The Archbishop of Canterbury and head of the Anglican Church, Justin Welby, has described the shooting of unarmed #EndSARS protesters at Lekki toll gate as an outrage.
The shooting and another in Alausa, Lagos, led at least 13 people to their graves while many sustained varying degrees of injuries, according to Amnesty International, a global rights organisation.
Although the rain of live ammunition has been condemned by all and sundry, including prominent figures and organisations at the international level, both the Lagos state and federal governments have refused to take responsibility for the shooting.
Meanwhile, in an article published in ThisDay newspaper on Monday, the religious leader condemned the violent reaction of the soldiers to the protesters.
“The deliberate shooting of unarmed protestors in Lagos and other parts of Nigeria last week was an outrage. I say this as a human being, as a Christian, and as the leader of the worldwide Anglican Communion – which counts some 18 million Nigerians as part of our global family.”
Mr Welby said while he could not absolve his place of origin, Britain, of acts of violence, Nigeria should learn from the mistakes of his home country.
“But I also say this as a British citizen, knowing that in our recent colonial past the UK has committed appalling acts of violence. Just over a year ago, I visited the site of the Jallianwala Bagh massacre in Amritsar, India, where a great number of Sikhs – as well as Hindus, Muslims and Christians – were shot dead by British troops in 1919.
“I had no status to apologise on behalf of the British government for that atrocity. But I could speak of my shame, sorrow and horror that it happened. And while I absolutely have no place to lecture or rebuke Nigeria, a country that is very dear to my heart, I can say this: learn from our mistakes. Do not go further down the path of violence and injustice. Turn around and find the path of peace, justice and reconciliation.
“This is a time for heroes. No nation can be built without heroism, the religious leader pointed out on the need to pursue common good.
“This is a time for all those who play a role in the political and civil leadership of Nigeria to be heroes for the common good. This is a time to sacrifice ambition, to set aside party, to unite to serve in order that Nigerians from richest to poorest may flourish.
“I am not speaking of a national government, a single non-party approach but of a national determination, agreement and declaration that there will be a common effort for the common good of the nation. I am talking of a willingness to give everything and sacrifice everything, position, place, ideas, wealth, from the highest to the lowest: I appeal for a sacrifice that will raise the nation, bring hope and set a course for prosperity and a glowing future.”
Mr Welby called on Nigerian leaders to set aside differences and steer the ship of state away from the rocks of conflict and set a course that is for the good of all.
“Democratic politics must continue, the abandonment of democracy would worsen the crisis, but let all involved agree to meet the basic needs of Nigeria.”
He also spoke on the need to provide security, food and shelter for the people.
“They are not privileges of the rich or middle class – although in so many countries that is the tragic reality. They are the entitlement of every human being. Nigeria has the courage to be better than the others.”
“Throughout the Bible, work is not seen as an evil necessity but as part of human dignity. Underemployment and unemployment deny human dignity. Corruption, violence, banditry all pervert the proper purpose of work. In Genesis 1 we are told that God worked and rested. You cannot work without rest but you cannot rest without work,” Mr Welby cited.
He, however, advised youth to seek the path of peace and eschew violence through dialogues
“Enter into dialogue, find your heroes who seek the good of every Nigerian. Let freedom and peace flourish. Then your acts will be remembered for the heroism they have shown. In violence, there is no future, for violence feeds on itself. No person should “cry havoc and let slip the dogs of war”, as Shakespeare wrote in Anthony and Cleopatra.
“Seize the moment, Nigeria, that those who love you may boast of you. The prize of a greater nation is there, almost within your grasp, greater no longer just in the future, but today.”
Obaseki Accuses FG, Finance Minister of Playing the Ostrich, APC Kicks
The Governor of Edo State, Godwin Obaseki, has reacted to the Nigerian government’s denial that it printed money in March to support allocations to states.
The governor said the Federal Government must act quickly to end the “current monetary rascality”.
Obaseki, on Monday had lamented the fiscal state of the nation, saying by the country was effectively broke.
“When we got FAAC for March, the federal government printed additional N50-N60 billion to top-up for us to share,” he said.
But the Minister of Finance, Budget and National Planning, Zainab Ahmed, on Wednesday said the claim was “untrue”.
“The issue that was raised by the Edo State governor for me is very, very sad, because it is not a fact,” Mrs Ahmed claimed.
Mrs Ahmed insisted that FAAC allocation was from revenues from different agencies of the Federal Government.
“What we distribute at FAAC is a revenue that is generated and in fact distribution revenue is a public information. We publish revenue generated by FIRS, the customs and the NNPC and we distribute at FAAC. So, it is not true to say we printed money to distribute at FAAC, it is not true,” she said.
The ruling All Progressives Congress (APC) also tackled Mr Obaseki, and rejected his claim that the Nigerian economy was in a critical situation due to a huge debt burden.
“The true position is that under Obaseki’s watch, the economy of Edo is in dire straits with the governor bereft of ideas on how to get it out,” the APC said.
“The state is engulfed in a foreign debt of 300 million dollars and a domestic debt including loans from commercial banks, the capital market, and other doubtful sources, approaching N120 billion as at March, for non-existent projects,” it said.
Mr Obaseki in a tweet on Thursday said, “We believe it is our duty to offer useful advice for the benefit of our country.”
“The Minister of Finance, Budget and National Planning, @ZShamsuna should rally Nigerians to stem the obvious fiscal slide facing our country,” the governor said.
“Rather than play the Ostrich, we urge the government to take urgent steps to end the current monetary rascality so as to prevent the prevailing economic challenge from degenerating further.
“We believe it is imperative to approach the Nigerian project with all sense of responsibility and commitment and not play to the gallery because ultimately time shall be the judge of us all.”
JUSUN Strike: Governors, Speakers, Buhari’s CoS Meet
Representatives of the Nigerian Governors’ Forum (NGF) and the Conference of Speakers of State Assemblies, on Thursday, met with President Muhammadu Buhari’s Chief of Staff, Ibrahim Gambari, in Abuja, over the ongoing nationwide strike of judiciary workers.
Speaking with State House reporters at the end of the meeting which held at Mr Gambari’s office at the Presidential Villa in Abuja, Governor Aminu Tambuwal of Sokoto State, who is also the Deputy Chair of the NGF, appealed to the striking workers to call off their strike in the interest of the nation.
The governors along with the Labour Minister, Chris Ngige, had earlier postponed a meeting scheduled to be held with the leadership of the striking workers indefinitely on Thursday.
Judiciary workers had embarked on the indefinite nationwide strike on April 6 in protest against the denial of the judiciary of financial autonomy especially by state level.
The News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) reports that Mr Tambuwal told reporters that the governors had met with the speakers and the Chief Judges of various states, and would continue to engage the leadership of the Judiciary Staff Union of Nigeria over the strike
“We’ve just finished talking to the Speakers, and indeed the State Chief Judges, and the Judiciary, to continue to engage and the Minister of Labour is also engaging with the striking bodies to appeal to them, to appreciate the fact that we have made progress.
“We’re appealing to them in the interest of this country, they should call off the strike”, he said.
According to the governor, a lot of progress had been made in the negotiations and hopefully the matter would be put to rest by next week.
“We’re here with the chairman and leadership of the Speakers’ Conference. The Solicitor General of the Federation, and SSA to Mr President on Niger Delta, who has been a member of the Technical Committee on the implementation of the autonomy of state legislatures and the judiciary.
“Together with the Chief of Staff to the President, we have just finished a meeting on how to put finishing touches and dotting the I’s and crossing the T’s, on the final implementation of the financial autonomy of the state legislatures and the judiciary.
“We have made reasonable progress and we have agreed, after receiving the final report of the technical committee, to meet on Monday, because of the urgency of the matter and finally, resolve whatever issues are there,” he said.
He also expressed the commitment of those in leadership positions to build viable institutions for the country.
“Well, I can assure you that all of us are committed to building institutions, particularly our parliaments and the judiciary in our respective states, as democratically elected governors, and we are doing whatever it takes to make sure that the issues are resolved.
“As I told you before, some of the issues are constitutional and when matters have to do with the constitution, you have to be sure of what you’re doing that you’re actually following the Constitution,” he said.
Mr Tambuwal said the governors had always been in support of the autonomy of state legislature and judiciary.
He added, “From the very beginning, during the 8th Assembly, under the leadership of Senate President Bukola Saraki and Speaker Dogara, the NGF under Abdulaziz Yari then, met with them and supported the financial autonomy for the state legislatures and the judiciary.
“And that is why with that support, we were able to achieve the passage of this amendment by the National Assembly and the state legislatures across the country.
“So, the governors are unequivocally in support of the autonomy of these institutions.’’
JUSUN had scaled up its battle for financial autonomy after it obtained a court judgment affirming the constitutional provisions granting financial autonomy to the judiciary in January 2014.
In their bid to ensure compliance with the judgment, the workers embarked on a protracted three weeks nationwide strike in January 2015.
They had called off the strike after governors and other stakeholders made commitments to meet workers’ demands, pledges that were largely jettisoned.
London Trip: When is Buhari Due Back As Two Weeks Expire?
By Eric Elezuo
On March 30, 2021, President Muhammadu Buhari left the shores for Nigeria for London, where he was supposedly gone for medical attention. He had described the trip as specifically for a ‘short rest’ in a letter to Abdullah ll Bin Al-Hussein, the king of the Hashemite kingdom of Jordan.
Earlier on March 29, Presidential spokesman Garba Shehu, had notified Nigerians in a tweet that Buhari will proceed “to London, the United Kingdom, Tuesday, March 30, 2021, for a routine medical check-up.”
Before departing Nigeria, Shehu said Buhari will meet with Security Chiefs first in the morning, after which he will embark on the journey. He did.
The presidential spokesman disclosed that Buhari “is due back in the country during the second week of April 2021” and gave no specific date for Buhari’s return to Nigeria.
However, two weeks after the president embarked on the journey, he is still out there in London, and no one seems to much about what is happening with the president.
A day after the president arrived at the Abuja House in London, he was persecuted by avalanche of protests from Nigerians resident in England, and led by activist, Reno Omokri. They had said that their intention was to drive Buhari to Nigeria, where he had expressed insensitivity even as the health system in the country is in comatose, and the doctors were embarking on strike.
Omokri and his co-travellers’ argument has been hinged on why Buhari will leave the nation’s health sector in a mess, and travel to another’s country to seek medical care. The protests have been sustained, leading to the emergence of pro-Buhari/government protesters to counter the protests.
It will be recalled that some major cabinet decisions have been taken even as the president is absent. The decisions and pronouncements were however, credited to him. Top of such decisions was the immediate removal of the Inspector General of Police, Mohammed Adamu, and replaced by Usman Baba.
This is not the first time Mr President will stay beyond his advertised period of London trips which is in its 12th time since he assumed office in 2015.
Meanwhile, the Minister of Information and Culture, Lai Mohammed, while addressing newsmen on Wednesday failed to disclose the exact date President Muhammadu Buhari would return to Nigeria. The Minister was of the view that second week of April as announced before the President’s departure has not ended. He insisted that the timeframe extends to Saturday, April 17.
When he travelled on March 30, the presidency had said he will return during the second week of April 2021.
There is “no big issue” yet regarding Buhari’s expected return, the Minister had told correspondents.
“Today is Wednesday, this week finishes on Saturday. So, what’s the big issue in that one?” he defended.
While Nigerians expect the president’s return by the ‘second week of April’, which technically ends on Saturday, according to Lai Mohammed, it is imperative to note that any extension will raise eyebrows as is currently happening.
The Boss Newspaper