Tag Archives: opinion

Civil Rule On the Verge of Collapse in Nigeria- Falana

Imminent Collapse of Civil Rule in Nigeria, By Femi Falana

THE dreaded Boko Haram sect has continued to unleash mayhem on defenceless civilians including school children in the north east region. In the last couple of months, the satanic society has annexed part of the territory of the Republic of Nigeria.
In the circumstance, the President and Commander-in-Chief of the Armed Forces, Dr. Goodluck Jonathan, has requested both chambers of the National Assembly to ratify his decision to extend emergency rule in the war torn Adamawa, Borno and Yobe states in accordance with section 305 of the Constitution. While the Senate has commenced deliberations on the request the House of Representatives has been violently restrained by the Police from considering such matter of urgent national significance.
Without any justification whatsoever, the Speaker of the House, Honourable Aminu Tambuwal, and his colleagues were teargased by the Police and prevented from gaining access to the chambers of the National Assembly last Thursday. In a bid to enter the chambers some of the legislators risked their lives by jumping the fence. In the process, they exposed themselves and the nation to undeserved ridicule.

Tambuwal adjourns sitting till Dec 3, says House under siege
Consequent on the break down of law and order instigated by the Police the National Assemby complex was closed down by the Senate President, General David Mark (rtd). Thus, the House was prevented from carrying out its legislative duties contrary to the order of the Federal High Court that the status quo ante bellum be maintained pending the determination of the suit filed by Honourable Tambuwal over the removal of his security aides.
Although the majority of the members foiled the coup to remove the Speaker the triumph of democracy in the National Assembly may be short lived. Since the ruling party cannot secure the endorsement of the required two thirds majority to remove Speaker Tambuwal the House will be factionalized while the minority will be given official recognition and security protection under a new leadership.
In justifying the barbaric invasion of the National Assembly complex by security forces the Inspector-General of Police, Mr. Suleiman Abba, claimed that the police received intelligence report that hoodlums were going to break the law and order in the premises of the National Assembly. To the detriment of democracy the security forces decided to break the law when the hoodlums failed to turn up as arranged!
In a reckless display of partisanship the Police ensured that the Deputy Speaker of the House, Honourable Ihediora and a few other legislators were not subjected to any form of harassment.
Meanwhile, the Presidency and the Police have turned round to blame the Speaker and his colleagues for assaulting security operatives who were discharging their “lawful duties” at the National Assembly complex. According to the Police, Tambuwal and a motley crowd of his supporters “broke the cordon, assaulted the Police and evaded due process…”
Evasion of due process
The Police then warned “all political actors to respect constituted authority and due process and desist from the use of thugs to pursue their agenda.”
As security forces were used last week to disrupt the proceedings of the National Assembly President Jonathan was prevented by a former militant , Mr. Government Tompolo from attending the flag-off ceremony of the $16 billion EPZ project in Warri, Delta State.
Like the terrorists who have prevented the President from visiting Chibok, the militants declared him a persona non grata and forced him to stay away from Warri. As if that was not enough, the journalists who had assembled at the venue to report the event were abducted by a horde of armed goons. Even though the reporters regained their freedom after six hours of horrific physical and mental torture those who committed the grave criminal offences of kidnapping and threatening to overawe the President of the Republic have not been arrested by the Nigeria Police Force!
Thus, through sheer negligence and official impunity on the part of the Federal Government the country has become a failed State where security forces are competing with criminal gangs in the wanton infringements of the civil liberties of law abiding citizens. Like the terrorists who attack communities while ill-equipped soldiers vamoose, armed thugs are allowed to threaten the life of the President of the Republic while the Police without any reaction from the Police.
But unlike terrorists who abduct school girls in the night, militants kidnap journalists, lawyers and others during the day.
Unlike coup plotters who overthrow legitimate governments at night security forces collude with anti-democratic forces in broad daylight to remove elected leaders of legislative houses. Having been enriched by the State and allowed to acquire weapons without any license some ex-militants have set up armed gangs for the 2015 general election.It is common knowledge that many politicians have also established illegal violent groups of unemployed youths and cultists. Of recent, there were bloody clashes between armed thugs in several parts of the country.
In fact, policemen attached to some politicians have taken part in such clashes which marred some of the congresses of the APC and the PDP. The Sheik Ahmed Lemu Panel set up by President Jonathan to inquire into the post election violence which occurred in Akwa Ibom State and some northern states in April 2011 had recommended that over 850 armed thugs and hoodlums be prosecuted for culpable homicide, arson and allied offences.
Although the recommendation was accepted by the Federal Government the persons indicted in the report have not been prosecuted. In one of his media chats last year, President Jonathan rightly condemned the military invasion of Odi community in Bayelsa state in November 1999 by the Olusegun Obasanjo Administration.
Shortly thereafter, Chief Obasanjo accused President Jonathan of training snipers to attack his political opponents. Although the serious allegation was denied by the Presidency security forces are now joined by hounded militants and other nihilist groups to harrass voters during elections. It is an irony that the President of the Republic is being harassed and intimidated with weapons acquired under the pretext of executing multi-billion oil pipeline monitoring contracts by ex-militants!In the first and second republics security forces and thugs were used in the manipulation of elections and the violations of the rights of the Nigerian people. Such naked abuse of power by the Federal Government paved away for military interventions and the civil war.
In the third republic, the military dictators annulled a credible presidential election. The crisis that ensued terminated the expensive political transition programme and facilitated the return of a full-fledged military dictatorship with dire consequences.
However, it is hoped that the ongoing politicization of the security forces, the unprecedented wave of official corruption and the subversion of democratic institutions by the Federal Government will not lead to the eventual collapse of the fragile fourth Republic.
In spite of the threat of terrorist and other nihilist groups to balkanize the country I strongly believe that the rickety democratic process can still be salvaged by all the genuine democratic forces who led the Nigerian people to fight against unending military rule and who equally defeated the cabal that attempted to take advantage of President Umaru Yaradua’s ill-health to seize power from the then Acting President, Dr. Jonathan.
As time is not on our side, the forces of democracy ought to return to the trenches now to halt the imposion of fascism on the nation by the Jonathan Administration.
Source: The Vanguard





Fellow Nigerians, today is one of those days that I don’t even know where to start from. I’m sure you won’t blame me for finding myself in this lethargic and somnambulist state. I feel like I’m in a trance with events spiralling out of control at the speed of light. But this incredible stories need to be told somehow.  Man proposes but God disposes. I had planned to write on a different topic entirely and had even completed the mental draft before things started falling apart.

It seems I was in a spiritual mood from the beginning of this week and I just allowed myself to move as the spirit directed. My original plan was to leave London to Dubai on Tuesday and spend one night before connecting to Accra on Thursday morning but I changed plans at the last minute and decided to do an immediate connection from Dubai. It was to prove a fortuitous decision.  I spent about four hours enjoying the bliss of Dubai on Wednesday morning as I marvelled at what transformation a visionary Leadership can achieve almost effortlessly. I had helped to market Dubai to Africans about 12 years ago at the invitation of British Trade Partners to Ovation International and I never cease to marvel at how much Dubai has changed since then. But that is another story for another day.
As I boarded the magnificent Emirates flight, little did I realise the shocker that awaited me. Just before the doors of the plane were shut, two Nigerians sauntered in from the blue and one of them turned out to be Nigeria’s only former military Head of State and Civilian President, the irrepressible General Olusegun Obasanjo, and his ubiquitous Personal Assistant, Alhaji Akande. As he sat down, I approached him calmly and despite our differences, prostrated to greet him as any well brought up man would do, shook hands and returned to my seat after a brief chat with his warm PA.

Of course, as a reporter, my journalistic antenna had instantly jolted into action. Since we were the only two people on the second row, it was a bit easy to accomplish my mission of observing a former President on an eight-hour commercial flight. I engaged in internal monologue and stream of consciousness: would he eat and drink like a normal civilian would do? Would he drink, sleep, and use the same washroom after flying Presidential jets for so long…?

It was an uncommon private glimpse of one of Africa’s most influential men. A few people who recognised him went to greet him, including the Emirates crew who had asked me if they could snap some pictures with him. Say what you will, former President Obasanjo is actually a very charismatic, intelligent and canny leader despite his rustic disposition. This accounts for the tremendous influence he wields on the Continent and indeed outside it. In addition, ladies in particular find him attractive and see in him traits of a strong man who brooks no nonsense. And one thing is certain, women are astute in unearthing, understanding and appreciating power and its source. I was very impressed with his cosmopolitan carriage and he was truly Presidential. He exuded an aura of intense confidence and you could not but feel his vibrations throughout the flight.
I was stunned at his capacity for hard-work as he was kept busy by calls after calls most of the flight.  Emirates is in the vanguard of airlines in this regard, allowing you to make calls on your mobile phone during the flight.  The former President was only able to take a short nap and ate some light meal. What I made of his many calls was that Obasanjo was controlling Nigeria from the skies of Middle East all the way to Africa. His attention was badly needed and I should have known that something serious was about to happen. For the only man in Nigeria’s history to have ruled as military Head of State for three years and eight years as civilian President, Obasanjo is too entrenched in every facet of Nigerian life to be ignored.  His views are much sought after by both friends and foes alike.  When he voices an opinion or in keeping with character delivers his usual epistle on aspects of the state of the nation, the country reverberates as if shaken by an earthquake.

Anyway, we landed safely and went our different ways. Within 24 hours, events began to unfold at almost the speed of light snowballing at an alarming rate into a final denouement that any producer of a tragic thriller would have been proud of.
First was the sad news from Ekiti State where seven members of The Ekiti State House of Assembly claimed to have impeached their Speaker in a House of 26 members. Like a macabre dance of masquerades we were informed that three other people whose identities remain a complete mystery sat with these legislators during their deliberations.  This was probably to make up the numbers to form a quorum of nine members before any legal decision could be taken by the House. Just like that! Our LAWMAKERS will simply not learn the law. Or maybe they believe they are above the LAW. How many times does the Supreme Court have to pronounce that a farcical process like that can never be sustained because it is simply unconstitutional, null and void.
As if that was not bad enough, I watched our Brother the Governor of Ekiti State Ayo Fayose as he boasted on National Television that he supports the impeachment without apologies. He emphasised that “without apologies!” without any compunction! I shook my head sadly as I remembered how a few of us, strictly on matters of principle, had stood stoutly against the kangaroo decision that kicked him out of office. I remember how bitter he was at the time that Obasanjo had masterminded and orchestrated his impeachment. But strange are the ways of PDP because the same party that sacked him ignominiously has brought him back triumphantly. That is not my cup of tea but I thought we had passed this level of executive recklessness and impunity and that if one person had learnt a lesson it would be the new Governor of Ekiti State who was once a victim. Is this what inordinate ambition does to people? How can anyone with a sense of History ever imagine they can get away with this kind of hocus-pocus!

My frustration was further compounded by the lack of better explanation of the implication and repercussions of such audacious acts at this time and age. How could it be possible for a Governor to combine both executive and legislative powers simultaneously? Where are we headed with this type of unbridled rascality? How can seven people sack a man and his deputy supported by at least 17 other members against all known tenets of Democracy? When have ghosts resurrected to suddenly join in an impeachment process and as miraculously as they appeared evaporated and vanished into thin air? Indeed everything is possible in God’s own country, Nigeria.

As that Ekiti debacle was sinking in, something bigger and more combustive was brewing. According to reports, the President and Commander-in-Chief, Dr Goodluck Ebele Jonathan had written to the National Assembly asking for an extension of the existing State of Emergency in three States. It is curious that the said letter was extended to the Speaker of The House of Representatives, Waziri Aminu Tambuwal, who had virtually been declared persona non grata since decamping from the ruling party PDP to the opposition APC. There is speculation and suspicion by conspiracy theorists that the President had been sold a decoy that it was possible to foxily impeach the Speaker by tricking him out of his recess by sending that Emergency letter which is obviously in respect of a matter of utmost national importance given the Boko Haram rampage and outrage in those States. The idea was to reopen the House and block the Speaker at the notorious gate where we were stopped and the Police threatened to shoot us when we demonstrated in defence of then Vice President Goodluck Ebele Jonathan against the cabal in 2010. As I watched the latest melodrama, memories of that gory experience flooded back to me. The Speaker who had previously been stripped of his official security without justification was kept at that gate for no justifiable reason. That was an outlandish joke carried too far.

The Speaker and his supporters were not fooled or caught napping. They were obviously many steps ahead of the game. If they had not forced their way in last Thursday, it is most likely that a few PDP loyalists would have sat like they did in Ekiti, attempted to do in Port Harcourt, and sack Speaker Tambuwal and dare him to go to court and spend eternity waiting for judgment and justice. It is a travesty and a sorry tale of how low we have descended that some people have had the temerity to condemn the Speaker’s conduct in not giving in to unabashed and shameless destruction of our constitution, our values and our democracy.
In any event they don’t seem to understand the well-tested aphorism that a bully only respects a bully and the child of fire is always sent to fire. It happened in Rivers where Governor Rotimi Amaechi would have been impeached if he had chosen to be a perfect gentleman. In a country where the Federal Government wields the power of life and death, and the Judiciary has been desecrated mercilessly, many have learnt to resort to self-help. It is such a terrible and horrifying development but that is the reality of our situation if our nascent democracy is to be protected and nurtured.

The Nigerian Police acted apparently in bad faith and obviously in malice in the partisan manner their officers blocked the Speaker from gaining access to his own office. It was a classic case of abuse of power. I felt ashamed on their behalf at their defence that they got a security report that hoodlums were going to invade the National Assembly. Nigerians are not so foolish to believe such a cock and bull story. I’ve watched the footage on Channels Television repeatedly and except our elected representatives are now being considered and referred to as thugs and hoodlums by the Nigeria Police, the justification is fantasy existing only in the minds of the police and those who provided this piece of “authoritative intelligence”.  The way the Speaker and indeed all the legislators were treated was nothing short of totally scandalous. If his offence was decamping from PDP, how come the same party gloats whenever others abandon their parties to join them? It is the height of intimidation and oppression. All the Nigeria Police seem to have achieved is confirmation that the country needs a foil against their excesses and State Police appear necessary to checkmate such unbridled disregard for constituted authority.

However, I am sad by the fact that a few lawmakers went overboard by reacting in such violent manner that could have resulted in bodily injury to themselves and others. I commend the maturity of the Senate President, David Mark and the Speaker, Aminu Tambuwal in the face of what could have plunged Nigeria into total mayhem and bedlam. An assault against the Speaker is the same as that against the Senate President.

As usual, my biggest concern and advice is for President Jonathan. Sir, too many people are selling you lies and dummies at a premium. A good General should never fight on too many fronts. You are already too exposed on the fronts and flanks without adding any more.

The Presidential election is only three months away and what is most obvious is that many of your supporters are acting like you can win whether the opposition likes it or not. It is not going to be that easy. This moment requires utmost caution. I will humbly suggest again that Mr President should abandon those urging him to violently violate the Nigerian Constitution and trample on fellow citizens and leave them to their idiocy. They are present in every government at next to nothing. They are heating up the polity unnecessarily.  They portend no good for you.  Let them not be responsible for your downfall. If you must exit the stage, let it be with dignity and honour.  Let history be kind to you. One thing is certain, none of those scurrilous advisers shooing you into these present follies will be charitable about you and your leadership when tomorrow. Not even the military regimes could cow Nigerians or sentence them to perpetual servitude. There is no point starting a war you can’t win as history has taught. Fate has been too kind to you.
Remain the master of your destiny, Mr President. God be with you, now and always.
Source: ThisDay

As Easy To Defeat As PDP- by Sonala Olumhense

Olumhense: As Easy As PDP (To Defeat)

Written by Sonala Olumhense

IS there really an electoral contest in Nigeria next February?  Yes, the electoral commission, fulfilling its constitutional duty, has listed an election on its calendar for that month, but it is really a referendum on15 years of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) in charge of Nigeria.

  The event should be re-cast as a festival, a celebration of the opportunity for Nigerians to regain their dignity by inflicting on the PDP the most lopsided defeat in modern democratic warfare.

  I do not mean that 2015 should be seen as the coronation of another party simply because it claims to be in opposition, but that it is an opportunity for Nigerians to reaffirm their dignity and express their indignation at the polls.  

  The PDP should be easy pickings, but anyone seeking to replace it should show imagination. The PDP has already shown cause.  

  Everyone, including the PDP, knows that Nigeria has become the butt of jokes around the world on account of its character as a looting gallery.

  If you do not know they are laughing at Nigeria, that is probably because you lack literacy skills, not because you are in the PDP. There is no reason a party that is held in such contempt for various reasons ought not to be humiliated out of relevance with at least 80 per cent of the popular vote.  

  This is the report card it has earned in 15 years of malice and malfeasance. This is the precinct not even of politics, but of common sense: if someone hurts you, you seek vengeance, or avoidance. If someone loots your family, you want your heirlooms back, and you want the thieves in prison.  

  If someone insults your mother, or rapes your wife, or kills your sons, or abducts your daughters, you do not give him the keys to your heart: you want him dead and his carcass thrown to the hyenas. You do not drink with him. You do not give him a bed in your home. You do not let him gloat about his exploits.

  There is no other way to describe what the PDP has accomplished in Nigeria. Under its watch, Nigeria has moved from a nation of hope to one of doubt; from one, which enjoyed the respect—sometimes admiration—of other countries to one that is now routinely called names.  

  Under its watch, Nigeria has moved from a nation, which laboured under gross mismanagement and overwhelming corruption to one where they are now merely an opinion.   

  Under the watch of the PDP, reports are merely to be written, not implemented; a budget just a speech to be read, not an obligation to be fulfilled; and good governance is just a concept, not a principle. Was there ever a report by a Presidential Projects Assessment Committee about at least 11,886 projects? Do the many reports about the rot at the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation have any relevance to the quality of life of the people?  

  Did anyone ever debate former Minister Oby Ezekwesili over her allegation that that $67 billion left by the President Olusegun Obasanjo’s government has been squandered by the current one?  Yes, the government removed Central Bank Governor Lamido Sanusi, but did anyone ever establish whether the NNPC actually failed to remit to the federation account from 2012 to 2013 the sum of $50 billion?   $21?  $10? 

  If nothing is clear, that is exactly what is intended by the PDP because in no enquiry can the party and its practices face the facts.

  Under the watch of the PDP, Nigeria has ground to a halt, even to a fraction of its size. In full view of the PDP government, intrepid militants are taking over Nigeria, village-by-village, child-by-child and town-by-town, chasing Nigerians out of their homes and out of their country.  

  Under the PDP, Nigeria is giving away everything: self-respect, territory, refugees, children, dreams.

  Under the PDP, propaganda is the only mission in order that it might look immensely better than it has accomplished.  

  A transformation was promised four years ago, but in its place, Nigerians got a Tantalisation Agenda. Fifteen years ago, the Nigerian president and his wife enjoyed their healthcare in European hospitals; today, the Nigerian president and his wife enjoy healthcare in European hospitals.

  But perhaps what is worse is what no longer exists:15 years ago, Nigerians could travel around their country in relative safety; today, they are told to travel by air.

  The country is in disrepair and in division, but what may be called the future is considerably worse unless the PDP is crushed by Nigerians so that it may be re-invented by those who care.    

  I do not know who will contest against the PDP, but it is an easy, almost unfair, battle. Between the popular disenchantment and the divisions within the PDP, there is no reason it should not now lose more than 70 per cent of the electoral gains it held in 2007. 

  What is exciting about 2015 is that many of the parties outside power can exploit the PDP’s scorched-earth incompetence, lootocracy and abysmal arrogance over the years. The challenge is to go where the PDP does not, and will not go: directly to the voters whom they have betrayed

  The choice could be no clearer: the offer of hope, where only despair exists, and where the only other choice is hopelessness.  This is the time for the Nigerian voter to invest in his own dignity and future. The PDP has had 15 years, and Nigerians who are not dipping their hands into its soup pot know they are considerably worse-off than they were 15 years ago.

  The one thing the PDP cannot tolerate, but the only language it understands, is electoral defeat.  There is no better time than the present to inflict it.  

   One approach is to write up 774 reports, each no longer than half a page, on the last four or 15 years. That is the number of local government areas in the country, and they will make clear the depth of the government’s irresponsibility so far.  Consolidate them into manageable sectoral campaign research. Contending political parties can take a look at the national budgets for those years here or there. At the local levels, it is easy to demonstrate how suddenly-wealthy legislators are in dissonance with mounting poverty.

  What parties need to do is to campaign intensively at the grassroots: village-to-village, house-to-house. Not on social media, as tempting as that is, or on television. Encourage voters to accept PDP money and food, but to vote it out. Drag the PDP into running on its record, at the same time demonstrating a clearer commitment to serving the people.  

  The PDP may well be the most scandalous party in modern political history. It is not the only sinner in the world, but it is the only one that advertises its sins, and pays itself for them.

  The PDP is a pushover right now, and it should be pushed.  Because there was a country.

Source: The Guardian

Exorbitant Nomination Fees Against Constitution- Falana

Illegal Payment of Nomination Fees

By Mr Femi Falana

In line with democratic principles the political space in Nigeria has been liberalised by the Constitution. To ensure some degree of popular participation in the electoral process political associations which intend to transform into political parties  are not required to meet stringent conditions. In the same vein, candidates contesting elections are not obligated to pay nomination fees to political parties. Once they meet the conditions outlined in the Constitution they cannot be disqualified for failure to pay outrageous nomination fees imposed on them by political parties. To discourage the monetisation of the political system the Electoral Act has fixed the maximum amount of election expenses to be incurred by each candidate.

Since the restoration of civil rule in 1999, many political parties have  extorted billions of naira from candidates for the purchase of expression of interest or nomination forms. Although the PDP fixed a nomination of N20 million  per presidential aspirants, two aspirants who alleged that  they paid the fees were told that the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) had printed only one nomination for President Goodluck Jonathan, a co -aspirant. So far the N40 million allegedly paid by the two aspirants have not been refunded to them.

In criticising the nomination fee of N27 million payable by presidential aspirants of the All Progressive Congress (APC), General Mohammadu Buhari (rtd) disclosed that he had to take a bank loan to pay the nomination form. Perhaps out of political exigency the leading APC presidential aspirant has decided not to challenge the constitutional validity of the exorbitant nomination fees.

In order to constrict the democratic space the Independent national Electoral Commission issued some guidelines for the registration of political parties pursuant to the repealed Electoral Act 2001. No political association could comply with the guidelines without spending over  N2 billion Naira. The guidelines were challenged in Independent National Electoral Commission v Balarabe Musa (2003) 10 WRN 1. Upon a critical consideration of the guidelines the Supreme Court upheld the administrative fee of N100, 000   but struck down the other guidelines such as a register showing the names, residential addresses of members in at least 24 states, offices with list of staff, operational equipment and furniture in at least 24 states etc. The outrageous guidelines were annulled on the ground that they had enlarged and added to the provisions of section 222 of the Constitution which has laid down six conditions for the registration of political parties.

In his contribution to the epochal judgment of the highest court Niki Tobi J.S.C (as he then was) held that Section 40 of the Constitution “vests in every person the right to freely associate with other persons and belong to any political party, an Act of the National Assembly or a guideline of the 1st appellant (INEC) ambitiously trying to take away the rights guaranteed in the section cannot stand. This is because the Constitution is supreme.” In 2003, the move by the INEC to collect nomination fees running to several billions of Naira from candidates contesting elections throughout the country was declared illegal by the Federal High Court. In several states the high courts have set aside the guidelines issued by state electoral commissions for the production of tax clearance certificates and payment of nomination fees by candidates contesting local government elections.

Notwithstanding the clear judicial pronouncements on the matter the state electoral commissions have not ceased from collecting nomination fees from candidates who contest local government elections. In NCP v Ekiti State Independent Electoral Commission (unreported Suit Number HAD/240/2010) it was held by the high court that the demand for the production of tax clearance certificates and payment of nomination fee by candidates contesting the 2004 local government election in the state  was illegal and unconstitutional. The judgment was upheld by the Court of Appeal in favour of the National Conscience Party (NCP). Similar verdicts had been handed down by the high courts in several states in the country.

In each of the cases the decision of the court was anchored on the relevant provisions of the Constitution on the eligibility of candidates to contest elections.

Since the conditions stipulated in the Constitution do not include payment of nomination fees and production of tax clearance certificates the courts have never hesitated to strike them down. Therefore, the collection of nomination fees from candidates by political parties, which is an additional qualification, is illegal and unconstitutional as political parties have no power to add to or subtract from the constitutional prerequisites which candidates must possess to qualify to contest elections in Nigeria.

It is trite law that while every citizen is entitled to freedom of association they cannot be forced to be a member of any political party. To that extent, anyone who is not satisfied with any of its guidelines or rules is at liberty to quit. But since political parties are regulated by the Constitution and the Electoral Act they cannot be allowed to infringe on the fundamental rights of their members. Under section 131 of the Constitution any Nigerian citizen who has attained the age of 40 years and is a member of a political party and sponsored by that party and has been educated up to secondary school level is qualified to contest for presidential election in Nigeria. Section 87 of the Electoral Act which provides for the nomination of candidates by political parties has not prescribed that aspirants shall pay any fee. In the circumstance, political parties may only be permitted by law to charge administrative fees.

In Bullock  v Carter 405 U.S 134 (1972) the appellants who sought to become candidates for local office in the Democratic primary election challenged in the District Court the validity of the nomination fees up to $8, 999. It was held that the fees contravened the Equal Protection Clause of the 14th Amendment. It was the view that “By requiring candidates to shoulder the costs of conducting primary election through filing fee by providing no reasonable alternative means of access to the ballot, the State of Texas has erected a system that utilizes the criterion of ability to pay as a condition to being on the ballot, thus excluding some candidates otherwise qualified and denying an undetermined number of voters the opportunity to vote candidates of their choice.”

Since the right of every citizen to participate in government of their country, either directly or through freely chosen representatives is guaranteed by Article 13 of the African Charter on Human and Peoples’ Rights (Ratification and Enforcement) Act (Cap A9) Laws of the Federation of Nigeria, 2004 the guideline of a political party for payment of skyrocketing nomination fees which is capable of excluding indigent candidates from the political process is illegal. More so, that every citizen is entitled to the enjoyment of the rights and freedoms recognized and guaranteed in the African Charter without distinction of any kind such as fortune or social status.

•Mr Falana, SAN, is a member of the THISDAY Editorial Board.

Source: ThisDay

A woman who enjoys only rape!

A woman who enjoys only rape…

This is one country so many things happen at the same time. One minute you are clinking glasses over ceasefire agreement with Boko Haram and the next more girls are abducted and more towns are captured by Boko Haram. Ceasefire disappears in angry flames of fire as more villages get consumed. One minute our female football team is coast­ing home to championship victory and the next those who can’t kick a 50kobo hard rubber ball are throwing stones at the football glass house, brandishing court orders and threatening our only national football and collective happiness.

And then as I prepare an altar to summon all the gods of the land to place Olympic-size curse on all these spoilers, they all return to their senses and I have to dismantle the altar. And then one day the PDP has a speaker and the next the party is speechlessly ‘Speakerless’. Now policemen are caught in the salvos and angry crosshairs of a frustrated ruling party and a gloating opposition. Is this betrayal or political master stroke? How can you blame me if I’m dizzy and breathless from try­ing to keep up with so many things at the same time?

But all that don’t bother me as much as this talk of Muslim-Muslim ticket and how it will affect Nigeria’s unity and exis­tence. A Muslim president and a Muslim vice president is not good for our health, they said. The combination will tear what remains of our national fabric to shreds. It will wipe Nigeria off the surface of the earth. It will destroy our democracy. It will be the end of us, blah blah blah. Serious­ly? How did we get to this point, this sorry pass where politicians tell us what is sweet in our mouth and we believe them? How can anybody tell me I am overfed when I am still in full possession and custody of my stomach? How come it is only politi­cians who know what is good for us and we actually believe them, after all these years and what they have done to us?

I guess when the only kind of sex you have had is the one provided by a rapist, after some time you just might begin to think that is the only type of sex that exists. And a woman who enjoys only rape is a sick woman indeed and she most certainly needs help. Nigeria is that woman, that sick woman who thinks rape is synonymous with love-making. She has been raped so much for so long that her rapist is beginning to look like a hero. She needs help, urgent help. Every Nigerian who believes that Muslim-Muslim-ticket-is-dangerous-for-our-health rubbish needs help. I know some of us, raped-to-stupor folks, are warming up to insult me for in­sulting them. It is still part of the sickness. My people say the day a mad man realises he is sick in the head is the day he starts his journey to sanity. So, I understand those who are readying their weapons of mass assault. But I’ll make my points.

Let me start by saying that I am a Chris­tian who has no plan to become a Muslim. I have plenty of Muslim friends too. I also do not choose my friends based on where they worship on Friday or Sunday because my Bible and my pastors have established this fact; by their fruits, ye shall know them. A good man is a good man and a bad man is a bad man. So why should I befriend anybody bad just because he attends my church when I know he smokes and inhale designer evil things during the week?

Now, have you noticed that those who are playing the religion card are politicians who stand to gain plenty by and from who occupies certain positions and are likely to lose plenty if certain persons get into certain offices and positions?

Let’s look at it this way. When you need to fix your ‘tokunbo’ car, and you need a mechanic who knows his onions, do you ask if he’s a Muslim or a Christian? Let us assume your car is a brand new N25m Honda SUV and you need to service it, do you ask for a Muslim engineer when you get to the Honda Place or a Christian one or you simply insist that they do a good job? If your wife falls into labour and you get to the hospital and finds that the doctor and midwife on duty are Muslims and you are a Christian, I guess you can reject the Muslim-Muslim ticket and wait until the Muslim doctor and Christian nurses resume before you let anybody touch your wife. I don’t know any woman who goes to Mile 12 Market in Lagos to buy a basket of tomatoes and concerns herself not with the size and freshness of the tomatoes but the religion of the seller.

If your Christian driver has wrecked your Prado and almost killed your only son, do you keep him or kick him to the curb? And if you are a member of Latter Rain or RCCG and your driver is a Muslim you can trust with millions and the lives of your children he takes to and from school, if you sack him and employ the Christian driver who is a cer­tified wrecker of SUVs, shouldn’t we your friends haul you into a padded ward?

So where does religion fit into serious life and death decisions? This is a wrecked country that needs fixing. Some parts of it are already in the mechanic workshop and we surely need the right hands. We need a driver who will drive this Prado safely home, not wrap it around a tree. We need men and women who are sane to lead us. This country is in labour and who cares if the midwife is wearing hijab? In fact, this baby is lying in a breach position and unless we get the right midwife and doctor, we are likely to lose both mother and child.

This country needs public schools that work and lecturers that have the right tools and do not go on strike. Imagine a Nigeria where doctors do not watch patients die because we don’t treat them right. Imagine a country without Boko Haram, without violence and bloodshed. Imagine uninterrupted power supply. Do we really think where a governor or the President worships is what will deliver all those goodies, lead us to the promised land? Do you, really, sincerely think a visionary President and a passion­ate Vice President who worship in the same church should be our problem or a nation that finally takes its place in the comity of nations?

Look at Lagos. Look at those rail lines and fine train stations, do you think I’m worried about whether Governor Fasho­la’s successor is a Muslim or Christian or riding the mono rail to work? I want a governor who’ll surpass Alhaji Lateef Kayode Jakande’s housing projects. I want to go to work by train, never ever having to worry about LASTMA and VIOs. I want a safe Lagos. I want a governor who will make Fashola’s impressive record look like child’s play. I want a Lagos State University (LASU) that will have exchange students from Harvard and Yale.

We should do what is right for us, not what is right for politicians or what they think is right for us. Unless we are that sick woman who has been raped so many times she thinks her rapist is the ultimate stud.

 Source: The Sun

Sankara, Compaore and abortion of an African revolution – Simon Kolawole

Late Thomas Sankara

Late Thomas Sankara



Sankara, Compaoré and Africa’s Shame

By SimonKolawole

I give special thanks to the almighty God that I am alive to witness the end of Blaise Compaoré  that traitor who set Africa back by a thousand years when he terminated the life of Thomas Sankara in 1987.

Anytime I see Compaoré’s image, I have nothing but resentment towards him. I have nothing but disdain for the assassin who truncated the evolution of an authentic modern story of leadership in Africa. I have never wished him well since his men took out Sankara, a budding African leader who was trying to write a genuine script for the transformation of our continent.

I was a fan of Sankara yes. I am not a Marxist, by any variation of the definition. But I have nothing against any African leader who leads by example, who is not given to greed. Although I believe whole-heartedly in multi-party democracy, I have always had some accommodation for leaders, whether military or civilian, who are motivated by genuine love for country and transparent desire to transform the society. I have nothing against genuine leaders who are transparently honest.

What did Sankara represent? Coming to power in 1983, he was very plain about what he came to do: change the society both in orientation and structure. Africa has been ruled for too long by brainless and shameless leaders who know not their left from their right. He was one of the very few who had a clear, selfless vision. His philosophy was very much influenced by Marxism, and he said a lot of things about revolution, liberation, imperialism, the proletariat and the bourgeoisie ─ which is actually none of my business. In practical terms, he went about transforming Burkina Faso.

Why I love Sankara to bits was that he practised what he preached ─ something you are not likely to say about a typical African leader. He disdained waste of public funds. On assuming power, he sold off government’s fleet of Mercedes cars. He made the cheapest car ─ Renault 5 ─ the official vehicle of ministers. Compare this to Nigeria where ministers spend hundreds of millions of naira to buy bullet-proof cars, where presidential and “gubernatorial” jets are the order of the day in the face of millions of people going to bed hungry every night.

Sankara reduced his own salary. He was earning $450 a month. Compare this to Nigeria where governors earn millions of naira in and out of office, with the full complement of domestic staff and mansions at home and abroad. Sankara banned first class tickets for government officials ─ but a minister in Nigeria will spend N15 billion to hire private jets. After his assassination, all of Sankara’s possessions were a Renault 5, a fridge, a freezer, four bikes and three guitars. He was officially the world’s poorest president.

Agriculture was Sankara’s major focus. He fought desertification and famine. He seized lands from the feudal landlords (including his family’s land) and redistributed them to peasant farmers. In his time, Burkina Faso witnessed tremendous improvement in farm yield: wheat production doubled. His country became self-sufficient in wheat. Sankara, a proud African, rejected imperialism. He opposed foreign aid, saying again and again: “He who feeds you controls you.” He asked African countries to repudiate their foreign debts which were piled on the continent by Western agents in connivance with thieving African leaders.

Long before the world started hammering on women empowerment, he made it a core policy of his administration. His government was filled with women. He encouraged them to join the military ─ seen as a preserve for the men. He outlawed polygamy, female circumcision and forced marriages. He encouraged women to stop being mere housewives. He told schoolgirls who became pregnant not to abandon education. He promoted family planning to save the career of millions of women who had been turned to mere baby factories.

Sankara encouraged husbands to go to the market to shop for the house. He asked them to learn cooking, so that they could support their wives at home and experience what women go through. This was nothing but revolutionary thinking in Africa. He clearly recognised what great role women could play in development. In fact, he said: “The revolution and women’s liberation go together. We do not talk of women’s emancipation as an act of charity or because of a surge of human compassion. It is a basic necessity for the triumph of the revolution. Women hold up the other half of the sky.”

Of course, Sankara was by no means perfect. I am still searching for a perfect human being. As a military man, he committed a lot of excesses ─ banning unions to prevent strikes against his reform and stifling free press to forestall dissent. No leader who wants to change the society will not carry the image of a dictator. Rwanda’s Paul Kagame is one. Singapore’s Lee Kwan Yew was another. And even though Sankara’s people loved him, these excesses were beginning to get under their skin. And, sure, the colonial masters, the African civilian and military despots, and the feudalists were never happy with Sankara.

That, unfortunately, set the stage for a tragic alternative: Blaise Compaoré, who happened to be Sankara’s confidant and friend. On October 15, 1987, the new African story was abruptly terminated. Compaoré’s men shot Sankara and 12 guards dead in a bloody coup. One of the surviving guards said when the troops came in, Sankara raised his hands and said: “Take me. I’m the one you want.” They sprayed him with Kalashnikov fire, finishing him off with a grenade. The body of one of the most handsome African faces was dismembered and buried in unmarked grave. Burkinabes cried and mourned, calling the coupists “assassins and traitors”.

Compaoré took over power, described Sankara as a “megalomaniac” and began to reverse his policies. That marked the death of a dream. Compaoré grabbed his country by the throat and raped it for 27 years, changing the constitution at will. He organised an election for himself in 1991 and became civilian president after a voter turn-out of 25 per cent. He got a dubious second term seven years later, but was not satisfied. He changed the constitution. He got the courts to say he could run under the new constitution, and so he got a new term in 2005.

But as greed goes, he sought yet another term in 2010. With 2015 closing in and his reign about to end as stipulated by the constitution, he had been busy conniving with the Parliament to change the constitution yet again to give him another term till 2020. But Burkinabes had had enough after 27 years of greedy, manipulative and visionless leadership. Last week, they spilled into the streets and set the parliament on fire. On Friday, Compaoré ran away from office with the blood of Sankara still a stain on his conscience. He is now a former president. Nothing lasts forever.

I don’t know if the change in Burkina Faso will produce another Sankara or a Compaoré, but there is one thing I know and I’m very happy for: the traitor is gone. Forever.

And Four
Other Things…

The gale of defections in Nigeria has recorded its biggest catch ever ─ the No. 4 citizen and speaker of the House of Representatives moving to an opposition party. Hon. Aminu Tambuwal has finally done it. The drama surrounding his defection from the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) to the All Progressives Congress (APC) has also raised his profile, and his supporters are now touting him as a possible APC presidential candidate. It’s a tough call since there are well-respected aspirants already in the fray. But as politics goes, his supporters hope he will end up as the “compromise candidate”. Interesting.

Are the police empowered to interpret the constitution? The withdrawal of security escorts from the speaker following his defection is raising that amusing question. The police said having defected from the PDP, Tambuwal is no longer a lawmaker in line with section 68(1)(g) of the 1999 constitution and should lose the privileges. My opinion is that police cannot declare anybody’s seat vacant ─ that’s the job of the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC), which should follow a complaint from the PDP. Police are allowed to arrest a criminal without seeking court order, but defection is not a criminal offence. Never.

Any doubt that Boko Haram had declared a ceasefire or not should have been laid to rest by now. Not only have they launched ferocious and audacious attacks in recent days, not even one Chibok girl has been released, contrary to claims by government officials that the “negotiations” were going well. Now, Abubakar Shekau, the supposedly killed leader of the sect, has released a video denouncing the so-called ceasefire. Ladies and gentlemen, this is embarrassing. Who are we discussing with? Why have they not released a single girl if they are genuine? Is it some poor joke or what? Confounding!

Am I the only one that is tired of the circus around the Nigeria Football Federation (NFF) and Super Eagles’ coach, Stephen Keshi? After telling us how lucky we are to have him as a coach and how the whole world wants to hire him, I am amazed that Keshi has returned to his vomit. He is a smart chap. How many countries will give him so many cars and so much money for winning the Africa Cup of Nations? How many countries can pay him N10million for handling three matches, despite winning only one? I’ll tell you the country. Nigeria.

Jonathan and the 2015 Calculations By Simon Kolawole

Jonathan and the 2015 Calculations
By Simon Kolawole

I have been listening to comments and reading analyses on the 2015 presidential election with rapt attention. There is nothing unanimous in the predictions and projections, but I am sensing a trend in the analyses: that if the All Progressives Congress (APC) fields Maj. General Muhammadu Buhari (rtd) against President Goodluck Jonathan of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), then it will be a piece of cake for the former head of state. A Buhari supporter, in a recent newspaper interview, said Buhari’s votes in the North plus Bola Tinubu’s votes in the south-west equal automatic victory for APC.

Slow down a bit, guys. I have no intention of raining on anyone’s parade or pouring cold water on exciting calculations, but analyses do not have to be this simplistic. If the history and politics of elections in Nigeria are to be of any use in these postulations, the safest bet will be to say there are still many rivers to cross. My intention today is to draw attention to several facts and factors that will be at play during the elections. Many things are still taking shape; opportunities and threats still exist for the PDP and the APC. It is too early in the day to arrive at definite conclusions.

Let us look into some of the assumptions one by one. The first is that Buhari will clear the votes in the core North and Tinubu will deliver the South-west votes in one basket. That Buhari will win in the core North has never been in dispute ─ he has done so consistently since 2003. It is unthinkable that he will not win there. However, I’m not sure Tinubu can clear the South-west the same way Buhari could do in the core North. It appears many commentators have not been monitoring recent developments in the South-west. To start with, two of the six states ─ Ekiti and Ondo ─ are now in the hands of PDP. That is important to note.

Meanwhile, the APC is getting weaker in Oyo state. The three APC senators have left the party; the death of Alhaji Alao Arisekola has dealt some body blow on Governor Abiola Ajimobi; former Governor Adebayo Alao-Akala (PDP) is on a rebound; former Governor Rashidi Ladoja, who controls large portions of Ibadan, is complicating things for APC. In Ogun, Governor Ibikunle Amosun is under fire from within and without.  Chief Olusegun Osoba, in whose camp the Ogun APC senators and house members are, is playing hard ball with Amosun. The PDP, meanwhile, is bringing back its break-up groups and rebuilding in the state.

In simple words, Oyo and Ogun have become very shaky and it is a bit tenuous to assume the South-west will vote en bloc for APC in 2015. I may well be wrong, but I am seeing a split of the zone’s 13.5 million votes. The South-west, in my opinion, is neither here nor there yet. No assumptions should be made and no conclusions should be reached yet, certainly not in October 2014. Of course, the APC is not sleeping and is also hoping to gain from the fall-outs from PDP’s possible slips in the coming weeks. But South-west does not look like one-way traffic as at today.

Meanwhile, there is also this assumption that Buhari ─ or APC ─ does not need the South-east and South-south (SESS). That is ridiculous. First, it is not good for Buhari’s CV that he has never won in any Southern state since he launched his presidential bid in 2003. Not one state. And it is also not good political strategy to downplay SESS. There are 11 states in these two geo-political zones. The APC calculation may be that the South-south would rather have a “son of the soil” as president. The South-east, it seems, is fully joined in matrimony to South-south under Jonathan’s presidency. But does that mean giving up without a fight?

Let us now reverse the case. Jonathan, despite knowing that the core North will be a difficult hunting ground for him, is putting up a decent fight. He is working to secure as many votes as possible in Buhari’s territory. The president has gathered many strong politicians to his side. Now let us do some basic calculations. SESS has 17 million votes combined. Buhari’s home zone, North-west, has 18.7 million registered voters. If Jonathan bites off as much as 30-40% of the votes in the North-west (which he did in 2011) while Buhari does poorly in SESS (like before), Jonathan would clearly gain more than Buhari in the candidates’ home zones.

Jonathan’s chances, in the meantime, are also bright among the Northern minorities. It could be minority solidarity, I can’t say. The North-central has 11 million names on the voter register. Jonathan’s reconciliation with former military, Gen. Ibrahim Babangida, and the governor of Niger State, Dr. Babangida Aliyu, could help him in Niger state. Kogi, Plateau, Nasarawa and Benue would ordinarily back Jonathan. But Kwara, which supported him in 2011, is now uncertain, with the godfather, Bukola Saraki, relocating to APC. Buhari will fancy his chances in Kwara, that is if Saraki can ward off his PDP foes, who look very formidable. In truth, Kwara now looks more like a tight corner for both parties.

The North-east, boasting of 11 million registered voters, could be a mixed bag. Gombe, Bauchi, Yobe and Borno have always gone to Buhari, while Taraba and Adamawa seem to have a thing for Jonathan. But something significant has changed in Borno: Ali Modu Sheriff is now in PDP. Since 1999, Borno has always faced any direction Sheriff pointed to, and his defection must be considered a loss to APC. I was not surprised at APC’s reaction when Sheriff left: Borno’s 2.5 million votes are the nation’s fifth largest after Lagos (5.4m), Kano (4.7m), Kaduna (3.7m) and Katsina (2.9m). Being Buhari’s familiar hunting ground, however, Borno could still be game for him.

Before I shut down my computer, I would like to maintain that unlike many observers and analysts, I foresee a very competitive election. And, I think, four months to the polls, we should avoid jumping into certain conclusions. One of the major failings of the opposition is that they underrated Jonathan’s ability to respond to the momentum they gained last year. Before they could settle down to savour the heavyweight defections from PDP to APC, the Jonathan camp had launched a counter offensive, in addition to benefitting from crises arising from the consolidation process of APC.

Therefore, dear readers, with what I have seen in Nigeria in the last few months, and what I understand about the dynamics of our electoral politics, I would conclude that the day is still young.  For the two leading parties, there are still many hurdles to clear. Let the game begin!

And Four Other Things…

The World Health Organisation (WHO) has certified Nigeria Ebola-free and this is fantastic news. But so were we before Patrick Sawyer sneaked in from Liberia with the agent of death. It takes just one case to get us back in it, so vigilance is key. A two-year-old Guinean girl has just infected Mali, having been taken by road transport abroad after the death of her mother from Ebola. I think we’re doing well checking body temperatures at the airports, but for as long as we maintain road links with the rest of West Africa, we remain at high risk. Caution.

With the state of my mind now, I don’t want to hear anything but ceasefire in the North-east ─ and the release of the Chibok girls. Claims that the Nigerian government is holding talks with genuine representatives of Boko Haram had better be true. The continuous attacks on Borno villages and the fresh abduction of 60 women and girls are so depressing that any form of positive news is welcome at this time. I eagerly await the sect’s “promise” to release the girls again this week. It just has to be true. Hope deferred maketh the heart sick. Anxiety.

A chieftain of the All Progressives Congress (APC), Chief Audu Ogbeh, recently spoke of his party’s political links with the Bring Back Our Girls movement. “We commend the Bring Back Our Girls movement led by members of our party for their commitment,” he said. To supporters of President Goodluck Jonathan, this was the final confirmation of their allegation all the while that BBOG was an APC political gathering. Ogbeh clearly committed a Freudian slip, but we should not allow that to becloud the fact that BBOG is a worthy cause. I think we should just keep politics out of this traumatic experience. Decency.

I am always happy when someone is making the 70th birthday and beyond. That is a sign of long life in this age of all kinds of illnesses and diseases killing people. I therefore celebrate with former head of state, General Yakubu Gowon, on his 80th birthday. I was expecting a birthday present to Nigerians from Gowon: his memoirs on the Nigerian civil war â but we may have to wait in vain. Dim Emeka Ojukwu died with his memoirs unwritten, denying us a first-hand account of his experience. Gowon is following the same path. Unfair.

Source: ThisDay