Yoruba National Assembly Communique


Text of the communique from the Yoruba Assembly held at the Oyo State House of Assembly, Ibadan, Oyo State — 30 August 2012
Representatives of various political parties, sub-ethnic groups of the Yoruba of Nigeria, professional and vocational groups, at a PAN-YORUBA CONFERENCE to which the following categories of eminent Yoruba personalities were invited: All former Heads of state of Yoruba stock, All former Vice Presidents of the military era, Chiefs of General Staff or Chiefs of Staff (Supreme Headquarters), All former and current state governors of South West states and Kwara, and Itsekiri who are Yoruba, All Yoruba former Presidents of the Senate and Speakers of the House of Representatives, all former Chief Justices of Nigeria, (CJN) former Justices of the Supreme Court and other retired judges, all Yoruba former and serving members of the House of Representatives, all former and serving Speakers of the various Yoruba states Houses of Assembly. They also include leaders of all political parties from Yoruba land, Top Yoruba professionals, Chairmen and secretaries of all Self-determination Groups at the state levels in Yoruba land; Yoruba Trade Groups Chairmen and Secretaries at state levels, Chairmen and Secretaries of Diaspora Groups, Women and Youth Leaders of Yoruba land at state levels, Yoruba Academics, Religious Leaders and other Yoruba leaders from across the States of Ekiti, Lagos, Ondo, Ogun, Osun, Kwara, Kogi and out Itsekiri kith and kin of Delta state,met in Ibadan on the 30 August 2012 and discussed the general state of affairs of the so-called Nigerian federation.
At the end of robust deliberations on pertinent issues, the following decisions were adopted as resolutions:
1. Noted that Nigeria is, once again, at a critical crossroad. After more than 50 years of Independence and less than 2 years short of 100 years after the 1914 amalgamation, deep structural issues and Nationality Questions, such as Federalism, Fair and Equitable Revenue Allocation, Security, Free and Fair Elections, State Police and inter-relationship amongst the different Nationalities remain unresolved! Indeed, the need for a National Dialogue to resolve the issues has never been more pressing. The general state of the Nigerian federation is disturbingly unhealthy. There is general insecurity in the land, there is growing decay of infrastructure, and there is increasing tension in the polity, exacerbated by mounting unemployment all over the country.
2. Observed further that the failure of the Nigerian Federation to meet the challenge of building a modern multi-ethnic democratic state can be traced to several factors that include: absence of a negotiated constitution by citizens, existence of a constitution that erodes the pre-military federal character of the Nigerian State, political and bureaucratic corruption that seems to arise from a sense of alienation from the state on the part of those expected to provide a sense of belonging and direction for the citizenry, and the menace of religious and cultural intolerance.
3. Noted in particular, the 1999 Constitution, on the basis of which the country is governed today, is seen as a source of tension between federating units. The constitution imposes a unitary model of government on a country with diverse cultural and religious orientations and values, thereby putting most of the powers and resources to develop the federation in the hands of the government at the center, the farthest government from the citizenry.
4. Noted that the growth of the Yoruba region, referred to as the Southwest in the 1999 Constitution, has been stalled by the imposition of a unitary form of government that denies states the right and benefit of fiscal federalism, a corner-stone of federalism worldwide. In this respect, all aspects of modern life in the Southwest: education, health, transportation, and social welfare of citizens have declined so sharply that the quality of life of the average citizen in the region today is lower than what it was in 1970.
5. Expressed alarm towards the commencement of the cashless policy in Lagos state while living out equally vibrant commercial centers such as Kano, Onitsha and Port Harcourt. The Assembly recognizes that making Lagos a guinea pig of this policy amounts to a deliberate attempt to ruin the base of Yoruba economy.
6. Viewed the menace of Boko Haram as a sign of religious and cultural intolerance that is capable of destroying the unity of the country and of endangering the life of citizens not only in the North but all over the country. We believe that central ideology of Boko Haram regarding modern or western education is not a matter to be settled by security forces, but one that needs to be discussed at a national conference that is designed to restructure the federation.
7. Observed that sustainable unity and development of the country cannot flow from over concentration of power and resources in the central government. For example, we note that lack of effective law enforcement and assurance of security and safety for citizens is traceable to the over concentration of powers in the central government: police, intelligence gathering, and crime prevention. This arrangement leaves states without the power to enforce laws made by their elected officials for ensuring public order.
8. Noted that on the basis of the evidence that the failure of governance in the country has grown with the transfer of powers from federating units to the central government, we affirm the urgency to restructure the polity at a national conference of federating units, at which representatives of federating units chosen by citizens strictly for such purpose will produce a new constitution to be ratified through a national referendum.
9. Agreed that the process of restructuring should start with federating units, which must in their own space first discuss and determine the type of relationship they want between their region and the central government and relationship between states and the region in which they are located. For we, the Yoruba, the country Nigeria, is a forced marriage of diverse ethno-national groups, struggling to find form and shape, and limiting promises and possibilities.
10. Re-affirmed the commitment of the Southwest to the territorial unity of the country and resolved to work for enhancement of the country’s unity by cooperating with other regions to resolve peacefully the conflict and tension thrown up by the current unitary constitution that limits the control of federating units over their affairs and development.
11. Recognized that the best way to sustain unity in a culturally diverse polity and society is to organize the politics and economy of such country on the basis of a federal system of governance. Most culturally diverse countries of the world that are able to sustain peace and development have been able to do so through a federal constitution. Nigeria’s cultural diversity is too pronounced for the political elite to pretend that a unitary constitution can be substituted for a federal constitution that is generally designed to respond to diversity and optimize the benefits of diversity for peace and development.
12. Resolved to set up the Southwest Constitutional Commission (SCC) for the purpose of coordinating memoranda from citizens and groups in the Southwest towards a federal constitution for the country and of producing a constitutional framework for the region as unit of the Nigerian federation.
13. A new Nigeria consisting of a federal government and six regional governments (based on the current six geo-political zones) operating federal and regional constitutions, respectively.
• A single legislative list which will be the Exclusive Legislative List consisting only those functions ceded to the Central Government.
• The adoption of the Westminster model of parliamentary government.
• A Regional and State Police force structure.
• The establishment of a Constitutional Court with jurisdiction over inter-governmental cases and petitions from elections to the national Assembly
• The Conference fully supports the on-going Regional integration in the South West.
• That all public officers who currently enjoy immunity be made amenable to court processes on charges bordering on commission of crimes.
• That an informal role for traditional rulers in the political structure be recognised.
The conference further decided as follows:
• The adoption of Open-Secret ballot system for voting at elections.
• Total condemnation of Boko Haram’s indiscriminate violence in killing people, including Yoruba in the North.
• The setting up by the South West States of vigilante groups to protect them against the re-insurgence of crimes and violence perpetrated by nomadic tendencies or motivated by faith or otherwise. In this respect, each State House of Assembly in the region should pass appropriate laws.
• That the Yoruba as an ethnic group should design and produce a common flag and anthem. This is without prejudice to the anthems and flags of each state.
14. Finally and in conclusion, the Conference thanks the Governor and people of Oyo State for hosting this most important and crucial meeting of a comprehensive cross-section of the Yoruba people.
Culled from Punch Newspaper

Mr. Romney Reinvents History


Mitt Romney
Mitt Romney wrapped the most important speech of his life, for Thursday night’s session of his convention, around an extraordinary reinvention of history — that his party rallied behind President Obama when he won in 2008, hoping that he would succeed. “That president was not the choice of our party,” he said. “We are a good and generous people who are united by so much more than divides us.”

The truth, rarely heard this week in Tampa, Fla., is that the Republicans charted a course of denial and obstruction from the day Mr. Obama was inaugurated, determined to deny him a second term by denying him any achievement, no matter the cost to the economy or American security — even if it meant holding the nation’s credit rating hostage to a narrow partisan agenda.

Mr. Romney’s big speech, delivered in a treacly tone with a strange misty smile on his face suggesting he was always about to burst into tears, was of a piece with the rest of the convention. Republicans have offered precious little of substance but a lot of bromides (“A free world is a more peaceful world!”) meant to convey profundity and take passive-aggressive digs at President Obama. But no subjects have received less attention, or been treated with less honesty, than foreign affairs and national security — and Mr. Romney’s banal speech was no exception.

It’s easy to understand why the Republicans have steered clear of these areas. While President Obama is vulnerable on some domestic issues, the Republicans have no purchase on foreign and security policy. In a television interview on Wednesday, Condoleezza Rice, the former secretary of state, could not name an area in which Mr. Obama had failed on foreign policy.

For decades, the Republicans were able to present themselves as the tougher party on foreign and military policy. Mr. Obama has robbed them of that by being aggressive on counterterrorism and by flexing military and diplomatic muscle repeatedly and effectively.

Mitt Romney has tried to sound tough, but it’s hard to see how he would act differently from Mr. Obama except in ways that are scary — like attacking Iran, or overspending on defense in ways that would not provide extra safety but would hurt the economy.

Before Thursday night, the big foreign policy speeches were delivered by Senator John McCain and Ms. Rice. Mr. McCain was specific on one thing: Mr. Obama’s plan to start pulling out of Afghanistan at the end of 2014 is too rapid. While he does not speak for Mr. Romney, his other ideas were unnerving, like suggesting that the United States should intervene in Syria.

Mr. Romney reportedly considered Ms. Rice as a running mate, and she seems to have real influence. But Ms. Rice is a reminder of the colossal errors and deceptions of George W. Bush’s administration. She was a central player in the decision to invade Iraq and the peddling of fantasies about weapons of mass destruction. She barely mentioned Iraq in her speech and spoke not at all about Afghanistan. She was particularly ludicrous when she talked about keeping America strong at home so it could be strong globally, since she was part of the team that fought two wars off the books and entirely on borrowed money.

Ms. Rice said the United States has lost its “exceptionalism,” but she never gave the slightest clue what she meant by that — a return to President Bush’s policy of preventive and unnecessary war?

She and Mr. McCain both invoked the idea of “peace through strength,” but one of the few concrete proposals Mr. Romney has made — spending 4 percent of G.D.P. on defense — would weaken the economy severely. Mr. McCain was not telling the truth when he said Mr. Obama wants to cut another $500 billion from military spending. That amount was imposed by the Republicans as part of the extortion they demanded to raise the debt ceiling.

Ms. Rice said American allies need to know where the United States stands and that alliances are vitally important. But the truth is that Mr. Obama has repaired those alliances and restored allies’ confidence in America’s position after Mr. Bush and Ms. Rice spent years tearing them apart and ruining America’s reputation in the world.

The one alliance on which there is real debate between Mr. Romney and Mr. Obama is with Israel. But it is not, as Mr. Romney and his supporters want Americans to believe, about whether Mr. Obama is a supporter of Israel. Every modern president has been, including Mr. Obama. Apart from outsourcing his policy to Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu on settlements, it’s not clear what Mr. Romney would do differently.

But after watching the Republicans for three days in Florida, that comes as no surprise.

Culled from The New York Times

AKWA IBOM GOVERNORSHIP TUSSEL: Trials Of Engr Frank Okon


Engr. Frank Okon

Judge Kafarati

Governor Akpabio

Can Frank Okon overcome the great obstacles on his way and actualize his ambition of being the governor of Akwa Ibom State?

What happened at the federal High Court Two, Abuja, presided over by Justice Abdul Kafarati, on Thursday, July 12, would for many years remain indelible in the memory of those who were privileged to be in court that day, other Nigerians and the international community who later got the news from the media. Weeks earlier, notification of judgement in the 2011 Akwa Ibom State governorship tussle between Frank Okon, an engineer, and Godwil Akpabio, a lawyer and governor of Akwa Ibom State, were sent by the same court to the parties involved. And the parties were in court to receive the much expected judgement.

However, after long wait, to most people’s amazement, Babatunde Ashada, registrar of the court, came out and dismissed the court without giving any reason! It was later rumoured that the judge had traveled out of the country that very day. Four days later, the Federal High Court, proceeded on along annual vacation which will last from July 16th to September 14th, 2012. It is now hoped that Justice Kafarati who is now back in the country will fix a new date for Judgement when the annual vacation is over.

In the meantime, some lawyers argued that the Judge could easily have given the Judgement which had been written, to another Judge to read. Again, they insist that he could also deliver Judgement during the annual vacation if he so wishes as skeletal court services continue during the period. However, some other lawyers alleged that the Judge’s hands were tied and there was nothing he could do in the circumstances. Those in this school of thought argue that the Judge could even have been deliberately placed on an international Seminar outside the country.

Okon, a former special assistant to former Governor, Victor Attah, was a Peoples Democratic Party, PDP, Governorship Aspirant in the April 2011 elections in the state. He went to court seeking the nullification of the election of the April 26 governorship election on the ground that he was illegally excluded from the party primary held on January 15, 2011, which returned Akpabio as the party standard bearer. This, he argued before the court, breached his fundamental human rights.

According to Okon, he was screened and cleared by PDP to participate in the party primary initially held on January 9, 2011 which was later canceled by the party. However, “I was schemed out by the collusion between INEC, PDP and Akpabio from the subsequent re-run fixed for January 15,” he said.

Put together, Okon in an amended originating summons of January 5,  2012, formulated 10 issues for determination by the court, supported by a 65-paragraph affidavit he deposed to. Furthermore, he asked the court to grant him nine reliefs. Some of these are: a declaration that the purported re-run primary of January 15, 2011, which produced Akpabio as the Governorship candidate of PDP, did not comply with the provisions of the 2010 Electoral Act as amended; that the purported re-run was ordered by the National Working Committee, NWC, presided over by Okwesilieze Nwodo, then chairman of PDP after his tenure had been terminated by an order of an Enugu high Court could not have produced a valid candidate, making it unlawful, null, void and of no effect; that the re-run was discriminatory and prejudicial as he was not issued any notice of re-run by the party, thereby violating his constitutional rights; that the re-run did not comply with the 7 days notice condition before it was conducted with the purported notice issued on January 14 and the re-run conducted on January 15! According to PDP constitution, the NWC has no power to order a re-run; such power resides with the NEC. But the party argued in court that it was as a result of emergency, which Okon described as untenable “as no one is allowed to substitute or vary content of a document orally.”

Consequently, “The conduct of the January 15, 2011 re-run primary election was gross violations of PDP Constitution, the PDP Electoral Guidelines, the Electoral Acts as amended and the constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria,” argued Okon.

Okon also raised the issue of Akpabio’s eligibility when he did not have valid evidence that he paid his taxes in the three years preceding the primary. According to Article 14, Part IV of the PDP Electoral Guideline, “an aspirant to gubernatorial primary election shall not be qualified to be nominated or to contest  the primary election, if he/she fails to produce his personal income tax certificate as at when due for the last preceding  three years or evideince of exemption from payment of personal income tax”.

Accordingly, Okon averred that, “The requirement of tax payment is part of the party’s guidelines to be qualified for nomination; once an aspirant shows evidence of exemption from tax, he would have met requirement for nomination and failure to so qualify is fatal.” Against this background, Okon asked the court to declare him as the valid winner of the PDP Governorship primary in Akwa Ibom State; or in the alternative order a re-run of the party primary in the state.

When the court sat on May 3, 2012, the presentation of final briefs by all interested parties on the originating application earlier fixed for the day, was put off due to an application by Paul Usoro, a Senior Advocate of Nigeria, SAN, Akpabio’s counsel, raising a preliminary objection to the jurisdiction of the court over the case. He cited the April 20, 2012 Supreme Court Judgement which dismissed the appeal by Timipre Sylva, former Governor of Bayelsa State, against his exclusion as candidate in the recent governorship primary in the state. The Supreme Court in the Bayelsa case held that the decision to sponsor a candidate for election is the internal decision of the political party, and not subject to being contested in court.

However, Lasun Sanusi, SAN, Okon’s counsel, argued that the two cases are fundamentally different. For instance, “Sylva was never cleared by the party to stand for election,” he argued. “In the plaintiff’s case, he was screened and cleared by the party to stand for that primaries election, and therefore has the right to challenge the conduct of that primaries election. Again, his name was conspicuously displayed on ballot paper for the January 9, 2011 election. So also was it on the result sheet of that election.” The Judge reserved the ruling of the preliminary objection to July 12 along with the final Judgement.

On its part, the Independent Electoral Commission, INEC, which is the first defendant,  asked the court to dismiss the application against the commission for wrongful acceptance of a candidate for an election, saying the relevant provisions of the Electoral Act have not granted it any powers to reject a candidate for election that has been forwarded to it by the relevant officials of the political party. The commission pleaded that once that was done, only the court can decide the legitimacy of the choice, according to relevant laws. “As an umpire, INEC is enjoined to be neutral; hence, it must presume that any name forwarded to it by a political party is a name that emerged from a due process,” submitted the commission. However, it pledged to “Abide by whatever decision or order the court deems fit to make in the circumstance.”

On the other hand, Olusola Oke, SAN, counsel to the PDP, argued that claims by Okon that he was excluded to contest the primary could not be true as evidence showed that he was aware of the rescheduled election of January 15, 2011, but chose to stay away for personal reasons. The party further revealed that Nwodo’s signature was on the documents because they were signed in advance!

However, Sanusi countered that there is nothing in the constitution and regulation of the PDP to show that the party is authorized to accept as valid its documents printed in advance for an election, pointing out that if that is acceptable, then the party may publish the result of the election before they are held.

This was the state of affairs when the date of judgement was set. In Akwa Ibom State, the tension was palpable. There was visible fear at the Hilltop Manson, seat of power. And suddenly, the judgement could not be read. Meanwhile, Okon is on exile abroad. He has received several death threats; his phone and internet accounts have been hacked into to keep tabs on him. It’s a kind of David and Goliath duel as he has little weapons to fight other than the grace of God. His trial is the predicament of the average Nigerian who wants to exercise his right to run for any elective position of his choice as guaranteed by the Nigerian Constitution.

Knowing that a sitting governor has a huge financial war chest and immense connections nationwide, the underdog should have the right to, at least contest, and lose honourably but not to be deliberately excluded from contesting. The court is still the last hope of the common man and Okon has left fate to God through the Court.

By Anayochukwu Agbo

Tell Magazine

Hillary Clinton’s motorcade pelted with tomatoes and shoes thrown by Egyptian protesters


US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton was targeted by protesters who threw tomatoes and their own shoes at her motorcade during a visit to Egypt on Sunday.

Demonstrators also mockingly chanted “Monica, Monica” in reference to Bill Clinton’s extra-marital affair with Monica Lewinsky.

Hillary Clinton was on her first trip to Egypt since the election of the country’s new Islamist President, Mohammed Mursi.

During the protests in Alexandria, a tomato struck an Egyptian official in the face, and shoes and a water bottle landed near the armored cars carrying Hillary Clinton’s aides.

Hillary Clinton was targeted by protesters who threw tomatoes and their own shoes at her motorcade during a visit to Egypt photo

Hillary Clinton was targeted by protesters who threw tomatoes and their own shoes at her motorcade during a visit to Egypt

A senior State Department official said that neither Hillary Clinton nor her vehicle, which were around the corner from the incident, were struck by any of the projectiles.

As well as the shouts of “Monica”, some demonstrators chanted, “Leave, Clinton”.

The assault on her motorcade came on the day Hillary Clinton spoke at the newly re-opened U.S. consulate in Alexandria, addressing accusations that the U.S., which had long supported former president Hosni Mubarak, was meddling in Egyptian politics.

“I want to be clear that the United States is not in the business, in Egypt, of choosing winners and losers, even if we could, which of course we cannot,”Hillary Clinton said.

David Mark Versus New Media By Chinedu Ekeke


Senate President David Mark (Former Military Governor of Niger State and Former Minister of Communication)

He has the unenviable reputation of claiming that telephone was not meant for ordinary people when he was Minister of Communication.

David Mark robbed and killed many Nigerians in the past and to this day is continuing his atrocities. He pays himself N600 million every year. He hates the poor.

Nigeria’s Senate president, David Bonaventure Mark, is deeply troubled. And his present state of mind is justifiable. The criminal empire which prince he’s one of is at the verge of crumbling, or so he thinks.  He’s eyeing the kingship of the empire in a few years from now. He wants to rule and reign in the kingdom. He has amassed enough wealth and bought enough souls to make this possible. He dreams of joining the league of candidates for prison who became presidents of Nigeria in the last three or so decades.

But the turn of events, especially since January this year, has jolted him. It doesn’t seem as though he would have any smooth ride to the kingship he so much covets, neither would he have the rest of mind to consume the millions he has so far amassed. He recently heaped the blame on new media or social media. The credibility he has sought to build in the last thirteen years hasn’t even taken off the ground, to his utter dismay. Millions of Nigerians don’t see any reason to take him seriously. He knows – or thinks – social media is responsible for this.
Last Thursday, while declaring open a two-day retreat for Senate Press corps in Umuahia, Abia State, he said there was a need to check the use of social media as Nigerians were using them to demean their leaders. Hear him: “We need to change our attitude on how we report things about our country and we should emulate the foreign reporters who never report negative things about their countries.” So Mr Mark wants to sponsor – and pass – a legislation that would impose restrictions on the use of social media in Nigeria. Once that is done, his confidence in the empire will rebound, and his hopes of assuming the kingship will come back to live.
Again, Mr Mark is justified, because, you see, there’s so much money can buy; and there’s even much more plenty of money can buy. The more money you make without working, the more you want to spend without sweat. He pays himself N600 million from Nigeria’s treasury in one year. That isn’t heavenly or biblical year. It is earthly year as we know it; twelve calendar months, the one within which Barack Obama, the United States president, earns N60 million.
What Mr. Mark pays himself in one year is the salary of a US president for ten (yes, ten!) good years. What Nigeria’s number three citizen takes home, legally, in one year, is what the number one citizen of the world’s biggest economy, and only remaining super-power, earns in ten years. Because no president stays beyond eight years in America, it means what David Mark gives himself as earnings in one year is what will pay at least two American presidents – one for eight years and another one for extra two years.  That means before Mark concludes his four year term, he would have amassed enough money from our treasury that will pay United States presidents for forty years! You see why he has to checkmate social media? You can’t have access to such amounts of free money without being sensitive to any avenue through which opposition rears its envious head.
Interestingly, what Mark is supposed to be doing to be taking such a humongous amount home every year is the same job the United States Vice President combines with his official job as the Vice, and for which he earns less than one-tenth of the money Mr Mark allocates to himself. Actually, it is the president of the US, not his Vice, who earns up to one-tenth of Mark’s annual bazaar. So for taking home N600 million for doing nothing, why will David Mark not feel threatened by social media?
It is even more annoying because years before now, nobody knew how much of injury his avarice –and those of his ilk – inflicted on the nation’s treasury. It was easy for him to buy up the entire mainstream media peopled by brown-envelope-seeking journalists and editors in a hurry to join the resource-grabbing frenzy of those who rule Nigeria. His Ghana-must-go bags were handy for willing media people who had no regards for the sacred role the society, and their jobs, had thrust upon them. Today, Mark can’t control what gets into the new media. He can’t control the number of people who read just a tweet, or Facebook post or blog post, detailing how much David Mark grabs monthly from the purse of a nation in pathetic poverty. He can’t control who reads this piece or who doesn’t. He can’t pull down this website or the other ones linked to it through which this piece will be read by thousands or millions of Nigerians. And this is why he is troubled.
There is also the conscience – or even emotional – side to his discomfort. He hates the poor, and gets angry at the sight of any poor person enjoying whatever he (Mark) considers a luxury. Most of the people who attack him and his tribe of nation-killers on social media do so with telephone which, years ago, he had declared wasn’t for the poor.  The society-made super rich which Mark loves dearly can’t say anything wrong about him on social media. They are all colleagues in the nation-wrecking industry. Clearly, it is those “poor” ones, or those who should be poor but have somehow risen above it, that criticise Mark.
As Babangida’s minister of communication, he told whoever cared to listen to perish the thoughts of making telephone available to Nigerians. He stated, clearly, that telephone wasn’t for the poor. It was for the rich, eaters of hundreds of millions of naira from Nigeria’s commonwealth. Today, the senator watches even roadside mechanics clutching their phones, reading the internet and seeing how much of a curse to them this government has become. If you were Mark, you’d be troubled too.
He saw the shape of things to come from social media last January. The OccupyNigeria protests jolted him and his co-travellers. Forget the lies they took to the market of how opposition hijacked the protests, he knew that the power of social media was at work. But for lack of patriotism of the labour leaders who sold the protests to Mark and his government, the government would have been brought down. And since then, he has watched the social media project himself and the government in their true picture: enemies of the Nigerian people. He saw the Arab spring and how social media swept away his mentors in Egypt, Libya, Tunisia and others. The senate president has stomached enough. He isn’t going to take it anymore.
It is a paradox that the same society which David Mark has so much undermined sent him to the Senate to represent them. It is even more shocking that the same Mark was made the president of the Senate, the nation’s symbol of democracy. Yet it is more paradoxical that the head of the institution which should bear the torchlight of democracy is the first person who has openly demonstrated his desire to outlaw the right of the people to freely express themselves.
Mr Mark’s ingratitude deserves a special mention. Here’s a man who was part of Babangida’s gang that collapsed Nigeria’s economy while their private economies, represented by their numerous bank accounts, blossomed. This is the same Mark who failed as a communications minister. Isn’t he supposed to be serving a lifetime in jail? Instead, he bulldozed his way through our polity and just happened in the senate. And for not taking a punitive action against him for his failure, he has got emboldened to punish us.
David Mark has always represented darkness in Nigeria. The senate he leads, which is an effective retirement house for former state treasury looters, has represented everything a nation’s senate should not be. While the lower house rose to the defence of Nigerians during the fuel subsidy protests, Mr Mark and his senate looked the other way round just to preserve the darkness which so much benefits him. While the lower house set up committees upon committees to perform their constitutional oversight functions on federal government ministries, departments and agencies, Mark’s senate chose silence which darkness brings.
He is preaching how reporters should follow their foreign counterparts. Unfortunately, the Senate president, like the other “leaders” in Nigeria, does not read. That raises another question: what does he do with the newspaper allowance he pays himself? If he reads American or British newspapers, then he would understand that a vibrant media will always question their leaders.
But let’s even assume Mark is right about foreign reporters not reporting the negatives about their countries; and we choose to emulate them, has Mark emulated the same foreign countries in insisting that politicians only earn realistic and sustainable salaries? Part of what he wants us to report is that he doesn’t pay himself ten times the salary of the US president, or that he hasn’t made efforts to frustrate, through his senate, the demand of Nigerians that subsidy thieves be prosecuted. Mr Mark hasn’t seen anything yet.
I understand he is a Christian. I would refer him to an interesting portion of the Bible.  It is John 1:5:
“The light shineth in darkness, and the darkness comprehendeth it not.”
New media is the light of the 21st Century, it is shining forth and forcing darkness to give way.
In the coming days and weeks and months, we would know who gives way between David Mark and social media. But I am convinced it won’t be the latter.
 By Chinedu Ekeke

Culled from  saharareporters

AIDS breakthrough: Timothy Ray Brown’s cure of the disease brings hope to a cheerless world


Brown

 Timothy Ray Brown
The world is on the verge of a significant breakthrough in the fight against AIDS. In his first American press conference this week, Timothy Ray Brown of San Francisco, known in medical circles as the “Berlin Patient” declared, “I am HIV- negative. I am cured of the AIDS virus.”  Brown, 46, was diagnosed as HIV positive 18 years ago and began antiretroviral treatment. His case was complicated by acute myeloid leukemia which was diagnosed in 2006. It was this diagnosis that has resulted in the possibility of a cure for AIDS. His physician, German hematologist GeroHutter, introduced Brown to a revolutionary treatment for leukemia that turned out to be a cure for both diseases. Dr.Hutter gave Brown a stem- cell bone- marrow transplant from a donor who had a natural immunity to the HIV virus called a CCR5 mutation, which is found in less than 1 percent of Northern Europe’s population.  After receiving the transplant, Brown was found to have no active HIV virus cells in his body.
Brown has thus also come to be known by the appellation “miracle patient”, although some scientists question whether the HIV virus has actually disappeared from his body and if the manindeed  can no longer infect others. In his reaction to doubts about his health status, Brown said, “There is undoubtedly a certain amount of skepticism, but that is the way science progresses.” Brown has announced the establishment of the Timothy Ray Brown Foundation in conjunction with the biennial International AIDS Conference being held in Washington this week. The institution will offer grants to scientists and researchers who specialise in innovative therapies and treatments in the race to find a cure to the AIDS epidemic.
The widespread disease has claimed millions of lives across the globe and continues to threaten the well-being of many others, particularly in Africa where there is an extremely high number of cases.   In addition, finding a cure for the ailment has been highly challenging and has consumed enormous resources. Although it is now possible to manage HIV-positive patients and  for such patients to live with the disease, it remains a terrifying infection that carries with it an unfortunate stigma.
It is good news indeed that a cure seems to have been found, even if only by chance. It now remains to be seen how well further research can take advantage of this obvious breakthrough to perfect the invention.  The importance of this development lies in the fact that it gives hope not only in medical circles but to humanity at large, given the wide range of the epidemic. According to Brown, “We must not settle. We cannot be complacent. We must take action. We will fight every day until a cure is found for everyone.”
The defining test is to determine whether the approach that has worked wonders in the case of Brown will work for others. Given the empirical ways of science, such a definitive stage will certainly not be attained overnight. No doubt, it will require greater research, which will take some time, before the final cure iseventually achieved. But this is an important victory, all the same. It deserves praise as well as   support.
The first AIDS cure is locally relevant not only because of the possible benefits to those suffering from the disease in Nigeria, but also because it is a counterpoint to claims by some self-described  AIDS healers in the country who continually advertise their supposed expertise in the media. Indeed, the AIDS-cure business seems to have become an industry in the country. The scientific basis of the Brown cure has cast further doubts on such unscientific claims.

By Editorial VIA THE NATION

Ghana swears in new president after leader’s death


The Late Ghanaian President John Evans Atta Mills

New Ghanaian President (Former Vice-President) John Dramani Mahama

Ghanaian officials swore in a new president Tuesday, hours after the death of the West African nation’s leader.

John Evans Atta Mills died suddenly at a military hospital Tuesday afternoon a few hours after becoming ill, Chief of Staff John Henry Martey Newman said in a statement. He was 68.

In a ceremony broadcast on state television, John Dramani Mahama — formerly Ghana’s vice president — became the country’s new president and ordered that flags be flown at half-staff for a week.

“This is the saddest day in our nation’s history. Tears have engulfed our nation and we’re deeply saddened and distraught. I never imagined that one day I will address our nation in such difficult circumstances,” Mahama said. “I’m personally devastated. I’ve lost a father, I’ve lost a friend, I’ve lost a mentor and a senior comrade.”

John Dramani Mahama was sworn in as Ghana\'s new president Tuesday.

New Ghanaian President (Former Vice-President) John Dramani Mahama

John Dramani Mahama was sworn in as Ghana’s new president Tuesday.

Officials did not specify what caused Mills’ death. The president had denied rumors about his health for months.

“Does my continued living pose a threat to some people?” he told reporters at a January event, according to the state-run Ghana News Agency.

On June 25, he returned from a medical checkup in the United States, the news agency reported.

Mills was a former law professor and a tax expert. He was Ghana’s vice president from 1997 to 2000.

Before his political career, he taught at the University of Ghana and also was a visiting lecturer at Temple University in Pennsylvania and Leiden University in the Netherlands.

Mills ran for president unsuccessfully in 2000 and 2004 before narrowly winning a runoff in 2009.

Mills’ death came several days after he celebrated his 68th birthday. He had said he would run for re-election in December.

In a statement read on his behalf by Ghana’s information minister Monday, Mills said his government had focused on developing the nation’s economy, according to the Ghana News Agency.

“We made a promise to expand our country’s infrastructural base in support of our economy take-off,” the statement said. “We also decided to invest in the people of our country so as to make them competitive both locally and abroad.”

Mahama said Tuesday that Mills was a “prince of peace” who “brought a distinctive insight into Ghanaian politics.”

The opposition New Patriotic Party expressed condolences in a statement Tuesday.

“We join the nation in mourning this sad loss to Ghana,” the statement said.

U.S. President Barack Obama met with Mills when he visited Ghana in July 2009. Obama praised the country as a model for democracy and stability when Mills visited Washington this year.

“Ghana has become a wonderful success story economically on the continent,” Obama said. “In part because of the initiatives of President Mills, you’ve seen high growth rates over the last several years. Food productivity and food security is up. There’s been strong foreign investment.”

In a statement Tuesday, British Prime Minister David Cameron described Mills as “a tireless defender of democracy in West Africa and across the continent.”

Part of a former British colony, Ghana was among the first African countries to gain independence, in 1957. It endured a series of coups before a military dictator, Jerry Rawlings, took power in 1981. Rawlings led Ghana through a transition to democracy about 10 years later.

Mahama, 53, is a former member of Ghana’s parliament who has served as director of communication for the National Democratic Congress party.

On Tuesday, the new president called on Ghanaians to respect Mills’ legacy.

“Our finest tribute to him at this moment is to maintain the unity and stability of our nation,” Mahama said.

Obama hailed Ghana as ‘model for democracy’.

By the CNN Wire Staff

Nigeria Needs a Revolution Now: Professor Bolaji Akinyemi


Professor Bolaji Akinyemi

By: SAM OTTI

Troubled by the country’s present challenges
Former foreign affairs, minister, Professor Bolaji Akinyemi, believes that only a bloodless revolution will save the country from total collapse. He said President Goodluck Jonathan’s transformational agenda was being enveloped in ridicule and cynicism because people look for evidence of transformation and what they get is: “Trust us, we are working on it.”
Akinyemi bared his mind recently at the ‘Distinguished Management Lecture’ organised by the Nigerian Institute of Management (Chartered), Lagos, at the Nigerian Institute of International Affairs (NIIA). The Managing Director/Editor-in-Chief, The Guardian, Mr. Eluem Emeka Izeze, moderated the lecture, which had in attendance principal officers of the institute, led by the president and chairman of council, Dr. Michael Olawale-Cole, the Registrar, Mr. Maurice Lakanu, former presidents of the institute, former governor of Lagos State, Alhaji Lateef Jakande, Alex Osifo and Fola Lasisi, among others.
In his opening remarks, Dr. Olawale-Cole said the lecture became necessary because ineffective leadership had remained the bane of the nation’s development since independence. According to him, the theme of the lecture, Effective leadership:  A panacea for true transformation of Nigeria, was chosen in line with the need for urgent solutions to the leadership challenges, besetting the system and threatening the nation’s corporate existence.

He explained that the ensuing brainstorming session at the event would generate fresh ideas on salient issues in governance, which the institute would pass on to government. He said the institute would continue to offer support to the government in achieving its lofty agenda aimed of making the nation one of the top 20 economies by the year 2020.

In his presentation, Akinyemi lamented the grievous harm caused by the failure of effective leadership in the country. He said recent reports on Nigeria by Human Rights Watch, Transparency International and the Fund for Peace have become so worrisome that the country was at a risk of becoming a ‘thoroughly failed state’ if urgent remedial actions were not taken.

Giving details of the report, he said:  “The Fund For Peace, in its 2012 Failed States Index ranks Nigeria as no 14 out of 177 states, the no. 1 position being the worst possible position. African states ranked better than Nigeria include Guinea Bissau, Kenya, Ethiopia, Burundi, Niger, Uganda, Eritrea, Liberia, Cameroun, Togo, Burkina Faso and Congo to mention a few”.

He noted that the systematic looting of the assets of the country needed to be checked through a bloodless revolution that would ultimately purge the country of bad leaders.

“I believe in revolution. I have come to the conclusion that it is a revolution that will solve the problems of this country. When senior citizens like Prof Ben Nwabueze say they believe in revolution, it is because they have been driven to the wall as regards the failure of leadership. We are going to purge ourselves the way the Chinese purged themselves. But I am not advocating the kind of bloodshed imposed on China,” he said.

Akinyemi said corruption has become deep-rooted in Nigeria because those saddled with leadership positions do not believe in the survival of the country. He accused the judiciary of frustrating the operation of the anti-corruption agencies through interlocutory appeals.

Hear him: “In the EFCC case, however, in spite of the fact that the Supreme Court had held that all its provisions are constitutional, including the provision which said there would be no interlocutory appeal in EFCC cases, the courts, including the Supreme Court itself, had continued to allow such interlocutory appeals thus rendering the fight against corruption an uphill task”.

According to him, in the offshore-onshore case, the judgment of the Supreme Court had created more political problems for the country. He said the Supreme Court, unlike its American counterpart, had shown a penchant for an elementary, rather than ‘an ingenious constructive propensity in interpreting the constitution’.

The former Minister also frowned at the frosty relationship between the various arms of government, describing such adversarial relationship as inimical to national development.

“The relationship between the executive and the legislature at the federal level can best be described as a permanent state of a cold war. Budgets submitted by the executive are mangled out of shape by the legislature, bills submitted by the executive have no certainty of being acted upon and legislation approved by the legislature languish on the table of the president unsigned. The judiciary has earned itself an unsavoury reputation from not only national but also international sources in handling corruption and electoral cases”, he explained.

To worsen the situation, he said the state of the nation had become even more helpless with the factionlised elite in the country. He explained that the lack of consensus among the elite, which provided the leadership, would paralyse much needed transformation of the country.

He suggested a consensus among the elites to save the nation from further distress. His words: “A divided leadership is no leadership. We must arrive at a grand consensus that will allow us to pull in the same direction. The present system is an imposition by a sectional elite that exploited its temporary occupation of the levers of power to seek an arrangement that would be an advantage to it.

It is obvious to all that the centre can no longer hold. The longer we pretend that all is well and that all the system needs is a bit of panel-beating, the more we would creep up on the Failed State index, until we become a thoroughly failed state.”.

Frank Okon Versus Akpabio Forgery Case: Facts Revealed and Lies Debunked – Voice Of the People News JFAIO (Justice For Akwa Ibom Org)


Voice Of The People News – JFAIO (Justice For Akwa Ibom Org)

Voice Of The People News – JFAIO (Justice For Akwa Ibom Org)

After latest attack, UN chief threatens ‘consequences’ if Syria violence doesn’t end


(Shaam News Network, SNN/ Associated Press ) – This citizen journalism image made from video provided by Shaam News Network SNN, purports to show a victim wounded by violence that, according to anti-regime activists, was carried out by government forces in Tremseh, Syria about 15 kilometers (nine miles) northwest of the central city of Hama, Thursday, July 12, 2012. The accounts, some of which claim more than 200 people were killed in the violence Thursday, could not be independently confirmed, but would mark the latest in a string of brutal offensives by Syrian forces attempting to crush the rebellion.

By Associated Press

UNITED NATIONS — Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon and international envoy Kofi Annan increased pressure on the divided U.N. Security Council on Friday, urging that it demand a halt to the escalating violence in Syria and promising “consequences” if the conflict doesn’t end.The U.N. chief and the joint U.N.-Arab League envoy to Syria renewed their appeals for action following Thursday’s attack on a poor farming village in Hama province, which rebels claim was among the worst single events in the 16-month uprising.

 They strongly condemned the attack on Tremseh that killed scores of people and accused the Syrian government of violating Security Council resolutions by using heavy weapons, including artillery, tanks and helicopters.
Ban sent a letter Friday to the Security Council, which was obtained by The Associated Press, and enclosed a separate letter from Annan urging Security Council action to help end the 16-month conflict.Under Annan’s six-point peace plan — which was endorsed by the council but never implemented — the Syrian government was to withdraw troops and heavy weapons from populated areas and halt all violence, to be followed by a cessation of hostilities by the opposition.

“There will be serious consequences for continued non-compliance,” Ban said in a statement Friday.

The council is debating a new Security Council resolution on Syria, spurred by the July 20 expiration of the mandate for the U.N. observer force there and the failure of the Annan plan.

Russia and Britain have circulated rival texts, and Ban and Annan’s comments indicated a strong preference for the Western-backed British draft.

It threatens non-military sanctions against President Bashar Assad’s government if it doesn’t withdraw troops and heavy weapons from population centers within 10 days. The proposed resolution is under the U.N. Charter’s Chapter 7, which can be enforced militarily.

Russia said Thursday it will oppose any resolution on Syria that is militarily enforceable, calling it “a red line.”

Moscow’s draft resolution calls for the “immediate implementation” of the Annan peace plan and the guidelines for a political transition approved at a meeting in Geneva last month, but makes no mention of sanctions, saying the council will assess implementation and “consider further steps as appropriate.”

Annan’s letter recalled that when he briefed the U.N. Security Council on Wednesday he stated that “the government has increased its operations — with shelling, mechanized infantry, and the use of helicopter gunships, including in population centers.”

He said the attack on Tremseh is “another grim reminder that the council’s resolutions continue to be flouted.”

“On Wednesday, I recommended that the council should insist on implementation of its decisions, and send a message to all that there will be consequences for non-compliance,” Annan said. “This is imperative and could not be more urgent in light of unfolding events.”

Ban said he fully backed Annan’s views and reiterated his call on Security Council members to take action.

Security Council experts met again Friday morning to review rival texts. Ambassadors from the five veto-wielding nations — the U.S., Russia, China, Britain and France — were scheduled to meet later Friday.

Copyright 2012 The Associated Press. All rights reserved.

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