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Ethnic Agitations: Federalism Non-negotiable, Says Ijaw Youths Congress Leader

Roland-Oweilaemi-Pereotubo-the-IYC-President

Barr. Roland Oweilaemi Pereotubo

From: Ben Dunno, Warri

The President Ijaw Youth Council (IYC) worldwide, Comrade Roland Oweilaemi Pereotubo, has reiterated the need for a constitutional review that would accommodate the interest of the minorities by enforcing strict adherence to fiscal federalism based on resource control and devolution of power as panacea for peace and sustainable development.

Making this submission in a paper presented at the ’National Conference On The Future of Nigeria’, held in Washington D.C, USA, last weekend, Peretuobo, attributed the growing ethnic agitations in the country to the fundamental lapses in the constitution that was foisted on the people by successive military governments who ruled by decrees and barrels of guns.

He noted that there was never a time that the Nigerian people sat together to adopt both the 1979 and 1999 constitution as the constitutional conferences that reviewed them prior to adoption were the creation of military rulers then to fulfilled all righteousness as the input made were never taken into cognisance by the dictators in power.

He stated that until the Nigerian people were made to come to a round table and deliberate on how they choose to be govern themselves  with reference to the principle of fiscal federalism that would guaranty the rights and privileges of the   minority ethnic groups in resource control, devolution of power and restructuring, there would continue to be ethnic nationalities agitations.

According to him, “The 1979 and 1999 Constitutions are military decrees wearing a constitutional gown. The military rulers enacted them only to satisfy their dictatorial urge. Since after the 1957/8 constitutional conferences, none of the Constitutional conferences held so far by successive governments have produced any Constitution”.

“The 1995 Constitutional conference held by Late Gen. Sani Abacha, the Constitutional Reforms Conference by Chief Olusegun Obasanjo in 2005, the Pro-National Conference (PRONACO) by PA Anthony Enaharo and Prof. Wole Soyinka in 2006 as well as the 2014 National Dialogue by Dr. Goodluck Jonathan did not resulted in the enactment of any Constitution”.

“The 1999 Constitution which is a creation of Gen. Abubakar Abdusalami’s military junta cannot be said to be representing Nigerians interests”.

“The only way that consensus can come in is when Nigerians sit together to enact law for ourselves. It is my humble view that some of the above mentioned constitutional conferences have wider acceptance by Nigerians”.

“If the Government of the day can implement the recommendations of the PRONACO Constitution or the 2014 National Dialogue, the constitutional crisis in the country would be addressed”.

“My suggestion therefore to the solution of the Nigeria’s future is for the government to address the constitutional crisis in the country, vis-a-vis the popular demands for restructuring, devolution of power to the region/States, resource control and true federalism”.

“To us in the Niger Delta region, our demands are in addition to the above are self-determination and political autonomy. We want to be free citizens in our fatherland. The present political structure of Nigeria treated Niger Deltans as outcasts”, he concluded. (The Sun)

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Poverty, Unemployment, Getting Worse, Calls For True Federalism, Says Atiku

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Former Vie President, Atiku Abubakar

Eniola Akinkuotu and Lekan Adetayo

Former Vice-President Atiku Abubakar says Nigeria is currently at a crossroads as poverty, unemployment, inflation, infant mortality and other social vices are on the increase.

He, therefore, called on Nigerians to unite in the demand for true federalism.

Atiku said this while delivering his speech at the formal public presentation of the Daily Stream newspaper in Abuja on Thursday.

He said, “A huge pall of pessimism hangs over a section of the citizenry, and the ranks of those who harbour real doubt about the future of the country swell by the day.

“The country is truly at a crossroads, and things are made worse by the cocktail of economic, social and political problems which we have had to contend with, and which add to the abysmally low estimation of our country even by its own citizens.”

The former Vice-President recalled that life was better in the First Republic because each region was allowed to grow at its own pace while the Federal Government was weaker.

Atiku, however, noted that following the creation of states, the Federal Government became very powerful while the federating units became poor, thereby, deepening poverty among the populace

He added, “Our beloved country has been in the throes of severe and debilitating social and economic problems. Virtually all the development indices have not been favourable: massive and pervasive poverty, double-digit inflation, unemployment, dwindling foreign exchange receipts, poor GDP growth rates, high infant and maternal mortality, high levels of illiteracy, and millions of school-age children out of school.”

Atiku said the many problems facing the nation were already threatening the unity and the existence of the country. He, therefore, urged Nigerians to come together to renegotiate the terms of our union.

The former vice-president said no leader could make far-reaching positive changes in the country except the current political structure is changed.

He added, “To be sure, good leaders do make a difference in the fortunes of countries. However, leaders operate within structural constraints imposed by constitutions, laws and regulations and the local and world economy.

“But the most germane question we need to ask ourselves is: must we really continue to live together as one country amidst such a pervasive climate of disunity, which is impeding our development?

“My prompt answer to this is yes, we should remain together because it is the best option, and because we will be stronger, greater, and better in one piece than in pieces.”

Attempts to get reactions of President Muhammadu Buhari’s spokesman, Mr. Femi Adesina, did not succeed. He had not responded  to an email and   an SMS sent to him as of the time of sending this report.   (Punchng.com)

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Nigeria Will Break Up Unless…., Says Ex-Gov. Attah |The Republican News

From Joe Effiong, Uyo

Former governor of Akwa Ibom State and co-chairman of Pan Niger Delta Forum (PANDEF), Obong Victor Attah, has warned that Nigeria may break up unless fiscal federalism is instituted.
Attah, who spoke on a private radio station in Uyo, the state capital, yesterday, said the only respite Nigeria has against its imminent disintegration would be to return to fiscal federalism as that remains the only solution to myriad of socio-economic problems besetting  the  nation.
“Under a fiscal regime, as it were in the days of the regions, states, would contribute 50 percent of their resources to the central government and use 50 percent for development of their territories, such that multiplier effects would douse 90 percent of tensions in the country.”
Attah, who was governor between 1999 and 2007, said Nigeria would have achieved more significant development if true fiscal federalism had been put in place, instead of what is obtained at the moment.
The former chairman of the Nigeria Governors’ Forum dismissed arguments that majority of states in Nigeria are not viable and pointed out that if fiscal federalism was in place, the states would look inwards, to develop their inherent potential, instead of allowing sleaze and corruption by governors to slow down the tempo of development in their respective states.
Known for his fight for resource control while in office, Obong Attah equally advocated adoption  of two party system in Nigeria.
According to him, political parties in Nigeria should look inwards, with a view to identifying parties with similar ideologies to merge.
“Two major political parties are good for this country, so that when one is not doing well, the people should have a choice to vote the other,” Attah argued.
He urged the people to defend their votes by always demanding from their governors how tax payers monies were being appropriated.
Commending the Federal Government for “a lot of things Buhari is doing, and one of them is this fight against corruption,” as well as routing Boko Haram, Attah, however, said the same zeal was not deployed to tackle the menace of herdsmen decimating farmlands, raping and killing people at will.   (The Sun)

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Religious Extremism Could Kill Nigeria, Jonathan Warns |The Republican News

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Goodluck E. Jonathan

Niyi Odebode, Abuja

Former President Goodluck Jonathan has said if Nigeria fails to address religious violence and extremism, the menace will destroy the country.

Making specific mention of the unending killings in Southern Kaduna, the former President also declared that the solution to the Niger Delta crisis was already included in the report of the 2014 National Conference, held in Abuja.

He contended that military action would not solve the agitation in the region, stressing that it would create secessionist groups in the region.

Jonathan, in his presentation to the United States House Sub-Committee on Africa, on Wednesday, said failure to apprehend culprits of previous religious killings had emboldened those who engaged in such acts.

A copy of the presentation was made available to The PUNCH on Thursday in Abuja by the former President’s media aide, Ikechukwu Eze.

In his presentation, he grouped sensitive issues the sub-committee invited him to speak on as ‘Challenges facing Nigerian Christians and the Niger Delta Question’.

Advising the Federal Government on religious killings in the country, he said Nigeria could no longer ignore conflicts going on in various parts of the country.

Jonathan added, “If, as a nation, we do not kill religious persecution and extremism, then religious persecution and extremism will kill Nigeria.

“The potential danger associated with the level of conflicts going on across the country is so glaring that no sane mind can ignore.”

He noted that security agencies had a history of failing to apprehend the culprits.

Jonathan stated, “Your invitation (of the sub-committee) letter profusely highlighted the issues of the killing of Christians in Nigeria, the last major incident being the recent killings in Southern Kaduna in Kaduna State, and I do not need to elaborate on that.

“The challenge is how we stop that from recurring. How do we ensure that Christians and Muslims co-exist peacefully in Nigeria and practise their religions freely without discrimination, molestation and killings?”

He stated that although there had been more than 10 major incidents of ethnic and religious violence in Kaduna State since 1992, only in one were the culprits punished.

This, the former President said, was in Zango Kataf, when the Ibrahim Babangida administration sentenced 14 persons to death over the riot in the area.

Jonathan said he supported the recommendation of the 2014 National Conference that an Equity Commission be created to handle religious crisis.

Quoting the report of the conference, he stated, “In view of the fact that religion plays a vital role in many aspects of our national life, especially in the aspect of national security and national unity, it is highly imperative that it be singled out from other fundamental rights and given a special attention via the creation of an Equity Commission whose sole mandate will be to focus on religious rights and their promotion.

“This is in line with best global practices as many advanced democracies have special legal and institutional arrangements for some very sensitive aspects of their national life.”

Jonathan believed that the establishment of specialised agencies, such as the equity commission, would not be out of place, adding that they existed in countries such as the United Kingdom and the United States.

The former President said that for example, in the UK despite the existence of the UK Equal Opportunities Commission, a Commission for Racial Equality (created by the Race Relations Act, 1976) existed alongside the UK-EOC for many years.

He stated that despite the existence of the US State Department Bureau of Democracy, Human Rights and Labour, America had other special human rights enforcement agencies to promote specific rights.

Jonathan stated, “I totally agree with the 2014 National Conference on the need to establish the Religious Equity Commission that will have powers to arrest and prosecute those who contravene the law.”

He said his government established 12 federal universities, nine of which were located in the North.

According to him, his administration set up 165 elementary and high schools in each of the 19 northern states to combine Islamic education with western education.

He explained that he personally visited the scene of the bombing at St Theresa Catholic Church, Madalla, where Boko Haram killed 44 people on December 31, 2011.

He recalled that he promised Nigerians that those responsible for that heinous act would be brought to book.

“That promise was fulfilled on December 20, 2013, when Kabiru Umar, aka Kabiru Sokoto, was sentenced to life imprisonment after my administration investigated that crime, identified him as the mastermind, arrested him and diligently prosecuted him and some of his associates,” Jonathan added.

Defending his administration,  he said,  “The point I want to emphasise by citing these incidents is that my administration had the political will to halt impunity in Nigeria and that is why killings, due to religious extremism, were localised in the North-East with occasional killings in other zones of the North.

“The killings did not spread to the mainly Christian south and I believe that the fight against impunity by my administration was the main reason for this.”

To end the ethnic and religious conflicts in Nigeria, he stated, “I recommend the establishment of the Religious Equity Commission, enforcement of our laws without fear or favour and maximum cooperation by all Nigerians, especially our revered religious leaders and clerics.”

Agitation in N’Delta predated Nigeria’s independence

Jonathan said the complaints and restiveness in the Niger Delta were not unique to the region.

“The people in this region feel that though they suffer from the environmental hazards of the exploitation of the God given resources, they do not commensurately benefit from the exploitation of these resources.”

According to him, the agitation predated Nigeria’s existence in 1914.

He recalled that oil palm produce (palm oil and kernel) was the major raw materials that fed the growth of the Industrial Revolution in Europe, and they largely came from the Niger Delta.

Jonathan said various tribal chiefs, such as King Jaja of Opobo and Nana Olomu, resisted British exploitation of these resources and were both arrested and deposed. These punitive measures, he said, did not end the agitations.

The former President added that with the discovery of petroleum in the Niger Delta, similar agitations surfaced.

These, he said, included the Niger Delta Republic, proclaimed by Isaac Jasper Adaka Boro on February 23, 1966.

Jonathan noted that the Federal Government had come up with many interventionist initiatives to pacify the Niger Delta.

These include the Oil Mineral Producing Areas Development Commission, set up by the military administration of  Ibrahim Babangida and Niger Delta Development Commission, established by the Olusegun Obasanjo government.

He stated, “The greatest stumbling block of these interventionist agencies was lack of continuity, resulting from an over politicisation of projects as each successive management awards new contracts rather than continue with those awarded by their predecessors and as such, the Niger Delta is littered with many abandoned projects with very few completed projects to show for the huge monies spent.”

He noted that the 13 per cent derivation introduced by Obasanjo had benefited Niger Delta states and their people more than the interventionist agencies.

Jonathan stated, “Those who knew Akwa Ibom State before the 13 per cent derivation became law will agree that the derivation fund has changed the face of that state, making it almost overnight one of the most developed states in Nigeria. The same is true with other oil producing states though with varying degrees of development.’’

 ‘Military crackdown can create secessionist groups in N’Delta’  

He suggested that the Federal Government should adopt the recommendation of the 2014 conference on fiscal federalism.

The former President stated, “States should be allowed to exploit their natural resources as they deem fit and pay adequate taxes to the Federal Government. This is also the position of the 2014 National Conference.”

Advising the Federal Government further on the Niger Delta crises, he stated, “The military crackdown in the Niger Delta will not end the agitation there.

“It will have the opposite effect of provoking the youth, which will cause them to seek to acquire sophisticated weapons to defend themselves and their communities.

“This may, in turn, lead to secessionist movements and the reincarnation of the Isaac Jasper Adaka Boro-led revolution and the Biafra Civil War. The Federal Government and the international community must work to avoid this.”  (Punchng.com)

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