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Senate and Local Government Autonomy

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anambra Local Government Election

By Jerome-Mario Chijioke Utomi

Among so many bills recently passed or still working on by the nation’s Senate in the ongoing constitution amendment. This piece is particularly struck by the passage of the local government financial, administrative autonomy bill which among other provisions seeks that each local government council to creates and maintain its own special account to be called Local Government Allocation Account into which all the allocations will be paid.

Aside from seeking to grant full financial and administrative autonomy to local governments, the bills seek to amend the Constitution to repeal the state joint local government account and provide for a special account where all allocations due to the local government councils, from the federation account and state government, shall be paid.

While this development is welcomed and applauded, there is a lot that is wrong with the local government system in Nigeria, and unless all those wrongs are examined critically and remedies applied to them, it can only create more problems. Guiding against that, via timely corrective action before it happens is the objective of this piece.

Take as an illustration, apart from the fact that well foresighted Nigerians have in the past argued that to free local councils from the clutches of the state governors and ensure credible elections into local councils, the power to appoint chairpersons and commissioners of the state electoral bodies should be removed from the state governors, the global community, especially development-based groups and elections observers, do not think that what Nigeria is doing is the best way to organize elections be it at federal, states or local government levels as governments actions often fail to meet the four basic conditions necessary to create an enabling environment for holding of free and fair elections.

These conditions they noted include; an honest, competent and non-partisan body to administer the election, the knowledge and willingness of the political community to accept basic rules and regulations governing the contest for power, a developed system of political parties and teams of candidates presented to the electorates as alternative choices. And an independent judiciary to interpret electoral laws and settle election disputes.

Such worries partly explain the inertia and damning/reports that trail every election in the country monitored by international observers. Local governments and elections say a recent report, are two essential features of modern democracies. They help to establish, nurture and sustain democracy and democratic political culture. Elections provide the electorate with the power to freely participate in choosing their leaders and in providing the much-needed support and legitimacy to the state. Yet, its electoral approach/process has become curiously old fashioned and derogates the sanctity of elections as an institutional mechanism for conferring political power on citizens in a democratic dispensation.

This claim is supported by many facts. In the accounts by Massoud Omar, Department of Local Government and Development Studies, Institute of Administration, Ahmadu Bello University, Zaria, Nigeria, credible elections into local government councils have been non-existent since independence in 1960 till date. This is because the local councils are often subjected to controls by the upper levels of government in the federal system of government.

During the First Republic, the native authorities (as local governments were then called) were under the control of the regional governments. The Constitution of the Second Republic (1979-1983) gave state governors the power to dissolve local councils and appoint Caretaker Committees to run the affairs of local councils.

‘The 1999 Constitution currently being operated empowers state governors to appoint chairpersons of State Independent Electoral Commissions, the electoral umpires mandated to conduct local government elections in the 36 states of the federation.

As the situation stands, there is some ambiguity as to whether the state governors can dissolve local councils before elections are conducted at the expiration of their tenure, but often, state governors capitalise on this ambiguity to dissolve local councils at the end of their tenure and appoint Caretaker Committees. Often, these Committees are staffed with cronies and party sympathisers’.

Anambra State is a vivid example of a state where Caretaker Committees took charge of local council affairs for about 10 years under four successive governors – Chris Ngige, Peter Obi, Andy Uba and Virginia Etiaba and again Peter Obi who towards the end of his administration organized election on January 11, 2014.

Those elected have since vacated their positions since 2016. As of the time of filing this report, no local council elections have been held in the state since the dissolution under Governor Willy Obiano’s led administration.

Similarly, in most states where local government elections seem to have been held, there appears no remarkable difference between such a result and that of a one-party affair.

According to a commentator, it amounts to the “selection” and “appointment” of local representatives because state governors use the incumbency factor to rig elections in favour of their preferred candidates.

Situations, where local councils are controlled by opposition parties, are rare, and where this happens, the local councils are dissolved and caretaker committees, often made up of sympathizers of the ruling party, are appointed in their place.

Even though it cannot be characterized as an impossibility that a party at some points swept (wins) all the local council positions in a state, analysts are particularly worried about the frequency and disturbed by the accompanying belief that the main reason for this trend of affairs is that whoever controls the local councils is sure to gain control of the state government during gubernatorial elections.

To change this narrative in ways that will guarantee true autonomy for the local government areas, the following steps need to be taken; first is the need to recognize that three electoral laws govern the process of electing people into political offices. They include The Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria 1999, The Electoral Act 2010; and The INEC Regulations and Guidelines for the Conduct of Elections, 2019.

From the above, supervision of Election- Section 78 of the Constitution provides that the registration of voters and the conduct of elections shall be subject to the direction and supervision of the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC).

Secondly, Part One of the Electoral Act also provides that each State of the Federation and Federal Capital Territory, must establish an INEC office which shall perform functions that will be assigned to it from time to time by the commission, and any person appointed to the office shall be answerable to the commission and will hold office for five years. This provision is made under Section 6 of the Act.

The Act also provides under Section 9 that the Commission (INEC) shall compile, maintain and update continuously a National Register of Voters for each State and the Federal Capital Territory and Local Government, which will include the names of all persons entitled to vote in any Federal, State, Local Government or Area Council elections in Nigeria.

In the face of all these provisions/responsibilities performed by INEC at both state and local government levels, won’t it be considered as wisdom if the Electoral Act is again amended to allow/empower INEC to handle local council elections in the country since they already exist in, and capped with the information/data of all the electorates in the 36 states/FCT and in all the 774 Local Government Areas in the country? The reason is predicated on the argument that in the past two decades of its existence; INEC may not have performed perfectly well.

However, if its performance is juxtaposed with experiences Nigerians have suffered in the hands of the States Independent Electoral Commission that of INEC will be judged a Child’s play.

Utomi Jerome-Mario is the Programme Coordinator (Media and Public Policy), Social and Economic Justice Advocacy (SEJA), a Lagos-based non-governmental organization (NGO). He can be reached via Jeromeutomi@yahoo.com/08032725374

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Itsekiri And Ijaws’ Creation of Hyper-Modern Path to Peace Via Football Tournament

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Itsekiri

By Jerome-Mario Chijioke Utomi

Benikrukru Community field, Gbaramtu kingdom, Warri South West Local Government Area, Delta State, the kickoff venue of the Ijaw/Itsekiri peace and unity football competition initiated by Chief Sheriff Mulade, Ibe-sorimawei of Gbaramatu kingdom and National Coordinator/CEO, Centre for Peace & Environmental Justice (CEPEJ), was on Wednesday, November 16, 2022, filled to capacity and moderately dotted with imposing banner conspicuously positioned with screaming but familiar inscriptions that emphasise on the importance of peace and unity to humanity.

The ambience at the venue was refreshing as merrily dressed guests strolled in. Community members of Ijaw and Itsekiri origins were relaxed in their sitting positions. They were entertained to the rhythms from the stable of Ijaw and Itsekiri traditional dancing maestros.

Their humble and friendly dispositions complimented each other and made it very easy for non-indigenes to be at ease in their presence, even as that was the maiden visit to the community.

Aside from having in attendance former Super Eagles players, Christian Obodo and Sam Sodje, among others, the event was also graced by courageous Niger Deltans, who have met resistance from their own government in the past but refused to give up in their quest to build a better Niger Delta region and Nigeria by extension.

But of all that I observed, the gathering acknowledged what has been on the mind of Nigerians.

Fundamentally, it frontally demonstrated a strong conviction that non-discrimination, justice and fairness are the foundation for peace, unity, stability and economic prosperity of any nation. From the love that existed among the two ethnic groups on that day, at that time and in that place, it was obvious that building a nation where all citizens of the country shall not be discriminated against on the basis of ethnicity, sex, language, religion, political or other opinions, birth or other status is possible.

Essentially also, from the way the two teams entered the field with a stride of confidence and fair play, the competition provided Ijaw/Itsekiri with an opportunity for introspection by the two ethnic groups on the journey so far. Some gave the ‘union’ kudos for the tremendous progress it has made in forging unity and peace and riding the area of hatred and hostility, while others felt that the new challenge before the two ethnic nationalities is to transform into a strong economic bloc in order to position for the challenges of the 21st century as it patterns Niger Delta region.

To assist readers in appreciating this current journey to sustainable peace by the two ethnic groups via football tournament, it is important to underline that the district of Warri in Delta State, going by reports, has been the scene of ethnic and territorial conflicts between the Itsekeri and the Ijaws since March 1997, when ethnic violence broke out between the Ijaws and the Itsekeris following a government decision to relocate the headquarters of the Warri south local government council from an Ijaw community to a community belonging to the Itsekeris.

Though the hostility was overtly arrested and brought under control, covertly, it has remained a zone where fierce war has been raging between ethnic and social forces in Nigeria over the ownership and control of oil resources. And as a direct result, a long dark shadow has been cast on efforts to improve the well-being and economic development of the region’s individuals, peoples, and communities.

Without a doubt, the Ijaw/Itsekiri hostility is not only telling evidence of the numerous problems facing the people of the Niger Delta region, but largely an expose of unwillingness by the government over the years to address problems which possess the potent capability to affect the stability of Niger Delta as a region.

The above claim, in my view, becomes more telling after listening to Mulade, who spoke on the sidelines in the kick-off match, where he stated that ‘’The essence of this tournament is to try and reduce the hostility among us. Some years ago, we had some misunderstandings. That led to what is known as the Warri crisis. So, what we are doing is building the relationship. So, for you to join us is to support this celebration of peaceful co-existence.”

Certainly, there are grains of truth in the above position. The tournament has not only brought out something different and fundamentally new that will help shape the relationship between the two ethnic groups. Rather, it has assisted in providing health and vitality of peaceful co-existence, rededicating commitment to peace, promoting unity and intensifying harmonious development of the Niger Delta region.

The facts are there and speak for it.

On Monday, November 7, 2022, it was reported that the Olu of Warri, Ogiame Atuwatse III, while playing host to Chief Mulade Sheriff and members of the Local Organising Committee (LOC) who paid him a courtesy visit in his palace, gave his endorsement and royal blessings to the peace and unity football event. The Olu applauded Chief Comrade Sheriff Mulade for initiating such a laudable programme and promised to liaise with Mr Amaju Pinnick to bring his wealth of experience in football management to support the process.

In a similar style, members of the LOC, on November 11, 2022, were received by Oboro Gbaraun II, Aketekpe, Agadagba of Gbaramatu Kingdom in his palace at Oporoza, the traditional headquarters of the kingdom.

In his response, the monarch appreciated the organizer’s initiative and implored him to continue preaching and spreading the need for peaceful coexistence because peace is not negotiable. He also enlightened the LOC team on the importance of peace to attract development to Delta, particularly Warri and its environs. He encouraged the untiring contribution of the LOC towards uniting Ijaw/Itsekiri, the importance of which is crucial to harnessing the dividend of development and opportunities to our people.

While this piece celebrates the feat, there are, however, accompanying beliefs in my views that the Ijaws are a truly peaceful set of people.

The first such example is a recent statement by an Ogbe Ijoh-based political pressure group, the Independent GrassRoots Liberators (IGL), where the group, among other comments, pleaded with the Senator Ifeanyi Okowa’s led Delta State Government to immediately settle the communal disputes between Ogbe-Ijoh, Ijaw ethnic nationality of Warri South-West Local Government Area of Delta state and Aladja, an Urhobo community in Udu Local Government Area of the state, adding that they want to live in unity as they have been living before. “We don’t want to be killing ourselves anymore,” they said.

The second has to do with the recent comment credited to Pere of Gbaramatu Kingdom, Oboro-Gbaraun II, Aketekpe, Agadagba, at his palace in Oporoza, the ancestral headquarters of Gbaramatu Kingdom while he played host to Mr Ali Muhammad Zarah, Managing Director, Nigeria Petroleum Development Company (NPDC), on Sunday, November 13, 2022.

The first-class monarch, according to media reports, said; “This is Gbaramatu Kingdom, and we are very peaceful people. If you come closer to the people, you will know the kind of people we have here. Some people can castigate our names or tarnish our image, but we are not like that. We know who we are.”

Waxing philosophically, the Monarch said, “We want to say, if the children are happy, definitely the father is happy too. Recently, I told some senators that instead of staying in Abuja and speculating about what is happening in the Niger Delta region, they should take a trip to the region for an on-the-spot assessment of the situation. If they come, they will know how the people are, but staying far from them, you cannot know how they really are. So I am very happy for people like you visiting our Kingdom.”

As the author of this piece, while I commend the efforts of the tournament organisers, the piece, on its part, thinks that there is a lesson government must draw from the above words of the revered traditional monarch.

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

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Makeup Through the Years

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makeup

From a very young age, girls are taught that makeup is a way to enhance their natural beauty. There are endless tutorials and tips on how to apply makeup. The reality is that most women don’t wear makeup for the sake of looking good. In fact, many women wear makeup as a form of self-expression or as a way to boost their confidence. Whether you’re a beginner or a pro, there are certain makeup essentials that every woman should have in her beauty arsenal. These include a good foundation, concealer, powder, blush, mascara, and lipstick.

With these products, you can create various looks, from a natural daytime look to a glamorous evening look. While some women are content with a minimal makeup routine, others enjoy experimenting with different products and looks. If you’re someone who loves experimenting with makeup, then you’ll need a wider range of products, including eyeshadow, eyeliner, and bronzer. No matter what your reasons for wearing makeup are, there’s no denying that it can be a lot of fun. So go ahead and experiment with different products and looks to find what makes you feel your best. When you figure it out, it’s a 22Bet bonus!

Makeup Updates

As the years go by, makeup changes with the trends. In the early 1900s, makeup was used to accentuate the features of the face and was seen as a way to enhance beauty. Women would use rouge on their cheeks, kohl around their eyes, and lipstick to accentuate their lips. This was seen as a way to attract a husband and was seen as being very important for a woman’s social status.

However, in the 1920s, makeup became more about individuality and self-expression. Women would experiment with different colors and looks, and it was seen as a way to be creative. Women were also starting to wear more makeup in public, and it was seen as a way of empowering women.

The start of the “glamorous” look that was popular in Hollywood was in the 1930s. In the 1940s, makeup was used to create a more natural look. Women would use foundation to even out their skin tone, and they would use powder to set their makeup. They would also use rouge on their cheeks and lipstick to accentuate their lips. This was seen as a more sophisticated look, and it was also seen as being more appropriate for work and other public places.

In the 1980s, makeup was used to create a more polished look. Women would use foundation to even out their skin tone, and they would use powder to set their makeup. They would also use eyeliner and mascara to define their eyes. Today, makeup is used to create a variety of different looks. It is up to the individual to decide how they want to use makeup to express themselves.

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Feature/OPED

Does Nigeria Have a Problem or a Situation?

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Nigeria's budget deficit

By Prince Charles Dickson PhD

In 1845, Karl Marx jotted down some notes for The German Ideology, a book that he wrote with his close friend Friedrich Engels. Engels found these notes in 1888, five years after Marx’s death, and published them under the title Theses on Feuerbach. The eleventh thesis is the most famous: ‘philosophers have only interpreted the world in various ways; the point, however, is to change it’.

The most widely accepted interpretation of this thesis is that, in it, Marx urges people not only to interpret the world but also to try and change it. However, we do not believe that this captures the meaning of the sentence. What we believe that Marx is saying is that it is those who try to change the world that has a better sense of its constraints and possibilities, for they come upon what Frantz Fanon calls the ‘granite block’ of power, property, and privilege that prevents an easy transition from injustice to justice.

Nigeria is a very strange place. In Nigeria, we debate what is real, and imagined, what is fantasy and what is reality.

In Nigeria, we are problem-focused. We always have problems, our politicians, our leaders, the systems, our structure, our past, our present and future, our people, our democracy, and our elections. Everything has a problem. Everything and everyone is a problem.

You leave Plateau state to Bauchi to do an MRI scan because there is a problem with the problem. The prestigious and renowned University College Hospital Ibadan where it was said the Saudi royalty once upon a time came for their healthcare, currently has barely a twenty-bed ICU. See problem!

The governor of Abia has done a lot, including getting an eatery to establish an outlet in the state, the same Abia boasts of Aba, considered one of the dirtiest cities around and also one of the most industrious and neglected by the government. Solution and problem joined together!

Tell me the state and I will show where the people are drinking multidimensional pove-tea from all strata of government. Daura in Katsina hasn’t produced an exceptional student in any exam, even as the president’s homestead and the state continue to be plagued by insecurity.

Fake teachers from Abeokuta, the cradle of knowledge, to Jos, the land of natives and non-natives.

What are we committed to, what are we sacrificing for and to, what does Nigeria mean to us? Let’s break it if that’s a solution, so pedestrian and easy, I will remind us when the arm dealers are sealing and dealing with The Nupe Warlords, Anaguta freedom fighters, Fulani Miyetti and Hausa Aggrieved Warriors or Rare Igbo Union, it won’t be funny.

Welcome to Nigeria, in Nigeria, we don’t have problems because we are the problems, no. We don’t have problems; we have situations. If your wife catches you with a neighbour’s wife, you don’t have a problem, you have a situation. Problems are had to solve; situations can be solved. If your girlfriend is spending more time with another guy, if you don’t have money, all these are situations. Change your girlfriend or change your mindset, your work or something.

Nigeria as a whole, as a country, or nation, as a people have a situation we have gotten to that point on several occasions, we were there, and the civil war broke out, our several ethnographic-ethno religious conflicts have taken us there, the menace of herdsmen and farmers, bandits and politicians keep taking us closer to the precipice.

The powerful not only control social wealth; they also control the public policy discussion — and what counts as intellectually correct. Good ideas are never sufficient. They are not believed or enacted simply because they are right. They become the ideas of our time only when those who come to believe in their own power, which use this power to struggle through institutions and advance their ideas, wield them.

Nigeria is in a situation, will men of a good conscience and patriots stand up to be counted? There’s no structure or system to build upon. Yet we must sit and talk about who we are and how we want to live, our current situation provides yet another opportunity for us to look forward, and understand where we are coming from, and take a leap with understanding what needs to be done according to each peculiarity.

I end with this story.

So, I went to a mental institution and wanted to send one person home. So I am going to ask a simple question. I asked the first person 3×3, and the fellow scratched his head, and he answered 164, I said to him, go back. Then I asked the second person the same question, and he smiled, looked up and then responded after a while Tuesday. Sorry. Wrong answer. Go back to your room

I almost gave up, until I went to the last person and asked the same question, if you can answer this question, I will let you go. He looked back at the other two who had left and smiled and said doctor, it’s 9. Right, and I gave him the release papers, and he started running to the door. But before he ran away, I said I need you to tell me something; your two friends did not come up with the right answer. How did you manage it? He said it’s so simple. I multiplied 164 by Tuesday, and I got 9.

Nigeria may get the right answer, but is the thinking correct? Nigeria finds answers often at the last minute, but truth be told, ‘the country has been interpreted in various ways that only capture problems, without a change in thinking, we won’t solve it, we must see our present circumstances as situations that can change with a different interpretation, and better thinking.

We must, as a people, want to try and change our situation despite the sense of the constraints and possibilities of the ‘granite block’ of power, property, and privilege that prevents an easy transition from injustice to justice. We must want to try, we must want to change, we must want to solve, and must want a new narrative. Are we in trouble or in a situation where there are solutions? Only time will tell.

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