Former Secretary-General of the Commonwealth, Chief Emeka Anyaoku, has sent a blunt message to President Muhammadu Buhari and members of the National Assembly to the worsening security situation in the country and asked them to do something urgently to arrest the drift before Nigeria fails.
Anyaoku, who spoke at a book launch in honour of a former judicial icon, Justice Dadi Onyeama, in Abuja yesterday, pointed out that the emerging scenarios in the land were ominous signs that needed to be checked without further delay.
Anyaoku said: “Let me now come to my message to President Buhari and all members of our National Assembly. The message is two-faced: Nigeria is on the brink, and our foremost national challenge is the management of our country’s diversity.
“Every diverse federal country throughout the world achieves political stability and socio-economic development through successfully managing its national diversity. There are two common keys to this. The first is having an inclusive central government which gives the peoples of the component parts of the federation a sense of belonging that in turn underpins the sense of unity and patriotism in all the citizens.
“The second is having an adequate delegation of powers to the federating units to enable them to handle their internal security and significant aspects of their socio-economic development.
“However today, Nigeria is on the brink. For no objective observer, including those in the government, can deny that the current state of affairs in our country is extremely worrisome.
“We see an unprecedented diminution of national unity; we see an unprecedented level of insecurity of life and property with kidnappings and killings of human beings occurring virtually every day in many parts of the country including the seemingly unchecked violence by Fulani herdsmen which has spawned fractious controversies over the proposed Ruga policy by the federal government.
“For the sake of peace and integrity of the country, the Ruga policy must be handled with circumspection and strictly in accordance with our extant constitution’s provisions on the land tenure.
“And, we see that all these unwholesome developments are accompanied by a worsening level of poverty that is leading to Nigeria fast becoming the poverty capital of the world.
“I call on our president, the members of the National Assembly, the governors, and indeed, on all our political elites not to continue to live in denial of the seriousness of these glaring facts, if not effectively addressed, are bound to push the country over the brink of a national disaster.
The former Commonwealth scribe said that Nigeria is already blessed with what is needed to tackle the security challenges before they get out of hand.
“Fortunately, to provide insightful governance which would facilitate effective tackling of these challenges, Nigeria does not need to reinvent the wheel. If only the people in government and all concerned would learn from our history, thereby avoid validating the saying by the German philosopher, Friedrich, Hegel that “the only thing we learn from history is that we learn nothing from history”.
“Because it is undeniable that Nigeria’s history has demonstrated that the economy attained a greater sense of national unity and faster progress in socio-economic development during its period as a true federal of more viable federating units with greater devolution of powers to them. The period was in the immediate years after the country’s independence under its 1960/63 constitutions.
“As I have stated on many occasions, I believe that the current travails of Nigeria will more effectively tackle if the country’s diversity is managed with a structure of governance that draws not only from the present lessons of successful diverse federations but more importantly, from Nigeria’s own past happier experience during its immediate post-independence years.
The author of the book: Dadi, the Man, the Legend, was written by Dillibe Onyeama and presented today at the Yar’Adua Centre Abuja.
Meanwhile, the former President, Dr. Goodluck Jonathan, yesterday, paid a condolence visit to the leader of the pan-Yoruba socio-political organisation, Afenifere, Pa Reuben Fasoranti over the death of his daughter, Mrs Funke Olakunrin.
Olakunrin was reportedly killed along Ore-Shagamu Expressway by some hoodlums suspected to be Fulani herdsmen, last Friday.
Speaking with journalists, Jonathan described the incident as a painful occurrence to the whole country.
He also described the murder of Olakunrin as an act of terrorism.
Jonathan called on the federal and state governments to be more proactive on the issue of insecurity in the country.
He said, “Every generation of human being face problems and that generation must find ways of solving that problem. Every government faces some unique problems. Insecurity has been with us immediately after the civil war. That was the first time we experienced armed robbery in Lagos. From armed robbery, it graduated to kidnapping.
“The first major kidnapping was described as commercial kidnapping because some money exchanged hands. This happened in 2006 when I was governor of Bayelsa State. From commercial kidnapping, it moved to terrorism in the North and now some kind of terrorist attacks are all over the country when people will just come out of the road and spray bullets on innocent people. That is a terrorist attack. You have no reason to attack somebody you don’t even know, that is terrorism.”
While calling on the Federal Government to implement the report of the 2014 confab, Jonathan said some of the recommendations in the report dealt with the issue of security and the government should apply the recommendations.
The former President stated, “In 2014 when I was president, we had a national conference where a number of things were discussed. The issues of security; state and regional police were discussed.
“I always believe that if the government looks into that report; because it was not written by me, so we should not play politics with national issues. If we look into that report, there are recommendations.
“A lot of things were discussed during the national conference organized during my time as president. The issue of security, state and community policing were discussed. I always believe that the government should look at that report, it was not written by me.
“We should not play politics with a serious national issue. If we look at that report, there are recommendations that bother on security and if there is an area that needs to be expanded because I believe everyday new idea comes, it should be updated.
“There is nothing wrong holding a specific meeting to look at the issue of security. I believe the federal and state governments need to have a new approach, deploy technology and have more money to protect our people.”
He also charged the security operatives in the country to deploy technology to fight insecurity, saying there was a need for the Federal Government to set up a special unit that would specifically tackle insecurity in the country.
“I was there as a President for some time, security challenges were there with me, I also inherited some. But it is getting worse every day. And we cannot continue to use the same old method,” he charged.
Meanwhile, the Senate, yesterday, called on the Federal Government to immediately convene a National Security Summit to address the insecurity ravaging the country.
It would be recalled that President Olusegun Obasanjo had made this call in an open letter to President Muhammadu Buhari, last Monday.
The call followed a point of order raised by Sen. Ayo Akinyelure (APC-Ondo), over the killing of one his constituents, Mrs Funke Olakunrin.
Olakunrin, daughter of Pa Reuben Fasoranti, a leader of the Afenifere Group, was shot dead by gunmen along the Akure-Ore Road in Ondo State, last Friday.
Akinyelure expressed concern over the killing and similar ones, which he described as “increasing and incessant murder of innocent Nigerians by gunmen along major highways in the country.”
He also cautioned that if immediate actions were not taken, the development might lead to ethno-religious crisis, especially in the Southern part of the country.
While urging the Senate to observe a minute silence in memory of the deceased and others who died in similar circumstances, he said the attention of the Federal Government should be drawn to the situation.
Also, Sen. Tolu Odebiyi (APC-Ogun) called on the Senate as an institution to sit down with the Presidency and the security formations in a meeting to take immediate action.
“We have to demand for an action by security forces and the Presidency.
“There’s nothing we do here that is safe if we don’t get our security right. We can’t be coming here every day, mourning and observing one minute silence when Nigerians are being killed.
“As a Senate, we should send a delegation to meet with the Presidency and the security forces to address what is happening.”
However, the Deputy Leader of the Senate, Sen. Ajayi Boroface (APC-Ondo), urged his colleagues to be cautious about linking a particular tribe as perpetrators of the attacks.
“We should approach this matter maturely and encourage the Federal Government to improve on the state of security.
“We should not link a particular tribe with the killings, as being observed in the social media. Yoruba, Igbo, Hausa, Fulani people have all been killed,” he said.
The President of the Senate, Dr Ahmad Lawan, in his submission, equally lamented the situation, which he said was being felt across the country.
He, therefore, said stakeholders should immediately be converged for a robust national security summit to discuss and address the situation.
“The security situation is all over the country. It is very unfortunate just like all our colleagues have said in their contributions.
“We should have one national security summit on this. The summit should be all-
encompassing and all-inclusive, involving other arms of government and various security formations,” he said.
The summit will be coming 17 months after the Eighth Senate organised a similar event where the present President of the Senate, Dr Ahmad Lawan as Senate Leader was the Chairman of the Senate.
Meanwhile, the Senate, in its resolution, “unequivocally” condemned the killings, calling on the Inspector General of Police to extend his dragnet to fish out the perpetrators.
In its reaction, the Coalition of United Political Parties (CUPP) accused President Muhammadu Buhari of dividing the country through his style of leadership.
This came as it asked the president to listen to former President Olusegun Obasanjo and other eminent Nigerians, who have been expressing concerns on the state of the nation with a view to putting the country on the right path.
In a statement, yesterday, by its spokesman, Ikenga Imo Ugochinyere, CUPP alleged that “the unimpressive leadership style of President Muhammadu Buhari has so far led the country to a state of total anarchy and impending disintegration.
“This situation has regrettably led to daily shedding of blood of innocent citizens across the country either in the hands of terrorists, kidnappers, bandits among others”, it added.
Furthermore, a group of Niger Delta agitators, yesterday, dismissed as insolent and infuriating, the call by Miyetti Allah Cattle Breeders Association on the Federal Government to apprehend former President Olusegun Obasanjo over his latest letter to President Muhammadu Buhari, decrying the insecurity in the country.
The Leader of the assembly, 21st Century Youth for Niger Delta and Agitators with Conscience, self-styled “General” Izon Ebi, in a statement, yesterday, said: “It is laughable, very insulting and provocative for a group that is supposed to be proscribed as terrorist issuing such a directive to Nigeria President, who happens to be their patron.
“We are surprised because he has emboldened them with his body language and open defense and support for his people and tribe. How can a primitive and murderous group like the Miyetti Allah talk after committing sacrilege and genocide against the Nigerian people, it still has the audacity to call for the arrest of an elder statesman and patriotic leader like Obasanjo.
“It is the highest joke that cannot be treated with kid-glove. Buhari should know that he is the President of Nigeria, not Fulani or Miyetti Allah. We urge him to do the needful and uphold the Constitution by protecting lives and properties of Nigerians or he should resign before this country collapse finally,” the group added.
It would be recalled that the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) had last Monday said that former President Olusegun Obasanjo’s open letter to President Muhammadu Buhari on the insecurity has vindicated the party’s position.
Obasanjo, in another open letter to President Buhari, last Monday, lamented about the state of the nation, while calling for urgent actions to tackle Nigeria’s challenges.
Reacting, the PDP, in a statement signed by the National Publicity Secretary, Kola Ologbodiyan, described Obasanjo’s open letter as patriotic and prove that President Buhari has failed as the nation’s chief security officer.
The statement read: “The party notes that President Obasanjo’s letter re-echoes its numerous caution against the violations, insensitivity, impunity, vindictiveness, divisiveness, intolerance and dangerous sectionalism that characterize the Buhari administration and which are jeopardizing our national unity.
“The PDP urges President Buhari to read between the lines and listen to the voice of reason from well-meaning Nigerians at this moment.
“Our party is deeply worried that our nation, which grew in leaps and bounds in all sectors before the All Progressives Congress (APC) took over in 2015, is now dangerously sliding on all fronts under President Buhari, who has shown crass incompetence in managing our national affairs.
“The PDP maintains that had President Buhari heed wise counsel to rejig his parade and respect the wishes and aspirations of Nigerians in the national interest, our nation would not have been on this dangerous bend.
“The fact remains that President Buhari has not demonstrated the capacity to lead a nation as complex as our Nigeria. Events have shown that he cannot handle our diversities and ensure a united and equitable country that guarantees fairness, justice and space to all citizens without fear or favour.
“The PDP, therefore, counsels President Buhari to listen to the pulse of our nation; accept his failure and seek help from other well-meaning Nigerians so as to take back our nation from this imminent precipice.
“The party also calls on all Nigerians across the divides, irrespective of creed, ethnicity and political leaning, to close ranks, eschew all primordial and parochial interests and work together for the stability of our dear nation”.
However, President Muhammadu Buhari, yesterday, took a swipe at those criticising him on the insecurity situation in the country, saying that they were not patriotic.
Former President Olusegun Obasanjo had on Monday written an open letter to President Buhari accusing him of not doing enough to tackle the increasing rate of insecurity in the country among other challenges.
But receiving the National Executives of the Buhari Campaign Organisation (BCO), at the Presidential Villa Abuja, the President said that those criticising the isolated cases of insecurity in the country were not patriotic Nigerians.
According to him, countries around the world were facing one security challenges or the other. He also pointed out that there were new challenges of banditry and kidnapping around the globe.
PDP Inaugurates 15 Convention Sub-Committees –
Wike Chairs Special Duties Committee
6,000 Delegates Expected To Attend
The Peoples’ Democratic Party (PDP) National Convention Committee, yesterday, in Abuja inaugurated 15 sub-committees for its national convention scheduled for October 30.
The sub-committees as read by the Bayelsa State Governor, Senator Duoye Diri, include the National Convention Organizing Committee, chaired by Adamawa State Governor, Hon Ahmadu Fintiri.
Others are Constitutional Amendment Committee, chaired by Akwa lbom Governor, Udom Emmanuel; Zoning Committee chaired by Enugu State Governor, Ifeanyi Ugwuanyi; Screening Committee, chaired by former Minister of Justice, Mohammed Adoke.
Sub-committees and their chairmen also inaugurated were Screening Appeal Committee chaired by Senator Ike Ekweremadu; Special Duties Committee chaired by Rivers State Governor, Chief Nyesom Wike; Accreditation Committee chaired by Delta State Governor, Dr Ifeanyi Okowa; and Security Committee chaired by former Inspector General of Police, Solomon Arase.
The Electoral (Statutory) Committee, with Adamawa Governor, Hon Ahmadu Fintiri as the chairman; Publicity Committee chaired by Edo State Governor, Godwin Obaseki; and Venue Committee, chaired by Bauchi State Governor, Senator Bala Mohammed are also among them.
Others include: Welfare and Entertainment Committee with Mariya Waziri as chairperson; Transportation Committee, with Ibrahim Dankwambo as chairman; and Contact and Mobilization Committee with Taraba Governor, Darius Ishaku as chairman.
The rest are, Protocol Committee with Sen. Biodun Olujimi as chairperson; Medical Committee — Nuhu Zagbayi; and Secretariat Committee — Umaru Ibrahim Tsauri.
Inaugurating the sub-committees, Fintiri expressed belief that the October convention would be successful and lead PDP to victory in 2023.
Fintiri said that the leaders and members of the sub-committees were carefully selected to organize a credible convention for the party.
The Adamawa governor urged them to make the necessary sacrifices to deliver the best convention to the party.
Fintiri, fielding questions from newsmen after the inauguration, said that by PDP’s new constitution, over 6,000 delegates were expected at the convention.
“We are fully prepared for that. We are expecting everybody in every ward that is a delegate to attend the convention.”
He said that the sub-committees had been given directions and they were expected to go back, adequately prepare and submit their report to the main committee for approval.
On which part of the party’s Constitution would be amended, Fintiri said he could not pre-empt the Constitution Sub-Committee, but allow them do their job.
On how far the zoning committee had gone after the one-week appeal he gave them, last week, Fintiri said the committee was in a meeting in Enugu carrying out its responsibilities.
“You can see the party is working, and it is a turning point for all of us,” Fintiri said.
According to him, the leadership tussle in the party has largely been addressed even as he came short of saying the PDP has moved on from the crisis.
He said, “We are moving on. I am the chairman of the convention committee and you can see that we are doing our work. Everybody is happy and participating. I don’t see any crisis in this party.”
The party’s national elective convention is slated for October 30 and 31 this year in Abuja.
RSG Recommits To Building Agric Sector
The Rivers State Government has said that it was committed to building the agricultural sector and utilise the huge potentials the state has for the benefit of Rivers people.
The state Governor, Chief Nyesom Wike, stated this while speaking at a seminar of the Norwegian Seafood Council at Hotel Presidential in Port Harcourt, yesterday.
Represented by his Deputy, Dr. Ipalibo Harry Banigo, Wike said, “In the face of dwindling oil prices, and the need to diversify the economy, we see a lot of potentials in the seafood industry especially post Covid-19. This is an important industry for creating employment opportunities, generate revenue and boost economic activities in our area”.
Wike, who said that Rivers State was one of the coastal states in the Niger Delta endowed with valuable seafood resources, revealed that Norway and Nigeria have had a long history of relationship and trade.
According to the governor, “Rivers State, known as the oil and gas hub of Nigeria, is open to do business in all sectors including maritime and welcome more partnerships and investments from stakeholders who wish to do business in the state”.
Wike further said, “In the effort to grow our economy, the Government of Rivers State supports making laws that work for us all, by putting laws in place to improve society’s efficiency. Hence, the assent and signing of the VAT law”.
The Rivers State chief executive, who commended the Norwegian Seafood Council for conducting the seminar in the state, stressed that stock fish was enjoyed across Rivers State by all groups, including low and high earners, while both men and women are involved in the sales in our markets.
“I believe this seminar will examine the many advantages and gains of seafood as well as anticipated support from the Norwegian Embassy in the areas of encouraging deep sea fishing, trawlers, good storage for sea products, training to grow and nurture fish production standard, fish ponds and open fish farms, use of technology and encouragement, support to artisan farmers.
“We believe that the gains for removing stock fish and stock fish heads from the list of items not valid for the FX windows far outweigh the losses if any.
“For all the reasons stated above and many more, we anticipate Federal Government and the CBN’s removal of stock fish and stock fish heads from the list of items not valid for the Central Bank of Nigeria FX window”, Wike further stressed.
In his remarks, the Ambassador Royal Norwegian Embassy, Knut Lein, who described the history of stock fish in Nigeria and Norway as fascinating, said it creates a bond between both countries, and expressed the desire to foster increased cooperation, build on bilateral relations and inform the government of Norway about the opportunities in the country.
He said, “together we could create lots of jobs”, insisting that “doing what we can to promote stock fish trade was a win-win for all of us”.
Highlights of the occasion were the presentation of papers by the Director Africa, Norwegian Seafood Council, Mr. Trond Kostveit, and other stakeholders.
The Norwegian Ambassador, Mr. Knut Lein, had earlier paid a courtesy call on Governor Nyesom Wike, at the Government House in Port Harcourt, where the state chief executive expressed the state government’s desire to continue to partner with the Norwegian Embassy to facilitate economy growth and development of both countries, and the state in particular.
Encourage States To Harness Own Resources For Dev, Wike Tasks FG
The Rivers State Governor, Chief Nyesom Wike, has said Nigeria must encourage federating states to harness their resources and generate revenues, including Value Added Tax (VAT) to advance their development.
He also stressed that it was baffling to note that Rivers State was not included among states to benefit from any of the projects to be executed with the fresh loan that the Federal Government was seeking to obtain from the World Bank.
Wike made the observation when the Managing Director and Editor-in-Chief of the SUN (Newspaper) Publishing Limited, Mr Onuoha Ukeh, led a delegation to present letter of nomination to him as the SUN Man of the Year 2020 Award at Government House, Port Harcourt, last Monday.
The Rivers State governor observed that there were mounted attempts to frustrate federating states like Rivers, to actualise the constitutional provisions that empower them to harness their resources and revenues, particularly VAT.
The governor decried the situation where the legality of states collecting VAT was not considered on the merit of the law by some public commentators, including state executives, rather, they were politicising it and looking at it from prism of ethnicity and religion.
According to Wike, what the FIRS was doing was illegal, and could be likened to robbing some states to pay others.
“You don’t even need to be a lawyer to know that VAT is not in Items 58 and 59 of the Second Schedule of the 1999 Constitution as amended. Everybody knows that. It is not even in the Concurrent List. Therefore, it falls under the Residual List. It is not arguable. That yesterday, nothing happened, does not mean that today, nothing will happen or tomorrow, something will not happen.
“Nigeria should encourage states to be strong enough to have resources to develop themselves. We are in a federal system where we are practicing unitary system. Everybody at the end of the month will run to Abuja to share money. Nobody comes back to the state to think, how do I develop my state.”
He explained that the contest against the collection of Valued Added Tax (VAT) was started by Lagos State, which had sued the Federal Government at the Supreme Court.
According to him, Rivers State only avoided their pitfall by suing the Federal Inland Revenue Service (FIRS), which is an agency of the Federal Government that was illegally collecting the tax in the state.
“The issue of VAT did not start from Rivers State. It started in Lagos State when Lagos State challenged it in Supreme Court. Unfortunately, the Supreme Court said you (Lagos) shouldn’t have sued the Federal Government. All you would have done was to sue the agency.”
The governor observed that rather than commend Rivers State Government for seeking to entrench fiscal federalism and constitutionalism, a particular state governor had threatened that the judgement of the court that declared that states, and not FIRS, are entitled to collect VAT within their jurisdiction, will not stand.
He urged those demanding for a brothers’ keeper consideration to first, appreciate the position of the law and situate it rightly.
“Some people say, ‘be your brother’s keeper’. I have no problem in being my brother’s keeper, but why not come out and say, let us tell ourselves the simple truth: as it is provided in the law, who is the person responsible to collect the VAT?
“When you agree to that, that it is the state, then, we can sit down to look at the different problems of states. And not to say ‘be your brother’s keeper’ while you’re doing an illegal thing, in disobeying what the law says you should not do.”
Wike stated that it was sheer act of discrimination for the Federal Government not to include Rivers State as one of the states that will benefit from projects for which it was seeking fresh foreign loans to execute.
“Look at the money that Federal Government has gone to borrow from the World Bank. Of all the projects, in all the states, Federal Government did not include Rivers State.
“Look at the list of projects that states will benefit from this money they’re borrowing from the World Bank that they have sent to National Assembly for approval, the only state that is not benefitting is Rivers State”.
He further noted, “It is the prerogative of Mr President; if he says he does not like Rivers State, if the ruling party says they don’t like Rivers State, I won’t kill myself. But leave the one that the law says I should be the one to collect so that I will be able to develop my own state.”
Speaking further, Wike explained that beyond the provision of infrastructure, his administration was seeking a law that would provide comfortable accommodation for judicial officers on retirement.
The reason, he said, was to ensure that, while in service, the judicial officers can concentrate on their jobs without cutting corners, and avoid corrupt practices.
In his remarks, the Managing Director and Editor-in-Chief of the SUN (Newspaper) Publishing Limited, Mr Onuoha Ukeh, said the SUN Man of the Year 2020 Award was the flagship of award the company.
According to him, Wike was unanimously selected for his remarkable contributions to the socio-economic development of Nigeria and promotion of fiscal federalism with his position on VAT, which would help in the restructuring of Nigeria.
“Today, His Excellency has guided Nigeria to true federalism with the issue of VAT. Knowing what fiscal federalism should be, His Excellency went to court to challenge the collection of VAT, and the court stated that actually the states should collect VAT. And that is laying the foundation for true federalism and fiscal federalism”, he said.
Ukeh commended Wike for his sterling performance in office and infrastructural revolution taking place in Rivers State.
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