ByÂ Eddy Odivwri
Not a few Nigerians were sorely worried about the content of what the Arewa youths did early in the week. They called it the Kaduna Declaration. They had risen from a so-called meeting last Tuesday in Kaduna ordering the Igbos of South East origin out of â€œtheir landâ€ with effect from October 1. They claimed that the precursor was the May 30 sit-at-home order declared by Indigenous People of Biafra (IPOB) in the South East.
The Arewa youths explained that since the Igbos have been in the vanguard of breaking out of the Nigerian entity, they should be allowed to go, for once!
The youths had made many other scathing remarks that are indeed provocative to the rest of us. In no small measure, the Kaduna Declaration re-awakened the pre-1967 emotions among many Nigerians. Nobody wants to remember the events that led to the destructive Nigerian Civil war. It is pretty certain that the bunch of hot-blooded Arewa youths who made the said declaration were yet unborn at the time of the Nigerian civil war.
We donâ€™t want a recrimination of the echoes of that war.
Yes, the Nigerian federation is cobbled together, not willfully by Nigerians themselves, but by the colonial fiat of 1914 almagamation. But since then, Nigerians have managed to live together, with occasional boil overs, even among kinsmen. The worth of Nigeria is hugely measured in terms of its size and population. Attempting to balkanize it in the name of self determination is therefore not acceptable. Even then, it is by no means in the power of the Arewa youths or any group for that matter to issue such a quit notice to a people. Not only is it unconstitutional, it is also immoral. Do the so-called Arewa youths know the number of Hausa/Fulani people dwelling in the southern part of the country, especially the South East untroubled? Or have the idle youths not heard of the huge menace caused by the Fulani herdsmen across the country?
Why do these youths want to stoke a fire they cannot put out?
It is consoling that the Kaduna State governor, Mallam Nasir el Rufai has ordered the arrest, investigation and prosecution of the signatories to that incendiary statement, hoping it is no gimmick. Similarly, the northern governors and the Northern Elders have all disowned the reckless and irrational statement of the Arewa youths. At least, it weakens the suspicion that the Arewa youths were speaking the minds of their elders.
Even more reassuring is the statement by the Middle Belt youths who not only dissociated themselves from the wild statement of the Arewa youths, but also offered a soothing home to the Igbos if they get chased out of the north. The Middle Belters made it clear that they are not part of the north, as they have also been on the receiving end of a fudged classification.
But to avoid these needless tension every now and then, Nigeria should be restructured. The call for restructuring of the Nigerian state has been a dominant issue ever since I became a journalist, 26 years ago. I have covered over a dozen conferencesâ€”national and local, where the primary demand of the people is the restructuring of the Nigerian state. Talk about PRONACO, NADECO, AFENIFERE, OHANEZE, AREWA, MOSOP, KIAMA DECLARATION, SOUTH SOUTH ASSEMBLY, etc., etc., all of them harp on restructuring. So who is afraid of restructuring? Why are the succeeding governments ever shying away from it?
It has become the fulcrum of campaign of Atiku Abubakar, former Vice President. He was in government for eight years. It did not cross his mind to pursue it at the time. But it seems politically right to demand it now because almost every part of the federation is feeling cheated in the sharing of the national cake.
I support restructuring, but not secession. It will forever douse the growing tension in the polity which the Nigerian government spends so much to manage.
No doubt, it is all about resource allocation and distribution. If and when we go back to fiscal federalism, every state/region will harness their God-given resources, assets and talents and pay royalty to the central government. Not only will that reduce the struggle for power at the centre, it will delete the language of marginalization from our political lexicon. Let each state manage its own resources. Why should Enugu State â€œeyeâ€ the returns from the sales of Onion or cashew nut in Kebbi State? Or why should Taraba State or even Katsina State plan their budget based on the expected returns from the oil sales from the Niger Delta? For Godâ€™s sake, let Gombe maximize its production of Gum Arabic, millet and wheat just as Ebonyi perfects its rice production even as Osun/Oyo States resume cocoa production. Let them all strive and grow according to their strength and endowments. Let the famed untapped wealth of layers and sediments of solid minerals begin to be tapped. Nobody should be made to bear the burden of the other unduly, especially when it is neither appreciated, valued or reciprocated. Is it not a thing of joy that every part of the nation is endowed, perhaps in equal measure?
Did the regions not revel in healthy rivalry with the various produce in their regions, before the discovery of the black gold called crude oil?
The discovery of the latter has generated more troubles for the nation even as it has not reasonably developed the country. No oil bearing country is as wretched as Nigeria. Yet we are the sixth largest producer of oil in the world. Where are the benefits? It has promoted raw roguery among the weak and the mighty of the society. The ease of making illicit money from oil sales is why the gospel of diversification is making little impact.
Pix: Nnamdi Kanu.jpg
Where is the Report on Babachir Lawal?
On April 19, the presidency announced the suspension from office of the Secretary to the Government of the Federation (SGF), Mr David Babachir Lawal, an engineer. Also suspended is the Director General of the National Intelligence Agency (NIA), Mr Ayo Oke.
The presidency had further constituted a three-man panel to investigate the allegations of a fraudulent grass-cutting scandal levelled against the former and the issues of huge sums of foreign currency found in a private apartment in Ikoyi, purportedly owned by the NIA, as the latter claimed. The panel was then given two weeks to submit its report.
On a number of occasions, the accused persons were invited by the panel, grilled and evidence taken.
Many Nigerians had expressed confidence that since the Acting President, Professor Yemi Osinbajo, a pastor and professor of Law, was the head of the investigative panel, that the findings of the body will soon come to light, as it was billed to be presented to the president two weeks after.
But five weeks after, there is a disturbing silence on what the panel found out both of Lawalâ€™s case and that of Ayo Oke.
President Muhammadu Buhari had ordered the investigation and appointed his deputy to head it. Shortly after, the president took ill, necessitating his travel to the United Kingdom for treatment for an undetermined period.
Prof Osinbajo carried out the investigation as Vice President. Now he is the Acting president. It is the same indivisible presidency. Is he dithering to release the report out of moral consideration or perceived lack of capacity? It is hardly the latter. Having been vested with the powers and privileges of the president in acting capacity, Professor Osinbajo can literally do all things as it concerns governance in Nigeria of today. After all, he is set to sign the 2017 Appropriation Bill into law. What power and capacity can be more than that? Now he has the yam and the knife. He should be able to cut as the law/constitution permits, failing which it will count against him as a sign of weakness and lack of courage to do the needful.
Nigerians therefore believe that in the spirit of justice and fairness, the report on Babachir Lawal and Ayo Oke should be released forthwith. Even if the latter is not released for the so-called diplomatic reasons, it may be excused, but not the former.
The need to release the report without further delay has even become more imperative knowing that many had claimed that the said investigation was a mere ploy by the Buhari administration to pretend to be fighting corruption indiscriminately. Those who so believe had sworn that the report on Lawal will never see the light of day. The acting president is perceived to be too altruistic to give verve to the allegation of a cover-up.
Indeed, the Senate had even threatened to publish the indicting criminal acts of Lawal if the presidency fails to make known its findings.
More importantly, the impression that certain persons are sacred cows and belong to the â€œuntouchable classâ€ must be debunked and discarded. One sure way of reinforcing the public assurance that the fight against corruption knows neither class, creed nor party affinity is the immediate release of the report on Lawal and Oke. Any further delay fuels the narrative of the opposition. .
Justice delayed is justice denied. This silence has ceased to be golden, it smells of acquiescence and the onus is on the presidency headed by Osinbajo to prove the skeptics wrong. The time to act is now, except if there is something else the public does not know concerning the issue.
Recall of Suspended Judges: Is NJC for or Against Anti-Corruption Fight?
Did you hear the news?
The recall of the indicted judges
You mean the recall of the accused judges?
Whatever, Yes. Discerning Nigerians are peeved that such an important institution like the National Judicial Council (NJC) is failing, if not refusing to cooperate with the federal government on this onerous task of combating corruption in this country.
What do you mean by the NJC is refusing to cooperate with the federal government on the fight against corruption?
Need you ask? Is it not self evident? Are you not in this country? Did you not hear of the many atrocious allegations against the suspended judges? How they stocked large sums of foreign and local currencies in their homes? How some of them even have unlicensed arms in their homes , just as some have two passports among many other allegations? Didnâ€™t you hear the story at the time?
I am happy you have described them as allegations? Have you not heard the legal maxim that he who alleges proves? Do you realise the homes of the judges were raided in October last year? Yes, the DSS claimed it recovered huge sums of money from the homes of the judges. But why has the DSS or the EFCC of the Police etc., not had the courage to charge all the judges to court, eight months after? Are the accused judges supposed to remain in suspension forever while they are being paid their salaries for doing nothing? Do I need to remind you that all suspects or accused persons are presumed innocent until they are proven guilty by a court of competent jurisdiction? Or did you expect the NJC to stand aside and look while the career of the learned judges is being rubbished and ruined by an indecisive government?
You donâ€™t understand. Two of the judges are already being tried. One of them, Justice Ademola was unduly discharged and acquitted. The other judge is yet facing trial. But the point we are making is that the allegations against the judges themselves are sufficiently indicting. It vitiates the honour and supposed impeccable integrity of the judges in such a way that the public confidence in them to dispense justice freely and fairly is greatly injured. Like Ceaserâ€™s wife, they must be above board and come really clean on all matters. But you and I know that many of them are anything but impeccable.
What if it is proven that the allegations are frivolous and mischievous?
Let them explain how they got those huge sums of money. Donâ€™t we know their salaries? Have we not had cases where judges hold secret meetings with representatives of people standing trial in their courts? Is it not public knowledge? How can these judges live as large and swim in wanton opulence as we have seen? Let me tell you. The NJC is not keen on dealing with the corrupt judges. They say dogs donâ€™t eat dogs. I donâ€™t see the NJC truly coming down hard on their colleagues. The council is seemingly protecting their own.
Agreed, let them be given the chance to explain their questionable wealth in a court of law. The federal Government cannot embark on an endless voyage of discovery in an attempt to prosecute accused persons. The fact that for eight months, the EFCC has not been able to arraign the recalled judges means that the prosecuting agencies are just not serious. No responsible professional council can tolerate that level of negligence And that explains why there is a huge investment in media trials, after which the EFCC goes to sleep. Little wonder that despite the hue and cry of the array of allegations against high profile persons, very few convictions have been achieved by the EFCC.
That is not true. Did you not hear that the EFCC has secured 140 convictions in six months and has also recovered billions of dollars?
The NJC will deal with any judge found to have contravened the rules. But it has to be proven. Nothing can be done whimsically. The NJC does not shield corrupt judges.