Friday, 6 December 2013

Who Really Wants A Great Nigeria? : Beyond Those "Facts"

It would be prosaic to start listing all the woes Nigeria and Nigerians face. It is common knowledge that our condition today as a Nation is not much different from what it used to be under Military Rule and I am not trying to water down the benefits of having adopted democracy... at least, with their rights to freedom of speech, Nigerians can now "talk" and "write" about their predicaments unlike before. Be rather particular about the words "talk" and "write" because that is all we do...loads of free verbal and written words with absolutely no action.

Most painfully, these verbal and written words have only repeated what we already know but in varying extents without offering solutions. In her poorly state, Nigeria has become an object of ridicule and cheap self-publicity as citizens and foreigners alike narrate to all who care to listen how bad the country has become and often with "facts" that border on the ridiculous. For instance is Kola Olaosebikan- a Nigerian lady apparently staying in the United States of America-who uploaded a video on YouTube which can be found here. In this video that she titled “The only circumstance under which I will (happily) move home to Nigeria", Kola spent approximately 7 minutes castigating Nigeria and stating reasons (backed up with "facts") why she would never return to the Country. Amongst Kola's facts were that Nigeria paid $500,000 to invite Kim Kardeshian and yet cannot afford female education and that the USA sends Nigeria 30 Billion Dollars every year/millions of dollars everyday which the government squanders. She also went as far as saying that she does not need to play a part in bringing about the desired change in Nigeria, as there are people who can do so and that until that is done, she would sit back in the United States of America, enjoy her Starbucks coffee and 'Rep' Nigeria from afar. In the entire video, Kola never uttered a word of advice or suggestion as to how Nigeria can be made better. I have never in my life met such colossal idiot. I call her an idiot with no offence intended...yeah, calling Bingo a dog is not an insult.

To the Nigerian youth, it is now cliché to narrate how and why Nigeria -your Country- isn't what you would want her to be. To be honest, I am deeply sorry for all the pains you have suffered; I am sorry that you have been forced to fend for yourselves in the most degrading, dehumanising ways; I am sorry that you have become today's weapons of destruction instead of tomorrow's leaders; I am sorry that you cannot afford proper education...not just because it is expensive but because it lacks quality; I am sorry that you are unemployed after years of toiling through school; I am sorry that in your own country, less qualified foreigners are worshipped and accorded those privileges which you can only dream of; I am sorry that the Government has no short or long-term plans for you; I am sorry that the people you call leaders are extremely corrupt and have kept looting public funds in the most blatant of ways...and above all, I am deeply sorry that this would continue indefinitely until you decide that you have had enough.

The sad truth is that no matter how you complain about the poor situation of things and the excesses of the Nigerian Government, nothing would change. These our so-called leaders hear all you say but they, as always, are steps ahead of the game. They know with experience that no matter what they do and no matter how heated the polity might appear...they would always get away with it. It seems distant now when "oil cabals" were buzzwords in Nigeria and Nigerians were almost catching and prosecuting them- till date, these cabals receive allocations through their companies even though they have been found to defraud the government. Think of the call for the sack of Deziani Alison-Madueke after a rather embarrassing show at the House of Senate; think of Obasanjo and the power sector; think of Elumelu's probe of that same sector...there are loads and loads of instances. Just few weeks ago, Nigerians wanted Odua sacked and prosecuted; a lot were written and said about her...but as usual, it has almost been forgotten and she remains your Minister. And yes, this trend shall continue.

Napoleon Bonaparte said that "the world suffers a lot. Not because of the violence of bad people, but because of the silence of good people". I would want to further enrich this saying to read "The world suffers lot. Not because of the violence of bad people, but because of the inaction of good people".  The reason being that speaking against violence, corruption and other criminal offences has seldom brought changes, whereas acting against them has. This explains why we have the paramilitary outfits that supposedly fight crime even though there are clergymen who speak against crimes.  Knowing and acknowledging that there is a problem has never solved that problem; taking appropriate actions has... but who will bell the cat?

Who will bell the cat? The Nigerian Diaspora?

Man is all about survival...in fact, survival is the prime directive as encoded in our DNA and as such everyone is on the look-out for and on the move to greener pastures. With little or nothing being green about Nigeria at the moment, Nigerians are trooping to other countries and in their numbers.

South Africa, Ghana, Malaysia, Canada, the United Kingdom and United States of America amongst others are choice destination for Nigerians who mainly move "temporarily" for academic purposes or permanently to live and work is such countries. It is also observable that it is usually the Nigerian Diaspora that speaks out against the corruption and excesses of the government and this can be attributed to the fact that they presently live in countries where things work.

You hear them say things like "...it is soooo wrong! You can never do such in America" as they compare what is obtainable in Nigeria with that in their host countries. But it always ends there; they draw attention to themselves, maybe leave some Nigerians back home in awe...and that is it...the problem continues.

Sometime ago, I journeyed by road to Owerri from Lagos via ABC. The coach on which we were to travel arrived later than expected and a certain lady kept shouting about how she had just returned from the UK and how such lateness would not be tolerated if it were in the UK as she threatened to sue the company. We eventually left and in Benin we stopped to rest. This UK lady bought groundnuts in a breakable bottle and she was told by another passenger that she would not be allowed to take the bottle aboard the coach; and she decided to conceal the bottle in polythene bags. As we were boarding the coach to continue with our journey; a routine frisking of passengers was initiated but this UK lady objected to being frisked, thereby causing some unnecessary ruckus. At this point I was so mad that I walked up to her and said "In Lagos, you were making a whole lot of noise about returning from the UK and about the coach arriving later than scheduled...which you claimed would never happen in the UK. On getting to Benin, you were informed that breakable bottles are not allowed on board yet you tried to sneak one in; in the UK would you do that? For over 10 minutes you have refused the company staff to frisk you as is required to ensure safety and security of passengers...in the UK would you refuse?". That left her red-faced.

It would soon be Christmas and they would soon visit Nigeria to mesmerise you. You sing and they go "in the UK, you dare not sing and disturb your neighbours"; you snore and they go "in the US, you can get sued for snoring and disturbing someone else"...but turn your back and they would litter the streets; jump traffic lights and do all sorts of things they would not dare in their US or UK. 

My point is, I do not have anything against people leaving Nigeria in the search of greener pastures; but since you have bolted and sure have no active role to play in bringing about a new Nigeria...please shut your mouth and quit complaining; enjoy the sweat and labour of another country’s heroes past and remain as insignificant as you presently are. We need people who would bell the cat and you are not one of them...capisce?

Who will bell the cat? Nigerians within?

We readily compare Nigeria with other countries forgetting our peculiarity in demography and culture. This comparison and benchmarking, especially with the US and UK as model countries, are also the reason certain policies and systems have failed to work here even though they have been successful elsewhere. There are basically 2 schools of thought in this comparison issue:
  • That Nigeria, following tried and tested systems in existence in the US and UK, would succeed if only the government is honest.
  • That Nigeria, following tried and tested systems in existence in the US and UK, would succeed but would need time as we are only 53 years old and 14 years into democracy as against England which is over a thousand years old and had practised democracy for 798 years and USA which is 237 years and has practised and perfected democracy since independence in 1776.

I, however, am of a different school of thought and I believe that:
  • Nigeria needs its own style of governance and policies, obviously rooted in democracy but grown to meet our peculiar needs, challenges and culture. I do see time as an important factor in perfecting a working system but not in making workable a system which is already doomed to fail.

The system by which we practice democracy has actually been retrogressive; never mind all the peripheral accordances which serve as nothing but illusions. The Failed State Index (FSI) which was instituted in 2005 ranked Nigeria 54th with a total FSI of 84.3; in 2006 it climbed up to 94.4; in 2007 - 95.6; in 2008 - 95.7; in 2009 - 99.8; in 2010 - 100.2; in 2011 - 99.1 14; in 2012 - 101.1 14 and in 2013 -100.7. Out of 178 countries being ranked by the FSI, Nigeria is presently the 16th most likely Country to fail and sits in the danger zone. Suggestions as to what policies and style of governance Nigeria needs would be another topic for discussion.

To give you an idea of how the FSI works, 12 indicators that culminate to a failed state are rated on a scale of 0 to 10 where 0 represents maximum stability and 10 represent maximum instability. These indicators are: mounting demographic pressures; massive movement of refuges or internally displaced persons; vengeance-seeking group grievance; chronic and sustained human flight; uneven economic development; poverty, sharp or severe economic decline; legitimacy of the state; progressive deterioration of public services; violation of human rights and rule of law; security apparatus, rise of factionalised elites and intervention of external actors. A country's FSI is calculated by summing up its score in each of these indicators. The higher the FSI, the closer the country is to a failed state and the maximum FSI is 120. Visit here for a look at FSI.

Having said this, the model countries we all look up to once had their trying moments and still do have their fair share of issues in the modern day world. But they were and are still able to overcome these trying moments through the efforts of patriotic citizens who refused to abandon their then-ailing countries; who moved beyond daily complaints; moved beyond mere anger and embraced actions that resulted and continue to result to positive changes.

If one considers that the Nigerian Diaspora is estimated to be 17 million and that 1 out of 6 blacks in the world is a Nigerian; it then becomes obvious how much Nigerians tend to flee the country. Most of our youths - the expected leaders of tomorrow - are struggling to leave Nigeria on a daily basis and most times for good. I would not be surprised if it happens that Nigeria's Madiba is somewhere in the UK making a living out one menial job or the other. 

Like I said initially; I have no issue with Nigerians looking elsewhere for opportunities that Nigeria cannot offer them; but on the flip-side, I am looking at the opportunity cost of the massive emigration. Usually, when young Nigerians travel to developed countries; especially for education, they see how things are and should be done; get exposed to good governance and effective systems; compare what they currently experience to what they were used to in Nigeria; get angry with how things are done in Nigeria; shout and write about how stupid Nigerians and their government are; have various light-bulb moments on how they can change Nigeria but, ironically, they end up doing everything and anything within their power never to go back to Nigeria. They usually return to Nigeria to retire or to be buried after having spent their productive years abroad.

I make bold to say that Nigeria stands a greater chance of survival if the exposed Nigerian Diaspora return and put their hands on the plough and if Nigerians in Nigeria become more patriotic, demand and fight for a Nigeria that would rival the Western countries. I am not saying we do not have exposed Nigerians at home...but the question is: are their hands on the plough? Between 1983 and 1985, amidst severe drought and economic challenges in Ghana, Nigeria deported 1.3 million Ghanaians in the ill famed “Ghana must go” saga - an unwitting favour as it turned out to be. Fast forward to this day, Ghana has become one of the sought destinations by Nigerians for education, jobs and leisure. Ghana has also become attractive to firms who can no longer bear the harsh business environment that exists in Nigeria and we have seen a movement of such firms to Ghana, loss of thousands of jobs and the resultant increase in the level of unemployment in Nigeria. It will not be out of place to say that Ghanaians were not only forced home; they were taught that no matter where they go and how good their host destination is, home is home and should be taken care of. Result? The modern day Ghana with a Failed State Index of 69.1 and ranking the 110th country out of 178 with a chance of failing.

Ever asked what would have become of South Africa, if Nelson Dalibunga Madiba Mandela (May his soul RIP) chose to leave the then apartheid-ridden country? Or if he only 'dwelt on and spoke of facts' about how the white minority oppressed the black majority without any meaningful 'effort' to bring about change?

I keep being asked if I intend staying back in the United Kingdom after my research but I am always quick to point out that though it appears tempting-given the opportunities present-my country needs me and I would do my best to bring about meaningful change. Nigeria needs me in my productive state and not as an inert retiree or a corpse.

It takes a man to bring about change, think Madiba; it takes you to get it started, think Malala; it must not have to be the next man, think Martin Luther King. I therefore call on the Nigerian youths, wherever you may be, it is high time we acted; it is high time we planned ahead. No matter what our present leaders think and do today; the responsibility of building a great Nigeria is ours. Granted that you know what our present leaders have done wrong; but if you are given the opportunity to govern Nigeria today, would you know the right things to do?

I would welcome and discuss ideas on how to shape this country for the better and would wholeheartedly align myself with like minds.

Arise! Oh Compatriots...put your hands on the plough and let’s genuinely make Nigeria a giant.

The Oracle has spoken!!

Friday, 15 November 2013

Fix It or Let It Break: A Country Named NIGERIA

An article by Chikezie Nwaoha from Bangkok (chikezie.n@student.chula.ac.th)

Alone with my thoughts about my country, I became poised to put down a few lines and issues bothering over 160 million people with diversity in culture, religion etc, but enveloped under same struggle and challenges. I don’t know where to actually start, but a word begins a sentence, and a sentence begins a paragraph. Let me start from here:

My humble question to most of those people abusing ASUU for extending their executive meeting,  please 'if Prof. Iyayi was your father and bread winner of your family', what do you suggest should happen?. Secondly, we should learn to tackle issues using 'root cause analysis'. As a reference, if you have headache please don’t just take paracetamol alone, but go and find out what actually caused the headache and treat it accordingly. It’s time for the students to rise against this insanity and impunity from our so called governors, elected officers in several political offices etc. Issues like this should be used to correct some anomalies in the already decayed system. That was how the uprising started in some countries. Today, an average Nigerian wants to leave the country, but have we ever bothered to ask ourselves, how did most of these countries we want relocate to fix their country?

How much in trillions of naira was used to bail out some banks? After all that expenditure how healthy are the so called banks now? 2 billion naira got missing at NSPMC, what else have you heard about it.

How much in hundreds of billion naira that NNPC cannot account for, on an annual basis. Same thing goes to the SURE-P and all the parastetals under the federal goverment (dont forget Maina and Yusufu). At intervals the federal government sack top officials of NNPC on account of mismanagement of funds etc Please after the sack, what happens to the said mismanaged funds? So, it’s now a case of loot, get sacked, and you are free. What a story to tell.

$16 billion was said to be invested in the power sector during the Obasanjo era, how is the sector now? Yet people praise and laud him as an elder statesman. I'm yet to come to terms the yardstick for categorizing someone as an elder statesman. I stand to be educated here please. ..

Several hundreds of billion naira was used to launch the so called satellites in the space. Please, how is the internet and online services now? So embarrassing that a previously launched satellite (Nigcomsat) got missing in the orbit, after spending 40 billion naira. That’s a world record of fraud!

A complete vessel got lost in the shores of Nigeria, how possible is that? Even movie directors can't think of doing such in a movie. Did it enter the Bermuda triangle?

Several billions of naira have continued to be invested and siphoned to train the so called militants. The question is, is that the problem of Niger Delta? How does that affect the environmental, economic, social and health impact of oil and gas activities in that region?

300 billion naira was unaccounted for during Tony Anenih's time as the transport minister. Yet he's being celebrated. What of the 13 billion naira invested in mine and steel during Bola Ige's (RIP) time as minister? What of the 85 billion naira fraud during the time of Olabode George as Nigerian Ports Authority (NPA) Chairman? He only spent a few months in the prison and that’s ends the case. If you ask an average Nigerian, he will tell you, ‘give me 1 billion naira and I will spend 5 years in prison’. Will you blame such people that house this mentality?

It’s so unheard of, that even a serving minister will tell the country that the safety of the airline sector is in God's hand. Now, the question is, why didn’t she allow God to protect her? Yet she went ahead to procure bullet proof vehicles for personal use and safety.

The minister of Niger Delta Affiars, Elder Godsday Orubebe had the audacity to tell the country that 140 billion naira is needed to complete 35% of the remaining work on the east-west road, and 209 billion naira have already been spent on the 65% completed stage. Hmmm, does that road lead to fortunes and heaven? How are the Benin-ore road, lagos-ibadan expressway, and the lokoja-abuja road (that recently claimed the life of a patriot Prof. Iyayi). This is just to mention a few of the several federal roads that serves as death trap to traveler’s. Yet these politician’s have the guts to drive on such roads like 'I don't care people'. Of course, if they were actually voted in by the electorate, they wouldn’t have such mind to drive past them in such a manner.

A country where former governors are cleared of fraud charges against them. Ibori was cleared of 170 corruption charges by a so called reputable court. Yet he was convicted with the shortest possible time frame outside the country. What of the $500 million corruption charge against Dr. Peter Odili? In cases, where some of these funds were retrieved, it exchanged pockets to the people in the seat of power.

Governors pay monthly salary of state workers, and they publicize it as an achievement. It’s unthinkable.

What have happened to those indicted by USA on the $18 million Halliburton bribery case? Some of them have even received national honors in such regards.

I wasn’t surprised either when America’s Wall Street Journal revealed the mind-boggling million dollar sums that the Nigerian government has been paying Niger Delta warlords to keep them off the oil pipelines; Mr. Dokubo Asari collects $9million every year, ‘General’ Ateke Toms and ‘General‘ Ebikabowei Boyloaf Victor Ben collect $3.5million apiece while General Government Tompolo Ekpumopolo gets $22.5 million yearly. Hmmm

A certain developing country imports 85% of their consumed crude oil and have a refining capacity of 1.007 million barrels of crude oil per day, with 6 functional (100% capacity) refineries. Yet a country that produces an average of 2.3 million barrels per day have only 445,000 bpd refining capacity, with just 3 refineries (0% capacity). Mrs. Petroleum minister keep telling us that refineries are not profitable. May be she feels that all Nigerians are not informed. If that's her feeling, then the reverse is the case. If refineries are not profitable, why is the global refining capacity on the increase? This year alone Total (which exists in Nigeria) commissioned a 400,000 bpd (full conversion) refinery (Jubail refinery) in Saudi Arabia, a joint venture with Saudi Aramco, the national oil company of Saudi Arabia. Why is everything so different when it comes to Nigeria?

Crude oil is constantly siphoned on a daily basis from oil trunk lines. Yet there's no end to it. Of course I wasn't surprised too when I was informed by a credible source that these siphoned oil is tagged 'Federal' in the oil stock market. And for sure it sells cheaper than the supposed price. I have mentioned this in my previous updates, and YES it now been confirmed by the current leak that the NNPC in connivance with major Swiss oil trading companies, was draining Nigeria of billions of dollars ($6.8 billion) of revenue through the sale of crude oil below the market value. The case is as good as ended. At the worst case, some people might get sacked and they are free. Fresh people appointed and the looting continues.

The national assembly consumes 25% of the nation’s total overhead budget as rightly stated by the current CBN governor. An association of not up to 600 persons consumes 25% of the budget meant for over 160 million people. This is where the change should start. Being in the state and national assembly should be a part time work and not a career (as it’s currently done in Nigeria). STOP CONSTITUENCY ALLOWANCE, SITTING ALLOWANCE AND PLACE THEM ON MINIMUM WAGE!!! If the people own a country, then they should be better positioned to dictate what happens there in. 1 Million naira gross income per month for Senators, 750,000 for House of Representatives and 450,000 for State House of Assembly members!!!!!. If and when this is implemented, then we will definitely see and feel the change in all facets of nation building.

A member of federal House of Representatives packs several hundred thousand dollars under his mallam cap, yet he walks tall and freely. I won’t be amazed if some people call him a statesman too. After all, some certain individuals who breathe same polluted air with us could say that DSP Alamieyeseigha should be pardoned and allowed to contribute to nation building. Some even said he’s now remorseful. This sounds just like comic relief, but it actually happened. Of course, he was pardoned by the type of government we have. Please, don’t be surprised if you see him in the political scene soon.

A country where it’s financial watch dog EFCC and ICPC have turned to mere spectators to the happenings in all sectors of the country.

These days we celebrate rogues and people who have generally failed to impact positively in our country. National honors are shared between the rogues and failures, except for a very few. Have we immortalized 'Taiwo Akinkumi', the man that designed our national flag? What of John A. Ilechukwu, Eme Etim Akpan, B. A. Ogunnaike, Sota Omoigui and P.O. Aderibigbe, those that their lyrics were used to compose the national anthem? This is just to mention but a few. Yet when certain self-centered people die, some funny people shout ‘immortalize them’.

Several billion naira is annually allocated to the governors etc as security vote! The real and bitter fact is that, once these security votes still exist in the country for all level of political office holders, the entire nation will NEVER BE SAFE for the average and common Nigerian!!!!

Please, everybody should ponder over these and many more devastating issues we currently encounter and face in our dear and beloved country Nigeria.

Once again, FIX IT or LET IT BREAK.

Tuesday, 5 November 2013

The Oracle Uncovers Hidden Aspects of The Nigerian Constitution: The Child Marriage Imbroglio

In the Nigerian Constitution, Chapter 3 is about citizenship. This chapter contains Sections 25 through 32 but the Oracle is interested in section 29 and particularly sub-section  4(b). To ensure that I drive my point home, here is the entire Section 29 of the Nigerian Constitution:
(29)
  1. Any citizen of Nigeria of full age who wishes to renounce his Nigerian citizenship shall make a declaration in the prescribed manner for the renunciation.
  2. The President shall cause the declaration made under subsection (1) of this section to be registered and upon such registration, the person who made the declaration shall cease to be a citizen of Nigeria.
  3. The President may withhold the registration of any declaration made under subsection (1) of this section if:
a. the declaration is made during any war in which Nigeria is physically involved; or
b.      In his opinion, it is otherwise contrary to public policy.

         4.  For the purposes of subsection (1) of this section:

a.       "full age" means the age of eighteen years and above;
b.      Any woman who is married shall be deemed to be of full age.

In a nut-shell, this Section is mainly about the renunciation of citizenship and the modalities involved. It stipulates that only Nigerians who are of full age (i.e. 18 and above) can renounce their citizenship. As long as the renunciation does not come at a time when Nigeria is physically involved in a war and as long as the renunciation was not made contrary to public policy, it shall be valid. Sub-section 4(b) however states that "any woman who is married shall be deemed to be of full age"...and this is the very essence of this divination.

The Nigerian House of Senate or a reasonable part of it noticed the connotation of Section 29, subsection 4(b) of the Nigerian constitution as it concerns child marriage and its flagrant contravention of Sections 21, 22 and 23 of the Children's Rights Act of 2003 which can be found here. Therefore, in July, they sought take it down and a vote was cast. Although a majority of the House (60) voted for the removal, 35 voted that is should be retained...and because a minimum of 73 votes are required to amend the constitution, the controversial clause still remains part of our constitution. I do not want to bother myself wondering about the manner of men and women who were amongst these rather pervasive 35 persons. Now to the matter at hand:

The Nigerian Constitution as it concerns Child marriage

Section 29, subsection 4(b) of the Nigerian constitution; contrary to popular belief, does not endorse child marriage...it is rather a show of stupidity as you shall see later. However, the Nigerian constitution still implicitly endorses child marriage and the rogue clause can be found on Section 11, Subsection 1(b) of the Code of Conduct for public officers which states that "...at the end of his [a public officer] term of office, [he should] submit to the Code of Conduct Bureau a written declaration of all his properties, assets, and liabilities and those of his unmarried children under the age of eighteen years".
Note “...his unmarried children under the age of eighteen years". 

What this means is that though it is legal to have married kids under the age of eighteen; a public office holder has to declare the assets of his kids who are under 18 years and are unmarried at the end of his term in office. The clause did not say “...his children under the age of eighteen" which would have been appropriate if it were only legal for Nigerians to get married from the age 18 and above.

This clause also creates certain rooms for siphoning public funds as Public Office holders can 'legally'  embezzle public funds as long as these funds are not in their names or in the names of their unmarried children. I can visualise a Public Office holder with a 13 year old daughter; he embezzles Public funds and stashes them away in his daughter's name; gets her married off at that tender age and when his term in office is over; he only gets to declare properties in his name and not his daughter's because she is now married. Nice!

The stupidity of Section 29, subsection 4(b) explained

As I said initially, the very essence of my divination today is about Section 29, subsection 4(b) of the Nigerian constitution which states "any woman who is married shall be deemed to be of full age". I also said that this clause does not endorse Child marriage although whoever proposed it had intended it to. That clause is fraught with tautology, stupidity, a mixture of both or a sinister motive to confuse.

First, who is a woman? Since the Nigerian Constitution does not contain its own definition of the term “woman”, it is fair to say that our constitution refers to “woman” as generically defined.

The Oxford dictionary defines a woman as an adult human female. The same dictionary defines an adult as:
  • Biologically: a human who is fully developed or matured physically, mentally and emotionally.
  • Legally: a person who has reached the age of majority.
Biologically - on the average- female humans hit full (physical, mental and emotional) maturity at the age of 18 and this is when they usually become women. Wikipedia calls this state of maturity "womanhood" and defines it as a period in a female human's life after she had outgrown childhood and adolescence; and this generally occurs at the age of 18. For some, hitting all three might even take a longer while and into their early 20s.

Legally, female humans - just like their male counterparts - assume responsibility over their persons and for their actions and decisions at the age of majority or at a full age which is 18 years in Nigeria; in some countries it could be as early as 16 or as late as 21. Age of majority or full age bestows the status of adulthood on people notwithstanding their level of physical, mental or emotional maturity.

Therefore, a woman could be micro-defined as a female human:
  1. who is in her early 20s for the avoidance of doubts or 
  2. who has reached full maturity at the age of 18 or 
  3. who has reached the age of majority/full age, which in the Nigerian context is 18 years. 
In all three micro-definitions; a woman reaches age of majority/full age without marriage playing a part. So saying "any woman who is married shall be deemed to be of full age" is logically the same thing as saying "any female who has reached full age and is married shall be deemed to be of full age"...which doesn't make sense. Why deem a woman to be of full age if she already is of full age?

Whoever proposed that clause should just have stated that "any female who is married shall be deemed to be of full age" or "any girl who is married shall be deemed to be of full age". And since the terms "female" and "girl" could be used to refer to even a day old baby, it would then have become obvious that section 29, subsection 4(b) endorses child marriage. But since this is not the case and since the Nigerian Constitution doesn't have its own definition of the term “woman”, the truth then is that the clause is useless and lacks meaning.

The Barriers To the controversial Clause 

Again, in the actual sense, that clause refers only to Section 29 and does not stand valid outside it. Subsection 4 states that:

For the purposes of subsection (1) of this section [Section 29]:

        a.       "full age" means the age of eighteen years and above;

        b.      Any woman who is married shall be deemed to be of full age.

And subsection 1 states that:

Any citizen of Nigeria of full age who wishes to renounce his Nigerian citizenship shall make a declaration in the prescribed manner for the renunciation.

T   Therefore, as long as the issue has nothing to do with the renunciation of citizenship, "Any woman who is married shall NOT NECESSARILY be deemed to be of full age". This presents again some sort of ambiguity as the Nigerian Constitution within a single Section appears to legalise Child Marriage,while outside that section it doesn't. 
So in essence, any man who marries a child in Nigeria and claims he has the backing of Section 29, subsection 4(b) is either delusory or has a blatant intention to distort this particular clause to his own advantage and...if I were a lawyer, I would tear him up in court and sue him for all he is worth. 

The advice
  • Section 29, subsection 4(b) should be removed from the Nigerian constitution, not because it promotes child marriage...it was intended to but it doesn't. It should be removed because it is meaningless.
  • The ChildNotBride campaign should draw its attention to Section 11, Subsection 1(b) of the Code of Conduct for public officers which is really the only clause in the Nigerian constitution that endorses child marriage, albeit cunningly.
  • There should be a change in the way votes are decided in the senate as it concerns amending the constitution. There are 109 Senators and 73 votes are needed before a part of the constitution is amended.
    In July when there was a vote to remove section 29, subsection 4(b) from the constitution, 60 voted for it to be removed; 35 voted that it should be retained which means that 14 senators were either absent or sat on the fence. This should not be encouraged; with all the money they squander in that House they should either have a say in important issues or have no impact on the outcome at all.
    As it is now, a single Senator not casting a vote affects the ability of the House to reach a decision. I, therefore, suggest a system which arrives at conclusions based strictly on the number of votes cast; this would force Senators to pick a side and jump down from the fence.  For example, if there were 60 ayes and 35 nays...the total vote count would be 95. The ayes have approximately 63% of the vote while the nays have 37%. If there was a rule which says that "60% of cast votes is required to amend the constitution" by now that clause would have been history...but it sits there still even though majority want it removed.
  • Even as we try to get the Constitution changed and the Nigerian child accorded her full rights, parents should be sensitised to the dangers and detriments of child marriage. That the constitution wrongly implies that children can be given out in marriage does not mean that parents a compelled to do so. We will fight to get the extra protection of the Nigerian Constitution, but before that happens, every parent must have his/her Family Constitution which states that "No member of this family shall get married until s/he is 18 years old, a bit more or has reached a certain level in her academic or career life"...once this is done, no Yerima can force your daughter from you even if he has the backing of a 100 explicit clauses in the Nigerian constitution.


The Oracle Has Spoken!!

Thursday, 31 October 2013

Insecurity and Unemployment: The Nigerian Experience

An article by Chidiebere Nwachukwu (A Human Rights Activist and Legal Practitioner based in Abuja)


The man whose house is on fire does not go chasing after rats. Many people will say that the recent security incidents have exposed the rate of insecurity in Nigeria: the Niger delta militants, the kidnappings in the South-east and South-south, the Boko haram issue, the Jos crises, armed robbery attacks and other social unrest has not, for me, exposed the lapses in our security but has shown an in-depth revelation on the part of the government of the Federation’s inability to provide employment for the citizenry.

Recent statistics(National Bureau of Statistics) has shown that more 40 million Nigerians are unemployed, and more than 4 million Nigerians under employed and the most shocking part of this report is that 90 percent of these figures are youths. Nigeria’s population is over 150 million, with about 65 million of this population being the youth population. It will be right to conclude that it is only 12 percent of Nigerian youths are employed including the under employed. A country that does not have any social security system or have a good educational policy that is ‘all inclusive’ which can comfortably accommodate her teeming youth population cannot be heard to say that it is battling insecurity.

The insecurity is self induced, though some people can argue that the inducement has not been voluntary but I disagree totally with that line of argument. All governments in Nigeria including the current Administration has failed completely hence, they voluntarily induced the insecurity in Nigeria today.

An idle mind it is said is the devil’s workshop. A young man or woman with full potentials to turn around things not only for his or her generation or country but for the world is left and abandoned on the streets to carter for himself/herself. One imagines how a young man will wake up in the morning and lay waste all through the day to the night without having anything that will make him unlock his God given potentials and having three basic needs staring at him: clothing, shelter and feeding. At least, he has to provide himself with all these assuming he is not that ‘greedy’ and bothered about the future and other luxuries. As these youths are thinking about this imminent ‘Armageddon’ facing them; they hear in the news that billions of Dollars has been looted from the ‘oil windfall’; they hear that billions of Dollars has been put into the power sector without a resultant effect; they hear that there was a ‘Halliburton scandal’ which involved hundreds of millions of Dollars; that there is Pension Scam; that a governor has looted a state; that even a Police Boss has stolen billions from the government; that justice is purchasable; that Nigerian politicians are building the highest hotels and the highest hospitals outside the country; that the Nigerian oil blocs are being shared among the politicians; that the government cannot pay the least worker under its employment N18,000 as minimum wage; that the Federal legislators are the most paid in the world when they do virtually nothing than to release gaseous fart from their protruding bellies at the National Assembly in the name of Law making. All these incidents which - I must confess - did not start today in this country, spurred the youths into action; to make a ‘positive difference’. One may ask what these youths consider as positive difference, the list is numerous they include; cyber fraud, arm robbery, kidnapping, assassination, stealing, fraud, militancy, riots, bombings and terrorism.

I call it positive difference because over time what their (the today’s youth) fathers called positive attitude has yielded negative outcome. When their fathers heard in 1975 the corruption scandal that engulfed the Cement importation they put up a positive attitude towards it, their fathers allowed it to be swept under the carpet by the then Government/regime. During that same regime their fathers heard that two individuals from the middle belt has looted the Nation, their fathers kept mute and hoped that things will change for better. When another regime came into power, the parents of today's youths hoped for better days to come but nothing happened rather their ears were blocked by the loud sound of millions of hard currencies looted by then government officials and laundered through the defunct Mathey Jason Bank of London as the conduit. Their fathers waited patiently hoping for the better tomorrow...when they heard the rice importation scandal that involved the members of the ruling defunct NPN, they hoped that tomorrow will be better. When they heard about the oil windfall which led to the looting of a deafening amount of money to the tone of about 12.4 billion US dollars, it didn't change their attitude - not at all. When the most credible election in Nigeria was annulled they kept a better and positive attitude. When corruption was legalised in Nigeria, they kept mute and prayed for a better tomorrow. When General Sani Abacha emptied the country’s treasury, they kept a better attitude and hoped for a better tomorrow.

Now that the youths have listened to their fathers’ stories and their principle and attitude they decided to toe the line of their fathers; to make positive difference, but regrettably, not as conceived by their parents. Positive attitude means another set of things for the youths. When the better tomorrow did not come; when the looting did not stop; when they saw that they corruption has been enshrined into all the facets of the economy; when these youths noticed that one becomes a statesman after stealing from the country; that only politicians are the better citizens; that the National ‘thieves’ are the only citizens with their rights to better life assured, their security guaranteed, their children’s future secured, that own better houses and live in reserved areas, that they have better medical care, drive better cars and have all better things in life. It then struck the youths, being upright is not a virtue - it is a vice. Indulging in immorality is a virtue.Corruption is better than integrity. And to some of these youths one must join them since you can’t beat them.For others, to register your agitation and disagreement with the decaying social order you must take up arms, you must fight the rich, you must extort from  the rich what they have taken from your fathers who were feeble and mute then.

To address the situation they youths were divided into two; those who must register their grievances through violence and those who must engage in fraud or immoral behaviours to achieve and acquire the status of the looters. Unlike their fathers, they resolved; never will they keep quiet, never will they hope that tomorrow will be better, never will they belief that vices should be abhorred.

The youths having unanimously resolved to digress from their fathers’ attitude decided to change and turn things around for themselves, they must put their future into their own hands. However their methods differed. Some of them believed that you must be violent to register their protest to the ongoing vices. To this group of our youths, they have the same ideology as their fathers but they differ with them in approach towards changing the trend. This group includes the terrorist groups(Boko Haram), the militants (e.g. MEND), kidnappers, etc. To the other group evil is good and good is evil, this is because what their fathers perceived as evil or corruption or immorality as having an unhappy reward or ending, does not really exist rather evil, corruption or immorality is rewarded. Therefore they must be involved in evil, in corruption and in immorality because they are no longer called or perceived to be vices rather virtues. This group includes cyber fraudsters, prostitutes, electoral riggers, scammers, etc.

There is a proverb that says when evil occurs often overtime it becomes a tradition.
Therefore let nobody blame the insecurity in the country on any other person, group or factor rather on the government. Nigeria will soon be thrown into revolution like what is happening in the Middle East recently. I have argued that looking at Libya as oil producing country, its achievements, impact on the citizens and infrastructural development over time, Nigeria would have been better with a Ghadafi than with all the failed transitional governments we have recorded in this country.This will be a topic for another day.

How then will the government create employment?

The whole duty of providing employment revolves round the government.
Firstly the government must cut cost on recurrent expenditures, drastically. The times when recurrent expenditure exceeds capital expenditure should be thrown into the past. A situation where the cost of running government is higher than what the government wants to achieve or provide for its citizenry is an aberration for a country that wants to grow. It is therefore incumbent on the government; Federal or State, to cut down the cost of running its agencies, arms, ministries and parastatals.

The use of labour intensive method of production should be encouraged. It is a known fact that modern day production method or means leans towards the use of machines and computers, but we must as much as possible engage more human labour into production. For instance in issues in construction of any sort, a labour intensive method should be used by all employers of labour.

The use Shifts system: one of the factors that sky rocketed creation of employment in Europe and America is the introduction of shift workers. This is a system where by a particular worker is required to work for a specified period of time and allowed to leave so as to be replaced by another worker every day. This Shift system enhances productivity as fatigue is reduced and maximum input is assured. It also increases and enhances turnover and reduces the cost of production. For instance imagine where roads which ordinarily take 5 years for it to be constructed takes only two years to be completed owing to the fact that workers were made to work 24 hours using the Shift system. Hence this system should be employed by the Government as the main provider of employment in the country, the private sector is not also left out here.

Another ugly trend that is inherent in the Nigerian Labour industry is the recycling of old, useless, less stronger and innovative workers. This is usually seen in the Nigerian civil service where the older workers refuse to retire, they will manipulate their ages so as to remain in service and fall within the age bracket specified by law, hence inhibiting the younger and stronger work force to enter the service and also not to grow in service. This anomaly also militates against employment.

Responsible government is also another key factor that enhances employment as a government that is accountable and change driven will encourage foreign investment which will create and improve employment in geometrical progression.

Therefore let the Nigerian governments stop chasing shadows and stop wasting our resources on security and crime fighting, the government should channel our resources towards creating jobs for our youths, towards infrastructural developments, towards fighting corruption and towards reorientation of the citizenry. Those are our problems and not insecurity.

Tuesday, 1 October 2013

Nigeria At 53: The Foolish Vs The Patriotic

Our leaders have explicitly failed the nation...this I know
YOU! Yes YOU have failed the nation implicitly and/or explicitly...I know that too
The result? What we have now as Nigerians.
We are all part of the rot in one way or another...

But the question is...what is next?

The foolish take the easy route and hate the Nation.
They see Nigeria as a failed project;
Blame the rot on every other person but themselves;
Talk incessantly about how bad things have become;
Shout about how our Senators and Representatives waste our money
Yet secretly nurse the intent of being members of the National Assembly...
...Not to change things, but to take their share of the "National cake"...
Their ideology is simple: Nigeria is dead, let's bury her....
And today...
They would be the ones with litanies of Nigeria's woes
And not a word of encouragement or prayer.

The Patriotic take the more difficult route.
They acknowledge that things have gone wrong;
They acknowledge that Nigeria is like a death trap at the moment;
They acknowledge that we could have done better...
But...
They understand that Nigeria is blessed;
They understand that Nigerians have failed to utilise what Nigeria has to offer;
They understand that they are partly to blame;
They understand that if they do their bit...
If everybody does his bit...
Nigeria would get better.
They love the Country, everything notwithstanding.
Their ideology is simple: Nigeria is dying, let's resuscitate her.
And today...
They would be the ones that would wish her well...
And pledge to do their bit to make her better.

So my brother; my sister...who are you? A fool or a patriot?

Today isn't Democracy day...
So I'm not goina cry about how undemocratic our government is...

Not today!
Today isn't "Government of Nigeria's day"...
So I'm not goina let their monumental failure deter me...

Not today!
Today isn't about the Thieves...
And it isn't about the Chiefs...

Today is about NIGERIA...
So I shall celebrate and 
I shall wish her well!

God bless Nigeria. Happy 53rd to an Endowed Country!!


The Oracle Has Spoken!!
PS: Click here for a poem the Oracle did last year for Nigeria.

Monday, 30 September 2013

As Nigeria Clocks 53 Tomorrow: Why You Should Celebrate

As Nigeria clocks 53 tomorrow...
Some might ask: "what is there to celebrate about Nigeria?"
And my answer would always be: "A LOT!"

Tomorrow is not about the filthy, corrupt and greedy Nigerians in governance
It is not about the filthy, corrupt and greedy Nigerians in both the private and public sectors...
It is not about the fact that millions of Naira would be spent in celebration by these corrupt people and their cronies as they "mark our independence"... 
It is not about Boko Haram as is existent in the North...
It is not about the Kidnappers as we have in the South-east and west...
It is not about the Terrorists as we have in the South-south...
It is not about the Nigerian Clergy who have become a scourge on their own...
It is not about the various systems, structures and infrastructure in Nigeria which only exist and not function...
It is not even about the good Nigerians who, if really existent, might change the country for the better...

Tomorrow is about NIGERIA and the founding fathers who fought for her independence...   
It is about a NIGERIA that still yields oil despite all the degradations...
It is about a NIGERIA that remains fertile despite all the desecrations...
It is about a NIGERIA that remains rich despite all the looting and deprivations...
It is about a NIGERIA that remains  my fatherland...your fatherland!

So, come tomorrow,...
For ten seconds or more if you can afford to...
Find a quiet corner...
Forget all the troubles, the katakata, the wahala, the yawa, the gwogwotigwo...
Lift up something...your hands, a cup - whether filled with wine, water or empty...
And toast to NIGERIA...

Tell her to keep strong...
Tell her to overlook our excesses...
Tell her to bear with us even though we have failed her and continue to do so...
Tell her that we shall overcome; that it shall get better...
Make her an unconditional promise; promise her something that you would start doing differently to her benefit...
Then ask God to bless her.

Nigeria is different from Nigerians; where the latter have failed, the former has stood the test of time and for that I celebrate, so should you.

The Oracle Has Spoken!!

Tuesday, 10 September 2013

The Oracle on the Alleged Deportation of "Anambrarians" By the Lagos State Government: A Calm Voice After The Noise

On the 24th of July 2012, people said to number between 60 and 72 were dumped at the Upper-Iweka Bridge in Onitsha, Anambra State. These people were said to have been deported/evicted by the Lagos State Government. This act caused uproar, with exchange of words, threats and counter-threats between people of the Ibo and Yoruba tribes. Notable amongst these were the write-ups of a man I see as almost-sane, Fani-kayode, who went to a great extent to slander the Ibos on this issue by claiming they were like refugees who should count themselves lucky to be welcomed by the Yorubas, especially the Lagosians. When challenged and called anti-Ibo; Fani-Kayode, on trying to prove he wasn't an Ibo-hater, alleged he had once had an intimate relationship with Ambassador Bianca Ojukwu. Through to form as an almost-sane man, he is presently trying to withdraw that statement after he was once again challenged as to its validity by Mrs Ojukwu and her lawyers. So, owing to his rather 'unstable' nature; the Shrine would treat his contribution to this issue as an unfortunate result of a fad rather than facts and shall pay him no attention.

Now back to the issue at hand; the Governor of Anambra State, Peter Obi had to write to President Jonathan concerning the alleged deportation. This prompted a reaction from Governor Fashola who was of the opinion that the issue was like a "storm in the tea-cup" and should not have been taken to that extent by Governor Peter Obi.  President Goodluck Jonathan had used this issue to land a punch on ACN during his speech at the recently concluded PDP National Convention where he said "In the PDP, we attack destitution, not the destitute"…whether this is true or not is for you to decide.

Today, away from all the brouhaha, the Oracle would present the issue as it is, and critically so. Many people have asked why Governor Fashola could do such and if it were constitutional; I would provide answers to these and more and my tools today shall be the Nigerian constitution which can be found here and Governor Fashola’s address to Aka-Ikenga (a socio-cultural Ibo organization)regarding this issue which can be found here.

Fashola's story in a nut-shell

According to Governor Fashola while addressing Aka-Ikenga, this issue arose out of the decision by his government to provide assistance to destitute like the mentally ill, beggars and the homeless. He also did mention that his government is aware of the fact that some of the wealthy of society make additional income by deploying infants and the vulnerable to beg in the streets. He said that it was only 14 and not 60 people that were sent to Anambra after passing through the rehabilitation centre in Lagos. He explained that beggars, the mad and homeless are routinely picked up round the state and sent to a rehabilitation centre. At this centre, they are cleaned up, detoxified and rehabilitated by the social and health workers employed to look after them. Governor Fashola also said that once the rehabilitation process ends, these people usually request to be taken back home and that Lagos takes them back to their indigenous States; not as deportees but as people who are to get re-integrated with their families and communities.

The truth with facts

  1.  Fashola and his government were not being and are not discriminatory against the Ibos: It is very easy to conclude that Fashola and his government were being tribalistic and anti-Igbo when one considers these following facts:

    • That this 'rehabilitation and re-integration' exercise by the Lagos State Government is targeted at beggars, the mad and the homeless.
    • That Fashola himself admitted to knowing that infants and the vulnerable are being used by some unscrupulous elements in society as money-making machines through begging in Lagos state.
    • That a bulk of such beggars and homeless destitute are the Almajiris from the Northern part of the country.
    • That never have our brothers in the North or elsewhere in Nigeria lamented that the Lagos state government 'deported' their people.
    • That it appears the Ibos were the first to receive such a treatment from Lagos State.

But the truth is that this exercise began way back in 2003 as Lagos state seeks to be a world-known city through beautification and increased security of lives and property. Findings show that Ogun and Oyo States were the first to have destitute dumped at their doorsteps. In 2009, about 160 persons alleged to be from Kaduna and Kano were dumped at the Northern part of the country. Ogun State again had about 70 people dumped for them in 2010. Though these generated some sort of friction between Lagos State and the affected States, it never reached the extent which the dumping in Anambra did and not a lot of people knew.

Another proof that this isn't the first time Lagos State has dumped destitute in other states: Fashola, while addressing Aka-Ikenga, made statements like "This is a very simple and routine procedure"; "In this particular case..."; "From time to time we have helped them back to the place they call home"; "Ladies and gentlemen, this is not new". This implicitly shows that people have been routinely sent back to their states in the past and that the latest occurrence in Anambra isn’t the first.

Moving away from the issue for a bit; it is pertinent to state that Fashola has been known to have Non-Lagosians, including Ibos as members of his cabinet; this definitely is not one of the characteristics of a tribalistic Governor

2.   The exercise isn't about helping the destitute; it isn't about rehabilitation and           it isn't about re-integration: In Fashola’s words while still addressing Aka-Ikenga:

“Mental health ,for example,  is one area where because of stigma no one has attended to it...there are people who have mental  illness...I am concerned about those people and I have gotten my colleagues in government to let us show concern about these issues. I think that somebody should stand up for them and that is why we started...I think our government should be commended...”

Governor Fashola had tried to present this  exercise as one which his government had embarked on with good intentions and with the good and welfare of the destitute as priority but the way by which they have gone about 'rehabilitating' and 're-integrating' these people says otherwise.

As I initially said, findings have shown that between 2003 till the latest occurrence in Anambra State, the Lagos State Government had literally dumped these destitute at the door steps of States which they "believe" they must have originated from. Note the word "believe" …most of these so called destitute have ended up being dumped in states which they are not indigenous and have never been to. Furthermore, it is also common for these dumping to be made late in the day and under the cover of darkness. One could argue that this could be due to the distance between Lagos State and the affected States. But when one considers that on two different occasions Ogun State (Lagos State's next door neighbour) had woken up to see dumped destitute, including the blind and crippled, at its doorstep and on enquiry it turns out that they had been sent back from Lagos by the State Government; it becomes obvious that the dumping at night is intentional. Lagos State has become a criminal at night though this time they don't steal but they dump and run.  

Again, if the Lagos State Government; as claimed by Fashola; is so concerned about the welfare of these destitute that they routinely go through the pains of rehabilitating them, of what use is the so-called rehabilitation exercise if these same destitute are dumped somewhere and left to fend for themselves just like they used to? Where really does re-integration arise? If the Lagos State Government were really sincere about making better people out of these destitute; they would ensure that these people are re-united with their families and with people who will care for them...sadly though, this is never the case. To me, the whole exercise is just about cleansing Lagos of destitute and moving them to other States and Regions.

One would also expect these destitute to be happy with the Lagos state Government for "cleaning them up, detoxifying them and rehabilitating them"; but they have all told about being detained for months like prisoners before being moved out of Lagos. Some of the so called destitute turned out to have had honest means of livelihood in Lagos before being arrested like common criminals without an idea of what they did wrong. Apparently, they may not have been expensively dressed and were thought to be too poor to stay in Lagos state...so obviously, there is a problem here.

3.   Fashola is not proud of it:

As I have earlier shown and in his address to Aka-Ikenga, Fashola implicitly revealed that the deportation of non-indigenous destitute has been a common practice in his administration but he never mentioned a state which had previously reached an understanding with the Lagos State Government as to the resettlement of certain destitute, neither did he cite previous instances where the Lagos State Government has dumped destitute in other states. He only mentioned Akwa Ibom, which he said sent him 2 individuals whom they believed were Lagosians.

Why Fashola chose not to explicitly state how they have been dumping destitute in one state or the other is suspicious and could point to the fact that it is really not an exercise he is proud of.

4. Lagos state is not the only state that deports or has deported destitute:

The same Governor Peter Obi who is screaming blue murder at the deportation by the Lagos State Government of destitute alleged to be from Anambra, sent about 29 beggars from Onitsha back to Akwa Ibom and Ebonyi states in 2011. Ironically once more; Governor Obi had written to President Goodluck Jonathan to complain about Fashola's misbehaviour ...the same Goodluck Jonathan, under whose nose beggars were forcefully  ejected from the FCT in 2011 and again in May 2013 and he uttered no word…what a foolish man Peter is turning out to be. Akwa Ibom and Rives states are also said to have sacked destitute from their states in recent times.

5. It is unconstitutional:

Governor Fashola, while addressing Aka-Ikenga reminded them that he was not just a lawyer but a leader of the Nigerian Bar by virtue of rank. In his words:

“The worrisome thing of course is that some of the debate that has gone on also by our so called constitutional experts has not helped matters...freedom of movement; we respect those freedoms. I’m not just a lawyer; I’m a leader of the Nigerian bar by virtue of rank; I respect those freedoms but they are not absolute...even the constitution provides that laws can be made in a democratic society that limits these rights...so you have a right to freedom of association fine, but there are laws that say that you can’t be a member of a secret cult; so your rights stop where the need for decency and law and order and the protection of other citizens begin. You have a right to move anywhere you like; what the constitution says really is you can’t be deported from Nigeria, it does not mean that each of the component states cannot act in a way to prevent dumping...the rights are not absolute, none of them; not even the right to life is absolute because there is a criminal law that says that if you take life, they would take your life back…”

Yes, Fashola was definitely correct when he implied that none of the fundamental human rights as contained in our constitution is absolute; but I must not be a lawyer to point out that there are absolute provisions for when a citizen should be denied these rights.
He cited an example using the right to freedom of association which he said does not validate being a member of a secret society. Actually that right can only be constitutionally limited by the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) in cases where the association is with political parties that are not recognized as stated in Section 40 of our constitution:

   40. Every person shall be entitled to assemble freely and associate with other persons, and in particular he may form or belong to any political party, trade union or any other association for the protection of his interests:
Provided that the provisions of this section shall not derogate from the powers conferred by this Constitution on the Independent National Electoral Commission with respect to political parties to which that Commission does not accord recognition.

The right which is limited by the law against being a member of a secret society is the right to freedom of thought, conscience and religion as stated on Section 38 (Subsections 1 and 4) of the Nigerian constitution:

   38. (1) Every person shall be entitled to freedom of thought, conscience and religion, including freedom to change his religion or belief, and freedom (either alone or in community with others, and in public or in private) to manifest and propagate his religion or belief in worship, teaching, practice and observance.
(4) Nothing in this section shall entitle any person to form, take part in the activity or be a member of a secret society.

Fashola also cited an instance where the right to life is not absolute and, constitutionally, he was right. But again; the provision for when this right should be denied a citizen was made absolute by our constitution as stated in Section 33 (Subsection 1):

     33. (1) Every person has a right to life, and no one shall be deprived intentionally of his life, save in execution of the sentence of a court in respect of a criminal offence of which he has been found guilty in Nigeria.

When Fashola talked about the freedom of movement; he mentioned that the constitution only stated that a Nigerian should not be deported from Nigeria and that the constitution never said that States in Nigeria should not act in a way to prevent dumping. Implicitly, Fashola was saying that though it is constitutionally wrong to deport a Nigerian from Nigeria; it is right for States to deport Nigerians from one State to another in other to prevent dumping. What is dumping, Mr. Fashola? And what really does the Nigerian constitution state about freedom of movement? Section 41 (Subsections 1 and 2) says:

   41. (1) Every citizen of Nigeria is entitled to move freely throughout Nigeria and to reside in any part thereof, and no citizen of Nigeria shall be expelled from Nigeria or refused entry thereby or exit therefrom.
(2) Nothing in subsection (1) of this section shall invalidate any law that is reasonably justifiable in a democratic society-
(a) Imposing restrictions on the residence or movement of any person who has committed or is reasonably suspected to have committed a criminal offence in order to prevent him from leaving Nigeria; or
(b) Providing for the removal of any person from Nigeria to any other country to:-
(i) Be tried outside Nigeria for any criminal offence, or
(ii) Undergo imprisonment outside Nigeria in execution of the sentence of a court of law in respect of a criminal offence of which he has been found guilty provided that there is reciprocal agreement between Nigeria and such other country in relation to such matter.

Although the freedom of movement is not absolute, it is not constitutionally limited by any law which seeks to prevent "dumping".

Furthermore, these deportations of destitute who are not indigenous to the deporting state explicitly contravene Section 42(subsections 1 and 2) of the Nigerian constitution which states that:

42. (1) A citizen of Nigeria of a particular community, ethnic group, place of origin, sex, religion or political opinion shall not, by reason only that he is such a person:-
(a) Be subjected either expressly by, or in the practical application of, any law in force in Nigeria or any executive or administrative action of the government, to disabilities or restrictions to which citizens of Nigeria of other communities, ethnic groups, places of origin, sex, religion or political opinions are not made subject; or
(b) Be accorded either expressly by, or in the practical application of, any law in force in Nigeria or any such executive or administrative action, any privilege or advantage that is not accorded to citizens of Nigeria of other communities, ethnic groups, places of origin, sex, religion or political opinions.
 (2) No citizen of Nigeria shall be subjected to any disability or deprivation merely by reason of the circumstances of his birth.

When destitute are forcefully sacked from one State and discarded at the other, the following rights are further violated:

1. The right to respect for the dignity of his person (Section 34)
2. The right to his personal liberty (Section 35)

So, no matter how Mr. Fashola wants to paint it; the act is unlawful and not even the fact that it is being practised by other clueless Governors and Ministers as in the case of the FCT or the fact that a clueless President and the National Assembly overlook it makes it constitutional.

My Advice

Nigeria is the only place that Nigerians of different classes and social statuses can call home, their indigenous states notwithstanding. It doesn't matter if its 1, 2, 14, 60 or 72 destitute that get ejected; once every state starts to systematically eject the poor instead of fighting poverty, where will they go to and who would take care of them?

Again, it would not be surprising if this exercise is further worsened by being converted into a malicious tool for oppression by KAI (Kick against Indiscipline) Officials in Lagos and their counterparts in states where deportation of destitute is being practised. A KAI official, for instance, may have a misunderstanding with his poor neighbour who isn't a Lagos indigene and due to the undefined and haphazard style of picking people around the State; this KAI official can get his colleagues to arrest the poor neighbour; take him to the ‘rehabilitation centre’ and send him packing after a while without his property and family members.

I call on well meaning Nigerians to stand against this rising trend in their individual states.  The life and comfort of any Nigerian should be more valuable than the desire to develop beautiful cities oozing false sense of wealth and comfort but which truly reeks of decadence. Let us build a structure that accommodates the poor and destitute; let us genuinely fight destitution and not the destitute; let us fight poverty and not the poor…and only then would we have beautiful States and a beautiful Nigeria.

The Oracle Has Spoken!!