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‘So many myths are being bandied around’

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‘So many myths are being bandied around’

Emir of Kano great speech at the Muson Centre during the launching of the book of Sir Olaniwun Ajayi.

“Let me start by saying that I am Fulani (laughter). My grandfather was an Emir also fulani my uncle and guardian was also the immediate late Emir of kano Alhaji Ado Bayero and therefore I represent all that has been talked about this afternoon. Sir Ajayi has written a book. And like all Nigerians of his generation, he has written in the language of his generation.

“My grandfather was a Northerner, I am a Nigerian. The problem with this country is that in 2009, we speak in the language of 1953. Sir Olaniwun can be forgiven for the way he spoke, but I cannot forgive people of my generation speaking in that language.

“Let us go into this issue because there are so many myths that are being bandied around. Before colonialism, there was nothing like Northern Nigeria, Before the Sokoto Jihad, there was nothing like the Sokoto caliphate. The man from Kano regard himself as bakane. The man from Zaria was bazazzage. The man from Katsina was bakatsine. The kingdoms were at war with each other. They were Hausas, they were Muslims, they were killing each other.

“The Yoruba were Ijebu, Owo, Ijesha, Akoko, Egba. When did they become one? When did the North become one? You have the Sokoto Caliphate that brought every person from Adamawa to Sokoto and said it is one kingdom. They now
said it was a Muslim North.

“The Colonialists came, put that together and said it is now called the Northern Nigeria. Do you know what happened? Our grand fathers were able to transform to being Northerners. We have not been able to transform to being Nigerians. The fault is ours.

Tell me, how many governors has South West produced after Awolowo that are role models of leadership? How many governors has the East produced like Nnamdi Azikiwe that can be role models of leadership? How Many governors in the Niger Delta are role models of leadership? Tell me. There is no evidence statistically that any part of this country has produced good leaders.

You talk about Babangida and the problems of our economy. Who were the people in charge of the economy during Babangida era? Olu Falae, Kalu Idika Kalu. What state are they from in the North?

“We started the banking reform; the first thing I heard was that in Urobo land, there will be a curse of the ancestors. I said they (ancestors) would not answer. They said why? I said how many factories did Ibru build in Urobo land? So, why will the ancestors of the Urobo people support her?

“We talk ethnicity when it pleases us. It is hypocrisy. You said elections were rigged in 1959, Obasanjo and Maurice Iwu rigged election in 2007. Was it a Southern thing? It was not. “The problem is: everywhere in this country, there is one Hausa, Ibo, Yoruba and Itshekiri man whose concern is how to get his hands on the pile and how much he can steal.

Whether it is in the military or in the civilian government, they sit down, they eat together. In fact, the constitution says there must be a minister from every state.

“So, anybody that is still preaching that the problem of Nigeria is Yoruba or Hausa or Fulani, he does not love Nigeria . The problem with Nigeria is that a group of people from each and every ethnic tribe is very selfish. The poverty that is found in Maiduguri is even worse than any poverty that you find in any part of the South.

The British came for 60 years and Sir Ajayi talked about few numbers of graduates in the North (two as at independence) . What he did not say was that there was a documented policy of the British when they came that the Northerner should not be educated. It was documented. It was British colonial policy. I have the document. I have published articles on it. That if you educate the Northerner you will produce progressive Muslim intellectuals of the type we have in Egypt and India. So, do not educate them. It was documented. And you say they love us (North) more than the south.

“I have spent the better part of my life to fight and Dr. (Reuben) Abati knows it. Yes, my grandfather was an Emir. Why was I in the pro-democracy movement fighting for June 12? Is (Moshood) Abiola from Kano ? Why am I a founding director of the Kudirat Initiative for Nigerian Development (KIND)?

“There are good Yoruba people, good Igbo people, good Fulani people, good Nigerians and there are bad people everywhere. That is the truth. “Stop talking about dividing Nigeria because we are not the most populous country
in the world. We have all the resources that make it easy to make one united great Nigeria . It is better if we are united than to divide it.

“Every time you talk about division, when you restructure, do you know what will happen? In Delta Area, the people in Warri will say Agbor, you don’t have oil. When was the Niger Delta constructed as a political entity? Ten years ago, the Itshekiris were fighting the Urobos. Isn’t that what was happening? Now they have become Niger Delta because they have found oil. After, it will be, if you do not have oil in your village then you cannot share our resources.

“There is no country in the world where resources are found in everybody’s hamlet. But people have leaders and they said if you have this geography and if we are one state, then we have a responsibility for making sure that the people who belong to this country have a good nature.

“So, why don’t you talk about; we don’t have infrastructure, we don’t have education, we don’t have health. We are still talking about Fulani. Is it the Fulani cattle rearer or is anybody saying there is no poverty among the Fulani?”, he said.

This is a great message to our generation.

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Opinion

RAMP and Nigeria rural roads

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RAMP and Nigeria rural roads

By Ahmed Mohammed

The Rural Access and Mobility Project (RAMP 2) is a six-year World Bank project focused on the rehabilitation of rural roads and associated capacity building of institutions mandated to provide and maintain rural transport infrastructure. The project commenced in February 2014 and operates in six states: Adamawa, Enugu, Niger, Osun, Imo and Cross-River.

The objectives of the project include increasing the share of the population with access to an all-season road, increasing the share of the total classified roads in good and fair condition and increasing the number of roads receiving adequate levels of maintenance. There is no doubt that the programme has greatly assisted in transforming the rural settings, creating access and expanding frontiers in areas hitherto inaccessible.

In Niger State which has the highest landmass in Nigeria and equally higher number of hard to reach communities, the programme has become the fulkrum that drives the state government’s rural transformation policies aimed at creating economic and social equality among the urban, semi-urban and their most rural counterparts.

The past two phases of the tripartite programme focused on rehabilitation of rural roads , community based road maintenance and annual mechanized maintenance and project management and strengthening of state and federal road sector institutional , policy, and regulatory framework.

Through the RAMP activities coordinated by Hassan Etsu 391 communities across the state have benefited. The efforts show that 519kilometers of roads have been constructed with about 230 km targeted for surface dressing on going.

The breakdown shows that 117 kilometers were constructed in the first phase, while 402 kilometers including 30 river crossing bridges were put in place in the ongoing effort to improve movement of people and goods within and outside the rural communities especially in the hard to reach areas.

Some of the roads to include Wuya Suma – Lemu , Mokwa – Jaagi, -Kudu, Sabon Wuse-Ijah Gbagyi, Sullu –Tafa, Suleja-Abuchi-IzomAuna –Tungajika-Shafini, Wawa-Malali, in the first phase with the projects were completed and handed over to the state project implementation unit.

Key bridges such as Maza Kuka, Adogon Mallam, Ibeto-Gyengi, Gganran sagi, Ragadawa-Baban dogo, Kutriko-Salawu Cikan, Mukugi- Ajitupa, Eyangi-Liman , Wuya- Kanti, Emi egimazi, Dabban, Sabon Daga, NAkpankuchi river, Maikera- Beji Labude among others were constructed.

According to the coordinating office a total of N9 billion have been spent cumulatively within the first and second phases of the programme. This is aside the N6 billion approved by the state government for surface dressing of 230 kilometres of the rural roads earlier constructed under RAMP .

At the flag off of the surface dressing of the Izom-Abuchi-Suleja road recently, he Governor Abubakar Sani Bello, who was represented by Commissioner of Agriculture Hon Zakeri Jikantoro at the event, spoke on the reasons why the state government has to go out of its way to release extra funds to aid the programme, saying the move was to ensure that the quality of the rural roads were upgraded to withstand the volume of traffic.

According to the governor, the traffic on the roads become unprecedented beyond what the earthen roads can withstand, necessitating urgent steps to upgrade the roads. ” This has prompted the state government to engage surface dressing of these roads to increase their durability in serving the people. We have to do this to ensure that the huge investment in constructing the earthen roads does not go down the drains,” he had opined.

This intervention was in addition to 169km of rural roads that were also rehabilitated under the Spot Improvement and Annual Mechanized Maintenance Intervention of the World Bank (WB) and French Development Agency (AFD) co-financed initiative to improve transportation in the Rural areas.

It must be noted that six roads earmarked for surface dressing have the potential for high volume of traffic and are spread across the three-geo-political zones of the state.

The affected roads were Suleja – Abuchi- Izom road , Wuya Suman – Lemu road, Old Gawu – Farindoki road, Kampanin Bobi- Bangi road, Kutigi- Tashan Hajiya road and Wuya Kanti – EtsuTasha road

These efforts are estimated to cost the state government the sum N6,067,554,358.34 and the cumulative result of the government’s back up initiative is that the implementation of Rural Access Mobility Projects II (RAMP2) programmes has reduced rural mortality by 60 percent.

Jikantoro himself confirmed the feat at forum, stating that the mortality rate has been reduced by 60 percent in intervention areas because many communities can now access secondary and tertiary health facilities due to availability of roads constructed by RAMP 2.

According to him , the benefits of the programme included the construction and rehabilitation of 176km roads in the first phase and 403 km roads in the second phase of the project, adding that the programme has greatly assisted in the economic empowerment of the rural dwellers by enhancing movement of farm produce to markets.

It is really gratifying that governor Bello has continued to meet the state’s counterpart obligations through realy releases of funds for the project and also assured of the state government’s commitment towards punctual release of the same as the project enters the third phase.

The National Coordinator of RAMP, Engineer Ubandoma Ularamu had always commended the state for taking the best position in the successful implementation of RAMP projects in the country, acknowledging that there has been unprecedented growth in agriculture in the state. I therefore urge the state government to continue to support the programme to enable more communities to benefit from it.

It is because of this feat that he assures that the state will be enlisted to again participate in the New RAMP that will commence soon.

Overall, the project has so far constructed over 600km rural roads and has empowered the local capacities through the community based rural roads maintenance model which entails the engagement of the rural people along the corridors of rural roads rehabilitated by the project thereby creating employment opportunities in the state.

The project also intends to institutionalize rural roads maintenance activities, management and funding as part of its deliverables and making it last beyond the implementation period of 2020 .

With Participating States of Niger, Osun, Enugu, Adamawa and Imo states and Donor fund: USD60million(IDA:45M, AFD:15M Niger state has indeed trail the blaze to open the rural areas.

The Special Adviser political and strategy Alhaji Mohammed Nma Kolo whose office has been monitoring the progress in the implementation of the project noted that the success story has indeed changed the political dynamics in the Rural areas.

To him, the success has further increased the confidence of the people in the government and the desire of the government to change their lives for better.

Mohammed is of the office of Special Adviser Political to Niger State Governor.

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Opinion

TRUMP WASN’T BAD AFTER ALL

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TRUMP WASN’T BAD AFTER ALL
By Frank Tietie
Preceding the American Presidential elections, in October, 2020, I was invited to join a Zoom Meeting hosted by Nigerian-Americans who had the right to vote in the US elections.

Listening to both sides of the argument between the supporters of incumbent President Donald Trump and former Vice President Joe Biden, I became persuaded that Trump would be better for the USA as a second term President. He probably earned it.

I got to know how much Trump revived the American economy and subsequently created an unprecedented number of jobs for people of African descent in pre-COVID times.

In that Zoom Meeting, Trump was said to have stood up against bare faced official hypocrisy and corruption in Washington. Also, he ensured funding for Black colleges and did many more revolutionary yet, positive things for the Black American community.

I was impressed with reasons given why Black celebrities like Ice Cube, Lil Wayne, 50 Cents, Kanye West and many others support Trump. They do acknowledge that he talks ‘trash’ but they claim that he is sincere, makes things happen and does exactly what he promises. Ice Cube said that Trump represents the American spirit of freedom and success.

Later that week, I was privileged to be interviewed by a correspondent of the Voice of America (VOA) on why Nigerians took interest in the US Presidential elections. I was not allowed to mention a preferred candidate. So I told the VOA that Nigerians somehow believe that the USA is a very powerful country and that whoever became its president would determine interests in such matters as Nigerian immigration to the USA and regional security in Africa.

Also, I got to know that Joe Biden, in his 47 year career in government has done more harm to the Black people in America by enacting a law that has put a large number of black men in prison compares to any other people of different racial backgrounds.

Many Nigerians hated the Trump presidency because of its tough stance on preventing immigration to the US, from certain countries in the Middle East and Africa. But you can’t take it from Trump that he minded American interests and didn’t care what the world thought about him. He said after all, that “America First!”. Who can really say: Nigeria First?

Really, how can a Nigerian hate Trump for building a wall to prevent illegal migration when South Africa whose liberation from Aparthied, that was literally paid for by Nigeria, yet it chose as a people to systematically chase away Nigerian immigrants from South Africa? That country has exhibited the worst yet, most undeserving form of xenophobia against Nigerians. We shall never forget so quickly.

How can Nigerians blame Trump for building a wall? Everyday, many Nigerians, especially from Southern Nigeria cry on both the social media and traditional media that the government of President Buhari is allowing Fulanis from all over Africa to easily move into Nigeria in order to cause mayhem, carry out land grabs and change the demographics of native Nigerian communities with the plan to dominate and take over Nigeria. What then do you have against a president who wants to define the citizenship of his country by preventing illegal migration?

On LGBT. I don’t have anything against gay, lesbians, bi-sexuals and transgender (LGBT) persons. So I don’t have any apologies for defending their rights whether in court or in public because they are human. But I sincerely believe that there is something is wrong with them!

Firstly, humbly, as a liberal-conservative, with values that are shaped by African trado-cultural beliefs and Judeo-Christian indoctrination, I will never promote LGBT lifestyles. Also, I do not support abortion and same sex marriage. Very many Nigerians share this same position with me yet they support Joe Biden and Kamala Harris who are staunch promoters of LGBT culture.

Both Biden and Harris have officially conducted same sex marriages in America. The Catholic church once rebuked Biden for his support for same sex marriages. How would Nigerians want those kind of leaders over themselves?

The Democrat led US government of Barrack Obama and Joe Biden scolded Nigeria for enacting the Same Sex Prohibition Act. They so hated former Nigerian President, Goodluck Jonathan and refused to sell arms to him, to fight boko haram. They mobilized resources against Jonathan’s re-election and sent John Kerry to execute their plan. It is not that they love Buhari, they just hated Jonathan. They didn’t know that their hate for Jonathan was akin to hate for Nigeria. These were the same people who had always wished that Nigeria gets into a political conflict. They even went ahead to predict that Nigeria would break up in 2015. Frankly, I don’t like US democrats!

Alas! Trump became US president and invited Buhari to the United States and unconditionally agreed to sell arms to Nigeria, to fight boko haram. Against political correctness, he inquired of the Nigerian President why he was allowing the killing and persecution of Christians in his country. Yet someone wonders why some Nigerian Christians hold street processions for Trump in Nigeria?

Many Nigerians do not understand the issues in US politics and like I told the VOA correspondent, many Nigerians take interest in American politics, particularly with regards to who becomes the US president, wishing their own country could have such powerful and influential persons running things in Nigeria at the highest level of governance.

Really, who would Nigerians prefer to be President of Nigeria? A Trump or a Biden?

Frank Tietie,
Human Rights Lawyer
writes from Abuja

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Opinion

JUSTICE ISHAQ BELLO & THE ICC BENCH: A CASE FOR NATIONAL SOLIDARITY

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JUSTICE ISHAQ BELLO & THE ICC BENCH: A CASE FOR NATIONAL SOLIDARITY

                                

BY LEMMY UGHEGBE

Many unsavory comments have trailed the nomination of the Chief Judge of the Federal Capital Territory (FCT), Justice Ishaq Usman Bello for a seat as a judge at the International Criminal Court in The Hague by President Muhammadu Buhari. It is disheartening when such comments come from Nigerians, who ordinarily rally support for their fellow citizens when they are involved in regional or international contestations against other nationals. It is a notorious fact that, the country enjoys an unprecedented level of solidarity during such regional or global contestation as citizens of various ethnic groups pull together, unmindful of differing tribes, tongues and religion, but united in a common purpose – to see Nigeria win. At such a time and stage, the people do not see the nominee as Isoko, Yoruba, Hausa, Ibo, Ibibio, etc. In recent times, the admirable level of national solidarity and bonding for a common purpose came to the fore. In recent times, the successful unified national clamour of Nigerian citizens with one voice to lobby international support for the second term re-election of Dr. Akinwumi Adesina and the on-going support for Dr. Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala for the office of Director General of World Trade Organisation (WTO) exemplify the apogee of national solidarity in pursuit of a common objective – to put Nigeria first on the regional and global landscape. In both cases, their nomination was backed by the government and people of Nigeria. And while Dr. Adesina has been successfully re-elected, Dr. Okonjo-Iweala is in the final lap of the race with bookmakers tipping her to clinch the top job. No Nigerian raised questions as to the tribe, tongue or religion of either personality.

However, this was not the same cup of tea for Justice Ishaq Usman Bello when President Buhari nominated him to represent Nigeria as a Judge at the International Criminal Court (ICC) in the Hague. Rather than enjoy the customary national solidarity and endorsement, he got the contrary for no fault of his. The Judge is merely what you will call a collateral damage owing to the criticism that has become a recurring decimal whenever Buhari announces his political appointments. In this case, critics have also wondered why Buhari must nominate a northerner, accusing him of always giving advantage to the north in terms of appointments. While one cannot dismiss that with a wave of hand, given Buhari’s clannish nature evident in his political appointments in the last five years, it does come across as an unfair basis to deny Justice Ishaq Bello the national support, which he deserves and obviously would have received had his name been anything close to Adesina or Okonjo-Iweala. As qualified and competent as Bello may be, the track records of lopsided of Buhari’s political appointees have clearly seen him, literarily, in the line of fire with false narratives against him, which include the claim that he is deficient in the knowledge of criminal law justice. Justice Bello is not just a sound and courageous judge, he is knowledgeable and passionate about the administration of criminal justice and this IS evident in how innovatively he has tried to make the Administration of Criminal Justice Act (ACJA) 2015 more effective and goal scoring in terms of accelerating the dispensation of justice. Specifically, the Chief Judge signed an order of Practice Direction (PD) for the ACJA as a direction on how to apply the act to ensure more efficiency in prosecution and investigation. The said PD is to give life and fervor to the said Act and give the toothless bulldog some teeth to bite.

For instance, the PD confers authority on a judge to award cost against a counsel that is absent in court on an agreed date. According to Paragraph four, Order Seven, “Where a counsel who was present in court and agreed on the next adjournment date fails to attend the hearing without good reason or sufficient notice, costs may be awarded against him.” Parapraph 7 0f the said order also provides that “where a counsel, holding brief for another counsel is unable to proceed with the business of the day, due to his unpreparedness, costs may be awarded against him personally.” Another piece of ingenuity in the Order signed by Justice Bello also almost completely discourages a defendant from jumping bail because his head will be shaved in his absence. The provision that relates to that reads: “Where a defendant who has been granted bail, or having due notice of his trial date, fails without reasonable explanation to attend or refuses to attend court for his trial, and a summons and/or warrant as the case may be, has been issued to compel his attendance without success, the trial shall continue in his absence.” The Practice Direction also empowers a judge or magistrate to award cost against any lawyer personally who files applications that have no foundation in the law in any criminal proceedings and such cost cannot be passed to his client. This caveat is very innovative as it is an incontrovertible fact that lawyers are at the heart of long delays of trials through the constant barrage of frivolous applications they throw at the court.

Being a forward looking progressive, on the 30th day of October, 2017, Justice Bello introduced the new High Court of the Federal Capital Territory, Abuja (Civil Procedure) Rules 2018 and the Rules came into force on the 15th day of February, 2018. Under the new rules, Order 37, Rule 4 is truly commendable as it provides for fast track procedure in civil cases. Under the fast track, the period from commencement to conclusion of trial in fast track procedure shall be within 30 days, the filing and adoption of final addresses is within 14 days, judgment shall be delivered within 7 days and the issuance of certified true copy of judgment shall be within 4 days. The ingenuity of this provision is made clearer when you take into cognizance the fact that cases that take 10 to 15 years could begin and conclude within 55 days under the new rules. As great as this fast track procedure may be, it is a bit too wide in scope as cases that go there are subject to the approval of the Chief Judge. But a criticism against the fast track procedure which provides that an applicant must pay a filing fee of One Hundred Thousand Naira is that it makes quick dispensation of justice the preserve of only the rich, yet the say the court is a place for the common man. Perhaps, the filing fee may require a downward review to make it more accessible to the common man. The new rules also provides for a place for electronic services of court processes and document. This has helped to checkmate those who evade services of court processes as the courts now accept substituted services electronically. The tales of how lawyers and their clients evade service of processes is public knowledge and therefore makes that provision expedient. Justice Bello has also created the enforcement procedure rules for the Child Rights Act, which has seen to even as he is documented to have enhanced the welfare of judicial offices.

Despite these laudable efforts by the eminent jurist, his nomination has been greeted by criticism within the Nigerian shore; and that portends a negative impact to his quest to sit on the bench at the Hague. What makes it more worrisome is the fact that it is coming from his fellow countrymen who are until now famed for national solidarity at a time and in circumstances like the instant one. Even the African Bar Association (AFBA) had recently warned against the negative comments from the region against Justice Bello and other nominees from the region, saying it would work against the continent’s interest at the ICC and called for a sheathing of swords. Nigerians may do well to heed that advice and rally behind their country’s nominee – Justice Ishaq Usman Bello for the common good of the country

Ughegbe, a journalist, Public Opinion Influencer & Human Rights Advocate writes from Abuja.

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