OUR DEMOCRACY AND LEADERSHIP CRAZE


It is disheartening to read that the Ebonyi State Governor, Chief Martin Elechi, in conjunction with the State Chapter of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) have declared the removed Speaker of the Ebonyi State House of Assembly, Mr. Chukwuma Nwazunku, as the Speaker of the State House of Assembly. The Governor has declared that his government and the State Chapter of the PDP would continue to recognize the removed Speaker as the Speaker of the State House of Assembly and that their “decision is not negotiable” as “there would be no going back on that effect.” This reminds of the military era in Nigeria.

The State Governor was quoted as saying that: “The issue that led to the said impeachment was not good enough to justify any attempt of impeachment.” Can someone inform the Governor that his position is subjective on the matter. The House of Assembly has constitutional power to remove a Speaker, if it considers his or her wrong by their procedures. The Governor should have known that the House of Assembly has the right to decide, as the Governor could remove any of his appointees. Also, if the removed Speaker feels that his removal is illegal and unconstitutional, he should challenge it in Court or lobby his colleagues to rescind it. This is how democracy works.

I need to add here that the Governor has the constitutional right, like other citizens, to express an opinion on the matter, but not to judge the decision of the House of Assembly, give a verdict and enforce his decision as the issue of removal of a Speaker is an internal affairs of the State House of Assembly. The removed Speaker can only challenge his removal in Court, if the procedure leading to his removal was contrary to the laid down procedure. Therefore, it  should be said succinctly that the approach adopted by the Governor and the State Chapter of the PDP is illegal and unconstitutional. The approach is an undue interference with the functions of the State House of Assembly.

I hereby urge the Attorney-General of Ebonyi State to accordingly advise the Governor. Also, I call on the National Secretariat of the PDP to call both the Governor and its State Chapter to order as their decision is embarrassing. It is an affront to legislstive independence of the Ebonyi State House of Assembly.

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“CHILDREN ARE NOT SHUTTLECOCKS”


A High Court Judge in India had in a custody matter granted both parents restricted access to the child of the marriage. The Judge had directed that the father of the child should take custody of the child for four days in a week while the mother would take custody of the child for the remaining three days in the week. Interestingly, both parents are dissatisfied with the order of the High Court. The matter is now before the Supreme Court of India. I need to add that the father of the child took custody of the child for about a month, contrary to the High Court order. The Supreme Court of India, per the Chief Justice of India, in apparent displeasure with the High Court decision told the warring parents: “Your child is not a shuttlecock to be tossed between the father and mother.” The Supreme Court went on to state that: “This order has to be corrected and the child can’t be put to pain like this.”

This is one matter that ought to be well studied as it is breaking new grounds in the realm of child custody law. The decision in the matter is likely going to bring forth the principle of ‘a child is not a shuttlecock.’ This is a principle that should be advanced in matters of child custody. Yes, it may be argued that it comes within the established principle of “the best interest of the child.” By the statement of the Supreme Court of India, it means that in a custody matter, the trial Court should be equally concerned with or consciously weigh the psychological effects of the custody orders to be made on the child or children of a marriage, even if not canvassed by the parties. This is good for child’s rights protection. It will amount to judicial abuse if the order custody of a child will inflict the child pains, as in the India case.

Though the consideration of the psychological effect of a custody order on a child has been there, but it is not so much proactively developed in our country. We are more interested in or consider more the social life and economic power of the parents in deciding how the pendulum swings in custody matter. In the instant case, the psychological effect of the child changing environment twice every week is considered highly. In our country, if both parents have good cars and decent apartments, the fact that the child will shuttle between two different environment in a week might not be the huge issue. This consideration of what pains will be inflicted on a child should influence the consideration of other important factors like social life of each parent, economic  wellbeing, religious belief, etc.

I contend that the time has come for a proactive and activist approach to child custody matters in the custody. There is now need for a new thinking of what constitutes a psychological factor in child custody matter. Who between the parent does the child prefer to stay with and why, should be the prime questions to be considered. For the peace of the child is important. Parental love and good interest in a child’s well-being, to me, outweigh silver and gold to the child.

It is incontrovertible that a child needs peace of mind to develop and advance in life in order to realize his or her potentials in life. Too, a stable home is more likely to nurture a stable child who will grow into a good citizen. Children need to be protected by parents and society. In them lies the future of humanity.

HAS OUR DEMOCRACY GONE CRAZY?


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                 (PICTURE OF THE CHIBOK GIRLS BEING HELD BY BOKO HARAM)

We seem to be in the season of impeachment in Nigeria. The pro-impeachment group has been pontificating on the rationale for the impeachment moves. While the anti-impeachment group has been fervently crying and struggling to demonstrate how undemocratic the impeachment moves are. I am neither for nor against impeachment, once it is just and carried out in strict compliance with the due process of the country’s Constitution? One may ask, is there an unjust impeachment? Yes, there is an unjust impeachment. However, that is a matter of someday discussion. I see the fever of impeachment spreading in our country. So, I ask: who is the next to be served with impeachment notice? The executive arm seems to be losing its comfort zone. No one can predict who will be the next to be served impeachment notice or impeached. Now law makers are proceeding on their annual vacations, they may return with surprises. Who knows? Some interests could to induce or stir them to impeach persons we think are more secured. By the situation presently, our law makers, sincerely, are having fun because the executive arm seems jittery. The time we are in, therefore, is like penalty shoot out time. A period you can say: any thing can happen! Yes, the law makers can spring any political surprise. They need firm assurances for desired tickets for 2015 general elections and more money to bankroll their elections, so they are vulnerable and can be manipulated and used to achieve inimical political goals or designs.

It is important to note that the Governors facing impeachment threats presently or being impeached are members of the main opposition political party, the All Progressives Congress (APC). One is wondering if the wind will start blowing in the directions of or against the members of the executive arm of government elected on the platform of the other political parties? You cannot say. The power of money is enormous. In our country, money talks and walks. Our political class is pathologically corrupt and unashamed personalities.

Presently, my fear is that we may soon get into the season of ‘you try to impeach me, I will try to pinch you.’ The crisis brewing in Nasarawa State as a result of the impeachment notice served on the Governor is a good example. May I ask, if the above season comes: Will the arguments of pro-impeachment and anti-impeachment groups change? Will they shift positions? These are hard balls in our country. Our democracy is seriously challenged because its drivers are politically drunk and reckless. They are infatuated about acquiring power, but careless about the responsibilities and challenges that go with power. As they get into public office, they forget public good. Instead, they get deeply enmeshed in corruption, abuse of office and parochial pursuits.

Tuesday will mark one hundred days the girls of Chibok Secondary School (picture above) were abducted by Boko Haram. Till date, our government has not been able to rescue them. The continued abduction of the girls by Boko Haram is a denial of their fundamental human rights. The first duty of government, across the globe, is to protect lives and properties. I, therefore, call on the Borno State Government and the Federal Government to get the Chibok girls released without further delay. Who wants to be elected? 

NIGERIA’S 53RD INDEPENDENCE TOMORROW: WHERE IS MY COUNTRY?


Tomorrow, Nigeria, my country, will mark its 53rd anniversary as an independent country. Yes, ‘independent country’. On 1st October 1960, history has it that Nigeria became independent from British colonialism. The British colonialism of Nigeria was one of indirect rule and distortion of the culture and history of the peoples of Nigeria. An example of distortion is the history that it was Mungo Park that discovered River Niger. The British chroniclers deliberately omitted to write that beforengo Park arrived that there were people with settled lives living along the River Niger. These people were, mainly, great fishing men who sailed the length and breath of the river eking their living. There were Kingdoms founded by some of them along the river. Another example of distortion, names of indigenous places and persons were changed. That’s why the capital of Alhambra State today is Awka not Oka, capital of Imo State is Owerri not s ttoday Owerre, capital of Enugu State is Enugu not Enugwu, etc.

One undeniable fact is that the British did not prepare Nigeria for independence. For instance, by the time of Nigeria’s independence, there was no university in the country. There was only a university college at Ibadan, which was an appendage of University of London. It was Dr. Nnamdi Azikwe that established the first university in Nigeria: the University of Nigeria, Nsukka. The motto of the university, which is to restore “The dignity of man” speaks volume of the British policy of denying Nigeria education. I have always maintained that education is the solid foundation of any modern nation. Put it this way, the super structure of any modern State. Science and technology, military science, economic prowess, etc are all products of education.

Ironically, in Nigeria, today, education has been relegated. Some say abandoned. This accounts for the incessant strike actions in our higher institutions. Is not shocking that with all the wealth of Nigeria, our educational system is in poorly funded and in crisis, especially the public sector. The evironment for conducive learning is lacking. There are no modern updated libraries and laboratories for learning. School hostels are unsafe, in all ramifications. Is it not a national embarrassment that armed criminals, whatever name called, could easily gain access to College of Agriculture, Yobe and snuff lives out from more forty eight students? I read that the number has increased to seventy eight. This is a tragedy. Within the same axis, I also read that seven persons were killed hours thereafter by armed men. The killings were along Damaturu – Maiduguri road. In some countries, these callous killings will cause rumpus in government and cost some high ranking public officers their positions. Not in Nigeria, I can hear some say.

The first duty of government in every organized society is to protect lives and properties. Protecting lives and properties make it possible for citizens to enjoy their human rights. Right to life is a mere academic expression in any society where the government is, to a large extent, unable or incapable of protecting lives and properties. One is worried that this is becoming the situation in Nigeria. I must confess that I am still alarmed that Nigerians cannot say whether the leader of Boko Haram is dead or alive. If Mr. President, as Commander-in-Chief of the armed forces, cannot say so, who will?

If the Federal Government, despite its armada of security fails to celebrate the independence day with the usual pomp and pageantry in the full glare of Nigerians in Eagles Square, Abuja or Tafawa Balewa Square, Lagos, it is a clear message to us, the citizens, that we are not safe. One security that the nation will inevitably confront in future Is the consequence of arming vigilante groups, which operate like private militias. Today, there is increase in armed vigilantism across the country. I pause to ask: Which way, my country?

No matter the confidence government gives us periodically, the insecurity of lives and properties in Nigeria has become one huge issue that requires proactive and decisive lawful steps to tackle. However, it should not be a guise to violate the fundamental human rights of innocent persons, especially political opponents, social critics, human rights activists, etc. I support bringing those who constitute terror to society to law. It behoves on us, as a nation, to demand that all forms of armed terror should be frontally tackled. We should not politicize or ethnicize it. Nigerians deserve the right of peace.

I dedicate this short post to the families of all innocent Nigerians who lost their lives to terrorist and militant attacks. We must, as a people that cherish their liberties and llives, stand to demand that government, at all levels, should fulfil their obligations to us. We must appreciate that bad governance knows no tribe, ethnicity or religion. It hurts all, except those in power and their cronies.

In conclusion, I suggest that the Nigeria Police Force is unbundled and that the definition of terrorism in Nigeria be widened to include provocative looting of public treasury. The little looting still be crime under our the criminal code and the penal code.

Seizure Of Arms And Ammunitions From Iran To Nigeria


The recent seizure of shipment of arms and ammunitions from Iran to Nigeria at the Apapa Port, Lagos by the Nigerian law enforcement agencies is highly commendable. The first duty of every government is to protect lives and property of persons.

It is disheartening, therefore, to read in the newspapers that the Iranian government is not cooperating with the Nigerian government on getting to the root of the matter. The front paper of THE PUNCH newspaper of November 18, 2010 has this caption – Seized arm: Suspect flees to Iran. The newspaper went on to report that Teheran is not cooperating with Nigeria.

This is, indeed, sad. That the Iranian Foreign Minister did not grant Nigerian Officers access to the Iranian suspect and that he, the Iranian suspect, went back to Iran on the Iranian Foreign Minister’s delegation is irritating.

This is a clear case of abuse of diplomatic immunity and should be condemned. Some countries, including Iran, will not take it kindly or easy with any diplomatic mission that is engulfed in a threat to security scandal. As a citizen of Nigeria, I salute the patience of the Nigerian government in approaching the issue and urge the Iranian government to cooperate with the Nigerian government on the matter.

The Nigerian government should do every thing within its power to fish out those behind the shipment to Nigeria and ensure that they are brought bring to book – nationally or internationally. The peace of Nigeria should not be allowed to be violated by forces of evil. As we approach the 2011 General Elections, we must be very vigilant.