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X-Raying Wike’s Peace Building Initiatives

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On Tuesday, March 2, 2021, Governor Samuel Ortom of Benue State and Governor Bala Mohammed of Bauchi State embraced warmly on the front porch of the Wike family residence in Rumuepirikom, Obio/Akpor Local Government Area, Rivers State.
Both Governors, beaming with smiles behind their well fitted Covid-19 mandated face masks, were flanked by the calm Governor of Adamawa State, Rt. Hon. Ahmed Fintiri and a benign and noticeably satisfied Governor Nyesom Wike of Rivers State.
The acrimonious relationship between the Governor of Benue State, Samuel Ortom and Governor of Bauchi State, Senator Bala Mohammed, provoked and exacerbated by the seemingly uncontrollable activities and excesses of suspected herdsmen in the country, had been resolved with great candour, sincerity, understanding and collective acceptance.
The verbal brickbats which had rapidly degenerated into acerbic and vitriolic exchanges, raised regional tensions dangerously and brought the nation to the brink of a potentially encompassing countrywide combustion, had finally been addressed and amicably settled in the country home of Governor Nyesom Wike, with the active participation of Governor Ahmed Fintiri in the peace parley.
Briefing journalists after the successful reconciliation meeting, both Governors Ortom and Mohammed thanked their host Governor Wike for not only arranging the peace meeting, but also graciously offering his home as the place where such a contentious national matter had been resolved and also their colleague, Governor Fintiri for agreeing to be part of such a monumental meeting with far reaching implications for the continued sustenance of peace in the country.
“We don’t mean to divide the country or to divide our people. We are still friends and brothers and we will move forward because most of those issues are fully resolved. We have accepted that it was wrong for us to have that kind of outburst that went out, but as from today we have learnt. We are all fallible human beings and we are subject to mistakes and so when we make mistakes, it is a plus for us if we correct them.
“We look forward that the federal government should take a cue, stoop down to conquer by accepting that, yes ,they have failed, so that together the States and the local governments can come together to find a lasting solution to the problems of this country.
“This time we need not talk about partisan politics. We must come together. We need not talk about ethnicity or religion. We must come together as brothers and sisters who have no other country than Nigeria, to work together towards a common cause that will solve the problem that we have,” the Governors said.
Governor Wike thanked the Governors of Bauchi and Benue States for amicably resolving their dispute and also took a swipe at the All Progressives Congress, noting that they were rejoicing over the disagreement between the Governors of Benue and Bauchi States, but will now be disillusioned that the disagreement has been resolved.
“We give God the glory today that those differences have been sorted out. We are members of one political party. Like what the Governor of Bauchi and Governor of Benue said, we don’t want the inefficiency, we don’t want the lack of capacity of the Federal Government in handling the issue of insecurity in the country to rub on us.
“Everybody knows that the Federal Government has failed in providing security for this country. And of course you will not blame them. They (Ortom and Mohammed) are under pressure from their various States. It is not as if they have any personal issue.”
Governor Wike also urged the media to be a bit more circumspect in reporting issues that could further polarize the country, saying: “But you too, the press, have a role to play in stabilizing the country. It is not everything you must report. You don’t try to escalate things. When you do that, you’re not helping the country.”
On his part, Adamawa State Governor, Ahmed Fintiri, said as national leaders, it was incumbent of him and Governor Wike to intervene in the disagreement between their Benue and Bauchi counterparts.
Those who have followed Governor Wike’s political trajectory will concur that he is arguably the only Governor and most notable political figure in the country, who has singularly offered and willingly submitted himself to explore and entrench peace and reconciliation across all divides.
While some political mischief makers and well known anti-peace advocates will quickly dredge up the warped argument that Governor Wike’s reconciliation initiatives are predominantly within the confines of his own political party, PDP, many discerning analysts are of course quite aware of the greater negative implications of certain situations on the nation, if Governor Wike had not intervened with bold and unwavering leadership.
Many Nigerians are still expressing gratitude to Governor Wike for averting what would have devolved into a potentially bloody situation, when he successfully intervened and completely achieved overwhelming peace and reconciliation in the run up to the 2020 Edo State Governorship election, by strategically urging party leaders to sacrifice the entire structure, essence and reputation of PDP on the altar of peace, as an alternative platform to an embattled Governor Godwin Obaseki.
This diffused the rage and blood bath which would have been unleashed on Edo State and by extension, the South-South region and Nigeria, by the self styled ‘lions and tigers’.
Even the revered Oba of Benin, Oba Ewuare II, took time out to applaud the contribution of Governor Wike for his bold leadership, courageous intervention and amicable resolution of a crisis which would have transformed his kingdom into a battlefield and disrupted the peace of the State considerably.
Governor Wike has also exhibited great concern and willingly made admirable reconciliation overtures in political crisis across the geo political zones of the country, in order to ensure that such conflicts do not explode in conflagrations that can cause serious damage to public life and harm to innocent citizens.
His well reported intervention in the South-West PDP crisis is already yielding dividends and his bold, strategic suggestions in the South-East, both in the wake of the decamping of Governor Umahi of Ebonyi State and in the run up to the November 2021 Governorship election in Anambra State, have ensured that all the contending interests are going about their affairs legally and peacefully.
Back home, even though some political forces continue to fan the embers of bitterness and crisis in Rivers State, Governor Wike has been busy, not only in providing succour and compensation for families who lost loved ones as a result of the politics of war and wicked activities of certain political actors in the last elections, he has also started the process of seeking sustainable peace and reconciliation in the Eleme/Ogu axis, by releasing N400million for the resettlement of the exiled Ekporo people successfully in their abandoned Eleme homestead.
Governor Wike’s peaceful mien has also been admirably manifested with his regular visitations to sister Governors especially in the event of personal loss, to physically identify with them in their periods of mourning and express his sincere condolences to them.
Even the underhand attempts by some unscrupulous politicians to cause disaffection between him and his Bayelsa brother was strategically addressed by allowing due process and a Supreme Court judgment to resolve a potentially contentious matter and nip whatever mischievous intents of political opportunists in the bud.
As a true nationalist and a leader who believes in the unity and peaceful co-existence of all Nigerians irrespective of ethnic and religious differences, Governor Wike has continually presented Rivers State as a role model for harmonious co-existence by ensuring that sustainable peace is maintained amongst the diverse ethnic, cultural and religious interests that live and operate in the state.
That is why it did not come to many as a surprise, when former Cross Rivers State Governor, Donald Duke, while commissioning the recently delivered brand new milestone Okoro-Nu-Odo Flyover project, completed by the Rivers State Government, paid glowing tribute to Governor Nyesom Wike, declaring that he has become a role model in Nigerian politics for his prudent use of resources for quality service delivery and boldness in speaking truth to power.
Duke said: “Today, we are celebrating many things that Governor Wike has done, the development of a community, the prosperity that will be brought in, leaving the community better than he met it and of course, we are saying thank you that we have a leader who is very rare to find in our country. That is people who say what they mean and mean what they say.
“You may not always agree with Governor Wike at the onset. Later on, you’ll understand the wisdom of his stance. But you are never in doubt where he stands on any issue and that’s leadership,” Donald Duke declared.
These same sentiments were echoed by former Kano State Governor, Alhaji Rabiu Musa Kwankwaso, when he recently inaugurated the marvellous infrastructural masterpiece of Rumuogba flyover in Obio/Akpor on Tuesday, March 2, 2021 and then called on Governor Nyesom Wike, to prepare for national assignment after completing his second term in 2023.
The former Kano State governor told Wike, “Your Excellency, keep on moving, keep on doing the right thing. Being a governor is a very serious challenge. It is a serious assignment.
“It is a contract between you and your people for eight years. Now we are almost six years. We have just two years plus to be in Government House, here in Rivers State, before by the grace of God you move forward for the national assignment.”

Nsirim is the Commissioner for Information and Communications, Rivers State.

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The Naira Redesign , Swap Hullabaloo: Why I Think The Supreme Court Of Nigeria Lacks Original Jurisdiction

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For the avoidance of doubts, this commentary is strictly a LEGAL OPINION having nothing whatsoever to do with the activities of Nigerian politicians and their supporters and acolytes even as the 2023 general elections are just a fortnight away from today. I have earlier offered my humble, disinterested opinion on the Naira Redesign and Daily Cash Withdrawal Limit policies of the Central Bank of Nigeria. See: “Re: “Give Me 7 Days To Resolve Cash Crunch, President Muhammadu Buhari Begs Nigerians” by Sylvester Udemezue (4 February 2024, ThenigeriaLawyer)
Issues relating to whether or not a court of law has jurisdiction are fundamental and lack of jurisdiction is fatal. See OTUKPO v. JOHN (2000) 8 NWLR (669) 507; BRONIK MOTORS v. WEMA BANK (1983)6 S.C. 158; see also OMOKHAFE v. Military Administrator (2005) 2 MJSC 173. In the Supreme Court case of MADUKOLU v. NKEMDILIM (1962) 1 ALL NLR 589, the Supreme Court provided the following guide for determining whether a court has jurisdiction. Hon Justice Vahe Bairamian (FJ) while delivering the lead judgment in that case stated as follows: “Put briefly, a court is competent when: (1) the court is properly constituted as regards numbers and qualifications of the members of the bench, and no member is disqualified for one reason or another; and (2) the subject matter of the case is within its jurisdiction, and there is no feature in the case which prevents the court from exercising its jurisdiction: and (3) the case comes before the court initiated by due process of law, and upon fulfilment of any condition precedent to the exercise of jurisdiction. Any defect in competence is fatal, for the proceedings are a nullity however well conducted and decided: the defect is extrinsic to the adjudication.”
Now, in October 2022, the Central Bank of Nigeria rolled out the Naira Redesign and Daily Cash Withdrawal Limit policies, announcing 31 January 2023 as the deadline for use of old Naira Notes (N1,000, N500, and N200 notes) in Nigeria. The deadline was however later extended to 10 February 2023. Meanwhile, Kaduna, Zamfara, and Kogi States filed a case at the Supreme Court of Nigeria, against the Attorney-General of the Federation, challenging the polices and asking the Supreme Court to restrain the federal government from enforcing the 10 February 2023 deadline on Naira swap. The Supreme Court has granted an ex parte order directing that the new naira notes and the old ones should continue to coexist until 15 February 2023 when the Motion on Notice in the case would be heard. My worry is, does the Supreme Court of Nigeria have jurisdiction in this matter? I respectfully answer the question in the negative, with due respect, for the following reasons:
The Naira Redesign and Daily Cash Withdrawal Limit policies are policies of the Central Bank of Nigeria. Only the Federal High Court has jurisdiction in disputes arising from or related to Central Bank policies and anything having to do with the Naira as the Legal Tender in Nigeria. *Section 251(1)(d)* Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, 1999 provides: “Notwithstanding anything to the contained in this Constitution and in addition to such other jurisdiction as may be conferred upon it by an Act of the National Assembly, the Federal High Court shall have and exercise jurisdiction to the exclusion of any other court in civil causes and matters — connected with or pertaining to banking, banks, other financial institutions, including any action between one bank and another, any action by or against the Central Bank of Nigeria arising from banking, foreign exchange, coinage, *LEGAL TENDER* , bills of exchange, letters of credit, promissory notes and other fiscal measures…”. Thus, it is submitted that the proper court to have filed the case is the Federal High Court and not the Supreme Court. Besides, it’s submitted, the proper party to sue is the CBN and the proper court to file the case is the Federal High Court.
Section 232 (1)(a) of the Constitution, 1999, provides that “The Supreme Court shall, to the exclusion of any other Court, have original jurisdiction in any dispute between the Federation and a State or between States if and in so far as that dispute involves any question (whether of law or fact) on which the existence or extent of a legal right depends.” In line with this section, there must be a live dispute between the Federation and a State or between two States, before the original jurisdiction of the Supreme Court can be activated. It’s submitted that in the present scenario, there is no dispute between the Federation and any of Kaduna/Zamfara/Kogi States over the Naira Redesign and Daily Cash Withdrawal Limit policies. These policies are policies of the Central Bank; the Supreme Court in its original jurisdiction has no business with the case. And if any State in Nigeria has any problems with the deadline fixed by the CBN, the state is free to drag the CBN before the Federal High Court. After all, the CBN is not immune from Civil actions; section 1(2) of the CBN Act provides that the CBN may sue or be sued. In my opinion, one major problem is that it appears some people are used to confusing the term FEDERATION with FEDERAL GOVERNMENT or the office of the President. In AG KANO V. AG FEDERATION (2007) 3 SC (PT 1) the Supreme Court explained that ‘The word “Federation” in section 232 of the 1999 Constitution bears the same meaning as “Federal Republic of Nigeria” or “Federation of Nigeria”. The plaintiff’s claim did not accuse the Federation of Nigeria or the Federal Republic of Nigeria of taking any action against the Hisbah Law of Kano State or the operation of the Hisbah Corps in Kano State or of arresting and detaining commanders of the Hisbah Corps in Kano State. There was no dispute between Kano State in its status as a component unit of the Federation and the unit of the Federation itself’. Per Mohammed, JSC at 38
With due respect to the AG’s of Kaduna State, et al, the Attorney-General of the Federation is the proper Defendant or plaintiff only in suits against or by the Federation; a quarrel over the action of the CBN in respect of the LEGAL TENDER does not qualify as or translate to a *dispute between a state and the Federation* as provided for in *section 232(1) of the Constitution,* to justify the filing of the case at the Supreme Court. In the same A.G. Kano State v A.G. Federation (supra), the Attorney-General of Kano State had dragged the AG of the Federation to the Supreme Court over an action taken by the Inspector-General of Police, and Mahmud Mohammed, JSC (as he then was) held, while dealing with the … provisions of Section 232(1) in the lead judgment that: “Any complaints against the Government of the Federation or any person who exercises power or authority on its behalf like the Inspector-General of Police as asserted by the learned senior for the plaintiff in his address before this Court, are completely outside the jurisdiction of this Court.” Continuing, the apex court said: “The statement of claim disclosed a dispute between the Government of Kano State and its agencies and the Government of the Federation through the Inspector-General of Police and Minister of Information, exercising their power or authority on behalf of the government of the Federation. The venue for settlement of such disputes (i.e. against Inspector-General of Police and Minister of Information), was in the various courts of first instance whose jurisdictions were clearly outlined in the same 1999 Constitution – and not the Supreme Court”. Per Mohammed, JSC at 38.
Also, in the case of *BHS INTL LTD v. AG LAGOS & ORS* (2016) LPELR-40084, the Court discussed (set out) the Conditions that must exist before the ORIGINAL JURISDICTION of the Supreme Court can be invoked. The Court States:
“Section 232 (1) of the Constitution are concisely and precisely in the following terms: “The Supreme Court shall, to the exclusion of any other Court, have original jurisdiction in any dispute between the Federation and a State or between States if and in so far as that dispute involves any question (whether of law or fact) on which the existence or extent of a legal right depends.” I must state that these provisions, in addition to being concise and precise, are plain, clear and unambiguous in words, context and purport. That is the verdict of the apex Court, per Onnoghen, JSC in the lead judgment in the case of A.G. Abia State v. A.G. Federation (supra) also reported in (2007) 2 SC, 146, when he stated that: “The provisions of Section 232(1) of the 1999 Constitution, which confers original jurisdiction on this Court, is very clear and unambiguous. It is clear from the above that for the original jurisdiction of this Court to be invoked in a civil action; (a) the action must be between the Federation and the State(s) or between States, and there must be a dispute between the Federation and a State or States; (b) the dispute must involve a question of law or fact or both; and (c) the dispute must pertain to the existence or extent of a legal right.” The erudity and proficient Lawlord did not stop there, but defined what a “dispute” is in the context of the provisions when he said: “It has been held by this Court vide Belgore, JSC (as he then was) in A.G. of the Federation v A.G. of Abia State (2001) 11 NWLR (PT.725) 689 at 737, inter alia, that the term dispute as used in Section 232(1) of the 1999 Constitution”…, involves acts of argument, controversy, debate, claims as to rights whether in law or facts, verying opinion, whether passive or violent of any disagreement that can lead to public anxiety or disquiet” Then in the case of A.G. Kano State v A.G. Federation (2007) 3 SC (PT 1) 59, Mahmud Mohammed, JSC (as he then was) had held, while dealing with the same provisions of Section 232(1) in the lead judgment that:”Any complaints against the Government of the Federation or any person who exercises power or authority on its behalf like the Inspector-General of Police as asserted by the learned senior for the plaintiff in his address before this Court, are completely outside the jurisdiction of this Court.”His lordship had expatiated the above position when he said; “However, quite contrary to the requirements of Sections 232(1) of the 1999 Constitution, the dispute disclosed in the plaintiff’s statement of claim is a dispute between the Government of Kano State and its agencies and the Government of the Federal and its agencies, particularly the police and the Federal Ministry of Information through the Inspector General of Police and the Minister of Information in their capacities as persons exercising power or authority on behalf of the Government of the Federation …. certainly if the plaintiff has any dispute with the Inspector General of Police and the Minister of Information for their respective roles in the various declarations they made on the Hisbah Laws, the operation of the Hisbah Corps and the arrest and detention of the officials of the Hisbah Corps, the propervenue for the settlement of such dispute does not lie in invoking the original jurisdiction of this Court. The venue for the settlement of such dispute lies elsewhere in various Courts of first instance whose original jurisdictions are clearly outlined in the same 1999 Constitution.” The clear principle laid down in the above authorities is that the original jurisdiction of the apex Court under Section 232(1) cannot be invoked over a dispute in respect of the acts or performance of the duties of the Federal Govt through or by its agencies, which are legal entities that can sue or be sued, since they are not the Federation or a State in the Federation.” Per MOHAMMED LAWAL GARBA, JCA (Pp 27 – 30 Paras B – D).
Another question is whether the ex parte order made by the Supreme Court of Nigeria is binding on the Central Bank of Nigeria or on any of the Commercial Banks in Nigeria in view of the fact that neither the Central Bank nor the Commercial Banks are a party to the case at the Supreme Court?
It is a settled principle of law that an order of court binds only parties to the case before the court. It’s a principle of joinder of parties. Thus, if a person is not joined that person is deemed to not be a party to the case and is therefore not bound by any order made in the case or the outcome of the case. See *BABATOLA V ALADEJANA (2001) 6 SC 124. Section 1(3) or the Central Bank Act, 2007 provides that the Central Bank of Nigeria _”is an independent body in the discharge of its functions”. Further,
Section 17 of the CBN Act provides that “The Bank shall have the sole right of issuing currency notes and coins throughout Nigeria and neither the Federal Government nor any State Government, Local Government other person or authority shall issue currency notes, bank notes or coins or any documents or token payable to bearer on demand being document or token which are likely to pass as legal tender”. Section 19(1) (b) provides that “The currency notes and coins issued by the Bank shall be of such forms and designs and bear such devices as shall be approved by the President on the recommendation of the Board”. Section 20(1) of the CBN Act provides that “The currency notes issued by the Bank shall be the legal tender in Nigeria at their face value for the payment of any amount”. Section 20(3) of the CBN Act provides that “….the bank shall have power, if so directed by the President and after giving reasonable notice in that behalf, to call in any of its notes or coins on payment of the face value thereof and any note or coins with respect to which a notice has been given under this subsection shall, on the expiration of the notice, cease to be the legal tender, but subject to section 22 of this Act, shall be redeemed by the Bank upon demand”. From the above it appears that the CBN has the responsibility and power to issue a legal tender for Nigeria and to redesign any denomination of the legal tender. Also, fixing of deadline for cessation of validity of the old Naira notes are issues falling within the sole powers of the CBN under the President’s directive pursuant to Sections 19(1)(b) and 20(3) of the CBN Act. Accordingly, I am surprised that anyone who has a complaint or grievance in respect of either the redesign of the legal tender by the CBN could commence such a case at the Supreme Court. Section 25(1)(d) of the Constitution doesn’t mince words that every dispute arising from or related to the Legal Tender, including naira redesign and phasing out, must be commenced at the Federal High Court. Besides, the CBN is a necessary party to such a suit. Further, the declaration of the Supreme Court in AG KANO V AG FEDERATION (supra) leaves no one in doubt: the Hon AGF has no business whatsoever with the suit. And to this end, two major suggestions are made:
While the CBN is a necessary party to the suit, actions cannot be commenced or maintained against the CBN at the Supreme Court of Nigeria in its original jurisdiction. Perhaps, this is why the Plaintiffs carefully avoided joining the CBN, an essential party to the suit. But then in leaving the CBN out, the Plaintiffs still fell into a grave error of dragging to the supreme court, a suit legally suitable for only the Federal High Court. In AG Kano v AG FEDERATION (supra), the Supreme Court clarified that “The relief claimed by the plaintiff was against the Inspector-General of Police who was not subject to the original jurisdiction of the Supreme Court. The jurisdiction of that Court could not be invoked in the absence of a justiciable dispute between the parties and where the defendant was not the Federal Republic of Nigeria”. Per Mohammed, JSC at 38. A combined reading of sections 17 to 20 of the CBN Act appears to suggest that the job of Naira Redesign, and fixing a deadline when old Naira notes would cease to be legal tender, is the business of the CBN, even if the deadline is fixed BY THE CBN under a directive of the President of the Federal Republic of Nigeria. CBN is accordingly a necessary party to any dispute arising from any such issues.
Aside from the CBN which is an essential party to the suit, the only other person who may be properly joined to the suit is the President of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, considering his role as set out in section 20(3) of the CBN Act (supra). Luckily, the office of the president is a Corporation Sole capable of suing and being sued in its official capacity in a Court of law, subject to section 308 of the Constitution. Section 308(2) provides: “The provisions of subsection (1) of this section shall not apply to civil proceedings against a person to whom this section applies in his official capacity or to civil or criminal proceedings in which such a person is only a nominal party”.
There appears to be no provision in any extant law in Nigeria authorising or permitting any State in Nigeria to commence any action against the President of the Federal Republic of Nigeria at the Supreme Court. Actions against the office of the president may only be commenced at the Supreme Court by the National Assembly of the Federal Republic of Nigeria by virtue of section 1 of the Supreme Court (Additional Original Jurisdiction) Act, 2002, made pursuant to the Constitution, which creates three additional instances in which an action may be commenced at the Supreme Court in its original jurisdiction: (i) dispute between the National Assembly and the President of the Federal Republic of Nigeria; (ii) dispute between the National Assembly and a State; and (iii) dispute between the National Assembly and a State House of Assembly in Nigeria. In view of the aforesaid, the only forum at which an action may be maintained against the President of Nigeria in his official capacity is at the Federal High Court, the NICN or a State High Court, dependent on the circumstances. Thus, with regard to the present scenario, if Kaduna State et al have any grievance against Mr President in respect of his role in CBN’s redesignation or swap of the legal tender (the naira), the proper forum is the Federal High Court and not the Supreme Court. Interestingly, in their bid to institute the case at the Supreme Court, the plaintiffs (Kaduna, Zamfara and Kogi States) carefully excluded the President and instead went for the Hon AGF. Unfortunately for them, while a state is entitled to invoke the original jurisdiction of the Supreme Court against the AGF, there is a mandatory condition precedent to a State dragging the Hon AGF before the Supreme Court: there must be a live dispute between the affected State and the Federation. In my opinion, if any dispute or grievance exists at all in the present scenario, it is an alleged grievance by Kaduna, Zamfara and Kogi States against the CBN in respect of the latter’s Redesign of the legal tender (pursuant to Section 19(1)(b) CBN Act) or in respect of the CBN fixing of a deadline (February 10, 2023) beyond which the old Naira notes would cease to be legal tender (pursuant to Section 20(3) CBN Act).
It appears that from whatever standpoint one looks at this matter, one would hardly deny that the current scenario revolves around Naira as Nigeria’s legal tender; thus any dispute arising therefrom is fitting but only for the Federal High Court pursuant to Section 251(1)(d) of the Constitution. Happily, Kaduna, Zamfara and Kogi States have the opportunity of validly maintaining an action against the principal actor in this scenario (the Central Bank of Nigeria), and (even if the Plaintiffs decide to join him) the President of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, at the Federal High Court, for purposes of ventilating their grievances, whatever their grievances are. In other words, it’s not as if the Plaintiffs in this scenario were/are legally hamstrung or otherwise frustrated regarding finding the appropriate forum for ventilating their grievances. It is just that, as it appears, they chose to avoid the Federal High Court which is the court with exclusive original jurisdiction by virtue of section 251(1)(d) of the Constitution, and also completely left out the CBN which is the principal actor in this scenario looking at sections 17, 18, 19 and 20 of the CBN Act.
One more interesting thing to note, especially with respect to the present scenario is that the plaintiffs appear to have completely also forgotten that section 251(1) of the Constitution is superior to any and all other provisions of the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria even in the case of conflict (save where the constitution itself otherwise expressly provides). Section 251(1)(d) of the Constitution begins with the expression _*”Notwithstanding anything to the contrary in this Constitution….”*_ thus asserting its superiority over all other sections of the Constitution in respect of any dispute regarding or arising from anything revolving around the Naira as Nigeria’s legal tender. Finally, the plaintiffs completely forgot the legal implications of failure to join the necessary parties to a civil action such as this one.
Now, a respected learned friend has suggested that “… federal government is giving directives every now and then on this naira issue. With that, it cannot be limited to s. 251 alone anymore. The three states are in order for maintaining an action against the conduit or remote behind Emefiele”. My humble response to this view is that the Inspector-General of Police, the Chief of Defence Staff, the Chief Of Army Staff, the Chief of Naval Staff, the Nigerian Immigration, the Civil Defense Corps, the NYSC and countless other institutions are Federal agencies and institutions who/which from time to time, in the course of performance of their constitutional/lawful duties and responsibilities, also take “directives’ from the President. In 2017, the Nigerian Army on the directives of the President of the Federal Republic of Nigeria launched Operation Python Dance in Southeast Nigeria; Operation Crocodile Smiles in South-south and Southwest. Recently, the Nigerian Military launched “Exercise Still Water” in Lagos pursuant to which the soldiers have been raiding notorious spots in Lagos with a view to routing out hoodlums and other social miscreants. See: *”Army Arrests 116 Suspects In Ongoing Lagos Operation”* (Daily Post; 31 January 2023). Now, is my learned friend saying that, say with respect to the last example (Exercise Still Water), if Lagos State feels aggrieved by the action taken by any of the military (in arresting these suspected miscreants) pursuant to Operating Exercise Still Water, the Lagos State, instead of dragging the Nigerian Military before the Federal High Court, would be legally right to sue the Attorney-General at the Supreme Court over the activities of the Nigerian Military during Exercise Still Water? In view of the supreme court decision in AG KANO V AG FEDERATION (supra), would the Nigerian Supreme Court have jurisdiction in such a matter? If we agree that the Nigerian Supreme Court wouldn’t have jurisdiction thereon, how does my learned friend think that the apex court could have jurisdiction over a dispute arising from actions of the CBN pursuant to its powers under the CBN Act, simply because the law says CBN should act under the President’s directive in some cases? Recall the facts of AG KANO V AG FEDERATION (supra): *Kano State Attorney-General had dragged the Federation (through the Hon AGF) to the Supreme Court over Kano State’s displeasure with an action taken by the Inspector-General of Police in Kano State Hisbah Corps and the Supreme held it had NO ORIGINAL jurisdiction in the matter.* Now, if as rightly held by the Supreme Court, a State cannot sue the AGF/the Federation at the Supreme Court over the actions of the NIGERIAN military or Police (even if these institutions in taking such actions, acted on the President’s directive), how would anyone suggest that a State could sue the Federation (through the Hon AGF) at the Supreme Court in respect of an action taken by the CBN, an institution expressly declared by the CBN Act to be an independent institution? And who tells my learned friend that the jurisdiction the Supreme Court lacks in this case could be donated to it by Kaduna State et al pretending to sue the Federation (through the Attorney-General of the Federation) over a matter in which the Hon AGF is not legally a proper party? And finally, to think of the present scenario which revolves wholly around the legal tender in respect of which section 251(1) (d) has expressly said that only the Federal High Court could have jurisdiction to the exclusion of all other courts in Nigeria, two important questions immediately arise here:)
(A). Can a State in Nigeria maintain a civil action against the CBN at the Federal High Court over the Naira Redesign, Daily Cash Withdrawal Limit or in respect of the deadline set by the CBN for old Naira notes to cease to be legal tender? Answer is yes. See s. 251(1)(d).
(B). Can a State maintain a civil action at the Federal High Court against the President of Nigeria in his official capacity over the deadline set by the CBN pursuant to the President’s directive in line with section 20(2) of the CBN Act? Answer is yes, from all I’ve explained with relevant legal authorities, above.
One then wonders why the plaintiffs proceeded to a court without jurisdiction as against the Court that has jurisdiction and which even affords the plaintiffs the opportunity of joining all necessary parties [(1) the CBN, and probably (2) the President] so that the matter and all issues surrounding it could be exhaustively and justly determined with finality? This is a question for the plaintiffs to answer.
CONCLUSION
Without prejudice to whatever their Lordships of the Supreme Court may choose to decide in the present case, (because their decision is supreme/final), I respectfully submit, based on the above provisions, explanations and the reasons I have given, that the Supreme Court of Nigeria does not have ORIGINAL jurisdiction to hear or entertain the suits filed at the Supreme Court by Kaduna, Zamfara, Kogi and any other State or States over the Naira Redesign and Daily Cash Withdrawal Limit policies recently announced by the CBN or in respect of the deadline of 10 February set by the Central Bank of Nigeria pursuant to Section 20(3) of the CBN Act, 2007 for old Naira notes to cease to be legal tender in Nigeria. It’s respectfully further submitted that except where otherwise expressly stated in the Constitution, section 251(1)(d) (which confers exclusive jurisdiction on the Federal High Court in all and any matters relating to the Naira as the Legal Tender of Nigeria) is superior to all other sections of the Constitution, including section 232 which provides for the original jurisdiction of the Supreme Court, although there appears to be no conflict between section 251(1)(d) and section 232 of the Constitution.
Well, for the avoidance of doubts, I repeat that mine is a mere opinion, respectfully and disinterestedly offered, without prejudice to the wisdom of the Supreme Court of Nigeria, which has the final say in this matter. The Supreme Court is a court of law, possessing appellate, original and supervisory jurisdictions. It has also been described as a court of policy. I respect their Lordships; and we are bound by their decisions. The ball is now in their lordships’ court, to do justice to this scenario case, according to law. I hope and pray that the apex Court would live up to the reasonable expectations of all right-thinking members of the watching public. While we await the decision of the Court on this matter, it is important to respectfully urge all parties and stakeholders, including the CBN, to endeavour to respect the rule of law and due process by conducting themselves responsibly and honorably pending the decision of the Supreme Court one way or the other. To this end, I humbly recall the following cases and declarations:
(1) In WHYTE V KWANDE (APPEAL NO.CA/PH/161/99), a judgment delivered on January 4, 2007 by the Court of Appeal, Port-Harcourt division, His Lordship, IBRAHIM MOHAMMED MUSA SAULAWA, JCA said: “I should have thought that fairness, even handedness and above all respect for rule of law would characterize the behaviour and standards of such men who found themselves in public offices”
(2). In AMAECHI V. INEC & 2 ors (2008) 1 SCNJ 1; (2008) 5 NWLR (Pt. 1080) 227, the Supreme Court of Nigeria (per PIUS OLAYIWOLA ADEREMI, JSC) in clear terms voiced its anger against lawlessness of any kind:
“The decision to substitute Celestine Omehia for Rotimi Chibuike Amaechi by the 3rd Respondent (P.D.P) during the period of pending gubernatorial election represents a display of very grave display of political rascality and an irresponsible and wanton disrespect for rule of law. No responsible person or group of persons who parade themselves as having respect for rule of law and due process, can be credited with such a dastardly act. The 1st Respondent, by acceding to the request of the 3rd Respondent for the substitution, has painted a picture of itself as a spineless body whose pre-occupation is dissemination of injustice. It (1st Respondent) has forgotten or it has thrown into the winds the position carved for it by the Constitution of the land -An unbiased umpire. Finally, on this point, I wish to say that in all countries of the world which operate under the rule of law, politics are always adapted to the laws of the land and not the laws to politics. Let our political operators allow this time-honoured principle to sink well into their heads and hearts.”
(3). In MILITARY GOVERNOR OF LAGOS STATE VS. OJUKWU (2001) FWLR (Part 50) 1779 at 1802 & 1799, the Supreme court stressed that “the Nigerian Constitution is founded on the rule of law, the primary meaning of which is that everything must be done according to law. Nigeria, being one of the countries in the world which profess loudly to follow the rule of law, there is no room for the rule of self help by force to operate.”
May God help Nigeria!
Respectfully,
Udemezue, is a Lagos based Legal Practitioner j

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Mobilising Citizens For Sustainable Democracy In Nigeria: The Power Of Editors

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USA has also advanced drone technology with the capacity to go to war and shoot from self-driven drones and kill decisively without risking any human life in the field. Recently this technology was used to exterminate an Iranian General considered a huge security threat to the United States.
These discoveries underline the importance of education in National Development.
According to UNICEF, one in every five of the World’s out of school children is in Nigeria. Even though primary education is officially free and compulsory, about 10.5 million of Nigeria’s children aged 5 – 14 years are out of school.
In 1970 when the war ended and I gained admission into University of Ibadan to study economics, studying in a Nigerian University was such a pleasure. To begin with, my roommate then, Okey Ezeokeke and I lived in a two in one room apartment. The university laundered 8 clothes per week for us (trousers and shirts). In addition, two sets of bed sheets were laundered for us weekly. Our shower ran twenty four hours, our toilets flushed always. In each hall of residence we had a bar and buttery where you could have cold drinks and confectionaries at affordable prices directly from breweries and the university catering department. You were also allowed to entertain your guests at these air-conditioned lounges.
Each faculty had a library apart from the central university library. Every journal published in the world was available in our libraries within two weeks of publication. We had a university press which made publication of books by our lecturers easier and the books affordable. The university had a busy bookshop which sold text books, journals, magazines and novels. Accessibility to knowledge was guaranteed even without digital technology. Lecturers were encouraged to publish.
Because of their scholarly publications, they were demanded globally. Every year so many lecturers were engaged inprominent universities all over the world. Every year several lecturers served out their sabbatical and returned with new knowledge, new exposure, modern cars and a global and cosmopolitan saga. Many students developed ambitions to become lecturers. The first class graduates were retained as assistant lecturers to take us in tutorial classes. The tutorial classes explained the lectures, deepened our knowledge of the subject matter and took us through past question papers in order to widen our comprehension and prepare us for examinations. Suddenly all these have disappeared. Instead, handouts have taken over because they are sold for extra cash by lecturers even when they contain very little or represent copying or plagiarism!!
When you don’t buy them, class reps note you and report you to the lecturer and in some cases it is counted against you in the exams. Vice Chancellor after Vice Chancellor fight this menace but they persist because the bench mark has fallen, the incomes have fallen, the foreign lure no longer exists because our degrees have become worthless. Businessmen and Politicians as well as pretty female students get degrees without attending lectures!! If the source of knowledge is contaminated, like a contaminated water reservoir, can you get clean water? Once upon a time, a seating Governor was admitted as a student in one of our universities, he pretended to attend lectures inspite of his busy schedules, which made it impossible for him to attend all his lectures, but he was awarded a degree. Is such a degree respectable? Does this kind of practice recommend such a University as credible?
This brings me to the question of what form Nigeria will assume under a restructured arrangement and how its restructuring can be brought about. Two basic models have been canvassed for restructuring in Nigeria. A conservative model aimed at maintaining the status quo has been proposed to mean simply a shedding of some of the exclusive powers of the Federal Government, like issuing of mining licenses, permission for constructing of Federal roads and shedding of regulatory powers over investments in critical sectors of the economy like power and mineral resources. This model merely scratches the surface of the problem. It avoids the fundamental issue of devolution of powers.
The second model calls for a fundamental devolution of powers to the States as federating units and a lean Federal Government with exclusive powers for external defence, customs, immigration, foreign relations and a Federal legislature and judiciary to make and interpret laws in these exclusive areas.
This second model proposes states as the federating units with two different approaches. The first approach simply wants the States as the Federating units and a Federal Government with limited powers. It wants the states to control a percentage of revenue accruing from their areas and contribute an agreed percentage of such revenue to the federal government.
The second approach proposes the states as the federating units with a Region at each of the six geopolitical units whose constitution will be agreed to and adopted by the states in the geopolitical region. The regions will have the powers to merge existing states or create new ones. There will be regional and state legislatures and judiciary dealing with making and interpreting laws made in the respective political entities. This approach proposes a revenue sharing formulae of 15% to the Federal Government, 35% to the regional government and 50% to the State Governments.
To achieve a national consensus on this subject requires a national discussion. Regrettably, the ruling party, APC which promised restructuring in its manifesto after two years and four months in office appointed a committee to define what sort of restructuring it wants for Nigeria. The matter ended there. The Committee report after being adopted by its National Executive Committee was never implemented by the Government. To make matters worse, none of the other political parties have come up with any clear-cut route for achieving a consensus on this matter.
The National Assembly itself is a reflection of the deep ethnic divisions in the country and the Northern majority conferred on it by the military makes it highly unacceptable to Southern Nigeria. Recent resolutions made by it on devolution of powers have not helped the situation.
In the recent past, following massive disenchantment by our youths, self-determination groups have sprung up in Nigeria. The self-determination groups include IPOB, Boko Haram, MASSOB, YELICOM, Arewa Youths, Niger Delta Republic and Republic of the Middle Belt.
Of all these groups IPOB and Boko Haram have been designated as terrorist organizations by the Federal Government. This development in relation to IPOB is unfortunate. Boko Haram is an armed organisation which has attacked and occupied Nigerian territory hoisted its flag and appointed local authority governments
It has abducted and abused Nigerian women kidnapped and imprisoned many and killed over two hundred thousand people. It is still involved in guerilla warfare against Nigeria yet the Federal Government is negotiating with them. No member of Boko Haram captured by the military is under trial, as far as I know. Members of this Federal Government are on record for condemning the previous Government for brutal murder of Boko Haram members and condemning the retired Chief of Army Staff for zealous prosecution of the anti-terror campaign. Members of the sect who confess to a change of mind have been received along with their abducted female partners in the Presidency and rehabilitated even by recruitment into the army. Today, the country is threatened by a new rise of Islamic insurgents.
The declaration of IPOB as a terrorist organisation is in my view hurried, unfair, and not in conformity with the intendment of the law. Whereas I am not completely in agreement with some of the methods of IPOB like it’s inappropriate and divisive broadcast, the uncontested evidence given by the Attorney General of the Federation in an interlocutory action claiming that IPOB attempted and/or actually snatched guns from law enforcement agents are, if proven, merely criminal offences. They do not constitute enough evidence to meet international law definitions of a terrorist organization. Happily, the United States Embassy in Nigeria, sometimes ago, shared this conclusion and asserted that the United States Government does not recognize IPOB as a terrorist organization. This same unarmed IPOB that is being stigmatized by the Nigerian government had its members murdered in Asaba, Nkpor, Aba and Port Harcourt simply for having public demonstrations without the Federal Government ordering a judicial inquiry. Instead, after I called for one and Amnesty International provided evidence that 150 of them were killed, the Chief of Army Staff then, set up an inquiry composed of serving and retired army officers thus abandoning the rules of natural justice which prescribes that you cannot be a judge in your own court. The Nigerian Press should investigate these assertions and bring a peaceful resolution to this impasse.
The Igbos in Nigeria see the treatment of IPOB as unfair, discriminatory and overhanded. They see the move as an attempt to encourage a profiling of Igbos in the international security arena.
We know of other self-determination groups in Nigeria that are armed and have destroyed government and private sector installations and wells and have taken several Nigerians hostage that government prefers to negotiate with rather than label them as terrorist organizations.
Fulani Herdsmen otherwise called the Fulani militants have ravaged farms in Middle belt, South West, and South Eastern Nigerian killing several farmers in the process. In January 2016 they killed 500 farmers and their families in Agatu in Benue State. In Enugu State, they murdered more than 100 farmers in Ukpabi Nimbo in April 2016. Photographs depicting them with automatic rifles trend in the entire world media, yet not one of them is facing criminal charges, nor is Operation Python Dance being conducted in the areas where they ravage and kill, and the Federal Government describes them as criminals and treat them with levity notwithstanding their classification by the Global Terrorist Index as the fourth deadliest terrorist group in the world (see British Independence Newspaper, 18th November 2015). The London Guardian Newspaper of 12th July 2016 indicated that Fulani Herdsmen killed one thousand people in 2014. Today the numbers reached five hundred thousand. A medium security prison was invaded in Abuja and detained terrorists allowed to escape without any resistance from our security forces.
Apart from domestic security, our economy is bleeding due to several other reasons.
On 23rd October 2022, Nduka Orjinmo writing for BBC News, Abuja reported that “In Delta State, thieves built their own 4km (2.5miles) of long pipeline through the heavily guarded creeks to the Atlantic Ocean. These barges and vessels blatantly loaded the stolen oil from a 24 feet oil pipe visible from miles on the open waters. “Crude oil is Nigeria’s main export but production and revenue, has been dwindling for years because of thieves. Authorities say, “oil production fell from 2.5 million barrels per day in 2011 to just over 1 million in July 2022, according to the regulator (making it impossible for us to meet our OPEC production quota).
Authorities also say that more than $3.3bn dollars (£2.9bn) has been lost to crude oil theft since last year and at a time when other oil producers are having a petro dollars splurge, Nigeriacan’t even meet its OPEC production quota. And it is not that the country can afford to lose money to thieves as it is gripped by widespread poverty and heavily indebted.
Nigerian’s oil industry has a documented history of corruption, from an unending fuel subsidy scheme where no one actually knows how much is imported, to the shadowy allotment of oil exploration blocks. Chief Ekpemupolo known as Tompolo is the security contractor with the responsibility of unearthing this large scale crude oil theft. Commenting on the thieves, he said in Channels TV that”many of the security people are involved because there is no way you can load a vessel without settling (bribing) the security people in that region”.(3)
Carl Milton Bernstein, an American investigative Journalist and author while a young reporter for Washington Post teamed up with Bob woodward and both of them uncovered the crimes which led to the congressional investigation of Watergate scandal that ultimately led to the resignation of Richard Nixonas President of the United States of America. This is the power of Journalists or dare I say of editors. Why have the Nigerian editors been unable to unravel the massive robbery of our oil reserves or the subsidy looters?
Nigeria’s present problems are worse than Watergate scandal. We have a total collapse of confidence in our government. When a Federal Accountant Generalis facing charges of acting in cohort of other Federal Civil Servants, consultants and representatives of the Federal Government for stealing Government funds and the case is going through such a sluggish delay but Nnamdi Kanu’s acquittal can in a few days bereversed by the Federal Court of Appeal, it simply means that ridding our country of corruption is not a priority.
Dr. Nnamdi Azikiwe and Chief Anthony Enaharo as journalists stood their grounds in fighting colonial rule. A fight to defend our hallowed values and the soul of our nation is the greatest act of patriotism. Your pen is of inestimable value when you use it patriotically to salvage our value slide and the rudderless movement of our state vessel. The Nigerian editor has enormous power in exercising his freedom of expression as enshrined in our constitution.
You must set the agenda for this coming election. That agenda must require our candidates to speak up on their policies regarding:-
(i) Fighting corruption
(ii) Restructuring
(iii) Transiting our country from a consumption economy to a production economy.
(iv) Stopping the brain drain occasioned by the exodus of our best brains to more promising climes
(v) The overthrow of merit, prudent management and accountability in the public services
(vi) Our overblown and over financed legislatures
(vii) A scrutiny of our Judiciary which exposes corruption and several other negative tendencies that compromise justice
(viii) The incapacity of our armed forces, previously respected in international peace-keeping operations in the Congo, Liberia and lately Gambia but now appearing to be completely overcome by Boko Haram to the extent that our School Of Infantry can be easily invaded by terrorists not to talk of our farmlands in Katsina, Kaduna and several other states
(ix) You must interrogate the failure of the Nigerian Police Force leading to the ENDSARS riots.
(x) We must interrogate the Arab Spring and its aftermath in order to avert its occurrence here.
(xi) We must examine stories of nations like Israel and USA
(xii) We must thoroughly investigate the readiness of INEC to conduct a free and fair election. Will the servers breakdown again?
Nwodo, a former minister of information, and president general of Ohanaeze Ndigbo worldwide presented this paper during 2022 All Nigerian Editors Conference in Owerri, Imo State November 9-13.
Any leading Presidential candidate who doesn’t have well thought out policies on these issues is not fit to lead Nigeria.
We hear today of speculation regarding the health condition of our Presidential Aspirants. We have a President who has spent so many days out of his eight year tenure in foreign hospitals not to talk about the cost of treatment. This makes it a national imperative to investigate the health of Aspirants to that office.
Tobi Aworinde of the Punch Newspaper told us on August 1st, 2021 that our current President has spent a total of 201 days on foreign medical trips since his assumption of office seven years and seven months ago.(4) This figure will be updated when he returns from his present trip. In any other clime, the National Assembly would have amended the electoral laws to provide for independent medical examination for all Presidential Aspirants. It is not yet late for such an amendment to be made.
As editors, you are the authors of reforms on national values, ethics and conduct of aspirants and holders of public office. Your power is coterminous with the nature of your work. In a way you wield and sustain the conscience of the nation. You help, on the basis of your informed editorials to cultivate our values and standards for public office holders. I believe that if you conducted a careful inventory of properties of some past and present public office holders including civil servants and members of the judiciary, you would expose so much as to provoke an inquiry into how some of those assets were acquired.
To who much is given, much is expected. As editors in the public and private media you have a pivotal influence in the affairs of this country, you have the wherewithal to progressively reform our values. You can stop the disdain with which our children hold us, for destroying their collective patrimony and heritage by acts of omission or commission. You can help to rebuild their confidence in our country. Already they are in a rage which can consume us if we don’t act fast.
Remember Harold Macmillan’s words to the British in the wake of Nationalists movements in Africa. He said, on a visit to South Africa on February 3rd, 1960, in a speech to the South Africa Parliament, “We have seen the awakening of national consciousness in peoples who have for centuries lived in dependence upon some other powers… The wind of change is blowing through this continent and whether we like it or not, this growth of national consciousness is a political fact. We must accept it as a fact and our national policies must take account of it” (5)
I like to end this speech by quoting William Shakespeare, in Julius Caesar, where he said “There is a tide in the affairs of men, which taken at the flood leads to fortune. Omitted, all the voyage of their life is bound in shallows and in miseries. On such a full sea are we now afloat. And we must take the current when it serves, or lose our ventures.”
Nigerian editors, arise and defend our country
Arise and interrogate our politicians and businessmen.
Arise and define our politics
Hesitate and be defined by history
I thank you for your kind attention.

JOHN NNIA NWODO
OWERRI, IMO STATE NOVEMBER 2022

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USA has also advanced drone technology with the capacity to go to war and shoot from self-driven drones and kill decisively without risking any human life in the field. Recently this technology was used to exterminate an Iranian General considered a huge security threat to the United States.
These discoveries underline the importance of education in National Development.
According to UNICEF, one in every five of the World’s out of school children is in Nigeria. Even though primary education is officially free and compulsory, about 10.5 million of Nigeria’s children aged 5 – 14 years are out of school.
In 1970 when the war ended and I gained admission into University of Ibadan to study economics, studying in a Nigerian University was such a pleasure. To begin with, my roommate then, Okey Ezeokeke and I lived in a two in one room apartment. The university laundered 8 clothes per week for us (trousers and shirts). In addition, two sets of bed sheets were laundered for us weekly. Our shower ran twenty four hours, our toilets flushed always. In each hall of residence we had a bar and buttery where you could have cold drinks and confectionaries at affordable prices directly from breweries and the university catering department. You were also allowed to entertain your guests at these air-conditioned lounges.
Each faculty had a library apart from the central university library. Every journal published in the world was available in our libraries within two weeks of publication. We had a university press which made publication of books by our lecturers easier and the books affordable. The university had a busy bookshop which sold text books, journals, magazines and novels. Accessibility to knowledge was guaranteed even without digital technology. Lecturers were encouraged to publish.
Because of their scholarly publications, they were demanded globally. Every year so many lecturers were engaged inprominent universities all over the world. Every year several lecturers served out their sabbatical and returned with new knowledge, new exposure, modern cars and a global and cosmopolitan saga. Many students developed ambitions to become lecturers. The first class graduates were retained as assistant lecturers to take us in tutorial classes. The tutorial classes explained the lectures, deepened our knowledge of the subject matter and took us through past question papers in order to widen our comprehension and prepare us for examinations. Suddenly all these have disappeared. Instead, handouts have taken over because they are sold for extra cash by lecturers even when they contain very little or represent copying or plagiarism!!
When you don’t buy them, class reps note you and report you to the lecturer and in some cases it is counted against you in the exams. Vice Chancellor after Vice Chancellor fight this menace but they persist because the bench mark has fallen, the incomes have fallen, the foreign lure no longer exists because our degrees have become worthless. Businessmen and Politicians as well as pretty female students get degrees without attending lectures!! If the source of knowledge is contaminated, like a contaminated water reservoir, can you get clean water? Once upon a time, a seating Governor was admitted as a student in one of our universities, he pretended to attend lectures inspite of his busy schedules, which made it impossible for him to attend all his lectures, but he was awarded a degree. Is such a degree respectable? Does this kind of practice recommend such a University as credible?
This brings me to the question of what form Nigeria will assume under a restructured arrangement and how its restructuring can be brought about. Two basic models have been canvassed for restructuring in Nigeria. A conservative model aimed at maintaining the status quo has been proposed to mean simply a shedding of some of the exclusive powers of the Federal Government, like issuing of mining licenses, permission for constructing of Federal roads and shedding of regulatory powers over investments in critical sectors of the economy like power and mineral resources. This model merely scratches the surface of the problem. It avoids the fundamental issue of devolution of powers.
The second model calls for a fundamental devolution of powers to the States as federating units and a lean Federal Government with exclusive powers for external defence, customs, immigration, foreign relations and a Federal legislature and judiciary to make and interpret laws in these exclusive areas.
This second model proposes states as the federating units with two different approaches. The first approach simply wants the States as the Federating units and a Federal Government with limited powers. It wants the states to control a percentage of revenue accruing from their areas and contribute an agreed percentage of such revenue to the federal government.
The second approach proposes the states as the federating units with a Region at each of the six geopolitical units whose constitution will be agreed to and adopted by the states in the geopolitical region. The regions will have the powers to merge existing states or create new ones. There will be regional and state legislatures and judiciary dealing with making and interpreting laws made in the respective political entities. This approach proposes a revenue sharing formulae of 15% to the Federal Government, 35% to the regional government and 50% to the State Governments.
To achieve a national consensus on this subject requires a national discussion. Regrettably, the ruling party, APC which promised restructuring in its manifesto after two years and four months in office appointed a committee to define what sort of restructuring it wants for Nigeria. The matter ended there. The Committee report after being adopted by its National Executive Committee was never implemented by the Government. To make matters worse, none of the other political parties have come up with any clear-cut route for achieving a consensus on this matter.
The National Assembly itself is a reflection of the deep ethnic divisions in the country and the Northern majority conferred on it by the military makes it highly unacceptable to Southern Nigeria. Recent resolutions made by it on devolution of powers have not helped the situation.
In the recent past, following massive disenchantment by our youths, self-determination groups have sprung up in Nigeria. The self-determination groups include IPOB, Boko Haram MASSOB, YELICOM, Arewa Youths, Niger Delta Republic and Republic of the Middle Belt.
Of all these groups IPOB and Boko Haram have been designated as terrorist organizations by the Federal Government. This development in relation to IPOB is unfortunate. Book Haram is an armed organization which has attacked and occupied Nigerian territory hoisted its flag and appointed local authority governments
It has abducted and abused Nigerian women kidnapped and imprisoned many and killed over two hundred thousand people. It is still involved in guerilla warfare against Nigeria yet the Federal Government is negotiating with them. No member of Boko Haram captured by the military is under trial, as far as I know. Members of this Federal Government are on record for condemning the previous Government for brutal murder of Boko Haram members and condemning the retired Chief of Army Staff for zealous prosecution of the anti-terror campaign. Members of the sect who confess to a change of mind have been received along with their abducted female partners in the Presidency and rehabilitated even by recruitment into the army. Today, the country is threatened by a new rise of Islamic insurgents.
The declaration of IPOB as a terrorist organization is in my view hurried, unfair, and not in conformity with the intendment of the law. Whereas I am not completely in agreement with some of the methods of IPOB like it’s inappropriate and divisive broadcast, the uncontested evidence given by the Attorney General of the Federation in an interlocutory action claiming that IPOB attempted and/or actually snatched guns from law enforcement agents are, if proven, merely criminal offences. They do not constitute enough evidence to meet international law definitions of a terrorist organization. Happily, the United States Embassy in Nigeria, sometimes ago, shared this conclusion and asserted that the United States Government does not recognize IPOB as a terrorist organization. This same unarmed IPOB that is being stigmatized by the Nigerian government had its members murdered in Asaba, Nkpor, Aba and Port Harcourt simply for having public demonstrations without the Federal Government ordering a judicial inquiry. Instead, after I called for one and Amnesty International provided evidence that 150 of them were killed, the Chief of Army Staff then, set up an inquiry composed of serving and retired army officers thus abandoning the rules of natural justice which prescribes that you cannot be a judge in your own court. The Nigerian Press should investigate these assertions and bring a peaceful resolution to this impasse.
The Igbos in Nigeria see the treatment of IPOB as unfair, discriminatory and overhanded. They see the move as an attempt to encourage a profiling of Igbos in the international security arena.
We know of other self-determination groups in Nigeria that are armed and have destroyed government and private sector installations and wells and have taken several Nigerians hostage that government prefers to negotiate with rather than label them as terrorist organizations.
Fulani Herdsmen otherwise called the Fulani militants have ravaged farms in Middle belt, South West, and South Eastern Nigerian killing several farmers in the process. In January 2016 they killed 500 farmers and their families in Agatu in Benue State. In Enugu State, they murdered more than 100 farmers in Ukpabi Nimbo in April 2016. Photographs depicting them with automatic rifles trend in the entire world media, yet not one of them is facing criminal charges, nor is Operation Python Dance being conducted in the areas where they ravage and kill, and the Federal Government describes them as criminals and treat them with levity notwithstanding their classification by the Global Terrorist Index as the fourth deadliest terrorist group in the world (see British Independence Newspaper, 18th November 2015). The London Guardian Newspaper of 12th July 2016 indicated that Fulani Herdsmen killed one thousand people in 2014. Today the numbers reached five hundred thousand. A medium security prison was invaded in Abuja and detained terrorists allowed to escape without any resistance from our security forces.
Apart from domestic security, our economy is bleeding due to several other reasons.
On 23rd October 2022, Nduka Orjinmo writing for BBC News, Abuja reported that “In Delta State, thieves built their own 4km (2.5miles) of long pipeline through the heavily guarded creeks to the Atlantic Ocean. These barges and vessels blatantly loaded the stolen oil from a 24 feet oil pipe visible from miles on the open waters. “Crude oil is Nigeria’s main export but production and revenue, has been dwindling for years because of thieves. Authorities say, “oil production fell from 2.5 million barrels per day in 2011 to just over 1 million in July 2022, according to the regulator (making it impossible for us to meet our OPEC production quota).
Authorities also say that more than $3.3bn dollars (£2.9bn) has been lost to crude oil theft since last year and at a time when other oil producers are having a petro dollars splurge, Nigeriacan’t even meet its OPEC production quota. And it is not that the country can afford to lose money to thieves as it is gripped by widespread poverty and heavily indebted.
Nigerian’s oil industry has a documented history of corruption, from an unending fuel subsidy scheme where no one actually knows how much is imported, to the shadowy allotment of oil exploration blocks. Chief Ekpemupolo known as Tompolo is the security contractor with the responsibility of unearthing this large scale crude oil theft. Commenting on the thieves, he said in Channels TV that”many of the security people are involved because there is no way you can load a vessel without settling (bribing) the security people in that region”.(3)
Carl Milton Bernstein, an American investigative Journalist and author while a young reporter for Washington Post teamed up with Bob woodward and both of them uncovered the crimes which led to the congressional investigation of Watergate scandal that ultimately led to the resignation of Richard Nixonas President of the United States of America. This is the power of Journalists or dare I say of editors. Why have the Nigerian editors been unable to unravel the massive robbery of our oil reserves or the subsidy looters?
Nigeria’s present problems are worse than Watergate scandal. We have a total collapse of confidence in our government. When a Federal Accountant Generalis facing charges of acting in cohort of other Federal Civil Servants, consultants and representatives of the Federal Government for stealing Government funds and the case is going through such a sluggish delay but Nnamdi Kanu’s acquittal can in a few days bereversed by the Federal Court of Appeal, it simply means that ridding our country of corruption is not a priority.
Dr. Nnamdi Azikiwe and Chief Anthony Enaharo as journalists stood their grounds in fighting colonial rule. A fight to defend our hallowed values and the soul of our nation is the greatest act of patriotism. Your pen is of inestimable value when you use it patriotically to salvage our value slide and the rudderless movement of our state vessel. The Nigerian editor has enormous power in exercising his freedom of expression as enshrined in our constitution.
You must set the agenda for this coming election. That agenda must require our candidates to speak up on their policies regarding:-
(i) Fighting corruption
(ii) Restructuring
(iii) Transiting our country from a consumption economy to a production economy.
(iv) Stopping the brain drain occasioned by the exodus of our best brains to more promising climes
(v) The overthrow of merit, prudent management and accountability in the public services
(vi) Our overblown and over financed legislatures
(vii) A scrutiny of our Judiciary which exposes corruption and several other negative tendencies that compromise justice
(viii) The incapacity of our armed forces, previously respected in international peace-keeping operations in the Congo, Liberia and lately Gambia but now appearing to be completely overcome by Boko Haram to the extent that our School Of Infantry can be easily invaded by terrorists not to talk of our farmlands in Katsina, Kaduna and several other states
(ix) You must interrogate the failure of the Nigerian Police Force leading to the ENDSARS riots.
(x) We must interrogate the Arab Spring and its aftermath in order to avert its occurrence here.
(xi) We must examine stories of nations like Israel and USA
(xii) We must thoroughly investigate the readiness of INEC to conduct a free and fair election. Will the servers breakdown again?
Nwodo, a former minister of information, and president general of Ohanaeze Ndigbo worldwide presented this paper during 2022 All Nigerian Editors Conference in Owerri, Imo State November 9-13.
Any leading Presidential candidate who doesn’t have well thought out policies on these issues is not fit to lead Nigeria.
We hear today of speculation regarding the health condition of our Presidential Aspirants. We have a President who has spent so many days out of his eight year tenure in foreign hospitals not to talk about the cost of treatment. This makes it a national imperative to investigate the health of Aspirants to that office.
Tobi Aworinde of the Punch Newspaper told us on August 1st, 2021 that our current President has spent a total of 201 days on foreign medical trips since his assumption of office seven years and seven months ago.(4) This figure will be updated when he returns from his present trip. In any other clime, the National Assembly would have amended the electoral laws to provide for independent medical examination for all Presidential Aspirants. It is not yet late for such an amendment to be made.
As editors, you are the authors of reforms on national values, ethics and conduct of aspirants and holders of public office. Your power is coterminous with the nature of your work. In a way you wield and sustain the conscience of the nation. You help, on the basis of your informed editorials to cultivate our values and standards for public office holders. I believe that if you conducted a careful inventory of properties of some past and present public office holders including civil servants and members of the judiciary, you would expose so much as to provoke an inquiry into how some of those assets were acquired.
To who much is given, much is expected. As editors in the public and private media you have a pivotal influence in the affairs of this country, you have the wherewithal to progressively reform our values. You can stop the disdain with which our children hold us, for destroying their collective patrimony and heritage by acts of omission or commission. You can help to rebuild their confidence in our country. Already they are in a rage which can consume us if we don’t act fast.
Remember Harold Macmillan’s words to the British in the wake of Nationalists movements in Africa. He said, on a visit to South Africa on February 3rd, 1960, in a speech to the South Africa Parliament, “We have seen the awakening of national consciousness in peoples who have for centuries lived in dependence upon some other powers… The wind of change is blowing through this continent and whether we like it or not, this growth of national consciousness is a political fact. We must accept it as a fact and our national policies must take account of it” (5)
I like to end this speech by quoting William Shakespeare, in Julius Caesar, where he said “There is a tide in the affairs of men, which taken at the flood leads to fortune. Omitted, all the voyage of their life is bound in shallows and in miseries. On such a full sea are we now afloat. And we must take the current when it serves, or lose our ventures.”
Nigerian editors, arise and defend our country
Arise and interrogate our politicians and businessmen.
Arise and define our politics
Hesitate and be defined by history
I thank you for your kind attention.

JOHN NNIA NWODO
OWERRI, IMO STATE NOVEMBER 2022

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