Disquiets over rebirth of northernisation policy – Nigeria Latest News Headlines

  • Inter-ethnic hostilities pervade the polity

There have been emerging apprehension and innuendoes across the country of subtle rejuvenation of theancien regime of northernisation policy by the All Progressives Congress (APC)-controlled federal government in the administration of justice and in decisions of who gets what, when and how from the commonwealth.

Dispositions of the federal government in certain critical national issues relating to promotion of national interest and national integration generated suspicions and inter-ethnic intransigence across the country, re-opening the gulf of North/South dichotomy in the contemporary dispensation of Buhari administration.

The current controversies in the polity raise fresh questions over President Muhammadu Buhari’s promise at inauguration on May 29, 2015, of maintaining neutrality or objectivity in the governance of Nigeria.

At inauguration on May 29, 2015, President Muhammadu Buhari made a famous speech that raised fresh hope of a new Nigeria of justice and equity in which he declared: “I belong to everybody and I belong to nobody”. To every stakeholder in the Nigerian project, that aspect of the president’s inaugural speech was a masterstroke to rebranding leadership in Nigeria, and setting new trail of national rebirth.

About two years after the inauguration of President Buhari certain actions of government have generated corresponding activities in the body politic testing the validity of the president’s statement: “I belong to everybody and I belong to nobody”.

The current plan to re-arrest Nnamdi Kanu, IPOB leader, vis-a-vis the Kaduna Declaration in which a Coalition of Arewa Youth issued October 1 ultimatum to Igbo resident in the North to vacate the zone, has pitched northern leaders against southern leaders, which, in furtherance, concentrated more inter-ethnic intransigence between the North and the South East.

The federal government detained Nnamdi Kanu about two years, and prosecuted him within same period over leading the agitation for the actualization of Sovereign State of Biafra, before the court granted him bail under certain conditions. Nnamdi Kanu’s case is a clear issue of treason against the Nigerian State which the federal government resected promptly with his arrest and prosecution.

The persistent agitation for Biafra by Igbo youths provoked the northern youths into actions that threaten national security and national integration. The Kaduna Declaration and the quit notice to Igbo resilient in the North by the Coalition of Arewa Youths constitutes serious crime isomorphic to the circumstance Nnamdi Kanu was arrested, detained and is facing prosecution.

Governor Nasir El-Rufai and Governor Shettima of Borno State had condemned the northern youths, advocated for their arrest. The arrest was never effected by the federal government, though, the state governors do not control the Police and can, therefore, not enforce such order.

The northern youths were allowed the latitude in the polity to continue meeting to review the quit notice, while northern elders also declared their support for the youths to the point that the youths declared that they have suspended the quit notice.

On the other divide, Kanu continued to behave like the northern youths, insisting on the agitation for the actualization of Biafra. While the federal government ignored the treason offence of the Arewa Youth, same government commenced proceedings to persuade the court to revoke Kanu’s bail.

The Attorney General of the Federation and Minister of Justice, Malam Abubakar Malami, was said to have explained that the Northern youths who issued an ultimatum to Igbos to vacate the North before October 1, 2017, were not arrested because of the “security implications.”

“Government considered the security implications on the issue. Let me state that government is alive to its responsibility and whoever is found wanting will be prosecuted. This administration is determined to provide good governance and promote justice, peace and fairness,” Malami had said.

The seeming asymmetrical responses of the federal government on the controversial issues the AGF explained government’s decisions compelled several stakeholders in the polity to raise suspicion that the current administration favour’s and protests northern interests more than others.

A former Minister of Aviation, Femi Fani-Kayode, had described the federal government’s request that an Abuja Federal High Court should revoke the bail granted Nnamdi Kanu over the struggle for Biafra as “reckless and dangerous.” Fani-Kayode further remarked that the FG’s plan to revoke the bail was “pregnant with mischief.”

According to Fani-Kayode, “Calling for the re-arrest of Nnamdi Kanu is a reckless and dangerous course which is fraught with implications and pregnant with mischief.”

However, the FG has a duty to maintain law and order; and if Kanu constitutes a threat, the government can take appropriate action; but there has to be balance in government’s responses to security threat.

Also, the Ohaneze Ndigbo, and the Indigenous People of Biafra (IPOB) described the FG plan to re-arrest Kanu as the height of hypocrisy.

President of Ohaneze, John Nwodo had protested the plan, drawing Abubakar Malami’s attention on other urgent national matters.

“I am amazed that the distinguished attorney is prepared to contest the superiority of the provisions of the Constitution on fundamental human rights of freedom of movement and freedom of association over an erroneous judicial proclamation violating those rights,” Mr Nwodo said.

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“A few hours ago, under the watchful eyes of the Chairman of the Northern Governors Forum and in total defiance of the Head of State’s proclamation of the rights of a citizen of Nigeria to live anywhere in Nigeria and to do business anywhere in Nigeria, the Arewa Youths, pretending to withdraw their quit notice, gave qualifications to the Head of State’s proclamation, issuing conditions for enjoyment of citizenship status.

“These same Arewa Youths are supposed to have been arrested on the orders of the Governor of Kaduna State and the Inspector General of Police for acts of treason, conversion and sedition. As the chief law officer of the Federation, the Attorney-General looks the other way. He does not go to court to seek an order of arrest or prosecution,” Nwodo had declared; revealing mutual suspicion of ethnic sentiments in governance.

Correspondingly, the Northern Elders’ Forum (NEF), through its Chairman, Dr. Paul Unongo, condemned the Ohanaeze Ndifbo for criticizing the Federal Government’s plan to re-arrest Kanu.

Unongo had stated the northern elders were disappointed that Ohanaeze trivialised a criminal matter. He contended that Nnamdi Kanu’s case was 100 per cent different from the ultimatum issued by the northern youths, adding that the northern elders were able to prevail on their youths and the matter had since been resolved.

Unongo cautioned that, “Leaders should be careful about what they support,” observing in part:

“…what Ohanaeze members are doing is that they are giving the impression that if someone commits a crime and is from their tribe, he shouldn’t be tried…

“Are they saying he (Kanu) should not be tried until someone from another part of the country is arrested? That will invite chaos to the country.

“I will advise Ohanaeze and the Federal Government to let the matter be settled at the court because the issue of detention is in the hands of the court.

“It was granted and if the conditions were flouted, I think the prosecution is right to approach the same court to prove that the bail condition has been violated and to ask for the court to revoke the bail.”

The NEF President remarkable played down the disequilibrium in FG’s responses on the issue, both sides were involved in same treason crime and threat the national security.

Moreover, at the inchoate stage of the Buhari administration, there was wide outrage over what some stakeholders in the polity described as lopsided appointments by the president.

The stakeholders contended that appointments made by the president at the early stage lacked gender balance and regional equity.

The statistics then showed that of the key appointments made by the president, 75% are from the north and 25% from the south; undermining the federal Character principle.

This has been more so, since the North has the President, Senate President and Speaker of the House of Representatives, including the Chief Justice of the Federation (CJN) before the appointment of the incumbent CJN.

The resentment was deepened by the report of President Buhari’s statement  during a visit to United States, that he should not be expected to allocate same number of offices to states or regions that did not vote for him.

Perhaps, the president was misrepresented in that report because politics is simply struggle for power; you win power and use it.

However, in the storm of the rising disquiets over the perceived imbalance appointments,

The Special Adviser to the President on Media and Publicity, Femi Adesina, had promised that the president would address the lopsided appointments in subsequent appointments into the cabinet.

Adesina had remarked that appointment is a process and leads to feedback, saying that the feedback would be pro­cessed in a way that will lead to every­body being satisfied.

Moreover, the rampage of the Fulani herdsmen in local communities where thousands were killed and property destroyed, yet no arrest was made by the FG, deepens the suspicion of subjective implementation of public policies by the current administration. The FG rather made excuses that the Fulani herdsmen migrated from neighbouring West African counters to cause mayhem and destructions in those communities, yet, the Immigration, police are there.

President Buhari has, however, attempted to balance his leadership disposition in declaring that every Nigerian has the right to live and do business sin any part of the country.


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Ogun State and lopsided revenue sharing formula – Nigeria Latest News Headlines

OGUN State has always been alive to the need for an enabling and investor-friendly environment that is able to attract capital and foster economic growth. It has recorded many achievements over the past six years of the Senator Ibikunle Amosun’s administration. Ogun is one of the five states that attracted fresh investments into their states between January and June this year, an analysis of a capital importation report obtained from the National Bureau of Statistics (NBS) has shown. The report revealed that only five states within the first six months of this year recorded any form of fresh investment inflow in key sectors of the economy. According to the report, Ogun State attracted fresh investment inflow of $5.31 million. In its report for the first quarter of 2017, the NBS listed Lagos, Akwa Ibom, Ogun, Oyo, Rivers states and the Federal Capital Territory, Abuja as the most investors-friendly destinations in the country.

It listed Ogun as an investment-friendly state with a capital importation of $5.351 million in the first three months of the year, while Oyo and Rivers came next with $3.419 million and $550,000 respectively. According to the report, the largest chunk of the imported capital, $302.47 million, representing 33.5 per cent, came in from the United Kingdom, while the second largest, $215.66 million, came in from the United States of America. The Bureau noted that this year’s record showed a 27.75 per cent improvement over the country’s achievement last year. Another data provided by the NBS shows that Ogun has recorded the highest amount of mining activity in the country in the last three years.  The statistics indicates that it accounts for about 40 per cent of the mining resources in the country, which makes it the leading state in the mining sector in Nigeria.

Vice President Yemi Osinbajo recently noted that two of the 914 people who paid between N10 million and N20 million tax annually are domiciled in Ogun State. Regrettably, while Ogun is among the few states that produce the wealth that sustains the country, it is among the states that receive lower allocations from the Federal Government. Ogun is next to Lagos State in terms of non-oil revenue generation such as VAT, among others, for the Federal Government. Unfortunately, it is still placed 25th in terms of revenue sharing in the country based on indices generated several years ago and not on present contribution to the Federation Account.

Last year, the Internally Generated Revenue (IGR) of all the states in Nigeria for 2015 was released by the NBS. The statistics showed a decrease in the total IGR of all the states of the federation by comparing the IGR of 2014 and 2015. The IGR of 2014 was N707.8 billion while that of 2015 stood at N683.6 billion. Even in the face of this decline, Ogun State still recorded one of the highest increases in IGR (49.42%). In 2016, the 36 states and the 774 local government councils in Nigeria shared a total sum of N2.6 trillion from the Federation Account in spite of the prevailing economic recession. The total figure was payment made to the two tiers of government between January and December 2016 at the monthly meeting of the Federation Account Allocation Committee (FAAC). The total gross federal allocation to Ogun state in 2016 was N57 billion.

The statutory revenue received by the Ogun State government for the months of January, February and March 2017 from the federation account has been put at N4.98 billion. The N4.98 billion revenue was paid to the state, after deduction of N3.64 billion from the total allocation for debts and other financial obligations entered into by the previous administrations. Ondo State during the three months period, received N10.2 billion, after deduction of N3.19 billion; Oyo State (N8.9 billion, after deduction of N2.2 billion); Osun State (N1.1 billion after deduction of N7.22 billion); Lagos State (N19.03 billion, after deduction of N8.5 billion) and Ekiti State got N4.97 billion after N3.08 billion deduction. The top 10 recipients of Federation Account allocation in Nigeria are Akwa Ibom, Rivers, Delta, Bayelsa and Lagos States. Others in the top 10 bracket include Kano, Katsina, Oyo, Kaduna and Borno States. One of the perennial problems which has not only defied all past attempts at permanent solution, but also has a tendency for evoking high emotions on the part of all concerned is the issue of equitable revenue allocation in Nigeria.

It is an issue which has been politicised by successive administrations in Nigeria, both military and civilian. The imperative of competition over sharing of the commonwealth in the context of a plural society like Nigeria has resulted in a lot of contradictions. An acceptable formula that would foster a more balanced development and harmonious fiscal federalism among the component groups in the country is very fundamental. Governor Amosun has, on several occasions, advocated an overhaul of the existing revenue allocation formula in the country to make it fairer and equitable. At a time most states in the country are groaning over dwindling resources and are unable to pick their wage bills, Ogun State, under Governor Amosun, has recorded an increase in internally generated revenue to the tune of N6 billion per month.

Although the governor is not in support of the restructuring of the country, he welcomes anything that will allow for the equal distribution of projects and dividends of democracy. Amosun’s request for a special status in the federal revenue allocation is borne out of the fact that Ogun State has been officially acknowledged as the industrial hub of the country, adequately remitting excise duties to the coffers of the Federal Government. Due to prudent husbandry of the scarce resources of the State and his less reliance on the monthly Federal Allocation, Governor Amosun has not defaulted in the payment of salaries. Amosun has realised the importance of partnering with the organised private sector towards boosting the potentials of the state. There are about 423 companies in Ogun State with a minimum of over $2 billion investment capital base. In view of the new business investments trooping into Ogun State, the government has continued to complement their investments by maintaining and expanding on the existing infrastructure with the little revenue allocation it receives, just as new ones are being constructed.

  • Durojaiye is the Special Adviser (Information & Strategy) to Governor Ibikunle Amosun.

 

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Pius Okumah: Trailblazer and source of inspiration – Nigeria Latest News Headlines

By C. Don Adinuba

I came to admire Pius N. Okumah, Minority Whip in the Anambra State House of Assembly from 1992 to 1993 and chairman of the Nigerian Bar Association, Nnewi Branch from 1991 to 1993, long before I met him in flesh and blood. He was the second lawyer from hometown of Ihiala in Anambra State. He shared the first name with my father, someone whose memory I will ever love passionately. But I didn’t know about Okumah until Boniface Ogochukwu Ezebunanwa, a much older cousin, mentioned him to me shortly after my West African School certificate result was published in the 1970s.  Not quite impressed with my explanation that all I wanted to be was a journalist, in the footsteps of my father, Boniface told me: “I just want you to be anything that would bring honour and glory to our Umuemecheta kindred. Pius Okumah, who made a very good result in his school certificate examination like you, has become the second lawyer from our town and the first in our village, has brought honour to his kinsmen and women”. He fell short of asking me to be a lawyer, too.

Though called the Bar in the late 1970s, I did not meet Barrister, as we fondly called Okumah at home, until years later. It was in the palace of JA Chukwudolue, Ogbuehi of Umuezeawala. He read a goodwill message from Joe Mbaezue, the first engineer from our hometown to earn a doctoral degree, and chief executive of Jimbaz West Africa Ltd, easily the most successful building firm in Eastern Nigeria in the late 1970s and the 1980s. Okumah not only read but also explained and interpreted the contents. I was carried away by his calmness and cultured speech and mannerism. I inquired from someone near me, “Who is this gentleman?” “You are asking this question because you have not been coming home regularly”, he answered rater angrily, adding “Barrister Pius Okumah”.   I said silently, “No wonder! Finally, I have seen this brilliant man from my place”.

One of the things which struck me about him was his decision to live in Ihiala which had very limited amenities and business as well as professional opportunities in the 1970s. Yet, he was driving good cars and living very well by law practice only. I am convinced that he would have been a Senior Advocate of Nigeria (SAN) if he had chosen to practise in Onitsha, Enugu, Port Harcourt, Owerri or Aba, to say nothing about Lagos or Abuja. I was touched by his powerful sense of community service. Unknown to many people, Okumah’s acute love of his community was one of the major reasons why I was to develop good interest in community affairs long ago.

He was not just the first lawyer from my village but also the first state legislator from the Ihitte part of Ihiala and later became the first President General of the Ihiala Progress Union (IPU) from our place. He served on the boards of, among others, the Ihiala Microfinance Bank and Our Lady of Lourdes Hospital, Ihiala. A Catholic of finest hue, he was Judge Advocate knight of St John International.

Governor Willie Obiano of Anambra State captures the essential Okumah in the following words: “Barrister Okumah was, indeed, a personification of the Think Home philosophy which my administration has been espousing. Rather than return to Lagos where he did his university studies or go to such places as Abuja and Kaduna to make fortune and name for himself, Okumah elected to be with his kinsfolk in Anambra State. This was sacrificial.  Much of Ihiala then did not have electricity and there were no tarred roads outside the Onitsha-Owerri Road. In fact, infrastructure was poor. Yet, he chose to live in the village out of deep love for his community. I am told that he rendered most of his professional services to Ihiala people and organizations pro bono, that is, free of charge. I am happy that my administration is solidly building  the road which passes in front of his house, his final resting place”.

I cannot remember the point at which Barrister Okumah and his family, on the one hand, and myself, on the other, became very close. His first son, Nnanna, a brilliant and far-sighted young man with tremendous leadership attributes, was determined to switch from law to English at the University of Benin because of his great interest in literature and writing until the father sought my opinion. My intervention settled the matter. Nnanna continued with law, and while returning from an NBA conference in Abuja he died in a motor accident. No one who knew him has recovered from the incident to this day.

Pius Okumah was an exceedingly principled person. Beneath his soft exterior was a tough-minded soul. He had a mind of his own and had the courage to swim against the current of popular sentiments once he was convinced of the justness of a cause.  Like his wife who is a great mobiliser and leader in her own right, I did not see him drink anything other than water, not even Fanta or Cola or malt. Yet, there were always all kinds of drinks in his home which he generously served guests. All his children were well brought up and are successful professionals in various fields.

Okumah was, indeed, a trailblazer and a source of inspiration to many people in my community, including my humble self. As his remains are laid to rest on Friday 1, September, we shall always honour his memory. We pray that the Good Lord will grant him eternal rest.

•C. Don Adinuba is head of Discovery Public Affairs

Consulting.

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