$43.4 m, N200m probe: No decision yet on Lawal, Oke – Presidency
By Soni Daniel, Northern Region Editor
The Federal Government is yet to take any action on the report of the probe into the fraud allegation levelled against the suspended Secretary to the Government of the Federation, Mr. David Babachir Lawal and the Director General of the National Intelligence Agency, NIA, Ambassador Ayo Oke, the Presidency said Sunday night.
Secretary to the Government of the Federation, Mr Babachir Lawal and Suspended Nigeria Intelligent Agency NIA Ayo Oke
Vanguard learnt that the delay in taking action as to recalling or sacking the two top federal officials might not be unconnected with the medical vacation of President Muhammadu Buhari, who was to act on it just before he jetted out of Nigeria for Britain last May.
It was learnt that although some recommendations were made on the two officials by the Panel chaired by Acting President Prof Yemi Osinbajo, the Presidency had opted to await the return of Buhari to unveil the decisions of the federal government regarding the two men so that Osinbajo might not be accused of acting on his own report.
A presidency sourc, confirmed to Vanguard Sunday night that there had been no decision yet on the two men and described reports on the matter as ‘mere speculations’.
“The Presidency has not released any verdict on the two men and what you are reading in the media are just speculations,” Akande said.
One of the reports said on Sunday that the panel recommended the immediate removal of both Lawal and Oke from office and replacement with others, whose names were not given by the authors.
It will be recalled that President Muhammadu Buhari had on April 19, 2017, suspended both men from office and raised a special investigation panel headed by Osinbajo, the National Security Adviser, General Babagana Monguno (rtd) and the Attorney-General of the Federation, Abubakar Malami, as members, to probe the fraud levelled against Lawal and the $43.4 million reportedly taken away from a Lagos apartment.
Babachir was investigated for allegedly awarding millions of naira contracts to a company in which he had interest, Global Vision Limited, under the Presidential Initiative on the North East (PINE).
A Senate Committee on Humanitarian Crisis in the North-East headed by Senator Shehu Sani, had earlier found the suspended SGF culpable of alleged complicity in a N200 million grass-cutting contract to clear “invasive plant species” in Yobe State, had demanded his resignation and prosecution.
On the other hand, Oke was interrogated by the panel over the huge cash discovered by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission at apartment 7B in Osborne Towers, Ikoyi, Lagos.
While appearing before the panel, Lawal denied any wrongdoing and claimed that the money, which was duly approved by former President Goodluck Jonathan for some covert operations, indeed belonged to the NIA.
Julius Berger suspends work on Lagos-Ibadan Expressway
Okechukwu Nnodim , Abuja
The Federal Ministry of Power , Works and Housing said on Sunday that Julius Berger Nigeria Plc had finally suspended work on the Lagos – Ibadan Expressway as a result of delays in the payment of agreed contract fees for work already done .
Saturday PUNCH had reported that the contractor handling the reconstruction and expansion works on the Section II from the Sagamu interchange to Ibadan , Reynolds Construction Company Nigeria Limited , with Contract No . 6205 , had suspended further work on the project due to an outstanding debt of N8 . 94 bn.
The RCC had in a letter addressed to the Minister of Power , Works and Housing , Babatunde Fashola, and dated June 2 , 2017 , called his attention to the worsening financial situation of the project and pleaded for his intervention in order to ensure the continuation of work on the site .
But Fashola , in a statement issued by his Special Adviser on Communications , Mr . Hakeem Bello, on Sunday , stated that the two contractors working on sections of the Lagos – Ibadan Expressway , Messrs Julius Berger and RCC had given notice of suspension of work on the site .
The minister said the contractors complained that the delays in the payment of agreed contract fees were adversely affecting the pace of work and could lead to default in meeting the completion deadline .
Fashola said the letter from the Managing Director, RCC, Mr . M . Nakhla , which was dated June 2 , 2017 , stated , “ In view of the irregular payment and the attendant cash flow problem , we shall be constrained to suspend further execution of work unless there is an appreciable improvement in the project ’ s cash flow and adequate funding arrangement is put in place for further works . ”
The minister said he also received a similar letter on June 5 , 2017 from Julius Berger , which handles Section 1 of the dual carriageway from Lagos to the Sagamu interchange .
The Julius Berger letter stated , “ It has become evident that the required adequate funding for the continuation of the project is not available. We trust that you will understand that , therefore , and as a consequence of the unacceptable financial risk to Julius Berger Nigeria Plc , we are left with no choice than to immediately commence suspension of the works on the project, as earlier notified . ”
Fashola said the letter was co – signed by the Division Manager , Julius Berger , Mr . W . Loesser; and the Commercial Division Manager , Mr . T. Meletschus .
On the way forward, the statement noted that lawmakers at the House of Representatives had pledged to support the minister and his ministry to succeed in the assignment of road construction and rehabilitation nationwide .
Badoo strikes again in Ikorodu, kills couple, two kids
After a few weeks of relative peace , the notorious ritual cult , Badoo , has rekindled panic in the Ikorodu area of Lagos State .
The cult killed a couple – Mr . and Mrs. Adejare – two of their children , while the third kid was said to be in a coma at the Ikorodu General Hospital .
The incident happened in the early hours of Sunday in Oke Ota community, Ibeshe . The children were reportedly aged between five and one . Two of them were identified as Siyin and Ajoke, all females .
PUNCH Metro learnt that the assailants cut the window net of the family ’ s apartment to gain entry.
They were said to have subsequently smashed the victims ’ heads with a stone and left the area unnoticed.
A resident , who spoke on condition of anonymity , said the incident became known around 12 pm when church members of the deceased checked on them on the way from church .
He said , “ They had a special programme in their church today ( Sunday ). The members decided to check on them because they did not come to the church . They found the whole family in a pool of blood and raised the alarm . One of the three children was still breathing. He was rushed to the general hospital .
“ There are burglar – proof bars on the windows in the house , except in the kitchen . They came through the kitchen . They tore the net and entered the house .
“ We seem to have relaxed in securing the community because the attack subsided for some time. Even the police patrol has reduced . ”
Another resident , who did not want his name in print , told PUNCH Metro that the corpses were removed by policemen from the Ipakodo division .
He said the victims attended The Chosen Generation Family Church in Oke Ota , adding that a stone used by the gang was left behind .
“ The apartment was given to them by the church . The couple were on the bed , while the children slept on mats . Four of them were killed . Their corpses have been deposited in the Ikorodu General Hospital mortuary , ” he added.
A community leader said the residents would intensify vigils in the neighbourhood, urging the police to ensure regular patrol on streets .
He said , “We were happy that things were getting better before this incident . There is one little girl among them receiving treatment at a hospital . Her head was smashed.
“ We only hear sirens of the police patrol from the main road . They don ’ t usually come into the inner parts of the community, where the Badoo members operate . ”
The Lagos State police spokesperson , ASP Olarinde Famous – Cole , said the killings had no connection with the
Badoo cult , adding that the location of the family ’ s residence was not accessible to vehicles .
He said , “ The house is just a room and parlour with one open window and no visible form of security . A family of five were attacked . Three died on the spot, one died while receiving treatment at a hospital and the last member is alive and responding to treatment .
“ No visible trace of violence or clues linked to the cult was found . No stone was found at the scene. A case of murder is being investigated by police detectives , which doesn ’ t fit in the modus operandi of the cult . ”
Source: The Punch
News Headlines July 31. Headlines From Nigeria’s Major Newspapers
Compiled by Demola Adefajo
Reps grumble as delivery of N6.1bn exotic cars stalls Thugs attack senators, Reps, journalists in Kaduna Julius Berger suspends work on Lagos-Ibadan Expressway Boko Haram: ASUU threatens strike if FG doesn’t rescue abducted lecturers Caution Kanu, northern govs urge S’East counterparts Lagos police detain, starve seven- month pregnant woman over N50 Badoo strikes again in Ikorodu, kills couple, two kids Wike forging more documents to persecute me —Amaechi APC lawmaker, others file suit for Banire’s expulsion Five new features that make Facebook video accessible Wapic plans better returns on investment to shareholders Update your curriculum, NAICOM tells CIIN AIICO resumes annuity for retirees FUG Pensions targets N500bn assets Wrong diagnosis: Graduate died from pneumonia – Autopsy Ogun monarch’s assassination: Lawyer vows to expose killers Two electrocuted in Minna Financial reports: CBN directs banks to implement IFRS9 Guardiola confirms Iheanacho Leicester move •Ndidi rallies teammates Herbalist, two others arrested for circulating fake $400,000 FRSC recovers stolen cars during re-registration Cops chase, nab handbag snatcher in Abuja Abia community mobs graduate for molesting minor Ondo PDP expels Sheriff’s faction chairman, others Appeal panel upholds NCAA’s N33.5m sanction against FirstNation Africa seeks greater representation on IMO council We were destined to win – Igbokwe APC rigged Lagos council polls – Shelle Zenith Bank b’ball: Dolphins vow to come back stronger ‘I can help Klitschko beat Joshua’ Mother, son steal show at Lagos badminton Dressel bags seventh gold at worlds Police team win IG taekwondo One million rides occur on apps daily –Okafor DStv promises customers better services Editorial: Economy in dire need of FDI How APC conned Nigerians on restructuring Desperation for forex and 18% Treasury bills ‘awoof’! The ailing President, quaking ministers and wailing masses Understanding depression in women
Nigeria’s Non-oil Exports and the Quest for Federalism industrialisation-drive, create… Business Ondo PDP Expels Factional Chairman, Three Others JAppeal Panel Upholds NCAA’s N33.5m Sanction on First Nation, Pilot Restructuring: APC has not Betrayed Nigerians, Says VON DG Communities Urged to Monitor Beneficiaries of W’Bank PWF Survey Shows Sustained Rise in Consumer Confidence Nigeria Lags Behind in Consumer Lending, to Get Boost with New… Olawore Elected 15th President of NBCC Reliance InfoSystem Wins 2017 Microsoft Partner Award BHM Appoints Adenekan as General Manager Woman Wins Trip to Dubai in Three Crown Competition Nigeria Shines as India, Sri Lanka Dominate Lagos Badminton Classics Igali Makes Case for Nigeria to Host African Wrestling GOtv Boxing Night Returns with N20m Prize Monies Inyang Wins another Tennis Title in USA Amangbo Pledges Zenith Bank’s Continued Support for Women’s Basketball Plateau Continues Steady March to Title, 3SC Crashes in Jos EDITORIAL: OF GENDER AND THE LAWMAKERS
Osinbajo orders more push in war against Boko Haram Osinbajo orders more push AU, UN, ECOWAS back govt North’s youths to withdraw Igbo quit notice TSA: Govt saves N4b bank charges monthly Minister: foreign investors jostling to buy over 9Mobile Military suspects sabotage in attack on convoy Driver arraigned for ‘failing to pay after wining and dining’ Wife to husband: produce our son missing for seven years Delivery man in court for ‘stealing parcels worth N529,000’ NIPOGA 2018: Kwarapoly inaugurates Sub-Committee Nigeria’s Inyang wins another tennis tourney in US Indian Yadav Wins Lagos International Badminton Classics Babangida emerges winner of maiden Soft Alliance Golf Tourney Emirates Cup: Iwobi shines in Arsenal’s five star performance Nation, complete sports share spoils in Anniversary match What’s Aguiyi-Ironsi’s place in history? When will Fajuyi be immortalised? Fresh crisis rocks Kaduna APC over delegates election ‘MTV Shuga’ to hold open auditions Yemi Alade returns to Coke Studio Africa Hollywood, Bollywood for AIFF 2017 Badoo kills couple, kids in Ikorodu Mum: I visited mountain to seek release of Igbonla Six 74 arrested as task force demolishes shanties Agency targets two million to fight sexual violence Katsina establishes nine pivotal teachers’ training centres – Commissioner Leadway, Pensure, others partner Nollywood on health insurance Upping the ante in insurance penetration ‘Why local insurers can’t underwrite aviation risks‘ Foreign investors stake N430b on equities
The Changing Face Of Bauchi Institutional Deficiencies Impede Insurance Growth In Nigeria — Soladoye Healthy Living: YEDI Targets 4,000 Young People Transport: BRT Operator Reviews Fares Downwards How Sub-Saharan Africa Can Rescue Itself GenCos Present 7-point Demand To Osinbajo NAFDAC Re-enforces Surveillance, Monitoring Activities IGBONLA SIX: How Colleague’s Sickness Aborted Victims’ Escape Plan Boska Reaches Out To Traders In Kano 325m People Have Viral Hepatitis — WHO FG Adopts $11bn Dangote Refinery Under New Petroleum Policy Obasanjo To Recount Christian Experience Saraki, Dogara, Adeosun, Emefiele, Others Back NSE’s Conversion Boko Haram: Osinbajo Meets Service Chiefs, IGP, DSS Boss Breaking: Give Us, Kanu Oduduwa, Biafra Republics; Too Late For Restructuring – Yoruba Group IPOB Members Storm Church, Protest To Obiano APGA Primaries: 2 Anambra Courts Stop Agbaso IGBONLA SIX: How Colleague’s Sickness Aborted Victims’ Escape Plan FG Adopts $11bn Dangote Refinery Under New Petroleum Policy IPOB Members Storm Church, Protest To Obiano N-Delta Militants To Resume Fresh Attacks Sept 31 NEW ROAD MAP: FG, IOCs Earmark N2trn For 457 Projects In N’Delta Again, Wike And Amaechi In War Of Words $43.4 M, N200m Probe: No Decision Yet On Lawal, Oke – Presidency Bedroom Secret Has Taken Our Marriage This Far — Opa Williams Doctor Ikubese Set To Battle Buhari Over Nigeria’s Presidency In 2019 Shocker: CNN Mocks Nigeria Over Buhari’s Continued Absence In Country IPOB Storms Church, Tells Obiano No Election In Anambra We Want Referendum Senator Offers Scholarship To 880 Students Go, Neymar Go! — Ramos Neymar Is Not As Important As Messi, Ronaldo — Tebas Mother, Son Emerge Badminton Mixed Doubles Champions In Lagos Lacazette Gives Arsenal Injury Scare After First Home Goal NPFL: Matchday 32 Results Domestic Retail Investors’ Return Driven By Upbeat In Economy — CEO, Solid Rock Securities NAICOM Advocates Reinvention Of Insurance Professional Bodys DEFEAT OF DEVOLUTION OF POWER: Former Governors In NASS Failed Nigerians —Oshiomhole
We’re wrong on Boko Haram ambush, says Nigerian Army Two million containers stranded in Lagos ports NDIC secures N556m judgment for depositors of defunct bank Sagay’s comments on senate unfortunate, says Waku Budget minister explains projections for MTEF, FSP 2018-2020 Hoodlums attack journalists, hold Sani, others hostage at Kaduna APC function Gates Foundation, U.S. varsity praise Nigeria for accurate immunisation data reporting Yobe government cautions against encroachment on demarcated cattle routes ‘We will prosecute anyone found guilty in Calabar tank-farm explosion’ First Bank, Ukator are winners as Amangbo praises female dunkers Odegbami inspires youngsters at Cowbell/Multisports summer camp GOtv Boxing Night returns with N20m prize monies Sofoluwe faults NNL players’ exclusion as Rohr joins team todayl Yadav, Hindahewa win Lagos International Badminton Classics Guardiola finally speaks on Iheanacho’s Man City exit eTranzact records 20% growth in 2016 Passage of fiscal PIB will clear uncertainty in oil industry, says Saka Matemilola Unity Bank, BoI partner on GEEP initiative Nigeria’s budget deficit and borrowing strategies Editorial: Economy: FGN as unrepentant saboteur Globalisation: Implications for Buhari’s economic agenda The National Assembly and other matters Land and national development The engineers this century Between separatist agitations and democracy in Anambra guber poll Senate receives knocks over restructuring Fayose sets age limit for contestants in Ekiti council poll Why National Assembly rejected devolution of power bill, by Yakassai Tourists seeking ‘Despacito’ discover Puerto Rico’s La Perla ndiscipline, moral decadence should be checked in schools – veteran actor Boost your child’s creativity: Five sure-fire ways to get them ticking Paryss Steve-Harris becomes an author at five years old
Arewa youths set to review quit notice to Igbo •Reach agreement with northern governors Kalu to Fayose: Why Igbo need links with FG Badoo gang strikes again, kills four in Lagos Ohanaeze woman leader rejects 35% affirmative action on appointment Wike revokes hotel’s C of O Anambra guber: Why moves to halt Obiano will fail IGP reads riot act to police commissioners, others Constitution amendment: Speakers’ conference hails N’Assembly Report on SGF, NIA DG yet to be released – Presidency Russia 2018 World Cup qualifiers : I’m fit to play, Mikel declares Anambra community to build Chinua Achebe cultural centre IPOB disrupts church service, burial in Anambra •Their intention was to attack Gov Obiano – Commissioner of police • We’re not involved – Pro-Biafra Badoo gang strikes again, kills four in Lagos Indiscipline, decadence should be checked in schools – veteran actor Unemployment: APC clueless & hapless (1) Nigeria: Our ancestors are responsible Amnesty office to collaborate with varsities in agro-based training FG set to achieve 50% exclusive breastfeeding by 2018 Creative industry can boost GDP by 5%, says NFVCB boss Lagos LG elections: How they were won and lost Court Verdict: PDP and quest to reclaim Kano 2014 confab report, solution to agitations -Niger Delta leader H1: Transactions on NSE hit N935bn Diamond Bank profit grows by 2.8% Ford, Coscharis support World Youth Skills Day Iwobi wins Emirates Cup with Arsenal Friendship experience: 33 Export thrills consumers in Lagos Dangote chooses Shacman heavy duty trucks for refinery project Uber opens Greenlight Hub in Lagos to support driver-partners UAC appoints Bello GMD designate as Ettah retires ‘Drive Your Dream, Pay At Your Pace Car’ EDITORIAL: Council polls and the future of LGs
FG tasks investors to take advantage of business incentives Forex buffer at near 3-month high of $30.8bn by July 27 – CBN Police cautions travellers on use of credit card for air tickets APC repositions for 2019 elections – Ebonyi party chair AEDC donates N.5m to parents of quintuplets in Abuja Boko Haram attacks can’t stop us from oil search- UniMaid VC FG to rebuild Sukur World Heritage site destroyed by Boko Haram ‘After 12 wives and over 100 kids,I want more’ 2017 Hajj: Kwara disqualifies 3 pregnant women Oil price hits $53 per barrel How 10 year-old kheris started a movement, business Sokoto Hajj pilgrims fly to Saudi Arabia Monday Fadama graduate farmers warned against diversion of start-up capital Embrace entrepreneurship to tackle unemployment-UBA Chairman FG floats N300m loan to assist talented youths Nigeria demands return of proceeds of crime Court orders arrest of ATBU professor for failing to appear in person Mugabe Dozes Off While Grace Roasts Charamba PENGASSAN gives oil firms 21-day ultimatum Man crashes $260k Ferrari one hour after purchase Boko Haram: Osinbajo meets service chiefs again Group faults report on Babachir, Oke Boko Haram threatening communities around Maiduguri – Residents Crisis hits Kaduna APC over delegates’ election Kalu tells Fayose to leave Buhari alone Ronaldo’s trial begins over tax matters MFM keep pressure on Plateau with away win Eagles ready for Benin Republic clash, says Yusuf FG tasks investors to take advantage of business incentives Lagos task force arrests 74, pulls down 120 illegal structures Residents urge Lagos govt to address environmental issues with tenancy levy Sunday Michael Ogwu, Lagos Union wants cultists, hemp smokers named in communities Not too young to lose Nigerian airports, the new motor park errorism in Nigeria: The Qatar example Karen Goulding Basico 77/78: A Nostalgia Addiction to feeding bottle Editorial: Abuja’s dangerous spots
Big Brother Naija opened closed doors for me –Ese Eriata Save us from death, UNIMAID residents cry out Again, Osinbajo meets service chiefs over Borno bombings Our children behaving strangely – Parents What nigerian media should learn from China –NGE Ministers panic as Osinbajo mulls cabinet shake-up Wike, Amaechi in verbal war over alleged forged documents Oil workers threaten strike over anti-labour activities Badoo resurfaces, kills couple, two daughters GTBank celebrates 10th anniversary of listing on LSE Governors’ push for state police Rescue abducted oil experts, Osinbajo orders military Senators escape mob attack in Kaduna Again, Osinbajo meets service chiefs over Borno bombings Venezuela claims 41.5% turnout in violent constituent assembly vote Homes searched over Australia ‘plane plot’ ‘No value’ in UN’s N’Korea meeting, says US Jolie denies child audition ‘cruelty’ Sanchez saga won’t ruin Arsenal – Wenger Ronaldo due in court over tax-evasion claims England beat France to reach Euro semis Constitution amendment: Regional bias shapes Senate’s position Olateru: Over 30 accident probe reports pending Again, Cadbury Nigeria slips into loss position Constitution amendment: Intrigues that defined Reps’ votes
‘Restructuring’ is just another empty buzzword
By Jideofor Adibe
Restructuring is currently the buzzword in the country. But it is just an important-sounding but empty technical word, which means little other than to give false impression to ordinary folks that one holds the magic wand that will make all the problems in the country to vamoose overnight.
Buzzwords and mantras serve the same function in Nigeria – they are statements or slogans repeated frequently enough that they begin to sound like established facts or self-evident truths. Humans are constantly and instinctively in search of the alchemy that will turn base metals into gold.
But it is not just a Nigerian thing. In its search for simple solutions to the problems of poverty and underdevelopment in Africa, the Bretton Woods institutions (the International Monetary Fund and the World Bank) churned out several buzzwords, one replacing the other as they blame the inability of each buzzword to live up to its hype on everyone but themselves: ‘structural adjustment programmes’, ‘rolling back the state’, ‘bringing back the state’, ‘good governance’, ‘building strong institutions, not strong men’ etc.
So what is restructuring? Is it really the magic wand that can resolve the crisis in the country’s nation-building processes and stop the anarchic contest over the soul of the nation-state – the way it is constituted and the way leaders are recruited into its structures?
There are a number of observations:
One, restructuring is nothing new. Shun of its veneer, it is simply a clamour by the various ethnic and regional factions of the elites for changes in the rules governing access to power and privileges at the federal level. It can be argued that the country has been undergoing restructuring since its formal colonization in 1900. The amalgamation of Northern and Southern Nigeria in 1914, creation of group of provinces in 1939, creation of three regions, then four regions, then 12 state system, up to the current 36-state system are all forms of restructuring. We have had further restructuring in the system for allocating revenues among the various tiers of government. Each restructuring exercise throws up its own contradictions and unintended consequences.
Two, every part of the country has used ‘restructuring’ (or a variant of it) in its quest for better access to federal privileges. For instance, at the 1950 Ibadan Constitutional Conference – convened to discuss Sir John Macpherson’s draft Constitution, which came into effect in 1951 – the Northern faction of the political class threatened to secede from the country unless they were given about half of the seats in the proposed Federal House of Representatives. After the election won by MKO Abiola was annulled by the Babangida regime, the Southwest faction of the elites became vociferous champions of ‘Sovereign National Conference’ (later modified to ‘national conference) while the south-east political elites seemed to have a doctrine that the ‘goat followed the man with the palm frond’ and consequently ensured that they partnered with the government at the centre. In recent years it has embraced ‘marginalization’ as its own mantra. For the south-south, ‘resource control’ is an article of faith.
Three, though restructuring – like ethnicity- is merely a mask over intra-elite struggle for power and privileges – it has also acquired an objective character. This is because through constant repetition, it is internalized by the consumers of the mantra as the ‘obvious truth’, meaning it has become ideological for such people. This means that the clamour for ‘restructuring’ cannot be ignored and has to be tacked in the same way issues of ideological indoctrination and religious zealotry are handled. It calls for good statecraft – which revolves essentially around optics. How does an average Igbo in the streets in Onitsha understand ‘marginalization’? Perhaps “every geopolitical zone has six States – Northwest- has seven and we have only five”) and “they have reduced us to second class citizens” (how exactly?). What does an average Yoruba hope to achieve by restructuring? Perhaps “Lagos and Kano have about same population but Kano has far more Local Government Areas – which are units for sharing revenue – than Lagos”. Some may also argue that given the area’s educational attainment and relative wealth it wants more autonomy in managing its affairs (how exactly?). We may also pose the question of why the north seems to be opposing restructuring. Here again we may get varied explanations from the man on the street along these lines: given its population and landmass (about 79 per cent of the country), and the fact that it has more people suffering from absolute poverty and illiteracy than others, it deserves whatever the current structure offers it and more; it is unfair for oil producing states with fewer population to have so much money from derivation when it has no way of getting derivation from its food production and energy from Kainji dam; it needs preponderance of political power as a lever to the south’s economic and educational advantages. For the South-south, ‘resource control’ perhaps means more than a desire to control a greater portion of the revenue from the oil which is produced in its area but also a recognition and respect that the country is run with revenue largely generated by the zone.
It is not impossible to put all these practical demands on the table and tackle them in a manner that will appeal to the optics of the man on the street. A good example here is a simple gesture by the Acting President that oil companies should relocate their headquarters to the Niger Delta. In practical terms it means very little (apart from a little more tax revenue to the State governments in the Niger Delta) but in terms of gesture politics it matters much.
Four, the clamour for restructuring is currently at its crescendo because the Buhari government did not pay much attention to the importance of optics and gesture politics in its first one year in office. Though the government seems to have changed course and has become increasingly conciliatory and diplomatic -had it taken a different course (such as by prioritizing elite consensus or what Nigerians called ‘government of ‘national unity’), it would have gained enough elbow room to develop and implement its policies in a much friendlier environment. The decision to pander to those who were baying for the blood of their class and ethnic enemies through its probe rhetoric and other policies was an error.
Five, what structure does advocates of ‘restructuring’ have in mind as a replacement to the current structure? Most will talk about ‘true federalism’ or a return to the regional government as practised in the First Republic. First, since every system of federalism is unique, the notion of ‘true federalism’ is an anomaly, a contradiction in terms. Regarding regionalism as practiced in the First Republic, this is mere nostalgia, an uncritical romanticisation of the past. Contrary to the notion that everything worked well during the First Republic, each region was a theatre of conflict between the ethnic majorities and the ethnic minorities – giving rise to the mantra of ‘fear of domination’ and agitation for the creation of states. Besides, the current 36 states have acquired and solidified their identities that they will become new fault lines in any attempt to return to the former regions or even use the six geo political zones as the new federating units. This is not an argument against any new structure – just a recognition that any new structure will throw up its own contradictions and challenges that will also need to be managed.
Six, the changes in the rules governing access to power and privileges – are best carried out incrementally. Wholesale restructuring in one go in a highly polarized environment like ours will create turmoil or upheaval. It is akin to calling for a revolution. With good statecraft, it is easier to get the various ethnic and regional factions of the elites to achieve consensus on fewer number of issues and then move on to others as they build more trust and bridges among themselves. Revolution may be emotionally appealing to the man on the street but has revolution really accomplished anything sustainable in history?
True, the philosophy of most revolutions has an emotional appeal, in reality, only few revolutions are successful or worth the effort. Consider the French Revolution (1789-1799), fought primarily to overthrow absolute monarchy with its feudal privileges for the aristocracy and Catholic clergy. The revolution, fought under the noble ideals of ‘freedom, equality and fraternity’, quickly became a caricature under Robespierre and his Reign of Terror. So much for freedom, equality and fraternity! In fact, some historians today regard the French Revolution as a terrible waste of time and blood because whatever positives came out of it were equally accomplished by many countries such as Britain with much less bloodshed. The same can also be said of the Iranian revolution, the Russian Revolution and the Arab Spring
Culled from Daily Trust
Saraki: Mistrust Triggered by Hate Speeches Caused Rejection of Power Devolution Bill
Says hope not lost, as bill could be represented after more consultation
Onyebuchi Ezigbo in Abuja and Hammed Shittu in Ilorin
Senate President Bukola Saraki said saturday in Ilorin that the devolution of power to the federating units, which is at the core of the mounting restructuring agitation, was rejected by the National Assembly due to suspicion and tension created lately by a torrent of hate speeches from various parts of the country. Saraki, however, explained that the power devolution bill still stood a chance in the constitution amendment process, with more consultation to enable the legislators and other stakeholders get a better understanding of the issues. He spoke after receiving a delegation of the Not-Too-Young-To- Run group in the state.
The Senate and House of Representatives, which are dominated by All Progressives Congress, passed different bills last week on the alteration of the 1999 Constitution after harmonising the reports of the constitution amendment committees of both chambers.
Speaking on why the devolution of power failed to get the National Assembly’s approval, Saraki said, “We must be honest with ourselves that presently there is a lot of mistrust in the country. The air is very polluted and let’s be very frank, that blame must go round; whether it be the politicians, or some who are doing commentaries and even some of you in the media who sometimes write stories that are more like hate speeches, that are inaccurate.
“I think what happened was that a lot of people misread or misunderstood or were suspicious of what the devolution was all about; whether it was the same thing as restructuring in another way or an attempt to foist confederation on the country or to prepare the ground for other campaigns now going on in the country.. And they made a lot of appeal that we had not consulted with our constituencies and you can see what is happening; there was a meeting in Kaduna yesterday (Friday) where it was clear that certain parts of the country wanted more time to understand what restructuring is for discussion.
“So it is clear that not all senators were on board. We have spoken a lot with the senators because we cannot bully them or stampede them, because at the end of the day, this country belongs to all of us. You cannot hassle me out of the country. Neither can I hassle you out. What we must do is dialogue; reassure each other and let people understand that this concept is for the purpose of making a modern Nigeria; that it is not going to in any way undermine any part of the country.
“I want to appeal for calmness. I am sure with the engagement going on, there will be dialogue. I am also sure that by the time we come back from the present recess, people generally would have a better understanding that devolution of powers to states as regards some of the issues that were put in that bill, is not a threat to any part of the country and I am hopeful that there would be change of mind and position.”
However, Saraki said, “Nothing is foreclosed in this exercise; you don’t foreclose passage of bill.”
He said, “The fact that devolution lost that day does not mean that after the recess, if a lot of consultations are done again, it will not scale through.”
The power devolution bill was among the bills that failed to scale through on the floors of the Senate and House of Representatives when votes were taken in the on-going constitution amendment exercise, even though the two chambers are controlled by the All Progressives Congress.
Even though it promised restructuring towards devolution of power and greater entrenchment of federalism as a cardinal political and governance strategy while campaigning for power in 2015, APC lost control over the process needed to achieve its professed reform. THISDAY learnt that the committee recently set up by the ruling party to articulate its position on the burning issue of restructuring had hardly taken off before both chambers of the APC-controlled National Assembly threw out the matter last week, when they voted on items to amend in the 1999 Constitution.
Section 25 of the party’s manifesto for the 2015 general election said, “APC believes that our politics is broken. Our nation urgently needs fundamental political reform and improvement in governance to make it more transparent and accountable.”
The party then promised, “APC will initiate action to amend our constitution with a view to devolving powers, duties and responsibilities to states and local governments in order to entrench federalism and the federal spirit.”
APC had become rather antagonistic to suggestion of a fundamental restricting of the polity soon after its overwhelming victory at the 2015 presidential, governorship, and National Assembly elections. This was despite mounting demand for political reform. However, bowing to pressure, APC set up a nine-member committee on July 19, headed by Governor Nasir el-Rufai of Kaduna State, to address the agitations for restructuring and articulate the position of the party. Other members of the committee established during the fifth joint regular meeting between APC’s National Working Committee and state governors elected on its platform included Governors Rauf Aregbesola (Osun), Abdullahi Ganduje (Kano), Simon Lalong (Plateau), and Ibikunle Amosun (Ogun). Also in the committee were former governor of Edo State, Oserheimen Osunbor; APC’s national organising secretary, Osita Izunaso; the party’s national publicity secretary, Bolaji Abdullahi; and Senator Olubunmi Adetunmbi, who was made secretary to the committee.
But a reliable source in the committee said at the weekend that the group on restructuring had met only once since it was constituted. He disclosed that there would be another meeting by Friday.
The constitution amendment committees of the Senate and House of Representatives had decided to consider the items pencilled in for alteration in separate bills to avoid the experience in the seventh session of the National Assembly when the amendment process was approached in a single bill that failed in the end. The eighth National Assembly desegregated the items into about 32 bills, which included bills on devolution of power, state police, and others aimed at strengthening the federal structure. Those bills that tended towards greater federalism were defeated during voting on the harmonised positions of the two chambers last week.
The passed amendment bills will now be forwarded to the Houses of Assembly of the 36 states of the federation, where 24 assemblies, being two-third, must pass each of the bills before they can be sent to the president for his assent to make them laws.
Despite having majority of members in the Senate and House of Representatives, APC failed to a get a firm grip on amendment process, resulting in its legislators taking positions that contradict the party’s promises. What this means is that the party and its key stakeholders are working at cross-purposes as far restructuring and constitution amendment are concerned.
The initial discordant tones in the party came when the national chairman, Chief John Odigie-Oyegun, denied that APC was attempting to repudiate its position on carrying out a restructuring as contained in its manifesto. But Odigie-Oyegun’s position differed from El-Rufai’s, who like most politicians in the North, opposed restructuring. El-Rufai added that the report of the 2014 national conference should not be used as basis for constitution amendment or restructuring.
However, the national leadership of the ruling party later resolved, along with the governors elected on its platform, to set up a committee on restructuring. It was learnt that the party regretted its mistake of not including the leaderships of its National Assembly caucuses as in the restructuring committee.
Notwithstanding the existence of the APC committee on restructuring, the Northern States Governors Forum met in Kaduna on Friday and set up another restructuring committee with the governor of Sokoto State, Aminu Tambawal, as its chairman.
Many believe voting on the amendment bills at the state assemblies would follow the dictates of the governors, due to their firm grip on the institutions. It would also be influenced by regional or ethnic considerations, as the ruling party has failed to really articulate and push its positions on the process.
A top APC leader, while expressing his frustration at the conflicting positions within in the party, said, “I think the committee on restructuring has lost its relevance. It seems to me that whatever the committee may be doing now will just be a mere academic exercise, unless it is going to guide party members in the Houses of Assembly, who will still have to vote on the amendments.”
Asked why APC’s National Assembly caucus leaders were not involved in the restructuring committee, the party leader, who did not want to be named, stated, “One of the initial moves that the committee made was to get the party chairman to engage the party’s caucuses at the National Assembly and ask them to slow down on this issue of constitution amendment, especially the aspect that has to do with issues of restructuring, like devolution of powers. But, somehow, the chairman failed to reach out to the leadership of the caucuses before they began consideration of the constitutional amendment.
“Right now, as you can see, the National Assembly has gone ahead to adopt a position on the key issues in the constitution amendment. It is quite unlikely that when the APC restructuring committee completes its work it would impact anymore on the position the National Assembly had taken.
“The normal thing would have been for the committee to finish its work in good time so that the party will be able to communicate this to their members in the National Assembly and to highlight its position to them.”
The source added, “This is coupled with the fact that a significant number of these legislators probably may not have seen a copy of the APC manifesto. Added to that is the move by the northern governors to meet and articulate a position on restructuring. When considered against the backdrop of the fact that most of these northern governors are APC members who are also members of the restructuring committee of the party.
“The resultant scenario will be confusion, because if the northern governors forum takes a position that contradicts what this committee is putting forward as the party’s position, then what will happen?
“It just seems that people are just making motions without thinking of what its implications will be.”
Hate speech, fake news and national unity – Lai Mohammed
By Lai Mohammed
This theme, HATE SPEECH, FAKE NEWS AND NATIONAL UNITY, was well chosen to bring to the fore the looming danger facing our country from what has now become the scourge of our time. Though I have repeatedly called attention, at many fora, to the dangers posed by the menace of the now pervasive hate speech, disinformation and fake news, no one gave the issue the attention it deserves until it started threatening the very foundation of our national unity.
Lai Mohammed 3.It was Gina Greenlee who said ‘’experience is a master teacher, even if it is not our own.’’ I am sure many here have heard or read about how hate speech and incitement to violence played a significant role in the 1994 genocide that left at least 800,000 people dead in Rwanda. Well, it is worth rehashing here for the purpose of this discourse.
4.Anti-Tutsi articles and cartoons in the Kangura newspaper, as well as hate speech and incitement to violence on the radio station called RTLMC – Radio-Television Libres des Mille Collines (Thousand Hills Free Radio and Television) helped to set the stage for that genocide. The station was set up by hard-line Hutu extremists, and received the backing of many rich and prominent people in that country. Those who saw the danger posed by the station called for it to be shut down, but against the backdrop of freedom of speech, such calls fell on deaf ears, until it was too late. Some 23 years later, Rwanda is yet to fully recover from the impact of the genocide, triggered by hate speech and senseless incitement to violence.
5. In Nigeria today, the hate being spewed on radio stations across the country is so alarming. If you tune into many radio stations, you will be shocked by the things being said, the careless incitement to violence and the level of insensitivity to the multi-religious, multi-ethnic nature of our country. Unfortunately, even the hosts of such radio programmes do little or nothing to stop. Oftentimes, they are willing collaborators of hate speech campaigners. This must not be allowed to continue because it is detrimental to the unity and well-being of our country.
6. Disinformation and Fake News: Let me use my own personal experiences to make these more vivid. On Wednesday, 26 April 2017, after the weekly Federal Executive Council (FEC) meeting, I briefed State House Correspondents on what transpired at the meeting. I said, among others, that President Muhammadu Buhari did not preside over the day’s meeting because he decided to work from home that day. In reporting my briefing, one of the correspondents quoted me as saying the President would work from home henceforth, rather than on that day only. The reporting generated a lot of uproar, until I issued a rebuttal. This is a clear case of disinformation – which is defined as false information deliberately spread to deceive the people.
7. The following month, after I had briefed State House Correspondents on the proceedings of another Council meeting, one newspaper’s headline went thus: ‘’We do not know who will sign the 2017 budget – Lai Mohammed.’’ This is at variance with what I said. When I was asked a question relating to the signing of the 2017
budget, my exact words were: ‘’When it is transmitted to the Presidency, a decision will be taken.’’ The reporting is another clear case of disinformation.
8. Also in May 2017, I travelled to China on official assignment. I had just arrived in that country, after a long flight, when I started receiving calls from Nigeria, seeking my reaction to a story making the rounds in the Social Media, quoting me as saying that though President Muhammadu Buhari is in a London hospital, he is using Made-in-Nigeria drugs. I purportedly made the comment in an interview with Channels Television, after the Federal Government’s launch of the Made-in-Nigeria campaign in Abuja a few days earlier. At first, I chose to ignore the story, saying Nigerians would easily see the folly of it. But the phone calls from Nigeria became more frequent and more intense, to such an extent that they could no longer be ignored. I had to put a call through to Mr. John Momoh, and Channels Television promptly issued a rebuttal, saying it neither interviewed me nor carried any such story. This is a clear case of fake news.
9. Many here will also recall the quantum of hate speech directed at candidate Buhari during the last electioneering campaign. Never in the history of electioneering campaign in Nigeria has such a quantum of hate speech been directed at any candidate. This did not stop even when he won the election and became President. For instance, the
President had hardly left Nigeria for his vacation in London on 19 January 2017, during which he said he would have routine medical check-up, when these hate and fake news campaigners circulated the news that he has died. Between then and now, they have repeated similar fakes news times without number.
10. Let me be clear: all the instances I have cited did not happen by accident. No! They were all orchestrated. And who better to target than the President himself, or the official spokesperson of his government! The campaign is a multi-million naira project and the people behind this string of hate speech, disinformation and fake news are not about to stop. In fact, they will become more vicious in the days, weeks and months ahead. And what is the purpose of their campaign? Simply to discredit the government, destabilize the polity and make the country ungovernable. There is no doubt that the resurgent push for separatism as well as rising cases of ethnic and religious disharmony are all traceable to the growing phenomenon of hate speech, as well as the disinformation and fake news campaign.
11. The latest instance of this vicious campaign occurred last week. During my visit to the Copyright Society of Nigeria (COSON) House in Lagos last Saturday, I had said that any programme tagged Nigerian or local content programme, which is meant for the consumption of Nigerians, must be produced in Nigeria, rather than in foreign countries. The hate speech, disinformation and fake news campaigners quickly distorted what I said and went ahead to report that the Federal Government has decided to ban the production of music videos and films outside the countries. Gullible and malleable commentators, many of them recruited by the campaigners, went to town abusing me and the federal government, without even trying to know the truth. Such is the tragedy of our time.
12. Now, what do these phenomena of hate speech, disinformation and fake news have in common? They are all capable of destabilizing the system, inciting people to violence and weakening the people’s confidence in their government, just like I said earlier. Let me quote how a German newspaper described this phenomenon: ‘’For a society in
which people are informed mainly through the media – and form their political opinions through it – this process is threatened when lies spread through the media. When it is no longer clear what is false and what is correct, people lose their confidence in the state’’.
13. Your Excellency, distinguished ladies and gentlemen, Nigeria is a country of ethnic and religious diversity. That should be a source of strength, if the fault lines are not deliberately being exposed and exploited by those who are bent on setting the people against themselves, using their new-found tools of hate speech, disinformation
and fake news.
These dangerous trend is threatening the very foundation of our national unity. It is daily pushing the nation close to the precipice, perhaps more than at any other time since the end of the civil war.
14. What is the way out? We all must say NO to hate speech, either on our radio and television stations, newspapers, the Social Media, on our phones or in the public space. We must be resolute in tackling the canker-worm of hate speech, disinformation and fake news. We as government information managers must embark on a relentless campaign against these evil tendencies at our various levels, whether federal or state. We must boycott any medium that engages in hate speech, incitement to violence, disinformation and fake news. The regulators must also be alive to their responsibilities by promptly sanctioning the purveyors of hate speech, disinformation and fake news. Yes, our constitution allows freedom of speech and this government believes in it, but freedom of speech must not be allowed to become freedom of irresponsibility.
15. On the part of the federal government, the Acting President, Prof. Yemi Osinbajo, has recently undertaken a series of engagements with all stakeholders to defuse the tension cause by these tendencies, and his efforts have gone a long way in calming frayed nerves, especially in the aftermath of the attacks and counter-attacks by
various groups across the country. We must replicate this kind of engagement in our various states.
16. As a follow-up to the efforts of the Acting President, the Federal Ministry of Information and Culture is planning a series of engagements with the media, to educate and sensitize them to the dangers posed to the unity of the country by hate speech, disinformation and fake news. Needless to say that we are also appealing to the media, the traditional media in particular, to show responsibility by repudiating the freewheeling and out-of-control purveyors of hate speech, disinformation and fake news. Unlike the Social Media, the traditional media is subject to the rigours of accuracy, fact-checking and fairness, among others. Sadly, even a section of the traditional media now apes the hate campaigners by lifting their unverified or distorted news and dumping such on their readers. This is not right.
17. A section of the tradition media is also now thriving on anti-government tendency. If you pick up copies of some newspapers, you will think the government of the day is doing nothing at all to alleviate the sufferings of the people, occasioned by the economic downturn. They ignore any positive actions of government, including the massive investment in infrastructure like roads and railways, and instead focus on anything that will make the government look bad. Instead of reporting the news freely and fairly, they have constituted themselves to an opposition bloc.
18. Let me note that it is only because we have a peaceful country that we have journalists, doctors, teachers, lawyers, etc all practising their trade. If we allow our country to be plunged into crisis just because of the antics of an irresponsible few, neither the journalists nor any other professionals will be able to practice thei
profession. This is the blunt truth. We all have a stake in this country, hence we must not allow hate campaigners and purveyors of fake news and disinformation to drag the country down with them.
19. Your Excellency, distinguished ladies and gentlemen, I thank you most sincerely for listening. Permit me to now declare open this extra-ordinary meeting of the National Council on Information. I wish us all fruitful deliberations.
•Mohammed, Minister of Information and Culture, delivered this speech at the extra-ordinary meeting of the National Council on Information, held in Jos.