STATE OF THE NATION ADDRESS
7th October, 2017 – 13th January, 2018
by the TMC Committee on Social Mobility, the Economy & Politics
Presented by the Chair of the Committee,
Dr. Luqman AbdurRaheem,
on Saturday, 13th January, 2018
FINDING LASTING SOLUTIONS TO THE SECURITY CHALLENGE
There is indeed a serious security challenge in the land owing to the senseless and mindless killings being perpetrated in several parts of the country by the Boko Haram group, herdsmen and farmers, kidnappers, cultists and armed robbers. The security challenge by the Boko Haram terrorist organisation is being frontally challenged by the military’s gallant efforts, the brilliance of the air force service men and other committed security personnel. A commendable crucial step was the recent approval of 1 billion US dollars by the Governors’ Forum that is aimed at fighting the various security challenges. This should step up the intelligence gathering capability and upgrade the armoury of the security personnel in tackling the security challenges. A critical factor of winning these security challenges is ensuring that the Nigeria Police is strengthened to adequately ensure that law and order reigns supreme among the civil populace. This can be achieved by recruiting more personnel, training and equipping them adequately and ensuring improved welfare packages. The citizens would need to complement these efforts by giving relevant information to security agencies in order to the arrest the criminals that are troubling our land. The security architecture can only be efficient and effective when every person living in Nigeria is identified, there is a national database and there are surveillance cameras everywhere.
THE LIBYAN SLAVE TRADE AND THE NIGERIAN GOVERNMENT
While we condemn the horrible experience that Nigerians and some African nationals have had in the hands of slave traders in Libya, we wish to warn Nigerians to desist from venturing to travel overseas through land borders without genuine and authentic travel papers. Such journeys, especially through the desert and in a country such as Libya that is fragmented into five different parts without any central government, are fraught with dangers of unimaginable proportions. Nigerians should not put themselves through more hardship than they would necessarily face in their own country. Nigeria sure has many challenges but there is still hope of a bright future for people who are willing to turn these challenges to opportunities. Let us look inward to better our lives and also keep it in mind that the streets of Europe are not paved with gold. The government at all levels must also do what it can and quickly enough in order to bring about lasting economic and infrastructural development. The federal government must continue to provide assistance to all stranded Nigerians who want to come home while the state governments should provide help in rehabilitating them on their arrival.
THE FEDERAL GOVERNMENT’S VOTE AND THE UNITED NATION’S RESOLUTION ON JERUSALEM
The Federal Government stands commended for standing by the 50-year old international consensus on Jerusalem’s status just like Britain, France, Germany, Japan and 123 other countries of the world. It will be recalled that many Security Council resolutions since the 1967 Arab-Israeli war, which have the force of international law, have stated unambiguously that Jerusalem’s status is unresolved, that claims of sovereignty by Israel are invalid and that the issue must be settled between the Israelis and the Palestinians. Nigeria’s vote is therefore an important step in ensuring that the international community stands committed to the agreed parameters of the international peace process. The General Assembly resolution, which was overwhelmingly supported with 128 in favour and 9 against, simply reiterated that Jerusalem’s status is to be resolved by the Israelis and the Palestinians.
FUEL CRISIS AND THE FATE OF A NATION
Nigeria undergoes fuel crisis virtually at every end of the year. This simply means that it does not happen as a surprise. If this is the case, why do the concerned agencies of government not act to prevent this perennial fuel crisis? This particular fuel crisis should be blamed on the NNPC as the primary cause and the marketers as the secondary cause. The NNPC did not plan for nor execute a course of action that would have addressed the spike in demand at this period. The NNPC also knew that the independent marketers had stopped importing petroleum products because of the high cost of foreign exchange. So, it was a problem that was waiting to happen several months earlier. The NNPC must improve on its ability to plan for the needs of the people it serves. On the other hand, the petroleum marketers sought to profit from the shortage in supply by hoarding products and arbitrarily selling above the regulated pump price. The marketers would prefer that the government raises the price of petrol so that they can go back to the business of petrol importation. But a price increase at this time would certainly bring untold hardship on the people and paralyse their economic activities. It would baffle the ordinary Nigerian why the federal government has been unable to fully rehabilitate the Port Harcourt and Kaduna refineries or build new ones. It is the provision of new refineries that can bring lasting solutions to the perennial fuel shortages. We should not have any business with the landing cost of petrol since this is caused by importation. Let us refine our crude oil at home and sell at economically-friendly prices. This is the reason that commendations go to Alhaji Aliko Dangote for investing in the building of a refinery. We hope that when this comes on stream, some of the problems of shortages will disappear. We also hope that the Federal Government will continue to encourage serious investors who want to build more refineries.
THE BENUE KILLINGS ARE SHAMEFUL AND CONDEMNABLE
We condemn the perpetrators of the Benue killings that have led to the loss of about 71 lives in one week. We also commiserate with the families of the deceased and urge the Federal government to go after the perpetrators and ensure they are brought to book so as to serve as deterrent to others. The killings between herdsmen and farmers are security breaches that have gone on for far too long. A holistic approach that settles amicably the use of land between these two groups must be sought and enforced. It is very good that the Federal Government has banned open grazing everywhere in Nigeria, and henceforth, all livestock farmers and herdsmen are to ranch their animals. The security forces must therefore go all out to arrest anybody who contravenes the new order.
FIRDAUSA AMASA’S HIJAB AND A RIGHT DENIED
Many Muslim women have for long endured in pain and sorrow the ‘Call to Bar’ ceremony where, in conformity to custom, they have had to remove their Hijab before they could be certified fit to practise as lawyers. On the day they were supposed to be joyful, they were filled with trepidation at a system that did not consider them fit unless they removed their Hijab. But many thanks to the courageous Firdausa Amasa who deemed it fit to stand against injustice and discrimination that have been shielded from public view. Now that we know what has been going on, we unequivocally stand in support of Firdausa Amasa since her cause is grounded in the Nigerian Constitution. We call on the Nigerian Law School, the Body of Benchers and the Council for Legal Education in Nigeria to critically look into this matter and make the necessary corrections without any loss whatsoever accruing to Firdausa Amasa. We also hope for a just hearing by the House of Representatives that has decided to look into the matter. It is our fervent hope that the Supreme Court will make a final pronouncement in favour of the Hijab just as it has happened at the Appeal Court. Isn’t she a good and noble lawyer who stands against injustice, discrimination and oppression?
UNSTABLE ELECTRICITY GENERATION AND LACK OF METERING CAPACITY
Granted that there is relative improvement in electricity generation and distribution nationwide, the frequent drops in generation and collapse of the national grid have to be stopped. There should be longer periods of continuous supply of electricity that is crucial to the industrial and economic development of the nation. Even though the present problem has been quickly resolved by the NNPC through the repair of the Escravos Pipeline, it is essential to put in place mechanisms that will prevent bush fires from causing such a monumental problem. The issue of proper metering is another burning issue that has not abated. The discos have refused to continue further supply of meters because it is easy to fleece unmetered houses by collecting money for electricity not supplied. The ministry of power, works and housing should therefore save the people from losing their hard-earned money by ordering the discos to re-start forthwith the supply of pre-paid meters to all homes and industries. If the discos know they cannot collect money for services not rendered, they will begin to face their business more seriously.
TRIBUTE TO A GREAT MUSLIM LAWYER
We indeed join other Islamic groups to empathize with the family of late Chief Gani Adetola-Kaseem (SAN) and the Muslim Ummah on the death of this legal icon who lived a worthy life and worked hard for Islam at the local and national levels. When others were timid to identify with Islam and Muslims, he raised his head high and damned the material consequences. At the peak of Islamophobic tendency in Lagos State, he defended the Hijab at the lower courts up to the Appeal Court. He won victory for the oppressed Muslim girl-child on Thursday, July 21, 2016, when the five-man panel of judges declared that the ban of the Hijab in Lagos schools violated the fundamental human rights of Muslim students and ruled that the move was unconstitutional. May Allah accept his acts of sacrifice and kindness and grant him the worthy prize of Paradise. Amin.
Dr. Luqman AbdurRaheem (Amir tmc)
Chair, Committee on Social Mobility, the Economy & Politics