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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

 

 


A brief of a memorandum submitted by Southern Kaduna in the Diaspora (SOKAD) to the National Conference

Introduction
The call for a national conference could not have come at a more auspicious time. Southern Kaduna in the Diaspora (SOKAD) – United States of America and Canada, applauds President Goodluck for this bold initiative. It is our hope that the conference delegates will, with sincerity and good conscience, transcend personal, ethnic, religious, class, gender, and regional differences to proffer viable and long-lasting solutions to our national problems and issues.

Many issues must be discussed, but we have chosen to focus on a limited number, those that profoundly affect Nigerian ethnic minorities, particularly those of Southern Kaduna and other Middle Belt areas-which Nigerian Independence and state creation forgot. Through the discrimination against northern ethnic minorities, failure of post-independent Nigeria to recognize their rights, and unfair use of oil resources in the Niger Delta region, ethnic majorities have systematically attempted to erode the sovereignties and identities of northern ethnic minorities, rendering them irrelevant.

The following document contains our suggestions, our pleas, and our prayers.

The structure of Nigeria and the need for more states
We open our submission by declaring, in no uncertain words, that SOKAD supports the solidarity of Nigeria as one country and one nation united under one federal constitution; and as aptly put by one of our members at Nigeriavillagesquare.com:

The northern minorities (those in the middle belt and the pure Hausas breed- the maguzawa) don’t want to be part of a Hausa or Hausa Fulani nation; neither do the southern minorities want to be in a Yoruba nation, nor an Igbo nation. Nigerian minorities have fought against treble oppressions: colonialism, marginalization, and the effects of corruption. They do not see their liberation in breaking Nigeria into nations that will yoke them to their regional majorities. They prefer for the current spatial and geographical Nigeria. Their plight can be improved with the creation of states, but not balkanization or subdivision of the country.
SOKAD strongly supports the creation of more states. The subdivision of the spatial area now known as Nigeria has evolved over time. From its amalgamation in 1914, it became three regions, then four regions. It was further divided into 12 states in 1967, 19 in 1976, 21 in 1987, and 30 in 1992. Nigeria is now comprised of 36 states. These divisions have been beneficial and useful for economic development and modernization. Though not perfect, the creation of states has helped to maintain Nigeria’s solidarity and unity; it has brought some ethnic minorities closer to the seat of power and allowed them to forge ethnic identities. State creation has also reduced marginalization and helped solve some of the problems facing minorities in the western and eastern regions.

Our suggestion:

Ten more states should be created. This forum is not adequate for an elaboration regarding the 46-state structure we are proposing, but the conference should recommend this amendment to our constitution in order to easily assist with state creation and boundary adjustments toward the new state structure.

The suggestion for additional states is dear to all ethnic minorities, particularly northern ethnic minorities. The Southern Kaduna peoples are of special interest and concern, as they possess all the prerequisites for a viable state; however, because of their ethnicity and religion, they do not have a state. Creating another state from the present Kaduna state will reduce the persistent clashes in that part of the country.

Land tenure and land ownership
Ethnic identities are intimately tied to ancestral lands. The expressions, cultures, religions, and economies of native peoples cannot be decoupled from their lands. Since the majority of Nigerians are agrarian, land is the only asset that those in the poorest communities own they own. Theirs is a collective ownership of land by families, clans, and communities. The Land Use Act of 1978 threatens land ownership as well as the civilizations, histories, cultures, and identities of many ethnicities. The act invested ownership of all lands to the state government, and invariably, the governor, which in effect, divested the ownership of land from all previous owners. It also resulted in the creation of rogue governments and governors who might use the act to victimize political opponents and ethnic groups. Evidence has already shown that this act is being used by powerful groups and individuals to seize communal lands.

Nigeria is a member of civilized nations, the UN. It is incumbent on Nigeria to protect its indigenous peoples and abide by the 2007 UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples by protecting their rights to own land.

Our suggestion:

It is SOK’s prayer that the Land Use Act of 1978 be revisited and repealed in order to return the ownership and control of the land to the people. Land is their only asset, but the land Use Act of 1978 has made them mere tenants.

The unbridled terror of the Fulani herdsmen in the Middle Belt
For decades, the nomadic Fulani and farmers have lived in a symbiotic relationship, albeit with occasional clashes over farm crops. Recently, however, the Fulani have morphed into a violent ethnic group, eroding the long decade of peaceful coexistence they had once shared with the indigenous populations during their seasonal north-south nomadic migration. They have traded the herding stick for the machine gun and have killed and maimed the indigenous peoples of the Middle Belt, people whom they had once treated peacefully, as friends. Furthermore, they have allied with their Fulani kin from neighboring countries so that, together, they can drive indigenous farmers from their lands. They are, at this moment, committing these acts with impunity and brutality. Their atrocities are so gruesome and grisly that only a savage mind could bear to imagine them.

The Fulani activities are not only aimed at cleansing fertile lands of their ethnic owners, but at instilling Islamization. We believe Islamization is the reason that the Boko Haram power structure has been aiding the Fulani. It also explains why their acts of terrorism are receiving the Janus condemnation from the northern establishment.

The solution to the Fulani’s atrocities is not for government to seize land and set up grazing routes and reserves, as the National Assembly and the Vice-Presidency are attempting to do. Instead, the government should holistically examine the issue in its totality, sincerely and objectively, and then proffer a lasting solution. Seizure of land will not be tolerated; indeed, this act will be the last straw, testing the tolerance of ethnic groups whose ancestral lands are at stake.

Our suggestion:

One argument the Fulani and their supporters have made is that they constitute the meat basket of the country, and therefore, should be granted unbridled access to grazing lands. The Fulani are, in fact, the meat basket of Nigeria, but they cannot fulfil that function by depriving other ethnic groups of their lands. SOKAD suggests that the role of meat basket for the country be expanded and encouraged by local, state, and federal governments to include indigenous farmers who can practice mixed farming, including animal husbandry.
Meanwhile, only those Fulani of Nigerian origin who have interacted or lived with the indigenes for a certain number of years should be allowed to graze, with permission as has always been the case for decades, on indigene lands during their nomadic migrations. The indigenes can identity those Fulani, for the two groups had lived and interacted symbiotically for a long time, until outside forces infiltrated the areas.
Every ethnic group in Nigeria has a spatial place of origin. The Fulani also have a spatial origin in Nigeria. Most of them originated in the upper north. SOKAD reiterates a previous suggestion, that the fertile lands of the upper north be converted to grazing lands and the Fulani be encouraged to change their nomadic lifestyle.
Science and technology can be utilized to solve the problem regarding the nomadic Fulani. Here, we quote, at length, the suggestions from an article published in the Nigeriaworld at: http://nigeriaworld.com/articles/2013/oct/282.html:
“… it is not only Boko Haram that is the scourge of violence in the country, but also the nomadic Fulani who have been infiltrated by elements of Boko Haram, and Al-quada from Mali, Niger and Chad. They have been terrorizing, killing, and maiming farmers, especially in the middle belt states of Plateau, Benue, Nassarawa, and parts of Kaduna state in Southern Kaduna.

“We also need a five-year plan for solving the nomadic Fulani question. The root of the problem is their nomadic lifestyle. Serious consideration should be given to encouraging them to change their lifestyle. It is obsolete and incompatible with the twenty-first century world.

“With increases in population, global warming, and depletion of agricultural land, the country can no longer sustain the lifestyle. If their cousins could give up herding and become Hausa Fulani, they can do the same. But, if they don’t want to, then the federal and state governments would be allowed to subsidize modern animal husbandry for them. A group, SOKAD, has made a very useful proposal on this in its memo opposing the bill on the grazing reserves and routes for the Fulani herdsmen.

“This is not impossible. Many countries have done it. In America for example, each cattle ranger is only “nomadic” on a few thousand acres of land, and yet, they produce enough milk and beef to feed millions. American cattle farmers can produce enough beef and dairy products to feed more than half of the world, if not the whole world. We are no longer living in the nineteenth century. With science, most things, if not all things, are possible.

“The upper north has space and is fertile enough for science to convert the barren desert and semi- desert parts into arable fertile grazing reserves where they can become semi-nomadic and be the meat basket of the country. It is disheartening for nomadism to be politicized, such as in the case with the Fulani nomads in Nigeria. There is no doubt that there is an agenda behind the Fulani ethnic group continuing their nomadic lifestyle. They are being used as a smokescreen for internal colonization.

“The truth about the Fulani nomads is that their number is very few, perhaps just a few million, but yet, they have, in recent times, caused more death and destruction than any ethnic group. However, it needs to be noted that there is no group in Nigeria that has had it so good. The Fulani herdsmen are sacred cows, and not only that, the most privileged and pampered ethnic group. There is a special education for them: Nomadic Education, where schools have been built for them along their nomadic routes. There are ill-conceived and misguided bills in both houses of the National Assembly to create a new bureaucratic and money-siphoning structure called National Reserves and Grazing Routes.

“This special treatment for the Fulani herdsmen will not solve the nomadic Fulani question. There is no price that is too high to change the Fulani lifestyle, even if it means bringing water from the Niger and Benue rivers to the upper north location for pastoral agriculture. Nigeria should and can do it.”

SOKAD suggests that the brutalities committed by the Fulani herdsmen take precedence at the conference, because if the Middle Belt is in turmoil, Nigeria is in turmoil.

Northern minorities have become strangers in their own region
Responsible governments should promote equality of religion, ethnicity, gender, and class for its citizens. Unfortunately, the northern minorities suffer from a lack of equality in all of these aspects. There is no doubt that the northern minorities are a forgotten group; the marginalization of ethnic and religious northern minorities is both historic and current. These groups are in danger of losing their cultural and religious identities, as well as their lands and property. The conference should address, particularly, the following:

Religious discrimination. Northern ethnic minorities are mostly Christians who, together with other Christian minorities (Fulani, Hausa, Kanuri, southern Christians) living in the North, suffer from all forms of religious persecution not only by rogue groups, but also by the state governments that are aided by the federal government.
The federal government has been swayed to believe the ignorance of the misguided south, that the North is a monolithic Muslim and Hausa Fulani region and that it has begun using Nigerian resources to promote Islam over Christianity. Evidence abounds to support this assertion:

The federal government has allowed federal institutions, especially educational institutions, to be proliferated by mosques, to the exclusion of churches, temples, shrines, and so forth. At Ado Bayero University, for example, not a single church exists, and requests for land to build a church have been denied. In another federal institution, Ahmadu Bello University, although a mosque sits on almost every corner of the campus, only two churches are present. One of them was burned down. The remaining one resides in a state of perpetual terror due to the threat of being burned down.
In pandering to Islam, the federal government has established nomadic education and Almagiri education, while none has been offered for the countless non-Muslim youth roaming the streets of major cities in the north.
Sharia governments. Governments in the northern states have also promoted Islam over other religions. Excluding North African nations, there is no one region of Africa that promotes Islam as a state religion, as do several northern Nigerian states. This blatant promotion of one religion and marginalization of others conveys an arrogant disregard for our constitution:
Twelve states in the north are sharia or partial-sharia governments. This violation of the Nigerian Constitution has gone unchallenged, and it is one of the main contributing factors to the northern crisis. This “oversight” has emboldened Islamic fanatics to preach and disparage the “infidels,” and has led the Christians to assert their rights of citizenship and religion.
Most governments in the northern states are violating the Nigerian Constitution’s separation of state and religion with impunity. They are expending state resources to build Islamic schools while denying Christians even a certificate of permission to build theirs.
Muslims are allowed to build mosques in virtually every village and town in the north, while Christians are restricted to certain parts, and in many cases, denied the permission to build churches or Christian institutions.1471-2415-8-17-1-l
In the north, a Christian-whether he or she is a Hausa, Fulani, Kanuri, Igbo, Yoruba, or an ethnic minority-is a highly marginalized citizen, due merely to his or her non-Muslim status. In fact, in most northern states, a Muslim from any part of the world has more rights than a northern Christian or a Nigerian.
State educational institutions are Muslim-based. In 1972, for example, the North Central State (now Kaduna state, in part) seized control of all Christian schools-from primary to post primary-and converted them to Muslim schools. These former Christian schools have all been renamed with Muslim and Islamic names. The Church buildings that had resided on the premises have now been walled off and gated from public view; they are no longer accessible by students from the school grounds. The less fortunate churches and their ministers’ houses were gutted. And hundreds of Christians were killed in the process and their property destroyed. On these formerly Christian school grounds, the government has built and is actively building mosques in public view, which are easily accessible by Muslim students from the schools grounds. They are neither walled nor gated, but treated as intrinsically part of the schools, both in conception and use.
Our suggestion:

SOKAD suggests that the conference insist on an adherence to our constitution regarding the prevention of government from promoting religion. Sharia should be abolished and all religions accorded equal state treatment. All mosques and churches should be removed from school premises; if they must remain, then other religions should also be allowed to build on school grounds, and be funded by the state. Equal permission should be granted to all religions to build their own institutions.

Indigene-Settler question
Our national question is, in part, one of citizenship. We should rethink the notion of citizenship. What does it mean to be a Nigerian? No one doubts that the more than 300 ethnic groups in Nigeria are all Nigerians. They are Nigerian citizens by custom, tradition, or birth. Other Nigerians are citizens by naturalization. The root of the ethnic conflicts in our country does not concern the status of being a Nigerian; this issue was settled by our Constitution long ago. Instead, the conflicts revolve around the claim of indigene status, which has been exacerbated by the policy of Federal Character.

The question of who is an indigene and who is a settler is far from settled. It may require a revision to our constitution, so that, as in the US, we would be Nigerian (national) citizens in the purest form of citizenship. We would not be indigenes of a particular geographical area; we would simply be Nigerians.

This task may be daunting because ethnic groups legitimately lay claim to ancestral lands whose ownership dates back to pre-British colonization and is contingent on origin, ancestry, birth, and generational residency. By way of illustration, the Igbo, Yoruba, Hausa, Fulani, Berom, Efik, Ham, or Tiv are not in doubt of their places of indigene or the regions to which they claim ancestry. The claim and attachment to an indigene place is so powerful that many will go to war for it. In the north, Usman Dan Fodio Jihad and British colonialism did affect the Hausa claim and attachment, but it could not erode that of ethnic minorities. There has been an attempt since Post Jihad and post colonialism to delegitimize and decouple northern minorities’ claims to ownership of their indigene spaces and claims to land, as evidenced by internal colonizing, hausanizing, Islamizing policies of state, and to some extent, federal governments. As a result, the Middle Belt has witnessed an influx of immigrants from neighboring countries allowed to claim that they are Hausa or Fulani; these immigrants are being given political appointments, and some used in the violence and crisis in the north.

Thus, SOKAD is greatly concerned about the indigene-settler question, which indeed, has manifested itself in the brutal and unfortunate Nigerian civil war, the Tiv war, the Jos crisis, and the current crisis in Southern Kaduna and the Middle Belt.

The indigene-settler question is, invariably, one of residency status. We suggest that the sociological meaning of residency replace settler status and be adequately conceptualized and legitimized in our constitution. Thus, we should have in our lexicon, the terms citizenship, indigenship and residency. We will no longer use the term settler status.

The conference must tackle this indigene-settler issue because it transcends locality, state and region. How else can we emulate other nations by allowing Nigerians the freedom to live, work, and raise families in any part of the country? Fortunately, models are available to help Nigeria solve this issue. In the US, for example, an American is first and foremost a citizen, and secondly, a resident of a particular state. After living and paying taxes in one state for a duration of time (6 months to a year), an American becomes a resident of his or new state, with all the rights and privileges accorded to residents of that state. When he leaves and resides in another state, he forfeits those rights and privileges and adopts those of his new state. Because of this policy, Americans commonly experience several state indigenships (residencies) in a lifetime. It is also common for members of the same family to be indigenes (residents) of different states.

Nigeria is far from reaching the ideal situation that the US enjoys. Our constitution and policies have created the indigene-settler problem we now face, and ours is a different history. Appointments, recruitments into the armed forces, police and security organizations, admissions to schools, political representations, and resource distributions at the federal and state levels are all based on the Federal Character policy. Our lack of an effective immigration policy has opened the flood gates at our borders, especially the northern borders, to waves of aliens from Mali, Chad, Niger, and northern Cameron who are claiming not only Nigerian citizenship, but also indigenship. Ethnic and religious discrimination, insecurity, and lack of freedom to live and work in some parts of the country are so pervasive that some ethnic groups, especially ethnic minorities, are reluctant to attempt to live and work in other places.

Until every Nigerian is free and secure to live in any village, state, or region of their choice, the US model may be difficulty to emulate. For this reason, the indigene-settler issue will remain a national question. But the conference should initiate the process of adopting the U.S model

Our suggestion:

There should be a comprehensive re-examination of the Federal Character template regarding appointments, school admissions, distributions of resources, and so forth
There should a comprehensive immigration policy to determine citizenship and to admit only eligible aliens.
The rights of all ethnic groups to their ancestral lands should be guaranteed and protected
There should be an assurance of the equality of all people, regardless of ethnicity, religion, gender, and class, in all parts of Nigeria.
All sharia governments should be abolished
A conference of experts and stakeholders be held to examine the need to eradicate the concept of settler and replace it with residency with the view of adopting the U.S. example.
Security and the rule of law
The foundation of a functioning nation and an economically powerful nation is the security of lives and property. Security is contingent on the rule of law. The application of law and justice must be enacted fairly. Nigeria has worthy laws, but the application of them is skewed. Everyone-every ethnic group and every religion-must be equal before the law of the land. Consequently, the application of the law should transcend all social categories: class, religion, ethnicity, and status.

This transcendence can only occur if those in charge of investigation, administration, and punishment in our Criminal Justice System (CJS) and Security Services are men and women of integrity. The federated units that comprise our Criminal Justice System-police, courts, prisons-should be defined, structured, and funded to allow them to work semi-autonomously of each other. When working collectively, they should be devoid of politics, ethnicity, and religion.

SOKAD strongly believes that the application of the law and justice in Nigeria is skewed against ethnic and religious minorities, most so in the north, especially the far north. Nigeria must develop a trustworthy culture of the rule of law without which Nigeria can’t rid the country of its endemic culture of corruption. The should a restructuring of the nation’s Criminal Justice System.

Our suggestion:

The Police
This is the most corrupt of the three units. Three tiers should be established within our police force: federal, state, and local. They should be given four main functions, with explicit jurisdiction and boundaries for each: first response for emergencies, security, and safety situations; crime prevention; criminal investigation; and arrests.

The Courts
Our judicial system is bloated and expensive. Moreover, having Sharia Court of Appeals is a discrimination against other religions. In general, the average Nigerian has no confidence or trust in our courts. The judges are perceived to be corrupt and highly biased. SOKAD feels that Nigeria should introduce the jury system of trial in order to reduce the power of the judges.

Most importantly, the court system needs to be restructured to eliminate a duplication of functions and jurisdiction and to curb administrative costs. Nigeria spends the greatest portion of its revenue on administration. Government waste could certainly be eliminated from this system. Therefore, SOKAD proposes a reduction from seven courts to five, in the following hierarchical order:

The Supreme Court
The Court of Appeal
The High Court (consisting of a federal court, one for each state)
The Religious Court of Appeal (merging the present two separate courts of Appeal-Sharia and Customary. It should also include an additional Religious Court of Appeal-a Canon Court of Appeal- to be established when necessary).
Lower Courts (consisting of magistrate courts, district courts, area courts, customary courts, sharia courts, and canon courts -the latter can be established when necessary).
The Prisons
This is the third arm of the CJS, and it seems to be the least corrupt. Although poorly funded, it does not pose religious or ethnic concerns for Nigerians. The prison system is a vital part of our national security climate, however, and must be modernized.

Conclusion
Our national question can be summarized thusly: How do we bring Nigeria to the twenty-first century and keep Nigeria united in the face of physical, economic, and social insecurity, as evidenced by the evils of Boko Haram, nomadic Fulani terrorism, political assassinations, and kidnapping, as well as official corruption? The above issues must be addressed by this conference.

The treatment of ethnic and religious minorities is most significant for Nigerian unity, security, and progress. Collectively, ethnic minorities constitute the largest Nigerian population, as they are spread all over the country. It is no wonder that the contemporary Nigerian crises are located in ethnic minorities’ localities. Although fragmented, these people are gradually developing a consciousness and are asserting their rights for political, economic, and cultural participation in the country. In their respective localities, they will no longer be bullied by the ethnic and religious majority. Those in the South are fighting for equitable use of the oil resources that God blessed them with. Those in the lush Savanah grassland of the Middle Belt are resisting land-grabs by the federal government, state governments, and Fulani herdsmen. Ethnic minorities are no longer tolerating discrimination and marginalization. They are up in arms.

This Conference should not ignore the plaints of ethnic and religious minorities. This problem cannot be solved without religious freedom, bringing ethnic nationalities to both local and national tables and respecting the rights of indigenous peoples.

Signed:

Aminu Likita, MD, MPH, President, SOKAD
Freeman Kamuru, PhD, MD, Secretary- General, SOKAD
Ibrahim A. Maikori, M.Ed, Financial Secretary, SOKAD