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I want to be another Tafawa Belewa, Atiku tells North

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Atiku Abubakar, presidential candidate of the Poples Democratic Party (PDP), on Monday, promised to be another Abubakar Tafaw Balewa, Nigeria’s first Prime Minister – an metaphor to saying he would bring massive development to the North.

Balewa, who was said to have harboured a lot of northern sentiments, was killed in the January 15, 1966 bloody coup that also claimed the life of the late Saduana of Sokoto, Ahmadu Bello.

Latching on the record of the leader, the first and only to come from the North East, where the former Vice President hails, Atiku lined up a streak of projects he would execute for the people, while speaking on his campaign for next year’s election, which landed in Gombe, the Gombe State capital.

The former VP, who reminded his audience that some of them were not born when Balewa was alive, said they now had the opportunity to produce another by electing him as President.

“Let me reiterate the promises we made if by the grace of God and you support the PDP. We promised to empower your businessmen to expand their businesses so that they can expand their businesses for our young men and women.

“We also promised you that the Dadin Kowa Dam, which was built by the PDP to provide electricity and irrigation, will be activated for electricity and irrigation, provided you support the government of the PDP.

“We will make sure that all the roads linking Gombe to Adamawa with Borno, Bauchi, and Yobe are all reconstructed to enhance trade and commerce. Many of you were not born at the time the late Prime Minister, Sir Tafawa Balewa, was in office. You now have another opportunity to produce another Abubakar Tafawa Balewa in me.”

Udom Emmanuel, Governor of Akwa Ibom and Chairman of the PDP Presidential Campaign Council (PDP-PCC), said the Nigerian main opposition party would tackle inflation and restore value to the naira.

“We just want to let the people know that PDP is coming back to make sure that our economy bounces back, our naira regains in strength, and make sure you have more milk in your tea,” he said.

“PDP is coming back to bring the economy back, to make sure there is light, to make sure no more darkness, to make you have access to many things you are not having now.”

Editorial

Nigerian judiciary: When an integrity-challenged institution sheds crocodile tears

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“It is only here that judicial officers work harder than slaves and yet, they are not appreciated. But, the consolation is that the judges in Nigeria are attached to the devil they are contending with. Whether we like it or not, we have to be proud of our judges and justices. They are brilliant and bold and some of them are appointed as justices in other countries.

“A mistake by one judge should not be generalised to warrant general condemnation from any quarter. They surpass judges from other countries. They deserve commendation for resisting the evils. The majority of judicial officers are standing in the face of challenges and unless we are careful with the way we attack judges, we will lose our minds and conscience.”

These were the exact words of Kanu Agabi, Senior Advocate of Nigeria (SAN), former Attorney General of the Federation and Minister of Justice (AGF-MoJ) a few days ago. He was invited to speak on behalf of the senior members of the SANs, otherwise known as the Inner Bar, Nigeria’s equivalent of the UK Queen’s Counsel, now King’s Counsel, on Monday, September 25, 2023, at a special court session marking the commencement of the 2023/2024 Legal Year in Abuja.

As usual, and as it is wont with his ilk, the learned silk, once again attempted to shift the blame, this time for the rot in the society, particularly the heist that underscored the 2023 general elections which has hurt Nigerian democracy so badly. His was that instead of Nigerians directing their condemnation where they believe it is supposed to be firmly resting – the Nigerian judiciary, the camera of shame should be panned elswhere.

But what that would entail is to confirm as the judicial camp, perhaps believes, is that Nigerians are equipped with the brain matters of animals or at best morons. Otherwise, there is no other way the Nigerian judiciary would not take a large chunk of the blame if not all the blame in its entirety. In fact, nowhere else could it be more fitting.

Before him, Justice Monica Dongban-Mensem President of the Court of Appeal (CoA), while opening the event, was no less unhappy herself about the brickbats the judiciary has been getting from Nigerians, while attempting to shift the blame away from the judiciary to Nigerian politicians, whom she blamed for not accepting their fate by walking away.

By the combined efforts of the two and indeed many other lawyers and commentators, some of them employed as undertakers, not only to beautify the ugly corpses that judicial pronouncements have become, but deodorise their putridity, the judges remain irreproachable, simply because they are merely interpreting the law the way it is rather than the way it ought to be.

For the rest of Nigerians who believe that judges should go beyond this straightjacket concept and deliver the justice of the matter before them in all ramifications, they are accused of committing a mortal crime of daring to bemoan the fate they have been handed. Their insistence that saving the society and the people from the insults, indignities and consequences arising from practically being fed their own excreta – a cocktail of faeces and urine, the usual mantra is that they are dwelling on sentiments. “Law is not sentiments, they would readily say.”

But put this statement on a proper societal balancing scale, it simply lacks the basic elements of logic. In the first place, judges are not inanimate objects. They are not machines either that could be placed at a spot and remain there permanently, never acting until their owners move them. They are also not trees that would be threated with being hewed down and still remain standing. No! Judges are not only human beings, but live in the same society they deny justice.

So, if democracy is raped so furiously and brutally as Nigeria has witnessed over the decades, most particularly in the 2023 elections, which has been acknowledged in informed quarters as the worst in the history of the country, judges, who by their pronouncements, help to sustain the outcome, cannot escape the blame, by snoring in the save and comfortable duvet of merely interpreting the law as it is or enjoy the alluring lullaby of praise singers, who tell them that their refusal to unilaterally take up the gauntlets to defend the society, reflects professionalism and courage as Agabi implied.

Rather they deserve to be called out and the guilt of the collapsed house that could result from such a convenient, irresponsible and most times devious shirking of their supposed ennobling duty, hung on their necks like yokes on the bull of burden. They must be dragged through the septic gutters of the infamy they deserve to travel on. That is what Nigerians are doing at the moment and there is no way they can escape the anger of the people no matter their obvious attempt at a pushback.

Yes! Agabi described Nigerian judges as “brilliant and bold” reasoning that “some of them are appointed as justices in other countries.” Of course it could be true and he may be right. But brilliant and bold in what sense? While the brilliance part of it is left to the jury, it is clear that only a bold judge could look at what happened in the 2023 elections, allow it to endure and keep a straight face. But that is in the negative sense.

Only a bold and courageous judge would look at Nigerians in the face and tell them that it is okay for the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC), not to upload results of the 2023 elections real time, in line with their guidelines and what they mouthed everywhere in the market places across the country and even as far as the world stage, including the Chatham House in the UK, because they are not legally bound to do so. It is only a negatively-tutored and inspired judiciary that could hug such an obtuse, even if convenient excuse.

Perhaps, the former AGF was talking about the Nigerian judges of old and not the type Adamu Bulkachuwa, a Nigerian Senator once told his colleagues in his contribution at the closing session of the ninth Senate, held at the hallowed chambers of the Senate before the beaming cameras and millions of eyes within and without Nigeria, that he he effectively influenced and manipulated from his bedroom.

They are certainly not the type Chidi Odinkalu, former Chairman of the National Human Rights Commission (NHRC), told the world recently that Nigerian politicians put behind their pockets as they go about committing various forms of crimes and whose skewed appointments are the products of bedroom and other filial considerations. Certainly not!

If indeed they were, those who whose vice grip on the throat of the 2023 election asphyxiated life out of it, would not have been that daring to be singing the go to court mantra. It is because they were aware of the insipid and pliable nature of the current Nigerian judiciary that they sang that song with such ecstasy. That way Dongban-Mensem, would not not have to cry out about how election cases have overshadowed the entire judiciary system by the sheer number. In other words, the only way of stopping the deluge is to do justice. That way, electoral brigands will have no reason to continue in their bad behaviour. If they continue enabling the criminals, not only the judiciary but the entire polity would continue to suffer.

The judges Nigerians would remember with nostalgia and continue to celebrate are probably turning in their graves right now with revulsion at the notoriety of the bench they left behind. Such judges were the ones who took their decisions based on interpreting the law in totality. They were the ones who in their pronouncements, showcased that law indeed is made up of the letters and spirit, thus accentuating its organic nature and relevance to the society. Law is not for sake of law. Law is for the sake of man and society. That must be emphasised.

It is such raw, indisputable boldness and courage that delivered that heavy blow to the impunity demonstrated in the Rotimi Amaechi case in 2007. Ordinarily the former Rivers State Governor, would have been told to go home and lick his wounds, if he had presented his case today. But the judges demonstrated that they were part of Nigeria and decided to go for the spirit of the law in righting the wrong embedded in the impunity of one man authority, who posed a danger to democracy.

It was still within the same period that Peter Obi, against the moving train that was the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) got justice in the Tenure Determination Case, and was restored to power, even as a member of the All Progressives Grand Alliance (APGA), one of the least influential political entities in Nigeria at that time.

That obviously ought to be the judiciary Agabi should be cloaking in the toga of brilliance and boldness and not the obviously timid, lethargic and probably compromised judiciary of today that would permit the type of judicial murder that saw Dave Umahi and Godswill Akpabio return to the Senate after contesting presidential elections in one circle. How could such a judiciary earn the type of respect the former AGF envisages?

Imaging the cacophony of contradictions that are coming out from the election petition tribunals in the states – judges giving with one hand and taking with the other at the same time – in shameful display of outlandish pronouncements. Are they reflective of the type of judiciary that Nigerians would ignore and celebrate?

Certainly no! In the unlikely case that the present Nigerian judiciary has forgotten the colour of justice, only a scratch back to history would reveal it in the eternal description of the late Chukwudifu Oputa, one of the unforgettable minds that had ever sat on the noble and exalted position of the Nigerian bench.

Indeed, the only argument Agabi seemed to have got right is when he reminded his audience that whatever decisions they made or failed to make in the journey towards delivering justice, they must account for them, if not on earth, before their creator when they die, as many of them are doing right now.

But beyond that the eternal words of Oputa, Justice of the Supreme Court (JSC), as he then was, remains enduring – Justice to the accused, justice to the accuser and justice to the society. That is what Nigerians want and demand, without which, everything is but a white-painted sepulcher, beautiful outside but habours rotten remains in its bowels.

Nobody needs be told that the Nigerian society have continued to hold the short end of the stick in this context. But so long as it is denied its own share of justice, the judiciary would continue to suffer and endure the bespattering image from the paintbrush of shame! No more no less!

 

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Osimhen saga: We’re misunderstood, just a joke, no insult intended – Napoli *FG wades in

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Napoli has finally reacted publicly to the video in which it appeared to be mocking Nigerian-born international and ace striker, Victor Osimhen, on whose shoulder the club rode to win last year’s Serial A, for the first time in 33 years, with the player himself emerging the greatest striker in the game for the 2022-2023 season.

The now deleted TikTok post, showed Osimhen failing to score his spot-kick in a Serie A match with a high-pitched voice saying “gimme penalty please,” sparking a furious reaction from Roberto Calenda, his agent who threatened legal action against the club, saying on his X: “A serious fact that causes very serious damage to the player and adds to the treatment that the boy is suffering in the last period between media trials and fake news. We reserve the right to take legal action and any useful initiative to protect Victor.”

But in its riposte, the club said it did not intend any harm against the Nigerian international, who broke the record as the highest African scorer in Serial A, which had been held by Balon D’or winner, George Opong Weah, who is currently the President of Liberia, his country, after scoring his 47th goal in the Italian highest league.

“Calcio Napoli, wishing to avoid any exploitation of the issue, point out that we never wanted to offend or mock Victor Osimhen, who is a treasure of this club. As proof of that, during the summer training retreat, the Club firmly rebuffed every offer that was received for the striker’s transfer abroad.

“Social media, in particular, TikTok, has always used an expressive form of language with a light heart and creativity, without wanting to, as in the case with Osimhen as a protagonist, have any intention of insult or derision. In any case, if Victor perceived any offence towards him, this was not what the club intended,” the statement said.

Reports had linked the Nigerian to different clubs during the summer transfer window, with Manchester United, specifically opted to break the bank for him, but for the staunch refusal of the club to part with him, turning down all offers on the table for the player, who has now deleted all posts regarding the club on his social media handles, in apparent anger over the development.

Nigerian Federal Government, has also taken up the matter, with John Enoh,

Minister of Sports Development, conveying its reservations over the matter, saying: “My office is trying to reach Victor Osimhen directly as well to understand first-hand the issues. We are committed to establishing the facts of the matter.

“Meanwhile, I am in touch with the Honorable Minister of Foreign Affairs, H.E. Yusuf Maitama Tuggar, and the Nigerian Ambassador to the Republic of Italy, Ambassador Mfawa Abam. Together, we are employing diplomatic avenues with Italy for a more proper approach to looking into the matter as it is.”

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BREAKING: Mother of all strikes! D-Day, October 3! *Stockpile food, essentials – NLC, TUC   

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The Nigeria Labour Congress (NLC)) and the Trade Union Congress (TUC) on Tuesday, announced midnight Tuesday, October 3 as the date for the commencement of total strike by their workers to get the Federal Government accede to their demands to end the current sufferings of their members and Nigerians at large.

The two labour centres representing the organised labour in Nigeria, which arrived at the decision after they had met separately at their local levels directed their affiliates to mobilise for protests from October 3, saying they took the decisions were approved at the meeting of the joint National Executive Council of the two unions on Tuesday, September 26, in Abuja.

Joe Ajaero, President of the NLC, speaking on behalf of his group, while urging Nigerians to stock their homes ahead the total strike, bemoaned the situation where the government had ignored the demands of the workers, saying it “substantially failed to meet its demands after the removal of fuel subsidy,” added that adding that the grace period given by the two labour centres had expired.

The organised labour, is demanding wage awards for public workers and a new minimum wage, apart from the removal of tax exemptions and allowances to public sector workers, provision of Compressed Natural Gas (CNG) buses, the release of modalities for the N70billion for Small and Medium Enterprises (SMEs) and immediate reversal of all anti-poor policies of the Federal Government.

The union, which on September 5th and 6th, the NLC embarked on a two-day warning strike which led to the partial crippling of economic activities in some states and gave the government a 21-day ultimatum to meet its demands, is also demanding a stop to the increase in public school fees, the release of the eight months withheld salaries of university teachers and workers as well as the increase in Value Added Tax (VAT).

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