How to save Nigeria from collapse, by Atiku, ex-govs, others

1 Comment » April 4th, 2008 posted by // Categories: Nigeriawatch



 


Former Vice President Atiku Abubakar (third left), Lagos State Governor Babatunde Fashola (second left), Lt.-Gen. Theophilus Danjuma (rtd) (left) and the author, Prof. Ben Nwabueze (right), at the public presentation of the books “How President Obasanjo subverted Nigeria�s Federal System, “How President Obasanjo subverted the Rule of Law and Democracy” and “The Judiciary as the Third Estate of the Realm,” at NIIA, Victoria Island, Lagos …. yesterday.
PHOTO: FEMI ADEBESIN-KUTI

 

GUARDIAN

 

Friday, April 04, 2008              

How to save Nigeria from collapse, by Atiku, ex-govs, others

  • Amid calls for Obasanjo’s probe
    By Ibe Uwaleke, Clifford Ndujihe and Cornelius Onuoha

    WITHOUT revolution, Nigeria might not wriggle out of the rot that she is enmeshed in.

    This summed up the view of eminent Nigerians, literary icons, legal luminaries and politicians, who converged in Victoria Island, Lagos, yesterday, for the presentation of three books written by Professor Ben Nwabueze (SAN).

    X-raying the socio-political and economic problems of the country, especially adherence to the principles of federalism and rule of law, particularly in the last eight years, the eminent citizens said that revolution was the surest way out.

    However, they differed on the kind of revolt that would cleanse the polity. While some of them called for violent peoples’ revolution in the form of civil disobedience and mass action, others urged revolution of ideas and moral conduct.

    Each speaker made his contribution with passion at the charged auditorium of the Nigerian Institute of International Affairs (NIIA).

    At the event chaired by former Vice President, Alhaji Atiku Abubakar, were erstwhile Defence Minister, Lt.- Gen. Theophilus Danjuma (rtd); Lagos State Governor Babatunde Raji Fashola (SAN), Professors Itse Sagay (SAN) and Yemi Osinbajo (SAN). Others were Chief Olisa Agbakoba (SAN), Chief G.O.K Ajayi (SAN), former governors of Lagos, Asiwaju Bola Ahmed Tinubu; and Dr. Orji Uzor Kalu; Prof. Anya O. Anya; and President of the Nigerian Bar Association, Chief Olisa Agbakoba (SAN).

    Also at the occasion were former governors Chris Ngige (Anambra), James Ibori (Delta), Ayo Fayose (Ekiti) and Segun Osoba (Ogun), Senator Ben Obi, Chief Guy Ikokwu, Chief Ricky Tarfa (SAN), Chief Ladi Williams (SAN), Dr. Eni Nwabueze; Dr. Kalu Idika Kalu, Eze Hycinth Ohazulike (Eze Igbo, Lagos), Emeka Ngige (SAN), George Uwechue (SAN), Nnamdi Mbanefo, Dele Adesina, Uche Nwokedi, Akin Kekere Ekun; and Otunba Fasawe, among others.

    Nwabueze, the author, kick-started the call for revolution while speaking on his motivation for writing the books: How President Obasanjo subverted Nigeria’s federal system, How President Obasanjo subverted the Rule of law and democracy,” and “The second Justice Kayode Eso lecture: The judiciary as the Third Estate of the Realm.”

    He said that articulating the lessons of the experience under former President Olusegun Obasanjo motivated him to write the books. “The purpose is not to castigate Obasanjo. It is to draw the attention of Nigerians and all of us to the lessons to be learnt.”

    In spite of provisions inhibiting dictatorship in the 1999 Constitution, Nwabueze said that Obasanjo emerged as a dictator because the people and institutions such as the Supreme Court and National Assembly failed to check dictatorship.

    He said: “We all contributed to the emergence of dictatorship in this country. We are too passive and too concerned about our individual interests. We need to evolve an ethic of resistance, an ethic of civil disobedience, to be on the street to protest if the President tyrannizes us. We need peoples’ revolution. The rot is too deep and nothing short of peoples’ revolution will correct it.

    “The French revolution made France what it is today. People say, ‘how can you get the Igbo, Yoruba and Hausa to agree?’ Common suffering, poverty and anger will move them. We cannot go on like this. The rot in this country can only be cleansed by blood. Mark it, one day it will happen.”

    Nwabueze’s comments elicited response from Tinubu, Kalu, Danjuma, Fashola, Ajayi and Agbakoba.

    Tinubu said that Nwabueze’s books had helped to deepen the country’s constitutional democracy, rule of law and federalism.

    He urged the citizenry to embrace the lawyer’s call for revolution because “we will not have freedom unless we fight for it. There is no liberty without sacrifice.”

    Describing the Obasanjo administration as corrupt, Tinubu called for the probe of the former president. He likened the war against corruption under Obasanjo to “a fat cat and its kittens chasing rodents over a small piece of fish.”

    Kalu, who alleged that “Obasanjo is the new face of corruption in Nigeria,” said that he started fighting against the dictatorial tendencies of Obasanjo in 2001.

    He said that the country was within the precincts of a bloody revolution unless President Umaru Musa Yar’ Adua took the anti-graft war seriously by probing Obasanjo.

    His words: “Unless Yar’Adua mounts Obasanjo before a special tribunal the revolution that Nwabueze talked about is around the corner. Obasanjo is the only former head of state that has a private jet. He came to power with N20,000 in 1999 but now has billions of naira. I came to power as governor with two banks, an oil block and a crude oil contract and left with none. I can’t be sleeping in prison while Obasanjo is sleeping in air-conditioned room… Obasanjo was the Petroleum Minister for eight years. Let’s probe that place.”

    Danjuma cautioned against a violent revolution because of the attendant consequences.

    He said: “Nwabueze mentioned that perhaps only a revolution could save Nigeria. I was frightened. Revolution is a weighty matter. The first casualties of revolution are the poor. We pray that we don’t have a revolution in Nigeria.”

    For Ajayi, a “peaceful revolution is more beneficial to violent ones.”

    Agbakoba said the country was facing two conceptual problems: revolution or maintaining the status quo.

    He said that with the paradox of increasing poverty amid rising national income, the rich getting richer and the poor getting poorer, revolution was imminent.

    He urged the opposition to come together, win political power and the lot of the citizenry, to prevent revolution.

    Fashola however, said: “I subscribe to the idea of revolution but the revolution of ideas and way of life.”

    Atiku, who also chaired the occasion, said the books were timely as they cast more light on the alleged atrocities committed by his boss during their eight years administration.

    Referring to that administration, he said that the polls conducted by Obasanjo in 2003 and 2007 were adjudged the worst in the history of Nigerian elections.

    His words: “Again, even smaller countries at our backyards have conducted elections that were adjudged by their people and the international community as being credible.

    “In the last one year or so, Mali and Senegal have conducted peaceful and credible elections. Even the war-ravaged Liberia and Sierra Leone with all their difficulties conducted peaceful and credible elections to the admiration of Africa and the rest of the world. But Nigeria with her claim to leadership in Africa has been unable to do so. What a tragedy!

    “This demands for a change. This has generated apathy and despondency.

    “The paucity of their PDP claim to democracy and the rule of law, the double standard and the holier than thou attitude are what the book being presented today appear to be addressing.

    “In writing and publishing these books at this time, Prof. Nwabueze has done our generation and indeed posterity enormous and unquantifiable service. These works will not only enlighten us on the subversion of the great foundation of our nation, but will try to propel us to take the necessary legitimate steps to salvage our great country.

    “The magnitude of the crisis demands the co-operation of all patriotic elements to save our country. State institutions that are supposed to protect citizens have become tools in the hands of emperors who are on the part of destroying the fabrics of the nation’s democracy.”

    He lauded Nwabueze, a former Minister of Education and Chairman of The Patriots, a pressure group of elder statesman and others, for writing the books.

    In his own contribution, Tinubu who was also a presenter of the books, eulogised Nwabueze, calling him a man who should be celebrated while still alive.

    According to Fashola, without law and order, there will be no development and “if you deviate from that, what you have is disaster.”

    He, therefore, called for eternal vigilance which, he noted, was the key to freedom and liberty.

     


     

    NATION

    Obasanjo killed democracy, say Fashola, Atiku, Tinubu    4/4/2008

    By Emmanuel Oladesu,

    Deputy Political Editor A critical review of the nine years of civil rule in Nigeria was undertaken yesterday by eminent citizens, who put the blame for the retardation of democracy at the doorstep of former President Olusegun Obasanjo.

    Former Vice-President Atiku Abubakar who led the pack of the stakeholders cutting across the academia, labour the judiciary and the political class, lamented the country’s inability to hold a peaceful, free and fair election almost 50 years after independence.

    He spoke in Lagos at the presentation of three books on Obasanjo’s administration written by a frontline legal scholar, Professor Ben Nwabueze (SAN). The event was held at the Nigerian Institute of International Affairs, Victoria Island, Lagos.

    Nwabueze’s books are: “How President Obasanjo subverted Nigeria’s Federal System”, “How President Obasanjo subverted the Rule of Law and Democracy”, and “The Judiciary as the Third Estate of the Realm”.

    The books were reviewed by two Senior Advocates, Prof. Itsey Sagay and Prof. Yemi Osinbajo, former Lagos State Attorney-General and Commissioner for Justice.

    Other speakers include former Lagos State Governor Bola Tinubu and his Abia counterpart, Chief Orji Kalu, who were both chief launchers. They called for the trial of the former President for alleged corruption.

    Nwabueze asked Nigerians to consider the possibility of a revolution, saying: “We need to evolve an ethic of resistance and civil disturbance.”

    But a former Minister of Defence, General Theo-philus Yakubu Danjuma, also a chief launcher, disagreed with that proposal on

    the ground that the proponents may become the first set of casualties.

    Abubakar, who is the Turaki Adamawa, chaired the event. He observed that the country was passing through the most critical period, noting that as the country became more prosperous, the citizens became poorer.

    “We need to look at our peers – Brazil, India and Malaysia – to see how weak our institutions are and how tragic our leadership has become,” he said.

    The former vice-president observed that while those countries have moved from underdevelopment to become “ICT” countries and are making a mark in the knowledge industry, Nigeria is still battling with power supply which its neighbour, Ghana, had overcome many years ago.

    He said for Nigeria to move forward, she must confront the challenge of democracy which guarantees development.

    “As our democracy has been receding, so our country has been receding into darkness. At the centre of democracy is the people. Nigeria’s democracy must be people-centred and people-driven. The people must freely elect their leaders and hold them responsible. Election is sacred because it reflects the people’s choice,” Abubakar added.

    The former vice-president, who is challenging the mandate of President Umaru Yar’Adua at the Supreme Court, pointed out that while smaller countries, such as Mali, Sierra Leone, and Liberia, have consolidated their democracies, Nigeria failed to achieve the same feat inspite of its size, resources and claim to leadership in the continent.

    In his view, the ruling Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) has lost its internal democracy and it is trying to recreate the country in its own image.

    Abubakar chided his former boss, Obasanjo, for double standard and a “holier than thou” attitude which, he noted, formed the kernel of the three books being launched.

    He said under Obasanjo’s leadership, the state institutions which were designed to protect the citizens became tools in the hand of the emperor (Obasanjo).

    The Action Congress (AC) chieftain, however, hailed the courage of some Nigerians who refused to be bought when the carrots were being dangled.

    On the high table with the former vice-president were Lagos State Governor Babatunde Fashola (SAN), Tinubu, Danjuma and Senator Ben Obi, Abubakar’s running mate in the last presidential election.

    The ceremony was witnessed by former Governors Segun Osoba (Ogun), James Ibori, (Delta), Ayo Fayose (Ekiti) and Chris Ngige (Anambra). From the Bar came Olisa Agbakoba, who is the President of the Nigeria Bar Association (NBA), Chief Godwin Ajayi, Professor Alfred Kasumu, Rickey Tarfa, Debo Adesina, Emeka Ngige, Guy Ikokwu, Mike Igbokwe, Seyi Sowemimo, Lai Mohammed and Ladi Williams.

    Dignitaries also included Prof Anya .O. Anya, Otunba Oyewole Fasawe, Otunba J.K. Randle, Chief George Nwocha, Chief Uche Nwokedi, Mr. Candido Johnson, Sam Omatseye, Odia Ofeimun, Mrs. Adenrele Ogunsanya, Secretary to Lagos State Government, Dr. Eni Nwabueze, son of the author and John Nwodo, former Information Minister who was master of ceremony.

    Tinubu, who presented the book with N2million, hailed the author as a philosopher, scholar and advocate of rule of law and true federalism.

    Noting that the frontline law teacher had always teamed up with patriots to dissect national problems, he said: “Here is a man we must celebrate while alive.”

    He urged younger ones to emulate Nwabueze’s courage, strong will and determination to forge ahead in the struggle to achieve a better society.

    Tinubu, who applauded the author’s intellectual efforts, agreed that Obasanjo was legendary in the subversion of democracy.

    He said Obasanjo had the opportunity to move from zero to hero during his term of office. But he must now move from hero to zero and serve a second term in jail, Tinubu said.

    Kalu told the audience that he was witch-hunted by the former President. He wondered why Obasanjo is resting in Ota, Ogun State, while he (Kalu) is facing trial by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC).

    With the benefit of hindsight, Kalu advised that Section 308 of the constitution should not be removed so that the incumbent governors are not harassed by the Presidency.

    Thanking Nwabueze for writing the book, he recalled an instance when the professor and former Secretary-General of Ohanaeze Ndigbo literarily walked him out of his residence over his opposition to Obasanjo.

    Kalu also said when he wrote a letter to Obasanjo, accusing him of corruption and highhandedness, the former vice-president asked him to withdraw the letter, which he declined to do.

    The former governor said: “Obasanjo is the face of new corruption in Nigeria. He killed our airlines, now he has a private jet. Before I became governor, I had an airline and an oil block licence. When I left, I had none again. Obasanjo said he only had N20,000 in his account when he left jail. How much does he have in his Ota farm today?”

    Nwabueze, who spoke on his motivation for writing the books, was optimistic that democracy will survive in Nigeria.

    He said he packaged the misdeeds of the Obasanjo administration into books so that the nation could learn useful lessons from them.

    “The purpose of writing the books is not to castigate Obasanjo, although he deserves it. It is to draw the attention of Nigerians to the lessons to be learnt,” he stressed.

    Nwabueze, foremost constitutional law scholar, observed that though the constitution imposed some restraints on state power, Obasanjo still emerged as a dictator.

    He said the failure of constitutional checks and balances paved the way for tyranny.

    According to the author, the National Assembly failed to check Obasanjo because of its passitivity. He added that legislators were too eager to be settled.

    “The Nigerian society, we all failed. We need to evolve an ethic of resistance and civil disobedience,” he added.

    But Nwabueze explained that he was not advocating military revolution.

    He cited to the French Revolution, which he said made the French what they are today.

    He said when the French were pushed to the wall by government, they revolted.

    “A common factor of suffering and anger will move the Yoruba, Igbo and Hausa to revolt. We cannot go on like this. One day, it will happen,” he added.

    Nwabueze expressed fear over the inability of the judiciary to fully live up to expectation as the arbiter.

    He made reference to the Appeal Court judgement on the presidential election suit involving Abubakar and Yar’Adua, saying that judgement was given based on technicality.

    He urged speedy reform of the electoral process and litigation procedure after the poll.

    Nwabueze said the Evidence Act in Section 1, Sub-Section 2 of the Constitution must be amended in its application to election petition.

    He also advised that judgement should be premised on substantial justice instead of technicalities.

    Danjuma, who launched the books with N3million, noted that Nwabueze usually produced golden treasures which are catalogues of history and information.

    “One of the tragedies of our society is amnesia. We forget our history very quickly. If our recent history is codified and catalogued, at least, academics can refer to it in the future,” he said.

    The retired General who fought during the civil war objected to the call for revolution by the author. “I was frightened by the applause when he called for revolution. People took it lightly. I pray we don’t have a revolution in Nigeria,” he said.

    Agbakoba presented the book with N250,000 after he supported the call for revolution. He accused eminent Nigerians of status quo mentality and fear of change.

    He also berated the opposition in the country for lack of proper mobilisation, remarking that “all democracies thrive if there is a party-in-waiting that can take power.

    “We are not straightforward. We will not move forward with lies,” he stressed.

    To Agbakoba, revolution does not work if the opposition is not mobilised and coordinated.

    Former Vice-President Abubakar interjected his speech, assuring that “there will be a political restructuring of the country.”

    Agbakoba lamented the misery in the society, blaming the government for keeping a fat foreign reserve while citizens are poor.

    Chief G. O. K. Ajayi, who launched the book with N200,000, advised Nigerians to fight for their rights.

    But he disagreed that Obasanjo should solely take the blame for his administration’s misdeeds.

    He said: “One man cannot be entirely be responsible. It is the responsibility of the educated man and woman who failed to assert their right against the government”.

    Fasola lent his voice to the debate on the option of revolution, saying he subscribed to it as an idea and way of life for a change to occur.

    “The day we can say this is un-Nigerian, we move towards revolution,” the Governor said.

    For the country to move forward, the governor also said nobody should be above the law.

    Fasola paid tribute to Nwabueze whose book he read as a law student at the University of Benin in the late eighties. He described the author as a legal glant and patriot who made invaluable contribution to constitutional law development.

    Fasola recalled that when he had cause to advise Tinubu as his Chief of Staff, he relied in Nwabueze’s book and the 1979 constitution.

    As the country prepares for constitutional amendment, he said the process should be guided to avoid diminishing federalism. The governor advised: “As we want to amend the 1999 Constitution, we should not throw all the provisions away.”

    Apart from reviewing the book, Sagay said he also reviewed the life of the author.

    He said the retired law teacher defied the law of nature by becoming more intellectually active in his old age. “Nwabueze increased his intellectual output with increase in age,” Sagay added.

    Other launchers were Rikky Tarfa (N500,000), NBA (N880,000) and Kalu (N2 million).

     

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    One Response to “How to save Nigeria from collapse, by Atiku, ex-govs, others”

    1. emeka ukaegbu says:

      thats wonderful. It serves OBJ right. Those in public officies would now know that there are people that are watching and penning down their deeds.

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