THE federal government, on Thursday, April 25, announced the approval and the release of N5,747,694,780.00 to nine of the 14 states affected in the post-election violence of 2011. The money, which would be disbursed directly, is for those who suffered loss of properties, means of livelihood and places of worship in the crisis.
Reuben Abati, special adviser to the President on media and publicity, who made the announcement, said the approval came following the adoption of the report of the Ahmed Lemu panel of enquiry, set up, among other things, to identify the spread and extent of losses suffered across the country following the post-election violence of April 2011 in some states.
According to Abati, the money was shared among the states as follows: Bauchi: N1,574,879,000.00; Sokoto, N55,888,506.00; Zamfara, N93,253,485.00; Niger, N433,375,875.00; and Jigawa, N208,667,634.00. Others are: Katsina , N1,973,209,440.00; Kano, N944,827,000.00; Adamawa, N420,089,840.00 and Akwa Ibom N43,504,000.00.
The President’s spokesman said that the remaining five states would also be compensated after inspection and assessment of damages and losses must have been carried out. The states include Borno, Yobe, Gombe, Kaduna and Nasarawa states. “Funds to cover the losses sustained by victims of the post-election violence in these five states will be approved and released at the conclusion of the assessment exercise,” he said. According to Abati, those who were killed in the crisis would be compensated by the government.
No Reward for Military Heads of State
A MOVE to include the remuneration of former military presidents in the Nigerian budget was dismissed in the Senate on Wednesday April 24. After a very hot debate by the senators, the lawmakers eventually agreed that there was no need for such an arrangement. Victor Ndoma-Egba, senate leader, had introduced the bill, saying it was “due to the exigencies of our time and the uncomfortable and sometimes embarrassing economic situation of past leaders of this country.”
He added: ‘’The thrust of this bill is essentially to repeal the provisions of CAP R6 LFN 2011 which provides for remuneration packages for former Presidents, Heads of State, Vice Presidents and Chief of General Staff to ensure that only democratically elected former Presidents are eligible to benefit from entitlements and benefits enumerated in the schedule to this Bill.” Ndoma-Egba noted that the Bill automatically shut out past military heads of state that had shot their way to power. He said the bill had been previously passed by the fourth, fifth and sixth National Assembly, but was not assented to by the President before time elapsed. He added: ‘’Another important feature of this Bill is that persons who were removed from any of the offices referred to in this Bill through the process of impeachment are also not in contemplation of any remuneration package provided.”
But a good number of the senators kicked against the bill. In his contribution, Gyang Pwajok, senator representing Plateau North, said that considering a bill seeking to reward individuals who had had the opportunities of occupying such exalted offices in the country and simultaneously enjoyed access to immeasurable rewards and benefits was ill-timed and counter-productive especially in Nigeria today because of the harsh economic realities facing the country. ‘’It would be misplaced for the Senate to be busy enacting a law to reward people, whom he noted, were already comfortable in a country where lots of innocent Nigerians either get killed every day or forced to live in anguish,” Pwajok said.
Smart Adeyemi, who is representing Kogi West, in his argument, said that former military heads of state should not be denied remuneration, but should be barred from participating in partisan politics. And for having the temerity to derail the course of democratic government, they should also be made to tender unreserved apology to the country. Sensing that the debate was becoming too emotional for members, Ike Ekweremadu, deputy senate president, who presided over the plenary, called for a voice vote. And the ‘nays’ had it making way for the bill to be thrown out.
It’s All Media Creation
CONTRARY to media reports, Governor Rotimi Amaechi of Rivers State, said he was not quarrelling with President Goodluck Jonathan, and described the purported rift as a “media creation.” Speaking to reporters in Kano on Thursday, April 25, the governor said: “I am not aware that Mr. President and I are quarrelling. As far as I am concerned, we are not quarrelling.”
Amaechi who was in the ancient city on the invitation of his Kano State counterpart, Rabiu Kwankwaso, repeated that the planned election into the Nigerian Governors’ Forum, which he currently chairs, would not be a do-or-die affair. He promised to bow out if not given the chance to continue as chairman. “If I am not re-elected as the Chairman of the Governors’ Forum, there is nothing to lose, I will still remain a member of the forum, and work towards its success,” he said.
On his posters for the 2015 presidential race, which had appeared in some cities, Amaechi said, “My picture appears with that of Kano governor as well as that of the Jigawa State governor, Sule Lamido. Will I be vice-president to both of them?”
Conflicting Casualty Figures
THE panel set up by President Goodluck Jonathan is expected to unravel the number of persons actually killed during the military assault on Baga community, a fishing community in Borno State, April 19. Baba Ahmed Jida, secretary to the state government, claimed that about 200 people including women and children were killed during a clash between security operatives and Boko Haram insurgents.
But Doyin Okupe, senior special assistant to President Jonathan, in a television interview, said the military reported 25 insurgents and six children died in the confrontation. “Let us stick to that, pending the outcome of the probe panel set up by Mr. President on the matter; we should not jump to conclusion.” He said Jida, apparently saddened by the incident at his hometown, gave out an exaggerated figure without due consultation with the security agencies on the ground. The news report about the number of casualties caused international reactions from the United States, United Nations and several human rights organisations across the world.
Ban Ki Moon, the UN secretary-general, said he was shocked and saddened at the high number of civilians killed and homes destroyed in the conflict with Islamic insurgents. Patrick Ventrell, spokesman of the US State Department, said: “We support the Nigerian authorities in their efforts to bring the perpetrators of violent acts to justice, and stress the importance of respecting human rights and protecting civilians in all security responses.”
The Nigerian Senate, on Tuesday, ordered its committees on Defence, Police and National Security, to carry out a full-scale investigation into circumstances that led to the reported killing of the alleged 185 civilians in the shoot out. A Reuters report quoted Chris Olukolade, a brigadier-general and spokesman of the Nigerian Army, that the operation was carried out by a multinational force comprising troops from Nigeria, Chad and Niger Republic.
— May 6, 2013 @ 01:00 GMT