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2023: SSENA And Atiku/Okowa’s Endorsement

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South-South Ethnic Nationalities Assembly SSENA

By Jerome-Mario Chijioke Utomi

The venue of the event was lavishly decorated with different cultural regalia to impress, and it did impress. The event, which commenced at about 11 am at a location in Warri, Delta State, saw all present culturally kitted in their numbers, men and women alike. They sat in such a manner that the gathering could be mistaken for a celebration of cultural fiesta. They wore ample smiles and listened to the various speakers with disciplined attention but said little, even as the banter was exchanged at intervals.

Interestingly, the gathering was by no means a cultural fiesta but a meeting of the members of the South-South Ethnic Nationalities Assembly (SSENA), which comprises various regional groups, community leaders, activists, traditional titleholders, stakeholders, religious leaders, captains of industries, students, and think tanks from across the South-south geopolitical zone of Nigeria.

They gathered for a world press conference to, among others, endorse Atiku Abubakar and Ifeanyi Okowa for President and Vice President of the Federal Republic of Nigeria and the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) as their vehicle for achieving this objective.

Of all that I heard/observed, two need to be highlighted. First and very fundamental, the gathering acknowledged what has been on the mind of Nigerians: politics is about personal interest.

The second and very strategic is that the virtues and attributes of members all through the world press conference essentially suggest that the forthcoming February 25 and March 11, 2023, general elections in the country may be greeted with an ideological shift.

It was observed that Nigerians might be excused to cast their votes not based on pecuniary consideration or gains arising from a candidate’s deep pocket.

Rather, it will be largely a function of interest anchored on past records of performance (scorecards/political history and antecedents) of the political parties and that of their members angling for elective positions on the platform of the party.

There are many facts to back the above assertion.

First, while addressing the press on the kernel of the meeting, the National Coordinator of SSENA, Chief Favour Izoukumor, stated that with the 2023 general elections just weeks away, the peculiar challenges and the interest of the region is once again on the front burner, and there is a need to make a critical appraisal of the political parties, candidates, their manifestos, antecedents, leadership, and track records, as it affects the growth and development of South-South region over the past 62 years since independence.

To further establish insight on what informed the choice of Atiku/Okowa as candidates and PDP as a party, Izoukumor explained that the federal government under the PDP led by President Olusegun Obasanjo, a former military Head of State, through to President Umaru Musa Yar’Adua and Goodluck Ebele Jonathan, provided extensive support to the South-South geo-political zone.

Presenting the scorecards of these past administrations and how the people of the South-South region benefited, Izoukumor pointed out that it was under the leadership of these great men (Obasanjo, Yar’Adua, and Jonathan) that the Niger Delta Development Commission (NDDC) was created, 13% derivation fund was allocated to the oil-producing Niger Delta states, the Presidential Amnesty Program, the Niger Delta Ministry, the Nigerian Maritime University of Okerenkoko, the Federal Petroleum University, Effurun-Warri, the Federal University of Otuoke and many others were created.

These institutions and their policies were geared toward the development of the region. It is fair to say that the current peace and tranquillity in the Niger Delta is the product of the then-PDP-led federal government.

While the visitors, made up of journalists and other members of specialized groups, were trying to internalize, as well as compare notes as it affects the above claims, SSENA Coordinator again dished another set of reasons as to why the group is rooting for PDP as a party and Atiku/Okowa as their President and Vice Presidential candidates respectively.

He captures it this way; under the glaring performance of the then-PDP-led government, Nigeria regained its rightful place in the comity of nations as a leader of the African continent. The Universal Basic Education Programme (UBE) was established. PDP brought about astronomical growth of the Nigerian economy, with a 100% GDP growth from 3% to 6%; resuscitation of the national fertiliser companies in Kaduna and Onne (Rivers) as well as grew the excess crude oil account from a paltry sum of $2bn to $43bn, while managing to forge an $18bn debt relief deal with major creditor nations and groups, including the Paris Club.

The group furnished the media present with some examples. It reads; worthy of note is how the PDP considered the South-south region in the equation of Nigeria politics by making a minority ethnic nationality, Dr Goodluck Ebele Jonathan, a Vice-President and subsequently President of Nigeria. It was the highest political office attained by a minority from the South-South and went ahead to make him the President of the Federal Republic of Nigeria. Under Jonathan’s formidable economic team, Nigeria’s economy was rebased for the first time in a decade, leading to the country’s emergence as the largest economy in the continent after overtaking South Africa.

SSENA boasted that even as the nation braces up for the 2023 general election, the PDP has again demonstrated its ‘organicness’ and love for minority groups by picking Ifeanyi Okowa from Delta State as the Vice-Presidential candidate.

Okowa, according to SSENA, symbolizes a bridge between the South-South and South-East. His adoption by the party was borne out of his sterling performance as a governor of Delta State. His giant strides are evident across the land and are visible to the blind and audible to the deaf. His landmark achievements in Delta State are evident, particularly in riverine communities, where his carefully thought-out programs and policies have created wealth for Deltans.

Still, on why they have thrown their weight behind PDP, the Group again fired; The PDP is known for talent hunting, and they have done it again by picking Okowa in this coming election. Presently, we believe this is the best for the South-South. There is no major political party other than the PDP and its candidate, Atiku Abubakar, that has shown interest in the S/S and the Nigerian people, and with his charisma and willpower to pull Nigeria out of the quagmire of hopelessness and to rescue it for a better and greater nation.

Advancing other reasons that are Atiku-specific, SSENA said; It is pertinent to recall that under the PDP government (1999 – 2007), during which Atiku Abubakar served as Vice President and also as Chairman of the National Economic Council (NEC) (from 1999-2011), Nigeria recorded the highest economic growth in history. In 2002, Nigeria recorded the highest GDP growth rate of 15.33%.

The PDP government initiated the fight against corruption through the establishment of anti-corruption agencies such as the EFCC and the ICPC. Under the PDP, Nigeria witnessed private-sector telecommunications, banking, and pension administration reforms. The PDP-led government paid off the foreign debts inherited by the civilian government.

The chronicles of PDP achievements over those years cannot be written without His Excellency Atiku Abubakar getting a prominent mention, both for his tireless effort as a backbone of the reforms and as chairman of the National Economic Council (NEC).

The Group insisted that Atiku Abubakar’s wealth of experience in private and public sectors gives him an edge over all rival candidates in the 2023 elections. They stressed that he had created thousands of direct and indirect jobs for Nigerians in his home state of Adamawa and other parts of the country, noting that Atiku has already pledged a whopping sum of $10 billion to small and medium-sized businesses to create jobs that will solve the unemployment crisis we face if elected president.

“He, Atiku again, promised to restructure Nigeria if elected president. We must recall that the critical demands of the people of the Niger Delta over the decades of marginalization have been restructuring and resource control, as were the cases during both CONFABs convened by former Presidents Obasanjo and Jonathan. One of the demands of the people of the Niger Delta presented to the Nigerian government was to restructure Nigeria so that the people of the Niger Delta would benefit from their God-given natural resources. We are aware that of all the candidates and political parties, only PDP’s Atiku has categorically promised Nigerians restructuring and resource control. We believe this will bring peace and transform the Nigerian economy, as it would galvanize all regions to explore their options and available resources for growth and better citizens’ lives. For the aforementioned reasons, we, the South-South Ethnic Nationalities Assembly, hereby endorse Atiku/Okowa PDP 2023 presidential ticket to rescue Nigeria.

To conclude, the organizers argued that their present action has a place in Nigerian political history; We looked at some of the defunct regional political party’s vis-a-vis NCNC and NPC, led by Nnamdi Azikiwe, Sir Abubakar Tafawa Balewa and Alhaji Ahmadu Bello respectively, whose programs, economic and administrative policies favoured the minorities of Edo and Delta provinces (Defunct Midwest region and later Bendel State) and by extension the whole Niger Delta region. We recall that the first Prime Minister of Nigeria, Sir Abubakar Tafawa Balewa, saw the creation of the Mid-West region and, subsequently, the mid-West state, despite the resentment of some members of the political class during that time.

In a similar vein in the 4th Republic, the federal government under the PDP provided extensive support to the South-South geo-political zone, he concluded.

As the author, I have nothing to add!

Utomi Jerome-Mario is the Programme Coordinator (Media and Policy) at the Social and Economic Justice Advocacy (SEJA), Lagos. He can be reached via jeromeutomi@yahoo.com/08032725374

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Democracy, Poverty: When Will Africa Develop?

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refugee camp Africa

By Nneka Okumazie

There is no exam anywhere in the world that Africans can’t ace. There is no profession in the world or office position that Africans won’t excel at. There is no pass mark required for any certification that Africans cannot surpass. These directly discredit the notion that Africans are not as intelligent or smart.

It was assumed that intelligence is developedment, but education has gone around the world, yet development is not everywhere.

What exactly is development, and why is Africa not developed? There are often government projects, international efforts, private enterprises, etc., yet no development.

Development is more about attitudes and values than about information because the power of information is propelled by attitudes and values. A new housing project, school, bridge or hospital will be defined by the attitude of the people, in just a few months.

In the second half of the twentieth century, several nations used the opportunity to develop. There were places where lands were offered to the public for farming and no issues yet about deforestation or climate. There were forms of credit available, the population was lower, and the opportunity to grow was there, even with an average attitude. Africa, with much fresh off independence, could not take much of that opportunity, in part because of low attitude.

In recent times, with climate, state debts, and then conspiracy theories, it is more difficult to develop, even where there is a great attitude. Everything is now subject to conspiracy theories, with several contrasting pieces of information making it more difficult to get people to agree towards working on progress.

Development is not democracy, it is not human rights, it is not religion: local or foreign, it is not education, it is not healthcare, it is not the government, it is not business, it is not employment.

There are pockets of changes in different countries in Africa, but the attitudes in general, from the top and across, do not indicate anything resembling what can germinate development.

Government is not the problem of Africa. Corruption is a byproduct of a lack of selflessness as an attitude. The question the people of Africa should keep asking themselves is this, where did these attitudes come from? Lack of courage, no selflessness, easy satisfaction, trouble with sincerity, rejection of fairness, intense hypocrisy,  treating trust casually, money first and forever, façade of being a good person, weak curiosity, passion over nonsense, disregard for the future, etc.?

Education is useless because the change it should inspire and the advancement it should seed do not happen if money is all. Africa needs an attitude project for their people everywhere, but it is uncertain if anything will happen because conspiracy theories await efforts. Without a new attitude, there will be no development; without development, Africa will remain backward.

[Matthew 13:7, And some fell among thorns, and the thorns sprung up, and choked them: ]

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Mobilizing Youth for Effective Civic Participation

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Civic participation

By Mayowa Olajide Akinleye

Nigeria is a signatory to the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child. Article 12 of that document establishes that young people must be heard. They must be listened to and taken seriously. It is their right. This idea presupposes that there is a speaking, an expression that is present but ignorable. Articles 2 and 13 recognize this seeming powerlessness and, in seeking to protect the right to be heard, establish that young people have a right to not be discriminated against and can freely express themselves without fear.

Yet, 95% of its youth population does not feel heard; at least three out of four young people believe the country is headed in the wrong direction and that they are powerless to stop it. Nobody, they believe, is listening. This is a breach of a basic human right. Reacting to the Lekki  shooting, one protester  said “we spoke up thinking our voices would matter, only to cruelly find out that even our lives didn’t.”

Proving that rights, when not empowered by a commitment to duty, are useless. My right to life is worth something because I have a duty to not kill myself, and others have a duty to not kill me. Once the commitment to that duty becomes optional, my right to life is mere window dressing.

In the longest run of our democracy, the best we have had is a tokenistic commitment to listening and accounting for the dreams, needs, and concerns of our youth population—mere window dressing. As a result, there are unequal opportunities for political participation and civic engagement, our educational systems are struggling, high youth unemployment and migration, heightened helplessness, and a lack of voice in making decisions that positively affect their lives and create social change.

Nigeria and Nigerians have a duty to hear its young people and mobilise them to develop into active, responsive, and equal participants in the social, economic, and political fabric of her society. It is the onus of the state and its agents to enforce this duty and ensure an abiding commitment to its veracity.

Why must the state do this, and how can it do it successfully? These are the questions to which this article will offer answers.

The government’s overarching responsibility is to protect. The foundation of a state’s efficacy is steeped in how well it fares in its role as a protector. This burden of ensuring security is the primal justification for the social contract that is the cornerstone of state formation. Simply put, a government that fails to effectively secure its people is a blatant failure.

Listening to and responding to its youth population is critical for any state seeking to secure its citizens. This approach impacts security on three fronts: physical security, economic security, and political security.

Physical security is simply the protection of assets from physical disruption and events that could cause serious loss or damage for the owner. The rise of kidnapping, militancy, and oil bunkering in the south-south; insurgency in the northeast have deep-seated foundations in problems created by the feeling of powerlessness and neglect young people experience.

The fallout from the shooting at the Lekki Tollgate saw massive destruction of property in the city as well as all around the country. 205 critical national security assets, corporate facilities, and private property were attacked, burned, or vandalised. An estimated 71 public warehouses and 248 private stores were looted across 13 states. The multi-billion-naira Bus Rapid Transit (BRT) infrastructure was crippled. Police stations and offices of political parties in Ondo, Okitipupa, and Ibadan were looted and burned. Private homes and businesses of public officials were looted, and a traditional ruler’s palace was desecrated. The Yoruba have a saying: “A child that you refuse to build will eventually sell off or destroy the other things you built instead.”

When the youth population is heard, the result is increased trust in government institutions and systems, leading to better cooperation between them and the government. This increased cooperation can result in more effective law enforcement, crime prevention, and safety awareness; an increased sense of ownership and personal responsibility that enables community policing and reporting; and a lower predilection to violence because of strong mediation and negotiation frameworks.

The International Committee of the Red Cross defines economic security as the ability of individuals, households, or communities to cover their essential needs sustainably and with dignity. Food, shelter, transportation, clothing, healthcare, education, and means of production are examples of such needs. Economically secure countries globally—the UK, Australia, Singapore, Germany, Japan, etc.—typically have institutions and systems that ensure at least any two of political, educational, and economic empowerment for their youth populations.

This is evidenced by the quality of education and skill-building institutions, open government processes, open media, open markets, adherence to the rule of law, and inclusive political mechanisms.  Nurtured by the push and pull effects of this reality, more young people become active, productive, and skilled and gain more economic and anthropological power in that society. They become smarter, wealthier, gain influence, start new industries, and contribute excellently to existing ones, ultimately increasing the quantity and quality of production, which in turn expands economic prosperity for everyone.

Political security refers to how resilient, fair, and efficient the governance framework is in upholding the rule of law and representing the interests of its constituency. It usually sets the stage for physical and economic security. The 1994 Human Development Report defined it as the prevention of government repression, systematic violations of human rights, and threats from militarization. These values are enshrined through the sustained development of political systems oriented towards human rights, democracy, and good governance.

Cogent youth engagement will improve the skills of and opportunities for young people to interact with and navigate the political system, encourage informed civic participation that will hold officeholders accountable, and hence deepen our democracy. The ability of a political party to consistently identify, attract, and project credible and promising young talents within its ranks will, in time, strengthen the party’s influence, ensure the identity, values, and ideologies of the party stay relevant within the mainstream of national conversations, and will have trained and empowered new generations to carry the baton. This type of inclusive handover is crucial for political sustainability.

Civic participation among young people is usually more of a response than a duty, as they have more pressing priorities and don’t understand the burden enough to care. Therefore, they must be catalysed. When the government is committed to their growth, they respond with patriotism and pride; when a society is hostile to them, they respond with anger and distrust, as is the case with Nigerian youth.

There are three preconditions that are indicative of this. First, Inspiration: Do young people feel inspired? What are their sources of inspiration? Secondly, motivation: What are the barriers to their participation? How strong are they? Are they willing to cross them? Why? And lastly, empowerment: What are their competencies? Can they afford the financial, physical, and intellectual costs of crossing them? Honest responses to these questions provide a detailed synopsis of the level of civic engagement we can expect from our young people.

Government and stakeholders must begin to prioritise activities that positively contribute to the identified indicators. These activities are grouped into five categories:

Activities that promote legislation, policies, and budget allocations for youth empowerment and engagement: Despite some progress in this regard with the formulation of a national youth policy, the signing of the “Not Too Young to Run” law, the establishment of youth parliaments and councils, and the 75 billion naira Nigeria Youth Investment Fund. Implementation is still a sore spot.

The Ekiti State Youth Parliament, for example, has been unable to access its budget provision for over three years, summarily stunting the efficacy of its operations. More work needs to be done to sidestep bad faith actors and earth legislation, policies, and financing so that they reflect and respond to niggling peculiarities.

Secondly, activities that support, create and sustain structures for young people’s participation and civic engagement. The private sector, civil society, trade unions, advisory councils, student councils and unions, youth parliaments, clubs, political parties, community development or peer group associations, trade unions, and advisory councils are major nests of engagement where young people can get involved and develop the skills and network they need for more extensive involvement in community development, politics, and governance.

The perverse stranglehold that cronyism, cultism, and thuggery have on these spaces limits young people’s interest and participation and is also to blame for the adversarial stance of stakeholders. It is, therefore, necessary to mobilise a network of interventions that strengthen the operation and independence of these structures and weaken the politically empowered grip of the identified ills.

Thirdly, activities that institute and deepen citizenship education across all levels of the curriculum. Young people must learn about the country’s values and history, all of it, in the most comprehensive way possible through history, civic education, and cultural and community exchanges.

The stronger sense of identity that young people develop when they have this knowledge is important for fueling patriotism and pride and, in some ways, incites a responsibility to uphold the values of their heroes or to do better by avoiding or correcting identified misdeeds.

Furthermore, activities that invest in young people’s capacities, networks, and partnerships. Education, industry, political empowerment, fellowships, scholarship, and sports are key pillars that automatically enable this. It is critical to provide funding and governance that will strengthen and continuously expand the capacities of these sectors.

Finally, activities that maximise the value of volunteerism and community service. Setting quality examples of public service and rewarding these values help create heroes. Our leaders must be prime examples of community-driven service and work to instil that consciousness in every Nigerian. We must encourage a community-first approach to development.

This is how to mobilise. For this mobilisation to be effective, the 2013 resolution of the United Nations General Assembly provides a thorough guideline: “… in consultation with youth-led organisations, to explore avenues to promote full, precise, structured, and sustainable participation of young people and youth-led organisations in decision-making processes.”

Four markers must be met. The design and execution of these activities must be full and not merely consultative, as is currently the case; they must be precise and specific to the challenges and context; they must be measurable, time-bound, process-led, and have identified actors and anchors; and finally, they must have the ability to generate support and momentum to continuously replicate.

When these are achieved, young people will gain more influence in society. This influence will give them more space to thrive. More space will strengthen their voice. A stronger voice will deepen their influence, and the cycle keeps reinforcing itself.

Echoing the words of the chairman of the Conference of State Youth Speakers in Nigeria,  Toba Fatunla, “If you have not built us, you have no right to blame us.”

The burden of building falls first on the government; every other form of mobilisation can only be effective when built on this foundation. This is particularly important in light of the socio-political shifts happening nationally. If you are the head of a government at any level, a lawmaker, or a public servant, and desire to create a Nigeria we want—one that ensures security for every citizen—prioritising the above activities is a good place to start.

Mayowa Olajide Akinleye is the Impacts and Communications Assistant at PROMAD

This article is an excerpt from the fourth in a six-part series of public conversations on youth civic participation under  “Accelerating Youth Civic Participation in the FCT.” A PROMAD Foundation project supported by LEAP Africa and funded by the Ford and MacArthur Foundations.

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Remedies For Breach Of Contract

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remedies for breach of Contract

By Benita Ayo

The complexity of day-to-day business transactions has made the requirement of having a contract drafted a necessity and not merely a need. More often than not, disputes as to the exact terms of a business relationship which is contractual in nature may arise, and it is the terms so stated in the contract document that a Court of Law will always look at in settling the dispute.

When the need for a Contract arises

The need for a contract arises where two or more persons agree to transact any form of business together. It caters for situations that may give rise to conflict in the course of the business relationship.

What are the remedies for breach of Contract?

First off, a remedy is defined as a reparation for a wrong done to an innocent party. The law has always been and will always be in favour of an innocent party to a contract whose rights were infringed or abused.

Thus, the remedies for a breach of contract include the following;

  • Damages
  • Specific Performance and
  • Injunction

Damages

In law, damages refer to the legal remedy which a party prays the court to award in order to restitute the injury suffered by the party. It constitutes the monetary compensation given to or awarded to the injured party.

An award for damages is given where the court finds that a party breached a duty under the express terms of the contract.

Specific Performance

This is an equitable remedy in contract law where a court compels a party in breach of contract to perform a specific act in order to complete the performance of the contract.

Elements of Specific Performance

Specific Performance becomes available where the following exists;

  • A valid and binding contract
  • Mutual obligation and remedy
  • Freedom from fraud and overreaching
  • Express Terms
  • Lack of remedy at law

In a nutshell, specific performance becomes necessary where it can be established that monetary compensation is not enough to atone or compensate for the injury suffered by the innocent party.

Injunction

This refers to an Order of Court directing a party to perform an act to remedy of a breach of duty in a contract. It may also be an Order refraining a party from doing an act which injures an innocent party to a contract.

Conditions for the grant of an Order of Injunction

Before the court can be moved to grant an Order of Injunction, the following conditions must exist;

  • Existence of a legal right
  • Substantial issue to be tried
  • Balance of convenience (which must tilt in favour of the party seeking the Injunction)
  • Irreparable damage done to the party praying the court for the Order of Injunction and
  • Undertaking as to damages

Summation

In sum, it should be understood that contracts come with obligations and duties which are highly sacred. While the courts will not alter or vary the terms of a valid and subsisting contract, they will however not hesitate to enforce the terms of the contract where it is established that a party has breached the terms.

For further consultations, you may reach me at;

WhatsApp: +2348063775768

Email: jaybella120@gmail.com

Benita Ayo is a Seasoned Corporate Commercial Counsel with over 9 years post-call experience. She has handled myriads of briefs in Corporate/Commercial, Employment Law as well as Property Transactional Practice.

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