Monthly Archives: June 2013

On dinner with Mr President and the State Governors

Yesterday, all things going according to plan, State Governors and Mr President would have had a dinner. Obviously one would have been interested in observing the mood of the attendees. This will certainly be a first time that two alleged captains would be steering the same rudder of a ship. Who would have taken pole position as the NGF Chairman ? Who would have been rightly acknowledged as the NGF Chairman? Would Amaechi have sat with his group at one end of the table? Or would it have been business as usual, with the citizens of Nigeria having to smile sheepishly as power talks? Interesting read in the dailies this morning, what do you think?

NIGERIA:Candidate for Destabilisation

NIGERIA: Candidate for Destabilisation.by Adeyinka Makinde (Notes) on Sunday, June 16, 2013 at 9:46am

… It is worth reminding, if such reminder is at all necessary, how even in the contemporary circumstances of an omnipresent international security system represented by the United Nations which promotes the ideals of mutual security and co-existence, the conduct of the relations of nations continues to assuredly reflect the elementally brutal and atavistic nature of man.

 For  is the case that among the panoply of strategies employed in the exercise of statecraft, the stealthily managed policy of fracturing or otherwise, engineering the ‘rolling back’ of certain countries in order to obtain geo-strategic advantage remains a vital and ongoing cog in the wheel of the foreign policy of those nations possessing the necessary guile, power and resources.

Destabilisation has a long and a markedly bloody history. It may be facilitated by a catolgue of  diplomatic intrigues, instigating covert operations or by stimulating proxy wars which may be fought internally or against external foes. But the end game is to achieve a re-alignment in loyalty through regime change or the dismemberment of the subject nation and the consequent re-drawing of the map.

The rationale for one nation seeking to destabilise another is clear: to acquire economic benefit or to achieve security or both. The mechanics of  achieving these goals are multifaceted and are often complicated.

Nonetheless,those countries which may be more susceptible to the pressures applied with the intention to destabilise tend to be those for whom nationhood has not been achieved through a lengthy evolutionary process. The aggressor nation will apply pressure where for instance there are weak bonds of national solidarity;manifested usually in tribal, ethnic or religious rivalries through which festering grievances may be exploited.

Those fractious countries which are held together by authoritarian or totalitarian regimes under the auspices of a ‘strongman’ or a ‘charismatic leader’ but which are ultimately devoid of strongly developed institutions and a substantive political culture are particularly susceptible to manoeuvres aimed at weakening the power base of a successor ruler. Such was arguably the case in Yugoslavia in the aftermath of the death of Josip Broz Tito.

Yet,there is evidence that the break up and subsequent dismemberment of Yugoslavia was not an inevitability and was only achieved through the meddlesome efforts of the Western world in stimulating internecine friction because it did not wish to have a large and potentially powerful nation-state straddling the West and East of the post-Cold War European continent.

The words uttered in the public arena by certain nations actively engaged in the pursuit of the destabilisation of others may be ‘correct’ and couched in the subtle niceties of diplomatic speak, but camouflage the underlying basis of their foreign policies.

The United States, for one, has had an unceasing policy in terms of destabilising nations in order to effect changes in government to suit its geo-strategic interests. The State of Israel also has had a longstanding agenda geared towards destabilising its neighbours.

The former, at one time while vying with the Soviet Union for global influence, is now the sole world superpower which is ever watchful; even fearful of China’sgrowing economic and military power and the competition it offers in terms of securing favourable terms of access to raw materials, while the latter, the Zionist state, seeks to consolidate its survival; having entrenched itself among hostile Arab states which surround its borders.

The United States has under the auspices of NATO in the era of the so-called War on Terror and Arab Spring, succeeded in overthrowing the governments of two key countries which it had for long targeted for destabilization: Saddam Hussein’sIraq and Muamar Gaddafi’s Libya. It is currently seeking to do the same to Syria, which is in the midst of a civil war, and Iran, which is the subject of vigorously applied sanctions.

The break up Iraq and Syria were long-established Israeli policy goals articulated respectively in the Yinon Plan for the 1980s, and the ‘Securing the Realm’document produced in the 1990s. They both tally with the New Revisionist-stance of Ze’ev Jabotinsky, which argued that the surrounding Arab states needed to be weakened and effectively neutralised in order to assure the survival of a nascent Zionist state.

A plan along these lines which pinpointed the Christian-Muslim divide in the Lebanon as a means through which Israel could acquire regional influence by dismantling that nation, and even achieve some measure of territorial expansion,was devised in the 1950s by David Ben Gurion and applied with devastatingly tragic results in subsequent decades.

The United States, and, to a lesser extent, Israel, have geo-strategic interests which extend to the African continent. The Israeli outlook as identified in the aforementioned Yinon Plan is said to be that of encouraging the severing of Black Africa from the Arab world, a view that was given credence by the support given by Israel to the South Sudanese Liberation Army in its quest to be free of the Arab north.

The United States itself was not an uninterested party in the eventual severance ofthe south from north Sudan, not only because of the latter being continually identified as one of a core of enemy nations in successive influential policy documents such as that by the Project for the New American Century, but also due to the favourable oil trading agreements it had reached with China.

Africa the continent has not escaped the attentions of international powers competing for access to its riches in raw materials. This in the final analysis is thecrux of the matter, whether the continent is serving as the battleground between the forces of religion or ideology.

Centuries ago, beginning with the Portuguese, when the first European maritime powers were circumnavigating the globe, the Pope issued an instruction that the southward advance of Islam from the northern part of the continent be checked by Christendom.

But the conversion of what were viewed as ‘heathen souls’ to the Christian faith also served as a means of extending economic rights and entitlements among the city-states and empires the Europeans encountered first on the coastal areas and then in the interior.

Today,the nations of the African continent just as the Arab lands, by virtue of their multi-ethnic composition within artificially created borders, remain vulnerable to efforts geared toward national destabilization.

Asa prelude to the age of imperialism, Africa was carved up between the European powers of the day with little regard to indigenously evolved borders much in the manner that the British and the French helped themselves to the Arab lands forfeited by the defeated Ottoman Empire at the end of the First World War.

With the emerging China ravenous for raw materials and making inroads into African markets, the consequent nervousness felt by the older colonial powers of France and Britain as well as the United States of America portends ominously to a second ‘Scramble for Africa’.

From the mineral-rich Maghreb region of West Africa to the abundant resources in the Great Lakes area of East Africa; and from the Congo area to the oil rich Niger Delta, Africa remains the most endowed continent so far as raw materials are concerned.

The taking down of the Gaddafi regime to some extent and the division of Sudan into two to a greater degree may be symptoms of such a scramble. The ruses which would necessitate intervention will likely change depending on the targeted region or country.

For instance, the hype surrounding the Ugandan political renegade and bandit,Joseph Kony in 2012, was seen in certain quarters as a contrived news item designed to pave the way for the militarization of the Great Lakes area by the United States.

The War on Terror, which history will surely need to re-reassess in terms of its genuineness as a phenomenon, remains the most likely avenue for the external application of the techniques of destabilization and foreign intervention.

The complexities associated with determining historical and contemporary issues of cause and effect notwithstanding, the recent French intervention in Mali, a nation which is part of the Maghreb, is significant not only for the averred aim of pushing back al-Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb, but also because it enables the French to station troops in a resource rich area.

Where do the circumstances of today leave Nigeria; Africa’s most populous nation? The answer must surely be one which unambiguously places it in a category of clear and present danger of being subjected to manipulations geared towards weakening the authority of its government and its eventual dissolution as a nation.

Back in 2006, the United States National Intelligence Council (NIC) which distils the medium to long-term strategic thinking of the American Intelligence Community for the benefit of the policymakers of that nation predicted that Nigeria would disintegrate by 2015.

This was and still is taken by many Nigerians to be the officially sanctioned view of the government of the United States. Although not strictly true, the role of America and the application of the devices of its intelligence services and military command structure will likely have some bearing on the nation’sfuture.

Nigeria,as is the case with most African countries, is a conglomerate nation; an artificial construction put together by imperial draughtsmen. With an estimate of well over 200 different ethnicities and a roughly even division between Christian and Moslems, it has proved to be a combustible arrangement of convenience designed under the aegis of the British Empire.

It has, in the five decades of its existence as an independent entity endured a series of crises. Most notably the civil war fought between the federation and the secessionist Republic of Biafra between 1967 and 1970.

Communal violence which for the most part had previously taken the form of temporary outbursts of sectarian rioting has recently transmogrified into a sustained and sophisticated campaign of terror waged by an Islamist sect with the official title of “Jama’atu ahlis sunna lidda’awarti wal-jihad” translated as meaning,“People committed to the propagation of the prophet’s teachings and jihad.”

The group is better known by the name ‘Boko Haram’ or ‘No to Western education.’

While the oil rich but economically neglected Niger Delta area was plagued for years by militant groups committing acts of terror, kidnapping and sabotage as a demand for a greater slice of the national cake; the crimes of Boko Haram surpass this by great measure. Their avowed aim is to drive Christians out of the mainly Muslim north and declare a modern Islamic caliphate modelled on the pre-colonial one of Sokoto created by the scholar and revolutionary, Usman danFodio.

It could be argued thus that the logical conclusion given Nigeria’s historicallyshaky foundations, propensity for internal strife and institutionalised corruption would be that it is ripe for disintegration due to its inherited mass of contradictions and such eventuality would not require the covert manipulation by external powers.

It could further be argued that any insinuations that the United States could aid in the destabilising and destroying of Nigeria as a corporate entity is tantamount to a libel.

A closer reading of the historical attitude of the United States to Nigeria, aswell as the statement of intent posed to the future of Nigeria and Africa as a whole by the establishment of the US created African High Command or AFRICOM is essential in understanding an alternate, more cynical reading of the realities of the situation.

Nigeria is considered by American intelligence reports and the decided opinion of policymakers to be of great strategic interest. It is after all the fourth major supplier of oil to the United States after Canada, Saudi Arabia and Mexico. Also, companies such as Chevron, Exxon Mobil, Shell and Total envisage increasing their output there in the next few years by up to fifty per cent.

But although Nigeria has developed into an ally of sorts with military joint exercises and training given to its Special Forces, the United States has viewed Nigerian leadership within Africa and the West African sub-region as a threat.

An analysis of the imperial mentality which has governed American foreign policy since its ascension to world power status is instructive. Regional powers who act independently are stamped upon and put in line. The United States hegemon needs a minor power that it can control and influence and not one which it deals with on equal terms or which effectively is a rival.

And despite a national tendency towards dysfunctionality and deprecations couched in terms of its being ‘big for nothing’, Nigeria has provided instances of substantive and decisive leadership in the past. In the 1970s for instance,Nigeria used its weight within the then Organisation of African Unity (O.A.U.)to persuade African nations to support the Marxist MPLA faction in the Angolan Civil War.

It was a major player in opposing White minority rule in South Africa and provided financial and material aid to those nations which were designated as the “FrontLine States”. It also flexed its muscles against Western interests to the extent of nationalising British Petroleum assets in the country because it supplied oil to apartheid-era South Africa.

But what is particularly striking and revealing about the philosophy behind American foreign policy was the reaction of the United States to Nigeria’ssuccessful efforts in policing the West African region and effecting a peace settlement in the Liberian Civil War in the 1990s.

The Central Intelligence Agency commissioned reports made by the Brookings Institute and the Africa-American Institute both of which advised that the success of its peace mission in Liberia threatened to eclipse both Britain and France, the former colonial powers of West Africa in terms of influence.

An element of a sense of aggrievement on the part of the United States at the Nigerian success in its peace mission, may have been based on the fact that America was historically the creator of the state of Liberia.

The reaction of the United States under the administration of George W. Bush was the creation of the Africa Crises Response Initiative (ACRI) which was intended to serve as a counterweight to the Nigerian-led ECOMOG, the monitoring group of the Economic Community of West African States. It was a blatant attempt aimed at diluting or even negating Nigerian influence in the region.

AFRICOM,established on October 1st 2008, provides concrete evidence of the United States vision of serving as continental policeman and enforcer with the cooperation of African states, most of whom remain wary of its ultimate purpose and potential usages.

The Bush Doctrine at the outset of the War on Terror, that which espoused the“either you are with us or you are against us” policy, may not be put as crudely by the Obama administration, but as the configuration of NATO as well as other military alliances America has entered into suggests, the United States is the undisputed leader; the dominant shareholder in the endeavour.

In international relations the cynical adage that “nations have no permanent friends or allies, only permanent interests”, still holds sway, and it is with this backdrop that American intentions towards Nigeria’s future should be judged.

Afterall, the United States and its European allies reneged on a rapprochement with the Gaddafi regime and seized the opportunity to aid the rebels who overthrew his government.

There are allegations that Boko Haram is now conducting its terroristic operations under the direction of foreign concerns. There appears to have been, from what can be discerned, a distinct evolution in the capacities of the group.

The first phase of the sect under its founder Mohammed Yusuf, who was killed by the Nigerian authorities in 2009, is often characterised as being of a kind of low intensity terrorism of a decidedly limited scope. Drive-by shootings, lighted fuel cans tossed from motor scooters and even the use of bows and poison-tipped arrows were the order of the day.

The second coming of the group, on the other hand, is marked by an increased level of sophistication in its methods of deployment and capacity for destruction in its operations. For instance, in August of 2011, a bombing mission claimed by the group, was directed at the United Nations headquarters in the Nigerian capital city of Abuja. Twenty four lives were lost.

There have been massacres directed at churches situated in the North of the country,including, most provocatively, on Christmas Day, while the sheer murderousness such as the slaughter of 25 students and staff in a dormitory in October of 2012 upped the ante in the terror stakes.

What these ‘new phase’ waves of attacks may suggest is a ‘strategy of tension’directed from an internal source or externally or both.

For instance, the sense of insecurity is arguably been exploited by unscrupulous profiteers, both Nigerian and foreign, who are making huge sums of money in the sale of various technologies of security equipment.

The attacks also serve the purpose of undermining the power of the federal government which in looking helpless at protecting the lives and properties of its citizens, will become ‘delegitimized’ and thus potentially pave the way for some form of foreign intervention in which the Christians of Nigeria can serve as the Western media’s focal point as a bastion of Christian defiance against an aggressive Jihadist alliance of al-Qaeda of the Sahara and Sahel endeavouring to complete what the Pope’s injunction centuries earlier had prevented: the euphemistic triumphant dipping of the Koran into the Atlantic Ocean.

There are those within and outside of Nigeria who claim that Boko Haram are under the direction of the CIA in a covert intelligence operation being conducted with the express aim of destabilising Nigeria and breaking the country, like the Sudan, into two distinct halves; one largely Christian and the other largely Moslem with the United States primed to gain from influencing the southern, Christian half in which the oil wealth would be located.

Such a theory for the most part appears to be based on speculation rather than on concrete facts. Nonetheless, there are interesting justifications used to buttress such arguments.

For instance, much of the strength of Boko Haram lies in the north eastern part of Nigeria, a region in which President Goodluck Jonathan has recently imposed a state of emergency.

It is argued that since this area borders the Lake Chad Basin where the French-speaking nations of Niger, Chad and Cameroon are situated, the rat trails of supplies of arms and ammunition and non-Nigerian terrorists would not go unnoticed by French Special Forces personnel who are deployed in those countries as indeed they tend to be in much of francophone Africa.

If Boko Haram is serving as a CIA sponsored proxy for American interests, it would not be the first time that the United States has aided an Islamist sect. America after all lent support to the Afghan Mujahedeen, among whose ranks was the young Osama Bin Laden, in their war against the ‘godless’ communist invading army of the Soviet Union.

The United States gave backing to the Islamist Libyan Islamic Fighting Group (LIFG)in the uprising which led to the destruction of Colonel Gaddafi’s regime. Further, is the fact that the so-called Free Syrian Army, even if separated from the al-Qaeda affiliated Jabhat Al Nusra Front brigades, is composed of Islamist, sectarian-minded Sunnis who have received covert support from US intelligence through Turkey, Saudi Arabia and Qatar.

The strategy of feeding sectarian hatreds as a means towards achieving an end is one which was used by US military intelligence in defeating the Sunni-led insurgency in Iraq and forms the bedrock of the unstated aim of breaking Syria up as a nation-state.

It is not beyond the realms of possibility that a Western intelligence agency suchas the CIA can infiltrate and train a group like Boko Haram through MiddleEastern intermediaries.

The espionage rulebook allows for groups to be unknowingly infiltrated and been abled to do the bidding of an infiltrating government through ‘steers’ who enable the group to act under direction without realising that they are being directed.

It was in this manner in the 1970s that Left-wing terrorist groups in Western Europe such as the German Baader-Meinhoff and the Italian Brigate Rosse were allegedly infiltrated and effectively controlled by government intelligence agencies who used terrorist events to serve the governments’ purpose of discrediting the political Left.

Such infiltrations were completed and acted upon in new phases of the groups when the original members were either dead or in prison. The studied ‘facelessness’of the second phase Boko Haram by which is meant the virtually non-existent public knowledge of who its spiritual head is or whom its captains are, has lent a measure of credence to the supposition of those who argue that this bears the hallmarks of a group which has been penetrated by an unseen guiding hand.

The report by the United States NIC opining that Nigeria would likely disintegrate by 2015 does not automatically vest such opinion maker with an unerring or formidable level of percipience. Such predictions have been idly tossed around for decades.

As mentioned earlier, many Nigerians have chosen to believe it to be a cunningly deployed piece of information which was made public in order to serve as a form of ‘psychological warfare’. This has been denied by American officials including the current US ambassador to Nigeria, Terence McCulley.

Ultimately,the destiny of the nation is in the hands of its people. The mass of people may choose to be resigned to a fate of inevitable disintegration. Or they may be spurred to a resolution to resist and withstand the provocations of Boko Haram as well as the possible manipulations of an outside power.

There are some unpromising aspects in regard to achieving the latter goal, given the level of corruption in the nation’s leadership.

There are  questions also as to whether the intelligence services of the country, both the domestic State Security Service (SSS) as well as the intelligence service of the military are up to the task of figuring out this newly fashioned opposition which presents a challenge far greater than that posed by the followers of the Muslim cleric Maitatsine in the early 1980s or the first phase Boko Haram which were put down by the application of brute force.

And even if the national intelligence bodies are capable, they are likely being undermined from within. Rather as is the case with the Pakistani SIS, the existence of dual loyalties is somewhat inevitable.

Boko Haram has received the tacit support and backing of a number of legislators and businessmen. Among the early opinions cultivated in the South of the country as to its rise in activity is the belief that the group is sponsored by leaders from the country’s North who are disgruntled at being deprived of the powers of central government, a position they maintained continuously through civilian and military rulers from the time of independence to the reestablishment of democratic rule in 1999.

Nigeria,a nation which for decades has seemingly lurched from one crisis to another, has,against the odds, held together. Oil, most will proffer, is the reason –theonly reason- for a continued grudging co-existence.

Calls for a national sovereign conference to determine its future as a looser federation or a voluntary dissolution into smaller polities have been incessant but have not come to fruition.

The issue of the division of the national cake is one which has been addressed only in piecemeal fashion and the creation of states, first undertaken by the military regime of the then Colonel Yakubu Gowon in 1967, while succeeding initially in allaying fears of domination by the old Northern Region has not solved the core issues of states’ rights.

The terribly bloody civil war fought against mainly ethnic Igbo rebels in the 1960s,whatever the mismanagements and ulterior motives on the part of certain protagonists, was prosecuted for a supremely logical rationale: as Gowon warned at the time, allowing the secession of one region at that moment would have led to the fragmenting of Nigeria into a number of warring armed camps; each backed by its own foreign sponsor.

This haunting spectre, that of the disorganised balkanisation of Nigeria into warring factions akin to that experienced by the Lebanon in the 1970s or even of the nature as presently endured by Somalia, is one which should be treated seriously with or without the threat of Boko Haram.

Their artificially constructions notwithstanding, the splitting of nation states on the African continent has been rarer than would have been imagined. This was because of the firmly held OAU policy that one tool which would affording dependent African nations the opportunity to develop in stable conditions was for all its members to accept the borders they had inherited from their colonial masters.

This arguably played a key part in promoting the federal cause of maintaining a united Nigeria during the civil war. However, the carving out of South Sudan from the north has succeeded in giving some secessionist movements such as Tuaregs seeking an independent state of Azawad, renewed hope that the borders drawn by the quills of the imperial European powers need no longer be considered sacrosanct or inviolable.

The precedent of South Sudan is presumably a development from which Nigerian Islamists are also taking hope.

Ironically,the country was taken from the brink of this happening back in 1966. The savagereprisals against mainly Igbo army officers during the July mutiny against thegovernment of Major General Aguiyi-Ironsi was led by Northern military figuresin what they called ‘Operation Araba’.

Translated from the Hausa language, ‘Araba’, “let us part”, was an unambiguous reference to the objective of splitting the country into northern and southern components. However, officials from the British and American embassies succeeded in convincing the North to remain in the country and to subsequently prosecute a war against the Eastern Region which wished to break away.

A foreign-backed campaign of destabilisation did occur prior to this. The government of the overthrown and subsequently assassinated Ironsi faced violent protests in the North which reacted with alarm to his decree which altered Nigeria’s federal system to that of a unitary state.

The North which had seen its leaders dislodged from power in the first mutiny of 1966, suspected Ironsi’s move to be a prelude to establishing the domination of his southern Christian kinsmen over the nation.

And the British who had effectively installed the North as the political leaders of the nation on the eve of its independence appeared to have a hand in stirring up protests against Ironsi’s move through the activism of certain members of its expatriate community.

Later,the troubles in the Niger Delta brought allegations that multi-national oil companies were giving financial backing to government death squads against those locals who were resisting the exploitation and despoliation of their land. Now the rise of an Islamist sect bent on secession, it is alleged, presents an avenue for foreign powers to exploit to their ends.

Could Nigeria be the subject of a diabolical covert operation undertaken by the intelligence services of the United States to weaken and possibly dismember it for reasons of gaining greater access to and more favourable rights over the nation’sresources?

The historical and contemporary record demonstrates that this cannot be discounted.American sponsored actions in Afghanistan, Iraq and Libya while ostensibly undertaken respectively under the banners of eliminating terrorist bases,neutralising weapons of mass destruction and the humanitarian protection of civilians in danger of being massacred by an unforgiving despot, were each accomplished to secure some form of geo-strategic advantage.

But what should be of paramount clarity to all concerned is the willingness of the United States, a nation at the helm of an expanded military empire named NATO,to act ruthlessly and decisively in the affairs of other nations when its perceived vital interests are at stake.

It would be wise to take note of the words of General Carter Ham, formerly a top commander with AFRICOM, who in August of 2011 informed the Associated Press that the stated intent by Boko Haram and al-Qaeda in the Maghreb to synchronise their efforts would be the “most dangerous thing to happen” to the interests of the United States in Africa.

Nigeria should be concerned not only about whether foreign intelligence services have increased covert operations within its realm, it should be aware of the opportunities which may present the United States, embarked since September 11th 2001 on a course of militarism, to intervene in its internal affairs under the umbrella of AFRICOM which sits, fingers poised on the trigger, in the small Red Sea state of Djibouti.

Adeyinka Makinde is an author based in London where he lectures in law.

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Yuguda, voice of a progressive Governor

Why governors should not disrespect Jonathan —Yuguda

By SONY DANIEL

Apparently reacting to the outcome of the Nigeria Governors’ Forum (NGF) poll, Bauchi State governor, Mallam Isa Yuguda, yesterday, insisted that all governors should show maximum respect and support to President Goodluck Jonathan, as the leader of the nation, irrespective of their parties or leaning. Yuguda, who spoke to Sunday Vanguard, noted that events of recent past had shown that some of his colleagues had not shown respect, loyalty and support to enable the President steer the ship of the nation effectively. “Mr. President does not need those who insult him at will or treat his exalted office with disdain,” the governor pointed out but did not mention any name. “I believe strongly that what the President of a large and multi-faceted country like Nigeria needs at a critical point like this, is for all governors, ministers and those saddled with public trust to work hand in hand with him in order to find answers to the country’s myriads of challenges. “It is clear to me that what Jonathan is passing through today did not start with him and he has a good conscience to tackle the rot in the system but requires the utmost support and cooperation of all of us who were elected to work with him, in order to achieve the overall success expected of him by Nigerians,” Yuguda said. The governor also said it was wrong for some persons to link Jonathan with the NGF election, insisting that the President, who was in far away Addis Ababa for the AU Summit, was not even aware that the NSGF had withdrawn their support from himself and Governor Shema and thrown their weight behind Jang Asked if his withdrawal from the Northern States Governors’ Forum (NSGF) was dictated by the loss of the seat by the consensus candidate chosen by the NSGF, Yuguda made it clear that there was no basis for the election, since 19 governors had already decided on Governor Jonah Jang of Plateau State. The governor said he was still expecting the Chairman of the NSGF, Governor Babangida Aliyu of Niger State, who presided over the meeting that produced Jang as a consensus candidate, to speak out on what was agreed or lose his confidence and support for the forum. In spite of his decision to pull out of the NSGF, Yuguda said he was not angry with the Niger governor but merely expected him to speak out to save the integrity of the group. He said, “I am not angry with Babangida Aliyu in any way but what I want him to do, is to speak to the nation on our decision before the NGF election on May 24. Once he does that, I am okay.”

http://www.vanguardngr.com/2013/06/why-governors-should-not-disrespect-jonathan-yuguda/

Premiership teams panic as Higuain looks to Arsenal…

Arsène Wenger, French football manager.

Arsène Wenger, French football manager. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Arsene Wenger is closing in on a £20million deal for Gonzalo Higuain after holding further talks with the Real Madrid striker.

Real president Florentino Perez has made it clear that Higuain is free to leave, and the Argentinian’s name has been circulated among Europe’s top clubs.

Arsenal boss Wenger is believed to have met Higuain and his father Jorge, who is also the 25-year-old’s agent, in Paris, and they have now held further discussions about a potential move to the Emirates.

Higuain is high on Arsenal’s striker hit-list and the club have stacks of new cash to spend on A-list signings – as spelled out earlier this week by chief executive Ivan Gazidis.

World Cup star Higuain definitely fits into that category and, even though Arsenal face strong competition from Juventus, his signing could be an easier deal for them to get done than other options.

Higuain even admitted this week: “Arsenal? They would suit me. I’m still young and I have goals.”

Arsenal are monitoring developments on Manchester United’s unsettled Wayne Rooney, but would face competition from Chelsea, Paris Saint-Germain and Monaco.

Despite watching him for months, Arsenal’s interest in Fiorentina’s Stevan Jovetic – who Chelsea are also in for – has faded.

Barcelona’s David Villa is also available, but Higuain is younger than the 31-year-old Spain international and more of a long term option.

Higuain’s father admitted this week there has been contact from Arsenal and Italian champions Juve, and clearly it is a deal which interests Wenger greatly.

Manchester City tried to lure Higuain to the Premier League late in last year’s summer window but could not get the deal over the line.

Arsenal would have to pay around £20m for Higuain and it would be possible to agree on his personal terms as he’s on £130,000-a-week at the Bernabeu.

Jorge Higuain said: “Madrid will want to sell. Juventus or Arsenal? I guess he has spoken with them.

“The clubs first have to talk to Madrid and in direct negotiation. Higuain currently has three years left on his contract.”

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When progressives speak

Bayelsa State Nigeria

Bayelsa State Nigeria (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

NGF WILL NOT DISINTEGRATE, BUT BETTER POSITIONED TO STRENGTHEN NATION’S DEMOCRACY … GOV DICKSON

Contrary to speculations making the rounds, Governor Seriake Dickson of Bayelsa State has expressed optimism that the current crisis rocking the Nigerian Governors Forum (NGF) would not make it to disintegrate. Governor Dickson made this remark at a state banquet organized in honour of the National Executive Committee of the Nigerian Bar Association (NBA) in Yenagoa. He said, the forum would come out of its present challenge unscathed and better repositioned to play the roles expected of it to stabilize the polity as well as strengthen the nation’s democracy. According to the Governor, efforts are already underway to amicably resolve the crisis, stressing however that the emerging new NGF will not operate like a trade union but collaborate effectively with the federal government with a view to moving the country to greater heights. Governor Dickson, who vehemently disagreed with those calling for the dissolution of the body, argued that the forum’s continued existence was relevant as it functions as a peer review mechanism. His words, “Mr. President of the Bar Association was right about the history of our NGF and how we copied the tradition of the American Governors’ Association. Some say because of this development (crisis) the NGF is not necessary. But I disagree. We need the NGF as a peer review mechanism. The NGF will come up strong and united after all of this. “But it will be a different NGF. It will no longer go on as a trade union and platform for personal political aggrandizement or a platform for opposing the Federal Government. The NGF is not an alternative Federal Government. As governors we are elected to govern our states and to collaborate with other levels of authority on critical issues especially development and national security”. Continuing, Hon. Dickson underscored the importance of financial autonomy of the judiciary and called on other governors to promote the independence of the judiciary in their respective states for better performance. “Protecting the autonomy of the judiciary is the right thing to do. I want to use this opportunity to call on my colleagues to do that because if you support a pillar of democracy like the judiciary, you are not doing so because you want to do them any favour. That is the right thing to do because society can only be as free as its judiciary is”. In his remarks, Chairman of the occasion, Chief Serena Dokubo-Spiff commended the Governor for making the legal profession proud by giving the people of Bayelsa a purposeful leadership. Also speaking, President of the Nigerian Bar Association, Mr. Okey Wali (SAN) expressed appreciation to Governor Dickson for providing a conducive atmosphere for the Association’s meeting in which fundamental issues bordering on the welfare of its members, a befitting national secretariat and the need to amend the Nigerian constitution were discussed. Delivering the dinner speech, Mr. Nimi Walson-Jack urged legal practitioners not to relent in uplifting and providing quality services to the society as Judiciary remains the last hope of the common man. Highpoint of the occasion was the presentation of a plaque and dressing of the NBA President, Mr. Okey Wali with Bayelsa traditional attires by Governor Dickson. The State Attorney General and Commissioner for Justice, Chief Frances Egele, former NBA President, Chief O.C.J Okocha and former Senior Special Adviser on legal matters to the Governor, Mr. Kemasuode Wodu were among dignitaries who proposed toasts at the ceremony. Award winning Bayelsa State Council for Arts and Culture as well as comedians such as Julius Agwu, I Go Die, Gee Bonz and Barack Pikin also entertained the guests at the occasion.

Daniel Iworiso-Markson

Chief Press Secretary to the Governor of Bayelsa State

Olu Adekunle Snr on the mid term report and the role of responsible citizens

Before a meeting of G8 heads of state and gove...

Before a meeting of G8 heads of state and government and leaders of Algeria, Egypt, Ethiopia, Malawi, Nigeria, Senegal and South Africa. Left to right: Nigerian President Goodluck Ebele Jonathan, Dmitry Medvedev, Algerian President Abdelaziz Bouteflika and Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

“…he who molds public sentiment goes deeper than he who enacts statutes or pronounces decisions. He makes statutes and decisions possible or impossible to be executed.”

 — Abraham Lincoln, from his First Debate with Stephen Douglas at Ottawa, Illinois, August 21, 1858.

The debate still rages on a fortnight after his May, 29th address to the nation marking fourteen years of uninterrupted democratic rule and the second anniversary of his assumption of office as President and Commander in Chief of the Armed Forces of the Federal Republic of Nigeria. His Mid-Term Report presented at the occasion has been made available for all Nigerians to appraise along the lines of their chosen criteria.

As expected, the Mid Term Report has generated keen reviews from a cross section of the Nigerian populace with each group and individual, whether lay or learned, expressing divergent views on the performance of the Jonathan administration so far. Despite the diverse opinions expressed by Nigerians on the issue, there has been a relatively general agreement on the fact that President Goodluck Jonathan has exhibited rare courage and confidence in presenting a score sheet of his administration’s performance just half way into his tenure.

Unfortunate but expected were the vituperations of the opposition and self styled defenders of the interests of the people. In the past week, they have shouted themselves hoarse on the platform of various media in an attempt to downplay the very obvious achievements of the Jonathan administration and referring to the Mid Term Report in very uncomplimentary terms. Divided into various schools of thought, they sought to skew the perceptions of the citizenry towards aligning with their faulty analysis which included amongst others the claim that Jonathan merely inherited already ongoing projects which he has come to identify as his initiatives. Others were aggressive in their analysis and pointedly labeled the Mid Term Report a political gimmick aimed at deceiving the citizenry.

Which ever way one looks at it, our democracy and our quest for sustainable development is in danger of being hijacked by those who are bent on using every national issue as a weapon to score cheap political goals for nothing but selfish reasons. They not only thrive on heating up the polity through mundane actions, they also fervently misinform the citizenry and subsequently care less when we all take to the streets in protest of government action or inaction. For them, its all politics and the goal is not the enhancement of our wellbeing as the less discerning amongst us tend to believe, rather it is all part of a grand design to serve their selfish agendas.

It was the respected American Economist and former Assistant Secretary of the Treasury in the Reagan administration; Paul Craig Roberts who said “A country in which 42% of the population is totally misinformed is not a country where democracy is safe.”
What this means is that if we continue to allow the excesses of our so called political leaders and opinion molders to affect our individual and collective judgments, our democracy will constantly be under threat. Most of those who  have made it a mission to rundown the efforts of a government which is proactively inclined do so not out of love for country but out of frustration and a desperate quest for relevance. The sooner we begin to see through their motives, the better for all of us.

The blame must however not be left at the doorstep of our political class alone. We too as law abiding and responsible citizens have a role to play in ensuring our survival and ultimately the development of our dear country. We must start at the point of genuine interest in the workings of government, the formulation and implementation of policy and of course a strong show of support for those initiatives that impact positively on our lives, Jane Anne Morris, renowned author, corporate anthropologist and activist once advised that “if you don’t know what your government is doing, you don’t live in a democracy.”
It is time to ask ourselves if we do or not. If indeed we do, then we will appreciate President Jonathan’s Mid Term Report which chronicles the achievements and general thrust of his administration. If indeed we do know what our government is doing then we are all ultimately agents of the great transformation that is taking place across the country.

The Mid Term Report is out. It not only elaborates on what has been done but also avails us a peek into the plans of government in the years to come. It is every citizen’s duty to take a stand on the issue of national development. Ours is not a mission to promote dissention rather our quest is simply to provide a platform for citizen expression on matters of national importance and participation in the arduous task of nation building.

According to Martin Luther King Jr., “The question is not whether we will be extremists, but what kind of extremists we will be. . . The nation and the world are in dire need of creative extremists.” Let’s all play our part.

We invite you to express your views and reasons on the performance of the Jonathan administration in the past two years.  Our views no matter how diverse, will afford us a better understanding of each other.

Its time for our voices to be heard.

Olu Adekunle Snr.

On rule of law and true federalism

NBA CALLS FOR RESOLUTION OF NGF CRISIS, AS DICKSON TASKS LEGAL BODY ON FISCAL FEDERALISM
The Nigerian Bar Association, (NBA) on Thursday asked the members of the crisis-torn Nigeria Governors Forum to resolve their crisis and focus on the delivery of the dividends of democracy.
This is just as the Bayelsa State Governor; Hon. Seriake Dickson tasked the legal body on true fiscal federalism, especially the issue of resource control.
Expressing concern over the crisis rocking the boat of the NGF, the NBA president, Mr. Okey Wali warned the Forum against deviating from its objectives.
According to him, the recent activities of the NGF are an eloquent testimony to the primacy of politics over provision of good governance and development for Nigerians.
He queried, ‘if not, how can the 2015 elections be in the front burner of discourse at this point in time when the election date is still far? One cannot but wonder if election of our leaders is now about acquisition of political power or display of power or for development.
The NBA President, therefore, advised members of the forum to concentrate on the business of governance so as not to incur the wrath of the electorate.
He also called for adequate equipping and training for the Nigeria Police to enable it perform effectively.
Speaking at the event, the State Governor, Hon. Seriake Dickson who, expressed concern over the way and manner resources were being expropriated in the country, decried the Capitalist economic philosophy describing it as the root cause of inequality and poverty in the country.
In his words: “You have a contradiction of a situation where land, which is one of the factors of production, is communalized by the state while all other factors of production remain in private hands.
“I therefore call on the Bar to lead the fight for re-establishing the federal principles in line with our federal structure where federating units should also have the right to exercise control and seek greater participation of our people in the oil industry.
On security, he expressed regret that rather than political leaders coming together to resolve the current security problems some politicians capitalize on the situation with a view to achieving cheap political gains.
Governor Dickson, who attributed the country’s security challenges to inadequate investment in the education sector, however commended the NBA for supporting the Federal Government’s efforts to combat terrorism.
In her address the state Chief Judge, Justice Kate Abiri urged the NBA to take a holistic look at the Legal profession towards enhancing quick administration of justice in the country.
On his part, the State Attorney-General and Commissioner for Justice, Barr. Francis Egele, highlighted Governor Dickson’s achievements which include, institutionalizing good governance.
Daniel Iworiso-Markson
Chief Press Secretary to the Governor of Bayelsa State

Citizens Poll

Insensitivity of Lagos State Government to families and friends of plane crash victims

An almost burnt-down lit candle on a candle ho...

An almost burnt-down lit candle on a candle holder. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

One the first year memorial anniversary for victims of the unfortunate air disaster in Lagos , Nigerian`s watched as the Governor of Lagos State, Raji Fashola spoke well and dedicated a cenotaph in memory of the victims. This would have been a perfect end to the day. However, looking closely at the structure being dedicated, one sees a replica of a broken airplane atop the structure  proper and this actually distorts the semblance of the seriousness of the whole concept of praying that the victims rest in peace. Why would anyone approve such a hideous display for such a sensitive issue.

Citizens Network is concerned that most times the Federal Government is blamed for ills in society that should actually stop at the door steps of State Governments. How has Lagos State  shown any iota of understanding of what human development entails if they cannot properly organise a befitting structure for a grieving nation? Perhaps we are a really young nation, growing at our own pace, with excess sprinkles of foreign influence brought in by leaders who intend to do good, but seem to be unaware of the need for timely development against rapidly unplanned growth.

Below is an open letter to Lagos State Government written by a brother of one of the victims.

Understand too that aside from his brother, he also lost a few friends in the incident.

Whose voice will carry more weight that the bereaved?

What are your views on this issue at hand?

Please drop in your comments for a better understanding of what we have  witnessed in Lagos State.

 

“The Cenotaph for the DANA victims is the worst idea ive seen in a long time. There was no need for the broken airplane on top of the monument. It was ill conceived and quite insensitive. Didn’t you take into account the feelings of the relatives and friends? To se that ugly airplane brings back a slew of emotions. Please remove the airplane from the top. It is not necessary!!! My Brother passed in that disaster, I and other relatives don’t need that sort of painful reminder. Eko oni baje oh!!!”… Prince Peter Osunbade.

 

 

Pursuing Peace through the rule of law

Location of the four cities in north eastern N...

Location of the four cities in north eastern Nigeria where the Boko Haram conflict took place. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

BREAKING NEWS on the fight against terrorism in  Nigeria comes in so frequently these days, one may just strike it big with a news station dedicated to just that, BREAKING NEWS!..This one is from the Federal High Court Abuja..”Notice is hereby given that by the Order of the Federal High Court Abuja, in Suit No. FHC/ABJ/CS/ 368/2013 dated 24th May, 2013 as per the Schedule to this Notice, the Activities of ‘Jamaatu Ahlis-Sunna Liddaawati Wal Jihad and ‘Jama’atu Ansarul Muslimina Fi Biladis Sudan’ are declared to be terrorism and illegal and that the existence of Jamaatu Ahlis-Sunna Liddaawati Wal Jihad and ‘Jama’atu Ansarul Muslimina Fi Biladis Sudan’ are proscribed, pursuant to Section 2 of the Terrorism (Prevention) Act 20111(As Amended).”

Nigerians eagerly await the next salvo from social media critics as well as disgruntled elements of our society who will have a field day interpreting the above Section. One can only wonder what the likes of Buhari and naysayers may come up with next. Only recently he declared support for the amnesty initiative and turned around lately to say emergency rule was targeted against the North. Henceforth, will seditious utterances aimed at giving legitimacy to the murderous sect be considered a breach of this said section ? If so, Nigerian`s may  soon well be served some interesting fallout including arrests of notable figures who may likely call Governments bluff and continue supporting the activities of these terrorist organizations  with their comments.

Government on the other hand may have to explain why it has taken so long to come up with this much awaited trump card. However, taking the wider picture into perspective, only recently too have countries like the United States issued a bounty for the arrest of the sect leaders. Certainly, the death knell sounds for Boko Haram and its co-conspirators.

Events are certainly unfolding at pace in Nigeria, with the recent discovery of a cache of ammunitions and the fingering of a popular foreigner in the issue, and in less than a week, the sect is proscribed. Perhaps someone is getting things right after all. It is never too late to learn.

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