By Joel Popoola
In October 2020 the eyes of the World were on Nigeria as the #EndSARS protests – the largest anti-government protests in a generation – took on corrupt elites.
The demonstrations began life as a movement against police brutality but rapidly snowballed into wider calls for government reforms – in particular greater accountability.
If nothing else, the protests did succeed in ending SARS, the widely-loathed police unit.
But in October 2021, what else has changed?
But this week, The Economist – perhaps the World’s most influential current affairs publication – called Nigeria “ungovernable… the crime scene at the heart of Africa”.
It writes: “Parts of it are thriving, especially in the south-west. Lagos, the commercial capital (which) is home to vigorous banks, a hip technology scene and a flourishing film industry”.
But overall the Economist finds the condition of Nigeria to be at “its worst since the civil war” with President Buhari accused of “allowing the rot to deepen”.
More striking criticism came closer to home, from the Centre for Fiscal Transparency and Integrity’s new Transparency and Integrity Index.
The Index aims to establish government agencies, public bodies and state and local government’s performance when it comes to putting vital information relating to good governance into the public domain.
The Abuja-based non-governmental organisation has ranked every one of Nigeria’s 475 public bodies for transparency and found them to be performing “abysmally”.
Agencies are ranked scored from 0-100, with agencies scoring 0-44 ranked “very poor”.
Every organisation is scored less than 40 – with the Family Homes Fund ranked Nigeria’s most transparent public body with a score of just 34.9.
The Nigerian Police force finds itself down in 135th place, with a score of just 13.
Although the Financial Reporting Council of Nigeria is top rated for Budget and Audit Reporting, it’s score of 40 still rates it as “very poor”.
You read that correctly, our official Financial Reporting body is rated “very poor” at Financial Reporting! And still better than anyone else!
In terms of government ministries, the Department of Aviation is rated the best –albeit with a “Very poor” score of 23.35 – the Ministry of the Interior is the worst, scoring just 7.14.
In terms of political bodies, 24 out of our 36 state governments record the lowest possible rating – with Kaduna ranked best, and Zamfura ranked worst.
A number of agencies are even described as “completely non-compliant”.
The group’s executive director, Umar Yakubu has stated that the index is designed to be “our own way of supporting the government in doing the right thing.”
At the digital democracy campaign I lead, we want to do the same thing.
It is individual politicians who must turn this miserable tide, by making themselves true role models for transparency.
We have created a free mobile app called Rate Your Leader to enable them to deliver maximum transparency to their voters.
Rate Your Leader is a direct line to verified local voters, making politicians accessible and transparent enough to answer any question the people who elect them have, and giving them the platform to make vital information immediately available and accessible.
Local leaders also need explain themselves better. The app also puts local officials in direct person-to-person contact with the people they serve, allowing voters to contact them, and helping politicians get better insight into the needs and wishes of the people who elect them.
If politicians using Rate Your Leader are responsive, accessible and authoritative, and explain the decisions they are taking clearly and satisfactorily, their voters can give them a positive rating. If people see that neighbours who have interacted with their local politicians have all rated them highly, that builds trust in our leaders. And that in turn builds trust in our system.
Have things changed since #EndSARS? Not enough.
But that doesn’t mean they can’t.
A year ago our young people demonstrate to us their bravery, energy and imagination. The fate of Nigeria’s political system may well depend on whether they can repeat that achievement in a more formal political setting.
Campaigns like ours, and technologies like Rate Your Leader are designed to facilitate that change.
With more Nigerian’s owning a smartphone than PVC, the power to make that change is in literally in our hands– thanks to the very technology scene The Economist cites as one of our nation’s remaining strengths.
Joel Popoola is a Nigerian tech entrepreneur, digital democracy campaigner and creator of the free Rate Your Leader app. Connect with Joel on Twitter @JOPopoola. He can be reached via @JOPopoola
LASTMA Denies Involvement in Burning of Bus, Warns Against Attack on Personnel
The Lagos State Traffic Management Authority (LASTMA) has denied reports making the rounds that its personnel were involved in the burning of a bus at the Obanikoro bus stop, Ikorodu Road. The Authority, while asking residents to desist from attacking LASTMA officials, stated that the report was the handiwork of an uninformed blogger.
Buttressing the facts of the matter in a statement signed by the Asst. Director, Public Affairs, Filade Olumide, and made available to the National Association of Online Security News Publishers (NAOSNP), the Authority hinted that “LASTMA Management after due diligence on the video, sympathise with the vehicle owner, but categorically deny complicity of any of its officers in the incidence portrayed on the video” while regretting that “…one of the LASTMA patrol officers offering helping hand with the burning vehicle was severely injured by uncalled-for mob action which seems to be occurring nowadays at the slightest alarm.”
The statement also condemned the shallow portrayal of the allegation as the picture evidence did not depict the allegation against its officials.
“The video report lacked pictorial evidence of LASTMA officers’ complicity; those interviewed were neither eye witnesses nor people directly involved in the incident, rather, they were people living within the inside street, close to the scene of the incidence on Ikorodu Road. Their evidences were hear-says’ and limited to after the arrival of security agencies officials to maintain law and order, after attacks on one of the LASTMA officials and also the Fire Fighters that were there to render assistance in putting out the fire in the vehicle,” the statement read.
It added that:
“LASTMA officials do not operate within side street and over time, the State Government has announced zero tolerance to attack on its officials while performing their duties as enshrined in the laws or as directed.
“We wish to reiterate that LASTMA personnel must not be attacked/assaulted while performing their duties or rendering service to the public.
“The LASTMA management also use this opportunity to advise reporters/bloggers to endeavour to conduct proper investigation and present facts rather than sentiments in their reportage for a peaceful and orderly society.”
Ondo Amotekun Arrests Suspected Masterminds of Owo Church Massacre
The Ondo State Security Network Agency, codenamed “Amotekun Corps” has confirmed that some suspects have been arrested in connection with the terrorist attack on St. Francis Catholic Church, Owo.
The suspected terrorists invaded the church on June 5, killing no fewer than 40 people and injuring many other worshippers.
The state Commander of Amotekun, Adetunji Adeleye, on Thursday said some suspects had been arrested in connection with the killing.
He stated this while parading some 71 men who were arrested for various criminal activities across the state.
The Amotekun boss said, “As regards the Owo incident, we have recovered the last vehicle they used for that operation and we made some arrests, and we have also recovered some vital things which we are working on.
“A number of people have been arrested concerning the Owo issue as well as a number of equipment. On that day, we pursued them to the point that we recovered the vehicle and we are still pursuing them. We have told you that until we get to the root, I can assure you that the perpetrators and their sponsors will be brought to book.”
On the 71 suspected criminals paraded at the headquarters of the command in Akure, the state capital, Adeleye explained that the suspects were arrested within the last one month for various offenses ranging from armed robbery, cattle rustling, kidnapping, raping, fraud and human trafficking.
“The 71 suspects were picked while committing offences and others were tracked to their hideouts in the forests. We have been able to get a cartel that specialises in stealing and dismantling motorbikes which we all know as okada. Also, we were able to recover over 50 bikes during the operation from these criminals.
“We also got reports from some herdsmen that their cattle were stolen. We went after them and brought the cows back to the Fulani herdsmen that owned the cow. We have a group of small boys who are under 18-year old that turned themselves into a cartel of criminals in a particular local government in Ondo State and armed themselves. They actually belong to a cult group called ‘Agbado’. We were able to arrest 12 out of the 17 members.
“We have about three to four suspected kidnappers and we intend to take most of these suspects, especially the ones we have concluded their investigations to the DPP and for their onward prosecution in court.”
He assured the people of the state that the corps would not rest on its oars until it rids the state of criminal elements, saying, “there is no hiding place for them. They turned the heat on us and we have also turned the heat on them.”
Immigration Service Collaborates with FRONTEX, Poland on Border Security
An Eight-Man Delegation of the Nigerian Immigration Service (NIS) has paid a two-day working visit to the headquarters of the European Border Agency, the FRONTEX.
The Public Relations Officer of the Service, Mr. Amos Okpu, in a statement released to the National Association of Online Security News Publishers (NAOSNP), said the Service paid the visit last week to hold discussions with the agency officials on border security and migration management matters.
He noted that the delegation, which was led by the Deputy Comptroller General in charge of the Directorate of Border Management, DCG Muhammad Aminu Muhammad mni was received on arrival at the FRONTEX Headquarters in Warsaw, Poland by senior officials of the organization including Mr. Iain Galea of the International Cooperation Division.
In her welcome remarks, the interim Executive Director of FRONTEX, Aija Kalnaja, stated that Nigeria, and indeed the Nigeria Immigration Service (NIS), remains a very dependable partner to her agency in the areas of border security and migration management. She stressed that the relationship between her agency and the NIS dated back to 2012 when both agencies entered into a Working Arrangement on Border Security and Migration Management. She maintained that the relationship has remained very enduring and useful to both agencies particularly in the areas of experience sharing and capacity building. She made a case for enhanced collaboration and partnerships by border agencies for a sustained fight against cross-border crimes, especially migrants smuggling and trafficking.
“I sincerely hope that both agencies will explore the opportunity of this meeting to examine the existing Working Arrangement to see if there are areas of possible review in line with current global migratory reality,” she stated.
Responding, the NIS team leader and Head of the Directorate of Border Management, DCG Aminu Muhammad, expressed appreciation for the warm reception accorded his team. He stressed that modern migratory realities are indicating that no unilateral efforts at migration and border security management will endure hence meetings such as this should be encouraged. He reiterated NIS’ strong commitment to healthy collaboration with friendly Border security agencies such as FRONTEX, and called for frank discussions during plenary. He further stressed the need for countries in Europe and other developed states to look beyond establishing border barricades to control migration, but make enduring arrangements to sincerely join efforts with authorities in developing countries to frontally address the pull and push factors of modern migration. He reiterated that the quantum of investments in building high-rise border barricades would not yield lasting benefits if the living conditions of people in developing countries remain abysmally poor.
Earlier, the facilitator of the trip and Country Representative of FIIAPP, implementer of the Action Against Trafficking in Persons and Smuggling of Migrants in Nigeria (A-TIPSOM), Mr. Rafael Molina, stated that his organisation decided to facilitate the trip with the aim of building enhanced synergy between FRONTEX and NIS for a more coordinated approach to the fight against irregular and dangerous migration.
The meeting witnessed robust plenary sessions during which presentations on matters such as the role of Migration Information and Data Analysis System (MIDAS) the NIS Regional Migration Academy Fundamental Human Rights as an Essential Component of European Integrated Border Management, FRONTEX Law Enforcement Function and the Fight Against TIPSOM in the EU, Fundamental Human Rights as an Essential Component of European Integrated Border Management, FRONTEX Support in the Entire Return Process among others were made.
Some major highlights of the meeting include expressions of strong commitment to enhanced collaboration and partnership by both agencies in the fight against irregular migration as well as robust assurances for more enriching capacity building engagements between both agencies.
The delegation, before rounding up the trip, visited the Nigerian Embassy, and got treated to a very warm reception by His Excellency, Major General (retd) Christian C. Ugwu, the Nigerian envoy to Poland and his great team. The delegation has since returned to Abuja.