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    LG reform prelude to secession – ACF
         The Arewa Consultative Forum (ACF) has warned that the underlying assumptions in the federal governments desire to restructure local governments in Nigeria will create suspicion and lead to the bloody balkanisation of Nigeria. Presenting a position paper at the sitting of the Etsu Nupe-led technical committee on local government reforms in Kaduna yesterday the ACF secretary-general, Col. Hamid Ali (rtd) articulated the apprehensions of the North saying the proposed restructuring was a prelude to secession. ACF said the proposed creation of zonal assemblies and zonal consultative councils will mean a reversal to the regionalist constitution and a situation that led to succession and war.
         "The near certainty is that for one zone at least this is a prelude to secession – the so-called ‘dissolution of Nigeria without firing a single shot’," the ACF declared adding that "these considerations mean inevitably a mistake or a confused tinkering with out present physical structure would propel us to a Somali, Rwanda, Burundi or a Yugoslavia-type bloody mess." The ACF said people do not understand why these reforms of far reaching consequence have suddenly appeared when they were never mentioned either at the party level or at the level of the presidential election campaigns and that certain perceptions that it was inevitable that such reforms, as being proposed behind the scenes, will lead to a one party state, one man Africa-type dictatorship and remove all meaning from 2007. The ACF therefore considered the proposed regionalisation of zones as "too high risk a measure" and urged its proponents to retrace their steps, and that in view of the absence of any empirical in-depth evaluation of the performance of local government councils from 1999 to 2003 government should devote the Etsu Nupe committee entirely to this purpose.
         ACF added that a similar evaluation of why regulatory and enforcement mechanisms including anti-corruption measures, due process and checks and balances were ineffective in all tiers of government in our country should be conducted and that if reforms were necessary they should start from the top and a commission on national security should be set up to review the performance of the presidential system so far to consider whether or not to revert to the parliamentary mode or the French-Egyptian, Russian, Chinese or traditional African systems. ACF said it was hypocritical for the federal government to castigate the local governments for profligacy when cases in election tribunals indicate that a large chunk of local government funds were used to ensure that Obasanjo emerged victorious at the last elections.
         Former transport minister, Dr. Umaru Dikko in a paper submitted to the committee suggested the creation of an independent national local government commission to regulate the functions and creation of local governments and that funds to local governments should be channelled through the commission which should recommended new local governments to the National Assembly which should have the final say on the matter. He also prescribed a limited role for traditional councils in local governments. In its paper the Kaduna State branch of the National Union of Local Government Employees (NULGE) rejected the joint account between local and state governments and advocating for direct funding, arguing against the scrapping of local governments and that Nigeria’s problems were attitudinal and not institutional. The Group B of the technical committee sitting in Kaduna is led by Professor Akin Mabogunje. -Culled from Daily Trust Issue of Tuesday, August 12, 2003

    Arewa warns on proposed LG reforms
         KADUNA —THE ARE WA Consultative Forum (ACF) has warned the Federal Government to be cautions in its handling of the proposed local government reforms in the country saying that the exercise could lead to the break up of Nigeria without resorting to armed struggle. In a memorandum submitted to the Presidential Technical Committee on local government reforms in Kaduna yesterday, ACF stated that there was apprehension that proposed reforms were akin to the pronouncements of the late coupist, Gideon Orkar. According to the ACF, Nigeria was at risk to adopt the six zonal structure of government as it would lead to the type of regional struggles that led the 1967-1970 civil war in the country.
         It said it was wrong for the Federal Government to make development as the sole purpose and raison detre for existence of local government saying that although "development, welfare and economic drives are important, but in our view, the goal and purpose of the existence of government is the protection of life and property, security, social peace and order." ACF further said that it was impressed by the fact ‘that (present) multi-state system has given this country relatively longer period of stable existence than any other system from 1914 to 1967 (a period of 35 years), adding that the principle ‘that no component unit or combination of units should be big enough to threaten the existence of the federal or lord it over others or go it alone has served us well."
         It also questioned the idea of balkanising the North and Eastern regions into several regions while resurrecting the old Yoruba states of the South-West of 1963 as one pointing out that it was a veiled attempt for some groups to secede, the ACF noted that although there were lapses in the control of expenditure in the local government system, the same situation was noticeable in all the tiers of government including states and Federal Government. "What is required therefore is not the alteration of the structures on the ground, but physical reforms on the manner these structures are operated so as to bring about greater accountability and transparency. "The ACF wishes to rectorate that reasonable contemplation of reforms can only arise when the real nature of problems are accurately appreciated, it is only then that shortcomings can be identified and necessary measures taken to evaluate and sanctify such shortcoming.
         "We conclude that these considerations mean that inevitably, one mistake or a confused tinkering with present physical structure would project us to Somali, Rwanda, Burundi or a Yugoslavia-type bloody mess," they stated. It noted that rather than embark on the exercise, the Federal Government should halt the present ‘gradual and dangerous decline and collapse of standards in governance with respect to the enforcement of rules and procedures including a growing tendency to ignore the letter and spirit of the constitution." ACF stated that it was not important to restructure by tampering with the form of local governments alone because even "if you halve the number of institutions but retain the same low quality in the process of managing them, the situation does not much after," adding that the proposals as envisaged by the Federal Government "is anti-democratic and violates central provisions of the constitution of the Republic."
         ACF further stressed six envisaged constitutional zones would lead to political revanctism and the return to aggressive regional crucibles of conflicts and powers competition which were only resolved by the arbitration of arms," pointing out that the tendency of our political actors to overthrow constitutional provisions and "due process" and to invite interventions or close border thereby," were unfair. -Culled from Vanguard Issue of Wednesday, August 13, 2003

    Justice must prevail – Buhari
         Presidential candidate of the All Nigeria Peoples Party (ANPP), General Muhammadu Buhari has asserted that despite all odds, he would not give up the struggle for justice over the April presidential polls, even as he said such desire was not for self glory. "It is a struggle that affects everyone and by its nature, it will outlive everyone of us here. Our duty is to do our part and hand the baton over to the next generation. Though we are committed to this struggle with all our persons, it is by no means a personal or personalised struggle. It is for the good of everyone," General Buhari said.
         Delivering a paper entitled: "Nigerian Students and the Struggle for Democracy," at the Conference of Nigerian Students in Defence of Democracy (CONSIDOD), in conjunction with the Arewa Youth Development Foundation (AYDF), at Bayero University, Kano, at the weekend, General Buhari re-affirmed his commitment to ensure justice over the last presidential polls. "The elections of course have come and gone. As you can see, we have chosen the path of tolerance and pragmatism to protest the usurpation of your rights to determine your leadership. It is not as if we didn't know other faster and more effective methods for resisting the imposition of a dictatorship; but, as always, uppermost in our minds is the fate and progress of our country," he told the mammoth crowd that gathered for the lecture.
         Speaking amidst applause by well wishers and admirers, General Buhari said it was a duty to save the country from injustice. "That is why we didn't run away into exile or dig deeper into retirement. The life of retirement was, no doubt, infinitely easier but the circumstances forced us out of retirement and into politics," he declared. He listed four criteria for a durable democracy, namely, effectiveness of the constitution, power of the people, observance of human rights and freedom as well as the ability of the leadership to be tolerant. "As far as I can see, the only criteria for democracy that we have satisfied is that we have a constitution. That's all, very humbling, isn't it,?" he asked rhetorically. -Culled from Daily Trust Issue of Monday, September 15, 2003

    NCP Seeks Probe into Plot to Kill Obasanjo
         National Conscience Party (NCP) yesterday reacted to the alleged plot by leaders of some political parties to assassinate Presi-dent Olusegun Obasanjo, calling for a high powered inquiry to unravel those behind the alleged plot. Chairman of the National Action Council (NAC), Dr Olapade Agoro in a newspaper report yesterday had alleged that he had to pull out of the Council of Nigerian Political Parties (CNPP) because of the plan by some political leaders in CNPP to "eliminate President Obasanjo within 90 days of his second term in office." He also alleged that those who planned to foment trouble in the country were behind the assassination plan. But yesterday, NCP Deputy National Chairman in the South West, Alhaji Amitolu Shittu, called on the Inspectors-General of Police, Mr Tafa Balogun "to order the arrest of Agoro and question him to reveal those behind the plot to kill Obasanjo." Said he: "Agoro's statement is capable of undermining the security of the nation and cause chaos in Nigeria."
         According to Shittu, the NAC chairman's statement "is offensive and should not be put under the carpet because of its implication. He is the Naitonal Chairman of NAC and also member of CNPP." Continued he: "Dr Olapade Agoro should be questioned by the police so as to disclose to Nigerians those behind the plot since he also said that CNPP led a team to a big man to finance the projects and that the "big man gave them the necessary support," he said. Agoro had also in the report said that "a spokesperson for the National Consensus Forum (NCF) was a principal actor in the plot. -Culled from ThisDay Issue of Tuesday, September 16, 2003

    Plot to Kill Obasanjo: Parties Call for Agoro's Arrest
         Two coalitions of political parties, the Conference of Nigerian Political Parties (CNPP) and National Consensus Forum (NCF) have called on the Inspector General of Police, Mr. Tafa Balogun, to arrest the presidential candidate of the National Action Council (NAC) in the April elections, Dr. Olapade Agoro, for raising false allegation of a plot to kill President Olusegun Obasanjo by the officials of CNPP. Agoro had last week claimed that he quit CNPP, an umbrella body of political parties, because of a plot by a clique in the group to kill the President. But CNPP in a statement signed by its Secretary General, Barrister Maxi Okwu said, "...In view of the wild and dangerous allegations contained in the statement, we call on the Police to immediately invite Agoro to make a statement in which he must name those involved in the alleged plot and give full particulars for a thorough investigation."
         The statement stated, "Should he (Agoro) fail to do this (name the culprits), the Police must not fail to prosecute him for raising such a false alarm." Also, NCF, a break away faction of the coalition of the political parties forum, called on the Police to arrest the NAC presidential candidate for interrogation over the alleged plot to kill President Obasanjo. -Culled from ThisDay Issue of Friday, September 19, 2003

    ANPP Legislators Allege Chemical Attack Killed Okadigbo
         The All Nigeria Peoples Party caucus in the House of Representatives yesterday alledged that an unrecognizable gas was used in the attack on Dr. Chuba Okadigbo at the last Kano rally of the party, just as it asked the administration to return Police orderlies to officials of the legislature and the judiciary. At a press conference in Abuja yesterday where the party caucus condemned the performance of the Federal Government since 1999, the ANPP caucus leader, Dr. Ahmed Salik asked Nigerians to rise up against attempts by the administration to muzzle the opposition.
         Dr. Salik flanked by a number of ANPP House members poured scorn on the administration's foreign policy, particularly the offer of asylum to controversial foreign leaders. Asserting that the Nigerian Police deliberately targetted ANPP party leaders with some yet unidentified gaseous substance, Dr. Salik said: "I actually experienced it, I perceived that chemical. I wish I know the chemical's name (but) I cannot tell you the chemical's name, I did not even see who sprayed it. All I know is that we were walking inside the stadium and were moving towards the dais when I just felt some very pepperish chemical entering my eyes. "Because of that, I couldn't proceed , and I had to go back and enter the bus," Dr. Salik said.
         Asked why he did not narrate the alleged chemical attack until the death of Dr. Okadigbo, he said that no journalist asked him and he had to remain quiet until now. He, however, insisted that the alleged chemical was not tear gas. "I don't know exactly what to call that spray, it is not tear gas, I was there with him (Okadigbo) personally, I actually inhaled that chemical, it entered my eyes and I inhaled it." "It is a colourless, odourless spray, but it is very pepperish if it enters your eyes." -Culled from Vanguard Issue of Tuesday, September 30, 2003

    Biafra: Police On Red Alert Over MASSOB's Threat
    Scores of officers and men of Imo State police command at the weekend, took strategic positions in all the 27 local government areas of the state, following reports that members of the Movement for the Actualization of the Sovereign State of Biafra (MASSOB), would declare their dream republic on October 18, 2003. Vanguard gathered that in the three senatorial zones of the state, stern looking police men and other plain clothed security operatives, were busy observing movements, as well as kept vigil at Ahiara, Mbaise and Okwe, Onuimo country home of the MASSOB leader, Chief Ralph Uwazuruike. As at 6.45 p.m last Saturday, when Vanguard returned to Owerri, Imo State capital, after the monitoring exercise, no clash was recorded between the police and MASSOB members. -Culled from Vanguard Issue of Monday, October 20, 2003

    International Conference on Biafra Held in Greenbelt, Maryland on October 18
         WASHINGTON, Oct. 21 /U.S. Newswire/ -- Communique -- With representation from Eastern Nigeria, Anioma, Europe, and throughout the United States of America and Canada, the first post War International Conference on Biafra was concluded with the agreement that the conditions that led to the Biafra-Nigeria War are still present and worse; that the persecution of Ndigbo in Nigeria continue to dictate the overall and specific policies of the Federal government. The effect of this has been the gradual destruction of the country itself, its economy, and its overall pride.
         Consequently we, the delegates to this International Conference have resolved:
    1. To explore the possibilities of forming a government in exile in six months if the federal government fails to organize a Conference of ethnic nationalities, in order for these nationalities to decide how they want to associate with one another
    2. To warn governors and functionaries of Eastern Nigeria to desist from collaborating with federal agencies in the harassment and murder of citizens of Eastern Nigeria, particularly members of the Movement for the Actualization of the Sovereign State of Biafra ( MASSOB ).
    3. That governors of the Eastern States be mindful of the international laws on crime against humanity and that they will be held accountable even years after they must have left office.
    4. To hold them responsible for the safety of Chief Ralph Uwazurike and members of MASSOB considering the threats to their lives from Federal and State government agents.
    5. To challenge Ndigbo to take political responsibility for their self-preservation and self determination in view of the orchestrated efforts by their enemies to oppress them perpetually.
    6. To challenge Ohaneze Ndigbo, Igbo National Assembly and all Igbo groups to be vehement in protesting the oppression of their people and forcefully speak out in their defense.
    7. To urge all Igbo organizations, businessmen, intellectuals, students and the clergy to join the struggle to re- actualize Biafra.
    -Culled from U.S. Newswire of Tuesday, October 21, 2003

    Obasanjo is a fraud, says Ojukwu
         Emeka Odumegwu-Ojukwu, the fiery former head of state of defunct Biafra, has roundly condemned President Olusegun Obasanjo, describing him as a “fraud”. “He is a fraud because he presents himself as a civilian. He is a fraud because he presents himself as a democrat. He is a fraud because he presents himself as a leader. He is a fraud because he presents himself as a Christian. If I have to sum him in one word, Obasanjo is a fraud,” Odumegwu-Ojukwu told Daily Independent yesterday on the eve of his 70th birthday at his rented Independence Layout residence in Enugu, adding that Obasanjo was more of a military man than a democrat. “I must say that he has presented himself as something he is not. Obasanjo is the nearest civilian I know to the military in everything he does. He has not got the mind elastic enough to accommodate those in uniform khaki and the babanriga. “He is trying very much to exemplify a civilian but everything about him is rudely and crudely military. His responses are extreme. And everything becomes a power play instead of a gentle persuasive effort”.
         Odumegwu-Ojukwu also accused Obasanjo of being “the greatest coward that ever bestrode” the Nigerian terrain. He charged that the first six months of Obasanjo’s reign in 1976-1979 was a time of sheer cowardice on his part because he could not bring down his predecessor, Murtala Muhammed’s portraits from where they hung on the walls and he could not refer to his government without seeking shelter and security in the hyphenated surname, Murtala-Obasanjo. “That was the only time in our history that Nigeria was ruled from the grave!” he concluded. -Culled from Daily Independent Issue of Tuesday, November 4, 2003

    Obasanjo must go -UAD
         *Text of a Press Conference by the United Action for Democracy (UAD) on November 11, 2003 at Conference Room of Women Advocates Research and Documentation Center (WARDC), Oshoppey Plaza, Allen Avenue, Ikeja, Lagos.
         Ladies and Gentlemen of the press, welcome to this press conference. Its main purpose is to announce that Nigerian civil society organizations under the umbrella of the United Action for Democracy (UAD) will be launching the Obasanjo-must-go Campaign on December 3, 2003. The Campaign will kick off with mass rallies in Lagos and other cities in the country. The other cities will be announced at the end of the on-going consultations. The Lagos rally will take place at the historic Yaba Bus stop at 10:00 am on that December 3, 2003. It will be addressed by leaders of civil society groups, pro-democracy groups, self-determination/socio-cultural organizations, student and youth organizations, opposition political parties, organized labour and other social forces concerned about the state of our nation under the disastrous Obasanjo administration. The purpose of the campaign is to mobilize the suffering people of Nigeria to end their suffering by compelling the resignation of the anti-people Obasanjo government. The resignation will enable the reversal of policies like fuel price increase which has created so much suffering and chaos in the country. It will also enable the holding of the Sovereign National Conference to chart a new direction for our country, after which there will be free and fair elections.      The UAD is committed to the emergence of a united democratic alliance of civil society, opposition political parties, socio-cultural organizations, self-determination groups, workers, professional groups, student and youth organisations and other social forces opposed to the current state of decadence in the land. We are embarking on a process of consultation after which a Pan-Nigeria meeting of social forces will be convened to agree on common strategies for rescuing the nation.      Another programme lined up in the build up to the mass rallies is a crucial symposium on the state of the nation, scheduled to take place in Lagos on October 18.      We call on all patriotic groups in Nigeria to unite with the UAD to halt the national drift.      We have also gathered today as civil society organizations to speak out against the unacceptable state of things in our country, including the unbearable levels of poverty, suffering and indignity in which the majority of Nigerians currently live. Our society is now enveloped in a frightening cloud of mass anger, frustration and hopelessness. This unwholesome state of affairs is the cumulative effect of four and a half years of inhuman, anti-democratic, insincere and unpatriotic policies, programmes, activities and utterances. These can be summarized as follows:

    • The imposition by undemocratic means of economic and social policies which induce poverty and suffering in order to satisfy the dictates of the IMF, World Bank and Transnational Corporations like oil companies. These include the unpopular policies of privatization, deregulation, liberalization, devaluation of the Naira, withdrawal of subsidies on social welfare services etc. These prescriptions which make up the SAP package have been responsible for the ruination of many developing economies and the collapse of their democracies, the latest examples of which include Bolivia, Argentina and Philippines.

    • The use of brute force to protect the mercenary interests of Transnational Corporations like Shell and other oil companies in the Niger Delta resulting in the massacre of thousands of defenseless men, women and children in Odi in Bayelsa State and other communities since 1999. The massacres were instigated by the oil companies.

    • The use of military strategies in addressing communal conflicts, resulting in the massacre of villagers in Zaki Biam and other communities in the Middle Belt.

    • Massive rigging and fraud during the last general elections, thereby circumventing the will of the people, destabilizing the polity and threatening national cohesion.

    • Continual undermining of democratic institutions like the National Assembly and the Judiciary in an attempt to create a personality cult.

    • State-sponsored killings of opponents of the PDP in various parts of the country.

    • Alarming rate of extra-judicial killings by the police, while failing to contain armed robbery, assassinations and other violent crimes.

    • Arrogance and contempt for the opposition and the citizenry.

    • Uncouth utterances and crude conduct unbecoming of the office of the President of the Federal Republic of Nigeria.

    • The institutionalization of corruption, while squandering public fund on a hypocritical anti-corruption crusade.

         Ladies and Gentlemen of the press, all these and more have come to the majority of Nigerians as a rude shock, given the great expectations that civil rule will usher in the good things for the nation. Instead of the good things of life, the Obasanjo government has offered nothing but anguish, misery, tears and blood. And from every indication this trend will continue, as the government has shown no sign of repenting from counter productive policies.      A good case in point is the current unilateral increase in the prices of petroleum products. While the people were still groaning under the crushing weight of the increase from N26 to N34 per litre of petrol, the government instructed marketers to sell at any price they wished. The result is the current anarchy of pricing and gnashing of teeth.      Civil society organizations, under the umbrella of the United Action for Democracy (UAD), have thus come to the irrevocable conclusion that the only way to rescue our country from the current path of destruction is to remove the current government from power. The removal will be effected through the lawful instrumentality of mass democratic action, including rallies, protests, picketing, stay-at-home and other forms of civil disobedience. In arriving at this resolve, we have not lost sight of the argument from certain quarters that in a democracy the ballot is the constitutional avenue for changing unwanted governments. We however note that the people were blatantly denied the instrumentality of the ballot through the massive electoral fraud in April 2003. A government which imposed itself on the people through such anti-democratic means lacks the moral right to plead constitutional protection. He who comes to equity must do so with clean hands. Furthermore, democratic governance is a social contract, implicit in which is the understanding that elected leaders must act in consonance with the interests and wishes of the people. A government that breaches that social contract by taking delight in inflicting suffering on the people ceaselessly, as the Obasanjo government has done in the last four years, should reckon with the inevitability of popular revolt. The Obasanjo government is a dictatorship in civilian robes and must be fought in the way every dictatorship should.      The battle line is drawn once more, and as was the case in the fight against military dictatorship, the people shall outlive this dictatorship.

    Down with the Mafia government of Obasanjo!
    Down with deregulation
    Stop fuel price increase
    Long live the fighting spirit of the Nigeria people.

    Bamidele Aturu

    Zikirullahi Ibrahim
    General Secretary
    -Text of a Press Conference by the United Action for Democracy (UAD) on November 11, 2003

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    Related Link(s):
    LG reform prelude to secession – ACF
    Arewa warns on proposed LG reforms
    Justice must prevail – Buhari
    NCP Seeks Probe into Plot to Kill Obasanjo
    Plot to Kill Obasanjo: Parties Call for Agoro's Arrest
    ANPP Legislators Allege Chemical Attack Killed Okadigbo
    Biafra: Police On Red Alert Over MASSOB Threat
    International Conference on Biafra Held
    Obasanjo is a fraud, says Ojukwu
    Obasanjo must go (Nigeriaworld Messageboard Forum)

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