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#EndSARS And Our Missing Conscience – By Idoko Ainoko

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Nigeria is a country where citizens delight in unrewarding drudgery. As a nation, some persons believe Nigeria has no existential codes or laws, which confers on citizens the obligation of compliance. Disorderliness has deeply entrenched its roots in the country. That’s the vignettes of the bleakness of life in Nigeria.

It depicts the nocturnal symbolism of bleakness or nothingness in the poem, “Rhapsody on a Windy Night,” published in 1917 by celebrated American master poet, T.S Eliot. The everyday struggles of committed leaders to make Nigeria a better country and a proud nation are devitalized by the subversive actions of a few.

And when one looks at the personages influencing and flaunting these aberrant actions against the state, it becomes clear as expressed by the confused speaker in T.S Eliot’s cited poem, who talks about “lunar synthesis,” a symbology of “madness” reflective in meaningless incantations and exertions on the State.

It expresses the despair and depressions caused genuine leaders by “mad” egoists and conmen flagging the portrait of patriotism. But inside their hearts are actively functional chambers of the devil’s office, pushing them to mendacities and spiteful siege on the state. A nation or state exits because there are citizens and vice versa.

Nigerians started a fresh week, on Monday December, 14th 2020, with assailing media reports credited to the disgusting civil society organization by the nomenclature, Alliance for Survival of COVID-19 and Beyond, (ASCAB). It claims the flagship of a coalition with 80 other civil rights organizations’ operating in the country. Whether Nigeria has 80 civil society organizations numerated today, appears more like fantasy. Perhaps, others in the conglomeration of 80 have their identities and offices located in the skies.

But Nigeria’s human rights lawyer, Mr. Femi Falana, who has a record of dubiously conniving with some of his clients to feign “severe ailment,” to create escape path against justice is also a leading leader of ASCAB. He has drafted a few lawyers, some of whom are also Senior Advocates of Nigeria (SAN) like Mr. Chino Obiagwu (SAN) into the flagrant abuse of Nigeria’s extant laws and scamming of their country.

In a public statement, titled a “Call for Complaints of Human Rights Violations by Police, Military and Other Law Enforcement Agencies in Nigeria,” ASCAB boldly and dubiously usurped the powers of the state and law courts to institute independent probes on public matters of legal status outside their jurisdiction. What is most intriguing is not really, the foolishness of the intended actions; but the mulishness of some learned men of the silk and gown to desecrate the law in the pretext of seeking of justice.

And the pig- heads of this deliberate violation of subsisting laws of Nigeria and mindless/illegal eroding of powers of the state in commanding the instruments of law and justice for the citizenry are Falana and Obiagwu, but both of them parades the distinctive title of SANs. Indeed, ASCAB’s public statement as signed by Chino Obiagwu (SAN), assigned the bogus position of ASCAB’s “probe” panel’s chairman. So, Obiagwu serves both as Panel chairman and ASCAB Secretary or its publicist? One-man show for those who can denote the diction.

Cast any Nigerian in the most noxious lion’s den like the Holy Scriptures reveals of Daniel, he won’t recant his decision that both Falana and co-travellers in this disreputable outing are oblivious of the consciously unlawful infringement on the exclusive rights/powers of the State and the Judiciary. What does Falana and members of his odious sect want for Nigeria?

An excerpt from ASCAB public statement reads; “All interested victims regardless of whether they have approached the OFFICIAL (emphasis mine) commissions of inquiry set up by the State Governments or not can submit memos to the Citizens Tribunal.” By this implicative confession as reflected, Falana and his gang also knows, the ASCAB independent probe is a scam of Nigeria and Nigerians.

It is Falana who is a lawyer. So, he is challenged to explain to Nigerians and the world which section or clause in the Nigerian Constitution which allows civil society organizations or individuals to institute judicial probes in matters of state security; and more feloniously, simultaneously with JCIs constituted by the State?

And in open propagation of emptiness or brainlessness, ASCAB again persuades and quips; “To this end, all victims that have submitted a petition to the official commissions of inquiry should indicate if they have, and specify which of the commissions they submitted their petitions to. This will enable us follow up and track petitions at the official commissions.”

Only madmen, embark on a voyage without making the necessary arrangements to get to the destination. Its foolhardy to depend on a system which Falana’s actions have already discredited. Let ASCAB and Falana be told that they would never be allowed to strike the unholy and criminal alliance with any official and lawful JCIs.

There is no better explication of Falana’s actions other than the barefaced reality that #EndSARS protests was planned to be executed in phases. The first phase was the experience of Nigerians waking up to encounter the violent protests, bloodbath, rape of women, awful destructions to public and private properties. Nigeria initially mistook it as peaceful protests and so, it succeeded with even relics of gruesome murders of soldiers, policemen and civilians by the protesters.

Phase II of #EndSARS protests manifested in the feeble attempts by the likes of Sowore to stage another round of violent protests in Abuja, and other mega cities in Nigeria. But it did not succeed. Thanks to the eagle eyes of security agents. In all these versions of #EndSARS, Falana, the godfather and the same people regrouping now were the overt and covert forces behind it in the guise of fighting human rights.

And now, the demigod, Falana feeling frustrated enough has decided to take the bull by the horns by personally. The present chants by ASCAB to constitute independent panels of inquiry across Nigeria into allegations of police brutality and extra-judicial killings as symbolized by SARS is another doomed reincarnation of #EndSARS protests.

The intendment of Falana and coy is to undermine and discredit the lawful and official probes into SARS malfeasances as currently investigated by Judicial Commission of Inquiries (JCIs) set up throughout the 36 states of the federation, including Abuja, as directed by the Presidency. And Nigerians are expecting official reports, with recommendations when the panels conclude sittings.

Nigeria is truly a wasteland! The excitement of Falana and his gang of reneges are pursuing a mission, activated by some foreign forces, who are relentless in seeing to the destabilization of Nigeria. The US Dollars believed to have been offered them is the irresistible bait. But they should be reasonable enough to enjoy their bounty and allow other Nigerians have some peace or respite from psychological torture.

And in order not to disappoint their foreign sponsors, Mr. Obiagwu SAN, generously revealed the spread of tentacles by the ASCAB illegal probe panel to flaunt a sign of seriousness in these words; “…the panel will hold public sittings at various locations across Nigeria to hear oral testimonies of complainants and demand accountability from the concerned law enforcement agency.” What guts?

But Nigerians know what the likes of Falana and the destructive allies, plot in dark rooms against Nigeria. The financiers are no longer secret, same as what motivates the likes of Falana. The detailed programming of the execution of the third phase of #EndSARS protests as spearheaded by Falana’s ASCAB are also open secrets now.

Impeccable security sources, which have painstakingly monitored the planned phase III reinvigoration of #EndSARS protests have alleged that Falana and ASCAB have taken custody of substantial dollars pushed to the group by these foreign actors against Nigeria. The grand plot is to destabilize Nigeria and discredit the administration of President Muhammadu Buhari by all means possible, using compromised citizens like Falana.

The truth is that the Lagos judicial probe panel so far, has nothing incriminating to indict the Army over the Lekki incident of October 20, 2020 as expected by the Falanas. Angered deeply, Falana and his goons, including DJ Switch are jittery that their poorly contrived lies would eventually be exposed when the Lagos probe panel releases the official report.

These unpatriotic elements are bent on tarnishing the image of security agencies especially the Nigerian Army. It’s obvious, leading promoters and sponsors of #EndSARS like Falana are targeting the COAS, Lt. Gen. TY Buratai, whom they want to crucify at all cost. The conspiracy to persecute leaders of Nigeria’s security agencies is impenetrable.

Therefore, Falana, his acolytates and masters are less concerned about the killings of soldiers, police personnel; the destructions, the lootings, vandalizations, theft of private and public properties by #EndSARS protestors by launching an illegal and diversionary independent probe. Or else, how could anybody figure an independent body of inquiry by individuals, unlawfully competing with the JCIs set up by Government?

Security sources have also alleged that ASCAB probe would have some hired military men, with their faces covered to present damaging reports against the COAS and their foreign co-conspirator in the media, CNN is already waiting to give the panel exceptional coverage and publicity alongside pliant local media.

So, part of the Phase III of #EndSARS tacit protests is evident in the illegal ASCAB independent probe panel, hence the dollars have already landed in their kitty. Falana, what again do you want from Nigeria and who is beating the drums for you and your clique to destabilize Nigeria? Is Falana saying that the various probe panels can’t do their work again? Are they saying that they have no confidence in the eminent Nigerians that are on the panels at various levels in different states in Nigeria?

Is Falana the most credible Nigerian alive today? It can never be true because a lawyer with integrity will not connive with his client facing trial on breach of national security to assist him escape judgment. Enough of Falana’s destructive plots and noise.

Ainoko wrote this piece from Kaduna.

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NYSC at 48: Giant and Commendable Feats of an Institution – By Atim Atedze

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The National Youth Service Corps ( NYSC) has come of age so much so that the institution’s gains cannot be quantified in the country’s socio-economic life. So much has been written and said about the scheme regarding its contribution to the country’s socio-economic development.

And this is where it stands in commemoration of the 48th anniversary of the existence of the NYSC and what it represents as an institution designed to promote national unity amongst the teeming youthful population in the country. The NYSC was created to reconstruct, reconcile and rebuild the country after the Nigerian Civil war. One of the objectives of the NYSC is to contribute to the accelerated growth of the national economy.

After the Nigerian Civil War ended in 1970, as part of the “3R” program—reconstruction, rehabilitation and reconciliation—the government created the National Youth Service Corps (NYSC) to bridge ethnic and religious divisions in Nigeria and foster the spirit of Nigerian nationalism. General Yakubu Gowon, the military head of state, created the NYSC as one of many ways to achieve national unity in Nigeria. The program is a mandatory one-year service to the country after completing a first degree for youths below the age of thirty. Participation is a prerequisite for admission into graduate schools and employment in Nigeria.

The question that thus arises is, has the NYSC been successful in achieving its primary objective of “developing common ties among the Nigerian youths and promoting national unity and integration?” For all its faults, the answer is still yes. By posting “corpers” to unfamiliar places to interact with people from different backgrounds, the NYSC brings together Nigerian youths from diverse socio-economic and ethno-religious backgrounds. This helps bridge the ethnic and religious divisions in the nation by providing exposure to other ethnic groups, which is a positive step towards building a stronger nation.

The scheme also aids social integration by providing opportunities for cross-cultural interaction that has led to inter-tribal marriages, helping to reduce inter-ethnic stereotypes and suspicions prevalent during the period after the war. The scheme further serves as an employment buffer by offering employment to recently graduated youths. Some places of deployments retain the “corpers,” thereby aiding economic integration in the country. Likewise, NYSC fosters a sense of patriotism among Nigerian youths; participation is regarded as obeying the clarion call to serve the fatherland. This position still stands and needed given the prevailing circumstances where the country has witnessed sentiments along ethnic and religious lines.

I know some would argue that the scheme has outlived its usefulness; some would also say that the scheme’s objectives ought to be rejigged to reflect the realities of the time in the country. These positions are valid and at the same time invalid because the proponents of the above stated have narrowly missed how the NYSC has evolved over the years to be that engine room for the socio-economic development of the country.

As an aside, the NYSC is what every young Nigerian graduate looks forward to yearly. I dare say that most parents and guardians also have a sense of fulfilment when they see their children and wards kitted in the NYSC khaki uniform. To say it brings joy and a sense of pride would be an understatement. The corps members themselves relish every moment during their participation in the scheme.

The NYSC of yesterday is not the same as the NYSC of today in the sense that a lot has changed. The NYSC of today has evolved into a skills and entrepreneurship development scheme where corps members are availed the unique opportunity to contribute their quota to the country’s development. For example, the NYSC has a Skills Acquisition and Entrepreneurship Development (SAED) programme in place to facilitate access to requisite skills and resources necessary for successful entrepreneurship.

The SAED programme is targeted at young Nigerian graduates deployed for the one-year mandatory service and designed to be implemented during the required camping exercises (in–camp) and throughout the service year (post-camp). Corps members will be encouraged to learn in-demand industry skills, position themselves to become value creators, and leverage career and business start-up opportunities.

The SAED programme, in my opinion, supports the federal government’s aim to catalyze economic transformation through the promotion of entrepreneurship and self-reliance, particularly among youth. While corps members are encouraged to start a business in any field of their liking, SAED emphasizes twelve vocational skill sectors, including within the agri-food sector, tourism, construction, information and communications technology and education. This, we must admit, wasn’t the case many years back, and this tells us that the NYSC is evolving to meet the peculiarities of time.

Also, the welfare of corps members has been prioritized by successive administrations. If we do not know, the monthly allowance paid to corp members goes a long way for many families. This is where I commend the present Director-General of the NYSC, Brigadier General Shuaibu Ibrahim, for his numerous innovations in the scheme over the years, which in my opinion, is a function of leadership.

Brigadier General Shuaibu Ibrahim has redefined the concept of leadership through his sterling performance at the NYSC. And today, the NYSC is robust in its programmes and impactful in its contributions to national development.
A good example of his sterling leadership is signing a Memorandum of Understanding with the National Cereals Research Institute (NCRI), Badeggi, Niger State, on the training of Corps Members and Staff on modern farming methods. This is indeed brilliant given the vast potentials for wealth creation in the agricultural sector.

The NYSC DG was also recently commended for ensuring the improvement of staff and corps welfare, involvement of Corps members in COVID-19 Interventions, active participation of corps members in National assignments, especially election duties, Skills Acquisition, resuscitation of NYSC Ventures and enhancement of security network for corps members among others. And many more innovations too numerous to mention.

As the NYSC clocks 48, all relevant stakeholders must continue to extend their support to the scheme for optimal performance. The peculiarities of time require this, and it consequently beholds on well-meaning Nigerians to make the NYSC impactful in the country’s socio-economic development. I say hurray to NYSC at 48.

Atedze wrote this piece from Lagos.

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Reflecting on Buratai Days and Nigerian Army’s Fiscal Policies on Troops Welfare -By Idoko Ainoko

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Wonders, as they say, shall never come to an end. I was taken aback when I stumbled on a news item on Sahara Reporters alleging that the immediate past Chief of Army Staff, Lt. Gen. Tukur Buratai, during his time in office entitlements under the Uniform and Boots Allowance and Scarce Skills Allowance approved by President Muhammadu Buhari since November 2017 have not been paid by the army authorities, then under the former Chief of the Army Staff, Lt Gen Tukur Buratai (retd.).

Initially, I struggled to make sense of the story, which forced me to read carefully until the end. But I could not get the import of the story. Instead, I was confronted with a poorly written story laced with mischief and intended for character assassination. And my conclusion was that there was no sense in the story.

However, I was constrained to pen this article because of the danger such bare-faced lies could have on the psyche of members of the unsuspecting general public. The story is absolute balderdash and a typical Sahara reporters style of maligning individuals and organizations in return for a plate of porridge.

This trend must stop as it is not in the interest of the generality of Nigerians but that of a select few who are bent on truncating our nascent democracy in fulfilment of their evil desire to set the country up in flames.

Having stated the above, it is essential to highlight the fact that in the annals of the Nigerian Army, never was there a time where the financial books of the Nigeria Army were subjected to rigorous scrutiny, than during the tenure of the former Chief of Army Staff. And he didn’t disappoint.

So, in my opinion, it is most despicable and an act of sheer wickedness for anyone or group to allege that monies and allowances meant for troops were not given to them under whatever guise. Just in case Sahara reporters and their promoters are not aware, under the Buratai leadership, it is on record that the Nigerian Army experienced tremendous infrastructural development that includes but not limited to the building of hospitals to cater for the medical needs of officers and soldiers, as well as their families, massive renovation of command secondary schools across the country, the establishment of the Nigerian Army University and also, the renovation of army barracks across the country.

I deliberately mentioned the above achievements to give us an idea of how the former Chief of Army Staff placed the welfare of officers and soldiers on a premium by undertaking projects that directly impact on their lives and that of their families. Since assumption of office, the former COAS on annual basis through his welfare programme evacuated over 70 personnel, spouses and retired personnel for medical treatment annually. He instituted a medical insurance for all category of officers and soldiers including treatment abroad.

The question thus is if a man with such foresight and disposition could embark on such projects, why would that same man cheat his troops? The narrative is not connecting, and it can only be misguided and meant for mischief purposes.

I also wish to state that with the successes recorded in the fight against insurgency, it would have been impossible for the troops to record such feats if their allowances are left unpaid for upward five years as alleged by Sahara reporters and their co-travellers. This new move by Sahara reporters is not only uncharitable; in my opinion, it is nothing but a distractive tool designed by the promoters of violence in Nigeria to cause a distraction so that they can have the time to regroup and wreak havoc in the country.

It is also a statement of fact that under the leadership of Lt. Gen Tukur Buratai, the Nigerian Army witnessed an enviable upliftment in its operational procedures and an emphasis on improved welfare for troops. So much so he was nicknamed the soldiers’ soldier. This same man would pass the night in the trenches with soldiers and eat from the same pot with them.

It is the same man that pays unscheduled visits to his troops on the battlefield. It is the same man that organizes feasts for soldiers during festive seasons in the theatre of operations and other parts of the country where operations are conducted. I can go on non-stop because here was a general that connected well with his troops at all times. And for the records, if the allegations peddled by Sahara reporters were true, there would have been no way the officers and soldiers would have kept quiet for that long.

I dare say it is not possible because the Tukur Buratai era in the Nigerian Army was characterized by transparency, accountability and improved fiscal policies that contributed mainly to the successes recorded in the prosecution of the war against terrorism and other acts of criminalities across the country. Under Tukur Buratai, the Nigerian Army opened its financial records for scrutiny under a Freedom of Information request by a group of civil society organizations. And as we all know, the outcome was a commendation for entrenching a fiscal discipline regime in the Nigerian Army.

At this point, I do not think I should go further because it’s unnecessary given the realization that this also is another campaign to discredit one of the best that has led the Nigerian Army to the best of his ability, and his records stand tall. Lt. Gen. Tukur Buratai ( rtd) remains a legend. In the annals of the Nigerian Army, there has never been a time where the Chief of Army Staff connected effortlessly with his troops. And this is because he prioritized their welfare and not what Sahara reporters and their promoters want the unsuspecting members of the general public to believe.

At this point, I would advise those that are envious of the Tukur Buratai years in the Nigerian Army to do themselves well by coming to terms with the reality that Lt. Gen. Tukur Buratai was an example in service to the country.

Ainoko wrote this piece from Kaduna.

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Pam’s Transformational Leadership at NCPC and Matters Arising – By Steven Onwu

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Purposeful leadership can do wonders. It can turn things around in a twinkle of an eye. And it can make tedious tasks seem simple. The aforementioned aptly describes the Yakubu Pam adventure in the Nigeria Christian Pilgrim Commission since he assumed leadership some months ago.

I have been a fan of Rev Yakubu Pam for his numerous contributions to the entrenchment of peaceful coexistence amongst Nigerians. This much he has diligently pursued in the past 30 years of his life, where he has been advocating for religious and ethnic harmony, especially in Northern Nigeria. Rev Yakubu Pam is not a stranger to leadership. Hence, he hit the ground running since his well-deserved appointment as Executive Secretary of the Nigeria Christian Pilgrim Commission. It is sufficient to add that before his appointment; he was the Chairman of the Plateau State Christian Pilgrims Board, a position where he distinguished himself by introducing institutional reforms that placed the Board in good stead towards achieving its strategic mandate.

This much Rev Yakubu Pam has brought about in the NCPC. It is therefore not surprising that in less than one year at the helm of affairs, his impact has been felt, and the fortunes of the Commission have taken a turn for the best.

This is what I call the Yakubu Pam magic, which was not surprising to some of us that have followed his success story for several years. He is a man with many parts, and he is also a man filled with passion for service to humanity.
I recall that it was stated in some quarters that Yakubu Pam would reinvigorate the operations of the NCPC within a record time. Even though some quarters expressed reservations, he has proven all those that expressed reservations wrong with his sterling performance at the NCPC.
If not for anything, Rev Yakubu Pam has entrenched the regime of transparency and accountability at the Commission, which has been a challenge in the Commission’s operations for several years. That it has become possible within a short period indeed explains the leadership acumen of Rev Yakubu Pam and what it entails to be a leader with eyes on the ball.
Today, the NCPC is a success story. It results from the provision of sound leadership and a commitment to render service when it matters most, with the example of Rev Yakubu Pam, I dare say that Nigeria can overcome its challenges if those in leadership positions tend to lead with sincerity of heart and purpose.

The Yakubu Pam revolution at the NCPC was naturally expected because of his track record that speaks volume of integrity, accountability and transparency. His vast knowledge of diplomacy saw him excel in the position of Chairman of the Christian Association of Nigeria (CAN) of Northern Nigeria (which includes the 19 Northern States and Abuja) from 2016 to date, Vice President, Pentecostal Fellowship of Nigeria, 2013 to date and District Superintendent, Jos mainland Assemblies of Nigeria, 2010 to date, including as Chairman, Plateau State Inter-Religious Council; and Chairman, Internally Displaced Persons (IDP) Committee, Plateau State, were contributory of how he has been able to turn the fortunes of the NCPC around and in record time.
I cannot but commend President Muhammadu Buhari for identifying such a man as Rev. Yakubu Pam for a leadership position in the country. I do not doubt that he has not only reposed the confidence of Mr President, he has also set a standard for leadership in the country. This much has been stated in numerous forums by relevant stakeholders, whom have never been short of words for the transformation at the NCPC under Rev. Yakubu Pam.

Rev Yakubu Pam falls under the category of silent achievers whose impact doesn’t dot pages of newspapers. However, silently, they are making exploits and making life more meaningful through the provision of purposeful leadership, as with the case of the NCPC, whose fortunes has taken a turn for the better.
And the commendations have continued to pour in from home and abroad for the man nicknamed the Apostle of Transformation by stakeholders for obvious reasons associated with his stewardship at the NCPC. And one whose coming has redeemed the image of the Commission.
I can’t but charge Rev Yakubu Pam to continue to render selfless service to humanity in the light of the above. He should not rest on his oars and refuse every temptation to deviate from the lofty standards he has set in the areas of transparency and accountability.
I also want the relevant stakeholders to realize that the task at hand is a collective one. As such, it is worth extending their support to the reforms introduced by the Yakubu Pam led administration at the NCPC.
I can go on non-stop on Yakubu Pam’s transformational leadership at the NCPC. However, the lessons that should resonate are that in all that we do as a people and as a country, sound and purposeful leadership remain that magic wand needed to translate our hopes and aspirations into tangible realities. At this point, I would say well-done to Rev Yakubu Pam.

Onwu is a civil rights activist and wrote from Badagry.

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