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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
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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

Government forces, Boko Haram are Nigeria’s worst human rights abusers – U.S.


Culled from Premium Times
image
Aderinto was brutally mishandled before he was shot to death

The US government delivers a damning verdict on the Goodluck Jonathan administration in a report submitted to the US congress

 

The extremist Boko Haram sect, and government forces are Nigeria’s “most serious” human rights offenders, United States’ annual Human Rights report for 2011has said.

The report, released by the State Department on Thursday, found that killings and bombings by Boko Haram, and extrajudicial killings, torture and arbitrary detention by the military, police and the State Security Service presented the greatest threat to the rights of the Nigerian population.

The report particularly noted the increased violence perpetrated by the radical sect, and the high-handed response from the Joint Task Force (JTF) and Security Task Force (STF) in Borno and Plateau states respectively.

“The most serious human rights problems during the year were the abuses committed by the militant sect known as Boko Haram, which was responsible for killings, bombings, and other attacks throughout the country; abuses committed by the security services with impunity, including killings, beatings, arbitrary detention, and destruction of property; and societal violence, including ethnic, regional, and religious violence,” the report presented by Secretary of State, Hillary Clinton, to the U.S. Congress said.

The document found government forces, mostly the police, wanting on almost all indicators of rights protection, and highlights the notorious police checkpoint extortion and brutalization, corruption and extrajudicial killings.

“The JTF and STF committed numerous killings during the year but conducted no investigations,” it said.

On Boko Haram, it listed all the attacks claimed by the group in 2011 including the UN bombing and the Christmas Day attacks.

“Boko Haram committed drive-by shootings and bombings; targeted killings of security personnel, religious leaders, and political figures; coordinated attacks on police stations and banks; and conducted suicide bombings during the year, which resulted in the death of hundreds of persons,” it wrote.

The report did not pay a special attention on Nigeria, although it is believed its position might play a role in the U.S. authorities’ ongoing consideration on whether or not to designate the Boko Haram sect a foreign terrorist group.

Detailed records for other countries have also been released by the department, each covering arbitrary deprivation, disappearances, torture and other inhuman treatment, prison and detention conditions, arrest and trial procedures, freedom of speech and other indices.

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