An intensive lobbying is presently going on in the Nigeria Immigration Service (NIS), a paramilitary agency of the Ministry of Interior, to persuade the authorities to turn a blind eye to the report of two committees, which recently verified the certificates of the NIS staff.
The NIS and Ministry of Interior had not long ago set up different panels to investigate charges of certificate and age falsification levied against some senior officers.
Comptroller General of Immigration Service (CGIS), David Shikfu Paradang, had carried out the exercise in line with the tasks handed over to him during his swearing-in by President Goodluck Jonathan on June 12, 2013.
Jonathan had directed Paradang to flush out bad eggs, “viruses and all forms of bad characters in the service”.
Paradang was said to have begun the in-house cleaning exercise after the President’s charge to flush out majority of the officers said to have altered their dates of birth to beat early retirement.
In fact, about 60 per cent of the staff of the NIS was discovered to be working with fake certificates.
Not only this, many of them were also found to have falsified their ages.
IF Nigerians needed proof that the import duty racket was alive and well, the latest report showing the Federal Government as granting N25.8 billion in waivers over a five-month period this year should be proof enough. Indeed, if it seems any consolation that this may not come close to the preceding three-year (2011-13) an average of N478 billion yearly, the return appearance of some companies on the beneficiaries’ list would seem a measure of how very little has changed in terms of the attitudes which underlie the administration of the waiver regime.
Obviously, old habits die hard. For, how else can one explain the case of Globe Motors said to have got a waiver of N991 million for the import of the 290 cars used for the World Economic Forum in Africa? In 2012, it was Coscharis Motors securing the same largesse for the 200 exotic cars it supplied for the 7th African First Ladies Peace Mission (AFLPM) summit in Abuja.
A former member of the House of Representatives, Dino Melaye, has accused a former Aviation Minister, Mr Femi Fani-Kayode, of making hasty comments on alleged Boko Haram sponsors.
The activist said Fani-Kayode’s accusation of the All Progressives Congress (APC) with alleged connection with the sect was hasty, indecent and unconscionable.
In a statement yesterday in Abuja, Melaye said: “Mr. Fani-Kayode’s stout defence of an alleged Boko Haram sponsor, as identified by the Goodluck Jonathan administration-appointed negotiator, Stephen Davis, and his attempt to continue pointing fingers at my party, the APC, is hasty, indecent and unconscionable.
“The last time I checked, Mr. Fani-Kayode was not a duly-constituted independent commission of enquiry to investigate the allegations by the negotiator. One, therefore, wonders how he could so quickly exonerate any of those who were fingered by Dr. Davis purely on the basis of sheer sentiments as well as unbridled hatred for the APC.
Terrorist group ISIS is causing panic around the world. ISIS, which is the acronym for the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria, is probably the first terror group to have territorial expansionist ambition, and it is so far succeeding in actualising it. It has taken over critical parts of Syria and Iraq already and heavy fighting is currently going on for the control of strategic facilities in these countries. This group is so ruthless, beastly and heartless that even al-Qaeda has declared that it does not want to have anything to do with it. They kill for the fun of it and actually enjoy doing so. They have wiped out small towns and villages and they are already causing disruptions in the geography of the Arab world. They hate everybody and everybody hates them; they are very happy about that, apparently.
President Goodluck Jonathan is primed to pick the ticket of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) for the 2015 presidential election ─ from all indications. Most of the aspirants that could challenge him for the ticket have left the party, while Jigawa Governor Sule Lamido is not regarded as a serious challenger. Nigerians who want see the back of Jonathan will now have to look closely at the All Progressives Congress (APC), where there is an array of political heavyweights ─ some will say too loaded for APC’s own good.
Although many of the aspirants have not come out openly to declare their ambition, it is anybody’s guess who the real contenders are. Since the damn of this democratic dispensation in 1999, APC is the first serious attempt by the opposition in Nigeria to win power through a coalition. That the parties even agreed to fuse is already seen as some form of victory, but APC’s supporters would love the party to go all the way and dislodge the PDP from Aso Rock next year. Since the party has unofficially zoned the ticket to the north, the top contenders will naturally come from the region.
The last few weeks have not been good for us in our fight against terrorism. And that is putting it mildly. Boko Haram has put our troops on the back-foot and has significantly expanded the climate of fear beyond its immediate areas of operation. More than at any other time, we need President Goodluck Jonathan to rise up to the occasion and earn his stripes or epaulettes as our Commander-in-Chief. He needs to take charge and lead this war with more decisiveness before the terrorists run us out of territory. President Jonathan needs to quickly shake things up, starting with, but not limited to the leadership of our security agencies.
If he needed any evidence that those leading the war on terror and that our current war-plan are not producing the desired result, President Jonathan got more than enough in the space of two weeks. Within that time, Boko Haram became more murderous and more audacious, graduating from a mere hit-and-run terrorist organisation to a conquest-minded terror group, with an eye on sitting pretty on our territory. Within that time, Boko Haram took over police training academies in two states. Within that time, Boko Haram captured Gwoza, Gamboru-Ngala and Dikwa in Borno State and Limankara in Adamawa State, and hoisted its flags as indication of conquest. And within that time, Abubakar Shekau, the leader of the terrorist group, declared an Islamic Caliphate within our country. This last move, which has been dismissed by our officials as delusional and crazy, clearly has Islamic state written all over it and should get all of us, including our president, deeply worried. It has clearly bumped this war in another territory.
Yekinni Shakiru of the Center for Global Peace Initiative urges the federal government to do her uttermost to address the palpable discontent in the nation’s armed forces to give a fillip to the war against insurgency…
For close to two weeks now, the dreaded Ebola disease took the ‘shine’ off Boko Haram as the deadliest threat to Nigeria, ditto for many across the world. Even Boko Haram seemed humbled as it appeared to have observed a ‘truce’ since the virus escaped its ‘homeland’ of Sierra Leone and Liberia to torment whoever crosses its path across the globe.
One could observe a corresponding reduction in Boko Haram activities since the Ebola saga took the center stage; perhaps there is a connection with regard to ‘a center of coordination’ for the two (pardon me for thinking aloud). But beneath the huge attention given to Ebola, another brewing trouble potentially deadlier to the country is the threat of a troubled military. For some days since the news of wives of Nigerian military protesting the deployment of their husbands for counter insurgency operation against the Boko Haram sect broke out in the social media, mainstream media had played maturity by keeping silent on it; however, the Defense Headquarters broke the silence by going public about the matter which alerted one to a possible looming danger within the country’s military.
AS countries across the world battle to contain the spreads of the Ebola Virus Disease (EVD), the killer ailment appears to be devising means of circumventing efforts to stop it, researchers have said.
Experts claim that the virus is “rapidly and continually mutating, making it harder to diagnose and treat.”
This is just as former President Olusegun Obasanjo declared, on Saturday, that the index case, Patrick Sawyer, in a “devilish” connivance with some Liberian authorities, intentionally brought the disease to Nigeria.
He also noted that the disease, which he said had become a global problem, had been taking a toll on Nigeria’s economy, charging the Federal Government to partner the World Health Organisation (WHO), European Union (EU) and government of America in containing the virus.
On August 27, the news media widely published the press statement issued by Chief Tom Ikimi announcing his resignation from the All Progressive Congress – APC. In the statement, Chief Ikimi chronicled his stewardship in the APC and his hard work towards the formation of the party. He further discussed his ambition to be the Chairman of the party and the reasons why he failed.
In the process, he accused the governors of the All Progress Congress, prominent members of the party and its current chairman Chief Oyegun of conspiracy to thwart his ambition to become the chairman of the party. He further accused the party elders of being cowards in not being able to confront Asiwaju Tinubu about his so – called domineering posture in the party.
THE ongoing move by the House of Representatives to amend the Electoral Act 2010 in order to minimise and regulate the military’s involvement in the conduct of elections is a welcome development. In the proposed amendment, a new clause will be added to section 29(1) of the Electoral Act, which will restrict the role of the military to only ‘securing the distribution and delivery of electoral materials’. Such an intervention is timely because of the glaring misuse of the military in the Ekiti and Osun states governorship elections, and more importantly, given the pervasive fear that the same may be repeated in the 2015 elections. However, the idea by Professor Attahiru Jega, the Chairman of the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) that INEC be granted operational control over all security forces during elections, as allegedly done elsewhere, is far off the mark and should be discountenanced. The 1999 Constitution is explicitly clear on who has powers over security agencies.
Without doubt, security is pivotal to effective electoral administration and the promotion of its integrity. Elections fulfil their democratic ideals only if they engender political participation in a non-violent manner. Also, electoral insecurity diminishes electoral integrity by compromising political competition and participation. However, this fact is not sufficient justification for the militarisation of elections.
ALL truly concerned stakeholders, honest observers and indeed, dispassionate analysts, are already dilating on not only who takes the baton from incumbent Lagos State Governor Babatunde Fashola, but how he/she will emerge as preparations gather momentum by the day.
Quite interestingly, the tone of what to expect soon was set when recently, Oba Rilwan Akiolu jolted the political arena by affirming that all monarchs in the state had anointed a former Permanent Secretary in the state, Mr Akin Ambode, to be the next governor.
Spontaneous outrage greeted the proclamation which many condemned as not only unholy and uncharitable, but a further assault on the nation’s wonky democracy. Till date, the refrain has remained: “No to godfatherism.” And the dust raised by the monarch’s bombshell is yet to subside. Quite instructive was a protest by some members of the All Progressives Congress, APC, to demand free and fair primaries ahead of the 2015 governorship poll. Anointing of some mostly unpopular elements for leadership positions is out-fashioned and counter-productive, they emphasised.
Sadly, many are quick to brand our own nauseating political antics that stand electoral decency on its head as elements of our “home-grown democracy.” What balderdash!
The tapestry of the 2015 presidential elections is gradually taking the shape of a two horse-race, with President Goodluck Jonathan of the Peoples Democratic Party, PDP, and a candidate, (ostensibly of Northern extraction) of the opposition All Progressives Congress, APC, slugging it out. Unlike the 2011 elections where Jonathan contended with a myriad of lack-lustre opposition candidates and forces, there are clear indications of an emerging fierce, hotly-contested battle that will ultimately test his might, popularity, and try his soul. But while the men opposed to his return to power, strategize, and fine tune their methods and tactics, a vortex of forces have crystallized to inject more pep to the inhibiting factors. These men and forces have clawed their way to illuminate the issues behind the elections, as well as an intriguing post-election outlook.
Jonathan, in obvious optimistic acknowledgement of the emerging vista, underscored it in his last democracy day remarks when he said “All these distractions were planned to bring down the government. Since they failed, terror will also fail. Forces of darkness will never prevail over light. I call on all Nigerians to continue to pray, and with God on our side, we shall overcome”.
Today marks 136 days since April 14, when 219 daughters of Nigeria were taken captive from our midst at close to midnight while we all slept. The Presidential Facts Finding Committee on Chibok Abduction which was set up evidently to validate to those who doubted the tragedy, helped confirm that our daughters that went to acquire knowledge were forcibly taken by terrorists. In all, the report stated that 276 school girls were abducted from Government Secondary School on that fateful night and that fortunately, 57 of them courageously took the risk of self-rescue and are since reunited with their families.
After many weeks of tentativeness arising from indifference, doubt, visible irritation and buck passing a rescue effort was finally launched by the Federal Government, supported by countries that include the United States, Britain, France, China, Canada, Israel and Australia. However, after four months and with no news of their rescue nor any slimmer of evidence of actions being taken to bring them back, the desperate reaction of all who empathize with the girls and their families has become “where is the result from the rescue effort?”
Could a new approach change engrained norms in Kampala, where almost half of all women have experienced violence?
Domestic or partner violence is a global concern. Worldwide 30% of partnered women will experience physical or sexual violence in their lifetime. Various measures such as legislation, survivor or victim support services, and individual counselling have ameliorated some of the impacts of violence but how can violence be prevented in the first place? As we learn more about the multiple health and development impacts of violence, the need for effective prevention becomes increasingly urgent.
Take the city of Kampala for example, where almost half of women have experienced partner violence. “Men need to use violence to discipline their wives,” is a common view. “A man beating his wife is a sign that he loves her,” is another. Yet it is here, in three Kampala parishes, that a community mobilisation project called ‘Sasa’ has been changing attitudes and reduced levels of physical partner violence. Women in Sasa communities were half as likely to experience violence in the past year as women living in control groups.
Sasa, which means ‘now’ in Kiswahili, is an acronym for the four phases of a systematic process – start, awareness, support, action – designed to move communities from an initial contemplation of what constitutes violence through to shifts in norms. It was developed by a Ugandan NGORaising Voices to prevent violence against women and reduce theassociated risk of HIV infection.
Female vulnerability to violence and HIV is, in part, the result of underlying norms that promote men’s dominance over women, limit a woman’s power to refuse sex or negotiate condom use, and maintain women’s inferior political and economic status. It is these norms and the power imbalances between women and men that Sasa seeks to change.
Violence does not happen in a vacuum but within the context of a relationship and within a community where specific norms prevail. To prevent violence, the project supports individuals, institutions and service providers to challenge instances when abuses occur in their communities. Violence prevention work has often focused on small group-based activities, but the Sasa approach mobilises whole communities to address the issues.
Power is crucial to the Sasa approach. “If we invited people to discuss ‘gender’ or ‘domestic violence’, three women might show up. Because we focus on power, everyone is interested – men too,” says Tina Musuya, head of Centre for Domestic Violence Prevention, the NGO implementing Sasa. Most people remember an occasion or relationship where they felt powerless. Debate on positive and negative uses of power helps people to appreciate the potential benefits of change.
The key to Sasa’s success is that it is delivered by familiar and trusted individuals within the community. Regular men and women – community activists – are selected and trained to conduct activities in their own networks, engaging families, friends, colleagues and neighbours. Local governmental, institutional and cultural leaders, police officers and healthcare providers also receive training. Sasa activities are not fixed but, rather, develop and evolve in response to community priorities, needs and characteristics.
As a result of action on all these levels, community members are exposed to Sasa ideas from diverse sources in their daily lives. They might attend a community drama, hear about them when consulting a traditional marriage counsellor, chat with a Sasa activist on the bus, or, if personally affected by violence, receive sympathetic support from others. Men may be reached by an activist chatting in the local bar, while women can choose single-sex discussion groups.
Raising Voices invited a team from the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine to evaluate the project. Between 2007 and 2012, the evaluators conducted a trial in eight communities in Kampala, four Sasa communities and four designated comparison communities. In just under three years, Sasa communities were less accepting of violence, reported approximately half the level of physical partner abuse and half the level of multiple sexual partnerships among men. And encouragingly, the diffusion model worked: impacts were seen across the community and not only among individuals who reported high levels of contact with the programme.
As well as benefitting communities in Kampala, Sasa provides a methodology that can be adapted to different places. It is currently being used by over 30 groups and replicated in 15 countries. There is a lot still to learn, but Sasa confirms that as well as well as dealing with the impacts of violence, there are successful ways to deal with the norms that lead to violence.
NIGERIA’S war against Boko Haram is going from bad to worse. The country’s army, on paper the strongest in west Africa, suffered its latest humiliation in late August when some 480 soldiers fled across the border to Cameroon after coming under attack from the jihadists.
Cameroon’s ministry of defence said the Nigerian troops crossed the frontier after militants attacked a military base and police station in Gamboru Ngala, in northern Nigeria. The deserting forces apparently holed up in Maroua, some 80km (50 miles) inside Cameroon, where they were disarmed by local troops. Nigeria’s government insists this was but a “tactical manoeuvre”.
It was the latest of many setbacks in the struggle to contain Boko Haram (its name means “Western education is forbidden”), which recently proclaimed an Islamic caliphate in Nigeria’s north-east, mimicking the one set up by Islamic State in Iraq and Syria. The security situation in the north has continued to deteriorate. Thousands of people have been killed this year. The government has failed to rescue more than 200 schoolgirls kidnapped in April.