Nigeria Matters

How The Niger Deltans Can Get Their Freedom: The Action Plan! Part 8

(193) How many foreigners – and their percentage compared to the overall number of foreigners – have been physically isolated and ordered to leave Nigeria because they have contacted HIV or any other contagious and life-threatening diseases?

(194) Does the federal government have a special body or organ that reprimand and prosecute foreigners that commit crimes – rape, murder, prostitution, human trafficking, financial fraud e.t.c. – in the region?

(195) If no, why doesn’t one exist? Are we to understand that foreigners are free to commit crimes without any repercussion?

(196) How many foreigners – and their percentage compared to total number of foreigners – have been reprimanded and prosecuted?

(197) Can the federal government allow 3 independent bodies: the United Nations, association of Nigerian auditors and auditors from Scandinavian countries to verify all the information or answers provided to the above questions?

(198) If no, why? Does the government has any skeleton in its cupboard?

(199) Why did Yaradua appoint Rilwan Lukman, a northerner, to head the Energy and Petroleum ministry again? Are there no qualified candidates from the South or/and N.D.?

(200) Why did Yaradua appoint another descendant of Usman Dan Fodio, Alhaji Mohammed Barkindo the Group Managing Director of NNPC? Are there no qualified candidates from the South or/and N.D.? Does Yaradua think that it is fair to appoint only northerners to the two most senior position in Nigeria’s oil and gas sector despite the fact that these resources are located only in the south?

(201) On what basis should the revenues generated from oil, gas and other mineral resources in the N.D. and south as a whole go into the development of the north, including Abuja taking into consideration the undisputable fact that the indigenes of this region need this money badly themselves and officially never voted to be part of Nigeria – a country that was formed by the British – without their consent?

Here comes the second part of the questions.

OPEN QUESTIONS FOR YARADUA, AKUNYILI AND EKAETTE ON THE MINISTRY OF NIGER DELTA. (RECOMMENDED FOR PUBLICATION IN ALL NIGERIAN NEWSPAPERS)

(1) Does Yaradua, Ekaette or the federal government have a list of all the projects that are going to be implemented in the N.D. at least in the next 15 years – including their cost estimates, timetable?

(2)If such a list exist, can it be published in the newspapers for all, most especially the indigenes of the N.D. to verify and access?

(3) When was the list compiled – before or after the announcement of the ministry?

(4) Which people – concrete names – were involved in compiling and approving the list of projects that will be implemented?

(5) What criteria were used in selecting the projects?

(6) Have the companies that will carry out the projects been selected or not?

(7) If yes, can their names be published?

(8) When were they selected and what criteria were used?

(9) Which people – concrete names – took part in selecting the companies that will implement the projects?

(10) What is the percentage of Nigerian companies compared to foreign companies that will be involved in carrying out the projects?

(11) What percentage of N.D. companies compared to the total number of Nigerian companies will be involved in implementing projects in the region?

(12) If not, when will the companies be selected?

(13) Who will be responsible for awarding the contracts?

(14) Will the indigenes through a special company, formed and controlled by them, be involved in awarding contracts and/or monitoring projects?

(15) If yes, does such a company exist now? If no, why?

(16) Will the indigenes through a special company, formed and controlled by them, have the right or opportunity to audit implemented projects – real amount spent, quality, quantity, transparency in awarding contracts indigenes, percentage of indigenes and companies involved, e.t.c.?

(17)If yes, does such a company exist now? If no, why?

(18)Can the indigenes of the company for any reason whatsoever veto the ministry from awarding contracts to a particular company?

(19) Do the law makers or/and governors from the N.D. have veto over the appointment of a minister by the president to the ministry? Can they for any reason whatsoever veto a minister appointed to the ministry by the president? Does the prersident need to seek their approval before announcing his appointment?

(20) Will the ministry be forever?

(21) If not, for how long?

(22) Is the ministry protected by any law. For example, does the president, Senate or House of representatives or any other government body have the right to scrape it in the future for any reason whatsoever?

(23)What is the minimum percentage of the indigenes of the N.D. that must be appointed by the ministry?

(24) Are companies – foreign and indigenous – carrying out projects in the region obliged to employ a minimum percentage of the indigenes to different positions? If yes, what is the minimum percentage?

(25) What is the minimum percentage of all contracts that will be carried out in the region must be reserved for Nigerian companies?

(26) What is the minimum percentage of all contracts that will be carried out in the region must be reserved for companies owned by indigenes of the Niger Delta?

(27) Is Yaradua or his successor obliged to allocate funds to carry out all projects on time under any circumstances?

(28) What is the maximum gap allowed between the announced timetable of projects and real/actual time that they are carried out before they can be regarded as lacking behind schedule?

(29) What happens if for whatever reason the projects on the list or announced are not carried out at all or fall behind schedule from the day the creation of a new ministry was announced?

(30) Who will be held accountable – the president or/and the minister of the N.D. – if for whatever reason projects in the list (or that are announced) are not carried out at all or lack behind schedule from the day the creation of a new ministry was announced?

(31) Can the president and/or minister be penalised for failing to carry out or meet up to the timetable/schedules of announced projects (or projects on the list)?

(32) Can the president and/or minister be asked to resign if for any reason whatsoever projects are either not carried out at all or fall behind schedule?

(33) If not, why?

(34) If after 6, 9, 12, 15 months, the indigenes realise that projects announced or on the list are not carried out at all are lacking behind schedule, can they demand that the fulll control and running of the ministry, including appointment of a new minister, be handed over to them?

(35) If not, why?

(36) Which states are included in the ministry of N.D.? Are Ondo, Lagos and Ogun states included in the list? If not, why?

(37) What criteria did the northern led federal government and/or Yaradua use in determining these states?

(38) Will the federal government and/or Yaradua look seriously into the request of Lagos state to create a special ministry for it too because of its port and the fact that it’s the financial center of the country? If no, why? If yes, when?

(39) It’s a known fact that the South West has the second largest deposit of bitumen in the world, will Yaradua create a special ministry for all Yoruba states with bitumen if they demand for it? If yes, when? If no, why?

(40) Why did Yaradua allocate funds that is much larger to defense compared to the funds for the development of the N.D. where Nigeria earns practically all its revenues?

If Yaradua and the northern led federal government are sincere as regards to their intention in the N.D. crisis, then, ther

e should be no problem whatsoever in providing answers to all the above questions. Moreover, we will like to remind Yaradua and his new information minister, incase they have forgotten, that the citizens have the full right to get comprehensive information and clarification as regards to the new ministry that he [Yaradua] is proposing.

Furthermore, if we assume that Nigerians, including the indigenes of the Niger Delta, are all stakeholders in their country – and not spectators or slaves, then it our ‘Constitutional right’ to have detailed information about the country’s natural resources and how the revenues are spent. Yar’Adua and his new information minister also need to be reminded that one of the fundamental pillars of democracy and a civil society is the ability of the citizens to have free access to information about the activities of the government and the resources of their country. It will be hypocrisy on the part of Yar’Adua to talk about the rule of law on one hand, and deny the citizens access to information about the activities of the government and the resources of the country. Most importantly, we believe that comprehensive answers to all the questions posed above will undoubtedly go a long way in giving his new ministry of N.D. the credibility that it is presently lacking.

Prof. Akunyili needs to be reminded as well that the main prerequisite for the entrenchment of democracy – which I have no slightest doubt in my mind that she strongly believes in – and elimination of corruption, or at least reducing it to the minimum, is free access of the citizens to information, transparency of the government and accountability. It will be a mockery of democracy and abetting of corruption if on one hand Yaradua talks about the rule of law – a very important component of democracy -but at the same time purposely keeps the citizens in the dark as regards to the mineral resources of the country, sources of wealth of his ministers, s top government officials, senators, representatives and how is government is being run in general. I also want to draw the attention of prof. Akunyili – who is also a scientist/scholar – to the fact there is a strong correlation between free and fair elections, transparency of the government, free access of citizens to information, full accountability of government officials on one side, and corruption and quality of government on the other side. The more accountable and transparent a government is, the lesser the level of corruption and the better the quality of governance. Accountability, transparency and free access of the citizens to information allow them not only to access how effective bureaucrats, including the president himself, are serving them, but also empower them to detect and prosecute any abuse of power/authority by the latter in any form – for example, self-enrichment.

This fact or correlation has been proved over and over by economic scientists. In their article titled “Are You Being Served? Political Accountability and Quality of Government” published in the journal of Law, Economics and Organization in 2003, Carlos Bosch of Princeton University, Alice Adzer of University of Illinois and Mark Payne of InterAmerican Development Bank, through statistical analysis of large volume of data confirmed this correlation. Similar results were recorded in another article titled “Accountability and Corruption: Political Institutions Matter” published in 2009 in the journal of Economics and Politics, by Daniel Lederman and Normann Loyaza, both of The World Bank, and Rodrigo Soares of Maryland University.

It’s an open secret that Nigerian corrupt politicians, in conjunction with unscrupulous foreigners and foreign companies have taken advantage of the absence free access of the citizens to information, accountability and transparency about government activities to enrich themselves at the detriment of Nigerians. The country has been robbed of billions of dollars by heartless Nigerian leaders – all of whom are practically from the north. Retired northern criminal lofficers and opportunists like IBB, Danjuma, Gowon, Abacha, Buhari, Yaradua, Obasanjo, who at best should be hawking suya, carrot, kola-nuts, tea, or be working as megidas, cobblers, labourers, brick-layers became millionaires and our leaders. What a pity!

Furthermore, prof. Akunyili needs to understand that one of the most effective ways to battle corruption in any country, including Nigeria, is accountability, transparency and free access of citizens to information. Therefore, if Yaradua and Akunyili are really serious in their resolve to wage war on corruption, which, unfortunately, has been the bane to our development, and sincere about developing the Niger Delta, then I challenge them to provide comprehensive answers to all the above questions in a public forum. Providing answers to all the above questions, definitely, will be a major first step in the right direction.

Finally, I want to use this opportunity to bring it to the attention of Nigeria’s quota system president, Alhaji Shehu Tuwo Yaradua and prof. Akunyili that even Russia – which is regarded as one of the most corrupt countries in the world and has always occupied one of the last positions in the list of Transparency International of most corrupt countries, published annually, has just passed a Freedom Of Information Bill. If Yar’Adua and the bandits surrounding him, who are eating Nigeria dry, have no skeletons in their cupboards, what is stopping Nigeria from passing such a bill too? This is a challenge for prof. Akunyili. With her appointment of prof. Akunyili as the minister of information, we sincerely hope that this issue, which is of strategic importance to our development and bringing about everlasting peace in the N.D. will finally get the deserved attention. We are eagerly waiting for the answers to the above questions as soon as possible. The ball is in the court of the minister.

I recommend that the indigenes of the N.D. should ask Yaradua, Akunyili and Ekaette the above questions through the media. Those questions should be published in Nigerian newspapers. Meanwhile, while Yar’Adua, Akunyili and Ekaette crack their brains on how to answer the questions, my advise to the indigenes of the N.D. for now is to tell Yar’Adua to go to hell with his ministry of N.D.

TO BE CONTINUED ….

P.S. YOU CAN MAKE A DIFFERENCE!

All you need to do is to send this article and others in this series (including One Nigeria: To be or not to be? parts 1-6) to at least 10 people – at least 4 of them should be from the Niger Delta and one of them should be a reknowned figure/politician. Ask all of them to do the same too. Please act right away. THANK YOU.

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