Lack of gender parity responsible for underdevelopment in Nigeria- Bar Ifendu Ebere

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  • Apr 19, 2018
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Barrister Ebere Ifendu who is the President of the Women in Politics Forum spoke on Women Political Platform, our Weekly radio show aimed at engaging Nigerians on National discourse – topical issues and serve as advocacy mechanism for inclusion of women in politics and implementation of 35 percent affirmative action (quota system as it is being practiced in other climes.
Bar Ebere said Nigeria does not take women issues and representation serious. According to her, ‘’Nigerian women are not equitably represented in the political space; this is because most political parties pay lip service to women issues and women representation. We seem not to understand that a country where women are not allowed to participate fully will never develop economically and otherwise. There is no way you will shut out more than 50% of the population and think the economy of the nation will move forward’’.
Responding to questions on the role of her organisation; the WIPF in fighting for Women’s right, Bar Ifendu said the Forum is a multi-party organisation with the interest to have more women participate in politics. She explained that they do this ‘’by working with women who are even not interested in politics but who policies also affect. Like the market women’’
She also spoke on the oncoming W4W and He4She rally that will hold in Abuja later in the month. Calling on all Women to come out and support the movement as there are no barriers to who can participate.
In addition, she said ‘’we hope to achieve voices of women being heard. We have issues with low girl child education especially with what is happening in the North East. Parents are no longer anxious to send their girls to school, violence against women, be it political, be it rape. Different issues affect women. The market women are not politicians but policies made by politicians affect them.
The show which is in its 26th edition is aired every Tuesday on Nigerian Info FM Abuja with the support of the Ford Foundation. While contributing to the show, two callers expressed their willingness to support any initiative geared towards increasing women’s participation in political leadership in Nigeria.
Callers on the show expressed optimism in the ability of women to bring the needed change in the country. They said women’s full participation in governance and other sectors will be better for the country. Sunshine from Wuse in Abuja said’ ‘’we need more women in the security set up because when women are in such position, they perform better’’

 

 

 

 

Declaration on the Security Situation in Nigeria

The N-Katalyst Forum (“The Forum”) is a non-partisan, non-profit, non-governmental association of progressive Nigerians drawn from across different backgrounds, professions and persuasions, united in their vision of an undivided and indivisible Nigerian nation, and in their commitment to the enthronement of good governance, and social, economic and political justice in the Nigerian State, and the respect and advancement of the fun damental human rights of all Nigerian citizens.
II. The Forum held its second annual retreat at Abuja on 17th to 19th May 2013 during which it reviewed the affairs of N-Katalyst in the intervening period following the Forum’s inaugural retreat in Abuja in Ma rch 2012 and charted a course for progress.
III. The Forum also reviewed the state of affairs in Nigeria, especially the severe security challenges confronting the nation, and analyzed the escalating insurgency in the Northern states, which has culminated in the recent declaration of a State of Emergency by President Goodluck Jonathan in the North East States of Adamawa, Borno and Yobe. DECLARATION Preamble Following a comprehensive review of the security situation in Nigeria, N-Katalyst
 
1.Found the prevailing security situation in several parts of Nigeria, especially in the Northern states,extremely troubling.
 
2.Noted with alarm that the militant insurgents appear to be very well armed with the most modern deadly weapons and have deployed these sophisticated weapons, and their familiarity with the local terrain to inflict heavy casualties on both the security forces and the civilian population.
 
 3.Noted with concern the obvious initial unpreparedness of the Nigerian State to respond to and apprehend the insurgency in the Northern States.
 
4.Concluded that the prevailing conflict situation in the North East of Nigeria characterized by militant insurgency and the government’s counter-insurgency
operation amounts to a situation of Non-International Armed Conflict (NAIC),although the Nigerian government is unwilling to admit to such categorization.
 
5.Noted that the government appears unwilling to fit the security situation in the North East into any of the clear categories of armed conflict defined by law, with the disturbing effect that the counter-insurgency seems to be conducted outside the ambits of both Human Rights Law and Humanitarian Law.
 
6. Noted that the lack of clear legal categorization of the conflict has led to the absence of a legal framework within which the conflict may be defined and
regulated, and has made it difficult to determine the appropriate standards of accountability and responsibility by which to assess the conduct of Nigerian
security forces in the theatres of conflict.
 
7. Found very disturbing allegations that some of the features of conflicts include human rights abuses and other horrendous crimes in the theatres of conflict, including Law enforcement extremism, unaccountable or ‘rogue’ law enforcement,general violence against women and sexual violence against both male and female genders, all of which crimes are encouraged by a pervasive sense of impunity
.
8.Noted with concern the prevalence of reports of rivalry and mistrust between and among security and law enforcement agencies which impair the operational capability of the agencies and occasionally degenerate to inter – agency violence during which innocent Nigerians are put at grave risk.
 
9.Noted with concern the pronounced lack of effective victim identification processes, leading to a failure to identify and name victims and casualties of the conflict hether from amongst the civilian populations or from amongst security operatives.
 
10.Noted with concern that a ‘political economy’ may have developed around the security challenges in Nigeria, with the effect that certain elements may be
deriving financial benefits from the prevailing state of insecurity,especially from the resources budgeted for the prosecution of the counter-insurgency and from the extortion of citizens.
 
11. Noted that there seems to have developed a culture of silence with respect to the impact of the security conflicts on civilian populations in the theatres of conflict, with the effect that the severe trauma to which the victims of these conflicts are subjected are not being addressed or even acknowledged.
 
12. Noted with particular concern that Nigeria’s Civil Society Organizations (CSOs) appear to have been equally ill-prepared to react to the situation and confront the challenges that it has thrown up.
 
13. Identified as some of the consequences of the lack of preparedness on the part of the CSOs the inadequacy of humanitarian response, the paucity
of information on the true state of affairs inside the theatres of conflict, especially on the experiences of civilian populations trapped in these theatres
,and the absence of the necessary mechanism for the provision of legal remedies to aggrieved persons.
 
14. Noted that the legal profession in Nigeria has been rather silent on the conflicts raging at various
theatres all across the nation, and has been generally ineffectual in addressing the legal challenges associated with the conflicts, especially the need for legal redress for infringements on human rights and the abuse of the rule of law.
 
15. Expressed concern that the organized bar may have been intimidated, cowed into silence, or scared away from the North East region.
 
16. Noted with great concern that the prevailing security situation in Nigeria may portend grave consequences for the general elections on 2015. Now therefore, the N-Katalyst Forum hereby formally:
 
A. Calls on the Federal Government of Nigeria (‘the government’) to define the legal framework with in which the counter-insurgency operations going on
in several parts of Nigeria are being prosecuted, and define the rules of engagement for the operations.
 
B. Calls on the government to demarcate and streamline the areas of engagement and authority of the various law enforcement and security agencies to eliminate or at least reduce incidences of inter -agency rivalry and conflict.
 
C. Calls on the Government to ensure the enthronement of a higher degree of professionalism in the security agencies, including their indoctrination on the
fundamentals of Humanitarian Law and Human Rights Law.
 
D. Calls on CSOs to be alive to their responsibilities to the civilian populations in theatres of conflict and to the victims of the conflicts amongst both the civilian population and the security and law enforcement agencies.
 
E. Calls on the official bar to awaken to its obligations to the people and to the law and boldly confront the legal issues thrown up by the prevailing security situation in Nigeria.
 
F. Calls on the government and the Independent National Electoral Commission tocommence with urgency the processes for erecting robust legal and logistical structures to forestall and apprehend electoral violence in 2015.
 
G. Declares its willingness to work with the government, the security agencies and other CSOs to address the several issues raised in this Declaration, and hereby offers its hand of partnership in this regard.
 
Issued at Abuja, Nigeria, this 19th Day of May,2013
 
Dr Jibrin Ibrahim
John St Claret Ezeani
Saka Azimazi
Maryam Uwais
Chris Kwaja
Ahmed Baba Ahmed
Asma’u Joda
Dr Otive Igbuzor
Aisha Oyebode
Hubert Shaiyen
Yusufu Pam
Prof. Mohammed Tabiu
 
 

Group condemns crackdown on Civil Society in Niger Republic (Press Release)

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  • Apr 13, 2018
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Group condemns crackdown on Civil Society in Niger Republic Civil society leaders in Nigeria are extremely concerned about the way that President Mahamadou Issoufou of Niger has been presiding over the harassment and detention of civil society leaders in Niger Republic. Over the past three years, civil society activists in Niger have come under siege from state actors in a crackdown that has led to a series of convictions, arrests and detentions affecting civil society leaders. The context has been the rising poverty in the country, the rise of protests by civil society seeking to protect the people and the increasingly authoritarian response of the State and its security agencies. The latest wave of arrests followed the demonstration of thousands of Nigeriens against the austerity measures imbedded in the 2018 budget. On 25th March 2018, security agents’ raided offices of major civil society organisations in Niger, attacked and arrested 23 of their leaders.
 
Those arrested are
1) Moussa Tchangari   2) Me Lirwana Abdourahamane    3) Nouhou Mahamadou Arzika  4)  Ali Idrissa  5) Moctar Oumarou  6) Halarou Abdou
7) Ousseini Maiga  8) Moumoudou Seyni  9) Moustapha Ibrahim  10) Abdoul Aziz Issaka 11) Ibrahim Malam Nameiwa  13) Abdoul Kader Hamza
14) Alassane Souleymane  15) Idrissa Adamou 16) Aminou Tayabou  17) Abdoulaye Mamadou Koné  18) Issoufou Maiwanzam  19)  Hamaye Abdou
20)Chapiou Mahamadou 21) Mohamed Aminou Nassirou Hassane 22) Soumaila Hassane 23) Abdouljamal Alassane
 
They were charged for participation in an illegal demonstration and were sent to jail without trial. At the same time, the radio and television station-Radio et Télévision Labarai (RTL) was closed. We, civil society organisations in Nigeria:
 
i.Call for the immediate release of our comrades unlawfully detained in prisons in Niger;
 
ii.Demand for a stop at the systematic harassment and serial arrest of civil society organisations and leaders in Niger;
 
iii.Appeal for a review of the 2018 budget, which has significantly increased the austerity measures in Niger and increased the suffering and misery of the masses in Niger;
 
iv. Draw attention to the significant decline of democratic culture in Niger due to the rise of authoritarianism and attack on the rule of law by
President Mahamadou Issoufou;
 
v.Call on the god people of Niger to continue with determination their struggle for the defense of democratic and civil rights in their country;
 
vi. Demand that President Muhammadu Buhari in the spirit of good neighborliness and the ECOWAS Supplementary Protocol on Democracy and Good Governance intervene with his counterpart in Niger to secure the release of civil society leaders and the edification of democracy and the rule of law.
 
Signed:
 
1) Jibrin Ibrahim, Centre for Democracy and Development
2) Y. Z. Ya’u, Centre for Technology and Development
3) John Odah, Organisation of Trade Unions of West Africa
4) Auwal Musa Rafsanjani, CISLAC
5) Idayat Hassan, Centre for Democracy and Development
6) Ezenwa Nwagwu, Say No Campaign
7) Jaye Gaskiya, Protest to Power
8) Zikirullahi Ibrahim, Resource Centre for Human Rights &Civic Education (CHRICED)
9) Okeke Anya, State of the Union (SOTU)
10) Halima Nuhu, Zero Corruption Coalition (ZCC)
11) Olanrewaju Suraju, Civil Society Network Against Corruption (CSNAC)
12) Chioma Kanu, Accountability Mechanism for Maternal New Born and Child Health in Nigeria (AMHiN)
13) Chinedu Bassey, Tax Justice and Governance Platform 14) Abubakar Siddique Mohammed, Centre for Democratic Research and Traning
15) Dr. Abubakar Muazu Borno, Coalition for Democracy and Progress (BOCADEP)
16) Asmau Joda, Centre for Women and Adolescent Empowerment .
 

On Arresting The Drift Towards Chaos And Return to the Agenda Of Peace Building Abuja, 5th April 2018

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  • Apr 07, 2018
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ON ARRESTING THE DRIFT TOWARDS CHAOS AND RETURN TO THE AGENDA OF PEACE BUILDING

Abuja, 5th April 2018

The Working Group on Peace Building and Good Governance, the Civil Society Legislative Advocacy Centre (CISLAC), Centre for Democracy and Development (CDD) and the West African Network for Peace (WANEP) organised a civil society leaders’ conference on 5th April 2018 at Hilton Transcorp Abuja to review the drift towards chaos in Nigeria and the imperative of urgent action to redress the situation.

In his opening remarks, Professor Attahiru Jega spoke about the dangers of the politics of brinkmanship played by our political class, which can take us over the edge if we are not careful. He drew attention to the lack of enlightened self-interest within the political class and castigated the deplorable culture of do or die politics. He called for active engagement by civil society in peace making and establishing codes of conduct that would improve political behavior. In his message to the conference, Cardinal John Oneiyekan called on Nigerians to be aware of the high number of fake news and images circulating, which are designed to sow the seeds of discord in society. He appealed for more critical reflection before we believe what is placed before us and cautioned that we should not be active participants in creating distrust and unrest in our society.            

In his keynote address to the Conference, Professor Ibrahim Gambari drew attention to the fact that Nigeria is facing an unprecedented existential crisis and there is an urgent need to stop the drift towards chaos. One element of the crisis he drew attention to is the spread of the culture of violence. The Boko Haram insurgency has persisted for a decade and although progress has been made towards containing it, it remains a major problem with over 30,000 people killed and millions displaced. The Niger Delta remains marked by militancy and economic sabotage. In more recent years, a crisis of pastoralism has developed and deepened leading to violence and mass atrocities in most states in the country as herdsmen and farmers clash. Communal clashes are also spreading and the religious arena has become a major bone of contention for organisations such as the Islamic Movement in Nigeria, which has been engaged in regular clashes with the State and security agencies.

Meanwhile, the growth of public corruption has continued in spite of the promises made by the Buhari Administration to contain it. Indeed, corruption has become so embedded that it has become difficult for public institutions to execute their mandate as the self-interest of officials overtakes the public good. Meanwhile, the successful prosecution of corrupt officials has become difficult due to a combination of poor capacity of the anti-corruption agencies, slow judicial process and corruption within the judiciary.

The major outcome of the crisis facing the country has been the erosion of public trust. A toxic atmosphere has developed in which different actors are suspected of developing plots to destroy others. Action of whatever type by governments and private institutions are no longer taken at face value but are re-interpreted within narratives of coordinated plots by some groups to destroy or eliminate others or to take their land. Late, poor or non-responses by governments to unfolding events have further eroded public trust. The role that the security forces play in resolving our problems is extremely important. There are concerns that in their deployments around the country, they are not always neutral in their attempts to address our numerous security challenges and this has been one of the factors leading to the erosion of public trust..

The current tension in the country is being further inflamed by hate and dangerous speech in the Nigerian conversational space. The social media is suffused with hateful content that is threatening to throw the country further into the orgy of on-going violence.  Hate speech is not limited to social media. It is being openly broadcast on radio and TV programmes and to a limited extent in newspapers. To add to this disturbing situation is the increasing use of fake pictures, images and even news, including by mainstream news media, which are calculated to stoke the flames of conflicts along various fault lines in the country.

As is well known, fake news finds space and audience where governance is opaque and accountability is suspect. In such situations people are ready to invent their own explanations or even “facts” which inevitably tend to be fake news. Hate speech is also driven by current suspicions that government conduct is characterised by the marginalisation of certain groups, selective justice and arbitrary enforcement of laws. Drugs have also become drivers of hate narratives as drug use and addiction have become a major national problem.

At the heart of the problem is the virtual collapse of the nation’s educational system. Today, over 12 million Nigerians of school age are not getting the opportunity to go to school. Millions of those who go to school are not learning enough to justify their presence in the schools. In addition, so many of those who manage to graduate from school do not get employed so we are raising millions of young Nigerians to despondency and frustration. Without hope and opportunity for young Nigerians, it will be difficult to find a way forward for the country. We need to engage in a number of Short Term Interventions: 1) Increase the number of competent teachers and educators to manage teaching and learning especially at the basic education level; 2) improve the teacher/pupil ratio; 3) prioritise civic education as an important part of the socialisation of young Nigerians.

At the same time, Nigeria is experiencing increased consumption and abuse of drugs and other illicit substances. This situation if not checkmated would signal the birth of a drug culture that feeds into the culture of crime and violence.  It was recently reported that in Kano and Jigawa state along, over three million bottles of codeine are consumed daily. The reality of the situation is that the consumers of these drugs exploit the system of weak law enforcement and criminal justice administration to perpetrate this act.  An opportunistic network of drug traffickers that underpins a very profitable criminal enterprise further exacerbates this phenomenon. An anti-drug agenda that securitises drug and sets the framework and conditions for responding to it would require stronger will by the Nigerian state and its institutions. This phenomenon should be viewed as a security issue that must be addressed, as a precondition for altering the drug-crime-violence nexus in the country.

Corruption is not being tackled adequately because the federal government’s understanding of corruption is skewed in the direction of Politically Exposed People (PEP) and has not turned its attention to institutional corruption, which paralyses institutions and undermines their delivery. In the police for example, the poorly paid constable does not collect pay as and when due, they also have to pay for uniforms, often including the rifle essential for their work, while companies and individuals make payments to this institution without any accountability. Ignoring these institutional corruptions and concentrating on Politically Exposed People, important as it is, has dragged the government into the politics of corruption, where propaganda and subterfuge becomes the tools, rather than the law.

Our inability to address poverty and create jobs has not only meant that idle youth will be available for recruitment into drug and crime rings and political violence, but it also results in the breakdown of societal morals. We have to wake up to the fact that our societies are decomposing, the fabric that holds it together is snapping and we must give this society hope to keep it together. Where is the hope going to come from, if government appears to be oblivious of all this and is busy planning for 2019? In the midst of these uncertainties and drift, what can we expect from a government that seems not to want to engage? The political parties do not appear to be there, they don’t seem to know what is happening to the society, so who do we or can we engage? Yes indeed, Nigeria is drifting towards chaos and the time to act to revive Nigeria is now. Here is therefore the need for all responsible Nigerians to join hands in the struggle to halt the drift and reposition Nigeria for electoral integrity and stable democratic development.

Signed  John Cardinal Onayeikan , Professor Ibrahim Gambari ,Professor Attahiru Jega ,Professor Jibrin Ibrahim ,Ambassador Fatima Balla ,Dr. Usman Bugaje ,Dr. Hussaini Abdu ,Dr. Ibrahim Yakubu Lame , Auwal Musa Rafsanjani, Dr. Chukwuemeka Eze ,Dr. Chris Kwaja, Ms. Idayat Hassan, Mallam Y. Z. Ya’u  and Yakubu Aliyu.

 

Nigeria Forum: IDPs, Boko Haram and elections likely to be settled by the courts – By Idayat Hassan

It is no longer news that Nigeria is heading, with breakneck speed towards elections on Feb 14 and 28. Beyond the familiar issues of analysis, such as the country’s bifurcation along religious or regional  lines and the newly identified “˜Buhari tsunami,’ the likelihood of elections being held in the three north eastern states of Adamawa, Yobe and Borno (currently all suffering under the Boko Haram insurgency) is uncertain. However, it must be emphasised that the citizens of these states are still clamouring to vote.

Boko Haram has an avowed disregard for democracy, as evidenced in countless statements release in the last 4 years and subsequently unlikely to let elections be held peacefully. The practicality of conducting elections in all the local governments in the three states under occupation is disappearing fast. At last count, Boko Haram was in total occupation/complete control of 13 local governments (and other swathes of land) in Borno and 2 each in Yobe and Adamawa. Can these territories be recovered from the insurgents with just days to go until the elections?

The answer is no. First, we must acknowledge that rather than Boko Haram decreasing in strength, they are showing themselves to be adaptable and resilient. Mapped incidences since the beginning of January show an intensification of attacks. Besides its capacity to sustain simultaneous attacks, the recent Baga massacre and the capture of a huge cache of arms and ammunition from the military barracks  there points to a trend of violent escalation. The use of female suicide bombers also demnstrates the insurgents’ ability to innovate.

The Nigerian government’s continuous trial of its soldiers for mutiny and other related offences does not help matters. Over 200 soldiers have been court martialed with several on death row.  A recent statement credited to the National Security Adviser, Sambo Dasuki calling the soldiers on the battleground “cowards” points to the frustration of the government in curbing the insurgency and reaffirms its belief that it is not a lack of weaponry making the insurgents win the war, but a lack of motivation from its own soldiers. In January alone, the insurgents captured two military barracks in Baga and Monguno.

As Boko Haram continues to capture more territories, including recent attempts to take over Maiduguri, a foray into government house in Damaturu and incessant attacks on Potiskum, the probability of holding elections in the occupied territories is fast disappearing. The security of electoral materials, safety (and by extension availability) of personnel to be deployed is not the only thing in doubt – more impoertantly, who is going to vote when most of the people have fled the area.

This is an important part of the reasoning that informed INEC’s decision to allow IDPs within the three states to participate in the elections. The Permanent Voters’ Card (PVC) distribution is ongoing in the states at the moment with large numbers of PVCs collected by IDPs who are grouped according to local governments in camps. INEC has utilised its powers to create new polling units under the 2010 Electoral Act.

But this plan has its limitations; the most pressing question being whether Boko Haram will allow elections to be held peacefully in these designated centres. A second question is whether the lack of proper identification documents will make it easy for insurgents to infiltrate the camps – the use of suicide bombers making it all the easier for them to attack the designated polling units.

The legitimacy of elections that only take into account IDPs resident in these 3 states is questionable, as IDPs have relocated to several others e.g. Kano, Kaduna, Bauchi and Abuja. With figures of between 868,235 according to the National Emergency Management Agency (NEMA)  and 1.5 million (bandied around by other stakeholders) the question is how many of these can be captured with INEC limiting participation to the IDPs resident in the 3 insurgency states.

The recently held Yobe State Peoples Democratic Party governorship primaries, which took place in Abuja, generated much outcry over legitimacy – based on the provision of the party’s constitution that stipulates primaries must be held in the state capital. How elections held in or outside the IDP camps will be received by the political gladiators in PDP and APC is also something to watch. However, all relevant stakeholders were duly consulted by INEC during its recent meeting to unveil the modalities on how IDPS shall participate in these elections, but the silence from the main actors leaves much to be desired.

The 1999 constitution, as amended in section 179, provides that to be declared a winner of the presidential office, you must score a majority of the total votes cast at the election and 25 percent of total votes cast in 2/3 of the states, ie 24 of the 36 states of the federation plus FCT, Abuja. The same provision applies for the governorship election as provided in section 134 of constitution, albeit in this instance it applies to local governments. How will these constitutional provisions be interpreted? Will the 25 percent of the 2/3 requirements of votes cast in either states or local governments in relevant instances be inclusive or exclusive of the states/local governments under occupation?

What constituencies will the lawmakers representing both federal and state constituencies  under Boko Haram control represent? Will the new constituency they represent be the people in IDP camps? What is obvious is the 1999 constitution as amended does not envisage the quagmire we are presently in, while the graveyard silence by the political gladiators provides cause for concern in elections as closely run as these.

What is becoming obvious is that lots of issues in this elections will be determined by the courts; how will play out in a country where the doctrine of separation of power is generally unclear, nor is confidence duly reposed in any arm of government?

And finally…

Judicial Staff Union of Nigeria (JUSUN) has been on strike since the beginning of the year; as a result all pre-electoral matters before the courts could not be determined. I am happy to report that JSUN federal staff have now called off their strike, but it remains ongoing in the State courts. If the strike issue is not resolved before the elections, the implications are better left  unimagined.

 

 

Idayat Hassan is the Director of The Centre for Democracy and Development in Abuja.

This article was first published on Nigeria Forum: African Arguments