Just some months ago, the man Lamido Sanusi, shared his deep sympathy for President Goodluck Jonathan, who he described as constantly swimming in a state of simplicity and personal goodness and who, on a deeper level, means well for our young democracy.
By virtue of the principles of national psychology, Lamido Sanusi , the former Nigerian Central Bank governor, now Emir of Kano, served as an unusual voice of Nigeria, at least by international and common sense ethical standards.
He will forever been known as the one who opened up on the gross financial corruption and recklessness in the Jonathan’s administration.
In his definition of Jonathan, he noted, “His greatest failing obviously is that he is surrounded by people who are extremely incompetent, who are extremely fraudulent and whom he trusts.”
Mr. President, you will always rewind back in your mind to the day you read or heard of Sanusi’s warning letter notifying you of financial wrongdoings, as in the missing oil revenue in the nation.
As you remember, Sanusi only had two months or so to the end of his tenure, and you, Mr. President, damned the Nigerian Constitutional rules regarding the removal of CBN governor and replaced him.
For whatever reason, looking back you will acknowledge he was only doing what you have said in the past needs to be done, which is bringing much-needed attention to corruption in public service.
It was not long ago that you stated to the country, “Let me continue to assure Nigerians that, yes, there are issues of corruption in this country but somehow it has been over-amplified, people should watch how we have been conducting government business. We have been bringing down the issues of corruption gradually.”
That was simply what Sanusi was doing on the issue of corruption in the Jonathan’s regime, for which it is increasingly apparent there is no real strategy to slow it down.
If truth be told, the correct and authentic whistleblower for the nation should be the governor of the Central Bank, as it was in the case of Sanusi, who was then in charge of the nation’s chief bank, and the chief adviser to the federal government on the financial health of the nation.
As the chief financial advisor in the government, he actually needed whistleblower protection from the President. Instead, Sanusi was harassed, victimized, shamed and violated of his fundamental human rights.
Sir, whether you accept this or not, this grave mistake of yours has resulted in an ethnic and politically-motivated divide, as the most powerful Northern leaders will either loudly or silently remain angry that you, President Jonathan, disrespected this man of theirs who, in spite of his personal shortcomings, will always remain a well-respected banker worldwide.
Common and powerful Northerners will always see him as a man who was victimized by a Southern Christian President for leaking news that billions of petrodollars are absent from the reserves of Nigeria, one of the biggest oil producers in the world, where poverty remains endemic, in the North especially.
Mr. President, as you remember, this is the man that has taken on powerful economic elements, political forces, and shady bank CEOs who stole billions. If truth be told, this is the man who revealed that dishonest bestowed interests were at the heart of almost 100 percent of the problems aggravating the nation which include the Islamic uprising in the northeast, deadly criminalities, religious strife, ethnic troubles, lack of jobs, poor education and sorry health care.
Sanusi once said, "We don't have development because vested interests continue to rape this country and take the money out, and the only way you're going to move from potential to reality is to stop preaching and ask yourself how can we overcome the fear of vested interests and how can we confront them."
Mr. President, as you prepare to tell the nation about your next quest for the coming presidential election, at a time when you are faced with multiple crises, Sanusi, the Emir of Kano, an area that is the second voting population to Lagos, cannot be undermined in terms of his influence in the entire North.
President Jonathan, it is not unusual for Presidents to bow before a King, as U S. President Barack Obama did before the Kings of Saudi Arabia and Japan, or as former Vice President Atiku Abubakar has done before King Sanusi. You, as the President for the whole nation, need to find your way into Emir Sanusi’s palace for some private talk.
As Chief Tony Anenih, chairman of the People’s Democratic Party Board of Trustees, recently reminded us, “The South-South has, in the past, played a unifying role among the various regions of the country. In the political history of Nigeria, the South-South has also been a close ally of the North. We have fought political battles together, contested elections on the same political platforms and formed alliances. We have given support to the North when it mattered most. The current situation, therefore, calls for reciprocity and co-operation. Nonetheless, in appealing to the conscience of Nigerians in the prevailing uncommon circumstance, we would claim our right, with dignity and determination, in the interest of our dear country.”
Mr. President, Sanusi remains a major center in the conscience of Nigerian northerners. Therefore, to think you can neglect him spiritually, traditionally and politically, is a grave mistake on your part, whether you decide to run or not, win or lose in the 2015 election.
Mr. President, it was not long ago the Emir, along with other northern traditional rulers visited you in the Presidential Villa in Abuja, so should you go for a special visit to see him, it is up to you whether you give a silent or loud bow to Emir Sanusi, something you may not be able to escape from once you are in his palace.
Sir, understand that this is not about the perception of superiority or inferiority, as the visit will openly display images of unity, harmony and interconnected ceremony for the sake of national solidarity.
QUARANTINE: AFTER HEATLTHCARE WORKERS BIO & NUCLEAR SCIENTISTS NEXT
Farouk Martins Aresa
What is the difference between Ebola treatment by physicians and nurses in Africa and United States? You can be isolated in New Jersey, United States in tents without running water or toilet until you ask for food. Even though most are asymptomatic and honorable to declare they have treated Ebola patients in Africa. So, a political quarantine not based on science or fact that will discourage other medical workers from going to the source of Ebola virus and stop it right there.
Quarantine is a necessary and legal way to protect the public. But when you merge cases of returning healthcare workers that are in perfectly good health, checked for self-monitoring at home; with those that honestly reported they have high temperature or fever and obviously symptomatic, we have gone beyond caution. Limited resources will be stretched and the public will be alarmed increasing fear and stigmatization of people that should be treated as heroes.
Hysteria by politicians is generating another set of stigma and outcasts for quarantine, worse than the myth about Ebola in Africa. It is the turn of healthcare workers coming from Africa after treating Ebola patients. Since two nurses already got infected inside U.S, all the doctors and nurses that treated Ebola patients, equally exposed could be quarantined too. The same justification can be used for physicians, bio and nuclear scientists working in United States.
After watching the nurses and the physicians that took care of Eric Thomas Duncan that died of Ebola virus, it will be graceless for anyone to even think they will expose anyone to the same disease if they are not quarantined. Yet they get to go home every day, aware of the risks by monitoring themselves in the proximity of their loved ones.
Nobody doubts the dangerous nature of bio hazard in the laboratory, yet workers go home every day to their families and they are free to move around in public. The same is true of nuclear scientists anywhere. Any mistake, even when we know it is not intentional, can put workers and their environment at deadly risk. We saw these in Russia and recently in Japan. In each case, those that risk their lives to put out fire knew their lives were shortened.
We must always err on the part of caution, in other words, it is better to make mistake on the part of caution. But we do that with the hope that a few people that are in perfectly good health will be detained for a few days, certainly not everybody or all health workers until it is proven otherwise. Such generalization is neither prudent nor makes scientific sense. Sometimes even reasonable men do disagree on complex issues, not on frivolous political gimmicks.
Center For Disease Control has to issue new guidelines to balance fear of Ebola with reality of science asking local health authorities to play the role of checking on returning healthcare workers on self monitoring. It reassures the public that they are not entirely left on their own while sparing them the humiliation and criminalization of New Jersey draconian order.
Politicians have blown Ebola hysteria out of proportion quoting extreme theories that Ebola virus can become airborne knowing full well that no virus has yet mutated, not to mention Ebola virus. Another politician dismissed the fact that one cannot catch Ebola on the subway or bus but could throw up on others. Those symptomatic would be too sick to get on. Just because cars are safe to drive does not mean if someone jumped in from of it, it would not kill.
There was a mishandling of bacteria, anthrax and small pox vials at Center for Disease Control, it was immediately corrected without any hysteria. Indeed, in cases like bio and nuclear risks to health, most people regardless of party or political ideologies come together looking for ways to contain the dangers. See here!
Politicians would say anything just to claim they are decisive and in charge even when their decisions are obviously flawed. Just to cast their opponents as in bad light. Other countries noted as Italy copied “controlled monitoring” for some landing United States military deployed to Liberia to build health centers, draw blood and ease infrastructure for healthcare workers.
Africa also has a stake in this because if the whole world is discouraged from traveling to Ebola endemic areas, especially those willing to risk their lives, only to come back home to assume the class and stigma of outcasts, we all lose. Science has taken a back seat to myths and fear about infectious diseases. In the case of the returning nurse detained in New Jersey before eventual release to her state, it was wrong headed and far from erring on the side of safety.
It cannot be emphasized enough that the way to contain such dangers is for the world scientists to come together and advise politicians on solutions. However, we have politicians that do not believe in science. Some claim guns do not kill; only people kill. A reason United States did not appoint Surgeon General who believe in gun control to direct Ebola policies. Some Think the world is flat or believe in creationism over evolution. Beliefs should not turn us into ideologues.
Cuba has to be praised in the effort to help Africa in this Ebola crisis. As always, they have sent doctors and nurses in greater proportion to their population, size and per capita income. They were there during the disaster in Haiti and even offered to help during Hurricane Katrina in United States. Politics and ideology prevented them from working during Hurricane Katrina rather than the qualification of their physicians.
Those going to Africa know the risks and they take every precaution to safeguard their health, they did not go on a suicide mission. The healthcare workers and the military that leave any country to go to Africa to stop any calamity there before it spreads to every part of the globe should be praised as heroes, not treated otherwise.
Anita Oyakhilome, the frustrated wife of Nigeria’s most flamboyant preacher, Chris Oyakhilome has obviously passed through 15 years of adulterous endurance and what she needs is our prayers and protective respect and defense of her choices to forget all the anti-rhapsody of heartbreak she endured all these years.
Americans stand more chances of dying from Flu, Avian or Enterovirus and even lightning than from Ebola. The fear is few might die from the public anxiety of Ebola than from the disease as Duncan’s U.S family proved healthy after 21 days quarantine. The risks are to close families and healthcare workers. Ebola has developed Avian virus flying wings in U.S.A political campaign far more than in Nigeria where parties united to conquer Ebola outbreak but fight for credit after.
An American citizen infected with Ebola virus flew from Liberian into Lagos airport where he was immediately noticed and taken straight to a private hospital. It was too late, resulting in the death of about eight of the twenty eventually infected. Most of who were doctors, nurses and aides. Nigerian became more vigilant but never closed its borders. Yet American politicians are pointing to few African countries closing borders to people of Liberia, Sierra Leone and Guinea.
The hysteria got louder after the second Ebola infection of another nurse as a result of Eric Tom Duncan death in United States Hospital. Africans must prepare for politicians to ban travelers to U.S from West Africa or Africa. To calm nerves, the good doctor Tom Freiden, Director of Center for Disease Control warned that we should learn from the fear of AIDS. Many in Public Health remember and understand exactly his concern as irrational behaviors prevented treatment.
President Obama decided to send troops to Africa to open 17 health centers, he was ridiculed in mid Sept for not sending troops to Iraq instead. Before Duncan came to U.S; Congresswoman Diana DeGette, called for a hearing before recess, she was ignored. As soon as hysteria replaced Ebola science, they jumped on it wondering aloud why Obama never acted earlier. See DeGette
If United States banned travelers from Africa, they cannot ban Americans traveling back and forth. Even if they ban Americans from coming back home from Africa, they cannot ban those in Africa that travel to other parts of the world before going home. If they locked up the borders, Americans will still travel out on business to other continents. The only option left is for other continents to isolate Africa. Even then, more deadly Flu or bird virus travels without passports.
Their hysteria has created myths equal to African superstitions about the Ebola disease. Cut and anxiety are championed by the same Party that cut NIH, CDC budget, deny the poor Obamacare. Our fear has to be measured so that we do not divert limited resources where there is no fact to substantiate the source of Ebola, to the detriment of other diseases for another alarm later.
Fear is not necessarily bad in itself because it alerts us to danger but we must be rational not to appeal to it and ignore our intellect. Extra precaution at the airports where most Africans get in would not have caught Duncan, it is only reassuring to prevent hysteria for political purpose.
Opportunistic politicians have ways of solving problem by banning them with a heavy slam the same way they criminalize little offences by three strikes. Banned AIDS patients, alcohol, close programs provided by government until they need government services. In United States, they shut down Government and asked poor Park Officer to be ashamed for closing Memorial Park.
We must heed Dr. Frieden advice. Indeed, the good doctor reinstated that the way to stop Ebola from coming to America is to stop it in Africa the same way Nigerians have stopped it in Lagos. In order not to resurrect the fear of AIDS and indifferent statements that stigmatized those that were infected then, other specialist had to come out and interpreted what the good doctor was “trying” to say. Many had said so including this writer: See his articles
It will be difficult if not impossible in this political climate in United States for African Ebola patients to seek treatment in the Country. All the medical scientists that have spoken out about the futility of banning flights from Africa have been labelled as Obama Administration stooges. Regardless of the facts that are presented by both international organizations and other world respected opinions including that of Dr. Piot of London School of Hygiene that discovered Ebola.
Germany has taken three Africans. One, a 56-year- Abdel Fadeel Mohammed Basheer Sudanese laboratory technician at the United Nations Mission in Liberia died at a hospital in Leipzig. The second patient is an Ugandan doctor that worked in West Africa for an Italian aid organization, still receives treatment at a hospital in Frankfurt. The third is a Senegalese man, worked for the World Health Organization, was treated in Hamburg and released. He has since returned home.
Healthcare workers on daily contact with Ebola patients are more at risk as demonstrated by two nurses on self-monitoring, diagnosed with Ebola virus in Texas, than the public. Even when the chances of a Dallas sheriff deputy who went to serve a quarantine notice in the apartment Eric Thomas stayed after he had been admitted in the hospital, of getting infected with Ebola infection was almost zero, caution had to be taken after he complained of stomach pain.
Nursing Association has come out to say the protective gear did not cover all parts of their body. No matter how we tried, human and yes, even medical experts might inadvertently get infected. In other words, these nurses could have been infected by anyone coming with a virus into United States through Europe, Asia or Australia. A ban against Africans coming from Africa could not have prevented it, including during the process of removing their protective gear.
Again, Duncan U.S family around him suggests it is hard to get Ebola: vindicating scientific facts. Infectious diseases have been taunted as a biological warfare. But chances are it will explode in terrorists faces first before it reaches the intended destination. Ebola use at USA borders is a new political hysteria. Politicians look for every opportunity to capitalize on fear into votes and blame government for the same problems they created by cutting funding.
Mr. President, right there in Abuja, and all over the nooks and corners of Nigeria, in the mornings especially, you see young men just sitting on the ground of Nigerian streets, seated under short trees, at the base of the trees, their legs stretched out in front of them ; or, at other times, laying on the bare ground with saws, axes or shovel by their sides, some barely managing to keep their eyes open, waiting to be picked for any kind—any kind-- of laborer’s work.
A closer and careful look at their helpless faces will show that they are, in reality, sincerely looking for honest work, and not waiting to be called to what former Chief of Defence Staff General Theophilus Danjuma called a Civil War, nor what Professor Wole Soyinka called a “revolt”.
Let us be clear. President Jonathan has never waged war against the North, but according to Danjuma, by way of a psychological quip or Freudian slip, he tells the Southerners to make no mistake; this is an ongoing five-year war, with enemies between the South and the North, period!
These young men with a show of fluctuating emotions behind their smiles of anger and frustration, on any given day, can be seen listening to their little radios with ethnic-sounding languages drumming into their ears, Northern-related worries, ranging from religious, governance, economic, power and politics, deprivation, health concerns and many others. Yes, they have heard complaints relating to Northerners’ concerns that it was their turn to rule. But this is not the immediate concern of these helpless young men. All they need and are asking for is the opportunity to work in order to meet their most basic needs for survival.
But these critical needs are not forthcoming, day after day, week after week, and month after month; so they inherently come to the point where they feed into the Northerner elites’ political concerns, and are forced to embrace messages of violence. With nothing to look forward to from the larger society, we make them into something they are not, extremist fighters.
If truth be told, the larger part of the North is statically an economic graveyard, with the rural areas full of pictures of miserable lives. In the north-eastern states in particular, the entire region is known for its deep economic wounds of insufficiency and poverty. The only thing that seems available is the Jonathan War, and many of these young men, on the basis of historical affinity, become open to recruitment into the Boko Haram flock.
Without their direct knowing, these young men, who have always been closer to the door of death, could now care less if their hands bring destruction and their plundering acts further aggravate poverty and pain in the North, as long as they themselves are no longer visibly idle and saddened by their former empty lives. They are now willing to die and take hundreds, if not thousands, with them, having been forced to come to grips with their long-standing reality of living in abject poverty.
If truth be told, Boko Haram intrinsically has never been about the creation of an Islamic state for the whole nation, as they know such theory in itself is sheer fantasy. In the same light, it is not about a negative view of Euro-American education, as the Northerners have always had a bi-learning approach to education in terms of English and Islamic education. Indeed, many have always had an open and a special heart for the great Islamic teachings as it relates to peace and humanness.
Nigeria remains a geographically complex place and the Nigerian security forces find themselves fighting a diffuse war with the Boko Haram who, in a crude manner, find themselves advantageously depending on poor electricity, poor and narrowed roads with hidden big holes, poorly maintained road paths, mosquito-infested environs, and snaked-filled forests to strengthen its stand against the modernized styles of the Nigerian security forces.
With the common knowledge that Nigerian security forces may never be backed by superior American war devices, the Boko Haram crowd and its sympathizers believe Nigeria is almost finished! But God forbid.
Mr. President, the irony here is that in 2010, the US designated the Boko Haram as a terrorist organization, amid concern that it had developed links with other militant groups, such as al-Qaeda. So why they are unwilling to deploy American troops or sell Nigeria weapons remains an open question. Could it be that there are bad insiders or secret sympathizers within the Nigerian security forces that are acting as watchful eyes for the Boko Haram, against the nation’s security agencies – the military, police and secret police known for their human rights incapacitations, deep corruption and ambiguous approach to the rule of law?
This civil war may continue for a very long time under the cloak of complicity at the uppermost levels of the Nigerian state and ruling elite who possibly take corrupt pleasure in allowing these killings for political reasons, especially in the run-up to the 2015 elections.
As the yet-to-be-recruited young Muslim Northerners continue to bear the consequences of living in the northeast environment, where 70 percent of people live on less than a dollar a day, and malnutrition and infrastructure difficulties remain the most severe, the President, who is a southern Christian, must now swiftly find a way to make the long standing injustice against the North reduce drastically. All these youngsters do not wish to maintain their current deadly and vicious extremist beliefs, thoughts and feeling but, instead, desire something personally beneficial to their lives. In general, they want to see a more equitable distribution of wealth and meaningful economic opportunity, just like in the South, where they have an opportunity to earn a fair livelihood.
As long as the North remains a region marked with a hopeless and helpless exploding youth population, the Jonathan War provoked by Northerners’ bitterness, fury, and wrath could exacerbate further and further with no quick end in sight. Let us hope this will not be the case.
Arabs want US boots to fight their fight. Vice-President Biden, despite his apology was right on. He understood there was no sure bet in sectarian civil war. He ridiculed the claims that Obama could have acted sooner by supplying arms to unreliable rebels in Syria that included ISIS. Those stinger missiles sought could have been used against American planes today.
If Saudi Arabia and other neighboring countries that were funding and arming the Sunni ISIL rebels in Syria did not realize fanatics are coming back to hunt their interest, who in America knows more? These are militias called moderates yesterday that have turned terrorists today. The best Arabs United States could arm were Iraqis that got trained, with the best American made arms; only to turn it over to ISIL since they were Sunni that Shiite Maliki marginalized.
Obama finds himself in the position of being criticized left, right and center. If Obama feels like everyone has turned against him. There is this consolation for Obama. Take heart, anti-War demonstrators are not out, yet. Even Americans that do not want boots on the ground, gives him little credit for his achievements. Criticism by Jimmy Carter hurts more because he thinks Obama waited too long to attack ISIS but agreed Americans boots should not put on the ground.
The only time people go to war is when we cannot resolve our differences. Conservatives create wars outside and breed more enemies in prisons than in school by oppression of minorities and some majority for Liberals to ameliorate. We resort to force short of exhausting our civilized manners and refused to appease or give a way out of any conflict. Conservatives everywhere are willing to humiliate and exaggerate their prowess on complex problem with simple answers.
Conservatives in the Middle East are no different to Conservatives in America. They both think they can achieve their goals by force. No matter how many times they have been proven wrong, they use force as easy solution to every problem if they cannot get their ways. Liberals clean up their mess after simple solution failed. Conservatives belief in religion is so strong, it’s the cause of mass destruction. They still think of Crusade or Jihad, Catholics or Protestants, Sunni or Shiite.
Shooting from the hip better than Obama’s deliberative and professorial skills on critical issues an albatross? He got chemicals out of Syria without firing shots, critics focused on imaginary red line both sides breached. He got Iraq Prime Minister Maliki to step down for alienating Sunni, a partner during the Surge. If you don’t turn off the gas the fire won’t stop. The same Turkey that wants Assad gone before their soldiers will protect their own border, now allows a base for US.
The koko of the matter as we say in my neck of the hood, is the historical division within Muslim sects. It is the Sunni versus the Shiite sect fighting for political power today. The old differences started with succession of Prophet Mohammed. Sunni wanted any competent leader but Shiite also wanted a competent direct line of the Prophet, son in law. Majority of Iraq as Shiite were ruled by minority Sunni, Hussein. But the majority of Syria is Sunni rule by Shiite affiliated Assad.
Since majority of Iran are Shiite and the majority in Saudi Arabia are Sunni, they varied support for those affiliated to their sects. The majority of world Muslims are Sunni, their affiliations spill out to other Muslims around the region and around the world. Complicating matters more, the Kurds a minority in Turkey are affiliated with their Kurds brothers in Syria. As Sunni ISIS fight Kurds in Syria, the Kurds in Turkey want to help. But Turkey sees Kurds and Assad as enemies.
Critics claimed if American troops were there, they could have made a difference. Apart from keeping American troops there in perpetuity, the maximum amount of American troops that could have stayed were not enough to prevent the ISIS take over with the support of Iraqi Sunni. Maliki revenged at Sunni backfired. Yet they continue to blame Obama for not using American blood everywhere when their interest is to defend and enjoy their country first.
Each time Britain declines U.S.A invitation to go to war after learning its lesson from Iraq War, America understands. Each time U.K Mr. Cameron echoed President Obama message on how to deal with ISIL, Americans critics praised him but deride their President. Any country or empire that does not pick and chose its fights and spread itself too thin will spend all its resources on wars. No matter how powerful a lion within hyenas, it will be bitten everywhere until it dies.
Leone Panetta, a former confidant and CIA Director of Obama came out to sell a book against a seating President. CIA officers too have a way of kicking back when they think they have been thrown under the bus by the President, but a Director book is huge. Central Intelligence Agency has lost its most important role in this former Director. This is worse. Another former Director J. Hoover that leaked secrets has turned in his grave when Panetta came out with a tell-all book.
There is a reason most presidents surround themselves with friends and distance themselves from their foes. It takes a courageous man at the top to surround himself with ambitious men and rivals. It has advantages and disadvantages. What is surprising here is that most people have described Obama as too eager to compromise and too quick to let opponents know his stand on issue. It must have been difficult for those critiquing him today to find him resolute.
He was elected precisely because he was against the War. They make Obama look as highly stubborn on this position and principled on historical facts, even after listening to everybody. If he had taken their advice, Americans would be in Libya that spilled to Northern Nigeria as Boko Haram, into Yemen, Iraq, Iran and Syria. Sen. McCain has never seen a war he did not want to fight and he would have gone to Nigeria. See Krugman: Obama a More Consequential President.
Mr. President, like State universities, let’s empower State government to run and even establish Penal and Correctional Institutions within their jurisdictions in order to overhaul the Nigerian Prisons System, which has failed woefully in some of its core mandates of reformation, rehabilitation and re-integration of ex-convicts back to the society.
The authorities of Nigerian Prisons Service past and present have laid greater emphasis on safe custody of inmates, which in many instances is not even in line with the United Nations Standard Minimum Rule in the treatment of offenders (UNSMR) and other international best practices.
The Nigerian government has on, many occasions, set up a Prison Reforms Committee through presidential commissions in an attempt to improve standards and conditions of the prisons throughout the nation. Nigeria, because of its federal system of imprisonment, finds its system of monitoring prison costs, conditions and the treatment of prisoners an almost unmanageable task.
At the time of writing this, the Nigerian Prisons Service is awaiting a substantive new Controller General, given the recent retirement of Mr. Zakari O. Ibrahim.
The Nigerian Prisons Service is by law under the supervision and control of the Federal Ministry of the Interior and Civil Defense, Fire, Immigration and Prisons Services Board (CDFIPB), and, as such, no State government has the independent power to run, maintain or supervise the over 238 prisons across the nation. No state equally has the power to establish any form of correctional institution, as penal-related matters are still in the exclusive list of the Laws of the Federation. But the irony is that while the federal government possesses and controls prisons, detainees and convicts come mainly from state courts.
Across the nation, arrested, detained or convicted persons pour into various prisons by the order of State-based magistrate courts, high courts, sharia courts, and others which include federally run courts.
Given the significant influence of States in terms of intake into our prisons, why not allow for decentralization of prisons and allow each State to run them in terms of administrative management and financial operation, just like State-owned universities? Like the State universities, prisons could still get federal account and logistic support.
Since these prisons are directly under the nose of State governments, like State universities, each State should develop objective standards in line with federal penal standards to measure and assess the internal workings and conditions of each prison as they relate to staffing, crowding issues, food rations, sanitation, recreational access, disease control, interstate relations, as well as in the areas of courts’ case dispositions, and rehabilitation and training of inmates especially.
With prisons and borstals or juvenile delinquent institutions located directly under the breadth of the Governors and State governments, inmates, committed kids, and adult convicts are more likely to benefit directly from local governments in each State, as these municipalities can come together to help define and develop policies as they relate to preventive and remedial options, like poverty reduction programs, agricultural centers, vocational schemes, and other rehabilitative projects.
With States being in charge of prisons’ cost of operation, expenses could be reduced more adequately by way of using trained inmates in various vocations and positioning them across various localities, thereby helping to yield more income for local governments in different States.
State management of prisons will better allow for orderly, efficient and effective administration of prisons, in terms of coordination and productivity in line with federal guidelines, and the processing of detainees and inmates.
For those States that are fully in compliance, they will get federal accreditation proficiency in the security and care of detainees and inmates, and for the adequate maintenance of physical facilities and delivery of a quality penal system.
The State prisons could form partnerships with future designated federal prisons for the purpose of a balanced line of interrelations and co-coordination of developments among all prisons in Nigeria.
The recent disclosure that inmates of Nigerian prisons are fed on contractor-supplied food of N200 only per day (inclusive of VAT) is another clear indication why each State should handle issues like feeding costs, as they could make direct subsidies in the area of food and other related areas.
Along these lines, State hospitals and other health care centers will be of direct aid to medical and mental health services in prisons by forming partnerships which will ensure more than adequate services for inmates, who will have special units created for them in State medical centers for the safety and security of the general populations.
In the same vein, this working collaboration will help supplement the inadequate number of mental health professionals like psychiatrists, clinical psychologists and psychiatric nurses within Nigerian prison system now.
In addition to the need for State run prisons, it is time the nation understands that we need to consider creating a jail system within the penal system. Jails will serve as holding places for people awaiting trial, persons sentenced for a short duration, typically less than a year; this will leave prisons to remain as places of long-term confinement for those convicted of serious crimes.
The Nigerian population is on the increase and its relationship with prisons and their populations cannot be stressed enough. Therefore, all the observations raised here cannot equally be stressed enough, especially in regard to our emerging presidential system of democracy, where the balance of Federal and States’ powers, in terms of prison management, becomes all too important.
By so doing, delivery of correctional services in Nigeria will be properly keyed into the transformational agenda of the current administration at the federal level.
This question is as much difficult as it is easy to answer. From the onset, I will offer my candid answer to be no in the strongest term and yes in the affirmative tone. Then, I will take the rest of my available time to elucidate my double stand with enough points. And as a strong believer in fate and man’s disposition in shaping his or her fate, the way is clearing for Jonathan to govern Nigeria till 2019 and probably beyond. Why not, he has achieved the primary assignment for which he was elected in his first term. So, he needs at least another four years to accomplish the secondary assignment for which he will be elected as the longest serving democratically elected president of Nigeria. The making of this history must not be truncated. Is there any Nigerian who can stop this moving train? At least for now, as many of my colleagues in my village and in Abuja, I have not seen.
A few months ago when the news broke that the then FCT Compol’s attempt to intimidate the rule of law by clamping down on peaceful assemblies and protest was over-ruled by the police high command, I was so elated that on my Facebook wall I posted inter-alia:
“I was beginning to imagine what message Abuja Police Commissioner, Joseph Mbu was sending to both Nigerians and the international community when I got the relieving news that the Nigeria Police High Command has over-rule the erratic Commissioner. Compol Mbu, as many will remember “cut his political teeth” as a partisan Police Boss in Rivers State when he challenged the incumbent Governor of the State as to who between both of them was the man in charge. To many onlookers, this was most unprofessional and he ought to have been disciplined by the Inspector-General. But the Police High Command knew better as he was moved to the Abuja Command as the Commissioner of Police”
“His recent attempt to ridicule the image of the Police and the federal government with his unilateral ban on peaceful demonstrations in the FCT, once again recalls to mind that the man has a tendency to operate outside the rules of the game. Such tendencies which are governed by urge to appease one’s personal clientele needs, rather than the institution one represents tend to cast aspersion on the image of the institutions. It was a wholesale resort to the bravura and unprofessionalism of his days in Rivers State”
“This is where, we must appreciate the wisdom and “stick-to-rule-of-professionalism displayed by the Inspector-General of Police, Muhammed Abubakar, the Police High Command and the professional manner the Force Public Relations Officer, Frank Mba handled the matter in the media. I, for one, remains very proud of this detour in old standards; a situation where futile attempts to rationalise such unprofessional conducts was the rule in the past. It shows that a new lease of life, ethics and professionalism is taking root in the force. I say bravo, well-done to our Nigeria Police!”
This short congratulatory message titled “Bravo Nigeria Police, Well-done” was made public on my Facebook wall and tagged to the Police High Command through the former Police Public Relations Officer, the enigmatic and love-able Frank Mba. However, recent statements credited to the now elevated Mr Mbu as par his tenure in Rivers State coupled with his solo “intimidate-the-media campaign” which led to the arrest of one of our colleagues, Amaechi Anakwe of DAAR Communications Media Group, has opened up a space, once more, to appraise the man and the institution he represents. In doing this, three parameters will be used, viz; (a) what is a constituted authority, (b) the role of the police force viz-avis a constituted authority and (c) the role of the Police High Command in discipline and appraisal of its men.
The Merriam-Webster dictionary defines authority as “persons in command” Following from this, a constituted authority in a democracy is a group or collection of persons elected to command the art of governance by administering the dictates of government. In political science, constituted authorities are the Executive, the Legislature and the Judicature. These three are a desideratum in any civil authority, and giving teeth to the constitutionalism of its imperativeness, a constituted authority or government has at its behest the coercive instrumentalities of an armed force to defend its territorial integrity and a police force to deal with internal insurrection or nihilism. The sacredness of a constituted authority or government is so highly prized that even Armed Forces with all their sophisticated weapons are by law made subservient to the civil order!
Its tenure is guaranteed by the constitution that vests the power of removal on the electorates with whom resides the sovereign will to retain or terminate a government. Certain constituted authorities may also derive their legitimacy to exert obedience through the notion of delegated responsibility by which case such institutions act as subsidiaries of the delegating superior authority or government. Even as with a government, the police force must be answerable to such institutions. The importance of this provisional requirement for any discipline police force and the inviolability of the power of civil authority must have given popularity to the saying that “the worst civilian government is better than the best military regime”; military regime in this wise defined as any usurper force other than a constitutionally and legitimately recognized power to do this!
The role of the Police Force in Nigeria derives from the Third Schedule of the 1999 Constitution as Amended. The main function of the police is to ensure obedience to constituted authorities and to protect against any form of internal breakdown of law and order. In other words, the police force is that body that coerces or exerts obedience and respect of the populace to all constituted authorities in a state. An important provision of the Nigerian constitution worth mention here is the seemingly quasi-federal provision that places the police in the Excusive List. This has been misinterpreted by over-zealous police officers to mean that they are federal agents in the state. Such officers have now and again treated State Chief Executives as enemies of the Central Government, especially if they belong to different political parties. Sadly, however, that cannot be the import of the writers of the constitution as we observe that we cannot read that section without considering the spirit of the law that vested the Chief Executive or Governor as the Chief Security Officer of the state and his pre-eminence and precedence of place over security matters in the state. The State Commissioner of Police and Heads of other security agencies usually act as members of this Security Council presided by the governor.
Deriving therefore from the spirit of the constitution, it can be argued that acts of disobedience as perpetuated by the ex-Compol during his tenure in Rivers State be likened to an attempted coup against a legally constituted authority, the government of Rotimi Ameachi! If it is unimaginable that a Military Commander disobey the directives of an appointed Federal Minister of Defence, let alone the President, it is no less a grievous aberration that a police officer at the State Command dare to raise his voice against an elected Governor of a federating state.
This is where Joseph Mbu’s a recent press statement where he labels himself as the Lion that tamed a Leopard, Governor Amaechi, relays a suspicion that he was on a special assignment which he obediently accomplished and for which he was rewarded with an elevation to the enviable rank of Assistant Inspector-General of Police. Seeing that this was the general opinion which is why the media has lately made headlines of the development, one is wont to imagine a curious beatification of the impunities of a serving police officer by the Police Service Commission and a clear message to the rank and file that the police are only friends to the political party in power at the Federal level. This is a dangerous conundrum as we approach general elections in 2015. More agitating is that ours is a gradual evolution towards democratic credentials of world best standards. It must not be discontinued or truncated by over-zealous operatives who place loyalty to political office holders higher than loyalty to the State.
It will be recalled that a similar situation played out during the Shehu Shagari administration where the then Inspector-General of Police presided over a police force with an image that became publicly acknowledged as the “kill and go squad”. That force did not only brutalised members of the public who were not sympathetic to the ruling party but grew in audacity to challenging state governors, incidentally too, there was an instance in Rivers State. This trend provoked what is today, the enduring calls for the establishment state police force as in true federalism. There is no doubt that somehow, someday, the ignoble role of the then police force in the fall of the First and Second Republics will be documented for better appraisal.
In all these however, Nigerians can still count on the Police Service Commission to ensure that controversial police officers with a tendency to disobey constituted authorities are weeded out of the force as soon as they manifest such tendencies. The Police Command under the immediate past Inspector-General demonstrated that commitment to professionalism, when Joseph Mbu’s attempt to play to the gallery by stopping the “Bring Back Our Girls Campaign”, as well as muzzle freedom of association within the FCT was nullified in its wake. Yet, it’s better late than never!
Available evidence and track record of professionalism indicates that the Acting Inspector-General, Mr Suleiman Abba, has the equanimity of purpose, zeal and love of the nation to reorganize, build upon and leave behind him a better and more discipline force than he met to reinforce our democratic structures as we enter into another general election year in just two months away. Having reach the peak of his professional career, the new IGP owes himself and posterity the right of first refusal to be remembered in the annals of the villainous. The Nigerian Police of our dream must be a force of the people, for the people and loved by the people. Herein lies an effective Police force. IGP Suleiman Abba also owes Nigeria and Nigerians this duty!
Mallam Oyakhamoh Carl Abu’Bakar
Lagos Bureau Chief.
He is said to be the sixth richest President in Africa, allegedly with an estimated wealth of 100 million US dollars approximately N16.4bn. Even if I think he may even be far richer, yet there are those who had tried in the past to portray President Goodluck Ebele Jonathan as a clueless person. I must confess that I used to be in that club but I now know that we were mistaken. The Otueke-born politician is nothing near a clueless person. He may not be your example of an exposed leader. He may not be gifted with charisma of a leader of his stature. He may have less convincing oratory skills, coupled with pronunciation deficiencies. He may actually be running a clueless government but he is not a clueless person. I have discovered that whatever he wants to do, he manages to do them. Whatever remains undone therefore is not his priority. Behind that humane face with a hanging smile is a calm, crafty but calculated; unrelenting, resolute and sometimes ruthless individual. Those who know him better that I can confirm that he is a good listener. He will always listen to you even when he has long made up his mind on the subject!
Can you recall that when he finished making use of Bamanga Tukur as the national chairman of the Peoples Democratic Party and it was time to drop him? Despite the initial denials and the last minute desperation on the side of Tukur to save himself, the President went ahead with his plans. Do you remember when the President made up his mind about the former Governor of Adamawa State Murtala Nyako. He was said to have allegedly mobilised all the resources necessary and ensured that he was impeached. Many people tried to intervene but he did not budge until the governor was removed. Did you notice how relenting he was on Nasarawa State matter before fate saved that governor?
Have you forgotten what transpired at the Nigerian Governors’ Forum? It was reported that the President’s squad had a definite instruction to vote against Governor Rotimi Amaechi. For Dr. Ebele Jonathan, it was a payback time and he is not a man who will fail to collect a pound of flesh whenever he gets the opportunity. When the coup to topple Amaechi failed, the President and his men could not concede defeat. They went ahead to form a parallel faction to whittle down the power of the forum. Their action attracted wide condemnation from Nigerians far and wide but the President turned a blind eye to all that. How will you call that kind of person clueless?
The lingering crisis in Rivers State is the one Nigerians are very familiar with. From the crisis in the state House of Assembly to the failed impeachment; from the crisis in Obio Akpor Local Government to the crisis in the state judiciary; from the confiscation of the aircraft to the nuisance of the Commissioner of Police – all those happened in a country and there was no single statement from the President of the country. Some observers even insist that only one man could have covertly or overtly sanctioned those illegal actions. All fingers allegedly point to Dr. Jonathan.
Those who are close to President Jonathan know him as a very vindictive person. In fact there is a story about one gentleman who used to give Dr. Jonathan tough time during their secondary school days who later became a permanent secretary. It was alleged that when the President became a governor of Bayelsa State, he quickly posted the man out of Yenagoa to a rural risky riverine community where he needed to go to work by boat. It was said to be in retaliation to the beatings he received from that man during their school days. Those who are familiar with politics in the Niger Delta region insist that Dr. Jonathan prepared a script of dealing with most Niger Delta governors including Amaechi for supporting his ascension to President reluctantly. He kept it under his chest and waited for an opportunity. Only Chief Timpre Sylva fell into that trap. You remember that he went to court to seek the shift of the date of his election. Remember that Governor Amaechi was a party to that litigation initially before his lawyers advised him to withdraw. Somehow they counselled that it would be best to contest election at the same time with President Jonathan, that way he will be too distracted to interfere. So Amaechi withdrew from the case but Sylva continued and now had to contest his election on a later date. That was his most fatal error as that gave the President an opportunity to frustrate him out of the contest. However some people still believe that it was greed that misled the former Bayelsa governor because he was looking at the additional monies that would have been allocated to his state. Essentially while looking at a few months extension, he lost four years. The script for his removal was allegedly written in the Presidency and it was reported that President Jonathan got the then party acting national chairman, Dr. Kawu Baraje, to swear that he will not buckle regardless of pressure.
One final thing. Have you tried to find out why someone like the former Managing Director of Niger Delta Development Commission, Mr. Timi Alaibe, is not featuring prominently in this administration regardless of his demonstrated political sagacity? You may have forgotten that Timi used to be one of the strongest politicians in Bayelsa State at some point. He was the man that gave President Jonathan tough time as a governorship aspirant and almost displaced him. It took the intervention of former President Olusegun Obasanjo who re-appointed Alaibe back to the NDDC. Even at that, they shared all the political positions on a 60:40 basis. Those are all in the past now. The former governor has now risen to the peak of his political career by becoming the most powerful person in the country. However by his action you will know that he has not forgotten that political torture nor has he forgiven.
I can give you many more examples about actions that could easily give insight into the political character and personality of our President. That is why I will be cautious to join the bandwagon of those branding such a man as clueless. He might not care much about Nigerians and our welfare. He might not give a damn about anti-corruption campaign. He might not connect passionately with the fact that those young girls of Chibok are still in captivity. Certainly he has many clues but he may not be interested in deploying the clues to make Nigeria a better country.
Culled from The Punch