In a statement on Sunday, he said it was important for Chairman of the APC Caretaker/Convention Working Committee and Yobe State Governor, Mai-Mala Buni, to set up a constitution review committee and present proposals for amendments to the Extraordinary National Convention.
He explained that beyond proposals for constitutional amendment, there was an urgent need to consider developing proposed code of conduct for elected and appointed officials of the party as bye-laws to regulate the conduct of party leaders.
The PGF director-general believes the code of conduct is necessary to prevent situations where party officials abuse their office and conduct themselves in manners that can undermine the party’s commitment to the principles of public accountability, or even get stretched to issues bordering on criminal conduct and the probable extension of strategies of political bullying.
According to him, once the APC continues to operate as a closed party, its progressive credentials will remain only a claim of its leaders and anyone who challenges it will be bullied.
Lukman asked the party to consider taking all the appropriate steps to strengthen internal party rules as provided in the APC Constitution.
He, however, stated that his position on the internal crisis within the party does not represent the view of any APC governor or the Progressive Governors’ Forum.
Read the full statement below:
The Future of Progressive Politics in Nigeria
Salihu Moh. Lukman
Progressive Governors Forum
The critical issue of citizens’ participation in politics and how it leads to the difficult task of candidates’ selection is an issue that appears to be the cause of most of the frustrations Nigerians seem to be having with our democracy.
Additionally, it is the cause of virtually all intra and inter party disputes and conflicts in the country. Inability to resolve these issues and put in place functional systems that could regulate internal mechanisms for wider national political contests and ensure that there are some minimum standards of institutional behaviour that could guarantee periodic membership recruitment, which can be calibrated to citizens’ participation in the decision-making process leading to candidate selection during elections are the drawbacks.
These are dynamic challenges, which have been the focus of political inquiry for quite sometimes both in the developed and less developed democracies. Unfortunately, in our context, in Nigeria, these are issues that are at best discussed as subsidiaries to other associated democratic challenges, largely electoral laws.
The reality is that electoral jurisprudence may not even recognise or prioritise the challenges of membership recruitment in a political party, which could result in ambiguities, conferring more powers to individuals and power blocs in a political party.
The consequence will include undermining membership participation and therefore reducing the critical task of candidate selection to some technical internal plebiscite, which may have very little or no democratic value involving only small section of the party membership. This reality creates conflicts, which weakens democratic institutions, including political parties, and retard political development.
Exploring these issues, Paul Webb and Stephen White, in the book Party Politics in New Democracies, argued that analysts could make damning conclusions about parties based on the consideration that ‘democracy is not fully realised until citizens expressed their shared interests as members of the same community.
Participation in the democratic process is vital to the political education of citizens if they are to develop this civic orientation. Contemporary political parties are unlikely to fare well by the civic democratic standards.’ This made them (Webb and White) ask: ‘Does this mean that parties are failing democracy?’
The question of whether parties are failing democracy made Richard Gunther and Larry Diamond, in the book Political Parties and Democracy to come up with the concept of ‘decline of parties’, based on which they submit, ‘in both developed and less developed countries, there is growing evidence that membership in political parties is declining, that parties’ ties with allied secondary associations are loosening or breaking, that their representation of specific social groups is less consistent, and that public opinion toward parties is waning in commitment and trust.
Does this mean, as some have argued, that parties as institutions are declining, that they are ceasing to play a crucial role in modern democracies, and that their functions may be performed as well or better by other kinds of organisations – social movements or interest groups, for example?’
Gunther and Diamond further asked: ‘Are political parties in modern democracies losing their importance, even their relevance, as vehicles for the articulation and aggregation of interests and the waging of election campaigns? Or have we entered an era, more keenly felt in the advanced industrial democracies but increasingly apparent in the less developed ones as well, where technological and social change is transforming the nature of the political party without diminishing its importance for the health and vigour of democracy?’
Both in the case of issues presented by Webb and White with respect to participation, on the one hand, and decline of parties as argued by Gunther and Diamond, on the other hand, they are all very familiar to the Nigerian political environment. It is almost as if the scope for political inquiry that made Gunther and Diamond reach that conclusion is Nigeria.
For instance, the scope for membership participation in our parties since 1999 could appear to be declining. Looking at the Nigerian reality, it will almost be easy to conclude that hardly any of our parties is mass oriented or having a relationship with any organised group. That being the case, to what extend is APC any different or orienting itself differently?
Will being different result in more decline in membership participation or will the APC succeed in opening itself up to ensure increasing recruitment of members and more participation through at least guaranteeing that structures of the party meet as provided in the provisions of the APC constitution?
These are practical issues. If APC is to open itself through membership recruitment, the debate around the issue of whether there is a credible and verifiable membership register will not be taking place. Rather, appropriate steps should have been taken to ensure the existence of a credible and verifiable membership register.
This may be a case of improving on what is already in existence. To improve on what exists may have to involve all structures of the party so that the question of managing the membership register is also not in dispute. For instance, how members are recruited would have a lot of implications in terms of the format that would be used to guarantee participation.
Take, for instance, the argument that the APC membership register is domicile on the Cloud. Who uploads it to the Cloud with whose authority and who is managing it? How was it generated in the first place? Are the members of the APC in the register that is said to exist on the Cloud, financial members? Who did they pay their membership dues to?
Immediately after the merger exercise, which produced the APC, between 2013 and 2015, there were strong internal debates towards establishing computerised membership data centre for the whole country, located at No. 10 Bola Ajibola Street, off Allen Avenue, Ikeja, Lagos.
It could be recalled that on November 22, 2014, the APC membership data centre was reportedly attacked by PDP controlled Federal Government security operatives. Later, the Department of State Security (DSS), which carried the attack claimed that they acted following a petition, which alleged that the APC membership data centre was being set up to clone INEC Permanent Voters Card with the intention of hacking into INEC database, corrupting it and replacing them with APC data.
Part of the internal dynamics that were considered in commencing the establishment of the APC membership data centre included challenges during the conduct of the APC’s Congresses and Convention between April and June 2014. The projections prior to the Congresses were that the process of electing party leadership at all levels of the APC will be expanded beyond the scope of a limited number of party delegates, which should cover all members of the party.
On account of experiences during the conduct of Ward Congresses in April 2014, which exposes the problem of conducting all-members’ inclusive elections for party offices without authenticated membership records, the Chief Bisi Akande Interim Leadership initiated the establishment of the membership data centre.
Since the incident of November 22, 2014, when the DSS attacked the APC membership data centre, hardly anything was heard about the project. Around February/March 2020, the Comrade Oshiomhole-led NWC placed some newspaper advertorials inviting biddings from interested service providers to assist the APC establish computerised membership data register.
Although no reference was made to the previous APC membership data centre of 2014 in the advertorial, the invitation for bidding suggested either non-availability of a computerised membership register or if it is in existence, it is inadequate. Could this have been resolved and a standard register has been uploaded on the Cloud to support the desperation by the Comrade Oshiomhole-led NWC to have organised the primary election for the 2020 Edo State Governorship election through the direct method?
Against the background that the main focus of all political parties in Nigeria is to win elections fairly or unfairly, political practice and culture is the same across all the parties, including the APC as it is constituted today. It is all about recruiting membership based on individual aspirations for political offices.
Across all the parties, once an aspirant has strong financial capability, the party is surrendered to the aspirant. Such an aspirant would then proceed to nominate the party leaders from among his/her loyalists. Accordingly, presidential aspirants nominate party leaders at national levels and gubernatorial candidates nominate party leaders at States, Local Governments and Wards. Candidates for elections are similarly recruited. Presidential candidates recruit gubernatorial candidates and gubernatorial candidates recruit candidates for other lower offices from the ranks of loyalists.
Issues of participation and democracy are compromised, professional management of parties ignored, and disciplinary conduct of members and leaders undermined. The consequence is the preponderances of unethical, unfair and uncivilised practices by party leaders, and public officials. Party offices are reduced to centres of control by aspiring politicians with hardly any focus on services to members.
How is APC responding to these challenges? If anything, the reality is that the last activity of the party that differentiated APC from all the other parties was the December 10, 2014 National Convention that produced President Buhari as the Presidential candidate of the party for the 2015 election.
By every standard, that Convention and the primary election that produced President Buhari as the Presidential candidate for the 2015 election was adjudged to be transparent, fair and democratic even by fellow aspirants who lost the contest – Dr. Rabiu Musa Kwankwaso, Alh. Atiku Abubakar, Owello Rochas Okorocha and Mr. Sam Nda Isiah.
Thereafter, almost all the negative characteristics associated with the PDP and all the other parties became dominant features of APC. Most of the leadership conflict in the party, across all the 36 states bordered on issues of who controls the structures of the party so much that political bullying is now assuming a major feature in the APC.
Anyone who criticises or makes remarks that are not in sync with what leaders want to be propagated, get bullied and at the slightest opportunity, such persons are pushed out of positions they occupy, especially if it is an elective position. With all these, hardly any contest take place. All that keeps emerging is conflict even when we are expected to have elections.
Being a progressive party would require that APC is able to redress this problem, especially given the commitment to ensure that the party is dynamic, action-oriented and ensuring that we are able to bring about improvement in politics, government and the conditions of life of the generality of our people. Why should a progressive party shy away from debating issues affecting the party?
Why should politicians who claimed to be progressives and committed to rendering services to citizens be threatened by fellow party members who only attempted to diagnose the problems of the party? Why should any party leader imagine that anyone who advocates for opening the party up to wider participation by citizens through membership recruitment and ensuring the establishment of credible and verifiable membership register is an agent of imagined political opponent? Why should any politician disparage opposition to political contests? Is politics not all about contestation? How can there be contestation without opposition?
A major gap created by the current orientation of political parties in Nigeria with perverted political behaviour, which confers prerogative of membership recruitment to political leaders is the barrier that is making it almost impossible for parties, including the APC, to serve as vehicles for citizens’ participation. Once APC continues to operate as a closed party, its progressive credentials will remain only a claim of its leaders, and anyone who challenged it will be bullied.
APC can only be progressive if it is able to encourage and promote competition within the party as a prelude to electoral contests. The absence of competition has reduced, predominantly, the business of the party not to focus on issues of managing governments based on the capacity of party members to contribute to initiatives of governments controlled by the party especially with reference to agricultural development, jobs creation, education, health, infrastructural development, poverty eradication, and rapid technological development.
Although Reuven Y. Hazen and Gideon Rahat in the book, Democracy within Parties: Candidate Selection Methods and their Political Consequences, identified that ‘selection of party candidates is basically a private affair, even if there are legal regulations’, the need to open up parties and ensure that members are able to access electoral opportunities remain a primary condition for broadening the space for citizens’ democratic participation.
Hazen and Rahat have elaborately made the point that candidate selection in political parties is ‘predominantly extralegal process by which a political party decides which of the persons legally eligible to hold an elective public office will be designated on the ballot and in election communications as its recommended and supported candidate or list of candidates.’ Being a progressive party, APC would need to take all the appropriate steps required to graduate to a situation whereby members produce leaders and not leaders producing members.
Will this be possible? One of the challenges that APC leaders should be ready to confront as identified by Hazen and Rahat is that ‘recent phenomena of increased judicial involvement in politics is likely to lead to an increase in the adjudication of internal party affairs, including candidate selection. However, such involvement is still largely limited to the question of whether parties have adhered to the rules and regulations they have decided for themselves.’
What are the measures required to compel party members and leaders to comply to internal rules? This is a big challenge especially given that complying with internal rules may result in the loss of control of party structures as a result of which leaders are not able to emerge as candidates.
The risk of losing control of the party structures on account of which leaders are not able to emerge as candidates for elections is the dilemma confronting APC leaders today. Unfortunately, the fear of the consequences of not achieving the objective of emerging as candidates or producing candidates has made the phenomena of political bullying rampant in Nigerian political parties, including APC.
Anybody who is advocating for change in the orientation of how the party recruit members are adjudged to be paid agents and deserve no right to a fair hearing. Partly because those carrying out political bullying are powerful and considered to control powers of appointments in government and selection of candidates, no one wants to risk being accused of opposing their interests.
Consequently, APC is being corrupted by every passing day and therefore becoming more and more closer to PDP and in some cases even worse than PDP. Unlike PDP however, it needs to be recognised that in terms of accommodating dissent within the party, APC is more liberal, largely because President Buhari truly ‘belong to everyone and belong to no one’.
It is only because of the singular factor of President Buhari that groups of elected representatives in both the House of Representatives and the Senate could organise to produce leadership in 2015 against the wishes of the party. While this is certainly unacceptable, it may simply suggest either gap in provisions of internal rules of the APC or complete absence of rules required to regulate the conduct of elected representatives of the party.
Many have criticise the liberal disposition of President Buhari when it comes to the issue of internal party management and present it as the problem of the party. This is wrong and instead, in fact, it is the democratic strength of the APC, which is making it to stand out as the only party in the country with political contests taking place. The major issue is that instead of manifesting as political contests, we are having political conflicts. How can we ensure that what we are having in the APC is political contests and not political conflicts? This is the big task ahead of APC leaders to ensure that the party is truly a progressive party.
It was because of the very singular liberal disposition of President Buhari that made it possible for the struggle against the arbitrary conduct of the Comrade Oshiomhole-led NWC to get to the level of democratically dissolving the NWC and appointing the Mai Mala Buni Caretaker/Convention Working Committee.
But is that enough to guarantee that the APC will be opened up to the wider participation of members? Given that the most important mandate of the Mai Mala Buni Caretaker/Convention Working Committee is to organise a National Convention where new leadership will be elected, what are the steps required, which the Mai Mala Buni Committee should take to ensure that the national leadership of the party that will emerge are not nominees of potential Presidential candidates?
The best way to check whether new leaders are nominees of potential Presidential candidates could be perhaps whether they emerge from electoral contests. How fair was the contest and to what extent could the issue of credible and verifiable membership register support the process of electing the new leadership of APC at the coming national convention?
A very credible process should be recommended to sprout from membership registration/verification. This should mean that immediately following the membership registration/verification, party Congresses at ward, local governments and state levels hold to elect new leadership. This will have the advantage of ensuring that some levels of political negotiations are activated within the party to facilitate the emergence of new leaders.
It is possible that the process may still tilt in favour of some of the emerging power blocs within the party. However, if managed very well, it will be almost impossible for any single power bloc in the party to comfortably dominate the structures of the party across all the 36 states of the country and FCT. This will help to humble all the potential aspirants, especially for the 2023 Presidential election, thereby democratising power in the APC.
Because power is democratised, no one person can monopolised leadership and therefore impose himself/herself as presidential candidate of the APC. As a result, the issue of monopolising membership register such that it is the candidates that produce party members will begin to be minimised. Also, the party can bounce back and become appealing to citizens.
The other associated possibility is that the phenomenon of political bullying could be reduced since the problem of monopolising party membership is being minimised. But this will require that individual member of the party are able to assert themselves and ignore the threats of political bullies. It just means that courageous members are able to rise above the desperation of accessing political offices.
This is a hard call that could be suicidal for many party members. Beyond the courage of individual party members however, the party should consider taking all the appropriate steps to strengthen internal party rules as provided in the constitution of the party. Given all the experiences, so far, it is only logical that the Mai Mala Buni Caretaker/Convention Working Committee is able to setup a constitution review committee and present proposals for amendments to the Extraordinary National Convention.
Beyond proposals for a constitutional amendment, there is an urgent need to consider developing a proposed code of conduct for elected and appointed officials of the party as bylaws to regulate the conduct of party leaders. This is necessary in order to prevent situations whereby officials of the party will not abuse his/her office and conduct himself/herself in manners that could undermine the party’s commitment to the principles of public accountability or even get stretched to issues bordering on criminal conduct and the probable extension of strategies of political bullying to include the deployment of state law enforcement machinery and officials against fellow citizens and party members.
The Mai Mala Buni Caretaker/Convention Working Committee needs to be given every support within the party and by extension patriotic Nigerians sympathetic to the APC to be able to put APC on the part of progressive politics. As it is today, APC is the only party with the potential of promoting progressive politics based on ensuring that the party is able to put in place credible and verifiable membership register as the basis for membership and citizens’ participation.
The management of the membership must be such that it makes it easy for records to be updated and accessed. For the party to guarantee participation, processes of leadership emergence should be transparently democratic involving the wider scope of members. Beyond electing leaders, the internal rules of the party should be strengthened to ensure that all party organs are made functional and the conduct of party leaders, including elected and appointed officials, are regulated to ensure that the project truly progressive conducts and credentials.
In the final analysis, being progressives should mean that APC leaders are taking all the measures required to ensure seamless political contests within the party as a result of which political conflicts are giving way to healthy political contests. This would suggest a reversal in the process of decline of the party. Should this become the new reality, the APC then could begin to transform itself into a mass-oriented party with an expanded membership, developing relationships with organised interest groups.
Are these going to be the issues for debate as we move towards having a national convention to elect new leaders of the APC? Or are we going to submit ourselves as party members to the antics of political bullies whose only mission is to force every party member to silence and allow structures of the party to be manipulated to produce candidates for 2023? Time will tell. The struggle to make APC a progressively democratic party must not be surrendered to forces of reaction acting as political bullies!
This position does not represent the view of any APC Governor or the Progressive Governors Forum.
2023: Darius, Bwacha Rift Deepens As Group Drags Senator To EFCC
The rift between Taraba state helmsman, Gov. Darius Dickson Ishaku and Senator Emmanuel Bwacha, deepened with a petition signed by Darius aides to the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC). KWARARAFA REPORTERS .
A copy of the petition circulating widely in Abuja and Jalingo. The aides are alleging that Bwacha fraudulently diverted the constituency funds. They also accuse the Independent Corrupt Practices Commission (ICPC) of not doing a thorough investigation.
ICPC on their websites had exonerated
Senator Emmanuel Bwacha, after receiving a similar petition. Itemising completed projects in the zone, the ICPC had given Bwacha a clean bill of health On the matter of constituency projects. On the site, out of the 39 projects verified by ICPC across the country, Bwacha’s accounted for 14.
But the petitioners in their latest letter said the EFCC needs to do a further check on those projects- a move many believe to be politically motivated.
Many watchers believed the latest push is all part of the crisis rocking Southern Taraba. Sen. Bwacha representing Southern Taraba has been locked in a war of attrition with Gov Ishaku over control of the zone. Ishaku, a second term governor, nurses the ambition to replace Bwacha in the 9th Senate, while Bwacha has declared his intention to run for governor. Bwacha is largely seen as a favorite by the electorate even as Darius hangs on the power of incumbency for his senatorial hopes.
The petition, signed by Special advisers to Darius, Daniel Dan Azumi and Tijani Sale, titled the document ” COMPLAINT ON THE FRAUDULENT DIVERSION AND PERSONALISATION OF CONSTITUENCY PROJECTS…”
The petition reads in part, ” these projects have been manipulated to diversion, conversion, part or partial execution, change location of sitting after approval or stage managed them to decieve the constituents whom he represents”.
The letter continued, “most importantly non – execution of a proposed Jatropa farm that is not traceable till today after money has been collected from FG when he was Senate Chairman on agriculture committee as published in 2014…”
“Lastly we are aware all contractors doing his biddings are his political cronies and relations which are against the process of bidding for contract by tender guidelines. Let all the contractors tender their profiles to see if they are not his cronies and relations.”
“We are praying that Senator Emmanuel Bwacha’s constituency projects right from 2016 is full of fraudulent activities and we appeal to ur esteemed organization to help us make a Better investigation on all his projects..”
But a source in Senator Bwacha’s camp disclosed that the petition is riddled with lies, noting that Bwacha has been consistent in addressing the constituency issues. The source noted, “this is just a continuation of the Governor’s war against a performing Senator. He recently tried to stop the flagging off of a major project here and hasn’t succeeded. His aides are merely pleasing their master. The governor has always maintained Bwacha is his biggest problem.”
Terrorism: Nigeria Has Made Giant Strides In Human Rights Compliance, Won’t Be Intimidated By ICC, Amnesty – Human Rights Group
The Coalition of Human Rights Monitoring Groups (CHRMG) says Nigeria has made significant strides in human rights compliance in the prosecution of the war against terrorism.
The human rights group, which made this known at a press conference on Thursday in Abuja, also noted that the troops have adhered to international best practices in its various operations across the country.
The CHRMG said it arrived at this conclusion after an appraisal of the war against terrorism in the country and the compliance to international conventions by the leadership of the Armed Forces of Nigeria.
The coalition’s position invalidates that of Amnesty International and the International Criminal Court which levelled human rights violations against the military.
And Executive Director, Gabriel Agibi, while speaking on behalf of the group, singled out the Chief of Army Staff (COAS), Lt. Gen Tukur Buratai for special praises, adding that he qualifies to be conferred with the highest Human Rights Compliance Award.
According to Agibi, the establishment of human rights desks in all Nigerian Army units and formations to address human rights violations is an illustration of the COAS’ ingenuity.
The coalition, therefore, hailed President Muhammadu Buhari, the Armed Forces’ leadership and the troops for adhering to global standards in human rights preservation.
It, however, warned those peddling false information with regards to the human rights compliance of the military to desist as it serves only as a means of distraction and not a reflection of the reality on the ground.
The CHRMG further urged the troops not to be discouraged by the antics of Amnesty, ICC and their likes.
Read the full statement below:
I welcome you all to this press conference in furtherance of our mandate to give an appraisal of the government’s efforts in the war against terrorism and other acts of militancy in North-East Nigeria and other parts of the country.
The Coalition of Human Rights Monitoring Groups has been actively engaged in ensuring the adherence to international conventions in the preservation of human rights by the Nigerian government and by extension the Armed Forces in its various operations across the length and breadth of the country.
It is indeed a fact that we have been credited to have held the government accountable through the various mechanisms introduced to ensure strict compliance to the rules of engagement in warfare and ensure Nigerians’ rights and privileges are not trampled upon under whatever guise.
It is on this strength we convoked this press conference to give a detailed appraisal of our fact-finding mission on the operations of the Nigerian Armed Forces in the preservation of human rights in its various operations.
We wish to state in unequivocal terms that there has been a considerable improvement in the conduct of the Nigerian Armed Forces regarding human rights and compliance to international conventions, especially in the last five years.
The Coalition of Human Rights Monitoring Groups wishes to put it on record that the Nigerian Army’s operational strategies in the prosecution of the war against terrorism and other acts of criminalities have been outstanding with an excellent rating on human rights compliance. From all our ratings and feedback mechanism, the Chief of Army Staff, Lt. Gen. Tukur Buratai leads the pack of military commanders who have displayed an unalloyed commitment to upholding human rights tenets and adherence global best practices in the rules of engagement in warfare. This is on the heels that Operation Lafiya Dole’s organizational composition has in place measures to curb excesses by officers and soldiers in the discharge of their duties.
The Coalition of Human Rights Monitoring Groups also reiterates that President Muhammadu Buhari in his capacity as the Commander-in-Chief of the Armed Forces has been exceptional in ensuring that the Armed Forces’ operations comply with international conventions.
We are using this medium to commend President Muhammadu Buhari and the Armed Forces’ leadership for the exceptional conduct regarding the adhering to global standards in human rights preservation.
The establishment of human rights desks in all Nigerian Army units and formations to address human rights violations is another exemplary display of ingenuity by the Chief of Army Staff, Lt. Gen. Tukur Buratai who by all standards qualifies to be conferred with the Highest Human Rights Compliance Awards.
The Coalition of Human Rights Monitoring Groups indeed applauds other Service Chiefs, such as the Chief of Defense Staff, Gen. Gabriel Olonishakin, the Chief of the Air Staff, Air Marshall Sadique Abubakar, the Inspector General of Police, Mohammed Adamu, the Chief of Defence Intelligence, AVM Mohammed Saliu Usman, the Director-General of the DSS, Yusuf Bichi and the Chief of Naval Staff, Vice Admiral Ibok-Ete Ibas for their invaluable contributions in the entrenchment of human rights in Nigeria.
We also wish to use this medium to commend officers and soldiers in the theatre of operations for exhibiting high standards of compliance with regards to the protection of human rights. Their display of professionalism even in the face of provocation is noteworthy and indeed, commendable.
The Coalition of Human Rights Monitoring Groups’ position is that the security agencies engaged in the war against terrorism in Nigeria have exhibited high regard for human rights, which is in line with global best practices.
The Coalition of Human Rights Monitoring Groups is sending a strong message to all those that are at the forefront of peddling false information with regards to the human rights compliance of the Nigerian Armed Forces to desist from such ignoble ventures which by all intent and purposes serves only as a means of distraction and not a reflection of the reality on the ground.
The fact remains that in the past five years, the level of human rights compliance by the Nigerian Armed Forces in the prosecution of the war against insurgency and other militants acts in Nigeria has been commendable. Credit must be given to the Commander-in-Chief of the Armed Forces, President Muhammadu Buhari, the Chief of Defence Staff, Gen. Abayomi Olonishakin, the Chief of Army Staff, Lt. Gen. Tukur Buratai and other heads of security agencies that have been involved directly or indirectly in the prosecution of the war against insurgency in Nigeria.
The Coalition of Human Rights Monitoring Groups is by this medium conferring on the Chief of Army Staff, Lt. Gen. Tukur Buratai and other top commanders of the Nigerian Army and the troops the Human Rights Compliance Awards for service to country and humanity.
We also want to use this medium to encourage the Nigerian Armed Forces’ leadership not to rest on their oars and continue to preserve the tenets of human rights in their operations.
Thank you all for your time, and God bless.
Joe Biden’s Inauguration Speech In Full
In his inauguration address, President Joe Biden called on Americans to be ‘different and better’ – read his full speech below
Chief Justice Roberts, Vice-President Harris, Speaker Pelosi, Leader Schumer, Leader McConnell, Vice-President Pence. My distinguished guests, my fellow Americans.
This is America’s day. This is democracy’s day. A day of history and hope, of renewal and resolve. Through a crucible for the ages, America has been tested a new and America has risen to the challenge. Today we celebrate the triumph not of a candidate but of a cause, a cause of democracy. The people – the will of the people – has been heard, and the will of the people has been heeded.
We’ve learned again that democracy is precious, democracy is fragile and, at this hour my friends, democracy has prevailed. So now on this hallowed ground where just a few days ago violence sought to shake the Capitol’s very foundations, we come together as one nation under God – indivisible – to carry out the peaceful transfer of power as we have for more than two centuries.
As we look ahead in our uniquely American way, restless, bold, optimistic, and set our sights on a nation we know we can be and must be, I thank my predecessors of both parties. I thank them from the bottom of my heart. And I know the resilience of our Constitution and the strength, the strength of our nation, as does President Carter, who I spoke with last night who cannot be with us today, but who we salute for his lifetime of service.
I’ve just taken a sacred oath each of those patriots have taken. The oath first sworn by George Washington. But the American story depends not on any one of us, not on some of us, but on all of us. On we the people who seek a more perfect union. This is a great nation, we are good people. And over the centuries through storm and strife in peace and in war we’ve come so far. But we still have far to go.
We’ll press forward with speed and urgency for we have much to do in this winter of peril and significant possibility. Much to do, much to heal, much to restore, much to build and much to gain. Few people in our nation’s history have been more challenged or found a time more challenging or difficult than the time we’re in now. A once in a century virus that silently stalks the country has taken as many lives in one year as in all of World War Two.
Millions of jobs have been lost. Hundreds of thousands of businesses closed. A cry for racial justice, some 400 years in the making, moves us. The dream of justice for all will be deferred no longer. A cry for survival comes from the planet itself, a cry that can’t be any more desperate or any more clear now. The rise of political extremism, white supremacy, domestic terrorism, that we must confront and we will defeat.
To overcome these challenges, to restore the soul and secure the future of America, requires so much more than words. It requires the most elusive of all things in a democracy – unity. Unity. In another January on New Year’s Day in 1863 Abraham Lincoln signed the Emancipation Proclamation. When he put pen to paper the president said, and I quote, ‘if my name ever goes down in history, it’ll be for this act, and my whole soul is in it’.
My whole soul is in it today, on this January day. My whole soul is in this. Bringing America together, uniting our people, uniting our nation. And I ask every American to join me in this cause. Uniting to fight the foes we face – anger, resentment and hatred. Extremism, lawlessness, violence, disease, joblessness, and hopelessness.
With unity we can do great things, important things. We can right wrongs, we can put people to work in good jobs, we can teach our children in safe schools. We can overcome the deadly virus, we can rebuild work, we can rebuild the middle class and make work secure, we can secure racial justice and we can make America once again the leading force for good in the world.
I know speaking of unity can sound to some like a foolish fantasy these days. I know the forces that divide us are deep and they are real. But I also know they are not new. Our history has been a constant struggle between the American ideal, that we are all created equal, and the harsh ugly reality that racism, nativism and fear have torn us apart. The battle is perennial and victory is never secure.
Through civil war, the Great Depression, World War, 9/11, through struggle, sacrifice, and setback, our better angels have always prevailed. In each of our moments enough of us have come together to carry all of us forward and we can do that now. History, faith and reason show the way. The way of unity.
We can see each other not as adversaries but as neighbours. We can treat each other with dignity and respect. We can join forces, stop the shouting and lower the temperature. For without unity there is no peace, only bitterness and fury, no progress, only exhausting outrage. No nation, only a state of chaos. This is our historic moment of crisis and challenge. And unity is the path forward. And we must meet this moment as the United States of America.
If we do that, I guarantee we will not failed. We have never, ever, ever, ever failed in America when we’ve acted together. And so today at this time in this place, let’s start afresh, all of us. Let’s begin to listen to one another again, hear one another, see one another. Show respect to one another. Politics doesn’t have to be a raging fire destroying everything in its path. Every disagreement doesn’t have to be a cause for total war and we must reject the culture in which facts themselves are manipulated and even manufactured.
My fellow Americans, we have to be different than this. We have to be better than this and I believe America is so much better than this. Just look around. Here we stand in the shadow of the Capitol dome. As mentioned earlier, completed in the shadow of the Civil War. When the union itself was literally hanging in the balance. We endure, we prevail. Here we stand, looking out on the great Mall, where Dr King spoke of his dream.
Here we stand, where 108 years ago at another inaugural, thousands of protesters tried to block brave women marching for the right to vote. And today we mark the swearing in of the first woman elected to national office, Vice President Kamala Harris. Don’t tell me things can change. Here we stand where heroes who gave the last full measure of devotion rest in eternal peace.
And here we stand just days after a riotous mob thought they could use violence to silence the will of the people, to stop the work of our democracy, to drive us from this sacred ground. It did not happen, it will never happen, not today, not tomorrow, not ever. Not ever. To all those who supported our campaign, I’m humbled by the faith you placed in us. To all those who did not support us, let me say this. Hear us out as we move forward. Take a measure of me and my heart.
If you still disagree, so be it. That’s democracy. That’s America. The right to dissent peacefully. And the guardrail of our democracy is perhaps our nation’s greatest strength. If you hear me clearly, disagreement must not lead to disunion. And I pledge this to you. I will be a President for all Americans, all Americans. And I promise you I will fight for those who did not support me as for those who did.
Many centuries ago, St Augustine – the saint of my church – wrote that a people was a multitude defined by the common objects of their love. Defined by the common objects of their love. What are the common objects we as Americans love, that define us as Americans? I think we know. Opportunity, security, liberty, dignity, respect, honour, and yes, the truth.
Recent weeks and months have taught us a painful lesson. There is truth and there are lies. Lies told for power and for profit. And each of us has a duty and a responsibility as citizens as Americans and especially as leaders. Leaders who are pledged to honour our Constitution to protect our nation. To defend the truth and defeat the lies.
Look, I understand that many of my fellow Americans view the future with fear and trepidation. I understand they worry about their jobs. I understand like their dad they lay in bed at night staring at the ceiling thinking: ‘Can I keep my healthcare? Can I pay my mortgage?’ Thinking about their families, about what comes next. I promise you, I get it. But the answer’s not to turn inward. To retreat into competing factions. Distrusting those who don’t look like you, or worship the way you do, who don’t get their news from the same source as you do.
We must end this uncivil war that pits red against blue, rural versus urban, conservative versus liberal. We can do this if we open our souls instead of hardening our hearts, if we show a little tolerance and humility, and if we’re willing to stand in the other person’s shoes, as my mom would say. Just for a moment, stand in their shoes.
Because here’s the thing about life. There’s no accounting for what fate will deal you. Some days you need a hand. There are other days when we’re called to lend a hand. That’s how it has to be, that’s what we do for one another. And if we are that way our country will be stronger, more prosperous, more ready for the future. And we can still disagree.
My fellow Americans, in the work ahead of us we’re going to need each other. We need all our strength to persevere through this dark winter. We’re entering what may be the darkest and deadliest period of the virus. We must set aside politics and finally face this pandemic as one nation, one nation. And I promise this, as the Bible says, ‘Weeping may endure for a night, joy cometh in the morning’. We will get through this together. Together.
Look folks, all my colleagues I serve with in the House and the Senate up here, we all understand the world is watching. Watching all of us today. So here’s my message to those beyond our borders. America has been tested and we’ve come out stronger for it. We will repair our alliances, and engage with the world once again. Not to meet yesterday’s challenges but today’s and tomorrow’s challenges. And we’ll lead not merely by the example of our power but the power of our example.
Fellow Americans, moms, dads, sons, daughters, friends, neighbours and co-workers. We will honour them by becoming the people and the nation we can and should be. So I ask you let’s say a silent prayer for those who lost their lives, those left behind and for our country. Amen.
Folks, it’s a time of testing. We face an attack on our democracy, and on truth, a raging virus, a stinging inequity, systemic racism, a climate in crisis, America’s role in the world. Any one of these would be enough to challenge us in profound ways. But the fact is we face them all at once, presenting this nation with one of the greatest responsibilities we’ve had. Now we’re going to be tested. Are we going to step up?
It’s time for boldness for there is so much to do. And this is certain, I promise you. We will be judged, you and I, by how we resolve these cascading crises of our era. We will rise to the occasion. Will we master this rare and difficult hour? Will we meet our obligations and pass along a new and better world to our children? I believe we must and I’m sure you do as well. I believe we will, and when we do, we’ll write the next great chapter in the history of the United States of America. The American story.
A story that might sound like a song that means a lot to me, it’s called American Anthem. And there’s one verse that stands out at least for me and it goes like this:
‘The work and prayers of centuries have brought us to this day, which shall be our legacy, what will our children say?
Let me know in my heart when my days are through, America, America, I gave my best to you.’
Let us add our own work and prayers to the unfolding story of our great nation. If we do this, then when our days are through, our children and our children’s children will say of us: ‘They gave their best, they did their duty, they healed a broken land.’
My fellow Americans I close the day where I began, with a sacred oath. Before God and all of you, I give you my word. I will always level with you. I will defend the Constitution, I’ll defend our democracy.
I’ll defend America and I will give all – all of you – keep everything I do in your service. Thinking not of power but of possibilities. Not of personal interest but of public good.
And together we will write an American story of hope, not fear. Of unity not division, of light not darkness. A story of decency and dignity, love and healing, greatness and goodness. May this be the story that guides us. The story that inspires us. And the story that tells ages yet to come that we answered the call of history, we met the moment. Democracy and hope, truth and justice, did not die on our watch but thrive.
That America secured liberty at home and stood once again as a beacon to the world. That is what we owe our forbearers, one another, and generations to follow.
So with purpose and resolve, we turn to those tasks of our time. Sustained by faith, driven by conviction and devoted to one another and the country we love with all our hearts. May God bless America and God protect our troops.
Thank you, America.
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