Saturday, December 31, 2011

President Jonathan Declares State Of Emergency In Parts Of Nigeria


The Nigerian presidency has just issued a proclamation declaring a state of emergency in certain parts of Nigeria as follows:

Fellow Nigerians, it has become necessary to address you on recent events in some parts of the country that have threatened our collective security and shaken the foundations of our corporate existence as a nation.

2.    You are all aware of the security challenges which the activities of the Boko Haram sect have foisted on the country. What began as sectarian crises in the North Eastern parts of the country has gradually evolved into terrorist activities in different parts of the country with attendant negative consequences on our national security.

3.      Government in an effort to find a lasting solution to the security threats occasioned by the activities of the Boko Haram sect, constituted a Presidential Committee under the Chairmanship of Ambassador Usman Gaji Galtimari, to ascertain the immediate and remote causes of the crises. While efforts are being made to implement the recommendations of the Committee, the crises have assumed a terrorist dimension with vital institutions of government including the United Nations Building and places of worship becoming targets of terrorist attacks.

4.   While the search for lasting solutions is ongoing, it has become imperative to take some decisive measures necessary to restore normalcy in the country especially within the affected communities. Consequently, I have in the exercise of the powers conferred on me by the provisions of section 305(1) of the Constitution, declared a state of emergency in the following parts of the federation, namely:

(i)  Borno State
a)  Maidugiri Metropolitan LGA
b)  Gamboru Ngala LGA
c)   Banki Bama LGA
d)  Biu LGA
e)   Jere LGA
(ii)  Yobe State
a)  Damaturu LGA
b)  Geidam LGA
c)   Potiskum LGA
d)  Buniyadi-Gujba LGA

e)   Gasua-Bade LGA

    (iii) Plateau State
a)  Jos North LGA
b)  Jos South LGA
c)   Barkin-Ladi LGA
d)  Riyom LGA
   (iv) Niger State
a)  Suleja LGA

The details of this proclamation will be transmitted to the National Assembly as soon as they reconvene from their current recess, for their necessary action.
5.    The Chief of Defence Staff and the Inspector-General of Police have been directed to put appropriate measures in place to ensure the protection of lives and properties of residents in the affected parts of the country. I therefore urge the political leadership in the affected states and Local Government Areas to give maximum cooperation to the law enforcement agencies deployed to their respective communities to ensure that the situation is brought under control within the shortest possible time.

6.   The Chief of Defence Staff, in collaboration with other Service Chiefs, has also been directed to set up a special force unit within the Armed Forces, with dedicated counter terrorism responsibilities.

7.   As part of the overall strategy to overcome the current security challenges, I have directed the closure of the land borders contiguous to the affected Local Government Areas so as to control incidences of cross boarder terrorist activities as terrorists have taken advantage of the present situation to strike at targets in Nigeria and retreat beyond the reach of our law enforcement personnel.

8.  Let me assure our neighbours, especially within the ECOWAS sub-region, of Nigeria’s commitment to its international obligations as provided by the ECOWAS Protocol on Free Movement of Persons. The temporary closure of our borders in the affected areas is only an interim measure designed to address the current security challenges and will be reviewed as soon as normalcy is restored.

9.   I commend the efforts of our political leaders at various levels as well as our traditional and religious leaders for their support for the various conflict resolution mechanisms and peace building measures that have been initiated by this administration. We call on the citizenry to continue to provide useful information to our law enforcement agencies to enable us arrest the situation.

10. Terrorism is a war against all of us. I call on all Nigerians to join hands with government to fight these terrorists.
11. I wish all Nigerians a very happy New Year.
12.   Long Live the Federal Republic of Nigeria.

Nigeria: President Jonathan Declares State Of Emergency In Parts Of Nigeria | Sahara Reporters

Thursday, December 29, 2011

Landlord Defends 'Whites Only' Pool Sign

Landlord Defends 'Whites Only' Pool Sign

An Ohio landlord wants a state civil rights commission to reconsider its decision that found her to have discriminated against a black girl by placing a "Whites Only" sign at a swimming pool.

Reconsider what? Unless this woman has a custom-made Webster's dictionary in her house that allows her her own definition of "discrimination," we have no idea how she believes that the commission's decision was wrong.
The landlord, Jamie Hein, who is white, posted the sign at the duplex where the teenage girl's parents lived. When the girl walked toward the pool and saw the sign, she alerted her parents, who filed a discrimination charge with the commission. The family subsequently moved out of the duplex.

The worst part of this story is the reason behind the sign: Hein claims that the girl used chemicals in her hair that would make the pool turn from crystal clear to "cloudy," according to the commission.

The commission found that the sign "restricted the social interaction between Caucasians and African-Americans and reinforced discriminatory actions aimed at oppressing people of color."
If officials for the state of Ohio have any self-respect, they won't even grant this landlord the time of day; she doesn't deserve it.

Tuesday, December 27, 2011

Another Explosion Reported In Sapele, Delta State

A bomb ripped through a Mosque in Sapele on December 10

Citizen reporters affiliated with Saharareporters have reported another bomb explosion in the Hausa quarters in Sapele, Delta state. The explosion happened at  an Arabic school along Urhobo Road. The explosion was similar to the one that ripped through a Mosque in the township on December 10.

There are unconfirmed reports of 3 injuries.
 Saharareporters will continue to provide details as they become available.


Monday, December 26, 2011

Bomb blast: A burden we must live with – Jonathan

President Goodluck Jonathan on Sunday in Abuja described the bombings in the county as a burden Nigerians must live with until it fizzles out.
Jonathan made the remark when he received in audience a delegation of the Christian Community in FCT led by FCT Minister Bala Mohammed.
Jonathan said there was no justification for the crime and called on Nigerians to continue to pray for peace in the country.
The president was reacting to the bomb blast that occurred in the early hours of Sunday in Madalla, in Niger, shortly after the end of a church service.
“We have challenges as a nation; even this morning, a very ugly incident happened in a Catholic Church. We are yet to get the number of deaths in the incident.
“The issue of bombing is one of the burdens we must live with. It will not last forever; I believe that it will surely be over,’’ he said.
Condoling with the families of those who lost their lives in the incident, Jonathan said that there was no reason for such an act to be carried out on a Christmas day.

Buhari: This is Dastardly

0105F05.Muhammadu-Buhari.jpg - 0105F05.Muhammadu-Buhari.jpg
Maj-Gen. Muhammadu Buhari

 From Onyebuchi Ezigbo in Abuja
Former Head of State and presidential candidate of the Congress for Progressive Change (CPC) Maj-Gen. Muhammadu Buhari (rtd), has condemned “in the strongest terms” the series of bombings that took place in four states in Nigeria on the day Christmas is being celebrated across the world.

In a statement issued by Buhari's spokesman, Mr. Yinka Odumakin, the former head of state described the bombing of churches in Suleja and Jos; the SSS office in Yobe State and another location in Adamawa State as dastardly acts.

“Buhari commiserates with all those who have lost their loved ones in these heinous acts of terror and prays that the Almighty would grant them the fortitude to bear their irreparable losses,” he said.

He called on all people of goodwill to condemn these occurrences that had sent sorrows to many families in a festive season.

“Bombing other human beings to death at any time is callous. It becomes much more reprehensible on a Christmas day and all
lovers of peace must condemn these gruesome acts and demand that the perpetrators be fished out and brought to book,” he said.
He is however worried about the seeming mute indifference of the Nigerian authorities to these unfortunate incidents.

“How on earth would the Vatican and the British authorities speak before the Nigerian government on attacks within Nigeria that have led to the deaths of our citizens? This is clearly a failure of leadership at a time the government needs to assure the people of the capacity to guarantee the safety of lives and property," he added.

He called on the Nigerian government to rise up to the challenge of security in the country and not to believe that “it is just about voting almost a quarter of the budget to security”.

“You can devote the entire budget to security and there won't be any result if there is no competence in leadership to know what to do at the right time," he said.
Buhari: This is Dastardly, Articles | THISDAY LIVE

Sunday, December 25, 2011

Christmas Day Bomb Blast Rocks Catholic Church In Suleja

 December 25, 2011 - 09:2

Two bombs exploded during christmas church service at a Catholic church today in Madalla, Suleja, Niger state. Several church goers have died and many are severely injured.
Christmas day worshippers at St. Theresa's Catholic Church, Madalla near Abuja in Niger State were caught up in a blast that has killed several people.

Citizen reporters for Saharareporters have counted 20 bodies so far and 10 vehicles destroyed entirely in the attacks, one of the vehicles was carrying a family leaving the church after church service, the entire  family died in the car.
Eyewitnesses said a massive bomb was driven by a suicide bomber in a BMW car and a second car rigged with explosives was parked at the premises of the church. Both exploded minutes apart. The first explosion happened around 8: 30 AM as church members left the church premises after the christmas day mass.

Soldiers, police and road safety officials have taken over the premises of the church but angry youths in the area have prevented them from taking away dead bodies.

Emergency services could not reach many injured person as there was chronic shortage of ambualnces and medical supplies.


Tuesday, December 20, 2011

"Shoeless & Schoolless"-The Dismal State of Nigerian Children In 2011

 At a campaign rally earlier this year, President Goodluck Jonathan offered a detailed depiction of the deprivations he suffered in Otuoke, now in Bayelsa State, as a schoolboy whose parents were impoverished. Said Mr. Jonathan: “In my early days in school, I had no shoes, no school bag. I carried my books in my hands, but never despaired. There were days I had only one meal, but I never despaired. My story is the story of a young Nigerian whose access to education opened up vast opportunities that enabled me to attain my present position.”
But, as the following heartbreak pictures reveal, most Nigerian children born in the decades since Jonathan was in school live under worse circumstances. Indeed, the situation is grimmer as many present-day Nigerian children not only fend for themselves but often also contribute to the income of the family by engaging in different odd or menial jobs. The question is: Without a sound education, what does the future hold for these children, especially in the contemporary, technology-driven world?


Thursday, November 24, 2011

DPO Sets Pace In Lagos

Nigerian cops are usually reviled. Citizens often accuse them of demanding bribes from crime suspects or victims, engaging in extra-judicial killings and colluding with criminals for financial returns. Not Monday Agbonika, the exceptional police chief at Isokoko Police Division at Agege area of Lagos, southwest Nigeria.
Residents say Agbonika, the Divisional Police Officer, DPO, of Isokoko, has turned the once notorious division into a friendly place and the Wall Street Journal, the influential American publication, described him in an article this week as an exceptional police chief who does not demand or accept bribes.
“It’s all about community policing,” he said at a public function recently. “I just try to ensure that I have a plan on the ground, study the area and find out what the concerns of the community are and I follow the plan,” he added with humility.
“A few years ago, it was a very notorious police station. There were cases of extra judicial killings. Victims were asked to pay for basic services and suspects were freed after paying a bribe. There was also money for bailing suspects out,” a resident told P.M.NEWS recently, echoing the feeling of others.
Residents have built a magnificent police station for Agbonika and his men, a striking difference from the ramshackle building they used to occupy before he came in four years ago.
To Agbonika, a native of Kogi State and a Masters ‘Degree holder in psychology, from the University of Jos, Plateau State, north central Nigeria, policing is made interesting when the needs of the community are identified and a genuine desire to satisfy them undertaken.
“I get information from the community, I work with them, they all have my phone numbers and can call me at any time of the day and we tackle problems together. All these have really helped.
“When I was a child, I hated to see people being cheated, so as a child, I took up issues of people being bullied. I see this as an opportunity to prevent people from cheating others. Then with the community policing training, I get much done.
“And by involving the community members like the vigilantes, I put policemen on the road at key areas and the robbers know that policemen are everywhere and they keep off the area. I just ensure that my men are there and more importantly I ensure that the overall plan is carried out. When we follow the plan, everything goes as planned,” he said.
The 44-year old DPO has instilled discipline in his staff and police extortions have been eliminated. There is no payment for bail and victims or suspects are not asked to pay for fuel, paper or pen. Indeed, P.M.NEWS confirmed that everything is free.
To him, “an ideal policeman should have genuine interest in serving the people. He should be a policeman that will accept the shortcomings that we have in the system such as lack of logistics. He must know that he is a servant and not a lord over the community.”
—Simon Ateba

Bloodbath in Lagos: Soldiers kill DPO, DCO 8 others

By Albert Akpor
LAGOS – BLOOD flowed freely Tuesday  in Badagry, Lagos after a group of heavily armed soldiers from the 242 Recce Battalion, Iberepo  Badagry took over strategic locations in the ancient town maiming and killing any police man on sight in an apparent reprisal of the killing Monday, of one of their colleagues.
The Divisional Police Officer, Chief Superintendent of Police (CSP) Saliu Samson, his Divisional Crime Officer, Deputy Superintendent of Police (DPS) Samuel who were out in the ensuing fracas to appeal for calm were shot dead.
Two police patrol vehicles belonging to the  Rapid Response Squad (RRS) were set ablaze while their occupants were chased and shot dead.  As at 2.30 pm yesterday, corpses of police officers littered the Iberepo roundabout  while the rampaging soldiers were spotted with every imaginable dangerous weapons scouting for police men.
Sources said some police men and their families who lived in the Iberepo barracks were chased out and seriously wounded.
According to sources, a soldier in mufti who was escorting goods from the Nigeria\Seme border was accosted by a police officer attached to RRS and Monday and demanded to search the vehicle.
It was learnt that the late unidentified soldier had challenged the policeman and threatened to disarmed him if he does not allow the vehicle free way;  prompting the trigger happy policeman to fire at him at close range.
The soldier reportedly slumped and died on the spot.   Vanguard was told that the news of the killing of the soldier soon filtered into the Iberepo barracks and some soldiers mobilized as early as 9,00am yesterday and started attacking any policeman on sight contrary to a non violence order given to them by the commander of the barracks,  Colonel Nabasa.
Contacted, the Force public relation officer, DCP Olusola Amore said he was yet to get details of the clash saying, “Let me talk to the CP Lagos then I will be in a better position to react to the matter.  But his counterpart in the army, Lieutenant Colonel Kayode Ogunsanya of the 81 Division said the situation had been brought under control stressing that it will be throughly investigated.  “The situation is under control and I can assure you that the cause of the clash will be thoroughly investigated,” he assured.

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Jonathan sacks Waziri,Lamorde takes over

Lead Image

November 23, 2011 03:46PM

The 65years old Chairperson of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC), Farida Waziri was on Wednesday relieved of her duty by President Goodluck Jonathan.

The sack was contained in a statement released by the Presidency stating that "the president has approved the appointment of Mr Ibrahim Lamorde as the Acting Chairman/Chief Executive of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, EFCC.
The appointment takes immediate effect, and effectively relieves Mrs Farida Waziri of her position as EFCC Chairman."
Also confirming the change of baton in the commission, the EFCC spokesperson, Femi Babafemi in a telephone interview said that it was true, but not willing to disclose what could have led to the hurried termination of Mrs. Waziri's appointment, considering that her tenure
still remains a year.

Mr. Babafemi However told NEXT that "She is not ready to react to the development yet, until it is officially communicated to her. That is according to her. So, let's wait for the official communication of things."

Mrs. Waziri was amid controversy with the senate appointed the chairman of the anti-graft agency by late President Umaru Yar'Adua on May 18, 2008, and confirmed by the Senate on May 27, 2008.

She was born on July 7, 1946 and raised in Gboko, Benue State. She obtained her law degree from the University of Lagos and obtained a Masters degree in Law from the Lagos State University. In 1996, she gained a Masters Degree in Strategic Studies from the University of Ibadan.

Enlisted into the Nigeria Police Force in 1965 and rose to the position of Assistant Inspector General of Police, Mrs Waziri held the positions of Assistant Commissioner of Police (Operations), screening and selection, Assistant/Deputy Commissioner of Police Force C.I.D Alagbon, Lagos, Commissioner of Police, General Investigation and Commissioner of Police in charge of X-Squad.

Mr. Lamorde has however as directed by the Presidency assumed duty as the Acting Chairman of the Commission. As the third Police office to head the commission, he was the Director of Operations under the leadership of both Nuhu Ribadu and Farida Waziri.

Mr. Lamorde was also removed from the commission with Mr. Ribadu in 2008, but was reportedly asked to resume back in May 2008, pending the resolution of Mrs. Waziri's appointment as at the time. The Senate had delayed Mrs. Waziri's screening based on the allegation that she had assumed office before her name was sent to the National Assembly for screening.

Mrs. Waziri's tenure at the Commission was marred with series of allegation as also reported by Next, including signing letters of pardon for people being investigated by the Agency, such as former Delta State Governor James Ibori, she was also criticized by U.S.diplomats in the Wikileaks cables for being unprepared and for being controlled by politicians.

The Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) was established in 2003 to investigate financial crimes such as advance fee fraud (419 fraud) and money laundering.


Monday, November 21, 2011

SSS Statement: Nigerian Lawmaker Ran Boko Haram



On 3rd November, 2011 about 2030 hours at Gwange area, Maiduguri, Borno State, a joint security operation led to the arrest of Ali Sanda Umar KONDUGA, acclaimed spokesman of the Boko Haram sect, widely known in the media as Usman AL-ZAWAHIRI. He was a former political thug operating under a group widely known as ECOMOG.

2.      His arrest further confirms the Service position that some of the Boko Haram extremists have political patronage and sponsorship. This is moreso as AL-ZAWAHIRI has so far made valuable confessions in this regard. Highlights of some of his admissions are:

i.       That he was recruited by a political party stalwart in Maiduguri, Borno State;
ii.      That following the compulsory registration of all SIM  cards nationwide, he was asked to steal a SIM card which he used in sending threat text messages.                                                                                                                                                                                               

 iii.     That the pseudo name, Usman AL-ZAWAHIRI was given to him by the said politician to portray him as an extremist as well as conceal his true identity;

iv.     That one of his benefactor’s promised to pay him Ten Million Naira (N10 million) to work for his party but by stint of fate, he died on his way to deliver the part payment of Five Million Naira (N5 Million) to AL-ZAWAHIRI
v.      That consequent upon this, subject claimed a serving member of the National Assembly took over the running of his activities;

vi.     That he was behind the threat text messages sent to the Judges of the Election Petition Tribunal in Maiduguri. His objective was to ensure that the Tribunal sacks the present Government in Borno State;

vii.    That he was also behind other threats messages sent to Governor Sule LAMIDO, Governor Babangida ALIYU, Amb. Dalhatu Sarki TAFIDA, Chief Olusegun OBASANJO and Justice Sabo ADAMU (Chairman of the Election Petition Tribunal in Borno State).

viii.   That most of the threat messages he sent to Justice Sabo ADAMU, were scripted and relayed to him by the National Assembly member.

ix.     That the threat text messages eventually led to the relocation of the election petition tribunal from Maiduguri to Abuja;

x.      That the same legislator promised to send him some telephone numbers of members of the GALTIMARI Committee on Security in the North East, before he (AL-ZAWAHIRI) was apprehended.

xi.     That the telephone number and content of the text message sent to the Attorney General and Minister of Justice were also given to him by the Legislator in order to compel him (AGF) to influence the judgment of the tribunal against the Government in Borno State.

3       Meanwhile, analysis of AL-ZAWAHIRI’s phone has confirmed constant communication between him and the legislator.

4.      The Service wishes to reiterate its commitment to addressing the current threats posed by the Boko Haram sect and other forms of fundamentalism in the country, including the dimensions of political patronage and sponsorship of extremist and violent groups. We call on all well-meaning Nigerians to sustain their confidence in the nation’s security establishment, as we work tirelessly to ensure a safe and peaceful Country for us all.

SSS Statement: Nigerian Lawmaker Ran Boko Haram | Sahara Reporters

Sunday, November 20, 2011

Amnesty urges shell to pay for Nigeria oil spills

Amnesty International says that the local communities of Bodo have 
been severely affected by the two oil spills [EPA]

Amnesty International has called on Shell to pay $1bn to start cleaning up two oil spills in Nigeria's Niger Delta which it says caused huge suffering to locals whose fisheries and farmland were poisoned.
A spokesman for Shell said on Thursday the company had already acknowledged the two oil spills and started cleaning up, adding that oil theft was responsible for most spills in the Delta.

The report by the human rights group to mark the 16th anniversary of the execution of environmental activist Ken Saro
Wiwa by Nigerian authorities said the two spills in 2008 in Bodo, Ogoniland, had wrecked the livelihoods of 69,000 people.
Amnesty said the community's UK lawyers suggested the spill had leaked 4,000 barrels a day for 10 weeks, which would make it bigger than the 1989 Exxon Valdez spill in Alaska.

"The prolonged failure of the Shell Petroleum Development Company of Nigeria to clean up the oil that was spilled, continues to have catastrophic consequences," it said.
"Those who used to rely on fishing for a living have lost their incomes and livelihoods. Farmers say their harvests are smaller than before. Overall, people in Bodo are now much less able to grow their own food or catch fish."
Devastating oil spills are common in the vast network of labyrinthine creeks, swamps and rivers of the Niger Delta.

The report urged implementation of a United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) report in August that was critical
of both Shell and the Nigerian government for contributing to 50 years of pollution in Ogoniland, a region in the oil-rich Delta.
It said the region needs the world's largest ever oil clean-up that would cost an initial $1bn and take 30 years.
"Bodo is a disaster"
Amnesty urged Shell to set up the $1bn clean up fund, citing Bodo as an example of a place needing urgent attention.
"Bodo is a disaster ... that, due to Shell's inaction, continues to this day. It is time this multi-billion dollar company owns up, cleans up and pays up," Aster van Kregten Amnesty International's Nigeria researcher said in a statement.

Shell stopped pumping oil from most of Ogoniland after a campaign led by Saro-Wiwa, a writer and activist, but it
continues to be the dominant player in the Niger Delta.
"SPDC has publicly acknowledged that two oil spills that affected the Bodo community in 2008 were caused by operational issues," Shell spokesman Precious Okolobo said, adding that Shell estimated the total size of the spill to be 4,000 barrels.

"The reality is that our efforts to undertake cleanup in Bodo have been hampered by the repeated impact of sabotage and bunkering spills," he added.
Oil is often spilled during sabotage attacks on facilities and bunkering -- tapping pipelines to steal crude. Okolobo said 150,000 barrels of oil are stolen each day in the Delta.

"If Amnesty really wanted to make a difference ... it would join with us in calling for more action to address this criminal activity, which is responsible for the majority of spills."
But Amnesty said even if some spills were caused by theft, "this does not justify a failure to clean up after an oil spill - all oil companies are required to do so, regardless of cause."

Amnesty urges Shell to pay for Nigeria spills - Africa - Al Jazeera English

Women should not wait for power to be given by men – Roz Ben-Okagbue

By Moses Nosike
Roz Ben-Okagbue is a lawyer, accountant and as well an activist. She is a Nigerian that wants and desires equally treatment for human race. Her educational background in law and work experience in the United Kingdom contributed her being activist.
In this interview with Woman in her prime, she explains how Human Rights activists and other organisations that speak for the less privileged are silenced by those in authority and harsh treatment women receive in politics unlike men. Excerpts:
What is your motive of being a political activist?

Roz Ben-Okagbue.
My motive is primarily to create awareness about issues of governance that hinder the progress of the country. People are generally dissatisfied without being able to identify the source of their dissatisfaction. The military rulers literally raped the country one after the other and both journalism and activism was limited as it invited rather stringent responses from the military leaders.
Journalists and Human Rights activists were silenced with arrests, torture and death. With the exception of a few brave activists, we (Nigerians) generally developed the culture of remaining silent in the face of oppression and even with the advent of democracy that culture has not really left us.
Many Nigerians would rather say nothing for fear of reprisals regardless of the level of oppression our leaders inflict on us either by stealing public funds and leaving the rest of Nigerians impoverished or taking decisions that benefit the politicians and enable them to enrich themselves at the expense of others.
But if we remain silent, they will continue to take advantage of us and nothing will change. The creation of awareness of the issues that require change is the first step to achieving the change that we seek and that is my motivation. I seek change and I want others to join me in demanding that change.
Are you being driven by passion or is it your area of calling?
I would say it is more of passion really, passion for my country Nigeria. A desire for the oppressed to receive better treatment and accountability from our leaders and for us to generally reap the dividends of democracy as promised which has so far pretty much eluded us. We have situations where ex-governors are arraigned after their tenure and accused of literally emptying the coffers into their personal pockets. But after all the hullaballoo, nothing happens to them. They are allowed to walk free with their loot and nobody holds them accountable or relieves them of their loot. Look at Alamesiegha, Igbinedion, Orji Kalu and several others. After all the fan fare of arresting and trying them, what has happened to them?….nothing!
Those convicted had such light sentences or were asked to pay back paltry sums and with some of them, the trial was not even concluded at all. If it was not for the doggedness of the United Kingdom’s metropolitan police, Ibori would also have walked free. After all he was acquitted by a Nigerian court whilst we looked on helplessly. What could we do when the court says he is not guilty of 170 count corruption charges levelled against him, yet he, his family and even girlfriends were living large on the stolen state funds. These are the things that drive me. These are the things that make me ask questions.
Since being a political activist in Nigeria and considering gender inequality, what has been your propelling factor and the achievement so far?
I am not certain what gender inequality has to do with political activism. People don’t listen to you more or less because you are a woman or a man. Nobody appoints activists, it’s a personal choice. Of course the fact that a democratic environment does not encourage the arrest and torture of activists also helps as that could have been a major deterrent for women.
Activism is further enhanced by the social media which gives everyone a voice hence there are many more activists out there these days. The government cannot shut the internet down as they would for an ‘offending’ newspaper. They cannot arrest people for posting stories about their activities… how many people can you arrest? Once a story hits the internet, several people post it and the awareness increases. Nigerians in Diaspora are kept abreast of all the news as it unfolds. The best that the government can do is to hire people to counter the stories and justify their actions using the same medium as the activists.
The contribution of the social media was highlighted during the period when our president (Yar’Adua at that time) “disappeared” and the entire nation was being held to ransom by a small “cabal” of government officials. The rallies and marches were mostly organised in a short space of time with the help of the social media and the internet in general. I would say that that is one of my achievements as I participated fully in that movement.
Do you think if women are given their rightful position things will change in our leadership and economy as well?
Well to some extent, yes. Women are very focused and feel more of a need to prove themselves by doing the right thing. That is not to say that there are no corrupt women or that all women are better than men. You can’t make such generalisations. However women are very smart, very organised and when the right ones are selected they do make a reasonable impact.
Ngozi Okonjo Iweala is an example at hand. She was very successful as the finance minister during Obassanjo’s era hence she has been given an elevated “prime minister status” in the current government. Women like Hilary Clinton and Condoleeza Rice have also demonstrated the strong contribution that women in powerful positions can make. An increased participation of women in leadership roles will also make the men more competitive and more accountable. They will not want the women to outshine them and record greater achievements.
The women will also set a different pace and standard in terms of corruption and accountability. These are some of the main problems we have with leadership today.
According to Dr Mourtada Deme (Resident Country Director of IRI), women’s participation in politics is a “strong indicator of a country’s democratic development and therefore women should have a greater voice in the governance of the nation”. However, the crucial thing to note is that it is not just about putting a woman in a leadership role but putting a competent woman.
Often times women are selected either because they do not pose too much of a threat to men in their environment or because they enjoy a “special” relationship with the men charged with making appointments. If women are chosen on that basis, then their contribution will not be particularly exceptional and there will be limited impact.What is your advice to women and our leaders in politics?
My advice to women in politics or interested in politics is, don’t wait for power to be given to you by the men…..grab it! For years we have been governed predominantly by men. They have not made a success of the country so now it’s our turn to make a contribution and to determine whether we can make a difference. We must not allow the men to put us off (and they will try), instead we must stand up to be counted. We must raise our voice and keep talking until they are forced to accept us.
Nigeria belongs to all of us, men and women alike and the myth that only men can govern effectively has long been broken. We should insist on the education of our girls as illiteracy is still higher in women than in men and this creates a barrier ab initio. We should also insist on a certain number of roles to be reserved for women and we should form women groups designed to promote women and enhance their political careers.