Tuesday, 31 December 2013

Article: The Shape Of Things To Come In Nigeria In 2014!


By Jaye Gaskia

I will begin with my conclusion; for better or for worse, the year 2014 is going to be decisive for us as a people, as a nation, and as individuals. Not because it is the year of the centenary of the name and entity called Nigeria [for the people who now make up Nigeria, have a rich history dating back centuries]; but because of the unfolding processes in the last decade and a half [at least since return to civil rule in 1999], and the projections that can be made from the contending trends.

On this note, and with respect to unfolding processes and projections that can be made from them, let me quickly also clarify that I am no soothsayer, I am not ordained into any priesthood [whether of the Abrahamic religions or of the Africanist religions and traditions]; nor am I a seer or palm reader. And since I am not an ordained priest, I do not qualify for the recipient of the talent of discerning spirit either!

I am just an ordinary active citizen, who has taken an active, even proactive interest in following up on, and practically engaging in words and in deeds, with our unfolding history as a people.

Now that we are done with the necessary disclaimers, let us get back down to business. How have we fared as a nation and country, as well as citizens of this potentially great country, over-burdened with an inept treasury looting ruling elite? How did we fare in 2013? For as the saying goes, the indications of what every Sunday will turn out to be, will usually be found in how Saturday has unfolded! Put differently, and borrowing from the Kegites club: ‘sunkrumus iranmus’ – that is ‘taban sukun, asi manriran’ – ‘even when we cry, we still see through the film of tears’.

How did we fare in 2013? Let the figures speak for themselves!

In no order of priority here is the record; 144th out 177 ranked countries in Transparency International’s Global Corruption Index – one of the 25 most corrupt countries in the world! According to inestigations by Punch Newspapers over just two years, between July 2010 and June 2012, the country lost N5tn to reported cases of corruption; that is at a Monthly Public Theft/Treasury Looting Rate of about N220bn, bigger than the 2014 budget proposals of both Ekiti and Enugu states combined for instance!

We are one of the countries with the least friendly tax administration system globally, ranking 170th out of 189 countries profiled, dropping from 155th out of 185 countries in 2012.

Life Expectancy in Nigeria at 52years is the 17th lowest globally; while our Literacy rate at 61% ranks 184th out of 194 countries profiled! This speaks volumes of the comatose nature of the state of public education in the country. It is little wonder than in 2013 we witnessed debilitating strikes right across all categories of tertiary education for instance – COESAU, was on strike before ASUP – 3months, and ASUP before ASUU – 6 months!

Unemployment topped 24% in 2012/2013, a steep rise from 9% just 10 years earlier in 2003! Youth unemployment on the other hand topped 54% according to the latest survey [the 2012 National Youth Baseline Report] by the NBS! What this means is that more than one in two youths between age 15 and 35 are unemployed; period!

Poverty rate on the other hand rose sharply from 54% in 2004 to 69% in 2013, making Nigeria perhaps the only country in the world that met in reverse the Millennium Development Goal target of reducing extreme poverty by half by 2015! In Nigeria, rather than reduce poverty, we grew poverty instead by a factor of 50%; A very historic feat indeed by this pillaging bands of pirates rampaging through our collective homestead!

Yet in the midst of this gruesome reality for over 112 million Nigerians who live in poverty, according to government’s own official statistics; we are also the nation with one of the highest gini coefficients that is one of the widest gap between the rich and the poor in the world! We have the Richest African, who is also the 30th richest man globally as a Nigerian, as well as the richest black woman as a Nigeria1 We have a situation where the top 10% richest Nigerians own and control 41% of national wealth, while the bottom 20% only own and control 4.1% of national wealth!

With such excruciating poverty and unbearable unemployment rates, do we require rocket science to understand why crime and criminality [kidnapping, armed robbery] and armed violence [insurgencies and militancies] have become secure means of livelihoods and become rife and rampant?

On top of this as icing on the cake of ruling political elite profligacy, External Reserves dropped from$49bn in December 2012 to $43bn in December 2013; with the steepest decline of $3bn witnessed between August 14th and December 17th 2013! And this is in contrast to the projections of the Ministry of Finance in January 2013 that the external reserves will grow to $50bn by the end of 2013!

If this sounds amazingly preposterous, then what about the fate of the Excess Crude Account [ECA]? It again dropped from $9bn as at December 2012 to under $3bn in December 2013.

The combined impact meaning of this is that quite from the funds appropriated in the 2013 appropriation Act [the 2013 federal budget], a sum of about N4.8tn; additional $12bn was withdrawn from both the external reserves and the ECA and spent by all tiers of government in 2013! This $12bn in excess unappropriated funds is nearly N2tn; and yet the budget still manages to underperform with capital vote underperforming by more than 40%!

How can this be economically and scientifically explained? Even if we accept the spurious reason of shortfall in funds accruing to the Federation account, the withdrawal of N2tn from these accounts should have more than compensated for any shortfall. And let us be clear, there couldn’t have been any shortfall.

One of the reasons being given for the phantom shortfall is crude oil theft! So inspite of the combined operations of the JTF and the Joint Ex-Militant Command [JEMC], through the multibillion Naira annual pipeline security and surveillance contract; inspite of the laughable combined efforts of these joint forces, crude oil theft rate managed to double from 200,000 barrels per day [nearly the size of South Sudan’s entire national output at 245,000 barrels per day] in 2012 to 400,000 barrels of crude oil per day in 2013; leading to revenue loss in excess of $18bn in 2013, up from $9bn in 2012.

Yet inspite of this colossal loss of revenue that could potentially have improved the revenue profile of the country, even revenue from the crude oil and gas not stolen by the organised crime empires, under the protection of the JTF and JEMC, is stolen and under-declared by the state within the state, that archetype of impunity, the NNPC! The result being that the country continues to be serially bled, raped and short changed by this pre-historic monster called NNPC under the tutelage, protection, and guidance of the country’s political leadership at the highest level – the Presidency!

The sole purpose of these intensified rate of grand theft and colossal revenue seepage and treasury looting, is to enrich certain very highly connected individuals and their cronies and hangers on; as well as to prepare the war chest for the electoral battles and permutations of 2014!

Notice that we always witness steep pikes in corruption and treasury looting, on the eve of every general election. So in 2010/11 preparatory to the 2011 general elections subsidy payments sky rocketed from N300bn in 2009, N600bn in 2010 to N2,7tn in 2011 – precipitating our January Uprising of 2012!

And now preparatory to the 2014 general elections [for elections will be held 6 months before the swearing date], crude oil theft has spiked from 200,000 barrels per day in 2012 to 400,000 barrels per day in 2013!
Let us examine a few more figures before we conclude with the task that history imposes on our generation with respect to the national liberation and social emancipation of our country and people.

Although we are ranked 37th out of 187 countries with respect to GDP [still a very long way from our Vision: 20:2020 aspirations of one of the 20 largest economies in the world by 2020] by the IMF; we are nevertheless also ranked 137th out of 187 countries in the Global Business Competitiveness Index by the World Economic Forum [WEF]; and 153rd out of 187 countries profiled in the Human Development Index [HDI] by the UNDP! On top of these, we are in the bottom 20 countries on the Global Hunger Index [GHI].

And in relation to the power sector, as at November 2013, we have a combined installed generating capacity of 10,396MW [a far cry from the 40,000MW required to power an economy that can rank among the 20 largest by 2020]; Nevertheless, available capacity stood at 6,056MW, but with actually available generating capacity fluctuating between 2,000MW in 2012 and 4,200MW in 2013! And this is official! The major reason for the difference between installed capacity and actual generating capacity [that is what is responsible for the shortfall from 10,000MW to 4,000MW] is put down to gas supply problems and transmission constraint; euphemism for grossly inadequate grid transmission capacity!   The last time the National Grid was enhanced and transmission capacity boosted was in 1987!

So what is the prognosis for 2014? It does seem that as the country continues to lurch from one disaster to another [it’s gravest disaster being the fact that it is saddled with a congenitally inept, historically incompetent, and monumentally corrupt and treasury looting ruling elite]; some of the observed trends in 2013 will likely worsen, not improve.
As the desperation of the grand political battles unfolds and intensifies, the rate of pillage of the treasury is also likely to increase, and along with it the impunity of public office holders.

Into the mix of the increasingly antagonistic political contestations between and among the contending factions and fractions of the ruling elite related to the general elections, will be thrown the desperate maneuvers around the National Dialogue process.

It is this mix, this potentially turbulent political terrain that will define, shape and give character to the year 2014 as it unfolds. This political turbulence will be compounded by increasingly unbearable unemployment, and intensifying intolerable poverty.

It is this mix that will provide opportunity for ordinary citizens, the subordinated and exploited classes to intrude into the historical process, and make a a grand entrance unto the political arena as they did in the January Uprising, but even more decisively than was possible with the January Uprising. It is in this sense that the uprising next time may actually unfold in 2014. It is upto us to make of the historical opportunity, much more than we were able to make of the opportunity during the January Uprising.

Our mantra and objective must be to get organised and mobilised and be ready to contend every square inch of the unfolding terrain in 2014 with the ruling class and all its factions and fractions. Our independent voice must not only be heard, our autonomous action must be part of the elemental processes that will shape the outcome of 2014.
On this note I can now wish you a very fruitful, rejuvenating, transforming and emancipatory New Year.


(Follow me on Twitter: @jayegaskia & [DPSR]protesttopower; Interact with me on FaceBook”: Jaye Gaskia & Take Back Nigeria.)

Article: ASUU And The Seduction Of Silence


By Adeshina Afolayan, PhD

In the 90s, I was a student of the University of Ibadan. When I gained admission, I had a reasonable expectation that I would graduate in four years and then get to the next stage of my life. Well, that was before the first and second ASUU strikes hit us hard and disrupted not only the academic calendar, but also our plans and lives. Some two decades later, I had successfully crossed to the other side. The tragedy of my transition, however, is that nothing seems to have changed as to how I perceive ASUU either as a student or as a lecturer and ASUU member. As students, we were vehemently bitter against our lecturers who took the strike option with alacrity without giving, it seemed then, a second thought to us. Paradoxically, as a lecturer now, I still retain a depth of unease even though I seem to have a grasp of the other side of the story. The source of my unease is this: For over two decades now since I got burnt by FG-ASUU face-off, strikes are still a constant feature of higher education framework in Nigeria, and—this is the crux—nothings seems to have changed qualitatively from then to now. Well, that isn’t correct: Salaries have somehow increased. But what do salaries tell us about the state of higher education in Nigeria? This industrial action has been suspended, one way or the other, as we expected. What have we gained? What have we lost? Where should we go from here?

ASUU is a trade union. And that fact is the bone of contention. The fact of unionism gives rise to two contending issues that impact on the state of higher education in Nigeria. On the one hand, there is the fact that ASUU is the umbrella body of willing academic staff of Nigerian universities in union relations. On the other hand, there is also the added responsibility which the Union, since its inception, has placed upon itself. This responsibility is that of championing the cause of higher education in Nigeria. On the surface, this added responsibility would seem a logical and ennobling one to the extent that an academic trade union constitutes an automatic stakeholder in the education sector. However, the perception of this logical consequence of being a stakeholder in the education sector holds certain tricky implications that bear interrogating.

I suspect that being a trade union in an educational sector and fighting for higher education need not be mutually inclusive. In other words, a trade union can effectively pursue its statutory responsibilities within any sector while making token noises about the total health of the sector it is a part of. With regard to ASUU, it seems possible—within the space of a hypothetical—to fight for the interests of the members without a serious regard for the health of the education sector. My unease is that my hypothetical is closer to reality than we think. The mutual exclusivity of being an academic trade union and defending the noble territory of higher education isn’t at all illogical.

Let us return to our fact: ASUU as a trade union. A trade union's raison d’être is to protect the interests of its paying members. The pertinent question, however, is: Does this traditional function of unionism square with a serious and genuine championing of the cause of higher education in Nigeria? It is at this juncture that we encounter the seeming mutual exclusiveness of unionism and higher education. For higher education to be properly championed, then ASUU need to necessarily sacrifice some of its members to standard higher education rigours and innovation.  Can ASUU afford to do that? Can we withstand the assessments of our students? Can we confront higher education best practices? Can we afford to upturn unedifying and immoral practices which some of the members engage in? These are some of the challenges of higher education that confront ASUU as a trade union. The answers to these questions determine the strength of our claim as a champion of qualitative higher education in Nigeria.   

Whichever way we look at it, ASUU’s redemption lies solely with identifying with higher education (as we have been claiming) rather than sticking with traditional trade unionism. Reason? The card of negative public perception is already stacked very high against us as a trade union. I risk the statement that almost every industrial action of ASUU has almost always been reduced to its pecuniary minima. As students in the early 90s, we had that perception that our teachers were sacrificing our future on the altar of monetary advancement. Some decades after, it reflects badly on us and our sense of creative confrontation that the public and the students still hang on to such perception. Please let nobody retort that a worker is worthy of his wages.

Strikes hurt students as well as the higher education framework of which they are the most significant component. Is it not incontrovertible that without the students, the idea of a university is null? How then do constant strikes factor into this awareness? If constants strikes hurt the cause of higher education more than it advances it, what then has stopped ASUU from creatively rethinking its strategy of advancing that higher education that is its redemption? Do strikes not lock us within the constricting space of traditional unionism we ought to be escaping from?

There is an even bigger problem which the strategy of constant strikes raises beyond the public perception of pecuniary benefits.  This is: How are the benefits of such strikes to be measured in terms of the giant strides higher education in Nigeria ought to have taken in comparative and national contexts? In other words, since strikes entered into the equation of industrial action of ASUU, has higher education leapt qualitatively forward?  This question has an emotive side that can side-track rational and empirical consideration if care is not taken. We can indeed scream, protest and foam in the mouth in comradely tantrums, yet what will defeat my allegations would be tightly marshalled empiricals—charts, figures and numbers across the universities in Nigeria that prove institutional and academic advancement. I doubt such empiricals can be marshalled. I doubt if ASUU is ever interested in such matters of monitoring. Or if they can muster the effort to gather the data, they’ll prove the opposite and give the lie to ASUU’s strike rhetoric.  

What usually happens after a strike? It seems that ASUU is wont to fall into academic somnolence, a complacent sleep buoyed, if the public is to be believed, by pecuniary bloatedness. Again, that makes us more a union than a group of people fighting to improve a sector that in turn improves us. This is my sense: If indeed ASUU is concerned about the quality and advances of higher education as an imperative in national development, then that claim ought to strengthen our vocal cords as a union. I mean, that assertion ought to make ASUU a stern and stentorian vanguard against encroaching social anomie against which higher education should stand as a bulwark. Yet, on ASUU's watch—right under our academic noses—higher education has become a prominent part of the social rot!

After every strike, therefore, ASUU seems to go into a deep slumber until, back to public perception, the salaries fail to take us home again! And the joke usually seems to be on us rather than our employer. We seem to consistently subordinate our social conscience to dulling silence; we consistently fail to live up to the imperative of a civil society vanguard that we ought to be. ASUU, it seems to me, ought to be the civil society vanguard par excellence, speaking truth to power from within, but far beyond, the confines of the demands of higher education. Her voice ought to be heard on virtually all matters of national importance; her analyses ought to chart national direction; her concerns ought to motivate policy changes. She ought to be much more visible in the national scheme of things. Unfortunately, for several years running, ASUU's tokenism outpaces its visibility. We are a vanguard only in the unwholesome fierceness that our name conveys—like PENGASSAN and the associated agony of unfuelled mobility. ASUU also has the negative reputation of conveying a strike-salary equation and uncertain academic future for hapless Nigerian students.

It is time to step out of this negative tradition into a vibrant framework of civil society activism marked by critical internal and external vigilance, in that order. The elders say ‘charity begins at home (I prefer the Yoruba version of this proverb). To achieve any muscular relevance in national affairs, we need as a matter of urgency to put our academic and intellectual house in order. And we will win this relevance when we convince the students—our primary constituency—of our unwavering commitment to their progress. This will involve ASUU rethinking its union credentials. In other words, the issue of performance and assessment of members—issues of character, professionalism and values—must become top and urgent priority. Membership of ASUU must transcend the most minimal of academic qualifications and commitment to paying the union monthly dues. There should be more to being a teacher in an institution of higher learning! These additional requirements derive from absolute commitment to personal and institutional development. The future of the students reflects our character and capabilities.

When we have succeeded with a serious overhaul of our house, then we can step into the breach of social and educational activism. But until then, ASUU remains a negative signifier.

(Afolayan is of the Department of Philosophy, University of Ibadan. He can be reached via: shina73_1999@yahoo.com)

Monday, 30 December 2013

Open Letter: Letter To President Goodluck Ebele Jonathan

President Jonathan

Your Excellency

Nobility and Loyalty to Our Nation I pray this letter of mine meets Your Excellency in the best of health and spirit especially this first month of the year 2014.My choice of this month after a painful interval of two weeks of silence initiated by your office speaks for itself.In a nutshell, I am guided by the teaching and blessings of the season in forwarding this letter for your perusal.

In retrospect, your Excellency met for the first time with me at
senator Aguarevwado (then NDDC MD) Thanksgiving service some years ago when you were a deputy governor. Nigerians, indeed, the world are still very much unaware of what I told you then. You will equally bear
me witness that the true picture of that day has not been made public If a presidential order will bring me forward to appear before you, I will inform you on issues of national interest that would help guide the leadership of the day and indeed Nigerians.

Please note that it is the things ignored or derogated that poses the greatest danger to the confidant ruler.

As you rightly know, every leader needs honest advice. The sure way to success is honesty and sincerity of purpose. Therefore, notwithstanding your tight programme, I wish you with every respect to you and our nation for whatever it is worth, to grant my request to appear before you. In trying to sustain pressure that I should not see you, terrible trends are being introduced into the system that would affect the nation’s lifeline. Certainly, this is not what a leader should support, talk less of championing it.

In conclusion, your Excellency, I am reaffirming my position that I have a duty to support leadership at all times for the common good of our nation. By this, I mean sincere advice and loyalty as against the contrary. The beauty of promoting affection, brotherhood and principles of “Give and Take“among citizens constitutes the primary roles of any leader like yourself. Nigeria is a nation built on trust, faith, peace, progress and development. Any contradictory intent or actions are consider a breach of peace and stability. These dominate my mind for our beloved country.

Your Excellency the content of this short letter are my open minded attitude with which you know me and appreciated my role in the Christendom before and when you became Head-of-State, C-in –C of federal republic of Nigeria. Therefore I hope wrong deductions may not be drawn rather an open and honest approach to it, the content are forwarded in a very simply English just to drive my sincere request home.

My sincere regards to your family. I pray you will employ the
teachings and blessings so brought to mankind in looking at this short letter. Wishing your Excellency success in your reign.


With regards to my highest esteem.

Onomeregbor Prophetic Voice World Outreach

And Shammah Gospel Mission,Igbogidi, Warri,
Delta State.

News Release: Afenifere Warns Nigerian Political Class



Afenifere is compelled to issue a timely warning to the Nigerian political class and their military fronts on the dangers of resorting to the military option as the final act in the orchestrated hysteria being created in the polity as the law of unintended consequences does not unfold until after the event.

We are issuing this warning as we can no longer ignore the rumor that has been very thick in the air that some forces who want to abort the proposed National Conference are scheming to exploit the challenges of our democracy to cause an unconstitutional change in the polity.
All citizens of our country with a sense of history would have been able to draw a parallel between General  Obasanjo's December2 letter to President Goodluck Jonathan and a document circulated in January,1976 entitled "FACTS  TO KNOW ABOUT MURTALA-A WARNING TO THE NATION".

Gen. Murtala Muhammed was assassinated  a month afterwards. Interestingly, General Obasanjo was prominent among those copied the document.

Also, in the days preceding the coup against the Alhaji Shehu Shagari government in 1983,Gen.Obasanjo was very loud in criticizing the government.Thirty years after that act of treason, Mr Max Suollin in SOLDIERS OF FORTUNE has righty captured what was happening as "coup baiting" with generous quotation of IBB's confessions that those who staged the 1983 coup actually asked Obasanjo to come and lead the government,a request he turned down while encouraging the putsch.

"Question:  “It was also said that those of you who ousted Shagari actually wanted to bring back General Obasanjo as Head of State in 1984. Is this true?”

Babangida: “It is true. But to be very fair to General Obasanjo, he rejected the offer. He said no. He said it would destroy his integrity, that he handed over to Shagari and that it is not right for him to get involved. But he (Obasanjo) said he was not stopping us from going ahead with the plot”."(Soldiers Of Fortune,Max Siollun,Pg 14) 

It was little wonder that while Gen Obasanjo issued another in the series of his infamous letters against Babaginda Military Junta in 1992,the "evil genius" quickly ran from Abuja to Otta and followed up with reshuffles in the military high commands.The same IBB is the first person Obasanjo copied his letter.

This is why we in Afenifere are not impressed with the sinister letter from the ever manipulative and evil agenda setting General who has never shown any pure motive since he started his interventions in our national affairs.

It is therefore the height of foolhardiness and or a lack of any sense of history for members of the political class to be enabling these  Generals  who have not been known to act in the collective interest in their infamous careers.

Have our politicians forgotten so soon what the country went through for six years when Abacha was enabled to overthrow the Shonekan Interim Government in 1993?
We do not argue that Nigeria does not have serious challenges at the moment but we refuse to accept that the solutions to our problems would come from any group of military adventures.It is a jaded option that we have been offered over the years and it has always created more problems than the ones it promises to solve.

On a more fundamental note,there is a delicate balance in the country at the moment which has made the proposed National Conference the most veritable platform to address the crises facing Nigeria and for which the nationalities are rearing to go.
To attempt to stop that process by staging a coup would amount to rushing Nigeria to a major catastrophe as any group of military adventurers may discover there is no space for them to preside over.

It is therefore in the best interest of all that all those who are possibly plotting to cause crisis in the country perish the thought and allow the National Conference to proceed seamlessly so that the people of Nigeria can proffer their own solutions to our challenges so we can emerge a united and prosperous entity from the table of brotherhood.
This is our patriotic approach to nation building which we commend to all reasonable Nigerians.   

Yinka Odumakin.
National Publicity Secretary,
Afenifere .


Sunday, 29 December 2013

Videonews: 2000 Running Santas

Saturday, 28 December 2013

Open Letter: "Society Watch" Writes Anambra State Governor On Land Dispute

Governor Peter Obi Of Anambra State


RefSW/INTERSOCIETY/001/12/2013/ANSG/AWK/NG

His Excellency
Mr. Peter Obi, Governor of Anambra State,
Government House, Awka
Anambra State
Sir,

A PETITION AGAINST COMMISSIONER FOR LANDS & URBAN DEVELOPMENT (BARR. OKOLI AKIRIKA) OF ANAMBRA STATE AND SOME MEMBERS OF HIS STAFF INCLUDING MS. OBY INOMA AND MR. ANETO C. CHUBA (DEPUTY DIRECTOR, URBAN DEVELOPMENT BOARD) OVER UNETHICAL CONDUCTS

The SOCIETY WATCH- a Membership Project of International Society for Civil Liberties and Rule of Law writes your public office on the above subject matter.

Our letters to the Inspector General of Police and the Hon. Commissioner for Lands and Urban Development, Anambra State, both dated 24th December, 2013, copies of which are attached here as ANNEXURES 1&2, serve as the underpinning information in this  letter to Your Excellency.

Following the urgency of the issues contained in the letters and the need to get that of the Commissioner delivered to him before the close of work on that same day, the leadership ofSOCIETY WATCH, led by Comrade Justus Uche Ijeoma, went to the office of the Commissioner to personally deliver the letter to him. Unfortunately however, all the efforts put in by us to ensure that actions are expedited on the matter were halted, even frustrated by a most unethical policy put in place by the Commissioner in the Ministry.

When we got to the office of the Commissioner, to our utmost consternation, we were told by his secretaries that we should pay the sum of seven thousand naira (#7,000.00) before we could deliver the letter. We tried to explain to them that ours was neither an application for job nor an application for allocation of land, but just a letter meant for his urgent attention, yet our explanations and entreaties fell on deaf ears.

We were bluntly told that what they have told us is a policy and strict directive from the Hon. Commissioner. This strange policy, of course, did not go down well with our team; we therefore, requested to see the Commissioner in person to ascertain the veracity of the secretaries’ claim and possibly explain things to him. Our request was rudely and roundly turned down as we waited for more than an hour without being allowed access to the Commissioner, even when those who came after us were ushered in to his office. At a point, a journalist friend who writes/reports for one of the National dailies in Awka, went into the Commissioner’s office to plead on our behalf.

Shortly after, the journalist emerged from the Commissioner’s office to inform us that the Commissioner has asked that the letter be collected. We promptly informed one of the secretaries and she collected the letter and told us to wait for her to go and confirm from the Commissioner. Before she came out from his office, the journalist friend had left and she told us that the Commissioner insists that we must pay N7, 000.00 before dropping the letter.

This, to say the least, was very frustrating, and we have to call the Board Chairman of our Organization, Comrade Emeka Umeagbalasi on phone and informed him of the difficulty we were facing at the Ministry. He called the Commissioner on phone, but the Commissioner could barely wait for him to state the reason for the call when he told him “my people are there to attend to them” and then cut the phone.

For the benefit of doubt, our senior comrade sent him a text message, explaining the situation but the text message did not get any response. Without any headway in sight, we left the Commissioner’s office without delivering the letter since we did not have such money to pay for the purpose of delivering a letter to the Commissioner on matters bordering on life, death and demolition of a dwelling house. We left the office and came to Your Excellency’s Office and delivered your copy since the letter was copied to you and then came back to  Onitsha to send the Commissioner’s copy through courier service. This is in “defiance” warnings by the secretaries that even if we decide to send the letter through courier service that once the letter gets to them that we will be called on phone to come and pay otherwise the letter will not be received and registered. What a shocking policy!

On the part of Ms. Oby Inoma, we have it on good authority that she is of the same family with one Amaechi Inoma, leader of the thugs that demolished the dwelling house of Pastor Sylvester Agu. She is allegedly the person the traducers of the Pastor have in the Ministry who provides them with the insider-information with which they try to, and indeed subvert due process in matters pertaining to land deals. Our independent investigation indicates that they have done several of such shoddy deals in the past. She allegedly has a high-wired connection with “big wig” land speculators and also assists them with “insider technical information” on how to snatch lands from the less endowed people who process land documents in the Ministry of Lands & Urban Development.

She is alleged to have started making some surreptitious and frantic moves to stall the Pastor’s process of getting approval (certificate of occupancy) so as to pave way for her land speculator-paymasters and their allies despite the fact that the said Pastor’s approval has been previously signed by the former Commissioner, Hon. Peter Afuba and is currently awaiting Your Excellency’s assent. This was inadvertently confirmed by Mr. Aneto Christian Chuba when he, in the cause of our discussion with him on the 23rd December, 2013, said that “somebody may think that he is processing papers in the Ministry without knowing that an insider in the Ministry may have given another person information and equally assist the latter to “overtake” and thus deny the former whatever land he makes application for its approval”.  It was indeed an eye-opening. If this kind of thing goes on in the Ministry, though we believe it may not, then something must be done urgently by Your Excellency.

Mr. Aneto Christian Chuba, on his part, as lucidly presented in our said letter of 24th December, 2013, to the Commissioner, has put up a disposition that very strongly suggests to us that whatever he has done or will do in the matter is fraught with bias and insincere motives. A situation whereby a public servant, maintained with our common resources, unabashedly make some very unguarded comments such as “the poor do not own land in G.R.A. ( government reserved area)” and “no matter what you do the heavy weights can take over your land at will if you don’t have money” etc, is highly condemnable.

FURTHER THREATS & INTIMIDATION BY AMAECHI INOMA AND HIS THUGS.
The suspected hobnobbing between Amaechi Inoma &his thugs and some staff of the Ministry of Lands and Urban Development has emboldened the former to continue to unleash his unrestrained terror on the Pastor and his family. On the 26th of December, 2013, at about 7.00am, Amaechi Inoma led three other thugs to the demolished house of Pastor Sylvester Agu and his family members, which most parts are now rubbles and after taunting and harassing them, he told them that it will be to their best interest to leave the place as they (Amaechi & co) have concluded an arrangement to storm the place in a few days time with dozens of policemen to “clear” them from the place. This, ordinarily, would have been viewed by us as a mere empty threat, but the previous acts of impunity perpetrated by Amaechi & co, coupled with his unhidden fraternity with some top malicious staffs in the Ministry, make it difficult for us to trivialize it or treat it with kid gloves.

Though the probability of him using true police officers to carry out his recent threat is low, for no right-thinking police officer will likely get involved in this kind of absurdity, we are not ruling out the possibility of Amaechi, in his characteristic desperation to satisfy his paymasters at all cost, may cloth some of his thugs in police uniform and use them to carry out this second phase of the brigandage. This is not the first time some criminal elements will wear police uniforms as a cover to effectively commit their intended criminal ends. Instances abound.

We restate, without equivocation, our condemnation of the ugly situation under reference, where any person, no matter how highly placed or whom he works for will invade another person’s dwelling house and reduce same to a heap of rubbles without a valid judgment from a court of competent jurisdiction. Even in matters of “overriding public interest”, absurdities such as the one being complained of are totally absent. In such “overriding public interest situations”, negotiations are initiated with victim parties fully involved and adequate compensations including alternative places duly paid and provided. It is utterly inhuman to render an innocent family homeless and turn their legally and legitimately acquired dwelling house and property into rubbles through acts unknowing to Nigeria’s body of laws and values.

OUR CALL:
In the light of  the above pellucid explanations and encounters, Your Excellency, we call on you to investigate the activities that go on in the Ministry of Lands with a view of fishing out those corrupt elements that are bent on robbing and rubbishing the respected image of the Government of Anambra State. Your Excellency’s efforts at entrusting on our beloved State a peaceful, prosperous and egalitarian culture must not be allowed to be tainted by the activities of selfish individuals in the Civil/Public Service, premised on uncouth and unethical conducts. Transparency and probity must remain the watchword and indeed, the guiding principle in every process in the Anambra State Ministry of Lands & Urban Development.

We also call on Your Excellency to issue a query to the Commissioner for Lands & Urban Development, Barrister Okoli Akirika over the obnoxious policy of extorting money from citizens and citizen-corporate like Intersociety letters of socio-public interest are delivered to him or his Ministry, even when such letters are of public interest issue geared towards enhancing addressing the issues of justice, peace and security in the State. Direct, also, that the said unpopular policy should be abolished with immediate effect.

It is our further demand that Your Excellency should review all the high profile activities carried out by the said Commissioner for Lands & Urban Development since he became the Commissioner in charge of the Ministry. These include all land/plot allocations and revocations as well as the issue under reference (Pastor Sylvester Agu’s dwelling house demolition and its certificate of occupancy procession saga). This is to ascertain their genuineness or the otherwise and if he is found wanting in all or any of them, then he should be relieved of his duty and made to face the music of the law. The Commissioner’s conducts as complained suggest that he may not diligently and impartially handle the main issue under reference. As a matter of fact, we suspect strongly a foul play in the whole saga from the desk of the Commissioner.

The roles of Ms. Oby Inoma and her likes in the Ministry should be thoroughly investigated and any person found culpable of subverting due process or involved in any criminal or administrative sabotage should be adequately sanctioned. Sanity and discipline must be restored in the Ministry. Both Amaechi and Oby Inoma and their cohorts are strongly believed to be working for one Best Aluminum to render Pastor Sylvester Agu and members of his family homeless and forcefully and maliciously take over their property on Magazine Avenue, Onitsha GRA, Onitsha.

While we wait for the Inspector General of Police’s action on our earlier letter to him, we call on Your Excellency to direct the security agencies to be at alert and on lookout so as to forestall any attempts by Amaechi Inoma and his cohorts to use the police, whether fake or real to unleash further mayhem on the family under reference as any such attempts may lead to a breakdown of law and order in the State or any part thereof.

We sincerely thank Your Excellency immensely and hope that this letter will receive Your Excellency’s usual urgent and proactive attention it deserves.
Signed and dated this 27th day of December, 2013.

For: SOCIETY WATCH- A Membership Project of  International Society for  Civil Liberties and the Rule of Law –INTERSOCIETY

Justus Uche Ijeoma
Interim National Director
08037114869, 08182829278.

Chike Umeosonwune
Interim National Secretary
08064869601

Cc:
(1)The Commissioner of Police, Anambra State Command
(2)The Area Commander, Onitsha Area Command


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Friday, 27 December 2013

Article: Budgeting And The Proposed Nigerian 2014 Federal Budget


By Jaye Gaskia

Let me begin with a confession; I am no economist, so some of the ways of budgeting may indeed be strange to me. Let me use as an example here, the way some countries, including ours, who are eager to please their people and show some progress dish out new studies which invariably suggests that at the current trend, such economies will overtake and leapfrog other economies in two to three decades hence!

The latest example here is Britain, where some think Tank have just released a study showing that by 2028 the UK will become Europe’s biggest economy, overtaking France, and leapfrogging Germany! Ofcourse the assumption is that the other economies will not grow as fast as the UK economy, and that the other ruling classes are not competitively lowering the cost of doing business and increasing the burden of being working class and poor!

Not to be outdone in this business of ‘ceteris pari bus’; our own treasury looting ruling class is engaged it its own game of self serving economic deception. The Nigeria Bureau of Statistics [NBS] has all through 2013 been engaged in the process it calls ‘rebasing the GDP/economy’. And it has been gleefully hinting us that by the time it concludes the exercise early in 2014; Nigeria’s economy with a current market size of $75bn will have suddenly frog leaped South Africa’s economy with a current market size of $ 680bn to become Africa’s largest economy!

This is not just a season of festivities, being also the Xmas season; it is also apparently a season of miracles! This is indeed the season of voodoo economics!

Now let us get back to the reason for this commentary, that most explicit manifestation of voodoo economics in our national life; the budget process! It is the season of budgets again, when executive arms of government prepare and present to the legislative arms, budget proposals for the coming year.

A number of issues need to be raised and addressed before we go into some preliminary analysis of the figures presented! First, every year we go through the ritual of presenting the new budget proposals for the new year to the legislative assemblies; and always against the background of the non or poor performance of the current, soon to be previous budget!

So for instance at the Federal Level, at no time since the return to civilian rule in 1999, has the budget performed above 60% in any one year. Usually budget performance is far below 50%! Additionally the component of the budget that usually grossly underperforms is the capital vote! The recurrent budget nearly always performs between the 95% and 100% range! This disparity in performance is very instructive, because the component of the budget that funds infrastructural development is the capital vote; and it is the component that has repeatedly and serially grossly underperformed. It is perhaps the reason why between 2000 and 2012 there were well over 12,000 abandoned projects littering and cluttering the country’s landscape; projects valued at more than a whooping N7.7tn and with more than N2.2tn already expended in mobilizations fees! Mind you, we are here speaking of already abandoned projects alone! Confirming this trend of wastefulness, a recent presidential monitoring report on NDDC projects submitted early 2013 also affirmed that nearly 40% of NDDC projects have been abandoned; with only less than 20% projects awarded ever completed and commissioned. Now this is equally very instructive; to complete and commission a project, as we all know in our national experience is not the same thing as delivering a quality and long lasting product! Boreholes without water have been sunk and commissioned courtesy of tanker fetched water hurriedly poured into the borehole and its overhead tanks, the night before the grand commissioning ceremony! The remaining 40% of projects are in various stages of completion, none exceeding 50% completion stage, and no one is sure whther they will ever be completed!

President Goodluck Jonathan has himself attested to this very sorry state of things while recently inaugurating the new board of the NDDC!

But what is even more worrisome, apart from the fact that the victim of budget underperformance is invariably always the capital vote; is the fact that no one bothers to do an analysis of why the budget has serially underperformed, and why it is incapable of performing in order to fix the problem. Is it a capacity problem? At various levels? How are budget estimates arrived at? What skilled and competent human and material resources are available for making this estimates and implementing the budget? And what is more? 

No one ever gives the reason for this underperformance nor makes any returns to the treasury with respect to what was not spent! What percentage of the previous year’s unspent budget is rolled over into next year’s budget proposal? How many of us the unwary electorates know for instance that in the 2013 Federal Budget, apart from the N1bn budgeted for food in the presidency, that there was budgetary provision for 2,399 constituency projects for the constituencies of each of the 360 HoRs members and the 109 Senators? 

How many of us know that constituency projects which ought to be visible in our constituencies had cost our country more than N900bn since 2000? And that is excluding the cost of the 2,399 projects in the 2013 appropriation act!

Now to the 2014 budget proposals! The FGN through the Federal Minister of Finance, and Co-ordinating Minister of the economy [invariably the Prime Minister]; has laid before the NASS, a budget proposal for 2014 of N4.6tn.  Of these, the Capital vote is N1,1tn [27% of the budget]; while recurrent expenditure is N3.5tn [73% of the budget]. Now this capital vote which constitutes 27% of the proposed budget is 4% decline from the 31% of the 2013 budget that it constituted!

This N1.1tn, which is the size of the proposed capital vote is less than the Personnel cost [read salaries, allowances and emoluments] component of the recurrent expenditure which stands at N1.723tn in the proposed 2014 budget; leaving N2.43tn for recurrent non debt, and non personnel cost [read overheads]!

There ought to be something significantly wrong with the budgetary process and with the managers of the economy; otherwise why would personnel costs component of the recurrent expenditures alone far outstrip the entire capital vote by over N640bn? This amount by which personnel cost outstrips the entire capital vote is more than 50% of the capital vote! What makes this even more counter productive and under developing is if we put this in proper perspective. If we as we know from the report of the Adamu Fika committee which looked into the cost of governance in 2012, the country spends averagely on an annual basis the sum of N1.3tn on the salaries and allowances of only 18,000 top Federal government officials; then it means that of the N1.7tn personnel cost, 18,000 [very likely unnecessary and redundant political hangers on] top Federal government officials receive N1,3tn leaving N0.4tn to the several hundreds of thousands of junior and middle level Federal Government Officials to share!

There are still more incongruities to come! Contained in the 2014 budget proposals is the clear and manifest anomaly; the combined budget proposals for the Federal Ministry of Agriculture and Natural Resources at N67bn [it was N70bn in 2013 and a mere 1.6% of the budget contrary to the agreement entered into in the Maputo Declaration of African Leaders to commit not less than 10% of annual budgets to agriculture in order to achieve economic growth rates that can enable poverty to be halved]; and the Federal Ministry of Science and Technology at N31bn; is less than the budget proposal for the Niger Delta Ministry at N111bn!

The N31bn budget for the Ministry of Science and Technology is actually less than the N37bn budget for the National Intelligence Agency [NIA]; and some still think the allegation of training snipers and putting over 1,000 people on a security watch list is spurious?

Furthermore the N20bn budget proposal for the office of the National Security Adviser is just about 66% of the budget of the Science and Tech Ministry budget, and just about 33% of the budget of the Agriculture Ministry! Furthermore the N3.6bn budget for the Directorate of State Security [DSS] is more than the N2bn Federal Government counterpart budget for its much trumpeted North East Development Initiative! We could also compare the North East intervention budget at N2bn with the Niger Delta intervention budget at N111bn! All in all, the total vote to the secret service agencies; DSS – N3.1bn + NIA – N36.9bn + DIA [Defence Intelligence Agency] – N7.4bn + ONSA [Office of the National Security Adviser] – N20.2bn is just about equal [N67.7bn] to the budget proposal for the ministry of agriculture at N67bn! Yet agriculture contributes 33% of the GDP and employs 60% of the productively engaged labour force!

This 2014 budget proposal by the way also includes nearly N900m as cost to fuel generators for the Presidency and the MDAs; with the Presidency and Federal Ministry of Finance being allocated N33.5m and N77m respectively for fueling generators in 2014! The same year we have been promised a minimum of 18hours of light daily?

The 2014 budget proposals also include a fiscal deficit of N912bn, almost the size of the capital vote at nearly90% [for a nation with External reserves of $43.9bn as at Dec 2013; a drop from $ 49bn as at December 2012]? As well as a Debt servicing component of N712bn, more than 60% of the capital vote!

And as a yearly ritual, the budget also includes N150bn allocation to the NASS [360 + 109 + 3,000 (max in support staff)]! Now to put this in perspective, this amount of N150bn is more than the annual budget proposals of Kogi [N129BN]; Kwara [N126bn]; Enugu [N93bn]; Niger [N99bn]; Ekiti [N104bn]; or Bauchi [N133bn]!

This is by far only just the tip of the iceberg, for the full details of the budget proposal are just coming out. Who knows how much will be budgeted for Feeding alone in the Presidency in 2014? Given that 2014 is a year when we expect a lot to happen in and around the presidency; this allocation may very well be doubled from its annual ritual of nearly N1bn!

And ofcourse Fuel subsidy, with a budget allocation of N971bn continues to be a readymade cow to be continually milked at the will of the Presidency. This is more than the size of the fiscal deficit, and is also even closer to the size of the capital vote that the size of the fiscal deficit. What progress have we made with respect to improving domestic refining capacity? How many million liters per day of petrol are now locally refined? Have we been able to scientifically ascertain the true daily consumption rate for PMS? What is this figure? 25 million liters per day? 30 million liters per day? 35 million liters per day? How was this figure arrived at? How much of this is locally refined? And how much is imported? What should our realistic and true subsidy burden be?

This brings us quickly to the supposed subsidy savings and the SURE-P scheme. What is the current landing cost of imported fuel? What is the average landing cost for 2013? It is only if we know the answer to these two questions that we can definitively determine whether any subsidy savings have been made or not. 

Because if as we suspect landing costs have progressively increased since February 2012, then it stands to reason that the size of the so-called subsidy savings would have been progressively diminishing since the N32 per liter that it was in February 2012. The reason is simple; the most decisive factors in the pricing of imported refined fuel remains; the value of the Naira in relation to the dollar! For as long as we import, and as long as the value of the Naira continues to decline against the dollar, for so long will the cost of refining and transportation, and therefore the landing cost of imported refined fuel continue to rise!

Let us end on a somewhat tragicomic note: according to the JTF [Joint Military Task Force], it arrested 1,857 oil thieves, and destroyed 1,951 illegal refineries in the Niger Delta in 2013! What a feat! 

Nevertheless crude oil theft increased from barely 200,000 barrels per day in 2012 to just about 400,000 barrels per day in 2013! Does this have anything to do with the fact that the JTF has been chasing the shadows? Curing ringworm while leaving leprosy? The 1,857 oil thieves arrested and the 1,951 illegal refineries destroyed work out to almost 1 illegal refinery destroyed per 1 oil thief arrested! The only charitable deduction that we can make from this is that these are small scale thieves trying to make a living; resorting to small scale oil theft [scooping of crude from broken pipelines or spills], and refining same as a means of livelihoods. These are not the owners and sponsors of the sophisticated grand criminal empires and enterprises with state of the art equipment, large barges and large tankers; who are responsible for the daily loss of 400,000 barrels per day; the annual revenue loss of near $18bn per annum; and the daily crude oil spill of nearly 40,000 barrels per day into the fragile Niger Delta Environment!

On this note let me wish you all complements of the season. And let me express the wish and the hope that we shall collectively determine to make 2014 a more decisive year for our wellbeing, by resumimg from where we left off the tasks and the agenda of the January Uprising of 2012. And mark my words, there will be plenty opportunity in 2014 to Reclaim our Country, and Take Back Nigeria! We do have to be prepared though.


(Follow me on Twitter: @jayegaskia & [DPSR]protesttopower; Interact with me on FaceBook: Jaye Gaskia & Take Back Nigeria)