Monday, September 6, 2010

EFCC, corruption, 2011 elections

MRS. Farida Waziri, Chairman of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, EFCC, must desist from exceeding her powers, particularly in relation to the 2011 elections.

She said “politically exposed persons” (another term for political office holders) whose cases of alleged corrupt practices the EFCC is prosecuting in the courts would not be allowed to contest the elections. Waziri, a retired senior police officer and lawyer, knows she does not have powers to stop anyone from contesting elections, only the courts can.

Her quick admission that these persons are innocent by our laws until they are convicted by courts of competent jurisdiction does not weaken her intention to set up a toll gate for candidates.

“With the brief on the cases,” she told the media, “this is not violating anything; we are just telling you that we have these cases pending. But once you publish a name that this man is banned, it is a different thing. But we cannot do that. How we will do it along with others in the best interest of the law and the nation we will keep it as a strategy for now.”

Mrs. Waziri has long lost touch with fighting corruption. She does not need an election to fight corruption. Her belated campaigns to rev up a fight she has abandoned does not have to taint elections everyone expects to be free and fair.

A look at Mrs. Waziri’s statement shows she assumes only when names of accused corrupt individuals are published are their rights violated. EFFC and law enforcement agencies should not abuse their powers by stopping candidates from contesting elections.

Cases former Vice-President Atiku Abubakar severally won in court in 2007 to restore his rights as a candidate proved beyond doubts that EFFC must use its powers more reasonably. No matter what “strategies” Mrs. Waziri has, the target individuals are not dummies. They hire the services of brilliant lawyers and some of them are even in positions that would clothe them with immunity from prosecution. They too have “strategies” that might stun EFCC.

We support the fight against corruption but it requires more profound approaches than making shallow and populist statements for the benefit of the media. Mrs. Waziri’s main “strategies” appear to be to serve politicians notice of the importance of her office to the elections. Her interest could only be self-serving — she wants to keep her office by seeming to be doing something.

EFCC and other anti-corruption agencies should focus more on prevention of corruption than prosecuting those who have pocketed the proceeds of crime. It takes more time and resources to achieve one successful prosecution, whereas it is easier to stop criminals in their tracks. This is where the services of whistle-blowers are very essential. EFCC should encourage people to expose those who are conspiring to commit crimes through many anonymous means, and act on them as expeditiously as possible. Is that not how others fight corruption?

Many cases brought to the attention of EFCC vanish from public attention once Mrs. Waziri squeezes all the public she can from them. A case in point is the fraud Hon. Dino Melaye's group alleged against Speaker of the House of Representatives, Sabiru Dimeji Bankole. Is it among cases Mrs. Waziri has warehoused for the 2011 elections?

EFCC cannot plan occasional frays against corruption. The challenge of corruption runs too deep to be left until election time. We had thought Mrs. Waziri knew this.

Thursday, July 1, 2010

HRW Report on April 2010 Sudan Elections – Summary, Recommendations

In a series of articles, I will republish the HRW Report on April 2010 Sudan elections and post-electoral troubles. Continuing on the same policy path, Khartoum plays directly into the colonial game of Sudan´s worst enemies who have planned the largest African country´s final and comprehensive dissolution. The present Report justifies the most daring anticipations of forthcoming troubles. In this article, I republish the Introduction, the Glossary of Acronyms, the Summary, the Recommendations and the Methodology. In forthcoming articles, I will republish further parts of the HRW Report.

Democracy on Hold - Rights Violations in the April 2010 Sudan Elections

This 32-page report documents numerous rights violations across Sudan by both northern and southern authorities in the period leading up to, during, and following the April elections. These abuses include restrictions on freedom of speech and assembly, particularly in northern Sudan, and widespread intimidation, arbitrary arrests, and physical violence against monitors and opponents of the incumbent parties by Sudanese security forces across the country. The report is based on research carried out between November 2009 and April 2010 in Khartoum and Southern Sudan.


Democracy on Hold - Rights Violations in the April 2010 Sudan Elections

Map of Sudan

Glossary of Acronyms



To the Government of National Unity and the Government of South Sudan

To the United Nations, the African Union, the European Union, Concerned Governments, and International Donors


I. Background

II. Pre-Election Violations

Northern Sudan and Darfur

Arrests of Observers and Activists

Suppression of Free Assembly

Freedom of the Press Violations

Control of State-Owned Media

Lack of Security

Southern Sudan

Arrests, Detentions, and Mistreatment: September-December 2009

Arrests, Detentions, and Mistreatment: January-April 2010

Clampdown on Media

III. Violations during the Election Period

Northern Sudan


Southern Sudan

Central Equatoria

Western Equatoria

Western Bahr el Ghazal, Northern Bahr el Ghazal, and Unity

IV. Post-Election Violations

V. International Response

VI. Conclusion


Glossary of Acronyms

AU African Union

CPA Comprehensive Peace Agreement

DUP Democratic Unionist Party

EU European Union

GNU Government of National Unity

GoSS Government of Southern Sudan

ICC International Criminal Court

IGAD Intergovernmental Authority on Development

NCP National Congress Party

NEC National Elections Commission

PCP Popular Congress Party

SPLA Sudan People´s Liberation Army

SPLM Sudan People´s Liberation Movement

SuDEMOP Sudan Domestic Election Monitoring and Observation Programme

SuGDE Sudanese Group for Democracy and Elections

SuNDE Sudanese Network for Democratic Elections

UNAMID African Union-United Nations Hybrid Operation in Darfur

UNMIS United Nations Mission in Sudan


Between April 11 and 15, 2010, Sudan held its first multi-party national elections in almost 25 years—a milestone set forth in the 2005 Comprehensive Peace Agreement (CPA) that ended a 22-year civil war between the country´s northern Arab-dominated government and southern non-Arab populations. However, a range of human rights violations marred the historic vote, and now threaten to jeopardize the referendum on self-determination that Southern Sudan is scheduled to hold in January 2011.

Human Rights Watch documented numerous human rights abuses perpetrated by the two main partners in the Government of National Unity (GNU): the ruling National Congress Party (NCP) and the former southern rebel movement, the Sudan People´s Liberation Movement (SPLM). These include arbitrary arrests and intimidating opponents, voters, and election observers before and during the election period, when international and domestic election observers reported numerous electoral irregularities. These reports led the National Elections Commission (NEC) to hold new elections in many constituencies.

Since the election, the situation has worsened. In northern states, the NCP, which dominates the GNU, has cracked down on opponents, activists, and journalists; in southern states, the SPLM and its security forces have fought forces allied to independent candidates; in Darfur, the Sudanese government continues to fight rebel forces and the civilians with whom they are aligned, deploying aerial bombs and ground forces to do so.

Political intolerance, repression, and violence have eroded the legitimacy of the elections across Sudan, and violated the right of the Sudanese people to elect their government in genuinely free and fair elections. They have contributed to a worsening human rights situation throughout the country by emboldening the NCP and SPLM—neither of which have not been forced to account for their actions—in their clampdown against opponents. They have raised the specter of growing instability in states such as Central Equatoria, Jonglei, Unity, and Western Bahr el Ghazal, and they have set a worrying precedent for Southern Sudan´s forthcoming referendum on self-determination.

International observers and diplomatic missions have failed to explicitly and resolutely criticize these documented human rights and electoral abuses, or to call for accountability and reform. The US and EU have been relatively muted in their criticism, expressing concern about voting "irregularities," circumscribed political freedoms, and elections that fall short of international standards. But they have not condemned the widespread abuses, nor have they pressed for accountability and reforms. Meanwhile, the Arab League (also known as the League of Arab States), African Union (AU), and Intergovernmental Authority on Development (IGAD)—a seven-country regional organization based in East Africa—have issued statements that failed to mention election-related abuses at all.

The international community, and specifically Sudan´s foreign partners and sponsors to the CPA, including the United States, the United Kingdom, and Norway, must urge Sudanese authorities to end abuses and cease granting impunity to those who commit them. In order to bolster chances for a peaceful referendum in January 2011, and to ensure the democratic transformation that the CPA envisages, they must also intensify pressure on Sudan to improve its human rights record, and condemn human rights violations, intimidation, and violence.

The Government of National Unity and the semi-autonomous southern Government of Southern Sudan (GoSS) should both act immediately to restore public confidence in the country´s political process by ending repression of civil and political rights, and other human rights violations. Arbitrary arrests must stop, and opposition members and political and student activists who have been arbitrarily detained must be released. Allegations of abuse including those related to elections must be investigated and prosecuted. Human Rights Watch also urges Sudanese authorities to undertake legal and institutional reforms of the national security, media, and electoral bodies to ensure free and fair elections in the future.

In addition, although Omar al-Bashir has been re-elected as Sudan´s president, he is still wanted by the International Criminal Court (ICC) on charges of war crimes and crimes against humanity committed in Darfur. The Sudanese government must cooperate with the court, as required by United Nations Security Council Resolution 1593, to bring to justice al-Bashir and two other Sudanese suspects subject to warrants issued by the ICC.1 These are Ahmed Haroun, former state minister for humanitarian affairs and current governor of Southern Kordofan, and the Janjaweed militia leader known as Ali Kosheib (a pseudonym for Ali Mohammed Ali), both of whom also face charges of war crimes and crimes against humanity committed in Darfur.


1. United Nations Security Council, Resolution 1593 (2005), S/RES/1593 (2005), (accessed June 20, 2010), para. 2 ("Decides that the Government of Sudan and all other parties to the conflict in Darfur shall cooperate fully with and provide any necessary assistance to the Court and the Prosecutor pursuant to this resolution"). In addition, Resolution 1593 "urges" other states (including states that are not parties to the court) and relevant regional and international organizations to "cooperate fully" with the ICC. Ibid. Moreover, the ICC´s Rome Statute obligates states that are parties to the court to cooperate under its article 86. Rome Statute of the International Criminal Court, A/CONF.183/9, July 17, 1998, entered into force July 1, 2002, art. 86.


To the Government of National Unity and the Government of South Sudan

Respect the rights to freedom of expression, association, and assembly enshrined in the African Charter on Human and Peoples´ Rights, the African Union Declaration on the Principles Governing Democratic Elections in Africa, and the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights.

The Government of National Unity (GNU) should urgently reform the repressive national security apparatus as envisioned in the Comprehensive Peace Agreement and bring flawed criminal and media laws in line with the Interim National Constitution. Undertake appropriate reforms to ensure a transparent and impartial elections commission and process in the future.

Immediately end the practice of arbitrary arrests and detentions, torture, and mistreatment of political party members, civil society activists, journalists, and students. Release those who remain in detention without a legal basis, and charge those detainees against whom there is a legal case.

Investigate allegations of abuse, including beatings and torture by GNU and GoSS security forces. Conduct investigations in a competent, independent, and impartial manner. Discipline or prosecute officials found to be implicated in torture or physical abuse, regardless of their rank.

Ensure all GNU and GoSS security forces are held accountable for deviating from international and domestic human rights standards, in which they should be trained. Such training should address torture and mistreatment, unlawful and arbitrary detentions, and proper professional conduct. Clearly explain to security officials what constitutes torture.

Hold soldiers accountable for all crimes against civilians, including human rights violations committed in the course of duty. In particular, the Sudan People´s Liberation Army (SPLA) should immediately issue clear instructions to commanders that soldiers will be prosecuted for any crimes they commit against civilians, including illegal (or arbitrary) arrest and detention. The SPLA should promulgate an enforceable code of conduct that incorporates human rights and humanitarian obligations, and ensure it is disseminated to all soldiers ahead of the 2011 referendum on southern self-determination. Both the GNU and the GoSS should respect press freedom, including the media´s right to publish on all matters of concern—even if they are politically sensitive—such as the conflict in Darfur, the ICC, the elections, and the referendum on southern self-determination.

The GNU should fulfill its obligations to cooperate with the ICC, including

surrendering to the court those subject to ICC arrest warrants.

To the United Nations, the African Union, the European Union, Concerned

Governments, and International Donors

Insist upon, and provide technical assistance for, urgent reform of the GNU´s national security, criminal, and media laws in conformity with the Interim National Constitution, and for reforms to ensure a transparent and impartial national elections commission in the future.

Consistently and publicly condemn further abuses by the national and Southern Sudanese authorities, such as arbitrary arrests and detentions of political opponents, activists, journalists; repression of assembly and speech; and any other acts of political repression.

Call on the GNU to cooperate with the ICC, and for al-Bashir and other Sudanese ICC suspects to appear in The Hague to respond to charges of war crimes and crimes against humanity committed in Darfur, as required by United Nations Security Council Resolution 1593. Ensure that all interaction with the Sudanese government is consistent with Sudan´s obligation to cooperate with the ICC by avoiding meeting with ICC suspects unless absolutely essential.

The United Nations Mission in Sudan (UNMIS) and African Union-United Nations Hybrid Operation in Darfur (UNAMID) should increase human rights monitoring and promotion and protection activities in the lead-up to the referendum. The missions´ human rights units and the UN Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR) should increase the frequency of public reporting on human rights concerns in Sudan and, when necessary, issue statements pressing Sudanese authorities to end specific abuses.


This report is based on Human Rights Watch research missions to Southern Sudan in November and December 2009, and March and April 2010; and to Khartoum in March and April 2010.

During these visits, Human Rights Watch researchers conducted more than 100 interviews with a wide range of sources, including government officials, international and Sudanese organizations, journalists, civilians, and victims of human rights abuses.

Interviews were conducted in Central Equatoria, Western Bahr el Ghazal, Northern Bahr el Ghazal, and Unity states in the South, and Khartoum in the North. Interviews were primarily conducted in English and Arabic in private locations. In many cases, the names of interviewees are withheld out of concern for their security.

Researchers also conducted research by telephone and email correspondence, and reviewed relevant materials published by the UN, international and Sudanese organizations, and commissions and other bodies within the Government of Southern Sudan and the Government of National Unity.

No incentives were offered or provided to persons interviewed, and verbal consent was received from all interview subjects. All participants were informed of the purpose of the interview, its voluntary nature, and the ways in which the data would be collected and used. No witnesses who declined to participate in interviews were under any pressure to do so.
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Dr. Muhammad Shamsaddin Megalommatis

Orientalist, Historian, Political Scientist, Dr. Megalommatis, 53, is the author of 12 books, dozens of scholarly articles, hundreds of encyclopedia entries, and thousands of articles. He speaks, reads and writes more than 15, modern and ancient, languages. He refuted Greek nationalism, supported Martin Bernal´s Black Athena, and rejected the Greco-Romano-centric version of History. He pleaded for the European History by J. B. Duroselle, and defended the rights of the Turkish, Pomak, Macedonian, Vlachian, Arvanitic, Latin Catholic, and Jewish minorities of Greece.

Born Christian Orthodox, he adhered to Islam when 36, devoted to ideas of Muhyieldin Ibn al Arabi. Greek citizen of Turkish origin, Prof. Megalommatis studied and/or worked in Turkey, Greece, France, England, Belgium, Germany, Syria, Israel, Iraq, Iran, Egypt and Russia, and carried out research trips throughout the Middle East, Northeastern Africa and Central Asia. His career extended from Research & Education, Journalism, Publications, Photography, and Translation to Website Development, Human Rights Advocacy, Marketing, Sales & Brokerage. He traveled in more than 80 countries in 5 continents.

He defends the Human and Civil Rights of Yazidis, Aramaeans, Turkmen, Oromos, Ogadenis, Sidamas, Berbers, Afars, Anuak, Furis (Darfur), Bejas, Balochs, Tibetans, and their Right to National Independence, demands international recognition for Kosovo, Abkhazia, South Ossetia, the Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus, and Transnistria, calls for National Unity in Somalia, and denounces Islamic Terrorism.

Freedom and National Independence for Catalonia, Scotland, Corsica, Euskadi (Bask Land), and (illegally French) Polynesia!

Break Down the Persian Tyranny of the Ayatullahs of Iran!

Freedom for 25 million Azeris in Southern Azerbaijan!

Selected links to online editions of Prof. M. S. Megalommatis´ books and articles:;;;;;;;;;;;

Friday, June 4, 2010

PDP and the burden of zoning

President Goodluck Jonathan and Former President Olusegun Obasanjo
The arrangement within the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) that power should continually rotate between the North and South for an eight-year term seems to have become a burden for the party. Isaac Shobayo examines the factors responsible for the present situation. THE emergence of Dr Goodluck Ebele Jonathan as the President of Nigeria, following the demise of Alhaji Umaru Yar’Adua, has, no doubt, altered the political equation of the country and consequently played up the controversy surrounding the zoning arrangement introduced into the polity by the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP).
Hardly had the president settled down to work when some people started talking about the necessity for him to continue in office beyond 2011 by contesting  the next presidential election. Though the president has remained evasive concerning the issue, advocates of Jonathan for presidency in 2011 have continued to drum it into the ears of those who care to listen that the constitution of the country allows him to contest, while denying the existence of any zoning agreement.
The controversy over zoning is gradually dividing the party along North and South, as well as creeping into the society. Due to the recent change of guard in the presidency, some politicians of the northern extraction are of the opinion that the zoning policy of the PDP and the agreement which led to the ceding of the presidency to the South between 1999 and 2007 and the North (from 2007 to 2015) must be allowed to run its full course.
This has caused a lot of controversy within the party, as a cross section of party members recently declared that the zoning policy was not a permanent political arrangement, while others have continued to say that it was an agreement signed, sealed and binding on all, and even went further to publish the minutes of the meeting where the decision was taken.
Pioneer national chairman of the PDP,  Chief Solomon Lar, and one of those alleged to have been at the meeting where the decision on zoning was taken, recently told newsmen in Jos that the zoning was not a permanent arrangement, but was fashioned out in 1999 to stabilise the country.
According to him, the idea was conceived in 1999, following the myriad of complaints from the southern part of the country, the South-West in particular, that the North was marginalising the zone, coupled with the annulment of the June 12, 1993 election said to have been won by the late Chief MKO Abiola. He added that some of the founding members of the party x-rayed the feelings of people then and unanimously agreed that the Presidency be zoned to the South-West so that all Nigerians could have a sense of belonging and also to pacify that section of the country.
“It was agreed that zoning should be adopted and the presidency conceded to the South, the South-West in particular, considering the annulment of the June 12, 1993 presidential election and the feelings of the people of that part of the country at the time.
“So, the zoning at that time was to help to stabilise the country; it was not a permanent issue. We did it to stabilise the situation. But it is up to the PDP to determine whether to continue with it or not. The party should sit and consider if it is still relevant. We will sit down and come up with a solution to the problem,” he said.
The zoning issue, coupled with the agitation in some quarters that Jonathan  should contest the 2011 election, has become a contentious issue and tends to polarise the people, leading to discordant tunes by different actors. The clamour for   President Jonathan to continue in office is perceived by some people of northern extraction within the PDP as an attempt to shortchange them, having conceded the number one seat to the South for eight years.
However, there are those who view the PDP zoning arrangement as being retrogressive, unconstitutional and uncivilised, concluding that the party has never abided by the zoning arrangement.
According to those who hold the latter opinion, during the 2003 presidential primary of the PDP, in spite of the fact that it was allegedly zoned to the South, prominent party members from the North, such as the late Alhaji Abubakar Rimi, Aliyu Gusau and others slugged it out with former President Olusegun Obasanjo.
In 2007, when the presidency was allegedly zoned to the North, notable party members from the South were also allowed to take part, some of whom were former Governors Victor Attah and Peter Odili; Chief Rochas Okorocha and others, thus negating the zoning arrangement. Those against the arrangement also opined that since it is not in the party’s constitution,  it is not binding on party members.
A founding member of the PDP, Ambassador Yahaya Kwande, said the zoning was a peculiar arrangement of the PDP adopted to stabilise the Nigerian polity, adding that the party should allow it to go round the six geopolitical zones before it is terminated. According to him, by May, next year, power should return to the North so that it could complete its eight-year term.
He, however, bemoaned the arrangement on the premise that it cannot give Nigeria a good leader, but stated that the arrangement needed to go round because of the peculiar nature of the Nigerian polity and to give all the zones a good sense of belonging.
Nevertheless, Director, League of Human Rights, Mr Gad Shamaki, said that in as much as the zoning arrangement helped to stabilise the polity, it had a lot of disadvantages, adding that many Nigerians needed not to lose sleep over this because it was strictly a PDP arrangement.
According to him, zoning was an undemocratic formula used by the political elite to share power, saying that it was being used to goad the citizens and railroad them into perpetual subservience, adding that it would always promote mediocre performance among by elected persons.
Though zoning of political office is a peculiar arrangement of the PDP, it has become so tightly integrated into the political structure that it is being applied to all levels. The arrangement is now an albatross to the party, a riddle yet to be unravelled, and now a subject of national discourse. The way the party handles the matter will determine what to expect in 2011.

Monday, April 12, 2010

BAKARE: 'We Will Give Jonathan Time, But We Won't Fold Our Arms'

  • My Problem With Obasanjo
  • Foreign Aid Is Only Enriching The Priviledged
  • The Dilemma Of Jonathan Acting For Someone Next Door
Until very recently, Pastor Gbolahan Babatunde Bakare was simply a popular Tele-evangelist and founder of the Latter Rain Ministries, a Lagos-based Pentecostal church; but gradually, he's becoming more popular with a newly formed pressure body, the Save Nigeria Group (SNG), which came into being as a result of the political and constitutional logjam created by the prolonged health vacation of President Umaru Yar'Adua. On the heels of recent Christian and Muslim clerics' visit to the ailing President, Bakare explained to KAMAL TAYO OROPO what the SNG set out to achieve. Giving insight into the group's perception of the clerics' visit, the new cabinet put in place by Acting President, Dr. Goodluck Jonathan as well as the score sheet of the administration and the general well being of the nation, Bakare stated that most leaders that have ruled the country were never ready for the job they got. What informed your current political activism?
I have never been dormant in my life; any person who is not active, maybe, part of his body is suffering from atrophy. You can label it political activism, social activism or anything, but once you are alive and you are active, you should be conscious of what is going on. It is not a current thing; it has been a lifetime thing.
One of the questions your critics ask is that during the eight-year reign of Obasanjo, you were not this politically active, as in participating in street demonstration, apart from the initial prophecy; what informs your new stance?
There is time and season for everything under the heavens; all my activism then was done via the media, on television and radio, through constant exposure of the evil that was going to befall Nigeria. I remember clearly saying in the public domain that if Obasanjo comes out to say he is a Christian, truly born again and repented, and he has never been in any secret cult, I will quit preaching. That was not just a one-off thing; after the prophecy and all that, I kept on saying that he is not interested in anybody. He is only interested in five people -- Aremu, Mathew, Okikiola, Olusegun, and Obasanjo.
Those are the only five people he is interested in his life. And at every point in time, when he was saying the Sovereign National Conference was not possible, I said it was because of his vested interest. When he was trying to elongate his era through the unpopular Third Term, God gave me a word that it is going to rain on Nigeria on the day the vote would be counted, and if that rain falls, the vote would fail. I said it openly and I remember how many texts came into my phone; it rained, and it failed. So, as for marching on the streets and activism, one can be a symptom or function of the other. But activism is not limited to just coming out on the streets; we came out through various mediums of expression to let the nation and the whole world know that Obasanjo was an ill wind that will blow the nation no good. Activism begins from the womb; if the baby does not move, it is dead inside.
Personally, do you have an axe to grind with the former President; you seem to be so ready to take him on all the time?
As a person, I can't even hate anybody, but his polices, and some of the things he did are just nothing but a way of telling a people: 'you need me, I don't need you.' He was a terrible megalomaniac, too full of himself, not a servant-leader. Such people don't have any business in leadership. How many people follow him now? Except those who still believe he has any influence to get them political patronage.
Three years on after he left, would you say there has been any departure from the Obasanjo years?
We are still suffering from what he planted, I don't want to use strong words, we are suffering from what he bedeviled the nation with, something close to that. He has already placed a curse on himself and let the good people say, amen. He said that if he did it knowingly, that if he knew anything about the sickness of the man he forced on the nation, God should punish him. So, it is between him and God.

'With Yar'Adua Next Door To Ag. President, We Are Sitting On A Keg Of Gunpowder'
WITH the state of things now, how satisfied are you with what the Save Nigeria Group has achieved, with an Acting President who seems to have shown willingness to exercise power?

Well, as you have rightly said, a measure of success has been recorded, but we are not interested in anything that is short term or mid term, but something that is okay; under this Acting President, let us see it. Something that has never happened in our nation has happened. We have a situation in which an Acting President is acting for a person next door whose status we don't know. That is a keg of gunpowder that can blow on our face. You act for someone who is absent; the doctrine of necessity was cooked up to give us an Acting President, who you could not say his coming into power, on all grounds, conforms totally with the Constitution.
We have insisted and we have maintained that it is high time Section 144 of the Constitution is invoked; though it is an imposed Constitution, yet, it is the constitution the man swore to when he came into leadership. So, if Section 144 is not invoked, it is still like a pitfall, anything could happen and we would be back to square one because the man next door, whether dead or alive, you and I don't know, except that some clerics have now visited him. I think the words of babalawo or voodoo priests may be better because at least some of them are more truthful than the ones who have gone, saw nothing, said nothing, and everything has been in the limbo.

Are these people not supposed to be sufficiently reliable, given that they are respectable members of the society?
You heard one of them saying he is not obliged to the public, that whatever they have seen there is not for the public to know. So, how is the public going to feel safe? Don't let's even dabble into the issue of whether they are respectable men or not; the issue is, what is the state of health of the President of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, because we have a President and an Acting President. You can only act for a person who is absent, so if he is in, he should let us know the actual state of his health. If he can't run Nigeria anymore, then let the Constitution take its full course; it is as simple as ABC. Let the Constitution be implemented fully; let us have a full President, an action President, no longer acting President, supported by a Vice President as provided for in the Constitution. It is either of two things that would happen the way we are going; we either end up with a Shonekan Interim Government that would be short-lived, or we end up with what the same people who are trying to balance all the equation now, visited upon this nation when they came to the conclusion that this equation must be balanced one way; that if Abacha is dead, Abiola cannot live.
The same people are still around the corridors of power today; it is more or less like saying: 'If Yar'Adua cannot be President, we won't let this Acting President function, and then we eliminate both of them, and we get an election within three months to impose our own candidate.'
But what do you think could have necessitated the high level of secrecy surrounding the President's health?
The election that produced this President, according to former President Olusegun Obasanjo, was 'do or die'. So, the first effect of that today is: 'hang on to power at all cost,' and the man you claim to be hanging on to power is not there. But there is no power vacuum anywhere, not even with the Acting President. Even before then, there was no power vacuum, there was power hijack; all that is going on with the clerics visits, I believe is arranged so that you can intimidate the Acting President not to act. It is like telling him that if he ever touches the Executive Council, all hell will break loose, but nothing happened. Again, they said 'if you ever swear them in, all hell will break loose, and Nigeria will go into destruction,' but nothing happened.
What I am concerned with now is whether, or not, we have bureaucrats or technocrats in the executive council. If you have technocrats; men who are trained, what you have is result. What I have seen now is a cabinet of patronage and political survival.

But we are already on the threshold of another general election year, shouldn't you be satisfied to let the status quo remain pending the outcome of the election?
My brother, there is no status in status quo. Are you satisfied with the state of things? There is panic in the system. There is fear everywhere. A whole former governor of Kano State and former presidential candidate and statesman in his own right, Abubakar Rimi just got killed by the state of insecurity in the country; the state of comatose health system in the country killed him. Can't we see the handwriting on the wall? As we are talking right now, how many Nigerians are dying of clearly preventive causes? How many are dying as victims of harassment on the roads? And we are busy retaining a status quo, what status?
Wife former minister of Works, Tony Annenih -- I don't know whether they are still married or divorced, I don't know -- but his wife's name suddenly just emerged as a minister. What did her husband, with all the budget allocations to the ministry of works, do when he was in charge? Who is calling these people to account?
Some people claim that some of these agitation seem to eventually produce same of the same, don't you think so?
No, no. You only think so. Not this one. This is totally focused. You have not seen the results of the SNG activism. We have not said Uhuru, we have not said we are letting down our guard, we have not said we are relaxing, that every thing is okay. We have not even started; we just scratched the surface.
Whether it is Jonathan that is there, or it was David or Mephiboseth, it does not matter. What matters is that you chose this man as your Vice President, when you are not there he should act for you, when you can no longer act he should be the President; that's what the Constitution provides. It is not about Jonathan as a person. We are not going to sit down and say, this Jonathan self, as dem dey talk am for Nigeria, which kind person he be? The one that was there was sick and had no kidney, does this one have liver? We are not for or against this or that, we are for a new Nigeria, where the brightest, the best and most skillful will win an election and steer the ship of the state. Not just those who hold the country down, people we don't even know if they understand what they are doing. In a society where people have their brains, where it ought be and not under their feet, what is going on here will never happen.

'I Have No Personal Political Ambition'
DON'T you think most of the things the SNG desires can be best achieved through a political party that is able to wrestle power? Is the SNG going to metamorphosed into a political party?
You are talking as if the SNG is caterpillar that is going to metamorphose into a butterfly. However, the truth of the matter is that those key players in all the groups you are seeing are tired of working for another person to eat. Everywhere that I have been in the last three months and every function that I have attended, people are just talking of who is going to gain power and who is likely to function in one capacity or the other. Nobody is talking about the poor Nigerians. We are now saying this is about the people.
First and foremost, we are revamping social mobility. Secondly, we are returning voice to the voiceless. We are not going to be their voice; they will have their own voices and we are going to retain our voices too. Thirdly, we are going to ensure that sovereignty goes back to the people of Nigeria, so that they can freely elect their own candidates that they choose. This is not about activism to produce just anything; no. We are also interested in the driver's seat, from the local government level to ward level to state government level to federal level. Every Nigerian citizen, who has something to offer, should be able to aspire to any office of his choice without thinking of being in 'in one corner of the country'. I was speaking to a misguided young man recently and he said, 'I am speaking for my constituency'. I asked him what constituency is he talking about and he said, North. I had to tell him that he's part of the problem; that he's still in the 18th Century. Your constituency should be Nigeria; it is not North or South or Muslim or Christian. It is abut the greatness of our nation that is being wasted daily by those who don't care about others, but only themselves.
How do you plan to effect that change, given the situation we have now, where you have to hold political power to attain such lofty goals.

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Personally, I have started giving and everyone in the group contributed his own quota to putting smile on people's face. I remember a little while ago of a young lady whom I bought grinding machine and some things to do akara. She will ever remain grateful because that changed her life. I started giving scholarship since 1985. One of the beneficiaries is a Permanent Secretary in Ondo State today. I continued consistently. If I have the opportunity and I give every child in my local government and in my state a scholarship, it will not still change the problem of this country, I will just end up broke.
We need to change the educational policies of this nation. We will not just ask somebody to change them we need power to change those policies. We are not only going to be philanthropists. If we continue to do that as much as God give us power, then we should also be interested in why we have bad policies. It is because we have wicked men in power. Let us let Nigerians know who their enemies are. Then let it be between the people and the warlords and see who will be overwhelmed first - whether the people will give in or the wicked ones will give in.
How do you hope to surmount the problem of poverty that makes people go towards the direction of their stomach, when any politician can induce the electorate with just N1000?
When the season changes, that also goes with it. Remember, it was the same people that you think were totally oppressed and couldn't do anything that rose up to say 'enough is enough'. It was the same people that said to Rehoboth, you were the one that oppressed us. We have ancient history; we have national history. It was a woman by name Funmi Ransom Kuti that threw an Oba out of his palace. For a long time the Oba was a paramount monarch. The woman woke up and said no.
It is because we have not found credible people living that mood or such people get compromised midway because they can be bought. But those who have been true to God and what they believe in, will go through; it is a long journey but we are willing to take it. You can see that all over our nation today, people are marching. Some even marched for Al-Mustapha, in prison. So we are not against them marching for what they want.
We have focus of where we are going. We want to save Nigeria. We are a united nation. We want to change Nigeria because it cannot continue this way without it going into disintegration. Our desire is to make Nigeria great. And no one will do it for us. It will be the people under credible leadership that will bring about that change. America will not develop Nigeria; Britain will not develop Nigeria; Europe will not develop Nigeria. Foreign aids, as far as I am concerned is robbing poor people of great nations and putting money in the hands of rich people of poor nations.

How do you source for funds to run the SNG; Are you aware of insinuations that politicians are the ones sponsoring the activities of the group?
You cannot help the blind by turning on the light. You cannot help the deaf by increasing the sound of the music. You can only give sight to the blind by act of miracle, if it cannot be done medically. You should give ear to the deaf so that he can hear. Those who said that politicians are sponsoring us, is it not ridiculous that I will go to Obasanjo? Think for yourself. So, if they know what was collected, who collected it and where it was dispatched, let them say. The Oceanic woman who was alleged to have given N850million, when you cannot transfer N10million from bank to bank now without some written document to show that, let them give the figures. The groups making up the SNG contribute to the running of the group's activities according to their ability. There was no single bank that sponsored SNG. Not a single dime was put down to sponsor it. We are tired of the broken eggs that brought this mess to Nigeria. Don't believe in lies, you can investigate. We will not be distracted.
What is your stake in all these? Do you have any immediate political ambition?
Ambition? It's such a loose word. Ambition is ambiguous. Ambition could lead to anxiety. I am not looking for power; I already have power. It will just come in the manifestation and in the fullness of time.
When we get to that bridge, we will cross it. They know what to do; I can't talk solo because many people are involved. That is why I said it is ambiguous. My ambition drive this. I told some friends some days ago, I said a statement of vision is not a statement of the words of an organization. If it is just a statement of words, after a while, staff will come in, staff will go out, it will not function.
But in a pioneering vision somebody received that will benefit the society, that individual as a pioneer if he knows how to translate that pioneering vision into an empowering vision that individuals can be empowered and can find their destinies fulfilled.
So, it is not going to be like 'eh, come I want to be President for all you because I have money. Come and support me.' If money is the only ingredient of getting power, many people will have gotten it. It is not about money; it is not about wealth but about clear understanding that the greatest among you is the chief servant of all.

TALKING of pressing national issues, it appears Nigerians are unanimous in their desire for electoral reform, but between now and the next general elections, do you have confidence in those who are to implement the reforms?
It is not a matter of if they will do it or not; we will make this government implement the reform. We will enforce the will of the people of this nation that this is done. And where it is not done, then when an irresistible force comes into contact with a removable object, then...
In specific terms what part of the Uwais Electoral Reform Recommendations will you like to see implemented?
All the recommendations that will make Nigerians, regardless of gender, education, religion, financial status and so on, counts; all of it; but you cannot get an (Prof. Maurice) Iwu to conduct a credible election; you cannot get him to deliver credible results. This is one area that I have a very deep pain inside of my heart. Just imagine for a split second, that the wicked, the people that destroyed the greatest opportunity Nigerians had to start afresh in 1993, had not truncated that poll, had not shattered that hope of the freest and fairest election in Nigeria's political history.
Not minding the Muslim-Muslim ticket, Nigerians saw a credible mind and decided, 'eh, let us go for this one, he's not likely to deceive us'. Those who truncated that hope, number one, have no business in Nigeria's future, regardless whatever explanation they want to give to us; they don't have any role in Nigeria's future. Number two, all their agents must be uprooted wherever they are. So that, God may help us with God-fearing people and people-loving individuals that will man all the electoral body's offices from the states to the federal government level. That's the cornerstone of, not do-or die, what we are prepared to lay down our lives for in this electoral reform we are asking for.

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Secondly, we are comfortable with everything as represented in the Uwais report and we have written to the Acting President, Goodluck Jonathan. While we are still waiting for his response, we are not going to fold our hands or be doing vigils in our churches and mosques, hoping for things to happen. It is not going to be only street marches. There are many other things we could do to let them know that the true sovereignty of the nation lies in the hands of the people; and not in the hands of the elected officers. They may have power, we have the grace.
In the same light, it appears nothing much can be achieved without amending the Constitution, but some have made a case for total re-working of the Constitution. What is your position on Constitution Review; is it possible under the given circumstance?
The present Constitution, I have said severally, is a fraud, because we the people of Nigeria never sat to write one. The pre-independence Constitution that was set aside by the military, again, will be difficult to revive because the Regions that were part of the arrangement before the military came into governance are no longer in existence. The geographical locations might be there, but the people have been cut apart and polarized so that they will never come together.

Whatever review they are doing now will require credibly elected people and us, the people, to do the right thing in the right manner, that can bring about a people's Constitution. A lot of work had been done by PRONACO and a lot of is being done by a group called Change Nigeria, as well as allied groups in the country. But when a tree falls on a tree, you don't start lifting it from the bottom, hence you break your backbone. Let's start from the top. What can we get done now? Every inch that we take in this journey and we succeed, encourages us to do more so that when we get to that place, we can now have a total and holistic approach.
Against the backdrop of a recent advice that Nigeria should be broken up into two countries, do you share the possibility of the nation getting to that point?
The United States said that Nigeria, by 2015, would become a failed state. But we have a choice; we can fold our hands and let it come to pass. Therefore, it will be 'oh, Israel back to your tent'. Oh, Igbo, Yoruba, oh Fulani, oh Hausa, if you ever want to work together again, let's come together.
But the truth is that such consequence is putting the fear in the minds of everybody, including the Americans. No one is actually looking forward to a Nigeria that produces refugees that will overwhelm the whole of West Africa region. Nigeria is too important to be allowed to be broken or disintegrated. All the cars in the whole of West Africa from Accra to Kumasi to Freetown to Monrovia to Upper Volta are not up to those in Lagos alone.
Imagine us pouring out in different directions as a result of civil war, strife or other violent crisis, we could overwhelm everywhere in the region. Personally, I don't want Nigeria to disintegrate; I don't want the nation's break-up, but a Constitution that will not bend just has to break.
We will have to drive some senses into the heads of these power-drunk monsters, who think the country is their own private estate; that if care is not taken this will happen. But if they insist that is the only way out, so be it.

We Will Leave Jonathan For Some Time But We Won't Fold Our Arms'
ACTING President, Goodluck Jonathan, has been in the saddle for a while now, what is your assessment of his stewardship?
Let's give him a little of chance, after all he got to where he is by default. Unfortunately, it does not appear that those who have been privileged to lead this country have ever been ready for the position they found themselves. From 1960 till date, those who have been in the saddle of government do not seem to get their through any particular blue-print or vision to lead the country.
In the same country, where the likes of Chief Jeremiah Obafemi Awolowo, was and where the likes of Dr. Nnamdi Azikiwe, whose youthful activism changed Ghana as former Ghanaian President Dr. Kwame Nkruma testified. In the country where these individuals were, a late Prime Minister, Abubakar Tafawa Balewa, who did not struggle during the fight for the nation's independence, who was not even the leader in his political party, became the Prime Minister and people like Awolowo was reduced to Regional Premier and later leader of the opposition. Azikiwe only emerged as a ceremonial President; he reigned but did not rule. You leave that era and come to the military adventurists; has Major General JTI Aguiyi-Ironsi ever received any training in leading a nation? Did he have any plan for the nation? Did he have any blueprint on national transformation? There is nothing like that. They were all creation of necessity; it just happened like that.
And there was General Yakubu Gowon, who though was not exactly a teenager when he assumed power, but the young man only got married after he became the Head of State and Commander-in-Chief of the Armed Forces. It was no surprising when he came out to say that the proposed transition to civil rule in 1974 was no longer possible and people like Tai Solarin had to come out in the streets.
Then General Murtala Mohammed came in. But was he grooming himself or was he groomed by years of training to lead Nigeria economically, politically or otherwise? Or is it General Olusegun Obasanjo, who has always reaped from where he did not sow his labour? And then when he was to hand over power, he said the best candidate might not win. It was (President Shehu) Shagari who was already content with being in the Senate that they went to bring saying, 'bring your long cap we want to put something on top'.
Then Muhammadu Buhari kicked him out and Ibrahim Babangida kicked Buhari and all those stuff.
That's the way it has been with us. In the present dispensation, Obasanjo was sitting in his prison and they went to plead with him to come and replace Chief MKO Abiola in the scheme of things and killed Abiola in the process. Obasanjo came in, and started feeling like a warlord, as if he has conquered this territory and it has become his private fiefdom. And when Obasanjo was going he decided to impose a man, who was already looking forward to go and lecture somewhere, upon us.

We have a lot of people who have been trained in what it takes to lead a nation, people who dream, drink and eat how to move this country forward with genuine ideas. It reminds of people like Awolowo, who in 1979 launched the Unity Party of Nigeria (UPN) with four cardinal agenda resulting from years of painstaking preparations. Our present leaders are ill equipped. The worst assault on education happened when the President and Commander-in-Chief, the Vice President and Minster of Education, all former lecturers in our tertiary institutions, took funds meant for education and use it to construct road.

Tuesday, March 16, 2010

INEC chair: Reps committee dumps Uwais panel’s recommendation

The hope of most Nigerians for a fundamental electoral reform may be dashed if the recommendation of the House of Representatives ad-hoc committee on constitution review on the appointment of the Chairman of Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) is adopted by the House.
The 44-member committee headed by Deputy Speaker, Hon. Usman Nafada, concluded its technical session a week ago in Kaduna and it is likely to submit its report to the House before the end of the month.
One fundamental position of the ad-hoc committee is the rejection of the Uwais panel recommendation that the National Judicial Council (NJC) should sort out three names from the applicants seeking to be members of the Electoral Commission and recommend same to the Council of State, which will in turn nominate one to the Senate for confirmation as INEC chairman.
Our correspondents reliably gathered that the ad-hoc committee recommended that the status quo, where members of the Electoral Commission are appointed by the President, should remain.
Most stakeholders, including the Chief Ayo Opadokun-led Coalition of Democrats for Electoral Reform (CODER), canvassed at several fora for the adoption of key recommendations of the Uwais panel report by the National Assembly especially empowering NJC, to sort out three nominees for INEC chairmanship position.
CODER believes that empowering NJC to have a say in who becomes INEC chairman will go a long way in engendering free and fair elections in the country.
The House committee, however, expunged INEC from Section 153 of the Constitution (Establishment of other Executive Bodies) and created a new section for the electoral commission, which would invariably put the electoral body on first line charge to ensure its independence.
The committee also recommended the removal of conditions spelt out in Section 106 of the constitution as a pre-condition for choosing INEC commissioners, saying it means that the commissioners, who are supposed to be apolitical, are required to be card-carrying members of a political party

Friday, February 12, 2010

pdp moves to recocile members in anambra

Enugu — DISTURBED by the abysmal performance of the party in last Saturday's governorship election in Anambra State, the Peoples Democratic Party, PDP, South East zone has set up a reconciliation committee made up of top stakeholders to reposition the party ahead of the 2011 general elections.
The party had also congratulated Governor Peter Obi of the All Progressives Grand Alliance, APGA, on his victory in the Anambra governorship election, just as it blamed the loss of its candidate, Professor Chukwuma Soludo on what it described as the internal wrangling and divisions within the state chapter of the party.
In a seven-point communique at the end of an emergency Zonal Working Committee meeting held in Enugu, by the Zonal Secretary, Mr. Vincent Okpaleke, the party said that the reconciliation committee which would soon be inaugurated as part of efforts to rescue the party in Anambra State, adding that it had already declared a state of emergency in the state chapter of the party for the purpose of repositioning it.
According to the party, the committee is to be made up of former Governors, former Ministers, former state party chairmen, former members of the National Assembly, former Speakers of the House of Assembly, all from the state who are still members of the party to help reconcile, sanitize, restructure and democratize the party in the state.
Other members of the committee are former national zonal officers of the party from the state who are still members of the party.
Expressing satisfaction with what it described as the methodical and issue-based campaign by Prof. Soludo in the governorship election, the party commended him for his "gallantry and statemanly conduct" during and after the election.

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It, however, expressed sadness over the loss of PDP, noting that the major crisis that engulfed the party shortly after its botched primaries and subsequent selection of Soludo as the candidate by the national leadership of the party, caused the party the election.
"This is evident from the fact that the aggregate of the votes cast for most of the candidates who were members of the PDP in the weeks leading to the election would have given the party a resounding victory. In order to address the issues that led to the loss, we advise that democratic practices should be entrenched from the grassroots to the top echelon of the party," the party said.
The party urged all members of the National Assembly as well as members of the Federal Executive Council from the zone to do everything necessary to ensure strict compliance with the provisions of the constitution as it concerns the long absence of the president.

Saturday, January 16, 2010

Anambra Election: Police Intercept Electoral Materials

The Nigerian police yesterday intercepted a trailer load of election materials purportedly belonging to the Independent Electoral Commission at Ihiala, Anambra State, along the Onitsha-Owerri Road on its way to an undisclosed destination in the state three weeks before the February 6 gubernatorial elections.
But the driver of another truck suspected also to have been carrying similar materials escaped with his vehicle from the same scene, eyewitnesses have said.
Eyewitnesses said the discovery was made possible as a result of an accident with a commercial vehicle, following which an argument ensued and led to the discovery that the trucks were being driven by two people who claimed to be soldiers.  
The men who had already passed a police checkpoint claimed to be moving with the container-laden trucks to Port Harcourt.
It was when the policemen at the checkpoint came to investigate the cause of the accident that one of the drivers fled with one container while the police held the other.
On close examination, the police discovered that the reddish trailer with Lagos state registration number XS139AKD was filled to the brim with cartons of electoral materials. The materials included ballot papers, ballot boxes and election result sheets.
THISDAY enquiries confirmed that the truck belongs to the Kline Group of Companies with company registration number KKFU728486.
A former member of the House of Representatives in the state is said to have been linked to the two trucks.
The arrested driver of the impounded truck was discovered to be a university student. But he was detained by the police who said he was helping them with investigations. 
The Commissioner of Police, Mr. Philemon Leha was said to be attending the Armed Forces Remembrance Day celebrations when reporters called at his office.
But a police officer who spoke on the issue said the truck and its contents had been moved to the Divisional Police Station in Ihiala Local Government Area, and would soon be moved to Awka.
The Resident Electoral Commissioner in Anambra State, Mr. Uwazuruonye Josiah was also said to have gone out on an official assignment and could not be reached for comment.
The Public Relations Officer of INEC in Awka when contacted refused to speak and directed reporters to the Administrative Secretary, Mr. Tony Agbache who said he knew nothing of the impounded container.
Also, investigations at INEC’s headquarters in Abuja hit a brick wall as the electoral body disowned the impounded cargo.
When contacted, a deputy director in the Public Affairs Department of INEC said he was not aware of any seizure of electoral materials.
He said neither the director of Public affairs nor his logistics counterpart was in the picture of the arrest of the truck and its contents.
He however, promised to get back once he was through with his own investigations. When THISDAY called again, his phone rang several times but was not answered.
INEC has fixed February 6 for the conduct of the Anambra gubernatorial election. In the build up to the polls, there have been several claims of plans to rig by the different camps of contenders.
At a point, the Inspector General of Police had to summon all the 25 contestants to his office and cautioned them to guard against the possible outbreak of chaos in the politically volatile state. 
Reacting to the incident, the chairman of the Soludo Campaign Organisation, Chief Okey Muo-Aroh, said it was now left for INEC to claim or deny the ownership of the container(s) and its contents.
He said, “It also portends a very dangerous development that container loads of election materials will be floating about in Anambra 21 days to the governorship election. 
“If security documents can be treated this shabbily, one wonders the credibility of what we are about to do and the outcome of the exercise.
“We urge the commission to make a public statement on the incident and also reassure us that the process would be free and fair.”
The director of the Uche Ekwunife Campaign Organisation of the Progressive Peoples Alliance, Mr. C. J. Chinwuba said: “we commend the security operatives for their vigilance and we condemn such acts aimed at rigging this election.
“We in PPA have laboured extensively, visiting the 177 communities and the 326 electoral wards in Anambra State, yet some set of mischievous people are busy trying to rig this election.
“We in the PPA and the entire Anambra State have insisted that the votes must count.”
The governorship candidate of the African Democratic Congress, Chief Ralph Okey Nwosu said Anambra people have suffered enough from electoral fraud perpetuated by enemies of democracy, and urged the police and other law enforcement agencies to save the state from the evil machinations of miscreants.