parties as five leprose fingers of one hand.

The philosophical epithet written about these earliest political parties by the late chief Bola Ige, a senior Advocate of Nigeria, was because he participated in the authorship of the so-called manifestoes of all the political parties. Bola Ige exited his party known as Alliance for Democracy to join his kinsman Obasanjo to form the PDP-led Federal Government. He was murdered in Ibadan as a serving Federal Attorney General. 

Also from 1999 till date, one distinguishing characteristic of politicians is the capacity to switch allegiance at the speed of lightening just so that the selfish interest of seeking for power by all means is achieved.

Politicians in Nigeria are known to hold fast to the shallow, untenable and ethically deficient saying that in politics there is no permanent friends but permanent interest.
I therefore beg to differ from this political band agonists  of our time who pay more attention to individuals than on ideologies.

 I hereby declare that I am neither for Atiku Abubakar nor for Muhammadu Buhari but for a true Nigerian nation state governed with the fear of God and strict adherence to democratic principles and constitutionalism.

I hereby repeat what is written in first Corinthians, Chapter three, verse four as follows: “some of you are saying “I am a follower of Paul, others are saying I follow Appollos, or I follow Peter, or I follow only Christ Jesus.”

In obedience to the critical thinking of Immanuel Kant, the German philosopher who said that “I think, therefore I exist,” I will say that Nigerians should think only of how to make Nigeria a peaceful home for all citizens whereby all citizens are equal partners. 

In making our choice and decisions, for who is best suited to steer the ship of Nigerian state in 2019, we must look beyond the fantasies of thinking that the solution to our numerous problems lies squarely with either the two old men called Atiku or Buhari. 
Far from it!

Let me state that the reasons for believing that neither Atiku nor Buhari holds the magic wand to our problem is because the clear inability of the duo to concretely address the Nigerian situation when each one of them was and is opportuned to hold political offices. Infact, each one of them are sources of much of these developmental challenges confronting us.

I begin with Atiku Abubakar who as the then Vice President was allowed by his political principal Chief Obasanjo to oversee the economy for a brief period before both of them started internal warfare to wrestle political power.

It remains a huge fact that poverty, unemployment, insecurity and above all, corruption were the major developmental challenges that were not sufficiently tackled. 

Rather, what happened was that members of the political class embarked on a buying spree of publicly built assets in the guise of the spurious privatization exercise. NITEL and Nicon Hilton were sold to politicians and Nigerians were shortchanged. Many other strategic national assets were sold out to these political clique. 

Both the then President Obasanjo and his vice were fingered in the repossession of several strategic national assets sold at giveaway asking prices and ever since their departure from offices they live like kings.

Volker Treichel, a lead Economist with the World Bank summed up the unemployment situation in Nigeria as follows:  “shift of employment into family agriculture. Growth of employment in the agricultural sector is consistent with the absence of improvements in agricultural productivity; strong agricultural performance reflected primarily the rise in the prices of agricultural commodities; share of people outside the labor force and outside training has remained constant, and for the youngest age bracket rising – rising youth unemployment.

This expert also informed us that; urban informal sector not adding much labor; creation of contractual wage jobs in the rapidly growing sections of the economy was unable to compensate for the loss of wage jobs in the public sector, parastatals and ministries, leading to a decline in wage employment.   

Fast forward to the Buhari –led dispensation and what is notoriously known is that in the last two years and more, unemployment has skyrocketed even as the bad economic situation nosedived to a state of recession which lasted for over a year and even when the political statisticians told us that we have exited economic recession, millions of jobless Nigerians have no jobs coupled with the rapid breakdown of law and order occasioning social and organized violence.

Thousands of Nigerians whose lives are threatened by a range of forces including freelance armed killers like armed Fulani herdsmen, boko haram terrorists and kidnappers have decided to take risk by attempting irregular migration through Libya. 

These mass exodus have led most Nigerians to be trapped by the armed Libya gangs who are now auctioning those compatriots as slaves.

In the last two years, there have been several cases of extralegal killings by soldiers and police and there is the extremely high levels of intolerance of dissenting opinions. There is a climate of lack of respect for the orders of competent courts of law. In the concluding part of this piece we eill read what the Chief Justice of Nigeria has to say. 

But again, may we be reminded that President Buhari returned from nearly four months medical vacation in the United Kingdom and ordered military clampdown of unarmed members of Indigenous People of Biafra (IPOB) which followed the reported agitations by this group for self-determination.

The current government employed the backdoor rule to declare the pro-self-determination platform as a terror group. 

This same government has done nothing to stop the incessant violent attacks of farmlands by armed Fulani herdsmen who are kinsmen of the President.
The aggressive attacks of dissenting voices are antithetical to democracy and constitutionalism.

Robert S. Peck, a graduate fellow at Yale Law School has written as follows: “Freedom of expression is the matrix, the indispensable condition, of nearly every other form of freedom,” Supreme Court Justice Benjamin Cardozo wrote in 1937. Free speech has long been accepted in the United States as a fundamental right, but it did not originate with Constitution.”

Since Nigeria's Presidential system is patterned after the American system, it is therefore inexplicable why opponents of the federal government are bombarded and attacked. Then the worst case scenario is the lack of respect for duly issued verdicts of the Court in compliance with section 6 of the Constitution of Nigeria.

The Chief Justice of Nigeria, CJN, Justice Walter Onnoghen, recently, publicly attacked President Muhammadu Buhari to his face accusing him of running a government that that has a gross disregard for the judiciary and the rule of law.

Justice Onnoghen who spoke at the opening session of the 2017 All Nigeria Judges’ conference, said there was urgent need for the President and his Executive arm of government to learn to obey court judgments and orders.

The CJN while addressing President Buhari directly, maintained that obedience to court orders ought to be considered by other arms of government, especially the Executive, “as a strong motivation for the fight against corruption and the entrenchment of the Rule of Law in our country”.

Justice Onnoghen said Nigeria should learn from countries like Kenya and the United States where he said there is “Rule of Law in practice”, with their Presidents and government agencies, respecting court decisions that are against the interest of the government in power.

The CJN further demanded total independence of the judiciary from any form of external pressure from other arms of government in the discharge of its duties.
He said: “Closely linked to the independence of the Judiciary is the need for governments and institutions to obey court orders and judgments.

“Today, Nigerians easily refer to the recent Supreme Court judgment in Kenya and some Court Orders in the United States of America and conclude that the judiciaries in those countries are doing better than ours.

“They, however, forget to mention that President Uhuru Kenyatta promptly accepted the judgment annulling his victory in the August 8, 2017 Presidential election and agreed to a re-run against his opponent.

“In similar fashion, the United States Department of Immigration did not wait for a presidential directive to allow immigrants from seven Muslim countries continued access to the US as soon as a court struck down President Donald Trump’s Executive Order banning citizens of these countries from entering America.

“That is the Rule of Law in practice and I urge the other arms of government, especially the Executive, to consider the obedience of court judgments and orders as a strong motivation for the fight against corruption and the entrenchment of the Rule of Law in our country”.

Observers said that It would be recalled that the President Buhari-led government had since refused to obey some court directives, including orders that granted bail to the detained former National Security Adviser, NSA, Col. Sambo Dasuki, retd, as well a judgment that ordered immediate release of detained leader of the Islamic Movement of Nigeria, IMN, Sheikh Ibrahimm El-Zakzaky and his wife.

Recall also that the Nigerian Bar Association, NBA, had on May 29 when the country marked its democracy day, also scored President Buhari’s administration low on respect of the rule of law, saying it was “appalled at the continued detention of certain individuals in blatant disobedience to court orders”.

Therefore, any great lover of Nigeria should reject Atiku Abubakar and Muhammadu Buhari and opt for a younger progressively minded patriotic Nigerian who is incorruptible and empower such a statesman to steer our ship of state out of our current situation of dysfunctionality and autopilot stage. 

*Emmanuel Nnadozie Onwubiko is founder of Human Rights Writers Association of Nigeria (HURIWA) and blogs; www.

Appeal Court dismisses suit seeking Tambuwal's removal

The Abuja Division of the Court of Appeal has dismissed the appeal by an All Progressives Congress (APC) governorship aspirant, Senator Umar Dahiru, challenging the election of Aminu Waziri Tambuwal as the Governor of Sokoto State.

In a ruling read by Justice Emmanuel Akomaye Agim, the court also awarded a cost of N100,000 against the appellants.
Dahiru had filed the appeal challenging the ruling of a Federal High Court in Abuja which in June dismissed his suit and that of another APC governorship aspirant, Aliyu Abubakar Sanyinna, on the ground that they could not prove the allegations of irregularities in the primary election conducted on December 40 2014.

Justice Gabriel Kolawole had ruled that even if the applicants had succeeded in proving that there were irregularities in the December 4, 2014 primary, the court could not grant the reliefs because it was not an election petitions tribunal and therefore lacked jurisdiction.

Counsel to the appellants Chief Roland Otaru SAN, while making his final submissions few weeks ago asked the Appeal Court to remove governor Tambuwal on the ground that he was not lawfully and validly elected as the APC gubernatorial candidate for the 2015 governorship elections.

He submitted that the APC constitution, primary election guidelines and the Electoral Act were grossly violated during the conduct of the December 2014 primary election.

The Senior Counsel argued that the disregard for the observance of due process got to the climax with the swapping of the delegate’s list by the governor to circumvent the rules provided for the conduct of the primary by the National Secretariat of the APC.

He then urged the appellate court to set aside the judgment of Justice Gabriel Kolawole of the Federal High Court which on June 22, 2017 upheld the primary election.

Otaru claimed that the Judge erred in law and engaged in mis-carriage of justice by going out of the counter claims of the respondents to arrive at his conclusion.

Specifically, the senior lawyer canvassed that the principal appellant, Senator Umaru Dahiru be declared the candidate of the APC in the 2015 governorship election.

However, the APC represented by Jibrin Okutepa SAN canvassed that the suit be dismissed for being vexatious and lacking in merit.

He submitted that the appellants were inconsistent in their pleadings having allegedly claimed that there was no primary election conducted and in another averment established that not all the authentic delegates were accredited for the primary election.

Besides, Okutepa claimed that the appellants changed the character of their case when in the originating summon they canvassed cancellation of the primary election for a fresh one but came back to seek that they be declared the winner of the same faulted primary poll.

“From the totality of the case of the appellants and from the list they submitted on their own, they admitted that 1620 delegates from the 23 local government areas of the state were accredited and in their inconsistent claim, came out to allege again that delegates were not accredited as required by law”.

“In the face of this glaring inconsistence, the case of the plaintiffs is liable to be dismissed, and I urge this court to do so and uphold the findings of the High Court on the issue” he said.

Counsel to Tambuwal, Ibrahim Sunday Ameh SAN canvassed the dismissal of the suit for lacking in merit.

Ameh claimed that the fulcrum of the case of the appellants was non accreditation of delegates adding that they did not establish their allegation as required by law in court.

In a ruling which lasted for more than two hours, Justice Agim held that on the contentious claims by the appellants that accreditation of voters did not take place on the day of the primary election, making wild allegations  will not stand the test of evidence if it is not backed by enough proof.

He said the appellants made contradictory claims in the affidavits filed at the trial court having allegedly claimed that there was no primary election conducted and in another averment established that not all the authentic delegates were accredited for the primary election.

He said for the case to stand the test of proof, it must be consistent with consistent evidence.

On the grounds of appeal that accused the trial court of engaging in judicial rascality, Justice Agim held that the trial court did a diligent job and its ruling was consistent with the provisions of the Electoral Act, the APC guidelines for elections, and the Nigerian Constitution.

The Judge therefore dismissed the appeal for lack of merit.

Wednesday, 29 November 2017


President Muhammadu Buhari on Tuesday night in Abidjan declared that all Nigerians stranded in Libya and other parts of the world will be brought home and rehabilitated. He however said only three Nigerians have so far been sold as slaves in Libya.

The President while speaking when he addressed Nigerians in the Diaspora, vowed to reduce the number of Nigerians heading for Europe illegally through the Sahara Desert and the Mediterranean Sea by providing basic social amenities such as education, healthcare, and food security at home. 

In an interactive session with members of the Nigerian Community in Cote D’ Ivoire, on the margins of the 5th AU-EU Summit, President Buhari said all necessary steps will be taken to stem the tide of illegal migration by Nigerians.

He, however, noted that it is very difficult to know the origin of the people who died, while attempting the perilous journey across the Mediterranean, because of lack of documentation.

“When it was announced that 26 Nigerians died recently in the Mediterranean, before they proved that they were all Nigerians they buried them.

“But the evidence I have from the Senior Special Assistant on Diaspora and Foreign Affairs, (Mrs. Abike Dabiri-Erewa) is that only three of them were identified as Nigerians. But I’ll not be surprised if the majority of them were Nigerians.

“For people to cross the Sahara desert and Mediterranean through shanty boats… we will try and keep them at home. But anybody who died in the desert and Mediterranean without documents; to prove that he is a Nigerian, there is absolutely nothing we can do,’’ he said.

Reacting to a recent footage on the sale of Africans in Libya, President Buhari said it was appalling that “some Nigerians (in the footage) where being sold like goats for few dollars in Libya.’’

‘‘After 43 years of Gadhafi, why are they recruiting so many people from the Sahel including Nigerians?  All they learned was how to shoot and kill. They didn’t learn to be electricians, plumbers or any other trade,’’ he said.

On domestic issues, President Buhari told Nigerians in the Diaspora that there is ‘‘good news from home’’ in the area of security, economy and anti-corruption.

“We are not doing too badly in trying to secure the country, improve the economy and deal with corruption.

“We are doing our best at all levels including security. It is absolute madness for people to blow others up in markets, churches, and mosques. No religion advocates violence. Justice is the basic thing all religions demand and you can’t go wrong if you do it,’’ he said.    

On food security, the President said that his vision of repositioning Nigeria as a food-secure nation is on course as the country is on the verge of attaining food security.

He attributed the development to positive agricultural reform programmes and bumper harvest occasioned by good weather.

According to the President, interventions through the Anchors Borrows Programme of the CBN and the Presidential Fertilizer Initiative, among others, had been very successful in the agricultural reform initiative.

“People have gone back to the farm. We got the CBN, agriculture minister and money was provided at very low interest to farmers and the farmers responded and it was very positive" says Buhari in a statement by his spokesman Garba Shehu.

“We are lucky that we are in a position to feed ourselves. So we are going to have food security in Nigeria earlier than anybody ever thought,’’ he noted.  

The President advised Nigerians in Cote D’ Ivoire to be good ambassadors in their host country, warning that the Embassy will not hesitate to repatriate those who tarnish the image of the country abroad.

WEAK State Legislature Threatens Democracy -: HURIWA *Lists Imo, Kaduna, Kogi as Worst cases:

 A frontline pro-democracy and civil society organization – HUMAN RIGHTS WRITERS ASSOCIATION OF NIGERIA (HURIWA) has warned that the progressive weakening of the legislative institutions of the 36 states of the federation by the governors poses one of the greatest threats to democracy in Nigeria.

Besides, the Rights group has carpeted the governors of Kaduna, Kogi and Imo; Abia states specifically for actively putting mechanisms in place in their states to destroy legislative independence and to seek to set up state dictatorships. 

The group also accused the state governors of sponsoring groups that antagonize independent platforms and Non-Governmental organisations that are operational in those States with the aim of totally muzzling and stiffling constructive oppositions to the State governors. 

"States such as Kogi, Ebonyi, Abia,Kaduna are no-go-areas for independent minded non-Governmental groups and individuals for fear for their lives as there seems to be some fanatics armed to kill off any visible opponents of their 'altar ego' and political demi-gods who are currently the state governors".

HURIWA specifically criticized the Kaduna State governor Malam Nasir El Rufai for actively instigating the unfair suspension of the key representatives of the largely Christian Southern Kaduna constituencies of Zangon Kataf(Mr. Bitiyong Nkom of PDP) and Kaura (Mr. Danladi Kwasu of the PDP) from the State House of Assembly.

Conversely, the Rights group carpeted Governor Rochas Okorocha for illegally spending the Paris fund refund that accrued to Imo State without recourse to the state legislature and the good people of Imo State. HURIWA pointed to the reported boycott of the presentation of the 2018 budget by the governor earlier scheduled for today Wednesday November 2017 and the protest by some state legislators over lack of transparency and accountability in the management of Imo state resources as the clearest sign that democracy in Imo state is under attack from the occupant of the office of governor.

HURIWA blamed the growing insecurity in Kogi State and the widening poverty occasioning suicides by state employees to the dictatorial tendencies of the governor Mr. Bello who has relied on Federal Military and Police might to stifle dissenting voices in the State Assembly and the political class and especially from the opposition parties. 

The Rights group condemned the recent gruesome murder of the labour leader in Kogi by unknown armed hoodlums and blamed the security forces for compromise. 

“We have watched with considerable trepidation and consternation the unconstitutional and undemocratic tendencies of state governors who have relied on the toxic provisions of section 308(1) of the constitution on executive Immunity to transform themselves into political demigods and have constructed massive capacity for destroying potential independent political voices in their state houses of Assembly and have emasculated the administration of local council areas in a bid to set up state –wide dictatorship of the governors.”

HURIWA lamented that the absence of funding autonomy for the state legislators has created opportunity for tyrannical governors to convert the state legislatures as appendages thereby impeding the powers of the state as enshrined in section 4(7) of the Constitution which states that: “(7) The House of Assembly of a State shall have power to make  laws for the peace, order and good government of the State or any part thereof with respect to the following matters, that is to say- (a) any matter not included in the Exclusive Legislative List set out in Part I of the Second Schedule to this Constitution; (b) any matter included in the Concurrent Legislative List set out in the first column of Part II of the Second Schedule to this Constitution to the extent prescribed in the second column opposite thereto; and (c) any other matter with respect to which it is empowered to make laws in accordance with the provisions of this Constitution.”

HURIWA mentioned the recent suspension of the members of the state house of Assembly representing Zangon-Kataf and Kaura and the sponsored political attacks by attack dogs of Governor El Ruffai against Senator Shehu Sani of Kaduna Central Senatorial Zone as clearest point that democracy has collapsed in Kaduna State. HURIWA criticised governor ElRuffai for arrogantly dismissing civil servants without due process.
The Rights group has asked the National Assembly to take over the legislative duties of the Kaduna State House of Assembly until such a time that constitutional norms of equity and equality of all ethno- religions groups are restored in Kaduna State.

Tuesday, 28 November 2017


Image result for IMAGES OF NEMA DG

Director General of the National Emergency Management Agency (NEMA) Alhaji Mustapha Mainaja has been accused by a pro- Democracy and Non-Governmental organisation-HUMAN RIGHTS WRITERS ASSOCIATION OF NIGERIA (HURIWA) of tribalism and discrimination in the distribution of relief materials to victims of disasters in Nigeria.
In a press statement by the National Coordinator Comrade Emmanuel Onwubiko and the National Media Affairs Director Miss Zainab Yusuf, HURIWA stated that the Director General of NEMA since assuming office nearly a year ago has consistently skewed the distribution of relief materials bought with tax payers’ money in favour of his North East zone of the country.

The Rights group specifically condemned the discriminatory distribution of relief materials to victims of market fire incident in Yobe State which is the state of origin of the Director General Mustapha Maihaja and the loud silence of NEMA and the office of Director General to other recent market fires in Calabar, Cross Rivers State, Lagos and Enugu State.
HURIWA has therefore asked President Muhammadu Buhari and the National Assembly to effectively redirect the Director General of NEMA to stop forthwith his ethnically and religiously motivated pattern of distribution of relief materials or be sacked.

The Rights group has also tasked the National Emergency Management Agency to ensure accountability and transparency in the distribution of assistance to victims of disasters by adopting a modality that will efficiently identify flashpoints of natural disasters, pin-point the exact victims and such unfortunate scenarios such as market fires so as to equitably distribute materials across board.

“We urge the National Emergency Management Agency (NEMA) to ensure that the pattern of distribution of relief materials meets global best practices and avoid the political pitfall of being deployed to curry political favour. 

"NEMA must work in synergy with the various state disaster management Agencies to coordinate the distribution of relief materials where necessary and the information must be publicly transmitted in the media for everyone to see.”

“Only few days back the Yoruba section of Watt Market in Calabar was consumed in an inferno leading to the destruction of 50 shops. In Enugu Timber Market, about 50 shops were lost to fire so also was similar incident happened in Lagos but NEMA’s Director General has yet to say a word on when to deliver relief materials.”

“The Director General even personally assisted traders whose shops were burnt in an inferno in his State of birth Yobe whereas in places like Kano; Warri and most major markets in the South East of Nigeria affected by inferno are never the immediate concern of the management of NEMA headed by the Yobe state born politician said to be eyeing the position of governor in the 2019 polls.”

HURIWA recalled that the National Emergency Management Agency (NEMA) said in a media statement that it delivered relief to assist 149 traders whose properties were destroyed in fire at Nguru Central Market in Yobe.

According to the information, the assistance is to help them rebuild their shops and include 1200 bags of cement, 732 bundles of roofing sheets, 300 bags of roofing nails, 1485 ceiling boards and 3000 piece of planks.

HURIWA said that NEMA’s Director General Mustapha Maihaja said in a statement the items would be distributed directly to affected victims by the team of the agency together with market committee members.

“Engr. Maihaja also inspected the damages in the burnt market after which he emphasized the need for more caution against fire disaster especially during this dry season,” said NEMA spokesman Sani Datti, who released the statement.

HURIWA citing the official claim of NEMA quoted NEMA as stating thus: "Following the market fire incident that occurred on Saturday 11th November 2017, a team of NEMA staff were deployed same day to assess the damages for the relief intervention.

HURIWA however affirmed that: “This politically motivated sharing of relief materials to his kinsmen seriously goes to the fundamental issues that most Nigerians have often asked since the last few years whether this national institution put in place with tax payers’ money is exclusively to benefit victims of disasters in a particular region of the country whereby the Director General comes from. This same DG of NEMA is not known to have visited the states in the South and North central Nigeria recently affected by disasters of one form or the other. The Warri main market also was consumed by a fire incident almost same time as that of Yobe state but the DG of NEMA seems to be funneling all the relief materials bought with tax payers money to just a favoured part of the Country apparently to curry political favour.”

"The politics of divide and rule being observed in the sharing formula adopted by the current head of NEMA which favours the North East of Nigeria is a direct affront to the Constitutional provisions banning discrimination".

Citing Section 42(1) (2) of the Constitution HURIWA remindes NEMA that the supreme law states as follows:“42.-(1) A citizen of Nigeria of a particular community, ethnic group, place of origin, sex, religion or political opinion shall not, by reason only that he is such a person –(a) Be subjected either expressly by, or in the practical application of, any law in force in Nigeria or any executive or administrative action of the government, to disabilities or restrictions to which citizen of Nigeria of other communities, ethnic groups places of origin, sex, religions or political opinions are not made subject; or (b) Be accorded either expressly by, or in the practical application of, any privilege or advantage that is not accorded to citizen Nigeria of other communities, ethnic groups, places of origin, sex religions or political opinions.”

“This deliberately skewed nature of favouring some victims of natural disasters and neglecting others because they do not share religious or ethnic affinities with the current DG of NEMA directly undermines the integrity of the national mechanisms for disaster management and control", says HURIWA.  

When NYSC Becomes Rural Doctors By Emmanuel Onwubiko

As school pupils in the early 80’s, yours faithfully became very fascinated whenever it was time for the young, energetic and smartly dressed participants of the National Youth Service Corps (NYSC) to be deployed to our rural community of Kafanchan, in Kaduna State.

The reason for this peculiar fascination and unquenchable excitement can be anchored on the multifaceted roles these young graduates of Nigerian tertiary institutions play during their services to the nation within the time frame of twelve calendar months.
Amongst these youth corpers deployed to our community were medical doctors, Pharmacists, law scholars and educationists.

A fundamental fact of the gross state of rural poverty and lack of infrastructural facilities remains the dearth of qualified medical workers willing to be posted to the rural communities. In terms of development, most rural communities are left many years behind when compared to the state of social amenities that are built in some urban centers even though much of these facilities are in rapid decline in terms of functional efficiency and effectiveness. 

The latest practice of public/private partnership whereby most state governments especially in Southern Nigeria have concessioned and outsourced the control and management of hitherto public health institutions to private administrators out to maximize profits and return on investments has made the critical provisions of public healthcare to rural poor difficult and non available. The rate of unemployment keeps expanding thereby shrinking the spending capacity of millions of Nigerians. 

Therefore, the posting of young medical graduates to rural health facilities by the management of the National Youth Service Corp (NYSC) has consistently bridged the yawning gaps in the lack of adequate medical workers that are posted to work amongst the rural communities. 

There is no gainsaying the fact that the right to access quality healthcare is a sine qua non in the implementation and enforcement of all relevant laws on human rights as enshrined in constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria. The Universal Declarations of HUMAN RIGHTS (UDHR) makes public and primary healthcare for the poor free and compulsory.

However, there is always a lacuna when critically assessing the budgetary releases made to the critical health sector vis-à-vis the imperative of safeguarding the health and well-being of the people. Health sector has always suffered neglects in the budget circles operated at both the national and sub-national levels. 

As stated above, the right to quality healthcare is at the core of the essential demand for the enforcement of human rights laws. 
Indeed the Nigerian constitution rates the protection and promotion of the well-being of the people as the primary duty of government.

Health is not only wealth but health of the population provides the safety net for the protection of national security.

In section 14 (2) (b) of the Nigerian Constitution we are told that "the security and welfare of the people shall be the primal purpose of government.”

The constitution in section 17 (3) (c) (d) states thus: “the health, safety and welfare of all person in employment are safeguarded and not endangered or abused” and that “there are adequate medical and health facilities for all persons.”
These provisions enshrined in chapter two were further elevated and made enforceable in chapter 4 when the framers of the constitution affirmed in section 33 (1) that “every person has a right to life…”

However, one factor that has contributed to exposing the lives of many poor Nigerians to the danger of sudden death are the insufficient or even total lack of workable healthcare facilities especially in the rural communities.
There are nearly 80 million Nigerians that hovers around the arena of absolute poverty and therefore are exposed to early deaths due to lack of adequate healthcare.
Professor Nimi D. Briggs of the University of Port Harcourt, Nigeria did a research on the dismal health indices of most African countries in his piece titled: “Poor Health as an Index of Human insecurity in Africa,” which is published as chapter 17 in the book entitled “Human security in Africa: perspectives on education, health and Agriculture,” co-edited by Olusegun Obasanjo; Akin Mabogunje and Peter Okebukola.

Professor Briggs argued thus: “Several indices exist which describe the state of health of a people. For the purpose of this paper, only the following will be considered as they, additionally, give some indication of the standard of public health measures in an environment, which promote the health of the generality of the people: Life Expectancy at Birth; Crude Birth Rate; Crude Death Rate; Under Five Mortality; and Maternal Mortality.”

“Many diseases cause mortality and morbidity in Africa and contribute to the heinous health statistics that have just been considered. A few will be examined in this paper; emphasis being placed on those that affect large sections of the population, especially the most vulnerable groups. The diseases include malaria, diseases associated with intestinal hurry, vaccine preventable diseases (VPDs), acute respiratory tract infections, as well as HIV/AIDS along with tuberculosis, which has made a recrudescence.”

Professor Nimi Briggs also argued rightly that several childhood diseases are preventable by vaccines. They include poliomyelitis, tuberculosis, diphtheria, whooping cough, measles and tetanus. He also recalled that infant immunisation has become an effective public health intervention tp reduce the morbidity and mortality of vaccine-preventable diseases. He lamented that whereas developed Countries have used this measure to great effect and have succeeded in drastically reducing Childhood deaths and ill-health from the vaccine-preventable diseases (VPD) some developing countries , especially those in sub-Saharan Africa fail to achieve desirable vaccination coverage for several reasons notably cultural taboos, epileptic electricity for vaccine preservation and inadequate campaign strategy. 

Also the widespread cases of corruption by healthcare services' providers have also created spectacular nightmares for most rural poor in need of public healthcare. Recently, we learnt of the death of over 500 people in the last two months in the North Central region of Nigeria from snake bites because of lack of vaccines to prevent these deaths. Last year, the news hit the airwaves that Federal ministry of health and the National Action Committee on HIV/AIDS allowed vaccines worth billions were left to rot away even as hundreds of thousands of Nigerians living positively with HIV/AIDS are left to die. 

Inadequate funding of health institutions and related organizations on health matters in Nigeria as reflected in the budgetary allocation to the health sector which has always been on the average of 2% is affecting health delivery in our rural areas. 
This is less than the minimum of 5% of total budget outlay recommended by the World Health Organization (WHO).
This has been the scenario under which the rural dwellers have lived their lives daily coupled with the disproportional rate of child delivery without adequate plan on how to give them meaningful and purposeful upbringing.

It was in recognition of these shortcomings and in a bid to bridge the widening gap unleashed by difficulty in accessing qualitative and affordable healthcare services especially in the rural areas that the National Youth Services Corps (NYSC) in 2014 instituted the Health Initiative for Rural Dwellers (HIRD) while meeting up with one of the objectives of setting up the Scheme which is to contribute to the growth of the national economy.

The programme reportedly affords the Scheme the opportunity of deploying its vast skilled medical manpower to these rural areas in order to achieve universal health coverage as well as contribute towards the country achieving one of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDG’s). 
The programme also galvanizes support and partnerships from stakeholders in term of provision and free administration of prescribed drugs to the rural dwellers.

The NYSC HIRD encompasses diagnosis, medical check-ups, health advocacy as well as treatment of ailments. Other health support services like the provision of wheel chair, optical services and issuance of eye glasses are also part of the programme.
It could be recalled that in 2015, while a total of 125,000 patients were projected to benefit from the programme about 77,000 actually benefited which is about 61.6% success rate. 
From statistical data obtained by us, in 2016, a total of 86,000 patients benefited nationwide in the HIRD programme nationwide which enjoyed the partnership of Grace for Impact, a Non-Governmental Organization. 

Furthermore, a total of 120 wheelchairs were reportedly procured and distributed to some physically challenged rural dwellers, nationwide.
The (HIRD) programme has over the years received various commendations from the patients, traditional and religious leaders as well as officials of governments at the local, state and national levels. 

The scheme has been commended for this initiative which has revived hope in the lives of the rural dwellers and made health care services affordable and accessible. 
They also expressed their optimism and prayed that the programme be sustained as well as expanded in its scope.

As human rights practitioners, we at the HUMAN RIGHTS WRITERS ASSOCIATION OF NIGERIA (HURIWA),  we are of the firm belief that the National Youth Service Corp (NYSC) should be encouraged to continue with these critical interventions which have largely saved the precious lives of poor rural dwellers.

It is the recommendation of our platform that key players in the private sector should be made to as a matter of urgency to contribute at least five percent of their annual corporate social responsibility projects to a dedicated accounts with the Central Bank of Nigeria for the management of the NYSC to invest these resources towards the sustenance of the services rendered under the health initiatives for rural dwellers being spearheaded by the NYSC’s management.

The management of the NYSC should find ways and means of partnering with foreign donor agencies such as the World Health Organization and several other charitable foundations abroad and locally so as to attract generous donations that should be transparently applied towards the implementation of the scheme.

The National Assembly can as well pass a legislation that could make it mandatory for such humanitarian initiative to enjoy the sponsorship of all big industries doing businesses in Nigeria as a way of paying back to the Nigeria people for providing the enabling environment for these businesses to thrive. Federal Government on its part should concede some percentage of tax waivers for these corporate organisations that are up and doing in contributing towards the provisions of subsidized health-care services to poor rural dwellers. Proper auditing and effective monitoring by credible non-Governmental organisations to ensure that these contributions are made and adequately utilized. 

*Emmanuel Onwubiko is head of HUMAN RIGHTS WRITERS ASSOCIATION OF NIGERIA (HURIWA) and blogs