National Assembly Must Reveal Lawmakers Salary In Its Own Interest

A member of the House of Representatives, Abike Dadiri-Erewa, has revealed that the National Assembly will open up its books and reveal the controversial salary and emoluments of lawmakers “in its own interest.”

Mrs Dabiri-Erewa made this known at the 5th Wole Soyinka Centre media lecture series on Saturday in Lagos where she challenged the media and civil society organisations to further ask questions as she claim the National Assembly is ‘opening up’.

Reacting to the claim that Nigerian lawmakers are the highest paid in the world according to guest speaker at the lecture, Prof Biodun Jeyifo, Mrs Dabiri-Erewa declined to state her personal salary but stated that it will be in the best interest of the National Assembly to open-up.

When asked about her salary, she hinted that “I am a member of six different committees in the House of Representatives and I get less than N2million to run these committees in a month.”

According to her the annual budget of the National Assembly is N150billion while that of the Central Bank of Nigeria is N300billion.

She challenged Nigerians and the media to ask questions, maintaining that “the National Assembly is opening up and Nigerians should ask questions.”

The House chairperson on Diaspora accused the Nigerian media of a disappointing lackadaisical attitude towards the use of the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA), passed two years despite the rigours undertaken to get the bill passed and signed into law.

The politician, who moved the FOIA motion in the House of Representatives, further challenged a member of the audience who she identified as Komolafe saying, “Go to court Mr Komolafe and let me see who will not answer the FOI in the National Assembly.”

The National Assembly is currently embroiled in a legal battle, appealing the judgment of a Federal High Court which ruled in favour of a civil society group request on the publication of the lawmakers’ salary.

Reps N15million Ramadan Gifts

Reacting to another claim by Prof Jeyifo lecture’s that the Nigerian political sphere is pervaded by massive corruption and mediocrity thereby election victories are not based on performances, the journalist turned politician averred that as a lawmaker, most of constituents do not ask her about her doings on the floor of the house but rather what is she bring to the table.

“People do not ask about bills passed or motions moved, what I’m asked is: what are you bringing to the table?”

She claimed that gifts that would be given out by some of her colleagues in the House during this Ramadan period is about N15million as she traced the anomaly to loss of values in the country and misuse of people’s power to vote.

She enjoined Nigerians to use their voting power to see they desired change by electing the right candidates and defending their votes.

“Look at the people you are voting for and make up your mind on what you want” she affirmed.

By Ayo Okulaja

 

Freedom Of Information Bill Is Under-Utilised In Nigeria

A member of the House of Representatives, Abike Dabiri-Erewa has accused the Nigerian media of a disappointing lackadaisical attitude to the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) passed two years.

Noting that despite the rigours undertaken to get the bill passed and signed into law, she claimed the law has being grossly under-utilized by Nigerians and the media amidst the widespread corruption in the country.

Mrs Dabiri-Erewa made this known at the 5th Wole Soyinka Centre media lecture series on Saturday in Lagos where she challenged the media and civil society organisations to further ask questions on some of the revelations uncovered by the various committees of the House of Representatives.

Where is the money?         

Highlighting the $16billion fuel subsidy scam unveiled by an adhoc committee set-up by the House to investigate the fraudulent payment of fuel subsidy, the lawmaker asked “where is the money?”

“We (House of Representatives) brought the fuel subsidy scam to fore by revealing that there was no subsidy, that all we are subsidising was corruption and nobody has asked the question on what has happened to the money.”

The lawmaker, who sponsored the FOIA in the House, described the bill as a gift from the National Assembly stating that “the 7th Assembly has given this bill as a gift to Nigeria’s democracy,” but “nothing has happened afterwards with using the law.”

She claimed that the House Committee on the Implementation of the FOI has also just discovered that a lot of Ministries, Department and Agencies (MDAs) do not have a FOI Unit to address such request when they are made as mandated by the law and “nobody is asking the questions” she lamented.

“Right now, only 29 MDAs are submitting the annual expenditure and nobody is asking questions.”

She also cited an example of the Joint Admission Matriculation Board (JAMB) which according to her earns about N26billion from the sale of forms to students seeking admission into the nation’s universities, “yet 86 per cent of these students are not given admission and nobody ask what JAMB does with the money.”

She however commended the Nigerian Army for the adequate implementation of the FOIA, saying that House Committee has discovered that the Army and a few agencies have set-up the FOI Unit and also have dedicated phone lines to address any FOI request.

“Let us use this law to know how the nation’s resources are used judiciously or not” she appealed.

Take Responsibility

In his comments, the chairman of National Human Rights Commission, Dr Chidi Odinkalu, noted that “the tyranny of rights cannot make progress with citizens who want to take responsibility.”

He linked the access to information with access to education as he enjoined Nigerians to demand explanations from government and public servants, who according to him “see access to information as a way to block how government is ran.”

Dr Odinkalu, however called for caution in the expectations of the FOIA, stating that Nigeria got the FOIA in 2011 after 100years of operating a secretive policy imposed by British colonial masters in 1911 and sustained onwards.

Delivering the keynote lecture Prof Biodun Jeyifo, had earlier in his lecture titled: The Freedom Of Information Act and the Dictatorship of Corruption and Mediocrity, decried Nigerians failure to use the FOIA despite some confessions of looting by politicians recently.

He recalled the duel between President Olusegun Obasanjo and Vice-President Atiku Abubakar in 2006, when the former President asked the National Assembly to commence impeachment proceedings against the latter over the blatant looting of the Petroleum Trust Development Fund (PTDF).

The academic stated that the Vice-President did not deny the charges but confessed that the President’s cronies and girlfriends were beneficiaries of the loot and this allegation was substantiated with series of newspaper publications of incriminating documents.


“No FOI action could bring out the information that was voluntarily divulged by Obasanjo and Atiku and till today, nothing has happened to the duo” said Prof Jeyifo.

He described the nation’s type of democracy as ‘dictatorship in democracy’ which is not paranoid or unembarrassed by any allegation of corrupt practices as corruption and mediocrity reigns supreme in this country.”

The Professor of African Studies and Comparative Literature from Harvard University, decried the media for being “remarkably reticent to compel our leaders to comply with the dictates of the FOI,” as he warned that “the nation’s democracy is averse to the rule of law and on the verge of a failed state.”

By Ayo Okulaja

Africa’s Revolution: Increasing The Continent’s Power By Solar, Mobile Technology

Africa has moved on and its growing and innovative use of mobile technology is about to be channeled into addressing the continent’s power deficit by using cheap, renewable energy for sustainable development.

By Ayo Okulaja

Family house powered by Mobisol system. Illustration by Ulrike

This was the focus of a session: Green Technology in Practice – How To make Solar Energy Affordable at the just concluded 2013 Deutsche Welle Global media Forum in the city of Bonn, Germany.

Mobisol, a German start-up company is leading this power revolution which according to its 30-year old founder, Thomas Gottschalk “this revolution will be a peaceful one.”

There are about 1.2billion people in the world that are off-grid (not connected to power at all), Thomas identified this a huge market but these people cannot afford the very expensive renewable energy hence the invention of Mobisol solar home mobile system and its innovative mobile payment system.

The solar home mobile system is powered by a mobile phone which is remotely controlled from Germany once a client loads money on the phone via the mobile payment, the solar system is activated and power is supplied. All communication with customer is SMS based thereby reducing payment default.

According to Thomas, the company in its pilot scheme that has installed over 840 solar home mobile systems in remote areas of Kenya and Tanzania is helping people to save and wisely spend the money that normally goes on fossil fuel.

Another feature that moved Thomas’s audience was the capacity of the mobile payment to allow payment from anywhere in the world. “So if you don’t have the money and you have a son or daughter who is living abroad or in the city, so through mobile money, the relative can just make the payment and power switches on.”

Thomas identified that the age-long bottleneck challenge of payment on solar power has been addressed with the mobile payment innovation as well as maintenance as residents are being trained on how to carry out minor repairs on the panel and battery in case of any problems.

1000th Clients

To make the system very affordable, the solar panel and battery is pre-financed by Deutsche Investitions und Entwicklungs-gesellschaft (DEG) as its payment is spread over 36months thereby making this a very affordable source of power.

A solar powered phone charging device created by Mobisol to further empower their clients. Photo by Ayo Okulaja

The Mobisol boss gave the assurance that so far the clients have been very faithful with their payments and no record of theft.

50-52 Mobisol solar home system are now installed weekly and Thomas reveals that the company is aiming for its 1000th customer this July.

Thank you China

Questions were asked on the impact China’s cheap solar panel has had on the price of solar technology and the panelists agreed that the Chinese have crashed the price with their inventions. Chairman of DEG’s Management Board, Bruno Wenn stated that “without the Chinese involvement, we would never have witnessed the sharp decrease in cost of the panels.”

He added that a research conducted by the European Union a decade ago predicted prices that are ten times what it is today for 2013

“We need to say thank you to China because they really-really pushed German companies to reduce their prices” added Thomas

He also enjoined European media and business to stop looking at Africa as a donor space but a fertile ground for immense economic growth. He noted that Africa is full with homes that are filled with solar panels that are not working after three – five months because the panels are provided by donor models.

It is time to develop a business model via modern and mobile technology as Mobisol is doing that will guarantee immense economic growth for Africa and investors who have failed to develop an adequate business model.

I asked Thomas why Mobisol is not yet in Nigeria with a population of over 160million people and generates less than 3000MW of electricity as a Kenyan colleague also asked why the company is not aiming for its 3,00000000th customer instead of 1000th.

He expressed the desire of his company to spread but warned that it must be cautious so as not to “break its neck if it spreads too fast” and this was further corroborated by Mr Wenn, who warned that “this is a start-up. There is a huge market in Africa and outside and you cannot expect that a start-up to tap all of it. They need to have more organic growth otherwise this business model will not be sustainable.”

The poignant impact of continued use of fossil fuel was accentuated by South African journalist, Alani Janeke, who revealed that about 400,000 hectares of the country’s most arable zone is about to be devastated due to coal mine.

Africa’s environment can key into the continent’s ongoing economic surge if the development is based on renewable energy and sustainable development for an inclusive growth as venture such as Mobisol will give President Obama and the US government, a run for their money.

The US President during his just concluded visit to the continent announced the sum of $7billion to be invested the powering the continent.

Global Economy Has Gone Rogue

The devastating model of the globalized economy if not quickly reversed will further harm the planet and lead to increasing loss of lives.

By Ayo Okulaja

Dr Vandana delivering her speech on earth's democracy at the 2013 Deutsche Welle Global Media Forum. Photo by David Andersson

Indian environmental activist and anti-globalisation campaigner; Dr. Vandana Shiva, made this known at her keynote address on the final day of the 2013 Deutsche Welle Global Media Forum, where she spoke about the values required for a new economic model that respects the planet and all species of life.

According to her, the global economy is like a herd of elephants gone rogue. “I’ve watched elephants that have gone rogue; they leave the herd and just destroy.”

“An economy has gone rogue under globalisation, because it’s no more grounded in the ecological limits of the planet.  It’s no more grounded in the human rights and human dignity of the last child, the last woman, the last person” she explained.

Limitless Growth, Limited Planet

Warning against the lack of caution in the globalized economic model which seeks growth at all cost, the environmental activist stated that such insatiable quest has led the world to an economy of greed and such is leading to the collapse of not just the ecosystem but our societies.

“An economy of greed must be based on theft and sadly greed has been made the only value of our times.  We are witnessing what it is costing us.  We are witnessing how ecosystem after ecosystem is under collapse” she said.

She further explains that “we’ve come up with this strange idea of limitless growth on a limited planet.  It’s ecologically false, it’s physically false, it’s biologically false and it’s socially unjust because there’s a very ancient text from India that reminds us that if you take more than you need, you are stealing, because some other being, some other person, all the future generations have a right to those resources.”

Citing an example of how the ecology and economy are interwoven, Dr Shiva narrated how collaboration between a German forester and British timber companies exploited India’s timber forest despite protest by peasant women in the 60’s against disrupting the connection between forest and water.

She referred to the timber exploitation as ‘timber mines’, saying “in ’72, we had a horrible flood and the women came out and said these trees protect us.  They prevent the landslides, they prevent the flooding, they give us food, they give us fodder, they are our mothers and you can’t cut them.”

“In another decade, the floods came again and the Indian government realised what the women were saying was true because by then, the government was putting out more money for flood relief than they were getting out of timber revenues and after that a logging ban was put in the catchments of the Ganges and the Yamuna, the area where I come from.”

“The forest was saved from logging but the frenzy of globalisation, of speed, of building super-highways in the fragile Himalayas, dams, saying that electricity was the biggest produce of the mountains, not the water of the rivers.  It’s created a situation that across the mountains in my regions we have landslides and when the first rain came this year 4 days ago all of that rubble came down, filled the rivers.”


The death toll of this year’s monsoon flood in India’s Uttarakhand district has risen to over a thousand with nearly 3,000 people still missing.

A displeased Shiva stated that she’s never seen anything like this “our farm is under one foot of water.  Agriculture is going to be devastated this year.  Why?  Because we’re still carrying such an outmoded idea of the Earth and the economy.”

She further blamed the global markets preference for cheap goods tracing its source to the growing suicide of farmers who grow cotton and are now killed by debts.

“This was taken then to Bangladesh and China and then the women get burnt in fires and then you get cheap clothing, just like you get cheap food, because the costs have not been internalised.”

Earth Democracy

She enjoined the media to re-define the conversation about globalization as she disagreed with the repeated notion that intensification will feed the world “but they never clarify intensification of what?”  the environmental activist asked.

“Intensification of fossil fuels actually creates a very inefficient system; 10 units are put in to get one unit out.  Ecological systems use one unit to produce 2 units of food.  That’s the way we can double the production of food without harming the planet” she advised.

Dr Shiva also condemned the carefree use of planet earth as an inert raw material. “We don’t treat our planetary home as our home; we treat it as just raw material, dead, inert.  We couldn’t have had the rise of mechanistic science without declaring nature as dead.”

She finished her speech expressing the optimism about a growing change that seeks to challenge the global norm with the development of the occupy movement of 1% against the 99%.

She however noted that a surveillance system is being built to try and make sure that the 99% doesn’t have its way, referring to the Edward Snowden PRISM controversy.

But “a 1% rule has never lasted. It must be 100% participation, not just of every human being but every species on this planet.  That’s the Earth democracy we need to create” she concluded.

Germany Demands More Permanent Members For UN Security Council

The German Foreign Affairs Minister, Guido Westerwelle has made a strong case for the inclusion of African nations and Latin American countries with more Asian countries in the United Nations Security Council.

According to the Minister, the inclusion of more member nations in the Security Council will enhance the capacity and authority of the international organization in addressing and avoiding conflicts of today’s world.

Westerwelle made this known during his remarks to questions from journalists after his keynote address at the 2013 Deutsche Welle Global Media Forum in the United Nations city of Bonn, Germany.

Mr Westerwelle noted that all the United Nations institutions as they are, still reflect how the world was after the Second World War and these institutions need urgent reforms to reflect the dimension of today’s globalized world with emerging nations.

“The United Nations reflect in their structures, the world, how it was after World War Two but it is not the current reflection and the fact that all Latin America is not represented permanently in the Security Council of the United Nations with one voice, doesn’t have anything to do with the world of today.”

“These are old structures” he stated to a rousing applause from the audience.

“Ladies and gentlemen, the fact that the whole of the African continent not doesn’t have a single voice, doesn’t have a permanent seat in the Security Council of the United Nations is the world of the past and not of today and not even anything of the future” he told over 2,000 journalists at the World Conference centre in Bonn.

He further decried that “the whole of Asian continent has only one voice, the voice of China in the UN Security Council.

This, he noted “doesn’t reflect the power of relation in the world we are living in and it reflects the situation when the United Nations were established and not really future development.”

The Minister called for the reform of all international organisations to be more representative, warning that not doing so will only ‘weaken’ the institutions.

“The international institutions of the world have to be more representative. If they are not representative, we will weaken them.”

“So all the continents, all success stories has to reflect in all international organization, only then will this international organization have sufficient authority in the world to avoid and overcome conflict.”

The United Nations Security Council is one of the six principal organs of the United Nations and is charged with the maintenance of international peace and security. Its powers, outlined in the United Nations Charter, include the establishment of peacekeeping operations, the establishment of international sanctions, and the authorization of military action.

There are 15 members of the Security Council. This includes five veto-wielding permanent members—China, France, Russia, the United Kingdom, and the United States—based on the great powers that were the victors of World War II.

There are also 10 non-permanent members, with five elected each year to serve two-year terms. This basic structure is set out in Chapter V of the UN Charter.

Nigeria is currently in the forefront of demanding reforms of the UN Security Council as it seeks to take the African slot for a permanent seat with contemporaries such as South Africa and Egypt.

Classical Relationship

Mr Westerwelle also revealed that the German government under Angela Merkel has agreed to further intensify its relationship with African nations, describing the partnership as a ‘classical relationship’ which must “be intensified.”

He described as it as “linking up with the new powers of the world in a strategic way.”

By Ayo Okulaja

Former Sri Lankan President urges Nigeria to dialogue with Boko Haram

Former President and Prime Minister of Sri Lanka, Chandrika Kumaratunga in Lagos

Former President and Prime Minister of Sri Lanka, Chandrika Kumaratunga has urged the Nigerian government to maximize all peaceful effort in addressing the Boko Haram insurgency. She gave this advice in an interview with AYO OKULAJA in Lagos, where she discouraged the use of military onslaught against the fundamentalist on the back drop of the massive civilian casualty suffered in the Sri Lankan onslaught against the Tamil Tigers rebels. She also touched a number of global issues, such as growing inequality, minority demands and inclusive policy.

Your successor, President Rajapaska, completely quelled the Tamil Tigers insurgency with a military onslaught as against your peace initiative with the rebels. How will you advise the Nigerian government to deal with the Boko Haram insurgency; dialogue or an all-out military onslaught?

The Mahinda Rajapaksa’s onslaught against the Tamil tigers is a very big issue in the international community now and the United Nations Human Right Commission (UNHRC) is still investigating it but I still believe, it could have taken a bit longer; we could have ended the war in a different war.

The Tamil people have been discriminated against for a long time and they are demanding for their rights and my government was the first to agree to their demands to give their rights, comprehensive right, a federal state and no separate country. But Rajapaska never believed in minority rights. He was the only minister in my cabinet that was against negotiations, he just wanted to go and kill them.

And now the whole world is shouting about the onslaught, the Tamil diaspora are regrouping and condemning the attack and in a few years, there can be another rebel group if the government goes on with its strategy. There was lot of things they violated in the final onslaught such as civilian human rights because the Tigers surrounded themselves by civilians. The government also used fighter jets to shoot thousands of civilians the government had instructed to gather somewhere. Those killings could have been avoided if the government had a more humanitarian approach. There was no need to kill civilians and this is what is going round and everyone is angry. If only the Tamil Tigers were destroyed no one who have being bothered because they were very vicious. They produced the largest number of suicide bombers in the world before Al-Qaeda took over.

What do you think is the best solution to insurgency?

People don’t become very violent just like that. There are very deep-rooted causes, so you have to find these causes of the conflict and then resolve those causes but when they keep on killing like Boko Haram or Tamil Tigers, then you have to find those individuals and do whatever you can with them. But the agitation will not stop until you find the root causes and like in Nigerian and Sri Lanka, the people recruited by Boko Haram are the poor and those that have suffered discrimination, so you have to first resolve the problem of poverty, bring them in, you have to include them by building an inclusive policy.

What is your take on issues of reserved seats versus the Inclusive policy?

Groups of people, whether they are women, religion or tribes who have been discriminated against for centuries, people who have been trampled upon and cannot rise up to those that have been on top, those who do not have rights and those that have disadvantaged, should be given specialty till they become equal. There should be reserved seats for tribes and communities that have suffered from various types of discrimination. Such as it is done in India for people from lower caste, where it has been very successful.

What happens when the ruling class or those favoured by the status quo fight back in this demand to share power of inclusive policy?

Such groups will or may resist, sometimes, violently. The government must have extensive awareness campaign to tell the majority people also that, unless you share the benefits of development with everyone, there is going to be so much violence and trouble and you are not going to enjoy your wealth. For example in Sri Lanka, we went around the country holding seminars and workshop on these kinds of issues.

In your lecture in Lagos, you lamented the growing rate of inequality in the world noting the poor are even getting poorer in today’s world. Do you think the capitalist system has failed the 21st century?

I admitted that some developing countries are making giant economic strides and some poor people have been moved out of economic poverty but the poor that are getting poorer are mostly people who belong to the minority community. So in countries where this happens, there is discrimination. I don’t think capitalism has failed because it is the economic system adopted all over the world since socialism failed. I was also a socialist but when I came into power, I said I was bringing capitalism with a human face. What is now wrong with today’s capitalist is that they look after only the rich and forget the poor. But if they take a little from the rich via taxation and distribute to the poor, coupled with infrastructural development and provision of education and health care to the poor, then I don’t think capitalism is bad. But capitalism has to be properly managed, governments that are managing capitalist economies have to be not corrupt, or at least there should be minimal corruption and there will be enough to go round.

Considering the growing demands of minorities and battle of inequality, should the world do away with system of dynasty which you have benefited from?

I don’t agree with family dynasty, that is why I have not brought my children into politics. My father and mother were into politics but it is not that we were the only choice. We were elected. My mother refused to come into politics after my father was assassinated. The party wanted her to come, so it was not like we were building ourselves up and wanted to remain in power. My mother later became very popular and I think she did a very good job and after her, the party needed another leader. I said I didn’t want to do politics and I was forced into it after about three years of refusing and then I said dynasty ends with me. I have thought my children that they don’t have to come into politics. I think dynastical politics is not good. It allows the family to grab everything for themselves and corruption is worse in such a system. At the moment, the current President of Sri Lanka has become very corrupt as about 2,000 members of his family are in government positions and his four brothers in the cabinet as well as their sons are in the parliament. Such a system has more disadvantages than advantages because those in power will begin to think of it as a family heirloom and they become corrupt. It is not only the family members that have experience. There are many others who have experience to govern.

Talking about assassinations and suicide bombs how was it for you to have survived a suicide bomb attack?

It was great. I don’t know how I survived but it was almost miraculous. I lost one side of my eye, I am blind in the left eye and I still have steel in my brain. 26 people died in that attack including my driver who has being with me for about 25years.

Mrs Kumaratunga was in Lagos for the annual Osigwe Anyiam Osigwe lecture series where she delivered the keynote speech on Synthesis For Nationhood: Ethnic policy and National Integration From Indigenes to Citizens.

 

State of origin must give way to citizenship- Jonathan

President Goodluck Jonathan has declared that it is time for Nigeria to ”dismantle the idol of exclusivity” and discard issues that focus on state of origin rather citizens of nation and this change will be carried out with the ongoing review of the nation’s constitution.

Delivering the President’s remark at the 13th Osigwe Anyiam-Osigwe lecture which focused on developing ethnic policy for national integration to address the issue of indigenes versus settlers, the Minister of State for Foreign Affairs, Prof Viola Adaku Onwuliri, who represented Dr. Jonathan stated emphatically that “things just have to change.”

”In the plan for nation building, the joy for all patriots is for all citizens to enjoy the rights of citizenship” the President stated, as he acknowledged that ”there is a dangerous growth of indigeneship versus settlership crises” and ”these are enemies of Nigeria which we must aggressively not tolerate” he added.

”There is hardly any ethnic group in Nigeria which does not have a sizeable amount of its people residing outside of their ethnic communities” the President noted as he explained how is his native Ijaw tribe (whom he claimed are predominantly fish eaters) have been taught how to eat and source fresh beef by Fulani herdsmen that have settled in their communities.

”This strong cosmopolitan is the future of Nigeria” the President affirmed as he declared that ethnicity must give way to citizenship as granted by rights of the Nigerian Constitution, and this I will defend with all my power as President” he declared.

“We should glory in our diversity because it is our strength” the President added.

He also admitted the fears of communities that, they might be swamped by others but he explained that every effort will be made to ensure that their culture is preserved and that “where the laws are ambiguous, we will address that with the ongoing review constitution.”

This is coming as hundreds of lives are lost and property destroyed in recent inter-communal clashes in cities and states across the country such as Plateau, Benue, Nassarawa and Lagos.

Inclusive government policy

Delivering the keynote address, former President and Prime Minister of Sri Lanka, Mrs Chandrika Kumaratunga urged the Nigerian government at all levels to develop inclusive policies to address the nation’s perpetual ethno-religious crisis.

According to the Sri Lankan leader who spoke on the topic; Synthesis for nationhood: Ethnic Policy and national Integration: from indigenes to citizens, ”economic development is not the only solution” to ethno-religious crises but that ”marginalized people must be included” in every nation’s socio-political and economic development by the use on inclusive policies.

Admitting that a number of countries in the developing world have made significant economic strides, she however stated that ”a lot of people in the developing world are remaining even poorer than before” and this she claims ”causes violence because the people cannot tolerate the injustice anymore.”

‘Any young hope betrayed, transforms itself into bombs”, Mrs Kumaratunga noted as she explained that ”economic injustice, social and political exclusion breeds inequality and marginalized groups.”

Using the exclusive and inclusive policy operated in both Calabar and Warri political scene since colonial era, the Sri Lakan leader stated that the Efiks in Calabar, as a major tribe in the state, have practiced an inclusive policy which empowers other minority groups, hence the relative peace in the Cross river state.

This, she noted cannot be said for Delta state, where the Itsekiri, as the major tribe, practice an exclusive policy enshrined by the colonial masters which, she claimed has led to the prolonged ethnic violence in the oil rich state.

The speaker used graphical illustrations gotten from research on the two societies to defend her claim.

She blamed the exclusive rule on colonial policies that ”favoured some ethnic groups over others.”

Failing democracy

She however admitted that ”decolonization has not being completely achieved in a number of developing countries, where most post-colonial nations have failed democracy, even years after independence.”

She cited that an inclusive federal system practiced in India has led to the suppression of ethnic violence in the nation of over a billion people in the last four decades of its independence while the contrary has led to unresolved ethnic violence in Malaysia, Nepal, Sri Lanka, Nigeria, Cote’d Ivoire and currently seen with Rhodinga Muslims in Burma.

Mrs Kumaratunga also advised that whilst the government work towards achieving inclusive policies for all, efforts must be made to address violence from the dominant ethnic groups that might want to oppose the fight against inequality.

She also prescribed that governments must ensure that macro-economics are gotten right and that some specific policies must be targeted at the minority groups.

Written By Ayo Okulaja