Category: News

THE BiZARRE HATE SPEECH BILL

Imagine the three-plus billion people half the entire human race on this planet that log in and depend on the social connectivity outlets for news, waking up in the morning to discover they can no longer access their Emails, Tweeter, Facebook, Instagram and all other social connectivity platforms the chaos that would be created by the vacuum is better not imagined.

Recall the panic created by the 2YK buzz that almost brought the whole world to stand still, this may look like a child’s play considering the irritations that would be created by pulling down, regulating or strangulating the connectivity created by the social media networks.

Before the advent of the Internet that gave rise to social media platforms, the State actors, Big businesses and Cooperate organisations control access, content and the production of ideas.

They, through the ownership of capital and various Laws infringed on the rights of the society to free flow of information and freedom of speech, expression and production of ideas.

When the Internet first made its debut on the scene as a global network the state actors, big businesses and cooperate organisations never anticipated the awesome power the new communication technologies could have on our global interactions.

With the increasing importance attributed to digital technologies, questions have arisen about where digital media fit in the dichotomy between alternative and mainstream media.

First blogs, Twitter and other similar platforms not necessarily created to be information media, increasingly are being used to spread news and information, potentially acting as alternative media as they allow ordinary citizens to bypass the gatekeepers of traditional, mainstream media and share the information and perspectives these citizens deem important.

The Internet provides an alternative space for mobilization through the cultivation of interpersonal networks, collective action towards social change, and making information much readily accessible. Internet platforms allow for the creation of new, alternative communities that can provide a voice for those normally marginalized by the mainstream media.

It also provided for an alternative form of programming, which allows both professionals and amateurs to subvert or evade commercial and political restraints on open access to information technologies.

Lastly, it also breeds a new way of creation and dissemination of knowledge that is different from the top-down manner. It seeks out and encourages the participation of multiple users, fostering forms of collaborative knowledge production.
This became a big challenge to owners of traditional media in two folds. Firstly, how to control the operations of the social media and secondly, how to deal with the dwindling revenue from advertising due to the democratization of access facilitated by the Internet.

To clip the wings of the new platforms they began by popularising the buzz word “fake news” and “hate speech” giving the “dog a bad name” in order to hang it.

Leaders of free world particularly the American Donald Tramp hardly conclude any press conference or political rally without blaming the press as fake news purveyors. He could be right, news whether from the mainstream or social media can not value free.

Other world despotic leaders who normally do not believe in free flow of information and free speech quickly took advantage of the new narratives to muzzle the social media platforms in their countries. Consequently, the social media platforms often always became the easy target for the imposition of governmental control by despots and authoritarian leadership.

The truth is news reporting has changed. It is no longer just reporting what the government did or did not. News reporting has become a collaborative affairs where general public now have a say, access and control over the content of news and production of ideas.

The old order of only the reporters of media houses having their ways has changed. The public now freely engage in the determination of what is news and also have opportunities to report the other side of the news usually unreported by government and cooperate media establishments. The definition of what is “fake and hateful” news or ideas should not be let to politicians to decide.

These are the real salient issues behind the clamour for redefining the usage of the social media not the “hate speech” and fake news being popularised.

Gone are days where the traditional media determines what the public see, hear or read. The monopoly over the content, access and the technology to transmit media contents has been eradicated by the emergence of the internet. Every citizen is now a reporter a media house as long as he has his mobile phone with him. And this what the authorities want to control.

That is why whenever there is slight friction in the society today, the first casualty is always the internet.

It must be noted the social media emerged essentially as a deviant alternative channels of communication because the lager society no longer trust information coming out of the traditional media.

As the society becomes more and more sophisticated they realised the opportunity the Internet offered to them to have their say in global and national discourse a situation hitherto denied the society by the billionaire capitalist owners of the press

The right to free speech, press, hold opinion, assemble enshrined in the declaration of human rights adopted by the most nation-state in their constitutions became an albatross, in dealing with the awesome power of the social media.

As governments of the world are now turning their attention to the activities of the social media various paradigms are being contemplated on how to regulate the Internet and the social media platforms.

In the Western and Eastern Europe countries where this concern is increasingly becoming a major narratives no consensus has so far emerged how to deal with phenomenon.

However Several countries have already passed social media regulations, amongst which are, Germany: On January 1, 2018, regulations went into effect that prompt social media companies to quickly remove “illegal content” within 24 hours of it being uploaded online. Illegal content has been defined as content that ranges from insults of public office to threats of violence. Violators of these regulations could face large fines, upward of €50 million.

In Australia, on April 3, 2019, following the Christchurch massacre, Australia passed laws that punish social media companies for violent posts. The posts must be removed expeditiously, or companies could face fines up to 10% of their annual profit.

In U.K.: On April 8, 2019, the U.K. government announced it would create laws that make the U.K. the safest place in the world to use the internet. These laws would require social media firms to protect users, and the firms would face heavy fines if they failed to do so in all these circumstances none of them proscribed death sentence.

The Nigerian Vice President in a statement by his spokesman, Laolu Akande, on Wednesday disclosed at the BBC Conference on Hate Speech held in Abuja, that “the social media was under multi-jurisdictional regulation, necessitating more collaboration among nations to regulate them.
The Vice President Osinbanjo, called for conventions and agreements between nations to regulate the social media and counter the phenomenon of hate speech.

He said we should be looking at some kinds of conventions; some kind of agreements between countries, between nations that help us to regulate the social media much more effectively,’’
He lamented that a lot of disinformation in the public space at present came from the social media, pointing out that the traditional press was obviously more responsible.

He said “The simple reason why they are more responsible is because there is consequence. It is easier to sue the traditional media. They are bound by local laws and it is much easier to hold them to account”.

He, however, expressed concern that it would be difficult to deal with consequence of infractions associated with the social media without infringing on freedom of information and press freedom.
“So, freedom of the press means my freedom to own a blog, my freedom to disseminate information.
“But the question is: How we regulate that without infringing on these fundamental freedoms?
“I think that at the end of the day it would come to some kind of a balance because, really, it would be impossible to regulate social media without substantially infringing on fundamental right, especially freedom of expression.

There is no way that you can leave that power in the hand of government or the hand of the legislature without your finding some level of overbearing activity on the path of the government or the legislature,” he said.

He also said there was need to interrogate some of the information going into the traditional media, which were also seen in the social media.

He urged the media to go beyond getting two sides of a story to carry out independent investigations to ascertain the facts of every issue before publishing their stories.
“I believe that if governments are proactive, if agencies are proactive, if parastatals are proactive in putting out information in the public space, the chances of fake news gaining ascendancy will be reduced.
“But somebody who wants to misinform, somebody who wants to create confusion, somebody who wants to bring the country down will still go ahead with this type of information, ”

This is how honourable and distinguish we think it should be.

The argument for the creation of laws that would protect the citizens against “fake news and hate speech” may be desirable but it must be done in such a way that it does not negate the provisions of the constitution on free speech or deliberately to muzzle free speech simply because some segment of the society are uncomfortable they would be exposed.

The bizarre social media bill before the Nigerian Senate, proscribing death penalty for “hate speech” is not only barbaric but embarrassing to our image as a nation.

Senator Sabi Abdullahi ought to have known his bill is not distinguished. We, therefore, urge the Senate not to give his bill any recognition to save the country from being laughed at by the civilized world.

DEMOCRACY AT THE CROSS ROAD

The rise of cynicism, white supremacy, autocratic leadership around the world exposes the revisionist push by some leaders of the so called free society to change the world order. The notion that democracy is the best form of government ever created by Man is being challenged by dictators from within using the process of election to establish themselves in governance.

Aristotle, once said Democracy arises out of the notion that those who are equal in any respect are equal in all respects; because men are equally free, they claim to be absolutely equal.” Democracy creates harmony and reduces the conflicts in the state to a larger extent. A democratically elected government is the consequence of the majority’s opinion and thus it implies that most of the citizens along the state share similar views about the leadership.

Karl Marx, the founder of Communism, believed that equality is key to a strong governmental system. He also believed money, and the power that came with it, would only draw people, communities and citizens, apart. Money “appears as a distorting power both against the individual and the bonds of society, etc., which claim to be entities in themselves… it transforms fidelity into infidelity, loves into hate, hates into love, virtue into vice, vice into virtue, servant into master, master into servant, idiocy into intelligence, and intelligence into idiocy” (Marx, 1844).

The 40th US President Ronald Reagan once said Democracy is more than just a government; it’s honour, freedom and hope. “Democracy is worth dying for” whether or not this is a truism in the America of Donald Trump is a matter of debate in the future.

Conversely, Churchill argued that although there are many virtues to enjoy about democracy and democratic forms of government and political systems, this form of government has still many impending challenges yet to be accomplished. In that sense, I agree with Winston Churchill, on the grounds that “democracy is the worst form of government except for all the others that have been tried” (Churchill). Looking at democracy through both its weaknesses and strengths in comparison to other forms of government makes it evident that it is the best form of political system we have, democracy has been subject to problems with, tyranny of the minority, and collective action.

It is within these praxis, I would like to address my concerns regarding the threat to democracy in Nigeria focussing on the emerging melodrama being played by leaders of the so called “free world”.

With the emergence of China as the second largest economy of the world and it’s push to become a dominant actor in world politics, the world may be heading for the re-enactment of the antagonism that characterised the period, capitalism and communism were at each other fighting for dominance.

Another interesting drama playing in the political world are the lies, the stonewalling, the conspiracy theory the America, Donald Trump is pushing in order to justify his Americas first model of leading the free world, that is unfortunately becoming normative in the conduct of world affairs.

The UK’s Boris Johnson drive for no-deal Brit exit from EU, is causing a great dislocations in the political landscape of Western Europe. It also raises the question whether the hegemony can hold after the Brit exit?
The China – America trade war impacting negatively on the world trading systems and economy, threatening to plunge the global economy into recession deepens the fears of what may be the end result of the tit for tat sanctions being imposed by the world two dominant economies.

The Putin’s cyberwar aimed at manipulating and controlling the electoral processes of the Western democracies is another major issues shaking the base of western liberal democracy in this century.
Be it what it may, the intention of discourse is to examine the fragility of a western type of democracy in Nigeria the leading black democracy in the world.

Justice Niki Tobi, regarding the interplay between Politics, Politician, the Judiciary and the consequences of the adjudicatory functions of the judiciary in Nigeria, in a landmark judgement advised judges thus;

I see from Exhibit EP2/34 the need Nigerian Judges maintain a very big distance from politics and politicians. Our Constitution forbids any mingling. As Judges, the two professions do not meet and will never meet at all in our democracy in the discharge of their function. While politics as a profession is fully and totally based on partiality, most of the time, judgeship as a profession is fully and totally based on impartiality, the opposite of partiality.
Bias is the trademark of politicians. Non-bias is the trademark of the Judge. That again creates a scenario of superlatives in the realm of opposites. Therefore the expressions, “politician” and “Judge” are opposites, so to say, in their functional contents as above; though not in their ordinary dictionary meaning.

Their waters never meet in the same way Rivers Niger and Benue meet at the confluence near Lokoja. If they meet, the victim will be democracy most of the time and that will be bad for sovereign Nigeria. And so Judges should, on no account, dance to the music played by politicians because that will completely destroy their role as independent umpires in the judicial process.

Let no Judge flirt with politicians in the performance of their adjudicatory functions. When I say this, I must also say that I have nothing against politicians. They are our brothers and sisters in our homes. One can hardly find in any Nigerian community or family without them.

There cannot be democracy without them and we need democracy; not despotism, oligarchy and totalitarianism. They are jolly good fellows.

The only points I am making is that their professional tools are different from ours and the Nigerian Judge should know this before he finds himself or falls into a mirage where he cannot retrace his steps to administer justice.

That type of misfortune can fall on him if the National Judicial Council gets annoyed of his conduct. Ours are not theirs. Theirs are not ours. I will not say more. I will not say less too. So be it.” (Niki Tobi, JSC).

In my article of the 26th of August 2019 on my blog and this page, I posted the above judgement as a remainder to those that may find the judgement meaningful in light of what played out during the 2019 general elections in Nigeria.

I did so believing that the courts handling petitions arising from the conduct of the 2019 Nigerian general elections would reflect on what one of their own has said.

I also deliberately avoided taking a position on what Justice Niki Tobi wrote because it was meant to be advisory. Now that most of the courts have spoken, what will be the consequences of their rulings on future elections in Nigeria given the general dissatisfaction with the performance of INEC and rulings of the Lower Courts.

As the process is now moving to the senior and apex courts of the land, regardless of what may be the final outcome, my worry is whether the courts can stand to defend democracy as envisaged by the crafters of the Constitution.

The framers of the Nigerian Constitution deliberately divided authority into three distinct spheres of powers, the Executive, the Legislature and Judiciary so that power is not concentrated in one arm of government. The reason for doing so, was to ensure there are checks and balances in governance, to avoid the system drifting into autocracy and dictatorship.

The question to ask, are the courts taking into account the advice offered by Justice Niki Tobi? Your guess is as good as mine. However, if they are, I want to be convinced how can one tell me the Gubernatorial elections that took place in a Kano during the 2019 general election meets the standard of a free and fair election in any civilised society?

But here we are that election affirmed by a court of competent jurisdiction in spite of the empirical shortcomings of the conduct of the election. Does the judgement therefore follow the dictum that “ the law is an ass”?

Just recently the British Prime, Boris Johnson in an effort to get the UK out the European Union on or before the 31st of October 2019, with deal or no deal convinced Her Majesty the Queen to Prorogue the British Parliament
Prorogation is the formal term for the end of a parliamentary session, is marked with a ceremony in the House of Lords. It is the official term of shutting Parliament during the period, there are no sitting in House of commons or House of Lords. That means MPs and peers do not hold debates or vote on laws.

The decision to prologue rests with Queen, done on the advice of the Prime Minister. But because of the ongoing raging debate in Parliament on Brit exit. The pro remain MPS felt the Prime Minister is using the opportunity provided by law to shut MPs from having a say on Brit Exit

The case ended at the Supreme Court after legal challenges were launched in England, Scotland and Northern Ireland.

In the courts government argued that the suspension was necessary to allow the white hall to prepare for the Queen’s speech.

But arguing on behalf of anti Brit exit campaigners Gina Miller, Lord Pannick QC told the court that parliament has not been suspended for so long before a Queen’ speech in more than 40 years. He suggested the Prime Minister’s real motive was to “ silence parliament” and stop it interfering with Brit exit plan.

The Supreme court ruled “the decision to advise Her Majesty to prologue Parliament was unlawful because it had the effect of frustrating or preventing Parliament, to carry out its constitutional functions without reasonable justification.”

On the other side of the Atlantic, democracy is going through another meltdown. The decision by the House Speaker to launch impeachment enquiry against the government of Donald Trump is overheating the polity. Secondly, the decision by US President to withdraw American soldiers from Syria also added another impetus causing the discomfort within the ruling cabal and House leadership. This led the Speaker and Senate minority leader and some caucus of democratic leadership to walk out from a meeting chaired by the President in the White House.

These two incidences represent the working of democracy as a system and perhaps explains the reason why democracy is the best form of government. It also emboldened the concept of separation of powers envisioned by political thinkers who developed Democratic principles.

In retrospect, learning from these examples, how many of the judges who adjudicated on the petitions arising from 2019 Nigerian general election stood up to the requirements of law and decide as Justice Hale did in defence of democracy? How many of them can be impartial like Justice Niki Tobi, when he advocated that “judgeship as a profession is fully and totally based on impartiality, the opposite of partiality”.

We have also heard from some quarters that the former Senate President of Nigeria sabotaged the activities of government during the life of the 8th senate. I do support the argument there should be an understanding between the executive and the legislature. However, I do not support the legislature being a rubber stamp of the executive. They were both created as one among equals. The framers of the constitution never intended them to be coalesced under the executive, doing so would mean the end of democracy.

Finally, the import of this discourse is not to just to raise issues regarding who occupies what office, under which political party or circumstance, rather the concern is how do we correct the flaws in our electoral process that give rise unnecessary litigations that consume precious time and a waste of the tax payer’s money?

If through technical judgements we condone and legitimise the improprieties of the umpires who prosecute our elections, any envisaged reforms no matter how excellent it can be on paper without the courts being bold to adjudicate on the merits of the elections petitions, it would be an exercise in futility.

The whole circle will continue from one election to another as the umpire will always feel the needful has been done. There must be consequences otherwise our democracy will remain chaotic.

And the sad aspect of all this our leaders will continue exploiting us as they would come to believe, they do not need the ballot box to win elections. May God give us the wisdom to do the right things.

THE MOSQUE WHEN TOLERANCE PAYS

“Believers, when an ungodly person brings to you a piece of news, carefully ascertain its truth, lest you should hurt a people unwittingly and thereafter repent at what you did.” ( Qur’an in Verse 6, Chapter 49)

The dictum that “power corrupts, absolute power corrupts absolutely” typifies the behaviour and character of some of the leaders in the corridors of power in this country. They behave arrogantly despicably, recklessly and carelessly to issues that have the potential of putting this nation on fire. Their actions calls to question whether they really have the interest of this nation at heart.

When the high in society speak so lowly using gutter words, displaying an unimaginable level of arrogance simply because they can subvert the course of justice. When they use the borrowed time we gave them to speak down on us with contempt, forgetting that the transient powerful positions they are holding at our instance is fleeting, soon they would come to us bowing asking for more time. We as stakeholders in the Nigerian project must not scum to their lies. We must rethink how we chose those who become our leaders. We must not allow them to deceive us one more time again.

The question whether Governor Wike of River state truly demolished the mosque or not as alleged should not be of concern to us right now. What should be of worry to us is how did the whole situation almost got out of hand.

Those who started the whole debate ought to have known the issue has the tendency to implode, caution, maturity, fact-checking on the part of those who broke the news would have saved the nation the irritating tensions generated by the fake news.

When I first set out to write this article my initial opening paragraphs were subjective. My thoughts were affected by the fact that my religion was at the crossroad. My sense of judgement was tainted by my beliefs.

In spite of all these I decide to take some steps backwards to check my facts. I learnt to do this back in my journalism class, where I was taught about the concept of the social responsibility of the press.

While verifying my sources in the pursuit of writing this article, suddenly Governor Wike appeared on television at the site of what was supposed to be the demolished Mosque and the rest was history.

By the time I return to continue with the article I had to rewrite my initial opening paragraphs.

However, this does not mean the issue is settled rather it created a new window for a national conversation. Any serious person or entity knowing the complexity of our country ought to have imagined the consequences the fake news would generate in a multi-tribal cultural and religious society like Nigeria

Governor Wike must accept the fact that some of his past utterances helped in the believability of the fabricated news. His unguarded utterances fanned the feelings in the people to contemplate, he could order the demolishing of the mosque.

As a public figure, a politician, he ought to be circumspect in his utterances. He may be the governor of River state today who knows tomorrow. As a politician, one day he may be out there seeking for a higher office, is he not worried this type of utterance may haunt him in the future?

Nigeria is a country made up of more than 250 tribes with several religious groupings, maybe one day he might need the votes of those he is denying them the right to a place of worship, a privilege guaranteed to them by the constitution. The same Constitution that gave him the power to be the governor of River State.

Some few days after the breaking news Chief Edwin Clark, a respected elder Statesman was conversing for the next President to come from the Southeast. He was questioning the rationale why some people are advocating otherwise. This is what said;

“after it has been zoned to the North, after eight years it will come to the South and I am surprised at those who are now talking nonsense, people wanting to become president of Nigeria from certain southern area when the whole of the East, which is a very vital part of this country, no matter whatever anybody says, the Southeast is a very important part of this country before and after independence, you cannot push them aside.

“You just cannot. They must be considered in any rotational matter about the presidency for 2023. It is funny somebody just coming out, saying that rotation is abolished, that it does not exist because one competent or intelligent fellow is needed.

“Are you telling me that the six zones in Nigeria that there is no zone that cannot produce competent, transparent, intelligent people to run the affairs of this country?

They are not funny and not talking nonsense Sir, this is Nigeria of the 21st century. The zoning arrangement is not a written law, democracy thrives on consensus and numbers, ascendancy to any political office is achieved through alignments and re-alignments, not just wishes or claims on subterranean rights.

The truth is, actions by your people does not give comfort to people from the other regions to surrender their lives to those who at any slight moments of discomfort calls for the dismembering of this country.

Cashing on the ensuing controversy some politicians and other religious organisations who are interested in re-laundering their battered images went to press without checking their facts formulating all sorts of hypothesis.

The Governor of Kano State Gandollar threatened to take Wike to court for demolishing the Mosque. He made this statement through his Chief Press Secretary who said Ganduje, described the “sad story of Mosque demolition in Rivers state as shocking and promised that necessary lawful action must be taken over the happening. ”

Governor Wike has since responded to Ganduje’s threat, through his media aide, Simeon Nwakaudu, that the Kano state governor should be reminded that he, Wike, is not a dollar bill Ganduje can pocket” sheepishly and recklessly”.

He also accused the Daily Trust and the Nation Newspapers over the falsehood that a Mosque was demolished in Port Harcourt. A story fabricated by one Alhaji Tobacco for obvious mischievous political reasons.

Senator Shekarau who was at one time the Governor of Kano State, said, “Wike’s claim that Rivers is a Christian State is pathological. It suggests that not only are the people of Rivers State 100 per cent Christians, but Muslims and adherents of other religions from other parts of Nigeria cannot make Rivers State their home. It also insinuates that Rivers State operates a government, a constitution of its own, different from the Nigerian Nations ”

The Chairman National Council of Islamic Affairs the Sultan of Sokoto in a carefully worded statement condemned any action by anyone who could order the demolishing of a place of worship when he said this;

“unless it is based on mutual understanding and for the purpose of an agreed upon public interest and common good (maslaha), the demolition of a place of worship, either synagogue, church or mosque, is provocative, condemnable and unacceptable under whatever guise.

The Deputy Secretary-General of the council, Prof. Salisu Shehu, also said “the council had refrained from making a public statement on the controversial demolition of the Trans-Amadi Mosque in Rivers State because it has not concluded its investigations.

“In this regard, the council hereby calls upon Muslims to continue to exercise restraint and to avoid taking laws into their hand while it handles the matter and prosecutes it to its logical conclusion.

“The council wishes to further assure the Muslim Ummah that it will go to any length and will never relent in pursuing the matter and ensuring that it is resolved peacefully and just-fully,”

This is how to show leadership in the face of tendencies that could ignite hate and reprisal actions that may break the peace

Nigerian has gone through such turbulence. The main causes of the conflict that led to the Nigerian civil war were religious, cultural, economic and ethnic tensions between the Igbos who are from the eastern part of Nigeria and the Hausas who are from the northern part of Nigeria.

We must not allow some misguided group under whatever persuasions to re-live that part of our darkest national history. What we are facing today is far greater than what happened in the 60s.

Every Region has it’s fair share of the conflict, from the Boko Haram in the North East, the Fulani Herdsmen conflict spreading to all the regions, kidnappings, the restive Niger Delta youth, the harsh economic realities, poverty, hunger, malnutrition, disease, illiteracy, uneven distribution of wealth that are threatening the basic foundation of the nation.

The powder keg, the nation is sitting on waiting for a trigger, if care is not taken will explode in our faces. The choice is therefore up to our leaders to lead responsibly or push the country to the abyss.

IS IT THE OFFICE OR THE PERSON YOU DON’T LIKE?

Too much elite talk about the office of the chief of staff. Too much of the embarrassing ignorance, deep elite apathy and divisive arguments about an issue that has long been settled.

Without prejudice to both side of the divide, the question we might have to ask ourselves are we really against the office of the chief of staff or some people just don’t like Abba Kyari in that office? Let the truth be told.

The arguments regarding the relevance or not of the office of the chief of staff must, therefore, begin from the standpoint that the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria was fashioned according to the American Model as a result of which we borrowed most of the structures embedded in the American style of governance.

The arguments the office is not the creation of the Constitution is weak and may not affect the directives the Ministers should pass their request for engagement with the President through the chief of staff.

We have witnessed attempts by the previous government to do away with the office, but it keeps resurfacing with different nomenclature because of its strategic importance. Be it what it may whether you use the term chief of staff or Principal Private Secretary the schedule still remains the same. After all the term Principal Private Secretary was also borrowed from the British model when the country was operating the Parliamentary system of government.

Regardless of what nomenclature is used the relevance of the office is therefore not contestable. There must be order in the conduct of government affairs.

If the office of the chief of is not created by the Constitution at least the office of the President was and he needs someone to coordinate the activities of his office

The overriding argument in this debate, the President under the Nigerian Constitution has executive powers which means all persons under the executive branch functions courtesy the delegated powers of the President.

The power to hire and dismiss exclusively rests with the President, to argue otherwise simply means playing to the conspiracy theorists wish, a card which is being advanced by those who do not want Abba Kyari in that office.

It is discernible from the ensuing debate that the fifth columnist has a bone to pick with Abba. Among them are those who felt Abba did not contribute in the emergence of Buhari as Presidential candidate of the APC and has not worked for his election, they are, therefore, not comfortable with the relationship that exists, between the President and Abba. To them, every altercation that occurs in the process of governance is contorted by Abba the evil genius he must, therefore, be removed

The Ministers, are also not happy passing their issues through Abba in order to engage with the President. They hold the view they are senior to Abba since their appointments are based on the constitutional requirement as members of the Federal Executive Council, while the chief of staff, whose appointment is not backed any Constitutional provision.

There are also some of the Ministers who consider themselves as super Ministers because of the role they played in the election of the President they find going through the office of the chief of staff belittling to their status.

The third group are the real politicians who hitherto had unfettered access to the President, but now have limited contact with the President due State protocol. To them, Abba is the stumbling block, he must, therefore, be removed at all cost.

These are the real issues giving rise to the plethora of media write up for and against the existence of the office of the chief of staff and the purported crimes the fifth columnists are trying to hang on the neck of Abba so that he can be removed.

In all these arguments none has suggested that Abba is not competent to hold the office of the chief of staff. They all know he has an excellent resume’ A product of University of Cambridge, University of Warwick, Nigerian Law School, International Institute for Management at Lausanne, Switzerland and Harvard Business School. From 1988 to 1990.

He was Editor with the New Africa Holdings Limited Kaduna. In 1990 he served as Commissioner for Forestry and Animal Resources in Borno State. From 1990 to 1995, Kyari was Secretary to the Board of African International Bank Limited. Abba Kyari was Executive Director, Management Services, United Bank for Africa Plc. (UBA) and was later appointed Managing Director and Chief Executive of the Bank. He was appointed a Director of Unilever Nigeria Plc. In 2002 served as a Director of Exxon Mobil Nigeria.

In addition to his appointment as Chief of Staff to the President, Mr Abba Kyari was appointed to the board of Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation by President Muhammad Buhari on July 4, 2016.

With this exquisite credentials, the only kite the fifth columnist can fly is the phantom corruption allegations intended to spoil his name so that the President could act. Now that they have failed and the President has spoken can they allow the gentleman to do his job?

GOLDEN ADVICE FROM LATE JUSTICE NIKI TOBI.

The election tribunals across the country have started reeling out judgements on matters arising from the 2019 general elections. The few that have so far been made public are generating a lot of hues and cries from the losers while those that are favoured by the judgments are celebrating.

It is amidst these mixed feelings that I received a shared mail on the landmark judgement delivered by Justice Niki Tobi.

As a layman I was fascinated with the content of the judgement, the simplicity of language it was written. Not only that the judgement is like an advice to judges handling election matters. It is also a lesson to the ordinary citizens and hopefully to the politicians who love this country and the entrenchment of our nascent democracy.

Before I received the shared judgement I was writing on the arrest of some Nigerians in the United States, of America for Internet Scam. I decided to put the piece on hold because of the judgement reeled out by Kogi State election tribunal sacking Senator Dino Melaye representing Kogi West.

I felt the judgement delivered by Justice Niki Tobi, would be worthwhile to share with my readers maybe we can learn something from it or enjoy reading it;

“I see from Exhibit EP2/34 the need for Nigerian Judges to maintain a very big distance from politics and politicians. Our Constitution forbids any mingling. As Judges, we must obey the Constitution.

The two professions do not meet and will never meet at all in our democracy in the discharge of their functions.
While politics as a profession is fully and totally based on partiality, most of the time, judgeship as a profession is fully and totally based on impartiality, the opposite of partiality.

Bias is the trademark of politicians. Non-bias is the trademark of the Judge. That again creates a scenario of superlatives in the realm of opposites. Therefore the expressions, “politician” and “Judge” are opposites, so to say, in their functional contents as above; though not in their ordinary dictionary meaning.

Their waters never meet in the same way Rivers Niger and Benue meet at the confluence near Lokoja. If they meet, the victim will be democracy most of the time and that will be bad for sovereign Nigeria. And so Judges should, on no account, dance to the music played by politicians because that will completely destroy their role as independent umpires in the judicial process.

Let no Judge flirt with politicians in the performance of their constitutional adjudicatory functions. When I say this, I must also say that I have nothing against politicians. They are our brothers and sisters in our homes. One can hardly find in any Nigerian community or family without them.

There cannot be democracy without them and we need democracy; not despotism, oligarchy and totalitarianism. They are jolly good fellows.

The only points I am making is that their professional tools are different from ours and the Nigerian Judge should know this before he finds himself or falls into a mirage where he cannot retrace his steps to administer justice.

That type of misfortune can fall on him if the National Judicial Council gets annoyed of his conduct. Ours are not theirs. Theirs are not ours. I will not say more. I will not say less too. So be it.” (Niki Tobi, JSC).

I refuse to draw conclusions on this because I want you to come to your own conclusions and share it with us.

ABBA KYARI THE PUNCHING BAG

It is amazing how the intellectuals, the literate, the semi and the dumb have made Abba Kyari the punching bag of this administration. Every action was taken by this government that does not go down well with expectations of some aggrieved persons it is attributed to Abba, simply because he is doing the job Mr President wants him to do.

Some even call him “Mr President” others refer to him the boss of the cabal.

When the President released the names of his Ministers to the Senate, Abba was blamed for tinkering with the list.

When the Head of Civil Service of the Federation was questioned by the EFCC on some accusations of impropriety, it was insinuated that Abba masterminded the scrutiny simply because they disagreed on the reinstatement of fugitive Director of Pension Maina.

The chief of Staff has since denied knowledge of EFCC investigation of the Hos. This position was also collaborated by the Hos herself and yet Abba stands accused of pushing the EFCC to settle a score.

When Abba wrote a query to the Executive Secretary FIRS to explain why there was a sharp drop in the revenue collection of his organisation Abba was accused of having a stone to grind with the Tinubu boys in government.

Even Mrs Buhari herself was said to be wondering how Abba has grief over the government.

While browsing my Facebook account I came across a post by the erudite Associate Professor of Journalism Mr Farooq Kperogi, someone I admire, respect and enjoy reading his articles. In the post under reference, it was insinuated that;

“President” Abba Kyari, who is the arrowhead of the “Kingibe for President in 2023” plan, is now coming for Lagos slave master Tinubu’s jugular. He has queried Fowler, Tinubu’s minion, to account for discrepancies in FIRS’ books. The gloves are off. Watch out for the food fight between Tinubu and Buhari minions in the news media and on social media. I predicted this months ago. As we say in Nigerian Pidgin English, wetin concern agbero with overload?

These are examples to many to just believe that Abba or the Cabal are acting their own scripts without the knowledge of Mr President.

The Professor with his vast sources of news must have known about the open letter, the FIRS staff wrote to the President about Fowler, detailing corporate and institutional lies about FIRS performance

Some of the issues highlighted In the said letter were the call on the President to investigate the activities of Fowler from the first day he assumed office to period he was holding sway as the Executive Chairman of FIRS.

“They accused Fowler of completely politicizing the FIRS and how it becomes a Mecca or Jerusalem of some sorts to politicians and parasitic contractors.

Other allegations against the FIRS boss included extravagant weekly spending on concerts and parties in Lagos, Port Harcourt and other major cities within and outside Nigeria, frivolous donations to organizations while staff entitlements for official engagements would take a long time to settle.

Irked by some of the allegations Fowler was invited to the Presidency to shed light on these allegations

In spite of all these weighty allegations against Fowler, Abba is being accused of strategising for Kingibe by dealing with the minions and lackeys of Tinubu.

My amazement, about all this, is how we look at issues in this country. Very instructive to note is, President Buhari was a General in the Nigerian Army, someone who had led Officers and Men of the Nigerian Army to war to defend the corporate existence of Nigeria. An officer who had commanded several platoons, battalion and once a garrison commander, a state governor, a federal Minister and at one time Head of State of this country, for people to imagine that he has no control over his circumstances is, to say the least, laughable and self-serving.

The President in a show of knowledge of what is going on in his environment in his closing remark at a presidential retreat for minister’s designate in Abuja said;

“In terms of coordination, kindly ensure that all submissions for my attention or meeting requests be channelled through the Chief of Staff, while all Federal Executive Council matters are coordinated through the Secretary to the Government of the Federation,”

The fact that everyone working under the Executive draws his powers from the delegated powers of the President this directive speaks volumes.

When Abba signs communications within or those going out of the statehouse, does not mean the President is not aware. What he does is the normal procedure and it has been the practice.

We must all put it in our thick skulls each time Abba signs a communication under the statehouse seal, it is meant for empathy. It is expected that recipients of such communications accord the subject, matter utmost consideration as if the President signed them himself.

The chief of staff may have some adversarial advantage but certainly the final decision rest with the President on all matters.

With the message coming from the President, all those in doubt about the role of Abba Kyari and that of Boss Mustapha in this government should sheath their swords in order to allow them to do the job, the President wants them to do.

Name-calling such as cabal, president’s men, kitchen cabinet members and petty self-serving accusations will not change anything but overheat the polity, unnecessarily.

It is my prayer the President’s clear directive on the role of Abba and that of Boss Mustapha will put to rest, the annoying deliberate show of lack of understanding of the functions of these strategic officers by the elites and those who profit from the mischief.

THE INCONVENIENT TRUTH ( 3)

I congratulate the 9th Senate for the speed and record time it confirmed the Ministerial nominees submitted by Mr President to assist him in governance. Though I disagree with the process and outcomes of the proceedings the Senate must be commended.

May I also congratulate the Ministers even though I am doing so reluctantly but for the few good men and women that are worthy of recognition and many that are reprehensible and not fit to occupy public office.

I never wanted to comment on the Ministerial list until when I saw the Senior Special Assistant to the President on assembly matters Sen. Eta Iyang on NTA News commending the Senate for expeditiously confirming the nominees. He added by saying that the nominees were subjected to vetting and cleared by the various security agencies.

I was amazed by his statement that all the Ministerial nominees passed through security vetting. If this is true what sort of security vetting they went through? Was the vetting limited to only confirming their names and tribes, the school’s they attended, the local governments, states or geopolitical zone they came from.

Was the vetting limited to questions about their gender males or females, their religion, Moslems, Christians or Atheists and above all if they were asked which political party they belong?

If these were the types of questions the security agencies grilled them on, then I can’t agree more that all of them could pass the vetting processes.

But if the vetting’s were done on character, competence, integrity, morality, capacity, incorruptibility and past performances. I am afraid many of them will not pass the scrutiny.

For the SSA to say they were all cleared something must be wrong somewhere, the Nigerian People must know where the failure was.

The Nigerian security agencies have men and women of competence and this is the truth. I have passed through this type of vetting during my carrier, I have seen them work and how they conduct themselves. They do their job with thoroughness, diligence and professionalism, they pry in all aspects of one’s life without exceptions when conducting such exercise.

My amazement is how can some of those characters on the Ministerial list be given clean bill of health. It is nonsensical to say they had all gone through the processes of vetting and none of them was disqualified.

I am worried because the whole world is looking at us. This is a globalised society, information can not be concealed and swept under the carpet like before everything is in the open. It will haunt us as nation among friends and foes.

After all our President is the tsar for the African Union on anti- corruption. He is respected and seen by some as the epitome of integrity. He stands tall among his equals we can not afford to gamble away all this good will for some intrinsic reasons.

Anti- corruption is the hallmark upon which this government was built and we do not expect less.

The President recently told Nigerians that during his first four years he worked with Ministers and People whom he did not know, but this time he will turn the table round. Nigerians believed him, but what played out during the Ministerial nominations does give the citizens the comfort the President had his ways.

You remember the controversy over the confirmation of the Chairman of the EFCC during life of the 8th Senate. The leadership argued they had security report from one of the security agency that forced them to with hold their accent. It caused a lot of hiccups between the executive and the assembly and to date the Chairman remains in acting capacity in spite of the good work he has been doing.

When shall as a people begin to act in civilised manner, recently the US labor Secretary Alex Acosta had to resign his appointment because he was accused of being lenient over 2008 plea deal he cut with Jeffrey Epstein the billionaire financier charged with operating sex trafficking ring involving 14 girls.

In the list of Minister submitted by the President there was the Minister and Attorney General of the Federation who withdrew a corruption case involving billions against a former governor yet he was cleared and confirmed for reappointment.

We have on the list governors who have mismanaged, bankrupted and indebted their states, some could not even pay salaries to their workers for months. We have among them “Distinguished”
Senators who have cases with EFCC. There were also some former Ministers who have shown incompetence, in the conduct of public affairs. In spite of all this they were all cleared to take another oath as members of the Federal Executive Council. For God sake why are we deceiving ourselves.

In a civilized society simple suspicion or allegations disqualifies a person from holding public office. People of integrity and good conscience on their own withdraw themselves from considerations for public office on a mare allegation in order clear names.

But here we are glorifying the bad and ugly with clean bill of health and rewarding their inadequacies with public offices they ought to be barred from.

The allegations against some of them are so weighty some are under investigation, some are before the courts. What kind of messages are sending to our children? What kind of society are we? What is really going on? What is really wrong with us? Are the security agencies compromised? Are they no longer advising to the “power that be” correctly? Have they chicken out because they are afraid of consequences?

Could these be some of the reasons our international friends and partners are telling us to first put our house in order before they could listen and do business with us? Your guess is as good as mine.

As I was writing this article the US President withdrew the name of his nominee a Republican congressman, Ratcliffe, for the post of Director National Intelligence because there was general out cry from the people over his competence and past records. This is type of things we want Mr President to do.

Remember Mr President you told the Nigeria People that you worked with Ministers and People you don’t know are those whom you submitted to the Senate a reflection of the people you know?

Mr. President you must listen to the people, avoid falling into the trap of what some of your advisers are telling you, posterity will judge you alone not your advisers.

It is not too late to right the disconnect. Mr President please take a hard look at names again and do the needful.
God save the Federal Republic of Nigeria.