Testing the Constitutionality of Environmental Sanitation Exercise- Charles Monwuba

Standard

Charles Monwuba wrote on 22 November:
The military decreed Monthly environmental sanitation exercise when movements are arbitrarily restricted tells the Nigerian work ethic. As early as 4am on the last Saturdays, the roads are jam-packed until 7am when the law on restriction takes effect. It is as if the Nigerian is literally held or pinned down. On the dot of 10am, the roads are a bedlam. It is one reason our human rights group should test the constitutionality of the restriction of movement in the name of environmental sanitation.
Charles Monwuba, an Advert Executive writes from Lagos
image

A People-Driven Constitution for Nigeria? Yes! Open-ended Dialogue? No! – Professor M. J. Balogun

Standard

mj route

Prof. M. J. Balogun wrote on NOVEMBER 16, 2013.
President Goodluck Jonathan’s decision to establish the Presidential Advisory Committee on National Dialogue (hereafter referred to as the “Dialogue Committee” or “the Committee”) has generated a lot of reactions, some positive, others negative, yet others, somewhere in between. The Federal Government justified its action by highlighting the multiple challenges facing Nigeria as a nation, and arguing that only open dialogue offered a way out of the abyss in which Nigerians currently find themselves.
A number of Nigerians, among them, reputable citizens, civil society big-wigs, university professors, and, of course, discredited politicians, have also thrown their weight behind the decision. One politician was quoted as claiming that “The move for national dialogue is …based on a popular notion that ‘it is better to jaw jaw than to war-war’, especially in a democratic setting.” Another observer cataloged all the problems facing Nigeria and concluded that these problems would not go away until the Dialogue Committee got to work. Only enemies of progress, the observer continued, would object to a national dialogue at this stage in Nigeria’s history.
Unfazed by what appears a well-orchestrated plan to line the people behind the Dialogue idea,  critics of open-ended dialogue have dismissed the exercise as at best, a charade meant to divert attention from weighty political questions, and at worst, a cynical and calculated attempt to whip up mass hysteria and stoke ethno-regional antagonism. They find the timing of the dialogue particularly suspect.  Why, they pointedly ask, has National Dialogue suddenly become a panacea for Nigeria’s myriad afflictions? Why did the President of Nigeria not think about organizing a national conference immediately he took over the mantle of the country’s leadership in 2010? Why did he wait until dissidents within his own party, the People’s Democratic Party/PDP, began to raise troubling questions about the party’s record on internal democracy, and, more personally threatening, to demand that the President perish the thought of serving as the party’s flag-bearer in the 2015 presidential electionf?
True to form, attention of Nigerians has since shifted from substance to ad hominem and from rational contestation to plain name calling. Instead of focusing on the case for or against, and/or the options open to, another Presidential committee, the two sides of the dialogue divide have been raining curses and abuses on each other.  Advocates of national dialogue fired the first salvo. They labelled their opponents reactionaries, obstacles to change, pseudo-progressives, etc.
In the hurry to score a point, the Dialogue supporters curiously defined ‘progress’ to mean its exact opposite–that is, looking backwards and holding tenaciously to the past! This is my reading of the commentary by one commentator. Wondering whether the likes of Asiwaju Bola Tinubu should not stop parading themselves as progressives, this apologist for dialogue challenged the APC leader to reconcile his present opposition to the Dialogue Committee with his previous stand on the same subject. If Tinubu was a staunch advocate of dialogue under the Abacha regime in the 1990s, why is he now performing a somersault and opposing Jonathan’s Dialogue Committee? What kind of politics is that? Politics without principle, Tinubu’s critic lashed out.Since he and I have never met, I do not consider myself competent to hold brief for Tinubu or defend his views. Still, I cannot help wondering if his critics are not deliberately misrepresenting his position, or worse still, comparing the incomparable. Based on my, albeit, limited, knowledge of the history of the struggle against the military in Nigeria, I can say without fear of contradiction that what Tinubu and his contemporaries stood for decades ago was a Sovereign National Conference/SNC. They did so at a time when the SNC appeared as the most effective method of changing corrupt and dictatorial regimes. Whether it was in the Republic of Benin, the Republic of Congo, or Mali, the SNC was the mechanism adopted by leading opposition figures to wrest power from sit-tight rulers and, supposedly, to return that power to where it belonged—the custody of the People.However, the SNC, which worked in the 1990s–when constitutional methods of changing African regimes failed–is not in the same class as the National Dialogue Committee established by an incumbent President and for reasons that are not entirely clear. The critics of the dialogue idea fear that like its predecessors, the Dialogue Committee would go from one urban area to another listening to a vocal and politically engaged public, going through the motion of recording various shades of opinion, and submitting a report which would basically leave things as they have always been.
The Committee would thus go the way of its predecessors–the previous talking shops–with nothing to show for the amount of time and money expended on it.Even on the assumption that the Dialogue Committee is a reincarnation of the Sovereign National Conference dreamed of by Tinubu and other progressives in the 1990s—and I still hold that the two contraptions are different–it would be retrogressive, nay, irrational, to embrace the new arrangement blindly, obstinately, and without questioning its applicability to Nigeria’s current circumstances.
In any case, the SNC might have dislodged military autocracies and one-party regimes for a while, but its democratization energy ebbed over time where no conscious efforts were made to involve the People in the design, construction, operation, and oversight of key governance institutions. The SNC power fizzled out where the People did not play an active role in the constitution making process. One merely needs to follow the trajectory of two countries (Mali and the former People’s Republic of Congo) where SNC brought instant results but failed to anticipate other challenges down the road. In the two countries, the dialogue component of SNC lost steam as soon as soon as power changed hands. It took additional (in the case of Mali, drastic) measures to halt the drift to anarchy.When it comes to Nigeria, the marginalization of the People in the constitution making process is the issue that ought to be addressed. If truth be told, no Nigerian regime has ever allowed anything remotely similar to the SNC to take shape, let alone encourage the People to dictate broad constitutional directions.
As I point out in The Route to Power in Nigeria (originally published by Palgrave-Macmillan, New York in 2010, and soon to be released in Nigeria by Malthouse Press), the elite rarely trusts the People sufficiently to allow the latter to shape its own and the country’s destiny. The Dialogue Committee is a clear vindication of this position.
The establishment of the Committee represents yet another attempt at pre-empting a long-felt demand, the demand for a people-driven constitution.Right from independence, through the military era, to the current civilian dispensation, the terms of Nigeria’s ‘social contract’ have always been dictated by the elite, particularly, the ruling clique. It does not matter whether it is the series of London constitutional conferences preceding the attainment of independence, the Constituent Assembly convoked by the military in 1978 (albeit, with a fair cross section of the Nigerian society participating in deliberations), the national conference that gave birth to the Abacha regime’s ‘five leprous fingers’ and left the regime’s ‘self-succession’ dream undisturbed, or the national political conference established and carefully stage-managed by the Obasanjo regime in 2005.
The practice to date has been for a vocal public to have its say, leaving the elite to have its way. If President Jonathan had had his way on return to office in 2011, the presidential term of office would have stretched from four to seven years. Strange as it might at first sound, he might have had his way. If he had set up a committee or convoked a national conference to “advise” him on this ‘minor’ constitutional issue, he would have succeeded in elongating his tenure without much ado.And now the government has set up the Dialogue Committee to “advise” him on every subject under the sun. Beside encouraging the people “to keep talking”, the proponents of the National Dialogue idea have not explained how the latest experience would be different from the preceding ones—that is, how the Dialogue Committee would hand the People the opportunity they never once had, which is the opportunity to decide how they wish to be governed. Will the dialogue end with a constitution that the majority of Nigerians could rightly call theirs? Will that constitution provide for checks and balances in the true sense of the term, or would this be another case of checks/cheques repeatedly bouncing for lack of account balances? What safeguards can dialogue provide against ballot stuffing, box snatching, willful alteration of results, intimidation of opponents, and statute-barred litigation of polling outcomes? Will dialogue liberate public institutions from the over-powering influence of federal and state executives, political godfathers, and strong wo/men? When could Nigerians expect the Inspector-General of Police’s deputies to perform their constitutionally mandated functions without looking over their shoulders for partisan political ‘guidance’ or for ‘instructions from above’? How will the Dialogue hold corrupt officials accountable? Above all, is dialogue the cure for bigotry and intolerance—the type that Nigerians witnessed when Colonel Nyiam nearly assaulted the Edo State Governor just because the Governor exercised his God-given right to express an opinion?
I for one do not expect the Dialogue Committee to accomplish a tiny fraction of what is expected of it. In other words, I am not the one imposing all those impossible obligations on the National Dialogue Committee. It is its supporters who are using the mechanism to promise Nigerians what they know the Committee cannot deliver—which is heaven on one of the most hate-filled corners of the earth. The way the Dialogue Committee backers are going about it, one could be forgiven for assuming that dialogue is answer to Nigeria’s myriad problems–the magic bullet that the country needs to survive and prosper in an environment characterized by hate, distrust, and widespread cynicism. Just come to think of it, talking randomly is the last think that Nigeria needs to bounce back to sound health from what is, to all practical purposes, an advanced stage of malignancy. What the patient needs is the physician’s honesty of purpose, not another talking shop, much less cynicism.   And cynical is what the dialogue formula is.
The initial composition of the Dialogue Committee betrays the sponsors’ underlying cynicism. A committee which is established for the purpose of promoting cross-fertilization of opinions should not, at any time, include those who are not genuinely committed to two-way dialogue.
A member that has already made up his mind who belongs in Nigeria as against who should be ‘expelled’ should never have been shortlisted for, much less appointed to serve on, such a committee. Yet it took a public outburst to draw attention to the presence of the dogmatic committee member, Col. Tony Nyiam. The Colonel might have tendered his resignation in deference to public opinion, but the damage has already been done. His confrontational attitude became the lightning rod for all that is perceived to be wrong with the dialogue idea—or the smoke signal which the Dialogue Committee’s opponents gleefully cite to make and strengthen their case. Rather than vindicate him and help the dialogue cause, the Colonel’s letter of resignation made things worse. The letter confirmed his bigotry.
It is legitimate to ask what is the alternative to the Presidential Advisory Committee on National Dialogue?  In my humble opinion, Nigeria’s interest would be best served if the latest in the litany of presidential committees is totally de-linked from the Presidency. Instead of a committee advising the President, it should, with appropriate changes in composition, be reconstituted into a Constitution Review Commission. Preferably, members should be duly nominated at the local government level. Those elected at the local government level would constitute an electoral college to vote for one of them to serve as their state’s representative on the Constitution Review Commission. Each state electoral college would further collate submissions from local government for onward transmission to the Commission.If the present constitution has no place for plebiscites, the Constitution Review Commission’s first order of business would be to recommend that the National and the State Assemblies debate a motion for a constitutional amendment shifting the center of Nigeria’s constitution-making gravity from the government to the People. Thereafter, the Review Commission should be mandated to work with the People of Nigeria on a new constitution. The Commission should enlist the services of experts in constitutional law, political science, public administration, policing in federal jurisdictions, and federal finance. These experts should assist the Commission Secretariat in analyzing submissions received from local government, state, and national interlocutors.If the Constitution Review Commission is to answer to the People and not just to the Presidency, its report and recommendations should be submitted to the People for ratification. In plain language, any draft constitution produced under the Commission’s auspices should not be deposited on the President’s desk but be tendered for public debate prior to its approval/rejection at multi-level plebiscites—that is, plebiscites conducted at the local government, state, geo-political, and national levels.To entrench the idea of citizen participation in governance, any revised constitution should contain provisions for the conduct of periodic referenda on sensitive issues—e.g., remuneration of political office holders, revenue allocation formula, state creation, excision or merger of local government areas, privatization of state enterprises, leasing of public facilities/assets to private concessionaires, Nigeria’s participation in “coalitions of the willing” to effect regime change in other African countries, stationing of foreign bases on Nigerian soil, and public private partnership contracts.
As I argued when commenting on the Yoruba Assembly convened in Ibadan in August 2012, a viable social contract is one which affords the People the opportunity to indicate how they wish to be governed, and contain provisions on how to hold the state Leviathan accountable for the exercise of sovereign powers. The message is thus clear: the future of Nigeria hinges on the active engagement of the People in the constitution making, legitimization, and review processes, not on endless talk.
Professor Balogun is based in Canada. He is former Director-General, The Administrative Staff College of Nigeria and former Senior Adviser at the UN Headquarters, New York.Follow me on twitter @balogunjide1

image

www.balogunjide.net

Coming Soon….

Standard

Book Title

Beyond the Fundamental Rights as enshrined in the Nigerian Constitution, there are other categories of rights that are immediately enforceable in Nigeria. I have proposed to refer to them as General Rights in this book.

WRONG: CARGO CONTAINERS & ANIMAL COACHES AS MEANS OF TRANSPORT FOR CONSTRUCTION WORKERS IN NIGERIA

Standard

CASER’s attention has been drawn to the use of modified cargo containers and animal coaches, by foreign companies as means of transport for Nigerian construction workers. This is a violation of the rights to the dignity

image

of the human person and freedom from discrimination as provided respectively under S.34 and S.42 of the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria (CFRN,99)
This is another reflection of the denigration of the rights of Nigerian citizens to deserving standards of living.
CASER shall take steps to address this affront on labour rights as it studies the claims.
Bring the wrongs to the knowledge of CASER. There exist all these wrongs because Rights have been created by Law. Remember, where there is a wrong; There is a remedy.
Frank Tietie, Esq.
Executive Director, CASER

S. 38, CFRN: CALL TO PROTECT THE NIGERIAN SOCIETY FROM THE ONSLAUGHT OF RELIGION.

Standard

On November 18, 1978, Guyana was the venue of another mass suicide, which claimed 912 victims all members of the North American Religious sect called Peoples Temple. Jones began performing an immense amount of welfare work and community service. In 1961 he was nominated Director of the Human Rights Commission by the Mayor. His congregation became a hybrid of church and sect. His sermons were charismatic and he began to produce “miracles of faith.”

In April 1993 in Waco Texas, 75 followers of David Koresh (Members of the Branch Davidians) died among the flames after setting fire to their camp. Their leader was accused by the FBI of sexually and psychologically abusing the young men of the sect, as well as detaining firearms and explosives.

On October 5, 1994 in Quebec Canada, the bodies of 5 people (4 adults and a child) were discovered. The following day in Switzerland the remains of 48 people were found. 23 were killed by firearms and 25 were poisoned. These suicides were ordered by the leaders of the sect Ordre Du Temple Solaire. The suicide act was supposed to have carried the members of the sect to the planet Sirius. A letter found beside the victims stated, “We are leaving this land to find a new dimension of truth and absolution, far from the hypocrisy of this world.”

On March 26, 1997 39 members of the sect WW Higher Source committed suicide in the millionaire community of Rancho Santa Fe in California under the direction of leader Marshall Applewhite.

On March 18, 2000 in a village Southwest of Kampala in Uganda, about 600 members of the sect the Ten Commandments of God committed suicide.

And, here in our own dear land of Nigeria, thousands have been killed by boko haram in the named of religion. Yesterday, it was reported that tens of persons have died in a religious camp in Anambra.

CASER has observed a pattern that whenever a people abandon themselves to religion, the government happily chooses to shirk and abdicate its responsibilities of protecting the people from both physical and mental harm. Nothing in Nigeria is so dangerous to National security than religion yet, a government, thinking its citizens are being kept busy from protests and riots, is happy and doesn’t care about the proselytization the people receive until there comes a harvest of tragedies. Boko haram could have been checked a long time ago if the provision of Section 38 of the Constitution which guarantees freedom of religion was adhered to. The provison guards the citizens against secret cults. The constitution actually contemplated religious bodies with cultic teachings that would ultimately be inimical to security, welfare and the good life of the people.

CASER shall challenge our government and religious institutions to exercise the constitutional right of freedom of religion, thought and conscience, responsibly. Send us what you think. Encourage others to like us on facebook.
Thank you.
Frank Tietie, Esq
Executive Director, CASER

image

POST-UTME: NOTICE TO JAMB

Image

JAMB LOGO

CASER believes that Post-UTME is an aberration. It is not in the interest of citizen-parents and our secondary school leavers. CASER has therefore served a Notice to JAMB for it to declare its capabilities to conduct entrance exams into all tertiary institutions as it has done prior to the introduction of Post-UTME. JAMB must wake up if it is asleep and declare that it is alive to its responsibilities. JAMB must refrain from its conspiracy with illegality. All Nigerian tertiary institutions must stop this baseless exploitation and harrassment of Nigerians called Post-UTME.Citizens must remember that it is better to uproot one wrong at a time. Bring the wrongs to the knowledge of CASER and the pursuit of rights shall begin. With the collective resolve and support of well meaning citizens, we shall achieve freedom from these impinging wrongs. “ubi jus, ubi remedium”
Frank Tietie, Esq.
Executive Director, CASER