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OPINION

Public institutions and public trust, By Jerome-Mario Utomi.

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Talking about the public institution, Mahatma Gandhi in his autobiography titled; The Story of My Experiment with Truth, among other things stated that a public institution is an institution conducted with the approval, and from the funds of the public, warning that whenever such an institution ceases to have public support, it forfeits its right to exist.

Institutions maintained on permanent funds, he noted, are often found to ignore public opinion, and are frequently responsible for acts contrary to it. And concluded that India at every step experienced situations where public institutions instead of living like nature, from day to day, abandoned the ideals of public trust.

Indeed, if such worry expressed about a century ago was ugly, what is currently happening here is a crisis. As the same attitude of ignoring public opinions has become a word made flesh, and now dwell among public institutions in Nigeria.

Concretely, developed societies encourage public institutions to get in constant touch with reality and open dialogues with well-informed but quietly influential citizens and organizations in order to benefit from their experience and expertize.

But what we have here is but a direct opposite- as the public institutions are against all known logic  reputed for flagrant disregard of public opinions, advice and requests from well-meaning Nigerians and organizations; that ordinarily ought to be their partners in the business of moving the nation forward.

Telling evidence of such scourge is the Code of Conduct Bureau’s (CCB) recent refusal to grant the Freedom of Information’s (FOI) request by Socio-Economic Rights and Accountability Projects (SERAP) for the release of copies of the declaration forms of former state governors and Presidents on the grounds that the declaration forms are private documents.

Admittedly, some documents are lawfully tagged classified. However, looking at commentaries, apart from the fact that power to decide whether the private document in a public office remain private or otherwise lies not within CCB but the Court, its refusal  to the request curiously negates provisions by both the ‘UN Convention against Corruption and the African Union Convention on Preventing and Combating Corruption which clearly articulates important roles for civil society in the fight against corruption further plagued the Bureau’s argument’.

And runs contrary to the provisions of Section 1(1) of the FOI Act which clearly stated thus; notwithstanding anything contained in any other Act, law or regulation, the right of any person to access or request information, whether or not contained in any written form, which is in the custody or possession of any public official, agency or institution howsoever described, is established.

Working under this condition, one becomes more and more occupied with questions as to how this attitude of public institutions in Nigeria can be corrected particularly as the sole aim of such establishments is service. Who will stop this progressive decay in our public institutions which like an unchained torrent of water is submerging our ‘political and socioeconomic countrysides?  Should we allow it to continue, leaving the nation to enjoy or suffer whatever fruit it bears in future?

Obviously, in my opinion, our principal duty for the moment should be to find out factors fueling public institution inefficiencies and disobedience to public opinion.

And as far back as I can remember a link inevitably exists in practical as well as moral terms, between these frosty behaviours of our public institution and bureaucracy which characterizes public administration in Nigeria.

Specifically, nothing supports this claim more than the position as argued by Robert Kiyosaki, a world acclaimed management consultant, where he among other concerns noted that the problem with the world is that many allow their institutions to be led by bureaucrats. And went ahead to define a bureaucrat as someone who is in the position of authority such as government/public office but who takes no professional and financial risks. And further underlined that a bureaucrat can lose a lot of money but they do not lose any of their own. They get paid whenever they do a job or not.

The above without  doubt explains why many Ministries, Departments and some other Government Agencies in Nigeria is without strategic plans in spite of development practitioners arguments that strategies and policies are fundamental to the progress and development of institutions. Having known that their salaries will be paid with or without doing any work, many of the public institutions don’t bother reviewing their policies.  Even in some extreme cases, the implementation of the existing policies have been characterized by discontinuity, reversals and somersaults’

It is on good the ground that one of the most basic of these realities is that since independence in October 1960, the country has demonstrated that there is no development plan that achieved fully its core objectives- a fault traceable to lack of systematic planning framework that ensures adequate data and research, good information system, monitoring and evaluation.

However, poor service delivery may not be the only consequence or bureaucracy, the only explanation for flagrant disregard of public opinion by public institutions.

The barefaced illusion by these civil servants that they are more nationalistic or patriotic than other citizens is a contributing factor. This baffling disposition in effect prepares the ground for exercising power and responsibility, not as a trust for the public good, but as an opportunity for private gains and promotes nepotism, cronyism and corruption as consequences.

Next to gross poverty of history which roundly prevents these bureaucrats learning from the consequences that befell their predecessor who ignored public opinion, is the excruciating poverty in the land which drives more people into the ranks of beggars, whose desperate struggle for bread renders insensible to demand quality service from public institutions.

 

Looking ahead, If truly a people- purposed leadership is what we seek if the accelerated economy is our goal, if social and cultural development is our dreams if promoting peace, supporting our industries and improving our energy sector forms our objectives, then, the solution lies  in the government’s  urgent recognition that those structures that created failures in those institutions will also prevent the  implementation of incentives that will improve performance. Also, attempting to engineer prosperity without first confronting the root cause of the problem and the politics that kept them in the place is a mere waste of time.

While calling for the restructuring of  public  institution to deliver service, Mr President should start thinking public-private-partnership for key responsibilities such as infrastructural development-a structural and managerial model globally recognized for curbing bureaucracy and corruption in public institutions and instilling public trust.

Monday 24h  June 2019.

The Editor,

Greetings.

Please, kindly find below/attached an opinion article with the above subject for publication; for the benefits of the reading public.

Again, many thanks.

Jerome-Mario Utomi,

jeromeutomi@yahoo.com

08032725374

Public Institutions and Public Trust

By; Jerome-Mario Utomi.

Talking about the public institution, Mahatma Gandhi in his autobiography titled; The Story of My Experiment with Truth, among other things stated that a public institution is an institution conducted with the approval, and from the funds of the public, warning that whenever such an institution ceases to have public support, it forfeits its right to exist.

Institutions maintained on permanent funds, he noted, are often found to ignore public opinion, and are frequently responsible for acts contrary to it. And concluded that India at every step experienced situations where public institutions instead of living like nature, from day to day, abandoned the ideals of public trust.

Indeed, if such worry expressed about a century ago was ugly, what is currently happening here is a crisis. As the same attitude of ignoring public opinions has become a word made flesh, and now dwell among public institutions in Nigeria.

Concretely, developed societies encourage public institutions to get in constant touch with reality and open dialogues with well-informed but quietly influential citizens and organizations in order to benefit from their experience and expertize.

But what we have here is but a direct opposite- as the public institutions are against all known logic  reputed for flagrant disregard of public opinions, advice and requests from well-meaning Nigerians and organizations; that ordinarily ought to be their partners in the business of moving the nation forward.

Telling evidence of such scourge is the Code of Conduct Bureau’s (CCB) recent refusal to grant the Freedom of Information’s (FOI) request by Socio-Economic Rights and Accountability Projects (SERAP) for the release of copies of the declaration forms of former state governors and Presidents on the grounds that the declaration forms are private documents.

Admittedly, some documents are lawfully tagged classified. However, looking at commentaries, apart from the fact that power to decide whether the private document in a public office remain private or otherwise lies not within CCB but the Court, its refusal  to the request curiously negates provisions by both the ‘UN Convention against Corruption and the African Union Convention on Preventing and Combating Corruption which clearly articulates important roles for civil society in the fight against corruption further plagued the Bureau’s argument’.

And runs contrary to the provisions of Section 1(1) of the FOI Act which clearly stated thus; notwithstanding anything contained in any other Act, law or regulation, the right of any person to access or request information, whether or not contained in any written form, which is in the custody or possession of any public official, agency or institution howsoever described, is established.

Working under this condition, one becomes more and more occupied with questions as to how this attitude of public institutions in Nigeria can be corrected particularly as the sole aim of such establishments is service. Who will stop this progressive decay in our public institutions which like an unchained torrent of water is submerging our ‘political and socioeconomic countrysides?  Should we allow it to continue, leaving the nation to enjoy or suffer whatever fruit it bears in future?

Obviously, in my opinion, our principal duty for the moment should be to find out factors fueling public institution inefficiencies and disobedience to public opinion.

And as far back as I can remember a link inevitably exists in practical as well as moral terms, between these frosty behaviours of our public institution and bureaucracy which characterizes public administration in Nigeria.

Specifically, nothing supports this claim more than the position as argued by Robert Kiyosaki, a world acclaimed management consultant, where he among other concerns noted that the problem with the world is that many allow their institutions to be led by bureaucrats. And went ahead to define a bureaucrat as someone who is in the position of authority such as government/public office but who takes no professional and financial risks. And further underlined that a bureaucrat can lose a lot of money but they do not lose any of their own. They get paid whenever they do a job or not.

The above without  doubt explains why many Ministries, Departments and some other Government Agencies in Nigeria is without strategic plans in spite of development practitioners arguments that strategies and policies are fundamental to the progress and development of institutions. Having known that their salaries will be paid with or without doing any work, many of the public institutions don’t bother reviewing their policies.  Even in some extreme cases, the implementation of the existing policies have been characterized by discontinuity, reversals and somersaults’

It is on good the ground that one of the most basic of these realities is that since independence in October 1960, the country has demonstrated that there is no development plan that achieved fully its core objectives- a fault traceable to lack of systematic planning framework that ensures adequate data and research, good information system, monitoring and evaluation.

However, poor service delivery may not be the only consequence or bureaucracy, the only explanation for flagrant disregard of public opinion by public institutions.

The barefaced illusion by these civil servants that they are more nationalistic or patriotic than other citizens is a contributing factor. This baffling disposition in effect prepares the ground for exercising power and responsibility, not as a trust for the public good, but as an opportunity for private gains and promotes nepotism, cronyism and corruption as consequences.

Next to gross poverty of history which roundly prevents these bureaucrats learning from the consequences that befell their predecessor who ignored public opinion, is the excruciating poverty in the land which drives more people into the ranks of beggars, whose desperate struggle for bread renders insensible to demand quality service from public institutions.

 

Looking ahead, If truly a people- purposed leadership is what we seek if the accelerated economy is our goal, if social and cultural development is our dreams if promoting peace, supporting our industries and improving our energy sector forms our objectives, then, the solution lies  in the government’s  urgent recognition that those structures that created failures in those institutions will also prevent the  implementation of incentives that will improve performance. Also, attempting to engineer prosperity without first confronting the root cause of the problem and the politics that kept them in the place is a mere waste of time.

While calling for the restructuring of  public  institution to deliver service, Mr President should start thinking public-private-partnership for key responsibilities such as infrastructural development-a structural and managerial model globally recognized for curbing bureaucracy and corruption in public institutions and instilling public trust.

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OPINION

Ganduje’s Supreme Court victory and collapse of Kwankwassiyya structure, By Muhammad Garba

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It was a jubilant jiffy for millions of Kano residents on Monday morning when the news of the avowal of the election of Governor Abdullahi Umar Ganduje by the wise Justices of the Supreme Court sieved into the ancient commercial city. Though the victory was very much expected, the treacherous flimflam launched by the opposition few days to the Supreme Court judgment almost created tautness and fright in the minds of many residents.
The news of how Kano residents broke into desolate euphoria over the affirmation of Governor Ganduje’s re-election was everywhere. People were exultant and they did not hide their ecstasy. To them, Ganduje’s victory is a victory for the people. It is a foundation for the accomplishment of the vision to make Kano a Mega City. Indeed, it is a victory for the free education of the Kano children, obliteration of poverty, youth and women empowerment, infrastructural development and human development.
Right from the first stage of the legal scrimmage at the Kano state Governorship Election Petition Tribunal led by Justice Halima Shamaki, ardent observers of the tribunal proceedings were already envisaging the consequence of the case even within the court premises. At the close of its sitting which lasted for 174 days, the three-member tribunal, upheld the re-election of Kano state governor, Dr. Abdullahi Umar Ganduje, declaring that his victory in the March 23 supplementary election was lawful and valid.
Analysts and even legal practitioners who affianced in discussions over the tribunal’s translucent proceedings already knew where the plumb would swing. This explained why the verdict of tribunal did not come to most people as a surprise. In the article I wrote instantaneously after the Tribunal verdict entitled, “Kano Guber Tribunal Verdict: A Case Of No Appeal,” I had also advised the PDP and its gubernatorial candidate, Abba Kabir Yusuf to accept the verdict of the Tribunal in good faith because it was crystal clear that they have no case to appeal.
In fact, before I set out for Kaduna to witness the verdict, I was fully convinced that victory would come our way, having witnessed all the tribunal proceedings in Kano as well as the persnickety manner which the chairperson of the Tribunal and her team delivered justice.
However, the PDP did not heed to my advice and rushed to the Court of Appeal in Kaduna, where the court, at its sitting on Friday, November 22, affirmed the verdict of Kano state Governorship Election Tribunal and validated the re-election of Governor Ganduje.
While reviewing the case, the Court held that the PDP and its candidate could not produce direct evidence to substantiate and prove to the tribunal that they were not defeated in the March 23 supplementary election. The Appellate Court, therefore, dismissed the 24 grounds of appeal filed by the PDP and its candidate. Expectedly, in an undivided judgment, the chairman of the Appeal Panel, Justice Tijjani Abubakar, espoused the judgment of the tribunal, averring that Governor Ganduje was validly elected.
At the conclusion of the case, I had again advised the PDP and its gubernatorial candidate, Engr. Abba Kabir Yusuf to resist the crackpot advice of approaching the Supreme Court, knowing full well that they have no case to present.
In a unanimous judgment delivered at the court, on Monday, January 20, the seven-man panel headed by Chief Justice of Nigeria, Justice Tanko Muhammad, dismissed the appeal by candidate of the PDP since the facts presented did not support the appeal, which was predicated on a single ground. The judgement, which was read by Justice Nwali Ngwuta also held that the petitioner failed to substantively prove and provide evidence that there was any irregularity in the election held on March 9 and the supplementary election on March 23, 2019.
Ominously, the Supreme Court verdict confirmed the total downfall of the Kwnakwasiyya structure in Kano politics. Less than 24 hours after the judgment, we have begun to receive emissaries from staunch members of the group who have declared their intention to openly deprecate their membership and join the Next Level government. Fortunately for them, Governor Ganduje has extended a hand of fellowship to them. They are welcome because the primary aim of his administration is to ensure development in the state and unfetter the people from poverty.
This is why we should begin to commend the altruism of Governor Ganduje who has vowed to run an all-inclusive government. The leadership of our great party, the All Progressive Congress (APC) has also promised to welcome anybody who decided to join the Next Level train. There are vacancies in the train of victory and we will be willing to welcome them to join hands with Governor Ganduje to rebuild Kano and give our dear state its seemly status of a Mega-City.
The Ganduje’s administration is built on the canons of democracy and rule of law. We view the opposition as no threats. We welcome constructive criticisms of those who decided to stay on the other side, but it is apposite to note that our resolve in the Next Level government is to take Kano to greater heights.
For the good people of Kano state, they should expect nothing less than good governance built on the principles of prudent management of tax payers’ money, transparency and open door policy. We are, indeed, set to put Kano on the front pew of the most economic vibrant cities in Africa.
The next four years of this administration will surely be characterized with the execution of people-oriented projects and implementation of human development policies. With the prayers and cooperation of the people, we will not fail. The electorate will have no cause to regret giving us their mandate.
Garba is the commissioner, Information, Kano state
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OPINION

Amotekun can be threat to non yoruba? By Abba Dukawa

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The Minister of Justice and Attorney-General of the Federation, Abubakar Malami,  argued that security “is a matter that is within the exclusive operational competence of the Federal Government of Nigeria. He added that: “No other authority at the state level, whether the executive or legislature has the legal authority over defence.” The argument he made was that military and paramilitary outfits to defend Nigeria and its citizens are determined by the Constitution so “no State Government, whether singly or in a group has the legal right and competence to establish any form of organization or agency for the defence of Nigeria or any of its constituent parts.
As we all knows the  primary responsibility of government, at any level, is the protection of lives and property of the citizen. In carrying out this function, the state employs different layers of measures to ensure effective and efficient policing. It is without doubt that in the past decade particularly, the current policing administration in our dear country had been stretched to its limits and it is obvious that the reality of our domestic security upheaval will demand of us to recalibrate our police systems.
In achieving this noble goal, the police, the armed forces, and also the court of law, have swung into action with a view to protect the rights and liberties of Nigerian citizens and its residents within the country. Individuals’ conducts and behaviours living together and within the Nigerian society have been regulated in order for them to conform to the laid down rules and regulations, even as those violating the laws are punished.
Many writers have different view on the issue that many States  governments states across the country   established  such organazations like  Kaduna State established a security outfit known as the “Kaduna State Vigilance Service” to assist security agencies to tackle criminality. The Sokoto State Government also established a local security outfit called “Yan Banga,” which operates in almost all the villages in the state to track criminals and hand them over to security agencies for prosecution. In Zamfara State,  had established ‘Yan Sakai’ Local Vigilantes. Kano State has established the Hisbah Corps,  in 2003.In Borno State, the Civilian Joint Task Force (CJTF) was created under the last administration called BOYES (Borno Youth Volunteers). They work in collaboration with the military to fight Boko Haram. Also working for the security of the state are local hunters and vigilante groups, which have been around even before insurgency. The other North East States have similar outfits. In Taraba State, the Taraba Marshalls is a local security outfit set up by the state government in 2018 to tackle insecurity and other violent crimes. Rivers State Government’s Neighbourhood Safety Corps Agency. Ebonyi State Government also has the Neighbourhood Watch Group with membership drawn from the 13 local government areas of the state to complement the efforts of security agencies to control crimes and other security challenges in the state.
Since the returns of civilian dispensation in the country, Nigeria has witnessed an increase in the activities of ethnic and regional militia, vigilantes, and other armed groups in the last few years. One of the better-known of these groups is the O’odua People’s Congress (OPC),  in the southwest  which campaigns to protect the interests of the Yoruba ethnic group and seeks autonomy for the Yoruba people. The OPC is a complex organization, which has taken on several different roles as it has adapted to the changing political and security environment in Nigeria.
Therefore federal government shall do something to avert serious insecurity which  Western Nigeria Security Network (WNSN), codenamed Operation Amotekun may cause as the case. Nigerians would not forgotten  OPC has been responsible for numerous human rights abuses and acts of violence, and its members have killed or injured hundreds of unarmed civilians In its  spheres of activity-ethnic militancy and vigilantism- and fighting crimes.
The most widespread killings by the OPC took place in the context of clashes between Yoruba, Hausa’s  and other ethnic groups, which reached a peak during 2000 and 2002 ; however, violence and human rights abuses continued in 2000, 2001 and 2002. Between these years Nigerians have witnessed how OPC  activities have ranged from political agitation for Yoruba autonomy and promotion of Yoruba culture to violent confrontation with members of other ethnic groups resided in the South Western states in the name of  vigilantism and crime-fighting.
How sure are we that Amotekun will not commits the same  of large-scale killings by the OPC in 2003 the  clashes between OPC  and other different ethnic groups especially Hausa living in south west   taking place, and how the southwest governors and the promoters of Amotekun will act toward avert ethnic tensions which may likely arise.  My concern on the formation of Amotekun is not personal but on safe of other different ethnic groups living in the south west. There is likely the members of Amotekun to commit large scale of human right abuse base on ethnicity differences. Finally chairman of the South West Governors Forum, Rotimi Akeredolu, has said there is no going back on the operation of the regional security agency, Amotekun, which they are prepared to pursue to its logical conclusion. Governor Akeredolu emphasised that the governors of the region were committed to improved security provisioning and are particularly keen to address the rising wave of banditry, kidnapping and farmers and herders’ clashes. The stage is therefore set for a major confrontation between the Federal Government and the South West States.
I blame previous administrations governed the country for not doing the needful in making sure that, the Nigerian federation is kept intact by ensuring that, law and order are maintained. It is one of the  important responsibility of the  federal government to  bring  peace and tranquillity in the nation but  Federal Government  for decades not acts to towards  challenging  many States governors in the federation that  have  setting up security agencies  all in the name of support securities agencies in their respective a States.
Dukawa can be reach at abbahydukawa@gmail.com

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OPINION

The implications of proposed U.S. visa restrictions on Nigeria

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Presidents Buhari and Trump

Should the United States slam a visa restriction on Nigeria as being currently speculated, its attendant consequences will undoubtedly be enormous. Already, Iran, Libya, North Korea, Somalia, Syria, and Yemen are facing U.S. travel ban, an action U.S President Donald Trump explained, in 2017, as safeguarding America and its citizens from terrorism.

Aside Nigeria, the coming ban will have Eritrea, Tanzania, Belarus, Sudan, Myanmar, and Kyrgyzstan. According to foreign media reports, the travel ban will only apply to specific targets including government officials and to certain visa types.

In spite of this, such policy against Africa’s most populous country and, ironically, a strategic trading US partner clearly indicts the current administration. Before now, the US had expressed its displeasure with the administration’s poor human rights records and penchant to trample the Rule of Law. Definitely, this informed Nigeria’s designation by the US, recently, as a country promoting religious discrimination. It is noteworthy that the US statement announcing the depiction had cited the killing of members of the Islamic Movement of Nigeria’s (Shi’a) and continued incarceration of its leader, Ibraheem El Zakzaky, despite court bail.

Beside being bad optics for Nigeria internationally, the travel ban will equally have telling effects on the country’s precarious economy and flow of Foreign Direct Investment, FDI, from the US. The aftermath of the proposed travel ban, certainly, will impose quite rigorous and exorbitant expenses on visa processing, such that it becomes frustrating to foreign and local investors. Since international trade largely requires that personal contacts be established at some point between trading partners or investors, hardship in securing non-immigrant visa will adversely affect trade negotiations and investment. Combined with the reality of Nigeria being a monolithic economy and consumption-driven, investment and accompanying job creation will take a reverse.

As statistics have shown , U.S and Nigeria are strategic trading partners. In 2018, US goods and services trade with Nigeria was estimated to be $11.3 billion, comprising export goods ($2.7 billion) and import goods ($5.6 billion).

Trade in services for 2018 totaled $3.0 billion, comprising services exports ($2.4 billion) and services imports ($531million).

On humanitarian aid, the US, like other development partners, has been involved in various developmental projects in Nigeria. These include the fight against HIV/AIDS, education, peace and security, health, and military assistance. In the same vein, the United States Agency for International Development, USAID, has splurged $308.9 million in assistance to Nigeria in the recent years, while US Military Security Assistance gulped $133million; Population, Refugees, and Migration, $39.72 million; Democracy, Human Rights, and Governance, $31million; Education, $25million; Law Enforcement, $6.5million; Centre for Disease Control (immunization and Health Protection) $18.6million, e.t.c

Based on this analysis, US travel ban is clearly bad for Nigeria.

It is therefore imperative for the Nigerian government to take proactive measures by launching serious diplomatic interventions, while exploring ways of improving on its counter-terrorism efforts in line with demands of its developing partners.

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