Vanguard Newspaper 15 April 2018
PAGE 28 — SUNDAY VANGUARD, APRIL 15, 2018 Nigerian elections: Strong referee, weak process Those who know the contributions of Festus Okoye as Executive Director, Human Rights Monitor to our election process may have commended his nomination last week as one of the National Commissioners of the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC). Okoye is eminently qualified to hold the highest office in INEC. While congratulating him and his colleagues in the commission, we are painfully unable to have faith that the appointment of such strong hands to INEC would resolve our unending poor elections. We have had cause in the past to make the point that INEC needs more than men of integrity. If strong men such as Ovie-whiskey, Eme Awa Humphrey Nwosu and Attahiru Jega were unable to institutionalize our election process, the nation ought to at this point halt its self-deceit in leaving substance to pursue shadows. It is indeed sad that we have continued to look for Demystification of President Muhammadu Buhari (3) The question that arises now is: how did retired Maj. Gen. Muhammadu Buhari manage the Petroleum (Special) Trust Fund (PTF)? A detailed analysis published in Newswatch magazine of March 24, 2000, reveals sordid information about how the fund was allegedly systematically mismanaged. Aside from the fact that an estimated 75% of PTF projects were cited in the north, its achievements were overshadowed by massive waste and corruption. Remember, the total income that accrued to the fund in its five years of existence was over N146 billion, meant for special intervention in basic infrastructure, supply of essential materials and rehabilitation of health and educational facilities, among others. The first blunder Buhari committed as the executive chairman of PTF was his unilateral appointment of a private firm, Afri-Projects Consortium (APC), as the sole adviser and management consultant to the fund. The investigative Interim Management Committee (IMC-PTF) set up by Chief Olusegun Obasanjo, headed by Haroun Adamu, discovered that not only did Buhari delegate most of his powers to the APC, it also confirmed that the consortium overcharged the fund for its services to the tune of N2 billion. One of the critical areas of intervention in the health sector handled by the company was PTF’s programme for the control and eradication of HIV/ strong men without strengthening the process thereby wasting the expertise of each strong man that gets added to the INEC team. The second story about INEC in the week just ended came from the chairman of the electoral body, Professor Mahmood Yakub who told the nation what many people knew would be said which is that e-voting would not be adopted in 2019. If so, what change has been recorded concerning the conduct of elections in Nigeria? The problem really is not about graduating into the group of nations that use e-voting. We have ample evidence that many nations that adopted it encountered by far too many challenges. The real problem is that we have not been able to take advantage of improved technology to sanitize the basics of an election process particularly the registration of voters. As a result, Nigeria is yet to have a near credible voter’s register. As no one knows the exact number of ghosts in the PhD,Department of Philosophy, University of Lagos 08116759758 email@example.com AIDS, where it allegedly imported sub-standard, poorly packaged, poorly stored, expired or soon to expire treatment kits and drugs. Indeed, because of APC’s unprofessional handling of the programme, the federal government spent over N500 million to stock big silos of useless drugs and kits purchased at inflated prices. At the time, late governor Abubakar Audu of Kogi state, Dr. Rowland Ogbonna, secretary of the Nigerian Guild of Medical Directors, and Omololu Falabi, coordinator of Journalists Against Aids (JAAIDS), insisted that unless all PTF supplied drugs were withdrawn Nigerians are at a high risk of consuming expired and fake drugs. Other cases of mismanagement of public funds include the purchase of large quantities of spectacle frames sold N800 each locally for N1,900, resulting in government paying N45 million extra, and ambulances that normally costs N3 million per unit were purchased at the grossly inflated price of N13 million, leading to a loss of N900 million. In all the areas that PTF was expected to carry out its interventionist mandate, Obasanjo’s interim committee concluded that there had been massive fraud or criminal mismanagement of funds belonging to the PTF. Indeed, Haroun Adamu reportedly complained that before his committee began its assignment, N500 million belonging to the fund and lodged in a bank had been withdrawn by unidentified document, we are left to conduct elections using unascertainable statistics. The other day, INEC announced its readiness to investigate an allegation of under-age voters in the last local elections in Kano. That was shocking because under-age voting has Perhaps, the fuss about elections in Nigeria can reduce if our electoral body can follow what our banks have done by making it fruitless for anyone to seek to use another person’s voter’s card always been part of our elections before, during and after the card reader era not only in Kano but in many other locations. Is not instructive that INEC has found that a serving state governor was registered twice? The reason for the malaise is pretty obvious; the process of registration is so tedious that many people especially the elderly who are too fragile or too busy to stand the rigours of registration are tempted to persons. Overall, of the N146 billion PTF received from government, the staggering sum of N25 billion was either stolen or improperly spent on dubious goods and services. Of course, APC denied any wrongdoing: the company issued a statement in which it claimed that its members were people of impeccable character who had undertaken several national and international assignments during and after the PTF years. Similarly, Buhari, when confronted with allegations of mismanagement of PTF’s funds, affirmed that he was unaware of it and as such could not have benefited personally from what happened. But does his denial hold water? Assuming that he did not benefit from the corruption, was he so insular or alienated from what was going on in PTF that he had no idea about corruption there? In any case, as we noted earlier, he approved the appointment of APC and delegated virtually all his executive powers to the consortium. Moreover, it is alleged that Buhari himself ratified all recommended payments from the fund. Therefore, because the buck stopped at his table, Muhammadu Buhari cannot be completely exonerated from the mismanagement in PTF if the findings of the interim committee reflected the true situation. Now, what happened to the final report of the committee? If the report contained details of gross mismanagement and corruption as reported in the media, why was Buhari not invited to give account of his stewardship? If Obasanjo was really sincere in setting up the investigative winding down committee, if he really wanted to know the truth about how PTF was managed and punish anyone found guilty of improper conduct, why was he eager to exonerate Buhari completely from blame? The answer to the last question is: Muhammadu Buhari is one device other options to get registered. In some cases, people send their children to register and vote on their behalf. The large number of unclaimed voter’s cards is a pointer to the bureaucratization of what it takes to become a registered voter in Nigeria. When Professor Jega introduced the famous Data Capturing Machine, it came with a message that some temporary voter’s cards would first be given while the Almighty Permanent Voter’s Cards PVC would follow. The process was tolerable as an innovation. Alas many years down the line, people are still not able to pick up a PVC in a single process. When shall we have a voter’s card without adding the word ‘permanent’ and why is INEC unable to do what the Banks do so easily when an account is opened by a customer? Why is a bank able to design an identification that enables its customers to deposit or withdraw money in any of its branches whereas INEC’s card which is so tedious to obtain is usable only where it was obtained? This appears to be the dissuading devil in our election process; too much of security that secures nothing. Perhaps, the fuss about elections in Nigeria can reduce if our electoral body can follow what our banks have done by making it fruitless for anyone to seek to use another person’s voter’s card. of the so-called sacred cows or untouchables alongside other former military heads of state who appear to be above the law. Besides, putting him in the hot seat might unearth facts that could tarnish his reputation for integrity and incorruptibility. Those that voted for Buhari on the conviction that he would improve the economy were hoodwinked by the persistent narrative of integrity and incorruptibility from Buharimaniacs: they did not reckon with his track record both as a military head of state and executive chairman PTF to arrive at a more realistic and rational estimate of what he can achieve in that critical area of our national life. Moreover, Objectively considered, the economic policies of this government are inappropriate for our current circumstances, a fact reiterated by an ardent supporter of the President, Dr. Dele Sobowale, and Bill Gates, one of the richest men in the world Buhari seems averse to accepting responsibility especially when things go wrong under his watch. According to President Buhari and his lieutenants the immediate past government left the economy in shambles, but now, owing to diligent management the economic outlook is “looking up.” They cite increase in foreign reserves from $24 billion in 2016 to $34 billion in 2017, rise in crude oil production to about 2 million barrels a day, World Bank’s “Ease of Doing Business Report” of 2017 which showed that Nigeria had progressed 24 places to 145th, improvement in rice production and modest gains Except, we design such a strategy that turns back an imposture from registering or voting, we are likely to continue to run an obsolete election process which is heavily ‘secured’ by materially influenced law enforcement agencies. Apart from the huge cost involved and clashes between different groups, Nigerians and the world at large would continue to watch helplessly, televised scenes of politicians and security agencies openly distributing and collecting money at voting centres. In a poor economy such as ours where the gap between those who have and those who have not is exceedingly large, many people will do whatever can subvert an election process for any amount. Thus, brigandage during our elections is not likely to reduce. Only last year, that is before Festus Okoye became an INEC nominee, he had opined that “for the 2019 general elections to be free, fair and credible the leadership of the country must commit to zero tolerance of political brigandage.” Okoye spoke in Kaduna at a colloquium on ‘elections, corruption and road map to 2019.’ Will anyone hear him? Unfortunately, rather than concentrating on the foundation of election, that is, obtaining a credible and secured voter’s register, INEC is being diverted into less important issues such as monitoring election expenses. of the Economic Recovery and Growth Plan (ERGP) launched by the administration to ensure continuous improvement of the economy. Now, juxtapose these claims with the situation before May 29, 2015: after being rebased by the Jonathan administration, Nigeria’s economy was adjudged the largest in Africa and 24th in the world. According to “CNN Money”, a flagship economic, financial and monetary analysis programme of the Cable News Network (CNN), Nigeria’s economy was the third fastest growing economy in the world, bettered only by China and Qatar, whereas the British government claimed it was the fourth. A World Bank Investment Report prepared by the United Nations Conference on Trade and Development (UNCTAD) projected Nigeria as the number one destination for foreign direct investment in Africa. Added to all this are about $30 billion in foreign reserves, $5.6 billion dividends from Nigeria Liquefied Gas Co. Ltd, and a budget of over N4 trillion inherited from the outgone Jonathan government by the incoming Buhari administration. It should also be pointed out that when APC took over power, the official pump price of fuel was N87 per litre, the exchange rate was N199 to one $1, while data from the Nigerian Bureau of Statistics put inflation rate at a single digit. The foregoing seems to contradict claims by Buhari and his party stalwarts that Nigeria’s economy had virtually collapsed by the time he took over. In fact, in some areas the economy seems to be getting worse now. For example, the Nigerian sank into recession in 2016. That same year, according to information from Bloomberg L.P., a privately owned software, data and media company headquartered in Midtown Manhattan, New York, the naira was the fourth worst performing currency in Luckily, those who know have cautioned against such dissipation of energy. Professor Lai Olurode a former national electoral commissioner, explained recently that it is a difficult task for even countries with well developed sources of information because candidates and parties can spend through third parties. According to Olurode, INEC would be biting more than it can chew if she gets into that. While it is not easy to identify who is diverting INEC into such areas, it seems clear that the electoral body is not as independent as its name suggests. We are guided here by a recent statement credited to the immediate past chairman of the commission, Professor Attahiru Jega that INEC was being manipulated ahead of the forthcoming elections in 2019. Jega was reported to have made the statement in Kano, while answering questions from participants at a Public Lecture titled: ‘Electoral Democracy and Integrity in Nigeria: Reflections on INEC’s Transformation 2011- 2015’, organised by the Aminu Kano Centre for Democratic Research and Training. Whoever is running or manipulating INEC should be told that except our electoral body is allowed to be a strong institution rather than an institution with strong men, Nigeria can hardly attain credible elections the world, having lost more than one hundred percent of its value in 2014. Current estimates of job losses since APC came to power range from 3 to 7 million, mostly due to retrenchment of workers and closure of thousands of manufacturing firms and other enterprises in the real sector. Perhaps President Muhammadu Buhari and his team are trying their best to improve the economy. However, there is no clear evidence that their policies are working. The welfare of ordinary Nigerians has not improved significantly in the last three years, which leads me to the question: if the improvement Lai Mohammed and others are talking about is real, why are more and more experiencing increasing hardship than they did before June 2015? Certainly, the President and his lieutenants are not listening to the masses, the voiceless millions who are weighed down by double digit inflation, worsening insecurity and the psychological trauma of failed hope on the President as the messiah. Objectively considered, the economic policies of this government are inappropriate for our current circumstances, a fact reiterated by an ardent supporter of the President, Dr. Dele Sobowale, and Bill Gates, one of the richest men in the world. Millions of ordinary Nigerians feel alienated economically from the government because they are becoming poorer, hungrier, more insecure, destitute and disillusioned about the future. I, like others bearing the burdens of incompetent leadership, trying so hard to eke out a living with low income worsened by the depreciating value of the naira, do not need an expert to inform us that our economic fortunes in the last three years have nosedived such that “changing the change” is increasingly becoming an attractive proposition. To be continued
SUNDAY Vanguard, APRIL 15, 2018,PAGE 29 SEX-FOR-MARK SCANDAL IN OAU RAGES Lecturers seek sexual favours but our girls’ hands are also not clean – Prof. Osanyin, early education expert •Tips to escaping randy teachers BY YETUNDE AREBI A n audio recording detailing a female student’s discussion with a purported lecturer went viral on social media. The voices on the recording were alleged to be that of a female student who scored 33 in an examination, and a male lecturer, Professor Richard Akindele, who was allegedly soliciting for sex with the student to help scale up her mark. The audio recording elicited diverse reactions from people. While many people condemned the action of the lecturer, there were those who questioned the motive of the student while some even referred to it as a scam. To set the records straight, the authorities of the Obafemi Awolowo University (OAU), Ile-Ife, where the scandal erupted, have waded into the matter. In a statement released last Wednesday, the Vice Chancellor, Professor Eyitope Ogunbodede, announced that the university had commenced the process of identifying the persons involved by setting up a committee to investigate the matter. “Since the matter came to our notice, the university has begun the process of identifying the characters involved in this apparent breach of its regulations, the Code of Conduct for the University Community and the Anti- Sexual harassment policy, in full compliance with all applicable laws, rules regulations and procedures of the university”, Eyitayo said in a statement. According to him, the highpowered committee will investigate the allegations and submit its report within one week. He added, “Anyone found culpable will be dealt with decisively. The university will never condone such act by any staff or student”. While arguments over the audio recording rage on, one fact we may not be able to erase is that sexual harassment is rife in our society. From the work place to tertiary institutions and even secondary schools, tales of women being asked to engage in all forms of sex and sexual acts in return for favours, or even what is due to them, regale the society. But perhaps more worrisome is sexual harassment targeted at young future leaders by teachers/lecturers who the society has entrusted in their care to nurture and shape both in knowledge and character. Besides the trauma of being abused on the part of the student, it is instructive to note that the society suffers more from a system that allots mark to students in exchange for sexual favours. This is because our tertiary institutions will not only churn out half-baked and lazy graduates, the society will suffer more as it grapples with incompetent professionals and workforce. However, we seem not to be fazed by the trend. How did we get here and what can be done to bring back the honour of our young women and men and curb sexual harassment in our tertiary institutions. Deficient foundation Professor Florence, Ajike Osanyin, Head, Early Childhood Education, Faculty of Education, University of Lagos, Akoka, attributes the problem to poor parenting and loss of Some come to school from their first day of admission with predetermination that they will beg and cheat their way through school societal values. Speaking with Sunday Vanguard on the subject, causes and elimination of sexual harassment in tertiary institutions, Osanyin opined that focus must be shifted back to the homes where these students come from rather than look for the solution on the campuses. “For most of the students, the foundation is deficient. In fact there is no foundation for self-respect and selfesteem. We have imbued in them a culture of begging for things, especially things they do not merit or work for”, she said. “We have become a nation plagued with Dependency Syndrome. Many parents have left the authorities to their children. The children control them, especially the illiterate or pseudo-illiterate parents who now have children in higher institutions. The children become their bosses because they see themselves as having superior knowledge. Parents must step up their duties to raise good children for the society”. Osayin stressed that many students are lazy and come to school unserious. “Many of them actually lure and entice male lecturers. They go to them to offer themselves. They tell them they are available for anything, especially after they are marked down. Some come to school from their first day of admission with pre-determination that they will beg and cheat their way through school. Also, If you see what many of these students wear to school, you will marvel. Many of them wear provocative dresses with their parents’ consent. They forget that one will be addressed the way they dress. If I am a man and I am constantly being offered such a thing, will I not go for it? If the home has done its own work properly, the children will always have those values in their hearts and will not want to derail”. Asserting that sexual harassment exists in institutions of higher learning, the professor insisted it happens only when shameless students present the opportunity to male lecturers. “If you are hard-working, you do your work properly and on schedule, you will get good grades. After all, is it not their mates that graduate with distinctions and other good grades? Which lecturer will solicit for sex from you when you know you have done your work well? He too will not want to be caught in something he cannot defend. It is because the students are weak and are looking for cheap marks. As they say, cheap things don’t come easy. If a lecture marks your paper and you are not satisfied, you have a right to recall and it will be addressed. The students know this but they will not because they know that their hands are not clean. They know that they do not merit anything better, so they are prepared to do anything,” she stressed. Poor enforcement of regulations According to Sunday Vanguard’s findings, universities’ authorities are usually not unaware of most of the atrocities committed by victims and their predators. Most of the institutions have put in place rules and regulations to guide the conduct of students and lectures on campus. Despite the fact that law against provocative dressing exists in almost all universities, many students still come to school in ill-fitting clothes. University of Lagos has put a permanent ban on strapless or sleeveless clothes and spaghetti tops, miniclothes as well as tight-fitting and transparent clothes. Yet, students are often seen parading in these clothes and often unchallenged. A student, who spoke on the basis of anonymity, said these clothes are allowed once a student stays away from the Senate building and other administrative blocks. Discussing with a lecturer at the University of Lagos, who requested not to be identified, she informed Sunday Vanguard of some other measures that the university has put in place to protect undergraduate students from harassment and harm but which are not strictly being adhered to. For instance, for undergraduate students, lectures officially end at 6. 00pm and there are no weekend lectures, yet you are not unlikely to find some lecturers and students working outside these schedules without concrete reasons for doing so. During the orientation week for fresh students, many of these rules and provisions are made public but rather than the students use official platforms to address their complaints they resolve to do things their way. Harassment cuts across board The female lecturer debunked the idea that good students never get harassed, saying that harassment cuts across board. She argued, “A good student can also be harassed; it is just that they have a better case because they can defend themselves with the quality of their works. Also, it is difficult for lecturers not to know a good student, so, it is easier for such students to escape”. She, however, pointed out that in recent years, more than ever before, it appears that girls do not want to work hard at anything, and noted that this is a dangerous trend which is likely to affect all the hard work that women have done over the years, to come this far. “Soon, men won’t take us seriously anymore,” she warned. On ways a female student can prevent sexual harassment by lecturers, like Osanyin, she also acknowledged the contribution of the home in raising confident, hard-working young women with good values. She reminded that even the holy books advise parents on the need to imbibe good morals. The lecturer insisted that there is no short cut to hard-work, adding that getting good grades remains the first step to achieving success and staying out of trouble. She revealed that in counselling her female students, she insists that the code of silence must be broken. “What this means is that they must always let someone else know about it when faced with such a situation. If a male lecturer asks you to meet him anywhere, let others know, gather evidence and witnesses that will corroborate your story, should you come out looking dishevelled”. On the issue of lecturers and school authorities ganging-up against victims of harassment, our source revealed that this is also possible because of the society we find ourselves in. The need to protect the name of the institution may arise especially where the female has compounded her case too, making it easy for her to become a victim all over again. “Male lecturers may take sides with their colleague not necessarily because they are also into the same thing but simply because it is a male dominated society and it is usually a case of ‘he said’”, she stated, insisting that the first step is for the girl to do a good job first. “A paper can be recalled and given to another lecturer to mark. In fact, it can still be taken higher if they suspect complicity” . Our source however called on universities’ authorities to always do a thorough investigation whenever such cases come up. “Where a male lecturer is found guilty, the law must take its course. It is only that way that others like him will be deterred from doing similar things. We can even go further, these men are married with their own families, let’s talk to their wives and children about how they feel. Go to their places of worship, their clubs; talk to the members. The Bible says there is no hiding place for the wicked. These matters must not be treated with kid gloves if we are serious about stopping sexual harassment in our institutions of higher learning”, she concluded.