Category Archives: Citizenship

CNPD MEDIA BRIEFING

AN ADDRESS DELIVERED BY COMRADE PREYE DRESSMAN, DIRECTOR-GENERAL OF THE CITIZENS NETWORK FOR PEACE AND DEVELOPMENT IN NIGERIA ON THE OCCASSION OF CNPD’s MEDIA BRIEFING

 

DATE: SUNDAY, JANUARY 26, 2014

 

HOLDEN AT ROCKVIEW HOTEL: WUSE II, ABUJA

GENTLEMEN OF THE PRESS,

 

It gives me great pleasure to have you grace this occassion and we would like to express our sincere gratitude for the time you have taken out of your undoubtedly busy schedules to attend.

 

CITIZENS NETWORK FOR PEACE AND DEVELOPMENT or CNPD is a non-governmental organization which was registered a year ago by Nigerians of like minds who were inspired by common love for our country and who share a vision of an era of meaningful and sustained development as we are begining to enjoy in Nigeria today.

 

The formation of CNPD is essentially in response to the overwhelming desire of millions of Nigerian citizens for an effective platform of communication amongst themselves and also with government at all levels. CNPD’s mission is essentially to promote peace, good citizenship and responsible leadership which we believe are the crucial ingredients needed to lubricate our nation’s wheel of progress. With keen commitment to this mission, our vision is to establish a network of citizens who are committed to the shared values of peace, justice, mutual respect, cross-cultural understanding and national coorperation.

 

Since the CNPD was registered, we have been involved in several activities aimed at promoting the need for peace in Nigeria without which our collective desire for change and progress will continue to elude us in the face of global advancements in governance and development in general.

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Our resolve to be an active part of a new Nigeria in the making has remained unshaken and we are determined to promote both the interests of the people and that of any administration that recognizes the fact that the interests of the people comes first.

 

In the past year, we have followed keenly the activities of the President Jonathan’s Administration as it assiduously works to realize the Transformation Agenda and we have had cause to contribute to the administration’s efforts by vocally registering our voices on some of its notable programmes and policies. This we have been able to express on the platform of various information media as well as through correspondence with the concerned authorities.

 

Our activities were taken a step further when on May 29, 2013, President Jonathan presented to the nation his administration’s Mid-Term Report which serves as a catalogue of his administration’s achievements between 2011 and 2013 and enjoys the reputation of being the first of its kind in Nigeria. It also provides an insight into the administration’s future plans as well as modalities for achieving desired goals.

 

Though the Mid-Term Report initiative was widely applauded by the generality of Nigerians as being consistent with President Jonathan’s promise to adhere by the sacred tenets of transparency and accountability in governance, some of our countrymen in the name of politics sought to discredit Mr. President’s  claims as embedded in the report.

 

Rather than toe the path of constructive criticism that is in itself a key element of democracy, some critics who in our opinion do not wish Nigeria well, engaged themselves in campaigns of calumny, tribal prejudice and mischief.

 

In light of this unwholesome development, the CNPD decided to embark on a verification excercise of the contents of the Mid-Term Report bearing in mind that President Jonathan himself encouraged Nigerians to assess the performance of his administration within the realms of reallity.

 

After several months of painstaking research and tours to various project sites nationwide, we are happy to report to Nigerians that our findings, which are based on comparative analysis and evidence of what is visibly on ground, reveal the fact that President Jonathan’s claims as contained in the Mid Term Report are consistent with his electoral promises and the activities of his administration.

 

The visible achievements of his administration cut across crucial sectors such as; Roads, Security, Agriculture, Water, Education, Power, Transport, Health, Aviation, Oil and Gas, Women and Social Development just to name a few.

 

The reforms of the Jonathan Administration have ultimately restructured the entire workings of the polity for greater effectiveness and productivity. For want of space and time it would be virtually impossible to begin to itemize and elaborate further on these far reaching developments that have been arrived at in barely two years.

 

Without doubt, President Goodluck Jonathan has raised the bar in the area of good governance and has to his credit the fact that he has been able to exhibit rare political will and courage in his drive to transform Nigeria for the better.

 

The Jonathan Administration has performed far better than any other since the inception of our independence; particularly in view of its sterling achievements in just one thousand days. The administration symbolizes a watershed in the annals of Nigeria’s political history and we pray that future administrations will not only emulate its actions but also strive to build on the foundations it has laid to the glory of the fatherland and the betterment of all Nigerians.

 

January 25th, 2014 marked President Jonathan’s one-thousandth day in office. For us, it is not only a day to celebrate a visionary leader, a patriot at heart and a nationalist whose loyalty to country is without question; it is also a day to reminisce on our journey so far and appreciate the fact that a glimmer of hope beckons to us in the horizon despite daunting challenges.

 

In view of the far reaching achievements recorded under the Jonathan Administration in so short a time, we wish to declare here at this venue, this 26th day of January 2014, our unflinching support for President Goodluck Jonathan and in unequivocal terms call on him to declare his candidacy for a second term come 2015.  

 

Our stand is not based on sentiments; rather it is based on the realities on ground. We strongly believe that the need for continuity is paramount in our quest for sustainable development, especially as we are trying to build a new nation virtually from the scratch. We must urgently consolidate on the gains of the Transformation Agenda as they unfold and this can only be effectively achieved with its architect firmly in control.

 

Since critics and the self styled opposition have been unrelenting in their criticism of the Jonathan administration’s every move without proffering any meaningful alternatives, it portends that our steady march to progress is in danger as they will if given the opportunity overturn every meaningful programme and policy put in place by President Jonathan.  The issue here is not just that such a move will result into untold waste of funds, it will also set us back to the dark days of stagnancy.

 

The unhealthy political rivalry that has been displayed by these critics and the opposition have largely served no purpose other than to periodically overheat the polity to alarming heights. Every action or inaction of this administration has been misconstrued and misinterpreted to suit the exigencies of the times, but we dare ask if any of those who are quick to criticize can do better than President Goodluck Jonathan?

 

We must not forget that President Jonathan inherited a colossal burden of liabilities which he has borne with humility and is addressing with tact. Corruption existed long before this administration. So did militancy in the South-South and so did the wanton killings in the north. President Jonathan has performed far above average. His life story has shown that victory in battle does not necessarily go to the strong, nor does victory in a race go to the fastest, just as wisdom and age have nothing in common; instead, God in his infinite wisdom decides a man’s fate as he pleases. Without fear of contradiction, we declare yet again that in President Jonathan, we find the very epitome of exemplary leadership.

 

We appeal to all stakeholders in the Nigerian project especially our politicians to stop their incessant and unnecessary battle of wits, which serves no genuine purpose. They must realize that the Nigerian electorate are more enlightened than ever before and are truly fed up with their endless antics of manipulation and deceit which revolve around their selfish ambitions.

 

Some of our leaders, past and present should also heed to our advice and play the role of the elder statesmen they are supposed to be. They had their God given chance to direct the affairs of this country and yet could not heal all Nigeria’s ills in one, even two terms in office. President Jonathan should be given a chance to contribute his bit for in the long run, only history will vindicate.

 

CITIZENS NETWORK will in the days ahead be at the vanguard for calls and activities geared towards ensuring that President Jonathan runs again. Any party or individual who has contrary reasons as to why President Jonathan should not contest for the office of President come 2015 should step forward and engage us in an open debate. As for the CNPD, we will adhere strictly to objectivity and facts in the course of our agitations.

 

While on the subject, we call on members of the Peoples Democratic Party to sheath their swords. Given that the party exists as a big family, we advise that those nursing inordinate ambitions at the expense of the party’s unity to have a rethink and put their weight behind the only candidate worth voting for in these trying times. We commend the smooth transition of leadership in the wake of recent resignation of the former party chairman, Alhaji Bamanga Tukur and advise that the PDP urgently put its act together and rally round in support of the new Chairman, Alhaji Adamu Muazu.

 

There is also need to look the way of the National Assembly where some members of the House of Representatives seem more engulfed in matters of nomenclature and positioning that only serve the purpose of massaging their already over bloated egos.

 

We wish to remind them that there are crucial issues to be dwelt that touch on the lives of the entirety of Nigerians such as the 2014 Budget proposal which is yet to be signed into law.

 

Going by the directives of leaders of a political party that its members in the House of Reps. frustrate the passage into law of the budget proposal as captured by the media recently, we wish to fervently remind our representatives that their first loyalty is to the Nigerian people who voted them in to protect their interests.They must not allow themselves to be used as willing tools in a meaningless political battle will compromise the interests of the people. 

 

To our fellow citizens we appeal for calm and total support for the forthcoming National Dialogue, which will serve as a platform for building consensus, dialogue and reconciliation and ultimately strengthening our unity.

 

In conclusion, we wish to call on all civil society groups and organizations, interest groups and all well meaning Nigerians to join us in appealing to President Goodluck Jonathan to declare his candidacy for the office of president come 2015.

 

Mr. President, a gold fish has no hiding place…the time has come!

 

We thank you all for your time and ask that as you leave here, you do so with a message of peace to all Nigerians.

 

 

Long live the Federal Republic of Nigeria.

Long live the Citizens Network for Peace and Development in Nigeria

Long live the Nigerian press.

 

 

 

 

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INVITATION TO MEDIA BRIEFING

CNPD 3

AMAECHI SAGA – WHEN A GOVERNOR TELLS LIES

HARD FACTS ABOUT THE ATTRIBUTION OF OLUASIRI (SOKU) OIL WELLS/FIELD TO BAYELSA STATE
 
Daniel Iworiso-Markson, Chief Press Secretary to Bayelsa State Governor

Daniel Iworiso-Markson,
Chief Press Secretary to Bayelsa State Governor

Following repeated and deliberate propaganda by the Governor of Rivers State against the Federal Government, the Government and good people of Bayelsa State, aimed at distorting historic and legal facts and designed to incite the people of Rivers State against their brothers, it has become necessary for us to again reiterate some salient facts about the unfortunate boundary dispute between the people of Nembe and Kalabari clans both of the Ijaw Nation, which dispute started in the 1920s.

Ordinarily, further response to the recent media statements by the Governor of Rivers State on the Oluasiri (Soku) oil wells/Oil Field would not have been necessary since the Bayelsa State Government has made clear its position on the issues in previous media publications including the Nation Newspaper of Monday 5th November 2012.  But in this season of absurd politicking and orchestration of LIES as the TRUTH, the Bayelsa State Government deems it fit to once again reiterate the valid points of the matter for due education and understanding of our Ijaw people in particular and the Nigerian public in general.
The said statement of the Rivers State Governor on the issue was obviously intended to create crisis amongst the peace-loving Ijaw people in Rivers and Bayelsa States and indeed attract undue public sympathy without regard to the security implications and the integrity of national institutions.
 Contrary to what the Rivers State Governor is doing by way of promoting hatred and inciting violence, the Bayelsa State Governor on his part has been pursuing the need for peaceful resolution using existing constitutional channels.
 
Now, the HARD FACTS about Oluasiri (Soku) Oil Wells/ Field
 
1. With the creation of Bayelsa State in 1996, the Interstate boundary demarcation issues between Bayelsa and Rivers states resurfaced inevitably with both parties making claims and counter claims to appropriate agencies.
The Federal Government at the time also became so inundated with claims from other states with similar boundary issues. The Federal Government in October 2000 set up a Special Presidential Committee on Disputed Oil Wells headed by Maj. Gen. A. B. Mamman, mni (rtd) to verify the claims and counterclaims of disputed oil wells and oil fields in all the affected states.
The composition of the said committee had representatives of Revenue Mobilisation Allocation and Fiscal Commission (RMAFC), Nigerian Navy (NN), National Boundary Commission (NBC), Office of the Surveyor General of the Federation (OSGOF), Department of Petroleum Resources (DPR) and other notable public figures drawn from all works of life.
The committee members include key personalities such as Chief Ejiofor Onyia (RMAFC), Chief Olotu Frank Akpoebi (RMAFC), Chief Bayo Akinnola (RMAFC), Alhaji Bello Kware(RMAFC), Alhaji Yakubu  Shehu(RMAFC), Barr. Ikechukwu Obiorah (RMAFC), Hon. Chief (Dr.) Peter Amadi Nwankwo(RMAFC), Hon. Alhaji Abu Gidado(RMAFC), Hon. Chief Abu King Shuluwa(RMAFC), Hon. Mohammed Lamin(RMAFC), Hon. Barr. Emeka Wogu(RMAFC), Surveyor F.A Kassim, (the then Surveyor General of the Federation), Surveyor J.O. Okafor (OSGOF).Capt. S.A. Akinbanmi (NN), Lt. Comdr. T. Dick (NN), Comdr. M.I. Olatunji(NN), Lt. Cdr. L.N. Ugwu(NN), Mr. O.J. Odogwu (DPR), Mr. I. Frank-Briggs(DPR), Surveyor M.O. Arowolo (OSGOF), Surveyor I.A. Adewola (OSGOF), Surveyor A.F. Ayeni(OSGOF), Dr. M.B. Ahmad (NBC) and Surveyor A. Umar (NBC).
2.        It is not in doubt that Soku is a village in Rivers State.  The dispute between the Kalabaris’ and Nembes’ primarily has to do with the traditional/native boundaries of both clans who are now in different states. The case of the Oluasiiri people of Nembe LGA is that the Oil wells/Oil Field which make up the facility named after Soku are in their ancestral territory. The Kalabaris of Rivers State hold a contrary view.
The issue therefore is not whether Soku Community is a Community in Bayelsa State. Without  doubt, Soku is a Community in Rivers State but it is the location of the oil wells produced and recorded under that name, is what makes it the bone of contention prior to the final determination by RMAFC.
 The name “Soku oil wells/oil field’ was arbitrarily given by Shell Petroleum Development Company Ltd (SPDC) since Soku village was their nearest operational base at the time. This is not peculiar to Soku oil field. For example, the Idu oil wells/oil field is named after a town in Ekpeye land in Ahoada East LGA of Rivers State while the oil field is actually located in Biseni land of Bayelsa State.  Prior to the creation of Bayelsa State in 1996, the above issue did not create a problem of derivation as both clans were in old Rivers State except that even then there were series of cases, panels and conflicts.
 The arbitrary or misleading nomenclature of oil wells and facilities by Oil Companies also occurs within the same local government or state. For example the first oil well in Nigeria (Oloibiri) is actually located in Otuabagi village while the wells is named after Oloibiri town all in Ogbia LGA of Bayelsa State, which was Shell’s operational base at the time. So many of such examples abound in the Niger Delta area because these names were given arbitrarily without consultation with the locals. It is clear that the name given to an oil field does not confer ownership nor depict actual location.
 So it is ridiculous for anyone to say that Soku Town has now been annexed to become part of Bayelsa State as the Rivers State Governor mischievously claims on a consistent basis.
 The crux of the issue here is whether the said oil wells which bear the name given by Shell are within Bayelsa or Rivers states according to the administrative map of Nigeria and other delimitation instruments for purposes of derivation. It is instructive to note that not only are the survey coordinates of the affected areas lie within the geographical area of Bayelsa state, it is also in INEC Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) delineated electoral constituency as electoral ward 13 in Nembe Local Government Area of Bayelsa State.
 3. The Revenue Mobilization Allocation and Fiscal Commission (RMAFC) in its report on the Familiarization/Verification visit to oil producing states, volume 1, Main Report, August 2006 in Chapter 3, page 30 also acknowledged the arbitrary naming of oil facilities when it stated as follows:
“The Bayelsa/Imo/Abia State Governments complained that the naming of oil fields was often done arbitrarily without any regard to the culture and particular environment of the people where the wells or fields are located. This has given rise to wrong attribution by relevant agencies”.
 4. Incidentally, Soku village in Rivers State is about 10 km, as the crow flies, from the flow station while the Oluasiri / Soku oil wells/ field is completely surrounded by various Oluasiri communities such as Etukekiri, Ijawkiri, Fredkiri, Adokonikiri etc all in Nembe LGA of Bayelsa State.
 5. The Special Presidential Committee on verification of disputed oil wells in volume one of its report on disputed oil wells of December 2000 (Pages; 25/26) after a painstaking field verification process and hearing from both states stated and recommended as follows:
‘‘4;5.6 Soku Oil Field
The team relied on the legal notice captioned The Eastern Region Local Government Law, 1955 E.R. NO 26 of 1955. Instrument Establishing the Nembe District Council” tendered by Bayelsa State on Pages 40-41 of its submission. It should be noted that while the Kalabaris of Rivers State call the area Soku, the Nembe people of Bayelsa State call it Oluasiri which is one of the councils mentioned in paragraph 5 of the above mentioned instrument.
In the light of the above, it is recommended that the production from Soku Oil Field be attributed to Bayelsa State.’’
Please see a copy of the said letter herein.
The said letter was dated 12th July, 2004 when President Goodluck Ebele Jonathan, was Deputy Governor of Bayelsa State while  Governor Amaechi at that time was the Speaker of the Rivers State House of Assembly, a position the latter occupied for eight uninterrupted  years. Governor Ameachi ought to know this fact by virtue of his position then and now.
 Unfortunately, in his rabid attempt to run down the President and every National or state institution, undermine our democracy, and subvert our cherished African values of respect for elders and institutions of authority, create crises in the country as well as incite violence, he prefers to peddle this terrible falsehood as an agent of blackmail and desecration of the Nation’s hard-earned democracy and our cherished ties of fraternity as a people.
 6. Following the above letter, which conclusively decided that the above oil wells be attributed to Bayelsa State, the Rivers State Government instituted a suit at the Federal High Court Abuja in 2005 seeking to set aside the determination by RMAFC.  During the pendency of the suit, all parties agreed to open an ESCROW account into which sums accruing to the disputed oil wells were paid. Following Bayelsa State Government’s legal objection to the said suit, the Rivers State Government realizing the futility of its case applied to withdraw whereupon the said suit was withdrawn and struck out at their instance.
 Thus the ESCROW account arrangement put in place during the pendency of the case also lapsed. In that same year, Bayelsa State Government applied for the release of the funds based on the determination of RMAFC in its favour.
From July 2004, the Revenue Commission officially attributed the Oluasiri (Soku) Oil well to Bayelsa State and the amount of N7,292,218,892 was subsequently released from the ESCROW account to Bayelsa State on 19th March 2007 during the administration of President Olusegun Obasanjo.
 Again at this time and on this date, President Jonathan was not President or Vice President of the Country and Governor Ameachi was still Speaker of the Rivers State House of Assembly.
7.        Concerning the refund to Bayelsa in 2012 which amounted to N17, 405, 702, 164.34, Bayelsa State Government in 2011 during the administration of President Yar’Adua, made a claim for reconciliation on Nimbe South oilfield in Bayelsa State  and RMAFC verified it and found it to be true and approved the sum of  about N17b  as refund.
 b.         Meanwhile, the Rivers State Government made a similar claim on Nda and Okwori oil wells from Bayelsa, Imo, Abia, Akwa Ibom and Delta states. Again, RMAFC and other federal agencies verified these claims and found them to be true and authorized a refund from the above mentioned states to Rivers State of about N17.5b.  Both claims were settled in 2012.
 Upon reconciliation, Bayelsa State got a net refund of about N15.3b after making its refund  of  N2, 071, 164, 678.46 to Rivers State through FAAC deductions. Rivers State got a cumulative refund of about N17.5b from all the aforementioned states.
 d.       It is worthy to note that these monies were not paid out of any ESCROW account but through FAAC deductions. So where is the source of the endless claims by the Rivers State Governor that President Goodluck Jonathan released money from the ESCROW account to Bayelsa when the account did not exist? The above reconciliations and refunds to Bayelsa, Rivers and other states were done consensually
 8a. Upon withdrawal of the case at the Federal High Court based on the objection filed by the Bayelsa State Government, this time the Rivers State Government instituted a fresh suit at the Supreme Court of Nigeria , Vide Suit Number SC 106/ 2009, Attorney General of Rivers State vs Attorney General of Bayelsa/ Attorney General of the Federation. On the 10th of July 2012, the Supreme Court unanimously struck out the suit on the grounds that the national institution set up by law for the purpose of boundary demarcation be allowed to carry out its work of properly establishing the clear boundaries between the two states in order to ascertain who owns what.  The Supreme Court further opined that the National Boundary Commission should conclude the on-going interstate boundary delineation exercise between Rivers and Bayelsa States to its finality before any justiciable claims could arise.
In other words, the Rivers State Governments court action was hasty and premature.
b. In compliance with the Supreme Court judgment, the National Boundary Commission and its related agencies alongside Rivers and Bayelsa States in January 2013 continued the boundary delineation exercise until the Rivers State government officially withdrew from the exercise in writing on the 30th of January 2013
9.    The Governor of Bayelsa State who was Attorney General of the state in 2006 when Governor Ameachi was Speaker of the Rivers State House of Assembly, had at a recent peace meeting brokered by former President Obasanjo and all PDP governors in attendance explained the issues and circumstances concerning the disputed oil wells and the fact that there was no operational ESCROW account at the time of the last reconciliations and payments in 2012.
That Governor Ameachi still went ahead spreading falsehood in spite of the explanations and clarifications by the Bayelsa state Government and even though there are available channels for peaceful resolution of the issues shows clearly that Governor Ameachi is being mischievous and his motive is to politicize and destroy all democratic institutions of Government in the country; be it the Presidency, judiciary, Legislature, the political system, traditional institutions, national security apparatus, RMAFC, National Boundary Commission, Office of the Surveyor General of he Federation,  etc. We can also see this same attitude playing out in all institutions in his state.
 The Government of Bayelsa State assures our brothers, friends and the Good people of Rivers State that our thoughts and prayers are with them at this trying moment in the life of our parent state, where a good number of our citizens still reside and call home.
 10.    We therefore urge all Nigerians particularly the good people of Rivers State to discountenance the frivolous and baseless allegations contained in the press interview by the Rivers State Governor as they are calculated to mislead the entire country and instigate crises amongst the Ijaw brothers in Kalabari and Nembe communities.
The government of Bayelsa State therefore urges the Rivers State Governor and his appointees to refrain from making inciting and inflammatory remarks capable of triggering inter-communal crises among our people with the intention to achieve cheap political gains by the Rivers State Governor.
The Government of Bayelsa State has been aware for a long time of plans and efforts made  by the Governor and officials of Rivers State Government to create chaos  and brigandage in Bayelsa State. In our usual maturity and focus as a government, the people and security forces have been able to put this trend under close watch and control.
 Officials of Bayelsa State Government and senior Bayelsa State citizens  residing in Rivers State have been targeted in the recent past and information at our disposal indicate that more of such attacks would take place. Those who have been victims include, Engr. Olice Kemenanabo, Special Adviser on Energy to the Bayelsa State Governor and Chairman of the state plastic company, Engr. Gabriel  Warde, Youth Development Committee Executive (Nembe) Chief Irigha Edward Brigidi and even an attempted kidnap of the Attorney General of Bayelsa State and Commissioner of Justice, Barrister Francis Egele etc. Intelligence indicates that perpetrators of recent kidnap cases in Bayelsa are located within Rivers State.The objective of the above incidences is to paint a sense of insecurity in Bayelsa State
 Now that the Governor of Rivers State has formally joined the opposition party (which he is entitled to) he is free to support the opposition in Bayelsa State as he has since been doing but this must be done within the ambits of the law as the security machinery in Bayelsa will not hesitate to ensure that violations of the law in the state are dealt with accordingly. On our part we shall continue to stick to our well known policy of not encouraging or funding subversive activities in any state especially our neighbouring states irrespective of political differences.
 As a responsible government, we would continue to do our best to provide security for our people and Nigeria in general. We would continue to support ongoing efforts at curbing criminality and brigandage along the waterways especially in border communities like Oluasiri/Soku areas.
 We call on our fellow Ijaw brothers and sisters and indeed traditional rulers to refrain from being used by Governor Rotimi Amaechi as tools to cause disunity between the people of Rivers and Bayelsa States who have lived together as brothers and would always continue to co-exist and bond which will outlive anyone’s political interest or career.
 We must all remind ourselves that we are one people. Our peaceful co-existence should be paramount and nothing should be done to hamper it.
LONG LIVE BAYELSA STATE GOVERNMENT
 LONG LIVE THE IJAW NATION
 LONG THE FEDERAL REPUBLIC OF NIGERIA.
 SIGNED
 DANIEL IWORISO MARKSON.
 CHIEF PRESS SECRETARY TO THE BAYELSA STATE GOVERNMENT.

 

YOBE SCHOOL ATTACK; A WAKE UP CALL TO OUR NORTHERN ELDERS

Boko Haram Mayhem

CITIZENS NETWORK FOR PEACE AND DEVELOPMENT IN NIGERIA joins all patriotic and well-meaning Nigerians in condemning in the strongest possible terms, the unnecessary and brutal murder of innocent students of GSS, Mamudo, Yobe State which occurred in the early hours of Saturday, July 6, 2013. Easily the most painful incident of terrorism in recent times, the massacre of over 30 students and staff of the school has again ushered horror into the homes of all Nigerians, especially those law abiding and peace loving citizens resident in the restive North East.

The attacks on various schools in the region within the spate of one month points clearly to the fact that every Nigerian is a potential victim be you a Muslim, a Christian, young or old. Islam is known to be a religion of peace and does not accept violence and crime in any form. We wonder therefore what the Boko Haram sect really stands for as they clearly promote no logical religious doctrine nor do they advocate any positively inclined political ideology. They are simply evil in mindset and deed. These insurgents represent no nation and defend no territory save the few communities they have held hostage and from which they launch their nefarious attacks against unsuspecting Nigerians. They operate in the shadows of society. They send small teams of operatives to infiltrate our ranks, they conspire in secret and finally they strike without warning. They cut down our men, our women and our children. Theirs is nothing but a tale of cowardice and wickedness. Such characters can not and must not be allowed to go free.

We therefore call on the Federal Government to bring the master minds of this terrible act to justice. In so saying, we wish to restate our support for the offensive launched by the Jonathan Administration against these miscreants who seek to impose the darkness of tyranny and terror upon us all. We encourage President Jonathan not to waiver in his determination to bring security, peace and reconciliation to the north.

We also ask the Legislature to rise to the occasion and for the sake of our security, act and update our laws to meet the threats of terrorism.

This incident is a clear sign that we must all close ranks and fight this threat to our collective struggles for freedom and liberty as enshrined in our constitution. We must fight for our ability and God given rights to live in peace, what ever the cost. Regardless of our origins, we are all ultimately Nigerians. When the blood of an innocent Nigerian is shed for whatever cause, the loss, the pain, the grief are all felt from one point of the country to the another. We wish to state categorically that this recent development is an indictment on the inaction and general lukewarm attitude of our Northern Elders towards the entire Boko Haram saga. Rather than speak and act strongly against the actions of the sect, they have preferred instead to turn truth on its head and argue from faulty premises aimed at justifying the agitations of the former. From a safe distance, they sit and twitch their thumbs while watching Boko Haram tear the north apart piece by piece.

The handwriting on the wall is clear; they must act firmly and decisively; they must urgently support the efforts of President Jonathan towards returning life in the North to normalcy otherwise in the not too distant future, they too may be victims in the ongoing reign of terror. As Nigeria mourns the victims of the shocking incident of Saturday, July 6, 2013 at GSS, Mamudo, we condole with the Government and people of Yobe State; especially the families of the murdered students. May God grant them the fortitude to overcome this deep grief. May He grant all the victims eternal rest in the comfort of his bosom. He giveth and He taketh at His own time.

SIGNED
Olu Adekunle Snr
Director Media and Publicity
CNPD

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?

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.

Mother Teresa on peace

“If we have no peace, it is because we have forgotten that we belong to each other”…

Mother Teresa of Calcutta (26.8.1919-5.9.1997)...

Mother Teresa of Calcutta (26.8.1919-5.9.1997); at a pro-life meeting in 1986 in Bonn, Germany (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

THE WAY OF PEACE

Palestinian refugees (British Mandate of Pales...

Palestinian refugees (British Mandate of Palestine – 1948). “Making their way from Galilee in October-November 1948”. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Peace is not the absence of conflict. It is the ability to handle  conflicts by peaceful means”. Ronald Reagan.

Conflict is dynamic and has many dimensions. Bearing this in mind, it posits that without a proper knowledge and comprehension of our very nature, the essence of our goals or visions for national peace and harmony will not be actualized unless genuine peace efforts commence at the point of deliberate dialogue aimed at bringing to fore issues of discord with the express goal of proffering lasting solutions on a mutually inclusive basis.

Our history is chequered with a series of internal conflicts which have severely weakened the foundations of our unifying pillars. Our diversity which once stood as our major source of strength has also been compromised and now serves as the bedrock of dissentions. Political affiliation, ethnicity and religion rather than serve as propelling forces towards sustained national development have become the basis for destructive agitations which have resulted in the loss of lives and the wanton destruction of property. Nigerians as a result have been forced to live under an atmosphere of insecurity and uncertainty.

The Niger Delta unrest, the kidnappings in South Eastern Nigeria, the political tensions in the South West and the Boko Haram insurgency in Northern Nigeria are the most recent examples of threats to the unity and sovereignty of our dear country Nigeria. 2015 (our next election year), has become synonymous with anarchy with undisguised threats of war emanating from political groups and various sections of the country over mundane political issues that have no real bearing on our socio-economic advancement as a country.

President Jonathan has faced one of the most gruesome challenges of leadership this country has ever witnessed with only the Civil War surpassing it in intensity. His administration must be credited with having remained steadfast to issues of national development whilst engaging (head-on) threats to national security. There is however still much to be done and it is the view of the CITIZENS NETWORK that government cannot do it alone. Rather it is only through concerted effort by all Nigerians that sustained peace can reign at the end of the day.

Our understanding is that peace stands tall as the most crucial content in our quest for sustained national growth and development. We also know for certain that a majority of Nigerians have grown weary of the present situation and clearly prefer peace to war. Nigeria remains our collective asset with great potentials. We all share personal and collective interests that span the length and breadth of this country. To downplay the significance of our oneness would therefore be tantamount to denying God’s role in our destiny.

We see clearly that virtually every conflict that has arisen in our history has a political undertone. Unfortunately, it has for the most part been in pursuit of selfish interests and the quest for leadership. Amnesty programmes and the imposition of emergency rule are welcome. However, these do not guarantee sustained peace if we do not become actively involved in the peace building process. It begins with dialogue; it is sustained by honesty, patriotism and a nationalistic posture that emphasizes on ‘Nigeria First’.

If we allow this situation to degenerate into war, we all invariably lose.

OLU ADEKUNLE Snr.

ON THE ROAD OF DIALOGUE AND PEACE

 

Renowned rights activist Shehu Sani came out yesterday to declare the planned amnesty for members of the Boko Haram insurgency as a doomed exercise only set out to defraud the government of billions of naira.

In his words, “First, it is ill-intentioned because you cannot just declare amnesty for members of Boko Haram and expect them to join the next available bus from their bases and drive down to Abuja waiting to see Jonathan. That is a wishful thinking.”

He further went on to express his views on the terms of reference of a properly set up committee to look into dialogue and amnesty for the group; “When we have a ceasefire of about eight months, the committee will use the period to take stock of the victims of this violence, the orphans, the widows and the destruction that has been caused as well as the grievances and the victims on the part of members of the sect.”

While it is on record that Shehu Sani facilitated a meeting with Boko Haram and former President Obasanjo thus clearly showing his accessibility to the group and as such he is most likely an individual with relevant suggestions on this issue, one would also have to listen to what the leader of Boko Haram has to say about the planned amnesty talks.

According to  Ibrahim Shekau, the sect leader, “We are surprise that today it is the Federal Government saying it will grant us amnesty. Oh God, is it we who will grant you amnesty or you are the one to grant us amnesty? What have we done? If there is room for forgiveness, we are not going to do it until God give us permission to do it. Have you forgotten your sin, have you forgotten what you have done to us in Plateau the state you called Jos,” he said

It is obvious that in as much as dialogue is likely the option on the table for now, there is still a huge disconnect with communication on both sides. However we as a nation have to maintain focus and manage this situation as best possible. Time is ticking.

Only recently, 4th April 2013, The Nigerian Youth League Governing Council stated,  “ If Boko Haram is granted amnesty then all youths will go to war with the duly constituted authorities across the nation”.
Time is ticking, but only dialogue may bring peace on both sides.

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