A political scientist and former Special Assistant to ex-President Shehu Shagari, Prof. Pat Utomi, tells Bayo Akinloye, in this interview that had Gen. Muhammadu Buhari not toppled the government of his principal through a military coup in 1983, Nigeria would have become better today. He also notes that there is more unhappiness, unemployment, poverty and despair in the country today than ever before. Excerpts:
Do you think the recognition of MKO Abiola by the federal government came a little too late?
The life of 25 years is a very short time. In the United States, people are still lobbying for people who ‘were convicted for one thing or the other’ about 200 years ago to get formal pardons. So, in the life of a nation, I think that 25 years is not a terribly long period of time. At least, people like us, who were active in the (June 12, 1993) struggle, are still around. Will it have been better if it was done 22 years ago? Sure. But I don’t think that it was bad being done eventually.
Do you find it ironical that neither President Goodluck Jonathan nor President Umaru Yar’Adua honoured Abiola but it took a dictator-turned democrat, President Muhammadu Buhari, to award the late Abiola with the GCFR?
Well, in the world of politics, nothing is a straight-line graph. The bottom line is that our country desperately needs healing right now. We desperately need the past being reconciled (with the present) so that we can move forward. There is too much pain bottled-up and this bottled-up pain is being seen often not understood in many of the so-called security challenges around the country – whether in kidnapping, insurgency, terrorism. In many ways, these are connected to many injustices of the past. This country is full of historical injustices. Somebody has to take the lead in trying to help heal those wounds, because they are preventing progress that we should be making as a country.
Do you think the honour will put a closure to many open wounds in the country?
It will start but it won’t close, because the open wounds are too many and too many people, who are closer to those problems, still bear personal animosities. Nigeria has seen all manner of things. There were much genocide you can think of in the 20th century – Nigeria experienced a significant one. I’m not talking about something far away. In the Nigerian civil war, I had experienced it first-hand. I also was one of those, who resisted the annulment of June 12. The files are still full in the court in the SSS files of attempt to kill me. I’m talking, because I survived. People like Kudirat Abiola didn’t survive – so injustices are many.
The injustice has deepened the cleavages of ethnicity and religion – personally, I don’t feel any of those. There’s a joke I keep saying to people that if people realise how small these things (ethnicity and religion) are. I’m privileged to be very close friends with both the Catholic Bishop of Sokoto and the Sultan of Sokoto. When I go to Sokoto on some occasions the sultan, the bishop and I sit on the floor eating. I just wish all the people quarrelling in Nigeria can see the three of us sitting on the floor eating and joking about everything. Then they will know they shouldn’t be quarrelling and abusing one another on the Internet. Political leaders need to show leadership in helping to heal some of these wounds.
Is it correct that the award given to Abiola and Gani Fawehinmi was to woo the South-west ahead of the 2019 presidential election?
I was not there when the decision was made. So, I don’t know what the motivation was – I’m not guessing. But it’s not a crime in politics to make such moves. I can’t speak with any authority on what the motivation was, because I wasn’t there.
Talking about 2019, you’re a member of the Nigeria Intervention Movement. Do you think this movement can wrest power from the incumbent? Who are the possible presidential candidates you are considering to contest against President Buhari?
Again, this is part of the thing with attempts to create a movement to achieve certain goals. Sometimes they get misunderstood. Sometimes they get confused. Sometimes people have different perspectives and come to the table. Let me preface a little talk about social movement in Nigeria and my involvement with social movements. I don’t think we’ll be revealing something new when we say Nigeria is a horribly governed country. It is far from its potential for some many simple reasons.
In my view, sometimes some people will say because it has had terrible, wicked, and greedy past leaders – maybe it’s true or not but I tend to think that the wickedness of such people are exaggerated. I think the biggest problem with Nigeria is that it has had leaders, who were not educated enough and wise enough to understand the consequences of their actions. I think if the people, who usually were holding a gun to Babangida’s head to annul the (June 12) election only had the broader picture of the consequence above their immediate self-interest, they’d probably act differently.
Let me start with June 12: I was principal to the founding of one of the most important movements of that time called the Concerned Professionals. It was designed to draw into the political arena people who ordinarily would say, ‘Leave these soldiers; leave these politicians. God will judge them.’ Don’t wait for God to judge them. God has given you a brain, so be active in deciding your own future. We supported NADECO.
Now, the whole idea of the Nigeria Intervention Movement was to repeat the same movement that we built up under the Concerned Professionals – that if we can attract a lot of professionals, they can then go into whatever party they want to. They can take over the existing parties and turn them around – If they think it’s not working they can create another party. The NIM as I understood it was not designed to be a political party. It’s a force designed to create capacity to take over an existing party or create a new one.
A former Chief of Army Staff, Gen. Alani Akinrinade, said the security architecture of Nigeria must be changed. What do you think?
I believe that and looking at the security architecture in Nigeria one important thing to bear in mind is the state of the economy. The more we have unemployed people and the more we have bad or poor education – as most people are certificated but they’re basically illiterate – the easier it is for people, who have grievances to recruit people and brainwash them to become agents of disruption of normal order.
The general state of anomie that seems to be overtaking us in Nigeria, for me, significantly is economy. Therefore, the beginning of thinking insecurity is thinking a developmental state that aims to create a full employment economy – people who are educated enough in civic matters to resist those who seek to use them to abuse the state. Of course, there are other aspects of the security architecture that need to be reviewed. Of course, Gen. Alani Akinrinade is one of the most outstanding officers of the Nigerian Army and still alive. He knows what he’s talking about. So, we need to listen to people like him.
Only six states – all from the South-west – out of the nation’s 36 declared June 12 a public holiday. Does that bother you?
I think there’s a matter of how people try to draw emphasis to things that are unnecessary and unfortunately, Nigeria has got into this very sad ethnic arithmetic in which things are interpreted in ethnic ways. I often repeat a statement that came from the World War II by Reverend Martin Niemoller, who said, ‘First they came for the Jews and I said these Jews are too troublesome anyway. Then they came for the communists and I said well thank God I’m not a communist. Then they came for the Catholics and I said at least I’m a protestant and finally they came for me but there was no one else to speak up.’
Why do you think the 30 other states didn’t celebrate June 12?
I just think it’s because they consider it as something that is too politically problematic. ‘Let just leave it. The day that the South-west succeeds then we would join them.’
Some are worried about Buhari’s possible second coming, citing his poor health records as president. Do you really think that should be a cause for concern?
In recent times, many of us have been talking about restructuring and all of that. One of the things I said to myself is that I want to become a village man. I want to focus on local issues and leave Abuja alone – let Abuja take care of itself. By the time I fix my village maybe I can then find out what’s happening in Abuja. Besides, I’m not a doctor; I can’t tell who is well or who is not well.
Some have suggested that there should be an independent team of medical doctors to test the fitness of presidential candidates before contesting in the 2019 poll. Do you agree?
You can’t single one person out. If you’re going to test the fitness of all the public office holders then we should test the fitness of every aspirant in any position.
This time round one would have thought that you would also throw your hat in the ring to contest the presidential poll. Why are you not contesting?
When I turned 60 two years ago, I wanted to retire completely. I said I had reached what should be called a retirement age and I was told that the academic age (of retirement) is 70. I’m more interested in serving Nigeria from the edge, where it stands than on a position or a title. One of the things that I focus on a great deal is the concept of the leader, who has no title. If I could find a way of making a difference without holding a position, I’ll be happier. There’s an obsession in this country with titles and positions. I want to make a difference.
There have been accusations that Buhari’s war against corruption is largely being waged against individuals in the opposition party. People say the anti-corruption war is not transparent. What more do you think the government can do to show sincerity and transparency?
I’ll just give the same answer I gave when they accused Obasanjo of the same thing that Ribadu was attacking his opponents – going after his opponents. I said: ‘Okay, it’s good. At least you people did something. Whether you’re the man’s friend or enemy let them go after you. If they finish catching his enemies then he can get to his friends.’ I think that people will always say something. Let’s deal with corruption; it doesn’t matter who it is.
Besides, catching people is important now that two governors are in jail. My prayer is that before the end of this year, we should have at least ten governors in jail. Why is it important for them to go to jail? Not that I want them to suffer – many of them are my friends, very good friends for that matter – but because I want us to learn a lesson that will be a deterrence in the future. But more importantly, my preferred approach is an approach that makes it more difficult to be corrupt than the one that catches those who have been corrupt.
The APC is battling to have a common front going into 2019 elections. Do you see the party failing next year?
It’s not a fair question to ask me, because I’m a member of the APC. So, what will I say that would be fair? Perhaps, I should not say anything.
Buhari has often been accused of nepotism and condoning corrupt practices of people in his government like Babachir Lawal. What is your thought on that?
I’m assuming the investigations are going on and when there is enough information, some actions will be taken. As a matter of principle, I would think that it’s important to clear that there are no secret sacred cows. In fact, people around you should be the first to be held accountable, because it points straight at you if you don’t hold them accountable. I would hope that such philosophy is borne in mind. But people should not also be persecuted just because they are close (to the government). There should be some kind of balance in these matters.
Killings in the North-Central have continued unabated. What do you think is responsible? How can these be stopped?
You know again that part of the problem that I have with the limitation of the public sphere in the market place of idea in Nigeria is that it has been reduced to a certain level of mediocrity that quality conversation is absent today in Nigeria. The issues in the North-Central are deep and complex. But they have been treated as Islamisation. First of all, the herdsmen-farmers clashes are part of a major sociological challenge in a transition society, transiting from an agrarian society towards an industrial society.
Fifty years ago, the herdsmen were principally entrepreneurs; they own their cattle and the land tenure system was different. But they were able to reach some kind of accommodation with the farmers. They were generally allowed in certain corridors, where crops were not planted. They didn’t bother farmers too much. But with time, our society became increasingly urbanised, the corridors. We do not do enough as a society to move into a ranch economy.
More than 30 years ago, we should have been there. Again, one of the failures of this country is failure in economic planning with continuity. As for back as the 1950s, Chief Obafemi Awolowo was setting up ranches especially a huge one in northern Ondo that has been disused for some time now. If we had continued with ranches at that time and if the railway system had not collapsed and we could have had a system in Yobe State or Jigawa processing meat put in cold storage in trains would get to Lagos within a day, the people would get their meat easily.
The second part of this sociological challenge is that these herdsmen are entrepreneurs 50 years ago, because you’ll see the cattle belonged to them. But today those cattle we see around probably belong to people in the National Assembly, some governors – even some southerners, who have invested in that business. The herdsmen basically are now labourers with no stake. They are, in fact, going through a transition crisis and there’s no brain to discuss the issue as it is and the simple answer is Islamisation.
Politicians have been accused of fueling the herdsmen-farmers violent conflict. What is your take on that?
The politics of Nigeria is very simple, because most of the politicians have nothing to offer. Therefore, they look for something that creates a cleavage that they can then use a fake or mere sentiment to attract us. So, the failure of the political class is what leads to problems of these cleavages in our society.
You were a special assistant to former President Shehu Shagari. What was the experience like? And how do you feel that the dictator now turned democrat, who toppled that government is ruling now?
First thing about my experience is that I learnt very early. I was 27 years old at the time. But I didn’t get appointed, because I was somebody’s son or uncle. At that age, I had two master’s degrees and a PhD. Therefore, I was coming to the table with something. Not only the degrees I had but I had served in the US as an intern in the US Congress. I knew how the American system worked and that was what I was bringing to the table.
Obviously, I dealt with frustration of the system and I kept talking about the permanent secretary that worked with me – every day I’d not sleep at night working on what we could change in the system to make it work for the Nigerian people. Once I began to talk to the PS, he’d say: ‘you know if you do this you’ll step on the toe of the minister of that.’ One day, I said to him: ‘Mr. PS is there anything that’s possible to do?’ My point is one of the great lessons from my experience was a decision that I made then that I’d never go back into public life without critical enough mass to make a difference.
This was the reason when President Yar’Adua asked me to join his cabinet and I told him I couldn’t give him advice, because but I didn’t want to be a token. To his credit, President Yar’Adua said to me that I’d make a greater difference inside than from outside and I said okay find seven good people and I’d be pleased to be the eighth and then he threw it back at me and said I should find the seven good people and come with them. Unfortunately, he didn’t live long enough. The view I hold about what we’ve been through the years can be found in an interview I gave to the New York Times, January 8, 1984.
In that interview I said Nigeria would one day feel sorry that they had thrown the baby out with the bath water (as many rejoiced over the coup led by Gen. Buhari that ousted the government of Shagari). I think any living Nigerian with brain will know that Nigeria would have moved further ahead today if that coup didn’t take place on December 31, 1983, although – in my view – I was convinced that the coup was done to prevent Dr. Alex Ekwueme from becoming the president in 1987.
Has Buhari made the country more divided or united than he met it?
I think we have been polarised as a country and it is much worse today clearly – whether somebody caused it or not, the bottom line is that the country is more polarised today. It’s important to begin the healing process, which is why I embraced the June 12 honours – it’s a good process.
What areas do you think the present administration should improve on?
Every government everywhere can improve on some areas, because life is work-in-progress – but very importantly, the economy. There’s despair in the land. There’s such a level of unemployment, unhappiness and poverty in the country. I think normal economic policy is not enough anymore.
Photonews : Representatives of the Family of the Late Chief (Dr) Alex Ekwueme, former Vice President of Nigeria, visit President Buhari
PHOTOS: Representatives of the Family of the Late Chief (Dr) Alex Ekwueme, former Vice President of Nigeria, visited President Buhari at the State House yesterday. Delegation included Chief Laz Ekwueme, Prof. O. Ekwueme and Mrs Beatrice Ekwueme.
President Buhari Mourns Coomassie
President Muhammadu Buhari has commiserated with the family members, the government and people of Katsina state following the demise of his classmate and former Inspector-General of Police, Sardaunan Katsina, Ibrahim Ahmadu Coomassie.
The President in a statement said he received the news of the death of the Chairman of the Arewa Consultative Forum, ACF with shock and deep sense of loss.
He said his thoughts were with late Ibrahim Coomassie’s family and those mourning the demise of the late community leader and fine gentleman.
Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala : Twitter appoints ex-Nigerian minister to its board
NIGERIA’S former finance minister Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala has been appointed to the board of directors of Twitter.
Okonjo-Iweala shared the news on Twitter, saying she was “excited” to work on a platform that connects people and ideas.
“Excited to work with @Jack and an incredible team on the Board of Twitter, a global platform that is such a strong connector of people and ideas,” she wrote.
Excited to work with @Jack and an incredible team on the Board of Twitter, a global platform that is such a strong connector of people and ideas.
— Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala (@NOIweala) July 19, 2018
Okonjo-Iweala served under President Olusegun Obasanjo from 2003 to 2006 and President Goodluck Jonathan from 2011 to 2015.
With her new role, Twitter’s 10-member board now has three women, two of whom are black.
The social media company has been criticised in the past for its lack of diversity, joining the likes of many other Silicon Valley tech companies.
A report published in 2017 revealed less than 5 percent of all tech workers are African-American, and less than 11 percent are Hispanic and Latinos.
Double minorities face and even tougher glass ceiling in the tech industry, as only 25 percent of computing jobs are held by women — but a black woman in tech without a traditional education is unheard of.
Twitter has acknowledged it needs to improve diversity in its ranks and has ambitions to increase the percentage of female employees in the company to 43% by 2019 from 38% at the end of 2017. It has also committed to increase the percentage of black and Latino employees to 5%; both groups each represented 3.4% of Twitter’s staff at the end of 2017.
NYCN elective congress: Nduanya calls for unity, canvasses support
Comrade Innocent Nduanya, an aspirant to the seat of the President, National Youth Council of Nigeria (NYCN), has called for unity of purpose ahead of the elective congress on the council scheduled for Saturday, 21, July 2018 in Gombe.
Nduanya, in a statement on Friday in Abuja, assured delegates of his commitment to building a stronger and respectable NYCN if he elected president.
He said that the National Transition Committee led by the acting President of the council Comrade Mayor Enujeko and the Election Committee deserved commendations.
“I wish to welcome all the delegates to Gombe 2018 congress and pray for all others in transit a successful arrival.
“I implore all delegates and fellow aspirants to disregard all divisive information being spread which is capable of rubbishing all the efforts made so far on having a formidable NYCN.
“I also want to applaud the efforts of the supervisory ministry led by the Minister of Youths and Sports, Barr. Solomon Dalung and the Board of Trustees led by Amb. Dickson Akoh, for their determination toward having a successful congress,’’ he said.
Nduanya, who said his aspiration was divinely-led, reiterated his seven-point agenda as follows: reforming the activities of NYCN, promotion of peace and unity among Nigeria youths, campaign to foster youth participation in governance campaign to create more job opportunities for the youth.
Others are establishment of Youth Empowerment Trust Fund, establishment of National Youth Research Centre and Youth Leadership Institute and Nigeria Youth and International Exchange.
“I have a vision to make our dear youths to regain their glory and position. We all know that no Nation can stand without the youth,’’ he said
FAAC: FG, states, LGs share N668.89b
Federal, States and Local Government Councils have shared N668. 89 billion from the federation account as revenue generated in May.
The Director of Information, Federal Ministry of Finance, Mr Hassan Dodo, made this known in a statement on Friday in Abuja.
Dodo, however, said that the distribution of the funds did not signify the end of the dispute between the Federation Account Allocation Committee (FAAC) and some revenue generation agencies.
“Owing to disagreement on remittances by the Revenue Generating Agencies, especially the NNPC, the sharing of revenues for May 2018 that was meant to be distributed in June 2018 was put on hold.
“However, the urgent need to cushion the undue hardships being experienced by workers nationwide has made it necessary to distribute the May figures, totalling N668.898 billion to the three tiers of government.
“Efforts are being intensified to address the unsatisfactory remittances, ” he said.
Dodo said that the N668.89 billion shared was made up of statutory revenue of N575.47 billion and N 93.42 billion from Value Added Tax (VAT).
He said that the May revenue was shared in line with the extant formula as follows: Federal Government, N282.22 billion; State Governments, N181.16 billion; and Local Government Councils, N136.49 billion.
He said the oil producing states received additional N53.071 billion as 13 per cent derivation while N15.947 billion was paid to the revenue generating agencies as costs of collections.
The News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) reports that FAAC has been unable to share May revenue to the three tiers of government following rejection of NNPC remittances.
When FAAC meeting was held on June 27, representatives of the 36 states rejected the NNPC remittance for May, on the grounds that it was less than the projected revenue for the month.
Again, when the meeting reconvened on July 12, the state commissioners for finance insisted that a permanent solution must be explored to resolve the recurring issue around NNPC under-remittances to the federation account. (NAN)
Nigerian children recount the challenges they face working in a city
Stories of children being used in Nigerian mines have hit the headlines. But this phenomenon isn’t uncommon. About 15 million Nigerian children work –- the highest rate of working children in West Africa.
Globally there are over 168 million children, aged 5 to 14, that work. While most studies focus on child labour that happen in rural and agricultural areas, very few have reported the dangers experienced by children in urban areas of Africa where they work as street hawkers, hustlers, vendors and domestic servants.
But in a rapidly growing society such as Nigeria, where poverty is widespread, child labour in urban areas has become a systemic avenue for augmenting parental income. Though it may build the entrepreneurial skills of youngsters for later life, it can have detrimental consequences.
I set out to find out more about the lives of children who are working. Drawing on interviews with 1,535 children (aged 8 – 14 years) and their parents, my study documented their experiences. It showed that although child labour provides significant economic assistance towards the sustenance of the family, children don’t get a proper education and experience negative health and social consequences in the process.
Over half the children interviewed were female and the average age of all children was 12 years, though some were as young as 7-years-old. Most were engaged in sales (such as street hawking) and services (like car washing). While some of the children worked as much as six hours a day, the average daily hours of work was four.
When it came to the parents, more than two-thirds were engaged in trading and services, the remaining 28.4% were employed in administrative and professional occupations, indicating more education. Regarding parental income, an overwhelming 8 out of 10 parents earned about 20,000 Naira (about USD$55) per month. Such low earnings mean the households turned to using the labour of their children to supplement the family’s income.
Despite the economic benefits of child labour, the findings show that children face a variety of challenges in their daily activities.
More than a third had experienced accidents involving motor vehicles. “John,” a boy aged 9, complained that: “I get hit by car and motorcycles when I want to cross the roads.”
Surprisingly, 1 out of 7 children told our interviewers about attempted kidnapping. “Laide”, a 10 year-old-girl, narrated a scenario where two men wanted her to follow them by promising to give her 5,000 Naira (about USD$14).
The study also found that about 1 out of 10 children had been subjected to rape, sexual molestation, or assault while on the streets selling foodstuffs and fruits.
“Tayo”, a 13 year old girl said: “At times, some men would pretend that they want to buy things from me, but later would be touching my body.” “Kehinde”, a 14-year-old girl, said: “I was raped twice and became pregnant on one occasion by two men…My parents aborted the pregnancy so that it wouldn’t ruin my education.”
Because children spend considerable time away from their family and household, about one-quarter (22.8%) reported that gangsters would invite them to join in their bad activities. “Tolu”, an 11-year-old boy said: “Touts and gangsters would come to me and ask me to smoke Indian hemp (marijuana). Sometimes, they would ask me to describe my house so that they can come to visit me and invite me to join them in their activities.”
Almost one quarter (24.1%) of children miss one day or more of school each week. Moreover, 7 out of 10 of the working children attribute their poor school attendance to tiredness or sickness resulting from long distance walking due to their daily work activities, while the remaining 28% miss school because of their parents request that they should sell foodstuffs instead of attending school that day. This finding shows how child labour can have a detrimental effect on child health, which invariably affects their school attendance.
When children do go to school, about half are sometimes, or always, late. When asked why they’re late, 52.6% cited child labour as the major reason. Another one-third mentioned tiredness or illness as reasons for the lateness. Again, child labour appears to have a negative impact on their punctuality which does not bode well for effective learning and success in school.
Children were also asked about opportunities for doing homework after school. Just a little over 40% said that child labour does not hinder their time for homework.
Finally, interviews with the children reveal that two-thirds do not have time for recreation, although the remaining one-third manage to play with friends during the time they are engaged in child labour. Child labour disturbs children’s leisure time, hindering their optimal social development which they get through interacting with peers.
I recommend that policies need to be put in place that reduce the number of children working in Nigeria. Policy programmes such as credit facilities, poverty reduction schemes, by creating jobs for adults, and the provision of affordable medical facilities would improve the quality of lives and, consequently, reduce the need for child labour.
Existing laws should also be enforced, including compliance with the minimum working age and ensuring universal enrolment of Nigerian children in schools.
Prof. ‘Dimeji Togunde
Associate Provost for Global Education & Professor of International Studies, Spelman College
Nigeria’s plan to redistribute recovered corruption money needs a rethink
The Nigerian government has announced that USD$322 million (£244 million) stolen by Nigeria’s former military ruler, Sani Abacha, has been returned by the Swiss authorities. Abacha, an army general who was head of state from 1993 until his death in 1998, is suspected to have embezzled between USD$3 to 5 billion of public money.
Plans have also been announced to distribute the recovered loot to around 300,000 households in 19 of Nigeria’s 36 states. Under the plan each household would get around USD$14 a month. The handouts would be paid to poor Nigerians for about six years.
Roberto Balzaretti, one of the Swiss officials involved in the negotiations with Nigeria, reported that there would be strict conditions attached to the transfer of the money back to Nigeria. Nigeria has signed a memorandum of understanding with Switzerland and the World Bank agreeing the modalities for the return of the stolen funds.
The Nigerian government has opted for cash payments to be made to help poor families as part of the Nigeria National Social Safety Net Program. The money is to be paid in instalments and in small amounts under the supervision of the World Bank, which will also conduct regular audits. If the first instalment is not properly accounted for, subsequent payments will be halted. This is to prevent the funds from being stolen again.
But there are fears that this is not the best way to use the recovered funds and that the “distribution” is just a ruse to influence the Nigerian elections next year. Concerns have been raised that it’s an easy way for the ruling political party to score cheap points ahead of the 2019 polls. And there are strong views about how the money can be better spent, particularly on the country’s crumbling infrastructure.
The money is being returned to Nigeria at a delicate time. Nigerian President Muhammadu Buhari has announced that he will be seeking reelection next year. This despite his ill health and corruption scandals.
Nigerian politicians are infamous for buying votes.
Suspicions that the redistribution scheme is another vote buying ruse have been fuelled by the fact that the government plans to give money to only 19 states out of the 36. The government has said that 17 states where excluded from the scheme because they didn’t have the “appropriate platform” to implement the conditional cash transfers.
There are also fears that the recovered loot might end up in the coffers of ghost beneficiaries.
The Nigerian house of representatives – the lower house of Nigeria’s bicameral National Assembly – has passed a motion that the money must be distributed in line with the country’s revenue sharing formula for disbursing money to all 36 states.
The Socio-Economic Rights and Accountability Project, a Nigerian nongovernmental anti-corruption agency, has added its voice to criticisms of the plan. It has pointed out that the distribution of funds is mis-targeted and would not bring any tangible benefits to the beneficiaries.
The project argues that the president should renegotiate the memorandum of understanding with the Swiss authorities in consultation with the communities affected by grand corruption so that the recovered loot can be put to better use.
A better way?
Is there a better way to utilise the recovered loot?
Nigeria needs proper procedures to manage recovered money as it continues with its anti-corruption agenda. The government will be better placed in the future to manage recovered funds if it has a coherent plan detailing how they should be handled. The plan will need to be overseen by the country’s anti-corruption institution.
There’s a strong view that the recovered money should be used to foot the bill for infrastructure projects that would improve the lives of the victims of corruption and also help alleviate poverty.
Infrastructure projects, such as proper transport systems and power generation, also have the advantage of being highly visible and could be easily tracked through Budgit and Tracka. Construction projects would also create jobs.
There is a clear link between infrastructural development and economic growth – an area where Nigeria could really do with some help. The country struggles from infrastructure deficits, particularly in power generation, transport, education and health care.
Experts also argue that giving the money to poor households will only serve as temporary respite from poverty. Investing in infrastructure that can improve growth, employment, production, education and health care would create better and longer-term value.
The government might be wise to listen to these views.
Lecturer in Economics, Staffordshire University
Trevor Noah accused of racism for saying Africa won the cup
THE DAILY SHOW host Trevor Noah has been accused of racism for saying Africa won the World Cup – because of the number of black players in the French national team.
During a segment of his show on Monday about France’s 4-2 victory against Croatia, Noah said” “Africa won the World Cup.”
“I get it, they have to say it’s the French team,” Noah said. “But look at those guys. You don’t get that tan by hanging out in the south of France, my friends.
TONIGHT: Congratulations to Africa on winning the 2018 Men’s World Cup! pic.twitter.com/ly1wxU1VzT
— The Daily Show (@TheDailyShow) July 17, 2018
“Basically if you don’t understand, France is Africans’ backup team. Once Senegal and Nigeria got knocked out, that’s who we root for.”
Noah’s remarks weren’t received well on social media, with some French natives noting that nearly every team member, regardless of their race, was born and raised in France.
French former reality TV star Martin Medus was among those who slammed the comments.
He said: ‘You’re a f****** racist. Those people are French and p***** to always be reminded of their background. They fight hard to tell people they are proud French people and yet you disrespect them calling them African. Are the Lakers an African team?’
Kevin Razy, a French comedian, criticised the South African host for regurgitating a racist joke that has circulated in France, while basketball player Evan Fournier said: “Stop it with this “Africa won the world cup for France” non sense. Is it Africa winning when the USA win Gold medals in the Olympics ? Is it Europe winning when South Africa win in Rugby ? And we can go on and on. Cut the BS. We are all french deal with it”
Stop it with this "Africa won the world cup for France" non sense.
Is it Africa winning when the USA win Gold medals in the Olympics ?
Is it Europe winning when South Africa win in Rugby ? And we can go on and on. Cut the BS. We are all french deal with it🇫🇷🇫🇷
— Evan Fournier (@EvanFourmizz) July 17, 2018
Of the 23-man squad, 16 have African roots with the exception of Hugo Lloris, Antoine Griezmann and Olivier Giroud are of European heritage.
France’s World Cup win has been described as a ‘victory for immigration’ and has posed questions as to whether the country’s approach to xenophobia, racism and discrimination will change following this win.
A tweet from Khaled Beydoun acknowledging this went viral. He said: Dear France, Congratulations on winning the #WorldCup. 80% of your team is African, cut out the racism and xenophobia. 50% of your team are Muslims, cut out the Islamophobia. Africans and Muslims delivered you a second World Cup, now deliver them justice.”
Congratulations on winning the #WorldCup.
80% of your team is African, cut out the racism and xenophobia.
50% of your team are Muslims, cut out the Islamophobia.
Africans and Muslims delivered you a second World Cup, now deliver them justice.
— Khaled Beydoun (@KhaledBeydoun) July 15, 2018
Political figures including Barack Obama and Venezuelan president Nicolas Maduro seem to echo Noah’s sentiments in acknowledging the minority influence in the French national team.
“The French team looked like an African team, in fact it was Africa who won,” said Maduro. “France won thanks to African players or the sons of Africans.”
Maduro also congratulated France and called for an end to racism in Europe against African people.
SENATE OF THE FEDERAL REPUBLIC OF NIGERIA ORDER PAPER Thursday, 19th July, 2018
8TH NATIONAL ASSEMBLY 38 FOURTH SESSION NO. 13
SENATE OF THE FEDERAL REPUBLIC OF NIGERIA ORDER PAPER
Thursday, 19th July, 2018
1. Prayers 2. Approval of the Votes and Proceedings 3. Oaths 4. Announcements (if any) 5. Petitions
PRESENTATION OF REPORTS
1. Conference Committee Report Federal Audit Service Commission Bill, 2018 (HB. 107) Sen. Matthew A. Urhoghide (Edo South) -That the Senate do receive the report of the Committee on Public Accounts on the Federal Audit Service Commission Bill, 2018 (HB. 107) – To be Laid.
2. Report of the Ad-hoc Committee on Promissory Note Programme Promissory Note Programme and a Bond Issuance to settle Inherited Local Debts and Contractual Obligations Sen. Francis Alimikhena (Edo North) -That the Senate do receive the report of the Ad-hoc Committee on Promissory Note Programme on the Promissory Note Programme and a Bond Issuance to settle Inherited Local Debts and Contractual Obligations on refund to States Government for Projects executed on behalf of the Federal Government – To be Laid.
ORDERS OF THE DAY EXECUTIVE COMMUNICATION
1. Confirmation of Nomination. Sen. Ahmad Lawan (Yobe North-Senate Leader) -That the Senate do consider the Request of Mr. President C-n-C on the Confirmation of the Nomination of the following persons for Appointment as Chairman and Commissioners for the Federal Civil Service Commission in accordance with the provisions of Section 154(1) of the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria 1999 (As amended). S/N Name Position State New/Renewal of Appointment 1. Dr. Bello Tukur lngawa, OON, mni Chairman Katsina New Appointment 2. Moses Musa Ngbale Commissioner Adamawa New Appointment 3. Waziri Umara Ngurno, mni Commissioner Borno New Appointment 4. Alh. Bello Mahmoud Babura Commissioner Jigawa New Appointment 5. Arch. Ahmed M. Sarna (fnia) Commissioner Kebbi New Appointment 6. Princess Iyabode Odulate-Yusuf Commissioner Ogun New Appointment 7. Shehu Umar Danyaya Commissioner Niger New Appointment 8. Fatai Newton Adebayo O. MFR,FNSE Commissioner Oyo New Appointment
39 Thursday, 19th July, 2018 13
9. Chief Ejoh Michael Chukwuemeka Commissioner Anambra New Appointment 10. Joe Philip Poroma Commissioner Rivers New Appointment 11. Alhaji Ibrahim Mohammed Commissioner Kaduna Renewal of Appointment 12. Prof. Aminu Dio Sheidu Commissioner Kogi Renewal of Appointment 13. Mr. Simon Etim Commissioner Akwa Ibom Renewal of Appointment
CONSIDERATION OF REPORTS
1. Report of the Committee on National Identity Card and National Population Commission Screening of Twenty Three (23) Nominees for Confirmation of Appointment as Commissioners Sen. Suleiman O. Hunkuyi (Kaduna North) -That the Senate do consider the report of the Committee on National Identity Card and National Population Commission on the Screening of Twenty Three (23) Nominees for Confirmation of Appointment as Commissioners for National Population Commission. S/N NOMINEES STATE OF ORIGIN 1. Nwanne Johnny Nwabusi Abia 2. Dr. Clifford T. O. Zirra Ondo 3. Dr. Chidi Christopher Ezeoke mni Anambra 4. Barr. Isa Audu Buratai Borno 5. Sir Richard Odibo Delta 6. Okereke Darlington Onuabuchi Ebonyi 7. Mr. A. d. Olusegun Aiyejina Edo 8. Ajike Ezeh Enugu 9. Hon. Abubakar Mohammed Danburam Gombe 10. Prof. Uba S. F. Nnabue Imo 11. Suleiman Ismaila Lawal Kano 12. Prof. Jimoh Habibat Isah Kogi 13. Nasir Isa Kwarra Nasarawa 14. Barr. Aliyu Datti Niger 15. Yeye (Mrs.) Seyi Adereinokun Olusanya Ogun 16. Prince (Dr.) Olanadiran Garvey Iyantan Ondo 17. Senator Mudasiru Oyetunde Hussain Osun 18. Mrs. Cecilia Arsun Dapoet Plateau 19. Dr. Ipalibo Macdonald Harry Rivers 20. Sale S. Saany Taraba 21. Charles I. Ogwa (Rtd) Cross River 22. Dr. Sa’adu Ayinla Alanamu Kwara 23. Dr. Abdulmalik Mohammed Kaduna
2. Report of the Committee on Special Duties National Commission for Refugees, Migrants and Internally Displaced Persons Bill, 2018 (SB. 335) Sen. Abdul Aziz M. Nyako (Adamawa Central) -That the Senate do consider the report of the Committee on Special Duties on the National Commission for Refugees, Migrants and Internally Displaced Persons Bill, 2018 (SB. 335).
13 Thursday, 19th July, 2018 40 3. Report of the Committee on Communications Nigeria Postal Services Act Cap N127 LFN 2004 (Repeal and Re-enactment) Bill, 2018 (SB. 106 & 437) Sen. Gilbert Nnaji (Enugu East) -That the Senate do consider the report of the Committee on Communications on the Nigeria Postal Services Act Cap N127 LFN 2004 (Repeal and Re-enactment) Bill, 2018 (SB. 106 & 437).
4. Report of the Committee on Information and National Orientation Agency for National Ethics and Values (Est, etc) Bill, 2018 (HB. 519) Sen. Suleiman Adokwe (Nasarawa South) -That the Senate do consider the report of the Committee on Information and National Orientation on the Agency for National Ethics and Values (Est, etc) Bill, 2018 (HB. 519). 5. Report of the Committee on Judiciary, Human Rights & Legal Matters National Commission for Peace, Reconciliation and Mediation Bill, 2018 (SB. 74) Sen. David Umaru (Niger East) -That the Senate do consider the report of the Committee on Judiciary, Human Rights & Legal Matters on the National Commission for Peace, Reconciliation and Mediation Bill, 2018 (SB. 74).
6. Report of the Committee on Environment National Oil Spill Detection and Response Agency Act 2006 (Amendment) Bill, 2018 (SB. 557) Sen. Oluremi Tinubu (Lagos Central) -That the Senate do consider the report of the Committee on Environment on the National Oil Spill Detection and Response Agency Act 2006 (Amendment) Bill, 2018 (SB. 557).
No. Committee Date Time Venue
1. Ad-Hoc Committee on Thursday, 19th July, 2018 1.00pm Committee Room 204 Alleged Mis-use, Under- (Public Hearing) Senate New Building Remittance and other fraudulent Activities.
2. Ad-hoc Committee on Thursday, 19th July, 2018 2.00pm Committee Room 117 Investigation of Allegations Senate New Building of Corruption against NNPC Trading Ltd.
3. Gas Resources Thursday, 19th July, 2018 1.00pm Committee Room 107 Senate New Building
4. Police Affairs Thursday, 19th July, 2018 2.00pm Committee Room 305 Senate New Building
5. Finance Thursday, 19th July, 2018 1.00pm Committee Room 211 (Emergency Meeting) Senate New Building 6. Information and National Monday, 23rd July, 2018 11.00am Conference Room 231 Orientation (Public Hearing) Senate New Building
Ekweremadu leads Igbo Senators to protest ‘one-sided’ federal appointments
Senators from the South East led by Deputy Senate President, Ike Ekweremadu have voiced their dissatisfaction with the appointments of head of agencies by President Muhammadu Buhari, claiming it has been lopsided.
The Deputy Senate President in his remarks on the floor of the Senate today lamented that appointments by the President are “unacceptable” and from a particular zone of the country.
Ekweremadu made the comments after Senate President Bukola Saraki read a letter from the President on board appointments into FERMA which is to be chaired by Tunde Lemo.
“I have a problem with the way government is directing its appointments,” Ekweremadu started.
He continued: “Over the last two or three weeks we have had cause to discuss this FERMA, or the NDIC, or AMCON. The head of all these parastatals have come from one particular part of Nigeria. This is completely unfair; we cannot seat in this Senate and allow that to go on.
“We need to ensure that every part of Nigeria is represented in the running of Nigeria. This completely unacceptable”
The Senate Leader, Ahmed Lawan in his response played down the comments made by Ekweremadu by urging him to look at the “larger picture”. He expressed conviction that there is no lop-sidedness as propounded by the Deputy Senate President, adding that the Federal Government has done its “homework” to comply with federal character.
The Senate President in his ruling warned against speculations and mandated the Senate Committee on Federal Character to examine the claims of Senator Ekweremadu. He also ruled Senator Chukwuka Utazi (PDP, Enugu) out of order after the Enugu Senator requested that the letter on the FERMA nomination be stood down.
Shortly after the ruling of the Senate President, the Senate Leader moved for the confirmation of the nomination of the Chairman (from Katsina State) and Commissioners for another agency, the Federal Civil Service Commission (FCSC). This again threw the red chamber into a rowdy session as more Igbo Senators joined the fray and revived the earlier controversy stirred by the comment of the Deputy Senate President.
Speaking on the matter, Senator Mao Ohuabunwa (PDP, Abia) argued that the confirmation of FCSC should be halted pending the submission of the report by the Committee on Federal Character.
The Senate President nevertheless ruled that the screening of the nominees will continue as scheduled. He however, assured that the screening report will only be considered after the submission of the report by the Committee on federal character next week Tuesday.
However, Senator Chukwuka Utazi in his submission insisted that the screening should be halted.
“If we want to be seen to be doing justice to all parts of the country then we should not continue with the screening. There is injustice already regarding appointments,” he objected.
The Senate President in his remarks reassured that there will be no final confirmation of nominees if the report by the Committee on Federal Character shows lop-sidedness in appointments.
The matter was then laid to rest despite additional protest from Senator Obinna Ogba (PDP, Ebonyi).
The nomination list for FERMA as sent by the President has Tunde Lemo as Chairman and Engr. Nurudeen Rafindadi as Managing Director. The Executive Directors are Bubas Abdullahi, Babagana Muhammed, Shehu Abdullahi, Lauretta Nwagono, Njedu Stanley, and Vincent Kolawole.
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