Archive for the ‘Politics’ Category

2014-15

Yes, yes……2014 has just 6hrs 50mins and some secs for it to go (as at the time of filing this post). Yes, I know the journey has not been totally easy, we have had hurdles to jump during the journey and despite that, we made it to the end of it. It has not been by our individual or collective strength but by the grace of God. I am grateful to God for everything.

I will definitely be an ingrate if i refuse to appreciate you, yes you, you reading this post at this moment. I am so grateful to you all. I can assure you that you will never meet disappointment on this channel. Thanks a million.

I know by the grace of God, I will definitely catch you all again in 2015. I wish you all a prosperous, blessed and testimony filled 2015.

Stay blessed.

The gods are not to blame

Posted: December 29, 2014 in Education, Politics, Top stories

Written by DELE MOMODU

“So in the Libyan fable it is told
That once an eagle, stricken with a dart, Said, when he saw the fashion of the shaft, ‘With our own feathers, not by others’ hands,
Are we now smitten.’ ”-Aeschylus

Fellow Nigerians, let me start by sending you compliments of this special Season. As writers, our readers don’t expect us to go on break. And so the ardent followers of my column have indicated that I must script Pendulum even as we celebrate Christmas. As your humble servant, I have obeyed your instructions without any hesitation and here we go again, as I do not ascribe my obeisance to divine calling as our political leaders are wont to want us to believe.

I decided to start this piece with one of my favourite quotes from that Greek Poet, Aeschylus, a man of monumental achievement. We read a lot of Greek Tragedies in those days at the University of Ife (now Obafemi Awolowo University, Ile-Ife) as students of Literature-in-English. I don’t know what is being taught these days but I remember with nostalgia the great works of Aeschylus, Euripides and Sophocles.

I also recollect a few adaptations of Greek plays by Wole Soyinka and Ola Rotimi, who wrote The Bacchae of Euripides and The Gods Are Not To Blame respectively. The latter title is probably one of the most popular plays ever written by a Nigerian author.

My mind flashed back to Ola Rotimi’s spectacular work as I began this weekly epistle to you. We are only days to the beginning of a
New Year. And the year 2015 promises to be a watershed in our dear country. The reason is obvious. We are likely to have one of our hottest elections ever. It is the first time that a strong opposition party will attempt to unseat a very entrenched political party as well as an incumbent President who appears to have been popularly elected in 2011.

It is not common for the people to get an opportunity or indeed have the ability to sack a sit-in President in Africa. It is even more difficult in Nigeria where the President wields the power of life and death. It would have been impossible for the ruling PDP to remain in power these past 15 years if not for the fact that politics in Nigeria is a game of sharing the booty or what is usually referred to as the ‘national cake’.

The bulk of this cake, the knife needed to slice it and the portions to be distributed are all controlled by the President. And different interest groups really don’t give a damn if majority of the people
live below poverty level as long as the President is persuaded to give them a pitiable slice of the cake.

The amount of money already budgeted and squandered on frivolous, white elephant and sometimes phantom projects since our return to Democracy should have fixed most of our terrible problems but the reverse has been the case. The more we spent the less we achieved. And the ruling party in its supposed wisdom assumed that Nigerians were foolish and too docile to think and kick against their servitude. They studiously ignored the lessons of history as well as the popular adage that whatever has a beginning must have an end. Nigerians are patient and resilient. They may also be lethargic but they are neither foolish nor docile. A t t h e appropriate time, they are forced to react decisively.

Nothing has been more frustrating than the miraculous ascension of a man from the Niger Delta as the President of Nigeria who seems to
have mismanaged the great opportunity. Dr. Goodluck Jonathan achieved what the gifted Ken Saro-Wiwas couldn’t. Many had paid the
supreme price for what he got on a platter of gold. It is so ironic that a man who was expected to understand the plight of the poor
soon became even more elitist in disposition.

I won’t join those who said our President has done nothing as that would be too uncharitable but I would like to submit that there was much more he could have done to make the countrybetter. But the biggest undoing is the unbridled profligacy attached to this government.

A country that bears our kind of heavy challenges needed a sober and frugal leader who was ready to downgrade his personal comfort in
order to rescue his people from want and deprivation. Unfortunately, our President was quickly and cleverly hijacked by those who know how to stage bloodless coups along corridors of
power.

I think the end of the beginning started on January 1, 2012, when our President on God-knows-whose advice removed the full subsidy on
petrol and all hell broke loose.Nigerians trooped out in large numbers all over the country o stage demonstrations against such a bizarrely insensitive gift on the first day of the year. The protests almost became our own Arab spring but the biggest of them was forcefully crushed in Lagos as soldiers rolled out the tanks.

The government, and its IMF/World Bank sponsored economists were so rattled that it had to eat humble pie and make promises it never
intended to keep when the people graciously agreed to some increase in the price of petrol.

All manner of committees were hurriedly packaged to assuage the feeling of the people. For example, buses were supposed to have been bought nationwide to convey commuters to different destinations at next to nothing. Till this day, I don’t know how many buses were ever bought and who boarded them.

We read about SURE-P and its activities but I don’t know how
widespread its impact was felt simply because I cannot see what it has done. The committees wrote tons upon tons of reports that are
gathering dust wherever they are right now.

The price of oil has collapsed and the real Nemesis has arrived. While government is trying to paint a picture that all is well, it is becoming increasingly clear that we have landed in big trouble. It is disheartening that the dividend of crashing international oil prices, which should have been the lot of Nigerians through reduced petroleum product prices, will not even be allowed to them.

As the Chief Economist to the Government has said, Nigerians must wait until oil prices stabilise before the benefit of these prices can be spared to them. When government will subjectively decide that such time has arrived is left for the imagination given that prices have been crashing for almost 2 months now.

Not even the normal Christmas spirit and traditional New year’s benevolence can bend the unrelenting spirit of our ‘dream’ Economic Team as this Government continues to pile economic woes on its citizenry.

The President promised to reduce his world tours to most essential trips but it actually increased in intensity as if with a vengeance. We became a laughing stock as our Presidential entourage invaded different countries on shopping sprees. In the past year alone, our President and his Pastors have been to Israel more than once. One would have expected that more attention would be devoted to nation-building than all the flights of fancy. But we continued to live like a rich nation when indeed our economy had taken a nose-dive. We were continuously lied to about the state of things. Even now that it has become certain that we are broke, we are still pretending that there is no problem.

The spate of terror attacks under this government has become rather atrocious and endless. All hope of containing it also seems to have evaporated. The standing joke is that Boko Haram has now carved out a different map of Nigeria with huge chunks of Northern Nigeria
now excised from the control of our government.

The citizens don’t believe much is being done to contain the menace especially when over 200 girls remain missing and the bombings and killings continue unabated.

Unemployment has reached an all-time high with Nigeria recording the largest army of angry youths on the African c o n t i n e n t. The government and its cronies continue to publish fictitious figures informing Nigerians that the level of unemployment is falling when more school leavers and graduates are being churned out from our broken higher and tertiary institutions and left to fend for themselves. It is little wonder that our thieves, fraudsters and armed robbers have suddenly achieved sophistication second to none.

It is also believed that President Jonathan has not encouraged the anti-corruption agencies to do a good job by the manner he protects his Ministers and other associates.

These agencies point to the fact that there have been more prosecutions of high profile politicians under these administration but whatever may be the outcome of that debate is that the Presidential pardons have severely undermined any successes
in that respect.

In the middle of these social and economic issues, the unexpected also happened on the political front. I had warned in several articles that the President was being deceived and misled into making too many political miscalculations and mistakes. One of such monumental mistakes was the attempt by the President to force his candidate on the Nigeria Governors’ Forum. It was a complete misadventure as Governor Rotimi Amaechi defeated Governor Jonah David Jang who was favoured by the President’s camp by 19 to 16 votes.

One would have expected the President to accept the verdict but he went ahead to recognise a smaller illegitimate faction of 16
Governors instead of embracing Amaechi warts and all. That was the day I believe the PDP dug its own grave by piling up corpses of political liabilities.

The non-recognition of Amaechi as the Chairman of the authentic Nigeria Governor’s Forum led eventually to the fractionalisation of their party into PDP1 and PDP2. Had the President acted like the father of all, those five Governors who eventually defected to what later metamorphosed into APC would probably have remained. When
tomorrow comes, PDP will regret the day APC came into existence.Despite the initial braggadocio that APC would fall apart as a result of clashing egos, the party seems to have held tighter than even PDP.

In 2011, it would have been unthinkable that a General Muhammadu Buhari would bounce back so powerfully. Let no one deceive Mr President that there is no cause for alarm, there is plenty ahead. The mood of the nation does not favour PDP or the President. Mood is always a key factor in politics. The mood was right for Barack Obama when he became the first Black American President. I foresee the same favourable mood playing out in 2015 for Buhari and Osinbajo.

For the first time since PDP came into power, the opposition is now so formidable that it would be able to fight for substantial votes in
every zone. The choice of Osinbajo, as his Vice Presidential candidate, by Buhari is a political masterstroke which even most of us did not see coming. It has all the hallmarks of divine intervention and the advent of the answering of the prayers of the multitude of Nigerians. The amiable Professor Osinbajo provides devoutness, erudition, compassion, simplicity and above all integrity to the ticket. Both candidates share fairness, simplicity and an anti-corruption stance in common.

All manner of smart guys are warming up to eat out of the billions of naira made available for the Presidential campaign by friends of the President and some of our supposedly broke State Governments but PDP should pray for a miracle this time. Too many costly mistakes have been made. I don’t know how easy it would be to correct those fatal errors in less than two months.

Writers are like prophets but no one listens when we say the things we know. We warned regularly about those around the President but we were called names by those who turned the Federal Government into their personal property. Those who never lifted a finger when others fought on the streets of
Abuja for Jonathan to be President suddenly became Janitors at Aso Rock blocking those who may wish to tell the truth. I hope the President knows that the die is now cast and anything can happen in the next election.

My advice is that he should work hard on leaving a legacy no matter what happens. Mr President should organise a world class election even if he won’t be the beneficiary at the end of the day. And if he wins, at least no one would accuse him of rigging. There is nothing more to gain from politics. God has been too kind to him.

He should ignore all those throwing tantrums and threatening to set Nigeria ablaze if their man is not elected for the second term. They are mostly pretenders. As we’ve seen in the past, they are always the first to jump ship.

Let no one blame the gods for our personal failings in life. We must bear our cross with courage.

It is no new news that Nigerian Political atmosphere is now getting heavily clouded as the 2015 election which is stated for February is fast approaching.
As we all know, Jonathan has been declared as the official flag bearer of the People’s Democratic Party (PDP) for the position of Presidency and prior to the declaration, he chose Sambo as his running mate for his re-election in to office. In the same accord, the All Progressives Congress (APC) chose Rtd. General Muhammodu Buhari as their flag bearer for the same position and he made the pronouncement of his running mate, in person of Prof. Osinbajo yesterday.
Though there seemed to be some sort of delay in Buhari’s pronouncement but alas, he finally announced him yesterday. Below is a short biography of his running mate:

Prof. Yemi Osinbajo

Prof. Yemi Osinbajo

Prof. Yemi Osinbajo is a profile of the former Lagos State Attorney General and a Snr. and Resident Pastor in the Redeemed Christian Church of God(RCCG), Olive Tree House of Prayer for All Nations, Banana Island. The 55 years old man is a Senior Advocate of Nigeria and Senior Partner in the Law firm of Simmons Cooper Partners.

He lives in Lagos with his wife,Dolapo Osinbajo, who is a grandchild of Obafemi Awolowo with three children. His tertiary education was at the University of Lagos and the London School of Economics where he obtained the LLB and LLM degrees respectively.

Yemi Osibanjo was appointed the Lagos State Attorney General and Commissioner for Justice in 1999 and reappointed for a second term in 2003. During the period of his public service, he commenced the Lagos State justice reform project. A prominent feature of that project was the establishment of the Directorate for Citizens’ Rights (DCR) which provides free legal services and legal representation to indigent citizens of the state. This initiative gave a voice to many who would otherwise not have a way to access their rights.

Prior to that appointment, Osinbajo, a Professor of Law, was the Head of Public Law at the Faculty of Law, University of Lagos.

Between 1988 and 1992, he was the Special Adviser to the Attorney-General and Minister of Justice of the Federal Republic of Nigeria. He also served as a staff member of the United Nations and Member of the United Nation’s Secretary General’s Committee of Experts on Conduct and Discipline of UN Peacekeeping personnel around the globe.

He is currently an Ethics Advisor to the Ethics Committee of the African Development Bank and is a non-executive Director of Citibank. He is Co-founder & Board Member Convention on Business Integrity and the Justice Research Institute Ltd. He has also authored several law books.

In 2007, Prof. and his wife Oludolapo founded “The Orderly Society Trust”, a non- governmental organization that is dedicated to the promotion of Christian ethics and orderliness.

MATTERS ARISING (1)

Posted: August 19, 2014 in Education, Politics, Top stories

Written by Oyeniyi Oluwaseun O.

image

Flag of Nigeria

I noticed an information, which is in the form of an audio is now being passed around, especially amongst Christians and its dissemination rate seems to be increasing daily. People (Christians mainly) seem to have joined the distribution train; they also share it either orally or through electronic means (social media or Bluetooth). It is also being sold around.
When I first listened to the audio, I jettisoned the information in it (I practically didn’t believe it). I went back to the audio lately because I realized the audio seems to be fast spreading like virus amongst people (Christians mainly). It has now gotten to the level that I get notified about it almost every day, even by people who are many kilometers away from me.
Well, the only message I decrypted from the audio is that the main goal/vision of some political parties in Nigeria is to transform Nigeria to an absolute Islamic country. The speaker made the point on the basis that some parties have more Muslims in power than Christians, coupled with history.
When I analyzed the information critically, I realized it might affect the coming 2015 general elections in Nigeria. Some Christians might not vote because of the info, while at the same time, it would affect some people’s decisions during the election.
Well, I happen to be a strong believer of Jesus Christ and I’ll never desist from HIM. My conclusion about the audio (though the speaker called himself a Christian) is that it bears elements of confusion and its main aim is to bamboozle   people (Christians being the main target) to the side of a political party during the coming 2015 general elections in Nigeria. I strongly believe that the audio is a political propaganda and it is orchestrated by a political party.
As we all know, politics in Nigeria is like a script which is written by some people and it is usually being acted well by the actors/casts. I decided to write this piece because I know sooner or later, some parties (and it could one) will come to us on that stance. They will tell us to give them our votes in 2015 because they are not religion biased. They might even offer a Christian as their main candidate.
I believe it is highly illogical to say a party (or some parties) wants to convert Nigeria into an absolute Islamic country because they have more Muslims in office at the moment than Christians. Even those who tried it during the Military regime didn’t succeed; I wonder how they will do that now that democracy is what we practice.
Maybe I should draw our attention to something, I believe we all know a party in Nigeria that offers us people who pose themselves as Christians every time   and yet when they get to office, they let go of the traits of a good Christian as mandated by the Holy Bible.
When these so called Christians they offer us get to office, they engage themselves in transparent corrupt practices, they enrich themselves with the wealth of our nation, we (the masses) experience lot of work force strikes that are avoidable and the masses can be equalized to survivors of democracy terror. Even at the end of the tenure of some them in office, they get paraded by EFCC, though they usually go scot free. I should say they are practically above the law.
Like I said earlier, I am equally a Christian and I am not trying to hype the Muslims in office neither am I mobilizing for any of them here. They also have their own flaws but I don’t think I want to touch them today. I am just being factual and I am more concerned about the Christians now.
I believe Christians like the afore-mentioned ones don’t worth our votes anymore; I believe they don’t deserve a chance in our public offices. Let’s be wise in our decisions when election time comes. It wouldn’t do us any good if we become victims of people who have no good thing in plan for Nigeria other than to enrich their purses with our reservoir of wealth.
I believe we shouldn’t choose leaders based on religion fact anymore. The ones we have done in the past, how well did they pay us back? People are dying of poverty, unemployment rate is alarming, insecurity, work force strike, lack of infrastructure, corruption, to mention but a few, have all become a norm in our nation. Let’s be wise in our decisions, let’s take into office only the competent ones. Don’t sell your vote instead, guide your vote. Make RSVP your guide word.
R – Register with INEC

S – Select the right and competent candidates only

V – Vote

P – Protect your vote.

God bless Nigeria.

                                                                                         

President Ebele Goodluck  Jonathan

President Ebele Goodluck Jonathan


CREDIT: PUNCH NEWSPAPER
President Goodluck Jonathan on Wednesday forwarded a letter to the National Assembly, asking the lawmakers to urgently approve a $1bn external loan for the Federal Government to confront the terrorist Islamic sect, Boko Haram.

The letter dated July 15, 2014, was read on the floor of the Senate and that of the House of Representatives on Wednesday, by the Senate President David Mark and Speaker Aminu Tambuwal respectively.

In the letter, Jonathan explained that the external loan was urgently needed to upgrade the equipment, training and logistics of the Armed Forces and security services in order to enable them to confront the insurgents more forcefully.

The letter titled, “Tackling Ongoing Security Challenges: Need for Urgent Action”, read in part, “You are of no doubt cognisant of the ongoing and serious security challenges which the nation is facing , as typified by the Boko Haram terrorist threat. This is an issue that we have discussed at various times.

“I would like to bring to your attention the urgent need to upgrade the equipment, training and logistics of our Armed Forces and Security Services to enable them more forcefully to confront this serious threat.

“For this reason, I seek the concurrence of the National Assembly for external borrowing of not more than $1bn, including government to government arrangements for this upgrade.”

The National Assembly had in the N4.6tn 2014 Budget provisions, appropriated N968.127bn for Defence on account of the Boko Haram insurgency.

The request may be considered today (Thursday) on account of its urgency because both chambers of the National Assembly may embark on their annual long recess today till the end of September 2014.

Also, speaking at the inauguration of the Theophilus Danjuma-led Victims Support Fund Committee, the President said he promised Nigerians that the government would be victorious in the war against insurgency.

“We owe Nigerians nothing but victory over terror. The life of every Nigerian is precious and we will continue to work round the clock to put an end to this insurgency,” Jonathan said.

The President said the country was confronted with individuals whose minds had been so twisted and tutored to believe they were doing God a service by killing and maiming.

He said the inauguration of the support fund was to kick-start the process of providing succour to the people who had been directly affected one way or the other by acts of terrorism in the country.

The President said, “The year 2009 appears to be a tragic turning point. Boko Haram, an assemblage of heartless individuals, took it upon itself to bring evil upon our country. They have, in their mission, turned women to widows and reduced children to orphans.

“They have killed and maimed and struck fear into law-abiding citizens. They have destroyed villages, attacked property and terminated people’s livelihoods without a care in the world. They have engaged our security agencies in a meaningless warfare that has wasted unimaginable human and material resources.

“The reality today is that we are confronted with individuals whose minds have been so twisted and tutored to believe they are doing God a service.”

The President said those who have been victims of terror needed comfort and succour.

He said, “We cannot replace the life of a child that has been snuffed out. We cannot replace the lives of men and women who have been killed. We cannot return broken limbs to their original state. We cannot take away the trauma that people have been put through.

“Their memories are scared, some for the rest of their lives, over what they knew nothing about. The best we can do in this circumstance is to offer them a shoulder to lean on and to stretch out our hands of fellowship to them and tell them we feel their pains and share in their sorrow.

“The Victim Support Fund Committee is part of our ongoing efforts to provide a comprehensive solution to the menace. This Government is determined to resolve this crisis.”

Also at the occasion, the National Security Adviser, Col. Sambo Dasuki (retd.), said Danjuma was not the first senior Nigerian that would challenge the government on the insurgency, saying some former Heads of State had told the President the same thing.

Dasuki said the government was ready to draw the battle line.

“I assure Nigerians that we will win the war. But there are some very hard choices that would have to be made. We have so far been more concerned about the lives of a few versus the condition of a few million. The decision has to be made soon,” he said.

Hmmmm……there is God oooo……$1bn to combat BOKO HARAM in addition to the almost 1 trillion naira approved to combat this sect in 2014 budget.

National Confab

Tempers rose on Tuesday at the venue of the ongoing National Conference in Abuja as adherents of the two major religions engaged in a debate over the dominance of Islam in the 1999 Constitution without any mention of Christianity.

But the intervention of the leadership of the conference saved the situation.

The drama ensued when two Christian delegates representing Christian Leaders, Bishop of Kafanchan Diocese of Catholic Church, Joseph Bagobiri and Pastor Emmanuel Bosun (Ogun State), raised the issue which they described as unfair treatment of Christians and Christianity in the country.

This angered their Muslim counterparts, who opposed their submissions.

They had both submitted that the constitution of Nigeria was skewed in favour of Islam and Muslims with a call on delegates to ensure that the imbalance was corrected.

Bagobiri opened the debate on religion. He gave a detailed analysis of how the Nigerian constitution did not have any mention of Christianity or the church, but Islam was repeatedly mentioned.

He also argued that the adoption of a particular religion by states must be done away with, adding that in a country like Nigeria, neutrality was needed.

He said since Islamic courts had been created, it was only normal to extend the hands of fellowship to Christianity in order to create a fair state.

He called for the establishment of Ecclesiastical Courts to handle Christian-related disputes, like Sharia courts.

Bagobiri said funding should also be provided for the Christian courts, just like Sharia courts so that Christians could have a sense of belonging in their own country.

In his contribution, Bosun argued that the conference must address religious imbalance in the country, adding that the conference needed to address religion squarely before it destroys Nigerians.

He said, “In the 1999 Constitution, Shariah was mentioned 73 times, Grand Khadi 54 times, Islam 28 times , Muslims 10 times and there is no single mention of Christ, Christian, Christianity or church. Some mischievous elements are taking these lapses in the constitution to come to the ungodly decision that probably that the state is an Islamic state.

“So, what are Christians doing here 100 of our churches were burnt down, Christians are being killed. In fact, it has reached the stage of genocide. I will cite one example – In one denomination in Plateau State, the Women’s Fellowship as at 2001 had 500 registered widows and by 2008, they had 900 registered widows. By February 2014, they had 25,000 registered widows.”

But a former Governor of Kebbi State, Adamu Aliero, citing Order 9 rule 7 raised a point of order.

He said, “A delegate must confine his contribution to the subject under discussion and will not introduce matters irrelevant thereto. The speaker on the floor is bringing issues that are not related to Mr. President’s speech. I therefore want the Chairman to call him to order. He is bringing diversionary issues that are very sentimental.”

But the Deputy Chairman of the conference, Prof. Bolaji Akinyemi, said Bosun could not be ruled out of order since others had been allowed to speak. He said he he would only plead that delegates should mind their contributions so as not to offend the sensibilities of other people.

Bosun therefore continued saying, “There is the need for us to abide by what Mr. President said on pages 14 and 15 for this conference to take a closer look at the Constitution and make recommendations that would facilitate redressing every imbalance therein so that all the citizens in Nigeria can live peacefully and live in harmony.

“If we set Nigeria on fire for whatever reason, none of us would be able to live here. We Christians do not hate Muslims. We are prepared to live together in harmony. I live in the South-West where Christians and Muslims live together and there is peace. We want to see that peace all over Nigeria- in the North, South, East and West.”

In his contributions, a delegate from the South-West, Pastor Tunde Bakare, told delegates not to deviate from the principles set by President Goodluck Jonathan as doing so would only make the conference a jamboree.

He said, “Two earlier distinguished delegates have described the President’s speech as a guiding principle to this conference. Another one said a marshal plan. Permit to go into the speech itself and bring three issues in three minutes. The President himself made clear his expected outcome of this conference that as stated in Pg. 19 “…my expectation is that the outcome of this conference will be a positive turning point for our country’s development. We must seize this opportunity to cement the cleavages and fault lines that separate us. We must relaunch our country.’ If my expectation are different from his (Jonathan’s) then we are in a jamboree. We must approach these issues with no suspicion and antagonism. Therefore we should be open-minded and work to achieve what is best for Nigeria.”

Credits: PUNCH NEWSPAPER

Delegates at the National Conference on Wednesday called for the removal of issues that had brought about distrust and divided the citizens along ethnic, sectional and religious lines.

They made the call in Abuja when they continued deliberations on the President’s speech which emphasises unity and peaceful coexistence of all the components that make up Nigeria.

Alhaji Yusuf Daibu, representing Kwara, said that one of the country’s greatest problems was the gross mistrust among the various ethnic and religious groups.

“This mistrust is an issue we must address strongly if we want to move forward as a nation. No nation can survive under an atmosphere of mutual distrust and suspicion.

“At this forum, we must individually and collectively see ourselves as bridge builders across ethnic and religious divides that presently exist,” he said.

Daibu urged Nigerians to imbibe the spirit of give and take because “we cannot always have our ways and no country can survive where religious bigotry thrives.”

Another delegate, Alhaji Dalhatu Bashir, representing Jigawa, said in the nation’s history, people had lived outside their ethnic zones and were voted for by their hosts to represent them.

“We know that Dr Nnamidi Azikiwe, an Ibo man born in Northern Nigeria, won election in the heartland of Yoruba land.

“The Tiv People invited Ibrahim Imam from Borno to contest election in Tiv land to go and protect and promote the interest of the Tiv people and there was no problem.

“Bagudu also from Nupeland won election in Ibadan. Ladan from Nupeland won election in Onitsha twice and recently in Kano, Sikiru a Yoruba man won an election,” he said.

Bashir said that was the Nigerian spirit, and urged the conference to find solutions to the dichotomies of ethnicity, religion and resource control that currently divided the people.

Dr Magdalene Dura, representing Benue, regretted what she called the arbitrary state creation and boundary demarcation which had balkanised some ethnic groups.

She said that the issue of indigene/settler dichotomy must be addressed by the conference to give all Nigerians the right to live where they wanted, vote and be voted for.

In her position, Maryam Abdullah, representing the Coalition of Civil Society Organisations, blamed the elites for manipulating religion, ethnicity and sectionalism for their selfish interests.

“Why we have been fighting along ethnic, regional and religious affiliations for years is caused by the elites competing for the control of political and economic powers.

“The ordinary Hausa/Fulani, Yoruba and Ibo people do not have problems with one another; they wake up every day and struggle for their daily bread without relying on the government.

“But because of competition among the elites, they instigate the people to fight one another while the elites convert the resources of the nation for their personal benefits.

“We can only experience peace, unity and progress once the elites stop seeing personal loss as that of their tribes, regions and religions, and I hope this conference will address the issue,”she said.

Prof. Olu Ajakaiye, representing Nigeria Economic Society, said the dwindling economic fortune of the country was responsible for the divisions among the people.

“If the opportunities are there, if what you want is available, you will not remember who is Hausa, Yoruba, Ibo, Christian or Muslim; you will think about Nigeria.

“So, it is because of scarcity that we are Ibos, Yoruba and Hausas. If we reduce the issue of scarcity, nobody will bother whether you are Christian or Muslim,” he said.

Ajakaiye, therefore, challenged the delegate to evolve a working governance structure that would usher Nigeria into prosperity.

A representative of the National Supreme Council for Islamic Affairs, Prof. Obinna Ekpe, regretted that the rights of the minorities, whether ethnic or religious, were not adequately protected.

“In many parts of the North, Christians are in minority but they have not committed any crime by being Christians.

“Nigeria must ensure that the rights of the Christians are protected without infringing on the rights of the Muslim majority.

“In many parts of the South, Muslims are in minority; Nigeria must evolve a way of protecting their rights without infringing on the rights of the Christian majority,” he said.

Ekpe, who is an Ibo Muslim, regretted that he was the only Igbo Muslim in the conference in spite of the large population of Igbo Muslims.

“The minorities are under-represented. I am the only Muslim Igbo in this conference and there are many Igbo Muslims which must be protected and represented,” he said.

 

 

Credits: PUNCH NEWSPAPER.