All is now set for the commencement of the second retreat for Nigerian governors organised by the secretariat of the Nigeria Governors Forum, NGF. The retreat is holding at the five-star Giginya Coral Hotel in Sokoto metropolis.
Some of the resource persons billed to present papers were already around and seated. They are Chidi Odinkalu, chairman of the National Human Rights Commission, NHRC, Bishop Mathew Kukah, and human right lawyer, Ayo Obe. The former chairman of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission will also be making presentation here.
A PREMIUM TIMES reporter is attending the event and will provide live updates from the venue.
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UPDATE 1: Some of the governors briefly walked into the venue for a live interview on Channel TVs Sunrise programme. First to be interviewed were host governor Aliyu Wamakko and NGF Chair, Rotimi Amaechi.
Governors Kayode Fayemi of Ekiti and Babatunde Fashola of Lagos were also interviewed.
UPDATE 2: The commencement time has now been moved to 11a.m. from the original 9a.m. because the governors have gone to the palace of the Sultan of Sokoto on a courtesy call.
Comedian Julius Agwu is also around, we learnt he is the master of ceremony for the event.
UPDATE 3: Nuhu Ribadu arrives.
UPDATE 4: The governors are back from the Sultan’s palace and are seated for the retreat to commence shortly.
UPDATE 5: NGF Chair, Governor Rotimi Amaechi now speaking. “Todays event provides an opportunity for indepth deliberation on the state of the nation and challenges confronting our states.
“It is also an occasion to renew our vision as a forum.
“We meet regularly under the NGF platform not to deliberate on issues in a politically partisan fashion, but to have objective discussions and reach some consensus on matters of national interest.
“We also strategize on viable and responsible implementation options on fora like this. It has become our culture to leverage on the wisdom and experiences of experts as a way of giving broader perspectives to national issues.
“Nigeria is faced with a lot of challenges which can only be overcome if her leaders make conscious efforts to do the right things. This retreat is coming at a crucial time in our national life, when we as leaders must live up to expectations of the electorate. It’s a time when our insecure population looks up to us for security and social justice.
“It is my sincere hope that our resolutions would provide answers to the many questions plaguing our dear nation.”
UPDATE 6: Host Governor, Aliyu Wammako takes the microphone. He speaks, “It’s obvious that retreats of all types are meant to provide platforms for critical review of attitudes, decisions and plans of action with a view to introducing concrete and positive changes required in accomplishing predefined objectives
“Fora of this type are therefore highly crucial for individuals and groups offering challenging services of our type.
“The present moment of our history as a nation undoubtedly requires critical key players of our calibre to come together for sober reflections on the prevailing democratic dispensation, which we have the sacred responsibility of promoting, protecting and safe guarding at all times.
“Every citizen of our great country has the civic responsibilities of advancing the course democracy and indeed, all that it takes to propel Nigeria to greater heights.
“Those of us who have the mandate of our people should bear the full brunt of the challenges and sacrifices.
“The future which our founding fathers had hoped for us was that of selflessness in the service of our fatherland. Selflessness to struggle and work assiduously to bring freedom and opportunity to the common man; to fight and end poverty, ignorance and diseases; to build up prosperous, democratic and progressive nation and indeed to create social, economic and political institutions that would ensure justice, and happiness to every Nigerian.”
UPDATE 7: Prof. Wole Soyinka just finished delivering his paper. Up next Bishop Mathew Kukah.
UPDATE 8: Bishop Kukah speaks, “We use the word good governance rather dubiously in Nigeria
“There are indices for measuring good governance. For a country that is not working, how comes people are being over rewarded (referring to awards won by governors)
“Newspapers never tell us the yards stick they used to decide who is the best governor in Nigeria
“Political elites have changed the word to dividends of democracy. We don’t know when AGMs are held for dividends to be chaired
“One of the most important indices for measuring good governance is the media,- the papers can show us pictures of a minister drinking from a borehole on commissioning, but they don’t come back to show us that there was no water three days later.
“It is not possible to progress as a democratic nation without respect for intellect.”
UPDATE 9: Governors present here are Nyako (Adamawa), Fayemi (Ekiti), Wamakko (Sokoto) Yari (Kaduna), Amaechi (Rivers), Aregbesola (Delta), Al-Makura (Nasarawa). The governors of Kano,Niger, Kwara and Oyo are represented by their deputies.
UPDATE 10: Bishop Kukah continues, “We live in a country in which one suffers consequences for facing up to president or governor or even local government chairman. Why should a lawmaker be struggling to appropriate funds for constituency projects?
“Does scarcity induce greater business? Is it because we have so much that we have lost the capacity to think? Because there is so much to steal, stealing continues.”
UPDATE 11: Amaechi now discussing Prof Soyinka, Bishop Kukah’s papers.
He says, “If I were president, I would leave a legacy of credible election in Nigeria.
“We asked for an ADB loan of $200m dollars to provide water for our people, but Finance Minister has refused to sign because she feels we are having a feud with the president.
“There are no yard sticks to measure leadership in Nigeria. Today EFCC is in Jigawa and Kano because the governors disagree with the president. What about NNPC, Niger Delta? The FG takes 52% of our federal revenue, yet no asks them what they have done with it. Excess crude account in January was $9bn, today it’s just $4bn, what happened to $5bn?”
UPDATE 12: Deputy Governor of Kano, Ganduje says in his speech, “In Nigeria today fiscal responsibility is thrown to the dogs. Budgets are highly in favour of current expenditure. There are also lots of leakages, which affects IGR. As a governor, you must be an accountant, auditor and Judge. It is easy to declare a war, but difficult to wage it. Its easy to declare a policy but often difficult to implement it.”
UPDATE 13: Lagos Governor, Babatunde Fashola says, “If Nigeria is not making progress, do governors deserve all the awards and chieftaincy titles they are taking. Let us resolve here to stop taking these awards. Let us stop using sirens, and respect traffic rules.”
UPDATE 14: Former EFCC Chairman, Nuhu Ribadu speaks to the governors, ” States can teach the Federal Government good governance if they can conduct free and fair election in Nigeria Fight against corruption begins with the head.
“If you decide to fight corruption, no subordinate will dare to indulge. Wherever a leader is clean, everything else will follow. Governors are the most important officials who will deepen democracy in Nigeria.
“We need an anchor in the sheep of state who has strong character, selfless,sincere,passionate and cosmopolitan. There is no way this democracy can be deepened in an atmosphere of chaos.
“Eleven million children are roaming on our streets without the chance to enroll into school, no country in the world allows that. What does the future hold for such a country, I leave you to ponder.”
UPDATE 15: Kayode Fayemi speaks, “We associate language with power in Nigeria. Nigeria’s federalism is distorted. Governors are coordinate authorities not subordinate. Governors are supposed to be responsive to the yearnings of their people
“I wish oil will disappear in Nigeria. The way things stand, we can’t build a successful tax base regime, and without it, people find it difficult to hold governors to task.
“Imperative of diversifying our economy is critical to deepening our democracy. May be we should shut down the oil wells for one year and see may be the Groundnut and cocoa pyramids would return.
“We virtually sponsor the police in the states. Since I became governor, no single vehicle came for the police in Ekiti from Abuja. No one can convince me that there is no correlation between poverty and insecurity because poverty itself is violent.
“To respond to insecurity, we must have a security cum economic response. This responce of JTFsimply mowing down people is not a solution at all.
“With the recent declaration by the US, all Nigerians are affected, I am surprised people are celebrating it.
“We banish the electorate in order to get to office, so we did the right thing on their behalf, and by doing that we banish their right to hold us accountable. Politicians ignore the citizenry because they know how they get into office.”
UPDATE 16: Jigawa Deputy Governor Gumel says, “A governor is nothing under the current constitution, talk less of someone in the grassroots. Something bigger than Boko Haram will emerge in this country if care is not taken.”
UPDATE 17: Adamawa Nyako, Murtala Nyako says, ” To own a house, you need money to buy or build it, therefore the issue of employment is very important. But Nigerians don’t have job opportunities, we are all losers.
“It is imperative to create job opportunities for Nigerians. Job is security. Without job,people feel unwanted by the society. We also need to inculcate sound value system in the society. Leaders should stop behaving like God, because human beings cannot be God. Everyone in this country must operate under the law. Everybody gets away with crime in Nigeria, society cannot run successful under that atmosphere
“We must train and give our policemen targets. Other countries are successful in fighting crime because of effective use of intelligence. We need to find out how they are doing it, in order to get out of the shit we are now in.
“There may be more crime in the US in one month that we have in one year in Nigeria, but the good thing about it is that you can be sure over 80% of the perpetrators there would be prosecuted. We must stop accepting impunity in Nigeria.”
UPDATE 18: Saraki getting set to chair the third session on economy.
UPDATE 19:Professor Omorogbe spoke on the Nigerian Petroleum Industry and the NNPC.
He said NNPC has been condemning most reports set up to probe it, but most rebuttals lack depth like the reports being rebutted
UPDATE 20: The next session on Constitutionalism, Rule of Law and Human Rights to be chaired by former CJN, Lawal Uwais, is about to commence.
UPDATE 21: State Houses of Assembly have not shown much level of independence. State police should be done,but we have to change the mindset with which we are approaching the issue, Ayo Obe says.
UPDATE 22: Who is the Nigerian Police answerable to?
The idea of Inspector General of Police receiving orders from the President is already wrong, so governors should jettison the idea of having state police just to dish out instructions to police commissioners, Ayo Obe says.
UPDATE 23: “People view Human rights as the business of activists and never do wells.
“I commend governors for giving issues of human Rights prominence by discussing it here.”
Charter for rights in our constitution is actually in chapter two not four.
Chapter four is about when there is a problem.
Lawyers are part of our problem in this country. Politicians swear based on chapter two, to uphold the fundamental objectives of our nation.
“We have an entire economy on inefficiency.
“Those who commit all sort of impunity actually hold the key to our vaults.
“Impunity and inefficiency cost us a lot,” Chidi Odinkalu states.
UPDATE 24: A capable civil service is the first line of defense against human rights abuses.
“We criticise politicians, but the most terrible people I met are the civil servants. They make life terrible for elected officials,” Chidi Odinkalu.
UPDATE 25-5:10PM: n what way is our constitution in defense of the citizens human rights?
No nation on earth can prosper spending over 60 per cent of its resources on recurrent expenditure.
The allocation I got in September and October are lower than my salary bill.
There must be a conference, it is no longer a debate.
How beneficial is the executive presidential system in Nigeria, it is damn too expensive.
There are sycophants in most countries of the world.
There is nowhere in the world where you see a single police system.
We cannot because of sycophants reject what is normal.
If universities and supermarkets can have police systems in other countries and there is no anarchy, I see no reason why we cannot have state police in Nigeria.
We have to seriously and urgently look at reforming our constitution.
I support parliamentary system of governance.
Rule of law is the limit of all in relationship. We must adopt the best practices that is there in the world.
The statements above were made by the Osun governor, Rauf Aregbesola.
UPDATE 27-5:35PM: “Other governors have ambulances in their convoy, I have a vehicle from the Ministry of Justice with lawyers, in case someone lookS for my trouble,” Governor Amaechi.
UPDATE 28-5:58pm: Gov Amaechi now reading the communique of the retreat, which signals the end of the retreat.
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