State of the Nation…The 2015 General Elections, Matters arising.

PROJECT RESCUE DEMOCRACY (PRD)

10, Afolabi Lesi Street, Ilupeju, Lagos.

Email: projectrescuedemocracy@gmail.com

 

THE TIME TO ACT IS NOW.

Being the text of a World Press Conference held on Saturday 21/02/2015.

THEME: State of the Nation…The 2015 General Elections, Matters arising.

Good morning, Gentlemen of the Press, Comrades, Compatriots, esteemed Countrymen and women, This press conference is the initiative of Project Rescue Democracy (PRD) a coalition of over 60 Civil Society, Self-determination, Ethnic and Professional Groups, who, compelled by the recent happenings in our country regarding particularly the 2015 General Elections have elected a concerted collaborative effort as patriotic and public spirited groups desirous of rescuing our democracy and country from the abyss, yes we cannot fold our hands and watch politicians attempt tenure elongation under any guise or means. We cannot allow the musings of same, nor shall we watch unaddressed any attempt to further postpone the 2015 General Elections.

The signs are ominous as a very dark cloud hung over the Nigerian political horizon as a result of the impending violations of the tenets of democracy and the constitution by forces of evil who are determined to plunge the country into unwarranted chaos whose consequence portends grave danger to our collective peace and security.

There is a general rule of engagement in this trade which is known all over the world, it is definite that there will be a handover date because there is tenure for political office and as such, it is the responsibility of the elections management body to start preparing for the next general elections immediately after a general election and government has a responsibility to providing an enabling environment for the elections management body to perform its statutory responsibility. Then the dates are fixed, wherein all efforts are put in place in ensuring that the dates for the election and swearing of a new government remains sacrosanct.

But what we are seeing today is that all the known values of transparency, fairness and credibility of the electoral system are about to be compromised. We have observed that the principle of one man, one vote is about to be imperilled. The E-card reader which the electoral management body has introduced to promote the sanctity of one man, one vote is about to be circumvented by political actors. Or what do we make of the attempt by some members of the Senate to discredit the use of E-card reader during the presentation of the INEC Chairman on Wednesday 18th February, 2015?

For a government to be legitimate in a democracy its, power must derive from the people through the ballot box which must be seen to be free, fair, transparent and credible, which are all under threat in the unfolding Nigeria’s case.

A whole lot of issues have been thrown up and are going to be thrown up to stop, derail, circumvent, discredit and frustrate the whole electoral process, from the issue of PVC, E-card reader to eligibility, security, threats of war, violence, intimidation, mudslinging, character assassination and so many other mundane issues which have no bearing with elections and sound democratic values.

The following are issues which we want to present to the whole world so as to call to order, anti democratic elements and forces of evil.

Free, fair, transparent and credible elections, a must!

For a long time, Nigeria has basked in the embarrassment of controversial elections, but we have come of age with the introduction of the E-card reader by the electoral management body that will forestall any form of rigging and manipulation which the Nigeria electoral system is known for. Unfortunately, we are shocked and disappointed that major political stakeholders are up in arms against the use of E-card reader which we all know will eliminate multiple voting, because the number of accredited voters will not be more than the number that will cast their votes as recorded by the E-card reader.

Small arms and arms proliferation:

The threats of war and violence have no place in democracy and must be condemned. Thus, we are surprised that some characters in utter violation of democratic and civilized tenets have resorted to threatiocracy, that unless a particular candidate wins, there will be war and one would expect the security agencies to have responded to the threat by calling them to order, but we are not surprised that boko haram have been emboldened by such official negligence to issue threats against the conduct of the 2015 general elections. More so, we are disturbed by the proliferation of arms, small, big and deadly weapons. We are worried by the use of explosives in Okrika, Rivers State only recently which is a frightening dimension in electoral violence in our land. We use this opportunity to call on the security agencies to be alive to their responsibilities and urge them to further strengthen their intelligence gathering units to mop up all arms, ammunitions and explosives for us to have a violent free pre, during and post elections environment.

No to militarization of elections:

The constitution is very clear and explicit as to the duties and responsibilities of the armed forces of the Federal Republic of Nigeria as provided for in Section 217 and 218 of the 1999 constitution which states explicitly the role of the military and nowhere is it provided for in the aforementioned section of the constitution where the military is given powers to be involved in election matters. The Court of Appeal recently held that the military has no business in election matters. We want to add that election matters are purely civil matters which is called the festival of the voters, it is not a day of war, it is the day the voters through the ballot paper award a pass mark to a government or rejects it, that is the practice all over the world and Nigeria cannot be an exemption. So the use of the military to conduct elections, suppress voters, intimidate political opponents is an aberration and unconstitutional. However, we are surprised that Mr. Femi Fani Kayode is asserting that they are going to use the military irrespective of what the law says and we wonder, if he is a court of superior jurisdiction?

No to extension of election dates

We are opposed to any extension of the 2015 general elections by any means whatsoever. The Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, 1999 in Section 135 (2) is clear as to the tenure of the government which is the handover date and any move or step taken against the actualisation of this date, will lead to serious constitutional crisis.

Transparency from the National Assembly

We shall continuously demand transparency and responsibility from the National Assembly regarding their actions and or inactions targeted at compromising the electoral process as Nigerians shall demand for open voting at the floor of both Houses should any such matter come before the National Assembly.

Strict adherence to constitutionalism

We demand that Prof. Jega adhere strictly to the provisions of the Electoral Act and the 1999 constitution empowering him to uphold the sanctity of March 28th and April 11th 2015 general elections dates without the interference of the Security Agencies, and to only postpone election in the places directly embroiled in uncontrollable crisis or war. We call on Professor Attahiru Jega to affirm his constitutional responsibility and refuse to be teleguided to carry out his statutory functions without fear or favour.

No to interim government

It is important to warn that Nigerians are opposed to any tinkering with the current electoral process either by way of an illegal Interim National Government or military intervention and that March 28th and April 11th 2015 elections dates and May 29th Handover dates remain sacrosanct because any deviation will result in constitutional crisis that may implode the system.

Tenure elongation

We are not unaware of the proliferation of arms, armed conflict and orchestrated crisis to heat up the polity and give plausible reasons for the intended six months tenure elongation of the Goodluck Jonathan administration.

National security

We demand that the National Security Adviser (NSA) and service chiefs concentrate on their constitutional responsibility of defending and protecting the territorial integrity of the nation and hands off matters of election and electoral matters as recently upheld by the Court of Appeal because acting contrary for political expediency will be tantamount to violating the constitution.

 Collection of PVC

We call on all Nigerians to ensure that they collect their Permanent Voters Card (PVC) which is the only guaranteed passport to vote on Election Day for a candidate of their choice devoid of intimidation, inducements, ethnic, religious and other mundane sentiments.

Conclusion

Gentlemen of the press, it is said by Frantz Fanon that every generation out of relative obscurity must discover its mission and either fulfil or betray it.

We are not unmindful of the pains and tragedy of the June 12, 1993 debacle and that we may not walk that path again, we insist that the government and INEC make March 28th and April 11th, 2015 and May 29th 2015 sacrosanct, immutable and definite.

We want it placed on record that times have changed and that what Nigerians permitted with little or no resistance in 1993, will not be allowed to repeat itself anymore as it’s obvious that the groundswell of public opinion is for the conduct of free, fair, transparent and credible polls come March 28th and April 11th 2015, no more, no less.

Thank You.

Yours Sincerely,

Ms Titilope Akosa

Secretary

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THE THRILLS, FRILLS AND THE CHILLS OF THE WEEK OF ACTION AGAINST DOMESTIC VIOLENCE IN LAGOS STATE

October 13-17, 2014 , Lagos, Nigeria
The week of action Against Domestic Violence in. Lagos state, a project of Lagos State Gender Advocacy Team (LASGAT) has come and gone but some unforgettable experiences that has made indelible imprints on mind will continue to linger.

Coordinating the week of action against domestic violence in Lagos state is really a momentous and intriguing experience that was full of thrills and admixture of frills and chills. Moving from one local government to the other, interacting with different groups of men, women, girls and boys, listening to their stories and concerns and encouraging or empathising with them made me feel like a gypsy on a voyage of discovery.

The thrills started from the media forum to flag off the week on the first day. The launching of the stickers and directory of institutions and organizations providing support services on domestic violence was the high point of the media forum. The awareness raising forum with over 600 traders in Lagos state gathered at the Iyaoloja of Nigeria‘s place the second day was a resounding activity which set the tone for the other activities throughout the week.

The third day was at Kosofe Local Government, Anthony stadium. A highly emotive discussion and experience sharing session was sparked off with artisans, hairdressers, community leaders and politicians. The participants bared their minds on domestic violence and offered fresh insights into combating the menace. On the same day, about 300 primary school pupils on Lagos Island celebrating the Global Hand washing day had the opportunity to understand what domestic violence means and how they can identify and report cases of violations when it occurs around them. Their enthusiasm in collecting the anti – domestic violence stickers for their parents at home was so intense that I was almost felled in the rush for the stickers.

The fourth day, was the climax of the actions, it was the turn of women at Yaba Local Council Development Area (LCDA) and Lagos Mainland Local Government. Over 500 women who gathered for skills acquisition had the opportunity to receive information about support services available to victims of domestic violence in Lagos state. It was exciting to see many women breaking the silence and recounting their ordeals in the hands of their husbands, mother in laws and neighbours. They were encouraged to take measures to protect themselves through accessing available support services in the directory.

The traders at Oshodi market were not left out of the campaign on the fourth day. The Iyaoloja (The female leader of traders in the Market) of Cairo, Ajewole and Folashade Ojo markets with the Babaoja (the male leader of traders in the market) were on ground to raise awareness with their fellow traders. They moved with us from stall to stall distributing stickers and directory and giving information about helplines to call when domestic violence occurs.

On the Fifth day, the Community Development Committees (CDCs) and Community Development Associations (CDAs) on Lagos Island had their day. Over 200 men and women gathered at the Ahmed Bola Tinubu Hall for a speaker’s corner where the community leader, representatives of the Nigerian police and coordinator of the Lagos state Gender Advocacy Team took turns to speak on provisions of the Law against domestic violence in Lagos state and available support services.

The crowning activity which brought the week of action to a close was the action of the Empowering women of the Future (EWOF) Girls at Ajegunle. The EWOF girls displayed rare courage in their community by naming acts of domestic violence such as the use of slippers, iron and turning Gari ( wooden spoon) to beat children, dousing the private part of girl children with grounded pepper, inserting broom sticks into boy children’s penis and using razor blade to cut children in the name of punishment. The EWOF girls called on the Ajegunle community members to stop these acts of violence.

Of course the frills and the chills littered the different activities of the week. We had a bad experience when some men actually told us to mind our business and desist from telling them to stop beating their wives. In Kosofe, some women and men felt that women deserved to be beaten by their husbands because they are not submissive enough.

The most chilling experience of the week that almost knocked me off was the orgy of blue films being shown in communities to young girls and boys to initiate them into the practice of the act of obscene sex for money and the dousing of girls private part with pepper by their mothers.

From one local government to another, it was loads of gruelling stories of men beating their wives to death, 70 year old man raping a 5 year old girl, a woman mal treating her house help or a mother maiming her child in the name of punishment.

The incidence of domestic violence is staggering; the enormity of the problem is unimaginable. We need to address it fast and now ! or else our family and community life stands the risk of being irreparably disrupted.

Domestic violence is a threat to healthy family relationship and so we need to stand and act together to quench its fire! We owe it to our family, our community and our nation!!!
Ms Titilope Akosa,

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International Day of the Girl Child 2014

Day of thegirl child
Girls learning

As we celebrate  the International Day of the Girl Child today 11th October 2014,  we remember the continued abduction of the Chibok girls for over 6months now and calls on Nigerian government to expedite action in rescuing the girls alive and ensure that the perpetrators of the heinous crime are brought to book.
We call on Nigerians and the international world  to continue to hold campaigns, vigils and demonstrations that will imprint the issue in the consciousness of all stakeholders to galvanize actions necessary to get the girls released.
Abduction of the chibok girls is a criminal act of violence and crime against humanity which must continued to be resisted.
Bring back our girls now! Secure and protect the future of the Nigerian girl child.
Lets join hands to end the circle of violence against the girl child
Ms Titilope Akosa
Executive Director
C21st

Big Blind Country: Nigeria @ 54

By Ms Titilope Akosa
My experience working with virtually impaired persons made me understand that blind people may not have physical sight but they have sharp inner sight that helps them to relate as if they have physical sight.
However, this key experience as factual as it is cannot be applied to Nigeria’s degree of blindness.
The wordings of late Fela Anikulapo Kuti’s Unreleased albums where he referred to Nigeria as a big blind country (BBC) years back s is still very true today .To make matters worse the blindness of Nigeria is so incurably bad to the extent that our inner sight that could have made up for our loss of physical sight is also stone dead. This blindness is also compounded by regular and consistent electricity outage which is a recurrent signature event of our generation.
Nigeria remains a failed nation, groping in the dark with no physical, inner or spiritual sight. We continue to wallow in the foolery of corruption, Boko Haram insurgency, political prostitution, kidnaps,abductions, 419, cybercrimes, name it! The list is endless.
Our foremost Nationalists fought for the independence that we are now squandering like the biblical prodigal son, yet our actions still falls below the standard of the biblical prodigal son as it appears that we are not interested in going back to retrace our steps and remedy past historical wrongs rather we are looking for shortcuts.
As a nation we need to tell ourselves the truth. The greatest deceit is self deceit. We need to ask, what have we done to our country? What has our country done to us ? Can we say that the state in which we find ourselves today is the legacy bequeathed to us by our nationalists ? The responsibility to make Nigeria great rest on all of us. It is a mutual accountability process between the government and the governed, it is never one sided.
Can we honestly admit that a government that has allowed over 250 girls to be in the hands of terrorist for over 6 months and who is now making an effort to rescue them after they have been violated and made pregnant is a responsible government ? Or a government that has admitted its involvement in $3.9million money laundering saga is truly interested in making Nigeria great?
On the other hand, as a citizen of Nigeria what have we done to hold the government accountable? Are you one of those involved in corrupt practices ? Are you involved in yahoo yahoo business? Are you operating a baby factory and trafficking in human beings? What are you doing to your country . Can your ignoble acts make Nigeria great?
I will leave us with just two words of wisdom from our late elder statesman Chief Anthony Enahoro to reflect on for our 54th independence Anniversary.
First, no matter how far you have travelled on a wrong road you may need to come back to the starting point to chart the right direction. Second, a man who does not have a destination wherever he finds himself will be his destination.
Let us ponder on these words and retrace our steps. Our nation is important to us ! We are equally important to our nation. Let us examine ourselves and change for the best. I hope these words of wisdom will cure our blindness and empower us as a nation to chart the right course for our nation.
Happy independence! Great people! Great nation!
Titilope Akosa
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LAGOS CLIMATE MARCH

People's climate march
Civil society organization’s march for climate Justice

STATEMENT BY CIVIL SOCIETY GROUPS IN NIGERIA ON THE PEOPLE’S CLIMATE MARCH IN LAGOS

 

 

The civil society march for climate justice in Lagos, Nigeria.
The civil society march for climate justice in Lagos, Nigeria.

 

PREAMBLE

On Sunday 21st September, 2014, we witnessed the swell of global support for climate justice as people from different corners of the globe gathered in New York City to march for climate justice.

Today, Monday 22nd of September, 2014, the good people of Nigeria stand in solidarity with the peoples of the world to demand climate justice from world leaders that will gather at the United Nations climate summit on 23rd September, 2014.

We are concerned that climate related disasters have claimed thousands of lives, wiped out resources and sunk many into deeper poverty. Africa remains on the frontlines of climate change and continues to be vulnerable to its impacts.

We are disturbed that climate challenges are rooted in the global patterns of injustice, discrimination and inequalities which can only be reversed through profound transformative systems change at all levels of governance.

OUR DEMANDS

• We reiterate the calls and demands made by various civil society organizations, women’s groups, indigenous groups and social movements from all over the world by calling on world leaders to take urgent action to secure the lives and livelihoods of the poor, vulnerable and the disadvantaged who are also deprived of the means to adapt to the impacts of climate change.
• We call on world leaders, to make bold commitments to deep emission cuts that are targeted towards limiting temperatures to well below1.5 degrees Celsius at United Nations climate summit on 23rd September 2014. These commitments should not be watered down under the “pledge and review system”- a system which is subject to whims and caprices of developed nations- but should be activated to translate into legally binding commitments under the United Nations framework convention on climate change (UNFCCC) policy space.
• We demand for a climate change deal that is rooted in science, equity, justice and based on historical responsibility.
• We call for legally binding solutions that reduce national greenhouse gas emissions to levels consistent with scientific recommendations that prevent the worst impacts of human induced climate change
• We reiterate call on world leaders to mobilize effective political will for a meaningful legally binding agreement in post 2015 development agenda
• We call for an economic system that works for people and the planet; a world with good jobs, clean air and water, and healthy communities
• In the context of Nigeria, we demand an immediate end to gas flaring and call for the implementation of the UNEP Ogoni report.
• We call on federal government and all relevant stakeholders in the power sector to speed up power sector reforms and ensure access to regular and affordable power supply to all Nigerians
• We demand access to affordable, renewable and efficient energy services for all.
• We reiterate the calls for the immediate passage of climate change bill by the National Assembly
• We request that efforts should be intensified in the implementation of the necessary framework for combating climate change in Nigeria
• We demand that states and local government should give adequate attention to the issues of adaptation and mitigation of climate change including tree planting and the creation of green jobs
• We call for the creation of a future with clean air, a healthy environment, good jobs, and resilience in the face of a changing climate for our children and people of Nigeria
• We demand for the promotion intergenerational equity and meaning youth participation in all the design and implementation of climate change adaptation and migration programmes
• Legally binding solutions that reduce national greenhouse gas emissions to levels consistent with scientific recommendations that prevent the worst impacts of human induced climate change

To change everything we need everyone.

Signed

• Climate Aid International
• Nigerian Conservation Foundation
• Centre for 21st Century Issues
• Climate Wednesday
• Centre for Grassroots and Environmental Concern
• Foresthwyse
• Enough is Enough
• HEDA Resources
• Climate Change Network
• My Nigeria Online
• Nigerian Youth Climate Coalition
• Earthlight
• Sustainable Research and Action for Environmental Development
• Initiative for Nature and Human Development
• Centre for Climate Leadership
• Ansar-u-deen Youth Movement
• Nasrul-Lahi-L-Fatih Society (NASFAT) Youth
• Young Volunteers for the Environment
• Saving Lives Nigeria
• Nature Cares
• Redeemed Christian Church of God (RCCG) Youth Fellowship
• Freedom Network
• National Association of Nigerian Students

Mobilize and organize to Stop and Prevent Planet Fever!

Climate Space

[September 19 – 23, New York] When we, as human beings, get a fever, we immediately get worried and take action. After all, we know that if our body temperature rises to 1.5ºC, let alone 2ºC [3.6 ºF] above the normal average, there can be severe damage, while an increase of 4-6ºC [7.2-10.8 ºF] or more can cause a comatose situation and even death.

So it is, when planet Earth gets a fever. For the past 11,000 years, the average temperature of the Earth has been around 14ºC [57.2ºF]. It is now about to reach an increase of 1ºC. And, if we do not take appropriate measures now to stop this fever from spreading, the forecast is that our planet will be well on its way to anywhere between 2ºC to 6ºC rise in temperature before the end of this century. Under such feverish conditions, life as we know it…

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A CALL TO ACCELERATE ACTION IN ACHIEVING EQULAITY FOR NIGERIAN WOMEN BEING THE TEXT OF A PRESS STATEMENT ISSUED BY CENTRE FOR 21ST CENTURY ISSUES (C21st) ON THE OCCASION OF THE 2014 INTERNATIONAL WOMEN ‘S DAY CELEBRATION

A CALL TO ACCELERATE ACTION IN ACHIEVING EQULAITY FOR NIGERIAN WOMEN BEING THE TEXT OF A PRESS STATEMENT ISSUED BY CENTRE FOR 21ST CENTURY ISSUES (C21st) ON THE OCCASION OF THE 2014 INTERNATIONAL WOMEN ‘S DAY CELEBRATION
Centre for 21st Century Issues (C21st) join the global world in celebrating the International Women`s Day (IWD) today 8th March 2014.
This year’s IWD celebration is a very significant moment for Nigerian women in that it is coinciding with the celebration of Nigeria’s 100years as a Nation, the kicking off of the National Dialogue and the processes leading to the transition from the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) to the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).
Undoubtedly it is an important policy moment to raise awareness about critical areas where government needs to accelerate efforts in achieving gender equality and women’s empowerment in Nigeria.
C21st welcome some states governments initiative in enacting gender sensitive Laws (such as Domestic violence law, child rights Law and the Gender equality and opportunities Law) and the efforts by the current government to achieve equality for Nigerian women through its various policy pronouncements supporting women’s right.
We are however deeply concerned that government words are yet to match their actions in achieving equality for the Nigerian woman. We are concerned that;
1. In spite of women ‘s contribution to the development of Nigeria , the percentage representation of women in politics and governance is still less than 35% affirmative action target stipulated under the Nigerian National gender policy.
2. The National dialogue which is a key policy space to galvanize action for the achievement of equality for women parades less than 35% representation for women.
3. Nigeria still has one of the highest rates of maternal and infant mortality in the world
4.Women and girls in Nigeria are still exposed to all forms of violence and abuse. One in 3 women and girls aged 15-24 have been victims of violence.
5.Majority of Nigerian women are still poor and Nigerian women has one of the lowest rates of female entrepreneurship in sub-Saharan Africa.
6. Nigeria has one of the lowest rates of gender energy poverty index.
7. Women and girls are at the receiving end of disasters occasioned by the impacts of climate change and the violent conflicts.
8.As the nation is progressing with the global world to transit from the M DGs to the new SDGs, Nigeria still displays high level of inequality which disproportionately affects women.

21st hereby calls for accelerated action in the above highlighted areas and calls on Nigerian government and all stakeholders to as a matter of urgency;
1.Implement 35% affirmative action to increase the number of women in politics and governance
2.Increase women representation to not less than 35% in the forthcoming National dialogue.
3. Ensure that gender equality and women empowerment issues are central in all discussions during the National Dialogue
3.Strengthen the implementation of domestic violence law and enact the gender equality and opportunities Law in all states of the federation
4.Ensure protection and adequate security for the lives and property of all Nigerians especially those living in the Boko- Haram catchment areas
5.Adopt and implement minimum social protection floors and /standard to address poverty, losses and damages arising from the impacts of climate change and inequality generally for equitable and just development.

C21st joins Nigerian women in mourning the death of children and other citizens killed as a result of Boko- Haram attacks in the Northern part of Nigeria and pray that God will give the families of the dead the fortitude to bear the losses.
We celebrate and congratulate all women including Nigerian women for their relentless effort in achieving equality for women.
God bless Nigerian women.
Signed

MS Titilope Akosa
Executive Director Centre for 21st Century Issues (C21st), Lagos, Nigeria
This 8th day of March 2014
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OBASANJO’S LETTER GUNNING FOR THE SOUL OF DEMOCRACY

OBASANJO’S LETTER GUNNING FOR THE SOUL OF DEMOCRACY
BY ALFRED ILENRE.

The open letter of appeal by General Olusegun Obasanjo, Nigerian president 1999-2007 to President Goodluck Jonathan has continued to generate public debates in the Nigerian media. There are several views, for and against, some sensible and some senseless.

One point that was made clear in the Obasanjo letter is the fact that Nigeria has a fundamental problem with a long history to resolve.

The fact remains that the societal maladies mentioned in Obasanjo’s letter as bad as they may be, did not start with the President Jonathan administration. To continue to blame the systemic failure of Nigeria caused by decades of military rule on President Jonathan is to deliberately choose the path of deceit and confusion.

Ever before and after independence there were opinions, observations, fears and predictions that the centrally controlled system imposed on the Nigerian nation state may not endure and survive against the overwhelming forces of ethnic and sectional loyalties.

Said, Sir Alan Burns, a British Administrator and historian in 1904, six years after Miss Flora Shaw a British lady journalist had created the label Nigeria meaning the area around the River Niger. “There is no Nigeria nation, no Nigeria language and no Nigeria tradition, the very name Nigeria was invented by the British to describe a country inhabited by a medley of formally warring tribes, with no common culture and united only in so far as they are governed by a single power”.

“Nigeria is a mere collection of self contained and mutually – independent native states, separated from one another by great distances, by difference of history and tradition and by ethnological, racial, tribal and religious barriers” – Hugh Clifford 1914 Governor General.

“Nigeria is perhaps the most artificial of the many administrative units created in the course of European occupation of Africa”– Lord Malcom Hailey 1955

“The Nigeria State is “a notoriously precarious lumping together of people whose separate identity is at least as real a matter as their acceptance of national unity” – Rupert Emerson 1960, A British Notable

‘There is no universally acceptable and understood rationale for the existence and functioning of a state called Nigeria and efforts at an artificial creation of a national mythology, a Nigeria ideology will be unproductive because of overwhelming forces arraigned against it from the side of tribalism, regional diversities and culture chasms. Neither the masses nor the elite can be expected under these conditions to develop the kind of perspective – durable, constant and in dept – requiring and bringing forth sacrifices, intense devotion and loyalty, discipline, dedication and faith. Henry Bretton 1960, a British Historian

“In nearly all the matters which concern the ordinary Nigerian citizen, it is of the regional government that he is thinking when he thinks of government at all. The most important functions for the federal government for the future are just defence and external affairs” – Henry Willink 1958

“I support the Biafran cause not because Nigerian leaders are corrupt, there are corrupt leaders everywhere. I support the Biafrian struggle for national sovereignty because Nigeria is too big and complex for one man to rule.
President Charles De’Gaule of France 1968, during the Nigeria – Biafra war.

It was in consideration of these geopolitical and ecological realities that the Nigerian nationalists agreed to a federal union with regional autonomy for the corporate parts, the policies which the military later abandoned on coming to power.

General Obasanjo made so many furious allegations against President Jonathan and his team, some which are: that the President surrounded himself with sycophants, that he is disloyal to his party and does not observe the P D P ground rules: that over 1000 people have been kept on political watch list: that there was a presidential assistance to get a condemned murderer out of jail; that the government is secretly acquiring weapons, hiring and training snipers at the same underworld venue where the late General Abacha trained his hired assassins; that there was a shady deal between the President and Asiwaju Bola Tinubu in 2011 for political gains and many more. The proof of these allegations are neither here nor there as they all look more like the same kind of vulgar abuses, rumors and gossips the opposition parties had continued to heap on the President Jonathan administration since his election in 2011.

General Obasanjo has to do more to help the undiscerning public by providing them with evidences to enable them reach their conclusions.
The Nigerian military departed from power 14 years age in 1999, after over 30 years of a barren rule. The index of military officers who rose to power through coup d’état or through democratic processes between 1950 and the 2000 all over the world shows that only seven made some elements of success of civil governance. They are; General Tito of Yugoslavia, Gamel Naser of Egypt, General Park of South Korea, General Suharto of Indonesia, General De’Gaule of France, General Pinochet of Chile and General Eisenhower of the United states of America. Yet, there is the caveat that they would have done better in office but for their military background. Politics with all its complications and complexities is not a game for Generals.

It is time to tell ourselves the home truth that corrupt practices in Nigerian is due to so many factors including the imposition a unitary system of Government on Nigeria coupled with the infliction of the 1999 Unitarian presidential constitution on the country instead of taking us back to the independence constitution that made provisions for the practice of true federalism.

Some of us have been around since the Nigerian independence and have found nothing on record to prove that the present administration is doing less than the previous government. For the first time we see state budgets being implemented by the civil servants unlike in the past when a few bureaucrats shared the fund among themselves, members of their families and their friends

General Obasanjo’s letter has further exhibited the high level of ignorance, lack of knowledge and information of the Nigerian state about the plight of the Niger Delta people. Development experts had always said that the nature of the NigerDelta makes development expensive and in some cases impossible.

The Henry Willink Commission set up in 1957 by the colonial administration to look into the fears of the minorities and the means of allaying them submitted its report in 1958. It has this to say about the Ijaw tribe, “the Ijaw division is inhabited mainly by the Ijaw tribe of whom there are some 80,000 in the West but over 250,000 in the creek and swamps of the Eastern Region. They are said to be a people who have lived in the area now called Nigeria longer than any other of the large tribes and probably pushed down into the Delta area in times of which no record has survived. “The country in which they live is divided by creeks and inlets of the sea and of the Niger River into many small islands which no where rises above the highest tides and floods; their transport is by water and the construction of roads or railways would be prohibitively expensive. Theirs is a country which through no fault of man, has been neglected and which is unlikely ever to be highly developed; they are distinct in their language and customs from either the Edo speakers or the Yoruba”

The Niger Delta Development Corporation which was established in 1960 at the outset of independence to develop the region as a special area was abandoned throughout the 30 years of military rule in which Obasanjo played an active part.

Many of the younger elements in the Niger Delta including the late Adaka Boro and the late Ken Saro-Wiwa who tried to sensitize other Nigerians to know about the harsh environment under which the people live met with violent death in the hands of state agents who saw them as intolerable irritants that must be stopped. Nigeria has been so unfair to the Niger Delta people.
General Obasanjo said and correctly too that the international community knows us as we are and may be more than we claim to know of our selves. It is observed that most of the decisions the Nigerian federation had taken about the Niger Delta in the last three decades at the international scene had only put the country at odd with the rest part of the human race.
It has been established within the international community that the situation in centrally controlled nation states is worse than the situation under slavery and colonialism.
In 2007, when the United Nations voted for the adoption of the Draft Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples after 20 years of debates at the floor of the General Assembly in New York, the whole of Asia led by India, the whole of Latin America led by Brazil, the whole of the European Union including the UK, the Commonwealth of Independent States, South Africa, Ghana and some progressive minded African states voted for the Declaration Nigeria was among the only 13 African states that abstained from voting.
It is true that Nigeria has lost its prestige and integrity both at home and abroad, since the beginning of the democratic experiment in 1999, due to its policies and actions at the International scene which have become embarrassing.
Those calling for the indictment of President Jonathan or even making attempt at impeachment are not fair to the political class and they know it. The political class had been the most maligned in the 30 years of military ruling in Nigeria.
As soon as the military took over power in 1966, they consolidated the executive arm of government, the judiciary, the bureaucracy, the Foreign Service, cultivated the media, dismissed the constitution and left the political class in the cold and in the wilderness of misery. If the politicians are bungling in their actions today it is because they have no political elders from whom to learn the ropes. Though lack experience, the political class should know that the General Obasanjo’s open letter is only gunning for the soul of democracy in Nigeria. It is wrong to continue to stress only on National unity without regard for ethnic diversity.
It is General Obasanjo by the contents of his open letter that should be invited to throw more light into his allegations and how to move the country forward and not the other way round.

Reading through all the wild allegations leveled against President Jonathan by General Obasanjo reminds me of the false and horrible allegation by political opponent against the late Chief Obafemi Awolowo, leader of the Action Group and his colleagues in the first republic that led to the culture of violence that has griped Nigeria since 1962.

All that has been said in Obasanjo’s 18 page open letter can be summed up in only one word – duplicitous.

Alfred Ilenre is Secretary General, Ethnic Minority and Indigenous Rights Organisation of Africa (EMIROAF).

C21st Presentation to the National Conference Advisory Committee

To the National Conference Advisory Committee,
Public Hearing in Lagos, 1st November, 2013.

A joint Statement by the Ethnic Minority and Indigenous Rights Organization of Africa (EMIROAF), the Movement for National Reformation, (MNR) the Centre for 21st Century Issues and the Council for Peoples Close to Nature.

Presented by Mr. Alfred Ilenre, Secretary General, EMIROAF.

I represent, Mr. Chairman, the Ethnic Minority and Indigenous Rights Organization of Africa (EMIROAF). I am an indigenous Nigerian from Edo State, of the Esan tribe extraction.

I was the Director of Mobilisation and Strategy at the Pro-National Conference Organisations and also represent the International Alliance of Indigenous and Tribal Peoples of the Tropical Forest, a network of indigenous and ethnic organizations with ECOSOC States.

We are happy to be part of history which the meeting in Lagos today by the National Conference Advisory Committee represents. It was in this city of Lagos, that the first treaty in the territory now known as Nigeria was signed by the British in the cause of their colonial expansionist mission in Africa with the king and chiefs of Lagos in 1861.

BACKGROUND
1. The calls for a sovereign national conference to correct the colonial injustice of coupling together different nationalities with different culture and historical background to form one country without their consent pre-date the present regime.

2. There is a group of Nigerians which has been very cynical and suspicious of whatever the Nigerian ruling elites suggest or plan towards the development of the democratic system in the country since independence.

3. There is a school of thought that believes that a National Conference will lead to Nigeria break-up.

4. Many of the antagonists of a national conference have the view that the ruling elites including the politicians, the military and the bureaucrats have taken Nigerians for a ride for too long. That the trust the masses reposed in them has been betrayed severally and has cost the people dearly.

5. The reason for the failure of Nigeria up till this moment is the fact that Nigerian leaders have been so afraid to discuss issues that touch on Nigeria’s future destiny, good or bad.

6. The military government when it came on stage in 1966 dismissed the independence constitution and started ruling by decrees. By the time the military withdrew from power in 1999, it had imposed so many constitutions, laws and regulations that Nigeria as a nation began to lose substance in the eyes of reasonable people.

ISSUES AT STAKE
7. In all the decisions taken at the constitutional conferences organised by the colonial government before independence, decisions were by consensus. But in all the constituent assemblies appointed by the military regime in 1979 under General Obasanjo, 1989 under General Babangida and 1994 under General Abacha, decisions were by votes without any regard for the views of the ethnic nationalities as the building blocks in a heterogeneous country. The 1999 constitution under General Abubakar was simply a document drawn up by a handful of people selected by him.

8. Democracy is about majority rule just as it is also pre-eminently about the protection of minority rights.

9. The military regime had no any justifiable reason to dismiss the federal system of government on coming to power only to replace it with a unitary system on leaving power. The civilian administrations of Alhaji Shehu Shagari 1979 – 1983, Shonekan interim government for three months, and the Obasanjo regime from 1999 – 2007, The Yar’adua era from 2007 to 2010 and the Jonathan administration from 2010 to date belong to the unitary model of government. The democratic experiment since 1999 had failed, woefully.

GUIDE LIGHT

10. The nationalists were aware that Nigeria made up of three major ethnic nationalities of Hausa, Igbo and Yoruba surrounded by motley of over two hundred smaller ethnic and language groups has no any chance of survival as a unitary state. Right from the outset at independence the Nigerian system had within its bowel, the seeds of self destruction.

11. The National conference Advisory committee as the guide light to the national dialogue should endeavor by all means to produce a conference agenda that will give Nigeria the opportunity to run a totally democratic federal constitution.

12. We have agreed that Nigeria is a heterogeneous community that could not be administered as unitary state. Therefore it is our view that only a lose federation based on the ethnic nationalities as the federating units can offer the Nigerian state a measure of cohesion for unity and stability.

13. The duty of the National Conference should be to correct the faults created by the unitary structure inflicted on Nigeria by decades of military adventurism.

PROPOSALS

14. Considering the huge success made in the area of social and economic development under stable and peaceful environment in so many multi-ethnic countries like, Switzerland, Canada, the United Kingdom, India etc. we advocate for the adoption of the collegiate or the parliamentary system in Nigeria against the unworkable Unitarian presidential system.

15. The ethnic nationalities should be grouped into their distinct regions. Each region should be free to create as many states of its own as it wishes, provided such states are viable.

16. Each region should exercise it’s right to establish its own authority, police resource and environmental control..

17. The army should be arranged inline with regional command with each region having its own regiment.

18. The National police service should be organized along national, regional, state, local government, community, industrial and occupational institutions units, each unit exercising its own autonomy, subjected to a set national standard

19. Representation at the conference should be based on equal representation since decisions will be by consensus. Each ethnic nationality could include as many delegates as it could cater for, outside the official delegation list.

BASIC INFORMATION

20. The case that the centrally controlled ex-colonial nation states were dictatorial, murderous, harmful and worse than slavery and colonialism was first presented at an international conference when in 1923; a team led by Mr. Deskaheh, leader of the Iroquoi Indigenous Nationalities Confederation of Canada visited Geneva, Switzerland to present the conflict that existed between his indigenous nationalities and the government of Canada at the League of Nations. They were refused official hearing on the ground that the matter came under the internal affairs of Canada. Mr. Deskaheh and his team were declared persona-non-grata by the Canadian government. But the Deskaheh team had made their point at the lobby that the centrally controlled nation states left behind by the colonists where different nationalities were forced to live together without their consent was evil that breeds violence and death. The government of Switzerland granted political asylum to Mr. Deskaheh and his team in Geneva. By 1957, the case for the indigenous nationalities was re-opened when the International Labour Organization (ILO) in its Convention No. 169 presented issues about the rights of the indigenous peoples to self determination at the UN meeting in Geneva. It is an irony of history that Canada and Switzerland today are the world two most decentralized countries, most politically and economically viable, most peaceful and stable. The United Nations and its agencies including the United Nations Commission on Human Rights, International Labour Organization, the United Nations Food and Agricultural Organization, the United Nation Convention on Biological Diversity etc, have initiated policies that respect indigenous, cultural and ethnic diversity and their right to self determination.

21. The United Nations General Assembly in its resolution A/61/L67 of September 12, 2007 adopted what it named, the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples. It clearly outlines how indigenous communities and ethnic nationalities can peacefully pursue their right to self determination in nation states without resorting to violence.

22. Article 3 of the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples, says and quote, “Indigenous peoples have the right to self determination and by virtue of that right they can freely determine their status and their economic, social and cultural development.

COLONIAL BORDERS

23. Colonial boundaries were drawn arbitrarily without any consideration for ethnic and cultural differences.

24. Serious problems emerged in Nigeria soon after independence because people and ethnic nations were forced to live together without their consent.

25. There were arguments for and against whether to adopt federalism, unitarism monarchy or any other system, but the votes for federalism won the minds of the nationalists. The Nigerian federalism was distorted, destroyed and abandoned by the military after over 30 years in power.

26. What the coming conference should be all about is to find a formula on how to universalize the knowledge of the Nigerian people to enable them withstand and confront their ruling educated elites who are also exploiting their own people like the colonialists did.

27. The validity of Nigeria as a nation has been a subject of bitter debate since 1962, when the central government backed by a mindless beaurocracy started to intervene unconstitutionally in the internal affairs of Western Region. Ever since then, Nigeria has only been kept together by international protocols, treaties and conventions, supported by the instruments of coercion.

28.Presently, Nigeria lacks the social and cultural cohesion, public appreciation, goodwill, trust and mass support to depend upon, internally to make it survive.

THE VIRTUE IN ETHNICITY

29.Ethnicity is a people’s way of life, it is their life style, it is their language, it is their territory, it is their nuances, their world outlook, their accent and behavior, their culture, their mode of dressing, their songs, dances and festivals, the way they show their joy, the way they celebrate births, and the way they mourn the dead, it is their entity and the environment they are born into, it is their DNA and blood walls. It is their home land, it is their heritage for which they are prepared to live for, fight for and die for. Of the seven billion population distributed by nature all over the world, there is no person who does not have an ethnic nationality to call his own.

In the words of Professor Alfonso Martinez of Cuba, a United Nations expert on indigenous peoples and self determination issues “Those who condemn ethnicity on reasons not beyond class interest should be ignored”

SUMMARY

30.As we had always maintained, Nigeria has lived the better part of its 53 years of independence through betrayal, back – stabbing, corruption, tyranny, violence, arrests, detentions, civil wars, coups and counter coups, attempted coups, show trials, public executions, retrogression, failed structures and collapsed public institutions caused by a lopsided central government dominated by men and women who have no any inkling what independence struggle was all about.
The decision to organize a national conference to sort out our differences is a good idea whose time has come.

Recommendation

•It should be a conference of ethnic nationalities.
•Equal representation of delegates from the 18 regions recommended in the Pronaco Draft Constitution.
•Identified groups shall have the freedom to nominate their representative by whatever mechanism.
•The process must be all inclusive, process-led and transparent.
•Decisions shall be by consensus.
•Professional, non-government organizations and the civil society organizations should attend as observers and be free to make their contributions.
•International, regional and sub-regional organization including the UN, the Commonwealth, the EU, AU, ECOWAS etc. could attend as observers and make their input.
•A team of resourceful men and women of integrity drawn from the civil society organizations should serve as mediators where there is a disagreement.
•There will be no no-go areas.
•At least 30% of delegates must be women.

Public hearing on Political Dialogue
Public hearing on Political Dialogue
Presentation at the Public hearing
Presentation at the Public hearing
Youth, People Living with Disability and other marginalized groups should be represented at the Conference.

Resolutions

Note: The organizations mentioned above, sponsoring this statement participated at the Peoples National Conference organized by the Pro-national Conference Organization held under the late Chief Anthony Enahoro as chairman. We fully support the report and the draft constitution which was a product of the conference, earlier presented at Akure to this esteemed body by Mr. Baba Oluwide Omojola on 18 October 2013, before his sudden and painful dead, after the presentation. We recommend the PRONACO documents as working papers for the national conference proper.

There should be conference resolutions at the end of the delegates deliberation, based on every agenda item, geo-political structures, systems of government, fiscal arrangements, citizen rights, social-economic interests, the Economy, the judiciary, the legislature etc. All issues must touch on the citizenry, individual and group ethics, morality and freedom.

Draft Constitution
There should a draft constitution as a product of the conference to be subjected to a mass appraisal and a referendum.

Alfred Ilenre
Secretary General, Ethnic Minority and
Indigenous Rights Organization of Africa (EMIROAF).

• Chief Emakpor Ajise
• Diran Fagbongbe
• Titilope Akosa

Promoting the voice of the Girl Child in shaping her education through –

Banner girl child day – v3

banner International Day of the Girl Child
banner International Day of the Girl Child

A presentation made at the celebration of the International Day of the Girl Child organized by Lagos State Universal
Basic education Board in partnership with centre for 21st Century Issues (C21st), Education sector Support Program in Nigeria (ESSPIN), Civil Society Action Coalition On Education for All (CSACEFA) and Lagos State Gender Advocacy Team (LASGAT)
The International Day of the Girl Child is celebrated on 11 October, a day designated by the United Nations for promoting the rights of girls, and addressing the unique challenges they face. The inaugural day in 2012 focused on the issue of ending child marriage. As the lead agency for the Day, UNICEF, in consultation with other United Nations agencies and civil society partners, selected Innovating for Girls’ Education as this year’s theme, in recognition of the importance of fresh and creative perspectives to propel girls’ education forward and building on the momentum created by last year’s event.
As the nature and scale of barriers facing girls becomes more complex, innovative strategies are needed to give girls an education that prepares them for the challenges of the 21st century. As the world evaluates the gaps that still remain in achieving global goals for gender equality in education and defines an agenda that moves beyond the Millennium Development Goals, it is critical that innovation brings about solutions for improving girls’ education that are not only more creative, but also more effective, efficient, sustainable and just.
The fulfillment of girls’ right to education is first and foremost an obligation and moral imperative. There is also overwhelming evidence that girls’ education, especially at the secondary level, is a powerful transformative force for societies and girls themselves: it is the one consistent positive determinant of practically every desired development outcome, from reductions in mortality and fertility, to poverty reduction and equitable growth, to social norm change and democratization.

While there has been significant progress in improving girls’ access to education over the last two decades, many girls, particularly the most marginalized, continue to be deprived of this basic right. Girls in many parts of the country are still unable to attend school and complete their education due to safety-related, financial, institutional and cultural barriers. Even when girls are in school, perceived low returns from poor quality of education, low aspirations, or household chores and other responsibilities keep them from attending school or from achieving adequate learning outcomes. The transformative potential for girls and societies promised through girls’ education is yet to be realized.

Innovation will be an important strategy in addressing the nature and scale of barriers girls continue to face and in ensuring they receive an education commensurate with the challenges of the 21stcentury. As the world evaluates gaps in achieving the global goals for gender equality in education and defines an agenda post-2015, it is critical that innovation is harnessed to improvise solutions that are not only more creative, but also more effective, efficient, sustainable and just in achieving demonstrable results for improving girls’ education.

In recognition of the importance of fresh and creative perspectives to propel girls’ education forward, the theme of International Day of the Girl Child for 2013 is:

Innovating for Girls’ Education.

Smart and creative use of technology is one route to overcoming gender barriers to girls’ learning and achievement, but innovation in partnerships, policies, resource utilization, community mobilization, and most of all, the engagement of young people themselves, can be important catalyzing forces. The Government and Civil Society Organizations, and private sector actors have potential tools to innovate for and with girls to advance their education. The following are just some of many examples:

• Improving public and private means of transportation for girls to get to
school—from roads, buses, mopeds, bicycles to boats and canoes

• Engaging young people in monitoring and holding school systems
accountable for ensuring the integrity of school facilities and functions
and the safety and learning of girls

• Collaboration between school systems and the banking industry to
facilitate secure and convenient pay delivery to female teachers and
scholarship delivery to girls

• Provision of science and technology courses targeted at girls in schools,
universities and vocational education programmes

• Corporate mentorship programmes to help girls acquire critical work and
leadership skills and facilitate their transition from school to work

• Revisions of school curricula to integrate positive messages on gender
norms related to violence, child marriage, sexual and reproductive
health, and male and female family roles

• Deploying mobile technology for teaching and learning to reach girls,
especially in remote areas

• Using traditional and social media, advertising and commercial
packaging to publicize data on gender disparities in education, the
underlying causes, and actions that can be taken for change

The International Day of the Girl Child 2013 will provide a platform to highlight examples such as these – and many more – of ongoing work and achievements, as well as raise awareness of the importance of innovation in advancing girls’ education and promoting learning and empowerment.

Examples:

Voice Of Children Influencing Parliamentary Process

Child participation has had an impact on the parliamentary process in Nigeria by increasing parliamentarians’ awareness of children’s rights. For example, the process has played a significant role in the passage of Nigeria’s Children’s Rights Act.

During the public hearing on the draft bill, members of the Children’s Parliament made a special presentation, called ‘Voices of Nigerian Children – Children are an Investment and not an Expenditure’. The children made their views known in their own language and urged parliamentarians to pass the legislation in order to improve the situation of Nigerian children. Following the public hearing, the child parliamentarians paid courtesy calls on the President of the Senate and the Speaker of the House of Representatives, urging the parliamentary leaders to ensure the prompt passage of the bill. The children were invited to sit in the galleries of both houses during the debate and consideration of the bill’s provisions.

Participation Serves To Protect The Girl-Child

The right to express views and have them taken seriously is a powerful tool through which to challenge situations of violence, abuse, threat, injustice or discrimination. Children traditionally have been denied both the knowledge that they are entitled to protection from violence, and the mechanisms through which to challenge this situation. The consequent silencing of children and the abuse they experience has had the effect of protecting abusers rather than children. However, if they are encouraged to voice what is happening to them, and provided with the necessary mechanisms through which they can raise concerns, it is much easier for violations of rights to be exposed.

The self-esteem and confidence acquired through participation also empower children to challenge abuses of their rights. Furthermore, adults can act to protect children only if they are informed about what is happening in children’s lives; and often it is only children themselves who can provide that information. Violence against children in families, schools, remand homes and institutions, or exploitative child labour will be tackled more effectively if children themselves are enabled to tell their stories to those people with the authority to take appropriate action. The people in authority must also have an open mind in understanding and addressing these issue.

Conclusion

How do we find a lasting solution to the challenges facing the education of the girl-child if we don’t know the causative factors? And who better to give the causative factors but those who are the key ACTORS and PLAYERS.

We need to promote the voice of the girl-child in shaping her education.
Therefore, it is suggested that this be achieved through providing information, promoting inclusion of the girl-child at all levels of activity, supporting them in accessing the media, and enabling the girl-child to participate in awareness-raising programmes at local, national and regional levels. This would lead to the building up of the girl-child who will be able to contribute positively to future economic growth of the country, be able to take decisions and be accountable, as well as be responsible mothers of the next generation.

Thank You

Laila St. Matthew-Daniel
ACTS Generation – Empowering & Transforming Women & the Girl-Child
Transformation Strategist for Change
Research Base: Unicef, UN