President Goodluck Jonathan declared State of Emergency in Borno, Yobe and Adamawa states on Tuesday. It was a direct response to the orgy of killings that had suffused the northern part of the country for some time, particularly the North-east.
The president needed to do something firm and decisive, but opinions are divided over whether he did well by leaving democratic structures in place in those states, and not replacing the governors with sole administrators, who could have been retired military officers drawing from experiences in Plateau and Ekiti states, which went through emergency rule under the Olusegun Obasanjo administration. It was interesting reading the online spat between two prominent Nigerians on the matter.
Chief Femi Fani-Kayode, former Minister of Aviation, and Ovation magazine publisher, Chief Dele Momodu, were virtually at each other’s throats. Hear Momodu: “I wish to disagree with Chief Femi Fani-Kayode on his position against the decision of President Ebele Jonathan not to sack the state governments after declaring a State of Emergency.
The constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria does not empower the President and Commander-in-Chief to arbitrarily sack a duly and constitutionally elected government in the states. The fact that President Olusegun Obasanjo did it with impunity and got away with it because we had gutless governors does not make it right.
This culture of rambunctious rascality and rabid vindictiveness cannot be allowed to continue. On this one, I support President Jonathan for not terminating the lives of elected governments in a Federalism.” But trust the stormy petrel called Fani-Kayode not to be outdone in such matters.
He replied Momodu tackle for tackle: “Which court said the constitution does not empower the president to suspend state governors? Which court declared Obasanjo’s actions illegal? Obasanjo got the necessary approval for his actions from the National Assembly.
Will someone ask those that say Obasanjo’s actions were not constitutional whether Obasanjo was there when all serving political office holders were removed in the Western Region when a State of Emergency was declared there in 1964?
At the end of the day, only one thing matters, and it is not my interpretation of the constitution or anyone else’s. What matters is whether this hitherto untested system of having a serving governor who has not been able to maintain law and order in his state should still be running it when emergency laws are in place. It will lead to chaos, abuse of power… confusion and more atrocities.
It will not succeed in stopping Boko Haram but will strengthen it and cause it to spread.” Where do I pitch my tent? With Momodu, of course! We leave the interpretation of the constitution to lawyers and the courts, but I think dismantling democratic structures in Borno, Yobe and Adamawa would have created a hell of trouble for President Jonathan, and heat up the polity to explosion point. He would have had more troubles to contend with, alongside the Boko Haram insurgency.
Borno and Yobe are ANPP states (heading towards APC now), and there would have been shouts of blue murder, that Jonathan wants to get the states for PDP through the backdoor. Adamawa is PDP, where the national chairman of the party hails from, and sacking the governor there would also have caused so much rumblings and rupture in the ruling party.
Beyond all these considerations, I think it would have been unfair to sack the governors, when they are chief security officers only in name, and the mechanics of control actually reside at the federal level. If anybody is to blame for anarchy in those states, it is the Federal Government that controls the police, the army, state security service, and other agencies, not the state governors, who are mere spare tyres in matters of security. Talking of the broadcast itself, did President Jonathan need to make it? I don’t think so.
Here’s why: what did he really say at the end of the broadcast other than that more troops would be moved into the three states? Not much. So, did we need a national broacast to move soldiers? No. As the opposition Action Congress of Nigeria said in a press statement, “There is nothing new in the President’s action.
It is more of the same: deployment of more troops to the affected states and use of tougher scorched-earth tactics against the insurgents.
In the first instance, this stepped-up militarization of the states amounts to asymmetric use of force in an environment where the insurgents operate within a civilian population, hence it will ultimately be counter-productive, as the death toll will continue to mount.” True. If I lived in Borno, Yobe or Adamawa, then it would be time to show a clean pair of heels.
Those heels would touch the back of my head as I run for dear life. Why would I run? Hear President Jonathan: “The troops and other security agencies involved in these options have orders to take ALL (emphasis mine) necessary action, within the ambit of their rules of engagement, to put an end to the impunity of terrorists.
This will include the authority to arrest and detain suspects, the taking of possession and control of any building or structure used for terrorist purposes, the lock-down of any area of terrorist operation, the conduct of searches, and the apprehension of persons in illegal possession of weapons.” What does this mean in ordinary language? License to kill.
The president has given our security agencies the order to kill and go. If I lived in Borno, Yobe or Adamawa, I tell you, my heels would touch the back of my head as I run. Our military is in a killer mood, now they have virtually been unleashed.
The ACN said since emergency rule has been declared, government should disband the committee recently inaugurated to initiate dialogue leading to amnesty. I disagree. We will still need to talk with Boko Haram before this insurgency would ever end. Terror activities have been stepped up in the last couple of weeks, even as the amnesty committee began to work. Boko Haram leadership should give the initiative a chance.
The truth is they will never be able to Islamize Nigeria. Neither will they be able to kill almost 200 million Nigerians. If they do so, who will they then rule over? Dialogue is still the ultimate end of this unfortunate situation we find ourselves in, and let both parties continue with the initiative. The Federal Government will not win through outright use of force, Boko Haram will not win either.
Why not then embrace other options with sincerity? I am glad that the president has said the dialogue option would continue, despite declaration of emergency rule. Back to the national broadcast of Tuesday, which was also carried by global satellite television.
A number of times, President Jonathan had gone abroad to say Nigeria was safe for investors, and that only a tiny part of the country was given to insurgency. On Tuesday, he unwittingly reversed that position.
Hear him: “It has become necessary for me to address you on the recent spate of terrorist activities and protracted security challenges in some parts of the country, particularly in Borno, Yobe, Adamawa, Gombe, Bauchi, Kano, Plateau, and most recently Bayelsa, Taraba, Benue and Nasarawa states.”
Eleven whole states out of 36! Holy Moses! And you say there is still a cohesive country? If 11 states are, to quote the president, engaged in “spate of terrorist activities and protracted security challenges,” then what are we saying? What are we really telling the world? Nigeria is breaking apart, the centre can no longer hold.
And I’m not the one that said it, the President did. Hear the President again: “These terrorists and insurgents seem determined to establish control and authority over parts of our beloved nation and to progressively overwhelm the rest of the country.
In many places, they have destroyed the Nigerian flag and other symbols of state authority and in their place, hoisted strange flags suggesting the exercise of alternative sovereignty.” Did I say that? No, the president did. But did he need to say it, if only what he wanted to do was deploy more troops in just three states? No.
What he said is now reverberating in international circles, and those ones would be telling themselves that Nigeria is not safe, that even the president has said foreign flags have been hoisted in the country. “They have attacked government buildings, and facilities.
They have murdered innocent citizens and state officials. They have set houses ablaze, and taken women and children as hostages.” My words? No. They are the president’s words. And the whole world heard him. Was it necessary to de-market the country if the intention was just to deploy more troops? Not necessary. Those who wrote that speech for the president sure did him and the country a world of disservice.
Talking of emergency rule in three states, who says that is the only portion of Nigeria under such situation? Recently in Lagos, a local government chairman was kidnapped. Last week in Benin, the family of a serving Supreme Court justice was abducted. In the South-east, kidnap for ransom is a daily occurrence. In Nasarawa last week, cultists killed almost 100 fully armed policemen, and men of the secret service.
Recently in Amansea, Anambra State, scores of mysterious corpses floated on a river. Dozens die daily in Benue and Plateau states, Fulani herdsmen and farmers confront one another hourly in different parts of the country, leaving many dead. In southern Kaduna, the rivers have become rivers of blood, while armed robbers hold sway in many cities. When such scenarios pervade the land, people want to find safety in police stations and military formations. But what do you see in such places, which should be bastions of security?
Barricades upon barricades, bags of sand and stone piled on one another, with sentries at alert to ward off possible attacks. Security men themselves are no longer secure. And you think the entire country is not under emergency rule? It is, and no mistake.
The prayer is that may we never have cause to run helter-skelter, to the extent that our heels begin to touch the back of our heads. If somebody doesn’t say amen, me I’m saying it loud and repeatedly.
There’s no roasting this Rochas
Last week, I wrote on the rescue mission of Governor Rochas Okorocha of Imo State. I did that piece in the innocence of my heart, based on what I saw in Imo State, not knowing that I was opening a floodgate from which all sorts would cascade out.
The noble, the virtuous, and the bilious. Come and see the reactions, a lot positive, very positive, and some very negative ones. Some people love Gov Rochas with passion, while some others would rather roast Rochas, and Femi Adesina along with him. Is it now a crime to write what you see? Must everybody see things from the same prism? Not by any means.
The reactions to the Okorocha piece would fill a whole newspaper, and we can only take them piecemeal. But by the time I looked at the percentage of the pro-Rochas respondents, and those who wanted to roast him, the former won by a landslide. There’s no roasting this Rochas, as the reactions show: Playing to the gallery I say it boldly that Rochas is a big disappointment to the people who rejected tyranny to support him in 2011.
I’m from Orlu senatorial zone, and since the first week of January this year when Rochas organized a lavish wedding for his daughter, till May 4, 2013, I’ve had opportunity of being at Owerri, Mbaise-Umuahia, Orlu-Akokwa, Orlu-Ozubulu through Ihiala, Okiwge, Anara, Nkwerre and my hometown several times and nothing seemed moving as is being presented to the whole world. If Owerri was cleaned up because of the May 6-7 events and the expectations of visitors, I do not think it is appropriate to use it as a yardstick of measurement to begin to eulogize the government, as if it is the best thing that has happened to Imo State.
There are governments that are steadily and truly transforming their states than whatever may have been done in Imo State since May 29, 2011 without any noise making.
The declaration of free tuition for Imo indigenes in all tertiary schools owned by the state government and the payment of whatever amount of bursary to them is just a matter of controversy, as it has only led to the reduction of the percentage of admission of Imo indigenes in such schools and has claimed its first victim in the person of the immediate past vice chancellor of the university.
The so-called 4th tier government is also what it is not. Anyway, Rochas will know how the people of Imo really feel about his performance when 2015 election comes.
An Igbo proverb instructively tells us that a man invited his friend to slaughter his goat for him, and after slaughtering the goat, the friend took a large portion of the meat and hid it inside his bag and left the remnant for the owner of the goat, and when he asked the goat owner whether he was pleased with the way the goat was slaughtered and with the available meat therefrom, the goat owner retorted that it was only when he invited him again to slaughter another meat for him that he would know whether he was pleased or not.
So, it will be in 2015. Imo people are very discerning and alert, as the rat does not take away the belonging of someone that is awake and alert.
And at the national level, Nigerians should emulate the Imo example of choosing a perceived or considered best candidate at material time, irrespective of the candidate’s place of origin, religious creed, ethnicity, colour and political party. Abuchi Anueyiagu, 08080242128, [email protected] True radical change The write up is prophetic, analytical and laced with expectation. With the achievement of the governor in Imo State through the help of God, Nigeria will soon experience good governance.
Leaders are sometimes hijacked by pressure groups for selfish reasons. The few programs intended abandoned, the leader is thoroughly incapacitated. The few states that have experienced the true mandate of the people will serve as stimulant for true radical change across the nation.
Only time will tell. Dr Olayinka Oladosu, [email protected] I’m a witness Your column on the Owelle Okorocha of Imo is very true and commendable. I am a witness to all the achievements of the governor in his real transformation of Imo because I have traveled through all the places you mentioned in the cause of my businesses in the South-east. I hereby submit that Owelle Okorocha can be trusted with power, most especially at the national level. And I believe he will most likely be the first democratically elected president of our dear country from the South-east. Yusuf Umaru, [email protected] He can go higher
The development of Orlu is still like a dream to me as I pass through there to my state. Rochas has shown that he’s out to develop all sectors in Imo State, not just the roads. Sometimes I get a bit jealous when I’m watching his good works on the television (“Yes, it is true!”). Although Imo people can’t wait to see him in a second tenure (come 2015), the non-Imolites like me wish he goes for something higher (at the federal level), so that we’ll all enjoy the dividends of good governance. Nelzonnacky Nelson 08182350872; [email protected] Not yet Uhuru Imo people have suffered so much after Chief Mbakwe of blessed memory.
What they lack in good governance, they have in tenacity. If you pay a higher minimum wage but you stagnate workers, I do not know which one is better. I pray Rochas does not canonize Ohakim at the end of his tenure. Ohakim romanced with OBJ and failed. Rochas is now a groom to IBB. The only cult hero Imo people have had is Chief S.O Mbakwe. May God rest his soul.
He gave bursary award to students both in Imo State and in Diaspora. It is not yet Uhuru in Imo State please. Engr. Mike Akano. 08033748279, [email protected] I love him I have just finished reading your beautiful piece on the man I love – Governor Rochas Okorocha because of what I consider the wonders he is performing in Imo State, just like my state governor, Adams Oshiomhole. Quoting you, “I heard that while teachers in the state can murder anybody who speaks against the governor who has enhanced their status, the same cannot be said of civil servants, who feel he not given them enough attention…”
Please Femi, you need to elaborate on this. What do the civil servants want? What has the governor done for the teachers that he hasn’t done for the civil servants?
There should be some specific things mentioned for proper evaluation. Dr. John Odiase, Benin City, [email protected] Big construction site Before the coming of Gov Rochas Okorocha and the people’s resilience in May 2011, Imo political space was enmeshed in political brinksmanship, propaganda and was buried in a blanket of absurdity. There was lack of direction displayed by Ohakim’s government- that it was easy to see Imo was going down real fast.
Two years after, I don’t expect Imo to be heaven on earth. But these two years of Rochas’ administration were sure better for the people because Imo is one big construction site at the moment. Moses Sunday Ajehson (Kubwa, Abuja), [email protected] Spurious passion The picture you presented about the present state of Imo is a far cry from reality. The people’s passion for Okorocha, which you claimed is still intact, is only but a spurious passion.
The crowd you saw at Heroes Square was small compared to the crowd that witnessed Ohakim’s declaration for a second term. But what happened later? He lost the election. On the issue of projects, did you verify the quality of works done especially the road projects?
Did you verify whether the award of the said contracts followed due process or not? You do not assess a governor by the number of sycophants that follow him everywhere he goes. Temple Dikeogu, Owerri, [email protected] With God on our side… Indeed Imo people have set a roadmap for the nation. All hands should be on deck to make our dreams come true. Let detractors wag their tail of deceits and threats, with God on our side, our will as a people must prevail. Thank you on your write-up. Dennis Chukwuebuka, Owerri, [email protected]
A date with destiny Your write up on Okorocha was one of the greatest and emotionally laden essays of all time. Okorocha was a philanthropist before he became a governor therefore being by the side of the people wouldn’t be a problem to him. I love it when he said that he was not after the primitive accumulation of wealth; in a society where people want to steal for their fifth generation unborn not knowing that the greatest legacy you can leave for your children is the fear of God and good education.
Okorocha has a date with destiny. He will surely get there.Rev. Monye J Gold, [email protected] A man of the people I must say am very impressed with your piece on Gov. Okorocha. Being an Imolite myself, and also a student in one of the federal institutions in Imo State, I deem it fit to say that I concur with virtually all you have said. I have never doubted Gov Okorocha’s willingness to work, even though he isn’t perfect.
Howbeit, he is a man of the people. Ebukah E. Nzeji: 08064597815, [email protected] He’s an angel The only thing I know is that Gov Rochas Okorocha is an angel, a Godsent. I have always known that he will serve his people well, he still has a lot to do. He has six more years to fix Imo to the state of our dream. I have always supported him knowing full well that he will not disappoint. Imo must be better, long live Imo state, long live Rochas Okorocha. Iyke Kinsley, Ilorin, [email protected]
Posers for Okorocha As an indigene of Imo state from Obowo, I know we have never had a selfless Governor since after Chief Sam Mbakwe. You should ask Okorocha why there is no functional industry in Imo State that can employ 1000 workers today. Why are all the industries established by Chief Mbakwe dead, especially Avutu poultry farm, reputed to be the best in Nigeria? Ask him what happened to his 4th tier government (an idea that cannot be sustained or funded). Ask him what happened to his free education up to university level, when the IGR of Imo State is deplorable.
The N4 billion security vote which he claim he forfeited, is it on paper on in reality, after all Obasanjo once told us he was paying house rent in Aso Rock of N167, 000 per annum, but nobody could prove that until he left office. You said it yourself that only eight Governors of APC were at the rally in Owerri. What happened to APGA and PDP Governors and their people on whose platform Okorocha rose to power? He is not a good party man. How can only Okorocha take Imo and Igbo people to APC for his presidential ambition? Politics of cult followership is dead. It is for those with a feeling of inadequacy who want to hoodwink the people.
Instead of renting crowd to sing his praises, let his performance speak for him. Do Governors Obi, Akpabio and Fashola dwell on cult followership? Yet they command national and international respect for their performances, even from opposition parties.
Ask Okorocha how many white men came to Imo State to treat a minor accident injury on their forehead? Is it a crime to have a world-class hospital in Imo State that can handle medical cases of high profile world leaders? How much did he spend on that unnecessary medical trip? If Okorocha’s “world class General hospitals” in the 27 local Government areas could not handle minor injury on his head, of what use is the hospital to the people with serious medical cases? Unknown to you, somebody who has pocketed the State Assembly can easily mobilize market women, jobless youths, hapless civil servants and idle villagers to sing his praises at a price.
These things are very common and very easy to do, so do not be deceived. Government by propaganda, intimidation, deceit, manipulation, double standard and lies, has been ongoing in Imo State. Okorocha will not be the first. When I knew where Okorocha was headed to was when he started fraternizing with Obasanjo who always graced his social functions and “praised” him.
A grand delusion of popularity could turn to a political liability if unchecked. The verdict is that Governor Okorocha has derailed, just like the rest of them who came into office on popular votes. A cut and nail administrator is not my idea of a good Governor for Imo people.
Anybody who cannot condemn all these dictatorial tendencies and executive recklessness is an enemy to Imo people. Darlington Agomuo, [email protected] 08022905726