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Security: Southern Nigeria at the mercy of the North – Professor Ben Nwabueze

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An elder statesman, Professor Ben Nwabueze has called on Nigerians living in the South to be weary of the fact that their entire security apparatus rests in the hand of the North in what he termed President Muhammad Buhari’s Northernization agenda.
Nwabueze disclosed this in a statement entitled, “Whether the eradication of corruption is the motivating object of the on-going war against it.”
He said, “northerners are occupying the offices of the Chief of Army Staff, COAS, Director- Generals of DSS, NIA, Inspector General of Police, Chief of Staff to the President, Secretary to the Government of the Federation, chairman of the Independent National Electoral Commission, INEC, Nigeria Ports Authority, Controller General of Customs, Immigration, Minister of Internal Affairs, National Security Adviser, Minister of Petroleum, 15 out of the 22 Assistant Inspectors General of Police among other sensitive positions.
He added: “The 15 appointments listed above are strategic appointments as they relate to the prosecution of the war against corruption.
“Ibrahim Idris, IGP, appointed over the heads of some southern officers senior to him. The IGP is heading a Police Force, the Nigeria Police Force, NPF, in which 15 out of the 22 Assistant Inspectors-General of Police, AIG, who exercise much of the function of the operational control of the Force, are northerners, while three are from the South-West and two from the South-East.
“These blatantly lopsided appointments, all of which were made since the inception of the Buhari Administration, portray the NPF as an army of occupation deliberately designed to carry into effect President Buhari’s Northernisation Agenda in furtherance of the dream of the Sardauna to reduce the South to a conquered territory and thereby prevented from having control over its future.
“The President’s implacable opposition to re-structuring which envisages the establishment of State Police should not, therefore, surprise us. He wants to be able to continue to exercise control over the internal security of the Southern States and to continue to hold them hostage. It caricatures true federalism that a constituent state in a Federation should be under the control and yoke of the Federal Government in the matter of its internal security.
“Daura, Director-General, Department of State Services, DSS, replacing Ita Ekpenyong; apart from the DG, the directors are mostly northerners. The control of the NPF and DSS by northerners must be taken together with the fact that the Minister of Interior and the Permanent Secretary of the ministry are northerners; that the Army and Air Force are headed by northerners; and, above all that President Muhammadu Buhari, a northerner, is the Commander-in-Chief of the Nigerian Armed Forces, and has the power under the Constitution to direct the operational use of the NPF for the maintenance and securing of public safety and public order; his power to direct the operational use of the DSS is even more plenary.
“The implication of the control of security by northerners is that the security of Nigeria and Nigerians is an exclusively northern affair, thereby putting the rest of us at their mercy. “Abubakar Malami SAN, Attorney-General of the Federation and Minister of Justice, AGF, a young SAN, who was raised to the rank in 2008, i.e. seven years before his appointment as AGF.
“Lt-Gen Abdulrahman Danbazau, rtd, Minister of Interior.
“Magaji Abubakar, Permanent Secretary, Ministry of Interior; he has publicly admitted to have wrongfully sidetracked the Head of Service, HoS, Mrs Winifred Ekanem Oyo-Ita, a southerner, in the reinstatement of Abdulrasheed Maina, and has apologized to her accordingly: see the Vanguard of December 1, 2017.
“Ibrahim Magu, Acting Chairman, Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, EFCC; still kept in office in an acting capacity since 9 November, 2015 because of repeated refusal by the Senate to confirm his appointment.
“Hamed Ibrahim Ali, Controller-General, Nigerian Customs Services; customs is the underbelly of corruption in Nigeria. “Mohammad Babandede, Controller-General Nigerian Immigration Services; immigration stands implicated in Maina’s escape out of Nigeria after his sack from the civil service and his subsequent re-entry into it.
“Amb. Muhammed Dauda, Acting Director-General National Intelligence Agency, NIA, replacing Ayo Oke, a southerner; after he was sacked, following the discovery in the NIA offices in the Osborne Towers, Ikoyi, of the sum of $43 million, £27,800 and N23 million.
“Alhaji Amed Idris, Accountant-General of the Federation, replacing Jonah Ogunniyi Otunla, a southerner. Maitanti Baru, Group Managing Director, Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation, NNPC, replacing Ibe Kachukwu, a southerner, who, as Minister of State for Petroleum and Chairman, NNPC Board, was sidelined by Baru in the process for the award of some NNPC contracts; earlier he has been downgraded from Minister of Petroleum to Minister of State for Petroleum, with the President taking over as his own Petroleum Minister.
“Abdulrasheed Maina, Chairman, Presidential Task Force on Pension Reform; although his initial appointment took place before the Buhari Administration, his reinstatement after he was sacked occurred during that Administration, with the President’s approval as the evidence shows…
“There are of course other lopsided strategic appointments, such as the appointment of Professor Mahmood Yakubu as Chairman, Independent Electoral Commission, INEC, and Hadiza Bala-Usman as Head of the Nigerian Ports Authority, NPA. The listed appointments raise critical issues as to the intention or design behind them. “They look like a swoop on the South, a jihad designed to foist Northern domination, or even subjugation, on the South in pursuance of the Sarduna’s agenda, announced as far back as 1960, to subjugate the South and reduce it to a conquered territory, with the object of preventing it from having control over its future,” an agenda which President Buhari, in a speech in May 2015 as President-elect, re-echoed and vowed to carry to a finish.
“What other reason could there be for concentrating in the North the appointments to all the positions vital to the effective prosecution of the war against corruption? We need to be told. One hopes that the order for the purchase of war planes from the U.S., ostensibly to fight Boko Haram terrorism, is not connected with the hidden agenda for a jihad.
“The 15 appointments stand uncontroverted. And yet in a futile attempt to controvert the incontrovertible, the President, responding to a newspaper report that 81 of 100 appointments made by him were from the North, published a list of 159 appointments made by him, 85 of which were from the South and 74 from the North: see the Vanguard November 6, 2017.
“We are being treated again to another irrelevancy designed to befog a critical issue and to hoodwink the Nigerian people. The President is simply preying on the gullibility of the public in anything that comes from him.
“What all this means is that corruption is being fought, not by an all-inclusive team of officials, but by officials drawn from one section of the country, the North, separated in interests, outlook and attitude from the South, which makes the war look like an exclusively Northern affair.
“Hence the increase in public cynicism about the President’s sincerity as leader. The cynicism seems to have reached its peak in the Maina case, tagged by the media as the Maina saga or Mainagate, involving several billions of naira allegedly stolen from the pension fund scheme superintended by the Presidential Task Force Reform Team of which Abdulrasheed Maina was Chairman.
“The aspect of the Maina case that aroused great public interest and heightened public cynicism about the sincerity of the President as leader of a crusade was the threat by the Chief of Staff to the President, Alhaji Abba Kyari, a northerner, to “query” the Head of Service of the Federation, HoS, Mrs Winifred Ekanem Oyo-Ita, a southerner, for saying that she informed the President of Maina’s reinstatement which was effected against her opposition.
“The threat was made in the view of people, including the Vice-President, arriving at the Council Chambers for the weekly meeting of the Federal Executive Council. The threat and the HoS instant but angry response triggered public reaction. Is the HoS under the authority of the Chief of Staff as to make her amenable to a query by him?
“Why should he publicly utter such a threat, except perhaps as an over-zealous show of solidarity for a master from the same section of the country, the North? Was the motive a concern to shield a fellow northerner? The public was not told anything more about this scandalous exhibition of sectionalism other than that the controversy had been settled by the President meeting privately with the two quarrelling officials.
“But the public cynicism remains. Was something being concealed from the public about the whole Maina saga? Was the President in fact privy to Maina’s return to the country and his reinstatement into the civil service, and did he authorise it? Maina’s testimony came on 29 November, 2017, as reported in the Vanguard of that day.
He said: “When this government came in, the president gave his note that go and sit down with Maina. I have given you the approval. They sat down with me… The process of my reinstatement started after the Attorney-General, Mr Malami, visited me. As soon as the present government decided to sit with me, and after sitting with me, I told them I will not leave you to go back to Nigeria without something in your pocket. I’m going to give you something in your pocket, and the Minister laughed.
“Maina’s testimony has not been countered by government. The eradication of corruption requires the concerted efforts of all Nigerians fighting together as one people under an all-inclusive government, not a government perceived to be one for one section of the country only, the North, and from which the other section feels alienated.”

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Emir Sanusi: Path to Africa’s development

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Africa’s development agenda must focus on the socio-cultural and commercial interests of Africans and the upliftment of Africa’s trade and economic ecosystem, said Muhammadu Sanusi II, the Emir of Kano and a former Governor of Nigeria’s Central Bank, during his address at the 2018 Annual Meetings of the African Development Bank Group in Busan, Korea.
“Africa’s economic transformation will be best achieved through fast-tracking regional cooperation and the execution of hard-nosed structural reforms that focus on the development of the continent’s human capital and material resources,” said Emir Sanusi II.
The Emir shared insight about revamping African regional integration, trade and economic relations with Executive Directors and Governors of the Bank, comprising Finance, Budget and Economic Planning Ministers from member nations.

An economist and financial risk expert, the monarch traced Africa’s post-colonial economic woes to the continent’s fiscal indiscipline and endemic disregard for its competitive advantages. For these reasons, he asserted, Africa’s development was stunted and its global trade ties lopsided in favour of offshore trading partners.
“Nine out of every 10 countries in Africa have huge trade deficits with China, but Asia developed mostly on domestic investments and resources,” he noted, underscoring the need for African Governments to invest in and promote creativity and indigenous enterprise.

The Emir advocated a series of structural reforms, including strategic investments in key sectors including agriculture, infrastructure, education, and small and medium enterprises. He called for deliberate industrial diversification noting that China has begun to move its mega-sized manufacturing capabilities out of low-cost industries.
African Governments also need to eradicate constitutional provisions and structures that increase the cost of governance at national and sub-national levels, manage demographic growth, and revamp and harmonize moribund and ineffective customs and excise duties that promote cross-border smuggling and revenue losses to governments, he said.
Africa’s debt burden continues to inhibit capital investment in industrialization, he observed, lamenting the misallocation of resources: “We need to begin to ask ourselves, ‘what do we do with the available funds in our coffers?’”
“Perceptions matter. So there is an urgent need for improved transparency, as this is clearly linked to good governance,” he said. “We need to accept that we have a perception problem that we must address. We need to tackle corruption, block leakages and create opportunities for new jobs.”
“Private sector capital is crucial for sustained economic growth but so is government’s intervention in guaranteeing business externalities like power, water and waste management, roads, housing and the legal and regulatory environment for innovation, commerce and industry.”
On trade, the Emir called for a regional and pan-African approach to trade negotiations, a tactical model which should be led by the Bank.
“The African Development Bank has the intellectual resources and clearly is better positioned to negotiate with China on behalf of Africa as a bloc of nations,” he said. “Europe approached global trade as a bloc so why can’t African nations do the same? This is clearly another area in urgent need of the Bank’s intervention.”
President Adesina recalled the Emir’s progressive posture during his time in public service.
“As Governor of the Central Bank of Nigeria, Sanusi Lamido Sanusi was pro-development. He channeled significant investments into agriculture, infrastructure and SMEs.”

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Ndigbo ask for Better Nigeria with Ekwueme Square Declaration

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By James Eze (eziokwubundu@gmail.com)

The Igbo ethnic nationality of Nigeria rose from their Summit on the Restructuring of Nigeria in Awka the capital of Anambra State on Monday with a Ten-point wish list seeking for a balanced federation that would meet their needs and the needs of other ethnic groups in Nigeria.
The Igbo position on restructuring which has been re-christened as ‘The Ekwueme Square Declaration;’ is a tightly knitted ten-point demand for a better Nigeria which opens with a demand for a Constitutional Conference backed by a law from the National Assembly that would provide a unanimously accepted platform where the diverse people of Nigeria would hammer out a new constitution that would be known as “The People’s Constitution.”
Delivering the Declaration at the hugely successful ceremony, the former governor of the Central Bank of Nigeria, Prof Chukwuma Soludo who is the Chairman of the Organizing Committee stated that the second item on the Igbo demand seeks a slight amendment to the current system of government as it recommends the retention of the presidential system only at the federal level, leaving the regions or states to choose the type of government that is best for them. But perhaps the most audacious demand under this point is that the tenure of the office of the President should be a single term of six years with five Vice-Presidents representing each of the geopolitical zones except the zone that produced the President. The demand prescribes the same tenure for Governors and Deputy Governors which would be rotated among the senatorial districts.
The third demand asks for six geopolitical zones forming the federating units or six regions of the country. There will therefore be six regional governments, each comprising the current states within each zone and any other state that may be created within the zone from time to time. Each Region will have its own Constitution, for the good governance, peace and development of the region. Such Regional Constitutions have to clearly delineate levels of authority between the regional government and the component states (that is, defining powers that are exclusive to the Region and powers that are residual to the states). The Regional Constitutions will not be inconsistent with the Constitution of the federation, and will be invalidated to the extent of its inconsistency with the federal constitution. It seeks a review of the current revenue sharing formula based on local governments to a new structure based on regions. Consequent upon this, the Ekwueme Declaration therefore demands for an additional state for the South East Zone in line with the 2014 National Conference which states that in the spirit of reconciliation, equity, fair play and justice, a new state should be created in the South East.
The forth demand is for equality of all the regions or states that become the federating units while the fifth insists on the scrapping of the concept of State of Origin from the constitution to be replaced by the State of Residence. Expounding this concept The Ekwueme Square Declaration recommends that ‘any child born of Nigerian parents anywhere in Nigeria should acquire the indigeneship (residency) rights of the area at birth. It also recommended that any Nigerian citizen who has resided in any part of Nigeria and paid taxes there for a period of ten years can acquire the indigeneship (residency) rights of the area, except the right to their traditional stool.
The sixth demand makes a solid case for a two or three-tier police structure with defined responsibilities that would be controlled by the federal and state or regional governments respectively while the seventh seeks the abrogation of section 162 of the 1999 Constitution which vests control of resources in the federal government. It recommends a truly federal system that gives control of resources to the federal units, vesting ownership rights, control and exploitation of resources in the states. It also argues that the federating units should keep 50% of rents, royalties and profit taxes on minerals from their lands while paying 20% to the regional government and 30% to the federal government.
Demand number eight makes a strong case for the replacement of the Federal Character Commission with Merit and Equal Opportunities Commission to ensure that merit is entrenched in the conduct of national and regional affairs, prescribing that 60% should be reserved for merit and 40% for affirmative action.
The ninth item demands that elections into the office of the President and federal legislature should be conducted by the electoral body of the Federal Government while elections into regional/state offices should be conducted by electoral bodies set up by the regional/state Constitutions or laws.
And finally, the tenth declaration seeks the latitude for federating units to have their own judicial systems with courts of first instance, appellate courts and Supreme courts to adjudicate on matters that are in the concurrent and residual lists as well as matters exclusively preserved for the federating units.
Earlier in his welcome address, the Governor of Anambra State, Chief Willie Obiano had recounted that for 58 years, Ndigbo had worked tirelessly with other Nigerians to lay a foundation for a better federation and a more perfect union.
“We have made the most sacrifices and more often than not, we have also paid the supreme price for the unity of this country. But we have made these sacrifices in the belief that in the contemporary history of mankind, the road to nationhood is often paved with the blood of patriots. Indeed, Ndigbo have paid the price for Nigeria’s greatness. We paid in blood. We paid in FULL!” he declared.

Then, rallying Ndigbo to rise to the occasion, Governor Obiano observed that “the future summons us to a brighter dawn! And we must walk in the shadows of our fathers. Yes, our fathers played a major role in Nigeria’s long road to independence. And today, we have gathered to dream a balanced federation into existence for Nigeria and Nigerians.”

Noting that every nation on earth is work in progress, Governor Obiano observed that “citizens of both advanced and developing countries continue to ask their countries hard questions that will lead them to a better federation, a better nation and a better society. And Nigeria cannot be an exception to this rule. So, we must ask Nigeria hard questions too!”

Governor Obiano further observed that following in the footsteps of their forebears who invested their youthful hopes and intellectual power in Nigeria, the younger generation of Ndigbo have ‘invested our wealth, our enterprise and our emotion in remaking Nigeria. Indeed, no other ethnic group has as much emotional investment in the Nigerian project as Ndigbo. And now, we have been called upon to re-imagine Nigeria. We welcome this challenge with both hands.”

Articulating the wishes and aspirations of Ndigbo, Obiano declared that “as governor of Anambra State, I was born and raised in Nigeria and I have lived in Nigeria for the better part of my life. I have lived the Nigerian Dream and experienced the horrors of Nigeria’s many Heartbreaks. I know what my people want from Nigeria and the question we must ask of Nigeria. We must ask what every forward looking people want from any socio-political arrangement… life, liberty and a chance to raise happy families. We must ask for a just, fair and equitable federation where every citizen is guaranteed the freedom to be the best they can be and to aspire to the highest position in the land regardless of their tribe, culture or religion. And this is what Nigeria in its present structure, has not given to us!”

Also speaking, the 91-year old leader of the Ijaw ethnic nationality, Chief Edwin Clark observed that Ndigbo had been treated very unkindly by the federal government and wondered why Igbo youths who bore no arms and hurt nobody had to be branded as terrorists.

Chief Clark also blamed the federal government for not giving Ndigbo an additional state as recommended in the 2014 Constitutional Conference and insisted that such denials and deprivations were behind the spate of separatist agitations from the region.

The event also featured moving speeches from the leader of Afenifere, Chief Ayo Adebanjo, leader of the Middle Belt, Dan Sulaiman, Chairman of the occasion Chief Emmanuel Iwuanyanwu and former Nigerian Ambassador to Spain, Ambassador Bianca Ojukwu among many others.

 

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Zimbabwe applies to re-join Commonwealth, 15 years after leaving

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Lagos, Nigeria – Zimbabwe has applied to re-join the Commonwealth after the country withdrew its membership 15 years ago under former President Robert Mugabe.
Commonwealth Secretary-General, Patricia Scotland, said Zimbabwe’s President Emmerson Mnangagwa submitted a application on May 15 for the country to return to the 53-member group of mostly British former colonies.
“Zimbabwe’s eventual return to the Commonwealth, following a successful membership application, would be a momentous occasion, given our shared rich history,” Scotland said in a statement.

To rejoin, Zimbabwe must go through an assessment followed by consultations with other members states, the statement said.
Zimbabwe was first suspended from the Commonwealth in 2002 on the grounds that Mugabe, who had ruled the country since independence in 1980, rigged his re-election in 2002 and persecuted his opponents.

The former dictator withdrew Zimbabwe’s membership out of the group after the country’s suspension was renewed in 2003.
Mugabe was ousted last November following a military takeover and impending impeachment ending his 37-year rule over the country.
The Commonwealth secretariat will send observers to monitor the country’s elections in July, following an invitation from the Zimbabwean government, the statement said.

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Ohanaeze Ndigbo seeks 6-year single term for president, governors

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Ohanaeze Ndigbo, a socio-cultural umbrella of Ndigbo, has called for the adoption of a six-year rotational single tenure for the president and governors of 36 states in the country.
It also demanded creation of one additional state in the South-East geo-political zone, scrapping of local government system and resource control for states where natural resources were exploited.

These were some highlights of the resolutions tagged, “Ekwueme Square Declaration 2018’’, which members of Ohanaeze Ndigbo reached during their one-day summit in Awka on Monday.
Charles Soludo, the Chairman, Planning and Strategy Committee and Organising Committee, read out the resolutions.
Mr Soludo further said Ohanaeze want the federal government to adopt the report of the 2014 National Conference.
He said the resolution already ratified by all the component arms of Ohanaeze, equally demand that the current Constitution of Nigeria, which he stated was the product of the military, be redrafted.
Mr Soludo added that Ohanaeze recommended that a constituent assembly for the drafting of a new constitution be constituted and thereafter a referendum be held, adding, “Whatever recommendations of the group would be sent to National Assembly.”
He said the group also demanded for the scrapping of state of origin and its replacement with residential rights whereby a Nigerian would have full right in any place he or she resides for 10 years.
On the six years single tenure, the group noted that six vice presidents from each of the six geo-political zones should be elected, while the governorship seat would be rotated among the senatorial districts.
On his part, John Nwodo, the President-General of Ohanaeze Ndigbo, said the summit was organised to enable Ndigbo articulate major challenges affecting the country.

Mr Nwodo claimed that the present constitution of the country was skewed against Igbo people and should be redrafted to give Igbo people fair treatment.
The Deputy Senate President, Ike Ekweremadu, challenged the Ohanaeze leadership to convince those yet to support the restructuring of the country to back the idea.

Mr Ekweremadu assured that he would table any bill on the restructuring of the country whenever the Ohanaeze present it at the National Assembly.
A former Foreign Affairs Minister, Ike Nwachukwu, who also spoke called on the people of Middle Belt to support the call for restructuring of Nigeria, claiming that they stand to gain more.
Emmanuel Iwuanyanwu, the Chairman of the summit, called on Igbo people especially the leaders to exhibit honesty in their affairs, to help move the people forward.
Governor Willie Obiano of Anambra in his address thanked the organisers for choosing his state for the summit organised for the Igbo people to articulate what they want as Nigerians.
Earlier in a sermon, Ben Osisioma of the Anglican Communion, called on Ndigbo to rely on God for solution to their challenges in Nigeria.
The summit was attended by prominent Igbo leaders from Imo, Anambra, Ebonyi, Enugu, Abia, Rivers and Delta.
(NAN)

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Flutterwave Chief Executive Joins World Economic Forum’s Young Global Leaders Community

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Flutterwave, Nigeria Chief Executive Iyinoluwa Aboyeji has been nominated amongst one hundred that are joining the World Economic Forum (WEF) Young Global Leaders community this year.

He is the co-founder of a digital payments platform designed to make it easier to do business across the continent. Previously, he was one of the founders of Andela – a company training African developers and hiring them out to global tech companies – which received investment from Mark Zuckerberg and Priscilla Chan.

The one hundred of the world’s brightest under 40 invited to Shape an inclusive and sustainable future according to WEB. “One hundred of the world’s most promising artists, business leaders, public servants, technologists and social entrepreneurs have been asked to join the World Economic Forum’s community of Young Global Leaders. They are joining a community and five-year programme that will challenge them to think beyond their scope of expertise and be more impactful leaders. They were nominated because of their ground-breaking work, creative approaches to problems and ability to build bridges across cultures and between business, government and civil society.

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