Category Archives: Citizenship
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.
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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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.
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.
Olu Adekunle Snr
Director Media and Publicity
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?
“…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.
“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.
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.