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Disturbing Signals From The Army

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Some News Reports In The Tide Newspaper, Friday, November 8, 2019 (Pages 3 and 16); “Ambush: Boko Haram kills 10 soldiers, Injures Nine, 12 Missing in Borno” and “Nigerian Army To Court Martial 70 Soldiers In North-East”, are quite disturbing. But for the suspension of a proposed Operation Positive Identification (OPI) by the House of Representatives recently, the Nigerian Army would have placed itself in a position of discomfort with the Nigerian public.
The Boko Haram insurgency in the North-Eastern part of Nigeria has been a lingering issue of concern to Nigerians, especially with 35,000 said to have been killed so far. Similarly, the recent inauguration of a General Court Martial to prosecute 70 erring personnel found defaulting in the counter-insurgency operation in the North-East, creates additional concern to the Nigerian public will be better assured if the Boko Haram issue ends soon.
“Acts of cowardice, desertion, un-soldierly and other forms of indiscipline” are not tolerated by the military anywhere, but Nigerians would feel quite uncomfortable hearing about “army executing war” in Nigeria. Rather, Nigerians were assured long ago that the Boko Haram insurgency had been effectively neutralised, giving everybody the hope that Nigeria is not at war. It is true that military operations are sensitive issues for any writer to comment on, yet, the public needs to be assured there is no war.
19 years ago, one Professor Omo Omoruyi, in an essay: “Nigeria – US Military Pact: Recipe for Danger”, published in The News magazine, October 2, 2000, raised certain issues. In that essay, Professor Omoruyi stated; “Human rights issues are usually on the back burner and when they are concerning the African countries, the US never commits its nationals to defending them. The US involvement in Nigeria is a part of the US defence of her national interests and not the good of Nigeria…”
Professor Omoruyi went on to say that “what Nigeria has since 1966 is a political army, with a regional political agenda… Nigerian Army was actually a political army whose interest was to guarantee the continued stay in power of the North. The Nigerian public would want to know if Professor Omoruyi was wrong in stating that the Nigerian Army was a political rather than a professional one, and if the situation has changed since that statement was made.
The role of the military in a democratic era since 1999 demands its subordination to democratic principles which requires professionalism. A truly professional army would emerge through some orientation programme which should engage the attention of the military. Such orientation, in the words of Professor Omoruyi, should include “a fundamental restructuring of the Armed Forces to make the so-called Nigerian military representative of the Nigerian ethnic nationalities”.
The “War” against Boko Haram insurgency is seen in some quarters as providing opportunity for Nigeria to become a dumping ground for old military equipment from the US and other developed countries. Whether such military supplies come in the form of support to fight insurgency or for a fee, there are implications. There is a possibility that soldiers using old weapons against insurgents using modern ones, the soldiers would be handicapped. Can “acts of cowardice” by soldiers facing a court martial not be traced to the quality of weapons that they use to fight against better equipped enemies?
The bottom-line is that Nigerian soldiers fighting the Boko Haram “war” deserve to be protected even when engaged in a job exposing them to death. The Boko Haram enemies are engaged in an ideological war in which martyrdom is a heroic death, with a reward in heaven. Whoever their sponsors and financiers may be, it should be obvious to the Nigerian public that there is more to Boko Haram insurgency than what meets the eyes.
To nurture a true democracy demands that the military should be professional rather than political or partisan. Since the Boko Haram “war” is an ideological engagement, what happens when some of the soldiers engaging them share some sympathy with the ideology of the enemy they are fighting? This is an issue which should be of concern to the military, especially the court martial of 70 soldiers. There can be grumbling among people doing things which their conscience does not approve of.
There had been complaints about delays in payments of earned allowances as well as other issues, which may account for the acts of cowardice, desertion, un-soldierly and other forms of indiscipline. A feeling of unfair exploitation and exposure to avoidable dangers can give rise to acts of indiscipline on the part of soldiers.
The Boko Haram insurgency, like other sensitive national issues currently confronting the country, deserve to be addressed without shenanigans or hidden agenda. The question has been asked by several Nigerians regarding what the Boko Haram insurgents really want. Whatever they are asking for can be discussed at a round table rather than battle-field, involving bloodshed. When former President Goodluck Jonathan asked the insurgents to appoint representatives, since he could not discuss with a faceless group, we know what happened.
To say that there is more to Boko Haram and other national issues would require that Professor Omoruyi’s essay published in The News magazine, October 2, 2000, (pages 60-65) should be read. It would also be quite instructive to read what retired Major S. Mukoro said in his interview with the News magazine, July 3, 2000. There’s hardly any change since then.
What democracy demands is open dealing, just as a nation’s armed and security forces must be truly professional to be able to defend democracy.

 

Bright Amirize

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Rivers State Needs College of Education-Don

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Following the upgrade of the former College of Education to a university, a university teacher has sued for the establishment of a new college of education to replace the old one.
The plea was made by a lecturer in the political Science Department of the Ignatius Ajuru University of Education, Dr. Iwarimie Uranta.
Uranta who made his views known in an interview with The Tide pointed out that College of Education if established will address the middle manpower in the educational system of the state.
For now, Uranta said “there is a vacuum,” National Certificate of Education (NCE) will help bridge the gap of middle manpower in the teaching profession.”
He continued”, it will boost the teaching of core courses, because NCE teachers are trained as teachers in those courses”.
The university don pointed out that currently there is a limited number of people who wants to do education. It reduce pressure on the universities and reduce social vices by the youths, Uranta stressed.
Besides, he said the current reforms in the educational system will benefit as many private schools will have manpower to recruit instead of engaging quacks in their schools.
In a similar vein, Head of Educational Psychology/ Guidance and Counselling in the Ignatius Ajuru University of Education, Dr. Sunday Ordu has commended the State Government
for the policy to sanitise privately schools in the state.
“A lot of private schools don not have professional teachers so the policy is in the right direction.
It will improve manpower faculties to enhance educational growth. The environment must be conducive” he added.

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RSG Implements TSA To Block Revenue Leakages, Soon …Tasks State Internal Revenue Service To Grow Monthly IGR To N10bn …Seeks Informal Sector’s Support Through Payment Of Prescribed Taxes

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The Rivers State Governor, Chief Nyesom Wike has announced that the state government would soon commence the operation of Treasury Single Account (TSA) to boost its revenue base.
Wike also charged the Rivers Internal Revenue Service (RIRS) to grow the state’s monthly Internally Generated Revenue (IGR) to N10billion.
He spoke during the flag off of Informal Sector Tax Drive with vehicles donated by Access Bank Limited at the Government House, Port Harcourt, yesterday.
The governor said: “We will initiate the Treasury Single Account to block revenue leakages. I assure that very soon, the Treasury Single Account will become operational.
“The Treasury Single Account will be implemented to checkmate what is presently going on. It is not good to have several accounts which lead to unnecessary leakages.
“Our revenue base fluctuates. The board has been directed to expedite action for the state to hit N10billion Internally Generated Revenue every month.”
Wike explained that the Treasury Single Account will be diligently implemented in the interest of Rivers State, and restated that his allegiance was to Rivers people who voted him, because he was not sponsored by any group.
He urged the informal sector to support the Rivers State Government by paying their taxes as prescribed by the Rivers Internal Revenue Service (RIRS).
“The drive for informal sector tax is key. I believe it will boost our revenue base, and we need it”, he said, and thanked Access Bank Limited for supporting the revenue drive of the state with the donation of 10 buses.
In his remarks, the Chairman of Rivers State Internal Revenue Service (RIRS), Mr Adoage Norte said that the flag off of the informal sector tax drive would ensure that informal sector entrepreneurs pay their taxes.
He said that at present, the informal sector has not been paying taxes, explaining that the flag off would unlock the tax potentials of the informal sector.
Norte lauded Access Bank Plc for supporting the informal tax drive of the Rivers State Internal Revenue Service with the donation of 10 buses, pointing out that the buses would be used across the state.
He added that the service was also in dire need of branded kiosks for point of sales transactions, and suggested the operation of Treasury Single Account to optimize revenue generation in the state.
Representative of the Managing Director of Access Bank Plc, Mr David Tinad, thanked the Rivers State Government for the opportunity to partner on revenue generation.
He assured the Rivers State Government that Access Bank Plc would continue to support efforts by the state government to improve its revenue base.

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Fake Policemen Disrupted Polls In Bayelsa, Kogi, IGP Admits …Says We’re Aware People Planned To Wear Police Uniforms …As Senate Moves To Okay E-Voting For Future Polls

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The Inspector-General of Police, Mr Mohammed Adamu, has said that ‘policemen’ alleged to have disrupted Saturday’s governorship polls in parts of Bayelsa and Kogi States were “fake” and not the personnel officially deployed for election duties.
Adamu stated that all security personnel, who worked during the polls had “special identification tags”, adding that anyone without the tags was on illegal duty.
He spoke with State House correspondents after President Muhammadu Buhari and security chiefs held a meeting at the Presidential Villa, Abuja, yesterday.
However, he said an investigation was ongoing, while 11 arrests had been made.
Similarly, the Inspector General of Police, IGP, Mohammed Adamu, yesterday, said that the police were aware of the plan by politicians to sew police uniforms for their supporters during the Kogi and Bayelsa States governorship elections.
The IGP also said that ‘policemen’ alleged to have disrupted the November 16 governorship polls in parts of the two states were “fake” and not the personnel officially deployed for election duties.
Briefing State House correspondents after a security meeting with President Muhammadu Buhari at the State House, Abuja, Adamu stated that all security personnel, who worked during the elections were given “special identification tags”, adding that anyone without the tags was on illegal duty.
The IGP, who said that the security situation in the country was stable, however, said investigation was ongoing to unravel the identities of those that caused violence during the elections, adding that 11 arrests had been made.
On the alleged police extortion of motorists in South East by police officers at checkpoints, he advised that people should always copy the names of such police officers and report them to the police hierarchy in the area.
Meanwhile, the Senate has begun a fresh electoral reform which has mandated the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) to adopt the much-awaited electronic voting method for future polls.
The lawmakers also compelled INEC to operate an electronic database into which all results in an election should be transmitted.
A bill to amend the Electoral Act 2010 through which the reform would be achieved has already been published in an official gazette and debate on its general principles may begin on the floor of the Senate during the week.
A copy of the bill, made available to newsmen, also stipulates that data of accredited voters must be transmitted to the central data base upon the conclusion of the accreditation of voters which would be done through the use of the card reader.
“At the end of accreditation of voters, the presiding officer shall transmit the voter accreditation data by secure mobile electronic communication to the central database of the commission kept at the national headquarters of the commission.
“Any presiding officer who contravenes this provision shall be liable, on conviction, to a minimum of imprisonment of at least five years without an option of fine,” the bill also stipulates.
It prevents INEC from shutting down the central data base until all petitions arising from the elections are determined by a tribunal or court.
“In respect of data of accreditation of voters, including polling unit results, for an election, the commission shall not shut down its central database kept at its national headquarters until all election petitions and appeals pertaining to that election are heard and determined by a tribunal or court.”
On the specific provisions for the adoption of the central database, the bill, which is being sponsored by the Deputy President of the Senate, Ovie Omo-Agege and Abubakar Kyari (APC, Borno State), seeks amendment of Section 65 of the Electoral Act 2010 by introducing a “National Electronic Register of Election Results.”
It states: “The commission shall compile, maintain and update on a continuous basis, a register of election results to be known as the National Electronic Register of Election Results which shall be a database of election results from each polling unit, including collated results of each election conducted by the commission.
“National Electronic Register of Election Results shall be kept by the commission at its national headquarters and any person or political party may obtain from the commission, on payment of reasonable fees as may be determined by the commission, a certified true copy of any election result kept in the National Electronic Register of Election Results for the federation, a state, local government, area council, ward or polling unit, as the case may be and the certified true copy may be in printed or electronic format.”
On electronic voting, the Electoral Reform Bill seeks amendment of Section 52 (2) of the 2010 Electoral Act and introduced a new provision stating that “the commission may adopt electronic voting or any other method of voting in any election it conducts as it may deem fit.”
It was learned that many lawmakers are not comfortable with the additional clause which permits INEC to use any other method it deems fit and may delete that option during the consideration of the bill.
The current law completely prohibits the use of electronic voting as it states: “The use of the electronic voting machine, for the time being, is prohibited.”
The reform bill has also slashed the nomination fees charged by political parties.
Presidential aspirants are to pay not more than N10million while governorship aspirants are to pay N5million.
Specifically, the bill states: “For the purpose of nomination of candidates for election, the total fees, charges, dues and any payment howsoever named imposed by a political party on an aspirant shall not exceed: N150,000 for a ward councillorship aspirant in the FCT; N250,000 for an area council chairmanship aspirant in the FCT; N500,000 for a House of Assembly aspirant; N1,000,000 for a House of Representatives aspirant; N2,000,000 for a senatorial aspirant; N5,000,000 for a governorship aspirant; and N10,000,000 for a presidential aspirant.”
The Bukola Saraki-led National Assembly had attempted the electoral reform but failed to get the presidential approval at the end.
The bill sought to strengthen internal democracy, reduce the cost of politics, widen political participation and the conduct of free fair and credible elections through technological innovations and an electronic database.
However, there were concerns raised over the enforceability of some of its provisions.
President Muhammadu Buhari, in refusing to sign that bill, had said: “I am declining assent to the bill principally because I am concerned that passing a new electoral bill this far into the electoral process for the 2019 general election, which commenced under the 2015 Electoral Act, could create some uncertainty about the applicable legislation to govern the process.
“Any real or apparent change to the rules this close to the election may provide an opportunity for disruption and confusion in respect of which law governs the electoral process.”

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