Sa’ad Abubakar III, Sultan of Sokoto, is not happy with the composition of the national conference. In expressing his dissatisfaction, Abubakar took his grudge to the Presidential Villa, Abuja on Wednesday, March 26, to protest what he and his group called their marginalisation. The Sultan led a group of Muslim to a closed-door meeting with President Goodluck Jonathan, Vice-President Namadi Sambo and some top government officials. Abubakar and a group of Muslim leaders had faulted the composition of the national conference, saying the Muslim was short-changed in the number of representatives.
Ishaq Oloyede, secretary-general of the Nigerian Supreme Council for Islamic Affairs, NSCIA, told State House correspondents that the Sultan and his team made their grievances known during meeting with President Jonathan for about one-hour their meeting lasted. Oloyede disclosed that the president assured the delegation that his administration was committed to being fair to all Nigerians irrespective of their religion or tribe.
“We came to discuss with the president and we are happy we consulted him, and he has given us reasons to re-assure Muslims that they are not deliberately marginalised and he has asked us to convey the feelings of the government, the genuineness of the government and the fairness of the government to the entire populace. He said that if there were issues that were not as they ought to be, they were not definitely deliberate and we want to believe that Mr. President told us his mind; but we also want to believe that it is proper to protest, it is also proper to assume that a leader will always be just even if there are mistakes thereafter.
“We just felt that we must convey the feelings of the Muslims in Nigeria to Mr. President and he has given us his words to re-assure the Muslim community that he is a genuine and committed Christian who will not be unjust to others,” he said.
The Sultan did not speak with journalists at the end of the meeting. Those who accompanied him included Abubakar Ibn-Garbai, Shehu of Borno; Lawal Uwais, a former chief justice of Nigeria and Yayale Ahmed, a former head of service of the Federation. About two weeks ago, Jama’atu Nasril Islam, JNI, an umbrella Muslim organisation in Nigeria headed by the Sultan, had accused the president of having a hidden agenda with the convocation of the national conference.
New Panel to Conduct NIS Interview
A PRESIDENTIAL committee is now to conduct a fresh recruitment exercise into the Nigerian Immigration Service. Pius Nyim, secretary to the federal government, in a statement issued on Wednesday, March 26, said the committee had 12 weeks to conclude its assignment. He said President Goodluck Jonathan approved the composition and mandate of the special presidential committee to assist the Civil Defence, Fire Service, NIS and Prisons Board to conduct a fresh exercise in place of the aborted recruitment into the NIS.
The committee’s terms of reference include, liaising with the Civil Defence, Fire Service, Immigration and Prisons boards to confirm the actual number of personnel to be recruited, and assisting the agencies by re-advertising the recruitment into the NIS with a view to starting the recruitment process afresh. The committee, among others, is also to assist the four mentioned paramilitary agencies by processing the applications, short-listing potential candidates and conducting the necessary interviews in their recruitment exercise.
According to Anyim, the chairman of the Federal Civil Service Commission is the chairman of the committee. Other members include comptroller-general, NIS; representative of the Head of Civil Service of the federation; representative of the commandant-general; representative of the comptroller, Prison Service; representative of the Corp Marshal, FRSC; representative of the director-general, DSS, and permanent secretary, Special Duties, who will serve as the secretary.
The recruitment exercise into the NIS conducted in various venues across the country on March 15, was aborted following the stampedes in some of the centres which led to the death of about 20 job seekers. This generated a national protest with Nigerians calling for the sacking of Abba Moro, minister of interior.
A Case For Parliamentary System
SOME prominent Nigerians want the country to revert back to a parliamentary system of government. Wole Soyinka, a Nobel laureate and Odein Ajumogobia, former minister of foreign affairs, who led the call, said at a public service debate organised held in Lagos on Wednesday, March 26, that the parliamentary system would be less costly to run, not easily manipulated and not prone to corruption as the current presidential system. Soyinka and Ajumogobia were among those who took part in the debate organised by St. Johns Forum, where a vote taken of the audience by Emeka Anyaoku, former secretary-general of the Commonwealth, who moderated the debate, recorded 57 in favour as against 33 against parliamentary system.
In arguing against the presidential system, Soyinka contrasted it with occurrences in the International Parliament of Writers, where members would make laws and travel around the world but take no constituency allowance, and the, wondered what constituency allowance was meant to serve. He said the current presidential system has only succeeded in improverish the country. “Any system adopted at all by any nation depends on the commitment of people around the corridor of power for its success,” he said, arguing that the crop of the Nigerian politicians were not willing to learn from past lessons. He added: “one would have imagined that the country would have used the opportunity of the Nigerian civil war to re-examine the protocols that bind us together to chat a new way forward.”
Ajumogobia, in his argument, noted that the success of any system would depend on the operators, but he expressed the belief that the parliamentary system had characteristics that would make it suitable for the country. “The parliamentary system (as operated earlier in Nigeria) had a mandatory public debate and created avenue for greater accountability. It is not true that the parliamentary system was unstable by way of no-confidence vote threat against whoever is the prime minister,” he said.
That position was countered by Ike Ekweremadu, deputy president of the Senate, who was represented by Okechukwu Oko. Ekweremadu said the Nigerian presidential system had nothing to do with the system itself but the operators. He argued that Nigeria needed a system that would better protect the rights of the citizenry and give more accountability to the people in terms of checks and balances.
Stirring the Hornet’s Nest
MUHAMMADU Barkindo Mustapha, Lamido Adamawa, practically caused a stir at the national conference on Wednesday, March 26, when he told his fellow delegates that he was prepared to secede from the present Nigeria should country decides to disintegrate. He said he was aware that a lot of Nigerians would have nowhere to run to in the event of disintegration, but he said that himself and his people in Adamawa State would have no such problem in crossing the border to join their kith and kin in the Republic of Cameroun.
The Lamido Adamawa, who is one of the thirteen persons representing the National Council of Traditional Rulers of Nigeria, also said he was ready to lead his people on a walk-out from the conference.
Justice Idris Kutigi, conference chairman, had recognised the monarch to speak on a debate on the proposal to call for memoranda from members of the public to help the conference succeed.
Instead, Mustapha said: “Mr. Chairman, I want to sound a note of warning… If anything happens and the country disintegrates, God forbid, many of us who are shouting their heads off may not have anywhere to go. My people and the people of Adamawa have got somewhere to go. I am the Lamido Adamawa and my kingdom extends to Cameroun. The larger part of my kingdom is in Cameroun. Part of that kingdom is today called Adamawa State in Cameroun. You see, if I run to that place, I will easily assimilate.”
The statement caused uproar at the conference, but the royal father was unfazed as he continued: “I want to call on the chairman to please tread the path laid down by the president which includes the pattern of voting. If we are pushed to the wall, we will easily walk out of this conference. Jingoism is not the exclusive preserve of anyone. Everyone here is a potential jingo.”
— Apr. 7, 2014 @ 01:00 GMT