Impeachment and impunity: The path to Armageddon

By George Akume

image

The constitutional power of impeachment is a sacred power that can be likened to the mystical Sword of Damocles which dangles over the executive branch to keep it in check, but seldom falls on its principals. Sections 143 and 188 of the Nigeria 1999 Constitution (as amended) provides for removal of the President/Vice and Governor/Deputy respectively, only in case of serious constitutional breaches amounting to gross misconduct.
The legislature itself forestalls the rare use of the power by exercising oversight functions on all governmental institutions so that things do not degenerate to the level of impeachment which is akin to capital punishment. Even the advanced democracies of the world hardly use the power.
In our recent history, only former President Bill Clinton of the USA came close in spite of the overwhelming evidence of
desecration of his exalted office. We all know that our presidential system is fashioned against that of the USA.
One of the critical events that caused the chain reaction that culminated in the demise of Nigeria’s First Republic was the purported removal of Chief Samuel Ladoke Akintola as the Premier of Western Region by the Governor acting on the purported vote of no confidence by the House which is the equivalence of impeachment under a presidential system of government.
In 1979, conservative “hawks” in the Shagari administration took advantage of President Shagari’s passive disposition and orchestrated the impeachment of the progressive Governor of Kaduna State Alhaji Balarabe Musa. In deference to popular outcry following it, no other impeachment of a governor was witnessed in the over four years of the Second Republic.
During Babangida’s transition government, Sir Michael Otedola was elected governor of Lagos State on the.ticket of the NRC. He had only one member of his party in the Lagos House
of Assembly. All others were from the SDP, and yet, we never heard of any threat of impeachment against him from
the Lagos House.
The real abuse of the sacred powers of impeachment commenced under the presidency of Obasanjo in 2003. President
Obansanjo superintended the removal from office of Governors DSP Alamieyeseigha of Bayelsa State, Joshua Dariye of Plateau State, Ladoja of Oyo State, and Fayose of Ekiti State. It is
noteworthy that the courts reversed many of those impeachments owing to flagrant breaches of the stringent constitutional procedures laid down in the impeachment clauses.
It is further noteworthy that none of these impeachment resulted from popular outcry of the people of the relevant states. They were orchestrated by the President as punishment for
disloyalty while the people remained bystanders. In spite of these brazen assault on democratic institutions, democracy survived President Obasanjo’s tenure.
Under President Jonathan, our nation is going through its most difficult challenges. Insecurity has become part of our daily living. Nigerians pray to God for the grace to survive each passing day without being blown away by terror attacks. Three states of North East have remained under a state of emergency over a year, even as over 200 of our daughters remain in custody of Boko Haram savages three months since their abduction.
Corruption is now our national past time even as the modest efforts of former President Obasanjo’s administration have
been reversed. The latest Transparency International (TI) report not only lists Nigeria as among the most corrupt countries of the world but indicates that it has the highest global percentage of citizen’s perception that corruption has worsened in the last two years.
Kidnapping, oil theft and bunkering and other sundry violent crimes are also worsened by unprecedented graduate
unemployment index.
These are enough challenges to focus a purposeful administration. Regrettably, the PDP administration of President
Jonathan has decided to deploy government’s vast resources towards “procuring” state assemblies to remove opposition governors at any cost only five months to the next general election.
In Adamawa State, only a few months ago, the state Assembly passed an overwhelming vote of confidence on Governor Nyako. However, after defection from PDP to APC, and soon after indicting Mr. President in the memo he wrote to his colleagues in the Northern Governors Forum, Governor Nyako’s seven and half year old “sins” were exhumed for his crucifixion.
Predictably, Nyako’s impeachment is a mere harbinger of many more as 2015 draws nigh.
Governor Tanko Al-Makura who has outperformed all his Benue, Kogi, and Plateau neighbours has been served with another impeachment notice soon after it was rumoured that the
majority PDP members of the state legislature held a clandestine meeting in Abuja, and allegedly took home 50 Million Naira each!
The nexus betweenthe Presidency and the impeaching law makers is very well established – massive movement of tax payers money classified as missing to the rogue state legislators.
Like a joke taken too far, he too stands the risk of removal.
For whose interest?one wonders. Is it in the interest of the children whose schools he has magnificently constructed? Is it in the interest of the rural dwellers whose roads he has opened up? Is it in the interest of the Mararaba, Karu and Massaka dwellers for which he is providing alternative access to Abuja through decongesting the overcrowded Abuja–Keffi highway, totally neglected by the Abuja PDP Federal authorities? There are also
ominous signs that other progressive governors like Amaechi of Rivers, Adams Oshiomole of Edo and even Kwankwaso of Kano are also under the PDP radar!
After all, the new National Chairman of PDP Alh. AdamuMuazu boasted that he is master poacher!
One may ask where all this is leading to.
Clearly this is to destroy opposition and democracy. There cannot be democracy without meaningful opposition. That is
why the constitution has provided roles for the opposition. Nigeria has seen more robust and purposeful politicking with
the emergence of the majority opposition party APC.
Rather than use the opportunity to rebrand PDP, the President is becoming more belligerent, intolerant, autocratic and fascistic! Why on earth would the President keep haunting opposition
leaders to the extent that the Nigerian airports are often closed to them, but opened to friends of the President? Only a couple of days ago, the Maiduguri airport which was closed allegedly on
security grounds was exclusively opened to Senator Ali Modu Sheriff for the purpose of arranging his defection ceremony to PDP. This is regardless of the fact that the sitting Governor and
pilgrims from Borno and Yobe are made to travel by road with the attendant insecurity in the region.
It is disheartening that all impeachment from 1999 have been orchestrated by the federal authorities. It is not as if President Obasanjo and Jonathan have not themselves committed impeachable offenses. When in President Obasanjo’s
first term, the House of Representatives compiled impeachable grounds against him, many elder statesmen and some of us who were state Governors intervened to save Obasanjo. We did this for the purpose of stabilizing the polity and saving democracy.
Today, it is easy to compile impeachable breaches against Mr. President. In fact, what most members of the public do not
know is that recently some federal lawmakers started compiling brazen and arbitrary breaches of the constitution against the president. The quantum and quality of materials available is
unprecedented and earth shaking. The intervention by two well-meaning senior citizens and the belief in the stability of
the nation led to the suspension of this patriotic exercise.
President Jonathan must not play Idi Amin, Stalin, Gaddafi and Putin. The way Mr. President is going – total disregard for Rule of Law and the assumption of sweeping and arbitrary powers – smacks of the contemptuous behaviour of Louis XIV of France who once boasted “L’etatcestmoi”meaning “I am the state.”
The President must move cautiously lest he walks up and discovers that the Nigerian State no longer exists. The verdict of history will be very harsh on him.
I, therefore, call on Mr President to stem this dangerous tidal wave threatening the ship of state.

Senator George Akume is the Senate Minority Leader



image

Senate Minority Leader, Senator George Akume is no doubt one of the opposition leaders in the north of Nigeria to reckon with, he is certainly the biggest opposition leader in North Central. However this tall political attainment, Akume is most recently facing what may be termed, a survival phase.
Sen.Akume who held sway at the Benue government house for eight years (1999-2007). As governor, he was known to be intolerant of opposition, an advocate of total victory and the leader and sole determinant in the ruling Peoples Democratic Party (PDP).
At the end of his reign as governor,he installed his favourite candidate amidst 24 PDP aspirants, Hon. Gabriel Suswam. It was supposed to be a godson-godfather relationship, with Akume behind the scenes to direct the government through Suswam. Unfortunately, this relationship was shortlived, as the latter on ascension of power saw need to chart his own course and strenghthen his political might. This saw the breakdown of a marriage that never started.
By 2011 when Suswam was planning for a second term in office, the relationship had totally severed with the two politicians gunning for each others jogular, while trying to determine who owns the soul of the state and PDP. In the ensuing battle of supremacy, wits and power, Akume left the PDP to pursue a new political course in the opposition where he became the leader and sole financier of the Action Congress of Nigeria (ACN).
With the cross over from PDP to ACN, Akume turned the party which was little known to the major opposition party which even threatened the existence and grip of the PDP in the state.
The ACN ran a tsunami styled campaign courtesy of Akume’s deep purse and the longing for an alternative to the PDP( the All Nigeria Peoples Party had already lost faith with the followership), it became a household name. The ACN recorded the greatest victory by an opposition party in the political history of the state, winning and handful State Assembly seats, three House of Representatives seats and Akume’s senatorial seat was maintained and even had a close shave at the governorship.
With this victory, Akume had carved an empire for himself, wearing the regalia of  the leader of an opposition stronghold. ACN later  merged with other major opposition parties in the nation to form the All Progressives Congress (APC), analyst believed the move was the last one to checkmate the PDP. True to beliefs the merger threatened the PDP and enlarged the coasts of Akume’s empire. It is noteworthy that the success of the APC had even lured many PDP elements and earned some more decampees, prominent amongst which is a two time House of Representatives member, Rt. Hon. Emmanuel Jime who openly declared his motive for decamping to the APC was to align tothe trend and also pursue his gubernatorial dream in a party that was progressive.
Unfortunately this success has become the reason for the political collosus greatest achilles heel. Pundits have variously judged that the inability of Akume to manage success and act democratically has been his albatross.
With the build up to forthcoming elections around the corner, political realignments have begun with tthe APC/Akume dynasty
getting the brunts of this political activity. Recently there has been a wave of decamping from the once vibrant APC to the earlier dispised PDP.
atiterkula findings reveal this recent trend of decamping has been necessitated by Akume’ s undemocratic style of leadership. As the merger successfuly went through, leaders in the various merged parties had to accomodate each other based on the founding agreement, however in Benue state, Akume is believed to have foisted his followers on the party, while neglecting the other stakeholders, this behaviour has provoked this PDP headed movement.
Amongst major decampees is former senate minority leader and one time governorship aspirant, Prof. Daniel Saror, who has been a pillar of opposition politics since 2003 until his recent decision to return to PDP, decided to return when Akume neglected and sidelined him in recent composition of party executives in the state and political zone.
Another opposition leader who has been a pillar and actually the longest opposition figure as well as the movement’s major financier in the Benue South Senatorial District, Alh. Usman Mai Shanu, who is touted to be leading a pack of other disappointed opposition elements to introduce the Labour Party (LP). The new party is bragged to parade Akume’s biggest general, Bar. Orker Jev who is believed to be leading the LP into the 2015 race for Akume’s senate seat as vengeance for betrayal suffered from his erstwhile leader due to the latter’s dictatorship.
Even as older opposition members are leaving for the PDP, recent decampees are also believed to already began moves to beat a retreat to their former home, PDP. Chief amongst the alleged regretees, is Hon. Emmanuel Jime who decamped to the APC to pursue his gubernatorial ambition only to be sidelined, thus leaving his political future in jeopardy.He is already believed to be thinking of an alternative route.
Already pointers are that Akume’s desire to become Benue’ political determinant may have hit a brick wall since recent decampings have narrowed his influence in the state, loosing all political players from the Zone A political bloc, represented by former House of  Reprsentative member and former state Assembly Speaker, Hon. Mzenda Iho and Prof. Saror. The Benue South Senatorial District (Zone C) which is little known for opposition politics has also witnessed the biggest decamping ceremony of all time, while the political arena awaits the final decision of Alh. Miashanu who is already estranged to Akume and his ilk.
Meanwhile as Akume continue to run his political empire in a “Patitio gang” style, many wait to see what becomes of this dynasty by 2015.


The Coalition of Civil Societies in Nigeria, has commended the Benue state governor, Gabriel Suswam for the peaceful resolution of the industrial crisis between Primary school Teachers and the state government.
According to the spokesman of the group, Comrade Philip Agbese, the ability of the state government to agree to terms with the teachers is an indication that the governor had the best interest of the state at heart. He also commended the teachers who agreed to sheath their swords for the general interest of the state.
He said the agreement to stay industrial action by the teachers was a move that should be commended, however cautioned against the use of industrial action as the panacea to all grouses with government as it tends to thwart developmental efforts. He thus advised that associations and union should rather consider the dialogue option and exhaustively explore it in situations of dispute with government.
Speaking in Abuja, Agbese expressed happiness over the termination of the nine month old strike which he described as a “cankerworm in the Benue’s educational development”, noting that with the call off of the strike, children of the less priveledge will now also have the opportunity to get good education.
“ I am actually over joyed by this information. You see, the strike had denied children of the poor and less financially advantaged the opportunity to education. Today coupled with the wisdom of Governor Suswam and the corporation of the Nigerian Union of Teachers (NUT), this standoff has become history.” He said.
The coalition also acknowledged what it termed, “sacrifice by the state government” to pay the agreed sum. Agbese said it was commendable for the state government which had in recent terms complained of lack of funds for meaningful development could make such great sacrifice to make sure primary schools resumed.
It could be recalled the state government has just signed an agreement with the NUT to call off the industrial action which has lasted for over eight months which have resulted in keeping the pupils at home.


.as teachers / BNSG sign agreement to end strike in Abuja

The 9 month stand off between the National Union of Teachers (NUT) Benue State chapter which resulted in am industrial action which kept primary school pupils out of class room for nearly a year may have come to an amicable end.
According to information reaching atiterkula the NUT and the state government have reached an agreement to this effect.
The agreement was signed at NUT national secretariat in Abuja, between NUT  Benue state and Benue state government .

Benue state government delegation at the NUT national secretariat was made up of State Universal Basic Education Board (SUBEB), Education ministry and the Special Adviser to the governor on  Local Government and Cheiftaincy Affairs, Prince Solomon Wombo; while NUT Benue state team was led by the union’s chairman, Comrade Godwin Aya, and NUT national  president and his exco  were witnesses to the agreement

With this agreement ,Barring any unforeseen circumstances. Benue Teachers who have been on strike for nine months ,are expected to return to class room early next week.

The agreement also included a protective clause that, government will not witch hunt any teacher and their salaries will all be paid as from next week.
It will be worthy to note that there has been no love lost between Benue teachers and the state government over the payment federal government agreed 18% minimum wage, resulting in one of Benue’s longest industrial action ever.


A BILL FOR AN ACT TO REGULATE AND CONTROL THE PRODUCTION, REARING OR BREEDING OF LIVESTOCK, RESTRICT GRATIUTOUS MOVEMENT OF DEMOSTIC ANIMALS IN NIGERIA AND FOR OTHER MATTERS RELATED THERETO

Sponsor: Hon. Benjamin I. Aboho

Objectives of the Bill

The Livestock Production and Movement (Regulation and Control) Bill is proposed to be passed into law by the National Assembly to achieve the following objectives.

1.
To modernize the techniques of production, rearing and nurturing livestock and domestic animals in Nigeria;
2.
To prevent any person from being cruel to the animals in the gratuitous movement of animals from place to place exerting energy,  maltreating the animals in the process and exposing them to hazardous environment;
3.
To reduce or prevent the transmission of animal diseases from community to community;
4.
To ensure healthy livestock production and to satisfy the dairy needs for all Nigerians;
5.
To prevent clashes between livestock breeders and crop farmers in the country;
6.
To generate revenue through permits granted individuals or corporate concerns to operate commercial ranches in Nigeria.
 

 

BE IT ENACTED by the National Assembly, Federal Republic of Nigeria as follows:

 

Commencement

1.

The production, rearing or breeding of all kinds of livestock or domestic animals in Nigeria or any part thereof by any person in Nigeria shall be done in accordance with the provisions of this Bill.

Rearing or breeding livestock in Nigeria

2.

Any person engaged in the production, rearing or breeding of livestock or domestic animals in Nigeria shall keep such livestock or animals on a personal or commercial ranch that is well fenced and restrict the movement of all the livestock within that ranch.

 

Personal orCommercial Ranches

3.

Any person who keeps livestock in a ranch must provide enough animal feeds and medical care to such livestock.

 

Animal Feeds

4.

Any person who intends to move his/her livestock from a ranch to another place for the purposes of:

(a)  further raising of such livestock in another ranch;

(b) medical treatment of the livestock;  

(c)  sale of such livestock;

Shall obtain a permit from Local GovernmentAuthority to do so.

 

Movement of Livestock on certain conditions

5.

Animals shall not be moved from ranches to long distances for the purposes of slaughter but shall be slaughtered in the nearest abattoir and the meat preserved and moved from one distance to another.

 

Animals forSlaughter

6.

Any person who wants to move his/her livestock from a ranch to another place as in line with section 4 of the Bill shall after obtaining a permit to do so; move such livestock by rail wagon, truck or pick-up van  or by road.

 

Obtaining Permit

7.

Any person who chooses to move his/her livestock by road shall restrict such livestock to not more than 25 meters on each side of the Federal road provided such livestock do not trespass on crop farms or trail into the main road.

 

Movement of Livestock on road

8.

Any person who keeps more than 25 animals in a ranch is considered to be running a commercial ranch and shall formerly apply for a permit from the state and/or the local government to do so.

 

Ranch Classification

9.

All ranches shall be properly fenced to prevent animals kept therein from escaping into other areas.

 

Ranch Fence

10.

All ranches that are personal or commercial shallfrom time to time be subjected to the inspection of the Veterinary Department of a State or Local Government where they are located.

Inspection

11.

All animals brought to market for sale shall be kept in a place designated for animals that are for sale.

 

Animals for sale

12.

All animals brought to market for sale must be certified fit for human consumption and issued with such certificate by inspectors of VeterinaryDepartment of a State or Local Government.

 

Certification of animals

13.

No person shall move about with livestock from place to place within the boundaries of the Federation of Nigeria for the purposes of feeding such livestock.

 

 

14.

No person shall operate a commercial ranch without having the premises inspected and given a permit by a State or the Local Government to do so.

 

Restriction of gratuitous movement

15.

Any person who violates any provision of this Bill shall be arrested and prosecuted in the customary or magistrates court and upon conviction shall:

(a)
be sent to prison for a term of not less than six months; or
(b)
pay a fine twice equivalent to the current price of that animal/animals on the market; or
(c)
both imprisonment and fine.
 

Penalties

 

16

State government or the Local Government shall have powers to fix the cost of permits from time to time.

 

Powers to fix cost of permits

17.

This Bill shall come into effect upon assent.

 

 

Effective date

18.

In this Bill, except is otherwise stated;

A Ranch means- A large farm area properly fenced or demarcated and reserved for the production, rearing or breeding of cattle, sheep, goats, horses, donkeys, pigs, and other livestock.”

A Personal Ranch means- A Ranch that contains less than 25 animals.

A Commercial ranch means- A Ranch that contains 25 animals or above.

 

Definitions

 

19.

This Bill may be cited as the Livestock Production and Movement (Regulation and Control) Bill, 2014.

Citation

 

 

 

 

 

 

EXPLANATORY MEMORANDUM

This Bill seeks to modernize the techniques of production, rearing andbreeding of livestock and domestic animals in Nigeria, prevent the gratuitous movement of animals from place to place,  maltreating the animals and exposing them to hazardous environment; prevent the transmission of animal diseases from community to community; ensure healthy livestock production and to satisfy the dairy needs for all Nigerians; prevent clashes between livestock breeders and crop farmers in the country; and generate revenue through permits granted individuals or corporate concerns to operate commercial ranches in Nigeria.


 

 

 

It is no longer news that the Supreme Court penultimate week overturned the election of two time House of Representatives member, Hon. Orker Jev of the All Progressives Alliance (APC) and declared fresh elections which will exclude Jev, to be substituted by the Imagecourt declared victor, Mr. Sekav Iortyom.

Sekav Iortyom had challenged the election of Hon. Orker Jev, claiming he was the rightful candidate to represent the Action Congress of Nigeria (now APC), in the previous election. The legal tussle which lasted three years was finally concluded last week by the Supreme Court which has replaced Jev with Iortyom for the conduct of a fresh election.

The election which according to the court order is to take place within 90 days has become the talk on every political lip in the state as Imageit will serve as prelude to the political shape of the 2015 election, especially as the determining factor for the Benue North West Senatorial District, which the current Senate Minority Leader, Sen. George Akume represents.

Buruku which plays a pivotal role in the fate of the constituency was controlled by the APC through Hon. Orker Jev, who until recent happenings was Akume’s biggest loyal lieutenant; thus left to command this garrison. This loyalty was the reason Sekav Iortyom’s substitution was effected to make sure Jev who had just decamped from the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), made it to the back to the House of Representatives.

In as much as the politically untaught will love to see this “fresh election” as a work-over, it however portends to change the shape of the forthcoming elections as there are great indications that the APC may lose this seat which it has enjoyed for three years as a result of internal wrangling and fighting within its ranks even as the fate of  APC retaining the seat will greatly determine political tone of the entire Senatorial District including the political future of Sen. George Akume, the leader of the APC in the state who is angling to return to the Red chambers.

As fall out of the recently conducted nationwide congresses by the APC, the party in Benue state fell into a series of crisis turning up a number of disgruntled members who have either decamped or are planning to work against the interest of the party’s leader in the state during the forthcoming general elections. This league of angry members prominently feature, Hon. Orker Jev, the just sacked representative who will not be a participant in the reordered elections.

Hon. Jev whose delegates and preferred candidates were sidelined on alleged instructions of the Senate Minority Leader during the congresses, has long had an axe to grind with Akume over the issue before his unfortunate sack. Many close to the  former House of Reps member believe that Jev who has nothing at stake to lose if his party looses the seat and thus said to be planning to fight Imageagainst the ambition of the APC as a wounded lion in revenge for losing his seat to the party’s candidate.

Jev is also believed to be joining forces with other top politicians in the state to usher in the Labour Party (LP) which is more or less not present in the state. This plot which is believed to be at its peak of preparation is known to be hatched by majority of those who were frustrated during the congresses and have refused to join the PDP and thus are looking for an alternative. Jev who is amongst these dissatisfied APC leaders, is also named amongst those who are behind the party’s emergence.

With this arrangement, Jev is also planning to return to the Supreme Court to seek interpretation of the judgement; to enquire if the reordered election allows for replacement of candidates or conduct of fresh primaries by political parties who had earlier fielded candidates in the election. This because the LP had field one Bar. John Tine, during the 2011 polls who many believe is in an understanding with Jev, perchance the court allows for replacement of candidates, he will be willing to give way for Jev to contest on the platform of the party.

Apart from the fact that the APC will have to fight disgruntled elements that have left the party alongside her just ousted representative, there is also a bigger battle to fight within the remaining members of the party. It is wide knowledge that the replacement candidate, Mr. Sekav Iortyom, also may have a grouse with Akume who manipulated his nomination to favour Hon. Orker Jev, thus keeping him from the green chambers for three years.

Iortyom who is known to be a close ally of former opposition stalwart, Dr. Iorchia Ayu, is yet to reconcile with Sen. Akume whose grouse is the former’s relationship with Ayu who is a major player in the politics of the constituency. Akume and Ayu were long time allies but the pair fell out as a result of leadership tussle which led to the sidelining of Ayu in affairs of the ACN (now APC) of which he was also a founding member; this disagreement led to his subsequent return to the PDP.

Judging from the frosty relationship between Akume and Ayu, with Iorytom on the side, it is obvious that the duo even if they finally scale the hurdle of making it to the green chambers will still be only enemies within the fold until a truce is reached between the Senate Leader and his former boss who may in turn call his dogs to lie low.

Another serious threat to Akume’s survival based on the decision of the reordered election is the PDP who have an ever ready contestant in Mr. Terfa Ityav who has tried his luck at this position for two consecutive times without success. Tyav who will capitalize on the above wrangling in the APC to achieve his long desired dream may not only win the election but also attempt to retrieve the constituency from the grasp of the APC, making it a PDP dominated constituency as against earlier political alignments. This will detrimentally affect the final elections in 2015 against Akume as Buruku Federal Constituency was earlier seen as his biggest stronghold where majority of his votes came from courtesy of his alliance with Orker Jev.

If Buruku becomes a PDP controlled constituency, Akume will be left to grapple for survival with the remaining Gboko-Tarka Federal Constituency where his greatest albatross and threat, Hon. Mike Mku who has already declared interest in the Senate will be waiting to wrestle out these remaining parts of the Senatorial district. It is common knowledge that Mku is the only candidate so far in the PDP that can upstage Akume, with considerable followership in Gboko-Tarka constituency to wane Akume’s lordship of the area.

Worthy of note is the fact that the duo of Sekav Iortyom and Orker Jev are also swearing fire and brim stone perchance they do not make it in the reordered election, to contest the senate against Akume under the platforms of APC and LP respectively. This is even as they claim ownership of the position which they argue that by the unwritten Tiv rule of kingship zoning, the seat belongs to their constituency since all other blocs in the Senatorial district have tasted it, with Akume taking their rightful turn as it now stands.

With the aforementioned political situation, the fresh elections ordered in Buruku Federal constituency will definitely be a battle to watch and one of survival for APC and her leader in the state as AKume will definitely have to face his demons to survive this litmus test.

 

 


By Ati Kenneth Kengkeng

What options are open to one who has attained the age of sixty? What does the age of sixty portend? I did the math, perused the rules of the civil service and gathered from the experiences of many. Looking through it all, I discovered among other issues that the crop of people who have retired or are retiring this year are those who were employed in 1979 or were employed thereafter but have attained the age of sixty. My mother falls in the latter category. She was recruited as a teacher in 1987 when I was just a year old. Having retired from service, I decided to peep into the system and see for myself. Ordinarily, my mother has no business retiring now. As a matter of fact, she is only retired from the civil service of Benue State Government. Strong, agile and glowing at sixty, she has a lot more to do and fulfill in the decades ahead. 
In tandem with the culture of corruption that is domiciled in the civil service, I make bold to state that I know how to keep her in the employ of Benue State Civil Service. Age falsification is not a new thing, neither is it difficult to effect in this corruption-ridden society of ours. In this state where there is almost no accomodation for the plightImageand welfare of senior citizens, where gratuity and pension has no place in the appropriation formula, where retired civil servants who ordinarily should be celebrated go begging cap-in-hand to the Accountant General…age falsification has become an inevitable stock in trade. The fear of redundancy and uncertainty that beclouds ones exit from active service drives the appetite to sin by attempting to perpetuate ones self for perishable stipends. This could also be the reason why Professors have increased their retirement age to 75. I have seen people who are far older than my mother serving actively in government. People who should’ve retired gloriously for meritorious service have towed the derogatory path and reversed their ages to the ignominious point where their WAEC exams were questionably written when they were about 2years old. Funny but true. 
For us as a family, well-trained children of our father Late Engr. Bisibi Ati and most importantly, going by the tenets of our Christian faith, its alien for one to succumb to such temptation. It is not in our character to join issues with the devil, corruption and lawlessness. It’s rather too late. This doggedness and proud-standing, coupled with the innumerable, unique, out-standing and fascinating qualities my mother embodies, are the reasons why we celebrate, jubilate and gyrate with joy unspeakable for a gem Mrs. Bridget Ilkwase Ati at 60.

No doubt mummy, you are heaven bound. You are only retired from Benue State Civil Service. We have a world to conquer. Welcome to phase 2 of your life of service to humanity. Congratulations to you with the warmest regards ever offered. I love you!


By Ati Kenneth Kengkeng and Ukan Kurugh

Childrens day 27th May every year is always a delight to many. This year however is different as reasons abound for a sober celebration or better still,no celebration at all. No matter how myopic and insensitive one can be to “not see reason” for such,the missing school girls in Chibok is more than obvious. To this end, Benue Non Governmental Organisations Network (BENGONET) and Civil Society Organisation took the bull by the horn to drive home the message through a peaceful protest walk round Makurdi city to the State House of Assembly. 
                                Image
In the build up to the event,certain personalities were expected to be in attendance to add colour and increase the pressure towards the achievement of the benefits of this onerous task. Notable among them are the Benue Queens. Hitherto,one would say,the Benue Queens are passionate,loving,caring and considerate about the plight of children and less priviledged in Benue State. This is true. We don’t think there is any doubt about it. However,there is an expected touch or an expression of consistency in pattern of character that needs to accompany passionate activities that confirm their authenticity,hence,differenciating them from one-off attempts by folks who only want to stay afloat in the scheme of things and massage their ego through momentary philantropic activities. This is the reason why some of us have been taken aback by the total absence,gross negligence,monumental indolence and adamant postulation that greeted the Childrens day by the Benue Queens. Having shown a consistent pattern with their public and private show of love for children,one is left to wonder in oblivion why they were nowhere to be found on the one-single day dedicated to children;In the schools,the orphanages,at IBB Square,on the peaceful protest walk and maybe not even in their homes. What have these little kids done to deserve this treatment from the queens on their day? For avoidance of doubt, pageantry and the quest for the shinning things of life has taken over Benue. The following are domiciled in Benue;Miss Benue,Miss Akata,Most Beautiful Girl in Benue,Miss Benue Culture Tourism, Miss Benue Carnival, Kumashe U Tiv, Miss Idoma, Face of Idoma,Miss Middle-Belt,All the Miss’ in the Local Governments…and worst of all in this regard is the winner of and Queen Ambassador for Children in Nigeria Miss Ngunan Patience Iorun. This young lady is from Benue State and resides in Makurdi. 

On behalf of the children,we humbly ask:”Where were y’all?” To our greatest amazement and the embarrassment of the pageantry industry and the Benue Queens,the peaceful protest was led by winner of Little Miss Benue,the lovely,young and agile Benedicta. She weathered the storm,walked for kilometres and ended at the doorstep of Benue State House of Assembly. She didn’t sit,stagger or slumber. The first time we saw a drink in her hand all through the walk was when the Speaker of the House offerred her one. In her,we see the fighting spirit of the Chibok girls. We doff our hats for this princess.

We’ve decided to take a swipe and a massive pound of flesh from the Benue Queens,but worst on this scale of infamous cowardice is YOU,that reader who only laments on social media and remains gutless when the time for action comes calling. As proud participants in the peaceful protest to BNHA,we expected a mammoth crowd far over and above what we had especially in comparism with the volume of displeasure gushing uncontrollably from our respective timelimes on social media. The guts of a few was displayed on our streets and the cowardice of many will be seen on social media as they lament. Now we know better how to appropriate our minds to submissions by certain personalities on social media. Indeed,lamenting on social media is now a new form of cowardice referred to as “Slacktivism”. As far as we are concerned,whatsoever it is,that restrains you from participating in an activity as such-on such a special day,for a specific class of special people(children),in an ugly and trying time of our nations history as this-is a factor of slacktivism. Sitting in the comfort of our homes does not bring about the desired change the system requires. Calls were put across to supposed like-minded folks whom we often flock together in lamentation on social media and excuses were given to succintly cater for abscondment or absenteeism. These are the people we refer to as “slacktivists”. As one fellow opined,Benue State has the highest level of tolerance for bad governance nationwide and world over. Not necessarily because the government is bad but because the people have done nothing about it. 

To demonstrate our doggedness,in the course of the peaceful walk,certain uncultured,unscrupulous,uneducated elements who drove over in their flashy cars financed by the ill-gotten wealth of their pay masters attempted to stop the protest alleging that certain placards were offensive to their principal. Thuggery is obviously and undoubtedly a fledging,thriving and largely successful industry in Benue when placed side-by-side with Taraku Mills,Otukpo Burnt Bricks and Tomato Processing Plant in Wannune,a direct reflection of the ills we attempt to combat. To their detriment,officers of the State Security Services were on hand to contain their excesses. Even more soothing is the fact that their principal seeks to occupy an office lesser in influence,authority and capacity in comparism with that which he occupies now. We forsee a near-natural death of these Asari Dokubo wanabe’s. 

Be those anomalies as they may,we remain confident in the entrenchment of democratic ethics in our State and will continue to exert positive pressure to stimulate progress at specific quaters of government and the society. We among others will continue to seek repentance from the overwhelming number of slacktivists,hoping that they will change for the better. We are faced with an election year in the horizon and now is the time to buckle up on all fronts and quit the cheap talk and lamentation for action. Our voices remain one and unwavering:
#BringBackOurGirls
#BringOurChildrenBackToSchool
#NoGrazingAreasInBenue


the Annual Children’s Day celebration held annually on the 27th of May with pomp and pegeantry was however a nationwide low key/ non-celebration day. in Makurdi the Benue state capital protesters thronged the streets demanding for the release of the abducted Chibok girls and the resumption of the comatose primary school sector due to a prolonged stalemete on implementation of 18% approved minimum wage leading to 9 nine month old strike.

Below are pictures of the protest:

Image Image

Image ImageImage Image Image Image Image Image Image  Image Imagepix courtesy: Sophia Hannah Boshen