Public Lecture: The Nigerian Dream & The Rights Of The Youths, The Oppressed & The Voiceless (Concluded)
Presenter: Emeka Umeagbalasi, Chair, Int’l Society for Civil Liberties & the Rule of Law
Increasing Non-State Actor Killings & Perpetration of other Heinous Crimes in Nigeria
In the first five months of 2018 (January to May 2018), no fewer than 1800 defenseless persons have been killed by the trio of Fulani Herdsmen, Boko Haram and Zamfara Bandits’ terror organizations. Many, if not most victims of the killings are members of the Christian faith in Northern Nigeria. While Jihadist Fulani Herdsmen solely target Christians, the Boko Haram terror group also target Christians, but sometimes kill Muslims collaterally; likewise the so called Zamfara Armed Bandits who kill and kidnap both Christians and Muslims. Roughly half of the victims are members of the youth or active population.
By the account of Vanguard Newspaper of 29thMarch 2018, in the first ten weeks of 2018 (January to middle of March 2018), no fewer than 1,351 defenseless and innocent persons have been killed by the duo of terror Fulani Herdsmen and Zamfara Islamist Bandits as well as street criminals and auto accidents. Boko Haram has also killed no fewer than 120 people in the first six months of 2018.
By the account of the Daily Trust Newspaper of 12thMay 2018, no fewer than 121 innocent persons have been killed in Kaduna State by the Islamist Zamfara Bandits. The killings took place between January and first week of May 2018 in attacks carried out in eleven locations including Gwaska and Birnin Gwari areas of Kaduna State.
Also by the account of This Day Newspaper of 30thApril 2018, no fewer than 861 defenseless and innocent persons all members of Nigerian Christian faith have been killed in the past first four months of 2018 (January to April 2018) by Jihadist Fulani Herdsmen. The killings took place in old Middle Belt Region of Nigeria which is now part of Northern Nigeria; an area dominated by Muslims. They include Benue, Southern Kaduna, Plateau, Kogi, Taraba, Adamawa and Kwara States; which collectively have the largest concentration of estimated 30m Northern Christians in Nigeria.
The Government of Benue State in North-central Nigeria also disclosed on 21st May 2018 during the burial of 19 slain Catholic faithful including two Priests killed by Jihadist Fulani Herdsmen on 25thApril 2018 that no fewer than 492 Christian lives have been lost in the hands of Jihadists in the State between January and May 2018. The Christian Association of Nigeria, Benue State Branch, through its State Chairman, Rev Akpen Leva, also disclosed on 14thMarch 2018 that not less than 500 Christian churches were destroyed or burnt to ashes by Jihadist Fulani Herdsmen in the State between 2011 and March 2018; with over 170,000 Christians internally displaced.
Also, by the expert report of Ms Arne Mulder in her 154-page research findings for the Open Doors Int’l (2015), “over 13,000 Christian places of worship (Churches) have been destroyed in Northern Nigeria by Boko Haram insurgents as at December 2014 or between 2009 and December 2014. Over 1500 Christian Schools were also destroyed; with 11,500 Christians killed and over 1.3m of them fled their areas to escape being hacked to death by Boko Haram Jihadists”. Our organization, Int’l Society for Civil Liberties & the Rule of Law (Intersociety), estimates credibly that no fewer than 16,000 churches and 1600 Christian schools must have been destroyed in Northern Nigeria by the duo of Boko Haram and Fulani Herdsmen insurgencies since 2009.
The killings above, credibly estimated at 107,500 defenseless citizens since June 1999, did not include battle-fields related death of government and opposition combatants, victims of street crimes of armed robbery, domestic violence including rape; kidnapping/abduction, arson, murder, ritualism, suicides, cult and drug related violence as well as auto, aviation, marine, rail and industrial accidents. For instance, at one strike in Offa, Kwara State, North-central Nigeria, in a major bank robbery operation that took place on 5th April 2018, no fewer than 50 innocent persons were killed by dare-devil armed robbers.
Incessant Kidnappings in Nigeria
No fewer than 200 defenseless and innocent Nigerian citizens traveling to Northern Nigeria through Birnin Gwari Federal Road and its vicinities in Kaduna State have been kidnapped in the past 30 days or between 13th May and 9th June 2018 by the so called Zamfara Bandits. Also no fewer than 250 persons in all must have been kidnapped across Nigeria in the past six months of 2018. By the account of the Daily Trust Newspaper of 9thJune 2018, Nigeria recorded no fewer than 300 kidnap cases in 2017 with Kaduna State taking the lead with 157 kidnap cases, followed by Rivers State with 61, Niger State 37, FCT (Abuja) 22 and Ondo State 21.
By the account of the Daily Post Online of 14th May 2018 and other media reports, 87 innocent persons were kidnapped along Birnin Gwari Federal Road in Kaduna State on Sunday, 13thMay 2018. On 23rd May 2018, according to Daily Telegraph Newspaper and other media reports, 44 persons were kidnapped on the same route on Tuesday, 22nd May and 23rd May 2018. The victims of Tuesday evening kidnap attack, numbering over 17 passengers, were traveling on a Sharon Bus while those of Wednesday morning kidnap attack, numbering 21 traveled on three Gulf Cars with each carrying seven passengers.
On Friday, 8th June, according to the News Express Online though its new Northern Regional editor, Garba Muhammad, no fewer than 23 passengers including a nursing mother were kidnapped along the same Birnin Gwari Federal Road in Kaduna State and on Saturday, 9th June 2018, by the same media account, no fewer than 40 persons were kidnapped in the same route. This is despite the Federal Government’s claims of heavy security presence in the area including the establishment of a battalion of the Nigerian Army and a Police Area Command by the Nigeria Police Force. Till date, pieces of credible information regarding the safety (whether alive or tortured or dead) of the abductees as well as the amount, if any, paid as ransom by the released, if any; have remained unavailable.
Leadership Failure & Economic Collapse in Nigeria
Leadership success and its accompanying economic turnaround or growth and development are possible only where there is a charismatic and visionary leader. The hyper economic growth and development in China today are a clear case in point. The divisive tendencies and other signs of divided society with which the People’s Republic of China was known for until late 90s and early 2000s, has long and largely become a thing of the past owing to its robust economy and end of international isolationism. China is approximately eight times more populated than Nigeria, yet it is presently the world richest economy and third most powerful country after USA and Russia in terms of military capacity and size.
Twelve Core Achievement Parameters of an Accomplished Democratic Leader
They are (a) winning of election by popular votes (input legitimacy), (b) ability of the elected to serve the people in the context of service to humanity (as opposed to transactional governance), (c) avoidance of call to squander and heeding of call to serve, (d) formation of a sizeable cabinet composed of persons of conscience; with technical expertise in various sectors of public governance, (e) a cabinet type devoid of favoritism and nepotism.
Others are: (f) financial prudency or fiscal responsibility and maintenance of a moderate monthly wage bill, (g) drastic reduction in governance running costs most especially in the areas of security votes and overheads and allowances of the political appointees, (h) near zero or zero debts culture and ability to adequately mobilize both statutory and non statutory (non loan funds) within and outside the country for massive capital development of the governing area.
The rest are (i) aggressive or multi sectoral and infrastructural development and provision, delivery and sustenance of social services and public utilities, (j) provision of enabling environment and social incentives for the FDI inflows, private sector participation and general wellbeing of the citizenry including security and welfare (human security), (k)periodic justice sector reform, promotion and advancement of human rights and (l) rendering the account of stewardship at the end of every fiscal year and elected tenure.
Nigeria’s Past & Present Budgets of Squander-mania
Statistically, by findings generated from our national investigation carried out in February 2016 and updated in our statement of 2nd April 2018, titled: How $302b (N66.7t) was budgeted, squandered and siphoned by past & present Federal Government of Nigeria since 2003..), successive and present Federal Government of Nigeria had budgeted and spent over $302b or N66.7t since 2003; while all the three component units of the Federal Republic of Nigeria: Federal Government, 36 States and the FCT and 774 Local Government Areas budgeted and squandered a total of $724b or N140.8t under the same period; without anything concrete to show for it. See www.intersociety-ng.org (public advocacy news section).
The following are the breakdown of Federal Government budgets of $302b (N66.7t) budgeted and squandered in the past 16 years or since 2003 (2003- 2018). They are N1.44 trillion made in 2003; N1.18 trillion in 2004, N1.8 trillion in 2005, N1.9 trillion in 2006, N2.3 trillion in 2007, N3.58 trillion in 2008, N3.76 trillion in 2009, N4.6 trillion in 2010, N4.48 trillion in 2011, N4.7 trillion in 2012, N4.98 trillion in 2013, N4.92 trillion in 2014 and N4.5 trillion in 2015, supplementary budget of N575 billion in 2015; N6.07 trillion in 2016; N7.44t or $24.5b in 2017 and N8.6t or $28.1b proposed for 2018; totaling N66.7t or $302b (using official exchange rate of N305 per US$); with less than 30% budgeted for capital expenditures.
Borrowing to Become World Capital of Poverty
Also, by the recent findings of our organization, contained in our statement of 5thApril 2018; titled: other countries borrow to transform, Nigeria borrows to become world capital of poverty, Nigeria had again sunk itself into the pariah status of highly indebted poor country, by borrowing since its int’l debts exit in 2006, a total of over $55b. This is out of the country’s official total public debts of $71b or N22t as at 31st December 2017. Nigeria’s total official public borrowing as at June 2015 was $41b or N12.1t and between June 2015 and December 2017, the debts skyrocketed to $71b or N22t. As at June 2007, the country had a total debt overhang of N1.8t for its internal debts and $3.5b for its external debts; totaling about $16b.
In other words, total debts of $55b had been incurred by the country since June 2007 and in spite of this, there is little or nothing to show for the huge borrowings economically and developmentally. By the end of the 2018 fiscal year, the present central Government of Muhammadu Buhari must have incurred not less than $35b or N10.6t, using the present official exchange rate of N306 per USD.
Disastrous Effects of High Governance Costs on Funds Meant for Public Good in Nigeria
By the provisions of “Salaries & Allowances for Certain Top Public Office Holders Act of the Federation 2002 (amended in 2008)”; there are a total of 17,500 top public office holders in Nigeria, out of which are 1,083 statutorily recognized top elective and appointive public offices at the Federal level; comprising 469 federal legislators, 142 federal judicial officers or judges of the federal courts and 472 federal top executives including president and vice president and others not below the posts of special advisers.
At the State level, the Act recognizes 4,608 State executives, judicial officers and lawmakers including governors and deputy governors, speakers and deputy speakers. In others words, there are 1,152 State lawmakers, 2,664 State executives not below the posts of special advisers and 792 State judicial officers or judges of State courts. At the country’s 774 Local Government Areas (LGAs), the Act recognizes 11,788 top LGA office holders including 3,096 LGA executives and 8, 692 LGA councilors. The Act captures all the salaries and allowances of the said 17,500 top public office holders and mandates the country’s Revenue Mobilization, Allocation and Fiscal Commission as well as the Salaries & Wages Commission to ensure steady implementation, enforcement and compliance with its provisions.
By the recent report (February 2018) of the Federal Minister of Finance, Mrs. Kemi Adeosun, the total staff or public service strength of the Federal Government of Nigeria is 607, 843; comprising 291, 685 police officers and 316, 158 staff of 469 Ministries, Departments and Agencies or MDAs including 90,000 federal civil servants; 100, 822 members of paramilitary organizations (i.e. Custom, Prisons, Immigration, Security & Civil Defense Corps, Fire Service and Federal Road Safety Corps) and 120, 000 members of the Armed Forces (army, navy, air force, SSS and NIA).
This brings to 608, 926 the entire public service strength of the Federal Government when added to 1,083 federally elected and appointed top public office holders, clearly defined in the Remunerations or Salaries & Allowances of certain top Public Office Holders Act of 2002, amended in 2008. The 608,926 federal public servants strength was recently captured in the Government’s Integrated Payroll & Personnel Information System (IPPIS), in which 80,115 sworn police officers were questionably excluded.
In other words, public funds meant for public good in Nigeria are mindlessly pocketed annually by the above named 17,500 top public office holders and other 607, 843 public servants. These they do unchecked through open and codified corruption under several phony names such as security votes, running costs, logistical supports, sitting allowances, exco sitting allowances, legislative constituency projects, legislative financial autonomy, overhead costs, operational allowances, traveling allowances, allowances for medical trips/holidays, severance allowances, car allowances, newspaper allowances, wardrobe allowances, security guard allowances, house allowances, monetization, to mention but few.
Apart from hundreds of billions of naira spent on over-bloated governance running costs under different phony names, 90% of statutory remunerations paid to Nigeria’s public servants including the 607,843 federal public servants and the 17,500 top elected and appointed public office holders are spent on sundry allowances. This is majorly responsible for acute under-development of the country and social crises till date.
For instance, by the provisions of the said Remunerations for top Public Office Holders Act of 2002, amended in 2008, out of N40.9billion spent on 1,152 State legislators annually and as at 2013 (five years after the Act was reviewed), only N5.09billion was spent on their salaries, with N35.8billion going into their allowances. It is presently estimated that N1.5t or $5b is spent annually in Nigeria to service the country’s 17,500 top Public Office Holders. Also in the 2018 budget of N8.6t, the non debt servicing recurrent expenditures or funds set aside to service federal government including its statutory 1,083 office holders and 608,926 staff strength; amounted to N2, 005t or $6.5b.
Further, out of N550billion spent on 11, 278 elected LGA officials annually as at 2013, only N49.5billion was spent on their salaries while staggering N500.5billion went into their allowances; and out of N90billion (now increased to over N150b) spent on 469 federal legislators annually as at then, only N10billion was spent on their salaries. The worst of it is that members of the National Assembly and those of federal executive and judiciary as well as their counterparts in 36 States have since abandoned the said Remunerations Act and its provisions and resorted to use of federal and state appropriation laws and administrative others to jerk up their sundry allowances and hyper governance running costs.
The Nigerian Dream
It is an irrefutable fact that Nigeria as presently constituted and manned by its present crop of politicians or political actors and public office holders; largely drawn from doyens of corruption, heartless political mercantilists and profiteers of human misery and other unnatural social tragedies; is chronically baptized with hopelessness. That is to say that Nigeria of today has no worthwhile dream or vision. The Nigerian Dream is only possible if present members of the Nigerian Youth population could disconnect from the present status quo and chart a new course after dipping their mindsets and philosophical re-engineering or revivalism into the good ways of life of the people of the former generations who lived nobly within and beyond the shores of Nigeria.
Way Forward for the Nigerian Youths, the Oppressed & the Voiceless
It is the strong belief of this speaker that with the above facts laden explanations, the reasons and circumstances for continuation of oppression and denial of the rights and development of the youths, the oppressed and the voiceless in Nigeria by the country’s political class are no longer farfetched. This they do by mindlessly abandoning the very essence why civil or limited government was founded; especially the realization of and compliance with the Government’s sacred social contract obligations.
One striking way to truly evolve a New Nigerian Dream is for members of the Nigerian Youth population particularly their educated segment to a have a total disconnect from the present crop of political actors with the exception of very few achievers in the likes of former Governor of Anambra State, Mr. Peter Obi and his celebrated Obinomics, effectively deployed for massive development of Anambra State between 2006 and 2014.
There are also several safeguards or mechanisms available locally, nationally, regionally and internationally, put in place or created for the purpose of promoting and protecting the rights of the Nigerian youths and addressing or remedying the oppression and abuses of the rights and welfare of the oppressed and the voiceless. Aspiring for leadership positions; strictly for rendering selfless services to humanity and building a decent society for all and sundry; and not for primitive accumulation of ill-gotten wealth and perpetration of regime atrocities, is also one of such available solutions or way out.
Importantly, this public lecture is prepared to meet the requirements or satisfy the eight key features of intellectual or academic discourse, namely: debate, scholarship (i.e. literature, research and references), argument, criticism, analysis, evidence, objectivity and precision. Its references or citations are from findings contained in our recent researches and investigations on critical public issues including human rights, economy and public and citizens’ security and safety. For easy references, see the public advocacy section of our website on: www.intersociety-ng.org .
The Peoples’ Advocate Award
The Peoples’ Advocate Award, bestowed on this speaker on this date (8th June 2018) by Chairman, LAWSA Senate Committee on Judiciary, Human Rights & Legal Matters (Nwachukwu Timothy Chukwuma) and the Students Advocacy & Justice Network, on behalf of the Senate of the Law Students Association of Nnamdi Azikiwe University; is an award too many as well as a big encouragement for this speaker to double his efforts by continuing to speak out courageously and factually at all times and rendering of selfless services to humanity. Similar award of Defense of Human Rights Veteran Award was on Tuesday, 22ndJune 2012 bestowed on this speaker by the Law Students Association (LAWSA) of the Chukwuemeka Odumegwu Ojukwu State University, Igbariam, Anambra State, Nigeria.
(Being The Concluding Part Of The Public Lecture Presented On 8th June 2018 At A Conference, Tagged: The Nigerian Dream: Prospects & The Role Of The Youths; Held In Awka And Organized By The Senate Of The Law Students Association Of Nnamdi Azikiwe University, Awka, Anambra State, Nigeria)