Monday, October 7, 2013
Remarks by His Excellency, President Goodluck Ebele Jonathan, GCFR On the Occasion of the Inauguration of the National Advisory Committee On our Country’s Conversation towards a Greater Nigeria. State House, Presidential Villa, Abuja Monday October 7th 2013 PROTOCOLS 1. Today, we are taking historic and concrete steps that will further strengthen our understanding, expand the frontiers of our inclusiveness and deepen our bond as one people under God. 2. In my address to the Nation on the occasion of our 53rd Independence and Golden Anniversary as a Republic, I announced that in response to the yearnings of our people, we had decided to take on the responsibility of decisively and genuinely exploring the option of a National Conversation. 3. In furtherance of this objective, Government announced the names of some Nigerians, with wide experience from various disciplines, to form membership of an Advisory Committee to facilitate a most acceptable process that will bring our aspirations to fruition. Our gathering here today is to formally inaugurate this child of necessity, the Advisory Committee to midwife this Conversation. 4. Permit me to very quickly review the foundational principles that drive our action, and also address a few matters arising. Firstly, let me emphasize that this is a National Project, a sincere and fundamental undertaking, aimed at realistically examining and genuinely resolving, longstanding impediments to our cohesion and harmonious development as a truly united Nation. 5. There is a view by some of our people that we do not need to sit together to dialogue over the socio-political challenges facing our country. Some believe that because we have held several Conferences in the past, we do not need to hold another one. I was one of those who exhibited scepticism on the need for another Conference or Dialogue. My scepticism was borne out of the nomenclature of such a Conference, taking into cognizance existing democratic structures that were products of the will of the people. 6. However, we are in a democracy, and in a democracy; elected leaders govern at the behest of the citizenry. As challenges emerge, season after season, leaders must respond with best available strategies to ensure that the ship of state remains undeterred in its voyage. 7. Nations rise to the challenges that each epoch presents. It is imperative therefore, that in our march to nationhood, we have to be dynamic in our approach and response to the problems, even as we seek solutions to them. We cannot proffer yesterday's solutions to today's problems. 8. Distinguished ladies and gentlemen, let us remind ourselves of the gains from previous Conferences and Dialogues. The Conferences that were held before 1960 were designed to produce a political system and a roadmap to Nigeria's independence. 9. The Constitutional Conference of 1957 in London, for example, effectively prepared Nigeria for Independence. The Eastern and Western regions were granted self-government in 1957, while the Northern region got its own in 1959. The Office of the Prime Minister was created and it was also decided that the Federal Legislature would be Bi-cameral. 10. Furthermore, the Constituent Assembly of 1978 gave us the 1979 Constitution and also created the current Presidential System with its attendant checks and balances and Fundamental Human Rights provisions. The 1999 Constitution we operate today, is a successor to the 1979 Constitution and records show that the 1999 Constitution also benefited from reports and recommendations arising from the 1994/1995 Constitutional Conference. 11. Although not enshrined in the 1999 Constitution, the idea of the current Six Geo-Political Zones that have become one of the avenues for equitable distribution of projects and public offices in Nigeria was also a product of Dialogue that emerged from the 1994/1995 Constitutional Conference. 12. The 2005 National Political Reform Conference produced a number of key recommendations that were sent to the 5th Assembly, which were however not perfected. In 2010, I reasoned that the outstanding recommendations from the 2005 Conference be revisited. 13. It was my view that Government is a continuum and that we must find ways to strengthen the foundation of our Union. I proceeded to set up the Justice Alpha Belgore Committee with a mandate to review the report for possible implementation, especially the areas were there was a common agreement. The committee worked hard and came out with its report that included a number of Bills, which were forwarded to the National Assembly. 14. We believe that these Bills will form key components of the on-going Constitutional Review by the National Assembly. 15. Clearly, every dialogue adds something valuable to our evolving Nation. The urgency of a National Conversation in the present therefore, need not be over emphasized. 16. Distinguished ladies and gentlemen, as we continue to strive to build a strong and virile Nation, especially in the midst of agitations and tensions, we cannot deny the fact that sitting down to talk is one right step in calming down tensions and channelling our grievances, misgivings and suggestions into more positive use for the good of our Country. 17. Let me use this opportunity to thank the Senate President, and the leadership and members of the National Assembly for the support they have given to this important National Project. 18. The concept of participatory democracy is such that even after the people have given their representatives the mandate to make laws and act on their behalf, there is also a space for the governed to make further input into the political processes, without undermining the authority of the statutory bodies. Sovereignty continues to be with the people even as the people evolve strategies and tactics to strengthen its foundation for the benefit of successor generations. 19. It is this sort of collaboration between the people and established institutions of government, that will allow for a robust outcome that leads to greater understanding and a more cohesive and inclusive Union. For me, there is no alternative to inclusivity, equity and justice in a modern democratic state. 20. I will therefore like to allay the fears of those who think the Conference will call the integrity of Nigeria into question. This National Discourse will strengthen our union and address issues that are often on the front burner, and are too frequently ignored. 21. Ladies and Gentlemen, Dear Committee Members, this is a serious task, and history beckons on you not to disappoint our people. I want to charge you to consult widely before sitting down to develop the framework that will guide and guard the proceedings of the discussions. 22. In the task before you, no voice is too small and no opinion is irrelevant. Thus, the views of the sceptics and those of the enthusiasts must be accommodated as you formulate this all important framework. This Conversation is a People’s Conversation and I urge you to formulate an all-inclusive process that protects the people’s interest. 23. Let me also urge the Advisory Committee not only to be alive to the expectations of our people, but to bear in mind, that what we desire is what can work for the good of our people and country. The goal is to bequeath a better and a greater Nigeria to the present and the generation that is to come. 24. Ladies and Gentlemen, We have wasted too much time and resources, bickering over sectional versions of what define reality. This is an open-ended luxury we can no longer afford. Let us move forward, with honest conviction and patriotic courage, to strengthen this Republic, and get it to work better and brighter, for all of us, to the glory of God. 25. On this note, I hereby inaugurate the National Advisory Committee on this significant National Assignment and give the Committee six weeks to submit its report. I thank you for accepting to serve and I wish you the very best of wisdom in this very important call to duty. 26. Congratulations! I thank you.
Thursday, October 3, 2013
By Chinedu Felix Opara THE INTERNATIONAL DAY OF NON-VIOLENCE “There are many causes that I am prepared to die for, but no causes that I am prepared to kill for” /Mahatma Gandhi/ Often described as “the politics of ordinary people”, the principle of non-violence rejects the use of physical violence in order to achieve social or political change. The current situation only perpetuates and points to the relevance and importance of striving for the widespread recognition of this principle. Across the globe hundreds of thousands of lives are being lost more frequently, as people resort to violence and armed conflict as the ultimate means of putting their views across. The International Day of Non-Violence is marked on 2nd October in tandem with the birthday of Mahatma Gandhi, leader of the Indian independence movement and renowned pioneer of the philosophy and strategy of non-violence. This day is recognized and commemorated by the United Nations as a means of reaffirming the universal relevance of the principle of non-violence and the desire to secure a culture of peace, tolerance, and understanding. I strongly stands by the principle of non-violence, and will continue to thrive for its recognition and implementation across societies in my own little way just as I want you to be doing too. I am urging the youths to utilize their minds as their best weapon against all the injustices they are faced with, and promote non-violence within their communities and to their governments especially our country Nigeria in time like this. The repercussions of violent conduct are extensive and only breed more violence and destruction, once again quoting from Mahatma Gandhi “an eye for an eye, makes the whole world blind”. Let us join hands in celebrating the lifelong work of this great visionary and ensure that his words echo through time and history, in favor of worldwide peace and harmony. Hope you celebrated by preaching peace? I preach peace. Happy International Day of Non-Violence! Yours, Chinedu Felix Opara Heartland Blaze.
Tuesday, October 1, 2013
By Chinedu Felix Opara Nothing Shocks Again **government has the responsibility and obligation to not only protect us, also to make us feel safe. **we have moved on with obviously what we think is more important matters like who becomes whatever in 2015. **We forget the killings quickly in order to sustain the pretence that the union is in sane state. **Nigeria has failed to tell terrorists in succinct terms, that their actions would be punished. THE body counts from the war against terrorism are getting abnormal. Whether the losses are on the part of the security agencies or mere standbys, like school children, it is becoming clearer that government needs to do more. Terrorists may do all they can to make the country unsafe, but government has the responsibility and obligation to not only protect us, also to make us feel safe. What we find more absurd is that the seasonal killing of school children which terrorists in Yobe State have made their specialty, no longer shocks. The condemnations have thinned. We have moved on with what we think is obviously more important matters like who becomes whatever in 2015. We forget the killings quickly in order to sustain the pretence that the union is in sane state. Nigeria has lost thousands of lives to terrorists. Neither the numbers, no those killed, appears to be important. Lives, no longer seem to count, they have become numbers, ordinary statistics, kept for the records. Which society watches its members decimated in this manner without being shocked into action? How can a society be so unfeeling when it cannot protect its young, its future? Nigeria has failed to tell terrorists in succinct terms, that their actions would be punished. There are no examples to deter them. The choice of soft targets like schools, markets, entertainment centres and churches has become a trademark of these attacks. The terrorists want attention, and bigger headlines. Our security agencies need to do more. Failure of intelligence and armed actions against terrorists is not as bad as the unwillingness of many top Nigerians who can exert pressure to do so. We cannot bring terrorists to account when we place personal and political considerations above millions of lives terrorists place at risk. The lives at risk could be anyone’s as the indiscriminate attacks have proved. The war against terrorists cannot be won when we are pulling in different directions. Any group that can murder children so mindlessly is a risk to everyone, even its avowed supporters.
Thursday, September 26, 2013
Once upon a time there was a rich King who had four wives. He loved the 4th wife the most and adorned her with rich robes and treated her to the finest of delicacies. He gave her nothing but the best. He also loved the 3rd wife very much and was always showing her off to neighboring kingdoms. However, he feared that one day she would leave him for another. He also loved his 2nd wife. She was his confidant and was always kind, considerate and patient with him. Whenever the King faced a problem, he could confide in her, and she would help him get through the difficult times. The King’s 1st wife was a very loyal partner and had made great contributions in maintaining his wealth and kingdom. However, he did not love the first wife. Although she loved him deeply, he hardly took notice of her! One day, the King fell ill and he knew his time was short. He thought of his luxurious life and wondered, “I now have four wives with me, but when I die, I’ll be all alone.” Thus, he asked the 4th wife, “I have loved you the most, endowed you with the finest clothing and showered great care over you. Now that I’m dying, will you follow me and keep me company?” “No way!”, replied the 4th wife, and she walked away without another word. Her answer cut like a sharp knife right into his heart. The sad King then asked the 3rd wife, “I have loved you all my life. Now that I’m dying, will you follow me and keep me company?” “No!”, replied the 3rd wife. “Life is too good! When you die, I’m going to remarry!” His heart sank and turned cold. He then asked the 2nd wife, “I have always turned to you for help and you’ve always been there for me. When I die, will you follow me and keep me company?” “I’m sorry, I can’t help you out this time!”, replied the 2nd wife. “At the very most, I can only accompany you to your grave.” Her answer came like a bolt of lightning, and the King was devastated. Then a voice called out: “I’ll leave with you and follow you no matter where you go.” The King looked up, and there was his first wife. She was so skinny as she suffered from malnutrition and neglect. Greatlygrieved, the King said, “I should have taken much better care of you when I had the chance!” In truth, we all have 4 wives in our lives: Our 4th wife is our body. No matter how much time and effort we lavish in making it look good or feel good, it will leave us when we die. Our 3rd wife is our possessions, status and wealth. When we die, it will all go to others. Our 2nd wife is our family and friends. No matter how much they have been there for us, the furthest they can stay by us is up to the grave. And our 1st wife is our Soul. Often neglected in pursuit of wealth, power and pleasures of the world. However, our Soul is the only thing that will follow us wherever we go. Cultivate, strengthen and cherish it now, for it is the only part of us that will follow us to the throne of God and continue with us throughout Eternity. ''DONT SELL YOUR SOUL'' Are you always inspired by my inspirational/motivational stories? If yes Always follow this blog. @Nedumblaze
Over 8,000 women on Thursday matched to the Zamfara Hisbah Commission seeking the state government’s assistance to enable them get married. Led by the Chairperson of the Zamfara Widows Association, Hajiya Suwaiba Isa and their patron Alhaji Sa’idu Goshe, the women said they were not living a normal life and needed husbands to become whole. “Many of us cannot afford two meals in a day because there are no men to support us,” they said. The patron, said the association has over 8,000 women, comprising 5,380 divorcees, 2,200 widows, 1,200 orphans and 80 others, whom he said, were looking for men to marry. He said the women also needed assistance to purchase household items such as beds, mattresses and other basic necessities needed to move to their husband houses. Goshe appealed to the commission to assist the association in screening suitors for the women. He said the screening would determine the suitors health status, source of livelihood and ability to maintain a family. Responding, the Chairman of the commission, Dr Atiku Zawuyya, commended the association for the initiative, saying it would assist in ridding the society of women of easy virtues. Zawuyya promised to present the matter to the state government for necessary action, but urged the patron to also set up a similar body for men to make the pairing exercise easier. (Heartland Blaze)
Wednesday, September 25, 2013
By Chinedu Opara Obasanjo’s sister owns Apo building where squatters were killed. The unfinished building where security forces killed at least seven squatters Friday, September 20, in the Apo neighbourhood of Abuja, belongs to Mrs. Adunni Oluwole Salisu, believed to be the sister to former President Olusegun Obasanjo, a heartland blaze investigation has revealed. Documents from the Abuja Geographical Information Systems (AGIS) shows that the property, located at No. 8 Bamanga Tukur Street, Gudu District, near the Gudu cemetery, belongs to Mrs. Salisu. Ownership details of property OG247326, point unmistakably to Mrs. Salisu’s land rights, but neither her, nor the former president, could be reached for comment; although authoritative family sources confirmed the ownership and the relationship. The Gudu killings have pitched the Nigerian human rights community against anti-terrorist campaigners in a bitter debate about the threshold of caution that security forces on anti-terror missions ought to uphold where the insurgency is generally armed, and have demonstrated maximum capability for ruthless murder and violence. Soldiers and SSS officials, spurred by intelligence reports that a sleeper cell of Boko Haram insurgents, embedded in the Gudu neighbourhood, were about to strike again in Abuja, pre-emtorily stormed the building inhabited by squatters, mostly tricycles drivers, petty traders and artisans, in the early hours of Friday, killing at least seven and leaving several injured. A spokesman for the tricycle association angrily lambasted security officials on Channels TV, in an interview Monday, claiming that “because two or three Boko Haram people were in the building offers no excuse to kill innocent people.” Security forces have been in anxious alert after the Boko Haram insurgents scored a string of deadly success in missions that targeted This Day newspaper office, the United Nations office, the Force Headquarters of the Nigeria Police, and the Anti-Robbery Squad headquarters of the Police- all in Abuja. The sect has also visited punishing attacks on neighbourhood churches killing scores of worshipers. Heartland Blaze gathered, within intelligence sources, Tuesday, that a mood of panic alert in the security community was what precipitated the Apo killings also thought to be “quite frankly an operational failure,” underscoring, top operatives disclosed to Heartland Blaze, “the imperative for deeper and specialized human rights training for agents on anti-insurgency mission.” Residents claim a representative of the owner of the house had given the squatters a week notice to vacate the property. The squatters were killed before the expiration of the notice. Most of the dead and wounded were shot in the back, execution style. It is not known yet whether Mr. Obasanjo played any role in that tragic eviction operation. Meanwhile, multiple security sources have told this paper that the SSS had released most of the squatters arrested at the building after it was unable to link them to any terrorist activities. News of the release of the squatters came just as the Nigerian Senate, the Police and the National Human Rights Commission, NHRC, promised to investigate the killings. Chairman of the NHRC, Chidi Odinkalu, told us, it was essential to investigate and verify the death of the squatters. “The facts of this matter should be dispassionately verified,” Mr. Odinkalu said. “That is an obligation everybody must take seriously.”