A constitutional lawyer, Mr Mike Ozekhome, believes that the padding of the 2016 budget originated from the executive arm of government and not the legislative.
The legal practitioner, who spoke on Channels Television’s breakfast programme, Sunrise Daily, linked his opinion to the sacking of some officials at the budget office by the President.
“The real padding in this current budget was actually from the executive, not from the National Assembly.
“President Muhammadu Buhari had to sack some people in the budget office when he discovered through some ministers who literally denounced their appropriation figures before the National Assembly, saying (that) it was not my deed (what we call ‘Non Est factum’ in law),” he stated.
Mr Ozekhome expressed dismay that the sacked officials were yet to be arraigned before a court.
On the other hand, he explained that padding would have occurred at the National Assembly if figures were smuggled in the budget, after the lawmakers had made a resolve.
“Padding can only occur in the National Assembly if figures are smuggled in, after the finance committees at the various appropriation committee (Finance Committee, Budget Committee and the National Planning Committee) have agreed.
“If after they have agreed on certain figures debated and approved by the House itself at a plenary session, someone manages again to smuggle in some figures, then that could be padding,” he said.
A Social commentator, Oscar Onwudiwe, on Saturday opined that corruption is what binds Nigeria together, and without it, the country would disintegrate.
He made the controversial statement while speaking on ‘15 Years of Interrupted Democracy’ In Nigeria, on Channels Television’s breakfast programme, Sunrise.
Onwudiwe said that Nigerians should be grateful as the country was evolving through democracy, noting that some individuals, including former President Olusegun Obasanjo, should be thanked for the transition to democratic rule.
“Things have changed whether we want to accept it or not,” he said.
On holding Government accountable, Onwudiwe blamed Nigerians for not rising up to demand change and ensuring that leaders do what they were elected to do.
He also argued that the value system obtainable in the country was encouraging corruption.
The concern for many Nigerians at the moment is that there is little to celebrate about the Nigerian democracy, especially with the insurgency rocking some parts of the county.
The S.A to the Borno State Governor on Media; Isa Gusau, was also on the programme along with Onwudiwe, and he shared the view that democracy has been great in the country even though there had been challenges. He expects the nation to rise out of its current problems.
Speaking on the forthcoming 2015 elections, Gusau also said that the Government would be bowing to the pressure from the Boko Haram sect if it refused to hold elections in crisis prone-areas, as one of the missions of the terrorist group was to suspend liberal rule.
Gusau, whose state is at the centre of the crisis, stated that the Government must ensure that elections are conducted in all parts of the country, if for nothing else than to prove to the terrorists that they cannot succeed.
He also revealed that that there was a mass movement against the terrorist group in Maiduguri, the Borno State capital, giving assurances that there was no resident member of the sect in the State capital.
Making his contribution to the discussion, political analyst, Babatunde Gbadamosi, spoke about the National Conference, amidst concerns about insecurity, and the fact that the growth rates usually published as evidence of performance remain mere statistics that have failed to reflect in the general quality of living.
Gbadamosi was of the view that there is need for the Government to re-negotiate the basis of the nation’s existence, as this would be the best way to achieve peace and true development.
The Director General of the Consumer Protection Council, Dupe Atoki, on Thursday, threatened to exercise the full extent of the law on the Chief Executive Officers of all the telecommunication companies in Nigeria, if they continue to ignore the agency’s summons to a round-table discussion.
Atoki, a guest on Channels Television’s breakfast programme, Sunrise Daily, issued the warning while speaking on the 2014 edition of the World Consumer Rights Day which is themed ‘Fix Our Phone Rights.’
“Every year there is a theme for which consumers all over the world highlight. This goes back to 1963 when President John F. Kennedy addressed the Congress, raising issues of consumer abuses and got the Congress to recognise four basic rights of consumers, from where the various consumer protection legislations emanated.”
“Consumer Protection agencies all over the world adopted 15th of March, the day John F. Kennedy addressed Congress, as World Consumer Rights Day.”
Atoki explained that the theme of the Day was a call to all telecoms companies to ‘Fix Our Phones Right’. “All over the world, that would be the theme that would be considered for the next 12 months, highlighting the challenges that phone users all over the world have been calling on the various operators to fix them right”.
Atoki, who stressed that there are myriads of issues being faced by phone users in Nigeria particularly “the phone use and all the appendages of the telecom system”, disclosed that there are about 122 million phone subscribers in Nigeria.
She further listed major complaints as truncated or dropped calls, unsolicited services including telemarketing, calls and messages, automated sign in services, wrong charges, poor internet services, sales promotions.
She also admitted that many of the issues are unattended to largely as a result of the unpopularity of the agency as well as citizens not knowing what their rights are. However, the agency has published a compendium on its website which consumers can access and submit complaints.
In line with the agency’s vision to ensure that consumer rights are protected, the DG had called for a round table meeting with the CEOs of all the telecom operators to address the issues but the individuals did not attend.
Atoki stressed that the meeting had been moved twice so that the CEOs could attend the policy-making meeting. She warned that refusal to honour the CPCs summon is a crime which can attract a 5-year jail term.
“We have a robust law that gives us power to issue orders and disobedience of those orders also attracts imprisonment.”
She added that she was more interested in finding solutions than sending people to prison.
The Chairman of the Amnesty Programme, Kingsley Kuku, has said that the almost absolute cooperation of the people of Northeast Nigeria is the only way to solve insurgency in Nigeria, and not just the Army.
Mr Kuku was a guest on Channels Television’s flagship breakfast programme, Sunrise Daily, where he discussed the crisis situation in the country, digging from his experience as one of the key players in solving the challenge of militancy in the Niger-Delta region.
He explained that solving the problem of the Boko Haram sect was dependent on how much information the people of the local communities are able to provide to their local chiefs, local government leaders and security agencies.
Answering questions about the safety of people who provide information, particularly with reference to the killing of an Islamic cleric, Sheik Albani, in Kaduna State, Kuku maintained that the killing of Albani was one waiting to happen and which could have been avoided with the right information.
He noted that the Boko-Haram crisis was not a religious issue but wholly about a sect that wants to impose its will on a country, and this explains why both Christians and Muslims were being attacked.
He cited the processes used in solving the Niger-Delta crisis through the help of persons who volunteered to speak with the key players in the militancy, based on their personal relationships with them or communal links to them and their families.
He also mentioned notable Nigerians from the Niger-Delta region who joined in the negotiations, including President Goodluck Jonathan, who then was a Deputy-Governor in Bayelsa State and Chief Tony Anenih who he said offered to lay down his life despite being from Edo State which was not among the states under the attacks by the militants.
The Special Adviser to the President on Niger Delta Affairs, said that those who are criticizing Government and blaming President Goodluck Jonathan out of ignorance were just wasting their time and postponing the doom day for Nigeria, insisting that this was a case of terrorism and it should not be politicised.
Kuku also took a swipe at the Interim National Publicity Secretary of the All Progressives Congress, APC, Mr Lai Mohammed, who appeared on Sunrise Daily a day before. He berated the APC leader for what he termed “performing at his lowest” despite his intelligence, during the interview where he accused the Government of lacking strategic discipline in the fight against the insurgents.
He explained that these insurgents have been heard speaking a totally foreign language, which is neither Hausa nor any of the languages spoken in Nigeria, insisting that the people must rise to fight this invasion by foreigners.
On the availability of a secure network to protect people who provide information, he regretted that some unsuspecting Nigerian youths have been indoctrinated into the violence under the guise of fighting a just cause, but it must be noted that there are also some elders who constantly condemn those youths and they can still be of help in the mission to end insurgency in Nigeria.
He admitted that the sect and their agitation had existed since the administration of former president, Olusegun Obasanjo, but it became political during the administration of President Goodluck Jonathan owing to its fanning by some Nigerian politicians who were playing politics with the sect’s agitation for a Muslim president without looking at the future implication of their actions which has now snowballed into the current situation.
The response time of security agents to distress calls also came to the fore. Mr Kuku vehemently refused to admit that the Nigerian military was slow in responding to calls of people under attack. He explained that the land mass of the North-east was a peculiar one that does not make it realistic for troops to get on the road immediately they receive calls, when they only have to connect with their men who are closest to the crisis location.
Mr Kuku insisted that the Nigerian Army had done very well in the fight against insurgents in the North-east and could not have done better under the circumstances in which they were operating. He insisted that criticism of the forces was unfair and should not be politicised.
A Lawyer, Richard Nwankwo on Thursday said that the court cannot declare the seats of 37 lawmakers who defected to the APC on Wednesday vacant because the constitution guarantees freedom of association.
The lawmakers said that they changed parties due to “division and factionalisation” within the ruling party.
Reacting to the latest development on Channels Television’s breakfast programme, Sunrise Daily, Nwankwo said that no court pronouncement would detract from Section 38 of the constitution which talks about the freedom of thought, conscience and religion as well as section 40 which talks about peaceful assembly and association.
“These two constitutional provisions are very key and strong, and that is the beauty of constitutional democracy,” he said.
“We have to look at what is going on from the perspective of the fundamental rights provisions, because that is the thrust of this matter. The constitution is clear, and I believe that whatever cross-carpeting or re-alignment that is taking place will not detract from the strength of any political party that is on the ground, but what should border Nigerians is that these cross-carpeting, re-alignments have no ideological platform,” he added.
The political circle in the country has been regarded as bereft of any ideology as politicians often hop from party to party, Nwankwo supported the popular assertion by saying “in some other jurisdictions, political parties are known for their ideological slant but that is completely non-existent in our political equation here.”
He added that “this is an environment where our President talks about provision of water, good roads, and environmental sanitation issues. These are 14th century challenges in some other jurisdictions.
“We are still battling with the basics and that also gives us insight into the strength of the challenge we have.
“We have a political arena that is bereft of political ideologies,” he said, and added that the disputes leading to the defection of governors and lawmakers “have absolutely nothing to do with ideologies” as they are “predicated on personal disputes.”
“The landscape is becoming very muddy and very uncertain.”
An Education Consultant, Bisi Akin-Alabi, on Wednesday, said that the 5 month long strike embarked upon by ASUU showed the members’ lack of commitment to the education sector, as no professional would leave the students unattended to no matter the situation.
Speaking on Channels Television’s breakfast programme, Sunrise Daily, Mrs Akin-Alabi said the responsibility of an educator is to provide equitable and sustainable education and the use of strike as a tool to ensure demands are met is unprofessional.
She cited an example of the educational sector in the United Kingdom where she had been working for over 20 years and said lecturers in the UK don’t strike, “we picket” she added.
According to her, when picketing, some groups of lecturers continue teaching in the classrooms while others take turns protesting using placards.
“The problem we have in Nigeria is that, most of us in the education sector got there because we couldn’t make our first choice ambition in other fields (then we find our ways into the classroom), whereas in the developed parts of the world, people that are in education would absolutely die for it.”
She stressed that 5 months wasted as a result of the strike is ‘unthinkable.’
“Both the government and the ASUU need to wake up to the cost of 5 months strike.”
She expressed disappointment in the federal government for allowing the situation drag for so long
“It’s appalling to know that we have a democratically elected government and they fold their arms and allow this to go on for five months.”
According to the life coach, the inability of both parties to reach an agreement in good time led to ‘drama’ which ultimately caused the death of Professor Festus Iyayi.
Mrs Akin-Alabi also said she had expected more from President Goodluck Jonathan who was once a university don.
Responding to criticisms against ASUU for refusing to give Mr. President the benefit of the doubt, Akin-Alabi said it has become a norm for the government to renege on promises.
“Over and over again, our leaders go back on their words. Our leaders don’t have the integrity.”
Mrs Akin-Alabi concluded that two wrongs don’t make a right and the ideal thing would have been for ASUU to continue meeting the students ‘behind closed doors.’
The United States Assistant Secretary for African Affairs, in the Department of State, Linda Thomas-Greenfield, has spoken about her first visit to Nigeria following her appointment during an interview on Channels Television’s breakfast programme, Sunrise.
Mrs Greenfield said that her visit was to strengthen the bilateral relationship between the two countries and follow-up on the meeting President Goodluck Jonathan held with President Barak Obama in New York, in September. “Nigeria is one of our largest partners in Africa,” she said.
“I came with my team to talk about issues that came up during those discussions.”
The discussions centred on improving the bi-lateral relationship between the two nations, security concerns involving the Boko Haram sect, oil theft and other issues.
“More particularly, we spoke about the issues related to Boko Haram and how to address the issues of terrorism being faced by Nigeria. Our view is that terrorism anywhere is terrorism everywhere and so what is happening here in Nigeria has an impact on its neighbours and other countries in the world and we want the government of Nigeria to succeed in its efforts to do away with terrorism in the North of Nigeria.”
She further disclosed that the United States government had made commitments to the federal government when the meeting held in September.
The commitments include providing training and assistance to the military on how they can address counter insurgencies as well as providing advice based on their good and bad experiences.
She also mentioned that they would pay special attention to ensure that the Nigerian military is sensitive to the impact of its anti-terrorism activities on communities and to ensure that human rights violations are not committed.
She added that the discussion between the two presidents held in New York was good and very productive.
Issues of oil bunkering were also part of the discussions and another team from the United States’ government is expected to arrive in Port Harcourt, on Saturday. The team will also hold meetings with government on how to address the problem.
Following the news of South Africa’s hero, Nelson Mandela, passing away at the age of 95, a security consultant, Captain Umar Aliyu (Rtd), on Friday said that the anti-apartheid champion did not die (spiritually) but only ascended.
Speaking on Channels Television’s breakfast programme, Sunrise Daily, he described the late icon as “the greatest African man I know” and added that he “has ascended.”
“I won’t accept the use of the word dead. He ascended.”
Nelson Mandela had been at the fore-front of the anti-apartheid struggle in South Africa and following the victory of the crusade, he emerged the first black president of the nation.
Speaking about his popularity in the world, Mr Umar said Mandela was more popular than the South African Rand.
“I don’t even believe he is dead. Not in the spiritual sense.
Some people just transcend death. Some people rubbish death.
He will be more popular in death than when he was alive as “he cannot die”.
Mr Aliyu said that Mandela gave account of all the 95 years he spent on Earth and added that those who are privileged to live for almost a century, should be able to do something significant.
“He stood for peace, truth and equality.”
He praised Madiba for refusing to be South Africa’s President for Life but choosing to rule for one term after emerging as the first black president.
Hope For A Nigerian Madiba
While praising Mandela’s attributes, Mr Aliyu expressed his desire to see more selfless leaders in Nigeria, adding that, “it is my heart’s song that somewhere among our leaders, we should also be able to bring about a Mandela.” “Selflessness became his (Mandela) brand name.”
Making a comparison between the kind of politics Mandela played and the kind Nigerian politicians play in contemporary times, Umar said “in my opinion, our politics has been tending more towards comedy than anything else.”
The President Aka Ikenga, a think tank group of the Igbo people, Goddy Uwazurike, on Monday said the Lagos state government had good intentions for ridding the metropolis of destitutes but the victims of deportation should have been taken to a homeless shelter, which is the primary responsibility of any government.
Speaking on Channels Television’s breakfast programme, Sunrise Daily, Mr Uwazurike said that the situation should not be a case of Lagos versus Anambra state government but rather, it should revolve around the legality of relocating citizens of Lagos, against their wish.
At a meeting between Governor Babtunde Fashola of Lagos and the group, Mr Uwazurike said that it was stated that “it is not a question of Lagos state government versus Anambra state government. It is a question of residents of Lagos. Why should they be moved in the first place?
If they are sick, take them to the hospital. If they are destitutes, take them to a rehabilitation home”.
The Governor however responded that he, as a Senior of Advocate of Nigeria, would not do anything to offend the constitution.
He said both parties agreed that there were many bad eggs in the Lagos state government agencies like Kick Against Indiscipline (KAI) and Lagos State Traffic Management Authority (LASTMA).
Mr Uwazurike called on the Lagos government to rehabilitate as many who do not have shelters of their own; he added that ‘living under the bridge’ is not healthy.
Meanwhile, Governor Fashola has said that “14, not 70 or 72 destitutes were picked up on the streets of Lagos as part of a continuous exercise to assist vulnerable citizens who roam our streets without food, or shelter and a number who have medical ailments, usually in the nature of mental infirmity.”
The Lagos state government has deported recently deported some Igbos from Lagos to the Bridge head at Onitsha, Anambra State.
A lecturer of International Law at the University of Lagos, Edefe Ojomo, while discussing African Union’s (AU) rationale for suspending Egypt following the removal of President Morsi, argued the that consent of many Egyptians to the military intervention should not be regarded as unconstitutional.
Speaking as a guest on Channels Television’s breakfast programme, Sunrise Daily, she said that asides from military coups, a revolution as seen in Egypt could also be unconstitutional, by AU standards.
She however explained that if the “constitution gets its backing from the people, then obviously public opinion and public will can’t be unconstitutional.”
She attributed the success of 20 million signatories to the petition against the Morsi led administration to dissatisfaction by the people including those who had initially voted the ousted President into power.
She said the democracy, as interpreted by Egyptians, means the ‘people’s voice”
The uprising which led to the Egyptian Army ousting President Mohammed Morsi from power barely a year after being elected into power, was caused by people’s dissatisfaction.
Ojomo noted that the crisis, which involves international politics, domestic politics and domestic economy would not spiral into a civil war.
“People don’t think it will spiral into a civil war because the Egyptian army is strong enough to maintain ‘some calm and some peace’.”
She disagreed with claims that external influences were involved in the uprising adding that “it is insulting to call a popular uprising a sort of manipulation” by outsiders.
She regarded it as a political manner of interpreting such problems.