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Lessons From Rwanda

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In 1994, the unwarranted and gruesome genocide unleashed on the minority Tutsi ethnic group in Rwanda sent shock waves across the globe as the end result was over 800,000 people killed in just 100 days.
Those killed included men, women and even babies in the cradles. Also an estimated 250,000 women and girls were raped with some of them infected with HIV.
How did these killings start? The Kingdom of Rwanda was a peaceful place until the advent of colonialism which saw it placed under the rule of Belgium after the first World War. The policies of the colonial Belgian governors later ensured that there was class division along ethnic lines by even issuing identity cards stating one’s ethnic affiliation and these identity cards were used in terms of employment, and admission into schools.
Consequently these absurd policies were inherited by the post independent government in 1962 and never abolished.
However the history of Rwanda has never been that peaceful as in 1959 Hutu revolution had forced about 300,000 Tutsis to flee the country. And by 1961 the King who was of Tutsi origin was sent packing, the country was declared a republic; the monarchy abolished, and a Hutu, Gregoire Kayibanda, elected as president.
Kayibanda’s presidency was shortlived as he was overthrown in 1973 by juvinal Habyarimana, who ruled till he was killed with his Burundian counterpart Cyprien Ntayamira, when the plane they were on board was shot down over kigali, which later triggerd the orgy of killings, the killing was put to an end when the Tutsi led Rwandan patriotic front which had been fighting the government took control of the capital, Kigali, on July 6 1994.
25 years after the killings how far has the country gone to mend the wounds of the past? Today in Rwanda nobody is talking about one’s ethnic background as the obsolete identify card with one’s ethnic classification or social status has been abolished.
Everybody is now a Rwandan by classification. Immediately the Rwandan patriotic front took over the reins of power it also began the process of reconciliation whereby those who took part in the killings of their neighbours and friends had to visit the survivors to apologise, for the role they played in the sordid history of the country. And for those top government and military officers the consequences for their actions were just terms and apologies.
These efforts by the government today have brought about tremendous change in the society. Also memorabila of what took place could be seen in museums in the capital Kigali and other cities with the slogan “Never again”.
For killing to take place in such a speed and the huge number of casalities, quite a number of factors were involved such as hate speeches, government support, religious leaders indifference and sometimes encouragement of one segment of the society against another and foreign power conspiracy to create chaos in the African society. France, Belgium were specifically blamed by the Kagame administration, for aiding and being indifferent to the killings the Catholic Church in Rwanda.
There was a stage when even the Canadian born UN Peace Commander had to emotionally beg for the UN and other international bodies for assistance to stem the killings but found no support, only silence until when the magnitude of the crime was revealed to the world that people started making-half-hearted statements on the genocide.
Initially, France denied complicity but just recently French President, macron has set up a high powered body to look into France’s role in the 1994 genocide. Former UN Secretary-General Boutros Boutros-Ghali said “The failure of Rwanda is 10 times greater than the failure of Yugoslavia, because in Yugoslavia the international community was interested, in Rwanda nobody was interested”.
Hate speech, discrimination and killings do not just start in a day, it has been going on over the years in many countries. In 1913, over a million Armenians were butchered by the Turkish government, with their churches desecrated. The indigenous population of Turkey, the Greeks today are not more than 5,000 in a population of about 80 million people. The second genocidal incident in modern times was the holocaust of 1939 to 1945 during the second World War instigated by Adolf Hitler, that of Cambodia under Pol Pot. But that of Rwanda was the worst as 70 of the Tutsi population was wiped out in just 100 days.
What are the lessons we, as Nigerians can learn after fighting a bitter civil war, following a similar bloody history of hate speech and genocide which saw to the death of one million Nigerians mostly from the South Eastern part of the country?
Although the Nigerian situation was better, for the past five years there has been bloodletting, killings and destruction almost on weekly basis in parts of the country.
Book Haram is still committing atrocities in the North West, with bandits holding swart in Kaduna Zamfara and Katsina and the Abuja-Kaduna highway.
According to the governor of Zamfara State, within the past five years 3,526 persons were killed by armed bandits with 500 villages destroyed, yet the country is not at war.
Hundreds of thousands of Nigerians are living in refugees’ camps in their own country with the government doing literarily nothing to stop the violence.
If the Rwanda Patriotic Front under Paul Kagame can put a stop to killings within one week of taking over power with virtually no resources at his disposal under a civil war situation, why can’t the Nigerian government with huge resources at its disposal unable to put an end to the menace of Boko Haram and armed bandits are they spirits?
For too long, the menace of armed groups have been overlooked and it begins to look suspicious that there are fifth columnist groups who want instability and another round of civil war to occur in Nigeria.
The government should take the issue of security seriously, otherwise what is seen as insignificant will one day snow ball into something more dangerous, that will affect the whole country. Killings by so-called herdsmen are still on with no serious attempts made to arrest the culprits.
If we reflect back when the issue of Boko Haram and the banditry in Zamfara started, a lot of Nigerians especially in the affected states were playing politics with it. Today some personalities can’t go to their villages even duns public holidays or weekend as their communities have been razed.
In Nigeria let the truth be told, we don’t value human life. There is no difference between the living and the dead. Our leaders don’t have empathy.
Is it today that the presidency will sit up and realise that the killings in Zamfara State had to do with the mining sector?
There is this suspicious feeling that the killings in part of Sokoto, Zamfara, Kaduna Benue parts of Adamawa Kogi and Enugu states are not herdsmen/farmers clash but a well thought out plan to eliminate the indigenous population of those area because the land there abound with precious mineral resources.
Today these suspicions have been partly proven by the recent statement by the president that all foreigners in all mining sites in Zamfara should quit the area and mining activities be suspended.
So government knew all along that the killings in these areas were economically motivated and had kept silence. What a shame!

 

Tonye Ikiroma-Owiye

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Politics

Still On Security Votes

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When Mr Ibrahim Magu, the Acting Chairman, Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC), spoke at the induction programme for returning and newly-elected governors, he did not mince words in accusing governors of misusing security votes.
He alleged that some governors deliberately fuelled insecurity in their states just to collect more money as security votes.
He noted that some of the governors “now covertly promote insecurity as justification to inflate their security votes.”
Magu also alleged that there was a link between corruption, banditry and terrorism.
His allegations were contained in a paper, titled,  “Imperative of Fighting Corruption/Terrorism Financing in Nigeria.’’
Magu told the session that a debate on the legality of security votes enjoyed by the governors was ongoing.
“We have also seen evidence of theft of public resources by some state governors,  cashing in on the insecurity in their states.
“Insecurity has also offered the required oxygen for corruption to thrive as evident in the $2.1bn arms procurement scandal involving top military commanders both serving and retired.”
A study carried out by the University of Nigeria, agreed with Magu on the abuse of security votes.
The study is titled “Legitimising Corruption in Government: Security Votes in Nigeria.’’
It was authored by  Obiamaka Egbo, Ifeoma Nwakoby, Josaphat Onwumere  and  Chibuike Uche, of the  Department of Banking and Finance, University of Nigeria.
“The tendency among Nigerian politicians, particularly the executive arm at the various levels of government, to manipulate security issues for political and economic gains is widespread.
“This has been fuelled by the abuse of security votes, an ‘opaque fund’ reserved for the executive which is not appropriated, accounted for or audited through the legislature.
“ Sometimes, a state governor could (mis)appropriate as much as N100 million monthly as security vote.
“Such slush funds are channelled into the secret funding of militias and gangs of government enforcers.’’
The appropriateness or otherwise of security votes was at the centre of discourse at the Independent Corrupt Practices and Other Related Offences Commission (ICPC)  second Quarterly Anti-Corruption Policy Dialogue Series.
The dialogue focused on Accountability for Security Votes.
ICPC Chairman, Prof. Bolaji Owasanoye, who spoke, agreed with Magu that security vote is an easy and attractive route for stealing public funds.
According to him, it is also a veritable avenue for abuse of public trust, escalation of poverty and underdevelopment and ironically the escalation of insecurity.
“It has pushed up insecurity somehow, that is not to say we do not need security vote.
“In the 2019 budget as appropriated, for example, 162 Ministries, Departments and Agencies (MDAs) had money appropriated for them as security votes.
“These MDAs span boards, centres, committees, ministries, commissions, councils, hospitals, schools, law enforcement agencies, obviously the armed forces and intelligence offices.”
Owasanoye said that the number and categories of MDAs given security votes, suggest that something was wrong with the parameters for determining those who are entitled to security votes.
“This then provokes some question as which MDAs are entitled to security votes and how should security votes be accounted for?
“It is clear from our present approach, that we do not have any rational principle being followed at the moment.
“If there is one, I will be happy that my ignorance will be diminished and removed,” he said.
The chairman explained that it was clear from the current approach to budgeting for security votes, that no principle was being followed.
He said that this is clear from the quantum and range of sums appropriated in the 2019 budget for MDAs, where the lowest amount for security vote was N3,600, while the highest amount was N4.20 billion.
“What on earth can anyone do with N3, 600, and I am not talking of an individual.
“If the N3, 600 is the security vote of an individual, most likely it will take him from somewhere to his house. That is the safest place to be.
“But what on earth can an agency do with N3, 600 as security vote, as appropriated?”
With this disparity, what then should security votes be used for?
Owasanoye opined that it was pertinent because MDAs with budgets for security votes also have separate budgets for other security related matters, such as the production or procurement for security or defence equipment.
“In the case of defence and core security and law enforcement agencies, some of these items and the votes are undoubtedly justified. But the quantum and use is open to scrutiny,” he said.
He, however, explained that it was apparent that security vote was not for any of those other security items mentioned, because they were often separately covered in the budget.
“There is the erroneous impression that security votes are not being accounted for with our recent experience as a country, that almost lost a geo-political zone to insurgency.
“Whereas billions of dollars were appropriated for security, but diverted by corruption to matters like engaging prayer warriors demands that we reflect very closely and ask ourselves whether we can afford to continue on the same trajectory of lack of accountability for security votes.
“We need security votes; we should give the votes to those who deserve to have security votes and we should demand some framework for accountability,” he said.
On his part, Chief of Army Staff, Lt.-Gen. Tukur Buratai, said that security vote was subject to audit and “if it is not done, it is wrong”.
He said that the votes were not votes for defence and were also not meant for the armed forces.
“Strictly speaking, if you look at security votes in the true context, it is not meant to tackle insecurity.
“We have funding for Ministry of Defence and the Armed Forces. If you have budget lines for these services and organisations, then why security votes?
“However, it can be used for security; but it is not meant to solve insecurity,
“There are other votes which are constitutional which include the contingency fund,” he said.
Buratai explained that even though there was security vote that was generally applied, it must follow the Public Procurement Act 2007.
The chief of army staff said that if security vote was made constitutional and proper guidelines set out on utilisation, the issue will be laid to rest
Governor Kayode Fayemi of Ekiti State, described  security vote as the budgetary or extra budgetary allocation ostensibly for security, received by the President, Governors and Local Government Chairmen.
This allocation he said, is spent without legal obligation to account for how it is spent.
Fayemi said that security votes have not been widely accepted by citizens, because of the assumption that such funds are being abused by state governments.
He said that the problem really is not about the security vote but about its usages and the character of the people administering it.
“Security votes attract more attention because of the seemingly non accountable nature of the expenditure under the budgetary provision.
“There is widespread belief that the appropriation of security votes in Nigeria is unconstitutional and thus illegal.
“This is not correct because in the Nigerian constitution, the executive is entrusted with the responsibility of preparing a budget which is then sent to the legislature for ratification.
“The fact that huge amount of monies are routinely being budgeted and expended in the name of security vote does not make it an illegal practice
“The act of approving any sum allocated to such a heading, covert or overt, legalises the concept. The insinuation that such money is not budgeted for is not true,” Fayemi said.
Like Magu said, the legality or otherwise of security vote is ongoing, and must continue until it properly defined. The earlier the better to avoid misuse and diversion of public funds in the guise of security vote.
Sharang writes for the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN).

 

Naomi Sharang

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Politics

Grudges Not Healthy For Our Music Industry –PMAN President

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Voombalistic Uncle P, National President, Performing Musicians Association of Nigeria (PMAN), says grudges among Nigerian musicians is not healthy for the music industry.
Performing Musicians Association of Nigeria (PMAN) is an umbrella organisation that guides, protect and promotes the interests of musicians in Nigeria.
Dr Obi Okwudili Casmir, popularly known as Voombalistic Uncle P, who spoke with our source in Lagos, advised musicians to shun grudges to avoid resentment in their relationships.
“Grudges amongst musicians is not healthy for our industry and will only create further resentment in their relationships as musicians and may affect what we represent or present to the public.
“Being emotionally immature when composing or writing your songs means you can not control your emotions or reactions towards your colleagues.
“Having quarrel is a fact of life amongst best of friends but you don’t take it too hard on yourselves because it might graduate to what happened in the case of 2pac and Biggie.
“I advise we settle our differences internally if we have any, rather than taking them to the studio and then streets/homes. That doesn’t project us in good light,” he said.
It was gathered that Nigerian rappers Jude Abaga popularly known as M.I and Olanrewaju Ogunmefun (Vector) are currently expressing grudges against each other in songs which had been trending on social media platforms.
The grudge, which reportedly began over supremacy in the rap category of the music industry, has being described as publicity stunts, while some saw it as real disagreement between the two rappers which had been brewing over the years.

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Politics

Rescind N5,000 Fee For National ID, PDP Tells Buhari

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The Peoples Democratic Party (PDP),  yesterday,  charged President Muhammadu Buhari to direct the National Identity Management Commission (NIMC)  to recind the N5,000 fee for national identity cards immediately.
The PDP in a statement by its National Publicity Secretary,  Kola Ologbondiyan,  said the new fee is repressive and an attempt by the All Progressives Congress (APC)-led Federal Government to further impose hardship on the citizens.
The opposition party noted that the idea of an ID card fee is offensive to the sensibilities of Nigerians, as it amounts to stripping Nigerians of their constitutional rights in their own country..
“Our party holds that issuance of national identity card to citizens, as an obligation of the state to its citizenry, must remain free as established by the PDP. The N5000 levy must be immediately rescinded before it triggers restiveness in the nation.
“Already, the fee is generating tension in the country as Nigerians have continued to register their rejection in the public space.
“The PDP notes the increasing penchant of the APC administration to impose all sorts of taxes on suffering Nigerians.”
Meanwhile, President Muhammadu Buhari has signed five bills passed by the 8th National Assembly into law, Mr Umar Yakubu, his Senior Special Assistant on National Assembly Matters (House of Representatives) has said.
Yakubu who made the announcement at a news conference last Wednesday in Abuja, said that the Acts were to ensure good governance in the country.
The bills include the Obafemi Awolowo University Transitional Amendment Act, Abubakar Tafawa Balewa University, Bauchi Amendment Act, the University of Maiduguri Amendment Act, the National Fertiliser Quality Control Act and the Nigerian Council of Food Science and Technology Establishment Act.

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