Wednesday, 31 July 2013

Opinion: Still On The Alleged Shoddy Appointment Of New Magistrates In Imo State

Justice Benjamin Ahanonu Njemanze; Imo State Chief Judge

By Barr. Emperor N. Iwuala (ksc.)

In my recent article titled ‘The Controversial Appointment Of Magistrates In Imo State Judiciary’ I recalled how in 2011, Governor Okorocha’s administration in Imo State sacked four members of the Imo State Judicial Commission appointed during the Ohakim regime before the expiration of their constitutionally guaranteed tenures. I also remarked that the sacked members went to court and were ordered to be reinstated. I also informed my readers on how the above judgment was not obeyed by the Imo State Government. I also said that I interviewed all the re-instated members of the commission and they all said that the state Chief Judge as the Chairman of the Commission had never given them any notice of meeting of the Commission from 27th June 2012 till the time of this write-up. I further drew the attention of the public on how some new magistrates were recently appointed and sworn in an alleged controversial manner without a known meeting of a constituted State Judicial Service Commission which is the body that is authorized to appoint magistrates. In that piece, I wrote on how many stakeholders in the judiciary were accusing the Imo State Government and the leadership of the judiciary led by the state Chief Judge Justice B. A. Njemanze of grave foul-play and injustice in the said appointment of magistrates where it was alleged that the leadership of the judiciary ‘shared’ the magisterial slots among their children, blood relations, cronies and associates as against people who merited the jobs. I also wrote on how some persons claimed that persons who never applied for the magisterial jobs were also among those appointed magistrates. I also drew my readers attention on how members of the Nigerian Bar Association Owerri Branch condemned the way the new magistrates were appointed and sworn in.

I have always said that I am not among those who would seek to go to the bench as a magistrate. Therefore, I did not apply for the said magisterial job and do not have interest to apply in future. This is because I derive more job-satisfaction advocating for the injured, oppressed and victimized.

Be that as it may, it is regrettable and unfortunately that I have been marked for victimization for exposing the perceived rot in the Imo Judiciary. But I will not be deterred because it is my vocation both as a lawyer and a journalist to contribute to social engineering. Recently, the Chief Judge of Imo State Justice B.A Njemanze wrote me through his lawyer threatening to file a libel suit against me for exposing the flaws in the Imo Judiciary. If people like late Gani Fawhenmi could fight social ills during military regimes, then our own fight during civil rule is nothing that we should worry much about. God shall see us through.

Interestingly, after the publication of the above referred article in the media, more facts have started emerging on the said alleged shoddy appointment of the new magistrates in Imo State. It was gathered that whole process started in 2009 with the sale of forms to prospective applicants for the posts of magistrates in the state at the rate of =N=5,000 per form with a mandatory payment of at least =N=50,000 for tax. Subsequently, during the early days of the Okorocha Administration, more forms were also sold and about 312 applicants were short-listed. These short-listed applicants later sat for a written examination and about 202 applicants sailed through. These 202 applicants were further subjected to an oral interview. Unfortunately, before the exercise was completed, the State Judicial Service Commission was dissolved by the Okorocha Administration and four members of the commission were illegally replaced before the expiration of their tenures.

These sacked members were later re-instead by the court but this judgment was not obeyed or enforced by the leadership of the state judiciary. Recently, 25 persons were ‘secretly’ issued with appointment letters as new magistrates and hurriedly sworn in a ‘kangaroo’ style. 

From the shocking revelation contained in documents made available to the press, out of the 25 new magistrates, only five persons were among the people initially who sat for the recruitment examination.

Ironically, the son of the state Chief Judge, the fiancé to the state Deputy Governor etc. were among the controversial new magistrates.

As a result, many lawyers are crying that the appointment was a day-light robbery on meritocracy, justice, equity and fairness. Many are of the opinion that allowing many of the magistrates who were allegedly appointed in a shoddy manner to man the courts of justice may be injurious to the judicial system in the state as nothing good they say, could come from shoddy process, injustice and illegality.

It is even a bigger irony that the Imo Judiciary that is now being accused of grave injustice and foul-play was once headed by renowned jurists like the retired Justice Chukwudifu Oputa. 

How are the mighty fallen!

Therefore, it is the opinion of yours truly that the entire process that brought about this saga should be reviewed and injustice corrected so as to restore the integrity which the Imo Judiciary used to enjoy in the past.


The time is now for tomorrow may be too late

(Iwuala can be reached on: 08037247295, 
emperoriwuala@yahoo.com

News Release: Return of Slave Trafficking In Nigeria And Lagos State Government’s Infantile Defense

Governor Fashola Of Lagos State
The leadership of International Society for Civil Liberties & the Rule of Law sees the last weekend defense by the Government of Lagos State over its roles in dumping in Onitsha Upper Iweka of 72 less privileged citizens, which it called destitute; as constitutionally impeachable. This is because it amounts to
gross misconduct, contrary to Section 188(2b) of the Constitution. It is also a grave violation of Section 1(3) of the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria 1999. By Section 1(3), the Constitution does not share
her supremacy with any other law and policy in Nigeria that are clearly incoherent with her provisions. From every indication, the Government of Lagos State is a clear opposite of an enclave under organic solidarity and a rabid proponent of mechanical solidarity.

Following thunderous and deafening condemnations that trailed the dumping of 72 destitute in Onitsha Upper Iweka, Southeast Nigeria by the Government of Lagos State through its office of Youths & Social Development and the Nigeria Police Force, Lagos State Command; the State Government, which initially denied knowledge of the criminal exercise, has spoken out and claimed responsibility.  According to the Special Adviser to the Governor of Lagos State on Youths & Social Development, Dr. Enitan Dolapo Badru, who spoke to the Guardian Newspapers last weekend, “at least 1, 708 beggars and destitute have been expelled from Lagos to their various States and countries since January 2013, in government bid to rid the streets of beggars and the mentally challenged”.

The Special Adviser further said as follows:” the international standard requires the State to reunite them with their families”.  “The end result is to reunite them back with their families. We are not repatriating them out of Lagos, we are reuniting them with their families because once we rescue them, we cannot as a government, hold a child under the age of 18 in custody without parental or guardian’s consent. We found out that a lot of children on the streets of Lagos come from outside the state thinking that Lagos is an Eldorado. It is unfortunate that many of them are underage and very vulnerable because they can be introduced to so many vices”.

“When we rescue them, we try as much as possible to carry out social investigation to know where they actually come from and why they absconded in the first place. And this takes time, because most of them don’t usually tell the truth since they don’t want to go back home. Once we have them in our custody, we must take a Court Order to keep them since the law provides for that and we cannot keep them indefinitely, so we still need to send them back to their parents. And our practice is to get in touch with the social welfare services of their respective states, which would in turn get in touch with the families”.

“ In the last one year, a total number of 3,114 beggars/destitute/mentally-challenged have been rescued in day and night operations and 2,695 were taken to the Rehabilitation and Training Centre, Owutu, Ikorodu, where the state government has made provisions for facilities to help in turning their lives around, while the mentally-unstable are given medical attention”.

Apart from monumental contradictions inherent in the watery defense, our sociological, legal and criminological analysis of same, as put up by the Government of Lagos State clearly shows that the State is psychiatrically
challenged. Our questions arising from the said public statement of defense are: 1. which provisions of the Constitution or Nigerian Criminal Code empower Lagos State Government to engage in reckless internal deportation and dumping of citizens in another federating territory at ungodly hours? 2. Which court in Nigeria can grant an order detaining citizens including minors accused of simple offenses, misdemeanors and juvenile delinquencies in illegal detention centers without public and family access and trial for over seven months?  3. Is Section 166(1&2) of the Criminal Law of Lagos State 2011 superior to the 1999 Constitution and her Criminal Code? 4. Are “disorderly conducts, anti begging and wandering” laws of Lagos State capital offenses? 5. Is Lagos State Government a police investigator, a prosecutor, a trial judge or magistrate and a prison officer? 6. Is it correct to say that among the 54 “destitute” escapees dumped by Lagos State Government in another federating territory at ungodly hours are violent criminals including assassins, kidnapers and armed robbers, imported to terrorize the State for the purpose of securing a political advantage or goal for its ruling party?

7. Who is a destitute and how does Lagos State Government determine who a destitute is? 8. Are area boys or “alayes” destitute and if yes, are they not up to 40% of the Lagos State poor residents and have they all been jailed or evacuated from the streets of Lagos State? 9. Is one Tinubu Bola-a so called political godfather not a former destitute and which known and highly rated secondary school did he attend if he was born with golden spoon? 10. What is the main purpose of government; does it exist for political appointees and the rich or is it established for the welfare of majority poor citizens including the so called destitute? 11. Are there no beggars, hawkers, lepers, the aged and bodily and mentally disabled on the streets of the western capitals including the United States of America?

It is important to point out that one of the reasons why the early Nigerian capital was moved from Calabar to Lagos was because of its melting pot status. A number of former slaves were also settled in Lagos.

In other words, nobody owns Lagos. Most of the past and present  political appointees in the State including an immediate past governor,  the State Assembly members and those occupying the Alausa Government House at Ikeja are not from Lagos State, likewise many, if not most of the notable politicians and NGO leaders. Lagos is like the United States where nobody owns America.  The word “America” is derived from an individual named “Amerigo Vespucci”. He was a great sailor and explorer that came in early 1500s after Christopher Columbus who came before him in 1490s. In their adventurous exploring project, they discovered a new world, which later became “America”. On the other hand, Lagos shares similarity with America in that it means “lakes” in Portuguese, having been so named by a Portuguese Settlement. Its traditional name is “Eko”( war camp); a name given to it by its Benin Conquerors of the Benin Empire(1440-1897).

While reiterating our unequivocal condemnation of the atrocious action of the Government of Lagos State and call for searchlights of the Federal Government and the citizens to be beamed on same at all times; we wish to appreciate the steps taken so far by the Government of Anambra State, which last night (30-07-2013) held a high powered meeting with the Federal Government of Nigeria at which a strong worded written petition against the Government of Lagos State was submitted. We still want the Government
of Anambra State to weigh the option of going to the Supreme Court against the Government of Lagos State to establish a case of grave violation of the Constitution against it including invasion of its federating territory
at odds and ungodly hours with malicious intents.

Another measure that would deter the belligerent and lawless Government of Lagos State from engaging in such callous action in future is by instituting a class action on behalf of the dumped citizens, seeking

billions of naira worth of compensation to them for infringement of their fundamental human rights. The President is also called upon to order the Inspector General of Police to investigate the roles of the Lagos State Commissioner of Police in the unconstitutional and despicable action. In the course of the IGP’s investigation, all illegal detention centers in

Lagos State where citizens are held for months without trial under the guise of “operation flush out destitute”, should be identified and closed down. The Federal Government should, as a matter of uttermost immediacy and federating importance, review all sets of laws and policies being operated by the Government of Lagos State with a view to bringing them into conformity with Nigeria’s mother laws especially the 1999 Constitution.

Signed:

Emeka Umeagbalasi,
Chairman of the Board
08033601078, 08180103912
umeagbalasi@yahoo.com, info@intersociety-ng.org

Comrade Justus Ijeoma,

Head, Publicity Desk
08037114869


Article: The Gathering Storm


By Jaye Gaskia

“There is one army stronger than all armies in the world; this is an idea whose time has come…..” Victor Hugo

Setting The Stage:
As you begin to read this write up and go through it, I will plead from the very beginning for patience, and tolerance to go through it and digest its contents, as if you were studying for an examination.

We again begin by paraphrasing Karl Marx, Frantz Fanon, Leon Trotsky, and Vladmir Lenin! Why is it necessary to set the context by invoking these historical figures? To emphasise the nature of the revolutionary, and therefore potentially radically transformative times that we are living through now; and as well to underscore the immense life changing potential in our heightened collective action.

First, Marx it was who observed that ‘Philosophers have always interpreted the world, the point however is to change it’; and additionally that, ‘Human beings make history, but not entire according to their will, rather under conditions inherited through generations’.

Frantz Fanon, a leader of the Algerian Revolutionary war for independence from France had also gone on to observe that, ‘Every generation must out of relative obscurity, discover its mission, fulfill it or betray it’.

Long before Fanon, Trotsky, co-leader of the Russian revolution of 1917, while describing revolution and the conditions for it had also said something to this extent; ‘To a slap on the cheek, we each react differently, but to being hit by a sledge hammer, we all react in the same way’. He went to define revolution as ‘the rude collective intrusion of the mass of oppressed peoples unto the stage of history’.

And Lenin, leader of the Russian revolution, had described the conditions for revolution as thus: ‘the gravity of the situation is such that the ruling classes can no longer rule in the old way, while the oppressed classes no longer want to be ruled in the old ways’.

This Moment In History:
We are truly living through interesting times globally and nationally. As a system into which all countries are sucked; the fortunes and misfortunes of capitalism, the global market and free enterprise system affects all. 

We are in the era of a global organic that is comprehensive and all embracing crisis of capitalism; one that has also spawned a global resistance movement to the life threatening impact of that crisis. This crisis is total, organic, because it is at one and the same time a combination of five different crisis; a global financial, economic, political, ecological and food crises rolled into one!

It is a crisis that has demonstrated the structural failure of capitalism in the most graphic dimensions. Multi and transnational corporations have failed spectacularly threatening the world economy; just as national economies have collapsed further compounding the global economic crisis. What this has engendered is a situation where global corporations and national economies have gone bankrupt and gone burst, all needing bailouts from public treasuries, contrary to the mantra of the cult of free enterprise and the market!

In response to these comprehensive global crises, ruling classes everywhere have responded by bailing out the private sector, while shifting the burden to the working and exploited classes through austerity measures, and drastic cuts in social spending.

Not surprisingly the response of the working and toiling peoples across the world to this inhuman attack on their conditions of living and working has been a groundswell of global resistance, which has manifested in different ways. Thus it is that we have had and are still witnessing the intensified wave of general strikes across Europe, the emergence of the Global Occupy Movement, the resurgence of the left globally, the return to power of left parties in Latin America, the January Uprising and all the subsequent movements of resistance since in Nigeria, etc.

This mutually antagonistic responses of the main historical actors globally; the ruling and subordinate classes respectively to the combined crises, is illustrative of Lenin’s conditions for revolution: ‘The ruling classes not being able to continue to rule in the old ways, while the exploited classes begin to refuse to be ruled in the old ways’.

If at the beginning of the twentieth century Lenin described Imperialism as the highest phase of capitalism, on the eve of the subsequent two world wars; then at the beginning of the twenty first century we can describe Globalisation as the highest phase of Capitalist Imperialism.

Coming Back Home: January Uprising And Since:
It is important to make it clear that what I describe as the complex and historic revenue crisis facing the Nigerian state and the Nigerian ruling class is rooted squarely within this global crises. Of course in our own case the impact of the global crises is compounded by the unsustainable public treasury theft rate amounting to about N2.5tn annually or N220bn monthly in recent years!

It is a combination of fluctuating international prices for our main commodity, and the intensive looting of the public treasury that has produced the spectacle of an endemic systemic revenue crisis for the Nigerian state. And it is the response to this crisis that is fueling the subsidy removal drive, and which eventually triggered the January Uprising of 2012.

That Uprising has become the defining life changing political process for a generation. As a process, it has and its experience continue to radicalize and politicize a new generation which is awakening to its historical duty; emerging from relative obscurity, discovering its historic mission, and increasingly choosing to fulfill it.

And for the generation radicalized by a previous period of intensified struggle, the anti-military campaigns, the January Uprising served to reinforce and reinvigorate not only their convictions, but also their organisations. In this context, the historic coalitions; Joint Action Front [JAF] and United Action For Democracy [UAD] have emerged revived and repositioned.

The experience of the January Uprising has and continues to create a new wave of activists and active citizens picking up causes to fight for, at different junctures in our history since the uprising.

It is important to see and draw strength from the continuity between the January Uprising and all the protest, resistance, and governance influencing movements that it has since spawned. And we can list these; the various Anti-Corruption campaigns that have emerged; the campaigns and popular struggles to protect the livelihoods of the poor and defend their homes [the movements in support Okada riders,  mini bus operators; the movements to stop demolition of suburbs where the poor and powerless live]; the waves of workers strikes in different sectors of the economy; the emergent youth movements in particular their proactive engagement with the constitution reform, resource allocation and budget transparency processes; etc.

Each of these waves of popular struggles and resistance since the January Uprising have their individual significance not only in galvanizing popular responses to particular issues, and helping to place popular checks on particular excesses of the ruling elites; It has also helped in sustaining the momentum initiated by the January Uprising, while building the self confidence of the subordinate classes and their movements not only in the desirability of change, but also in the possibility of change in our time!

Politically, this new momentum of resistance to injustice and failed governance, this new and rising level of collective popular confidence, is manifested in the renewed wave of activities with respect to formation of expressly political and proto party platforms, on our side, on the side of the subordinate classes. Here we refer to the number of emergent new party formations.

On their side too, on the side of the treacherous, treasury looting ruling elites and class, there is also political commotion, manifested in on the one hand in the intense internal antagonistic struggles within the parties [PDP, APGA, etc]; as well as in the self serving power grab drive of some opposition parties towards merger [APC – CAN, CPC, ANPP].

The Significance Of The “ChildNotBride Campaign:
Within this broad spectrum of revival of active popular struggles, the emergent ChildNotBride campaign holds a special significance on the road to 2015.

If the January Uprising unleashed the momentum, pointed the way, and engendered confidence; the ChildNotBride campaign, has served to confirm that rising confidence, and presents us with a projection of our capacity to effect change, and ensure a fundamentally different outcome in 2015 from the past!

These urgent lessons of this latest campaign needs to be identified immediately, and integrated into the emergent political processes towards national liberation and social emancipation of our country and her peoples.

What are the lessons that must be learnt? First, a new generation radicalized by the January Uprising has shown that it can recognize and seize historical moments; that it can organise on its own, autonomously of established movements and personalities; and that we can overcome a lot of the challenges posed to popular organising and mobilising by combining effective use of the new social media, with active real life and on the ground community mobilisation to build a movement that can go viral with respect to its influence and its potential.

This effective use of the social media to reach out; to undertake mass enlightenment; to put out and push a message; to call for action; to ginger popular conscience and consciousness; to identify volunteers; and to coordinate the actions of these volunteers in organising and mobilising people in their various localities; were lessons learnt during the January Uprising, and reinforced in a magnified way in the ChildNotBride campaign.
What are the implications of these lessons? The implications seem to be clear; First that we can organise, and need to organise politically autonomously of the political platforms and parties of the ruling elites; Second That we can organise and mobilise independently of ‘Godfathers’ within the treasury looting political elite; Third that we can build and mobilise a nationwide movement capable of responding to the issues of our peoples, and capturing popular imagination; and Fourth, that if we put these lessons to use, we can build a political movement or party that can represent not only an effective challenge, but also a viable alternative to the parties of the thieving ruling elites towards 2015 and beyond.

In Greece we have had the emergence of the Radical Left party as the largest single party; In Italy the emergence of the radical Five Star Movement, also as the single largest party; In France the return of the Socialist Party to power and the increased electoral share of radical left parties; In Spain, the rise of the Indignato Movement of Youths and workers; In Latin America, the consolidation of Left Parties in power [Bolivia, Ecuador, Argentina, Brazil, Nicaragua, Venezuela, etc]; And In the Arab spring, in particular in Egypt, the emergence of the Tamrod Movement of the youths, and the Revolutionary Left Front – both of which have effective control of the streets [Tahir Square].

There is no reason why in the context of Nigeria, against the backdrop of the global revolutionary situation, and within the context of the momentum generated by the January Uprising and accentuated by the ChildNotBride campaign, we cannot achieve similar feats or even go beyond, and transcend the limited, but significant successes in the examples above.

It is thus in this light that we need to welcome and actively participate in all the processes towards the formation of new and fundamentally different parties from among us; and why we all need to work towards the Convergence of all these proto party efforts at most by the first quarter of 2014.

Our experience since the January Uprising through to the ChildNotBride campaign proves that, ‘if we actively organise to resist injustice, we can win; and when we win, we can fundamentally transform our conditions of living.

As Murtala Mohammed said with respect to the liberation of Angola and Nigeria’s support for it; ‘This is the time to reflect, to rethink, and to Act’.
It is therefore upto us to take our destiny into our own hands and organise to Take Back Nigeria Now.

(Visit: takebacknigeria.blogspot.com; Follow me on twitter: @jayegaskia & protesttopower; Engage on: Take Back Nigeria FB page; #DPSR)


Photonews: Imo State Chief Judge Demands 500 Million Naira From Newspaper, Lawyer Over Article


U-Report: Women Seek Better Plans For Incoming Flood

Last Year Flooding Of A Rivers State Community

Report By Kebetkache Women Resource Development Centre

As Nigerians begin a countdown to the flood forecast for this year, women in areas affected by flood last year have expressed worries that not much is being done to address the flood in Rivers State.

The women who were participants at a one-day stakeholders meeting to examine possible ways of mitigating the impact if and when the flood arrives, organized by a gender focused nongovernmental-organization, in anticipation of the impending flood, Kebetkache Women Resource Development Centre, lamented that the flood took them unaware last year and the fear of a repeat has caused them not to farm while some who lost their houses to the flood are still squatting because they are yet to rebuild their homes.

They lamented that women especially nursing mothers, the elderly and children suffered most and called for gender sensitivity in planning for the in-coming flood.

‘Arrangement was poor last year. We had no warning and we lost everything but they just gave us two thousand naira and sent us out of the camp. Since then nobody has come to us. We are suffering, people are dying daily. I wonder if we can survive another flood’, a worried Budezi Uturu from Ahoada West lamented.

Declaring the meeting which held at the lecture hall of Social Action, D/line Port Harcourt, the executive director of Kebetkache Ms Emem Okon said the meeting which drew membership from 2012 flood impacted community members, related civil society organizations and media, was aimed at finding out what needs to be done and by who to avoid the scale of calamity that shook the region following the flood last year.  

”You are carefully selected participants as flood affected and related stakeholders. Nobody expected the degree of flood we had last year. We do not know how people are coping now as camps were hurriedly shut after the floods. Not much is known as to how flood victims are coping.

“We are looking for how to handle the already forecast flood, to understand what is being done and who should do what. So this is an experience/ideas sharing, networking meeting. Everybody has a role to help reduce possible impact of the flood if it comes as we cannot expect government to do everything”, she stated.

Presenting a paper on 'Capacity for Efficient Community Based Disaster Management', Bridget Osakwe Usifo, a disaster mitigation expert explained that natural disasters have in the last decade, affected more than a quarter of the world's population and has become more frequent as a result of climate change.

“In the last five years an average of 296 million people have been affected by nature induced disasters each year, 106 million yearly by flood and 145 million by drought....Between 2000 and 2010, over 2.5 billion people were affected by natural disaster worldwide.
“Each year, six times more people are affected by natural disasters. Disasters are increasing in frequency and  impact '' she explained.  

According to her, the 2012 flood which affected white water, affected 7.7 million people and displaced ,2,157,419 persons and about 300 people died in the disaster while about 30 per cent of the Nigerian farmland was submerged in water making it one of the worst humanitarian crisis according to NEMA.

With Nigeria more at risk than the global disaster at 30 per cent against the global 25 per cent rate making it important for flood prone communities to disabuse their minds of floods obeying old patterns.

Lagos State was listed as already working to mitigate the effect of the impending flood as Usifo challenged communities and   stakeholders to begin to do what needs to be done to avoid colossal damage by flood.

At the end of deliberations, a number of resolutions were adopted including a call on government to clear all waterways across the state so the mass of water coming from the flood will have room to flow and to urgently set up the state emergency and relief agency to work effectively with the National Emergency Management Agency, NEMA.

Women came from Ahoada East, Abua/Odual, Ahoada West and Ogba/Ndoni Local government areas.


Tuesday, 30 July 2013

News Report: 24 Die In Blasts In Kano's Christian Area

One of the scenes of the Blasts

Credit: Associated Press
Multiple explosions at a bar and entertainment area in a Christian quarter of Nigeria's northern and mainly Muslim city of Kano killed at least 24 people, a hospital official said Tuesday.
Lt. Ikedichi Iweha, a spokesman for the Military Joint Task Force, said earlier Tuesday that 12 people died at the scene and "a couple" of people were wounded in Monday night's attack, which he blamed on suspected members of the Islamic extremist Boko Haram network.
But the spokesman for Aminu Kano Teaching Hospital said their mortuary had 24 bodies brought from the scene and from the city's Murtala Muhammad Specialists Hospital.
The teaching hospital also was treating nine people wounded in the blasts, said spokesman Aminu Inuwa. It was unclear how many others might be in treatment at other hospitals.
More than 100 people gathered outside the hospital morgue, weeping and screaming in anguish Tuesday afternoon. Military officials would not allow them into the morgue, so many said they have no idea if missing loved ones are dead or alive.
Nigeria is fighting an uprising by Islamic extremists based mainly in the northeast, where the government has declared a state of emergency. Kano city and state are in the northwest and not part of that emergency. Boko Haram, which means "Western education is forbidden," wants to impose Islamic Shariah law in all of Nigeria, Africa's most populous nation of more than 160 million divided almost equally between Christians who live mainly in the south and Muslims who dominate the north.
Nigeria's army announced Tuesday it has arrested 42 suspected Boko Haram members in the southwestern states of Ogun and Lagos, which includes the commercial capital of the same name.
Maj. Gen. Obi Umahi told reporters that some of those detained already have admitted to belonging to the terrorist network. He said some said they had fled from strongholds in the northeast of the country that are under a state of emergency and military operations.
Boko Haram has never attacked targets in the southwest of the country.
Umahi said some suspects were arrested in Lagos on upscale Victoria Island's Bar Beach and in the Lekki neighborhood. The arrests were made between July 12 and 23.
That raises fears that the military operations have forced militants into other states where they could attack.
Monday night's attack at just after 9 p.m. (21:00 GMT) rocked an area popular for its outdoor bars, blaring music, snooker tables and table tennis.
Witness Kolade Ade said at least one blast appeared to come from a Mercedes-Benz parked beside the bar.
"After the first bomb, I threw myself into the canal (drain) to hide. There were at least three blasts," he said.
But Lt. Iweha said in a statement that the explosions were not the work of a suicide bomber but of parcels of explosives planted in the area.
"This latest incidence could have been avoided if citizens maintain vigilance to observe when packages are dropped, as it was in this case," he said.
The explosions came as hundreds of people thronged the area in the Sabon Gari neighborhood, and raised fears among the city's mainly Muslim population.
In March, a suicide bomber drove a car loaded with explosives into a bustling bus station in the same Christian neighborhood of Sabon Gari, killing 25 people.
Exactly a year ago, suspected Islamic militants attempted to attack a mosque in Kano city. They were engaged by police in running gun battles in which the militants killed five civilians and police killed four of the attackers.
In December, three days before Christmas, Kano was rocked by twin suicide car bombings that targeted two major mobile telephone companies. One worker was injured in one attack. Security officials botched the second attack by shooting the bomber, which caused an explosion at the company's gate.
In January, worshippers foiled an attack on Kano Central Mosque, killing two suspected bombers.
President Goodluck Jonathan declared a state of emergency on May 14 in six northeastern states covering one-sixth of the country, admitting that Islamic fighters had taken control of some towns and villages.
Militants have targeted Muslim political and religious leaders who preach against their extreme form of Islam. Recently, the extremists have targeted schools, killing scores of students and some teachers.
The Boko Haram network is blamed for the killings of more than 1,600 people since 2010, when suicide bombers drove a car filled with explosives into the lobby of the United Nations offices in Abuja, Nigeria's capital.

Rejoinder: NLC And Minimum Wage; The Issues


By Salihu Moh. Lukman

The response to the piece on NLC and Minimum Wage: The Task Ahead by Dr. Peter Ozo-Eson is to say the least a confirmation that NLC positions are “driven by large dose of intellectual and organisational indolence” as argued in my article of July 3, 2013. All that Dr. Ozo-Eson laboured to state was that “Mr. Lukman went on his usual tirade of seeking to run down the leadership of the Congress”.

The evidences are: First “on a number of occasions in the past, he had embarked on this same limelight seeking and self serving mission, but Congress had decided to ignore him as he was not really anybody of consequence”. Secondly, “in the process leading to the fuel price increase in 2011, he played all manner of behind the scene games of trying to undermine the NLC’s opposition to the planned increase”. Thirdly, “in the course of hearings on the issues proposed for constitutional amendment, flaunting his new credentials as consultant to the Governors Forum, he made puerile arguments as to why some states cannot pay the minimum wage.” Fourthly, “he also had, shortly after the end of Comrade Adams Oshiomhole’s tenure as President of the Congress, issued a statement in which he berated the comrade and sought to run him down.”

The judgement passed by Dr. Ozo-Eson after examining all the evidences was that the article NLC and Minimum Wage: The Task Ahead clearly demonstrates that he lacks knowledge and understanding of the theoretical underpinnings of national minimum wages and even the empirical information of the process and mechanisms for the setting of the minimum wage in Nigeria”. To confirm that, Dr. Ozo-Eson asserts that “while he was a staff of the Congress, he was not involved in the formulation of positions on this matter and the negotiations which preceded the setting of the minimum wage. Unfortunately, illusions of grandeur would not allow him seek available information and knowledge on the subject matter.”

It is important to start by submitting that I make no claims to being an authority either with reference to educational qualifications or experience in every respect. The article under reference makes no such claims. All that was done was to highlight realities supported by indices from authoritative sources, which should guide the process of minimum wage fixing in Nigeria. The central issue in the article was the argument that the process of passage of the 2010 Minimum Wage Act was dictated by the capacity of the Federal Government to pay the N18,000.

It is gladdening to read from Dr. Ozo-Eson’s response that “the process involved the setting up of an ad hoc Committee, which made recommendations to the Federal Government. The committee was composed of equal representatives of the tripartite partners of government (including the State Governments), Employers’ representatives and Workers’ representatives and was chaired by Justice Alfa Belgore.” This should mean that there was some evaluation of capacity to pay based on indices. This is where one would expect some demonstration of good scholarship. Unfortunately, beyond the personalised attacks and name-calling, there was none.

Being the Research Director of NLC, it is well below expectation to reduce the debate to simple demonstration of loyalty to the leadership of Congress. I am pretty conversant of the schedules of Dr. Peter Ozi-Eson as the Research Director and would expect that he played the role of a leading guide to the NLC leadership during the process of negotiating the passage of the 2010 Minimum Wage Act. Given that he is an economists who rose to the position of an associate professor, he should be regarded an authority on issues of wage fixing. The sad thing is that reading through his response, one cannot but be worried about the fact that he has collapsed to elementary reasoning. If what he wrote was credited to some of our political leaders in NLC who flaunt commercialised Doctoral or self-professed “Professorial’ credentials, one would understand. But coming from a seasoned academician with good research capability, this is simply scandalous.

This much said, I will try and highlight the issues so that we don’t reduce the debate to personality assessments. My article of July 3, 2013 was prompted by a media report where Comrade Abdulwaheed Omar, the NLC President argued that amending Part I, item 34 of Second Schedule of the 1999 Constitution “will unnecessarily expose Nigerian workers, especially those in the low-income bracket with grave implications for security, productivity and national well-being, as most state governments if given the latitude, will pay wages as low as one thousand Naira per month in spite of the relative enormous resources available to them.”

What is very clear from the position expressed by Comrade Omar was that state governments would pay low wages “in spite of the relative enormous resources available to them”. I argued that this position is weak and erroneous and supported my position with facts as provided by CBN. The facts are:

No doubt, with reference to our recent past as a nation whereby the total annual revenue of government was in the region of N2 trn, current levels of N8 trn is relatively “enormous”. The critical reality however is that this increase in revenue is not shared proportionately. On account of what can we regard states like Ebonyi and Nasarawa as enjoying “enormous resources” with less than N4 billion monthly from the Federation Account, while states like Akwa Ibom and Rivers receive more than N20 billion monthly. Perhaps with reference to a personnel cost of approximately N500 million for Ebonyi and Nasarawa, the argument for “enormous resources” may be sustained.

This financial profile is almost re-enforced by IGR profile of these states. Based on CBN 2010 Report, Akwa Ibom is reported with more than N1 billion monthly IGR and Rivers close to N5 billion monthly. Contrastingly, Nasarawa and Ebonyi were reported with less than N200 million monthly IGR. Now what will be the logic of equating the pay of workers in Akwa Ibom and Rivers with that of Nasarawa and Ebonyi?

With monthly personnel cost of approximately N500 million and monthly IGR of under N200 million, a situation where FAAC receipt crashed can be better imagined. How then can anyone be making a case for wages based on such a loose foundation?

I want to go a step further by inviting the NLC to consider the case of Edo with monthly personnel cost of about N1.42 billion. This is pre 2010 minimum wage. Current levels will be somewhere in the region of N1.7 billion. In June 2013, Edo State got N1.9 billion as its FAAC share. Based on CBN 2010 report, Edo has IGR of slightly above N1 billion. This means that Edo has total revenue of about N3 billion monthly based on which nearly 60% goes to settling personnel cost. Edo state reality represents virtually the situation of all our states with the possible exception of Lagos and Rivers.

It could be tempting to argue that this reality does not exist. This will be suicidal. Should there be any adverse situation in the international oil market affecting oil revenue and the share to states, many states will not be able to meet their personnel cost. One of the issues that Dr. Ozo-Eson knows very well but avoided it completely in his response was the issue of wage fixing. All that appear to be appealing to Dr. Ozo-Eson and NLC was the historical evolution of minimum wage. For clarity, I never contested the existence of minimum wage.

My argument is that revenue capacity of employers should be the guiding consideration and not some pedestrian and unscholarly analysis of countries that are implementing minimum wages. The logic of minimum wage cannot be faulted. The main problem in our case in Nigeria is that once the federal government, with reference to its revenue of over N8 trn annually can pay the N18,000 minimum wage, we imagine that the remaining task is to harass state governments and all other employers in the country to pay.

For the federal government, the minimum wage of N18,000 only represented an increase of 1.15% in its personnel cost. This represent an absolute increase of N11,054,309,926 on personnel cost of federal government, which means an increase from N961,118,726,036 to N972,173,035,962. Increase of 1.15% was made possible because at the time of negotiations, the lowest paid federal government worker was earning around N17,000. Unfortunately, the lowest paid worker in most of our states and other sectors were still earning the then legislated N5,500 minimum wage. For whatever reasons, largely political coinciding with the buzz of the 2011 electioneering period, the reference for a new minimum wage legislation in the country became federal government.

The question I expected Dr. Ozo-Eson to answer will be how does a minimum wage of N18,000 relate with wage determining variables such as the value of marginal product of labour for state governments and other private employers. For an economists with the knowledge, experience and if I may venture to add level of pay of Dr. Ozo-Eson missed such an important component in his analysis would appear to be deliberate aimed at misleading NLC leadership and Nigerian workers. Such an approach can only produce false expectations and consequently result in dashed hopes.

There is the attempt to resort to cheap blackmail and presenting my position as if I am opposed to minimum wage. To the contrary, I am for minimum wage fixing. Desirably, this should happen at federal level but given a reality whereby combination of authoritarian and rent-seeking factors have dominate the process of governance in Nigeria, one of the best ways of injecting rational consideration is to decentralise the framework for minimum wage fixing. There is nothing wrong with that and it will be consistent with ILO framework.

In fact, the legislated N5,500 that was reviewed upward to N18,000 with the passage of the 2010 Minimum Wage Act, had a provision that stipulated federal government minimum wage at N7,500. This was not a secret. It was a mark of intellectual laziness on the part of NLC leadership to miss this convention.

Dr. Ozo-Eson may wish to explore other deeper intellectual debate around issues of how higher minimum wage can facilitate employment or produce unemployment. Issues of labour market structure, competition, etc. may help highlight all our options. Certainly, the varied nature of the labour markets across the country does not support a high minimum wage of N18,000. Given high levels of poverty, low minimum wage would also be counterproductive. There is therefore the need for a good balance taking into account issues of labour market structure, capacity to pay and the challenge of tackling incidences of high unemployment in the country. They are all interconnected and poor handling could create disequilibrium with adverse consequences.

The other issues are the personalised attacks and sincerely, I have no apology for my position and it is unfortunate that Dr. Ozo-Eson think the debate about minimum wage in Nigeria based on the challenges of today can be reduced to name-calling. I am grateful to Nigerian trade union leadership for giving me the opportunity to serve and I did so with the full conviction that Nigerian workers represent a progressive category. With a rich tradition embodied by organisations such as Nigeria Labour Congress, I was proud to be part of the community of progressive Nigerians.

In all these, Comrade Adams will always have a special acknowledgement. One thing that was very unique was the fact that our relationship with Comrade Adams up to the end of his tenure, and for me till today, was not sycophantic. It is a relationship of respect based on capacity to speak the truth. In line with that tradition, in March 2007, I wrote an article, which for the avoidance of doubt, I will reproduce below. After the article, I have had further engagement with Comrade Adams, but at no time did he accuse me of attempting to run him down, as Dr. Ozo-Eson is alleging. I am ready any day, anytime to defend myself, but I need details of the charges.

I will kindly appeal that the charges should specify details of the “number of occasions in the past”, I “embarked on this same limelight seeking and self serving mission”, which Congress decided to ignore me. Being “not really anybody of consequence” and one that respect the NLC and its leadership, I will try and defend myself. Dr. Ozo-Eson made claims that “in the process leading to the fuel price increase in 2011”, I played all manner of behind the scene games of trying to undermine the NLC’s opposition to the planned increase”. This is weighty.

To the best of my knowledge, sometime around September 2011 when the issue of removal of subsidy became public, together with Comrade Salisu N. Muhammed and Dr. Timi Agary, we developed engagement template to facilitate consultations across all the stakeholders including labour. Our strategic thinking was that what is required is consultation which should lead to negotiating the whole downstream situation that is producing a cycle of policy announcement – opposition protest – negotiations. In our reasoning, we felt the need to produce a new reality of policy negotiation – agreement – announcement – implementation.

In order to achieve that we came up with some activities and approached NLC, TUC, NUPENG, PENGASSAN, NARTO, NURTWN, NECA, PPPRA, NNPC, the Presidency, some civil society organisations to agree to participate in some preliminary activities. The interesting thing was that almost all the nongovernmental stakeholders participated in the activities but none of the government organisations participated. As a result, the initiative collapsed. However, the leadership of NLC, just like all the other organisations were fully briefed about our line of thought, based on which they subscribed and participated. It was an open process and everything was made public. I will challenge Dr. Ozo-Eson to come forward with all the evidences he has about “behind the scene games of trying to undermine the NLC’s opposition to the planned increase”.

The last issue is that “in the course of hearings on the issues proposed for constitutional amendment,” I flaunted my “new credentials as consultant to the Governors Forum” and “made puerile arguments as to why some states cannot pay the minimum wage.” Since they are puerile, why should it be the pre-occupation of the almighty NLC Director of Research? Why not ask a clerk to respond to expose how childish they are? Where did I flaunt my so-called credentials as consultant to the Governors Forum? To the best of my recollection, it was at the parley between civil society leaders and President Goodluck Jonathan and Comrade Omar was there representing the NLC. It was not a matter that was secret and I canvassed my position as a Nigerian citizen with privileged information, which I shared. Does anyone in NLC expect that our views on matters of national policy must be the same?

This is the trouble when organisations choose to be passive in national policy debate and the only thing they are able to do is to organise strikes against government and employers. Matters of policies and engagement to influence them are not prioritised. This makes strikes the only objective of why organisations like NLC and trade unions exist. With such disposition, NLC need no Research Director with Professorial credentials except if the Research Director is a shop floor activist. This is the sad reality facing Dr. Ozo-Eson and our dear NLC. I never expected compliments from NLC leaders, especially people like Dr, Ozo-Eson who know better.

By the way, sincerely, I want to congratulate Dr. Ozo-Eson for producing his first public statement as NLC Director of Research after about 12 years. I remember, when we were consulting and trying to gather supporting information for his employment as NLC Director of Research, one of the criticism against him was that he has no publication credited to him and as the researcher for the Port Harcourt based Centre for Advanced Social Sciences (CASS), he did not produce any research report throughout his tenure at CASS. This was dismissed and our Comrade was given the benefit of the doubt. Twelve years after, his research competence is well outlined and his response is an authoritative confirmation.

I make no claims to anything when I was in NLC. I left as Senior Assistant General Secretary and was told if I wait I will be promoted to Deputy General Secretary. That was in October 2006. While in NLC, I had the rare privilege of serving as Acting General Secretary. I left behind programmes and resources. Although, since I was “not really anybody of consequence”, I will argue that whatever anyone in NLC will say about my person today, there is a standard and I challenge Dr. Ozo-Eson to dispute that.

The NLC that we were all attracted to serve was NLC driven by knowledge, openness and democratic debate. It was an organisation with a world of difference. It was an organisation that nurtures the young ones and challenges all functionaries to develop their competence and capacity. This is completely missing in the NLC of today as a result of which its moral authority is weak. The decay in government and society is finding higher levels of expression in our unions and NLC today. On account of which, a top NLC functionary, converted from being part-time President of his union to full-time General Secretary, just so as to continue to remain as NLC official. Another one has recently postponed the conference of his union just so that perhaps hopefully by the next conference of NLC he can return as possibly President.

There is no need to criticise PDP, government or any employer if at the end of the day we have lost our moral credentials. Let no one deceive Nigerian workers about services if the reference point is the same repressive and authoritarian orientation. The truth is that if Comrade Omar and all our leaders in NLC are unable to lead based on the tradition NLC is known for, I have every responsibility as a Nigerian and as someone who has served the movement to be critical so that they can retrace their steps. I have no apology for that. It will be unfortunate if Dr. Ozo-Eson will collapse and join the crowd of cheer leaders at this late hour.

Finally, what is the issue about consulting for Governors? Doesn’t consulting for Governors also imply consulting for Comrade Adams? Yes, I have consulted for Governors and till today, I can happily say that I enjoy the recognition of some of our Governors. It is a relationship that is value driven based on purely my ability to be relevant to the process of strengthening the capacity of governors to deliver services. It is a privilege and I can only continue to enjoy it with good intellectual services. I have no doubt that the day I fall short of their expectations, all relationship shall end. It is true, it is a choice but it is a choice with subsidiary powers unlike the relationship between many of our leaders in NLC on the one hand and government and employers on the other. I will argue that with our relationship with governors, we may be closer to workers than many of our functionaries in NLC and the unions. Calling me names will not change that reality!

(Lukman can be reached on: smlukman@gmail.com)