Archive for May, 2013

On 28 May 13 a combined team of the JTF involving the NA of the 3 Brigade here in Kano and the Kano state DSS conducted a thorough search of this house located at No 3 Gaya Road off Bompai Road Kano belonging to one Abdul Hassan Taher Fadlalla a Lebanese national who is currently out of the country. After painstaking search of the whole premises, the search team uncovered an underground bunker in the the master bed room where a large quantity of assorted weapons of different types and caliber were recovered.

The bunker was specially constructed for this purpose. It is worth mentioning to say that the weapons include anti tank weapons, rocket propelled guns, anti tank/anti personnel mines among other dangerous weapons.

All the weapons and ammunition recovered were properly concealed with several layers of concrete and placed in coolers, drums and bags neatly wrapped.

These discoveries were not accidental but the outcome of an ongoing robust counter terrorism investigation by the Department of the State Services Abuja in the past several months. The investigation also confirms the existence of a Hizbullah Foreign Terrorist Cell in Nigeria. Consequently, the DSS on 16 May 2013 arrested one Mustapha Fawaz the co-owner of the popular Amigo Supermarket as well as the wonderland Amusement Park all in Abuja. Thus, his arrest and confession unveiled other members of the foreign terrorists network which led to the interception of one member of the syndicate named Abdullah Tahini a Lebanese national at the Mallam Aminu Kano International Airport with undeclared amount of sixty thousand United States Dollars on him enroute Beirut. Thereafter on 26 May 2013 one Talal Roda also a Lebanese with Nigerian Passport was arrested in this same house.

All those arrested have confessed to have undergone Hizbullah terrorist training and further implicated one Fauzi Fawad, also a co-owner of Amigo Supermarket and wonderland Amusement Park. However, the fellow is now at large. The arms and ammunition were targeted at facilities of Israel and Western interest in Nigeria, however, the security agencies are making frantic efforts to unveil the true situation. At the end of investigation, all those involved will be prosecuted.

By Abimbola Adelakun

“As is being surmised here and there, does this PDP vs. Amaechi fight really signify the end of the PDP? Hardly. In certain ways, the squabble is a blessing for the newly formed All Progressives Congress but I do not yet see how it goes farther. The PDP’s in-built resilience is based on how many political lives hang around its continued existence. Its members will do anything to protect their party even if it means sacrificing Amaechi. He is not critical to the survival of the PDP neither is he bigger than the party. He will be used as a parable to whip other members into line, to teach them never to “break ranks”. Like others before him, they will use Amaechi to demonstrate to other members that they are, because the PDP is.”-Abimbola Adelakun

The drama involving Governor Chibuike Amaechi of Rivers State and certain political goons is approaching a climax. What started as a governor-family affair has, somehow, managed to infect the rest of us. The Nigerian Governors’ Forum, as some commentators have argued, might be extra legal, “unconstitutional” and have no immediate relevance, but so far, the governors have managed to keep us entertained with their trifling. They have also given us an insight into why — as long as their present political occupation subsists — 2015 might just be more of the same.
What should have been a simple election among less than three-dozen presumably enlightened adults has morphed into a major creek brawl with two sides laying claim to the exalted throne of the NGF. It is shameful and reprehensible but the Peoples Democratic Party long lost its self-censor device. If anyone had any hopes — or delusion — that the Nigerian political actors have the moral conviction to do anything differently in the forthcoming elections, this latest NGF battle royale loudly says otherwise.

If Amaechi maintains his staying power, things could get more exciting –and perhaps predictable — in the next few days. No one will be surprised if the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission suspends its yearlong hibernation and goes after Amaechi with uncommon vigour. They will animate his skeletons to start crawling out of the cupboard. You need not be a prophet to predict the turn of events in altercations between the President and the lesser gods; the PDP uses the same worn script all the time.

On Monday, the PDP’s National Working Committee suspended Amaechi’s membership of the party for his “failure” to rescind the dissolution of the elected Executive Council of Obio/Akpor Local Government Area of Rivers State. I wonder why, of all possible disciplinary actions, they chose that path. And, why at this time? Considering that Amaechi became a governor in his first term through a Supreme Court judgment that planked his electoral victory on his party membership, you know the PDP’s move reeks of mischief, or vengeance.

Amaechi himself is no stranger to hot water. As Speaker of Rivers State House of Assembly and, later as the governorship candidate of the PDP, to a two-term governor, he has fought a few good fights and bloodied some noses in his political career trajectory. As governor, he is no longer an outstanding performer, at least, relative to his first term.

His battles, if not anything, will enable him to wear a victim complex and very soon, join the Jeremiah Club currently dominated by ex-governors — Ayo Fayose, Peter Odili, Diepreye Alamieyeseigha, (and perhaps in future, Timipre Sylva) — who do not lose an opportunity to lament that they were hung out to dry because of political machinations.

At a recent inter-party summit, Amaechi himself was already talking in obituary terms. When he said, “Even if I am removed tomorrow, I am satisfied…,” he all but admitted that the weight of the PDP was crushing him. At this point, he has two choices: One is to renounce his attempt at independent-mindedness and grovel before the PDP graven image. This is the thrust of advice offered him by Alamieyeseigha -and that is one man who should know, having being through the proverbial valley of the shadow of death.

Alams said he told Amaechi, “After God, next comes the government…” It is a loaded statement that pithily explains why Governor Godswill Akpabio is naturally obsequious where President Goodluck Jonathan and his interests are involved, and also why Governor Olusegun Mimiko is a member of Labour Party by day and a PDP member at night.

The other option available to Amaechi is to face the fiery furnace being heated up for his sake. However, unlike the fable of the three Hebrew children, I am not sure there is an angel anywhere coming to rescue him. If things get too hot, other governors who stand by him now will not hesitate to beat a tactical retreat. Who wants his balls crushed by the almighty government? As Nigeria is presently constituted, the government, especially the one domiciled at the centre, is not next to God; the government is God.

As is being surmised here and there, does this PDP vs. Amaechi fight really signify the end of the PDP? Hardly. In certain ways, the squabble is a blessing for the newly formed All Progressives Congress but I do not yet see how it goes farther. The PDP’s in-built resilience is based on how many political lives hang around its continued existence. Its members will do anything to protect their party even if it means sacrificing Amaechi. He is not critical to the survival of the PDP neither is he bigger than the party. He will be used as a parable to whip other members into line, to teach them never to “break ranks”. Like others before him, they will use Amaechi to demonstrate to other members that they are, because the PDP is.

It is of course, very tempting to take sides with Amaechi. The media are gradually constructing him as some kind of David who is facing a well-armed Goliath with mere sling and stones. It is a fabrication that subtly obliterates the road that led us to this place. Amaechi, last time I checked, is a member of the PDP and a beneficiary of all the political capital and the repressive might the party wields. He is as much a Goliath as the PDP itself. Not too long ago, did he not immodestly announce that his “official” jet cost N7bn, and not the N9bn being speculated in the media? Where was his conscience when he was acquiring this adult toy with which he has been attending one private party after another all over the place? Just in 2012, he was hopping from media house to media house trying to buy support for the fuel subsidy removal. His argument then was that most of the state allocation funds went into recurring expenditure and governors needed the extra money that was being spent on subsidising fuel. Yet, he could afford a jet?

If there is any David here, it is the longsuffering Nigerian masses that will, one way or the other, bear the brunt of this rhubarb. Unless I see how this all comes down to the benefit of Nigerians, especially as it affects the price of fish in the market, I have no shred of pity for any side. The best I can do is wish Amaechi good luck. And lots of it too!

ImagePartisan wrangling and commercial manoeuvring have derailed plans to make the oil and gas industry more efficient and accountable

Efforts towards comprehensive reform of Nigeria’s oil and gas industry are in tatters some five years after the first version of the Petroleum Industry Bill was presented to Parliament. After several redrafts, the PIB is still on the floor of the National Assembly and at the centre of partisan disputes, as parliamentarians pick over clauses which they claim favour one region of the country over another.Meanwhile, well connected companies and officials continue to benefit from an opaque system of management and operation that has allowed as much as US$100 billion to be siphoned off from state oil and gas revenue over the past decade, according to a report drawn up by the former anti-corruption czar, Nuhu Ribadu (AC Vol 53 No 9).

The failure to pass the reforms mooted in the PIB, which was intended to boost accountability and state revenue from exports, has developmental as well as financial costs. Nigeria has been unable to conduct a licensing round to award new blocks since 2007 because of uncertainties about new regulations and fiscal terms. This has limited new investment, raising the possibility that production capacity, which has been fixed at around 2.5 million barrels per day for a decade, could start to fall in the next few years.

Oil companies are now looking to new fields for exploration acreage in countries such as Mozambique and Tanzania in the east and Liberia and Sierra Leone in the west. Ambitious plans for gas processing and exports from Brass and Olokola have been overtaken by more rapid development of discoveries and processing facilities in Australia and Indonesia. Technical advances such as the exploitation of shale gas and the controversial fracking (hydraulic fracturing) mean that the United States, which was formerly seen as a key market for Nigeria’s gas, is now set to become a net gas exporter.

In 2008, when the then Petroleum Minister, Rilwanu Lukman, presented the first version of the PIB to the National Assembly, he said the reforms would end the corruption, inertia and incompetence of the oil and gas industry and bring in a commercially driven structure that would boost investment and production. The petroleum bill would also, he promised, offer incentives for the companies, the state and oil-producing communities.

Imposing accountability
Lukman’s plan was to replace an unwieldy portfolio of sometimes contradictory legislation with a single framework that would create a national oil company obliged to raise finance from the markets rather than the state. That would, the theory went, impose an obligation of accountability on the industry’s operations because investors would demand accurate disclosure about financing, production and revenue. Also, the new laws were to strengthen incentives for local involvement and processing of oil and, in particular, gas. Finally, they would tighten terms agreed with international oil companies for deep-water fields in the 1990s, when oil prices were lower and technology more basic.

The obstruction of the PIB has an immediate financial cost to the government. No licence awards mean no signature bonuses. Sometimes those bonuses were worth over $100 mn., simply for the right to operate a block. They represent an additional revenue source and create patronage opportunities for the Presidency among the competing local companies.

Uncertainty about the oil and gas reforms has also undermined President Goodluck Jonathan’s attempts to fix the legendarily inefficient electric power sector. The aim is to double current output of 5,000 megawatts before the next national elections in 2015. Raising output will depend critically on a $20 bn. plan for new power stations that use untapped reserves of natural gas. That means the industry reforms have to go through and a new pricing tariff must be agreed.

The lack of new oil and gas production has drawn attention to rackets such as the subsidy regime on imported petroleum products. Major problems dogged the management of the sale of assets by Shell, Total and Agip, under which the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation recovered operating rights but then negotiated several agreements with newly formed companies with little technical capability.

The subsidy controversy has already claimed a scalp, that of Farouk Lawan, the House of Representatives Ad Hoc Committee Chairman (AC Vol 53 No 14). He was charged with corruption in February for accepting bribes to remove Femi Otedola’s Zenon oil trading company from scrutiny. Federal officials used Otedola to set up a sting to catch Lawan, who nevertheless protests his innocence. Well-connected oil traders facing investigation by the National Assembly include the son of Bamanga Tukur, the embattled Chairman of the governing People’s Democratic Party (AC Vol 53 No 7).

Oil minister outmanoeuvred
The handling of the Shell sales and the associated Strategic Alliance Agreements with Atlantic Energy are the subject of a new Senate inquiry under the Chairman of the Petroleum Upstream Committee, Emmanuel Paulker Izibefien, from Bayelsa State. Atlantic was apparently set up for the purpose and controlled by veteran contractor and intermediary Bashorun Jide Omokore, an associate of Oil Minister Diezani Alison-Madueke.

Supporters of Alison-Madueke say the arrest of those charged with fraudulent subsidy claims shows the system is working. They also insist the charges of impropriety in relation to the Atlantic Energy contracts are old and without substance, generated by opponents trying to embarrass the Minister. Abuja is buzzing with speculation that President Jonathan is planning a reshuffle on 29 May, midway through his four-year term.

Alison-Madueke, the longest serving member of the Federal Executive Council, is also Jonathan’s closest ally in government and, like him, she hails from Bayelsa. Jonathan’s predecessor, the late President Umaru Musa Yar’Adua, made her Minister of Works in 2007, then Minister of Solid Minerals before she took the Oil portfolio in 2010. Her many critics say that, although Alison-Madueke is a former Shell executive, she has a poor governance record at the ministry. Her closeness to Jonathan makes her unsackable, they add.

Despite repeatedly promising to get the PIB through the Assembly, Alison-Madueke has been outmanoeuvred by members of parliament. Due to the failure to pass the reform bill, the Ministry has been obliged to agree a series of interim deals with ExxonMobil. It is also stuck in negotiation with other international companies to renew leases for existing joint ventures.

International oil companies initially backed the reform plan but now they are among the most vigorous opponents of the PIB. They want the government to excise key clauses on fiscal terms, rates at which under-explored acreage should be relinquished and terms under which companies should be able to recover investment in new discoveries before sharing the profits with the state.

The companies say adjustments to existing legislation may prove simpler than trying to move forward with a flagship Bill. With clarity over investment terms, the companies argue that Nigeria would be able to bring in substantial new investment without stifling debate on some of the political issues in the industry.

Officials at the Ministry are chary of such proposals, which would signal the end of the PIB. They say they will continue to push for the adoption of the Bill in its current form before the end of this Assembly session in July.

The target is ambitious: several northern legislators have complained that the plans for a proposed Communities Fund that allocates 10% of net profits from oil production to the producing states amounts to an additional distortion of federal character. However, officials in the Presidency say that abandoning the idea of the fund would generate fresh tension in the already volatile Niger Delta.

By Saatah Nubari

Can saint Amaechi say he has not seized the allocations of local government councils before? Amaechi is enjoying making people believe that he is been persecuted by the presidency, hence making people think the president is a dictator.

Today as we celebrate our beloved Rotimi Amaechi attaining “sainthood” lets pause and take a look at his journey towards “sainthood” in Nigerian politics.

Amaechi a protégé of former governor of Rivers State, Sir Dr. Peter Odili was speaker of the state house of assembly from 1999 to 2007 and as such was the anointed successor of Peter Odili. Things seemed to be going accordingly until former president Olusegun obasanjo said Amaechi ‘s emergence as governorship flag bearer of the PDP had “k-leg”  and so as not to take it out of the family, his cousin  Celestine Omehia was selected as the person to fly PDP’s flag.

Omehia won the elction and was sworn into office meanwhile Amaechi had other plans. Amaechi took his cousin Omehia to court, saying he was the legitimate governor of River state, that he won the election even when his name was not on the ballot box. To cut the story short, Amaechi won in what is arguably the most absurd court ruling in the nation’s history. After winning his governorship seat in court, he said it was the “will of God”.

A faction of the PDP in River State led by Felix Obuah took another faction led by Godspower Ake backed by Rotimi Amaechi to court. This time around, Amaechi and his people lost and so Felix Obuah was declared winner even when they said he didn’t buy the form to contest. Felix Obuah said his victory was the “will of God”. Amaechi, as if was suffering from memory loss or rather didn’t believe in the will of God in anybody’s life except his own. He released a statement saying “the temple of justice has been desecrated”. So the court must always favour Amaechi? Well let’s continue.

When Celestine Omehia was governor of Rivers State, the PDP conducted primaries for the local government elections in the state and candidates were chosen. Saint Amaechi immediately after he was made governor by the court decided to cancel the PDP primaries and conduct his own. This is Amaechi, a democrat, somebody who believes in the rule of law? The fact that he did not refund the money the former aspirants used to purchase the forms even makes his “sainthood” the “will of God”.

The PDP National Working Committee suspended Amaechi from the party recently for reasons best known to them. Amaechi as usual always has something to say, this time he said it’s a “witch hunt”. Saint Amaechi forgot that immediately after assuming office as governor, his first developmental project was to demolish people’s houses-and guess whose house he started with, yes his cousin and the person he won in court Celestine Omehia. Did Omehia call it a “witch hunt”, I can’t remember. Saint Amaechi forgot that their safety was no longer assured hence the likes of Austin Opara former Deputy Speaker House of Representatives, Dr. Peter Odili former Governor of the state and Celestine Omehia relocated to Abuja. So this is not a “witch hunt”? Saint Amaechi has forgotten that he sent the police to arrest 12 PDP stalwarts who were sympathetic to the “Abuja politicians” claiming they were cultists, imagine the humiliation of 12 grown men with wives and children. The 12 men didn’t call it a “witch hunt”; instead Amaechi was having a field day. Since nobody made him governor, why answer to anybody? So now his suspension from the party is now a “witch hunt”? This is coming from the one of the best “witch hunters” in the country.

Can saint Amaechi say he has not seized the allocations of local government councils before? Amaechi is enjoying making people believe that he is been persecuted by the presidency, hence making people think the president is a dictator. Saint Amaechi has forgotten that he ones slapped a police officer and has also threatened the Ogoni people concerning the building of a military barrack on their land. Amaechi’s dictatorial actions are done in the open but since the people don’t have access to the press, he thinks he can fool the rest of the world; well he has succeeded in fooling a naïve few.

THE NGF ELECTION

A friend of mine said he doesn’t understand how 35 grown men can’t conduct an election amongst themselves. It’s really appalling taking into consideration that the 2015 general election is not far away, and these people will literally be in charge of the elections.

Amaechi was declared winner of the election with 19 votes to Jonah Jang’s 16 which totals 35 votes cast. What baffles me is that Jonah Jang said the election was rigged (which I support). He (Jonah Jang) calls for an emergency meeting for the faction he is chairing and 18 governors are in attendance. The 18 governors all claim to have voted for him. If Jang had 18 votes, where did Amaechi’s 19 votes come from? Now we are getting to know governors who refused to do homework in primary school. It simple, if Jang got 18 votes out of a possible 35, that means Amaechi is supposed to have 17 votes.

SUPPORT FROM THE OPPOSITION

The APC has continued to amuse Nigerians with every press release. It makes me wonder if the spokesperson, Lai Mohammed just got himself a new system or if he just learnt how to use the Microsoft Word application on his system, seriously I don’t see any reason why he will be typing press statements every two days. The opposition seems like a confused lot who don’t know what they stand for. Known for criticizing the PDP, but 80 percent of them are ex PDP members. If you ask me, I won’t mince words when I say that the APC is just a branch of the PDP.

The APC released a statement concerning the suspension of Amaechi and you have to imagine when PDP’s internal issue will now be an issue for the APC. Well Lai Mohammed should get a DVD of Power Puff Girls and watch because that will be the closest he will get to seeing  “power” and it will also help his boredom.

Let all this not take the shine off our celebration of Rotimi Amaechi’s “sainthood”. So before I leave you to think properly before picking side, close your eyes let’s say a little prayer; Saint Amaechi please pray for us.

ImageBy Prince Charles Dickson

A sandal is not a shoe; a cap is not a turban

Last week’s admonition was the parable of the cockroach and Nigeria, and this week I am almost tempted to have us reflect on that of Nigeria and the monkey. But not to worry I will spare us that title though I will still tell us the story.

First there’s this story of management; A woman in a hot air balloon realized she was lost. She reduced altitude and spotted a man below.

She descended a bit more and shouted, “Excuse me, can you help me? I promised a friend I would meet him an hour ago but I don’t know where I am.”

The man below replied “You’re in a hot air balloon hovering approximately 30 feet above the ground. You’re between 40 and 41 degrees north latitude and between 59 and 60 degrees west longitude.”

“You must be an engineer,” said the balloonist. “I am”, replied the man.
“How did you know?”

“Well, answered the balloonist, “everything you told me is technically correct, but I’ve no idea what to make of your information, and the fact is I’m still lost. Frankly, you’ve not been much help at all. If anything, you’ve delayed my trip even more.”

The man below responded, “You must be in management.”

“I am,” replied the balloonist, “but how did you know?”

“Well,” said the man, “You don’t know where you are or where you’re going. You have risen to where you are due to a large quantity of hot air. You made a promise which you’ve no idea how to keep, and you expect people beneath you to solve your problems?!!

The fact is you are in exactly the same position you were in before we met, but now, somehow, it’s my fault.”

And this is it, while we watched on the Governors’ Forum soap. We all interchangeably played balloonist, engineer and manager. Promises of more megawatts while indeed half the entire nation was in darkness. And the governors entertained us. 

In all the noise, we have grown deaf to the music within. I am not so concerned to all the noise emanating from UK over the soldier-killing-terrorist, but it sure hurts that as we celebrate another democracy day. We have made several intangible steps but much is left to desired in a nation where its all our fault. 

While 35 grown men couldn’t conduct an election to a worthless body, a few more thousands joined them in calculating the coordinates, longitudes and degrees of their failure by extension our collective faults.

I have watched the drama of baby factories in the East, and it is sad that you can’t even call anyone inside Borno because of the SoE, a doctor to be was shot, an DSS officer shot, the military have lost men and the ordinary Nigerian is feasting on the problem of the other. Yet we are where we are.

Mr. President on one hand says he’s working, opposition is walking and if I borrow Oby Ezekwesili’s statistics 56 Million Illiterate Nigerians add the 10 million out-of-primary-school-going-age plus millions unemployed one begins to wonder.

The roads are being rebuilt, re-tarred, re-patched, potholes are filled but the accidents are on the increase, now we have kidnap colonies in Delta, Benin, Lagos-Ibadan axis.

Every week its Fulani herdsmen and unknown gunmen vs innocent citizens, so we content ourselves with the drama that the political class is willing to provide and behave like monkeys.

It may interest us to know statistically, in all the crisis point of Nigeria, an average 7 persons die every day, from Southern Kaduna, to Berom Land, Yobe to Adamawa, warring communities whether over oil in Kogi/Anambra or land in Ebonyi, this excludes cult wars in Bayelsa, robberies in Lagos, and area boys conflicts.     
 

Start with a cage containing five monkeys. Inside the cage, hang a banana on a string and place a set of stairs under it. Before long, a monkey will go to the stairs and start to climb towards the banana. As soon as he touches the stairs, spray all of the other monkeys with cold water. After a while, another monkey makes an attempt with the same result – all the other monkeys are sprayed with cold water. Pretty soon, when another monkey tries to climb the stairs, the other monkeys will try to prevent it.

Now, put away the cold water. Remove one monkey from the cage and replace it with a new one. The new monkey sees the banana and wants to climb the stairs. To his surprise and horror, all of the other monkeys attack him. After another attempt and attack, he knows that if he tries to climb the stairs, he will be assaulted.

Next, remove another of the original five monkeys and replace it with a new one. The newcomer goes to the stairs and is attacked. The previous newcomer takes part in the punishment with enthusiasm!

Likewise, replace a third original monkey with a new one, then a fourth, then the fifth. Every time the newest monkey takes to the stairs, he is attacked. Most of the monkeys that are beating him have no idea why they were not permitted to climb the stairs or why they are participating in the beating of the newest monkey.

After replacing all the original monkeys, none of the remaining monkeys have ever been sprayed with cold water. Nevertheless, no monkey ever again approaches the stairs to try for the banana.

Why not?

Because as far as they know that’s the way it’s always been done around here.

And this, my friends, is an illustration of how we are where we are, like those monkeys trading blames. We don’t have a grasp of our past nor future. Everyone is talking, we are where we are. 

We are celebrating a centenary rather than reflect the nation. A section of the nation is holding the other to ransom, faith against faith, Ombatse vs. bastards, we have gotten to that point where juju is stronger than bullet and yet proliferation of small arms everywhere. We are afraid to act differently. 

When you see a palm tree, the palm tree has seen you. We have not seen the palm tree so the illusion sadly remains–are we ready to differentiate between a cap and turban, the score is 0-0, who wins–only time will tell.

ImageBy Ikeji Victor

In Nigeria today, your guarantee to a speedy employment is based on number of degrees, class of degree or the school attended and not what you know or can be able to do, thus giving paper intelligence more importance when compared to practical intelligence.

Over the years, the craze for a First Class degree or a school whose name is well recognised has led to the production of half-baked graduates who learnt nothing else throughout their stay in school but their course of study. A friend of mine would jokingly say “A Nigerian Microbiologist’s knowledge is limited to just the theoretical culture plate, place him in a Lab and see if he’d recognise a culture plate when he sees one”.

The world seem to be moving at a fast pace technologically but instead of following this trend, the average Nigerian student is either moving from one lecturer’s office to the other trying to sort for grades or in more serious cases spreading their legs as most female students would do just to pass examinations. I don’t blame the student for this but the system that has given priority to Paper intelligence over Practical intelligence. For this same reason, we would have a Masters holder in Mechanical Engineering who can’t fix his generator when it develops a little fault or even fix his car when it breaks down but would sought for the services of a roadside mechanic whom if not found would lead to this M.Eng holder, parking their car and using a taxi to go about his business.

Nowadays employers of labour doesn’t even care about your abilities or that special skill you possess as they would even start the screening according to class of degrees from the vacancy notice and this leads to some ‘less fortunate’ intelligent ones being left out owing to paper intelligence. I wonder if any employer must have listened to Prof. Wole Soyinka as a young graduate when there are other ‘First Class materials’ out there but look at the level where practical intelligence has gotten him today. This is just one out of several cases. A good number of people making waves around the world today never graduated summa or even magma cum laude but their intelligence speaks for them.

Talking about not judging according to class of degrees or paper intelligence, I am not standing in favour of those lazy students who have decided not to read or develop themselves and expect to pass exams but for those who are intelligent and brainy but for one reason or the other, this is not manifested in their certificates as both could be differentiated through employer-employee tests or interactions. A person’s ability or level of intelligence should not be judged by paper intelligence or what a certificate bears because in Nigeria today, some of our politicians have shown that this type of intelligence can either be forged or bought.

Over the years, our Universities had graduated thousands of ‘First Class’ students but still there have been no significant improvement in the country and this is because we are focused on the wrong type of intelligence -The paper intelligence instead of real tangible intelligence. Don’t misunderstand this for me having a dislike for ‘First class’ students because I am also struggling to achieve that feat. In his work ’7 Mistakes Our Generation Must Avoid If We Must Change Nigeria’, prolific author -Okechukwu Ofili writes “When William Kamkwamba designed a wind mill in his village in Malawi he did it without a high-school diploma but yet his impact was much more than thousands with PhD’s.

Not to say that we don’t have Nigerians making that type of difference, but with our degrees and potential we should be doing way more.” He went further to state that “we need to avoid making this deadly mistake of paper intelligence and focus on practical intelligence that can help our nation”.

ImageAMNESTY INTERNATIONAL

PRESS RELEASE

 

23 May 2013

 

 

Nigeria: State of emergency must not lead to more human rights abuses

 

Nigerian authorities must not use the state of emergency imposed in the north of the country as an excuse to commit human rights violations, Amnesty International urged today as the military continued its assault on Islamist armed group Boko Haram.

Several people have reportedly been killed and hundreds arrested since a state of emergency was declared in the northern states of Adamawa, Borno and Yobe on 14 May. The military reportedly claim those targeted are suspected members of Boko Haram.

Some 2,400 people have fled the region for neighbouring Niger, according to a statement released on Tuesday by the International Committee of the Red Cross.

“Issues of national security and the state of emergency do not give the military carte blanche to do whatever they want,” said Lucy Freeman, Amnesty International’s Deputy Director for Africa.

“The onus is on the state to prove that they are not using an emergency as justification to run roughshod over people’s human rights.”

Over the past three years, Amnesty International documented grave human rights violations committed by security forces in their response to Boko Haram, including extra-judicial executions, enforced disappearances, indiscriminate torching of civilian housing and arbitrary detention.

In recent weeks, residents of Borno state in northern Nigeria have told Amnesty International that mass arrests in the state capital Maiduguri have increased.

Detainees continue to be denied access to lawyers and families and are not being charged with any crimes or brought before a court. Many people have spent more than a year in military detention without being tried or even charged with any crimes. Others have simply disappeared.

Individuals in military vehicles have been depositing bodies on an almost daily basis at mortuaries in the town. The government does not appear to carry out any investigation into these deaths, and has not released any information pertaining to those deceased and deposited at the mortuaries.

“The government must immediately launch a full and effective investigation into the many recent deaths and disappearances in Borno state, including looking closely at how dead individuals end up in the back of military vehicles,” said Lucy Freeman.

Many people have fled their homes, with some areas of the city gradually becoming ‘ghost towns.’  Public schools have closed as parents are too scared to send their children to school.

A dusk-to-dawn curfew has been imposed in some areas, which the Special Advisor to the President on Public Affairs said would facilitate house-to-house searches.

Over the past two years, Amnesty International has received consistent accounts from witnesses who have seen people summarily executed outside their homes by soldiers during operations in the area, including house searches.

“Given the history of human rights violations by the security forces during house-to house-searches, any escalation of such operations is extremely concerning,” said Lucy Freeman.

“The security forces appear to have repeatedly used firearms against people when there is no imminent threat of death or serious injury.”

The Special Advisor added that the curfew would mean only “troublemakers or those that want to confront the military” would break the curfew, and that those people “will be dealt with summarily”.

“The Special Advisor seems to suggest a ‘shoot on sight’ approach to anyone who breaks the curfew,” said Lucy Freeman.

“Whatever the emergency, a state can never derogate from the fundamental principle of the presumption of innocence.”

The Nigerian government has rarely carried out investigations into allegations of human rights violations by the security forces.

“President Goodluck Jonathan must order the military to respect human rights and the rule of law The military is not above the law,” said Lucy Freeman.

“The government has an obligation to ensure the safety of all Nigerians, firstly by addressing the attacks from Boko Haram, but also by eliminating the human rights violations carried out by the very state security forces who are supposed to provide protection.”

Background
Under international law, whatever the emergency, a state can never derogate from certain fundamental human rights including the prohibition of arbitrary deprivation of life, torture and other cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment, the arbitrary deprivation of liberty including incommunicado detention and the right to challenge the lawfulness of detention in court.

In cases of armed conflict, international humanitarian law applies, prohibiting indiscriminate or disproportionate attacks, or the attack on civilians.

The African Charter on Human and Peoples’ Rights – which is applicable in Nigeria’s courts – does not allow for derogation from any of its provisions, including fair trial guarantees, under any circumstances.

Likewise, the International Convention for the Protection of All Persons from Enforced Disappearance, to which Nigeria is a state party, provides that no exceptional circumstances whatsoever, whether a state of war or a threat of war, internal political instability or any other public emergency, may be invoked as a justification for enforced disappearance and also obliges Nigeria not to hold anyone in secret detention.