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Non Should Ignore Injustice Of The past

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Tony Blairs Moving Speech To The Irish Palliament, The First
British Prime Minister To Do So, In The 80 Year Existence Of That Parliament

 

On Thursday, November 26, 1998, Tony Blair made history by
becoming the first British Prime Minister ever to address the Irish Parliament.

That Parliament had been created 80 years earlier in open
defiance of the British government which Blair now headed. Ireland had won its
independence from Great Britain after a bloody insurrection in the early 1920s,
marking the beginning of decades of intense animosity and outright violence. In
this speech, Blair recalls his own Irish roots and declares an end to more than
800 years of enmity between England and Ireland.

Members of the Dail and Seanad, after all the long and torn
history of our two peoples, standing here as the first British prime minister
ever to address the joint Houses of the Oireachtas, I feel profoundly both the
history in this event, and I feel profoundly the enormity of the honour that
you are bestowing upon me. From the bottom of my heart, go raibh mile maith
agaibh.

Ireland, as you may know, is in my blood. My mother was born
in the flat above her grandmother’s hardware shop on the main street of
Ballyshannon in Donegal. She lived there as a child, started school there and
only moved when her father died; her mother remarried and they crossed the
water to Glasgow.

We spent virtually every childhood summer holiday up to when
the troubles really took hold in Ireland, usually at Rossnowlagh, the Sands
House Hotel, I think it was. And we would travel in the beautiful countryside
of Donegal. It was there in the seas off the Irish coast that I learned to
swim, there that my father took me to my first pub, a remote little house in
the country, for a Guinness, a taste I’ve never forgotten and which it is
always a pleasure to repeat.

Even now, in my constituency of Sedgefield, which at one
time had 30 pits or more, all now gone, virtually every community remembers
that its roots lie in Irish migration to the mines of Britain.

So like it or not, we, the British and the Irish, are
irredeemably linked.

We experienced and absorbed the same waves of invasions:
Celts, Vikings, Normans , all left their distinctive mark on our countries.
Over a thousand years ago, the monastic traditions formed the basis for both
our cultures. Sadly, the power games of medieval monarchs and feudal chiefs
sowed the seeds of later trouble.

Yet it has always been simplistic to portray our differences
as simply Irish versus English,  or
British. There were, after all, many in Britain too who suffered greatly at the
hands of powerful absentee landlords, who were persecuted for their religion,
or who were for centuries disenfranchised. And each generation in Britain has
benefited, as ours does, from the contribution of Irishmen and women.

Today the links between our parliaments are continued by the
British-Irish Parliamentary Body, and last month 60 of our MPs set up a new
all-party “Irish in Britain Parliamentary Group.”

Irish parliamentarians have made a major contribution to our
shared parliamentary history. Let me single out just two:

·Daniel O’Connell, who fought against injustice to extend a
franchise restricted by religious prejudice;

·Charles Stewart Parnell, whose statue stands today in the
House of Commons and whose political skills and commitment to social justice
made such an impact in that House.

So much shared history, so much shared pain.

And now the shared hope of a new beginning.

The peace process is at a difficult juncture. Progress is
being made, but slowly. There is an impasse over the establishment of the
executive; there is an impasse over decommissioning. But I have been optimistic
the whole way through. And I am optimistic now. Let us not underestimate how
far we have come; and let us agree that we have come too far to go back now.

Politics is replacing violence as the way people do
business. The Good Friday Agreement, overwhelmingly endorsed by the people on
both sides of the Border, holds out the prospect of a peaceful long-term future
for Northern Ireland, and the whole island of Ireland.

The Northern Ireland Bill provides for the new Assembly and
Executive, the North-South Ministerial Council, and the British-Irish Council.
It incorporates the principle of consent into British constitutional law and
repeals the Government of Ireland Act of 1920. It establishes a Human Rights
Commission with the power to support individual cases. We will have an Equality
Commission to police a new duty on all public bodies in Northern Ireland to
promote equality of opportunity. We have set up the Patten Commission to review
policing. We are scaling down the military presence. Prisoners are being
released.

None of this is easy. I get many letters from the victims of
violence asking why we are freeing terrorist prisoners. It is a tough question
but my answer is clear: the agreement would never have come about if we had not
tackled the issue of prisoners. That agreement heralds the prospect of an end
to violence and a peaceful future for Northern Ireland. Our duty is to carry it
out. That is a duty I feel more strongly than ever, having seen for myself the
horror of Omagh. This was not the first such atrocity. But with all of my
being, I will it to be the last. I will never forget the meeting I had, with
Bill Clinton, with survivors, and with relatives of those who died. Their
suffering and their courage was an inspiration. They will never forget their
loved ones. Nor must we. We owe it to them above all to build a lasting peace,
when we have the best opportunity in a generation to do so.

The Taoiseach’s personal contribution has been immense. I
pay tribute to his tireless dedication. I value his friendship. I also salute
the courage of our predecessors, Deputy Albert Reynolds, Deputy John Bruton and
John Major; and I also salute Deputy Dick Spring, whose role in this process
goes back a long way.

Like us, you are living up to your side of the bargain too.
You have voted to end the territorial claim over Northern Ireland, essential to
the agreement.

It is time now for all the parties to live up to all their
commitments. Time for North/South bodies to be established to start a new era
of co-operation between you and Northern Ireland, I hope agreement on these is
now close. Time to set up the institutions of the new government. Time for the
gun and the threat of the gun to be taken out of politics once and for all; for
decommissioning to start.

I am not asking anyone to surrender. I am asking everyone to
declare the victory of peace.

In Belfast or Dublin, people say the same thing: make the
agreement work.

It is never far from my mind. My sense of urgency and
mission comes from the children in Northern Ireland. I reflect on those who
have been victims of violence, whose lives are scarred and twisted through the
random wickedness of a terrorist act, on those who grow up in fear, those whose
parents and loved ones have died.

And I reflect on those, who though untouched directly by
violence, are nonetheless victims — victims of mistrust and misunderstanding
who through lack of a political settlement miss the chance of new friendships,
new horizons, because of the isolation from others that the sectarian way of
life brings.

I reflect on the sheer waste of children taught to hate when
I believe passionately children should be taught to think.

Don’t believe anyone who says the British people don’t care
about the peace process. People in my country care deeply about it, are willing
it to work. And in our two countries, it is not just the politicians who have a
role to play.

No one should ignore the injustices of the past, or the
lessons of history. But too often between us, one person’s history has been
another person’s myth.

We need not be prisoners of our history. My generation in
Britain sees Ireland differently today and probably the same generation here
feels differently about Britain.

We can understand the emotions generated by Northern
Ireland’s troubles, but we cannot really believe, as we approach the 21st
century, there is not a better way forward to the future than murder, terrorism
and sectarian hatred.

We see a changed Republic of Ireland today:

·a modern, open economy;

·after the long years of emigration, people beginning to
come back for the quality of life you now offer;

·a country part of Europe’s mainstream, having made the most
of European structural funds but no longer reliant on them;

·some of the best business brains in the business world;

·leaders in popular culture, U2, the Corrs, Boyzone,
B-Witched;

·a country that had the courage to elect its first woman
president and liked it so much, you did it again; and the politics of Northern
Ireland would be better for a few more women in prominent positions too.

And you see, I hope, a Britain emerging from its post-Empire
malaise, modernizing, becoming as confident of its future as it once was of its
past.

The programme of the new Labour government: driving up
standards in education; welfare reform; monetary and fiscal stability as the
foundation of a modern economy; massive investment in our public services tied
to the challenge of modernization; a huge programme of constitutional change; a
new positive attitude to Europe — it is a program of national renewal as
ambitious as any undertaken in any western democracy in recent times.

It is precisely the dramatic changes in both countries that
allow us to see the possibilities of change in our relationship with each
other.

It will require vision, but no more than the vision that has
transformed Ireland. It will require imagination, but no more than that shown
by the British people in the last two years. The old ways are changing between
London and Dublin. And this can spur the change and healing in Northern Ireland
too. The old notions of unionist supremacy and of narrow nationalism are
gradually having their fingers prised from their grip on the future.

Different traditions have to understand each other. Just as
we must understand your yearning for a united Ireland, so too must you
understand what the best of unionism is about. They are good and decent people,
just like you. They want to remain part of the UK — and I have made it clear
that I value that wish. They feel threatened. Threatened by the terrorism with
which they have had to live for so long. Threatened, until the Good Friday
Agreement, that they would be forced into a united Ireland against the will of
the people of Northern Ireland.

Yet they realize now that a framework in which consent is
guaranteed is also one in which basic rights of equality and justice are
guaranteed, and that those who wish a united Ireland are free to make that
claim, provided it is democratically expressed, just as those who believe in
the Union can make their claim.

It is all about belonging. The wish of unionists to belong
to the UK. The wish of nationalists to belong to Ireland. Both traditions are
reasonable. There are no absolutes. The beginning of understanding is to
realize that.

My point is very simple. Those urges to belong, divergent as
they are, can live together more easily if we, Britain and the Irish Republic,
can live closer together too.

Down through the centuries, Ireland and Britain have
inflicted too much pain, each on the other. But now, the UK and Ireland as two
modern countries, we can try to put our histories behind us, try to forgive and
forget those age-old enmities.

We have both grown up now. A new generation is in power in
each country.

We now have a real opportunity to put our relations on a
completely new footing, not least through working together in Europe. I know
that is what our peoples want and I believe we can deliver it.

Our ties are already rich and diverse: — the UK is the
largest market for Irish goods. And you are our fifth most important market in
the world;

·           in trade
unions, professional bodies and the voluntary sector, our people work together
to help their communities; in culture, sport and academic life there is an
enormous crossover. Our theatres are full of Irish plays. Our television is
full of Irish actors and presenters. Your national football team has a few
English accents too;

·           above all,
at the personal level, millions of Irish people live and work in Britain, and
hundreds of thousands of us visit you every year.

As ties strengthen, so the past can be put behind us.
Nowhere was this better illustrated than at the remarkable ceremony at Messines
earlier this month. Representatives of nationalists and unionists travelled
together to Flanders to remember shared suffering. Our army bands played
together. Our heads of state stood together. With our other European neighbors,
such a ceremony would be commonplace. For us it was a first. It shows how far
we have come. But it also shows we still have far to go.

The relationships across these islands are also changing in
a significant way.

The Taoiseach has spoken of the exciting new relationships
that will unfold as the people of Scotland and Wales, as well as Northern
Ireland, express their wishes through their own parliaments and assemblies. The
new British Irish Council must reflect and explore these opportunities. We have
much to gain by co-operating better across these islands in areas like
transport, education, the fight against illegal drugs.

But I want our co-operation to be wider and more fundamental
still — above all in Europe.

It is 25 years since we both joined what was then the EEC.
We have had different approaches to agriculture, to monetary union, to defence.
But increasingly we share a common agenda and common objectives:

·           completion
of the Single Market and structural economic reform;

·           better
conditions for growth and jobs in Europe;

·           successful
enlargement;

·           a united
and coherent foreign policy voice for Europe;

·           a more
effective fight against crime, drugs, illegal immigration and environmental
damage;

·           flexible,
open and accountable European institutions.

We must work to make the single currency a success. Unlike
Ireland, we are not joining in the first wave. But we have made clear that we
are prepared to join later if the economic benefits are clear and unambiguous. For
my government, there is no political or constitutional barrier to joining.
There is no resistance to fullhearted European co-operation wherever this
brings added value to us all.

Enlargement will increasingly test our political and
economic imaginations, as we struggle with policy reform and future financing.
The international financial system must be reformed. We must learn to apply
real political will and harness our skills and resources far more effectively
to solve regional problems — notably in the Balkans and the Middle East. Above
all, Europe must restate its vision for today’s world, so that our people
understand why it is so important. This means defining the priorities where
common European action makes obvious sense and can make a real difference, like
economic co-ordination, foreign and security policy, the environment, crime and
drugs. It also means distinguishing them from areas where countries or regions
can best continue to make policy themselves, to suit local circumstances, while
still learning from each other — for example, tax, education, health, welfare.

That is why I want to forge new bonds with Dublin. Together
we can have a stronger voice in Europe and work to shape its future in a way
which suits all our people. It is said there was a time when Irish diplomats in
Europe spoke French in meetings to ensure they were clearly distinguished from
us. I hope those days are long behind us. We can accomplish much more when our
voices speak in harmony.

Our ministers and officials are increasingly consulting and
coordinating systematically. We can do more. I believe we can transform our
links if both sides are indeed ready to make the effort. For our part, we are.

This must also involve a dramatic new effort in bilateral
relations, above all to bring our young generations together. We need new youth
and school exchanges, contact through the new University for Industry, better
cultural programs in both directions. We need to work much more closely to
fight organized crime and drugs. We can do much more to enrich each other’s
experience in areas like health care and welfare.

None of this threatens our separate identities. Co-operation
does not mean losing distinctiveness.

What the Taoiseach and I seek is a new dimension to our
relationships — a real partnership between governments and peoples, which will
engage our societies at every level.

We have therefore agreed to launch a new intensive process.
The Taoiseach and I will meet again next spring in London, with key ministerial
colleagues, to give this the necessary impetus and agenda, and will thereafter
meet at least once a year to review progress. This will be part of the work of
the new Intergovernmental Conference. The objective is threefold:

·           first,
revitalized and modernized bilateral relations where we can finally put the
burden of history behind us;

·           second, a
habit of close consultation on European issues, marked by a step-change in
contacts at every level, particularly in key areas such as agriculture, justice
and home affairs, employment and foreign and security policy;

·           third,
working together on international issues more widely, for example UN
peacekeeping, to which both our countries have been important contributors,
arms proliferation and the Middle East.

What I welcome above all is that, after keeping us apart for
so long, Northern Ireland is now helping to bring us closer together. But I do
not believe Northern Ireland can or should any longer define the relationship
between us. Our common interests, what we can achieve together, go much, much
wider than that.

Our two countries can look to the future with confidence in
our separate ways. But we will be stronger and more prosperous working
together.

That is my ambition. I know it is shared by the Taoiseach. I
believe it is an ambition shared by both our nations. The 21st century awaits
us. Let us confront its challenge with confidence, and together give our
children the future they deserve.

Tony Blair – November 26, 1998

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Is CCT Right In Slamming Asset Declaration Charges Against CJN?

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On January 10, 2019, the Code of Conduct Bureau (CCB) filed six charges of corruption against the Chief Justice of Nigeria at the Code of Conduct Tribunal (CCT), accusing him of asset declaration offences.
The trial commenced, last Monday, at the premises of the Federal Capital Territory High Court in Jabi, commercial neighbourhood in Abuja, with Wole Olanipekun (SAN) leading more than 50 SANs and 70 other senior lawyers in defence of the Hon Justice Walter Samuel Nkanu Onnoghen, who became the Chief Justice of Nigeria in March, 2017, less than six months after the homes of several federal judges, including those of the Supreme Court, were searched in an anti-corruption raid in October, 2016.
Two judges of the Supreme Court were amongst those whose houses were raided. They were charged for corruption, but none of them has been found guilty of any wrongdoing.
The government said it was only in 2016 after the controversial crackdown on judges that Onnoghen partially declared his asset, and cash in Union Bank branch in Calabar, but still failed to declare a series of bank accounts, denominated in local and foreign currencies, linked to him at a Standard Chartered Bank branch in Abuja.
The charges, triggered by a group, the Anti-Corruption and Research-based Data Initiative (ARDI), had sent a petition to the Code of Conduct Bureau and the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC), alleging suspected financial crimes and breaches of the Code of Conduct Bureau and Tribunal Act and provisions of the 1999 Constitution as amended against Onnoghen.
After laying bare the suspected transactions in the accounts between March, 2011 and August, 2016, the group accused Onnoghen of “Non-declaration of assets immediately after taking office in several capacities prior to becoming the Chief Justice of Nigeria contrary to section 15 of the Code of Conduct Bureau Act; Non-declaration of assets immediately after taking office as the Chief Justice of Nigeria contrary to section 15 of the Code of Conduct Bureau Act; Non-declaration of assets at the statutory intervals after taking office throughout his career as a federal judicial officer contrary to section 15 of the Code of Conduct Bureau Act; and False declaration of asset, and in particular, concealment of significant and declarable assets in the form of sundry bank accounts and the balances therein, contrary to section 15 of the Code of Conduct Bureau Act.”
The group also requested the Nigerian Financial Intelligence Unit (NFIU) to conduct comprehensive statistical analysis of cash transactions on all the accounts for cases of suspicious transactions; and determine whether Standard Chartered Bank has not breached statutory duties to the Nigerian State in favour of, or in connivance with, His Lordship on Suspicious Transactions Reporting (STR). It also urged the Revenue Mobilization Allocation and Fiscal Commission (RMAFC), the Supreme Court of Nigeria and the National Judicial Council (NJC) to determine whether the disclosed financial transactions are justified by His Lordship’s lawful remuneration.
Onnoghen was alleged to have failed to declare his asset upon assumption of office as provided in Section 15 (1) of the Code of Conduct Bureau and Tribunal Act C15, punishable under Section 23 (2) (a) (b) and (c) of the same Act.
His reaction to the allegations, Chief Justice of Nigeria (CJN), Justice Walter S. N. Onnoghen, described his non-declaration of the domiciliary accounts as a mistake.
In a statement addressed to the CCB investigators, last Friday, Onnoghen also explained that the undeclared foreign currencies found in his Standard Chartered Bank were sourced from his estacodes and medical allowances, including funds from his days in private practice between 1979 and 1989.
He further explained that the withdrawals from his Pound Sterling and Euro accounts were for the school fees and upkeep allowances of his children abroad.
“My Asset Declaration Form No SC N 00014 and SCN 00015 were declared on the same day 14/12/2016 because I forgot to make a declaration of my assets after the expiration of my 2005 declaration in 2009,” the CJN stated.
“Following my appointment as Acting CJN in November, 2016, the need to declare my asset anew made me to realise the mistake.”
The CJN further explained that he did not include the funds in his domiciliary accounts because he believed the accounts were not opened during the period covered by the declaration.
Here are some Nigerians’ reactions.
Excerpts:

Reacting, Human Rights Lawyer, Femi Falana (SAN), asked the Federal Government to urgently withdraw the charges against Justice Walter Onnoghen as such move will amount to prosecutorial misadventure.
According to Falana, “The charge against the Chief Justice of Nigeria, Justice Walter Onnoghen ought not to have been instituted at the Code of Conduct of Tribunal in view of the case of Nganjiwa v FRN (2017) LPELR 43391 wherein the Court of Appeal held that a judicial officer who has not been investigated by the National Judicial Council and sanctioned for misconduct cannot be arraigned in any criminal court in Nigeria.
“As all authorities are bound by the Court of Appeal verdict, the case should be withdrawn by the Attorney-General of the Federation without any delay because it is likely to be a prosecutorial misadventure,” Falana added.

In a swift statement condemning the action, the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) Candidate in the 2019 elections, Alhaji Atiku Abubakar said, “I have received the news of the sudden charges about to be filed against the Chief Justice of Nigeria, Justice Walter Onnoghen, with apprehension and suspicion especially as such a move against the head of an arm of our government is coming so close to an election in preparation of which the Buhari administration has shown growing desperation.
“My suspicions are further exacerbated by the fact that the Buhari government is pressuring an independent and self governing arm of government with the aim of getting CJN Walter Onnoghen to resign or be pushed aside.
“I stand on the side of the rule of law and believe that a person is innocent until proven guilty.
“If Justice Walter Onnoghen is guilty of the charges about to be preferred against him, let his guilt be determined by a competent court of law and not by the Buhari administration. The executive cannot usurp the role of the judiciary. Nigeria is still a democracy and not a fascist dictatorship as President Buhari may wish.
“Any attempt to force Justice Walter Onnoghen to vacate his office, 4 weeks to an election for which the unpopular Buhari administration has shown every intention to manipulate, is a move pregnant with negative meaning.
“I see no reason whatsoever for the ongoing pressure by the Buhari government to force Justice Walter Onnoghen to vacate office when he has not been convicted for any offence.
“I, therefore, call on the President to respect the principle of separation of powers and abide by the rule of law on this matter and stop any interference or pressure on Justice Walter Onnoghen or the judiciary and allow the law and the Constitution take its full course”.

In his reaction, Elder Statesman and Leader of the Pan-Niger Delta Forum (PANDEF) and South-South Forum, Chief Edwin Clark, condemned the Federal Government decision to arraign the Chief Justice of Nigeria (CJN), Justice Walter Onnoghen, over assets declaration offences.
Clark said the arraignment of the CJN is a shock as Onnoghen has been carrying out his responsibilities as Nigeria’s top jurist diligently, adding that “PANDEF will resist any form of harassment of the CJN.
“The news of the arraignment of The Chief Justice of Nigeria (CJN), Justice Walter Onnoghen, before the Code of Conduct tribunal (CCT) on Monday has come to us as a shock because there is nothing to show that this man has not been doing his job properly,” Clark said.
”There is nothing to show that he is corrupt; simply because they want to rig this election, they want to remove him to put somebody who will do their bidding after the election otherwise there is no basis for harassing the judiciary.
“Yesterday, it was the acting director general of the Department of State Security Services (DSS), Matthew Seyeifa, who was removed and somebody who was retired was appointed to take his place. We deserve some respect. So, we will resist this one, and I understand that our governors had a meeting on this matter too and we will all come together,” he said.

Also speaking, a Journalist and Corporate Administrator, Chief Soye Wilson Jamabo said, “The strength of the Tripod upon which sits the pot of good governance depends on the balance and equality of all legs, but if a leg is unduly elongated and another shortened, its fall is eminent. Such is the move by the Executive to investigate, prosecute and judge the chief Justice of Nigeria (CJN).
“The military style fashion, the timing and urgency of the drama smacks of desperation and fear of the unknown, this is impunity stretched too far. And to be silent is to watch the man in us die without any rescue effort.
“None is above the law, but same law that grants the Executive immunity from criminal prosecution recommends the National Judicial Council (NJC) as the constitutional body to handle cases of judicial officers not the CCT, an arm of the Executive. That will make an arm to be a judge in its own case”.

Activist, Chief Mike Ozekhome (SAN), accused the Federal Government of engaging in unnecessary political witch-hunt.
Ozekhome maintained that the six-count criminal charge FG entered against the CJN over his alleged failure to declare his assets, was politically motivated, querying the time the alleged infractions were discovered.
Noting that the CJN, by virtue of his position, will play a major role in constituting the 2019 presidential election petition tribunal, Ozekhome, insisted that under the 1999 Constitution, as amended, Justice Onnoghen could not be forced to vacate his office, until when his guilt is established.
According to him, “The CJN can be removed from office either if he has been convicted or if under section 291 of the Constitution, the Senate affirms a request by the President to remove him by two-third majority vote.
“Our system of justice being Anglo-Saxon based, which is accusatorial, meaning that the innocence of a person is presumed.
“It is different from the criminal justice system of the French model which is inquisitorial, wherein the guilt of an accused person is presumed.
“This doctrine has been encapsulated in section 36 of the 1999 Constitution, as amended, that the person’s innocence is presumed until he has been proven guilty.
“Assuming for example that Senator Bukola Saraki had been forced to resign his office when charges were brought against him before the same Code of Conduct Tribunal almost three years ago, what would have happened and what would have been his fate when the Supreme Court eventually discharged and acquitted him of the charge, following judgments and earlier order of the Court of Appeal and the Code of Conduct Tribunal itself?
“If you ask me, I sense serious political undertones oozing from this so-called imminent arraignment of the noble CJN. Question, when did they discover the alleged offence for which they now want to charge him on Monday?
“Was it just yesterday, was it last week, two weeks or six months ago? The CJN has been in office now for well over one year, how come that this misconduct or whatever offence that he is being alleged, was not seen up to now?
“How come, that it is just less than 40 days to the 2019 Presidential election, when the CJN is going to play the major role in constituting the Presidential election petition tribunal, that he is being moved against? Who is afraid of the Judiciary? Who is afraid of Justice Onnoghen and his impartiality and straight forwardness?
“How come we are reducing governance in Nigeria to one of impunity, one of despotism and one of absolutism.
“Don’t this people know that the world is laughing at us? Did we not see how Dino Melaye was yanked out from police hospital and taken to DSS quarters when he had no business or case with the DSS and DSS had no case against him.
“Did they not see Dino Melaye, a serving Senator of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, sleeping in the open yesterday? Do they go on social media and do they watch international televisions?
“Do they know how the whole world is deriding us in this country? That governance has been reduced to mere witch-hunt, very opaque, very unaccountable, very un-transparent and very fascist! Can’t they see that?”, Ozekhome queried.

Susan Serekara-Nwikhana

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Rivers Residents Dissociate Wike From APC Crisis

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The crisis rocking the All Progressives Congress (APC) in Rivers State is unabating. None of the factions of the party is seemingly prepared to compromise its entrenched position even as the general elections are fast approaching. They are still singing in discordant tunes. More worrisome is the fact that some members of the APC loyal to the Rotimi Amaechi faction are placing the woes inflicting the party on the doorsteps of Governor Nyesom Wike who belongs to the ruling Peoples Democratic Party (PDP). But residents of the state, who spoke with our correspondent, completely exonerated the Governor. Excerpts.

Hon Prince Israel Wobo, former Chief of Staff, Port Harcourt Local Government Council
In respect of the fact that Governor Nyesom Wike has been a factor of the day, and the political icon of Nigeria, he has nothing to do with APC crisis and the court judgement.
I want to stress the fact that Chief Wike has done his best in terms of infrastructural development in Rivers State despite the fact that they have been caging him, he does not have a hand in what is happening in APC, but something is certain in life, whatever a man sows, that he must reap.
The former Governor of Rivers State, Rt Hon Rotimi Amaechi believes he is the owner of Rivers State. He made a declaration that over his dead body would any one succeed him as governor of the state. Rotimi Amaechi while he was governor of Rivers State, Governor Wike was his Chief of Staff and Wike was very loyal to Amaechi’s-led government then, so why can’t Amaechi drop his pride and be ready to support the development of the state instead of causing problems in the state.
Today, Rotimi Chibuike Amaechi , our own son is there as a Transportation Minister and should support Rivers State for development. Look at how Onne and Port Harcourt sea ports are wasting away, also major federal roads need our leaders’ attention. Why can’t something be done in this direction by Amaechi? I don’t see anything wrong that Chief Nyesom Wike has done to Amaechi.
I want to tell the world that Chief Wike is doing his best to ensure that peace and development are brought to Rivers State, therefore, he should be allowed to continue the good works he is doing. Thanks to Vice President, Osinbajo, who nicknamed Wike, ‘Mr Project,’ God has blessed the governor in all ramifications.
I want to appeal to Amaechi to bring down his wings and obey court procedures, as the crisis rocking APC is an internal one that would require only God’s intervention for the party to have peace because APC has failed Nigerians and God is not happy with APC as a party.
The crisis rocking the party is a natural phenomenon because whatever a man sows, that he would reap. The judgment is that APC cannot benefit from its stupidity and so Chief Wike has no hand in their crisis.
My humble advice to APC is that they should go and ask God for forgiveness. The entire crisis in APC is caused by one man, Rt Hon Rotimi Chibuike Amaechi right from the day he brought a man and declared him aspirant of Rivers State House of Assembly. The Bible says for one man’s sake, I will destroy a nation and for the same man’s sake, I will build a nation.
So, I make bold to say that Amaechi is responsible for the problems and the court judgement declaring the party of not having a governorship candidate and not Chief Nyesom Wike. Generally, I will like to say that the APC crisis is caused by stupidity of the highest order and pride.
Rt Hon Rotimi Amaechi should humble himself and should know that he is not god over other members of his party and to me, APC would only be accepted in Rivers State in the year 2023 when the Governor, Chief Nyesom Wike is prepared to handover.

Alhaji Ibrahim, a Muslim adherent
What I see in the APC is that they know too much and no one is ready to learn or hear from anyone. They don’t have respect for each other and as such, everything happening to them is their own fault and not caused by anyone else.
Take for instance, when APC decided to proceed with primaries in the state despite the court order against its earlier congress, the court on October 10, 2018 declared null and void, the nomination of Mr Amaechi’s man, Tonye Cole, as the governorship candidate of the APC on grounds that Senator Magnus Abe’s supporters were excluded from the party congress.
This is what happens when disobedience dominates one’s life, so they should take it the way the court has judged and not to look for PDP to apportion blames as being responsible for the court judgement
Tejudeen Asifat, a Muslim leader
The Rivers State Governor, Chief Nyesom Wike has nothing to do with the court judgement. I don’t believe the rumours making the rounds that he has a hand in it, rather, I would say that the problem rocking APC is their internal problem and their fault that the judgement went that way.
Governor Wike cannot control the Federal High Court, so how is the judgement his own fault?
Due to the court judgement, the All Progressives Congress (APC) may end up not having candidates for the governorship, Senate, House of Representatives, and House of Assembly elections in Rivers State in 2019, going by the Supreme Court ruling and other pending legal hurdles before the party.
The Supreme Court’s ruling invalidated the stay of execution order issued by the Court of Appeal, Port Harcourt, against an earlier order of a high court in Rivers State which nullified the APC congress in the state.
I see the legal battle happening in APC and the oil-rich state as part of power-struggle within the APC between the Minister of Transportation, Rt Rotimi Chibuike Amaechi, and Senator Magnus Abe, while Mr Abe wants to run for the governorship of the state under the APC, Amaechi wants Tonye Cole to go for governorship of the state on the platform of the same party. Things are not done right in a house where there is no understanding and unity.
While Mr Amaechi has allegedly been applying rough tackles to shut Mr Abe and his supporters out of the party, the Senator is using the court to fight back, and he seems to be successful in it, as evidenced by the Federal High Court ruling.
The High Court order on the party’s congress, which has just gotten the Federal High Court’s backing, nullified the APC congress which produced the factional state chairman of the party, Ojukaye Amachree, who is Mr Amaechi’s ally.
All these are responsible for the lots of problems they have and so nobody should link it to the Rivers State Governor as being responsible for the APC crisis.
Stanley Noredeem
The APC as a party is not in order and the party members caused this problem for themselves and not Governor Nyesom Wike because if the party were to be in unity, they would have produced one candidate from the beginning to be their governorship flag bearer and not two or three candidates coming from one party. They behave like children that need guidance, yet not ready to be guided.
As you can see, the APC has failed to put its house in order. Look at the comment by Senator Magnus Abe after the court judgement, he hailed the court, saying that the decision taken was “historic,” as it would amount to “political rascality of the highest order” for anyone to continue to parade himself as the APC governorship candidate in the state, afterwards.
Senator Abe is insisting that the APC should do the right thing and what is that right thing since the other primary was done in clear violation of an existing order of a court of competent jurisdiction, that the party should forward his name to the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) as the party’s recognised governorship candidate in Rivers State, which of course, we all know that Rt. Hon Chibuike Amaechi would never allow that to happen. This is why I said the house is not in order. They lack unity and this is a serious problem for them.

Susan Serekara-Nwikhana

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PH Residents Hail Wike’s Dev Strides

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Even as elections are fast approaching, some residents of Port Harcourt, with the benefit of hindsight, take a look at where the state was when Governor Nyesom Wike assumed office and come to the inevitable conclusion that the Governor has performed creditably in several areas. They, however, express their desire for him to give more attention to several other areas, particularly during his second term if he wins the March 2, 2019 governorship election. Our correspondent captures their views. Excerpts.

Mr Ndulaka Oki-Onyedibia
I will give the Governor 75 percent because there are areas that he has performed so well and there are areas that need him to look into. Like the area of road, he has done very well so far. I would advise that he focus less now on this area and focus more attention on the education and health section.
The health and education sectors in the state need to be strengthened. These two areas are very critical for the welfare of the people living in Rivers State.
Mr David Michael Alumona
In my assessment of what Mr Project has done so far, I want to say that, indeed, he has really paid priority attention to infrastructure. He has constructed so many roads and I think if he is given the chance to continue, he would do more than he has done already.
This is the kind of person that Rivers State and Nigeria as a whole need, especially in the South-South, but what I think is still remaining for him to do is education. I still look forward to seeing him using his boldness and power as he has always done to boost the education sector by providing computers and all that is needed to make learning conducive for students.
Take for instance, the Mgboushimini Primary School. Since the existence of Oro-Akwor community, the people never had a primary school within that vicinity and through his intervention, there is now a primary school for everyone to attend freely and I commend him for that, but I want the work going on in that school to be faster than what it is now.
I am not talking about the fast pace of the job because of my interest, no, because my children have gone beyond secondary school, am talking for the sake of the less-privileged children in the society and because I love education.
I want to appeal to His Excellency, Chief Nyesom Wike to try as much as possible to monitor and remove some of the bad practices in the Rivers State University (RSU). Let admission be as free as that of Lagos State University (LASU), which is the second best state university in Nigeria after ABUSALI.
I want the governor to use his good offices to curb the excesses of some individuals at Rivers State University. We want him to put more pressure to sanitise the university system. I don’t want to go into details of these excesses, but I know His Excellency is aware of some of them in that university because he warned the school authorities sometimes ago, that he didn’t want to hear that they were still involved in these sharp practices that do not project the school’s image in positive light.
We need him to come back in 2019 and even after his tenure ends, we still need somebody like him that would have the boldness to withstand every opposition from within and without in order to safeguard the interest of the state and the entire South-South.
Infact, the entire South-South is looking up to the Rivers State Governor, Chief Nyesom Wike as one of the lions to fight for them and also defend them, so I want him to continue to remain there and I know with God on his side, they will not be able to do him anything.
All the strategies God has given to the governor to apply in order to make life comfortable for the people of the state, the opposition forces would always want to distract him from achieving the goals his administration has set for itself.
Take for instance, the Neighbourhood Safety Corps Agency, they knew he would be able to use it to secure the state, so they truncated that plan because they apparently have some hidden agenda.
I want to urge the governor to do everything possible to ensure the success of that security outfit because it is existing in other states and no military man has destroyed it in those states.
Let’s start by asking ourselves why is it that the security agencies including the military are always concentrating their attention in Rivers State? Is it because the Federal Government wants to turn the State which is ruled by the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) to an All Progressives Party (APC) state by fire by force because they know that the governor is like a lion that would not allow that to happen?
In the area of health, I want the Governor to focus his attention in this sector especially during his second term which he would secure by the grace of God. It is annoying to see that there are so many oil companies in Rivers State and yet they are not contributing to free education for our children, we that have the oil.
For our children to be educated, we are paying through our nose and I want the state government to go into agreement with these oil companies to provide free education to our children, especially in primary, secondary and tertiary institutions.
In the health sector, there is a bit improvement, but I want the governor to pay more attention on the health sector as people are dying every day, they spend money and pay through their noses to buy drugs. It is so sad that in Braithwaite Memorial Specialist Hospital (BMSH) for example, until you have a contact person, you will not be able to have your way through.
People are rushed to the hospital on emergencies and they die there as a result of no one to attend to them, this is unacceptable and I want the government to look into these issues.
In those days, when I was in secondary school in the old Bendel State, I saw that at the General Hospital, nurses and doctors were up and doing and the Pharmacies gave free drugs but today, no more. What happened in those olden days can’t they be brought back now? Are we retrogressing or progressing? We should please go back and reactivate all these things and boost them even the more.
Despite the fact that the World Health Organisation (WHO) is providing drugs, the people at the helm of affairs in these government hospitals are diverting these drugs to their private clinics for sale and direct patients to go to the chemists to go and buy fake drugs.
I am calling on the Rivers State Governor to put his ears, eyes down to monitor and sack anyone caught in this act.

Barr Allwell Friday, A Port Harcourt-Based Legal Practitioner,
I want to say that His Excellency, Governor Nyesom Wike has done so well in some areas, for instance, as a legal practitioner, I want to start from the justice sector. For instance, when he came on board, we were faced with the closure of our court system, infact, nothing was working in the judiciary as a result of the closure of the courts being masterminded by the previous administration but upon his assumption of office, our courts were re-opened, thereby granting access to both litigants and others to access justice and justice delivery.
Now, still on justice sector, before now, lawyers and litigants in Rivers State had problems in accessing National Industrial Court as we travelled all the way from Port Harcourt to Calabar and sometimes to Yenagoa in Bayelsa State, but the governor has erected a magnificent building for the National Industrial Court and currently as I speak to you, the court is erected here in Port Harcourt.
He has also remodelled and revamped the justice sector, for instance, the remodelling of the Court of Appeal in Rivers State, by building a befitting Federal High Court Complex and even the State High Court and Magistrate Courts were not also left out, so I want to say that in the justice sector and the welfare of the judiciary staff members, he has done so well.
The other area I want to talk about is the area of infrastructural development, he has tried in this area too as there are some roads that were in terrible state before his assumption of office like the SARS Road, Abel Jumbo Road, Saakpenwa-Bori Link Road. The Andoni Unity Ogoni Road have also received a boost and some other roads in the Borikiri axis, Town, and Aggrey Road axis. He has actually fixed all these roads and these are part of the infrastructural development as we all know that if the roads are not in good condition and not motorable, there is no way the economic lives of the people will be meaningful.
Still on infrastructural development, the Bori Grammar School has been fixed by him and so many other schools within the state that the governor has fixed including health centres which are put in place.
Now in the area of security, you agree with me that security and welfare are the primary purpose of every government as enshrined in the constitution. Now, His Excellency has also revamped the security architecture in the state by providing security vans and giving support to our military personnel in the state. This would in turn boost the security of lives and property of people in the state as there is no meaningful development that can take place in the atmosphere of insecurity, rancour and acrimony, so, by doing this to aid the security architecture in the state, you also agree with me that he has done well in that area.
However, as human beings, nobody is perfect, there are some areas that I feel His Excellency should look into, if God willing and he is re-elected as I believe he would succeed, I want to advise that he should look at the issue of employment, as our youths are crying for employment.
Although he has taken some giant steps in ensuring that youths are gainfully employed, those steps are not enough. The Rivers State Civil Service Commission should be empowered and mandated to carry out massive recruitment of our people in order to curb youth restiveness.
Another area I also want to advise him is for him to move to other local government areas to develop them as he has developed more in Port Harcourt, Obio/Akpor, Ikwerre LGAs even though he has also touched some other parts of the state, we want to advise that during his second term, greater attention should be paid to the riverine areas of the state.

Mr Success Chukwuma
His Excellency, Governor Nyesom Wike has done well in the area of infrastructure considering the ongoing construction of the Mile 1 Market and the Agip Road and so many roads he has constructed within his first term in office. These roads have improved access to many places and made life much more easier.
Looking at the areas he needs to improve on in his second term because I believe he is going to come back because his administration has positively impacted on the lives of the people, I know many people in Rivers State and even outside Rivers State would like to vote for him to complete most of the projects he has started.
Looking at the general view of people to his government, only very few have doubts about his performance, but I personally believe and the over 80 percent of the population believe that the Governor, has what it takes to return for second term as Rivers people and non-indigenes of the state are ready to cast their votes to bring him back.

Susan Serekara-Nwikhana

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