THE COUNTRY’S MILITARY AND LAW BREAKING 


​The Channel’s TV report of clash between the Police on duty and Navy personnel in Calabar is a clear testimony of the weight of impunity that the Military still unleashes on Nigerians though we are under a civil dispensation. The reported incident is akin to vulture eating vulture which in our culture is regarded as an abomination or a taboo. 
The report has it that three Policemen were killed as a result of the cladh and a Police Station burnt. This is serious. It is important to ask: What was the offence of the Police men on duty? Also,  are Navy personnel above the law and therefore not subject to the Police Act and the Constitution that have empowered the Police to discharge their duties of policing? 
It is disheartening that we keep padding the impunity of the military institution in this country. There was this incident of a man who was harassed for spitting from a vehicle on the highway before nearing  a military checkpoint. His conduct could be a bad manner, but definitely not a crime. He was accused by the soldiers of spitting on them. This was just to humiliate him. On the road, you see citizens asked to undergo different punishments at military checkpoints for offences adjudged by them. What of being flogged with ‘koboko’? 
Citizens get embarrassed and humiliated in various ways by the security apparati of the nation. The citizens in dealing with military personnel are like second class citizens. It is an insult to ask a military man or woman on duty what offence a person has committed to be punished. You will likely be embarrassed or threatened with corporal punishment. You may be subjected to a punishment too. The situation is unwelcome and the authorities must start to address it.
The Federal Government must wake to its responsibility of protecting the citizens from military brutality and impunity. The burning of the Police Station in Calabar and killing of three Policemen are clear offences in law: they are arson and murder. The perpetrators and the accomplices should not be shielded. They should be subjected to the due process of law: arrested, investigated and prosecuted. If found liable, they should be convicted and face the wrath of the law. 
I am however worried as my mind keeps saying to me: I bet, nothing will be done to them. It is a dead matter. If my heart beat comes to pass, then what a country?

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PENSIONERS AND PENSION IN NIGERIA 


​”PENSIONER COMMITS SUICIDE IN BENUE OUT OF FRUSTRATION 
A retired worker with the Benue State Local Government Service, Mr. Gabriel Nomsha, last week committed suicide following frustration over his inability to get his pension for over three years.
 

This was disclosed by the Chairman of Coalition of Local Government Pensioners,’ Mike Vembe, who led a protest to Government House Makurdi wednesday.
He said one of their members, due to frustration, hanged himself a week ago. ‘One of our members, Gabriel Nomsha, from Gwer West Local Government Area, committed suicide last week as a result of poverty and frustration.”
He explained that after the deceased had been screened, he came with the hope of collecting his pension but was disappointed when he wasn’t paid.
This is even as 2,000 local government pensioners on Tuesday slept at the gate of the Government House in Makurdi to protest the non-payment of their pension to the tune of N1.1 billion.
The pensioners who came from the 23 local government areas of the state, were said to have arrived the seat of government in Makurdi about noon but could not see the governor and decided to pass the night at the gate of government house.
Efforts by security operatives mounting the gate to disperse them were rebuffed as the senior citizens called their bluff until mother luck smiled at them yesterday morning when Governor Samuel Ortom who was travelling to Abuja, came to address them.
Vambe who led the pensioners, said the protest became necessary after the Ministry of Finance stopped giving money to Local Government Pensions Board.
“We slept at the gate of the Government House since yesterday to press home our demands for the payment of our pension. The finance ministry stopped giving money to Local Government Pensions Board and this is causing our hardship.”
Governor Ortom who sympathised with them, said their welfare was of utmost importance to his government and promised to do everything possible to clear their pension arrears.
Ortom immediately directed his Special Adviser on Local Government and Chieftaincy Affairs, Hon. Titus Zam, to include one of their leaders.”

Culled from http://www.wetndey.com
My take is that State Governors are toying with the constitutional right and welfare of pensioners in the country. Pension is a right under our Constitution.  The present situation calls for an urgent and collective intervention. The Federal Government must lead the pack in redressing the pensioners. There is no doubt that a lot of misappropriation is going on in the States across the country. The Federal Government is more like an accomplice for failing and/or refusing to to get the State Governors to publicly account for the bailout funds given their States. 
The bailout fund was meant to pay off arrears of workers salaries and pensions. It is therefore immoral and criminal to divert it or to short-change the beneficiaries in any manner or form. 
Many pensioners have died in pursuit of their pensions. Some have died for not being able to support their lives after retirement due to the callous and illegal denial of their pensions by State Governors. The pensioner hung himself to cut short the frustration, abuse and pains that were being  inflicted on him by the State Governor. He is a recent case of one of the causalities of the abuse of pensioners in the country. 
The denial of pensioner of their pension and not paying pensioners their pension as at and when is a threat to the anti-corruption fight. It is a discouragement to those in service and the younger ones who aspire for careers in the public service. Many of these public servants being owed pension and are being dribbled by State Governors  worked in honesty. Today, they are being ridiculed and mocked by the same State that they served honestly. What a message do we think is being passed to their children and relations and those in service who worked with or under such pensioners? The message is simply: You have to steal to prepare for your retirement and/or, as in our parlance, ‘don’t kill yourself for Government’ which is one should put less energy in official work because the Government does not cater for pensioners and will not cater for you thereafter. The other effect is that it is helping in lowering productivity in the public service. 
Theris no doubt that the implications of State Governors owing pensioners their pension are numerous. One of the clearest messages is that our country is uncaring and our leaders are mischievous and insensitive. The aged, as vulnerable people,  are supposed to be protected and catered for, and not abused and humiliated. 
Have you asked: How many State Governors in the country are retirees? What do we make out of this in respect of our new calmour for youths in political  leadership? Is the conduct of the State Governors not opposed to this quest? 

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Our country needs to undertake a critical evaluation of the attitude of those elected to govern and represent us. We must break the circle of pretence, and come out to say no to all manner of abuses and impunity. Owing the pensioners is an act of impunity 
Good morning all.

THE IRONY OF DEMOCRACY IN NIGERIA 


​Peaceful protest and strike action by workers are part of the fundamental human rights of citizens and workers. They are protected under freedom to association and assembly, and freedom to expression. Our experience as a country shows that the right to peacefully protest and the right to strike by workers are not tolerated by State Governors. They use State force to crush them. They threaten the citizens and workers, if they dare so assemble and/or express themselves. 
Nigeria is an interesting country. Our politrickians think that the citizens are foolish. Since the rumour of a coup became public, our politrickians are warning that Nigerians will resist any coup attempt. Yes, Nigerians will resist a coup attempt. Let them that the resistance is not because of them, or because of they are doing well. It is for our love and quest for democracy. We cannot afford to watch our democracy truncated for the third time. However, I sincerely doubt if there is such a thinking in the military now. I take the press statement by the Presidency that it is a hoax as the true position. Who might have generated the hoax? 
For emphasis, Nigerians do not want a coup. Let any change of government come from the ballot box via a free and fair general election. This is where INEC must acquit itself or go to the dungeon of history. 
It is important to state that election rigging is also a coup because it undermines and subverts the popular will of the electorate. It gives control of government to an individual or a political party contrary to the law. The Constitution decries taking over of power or control of government contrary to it. Section 1(2) of the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, 1999 (as amended) is clear on the issue. 
If State Governors and political chieftains in the country are calling for civil disobedience to a military coup, which is not likely, what are we taking out of their call? It follows that as a people we must be prepared to rise and massively reject any form of electoral rigging in 2019. We cannot continue to be apathetic to electoral rigging. 
The State Governors constitute one of the huge challenges to democracy and democratic leadership in the country. Many of them are petty and mean. Here are elected leaders who scuttle, violate and threaten harmfully the citizens right to peacefully protest and workers right to strike promoting civil disobedience because they felt that their selfish and arrogant hold on governance is about to be threatened. The same individuals who oppose protest and strike are canvassing for opposition to a coup. The question is: How? The other is that if a coup should be opposed, which I support, if ever such a misadventure is attempted, why can’t the citizens utilize peaceful protest and workers utilizing strike action to oppose inhuman policies and programmes, indeed, bad governance? This is the irony of our democracy . I abhor violent protest. It is not democratic. 
It is so relieving that the Military and the Presidency have dispelled the coup rumour. Rumour mongers can now rest. We need credible general elections, not coup is an aberration to democratic governance. The rumour should cause our politrickians to undertake self evaluation of their leadership. 
Nigeria is destined for greatness; its challenge is corrupt and poor leadership that it has continued to experience over the decades.

FREE SPEECH AND MEMBERS OF POLITICAL PARTIES IN NIGERIA 


The  front page of a reputable newspaper in Imo State published todau that the All Progressives Congress (APC)  may sanction one of its stalwarts,  Uche Onyeagocha for his position on ‘Imo Charter of Equity’ and his reported threat to Quit the party if the Charter is not observed. This short post is not on the said Imo Charter of Equity. Also, my intention is not to provoke any debate on the ‘Imo Charter of Equity’ here. Please, I request that comments on the said Charter are left out for now. 

My concern now is the need for respect for the fundamental rights of members of political parties in the country, especially their right to think and to express themselves. I confess that I advocate party discipline. I also advocate organizational discipline. However, when the issue concerns freedom of speech, I am for its enjoyment by members of political parties. A political party is not a cult group. It is a legal and democratic group and must be tolerant to other voices. 

I strongly believe that a member of a political party should be free to publicly express his or her views on important public issue, especially when the party seems to be on a wrong course and appears unrepentant. On this premise, I think Uche Onyeagocha has the right to think and to freely express himself on the issue of ‘Imo Charter of Equity’ if he has found that his party seems unrepentant on the issue of which zone will produce the Governor of Imo State in 2019 and these rights he activated. It is better to speak out before an injury is done than after the injury is inflicted. I am wondering: Why should APC threaten him with sanction? 

I doubt that the threat of sanction is,  indeed, the official thinking or position of APC. For it will make a mockery of the party, if there is a sanction against him for  expressing himself.

MTN AND THE RETAILERS – WHO IS DECEIVING US? 


Yesterday, there was a short post by me on the text by MTN to its subscribers not to pay more than its official prices for its recharge cards. My worry was confirmed few minutes ago. The situation is the same in Owerri and indeed, Imo State. I decided to buy MTN recharge card of N200.00 to test if MTN has reached out to the retailers to halt an increase that started since December 2016. Who is deceiving who? 
I bought the N200 MTN recharge card for N210. I tried to ascertain why. The answer I got is this: The sellers now buy, for instance, a pack of 10 MTN recharge cards of N100 each at N990. Their gain, if they sell at N100 is N10. To offset their sundry cost which include transport to and fro the wholesalers or MTN access point, pay local government daily toll, etc and to make light gain, they added N10. I felt for them. You see them under the sun. They feed too. How much do they make at the end of the day? It simply means that MTN is milking them. I think regulation is needed to protect this class of Nigerians trying to legitimately eke a living. 
If MTN is sincere and serious on keeping the price of its recharge cards at its official rates, it should reduce the cost of its recharge cards to retailers, at least, by N50. Also, it should investigate its wholesalers and its official access points. Who knows? There could be funny business going on in these places. 
The NCC should, on its own, step into this matter. The poor retailers need protection, not exploitation. We cannot be talking of fighting corruption and insecurity when we abandon the poor and vulnerable to be exploited and mistreated by producers. I reiterate that MTN should go public and inform us what caused the hike. It ought to know.

​THE FIGHT AGAINST CORRUPTION IN NIGERIA IS A NATIONAL IMPERATIVE


Fighting corruption is a serious business. It is not a matter of media entertainment. If you must fight corruption, you must have either kept clean record in life or have for long purged yourself and ready to admit your past, if the need arises. Integrity of self and institution one is representing are important in achieving success in any fight against corruption. 

For EFCC to succeed, each of the officers must bring to the table proven integrity, the EFCC as a corporate body must demonstrate proven institutional integrity – that it is not biased, not an attack dog of any government in power, etc and that in discharging its duties, it is rule of law compliant and treats all under its investigation equally. 
To appreciate the challenges of EFCC today, there is need for us to ask: Can it be said that the EFCC officers have the integrity expected of corruption fighters? As a corporate entity, has the EFCC proven itself as above board? That it is neutral, fair and follows due process in its actions, including disposing of properties confiscated? The truth is that Nigerians are genuinely worried presently. There is no doubt that Nigerians want the fight against corruption, however, they have issues with the ways and manners that it is being fought by the EFCC. 
The Ikoyi money discovery by the EFCC is the newest concern. The discovery has raised professional and ethical issues for the EFCC. One will ask: Does the EFCC take time to investigate reports and allegations before it acts? Is the EFCC not expected to be clinical in its investigation? If it does, why is the ownership of the money now a huge pendulum swinging recklessly? When the EFCC approached the Court for interim order, who did it say has the recovered money? Can we say it lied on oath? The matter has become a national embarrassment as different persons and bodies are now claiming the money. If the money belongs to NIA, which is a possibility, was the EFCC not expected to have known, if it did its investigation, at least basic investigation, before going to the media? 
Ironically, we are in a country where considered opinions are dubbed opposition. The EFCC needs to overhaul itself. The fight against corruption is a must for our national security and development. However, it must be fought within the law and by those who have the integrity and the capacity too.

​OKEY NDIBE AND MAKING NIGERIA GREAT – MY VIEW


This morning I read Okey Ndibe’s statement after he was quizzed by the State Security Services. I remember that I read his post sometime where he stated that a relation was, a kind of, pleading with him to stay away from visiting for now to avoid being detained. He wondered why. We all know that he is not a criminal or enemy of the State. He is just a man of ideas. In the statement, he stated that his name was placed in the SSS Watch List in 2010 during the Yar’Adua administration. I was taken aback. Eleven years after people like Okey Ndibe opposed the military and forced the military to usher in democracy by force of ideas, not arms, that a civilian regime would place him on a security  Watch List. This is sorrowful. 

I am strengthened by the concluding part of his statement that ‘Fear is a choice, I ‘ve chosen not to fear.” I have opposed fighting free speech because it is a feature of tyranny. Okey Ndibe was quizzed for exercising his right to free speech. He is not an enemy of the country. He is rather a patriot pushing for viable and contemporary alternatives to make Nigeria great. What is offence? Let the DSS tell us. 
It is so embarrassing and irritating  that successive governments in the country indulge in all forms of repressive tactics against free speech. They forget that free speech is sine qua non and key to national development. If we are to develop as a country, the citizens should freely express themselves as how to fix the country. Development is a product of thinking. Ideas, they say, rule the World. It is worthless to think when you cannot express your thoughts. So, if we are serious as a country, we should let the country be a market of competing ideas. This is strength, not crisis. We know when a speech is seditious. Who is more seditious in speech in this country than our politicians who are now politrickians. I therefore call on the SSS to remove the name of Okey Ndibe from its Watch List. His name on the list serves no security purpose. We need more patriotically clear headed and vocal Nigerians like him expressing themselves on the viable way to go for our country. Our people need more critical and alternative ideas on nation building. Let the choice be that of the people. Nigerians are capable of making the right choice. When a people choose the path to go, they walk it with tenacity and audacity. The result is always enviable. Nigeria needs ideas to move forward. 
Good morning Nigeria! You are destined for greatness.