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Jonathan, Abba and PDP Police at work by Jide Oluwajuyitan

Jonathan‘If Abba does not understand the implication of his actions for the health of our fragile democracy, we cannot say the same of his principals. Or could it be they just don’t give a damn about the inevitable collapse of a tripod with two disabled legs?’

As one of those who in 2011 demonized Buhari on account of his human right abuses as military head of state back in 1984, I am daily haunted by the unheeded warning of Sonala Olumhense, one of Nigerian most gifted writers that voting Jonathan would amount to giving him a licence to sell what is left of Nigeria to PDP. The verdict is today self evident. The fight against economic saboteurs Jonathan claimed to have identified at the onset of his administration, the quest for a culture of free and fair election, the battle  against insurgency, resolution of the national question through convocation of national confab, at the end were all about what was in them for Jonathan and PDP and not about Nigerians. Even the celebrated 16 years of unbroken democratic dispensation was at the expense of separation of power – the soul of democracy. Jonathan has continued to take delight in the subversion of the legislative and judicial arms of government.

To be fair to Jonathan, he inherited the war against separation of power from ex-President Obasanjo who shuffled senate presidents and speakers of both the upper and lower houses according to his mood. He routinely disobeyed court orders. Picking up from where Obasanjo stopped, Jonathan unsuccessfully attempted to plant pliable leaders on the National Assembly. His failure produced Speaker Waziri Tambuwal. He has however secured more successes in undermining the judiciary which started with his unjust persecution of Justice Isa Ayo Salami for ruling against PDP governors who stole the people’s mandates in Edo, Ondo, and Ekiti and Osun states.

How Nigeria destroys by Lawal Ogienagbon

Map-of-Nigeria-at-52The great danger of being part of Nigeria today is that Nigeria tends massively to corrupt everything and everybody. There is hardly anything to look up to in Nigeria. In most directions that one may look, the beckoning is perpetually and relentlessly towards the low, the ignoble and the graceless. Most of the privileged and influential seek nothing but their own. In the reckoning of the typical powerful and influential Nigerian, the masses of ordinary Nigerians are, at best, cannon fodder for the reaching of his warped goals – and at worst, just despicable beings deserving to be ignored in their poverty, their ignorance and their hopelessness. The famous writer, Wole Soyinka, once wrote a book with the title The Man Died. Man with the higher qualities and nobler passions of man has almost totally died out in Nigeria.

Recently, in some other place, I pointed out one relieving feature in this generally depressing Nigerian landscape – namely, the strong spirit of religious tolerance and accommodation among Yoruba Muslims and Christians in a Nigeria in which most other Muslim peoples have turned the great religion of Islam into the reason for the massacres of their fellow men, the destruction of whole settlements, and the disruption of a whole country. But, unfortunately, in the realm of partisan politics, no such relieving feature exists anywhere in Nigeria – not even among the Yoruba. Everywhere in Nigeria, party politics has been bestialized into a horrible and unrestrained civil war in which prominent politicians set up whole propaganda outfits to lie perpetually and to cruelly besmirch opponents – and hire young men to attack, harass and murder political opponents. And the goal of all the beastly lying and the satanic plots to murder is never to gain political positions for the purpose of serving the interests of country and people; it is to enhance the politician’s access to the country’s money and other resources. Hordes of young people are easily available for recruitment because they are unemployed, poor, and desperate to earn some income – even if it is income from the hand of Satan himself.

USA’s diversity plus a rich food culture by Is’haq Modibbo Kawu

Good foodI arrived in London on Saturday after the two weeks that I spent in the United States, in California and Texas. Let me start by confessing that I love food, especially that opportunity to taste foods of the different cultures of our wonderful world.

And in my nomadic wanderings in far-flung destinations from Western Sahara to Eritrea or South Sudan to India and beyond, I have retained an unending fascination with tasting the foods of these different countries.

Food is so essentially human and yet they have a variety to them, which underline the various ways humans have found culinary delights within geographical spaces, in the construction of the treasure house of human culinary culture.

There are places where we find food particularly pleasant while some others don’t feel too right. When I studied in Germany in the 1980s, I grew a particular dislike for potatoes because they were too central to the German diet in the defunct GDR! I spent 15 days in Eritrea in 2009 and at a point, I became uncomfortable with their national diet, Njeera (shared with Ethiopia!) and Pasta.

It was in a small village between Masawa on the Red Sea Coast and Asmara, the Eritrean capital, that I ate the most delicious lamb-based dish of my stay in the country. That compensated for the previous days’ difficulty!

Nigerian restaurant

A new Nigerian restaurant that opened the day before I arrived was my first port of call in Los Angeles. The décor was modest but decently clean. SUMPTUOUS as it is called, was opened by a Nigerian guy from Akwa Ibom; he also has a couple of outlets in Nigeria. The pounded yam, okra soup and the fish were top grade; that meant I was not going to miss Nigeria so much and in the week that I spent in California, I returned to eat two more times.

We went to a lovely Sunday afternoon buffet that catered in the main to professional people in their forties and fifties.

The variety was excellent just as there was a jazz band entertaining and the music was broadcast live on a local FM station. I did a couple of seafood restaurants a few times, to supplement the wonderful food that my friend, Adeyombo Aderinto’s wife, Funke, cooked in the house.

Rage of Impeachment Hawkers by Ochereome Nnnana

Police attack at National Assembly: Lawmakers scaling gate of National Assembly as Police blocked National Assembly gate in Abuja. Photo by Gbemiga OlamikanThe impeachment clauses in the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria (1999) are some of the powerful instruments granted the Legislature under the presidential system of government to hold the Executive Branch to account or actually remove them in extreme cases of serious misconduct. Sections 143 and 188 spell out the process in detail. The implications of this will be addressed shortly.

This impeachment clause has regularly been used, usually in intra-legislative power struggles in the Senate or House of Representatives and the State Houses of Assembly, to change the presiding officers. The all-powerful state governors, who have managed to convert the legislators in their states to mere rubberstamps, often nudge the lawmakers to use it against their Speakers or to remove their Deputy Governors who have fallen from favour. In the past three and half years, we have seen such measures in Taraba, Adamawa, Enugu, Imo, and other states. We have also seen what I call quasi-impeachments, whereby minority groups backed by executive power either in Abuja or the state government house, undemocratically removed speakers supported by rival majority groups. This happened in Rivers and recently Ekiti.

Impeachment is rarely aimed at governors. The state Chief Executives have found ways to immunise themselves from it.

At the federal level, the only time an impeachment move was made against the President, Commander-in-Chief of the Federal Republic of Nigeria was in 2002, when Senator Pius Anyim was the President of the Senate. The move was eventually squelched, and the ringleaders of the attempt systematically flushed out of the ruling party by President Olusegun Obasanjo, who, of course, was the leader of the Peoples Democratic Party, PDP, from which ranks the “rebellion” in the Senate started.

States’ Assemblies Loyalty War … LEADERSHIP

ayoRecent events at some states’ Houses of Assembly are threatening the existence of the legislature as an arm of government in our democratic system. Just last week, the Ekiti State House of Assembly defied the dogmatic mathematical laws of greater than and less than, when seven of its twenty-six members loyal to the state governor, Ayodele Fayose, impeached the speaker of the House, Adewale Omirin. It was the culmination of an agonising political pounding suffered by Speaker Omirin since Governor Fayose was sworn in.

The Ekiti legislators, in abusing their constitutional responsibilities in the removal of their speaker, as provided for by Section 92 (2) (c) of the amended 1999 Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, should note that they inadvertently voted to condone future excesses of the executive. Constitutionally, Houses of Assembly are to serve as checks on the executive arm of government; therefore, the independence of the legislature is sacrosanct.

We are worried that the independence of the legislature is gradually being eroded in ways as strange to democratic tenets as they are embarrassing. This new fad in our polity, where crucial legislative resolutions and actions are not decided by numbers but by executive influence, is eroding the powers of the legislature and making dictators of state governors.

In This Era Of Crisis, Where Have All The Leaders Gone? by Abba Mahmood

In every society, there are those considered as leaders. They may not necessarily be the governors or presidents of countries. They may not even be in any government service. But they are sufficiently influential and have enormous clout. They command the respect of the public, such that when they speak they are not only listened to, but obeyed. They do not control any instrument of power such as the military or security services but they have strong moral authority that is far greater in force than all coercive instruments can confer or anyone else. When society is drifting they intervene to establish order. Nigeria is in disorder, but where is the establishment?

In every village there are elders. In every society there are leaders. But the greatest disaster that can happen to any individual is to not to have anyone who can look at the person in the face and tell him or her the truth, however bitter. Such is also the role of the establishment in any decent community. Recall that when George W. Bush rigged out Al Gore in Florida during the 2000 US presidential election, America was heading towards constitutional crisis. The American establishment quickly intervened to avert the imminent danger. Nigeria is already in crisis, but where is the establishment?

Ordinary local hunters have become heroes because they fight terrorists in the northeast more than the military. The Nigerian military now run away at the slightest opportunity. The only thing they do is to barricade roads and establish check points, a strategy that has clearly failed as it only causes untold hardship to ordinary citizens while insurgents avoid those places. The Nigerian police has become glorified ruling party thugs. They teargas the hallowed National Assembly chamber with impunity, and harass elected legislators. This is equivalent to an assault on the country’s democracy because the legislators are representatives of the people. Again, where is the establishment?

General Obasanjo: Please, revive the Inter Action Council (IAC) by Bobson Gbinije

General Obasanjo: Please, revive the Inter Action Council (IAC)Our global village is being continuously bedraggled and bemused by conflicting vortexes and counter-vortexes, and it has now become fundamentally imperative more than ever before to institutionalize instrumental actions of crises management and schism resolution to backpedal mankind from the epicenter of this anarchical entropy.

We need consultative initiatives, all-embracing strategic repositioning and synergistic altruism to enable us forestall the global tentacles of despotism, harrowing poverty, intellectual indolence, horrors of climate change and economic regressionalism etc. The United Nations, African Union (AU), Organization of American States (OAS), ASEAN, ECOWAS, the Common Wealth Organization etc are pregnant with laudable ideas, but bereft of action in solving our political , socio-economic problems.

We call for a global renaissance that will revive these bodies from their anachronistic and somnambulistic dungeon. The political massacre in Guinea, Kangaroo referendum by the authorities in Niger Republic, the unrepresentative government of Sudan, Eritrea, the pirates in Somalia, corruption in Nigeria, terrorism  in India, Pakistan and Afghanistan, closure of the Guantanamo Bay detention camp, political stalemate in Honduras and the return of political tyranny to Equtorial Guinea etc should be addressed. The climate change issue should go beyond the Kyoto protocol and the Copenhagen declaration. All hands must be on deck.

Agenda for new CJN … THE SUN

Mahmud Mohammed: Profile of the new Chief Justice of Nigeria

 

President Goodluck Jonathan last week appointed Justice Mahmud Mohammed as a re­placement for the outgoing Chief Justice of Nigeria, Justice Aloma Mukhtar, who retired upon attaining the mandatory retirement age of 70.

Mukhtar, the first female chief jus­tice of the country, is demonstrably an unprecedented martinet in the Nigerian judicial system having rev­olutionized the entire process and restored immeasurably the dignity that was almost lost before her oc­cupation of that exalted position. We salute her courage, professionalism and unparalleled commitment to the rule of law. Her diligence was so pro­found that her legacies would be in­erasable. There is no doubt that she brought Spartan self-discipline to the judiciary.

It is pertinent to underscore the fact that Mukhtar passionately tried to stamp out corruption in the judiciary in very manifest ways that challenged the status quo ante. She may not have succeeded in totally cleansing the Augean stables, but her exemplary efforts are there for her successor to advance. The most critical component of Muhktar’s battle against impropri­eties in our judiciary is the conscious­ness that she has developed among judicial officials such that henceforth there would be a rethink by anyone bent on soiling their hands, both at the Bench and on the Bar.

Democracy without democrats by Lewis Obi

tambuwwalNigeria did not invent democracy. Writ­ten records give that credit to an­cient Greece. The Romans did their bit. The British picked up the practice. The first things Nigerians know about democracy they learnt from the British. That in­cluded parliamentary prac­tice and conventions.

Democracy is majority rule for short. It tolerates, accom­modates minority views but it concedes power to the major­ity. That is where the current controversy about the Speaker of the House of Representatives Mr. Aminu Tambuwal comes in. Everywhere democracy is practiced, throughout recorded parliamentary practice in the last 1,000 years, the speaker has always been selected or en­dorsed by the majority party. It may not be law. It is certainly the convention. It takes away from democracy to be creating a controversy over this issue.

This is one dispute that should never have arisen if the country’s elite took democracy as an end, not just a means to the attainment of personal glory or personal wealth. This is one act that should define a man like Tambuwal. If he did not know that when he quit the ruling party he had to quit the speakership, then it must be assumed he is no more than a soldier of fortune, a gambler, a confidence trickster, the exact opposite of a democrat. If he is sitting tight merely to cause maximum damage to the ruling party and further discredit the incumbent president, by forcing them into desperate, misguided actions, he may have succeeded, but that does not make it honor­able.

Goodluck Jonathan, Destroyer-in-Chief By Toyin Dawodu

Nigeria has been in a continual state of decline for the last 50 years. We could beat around the bush and sugar-coat it, but the cold, hard truth is Nigeria is being destroyed. We have leaders who don’t care about the future of a country overflowing with talent. I suspect under better leadership, Nigeria would emerge as a First World powerhouse, the seat of the entire continent. But our current leaders don’t have the heart to step up and deliver that level of leadership. Our leaders would rather let the hell of the last seven years continue because most Nigerians are living in hellish conditions. Of course, I am not including the elite and the corrupt in this number.

Now we have, in office, the man who is putting the final nail in Nigeria’s coffin. This current administration, led by none other than the irrepressible Goodluck Jonathan, has worked tirelessly during his term to further erode the beauty, wealth and potential of Nigeria as a globally-competitive economic force. After running Nigeria’s economy into the ground over the last six years, Jonathan is now bent on destroying our nascent democracy. If there is such thing as impunity with audacity, Jonathan is proof positive that the rule of law doesn’t apply to leadership or the elite. Government is above the law.

The Lessons Beyond the Tears by Olusegun Adeniyi

“Something interesting happened on my way to Oshodi this morning. At the motor park, this rough mean-looking conductor was screaming for passengers, his vernacular oscillating between Yoruba and Pidgin English. “Oshodi! Oshodi!” he shouted angrily as I, along with some other passengers, struggled for seats. There was this beautiful young lady who couldn’t throw caution and decorum to the wind but waited patiently until the bus was almost filled. Then she pleaded to sit by the conductor until somebody came down, when she would have a proper seat.

“The bus conductor didn’t even look at her pretty face; he hissed and shouted at the driver to move, while asking the girl why she didn’t rush like the other passengers. The girl started pleading in Yoruba interspersed with English before saying, “I know you are a good man, never mind the fact that you have been shouting”, (that elicited laughter). “Let me sit by your side, please”, she added.

“Finally, with much frowning of face the conductor relented and she sat beside him. It was a tight squeeze but she didn’t complain. Instead, she started praising the conductor who in turn started teasing her, speaking (and sometimes spitting by mistake) into her face but the girl never looked away as she kept smiling. He asked her where she worked and she replied that she was a student at the University of Lagos (UNILAG) studying accounting. The conductor teased her in Yoruba about why her boyfriend didn’t drop her at her destination but the young lady laughed it off and continued to gist with the guy in Yoruba.

Aso Rock Badge Show …. THE NATION

Aso-rockAn interesting picture of what may be described as the latest fashion accessory in the country’s corridor of power came through a noteworthy observation by The Punch presidency watcher, Olalekan Adetayo, who writes a weekly column called ASO ROCK Lens. He wrote recently: “As the 2015 presidential election draws nearer, President’s men are falling over one another to display their loyalty to the man who has been endorsed as the sole candidate of the Peoples Democratic Party.” Of course, he was speaking about President Goodluck Jonathan.

Adetayo continued: “One of the ways they are showing their loyalty is the way they attach pin-ups on their lapels and dresses in the case of women. Some of the lapels only have the President’s portrait. There are other pin-ups with only inscriptions such as ‘Goodluck to you’ among others.”

It would appear that Adetayo was speaking of promotional badges. To go by his observation, badge producers with the right political connections must be doing well; more specifically, badge makers who have the ear of the politically powerful must be laughing all the way to the bank, considering that, apparently, money is no object when it comes to the Jonathan re-election project. It stands to reason that if expense is no object, then providers of such items related to the Jonathan re-election ambition must be in paradise.

Health Workers Strike Again … THE VANGUARD

JOHESUJUST a couple of months after the Nigerian Medical Association, NMA, arm of the public sector health workers ended its protracted strike, the National Union of Allied Health Professionals, NUAHP, and the Joint Health Sector Unions, JOHESU, again, withdrew their services. You have a right to wonder how often they are at work in a year. The fresh strike followed even after the Federal Government approved their demand to be allowed to become consultants, just as their peers, the medical doctors.

Felix Faniran, President of NUAHP, said other demands including salary increment and upward adjustment of retiring age for his members were not addressed. Patients in public hospitals are left to feel the pinch of the incessant downing of tools by a sector that has become notorious for abusing strikes as if it is at war with members of the public, especially the poor who patronise government hospitals.

The latest strike is coming in the last months of the year, when increase in travels exert high demand for emergency medical services. It also coincides with the intensification of the war against insur-gency in the North East, where our gallant soldiers and thousands of internally displaced persons require urgent medical and emergency attention.

I don’t give a damn! as a standing order of impunity by Ogaga Ifowodo

goodluck_1636002cBy condoning, if not authorising,serial acts of impunity, is President Goodluck Jonathan transforming democracy by redefining it as minority rule? Or simply returning us to the forgotten epoch of might is right? The most popular definition of democracy remains that proffered by Abraham Lincoln in the famous Gettysburg Address to commemorate the site of one of the bloodiest battles of the American Civil War. In the long closing sentence of the short 278-word speech, Lincoln uttered the words that every junior secondary school student knows by heart:”government of the people, by the people, for the people.”

But Lincoln was a man who could see through the clang and clamour, the gore and rubble, of war to the underlying philosophy of his society’s core values. It is this quality that transformed him from a defender of the status quo of slavery and negation of the American national myth to “the great emancipator.”

As I read reports and saw images of how the police, six days ago, tear-gassed House Speaker Aminu Tambuwal and opposition legislators — including, alas, some senators of both parties — in order to prevent them from entering the chambers of the National Assembly where the ruling party representatives sat in a furtive attempt to strip Tambuwal of his speakership as punishment for defecting to the opposition, despite not having the clear majority to do so, I was reminded of a major source of our predicament which I have written about before: our insistence on practising democracy without democrats.

Extension of Emergency Rule, Tambuwal and President Jonathan by Rotimi Fasan

tambuwalIf history is any guide, it almost always starts this way. Like a sick joke or high drama without an apparent plot, full of tension that nevertheless ends in tragedy. I am here talking of the violent attempt by the police to prevent Aminu Tambuwal, Speaker of the House of Representatives, from entering the House last Thursday. The House had reconvened for an emergency session to consider the request by President Goodluck Jonathan for further six months extension of emergency rule in three North Eastern states at the epicentre of insurgent unrest. The Senate which had been in session for two days to consider the same request by President Jonathan, prior to the incident at the House of Representatives, had failed to reach any agreement. Although no less tension-filled, matters had been better managed at the Senate. It was in the House that things fell apart.

This followed the attempt by the police to enforce an order of no legal origin, one that no court had issued but which it considers itself competent to execute. The order in question was the one which, according to the Inspector General of Police, Suleiman Abba, made the seat of Tambuwal who had defected from the PDP to the APC vacant in the wake of his defection. The Police had withdrawn the Speaker’s security citing sections of the law that it claims mandates its action. This was in spite of the fact that there was an ongoing suit before a competent court that is yet to give its final word on the matter.