Tuesday, August 21, 2012
There is no gainsaying the fact that the contemporary situation in the Niger Delta region is worrisome and pathetic. The Niger Delta region of Nigeria is riddled with development crisis consequent upon environmental changes, land degradation, destruction of qua culture, conflict, poverty, growing segment of disenchanted populace, and the consequence of youth restiveness and militia upsurge. Such bodies as the Movement for the Survival of the Ogoni People (MOSOP), Ijaw Youth Congress (IYC), Egbesu Youth, and the Niger Delta Volunteer Force (NDVF), are all seen to typify southern minority responses to environmental degradation, political marginalization, and economic underdevelopment of the Niger Delta. This paper focuses on, and examines the motive behind the current Niger Delta insurgency. One might be inquisitive to ask: Why is there constant sporadic or intermittent crisis in the Niger Delta? Why is the Niger Delta region of Nigeria not developed? What factors accounts for its current backwardness? Why did militancy ensue in the region? To what extent has the rationale for the militants’ agitation been achieved? What could be the way forward in the Niger Delta crisis? These are some of the questions and problems this paper seeks to answer and solve. Essentially, the nitty-gritty of this paper is to critically analyze and dispassionately evaluate the factors responsible for the Niger Delta fracas, and to suggest possible ways through which the crisis in the region could be quelled. In order to achieve the stated objectives, this paper is divided in to four sections. Section one, which is the introduction, deals with the main idea by which the topic is backed. Section two deals with the conceptual clarification of terms, and the theoretical framework that will guide the paper. Section three examines the rationale behind the Niger Delta crisis, while section four encompasses the conclusion and recommendations.
The current conflict in the Niger Delta ensued in the early 1990s over scuffles between the foreign oil corporations and a number of the Niger Delta’s minority ethnic groups who felt they were being exploited, particularly the Ogonis and the Ijaws. Ethnic and political fracas has continued throughout the 1990s and persists as of 2007 in spite of the transition to democracy and the election of the Obasanjo’s government in 1999. The struggle for oil wealth has fueled violence between the myriad of ethnic groups, culminating in the militarization of almost the entire region by ethnic militia groups, as well as the Nigerian Military and the Nigerian Mobile Police Force. Quite a number of scholars and activists have given attention to the environmental conditions and problems of the Niger Delta with a view to highlighting their major causes and advocating remedial measures. The Niger Delta region is vulnerable to various forms of environmental pollution. It is established that the beginning of oil exploration and production in the 1950s marked the beginning of extensive environmental pollution (Niger Delta Report, 2001:11; Human Right Watch, 1999:45). Mineral exploitation has left devastation consequence not only in the Niger Delta, but also in other parts of Nigeria such as the Jos-Plateau where Tin and Columbite had been mined for years and the Coal mines of Enugu. But never has the problems associated with mineral exploitation assumed such proportion with dire consequence as in the Niger Delta. Over the years, the region has been exposed to series of oil spillages having long-lasting damaging impact on the human, land, and the ecosystem. Other forms of threatening pollution arise from gas flaring (a form of oil and thermal pollution), drill cuttings and mud, effluents and oil, and industrial wastes which are injected into land and streams. These various forms of pollution have had wide implication for the livelihood, health, and well-being of the region (Osuntokun, 1993:3; Human Right Watch, 1999:95; Onosode, 1999:44; Iyayi, 2000:72). Indeed, oil spillages are the commonest and most extensive form of pollution experience in the Niger Delta. This arises at blow outs at production sites, leakage of pipelines due to failure resulting from obsolescence, operation and maitenance errors, and of course, sabotage by bunkerers (Omoweh, 2005:19; Osuntokun, 1999:30). However, it is viewed, the fact remains that there occur devastating spillages, majority of which have nothing to do with vandalism or sabotage. According to the official estimate supplied by the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC), approximately 2,300 cubic meters of oil are spilled annually in about 300 different incidents. This however, cannot be the real figure, given the fact of what Human Right Watch (HRW) refers to as Under-reporting; hence, the actual figure is much greater. According to the statistics gathered from the Department of Petroleum Resources (DPR), between 1976 and 1990, a total of 4,835 incidents, spilling at least 2,446,322 barrel (79.7 million US gallons, i.e. 776 of spillage) were lost to the environment (Human Right Watch, 1999:59). Another estimate has it that between 1960 and 1976, 1.07 million Barrels of oil was spilled. The largest oil spill occurred in 1998 when at least 2,000 barrels of oil was spilled from Texaco facility destroying 340 hectares of mangroves. Department of Petroleum Resources estimated a different figure of more than 400,000 barrels as being spilled in the same incident (Human Right Watch, 1999:60). The trends continue till date. In the final analysis, the impact of various oil spills cannot be overestimated. In some places, people have complained of river water, even sunk boreholes as tasting of paraffin. Imoubere’s discovery of 1987 was that ground water around Port Harcourt area contained 1.8mg/l as against 0.1mg/l as recommended by World Health Organization, that is 18 lies greater than the recommended (Okechia, 2000:8). Again, Nigeria has the worst record of gas flaring all over the world. According to findings, 75% of total gas production in Nigeria is flared and close to 95% of the associate gas, a by-product of crude oil extraction from reservoirs. This is compared with countries such as Libya (21%), Saudi Arabia (20%), Iran (19%), Mexico (5%), Britain (4.36%), Algeria (4%), former USSR (1.5%), USA (0.6%), and Netherlands (0%) (Iyayi, 2000:168; Chika, 1977:74; Ihonvbere, 2000:100; Human Right Watch, 1999:72). Consequent upon this grave environmental situation, a great concern has been shown by various Non-Governmental Organizations (NGOs) globally, as well as International Organizations. The consequential effect of gas flaring which cannot be ignored is health related. Hitherto, unknown ailments have developed. This is not peculiar to the flare alone but also other forms of pollution including industrial waste (Haruna et al, 1999:227). Mutation is also a common feature, some of which are congenital. Cases of congenital abnormalities have been reported in such communities as Islemo, Okrika, Umuechem nand Olashi region. Other cases include babies with one or one-and-a half, or no nostrils and mutilated lips. Some other common illnesses include cough, bronchitis, asthma, sore eye and throat, itchy skin, short breath, weakness, cancer, stroke, etc with a high degree of vulnerability among communities directly exposed (Iyayi, 2000: 175). A number of other forms of pollution indirectly connected with oil exploration affecting the environment sanity of the Niger Delta have been identified. These are sometimes mostly ignored or unrecognized forms. Among these are light pollution (with drastic effect on nocturnal animals as well as hunting activities), industrial waste, pollution (extreme heat) which leaving most adults to go half nude during the day to maintain body homeostatic, and efforts resulting from oil infrastructure development like canal dredging, road built for access to oil facilities, seismic lines, etc. All these contribute to environmental and natural hazards. At these times, seismic lines destroy mangroves and other vegetations (Durotoye, 1999:30-31). From the foregoing arguments, with the commencement of oil exploration and production, the Niger Delta peoples’ means of self-reproduction and source of livelihood have been affected which in turn, has a telling effect on the cost of living and within which the ethnic conflict and violence in the Niger Delta has emerged.
SECTION II: WHAT IS THE NIGER DELTA?
The Niger Delta, simply put, is the oil producing region in Nigeria. In other words, all states recognized by the Federal Government as oil bearing are regarded as the Niger Delta. These include Abia, Akwa Ibom, Bayelsa, Cross River, Delta, Edo, Imo, Ondo, and Rivers States. The Niger Delta is indeed, a region of boundless wealth cum social and economic opportunities. The Niger Delta region, which comprises 9 of the 36 States of the Federal Republic of Nigeria is the world’s third largest wetland coming after the Mississippi in North America and the Panatela in South America respectively. It covers an area of about 70,000 square kilometers and account for 7.5 percent of Nigeria’s land mass. It is noted for sandy coastal ridges barriers, brackish or saline mangroves, and fresh water, permanent and seasonal scamp forests, as well as low land rain forests. The estimated population of the region is about 25 million, comprising over 40 different ethnic groups, speaking 250 different dialects across about 3010 communities. The predominant occupations of the people are farming and fishing. Since oil was first discovered about five decades ago, the area has grown to become the main source of foreign exchange for the whole country. Over the period 1978 to date, more than 90% of the nation’s export earnings have on the average, been generated from the region’s oil resources. Yet, the Niger Delta remains the least developed area of the country in physical, social and economic terms. Since the 1960s, oil has taken over the main resource base of the nation. Consequently, the Niger Delta has attracted some major oil exploration and production companies in the world. Unfortunately, while these companies became richer from the region’s oil resources, the Niger Delta region became poorer, raising peculiar issues of both human and physical development.
In order to enhance the theoretical meaning, relevance, and focus of this paper, which forms the pivot and proffer direction on the search for a panacea to the problems this paper seek to solve, the Frustration-Aggression Theory is adopted. The orientation basis for the frustration –aggression theory is psychological. The basic postulation is that aggression is always a consequence of frustration. More specifically, the proposition is that the occurrence of aggressive behavior invariably presupposes the occurrence of frustration and vice versa; that the existence of frustration always culminates in, or translates to aggression. The frustration aggression theory was jointly popularized by Dollard John, Doob Leonard, Miller Neal, Mowrer O.H., and Sears Robert in their Seminal Work, “Frustration and Aggression” published in 1939. The work drew inspiration, succor, and influence from the work of the renowned psychologist, Sigmund Freud, who is a major exponent of the Instinctual Theory of Aggression, for it is in his work that the most systematic and extensive us of frustration-aggression argument was made. True to observation, it may sometimes not be self-evident in that frustration may not immediately lead to aggression. From lessons learnt from social living, nonetheless, the act of people suppressing and restraining their overt aggressive reactions does not imply annihilation or elimination of such tendencies, rather, they are temporarily compressed, delayed, disguised, displaced, or otherwise deflected from their immediate and logical. The relevance of the discussed theory argued that the frustrated individuals or groups in the Niger Delta, due to environmental degradation and other myriad of assorted problems in the region, may resort to breaching socially accepted norms and exhibit defiant behavior, make vociferous demands, threats, and ultimately, violent destruction of lives and property.
SECTION III: MOTIVE BEHIND THE NIGER DELTA CRISIS.
The circumstances which culminated in the event that led to the agitation by the Niger Delta people and the ultimate eruption of the insurgency by the militants in the region are highlighted and dissected below:
1. Poverty and Deprivation of the Means of Livelihood: The government of Nigeria has made hundreds of billions of dollars of oil revenue in the last 40 years of oil production in the Niger Delta. Despite this huge amount of money, the local people remain in abject poverty and deprivation as they lack the basic necessities of life such as water and electricity. The region, according to Mukagbo, Cable News Network (CNN) anchorman for Inside Africa, “is a region where time seems to have stood still and where people live the most meager of existences, living them bitter and angry from not having benefitted from the black gold that makes Nigeria Africa’s largest producer”. In a nutshell, deprivation and poverty amidst its plenty oil and gas resources accounts for the agitation by the Niger Delta people for resource control.
2. Environmental Devastation: The social and environmental costs of oil production in the Niger Delta have been very extensive. They include destruction of wildlife and biodiversity, loss of fertile oil, pollution of air and drinking water, degradation of farmland, and damage to aquatic ecosystems all of which have caused serious health problems for the inhabitants of areas surrounding oil production. It is ironical that environmental regulations which are common practice in developed nations are often not followed due to lack of power, wealth, and equity of the affected communities. As a result, oil companies often evacuate inhabitants from their homelands, further marginalizing them. The system of oil production in Nigeria is skewed in favour of the multinationals and government elites who are direct recipients of oil production revenue. As a result of environmental damage brought about by the activities of the oil companies, environmental problems like erosion, flooding, land degradation, destruction of natural ecosystem, fisheries depletion caused by dredging and toxic wastes into the rivers, etc are common phenomenon in the region. The local people can no longer take to farming and fishing which are their common occupations.
3. Lack of Development and Unemployment: The Niger Delta region is underdeveloped in all its ramifications despite the fact that it is the bread basket of Nigeria. Taking a look at the economic dilemma of the region, it is so evident that away from the main towns, there is no real development, as there are no roads, no electricity, and no running water. The underdevelopment is so severe and the youths of the region are the hardest hit by this lack of development. This accounts for why many of them have resorted to militancy in an effort to focus national and international attention to their plight. Despite all the claims by the oil companies to be involved in the development of the region, it is to the contrary. The pervasive underdevelopment made Whittington (2001:12) to note that “The government and oil companies have profited by hundreds of billions of dollars since oil was discovered. Yet, most Nigerians living in the oil producing region are living in dire poverty. Also, the anger of the people of the region, especially the youths, derives from merely that the other parts of the country, sometimes the arid regions, are built to the standards obtainable in the developed world. They have bridges built over dry land and less traveled roads, while most of the Niger Delta communities are only accessible by boats and seriously in need of bridges. Away from that, unemployment is very high among the people of the region as oil companies do not hire their employees from the region that produces the oil, but from non-oil producing region in Nigeria. Majority of the youths in the region are unemployed. They do not benefit from the presence of the multinational corporations operating in their communities. Less than 5% of the people in the Niger Delta work in these companies, women from the region in oil companies are less than 1%. A majority of the beneficiaries are from other parts of Nigeria.
4. Distortions in the Social and Economic Fabric of the Local Societies: The oil companies introduced major distortions in the social and economic fabric of the local societies. According to Hutchful (1985:112), “Shell and other oil companies have perpetuated regional and class inequalities by creating oil colonies in local areas where oil executives live quite lavishly in comparison to the impoverished conditions of the local communities”. Because the oil industry requires highly-skilled workers, local villagers are either forced to migrate to the urban centres after being economically displaced, or to become low-skilled workers dependent on the oil company. These structural changes in the economic life of the local communities have often generated bitter conflicts, as the issue of unemployment and participation in the oil industry has divided different segments of the communities often along ethnic lines. Other structural effects of the oil industry are rural depopulation, disintegration of the peasantry, and urban marginalization.
5. Human Rights Violations: Violations of the human rights of the local populace can be cited as one of the factors responsible for militia upsurge in the Niger Delta. Oil companies like Shell, Chevron, Agip, Mobil, and other western oil companies have been very unkind to the people of the region. The human rights of the people are constantly violated by security forces at the behest of the companies. Perhaps, few examples of military and security activities carried out in the past might help to buttress this assertion. For instance, in attempt to suppress the Isaac Boro rebellion in 1966, Nigerian troops terrorized the entire communities including raping of innocent women. Boro was considered to be a threat to the free exploitation of the petroleum resources in the Niger Delta. In 1987, the Iko community in Akwa Ibom State was extensively brutalized by a team of Nigerian Mobile Police Force at the request of Shell. In 1992, at the insistence of Shell, some youths were killed in Bonny during a peaceful demonstration against the activities of the oil company. In January 1993, the crisis over environmental pollution and economic marginalization from the oil industry reached its peak when 300,000 thousand Ogonis protested against Shell Oil. This organized protest was followed by repeated harassments, arrests, and killing of Ogonis by Federal Government Troops. On January 11, 1999, Ijaw women who were engaged in a peaceful demonstration on the marginalization of their people in Port Harcourt was violently tear-gassed, beaten, stripped, and detained by a combined team of policemen and soldiers. Also, the Warri wars of 2003 were allegedly instigated by the activities of some oil companies and the Nigerian Naval Officers. The people of the region viewed all these as assaults and marginalization because they belong to ethnic minority groups in the Nigerian Federation.
6. Bad Governance and Corruption: The Niger Delta region is riddled with bad governance and corruption on the part of government officials both at the State and Local Government levels. It has been argued that if government officials in the region have judiciously utilized their monthly allocation to better the lots of the ordinary people through the creation of jobs, and embark on infrastructural development of the region, the situation would have been better than this current sorry state. Rather, the jumbo monthly allocations are spent on trivial and frivolous things that have no corresponding bearings on the life of the people.
SECTION IV: CONCLUSION AND RECOMMENDATIONS.
Ample efforts have been made by the Federal Government of Nigeria to arrest the adverse conditions of the Niger Delta people. With the dawn of democracy in 1999, the Niger Delta people felt a glimmer of hope for improvement to their pitiable and lamentable conditions. True to this, one of the earliest move of the Obasanjo Administration was the setting up of a Commission to find lasting solutions to the protracted developmental and environmental problems if the Niger Delta. In 2000, the Niger Delta Development Commission (NDDC) was established but fully commenced operation in 2001. The NDDC Board at its inaugural meeting in 2001, adopted a two-pronged strategy, namely, the design of a Regional Master-Plan and Interim Action Plan in defining the objectives of the Commission. The NDDC Act also transferred all assets, funds, resources, and other movable and immovable property of the defunct Oil Mineral Producing Areas Development Commission (OMPADEC) to NDDC. Since over 1,200 projects of the defunct OMPADEC were at various stages of completion, the NDDC Board decided to complete over 600 projects that were viable. These projects formed a major component of the Interim Action Plan pending the completion of the Master Plan project. The Interim Action Plan was, therefore, first and foremost designed to promote and encourage conflict resolution and risk management programmes. The essence was to create an investment friendly atmosphere which will attract both foreign and local investors to the region to accelerate its development process while awaiting the completion of the Master Plan. In sum, the NDDC, within its years of existence, has been able to carry out it omnibus mandate in order to improve on the development crisis in the Niger Delta region. It is envisaged that in the next 15 years, the Niger Delta region will be the most pleasant, most peaceful, and most prosperous region in Nigeria if the Master Plan is implemented. Apart from the above, the Yar’Adua Administration came in and granted amnesty to all repentant militants. However, irrespective of the amnesty, pockets of militant activities still persist in the Niger Delta region. The Niger Delta youths (militants), who arose (ostensibly) to fight for resource control and freedom from marginalization, ultimately divested the real or actual motive behind their struggle as they delved into kidnapping and oil theft (bunkering) which has caused more damage to the region and its people. Between 2006 and 2008, kidnappers and hostage takers pocketed ransoms of over 100 million dollars. The Vanguard report of 27th March, 2009, reported that about 680,000 barrel per day (bpd) of oil was being lost to oil theft, while about 1.3 million bpd was being shut in for 6 months. The value of oil revenue lost through spillages and bunkering by militant youths in the Niger Delta between January and September 2008 was about 20.7 billion dollars. Consequently, the motive behind the struggle by the Niger Delta Militants have not been achieved as the struggle has been reduced from promoting the overall interest of the people in the region, to personal or individual gratification of the avaricious interests of militant groups involved in the struggle.
In this respect, we hereby recommend that:
1. The Federal Government should fulfill the economic, social, and cultural rights of the minorities and indigenous people of the Niger Delta by providing adequate basic infrastructure and social services.
2. The government should create jobs for the teaming army of youths in the Niger Delta region which would be a more serious way of dealing with the oil security challenge.
3. The government should review existing land and environmental legislation, including the Mineral Act of 1958, the Land Use Decree of 1978, and the Petroleum Decree of 1969 in order to ensure proper environmental maintenance.
4. The Federal Government Should establish independent mechanism for monitoring the performance of oil companies as regards their contribution to development in the areas where they operate, and ensure that the activities of Transnational Oil Companies and their Nigerian Affiliates comply with international human right and environmental standards.
Chikor, B. A., (2000). “Appraising The Structural Aspect of The Crisis of Community Development and Environmental Degradation in The Niger Delta” in Osuntokun Akinjide (ed) (2000). Environmental Problems of The Niger Delta, Lagos: Fredric Ebert Foundation.
Durotoye, B. (2000). “Geo-Environmental Constraints in The Development of The Niger Delta Area” in Osuntokun, A. (ed) Ibid pp. 26 – 36.
Idornigie, P. O., (2000). “Niger Delta Development: History and Appraisal of Legal Regime” in Tasie, G. O. M., (ed) Journal of Niger Delta Studies, Vol. 2, No. 1.
Ihonvbere, J. (2000). “A Recipe for Perpetual Crisis: The Nigerian State and The Niger Delta Question”, Ikeja: CDHR. Iyayi, F. (2000). “Oil Corporations and The Politics of Community Relations in Oil Producing Communities” in Raji et al, eds, ibid pp 151.
Onosode, G. (1999).” Environmental Management and Sustainable Development in The Niger Delta” in Osuntokun, A., ed, ibid, pp 11-25.
The existence of vibrant political parties is indispensable for the sustenance of democracy in any polity. In Nigeria’s first and second Republics, political parties were regionally based, and their activities led to the collapse of those democratic experiments. This paper explores a paramount aspect of Nigeria’s democratic project from 1999 to 2010, and the role of various political parties in facilitating the sustenance of democracy in the country. The paper posits that there is a direct relationship between the character and conduct of a country’s political parties and the degree of democratic sustenance in that country. Basically, this paper argues that seven years into the country’s current democratic experiment, Nigeria has scored low when placed in a similar matrix with countries that are heading towards stable and sustainable democracy. This paper is informed by the roles political parties play in the sustenance of democracy in Nigeria. Some research questions that were posed form this are: Is democratic competition fully at play in Nigeria’s 4th and 5th Republics? Does the structure and organization of the political parties reflect a true democratic order? Are there any perceived inadequacies in the political parties in Nigeria? Are opposition parties alive to their responsibilities in the country? It was argued that the opposition parties in nigeria which ought to serve as alternative parties form which the electorate should choose if they so decide have been strategically weakened through the overt and covert strategies of the ruling People’s Democratic Party (PDP), and the lack of total commitment on the part of politicians to the national course. This paper ultimately argue that more than 90% of the political parties in Nigeria are fragile entities, hence, they have only developed shallow roots in the society, and concludes on the note that Nigerian political parties have failed in the democratic responsibilities of aggregating social interests, representing specific constituencies and serving as intermediaries between state and society.
SECTION I: INTRODUCTION
Myriad of scholars in the field of political science heave maintained that the pertinent institution in a democracy is the political party. Democracy exists where the principal leaders of a political system are selected by competitive elections in which the greater parts of the population have the opportunity to participate. As a matter of fact, the condition of the parties in a political system is the best possible evidence of the nature of any democratic regime in its original formulation. Democracy means direct and popular participation in the affairs of the polity. This was thought to be the right of every freeborn citizen in those days. With the rise in population and the accompanying spatial expansion, direct democracy has become encumbered and representative democracy has, for centuries, become a feature of democratic societies. Political parties’ organization in Nigeria and elsewhere have been known to be the vehicle through which various interest groups seek to attain power to achieve their perceived societal goals as spelt out in their manifestoes. Generally, parties are usually fashioned in a way as to prepare the organization for an eventual ascension to power through the proper articulation of the need of the society. Nigeria, though has made little progress in the last few years, the country has notoriously emerged as where noting works. Part of the explanation for this phenomenon is that our actions as a nation are not anchored on a solid philosophical foundation. The contradiction of our colonial past, and the inability to embrace a workable political system stem from the opportunism and narrow vision of most of the post-colonial political elites. The collapse of our system is a direct aftermath of the failure to work out a sustainable political party system based on a coherent ideology. The political parties in Nigeria are formed along ethno-cultural, geo-political and religious lines. This has not helped the democratization process since it encourage ethnic chauvinism and parochialism, irredentist sentiments, and geo-political exclusivities. In everyday activities of government, one notices the festering of primordial loyalties such as ethnic sensibilities and overt projection, or other selfish political tendencies. The political class has always remained bereft of viable political ideology on which the country’s political future could be anchored. This bankruptcy in ideology and vision has reduced political parties to a bread and butter game, where monetization of the political process is the bedrock of loyalty and support. This indubitably, erodes the aim of the democratization process.
SECTION II: Conceptual Clarification and Theoretical Framework. It is a common knowledge that most concepts and terms in the social science discipline are ambiguous in meaning and controversial due to differing angles and perception. Therefore, to remove such complication, major concepts utilized in this paper are generally defined and particularly operationalized to capture the mind, intent, and meaning which the research seeks to impose on them. (a) Political Party: Political Scientists have defined political parties from different perspectives. This may be defined in the words of Ranny and Kenall (1956:1) as autonomous organized groups that make nominations and contest elections in the hope or controlling personnel and policies of government. Josephy La Palombara (1974:323) defines political party as a formal organization whose self-conscious primary purpose is to place and maintain in public office, persons who will control alone or in coalition, the machinery of government. A political party therefore, is a group of persons united by a common interest or ideology and engage in power struggle for the purpose of controlling the machinery of government and public policies. (b) Democracy: Democracy is a term used to describe an idea, process or system of government. As an idea, process or system, democracy entrenches and expand or seeks to entrench and expand the rights, ability and capacity of the people in any community, large and small, from the most complex to the least complicated, to take control of their lives through participating as fully as possible, in discussions and decisions on issues and events that affect them and their community. When such participation is full and direct for all members of the community and in regard of all matters, issues and events such as in very small communities, then direct democracy is said to have been attained. In the modern day, the most prevalent form of democracy at the nation-state level, given its sheer geographical size, population , and complexity, is what has come to be known as indirect or representative democracy. By this, is meant a democracy is which people participate in taking and implementing decisions on the common affairs of the community indirectly through their representative elected or selected for that purpose. Theoretical Framework. In formulation of a theoretical framework that will guide the paper, the Elite theory is adopted as the guiding principle in analyzing the subject matter. This is because political parties and governance are dominated and decided by the elites. This is why polices is always perceived as “Madness of many and the game of the few”. The concept of Elitism was propounded as a counter to the revolutionary theories anchored on social class analysis in Europe in the years of Fascism. The classical exponents of the elite theory are two Italians, Viltredo Pareto and Gaetano Mosca, and Robert Michel, a Swiss. To them, every society is ruled by a small (minority) group of people and who possess the attributes that made it possible for them to ascend to the top. Such people are always the best. The elite therefore consist of those successful persons who rise to the top in every occupation and stratum of society. The elites wherever they are, generally come from the same class, that is, those wealthy or intelligent. Political parties in Nigeria are controlled by very few individuals in the party that have besieged the available posts and positions in the upper hierarchy of the parties. These few influential and powerful individuals who are in the minority make all the decisions while others follows. They are the elites. As rightly observed by Gaetano Mosca, in his work, “The Ruling Class” (1930), that in all societies, two classes of people exist: a class that rules and a class that is ruled. The political parties are dominated by the dictates of the elites while the masses being ruled follow without choice. It was evident that in the 2003 general elections, some governorship aspirants did not campaign, but at last they won; not because of their popularity, but just because the elites want them there. Former Governor Chris Ngize of Anambra Sate is a very good example. Otunba Omisore won a Senatorial, seat while in detention. All these are the handiwork of elitism. Robert Michel’s theory of the elite is focused on organization, particularly political party organizations. He argues that leaders or elites usually take advantage of the fact that the majority of human beings are pathetic, indolent, slavish, and susceptible to flattery. In the case of Nigeria, political leaders take advantage of the harsh economic state of the country, where over 80% of the people live below poverty level. The elites make promises prior to their emergency and distribute “peanuts” to the people in order to set their mandate and support.
SECTION III: ROLE OF POLITICAL PARTIES TO DEMOCRATIC SUSTENANCE IN NIGERIA.
It is commonly held that the survival of the democratic processes is directly linked to the ability of the political party to aggregate freely, articulate, represent, and to organize set limits in the quest for the use of political power. It is equally obvious, however, that for the party system to become capable of discharging these roles efficiently and effectively, certain criteria must be met, including autonomy, complexity and coherence (Ragsdale and Theis, 1977). In this regard, too, Richard Vengroff’s (1993) argument becomes especially relevant. Drawing from the experience of Mali, Vengroff asserted that the degree to which a party system is able to meaningfully contribute of the political process is related to the existence of several factors: the development and maintenance of strong party organization with t he depth and breadth necessary for their operation, and the degree of the institutionalization of the party as indicated by its historical roots, longevity, survival and continuing support. The capacity to meet these conditions is a determinant of their potential contribution to the institutionalization of democratic government. If the above forms the yardstick for the measurement of the state of political parties in Nigeria, it then becomes inescapable to conclude that the key party institutions, to date, have failed to fulfill adequately their functions. Over the years, what became apparent is the lack of proper organization and perhaps, perception of what a party system should be. Indeed, as records of inter and intra-party squabbles show, both in their methods and practices, the political parties have contributed immensely to the crisis that engulf the political system in Nigeria. The rot necessary gets carried into the electoral arena where elections, in particular, have been controversial, often lacking in credibility. To begin with, elections, as instruments through which government derives the consent of the governed, are integral part of democracies. In spite of its utility for the democratic form of governance, however, the mere fact of election does not make a country democratic. Democratic elections, everywhere, are expected to meet certain minimum of competitiveness and inclusiveness. The former, perhaps, is deterministic of how the outcomes of the polls are accepted or not. This much has been shown by the United States Information Agency (USIA, 1991:16) in arguing that: “Democratic elections are competitive. Opposition parties and candidates must enjoy the freedom of speech, assembly and movement necessary to voice their criticisms of the government openly and to bring alternative policies and candidates to the voters. Simply permitting the opposition access to the ballot is not enough. Elections in which the opposition is barred from the airwaves, has its rallies harassed or its newspaper censored are not democratic. The party in power may enjoy the advantages of incumbency, but the roles and conduct of the elections must be fair.” It needs be stated that electoral processes in Nigeria have historically been marred by a lot of difficulties. For instance during the first republic, it was obvious that among other potent factors, the election crisis of 1964 – 1965 and the Western regional election of October 1965, proved the greatest test for the stability and thus durability of the first republic (Lipset, 1998:38). The resultant conflict occasioned by these and the high level distrust between the highly ethnicized political elites not only threatened the functioning of the political system, but also facilities the intervention of the military on January 15, 1966. But while one should claim that the elections that ushered in the second Republic in 1979 were relatively calm, portending little or no danger to the survival of the new government, the same could not said of the one held in 1983, that sought to herald the country’s first civilian organized election since 1965. The 1983 election, essentially, were held in the atmosphere of heightened fears and tensions. Politicians of all inclinations issued threats and counter threats that questioned the continued survival of the ship of state. Not unexpectedly, on the election results were released, reforming the incumbent National Party of Nigeria (NPN) government to power at the centre, all hell broke loose and spates of violence gripped the country. The military struck on December 31, 1983, overthrowing the NPN led government of Shagari in a coup. The 20 Months old Buhari regime that succeeded the ousted government never had a transition programme. It was itself toppled in a palace coup that placed General Ibrahim Babangida at the helms as Nigeria’s new military ruler. In a nutshell, ample attempts were made by successive military governments to install a democratically elected government until 1999, when General Abdusalami Abubakar handed over power to the democratically elected government of Obasanjo. The Obasanjo’s government, at the completion of the first four year tenure, organized the conduct of new elections as the constitution of the country stipulated. The April 2003 elections were meant to subject the incumbent administration at all levels, to public verdict through free and fair elections. The election at all levels was, no doubt, a showcase of election rigging. The elections were rigged beyond imagination and brought very unpopular candidates to power. Sometimes, party candidates that never campaigned for elections won, while poplar candidates voted by the people were thrown out. Little wonder that most Nigerian electorates went berserk on seeing that the election results were not a reflection of the votes cast. It was also glaring that during the electioneering campaign prior to the elections in 2003, political elites under the umbrella of different political parties, distributed rice, salt, money, etc to the people in order to get their mandate and support. For instance, the former Governor Peter Odili of Rivers State was said to have involved in the distribution of textile materials across the various villages and towns in Rivers State, in order to win the peoples’ mandate for a second term. The gubernatorial election in Rivers State was chronically rigged to the extent that the incumbent governor swept over 90% of the total votes. Clearly, at the run up to the 2007 election, things were not any better than the previous one. The obstacles were many and varied. The danger signals included the impeachment debacles in a number of states, the shoddy preparations by INEC, the Obasanjo/Atiku face-off, the spates of assassinations and attempted assassinations of high profile aspirants, the simmering crisis in the Niger-Delta, and the heightened, widely perceived selective indictment of elected officials, etc. Essentially, the electoral process in Nigeria therefore did not serve as a peaceful means to bring about change and neither did it offer the people the chance to exercise their choices in a free manner. It rather reflected a Hobbesian state of affairs where each party was in war with the other party, and was ready to employ any means to achieve political power. Such a state of affairs therefore created obstacles in the smooth functioning of the democratic process. Up till date, the only thing political parties in Nigeria currently do is merely the provision of candidates to contest for elective offices in various capacities. As a matter of fact, in vibrant and ideal democracies, political parties are not perceived as mere platform for contesting elections or political appointments. Rather, they play plethora of roles like educating their members politically, informing members in administrative offices about public opinion on national issues, as well as maintaining a strong ideological base that would ensure its survival in future elections. The current Nigerian political parties, seldom, and in some cases, does not perform there roles. Political parties in Nigeria have no ideology or philosophy. Apart from that, they are formed along ethno-cultural, geo-political and religious lines. This has not helped in the sustenance of democracy as it encourages ethnic chauvinism and parochialism, primordial sentiments, and geo-political exclusivities. These are factors that have inhibited the parties from performing their roles as political parties. Political parties and politicians in Nigeria do not cooperate to ensure the survival and sustenance of democracy in Nigeria. Political intolerance and lack of intra and inter-party democracy has become the order of the day. Not only that, politicians and party leaders have abused democracy and have taken democratization in Nigeria to mean insatiable thirst for power, wealth and influence for personal and parochial ends, rather than as a means of consolidating political and economic independence for promoting societal welfare, laying the foundation for national security, socio-economic and technological transformation. Therefore, it can be said that political parties in Nigeria both the PDP, ANPP, ACN and other parties, by sidelining the national interest and the interest of the people, have not served as true representative of the people. They therefore have swayed the masses away from them and have created obstacles in the legitimization process.
SECTION IV: CONCLUSION AND RECOMMENDATIONS In the final analysis, we are able to see that the problem lies not in the form or type of government, but the style our leaders adopt in governing the masses. This lies in the fact that the civilian government which resumed on May 1999, till date had little or no credit that could score political points for the ruling PDP and its other political parties opponents, where the same mistakes that were made by the players on the political stage since the days of the first republic are still repeating itself. In conclusion, we should understand that from the days of nationalist struggle to the post-independence era, the practice and procedure of democracy in Nigeria have witnessed one long and often torturous history of political quagmire. We need not therefore search or consult a Seer to tell us that the general insecurity plaguing the country is a savage indictment of our social and political disorder, and it does not offer any message of hope to the future.
(a) While Constitutional Right Project (CRP) believes that there is need to strengthen our democratic institutions, a total overhaul of present electoral laws regulating party registration should commence.
(b) Due to lack of philosophy and ideology, political parties go against the dictates of their manifestoes. Our political parties should have a clearly defined philosophy and ideology that will enable them conform with the dictates of their manifestoes.
(c) The linkage between political parties and ethnicity is not in the best interest of the Nigerian people. This is an area where de-linking is appropriate and necessary. This can be made possible if the people have political education. The people should understand their rights, responsibilities, and the role of the State. They should be educated to demand accountability on the part of those elected into office. They should be in a position to recall those who have failed to deliver. A proper understanding of the various political issues will there for prevent them from being used as pawns by the leaders in the name of ethnicity.
(d) The way political parties are constituted and legitimized have bearing on both the scope and content of democracy in the country as well as on the capacity of government to be responsible and accountable to the electorates. The parties need to be internally democratic and should be interested in deepening the content of democracy in the country.
(e) The survival and sustenance of democracy is to a greater extent, dependent on the ability of the electoral body to conduct free and fair elections through a transparent process. For this to be viable, the existence of an electoral body which is independent in its function is needed.
Achebe, C. (1980). Trouble with Nigeria, Enugu: Fouth Dimension Publications. Adebayo, A. (1986) Power in Politics, Ibadan: Spectrum Books Ltd.
Ake, C. (1981). Political Economy of Africa, New York: Longman. Anifowose, R. (1982) Violence and Politics in Nigeria: The Tiv and Yoruba Experience, New York: Nok.
Ball, A.R. (1983). Modern Political Parties, London: Macmillan. Duddley, B. (1982) An Introduction to Nigerian Government and Politics, London; Macmillan.
Duverger, M. (1954) Political Parties: Their organization and activity in Modern State, London: Methuen & CO.
Geovanni, S. (1965) Democratic Theory, New York: Fredrick Praeyer.
Sarabjit, K. (2002) “Challenges of Democratic Sustenance in Nigeria”, Being a paper Presented at Centre for Democracy and Development, Lagos, July 5, 2002.
Thursday, January 29, 2009
The custodians of our laws have debased and raped our mandate. They have committed a progressive range of unpardonable blasphemies against justice, equity, and good conscience. Nigerian lawmakers have converted our democratic symbols into instruments for the worship of avarice. They have borne the people’s pain lightly, as their comprehensive looting of the national wealth has really essayed to crush the masses further into the mires and quicksands of poverty and chill penury. Their abandonment of their democratically assigned role has reconverted Nigeria into a civilian dictatorship where executive recklessness is law.
Words are notoriously inadequate to convey or project the depth of decadence that our legislative and executive symbols have undergone at the hands of these “honourable” men of easy virtue. The fact remains that our watchdog has convoked a meal off the bone we collectively hung on its neck for safekeeping. The mouse we depended on for the security of our collective pieces of fish, has devoured not only the fish, but has also irredeemably corroded our trust in his goodwill.
Those who claim to fight for or represent the people in Nigeria have turned around to feed on the people. No good legislation has ever arisen from them to stem the tide of turbulent poverty sweeping the people away into a very deep sea of frustration. The price of the basic food staples is astronomically exorbitant. The price of fuel is beyond the reach of an average Nigerian. There exist gross and pervasive insecurity of lives and property across the length and breadth of the country. Fake drugs and fake food products despite the excellent battles of Dora Akunyili are ravaging thousands of Nigerian families. The roads are festivals of potholes as thousands of innocent Nigerians are condemned to untimely death yearly consequent upon these stretches generously strewn with gaping potholes. The hospitals, having lost every pretence of being mere consulting clinics are now where people go to die or where dead Nigerian are dumped. Little wonder the mortuaries and the obituary sections of our media are now the great money-spinners in an economy that is on its way to hell.
The Nigeria Policy makers stands by in timorous inaction while all these forces conspire to deny Nigerians a life worth living; a life that should be the glory of God because Man should be fully alive.
Let's make reference to Julius Caesar. Caesar was a great Roman. Most of the Nigerian legislators in question are the worst dregs of convoluted avarice and indefatigable selfishness. Caesar made Rome great. These debauched Nigerians stole, and are still stealing Nigeria blind. Caesar made every Roman citizen proud of his heritage. These Nigerians have battered Nigeria's image to the extent that defies every attempt at rehabilitation.
Let me go a bit into the history of the parliament. At the birth of democracy, parliaments or House of laws, arose as the hallowed sanctuaries representative of the people's mandate. In these sacred halls, the people's mandate is deployed to craft legislations that are naturally meant to conduce the peace, order and good government of the people. Since lawmaking issues from the cores of nature; and since God is the great lawmaker, whenever man steps to act in his stead, that action becomes a sacred function and the place where the action takes place, a sacred precinct. this is the metaphysical base that makes the parliament a sacred sanctuary of the people's will. The founding Fathers of the United States of America were intuitively at home with, and ever aware of the sacredness of their mandate and function, as bearers of the collective aspirations of the people. And to emblazon this for eternal reference and remembrance for themselves and their posterity, they wrote it down in the grundnorm of their unity, prefacing it with this hallowed words: "WE THE PEOPLE, in order to form a more PERFECT UNION; establish JUSTICE, INSURE DOMESTIC TRANQUILITY, provide for the common defense, PROMOTE THE GENERAL WELFARE,and SECURE THE BLESSINGS OF LIBERTY TO OURSELVES AND OUR POSTERITY, do ordain and establish this Constitution..."
This few words beautifully articulate their awe before such onerous and sacred task. Every word employed in the quote above have something ethereal and metaphysical about it.
That is the glory, majesty and beauty of the legislature. It is a house built for good sense, a citadel of service, the soul of government and the engine of democracy. A parliament or legislature according to John Pym, "is that to the Commonwealth which the soul is to the body". And for him, "It behoves us therefore to keep the facility of that soul from distemper. This is the spirit that holds and obtains in Houses of legislature, in the course of democratic evolution. The legislature under whatever name has in history midwifed men of great intellect, incorruptible moral convictions, and impeccable integrity. A roll of honour for great men of learning and character that have graced the glorious halls of various parliaments across the world would see men like Demosthenes in Greece, and Cicero of Rome. These two ancient greats may be centuries away in our memories, but other more contemporary examples like Patrick Henry, Daniel Webster, Winston Churchill, Edmund Burke and Benjamin Disraeli, equally recommend themselves to our admiration.
But all these lofty values came to Nigeria and were crucified. Turbulent questions have continually plagued my digestion in relation to the kind of rot that has continually bedevilled the Senate and the House of Representatives, as well as their equivalents at the state and local government levels in the Federal Republic of Nigeria. Hence the question: Are these Houses peopled by Simpletons, social vandals,and avaricious plunderers? Or is it a theatre of the absurd, wherever shade of laughable and questionable character pitches a tent? If these hypothetical quizzes that I have trembled to ventilate are not objective, could anyone then tell me what men like Arthur Nzeribe where doing in the Senate? What business do people like him have in the holy precincts of laws? What are other national criminals, whose notorious reputation stink to high heavens doing in these places? Casting a retrospective look at the past political scenario in this country, I am yet to fathom how a man who won an election (or selection rather) on a stolen mandate could rise to become a Senate President, simply because the former President Obasanjo needed a rubber stamp. I am yet to understand what other men whose academic qualifications were obtained on borrowed intelligence are doing there too. Let me tell you the political truth: When a criminal becomes a lawmaker, it would be unforgivable foolishness to expect the canonization of virtue. The least we can expect are legal approvals to state plunder. Under regimes as this, crime is on its way to securing a legislative fiat. Once this enthroned as an unwritten policy of state, crime will automatically lose its reprehensible recompense and metamorphose into a cottage industry.
The myopia and poverty of ideas dominating our decision making bodies in Nigeria are simply attributable to the fact that as the sun was setting for the military government in Nigeria, a network of crooked variables were busy rigging themselves into positions from where they could impose questionable characters to represent their avaricious blueprints on the pretext of representing the people. It is only in the Nigerian House of simpletons that millions of naira was scandalously mapped out for furniture allowance, which fell under the very first major preoccupation of the National Assembly of a country where over 85% of the people are summaries of poverty. Here, the legislators embarked on a looting spree of the national treasury under the smokescreens of furniture allowance. The convulsively ugly nature of the amount mapped to that effect juxtaposed with the chill penury afflicting the Nigerian masses then, portrayed these lawmakers as scandalous vampires and mean spirited parasites out to suck Nigeria and Nigerians to death.
It is only in Nigeria that a Speaker of the House of Representative forged academic qualifications and nobody found out until he became a Speaker. And instead of going to jail for his crimes, he was so hastily granted a state pardon, which was simply a product of political harlotry that is the norm in Nigeria. This gross violator of the sacrosanctity of the second estate of our realm, instead of losing his head to a political guillotine, to appease the gods of Nigeria’s destiny, benefitted from a politically porous pardon that mocked justice and ripped equity asunder. This is strictly a contravention of the principles of the rule of law. By that singular act, our policy makers have made criminals to understand that the higher and more connected you are, the easier it is for you to escape the wrathful recompense of the law. All these happened in a country where the majority of our youths who out of hunger and frustration induced by excruciating social realities that reduced their horizons of opportunity, were forced into petty stealing to forestall hunger and its unpleasant consequences, are rotting in jail, endlessly awaiting trial.
Such legal mutilations in the case of Salisu Buhari, who seemed to have a history of forgery, constitutes not only a mockery of justice, but unwittingly prepared the ground for the emergence of brazen crooks like Chris Ubah, who would roundly insult democracy and its sacred institutions by committing the treasonable felony of kidnapping a sitting governor, and get away with it; lending credence to Herman Melville’s observation that “Sin that pays its way can travel freely, and without passports; whereas Virtue, if a pauper, is stopped at all frontiers”.
It is only in Nigeria that a Speaker of the House could spend 19 million naira for a two day Salah celebration, when his salary for one year is not up to that amount and moreso, when the people whose mandate he stole, cannot put two decent sqaure meals on their table or afford some pieces of meat for their own salah celebration. Is it not only in Nigeria that a man accused of murder could contest an election from prison and win a senatorial seat to that effect? Is it not only in Nigeria that the welfare of the masses takes the back seats of irrelevance in the legislature as personal interests of the Legislators takes the front seat? Nigeria, which is the 6th largest crude oil exporter in the world, cannot afford her citizens some basic prime motor spirit for their cars and kerosene for their cooking, while the legislators look in myopia. the excruciating and strangulating economic burden that this places on the people is not even of concern to these legislators; hence no laws or legislation have emanated from them to address this issue of perennial and vital concern to the well-being of Nigerians. This is to tell Nigerians that these people have formed a new core group of scavenging elites, whose primary industry is to band together in defense of their common avaricious interests, which is simply a lavatorial assault on the mandate of those who they claim to represent. It is in this spirit that the House of Reprsentatives during the certificate forgery saga of Salisu Buhari, rose up on Wednesday, the 14th of July, 1999, to give Buhari a standing ovation, after his wooden denials of the allegations against him. The Legislators violated logic and reason, which requires the accused to tender evidence in his defense. Buhari did no such thing before this harrowed legislators, who as a criminal gang would, were hell-bent on protecting one of their own, and shielding him from the exposure, which may signal the knell that summons each of them to equal exposure as well.
I have resisted the temptation to state that Nigerian legislature at all levels has been desecrated. It has been turned into a distribution agency, where unfortunate characters sleep through legislative sessions and are only awake in the backrooms where deals on contracts are cut. One then begins to wonder, whether the people would for all intents and purposes, elect contractors to go and represent their interests at the National level. The stench of corruption coming from those chambers at Abuja is really insulting to any civilized mind. These people are simply not accountable to anybody. All they care for is their own share of the national cake. Once the presidency refuses to come up with the right amount of lubricants, namely money, with which to grease their greedy fingers, then impeachment threats threaten to overawe our airwaves. The worst of this happened under Obasanjo's regime. The legislators used to flash the humbling papers of impeachment before Obasanjo for him to go about sending them their part of the booty with immediate effect. Once this side of the deal is settled, Obasanjo could go on committing his unpardonable crimes against democracy, and urinating on our hallowed values, none of them cares. They have been bridled with the filthy lucre of corruption. Their watchdog and checkmating roles having been compromised by their greed and dishonour are jettisoned. Nigeria could go to hell or become Obasanjo's toilet, nobody cares.
The annoying aspect of these is that we never begged any of them to represent us. All of them presented themselves and begged us to allow them represent our aspirations at the House of Democracy. So many of them whom we rejected by our popular votes, stole our mandate by re-engineering the election results in collusion with INEC and the PDP rigging machine; one of the best and largest rigging machines in Africa. They do not represent us without pay. All of them are paid to do that job. Yet, there is nothing to justify their salaries and jumbo allowances, which is seriously taking some unprecedented toll on Nigerians. They enjoy a kind of sickening sybaritic lifestyle, which bellies and insults the predicament of the common Nigerians in the streets. They live in opulent quarters and flambouyant neighbourhoods, which seems to insulate them from the fact that so many Nigerians are tenants compelled by unpleasant economic circumstances to reside under bridges in Lagos; in dehumanizing slums like Ajegunle; in the streets, like the retired soldiers that ply their poverty, sleeping in front of the Defence Headquarters in Abuja; and in the major markets, bus terminals and major street intersections daily advertizing their poverty and disabilities to gain the sympathetic crumbs of generous passers-by for their daily bread. Their paradisiacal living environment immunizes their consideration to the fact that many Nigerians are victims of the arbitrary rent regimes of shylock landlords. To this end, they have not crafted any comprehensively pragmatic legislation that will enable Nigerians to have decent shelter over their heads, at an affordable price. All they do is to acquire choice buildings, lands and property for themselves, while these poor Nigerians are pushed further down the miry pits of depondency.
Our "honourable" lawmakers ride in pleasure cars with tinted glasses, which equally blind them from seeing the naked plight of these hapless Nigerians, whom their legislative greed is helping to push further down the poverty slope. Where the roads are impassable, they employ the services of government funded Jeeps. This has further inoculated them against any resolve to craft a comprehensive transportation policy or law that would see to the development of a broad network of transportation possibilities, like railways, inland waterway system, airports and good well maintained roads network. Nigeria has the resources, what we lack in this country is the visionary leadership and initiative, which unfortunately we are paying these imcompetent men for. I have come to believe that public-spirited initiative, like love, is a stranger in the house of avarice. I have equally come to concur with Milton Berlie that "You can lead a man to congress, but you can't make him think".
If these men consult their brains at all, they would have asked themselves, what they have been able to do to rescue the Nigerian economy from its unhealthy overdependence on oil and its consequent status as a monoproduct economy. This is a pertinent question, in an age when countries like Germany is investing 550 million Euros, in the search for alternative sources of energy so as to reduce their dependence on oil as well as reduce the environmental hazards posed by fossil fuel. They should have asked themselves what they have done as an Agricultural policy to put cheap, affordable and healthy food on the tables of Nigerians, and create jobs for our teeming army of unemployed youths. They should equally have asked themselves what policies they have adopted to make Nigerian education more functional as to generate self-employment capabilities in our graduates. None of these questions seem to be a consuming passion for these men. Their only passion is the next sitting allowance and search for contracts that would turn them into millionaires overnight. The trend today is that anyone who gets into the House immediately buys a new house and starts the building of three more simultaneously. It seems that there is a river of money flowing through our National and State Houses of Assembly. Little wonder, the contenders are so very willing and ready to kill to attain a senatorial and House of representatatives seat.
At the state level, the assemblies have abandoned their watchdog positions to become the rubber stamp of incompetent state governors as well as the vendetta machines of irked State Chief Executives. We can recount the impeachment saga across the country's legislatures and their local government counterparts. Let's cast a retrospective look at how the former governor of Abia State, mr. Orji Uzor Kalu pursued his Deputy, Mr. Chima Nwafor, with all the boiling, corrosive and murderous venom of an enraged god. He used the State legislature as his vendetta machine in this regard. I would not want to recount the Federally supported attempt to unconstitutionally remove Ngige from office and the inglorious role played by the Anambra State House of Assembly in the Ngige-gate scandal.
Taking this detour is to enable me ask the most fundamental questions as it applies to the Nigerian Situation. What has these legislators done to help Nigerians and Nigeria out of its present socio-political, ethno-religious and economic quagmire? Nigeria is still marooned on the sandbanks of rot at all levels, and I am yet to see the creation of the relevant laws and relevant structures by the legislature to lead the assault on the forces that are militating against our rise to prominence. What legislation has our National Assembly or their state and local government area counterparts passed aimed at eviscerating unemployment and creating jobs for our teeming youthful population? What have they done to the appaling healthcare delivery system in Nigeria? What about our social hygiene which corruption has laid prostrate? Not that they have not done anything concrete in this regard, they seem to be the worst examples of what their Anti-corruption Act is made to fight. The Nigerian situation challenges anybody to point out to one, useful, pragmatic legislation that has issued from our legislature. What value has the Nigerian Tax Payers derived from the billions of their naira, recurrently being spent on the wages and upkeep of these dysfunctional bunch of corrupt, indolent and plundering legislators? None. Many of these legislators only know the boundaries of their constituencies on paper. Many of them spend precious legislative hours sleeping through the proceedings. Many of them are very busy amassing fleets of pleasure cars, acquiring and changing our young University girls as daily mistresses without conjugal rights or portfolio, to satisfy their lascivious appetites and lewd sexual insecurities. Others are now land prospectors, acquiring choice landed properties in the choice neighbourhoods of our major cities. Today, to be an "honourable" member of any House translates to rotten flambouyance and insulting affluence, all to intimidate those whose servants they ought to be in the first place.
This harrowing incompetence and dysfunctional inaction summarized in our legislators apart from constituting an insult to the lofty principles of democratic governance, seems to consolidate the politically pessimistic views of Gore Vidal when he defined politics as made up of two words: "Poli", which is Greek word for "Many", and "tics", which are blood sucking insects. Our legislature seems to be the playground of many blood sucking socio-political "insects". That is the only reason, that the country they have been piloting is bringing the rear in the world poverty index.
I think that these men should be told in no clear terms that Nigerians have had enough of their tomfoolery. Their unprincipled vacillations and political directionlessness is really compromising our welfare and that of our posterity. The legislature is a house of laws and not a den of debauched thieves. Politics should be about ethics. Hiding under the slogan that politics is a dirty game to perpetrate their avaricious regimes is a tendency which is unacceptable in the score of manners. Politics is only dirty for a man whose vision and prefabricated prejudice is gravitated by corruption. Politics is a human act. And all human acts are inspired by ethical considerations for them to be worth the while. Aristotle, one of the greatest Philosophers of all times was well aware of the fact that politics and ethics are inseparable Siamese twins. One dies the death of debauchery when divorced from the other. He sought no better platform than his Nicomachean Ethics to announce to the world that Man is a political animal. To this end, our legislators should better sit up and be alive to their responsibilities or take an honourable bow out of the scene by handing in their resignations.
Politics should have some philosophy, and should not be abandoned to the whims and caprices of avaricious and egocentric hedonism. Plato essayed in his "REPUBLIC" to bridge any conceptual chasm between politics and philosophy. Paraphrasing these thoughts many centuries later, Abraham Lincoln opined that those who desire to rule men must arm themselves with the power that wisdom and knowledge gives. Philosophers should become Kings or Kings become Philosophers. This Platonic insight has not lost its touch in our world today. The Nigerian legislators should either get wedded to justice and selflessness which are the fundamental basics of ethics, which impregnates every responsible politiking or they should get out of there. The Nigerian people remain the ultimate sovereign and repositories of power. Our House of Parliament should suffer no more desecrations at the hands of misfits and inglorious men. It should prove itself to be above a mere conglomeration of simpletons out to satisfy their yawning and unquenchable greed. We really need a new direction. I pray that God should see us through.
Thursday, November 20, 2008
Friday, November 14, 2008
Boy: Dad, what's politics?
Dad: Let me set an example with our family. I have all the money so we'll call me the management. Mom receives most of it so we'll call her the government. We'll call the maid the working class, you are the people, and your baby brother is the future. Do you understand now son?
Boy: I still don't understand dad.
Dad: Think about it for a while son.
That night the boy wakes up because his baby brother is crying. He goes in and finds out he's soiled his diapers. He goes to tell his mom but she's asleep he goes in to the maids room but she's in there doing the "main thing" with his dad. He bangs on the door but no one can hear him. The next day...
Son: Dad I understand politics now.
Dad: Good, explain it to me in your own words son.
Son: The management is screwing the working class while the government's fast asleep. The people are being ignored and the future is full of SHIT!
I wasn't too aghasted actually as contemporary little children are highly precocious. So please, Parents, learn to keep your secrets well from your children.
Saturday, November 8, 2008
"If there is anyone out there who still doubts that America is a place where all things are possible; who still wonders if the dream of our founders is alive in our time; who still questions the power of our democracy, tonight is your answer.
Its the answer told by lines that stretched around schools and churches in numbers this nation has never seen; by people who waited three hours and four hours, many for the very first time in their lives, because they believed that this time must be different; that their voice could be that difference.
Its the answer spoken by young and old, rich and poor, Democrat and Republican, black, white, Latino, Asian, Native American, gay, straight, disabled and not disabled - Americans who sent a message to the world that we have never been a collection of Red States and Blue States: we are, and always will be, the United States of America.
Its the answer that led those who have been told for so long by so many to be cynical, and fearful, and doubtful of what we can achieve to put their hands on the arc of history and bend it once more toward the hope of a better day.
Its been a long time coming, but tonight, because of what we did on this day, in this election, at this defining moment, change has come to America.
I just received a very gracious call from Senator McCain. He fought long and hard in this campaign, and hes fought even longer and harder for the country he loves. He has endured sacrifices for America that most of us cannot begin to imagine, and we are better off for the service rendered by this brave and selfless leader. I congratulate him and Governor Palin for all they have achieved, and I look forward to working with them to renew this nations promise in the months ahead.
I want to thank my partner in this journey, a man who campaigned from his heart and spoke for the men and women he grew up with on the streets of Scranton and rode with on that train home to Delaware, the Vice President-elect of the United States, Joe Biden.
I would not be standing here tonight without the unyielding support of my best friend for the last sixteen years, the rock of our family and the love of my life, our nations next First Lady, Michelle Obama. Sasha and Malia, I love you both so much, and you have earned the new puppy thats coming with us to the White House. And while shes no longer with us, I know my grandmother is watching, along with the family that made me who I am. I miss them tonight, and know that my debt to them is beyond measure.
To my campaign manager David Plouffe, my chief strategist David Axelrod, and the best campaign team ever assembled in the history of politics - you made this happen, and I am forever grateful for what youve sacrificed to get it done.
But above all, I will never forget who this victory truly belongs to - it belongs to you.
I was never the likeliest candidate for this office. We didnt start with much money or many endorsements. Our campaign was not hatched in the halls of Washington - it began in the backyards of Des Moines and the living rooms of Concord and the front porches of Charleston.
It was built by working men and women who dug into what little savings they had to give five dollars and ten dollars and twenty dollars to this cause. It grew strength from the young people who rejected the myth of their generations apathy; who left their homes and their families for jobs that offered little pay and less sleep; from the not-so-young people who braved the bitter cold and scorching heat to knock on the doors of perfect strangers; from the millions of Americans who volunteered, and organized, and proved that more than two centuries later, a government of the people, by the people and for the people has not perished from this Earth. This is your victory.
I know you didnt do this just to win an election and I know you didnt do it for me. You did it because you understand the enormity of the task that lies ahead. For even as we celebrate tonight, we know the challenges that tomorrow will bring are the greatest of our lifetime - two wars, a planet in peril, the worst financial crisis in a century. Even as we stand here tonight, we know there are brave Americans waking up in the deserts of Iraq and the mountains of Afghanistan to risk their lives for us. There are mothers and fathers who will lie awake after their children fall asleep and wonder how theyll make the mortgage, or pay their doctors bills, or save enough for college. There is new energy to harness and new jobs to be created; new schools to build and threats to meet and alliances to repair.
The road ahead will be long. Our climb will be steep. We may not get there in one year or even one term, but America - I have never been more hopeful than I am tonight that we will get there. I promise you - we as a people will get there.
There will be setbacks and false starts. There are many who wont agree with every decision or policy I make as President, and we know that government cant solve every problem. But I will always be honest with you about the challenges we face. I will listen to you, especially when we disagree. And above all, I will ask you join in the work of remaking this nation the only way its been done in America for two-hundred and twenty-one years - block by block, brick by brick, calloused hand by calloused hand.
What began twenty-one months ago in the depths of winter must not end on this autumn night. This victory alone is not the change we seek - it is only the chance for us to make that change. And that cannot happen if we go back to the way things were. It cannot happen without you.
So let us summon a new spirit of patriotism; of service and responsibility where each of us resolves to pitch in and work harder and look after not only ourselves, but each other. Let us remember that if this financial crisis taught us anything, its that we cannot have a thriving Wall Street while Main Street suffers - in this country, we rise or fall as one nation; as one people.
Let us resist the temptation to fall back on the same partisanship and pettiness and immaturity that has poisoned our politics for so long. Let us remember that it was a man from this state who first carried the banner of the Republican Party to the White House - a party founded on the values of self-reliance, individual liberty, and national unity. Those are values we all share, and while the Democratic Party has won a great victory tonight, we do so with a measure of humility and determination to heal the divides that have held back our progress. As Lincoln said to a nation far more divided than ours, We are not enemies, but friends...though passion may have strained it must not break our bonds of affection. And to those Americans whose support I have yet to earn - I may not have won your vote, but I hear your voices, I need your help, and I will be your President too.
And to all those watching tonight from beyond our shores, from parliaments and palaces to those who are huddled around radios in the forgotten corners of our world - our stories are singular, but our destiny is shared, and a new dawn of American leadership is at hand. To those who would tear this world down - we will defeat you. To those who seek peace and security - we support you. And to all those who have wondered if Americas beacon still burns as bright - tonight we proved once more that the true strength of our nation comes not from our the might of our arms or the scale of our wealth, but from the enduring power of our ideals: democracy, liberty, opportunity, and unyielding hope.
For that is the true genius of America - that America can change. Our union can be perfected. And what we have already achieved gives us hope for what we can and must achieve tomorrow.
This election had many firsts and many stories that will be told for generations. But one thats on my mind tonight is about a woman who cast her ballot in Atlanta. Shes a lot like the millions of others who stood in line to make their voice heard in this election except for one thing - Ann Nixon Cooper is 106 years old.
She was born just a generation past slavery; a time when there were no cars on the road or planes in the sky; when someone like her couldnt vote for two reasons - because she was a woman and because of the color of her skin.
And tonight, I think about all that shes seen throughout her century in America - the heartache and the hope; the struggle and the progress; the times we were told that we cant, and the people who pressed on with that American creed: Yes we can.
At a time when womens voices were silenced and their hopes dismissed, she lived to see them stand up and speak out and reach for the ballot. Yes we can.
When there was despair in the dust bowl and depression across the land, she saw a nation conquer fear itself with a New Deal, new jobs and a new sense of common purpose. Yes we can.
When the bombs fell on our harbor and tyranny threatened the world, she was there to witness a generation rise to greatness and a democracy was saved. Yes we can.
She was there for the buses in Montgomery, the hoses in Birmingham, a bridge in Selma, and a preacher from Atlanta who told a people that We Shall Overcome. Yes we can.
A man touched down on the moon, a wall came down in Berlin, a world was connected by our own science and imagination. And this year, in this election, she touched her finger to a screen, and cast her vote, because after 106 years in America, through the best of times and the darkest of hours, she knows how America can change. Yes we can.
America, we have come so far. We have seen so much. But there is so much more to do. So tonight, let us ask ourselves - if our children should live to see the next century; if my daughters should be so lucky to live as long as Ann Nixon Cooper, what change will they see? What progress will we have made?
This is our chance to answer that call. This is our moment. This is our time - to put our people back to work and open doors of opportunity for our kids; to restore prosperity and promote the cause of peace; to reclaim the American Dream and reaffirm that fundamental truth - that out of many, we are one; that while we breathe, we hope, and where we are met with cynicism, and doubt, and those who tell us that we cant, we will respond with that timeless creed that sums up the spirit of a people:
Yes We Can. Thank you, God bless you, and may God Bless the United States of America".
Monday, October 27, 2008
To leverage, base on the strength we have, to put smiles on people's faces by developing them, broadening their socio-economic cum political horizon, helping them to succeed, and live their dreams.
- To help people develop purpose-driven lives, and challenge the youths to live out God's purpose in their lives.
- To bring relief to all ethnic groups in Kogi State, Nigeria, and beyond, especially focusing on Widows, Orphans, and abandoned children and families in remote areas of the state and the country at large.
- To improve the lives of underprivileged children in Nigeria and beyond by promoting their educational and social development.
- Moving people towards a new vision and enabling them with the skills and resources for a brighter future.
For us, every individual counts, whether in an area of great media coverage or not, we believe that ethnic communities around the country and beyond will benefit from being a part of the New Frontiers Foundation. Our focus on the community helps us to have a wider reaching impact in the lives of children, youths and families made vulnerable through circumstances beyond their control.
OUR CORE VALUES ARE:
- We believe that poverty and illiteracy can be tackled through community development.
- We believe in the right of poor men and women to a secure livelihood.
- We believe that education and economic self-reliance can be a powerful force for poverty eradication.
- We listen to and learn from the people we work with.
- We value innovation and entrepreneurship.
- We have confidence in our ability to make a significant difference.
The New Frontiers Foundation Shall have several projects planned, and in the process, we shall also work along side National Organizations to mitigate or rather ameliorate the deplorable indigent situation in rural areas. Through experience, planning and careful research, we shall identify areas where change can be made through a little sacrifice and great vision. We shall visit these areas and assess the local needs and we shall work with the people and other volunteers to build a more sustainable life and future, by providing necessary skills training, education and the required facilities.
In the case of the children, we shall spend quality time with them, playing with them, reading to them and interacting to learn better how and what their individual needs are, so we can customize a response that will meet their needs and help to build a strong foundation for the future of each child. Through different activities, we may share with them such things as balloons, ice cream or something fun to show them we care.
We shall serve only through being who we are and that is often all it takes to make an impact so great.
Clinics: Providing medical care, thus benefiting the whole community. In most cases, when living on the outskirts, the distance and lack of transportation to major cities to receive the medical help makes it difficult to get the proper care. Here is where the NFF endeavours to continue to expand in order to provide those in need with accessible care.
In working and communicating with those in need or leaders of communities, and partnering with like minded organizations, New Frontiers Foundation desires to customize programs and provide the resources to help whole communities and individuals to grow and become more self-sustaining.
HOW WE DO IT:
The care that we shall give would be directed in several different ways. Our efforts shall include raising funds through donations and gifts, which would then be carefully distributed where the needs are most urgent.We shall also have a program called "Helping Hands," where kind-hearted volunteers, like you, can visit a project and donate their time and talents in several ways for example, by teaching the local children, helping with a building project, e.t.c. The "Helping Hands" Project enables you take part in restoring lives to those children who have been separated from their families due to circumstances beyond their control such as, poverty, disease or in some cases, crisis. We shall consistently be growing, and we would like you to grow with us.
New Frontiers Foundation will start as a small group with a big idea, and the idea would be: "To be fully human, we must translate our compassion and concern into useful service".That simple statement conveys something about the nature of compassion that is expressed in most spiritual traditions around the world — that compassion is not just about helping those less fortunate than ourselves, it's about the realization that we are all connected as one human family. That sense of compassionate service would motivate all of the NFF's work, as we shall build programs that will support people in Igala land, Kogi State, Nigeria and the world in their efforts to build healthy communities. NFF's prospective programs, which shall be spanning many cultures in Kogi State, Nigeria, and beyond, share certain fundamental principles:
(a) Serving the Underserved:
Our programs shall serve people who have been economically, politically, or otherwise marginalized. We shall change our program approach to relate to their culture and circumstances, reaching out in very different ways. Our aim is to build a bridge of compassion between our donors and the people we serve — people in Nigeria and around the world who have the fewest resources.
(b) Building Healthy Communities:
The New Frontiers Foundation shall embrace an expanded concept of health, recognizing that spiritual and cultural renewal, economic self-sufficiency, and basic civil and human rights are as important to well-being as medical care.
(c) Promoting Sustainability:
The New Frontiers Foundation's programs shall foster self-reliance and aim to reduce dependence on outside assistance. In the communities where we shall work, we shall share skills and technology appropriate for local conditions, assist local decision-making, and help launch projects that will become financially self-sufficient. This transfer of knowledge enables communities to care for their own, now and into the future.
(d) Working Through Partnerships:
We shall form long-term partnerships with those we serve. By developing close relationships with local organizations and community leaders, we build trust, mutual respect and cultural understanding. We honor the ability of communities to define their own solutions to the challenges they face.
"Helping out is not some special skill. It is not the domain of rare individuals. It is not confined to a single part of our lives. We simply heed the call of that natural impulse within and follow it where it leads us."- Ram Dass.
The New Frontiers Foundation shall begin its operations from Igala land (which is our priority), and shall subsequently, spread its operations to other parts of the country. We shall go international as we continue to wax stronger.
(1) Poverty Eradication
(3) Education cum Intellectual Development
(5) Widows cum Orphans empowerment.
Another germane cum pivotal factor to be given consideration to is the mode of admitting prospective members into the project. The NFF Nigeria is a dignified, sensitive, and hallowed project and so, membership must not be open to all Tom, Dick, and Harry. In other words, prospective members would be selected and /or admitted into the Foundation strictly on merit. It is also imperative to ensure that prospective members are individuals who are versatile, highly endowed with multifarious talents, and having the capacity to brainstorm on pending issues.
Not only that, to ensure the workability, stability, and sustainability of the NFF project, intellectuals who have the capacity to engender developmental cum brainstorming ideas are needed, as that is the only recipe for enabling the foundation grapple with the multiple gigantic challenges ahead.
Prospective members must be articulate, and should be good communicators.
Finally, an overarching desideratum for membership is the demonstration of a good personal character by prospective members. Put differently, prospective members must possess positive moral credentials.
BELOW IS A THINK TANK OF INTELLIGENTSIA THAT WOULD COORDINATE AND DRIVE THE PROJECT:
(1) Yakubu Ojonugwa (B.Sc.), River State University of Science & Technology, Port Harcourt.
(2) Akpa Innocent (B.Sc.), Kogi State University, Anyigba.
(3) Atumeyi Ikani (B.Sc.), Kogi State University, Anyigba.
(4) Solomon Ocholi (LLB.), Kogi State University, Anyigba.
(5) Usman Ojonugwa Abutu Dekoomson (B.Sc.), Usman Danfodio University, Sokoto.
(6) Philip Ejile Fidelis (B.Sc.), University of Ibadan.
(7) Iliasu Ocheni (B.Sc.), Kogi State University, Anyigba.
(8) Enebi Ochimana (B.Sc.), Kogi State University, Anyigba.
(9) Simon Ogwu (B.Sc.), Ahmadu Bello University, Zaria.
Any member of The New Frontiers Foundation shall be called a "Frontier". The entire members put together shall be popularly known as "The Frontiers".
HELP US TO SUCCEED THROUGH DONATIONS
When you give to NFF Nigeria, your money and gifts provides for children and youths who have lost parents or those who have been abandoned and are now living with threatening circumstances.Your donation goes to the heart of the need in providing a wonderful home, meals, education, skill training, and most of all, a loving environment with staff who works with community needs on daily basis.
"We believe and trust in God to make this project a success. We shall live to achieve and fulfill this mission through Christ who strenthens us. We implore you to collaborate with us, to by the power of God, help the Igala sons and daughters cum the entire Nigerian children and youths, to live their dreams, crystalize their vision, and fulfil their destiny."
Joel Odaudu (Minister),
President and Founder,
New Frontiers Foundation, Nigeria.
Mobile: 08038347495, 08076308120.
E-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org, or:
Blog: http://www.joelistik.blogspot.com/ or: