Mr. Ehindero is the boss of the Nigeria Police and in May 2007, he has literarily ordered his men to kill people who dare demonstrate or protest against the useless elections that took place in Nigeria recently. These are people, Nigerians like himself, who are also demanding for better conditions with respect to their occupational status. He didn’t use the word “kill” but he doesn’t have to use it either. If a police boss in Nigeria orders his men to use tear gas on people who are demonstrating or if he gives them the order to stop the protests by whichever means possible, then we know that the missing word is “kill-them”! You can discuss the Nigeria Police from many perspectives: shameless bribe takers, ill-equipped force, gun trotting, trigger happy, mischievous, negligent, underpaid, Y2K non-compliant and so on and so forth.
There could be many factors why Nigerians allow evil to prevail in the society. The kill and go principle of the security forces is one of the main factors. It is possible for policemen or other armed forces in Nigeria to kill anyone at anytime and never be brought to justice. Instead, lies are cooked up and fables are told to cover up for the killers. Sometimes there are no investigations and the victims die for nothing or “for fun” as they use to say. This in my opinion is one of the reasons why people have resolved not to take confrontational positions when it comes to opposition to the states even when it is obvious that what the state is doing is evil. When discussing about mounting resistance to oppression and suppression, someone may ask you “are you ready to be in the front”? Some may even remind you like this, “why don’t you come back to Nigeria and help with the opposition”?
But the real issue is this, why is it possible for the police to act in violation to the law and never face the consequences? This is not for the police only but all military and Para-military institutions that have been used over the years by the government and persons in influential positions to oppress other helpless people. Sometimes, people lose their lives as a result of senseless killings by these agents. The recent pronouncement by the stupid police boss in Nigeria should be condemned totally. Obviously he is trying to please his masters in the government house who have killed thousands of people in the last 8 years. We have not seen anything worse since the civil war more than 35 years ago.
Someone needs to tell the Nigerian police that they should stop killing people who are protesting peacefully on the streets. We know that they are not well paid. Many people are underpaid in Nigeria. The police cannot continue to pour their frustrations on innocent citizens for demanding a better society for the collective good of all. They should stop filling their masters’ cup with the blood of the blameless. The police should not get tired of the people; instead they should offer the necessary protection to demonstrators and ensure that the process is peaceful and orderly. It is not enough to change the uniform of the Nigerian Police from black to blue. They need more education in order to demonstrate clear understanding of the fundamentals of human rights, to appreciate such and to do things within the frame of the law especially as law enforcement agents.
By Edwin Madunagu.
From The Guardian, 17 May 2007. (www.ngrguardiannews.com)
WHEN General Olusegun Obasanjo assumed office in May 1999 as executive President of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, many Nigerians described his regime as a transitional one. While some elaborated on this description others simply assumed that it was self-evident and required no elaboration. I was one of those who attempted an elaboration. By the term, transitional, as applied to that regime, I meant that its foundations being weak, the administration would be an unstable regime which would move more or less rapidly towards either popular democracy, neoliberal democracy, fascism (or neofascism, if you wish), or anarchy.
I provided two grounds for this projection: the way the regime was enthroned, and the nature of the constitution under which it was expected to operate. Checking through the articles I wrote in the early months of that regime, there was no suggestion that President Obasanjo would lose power. However, several social forces, including some which did not support his election, rallied around him in those early months – as if a coup was imminent. My projection was that the removal of President Obasanjo-constitutionally or otherwise – could lead to a civil war, an eventuality which neither the power blocs nor the “international community” would desire. My thesis was that the incumbent president would preside over the transition. What would happen thereafter, I could not say.
Back to the grounds for considering the regime a transitional one. When General Sani Abacha died suddenly in June 1998, Alhaji Moshood Abiola, who won the June 1993 presidential election, has been in detention for about four years, many Nigerians thought he would be released and installed as Head of State, perhaps an interim one. When this did not happen, these Nigerians started an advocacy in that direction. Frustration however set in when each high-profile international visit to the imprisoned man ended without his release. Rather, he was being pressured to renounce his claim to the presidency. Then the man died during a visit by America’s State Department officials.
It was after this that the name of General Obasanjo who had just been released from Abacha’s jail was thrown up. He was anointed President even before political parties were formed, and long before the general had declared for any of them. Unless the deaths of Abacha and Abiola were planned – as part of a grand political strategy – it was reasonable to conclude that the choice of Obasanjo as an interim arrangement was quickly agreed upon – to prevent a civil war or anarchy – by powerful internal political forces and the “international community”. Obasanjo came into office and power, without a “political base”.
Now, to my second ground. The 1999 general elections were conducted without a constitution. Some people may raise an objection and argue, for instance, that the 1979 elections were also conducted without a constitution. That would be incorrect. There was a constitution, awaiting promulgation. There also existed a constitution that of 1989, during the series of elections conducted between 1991 and 1993 under General Babangida’s transition. Another constitution was published in 1995. It was under that constitution that General Abacha planned to hold elections in August 1998. But he died two months earlier and the entire plan was abandoned.
But in 1999, there was nothing. A committee appointed by the Military Head of State, General Abdulsalami Abubakar to review the 1979 Constitution was still working when the elections of February 1999 took place. And when the document came out it was found to contain so many errors – some lawyers said there were more than 300 of them. Many Nigerians, including myself, regarded the 1999 Constitution as a transitional one.
We may go back a little and recall that following Abacha’s death, most of those who called for the installation of Abiola as President were, in practical terms, calling for an interim government to be headed by Abiola. Everyone knew that so many things had happened in the five years since June 1993 that it was impossible for Abiola to simply reclaim his mandate. A coup d’etat had taken place; Abiola’s party and that of his defeated opponent had been dissolved; the National Assembly had been dissolved; and state governments – both executive and legislative branches – had been dissolved. Beyond all these, dissatisfaction with the geopolitical structure of the country had grown. When Abiola died a month after Abacha’s death, the case for an interim government was strengthened.
We now know that some personages, including General Obasanjo, were proposed to head such a government. But Abdulsalami Abubakar’s regime rejected the call for an interim government, and went ahead to construct a new transition programme. Many Nigerians, including myself, regarded Obasanjo’s regime produced by Abdulsalami’s programme, as an interim regime – whether those who designed it, and enthroned it, believed it to be so or not. It was a monumental error. The projection – of popular democracy, neoliberal democracy, fascism or anarchy – still held, but the notion of transitional regime was a strategic error.
That error is clearly shown by the situation today, towards the end of President Obasanjo’s eight-year tenure and on the eve of the inauguration of a new presidency. The 1999 Constitution has remained in force; Obasanjo has transcended the internal coalition of forces that brought him to power and has constructed a new political base (call it ‘power bloc’ if you like); the “international community” is with him; and, above all, he has reproduced his regime. As for my 1999 prediction: the country is today not moving towards popular democracy; it is not moving to liberal democracy – either in the economy or in politics or in governance; I can also not see any advance to generalised anarchy. That leaves us with fascism or neofascism.
All the ingredients for fascism or neofascism are here. Some, in fact, have been with us for some time. The ingredients include increasing inability to govern by the law; increasing political intolerance, harassment, and intimidation of even senior state functionaries; militarisation of civil institutions such as the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC); behaviour of the police like political thugs; increasing visibility and employment of the secret police; employment of armed thugs; unexplained political crimes, including murders; and, increasing mass immiseration and desperation. And now is added the April 2007 rigged elections through which the ruling party is claiming popular acceptance.
Before this was the abortive “third-term” campaign. And beyond all these is the likely appearance of personages whose offices are not in the constitution, but who will play powerful roles in the politics, governance and “security” (or “discipline”) of the land. Not to be forgotten is the increasing integration of the country into the periphery of the “international community” economically and militarily, the latter being explained and justified by the “global war against terror”. All the ingredients of fascism are therefore here. What is needed for the appearance of unambiguous fascist rule is an event that provides a credible excuse of threat to “national security”.
The critical question is this: Why and how was Obasanjo’s regime able to move from a generally perceived and indeed, almost obvious status of a “transitionality” to that of “permanence”? This was done by reversing precisely those factors that made it, or made look like a transitional regime. These factors included as earlier listed, the contradictory, evasive, and hence, incoherent nature of the 1999 Constitution; and the absence of a political “base”. Obasanjo was not part of the formation of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) – or any party for that matter – at any stage. He was simply invited to stand on the party’s platform.
What Obasanjo’s regime did – systematically, but over eight years – was to construct a new power bloc through the maximum use of state power. The regime embarked on a progamme of destabilisation of the existing power blocs and the incorporation of some non-power bloc political forces. Obasanjo’s power bloc is the third power bloc in the country – the older two being what I had called the Northern and South-Western power blocs. Obasanjo’s power bloc, which is now in power, is more national than the older two, and is on the ascendancy. But the three blocs subscribe to the same economic principles and philosophically opposed to egalitarianism and popular democracy.
As for the 1999 Constitution: It was clear, right from the beginning, that President Obasanjo was not enthusiastic about a Constitution review. But many Nigerians believed that he would be compelled to carry out a review whether to like it or not. They were mistaken. The President became even less enthusiastic when the question of Constitution review became tied, in some vocal quarters, to the convening of a Sovereign National Conference (SNC). His argument was that a sovereignty could not exist within a sovereignty. When, eventually, he “bought” the idea, he decided to do it his own way. There were several false starts, and each of them collapsed. The result is that the hurriedly coupled 1999 Constitution is still with us.
Barring unforeseen developments, the second regime of the Third Republic (or is it the Fourth) will be inaugurated on May 29, 2007. For the ruling classes and power blocs (together with the “international community”) it will be a mere continuation. For us, and the toiling but suffering masses of Nigeria, it will be a new beginning. We must face tomorrow, while reviewing the past.
The issues affecting the Nigeria are numerous and varied. Recent occurrences in the country have stirred up debates here and there on some of these issues. Honestly speaking, the issues cannot be overflogged. It is a debacle that millions of Nigerians live with. They are entangled in a vicious web created by the wicked, mean and heartless leaders and politicians. It seems that Nigeria is trapped in a deadly vicious cycle. Again, there are many dimensions to this vicious cycle. The elimination of this cycle will be a difficult task and generally it looks like Nigerians will live with this dilemma for a long time to come. I could arguably state that some things will never change in Nigeria in as much as the circumstances to warrant those changes are missing. Take the case of stealing, looting, cheating and forgery as criminal examples.
For instance, how can you tell a student preparing for a common examination that he is not allowed to cheat? All the things that surround him indicate that cheating and forging are acceptable. He could see that all he needs to do is to find an appropriate accomplice in the person of the examiner or an accessory among the examination center workers. These could be the school principal or an influential teacher. If everyone did their parts, they will all get away, clean. This is what INEC has done in the last scam called elections. All the players have done their parts and God help Nigeria if the judiciary follows the trend. Cheaters get caught sometimes because of the negligence of someone or the diligence of a faithful citizen. In a few days, we will know if the courts in 2007 Nigeria are faithful institutions or tools that should be neglected by the citizens.
Stealing, forgery and cheating are siblings. We have seen over the years how common illiterates have occupied our senate/ house of assemblies and other public places using forged certificates, having attended imaginary schools especially abroad. Who is fooling who? The painful thing is that many of those alleged to have committed this crime are not really fully investigated because the tale may be endless. This implication is that many public holders carry false academic status. It would be nice to know what the result of a general knowledge exam will turn out among such people. Has someone thought about conducting a common entrance/ G2 exam for all public officers? I mean the type we did those days to get into secondary schools.
Is it not amazing also that armed robbers are still finding their trade lucrative and attractive? How can you preach to them to stop and why should they stop? Everyday in Nigeria, millions are been stolen from the National treasury. Pen robbers who called themselves politicians steal money and share loots without a drop of sweat. This is a big inspiration for the men with guns. They are seriously inspired that it is very right to steal from wherever and whenever. Stealing is stealing regardless of how it is carried out. The pain though is that the armed robbers sometimes get merciless and many in recent years have taken the lives of their victims. They have become more brutal; sometimes they rape, maim and destroy property. Usually their victims have no definitions boundaries. All they need is money just like the thieves in government. Don’t even think about the Police tackling the menace of armed robbery. Like many public insitutions, they are ill-equipped and unmotivated. It is sad and painful but like many vices in our society, we live with these things daily and live the next day as another day of our God given lives.
To fix or amend a vicious cycle, the people will have to resolve to a collective will. This is one virtue that does not exist in the Nigerian dictionary. People grew up of course in community settings, mutual environments but unfortunately it is “all man for himself” at the end of the day. This is a popular saying in Nigeria that has rendered the citizenry powerless. The society is full of envy, hatred and “bad belly”. The bad belly syndrome is a topic that requires treatment on its own. In modern societies, which are also found in neighbouring African states anyway, the aim of collective will is to move a nation forward by standing up against everything and anything that doesn’t seem right. Nigerians don’t stand up against wrong things because they hope to benefit from that “wrong thing” themselves when the opportunity comes directly or when they have a known person in a position to steal or influence things. This is pathetic and it is not a legacy that should passed from generation to generation, but that is just the way I have known it and at 35, I am beginning to lose hope that my country of birth will be great in my life time.
Madeleine is just 4 years old. She is innocent and could not have commited any crime, yet she has been feared abducted since May 3rd. The incident occured in Portugal.
All hopes are been kept alive that she will come back home to her lovely family. Surely, she is missing her parents and siblings as much as they have missed her.
This is not the best of times for the McCann Family and one can only hope that this nightmare is over as soon as possible.
I was wondering if certain legal barriers can be broken to allow for house to house search in the whole of Portugal. The world cannot afford to keep another lovely little girl underground in some lunatic home for 8 or 10 years.
If the world is free, Madeleine will be free. Let someone open their doors and let the real search begin!
God bless you Madeleine!
By Nwachukwu Egbunike
(The Guardian (www.ngrguardiannews.com) May 14 2007)
“WHAT do you want to be when you grow up?” This is a typical question for kids. The answers one usually gets are: “I want to be a doctor”, “I want to be a lawyer, or “I want to be a pilot”, so-on and so-forth. The list usually drags on and on. However, I cannot ever recall any kid responding with these words: “I want to be a teacher”.
This aversion for teaching is not shared by kids alone. No Nigerian teenager ever considers teaching as a profession to be aspired to. Prof. Michael Omolewa, Nigerian Ambassador and Permanent Representative to UNESCO, recalled an anecdote sometime ago. According to him, it happened that a certain parent had sought his advice because her son could not gain admission to study medicine. In all simplicity, he advised the boy that since he could not make the cut-off mark for medicine, he should consider studying education. He had hardly finished when both mother and child broke down into tears.
When I mean teaching, I have in mind those that teach in nursery, primary and secondary school. This is because those in tertiary institutions have a more ‘dignified’ title of lectures. Besides teaching in this category is more prestigious and nets in a very fat pay package. During the era of the colonial masters – who we always blame for all our misfortunes, both real and imagined – the teaching profession was prestigious. In the Teacher Training Colleges, student teachers were paid. The training colleges were very rigorous and as a result, only the best graduated as teachers. Granted that perhaps the salary was not that fantastic, however it provided for the basic needs of most of them. Besides in those days, the teacher had a certain reserve, a dignity that did not come from the weight of his purse but on the significance of his tasks. To be called onye nkuzi (teacher) carried as much weight as a lawyer, doctor or priest.
Unfortunately things have not only changed but also gone worse. It seems that a sizeable number of teachers in nursery, primary and secondary schools are just victims of circumstances who having no other means of livelihood, took to teaching. This group of people are always on the look out for greener pastures. This in itself is not bad. After all there are also some teachers who started teaching by accident but have made a success story out of it. The last group – who unfortunately are a minority – enjoy teaching; they have a passion for imparting knowledge.
Taking a look at any Faculty of Education, one finds that the majority of those aspiring to be teachers are people already advanced in age, matured students. The young ones are few and are usually those that could not make it in other faculties. Even among these students a great number are there because they want a degree to consolidate their jobs, especially these days that an NCE means little or nothing. The few, who are interested in teaching, have their minds set on checking-out.
Why do young people shy away from teaching? It is also a reflection of the crisis of values rocking our society. If Nigerian politicians, who do little to nothing in terms of creation of utility, are immersed in wealth, why should a young fellow want to teach? Nobody wants to be a teacher due to the poor remuneration. Another important factor is the absence of professionalism. Besides the general population does not value teachers. Parents are only interested in teachers when their children are in school. As soon as they graduate, that’s the end of it. Thus the Nigerian teacher in most cases is like a broom that is only useful when it can sweep but as soon as it gets old, it is discarded.
The public schools are worse hit as the teachers hardly give their best – settling only for the barest minimum, paying more attention to the private classes they organise. Those located in the rural areas rely a lot on Youth Coopers. Not only do most coopers lack the prerequisite training, they are unfortunately in most cases, grossly incompetent in their areas of specialisation and above all have to battle with the communication barrier, as most of their students can only understand their native language. Teachers in private schools are not any better as they earn peanuts when compared to the volume of work they handle. It is only the proprietors of these schools that smile home with huge bank accounts. A sorry situation of monkey dey work, baboon dey chop!
If the youths are really the hope of this nation then we are an endangered species. This is because if the moulders of the minds of the young are unmotivated, sad, hungry and generally without any drive, if the future is entrusted to those who have no love for their profession, who are constantly impelled to look for other avenues to keep body and soul together then we are in big wahala.
The teaching profession should be given the dignity it deserves. More work – than talk – should be put in place to accord this profession its pride of place. The Nigerian Union of Teachers (NUT) and other stakeholders in the education industry should wake up and do something. I am delighted that the present drive of the present Education Minister, Oby Ezekwesili is yielding fruit. One only hopes that her reforms do not die after she leaves office. However, madam minister should kindly accelerate the necessary changes that will make teachers proud of their professions. It will be worthwhile to review the conditions of service of Nigerian teachers.
On the other hand, the private sector should be proactive, especially those in the education industry. The book publishers in particular who have a direct dependence on teachers should take the lead. I was elated on bumping into a newsletter “School Supplement” exclusively dedicated to Nigerian teachers and bankrolled by Evans Brothers Publishers. It may seem so little but life itself is a collation of little things. It is in our interest to restore the pride of the Nigerian teacher. Otherwise we are only digging our graves because in the words of Gbenro Adegbola, President of Nigerian Publishers Association, “any society that does not treat moulders of the future with reverence is certainly doomed to fail”.